The Hun


IotaChi

The admirable Peter Kwasniewski is always worth reading. He has written an article on OnePeterFive which is the exception that proves the rule. For this particular article, although I could hardly agree less with its central tenet, is certainly extremely stimulating. Dr Kwasniewski seeks to extol the virtues of monarchy as a system of government and insinuates that this claim is somehow connected to the Social Kingship of Christ. No such connection exists. The dogma of the Kingship of Christ should emphatically not be confused with the non-doctrinal question of which form of regime ought to be preferred, because this is specifically an indifferent matter on which the laity are free to chose whichever governmental form they consider best in itself and/or most suited to the character and customs of their particular society. As Leo XIII explains:

What amply justifies the wisdom of the Church is that in her relations with political powers she makes abstraction of the forms which differentiate them and treats with them concerning the great religious interests of nations, knowing that hers is the duty to undertake their tutelage above all other interests.

 and elsewhere

Again, it is not of itself wrong to prefer a democratic form of government, if only the Catholic doctrine be maintained as to the origin and exercise of power. Of the various forms of government, the Church does not reject any that are fitted to procure the welfare of the subject; she wishes only – and this nature itself requires – that they should be constituted without involving wrong to any one, and especially without violating the rights of the Church. Unless it be otherwise determined, by reason of some exceptional condition of things, it is expedient to take part in the administration of public affairs. And the Church approves of every one devoting his services to the common good, and doing all that he can for the defence, preservation, and prosperity of his country. Neither does the Church condemn those who, if it can be done without violation of justice, wish to make their country independent of any foreign or despotic power. Nor does she blame those who wish to assign to the State the power of self-government, and to its citizens the greatest possible measure of prosperity. The Church has always most faithfully fostered civil liberty, and this was seen especially in Italy, in the municipal prosperity, and wealth, and glory which were obtained at a time when the salutary power of the Church had spread, without opposition, to all parts of the State.

Undoubtedly the replacement of the original Feast of Christ the King was inspired by Maritainian errors, but the confusion of the question of regime with the non-negotiable question of the Social Kingship of Christ is itself one of the most fundamental of those errors. The list of royal saints supplied by Kwasniewski is not relevant. There is no question but that kings and queens can be saints, but what about St Severinus Boethius and St Thomas More and the multitude of non-aristocratic saints (such as St Francis) raised in the Mediaeval Italian republics? The Middle Ages were replete with polities of every shape and size. The transformation of them all into hereditary monarchies is an early modern and post-revolutionary phenomenon which coincided with the general secularisation of the West and precipitated the anti-Christian regimes of late modernity.

It is very odd indeed to claim that the rarity of saints under modern secular republics and constitutional monarchies indicates that these governmental forms themselves are detrimental to sanctity rather than that secularism is to blame (a secularism bred in the absolute monarchies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries). The theory of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ is an anti-Catholic Protestant invention. It is dispiriting that Dr Kwasniewski lists the absolutist Charles I who died for the ‘protestant religion’ and the incompetent tyrant Nicholas II of Russia (both persecutors of the faithful) as saints.

The Angelic Doctor recommends a form of government composed in equal parts of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. St Augustine says that the ideal form of government is one in which a virtuous people chooses its own rulers. St Leo the Great declares ‘he who is over all should be chosen by all’. This indeed is the primitive and apostolic structure of the Church herself and yet Kwasniewski writes:

In a fallen world where all of our efforts are dogged by evil and doomed (eventually) to failure, Christian monarchy is, nevertheless, the best political system that has ever been devised or could ever be devised. As we can infer from its much greater antiquity and universality, it is the system most natural to human beings as political animals; it is the system most akin to the supernatural government of the Church; it is the system that lends itself most readily to collaboration and cooperation with the Church in the salvation of men’s souls.

