Skip to comments.Cardinal Ratzinger Discovers America
Posted on 12/12/2004 8:54:32 AM PST by Land of the Irish
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John Rao, Ph.D.
REMNANT COLUMNIST, New York
Cardinal Ratzinger has discovered America. Troubled by the total secularization of European lifereflected, most recently, in the battles over European unification and the continental chorus of criticism accompanying Professor Rocco Buttigliones reiteration of the Churchs teaching on homosexualitythe cardinal now suggests that the United States may perhaps offer the better model of Church-State relations for a desacralized world. According to a November 25, 2004, report on Zenit.com, the Cardinal, responding to the secularization of Europe, made the following comments on Vatican Radio:
I think that from many points of view the American model is the better one. Europe has remained bogged down. People who did not want to belong to a state church, went to the United States and intentionally constituted a state that does not impose a church and which simply is not perceived as religiously neutral, but as a space within which religions can move and also enjoy organizational freedom without being simply relegated to the private sphere One can undoubtedly learn from the United States [and this] process by which the state makes room for religion, which is not imposed, but which, thanks to the state, lives, exists and has a public creative force. It certainly is a positive way.
This, of course, was the position of the Americanists of the 1890s, who argued that things spiritual thrived in the United States to a degree that Europeans, passive and obedient to their manipulative governments, could never match. Cardinal Ratzinger has apparently arrived at a similar judgment in typical contemporary Catholic fashion: much later than everybody else, and naively uncritical.
It seems to be the fate of the post-conciliar Church to take up the banner of erroneous causes just as their poisons are beginning to become somewhat clearer to the rest of the outside world. I hope that His Eminence has been misquoted. If not, I pray that a deeper study of the system in the United States will reveal to him just how much the so-called religious character of America is, at best, heretical, and, at worst, a spiritualized secularism emerging from errors inherent in Protestant thought.
One still hears the argument that the threat of Americanism was exaggerated at the time of Leo XIIIs encyclicals against it, and that, in any case, it disappeared shortly thereafter. Certainly many people in Rome as well as the United States wanted to make believe this was the case, using the Modernist crisis, and undoubted American loyalty to the Papacy throughout it, as proof positive of the countrys orthodoxy. But the crises warned against by St. Pius Xs pontificate precisely involve the sort of philosophical, theological, and exegetical issues that Americanism sweeps aside as a horrendous waste of time and energy. Modernisms intellectual character stood in the way of the Yankee pragmatism that simply wanted to get the job done without worrying about anything as fruitlessly divisive as unpaid thought. It was part and parcel of all that pretentious European cultural hoo-ha responsible for the Old Worlds ideologies, revolutions, wars, and bad plumbing. Americans could recite the Creed and memorize catechisms better and in larger numbers than anywhere else. Confident in their orthodoxy and the Catholic-friendly character of their political and social system, they could move on to devote themselves to the practical realities of daily life. Criticisms of what the practical life might actually mean in the long run could be disregarded as unpatriotic, communist, and useless for short or long-term fund raising.
America, with Catholic Americans in lock-step, thus marched forward to nurture what St. Cyril of Alexandria called dypsychia: a two-spirited existence. On the one hand, it loudly proclaimed outward commitment to many traditional doctrines and moral values making it look spiritually healthy. On the other, it allowed the practical life, to which it was really devoted, to be defined by whatever the strongest and most successful men considered to be most important, silencing discussion of the gross contradiction by laughing such fruitless intellectual quibbles out of the parlors of a polite, common-sense guided society. It marched this approach into Europe in 1945, ironically linking up with one strain of Modernism that itself encouraged Catholic abandonment to the direction of anti-intellectual vital energies and mystique. Vitalism and Americanism in tandem then gave us Vatican II which, concerned only with getting the practical pastoral job done, has destroyed Catholic doctrine infinitely more effectively than any mere straightforward heretic like Arius could have done. Under the less parochial sounding name of Pluralism, it is the very force which Cardinal Ratzinger is criticizing inside the European Union, and which is now spreading high-minded moral values, freedom, and democracy around the globe through the work of well-paid mercenaries and five hundred pound bombs.
If, heaven forbid, Cardinal Ratzinger honestly believes that true religion prospers under our system better than under any other, he is urging upon Catholics that spiritual and intellectual euthanasia which Americanism-Vitalism-Pluralism infallibly guarantees. The fate of many conservative Catholic enthusiasts for this false God, in their response to the war in Iraq, should be one among an endless number of warnings to him. No one is more publicly committed to orthodoxy than they are. No one praises the name and authority of the Pope more than they do. And yet never have I heard so many sophistic arguments reducing to total emptiness both profound Catholic teachings regarding the innocence of human life, as well as the value of the intellect in understanding how to apply those teachings to practical circumstances, as I have heard coming from their circles.
May God save His Eminence from adulation of a system that waves the flag of moral righteousness and then tells us that we are simply not permitted to use our faith and reason to recognize a wicked, fraudulent war for the anti-Catholic disaster that it is; an evil that a number of Catholics are some day legitimately going to have to apologize for having helped to justify. May God save His Eminence from a religiosity which will eventually line fundamentalist Catholic terrorists against the wall along with other divisive enemies of the system who cannot live or die under a regime of dypsychia.
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"It is too early to say whether or not the liberation of Iraq will be successful, but the signs are promising."
I am glad you have so nicely convinced yourself of the merits of modern warfare and the use of weak states to act out the psychotic ambitions of half-educated American leaders whatever their current popularity. The "liberation" of Iraq will only replace one faction with another but this time protected by a permanent force until it loses favour (as Saddam did). This notion of democracy is useless among the Arab nations. It is alien to their traditions and religion. And bribing or bombing them to win their hearts and minds does not deserve any success. America has nothing else to offer except lots of graves and the joyful cries from the unthinking masses back home fed on war games and overblown vanity.
"If the Monarchy is preserved, we may hope in time for better. If not, it will be much harder."
But it is not. As time goes on, the more nominal monarchies become. Catholicism (and Christianity) is going the same way. The image and glitter is fine for romantic moments even to Americans but it seems populations return to their politicians for vision, protection and guidance on living. These paternal and spiritual roles, once the preserve of priests and princes, are now theirs and confirmed in endless statutes. Things are so far advanced that remnant monarchies and humbled churches almost pay homage to these achievements of the common man!
"Of the ten reigning European sovereigns, five are Protestant and five are Catholic. I am not sure what you mean by "worse.""
Except for Spain, countries with large Catholic populations have lost their monarchies. It is only where monarchs have followed religious and political trends (from protestantism to liberalism to socialism)they still exist but in name only. By worse I mean the tendency for young royals in particular to shed any Christian attachment and become "defenders of all faiths" and none. It gets worse and worse.
"What about the real, historical monarchs that the Church has canonized .... "
Fine if subsequent popes do not rescind these listings in response to historical revision or political pressure.
-½?-?s Catholic royals, like most Catholics today, lack a traditional understanding of the Faith, that is not their fault, but rather the result of the post-Vatican II crisis, as you know perfectly well.
Today's enfeebled constitutional monarchies can still serve as a rallying point, even involuntarily, for those opposed to the Brave New World of multiculturalism and the European Union. The Left understands this; we should too.
The pluralist and democratic attitudes that you criticize in contemporary royals are also present among the Novus Ordo hierarchy and even the Pope. Abandoning monarchy today because King Juan Carlos is no St. Ferdinand III would make about as much sense as abandoning Catholicism because Pope John Paul II is no St. Pius X.
I'm not sure what happened with the first line of that post. It should read: "If Catholic royals..."
But you'll notice if you read through this thread that I'm not alone. In fact, even with Zviadist gone, I believe we have more allies here now than you did back when you were heroically carrying the banner for King Charles I in 1999. I suspect this is because the Religion forum is now known for its Catholic discussions and so attracts traditionalists, who are likely to also have sound views on history and government, and do not join FR in order to cheer on Bush and his Wilsonian adventurism. That is what makes this discussion more rewarding than talking to a brick wall.
