Friday, October 13, 2006

A Closer Look at Liberalism

NOTE: I've decided to repost this article on Liberalism I wrote over a year ago, as I think it holds a lot of relevance to the world situation. I've added pertinent and deleted non-pertinent notations as well.

Our friend New Victorian has posted something about Liberalism:

"Liberalism as we knew it no longer exists. What we have now are are holographs of liberalism in the form of spectres like Chris Dodd and Joseph Biden. Nothing is really there."

It reminded me of TS Eliot. Yes, the poet, who was also a Christian and wrote a slim book "Idea of a Christian Society" and there are some brilliant and prescient observations in it. Among them are the weaknesses found in Liberalism and Democracy without Christianity.

"...That Liberalism may be a tendency towards something very different from itself, is a possibility in its nature. For it is something which tends to release energy rather than accumulate it, to relax, rather than to fortify. It is a movement not so much defined by its end, as by its starting point; away from, rather than towards, something definite. Our point of departure is more real to us than our destination; and the destination is likely to present a very different picture when arrived at, from the vaguer image formed in imagination."

Is this not what we are seeing in the Democratic Party? What do they offer? Have they any new ideas? Is not their clamoring just a negation of what the Republicans say and offer? Furthermore he characterizes religious liberalism:

"...Liberalism may be characterized as a progressive discarding of elements in historical Christianity which appear superfluous, obsolete, confounded with practices and abuses which are legitimate objects of attack. But as its movement is controlled rather by its origin than by any goal, it loses force after a series of rejections, and with nothing to destroy is left with nothing to uphold and with nowhere to go."

Also, again, we see that Liberalism has nothing to offer. It is a position which must have something to depart from, but after departure, has nowhere to go. A great vacuum exists in liberal ideology.

He then gives this dire conclusion:

"...By destroying traditional social habits of the people, by dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constituents, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified, by fostering a notion of "getting on" to which the alternative is a hopeless apathy, Liberalism can prepare the way for that which is its own negation: the artificial, mechanised or brutalised control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos."

Enter Totalitarianism. Isn't that what we saw in Europe during the 20th century. And is this what we will see now with the rise of Islam there?

Eliot also sees de-Christianized Democracy as inadequate to withstand the forces of totalitarianism. He believes that:

"The term democracy, as I have said again and again, does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces that you dislike - it can be easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God) you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin."

Without the Good News which is Christianity, without its vision of the supernatural life, without a goal which is the Beatific Vision, there is nowhere to go in society but materialistic well being coupled with industrialism (and then a hole in the ground):

"And the tendency of unlimited industrialism is to create bodies of men and women - of all classes - detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion: in other words, a mob. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined."

And this mob can vote.

"A Christian society only becomes acceptable after you have fairly examined the alternatives. We might, of course, merely sink into an apathetic decline: without faith, and therefore without faith in ourselves; without a philosophy of life, either Christian or pagan; and without art. Or we might get a "totalitarian democracy", different but having much in common with other pagan societies, because we shall have changed step by step in order to keep pace with them: a state of affairs in which we shall have regimentation and conformity, without respect for the needs of the individual soul; the puritanism of a hygienic morality in the interests of efficiency; uniformity of opinion through propaganda, and art only encouraged when it flatters the official doctrines of the time. To those who can imagine, and are therefore repelled by, such a prospect, one can assert that the only possibility of control and balance is a religious control and balance; that the only hopeful course for a society which would thrive and continue its creative activity in the arts of civilization is to become Christian. That prospect involves, at least, discipline, inconvenience and discomfort; but here as hereafter the alternative to hell is purgatory."

Is this the answer for Europe's woes? I think Pope Benedict holds the same view. It was said many times among Catholics upon his election as Pontiff that the fact that a European Pope was chosen indicates that the Church (and the Holy Spirit) has not given up on Europe. The Church sees Europe as missionary territory, needing redemption for individual souls and saving from encroaching Islam. In order to be saved, Europe must fall on her knees. And we here in America, must stay on ours.