It was the mixed polity if anything which was the characteristic governmental form of the Middle Ages and Aristotle considers pure monarchy to correspond to the primitive stage of human development when the polis has not yet fully emerged from the family or tribe. Kwasniewski employs the traditional royalist tactic of equivocating on the ancient and modern meanings of the word ‘democracy’, claiming that Plato and Aristotle (neither of whom would have described modern western states as ‘democracies’) “maintained that democracy, far from being a stable form of government, is always teetering on the edge of anarchy or tyranny”. For Plato and Aristotle ‘democracy’ meant a polity in which there was no chief executive of the state, the college of rulers was directly elected on a one-year term and the laws were enacted by plebiscite. This has nothing to do with ‘democracy’ in the modern sense. But, as it happens, monarchy is the only form of government expressly critiqued in the Bible (1 Samuel 8:5-20).

And they said to him: Behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: make us a king, to judge us, as all nations have. And the word was displeasing in the eyes of Samuel, that they should say: Give us a king, to judge us. And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel: Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to thee. For they have not rejected thee, but me, that I should not reign over them. According to all their works, they have done from the day that I brought them out of Egypt until this day: as they have forsaken me, and served strange gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken to their voice: but yet testify to them, and foretell them the right of the king, that shall reign over them. Then Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people that had desired a king of him, And said: This will be the right of the king, that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and put them in his chariots, and will make them his horsemen, and his running footmen to run before his chariots, And he will appoint of them to be his tribunes, and centurions, and to plough his fields, and to reap his corn, and to make him arms and chariots. Your daughters also he will take to make him ointments, and to be his cooks, and bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your best oliveyards, and give them to his servants. Moreover he will take the tenth of your corn, and of the revenues of your vineyards, to give his eunuchs and servants. Your servants also and handmaids, and your goodliest young men, and your asses he will take away, and put them to his work. Your flocks also he will tithe, and you shall be his servants. And you shall cry out in that day from the face of the king, whom you have chosen to yourselves. and the Lord will not hear you in that day, because you desired unto yourselves a king. But the people would not hear the voice of Samuel, and they said: Nay: but there shall be a king over us. And we also will be like all nations.

The Lord accedes to the demands of the people but brings good out of evil by Himself taking flesh from the seed of David so that now the Lord is once more the King of Israel. Doubtless, this is why He translated the seat of the covenant to Rome. For, as St Thomas reminds us, “the royal name was hateful to the Romans”. Indeed, the perfect mixed form advocated by Aquinas (ST IaIIae, 105, 1) was first attempted by the Romans and identified by Polybius. It is praised by no less an authority than Scripture itself (1 Maccabees 8:14-16).

And none of all these [Romans] wore a crown, or was clothed in purple, to be magnified thereby. And that they made themselves a senate house, and consulted daily three hundred and twenty men, that sat in council always for the people, that they might do the things that were right. And that they committed their government to one man every year, to rule over all their country, and they all obey one, and there is no envy, nor jealousy amongst them.

“Has not the Church simply been demoted to the status of a private bowling league that can be permitted or suppressed at whim?” the good doctor laments, but it is the ‘enlightened’ depots of the eighteenth century who effected this transformation and the republicans of the Catholic League who foresaw and strove to prevent it. Surely, the doctrine of the Kingship of Christ understood in the light of these passages precisely suggests that a non-regal governmental form is the most fitting for the temporal government of the Christian people? As St Gregory the Great reminded the Emperor Phocas “the kings of the nations are the lords of slaves but the Emperor of the Republic is the lord of free men”.

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[Jan III Sobieski, by the grace of God and the will of the people, King of the Republic of Poland]

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Yesterday I re-read Bl. John Henry Newman’s brutal analysis of Protestants as non-believers. Today it was rather startling to be reminded that so many of them do not even believe in God. I remember once reading a Protestant writer’s analysis of whether Mormons are Christian. I was stunned to read him approach the question through the doctrine of justification. “Do Mormons truly trust in Jesus for their salvation?”. He never even raised the fact that they do not even believe in God! He never considered that, as atheists, Mormons cannot possibly believe in God Incarnate and thus whatever it is to which they attach the name ‘Jesus’ it will not save them from their sins. Listening to Craig’s words above I cannot help but wonder how common this kind of paganism is among the children of the Reformation. See: Feser’s (extremely courteous) response and Hart’s slightly more aggressive (he calls Craig a ‘mono-polytheist’) Greek Orthodox analysis of Craig’s position.