The hypocrisy that you've confronted is actually enshrined into law in many of the European republics that were once monarchies. Consider...
*The French constitution has a clause stipulating that the monarchy cannot be restored even if a majority of the people wanted it to be. As Mayor of Paris in 1993, Jacques Chirac prevented royalists from laying a wreath on the spot where King Louis XVI was executed to mark the bicentennial.
*In Greece in the early 1980s, a group of men who tried to start a royalist organization were arrested and charged with treason.
*German monarchists have been harassed by the "Office for the Protection of the Constitution" which views all advocates of changing the constitution as potential neo-Nazis, essentially making it impossible for anyone with monarchist views to gain influence in German politics.
*The Portugese government has refused to hold a referendum on restoring the monarchy despite substantial public support for doing so.
*In Austria, when right-wing Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Riess-Passer publicly addressed Archduke Otto and Archduchess Regina as "Your Imperial Highnesses" on their golden wedding anniversary, she was reprimanded and furiously denounced by socialists who pointed out that the use of titles is illegal in Austria.
In contrast, in the United Kingdom, open and avowed republicans serve in Parliament, hold Cabinet posts, and are vastly overrepresented in the media. Clearly it is much better to be a republican in a monarchy than to be a monarchist in a republic. As you have pointed out, the democrats do not even live by their own principles.
People used to say that only Anglo-Saxons could practice democracy, but that has been shown to be false in continental Europe, Japan, southeast Asia, Africa and South America.
In this country, popular elections are a conservatice force that promote morality, decency and freedom, and hamper the inhuman and evil programs of elites. If the elites ruled this country, John Kerry would be president today, and the country would be much the worse for it. Thanks God for the democratic element in our constitution.
Abortion is not freedom, but license. Fight against abortion, by all means, but that doesn't mean junk the United States constitution, which you seem to hate so much. And your much vaunted "Catholic monarchies" of Belgium and Spain are happily dechristianizing themselves as fast as possible by enacting abortion and same sex "marriage" to the broadest degree, so your "Catholic monarchy" is no panacea, no solution whatsoever, and is in fact worse that the United States constitution, which still allows for the free exercise of relgion and will continue to do so, if judges and good people rally to the defense of the constitutioni, rather than spitting on it as you so-called "traditionalists" are doing on this thread. Your lack of patriotism and disloyalty to our constitution is, frankly, disgusting. It is creepy. You all are like a bunch of latter-day Father Coughlins, deriding our constitution. Father Coughlin hated our constitution too, and looked fondly on his beloved Hitler and the Nazis.
"Your lack of patriotism and disloyalty to our constitution is, frankly, disgusting. It is creepy. You all are like a bunch of latter-day Father Coughlins, deriding our constitution. Father Coughlin hated our constitution too, and looked fondly on his beloved Hitler and the Nazis."
I wonder how sinful it is to trash the reputation of a dead man? Is this a nack of the NeoCons?
Engage in the arguments as presented. Dr. Rao is right on. Does a Catholic have to hold "de Fide" that the American constitution is the best form of government? How can you not see our society disintegrating before your very eyes? Have you ever read Church teaching (a la Leo XIII0) condemning freedom of religion and freedom of the press? That IS Catholic teaching--NOT the Masonic U.S. constitution.
Grey Ghost II has not been praising the Catholic monarchies of Belgium and Spain. You are confusing him with other posters. He simply doubts that American democracy is as great as its defenders claim.
Contemporary Belgium and Spain are obviously not everything that traditional monarchists such as myself would like them to be. I said in my first post on this thread that the last significant example of the kind of monarchy we are advocating was the Austro-Hungarian empire, which fell in 1918. So it is not fair to attack traditional monarchists on the basis of contemporary examples when our ideas have been ignored for 86 years. Belgium in fact was founded as a liberal constitutional monarchy in 1831, so has never been a Catholic Monarchy in the medieval, pre-Revolutionary sense. Spain has had many upheavals, with a long history of vicious left-wing anti-clericalism tied to anti-monarchism, that have led to things being the way they are today.
Countries such as Belgium and Spain have legalized abortion etc. because they are essentially democracies and a majority of the people want to do so, not because they are constitutional monarchies. As I already pointed out, in Belgium this was done against the King's wishes, though you are correct that King Albert II is apparently not as conservative as his late brother.
However, it should be noted that Luxembourg and Liechtenstein are contemporary Catholic monarchies which are still more conservative than many other European countries.
Why are you buying into Protestant and secular myths about the Spanish Inquisition? Most historians no longer do.
As a person of partially Jewish descent myself I am not entirely comfortable with the expulsion of the Jews either. However we have to look at this in the context of the times, when as you say the Catholic monarchs had just fought a war to reclaim Spain from the Muslims, and at least some Jews had been in league with the Muslims. People in 1492 did not regard "anti-Semitism" and "racism" with the horror that we do today; we should not judge them by 21st-century standards. I don't think any of the supporters of the canonization of Queen Isabella would advocate expelling Jews from Spain today.
The Emperor Joseph was one of your beloved Hapsburgs, and he went about closing monasteries nearly as ruthlessly as Henry VIII. He believed in regulating the Catholic Church in accordance with his "enlightened philosophe" ideas (and the leader of the philosophes, Voltaire, by the way had lovely things to say about the Church, such as "Ecrasez l'Infame". The problem with the French Revolution was that it, unlike the American Revolution, did not give full freedom to the Catholic Church. The Church is best when independent of the state, and two great English saints and martyrs named Thomas both died in the great cause of independence of the Church from the state. I would also say about the Hapsburgs that they often intervened in papal elections, and indeed claimed a right to veto. And the Hapsburgs certainly did not fight to the finish to return the Protestantized north of the Holy Roman Empire from returning to the Catholic fold, but compromised after the Thirty Years' War, so they didn't do the best job of preserving the Church in the Reformation either.
"The Church is best when independent of the state, and two great English saints and martyrs named Thomas both died in the great cause of independence of the Church from the state."
This is in fact a condemned heresy. Have you ever read the Syllabus of Errors, Pope Leo XIII's encylicals, and Pius XI's encyclicals on the Kingship of Christ? Evidently not. The statement you cite above is heretical.
The constitution is a piece of paper - get over it. It is that constitution which has allowed nearly 40 million children to be aborted in the US. I never said junk the constitution. I just don't worship it as you do.
Father Coughlin hated our constitution too, and looked fondly on his beloved Hitler and the Nazis.
Typical neo-con argument...when your argument lacks any merit, bring up the Nazis.
Dear Grey Ghost II,
"It is that constitution which has allowed nearly 40 million children to be aborted in the US."
That's a stretch. In fact, that's part of the problem. The Consitution doesn't require a legal regime of abortion on demand. Seven black-robed idiots required it.
Even many pro-aborts privately admit that Roe is bad constitutional law.
I never said they did.
How can you not see our society disintegrating before your very eyes?
The United States is probably the most religion-friendly country in Western civilization in the present day. Europe and Canada are much further gone down the path of secularism and indeed persecution of the Church and Christianity. Current day Europe is utterly dechristianized and is morally corrupt and decadent. The United States has nothing to learn from present day Europe. We should hold to our Constitution and defend the freedom of religious exercise that has allowed the Church to prosper here for two hundred yearss
Have you ever read Church teaching (a la Leo XIII0) condemning freedom of religion and freedom of the press? That IS Catholic teaching--NOT the Masonic U.S. constitution.
