Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fanaticism, part 2: The Tower of Babel

Today's installment in my ongoing series concerning fanaticism will depart from the internecine Catholic churchmanship dispute (to be resumed later), and will focus instead on the relationships among the world's cultures in an age of globalization, "multiculturalism," and mass migration, with an eye towards the just fulfilling of the Church's missionary mandate.

It is first either a marvel of history or a work of Divine Providence that the peoples of Europe should have adopted the faith of Christianity, a faith (secularly speaking) of Semitic origin, so thoroughly that Hilaire Belloc's assertion that Europe is the Faith is no radical statement, but merely a ratification of what was already thought globally. Consider that as well in the light of the fact that Europe, apart from the Mediterranean region, was, in the Julio-Claudian times in which Christ and His Apostles lived and preached, a sparsely populated hinterland of the Empire.

Moreover, by act of the Ecumenical Council of Jerusalem, this came not through the adoption of Judaic laws and customs. Indeed, attempts to "Judaize" the gentile converts of the primitive Church were likely among the first heresies to affect Christianity. As far as sunsequent European culture goes, I should scarcely have any need to relate much. We know in our blood that the customs of our pagan ancestors were not truly replaced, but perfected. Anyone who thinks otherwise ought to rename the days of the week and months of the year, and should cease from decorating his house with evergreens in Christmastide and from telling his children stories about fairies.

Need I even to mention the numbers of missionaries following, often even preceding, explorers and conquistadores venturing to all corners of the world in the Age of Discovery? They did this for the purpose of preaching to the Gospel, not of making Europeans out of non-Europeans. The gentleman of Japan would no more have to lay aside his kimono, or the gentleman of India his turban, than the Scot would have to lay aside his kilt, or the Basque his beret. The purpose of this was not a monocultural hegemon, but a Church more truly universal, more truly Catholic, and a world united in the context of the Catholic faith under the principle of solidarity and in pursuit of the common good.

Of course, Catholic doctrine balances that solidarity with the principle of subsidiarity, which dictates that political power operates best at the lowest possible level. Thus, the headman or chief of a village or tribe is much more knowledgeable about what is good for that village or tribe than a bureaucrat in a remote capital is, and a prince of a nation which may become annexed by an empire is far more qualified to rule that nation directly than the emperor or his government.

Interestingly, in the age of the Great Powers, this is what tended to happen. There were abuses in some times and places, no doubt, but my historical research shows that this is the exception more than the rule. Princes continued to rule as clients of the emperor, and the cultures of the tribes and peoples within the colonies were interfered with as little as possible. The work of the imperial powers seemed in all rather benign: building roads, railways, canals, and harbours to facilitate trade, opening native agriculture and artisanship to the broader global market; collecting customs on foreign trade, enriching both the crown and the native princes and chiefs (and consequently their people) who were entitled to a share in the colony's revenue; promoting public health by reclaiming marshes, inoculating against smallpox, and establishing hospitals; promoting education, establishing universities and technical schools, and subsidizing those primary schools established by missionaries; and establishing regiments for the defense of the colony recruited from among the natives. For those outside cities (which are invariably rather cosmopolitan), the presence of the imperial power was scarcely felt, and when it was, it was benevolent: their legal issues were tried in their own courts (with the caveat that no penalty contrary to humanity could be exacted, and with right of appeal to the imperial power); their traditional economic way of life continued, albeit with access to more productive ways of agriculture and a broader market in which to sell their surplus and from which to buy during leaner years; malaria and other diseases were no longer death sentences; and education and missions offered the natives greater integration with global civilization, and the opportunity to develop those talents by which they may better serve their tribe and their culture. The only things extirpated were those more barbarous practices such as cannibalism or slavery.

Indeed I am aware that I have violated a great principle of the orthodoxy of political-correctness in asserting that European imperialism was largely beneficial, but let us examine that orthodoxy more closely, particularly in light of what came to pass after the Second World War, when the powers of Europe came to quit their overseas colonies. Under the banner of the "Non-Aligned Movement," so-called to differentiate them from the Soviet sphere of influence, socialists, generally those of a Trotskyist or Fabian variety, came in to fill the power vacuum in these new counties left by the departing Europeans, and the results have generally been dismal. After all, I'm sure we are all aware of the socialist attitude toward culture. Occasionally, though, an anti-communist would come into power, with no pretenses toward restoring the traditional order, but rather toward establishing a centralized military autocracy. Thus, the world has seen a succession of Idi Amins, Ho Chi Minhs, Mobutus, Nassers, Saddam Husseins, Pol Pots--and these are just those who immediately come to mind. Moreover, independent kingdoms that were not part of any Western sphere of influence had their traditional rulers deposed, replaced with a situation much worse. I mention here Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran, and Gyanendra of Nepal. The present situation in Thailand as well looks eerily familiar. The results of this have been many: war, genocide, famine, disease, massive migrations, human trafficking, drug abuse, slavery, poverty, and the breakdown of traditional communities, ways of life, and economies, with the attendant psychological and sociological ailments.