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable,
most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God
be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored
and glorified in Heaven, on earth,
and under the earth,
by all the creatures of God,
and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Amen.

1934

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1950)

Chapter Six : Race-Thinking Before Racism

i: A “Race” of Aristocrats Against a “Nation” of Citizens

A steadily rising interest in the most different, strange, and even savage peoples was characteristic of France during the eighteenth century. This was the time when Chinese paintings were admired and imitated, when one of the most famous works of the century was named Lettres Persanes, and when travellers’ reports were the favourite reading of society. The honesty and simplicity of savage and uncivilized peoples were opposed to the sophistication and frivolity of culture. Long before the nineteenth century with its tremendously enlarged opportunities for travel brought the non-European world into the home of every average citizen, eighteenth-century French society had tried to grasp spiritually the content of cultures and countries that lay far beyond European boundaries. A great enthusiasm for “new specimens of mankind” (Herder) filled the hearts of the heroes of the French Revolution who together with the French nation liberated every people of every colour under the French flag. This enthusiasm for strange and foreign countries culminated in the message of fraternity, because it was inspired by the desire to prove in every new and surprising “specimen of mankind” the old saying of La Bruyere: “La raison est de tous les climats.”

Yet it is this nation-creating century and humanity-loving country to which we must trace the germs of what later proved to become the nation destroying and humanity-annihilating power of racism. It is a remarkable fact that the first author who assumed the coexistence of different peoples with different origins in France, was at the same time the first to elaborate definite class-thinking. The Comte de Boulainvillicrs, a French nobleman who wrote at the beginning of the eighteenth century and whose works were published after his death, interpreted the history of France as the history of two different nations of which the one, of Germanic origin, had conquered the older inhabitants, the “Gaules,” had imposed its laws upon them, had taken their lands, and had settled down as the ruling class, the “peerage” whose supreme rights rested upon the “right of conquest” and the “necessity of obedience always due to the strongest.” Engaged chiefly in finding arguments against the rising political power of the Tiers Etat and their spokesmen, the “nouveau corps” formed by “gens de lettres et de lois,” Boulainvillicrs had to fight the monarchy too because the French king wanted no longer to represent the peerage as primus inter pares but the nation as a whole; in him, for a while, the new rising class found its most powerful protector. In order to regain uncontested primacy for the nobility, Boulainvillicrs proposed that his fellow-noblemen deny a common origin with the French people, break up the unity of the nation, and claim an original and therefore eternal distinction. Much bolder than most of the later defenders of nobility, Boulainvillicrs denied any predestined connection with the soil; he conceded that the “Gaules” had been in France longer, that the “Francs” were strangers and barbarians. He based his doctrine solely on the eternal right of conquest and found no difficulty in asserting that “Friesland . . . has been the true cradle of the French nation.” Centuries before the actual development of imperialistic racism, following only the inherent logic of his concept, he considered the original inhabitants of France natives in the modern sense, or in his own terms “subjects” — not of the king — but of all those whose advantage was descent from the conquering people, who by right of birth were to be called “Frenchmen.”

Boulainvilliers was deeply influenced by the seventeenth-century might-right doctrines and he certainly was one of the most consistent contemporary disciples of Spinoza, whose Ethics he translated and whose Traite theologico-politique he analysed. In his reception and application of Spinoza’s political ideas, might was changed into conquest and conquest acted as a kind of unique judgment on the natural qualities and human privileges of men and nations. In this we may detect the first traces of later naturalistic transformations the might-right doctrine was to go through. This view is really corroborated by the fact that Boulainvilliers was one of the outstanding freethinkers of his time, and that his attacks on the Christian Church were hardly motivated by anticlericalism alone.