Dignitatis Humanae is also magisterial teaching. Leo XIII has to be understood in the context of the times, and his teachings to some extent are not universal but apply to the society of the times. He was up against liberal regimes that as a matter of policy were persecuting the Church, and the alternative of legitimate Catholic monarchies was readily available still, at least in southern Europe (not really anywhere else, though). This is a different time. As a confessional Catholic state is not going to protect the Church or Church doctrine in the modern world, it is impractical to hold that up as anything other than an abstract ideal. The Church is best protected in the current religion-unfriendly society by strong guarantees of freedom of religion. Also, the essence of the teaching of Leo XIII was that one does not have a moral right to embrace error. However, it is longstanding Church teaching (the father Lactantius wrote of it) that one should not be coerced in matters of conscience. As for the Constitution being "Masonic", I can only roll my eyes and ask you not to pass me any of the kool-aid you are drinking. I'm glad to know that you are disloyal to our constitution and duly established legitimate government.
Emperor Joseph II was influenced by the ideas of the "Enlightenment," which also contributed to the American revolution. You are painting yourself into a corner of contradiction when you denounce the effects of the Enlightenment in Europe but simultaneously reject any criticism of the American constitution.
In a long line of Habsburg rulers, Joseph II, who only ruled for ten years, was the ONLY ONE who could possibly be considered anti-clerical. The Habsburg dynasty also produced great defenders of the Church such as Emperor Charles V, King Philip II of Spain, Empress Maria Theresa, and the recently beatified Emperor Karl. Charles V's illegitimate son Don Juan of Austria led the Catholic forces to victory over the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. For centuries, the Habsburgs acted as guardians of Western Catholic Civilization against the Muslims. They deserve better than to be trashed by ungrateful Americanist Catholics.
In 1648 Europe had been devastated by three decades of religious warfare. It is hardly surprising that at that point the Habsburgs felt that thirty years of war was enough.
The Habsburg involvement in papal elections was a decisive factor in the election of Pope St. Pius X in 1903, one of the greatest popes in Church history.
But the Constitution did not prevent them from doing so, did it? Certainly the Founders never imagined that one day the Supreme Court would legislate abortion on demand. But the fact that the Constitution does not provide any mechanism for restraining the power of ambitious judges must be considered a flaw.
You can argue all you want, correctly, that Roe vs. Wade is a perversion of the Constitution. But that won't change the fact that it happened under the Constitution, which remains the law of the land.
"Emperor Joseph II was influenced by the ideas of the 'Enlightenment,' which also contributed to the American revolution. You are painting yourself into a corner of contradiction when you denounce the effects of the Enlightenment in Europe but simultaneously reject any criticism of the American constitution."
Ah, but I don't think that anyone here is requiring that we believe that constitutional republics are ordained by God as the only or the divinely-annointed form of government. At least I'm not. I gave up on that notion before I was 20.
The examples of Joseph II or Henry VIII show that a bad Catholic monarch can do a lot of damage in a hurry to the Church and Her children, in a short period of time, without the need for revolution or overturning the entire social order.
Thus, France, with her Revolution, brought egregious harm to the Church and Her children, but that revolution was pretty darned thorough-going. On the other hand, Henry was able to steal millions of Catholics from their Church without enduring war, revolution, and complete social disintegration.
That is part of the weakness of Catholic monarchy. As you've seen, I agree that Catholic monarchy has strengths, but this is a real weakness - when the Catholic monarch goes bad.
Civil government is humanly-derived, whether republic, monarchy, or totalitarian dictatorship. Thus, civil government is prone to the effects of original sin. The American Constitution is pretty good. For the efforts of men. It's done a pretty good job for a while, and I think it will likely continue to do a better job than most for at least a little while longer. And if God should bless us with a profound repentance in our nation, it could do a pretty good job for quite a while longer.
Civil government can only be as good as the citizens represented by it. It can be worse than that, but it can't be better. There are forms of government that "underperform" their citizenries (Iraq under Saddam), but none that outperform them.
I don't contradict myself in any way at all. There is a world of difference between the Enlightenment in the Anglo-Saxon world, including the American Revolution, and the French Voltairian and Rousellian influenced one. As I said, the key difference is that the American Revolution truly instituted freedom of religion for all, whereas the French instituted freedom of religion for everyone except the Catholics, who were in fact persecuted. That is an argument in favor of the American constitution, not against it. I don't trash the Hapsburgs, nor am I an "Americanist" as you want to trash me as. I just don't see them as a panacea for everything, and particularly not in the present day. In the present day, democratic elections are a much more rational means of legitimizing and changing government than hereditary monarchy. I simply do not think the world of Metternich is applicable today. Having always been a traditionalist at heart, I grew up with a profound attachment to European history and customs and the tradition and pageantry of the British monarchy. However, the behavior of the House of Windsor over the past couple of decades has made a confirmed republican of me. These are not people that I would choose to look up to or put on a pedastal. I don't really like them as persons. And I think that historically there must be something seriously wrong with European culture since it produced fascism, communism, and the secular dechristianized society that exists there today. As for monarchical symbols, we have the imperial presidency. I'm sure our presidents could cure scrofula if they touched its victims. I've always thought myself conservative and have recently read Russell Kirk's oeuvre, and was surprised by the anti-democratic strain in American conservative thought. While I can understand it at the beginning, I just don't buy it in more recent thinkers. None of the horrible consequences of democracy that were forecasted have panned out in the US. There has not been "mob rule". There has not been legal robbery or outlawing of private property (I don't subscribe to the Randian hypothesis that mere taxes are theft). Our democracy is a conservative element in the constitution, that has often corrected the elites' errors. Neither Reagan nor Bush would have been elected if elites ruled. Elites came up with communism and other evils. I'm sorry, I would rather trust the common people over time than some unelected king or elite-driven aristocrat any day. I also think the country benefits in the long run from the alternation of parties in power.
"But the Constitution did not prevent them from doing so, did it?"
Hmmm... at no point have I suggested that the Constitution was a divinely-ordained document, perfect, given by Heaven. I only answered Grey Ghost II that it is not the Constitution that required the legal regime of abortion on demand. In fact, the Consitution actually permits that the states regulate abortion law, which they did for all of our history prior to 1973. Murder is usually a concern of state law, not of federal law.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of folks who would argue that pre-Roe, the argument could have been made that actually the Constitution does generally forbid abortion on demand. I'm not sure in the current environment the argument would go far, but at the very least, abortion on demand seems to violate at least the Fourteenth Amendment.
"But that won't change the fact that it happened under the Constitution, which remains the law of the land."
I would argue that Roe happened outside of the Constitution. And the Constitution does provide remedies for judicial overreach. Judges and justices may be removed from office, and entire legal questions may be removed from the jurisdiction of courts.
The problem isn't with the Constitution, the problem is with the men and women who serve in government, and their collective failure to do what is right. And that problem traces back to a citizenry that does not require its representatives to do what is right, and often applauds them when they do what is wrong.
ME: Does a Catholic have to hold "de Fide" that the American constitution is the best form of government?
Unam: I never said they did.
ME: So the answer is "No." Catholics are not bound to believe your assertion that America is the ideal. That is good since Leo XIII condemns this "Americanist" idea in his encyclical. You just happen to believe it is "historically conditioned." So are your opinions. It is just that anyone who does not believe the U.S. to be the BEST, you subjectively label as "disloyal," "unpatriotic" and anything else that comes to your mind. Or should I say, sentiments?
ME: Have you ever read Church teaching (a la Leo XIII0) condemning freedom of religion and freedom of the press? That IS Catholic teaching--NOT the Masonic U.S. constitution.
Unam: Dignitatis Humanae is also magisterial teaching.
ME: Which must be read "in light of Tradition," not vice versa, per the Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger. It is also the lowest level of magisterial teaching authority.
Unam: Leo XIII has to be understood in the context of the times,
ME: Condemned proposition. This is called "historicism." Through and through.
Unam: ...and his teachings to some extent are not universal but apply to the society of the times.