Aside, for all the American rhetoric about the Cold War and the evils of communism, their global record in the late 20th century is decidedly mixed. They said they care so much about the spread of communism in Vietnam; then why weren't they at Dien Bien Phu when there was an opportunity to arrest it in its early stages? If Nasser were a strong ally of the communists, then why is Eisenhower telling the British and the French to withdraw from the Suez Canal that Nasser was illegally trying to nationalize?

But look now at the contemporary situation in America itself, and truly over an American-dominated globe. Do you see the humane universalism spoken of earlier, or do you see an artificial hegemon enforced not by social or religious bonds but by the forces of political and economic control, the fruits of a global group who looked upon the powers held by the Politburo with envy, desiring such for themselves? I surely see the latter, and I call it the Tower of Babel. It is a forcible uniformity of thought, that thought usually being that international socialism is the pinnacle of civilization. It is a forcible uniformity of culture, that culture having very little profundity and often quite insipid, disregarding both earthy and ethereal elements; rather, it is something to be sold, the stuff of Coca-Cola, Big Macs, and Michael Jackson. And it serves not the common good anywhere, for the administrators of this régime seem to have lost any idea of what it is to be human, and they serve not men, but only their dreams of raw totalitarian power. Thus, generally through economic and political means, they engineer the means of production away from those who will not serve in their system. They engineer through "education" their captive publics to be docile and servile cogs in their utilitarian and mechanistic system. They engineer anything human and enobling out of mankind, subtly undermining churches, families, nations, and tribes, that they and they alone may have absolute control over their brave new society, as though they were in the place of gods.

I spoke gloriously of Western culture earlier. However, are we living today as our ancestors lived? What remains of our own culture? Indeed, it's a mess here, but we've had it much easier than elsewhere. I give this as perhaps the prime example of the fanaticism that has come to drive contemporary humanity to its knees. Indeed, if you doubt the fanaticism inherent therein, check out some of the Mad Monarchist's fan mail.

And this is among the many reasons why I am a monarchist. Our traditional ways have served us very well in the past, and throne and altar were always a cogent defense against the outward impositions of malcontents who seek the ill of society due to their own petty reasons or their fanaticism. The power of the monarch calls for his responsibility to the people, for indeed he is of the people (not "The People," that inviolable construct in whose name societies are destroyed), and his very charge is always to promote the common good rather than the mean small mind of partisanship, which invariably relegates itself into unthinking fundamentalism.

Thus concludes this episode. In about a week's time, I shall be publishing my next installment in this series dealing with the equally fanatical movement that has grown out of the opposition to international socialism: Islamism.


  1. With regards to the colonialism part, one of the reasons why people look down on it now is because of the examples presented by the worse-managed ones.

    Belgian Congo was infamously called the "Heart of Darkness." Gandhi's pleas against the British have left a mark in India. And let's just say that Spanish rule in the Philippines wasn't "up to par" until (too) late in the 19th Century. These, propagated in part with the help of the natives themselves, are compounded by the standard images of general misery and greedy and corrupt imperialists. I doubt THAT's going out of fashion anytime soon.

  2. Migs del Callar, welcome to my blog. Any sane person shall realize that nothing in this world is perfect, and that an appeal toward the worst elements of anything is bound to create a sort of moral panic and completely discredit the institution or system in question. This process can easily be seen in the present frenzy regarding the sexual abuse committed in the past by a very small minority of Catholic priests, giving the entire Church an unjustly low reputation in contemporary majority global opinion.

    Were there colonial abuses? Yes, you cite some of them here, and they should justly be a matter of shame for the colonial powers. But are there more post-colonial abuses? Absolutely. Nevertheless, the benefits brought non-European nations by the by-and-large beneficent governance are ignored, just as the many good works done by Catholic priests globally, in favour of focusing on the comparatively few examples of malfeasance.