Boulainvilliers’ theory, however, still deals with peoples and not with races; it bases the right of the superior people on a historical deed, conquest, and not on a physical fact — although the historical deed already has a certain influence on the natural qualities of the conquered people. It invents two different peoples within France in order to counteract the new national idea, represented as it was to a certain extent by the absolute monarchy in alliance with the Tiers Etat. Boulainvilliers is anti-national at a time when the idea of nationhood was felt to be new and revolutionary, but had not yet shown, as it did in the French Revolution, how closely it was connected with a democratic form of government. Boulainvilliers prepared his country for civil war without knowing what civil war meant. He is representative of many of the nobles who did not regard themselves as representative of the nation, but as a separate ruling caste which might have much more in common with a foreign people of the “same society and condition” than with its compatriots. It has been, indeed, these anti-national trends that exercised their influence in the milieu of the emigres and finally were absorbed by new and outspoken racial doctrines late in the nineteenth century.

Not until the actual outbreak of the Revolution forced great numbers of the French nobility to seek refuge in Germany and England did Boulainvilliers’ ideas show their usefulness as a political weapon. In the meantime, his influence upon the French aristocracy was kept alive, as can be seen in the works of another Comte, the Comte Dubuat-Nangay, who wanted to tie French nobility even closer to its continental brothers. On the eve of the Revolution, this spokesman of French feudalism felt so insecure that he hoped for “the creation of a kind of Internationale of aristocracy of barbarian origin,” and since the German nobility was the only one whose help could eventually be expected, here too the true origin of the French nation was supposed to be identical with that of the Germans and the French lower classes, though no longer slaves, were not free by birth but by “affranchisscment,” by grace of those who were free by birth, of the nobility. A few years later the French exiles actually tried to form an internationale of aristocrats in order to stave off the revolt of those they considered to be a foreign enslaved people. And although the more practical side of these attempts suffered the spectacular disaster of Valmy, emigres like Charles Francois Dominique de Villiers, who about 1800 opposed the “Gallo-Romains” to the Germanics, or like William Alter who a decade later dreamed of a federation of all Germanic peoples, did not admit defeat. It probably never occurred to them that they were actually traitors, so firmly were they convinced that the French Revolution was a “war between foreign peoples” — as Francois Guizot much later put it.

While Boulainvilliers, with the calm fairness of a less disturbed time, based the rights of nobility solely on the rights of conquest without directly depreciating the very nature of the other conquered nation, the Comte de Montlosier, one of the rather dubious personages among the French exiles, openly expressed his contempt for this “new people risen from slaves . . . (a mixture) of all races and all times.” Times obviously had changed and noblemen who no longer belonged to an unconquered race also had to change. They gave up the old idea, so dear to Boulainvilliers and even to Montesquieu, that conquest alone, fortune des armes, determined the destinies of men. The Valmy of noble ideologies came when the Abbe Sieyes in his famous pamphlet told the Tiers Etat to “send back into the forests of Franconia all those families who preserve the absurd pretension of being descended from the conquering race and of having succeeded to their rights.”

It is rather curious that from these early times when French noblemen in their class struggle against the bourgeoisie discovered that they belonged to another nation, had another genealogical origin, and were more closely tied to an international caste than to the soil of France, all French racial theories have supported the Germanism or at least the superiority of the Nordic peoples as against their own countrymen. For if the men of the French Revolution identified themselves mentally with Rome, it was not because they opposed to the “Germanism” of their nobility a “Latinism” of the Tiers Etat, but because they felt they were the spiritual heirs of Roman Republicans. This historical claim, in contrast to the tribal identification of the nobility, might have been among the causes that prevented “Latinism” from emerging as a racial doctrine of its own. In any event, paradoxical as it sounds, the fact is that Frenchmen were to insist earlier than Germans or Englishmen on this idee fixe of Germanic superiority. Nor did the birth of German racial consciousness after the Prussian defeat of 1806, directed as it was against the French, change the course of racial ideologies in France. In the forties of the last century, Augustin Thierry still adhered to the identification of classes and races and distinguished between a “Germanic nobility” and a “Celtic bourgeoisie,” and again a nobleman, the Comte de Remusat, proclaimed the Germanic origin of the European aristocracy. Finally, the Comte de Gobineau developed an opinion already generally accepted among the French nobility into a full-fledged historical doctrine, claiming to have detected the secret law of the fall of civilizations and to have exalted history to the dignity of a natural science. With him race-thinking completed its first stage, and began its second stage whose influences were to be felt until the twenties of our century.