ME: Sort of like... Dignitatis Humanae, huh? Only the 1960s are over, and the "times" that were being read THEN are quite different NOW, aren't they. I would say the "signs of the times" tell us something different than the utopian prognosticators in the 1960s.
Unam: He was up against liberal regimes that as a matter of policy were persecuting the Church, and the alternative of legitimate Catholic monarchies was readily available still, at least in southern Europe (not really anywhere else, though). This is a different time.
ME: With the same condemned principles as found in your assertions. When exactly do "the signs of the times" change? When do we know to be prognosticating for a different reading?
You have done NOTHING to rebut one iota of Dr. Rao's essay. Not one.
Let me let you in on something: Dignitatis Humanae was not UNIVERSAL, and is historically conitioned. It also reaffirms the "traditional teaching of the Church", directly the opposite of how you would have us read it.
The Contitution allows the 7 black-robed idots to make that decision....or maybe the supreme court acted illegally and the executive branch doesn't have the stomach to enforce the laws.
The "difference" is a matter of circumstance not idealogy.
The uprising of 1776, so the explanation goes, was a gesture of conservatism, in that with the help of "Nature's God" (by which could be meant only the God of the Christians), the "Founding Fathers" responded to tyrannical deviations from English constitutional tradition on the part of King George III and his sycophant Parliament; after their success at attaining independence, they gave us "a Republic, if you can keep it" (Benjamin Franklin). By contrast, continues the explanation, the French Revolution of 1789 was the demonic work of "Illuminated" Jacobins who, full of Voltaire, Rousseau, and the other "enlightened" thinkers whose theories were not worth the paper on which they were written, staged a murderous coup to replace Christianity with the "Goddess Reason," laying waste to people by the thousands before the dictator Napoleon restored "order" his kind, of course. Usually, in these explanations, the accounts of the French Revolution are reliable: it was a murderous, power-grabbing, anti-Christian affair led by conspirators within the inner circles of Freemasonry, and the political theories it sought to enshrine are essentially worthless heaps of despotic egalitarian humanism.
The problem comes, however, in the claim that the American Revolution has no affinity with the events of 1789. One would never know that from reading American conservatives' accounts of this country's revolution, but that is because of facts that they do not either mention or even consider. In special regard to American Catholics, the myth of 1776-1789 dissimilarity is particularly pertinacious, on account of the fact that they have relied upon it through the generations to escape the stinging condemnations of the liberal ethic that thundered from Papal Encyclicals from about 1832 to 1950. Passing by such superficial likenesses as the fact that republics resulted from both revolutions, we shall concentrate here on the similitude of the guiding principles, which do much to account for the fact that today's America bears a much closer resemblance to 1789 France than it does to the America of 1776.
There is indeed a substantial similarity in the principles behind the two revolutions both were motivated by the spirit of modern science and "fought and won for freedom and equality," observed the late Allan Bloom, a liberal scholar who supported traditional civic Americanist theory. His explanation makes the obnoxiously anti-Catholic spirit they share in common unmistakably clear.
Modernity is constituted by the political regimes founded on freedom and equality, hence on the consent of the governed, and made possible by a new science of nature that masters and conquers nature, providing prosperity and health. This was a self-conscious philosophical project, the greatest transformation of man's relations with his fellows and with nature ever affected.... [The French Revolution] was fought and won for freedom and equality, as were the English and American revolutions. It would seem to have completed the irresistible triumph of modern philosophy's project and to give a final proof of the theodicy of liberty and equality. (27)
... This project was a conspiracy, as d'Alembert said in the Preliminary Discourse of l'Encyclopédie, the premier document of the Enlightenment. It had to be, for, in order to have rulers who are reasonable, many of the old rulers had to be replaced, in particular all those whose authority rested upon revelation. The priests were the enemies, for they rejected the claim of reason and based politics and morals on sacred text and ecclesiastical authorities. The philosophers appeared to deny the very existence of God, or at least of the Christian God. The old order was founded on Christianity, and free use of reason simply could not be permitted within it, since reason accepts no authority above itself and is necessarily subversive. There was a public struggle for the right to rule; for, in spite of the modest demeanor of the philosophers, they at the very least require rulers who are favorable to them, who have chosen reason. The right to freedom of thought is a political right, and for it to exist, there must be a political order that accepts that right. (28)
... There is practically no contemporary regime that is not somehow a result of Enlightenment, and the best of the modern regimes liberal democracy is entirely its product. And throughout the world all men and all regimes are dependent on and recognize the science popularized by the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment inexorably defeated all opponents it targeted at the outset, particularly the priests and all that depends on them, by a long process of education that taught men, as Machiavelli put it, about "the things of this world." One need only read Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, Book V, on education, to see how the reform of universities, particularly the overcoming of the theological influence, was essential to the emergence of modern political economy and the regime founded on it.... The regime of equality and liberty, of the rights of man, is the regime of reason. (29) The "reason" to which Bloom referred is the defied "Reason," divorced from God, enthroned as its own master. Although Bloom wrote nothing about the role of the Masonic Lodges, these were the apostles of "Reason."
The similarity in 1776's and 1789's principles is traceable to their common philosophical ancestor, John Locke: he had a direct impact on the American revolutionaries, and a once-removed effect on the French Revolution via Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theories. Building upon a bogus idea invented by 16th century English theorist Thomas Hobbes, Locke taught that in a "state of nature," men were autonomous and free, a concept fully adopted by Rousseau and which hardly has a place for God. Bloom explained:
These Columbuses of the mind [Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau] explored the newly discovered territory called the state of nature, where our forefathers all once dwelled, and brought the important news that by nature all men are free and equal, and they have rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. This is the kind of information that causes revolutions because it pulls the magic carpet out from under the feet of kings and nobles. Locke and Rousseau agreed on these basics, which became the firm foundation of modern politics. Where they disagreed, the major conflicts within modernity were to occur. Locke was the great practical success; the new English and American regimes founded themselves according to his instructions. (30)
... Hobbes discovered an isolated individual whose life was "mean, nasty, brutish, and short".... Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau all found that one way or another nature led men to war, and that civil society's purpose was not to cooperate with a natural tendency in man toward perfection but to make peace where nature's imperfection causes war. The reports from the state of nature mixed bad news and good news. Perhaps the most important discovery was that there was no Garden of Eden [i.e. no such thing as Original Sin].... Man was not provided for at the beginning, and his current state is not a result of his sin, but of nature's miserliness. He is on his own. God neither looks after him nor punishes him. Nature's indifference to justice is a terrible bereavement for man.... but it is also a great liberation from God's tutelage, from the claims of kings, nobles and priests, and from guilt or bad conscience.... And now, possessing the truth, [man] can be even freer to be himself and improve his situation. He can freely make governments that, untrammeled by mythical duties and titles to rule, serve his interests. (31)
"Enlightened" political science pushed God completely aside and declared a new first principle: Reason (and of course, Man who possessed it). Reason was said to be the province of everyone, equally. It was to cut through all the "myths" and concern itself with what "really" concerned man: self-preservation. Nature's notorious stinginess (which is a consequence of Original Sin) tended to impel men to war, but the "Enlightened" philosophers, most especially Locke, claimed to have a better solution: instead of "ganging up" on each other, men should unite to conquer the natural world, and thanks to Modern Science, they actually can. Those who made the greater efforts in this regard would reap the larger rewards certainly not an un-Catholic idea of itself, but in this context of a supremacist individualism and naked materialism, it becomes one. The anti-Catholic spirit of industrial capitalism is unmasked by Bloom despite his sympathies in its favor with these comments:
The old commandment that we love our brothers made impossible demands on us, demands against nature, while doing nothing to provide for real needs. What is required is not brotherly love or faith, hope and charity, but self-interested rational labor.... From the point of view of man's well-being and security, what is needed is not men who practice the Christian virtues or those of Aristotle, but rational (capable of calculating their interest) and industrious men. Their opposite numbers are not the vicious, wicked or sinful, but the quarrelsome and the idle. This may include priests and nobles as well as those who most obviously spring to mind. (32) We see therein a portrait of American cultural "values" induced by capitalism. The "sinners" according to this new standard: those who upset the status quo, especially by questioning its basic principles; those who do not produce material things. Priests, nobles, intellectuals worthless. That's the American Way.
This capitalistic vision of life, in turn, is the basis of politics. "Government exists," said Bloom in explaining Locke, "to protect the product of men's labor, their property, and therewith life and liberty." This is the origin of the idea of individualistic and natural "rights" which are allegedly antecedent to civil society and the defense of which is said to be the very raison d'être of civil society. We could not have made the point any better than did the late scholar of Chicago: this whole view of rights "is an invention of modern philosophy," (33) that ultimate basis of all self-invented "realities." Furthermore, this notion of rights "is our only principle of justice. From our knowledge of our rights flows our acceptance of the duties to the community that protects them" (34) the exact reverse of the Catholic idea that rights depend on duties (as was explained earlier). Yet this is the Lockean idea of looking after the common good. Instead of promoting virtue, it is government's place to promote an "enlightened" self-interest that benefits everyone, or at least, most everyone individually.
Thus far were Rousseau and Locke agreed; (35) they also shared the idea that when men gave up their individual sovereignties in the "social contract," they were subsumed into the community's legislative function (which acted in the name of the people), an act that was irrevocable once done. This was an idea that was adopted by the French revolutionaries but rejected by the Americans, who were not only concerned with regal tyranny but all kinds, including that of legislatures and mobs. Likewise, the Americans were far keener on the Lockean capitalist ethic than were the French, who transferred their centralized, bureaucratic ways from the King to the Assembly (and eventually, the Directory and Napoleon); collectivist "socialism" found a receptive audience in France much sooner than it did over here. Surely, Locke was not the only influence in either revolution both 1776 and 1789 have other ancestors as well. English constitutionalism and Puritan "covenant theology" seen through Lockean eyes largely account for our uprising, whereas in addition to Locke-Rousseau, the French revolutionaries were inspired by a virulent hatred of Altar and Throne, those twin pillars of Christian society.
We see in the previous lines some clues as to what really made the two revolutions differ, to the extent that there is a difference. The Americans cared for principles only insofar as they had seemingly beneficial practical consequences: thus, they went fully for Locke's capitalism and were slow to realize the full implications of a rhetoric of individual "rights" and "equality." The relative ease of the American Revolution (vis-a-vis the French) is owed simply to the fact that Americans were far more predisposed to a regime based upon "liberty" and "equality" two concepts that people here were ready for thanks to Protestant individualism. There were no major institutional obstacles to such a regime. Up until the early years of the Revolution, the issue was not so much opposition to "the Crown" as it was against its current occupant --he was seen as an anomaly among English kings in his unusually heavy involvement in colonial affairs. Even when the American attitude turned against monarchy in principle, though, the impact therefrom was blunted by the fact that this was a case of a colony severing its allegiance to a king several thousand miles away.
More significantly, there was no Altar to overthrow in America established Protestant religions are comparatively lightweight affairs, since any of them truly are just as "good" as any of the others, and also since the only hope for American national consensus lay in religious liberty. But do not think that the dispositions against the Altar were not there they most certainly were. Any number of quotations of John Adams (the "Atlas of Independence") or Thomas Jefferson can be used to support this point. Furthermore, any good history of the American Revolution will explain that one reason why the Quebec Act of 1774 was considered one of the "Intolerable Acts" was that it granted to Catholics in Canada an exemption from the Penal Laws which drove the already rabble-rousing New Englanders to fury. Official letters of the First Continental Congress to George III and to "the People of England," written by John Jay on October 21, 1774, openly deplored this provision. (Curiously, when this Act was cited as one of the grievances against George III in the Declaration of Independence, this aspect of it was not mentioned.) The reason why American rhetoric against Catholics cooled down after 1776 was that the revolutionaries were desperate for aid and had hopes of getting it from France's King Louis XVI, which they did. (For which service, he was "rewarded" with his own deposition and execution.)
On the part of the French revolutionaries, they had to completely destroy and reinvent the social order if they were to establish a liberal egalitarian regime in hitherto-Catholic France: hence the all-out war against Altar, Throne, and the nobility. Indeed, the "ease" of 1776 compared to the torture of 1789 is itself a telling sign of what kind of culture, Catholic or Protestant, best disposes for a liberal social order. Not only did the devils of 1789 have to totally reinvent society, their French penchant for the rigorous following-through of principles to their logical consequences made sure that they would lose no time in carrying their new ideas to extremes. Their view of individual liberty, while not perfectly following the Lockean-American model, was nevertheless truly radical in that the 1789 revolt was not just against Throne and Altar, but explicitly against God Himself, the Source and quintessence of authority. "Equality," too, was most rigorously applied: by 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville could observe that in Europe (where all revolutions followed the 1789 model), there were already people who were advocating the extreme kind of feminism that only in the last generation has become prominent in this country. (36) (The third buzzword of the French Revolution, "Fraternity," though, is an interesting anachronism, in that it reflects a uniquely Christian concept while denying the common Fatherhood of God.)
About the French Revolution, though, the central point to remember is this: because of the logical rigor of the French, little time was necessary to enable a true perspective on a society run under liberal principles. In all their ugly squalor, the fruits of liberalism were visible: mob anarchy, cutthroat competition, and a murderous suppression of the truth. Extreme individualism gave way to Robespierre and Napoleon. It is a picture of what has admittedly taken some time for America to become but become it has: even in America, logic has to win out sometime. Nobody knows about English common law or Puritan "covenant theology" anymore. Hardly anyone believes nowadays that "separation of Church and State" merely refers to the lack of a formal State alliance with a religious group. The young generation of today understands "liberty" as "the freedom to do as I damn $#!@ing please," period the "rights" of others simply don't enter into the equation. And people are rapidly losing belief that "equality" has its limitations, given the acceptance of women in the military, "househusbands," professed sodomites with their TV comedy programs, and lest we forget "the People's Princess," Disco Di, the only royalty Americans (and other moderns) can really relate to.
So the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789 are much more closely kin than American conservatives, especially the Catholics among them, are given to believe. Whatever their other influences, they share the same dubious ancestry of John Locke's political philosophy, which is a most significant factor in the mentality of both revolutions. Particular circumstances differed between the two, but behind each one was the same assumption about the "state of nature," in which men were free, equal, and only interested in earthly survival (all else being myth). To improve the prospects of comfortable living, men form governments that exist to protect antecedent individual "rights" and promote their concept of the "common good" through "enlightened" self-interest. The Catholics, Puritans, and other religiously-minded American Revolutionaries did not share in the Locke theory's godlessness, but there were enough of his ideas with which they did agree to get them to sign onto a revolution that sang the same tune of "liberty," "equality," and the "rights of man," that was taken up by the bloodthirsty Jacobin-led mobs in France in 1789 and, after some 200 years, has produced like results.
A Catholic Response to Certain Myths of Civic Americanism You've been suckered by revisionist history.
There is a difference between the ordinary and universal magisterium and the ordinary magisterium. To the extent the Pope is not making an infallible dogmatic definition, but teaching in an encyclical, then the teaching is infallible and part of the deposit of faith only if it is teaching a concept that has been taught implicitly or explicitly always and everywhere in the Church (the Vincentian canon). The mere ordinary magisterium is not irreformable, and it very well may apply to specific circumstances, but not others. I agree with your general statement on interpreting Vatican II documents in light of tradition, but I don't think that Leo XIII's statements trump or negate the teaching on a human right to be free of coercion, nor do I think Leo XIII was speaking for all time, except to the extent that he is saying that no one has a moral right to embrace error nor does any state have the right to interfere in the freedom of the Church. Leo XIII did not tell American Catholics that they should subvert the US Constitution, and I think American should be loyal to that Constitution, as a Catholic confessional state is simply not possible here, given our traditions and our political system. In the current climate, when Catholic confessional states are simply not a practical option, the Church gains the most from a regime of religious freedom. The examples of contemporary Europe and Canada show than any marriage of Church and state in this day and age will only be to the detriment of the Church, its teaching and its practice. The elites that will ultimately run your autocratic governments will not look kindly on a Church that condemns abortion and homosexual activity and marriage.