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Alyoshenka (appropriately enough) bought me The Brothers Karamazov a while ago. I am not very good at novels. Napoleon once said novels are for women while history is for men. Usually therefore, I have to find some long journey devoid of internet access and make sure I only have the novel with me and so have to read it. Ideally this then provides me with sufficient momentum to finish the thing when I get back. I was making a transatlantic flight a few weeks ago and I had ordered the most negative revisionist history of the American Revolution I could find to read on the way over. Alas! It did not arrive in time so, as it was at the top of the pile, I took The Brothers Karamazov instead. To be more specific, I took The Karamazov Brothers translated by Ignat Avsey for Oxford World’s Classics. Knowing no Russian I have no idea if this is a good translation, it certainly reads nicely. OUP is usually seen as a rather respectable publisher. I don’t know anything about Mr Avesy but I am pretty sure he is a theosophist. He not only translated the text he also provided the notes. I was already very suspicious when… on page 82 …in the course of an attack on the Church and an encomium of ‘Orthodoxy’ Fr Paisy (a minor character in the novel) remarks “The star will shine forth from the East”. There then follows a lengthy endnote by Mr Avesy. After correctly identifying Fr Paisy’s words as an allusion to Matthew 2:2 Avesy goes on to explain:

“It has been said that the current of culture arises in the East and moves West, eventually dying in the Americas. [fairy nuff] Thus Rudolf Steiner [uh-oh…]  claimed that, on the death of the Atlantean age and civilization [come again?], the Arians, under the leadership of Manu [wow], migrated to India, forming the pre-Vedic Indian culture. When that culture itself became decadent, a new culture was founded in Persia by Zoroaster or Zarathustra (the name means ‘Morning Star’ [how reassuring]). That culture was, in its turn, succeeded by the cultures of the Middle East, particularly those of Egypt and Babylonia. Following the decline of those cultures, the cultures of Greece and then Rome arose. Since the fifteenth century AD the Northern European or Germanic/Anglo-Saxon culture has emerged the culture which is still dominant today [thank you Mr Himmler!].”

Remember this the OUP edition of the greatest Russian novel. This is full-on National Socialist mumbo jumbo delivered as sober fact. Avesy then mentions that some Russians think that when the Californians have finished with Western Civ. it might get round to being their turn before giving us some references:

“See Rudolf Steiner, Occult Science and Lectures upon the Apocalypse; the several works of Valentin Tomberg (privately printed in Riga, 1936-9 repr. by Candeur Manuscripts, Spring Valley, New York, 1977-9); Maria Schindler, Europe a Cosmic Picture (New Knowledge Books, Horsham, Sussex, 1975-6) …”

Rudolf Steiner is, of course, a famous purveyor of mumbo jumbo but Valentin Tomberg has a special interest as the occultist for whose Introduction to the Tarot Hans Urs Von Balthasar wrote his sinister forward. In the light of this connection I would dearly love to know if the Maria Schindler cited here has any connection to the Schindler dynasty of creepy Balthasarians. Given the ease with which Balthasar and his followers have managed to infiltrate allegedly respectable Catholic theological circles I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at a spot of kindred occultism in the endnotes of an Oxford World’s Classics volume.

So! Occultism and Nazism with Balthasarian connections – a long haul flight well spent methinks…