Dear Grey Ghost II,
"...or maybe the supreme court acted illegally and the executive branch doesn't have the stomach to enforce the laws."
To me, that is how it seems. And not just the executive, but the legislature, as well. The Constitution explicitly prescribes mechanisms to remedy an overreaching judiciary.
But no one has had the guts to do it.
That's not a failure of the Constitution.
Your language is explicitly Jacobin, and you don't even know it. That's sad.
Thank you for the aritcle, which I will have to read later. However, the Enlightenment was not entirely bad. It brought many benefits in terms of human and civil rights and freedoms. I'm sorry if you think those things in general to be bad things. And obviously one can see from the effects that the American and French Revolutions were completely different. The first did not result in the persecutions of Catholics and was relatively non-violent, whereas the latter did and was violent. The former established a stable and flourishing constitutional republic that has lasted to this day. France had an unstable series of regimes throughout the 19th Century and still to this day, while finally having settled down to a stable democratic constitution, has a troublesome history of state involvement and management of the Church in a fairly anti-Catholic way. I've always held against Jefferson that he was so enthusiastic about the French Revolution, sharing my fellow New Englander John Adams' dismay at the violence and immorality thereof. But Jefferson did not entirely have his way, and he was more moderate in power than out. I think it is incontrovertible that there were fundamental differences between the two revolutions, and I certainly would not condemn our glorious constitution because of the evils of the French. I just cannot believe the fact that sane Americans, having witnessed in the last century the evils of fascism and communism and having enjoyed the benefits of our peaceful, free and prosperous society, reject the United States constitution and the American Revolution. Frankly, I would have to say that such is not a conservative position in the American context, but rather an extreme radical position.
I am not a Jacobin, and have always condemned in the harshest measures the unjust actions of the French Revolution.
On that we agree, it is not an American conservative position - I do not pretend to be a mainstream American conservatives. RAH! RAH! GW Bush and all that - no thanks. Radical? Why thank you, I try. I don't know where this attitude glorifying the mushy middle came from, another piece of modernism to flush as far as I'm concerned.
I am not a modernist and I reject your accusation that I am.
As to the ordinary and universal magisterial teachings, your comments are true as far as they go. However, just because something is "not irreformable" does not mean it does not still require Catholics to believe it as teaching, as Lumen Gentium No. 25 notes. This applies to all Catholic teaching, not just what has spawned from, and since Vatican II.
Unam: Leo XIII did not tell American Catholics that they should subvert the US Constitution, and I think American should be loyal to that Constitution, as a Catholic confessional state is simply not possible here,
ME: I have heard this repeated over and over and over again. In fact, I think I must know you. Why? Why is it not possible? Because American NeoCons refuse to work for Christ's Kingship? Your throwoff "it's not possible nor practical" overturns Pius XI's Kingship of Christ?
Unam: given our traditions and our political system.
ME: We can vote it in or at least vote in leaders who believe in Natural Law, can't we?
Unam: In the current climate, when Catholic confessional states are simply not a practical option,
ME: Why? Because it is too unpolitically correct, or too difficult to fight for this? Why is it "not an option"? Why?
Unam: the Church gains the most from a regime of religious freedom.
ME: Misinterpreted by EVERYONE. This idea of "religious freedom" excludes positing Catholicism as equal to any other religion. You think 99% of the world, including Catholics, understand recognize this?
Unam: The examples of contemporary Europe and Canada show than any marriage of Church and state in this day and age will only be to the detriment of the Church, its teaching and its practice.
ME: Maybe because they made bad choices, and the leaders and the voters did not practice virtue and strive for sanctity. Maybe the NeoCons decided in those countries that it was just "not practical" and "too difficult" to keep Christ's kingdom at the forefront of policies and decision-making. Then what do you replace it with? Can you not see our society is going the same path as Europe. It's just it is earlier in its demise than Europe is. Can't see the Muslims "outpopulating" us one all the Latinos become "Americanized" and begin using contraception and abortion at the same rate as the rest of us "Americans." Can't see it, huh?
Unam: The elites that will ultimately run your autocratic governments
ME: Like that is not happening now? How exactly did we get two of the last three presidents coming from the same family--father and son? Give it a rest, OK.
Unam: will not look kindly on a Church that condemns abortion and homosexual activity and marriage.
ME: And the current government does? What are you smoking? Our democratic republic is but a mirage that is passing away.
We are called to evangelize and bring about Christ's Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven." Sound familiar? Look long term and obey the Gospel. All the politicos always have all sorts of "practical reasons" why this can't come about. Then stop reciting the "Our Father" each Sunday at Mass, OK?
Me thinks he doth protest to much....
Nonetheless I made no such allegation, I said the tendency to glorify compromise and safe, moderate idealogy is modernist (and quite democratic). Glad to hear you are not a modernist tho!
And neither do I maintain that monarchy is the only legitimate form of government. I believe I made it clear that I accept original republics such as Switzerland, San Marino, and Iceland. I also would have had no objection to the old aristocratic republics which used to exist in Italy and the Netherlands (though now that Holland is a kingdom I would prefer that it remain one). While I obviously do not believe the U.S. Constitution to be beyond criticism, I also accept that the U.S. was founded as a republic and is almost certainly not going to become a monarchy, even if global trends were to swing in the direction I would like them to.
What I fiercely oppose--and here I think we are close to being in agreement--is the notion that American-style republicanism is what is best for all countries, and the belief that countries where there is a long tradition of monarchy should abandon it in favor of republicanism, or were right to do so.
There are forms of government that "underperform" their citizenries...but none that outperform them.
I disagree. It is quite possible that a monarch will be a better person and Christian than most of his subjects, and a better ruler than they deserve, and this is more likely to happen in a monarchy than in a democratic republic. For example, in terms of virtue, faith, and awareness of the necessity of ending WWI, the recently beatified Emperor Karl of Austria-Hungary certainly "outperformed" his subjects, who did not appreciate him.
Then what recourse does the constitution provide for when the Supreme Court acts illegally and the legislative and executive branches are essentially acting in concert with the judicial branch?
Also, whom did you support for president during the Republican primaries of 2000? And why?
This will help me understand whether you are just a comedian who specialises in cheap shots or if you actually have some sort of rational political position.
I believe in what is right, not being moderate for moderation's sake. Abortion would be just as wrong if 90% of the populace were for it (actually, a majority of Americans have moral qualms about abortion to some extent or another -- they'd probably be more protective of the fetus than the Supreme Court). By the same token, just because something is a moderate position does not mean that it is wrong. On the contrary, I do believe that the opinions of common people over time often will reflect decency and right.
I do not claim that the Habsburgs are "a panacea for everything." I believe that they should be restored to the thrones of Austria, Hungary, and the Czech lands. This is not "everything."
Having always been a traditionalist at heart
You have an odd way of showing it.
However, the behavior of the House of Windsor over the past couple of decades has made a confirmed republican of me.
That makes about as much sense as it would to become a Protestant because of the behavior of certain priests and bishops. As Charles Coulombe put it, [i]f immorality on the part of its leaders were a reason for abolition, there would be no institutions: political, business, religious, or any other sort; remaining on Earth---and that includes even families.
I wish that some of the members of the House of Windsor had behaved differently in their personal lives, but it should not be forgotten that they have also worked extremely hard at charitable endeavors and done a lot of good for their country, more than most British politicians. For example, Prince Charles with his Prince's Trust has helped rescue thousands of urban youth from poverty and drugs. And his mother Queen Elizabeth has been a model of dignity and devotion to duty. There are members of the royal family who have led exemplary lives devoid of adultery or scandal who do not get as much publicity because they do not interest the media. For example, the Duchess of Kent, who is a convert to Catholicism and has devoted her life to teaching music to young children.
I do not reject the Kingship of Christ, but as He said Himself, His Kingdom is not of this world. You can throw around a word like "NeoCon" or whatever (I reject any such label). One can fight against specific evils in our system, especially abortion and the potential restrictions on religious freedom that the left is planning. That does not mean our constitution and the freedoms it protects are meaningless and are of no benefit. And in the modern world, it is those freedoms that best protect the Church, not some fantasy of a Catholic confessional state that is simply not going to happen in the present day. Sure one could be voted in, but do you honestly think that will happen in this country or any other major Western country today? By all means, start your Catholic monarchists party and see how well you do. But your anti-democratic arguments undercut you, since you don't acknowledge that democracy confers legitimacy. You apparently only see legitimacy as coming from hereditary proscription. And as the Kennedies are the only "Catholic" dynasty in sight, I would will say politely, "no thank you" to any autocratic Catholic kingship run by the likes of Teddy Kennedy.
There is nothing to prevent the peoples of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia and Moravia from changing their constitutions and bringing back Hapsburgs. I believe Otto von Hapsburg is or was a European parliamentarian. Since they don't chose to do that, you will have to impose your autocratic monarchy by force, apparently in the name of Metternichian "legitimacy". That is the opposite of Burkean conservatism, which allows for organic and incremental development and proscription. The peoples of Mitteleuropa are free to chose their own destiny. And all you can do is rail at Wilson (and presumably Reagan, since obviously the formerly Communist nations have only recently become free and democratic once again) for helping them have the freedom to do so.
By the way, do you know who is the current Jacobite pretender to the British throne? By rules of legitimacy, shouldn't he be the proper king of England? Since you're railing against the French and American revolutions, why not rail at the Glorious Revolution as well? Heck, Tolkien and others were known to rail against the injustice of the Norman Conquest.
Woodrow Wilson was the worst American president in history. His completely unjustified intervention in World War I, which tragically destroyed the German and Austro-Hungarian monarchies, helped pave the way for Nazism and the spread of Communism. There are few historical figures that I hate as passionately as Wilson, and I cannot take seriously any "conservative" who does not recognize how evil his influence was.
It was Wilson whose "make the world safe for democracy" philosophy was the opposite of Burkean conservatism, not those of us who hope to reverse the terrible damage he did.
Obviously, the people of central Europe have to be convinced that the Habsburgs should be restored. When I said that I favor restoration this is what I meant. There are organizations working to achieve this goal by peaceful and legal means, and I support them. A monarchy imposed by force would not last very long.
Franz, Duke of Bavaria (b. 1933).
By rules of legitimacy, shouldn't he be the proper king of England?
I am sympathetic to Jacobitism in theory, but believe that it ceased to become a practical cause with the extinction of the Stuart male line in 1807. That does not mean that the Jacobites were wrong or that their ideals and heritage should not be kept alive, as this excellent website does. But when the very existence of the British monarchy is under attack from leftist republicans as it has been for the past decade or so, this is not the time to indulge in disputes over dynastic legitimacy. One should not make the perfect the enemy of the good. I would prefer a traditional monarchy as envisioned by the Jacobites, but a Protestant constitutional monarchy is still preferable to a republic in a country like Great Britain where the Crown is an essential and integral part of its heritage and culture.
The Germans and Austrians attacked and invaded their neighbors. They knew exactly what they were getting into when they started World War I, and must suffer the consequences for having started it. It is they, not the allies, who must bear full responsibility. As for the Germans and Austrians post World War I, there is no reason why they had to choose Fascism or Communism. They could instead have chosen to build up democratic constitutional regimes. They chose not to, and must bear responsibility for the consequences. Again, the whole notion that "imposing democracy" is the most evil thing in the world is a preposterous notion. Nobody "imposes" democracy. Democracy by its very nature involves allowing the people of that nation, through elected assemblies, to determine the nature of the state's constitution as well as the personnel of government. There is nothing inherently wrong or evil in creating conditions that allow the people to have a voice in their own affairs. How perfectly monstrous that democracy could be so hated in this day and age.
To which Constitution? The one that's written on paper, and according to the plain understanding of the words (i.e. the "reasonable man" criterion) -- or the one that the Supreme Court and Executive Orders have mutated beyond recognition? This year's Consitution? or last year's? or next year's? How much of a blank check are we supposed to give to a government that refuses to abide by it's own written by-laws?
The reading of fiction requires a suspension of disbelief. At this point, so does the study of Constitutional Law. We have become so accustomed to burning what we had worshipped and worshipping what we had burnt, that a defense of the US Constitution is effectively to support whatever the government decides it wants to do -- whether it be to murder infants, to take away our firearms, or to confiscate property. Massah say "jump" and we ask "how high."
There is an English song from the 18th century that pretty much sums up what has happened to American "constitionalists" over the past two hundred years:
We Americans have had our Constitution "constructively amended" into meaninglessness. We live under a system that consists of both arbitrary rule and hereditary office, thus proving that neither of these features are exclusively characteristic of monarchy.
The Vicar of Bray
In good King Charles's golden days, When Loyalty no harm meant;
A Furious High-Church man I was, And so I gain'd Preferment.
Unto my Flock I daily Preach'd, Kings are by God appointed,
And Damn'd are those who dare resist, Or touch the Lord's Anointed.
And this is law, I will maintain Unto my Dying Day, Sir.
That whatsoever King may reign,I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!
When Royal James possest the crown, And popery grew in fashion;
The Penal Law I shouted down, And read the Declaration:
The Church of Rome I found would fit Full well my Constitution,
And I had been a Jesuit, But for the Revolution.
When William our Deliverer came, To heal the Nation's Grievance,
I turn'd the Cat in Pan again, And swore to him Allegiance:
Old Principles I did revoke, Set conscience at a distance,
Passive Obedience is a Joke, A Jest is non-resistance.
When Royal Ann became our Queen, Then Church of England's Glory,
Another face of things was seen, And I became a Tory:
Occasional Conformists base I Damn'd, and Moderation,
And thought the Church in danger was, From such Prevarication.
When George in Pudding time came o'er, And Moderate Men looked big, Sir,
My Principles I chang'd once more, And so became a Whig, Sir.
And thus Preferment I procur'd, From our Faith's great Defender,
And almost every day abjur'd The Pope, and the Pretender.
The Illustrious House of Hannover, And Protestant succession,
To these I lustily will swear, Whilst they can keep possession:
For in my Faith, and Loyalty, I never once will faulter,
But George, my lawful king shall be, Except the Times should alter.
The original point to which I was referring was that Unam Sanctam was pointing out that Catholic monarchs have often failed to lead their nations well, and have often hurt the Catholic Church in the process. The point is valid.
I think we actually agree on a whole bunch of stuff. I don't think the US is going to become a monarchy, either, and given its history, without a dramatic change in the future, I don't think it would be desirable.
I also don't like the idea of rolling up existing monarchies, and I'd like to see the existing ones become more than figureheads.
But I'm just not hostile to constitutional republics. I think that they can work well, or poorly, just as monarchies can. I think in some ways they have strengths missing in monarchies, and in others, they have weaknesses that monarchies don't have.
"It is quite possible that a monarch will be a better person and Christian than most of his subjects,..."
Nonetheless, the monarch, as you have eloquently stated, is not the entirety of the government. If the monarch can lead the people to be better than they were, then the nation will benefit. But if the monarch is unable to help bring about change in the people, the government will not, as a whole, outperform the citizenry.
I think that is what happened in Austria-Hungary.
However, I think that a strength of monarchy is that a single holy and capable monarch may succeed in helping to bring a people to repentance, and thus may dramatically improve a nation in a short period. The converse weakness is that a monarch may do the same in the opposite direction, as we saw with Henry VIII.
Which just goes to show this government is neither accountable or representative - it doesn't even live up to its own rhetoric. What is it accountable to is money - something a monarch is virtually immune to. This is where Hoppe's work on time preference is instructive.
"The American model democracy must be regarded as a historical error, economically as well as morally. Democracy promotes shortsightedness, capital waste, irresponsibility, and moral relativism. It leads to permanent compulsory income and wealth redistribution and legal uncertainty. It is counterproductive. It promotes demagoguery and egalitarianism. It is aggressive and potentially totalitarian internally, vis-à-vis its own population, as well as externally. In sum, it leads to a dramatic growth of state power, as manifested by the amount of parasitically by means of taxation and expropriation appropriated government income and wealth in relation to the amount of productively through market exchange acquired private income and wealth, and by the range and invasiveness of state legislation. Democracy is doomed to collapse, just as Soviet communism was doomed to collapse.
Classical (pre-revolutionary) monarchy appears in a far more favorable light than democracy. It is part of the dominant, American-influenced world view that the process, beginning with the American and French revolution and essentially concluding with the end of World War I, of the substitution of presidents and prime ministers for kings represents historical progress. The following investigations show that the opposite is the case. The transition from a monarchical world to a democratic one must be regarded as de-civilizing retrogression. In other words, we would be better off today as far as living standards and liberty are concerned than we actually are, if we had never adopted the American system.
Unlike democratic "caretakers" of "public goods," kings, as proprietors of these same goods, take a long-run view and are interested in the preservation or enhancement of capital values. They are considered personally responsible for their actions and bound by pre-existing laws. They are not the makers of law; they apply old and eternal law. Independent of popular elections, they have little need for demagoguery, redistribution and egalitarianism (the lack of which is all good for economic development). In sum, the monarchical state is comparatively moderate and mild: with low tax revenue and little invasive and oppressive."
It is an a priori truth that property which is owned by an individual is better cared for by him than property he does not own - take a journey down to your nearest government housing project if you doubt this.
In the privately owned state (hereditary monarchy) this gives the current occupant a long-term view.
He (or she! Queens are wonderful!) is concerned with the preservation of his and his family's legacy, he is taught from earliest childhood to think and act as the "father of his people" He thinks in terms of preservation and in terms of decades. This tends to make monarchs the very definition of conservative. Contrast this with the typical opportunistic, ambitious politician who must say and do whatever is necessary to secure financing and support from as many groups as possible. He has 4 or 8 years to "make his mark" so to speak, he is much more likely to grab whatever he can get during the time he has. He is nothing more than a temporary caretaker, and he knows it. His focus is to fool as many people as he can, as often as he can in order to retain his power - God forbid if he is under a set time limit, such as a President! (this is why term limits would make corruption in democratic politics worse, not better)
It is said that "Those that seek power are those that should not have it". The hereditary monarch does not seek power - he is born into it - it is an honor and a grave responsibility. The vast majority of reigns are uneventful periods of stability and peace - of course it is the exceptions everyone remembers.
Some closing thoughts from Dr. Hoppe
The first and most fundamental is the myth that the emergence of states out of a prior, non-statist order has caused subsequent economic and civilizational progress. In fact, theory dictates that any progress must have occurred in spite not because of the institution of a state.
A state is defined conventionally as an agency that exercises a compulsory territorial monopoly of ultimate decison-making (jurisdiction) and of taxation. By definition then, every state, regardless of its particular constitution, is economically and ethically deficient. Every monopolist is "bad" from the viewpoint of consumers. Monopoly is hereby understood as the absence of free entry into a particular line of production: only one agency, A, may produce X.
Any monopoly is "bad" for consumers because, shielded from potential new entrants into its line of production, the price for its product will be higher and the quality lower than with free entry. And a monopolist with ultimate decison-making powers is particularly bad. While other monopolists produce inferior goods, a monopolist judge, besides producing inferior goods, will produce bads, because he who is the ultimate judge in every case of conflict also has the last word in each conflict involving himself. Consequently, instead of preventing and resolving conflict, a monopolist of ultimate decision-making will cause and provoke conflict in order to settle it to his own advantage.
Not only would no one accept such a monopoly judge provision, but no one would ever agree to a provision that allowed this judge to determine the price to be paid for his "service" unilaterally. Predictably, such a monopolist would use up ever more resources (tax revenue) to produce fewer goods and perpetrate more bads. This is not a prescription for protection but for oppression and exploitation. The result of a state, then, is not peaceful cooperation and social order, but conflict, provocation, aggression, oppression, and impoverishment, i.e., de-civilization. This, above all, is what the history of states illustrates. It is first and foremost the history of countless millions of innocent state victims.
The second myth concerns the historic transition from absolute monarchies to democratic states. Not only do neoconservatives interpret this development as progress; there is near-universal agreement that democracy represents an advance over monarchy and is the cause of economic and moral progress. This interpretation is curious in light of the fact that democracy has been the fountainhead of every form of socialism: of (European) democratic socialism and (American) liberalism and neo-conservatism as well as of international (Soviet) socialism, (Italian) fascism, and national (Nazi) socialism. More importantly, however, theory contradicts this interpretation; whereas both monarchies and democracies are deficient as states, democracy is worse than monarchy.
Theoretically speaking, the transition from monarchy to democracy involves no more or less than a hereditary monopoly "owner" the prince or king being replaced by temporary and interchangeable monopoly "caretakers" presidents, prime ministers, and members of parliament. Both kings and presidents will produce bads, yet a king, because he "owns" the monopoly and may sell or bequeath it, will care about the repercussions of his actions on capital values. As the owner of the capital stock on "his" territory, the king will be comparatively future-oriented. In order to preserve or enhance the value of his property, he will exploit only moderately and calculatingly. In contrast, a temporary and interchangeable democratic caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his advantage. He owns its current use but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. Instead, it makes exploitation shortsighted (present-oriented) and uncalculated, i.e., carried out without regard for the value of the capital stock.
Nor is it an advantage of democracy that free entry into every state position exists (whereas under monarchy entry is restricted by the king's discretion). To the contrary, only competition in the production of goods is a good thing. Competition in the production of bads is not good; in fact, it is sheer evil. Kings, coming into their position by virtue of birth, might be harmless dilettantes or decent men (and if they are "madmen," they will be quickly restrained or if need be, killed, by close relatives concerned with the possessions of the dynasty). In sharp contrast, the selection of government rulers by means of popular elections makes it essentially impossible for a harmless or decent person to ever rise to the top. Presidents and prime ministers come into their position as a result of their efficiency as morally uninhibited demagogues. Hence, democracy virtually assures that only dangerous men will rise to the top of government.
In particular, democracy is seen as promoting an increase in the social rate of time preference (present-orientation) or the "infantilization" of society. It results in continually increased taxes, paper money and paper money inflation, an unending flood of legislation, and a steadily growing "public" debt. By the same token, democracy leads to lower savings, increased legal uncertainty, moral relativism, lawlessness, and crime. Further, democracy is a tool for wealth and income confiscation and redistribution. It involves the legislative "taking" of the property of some the haves of something and the "giving" of it to others the have-nots of things. And since it is presumably something valuable that is being redistributed of which the haves have too much and the have-nots too little any such redistribution implies that the incentive to be of value or produce something valuable is systematically reduced. In other words, the proportion of not-so-good people and not-so-good personal traits, habits, and forms of conduct and appearance will increase, and life in society will become increasingly unpleasant.
Last but not least, democracy is described as resulting in a radical change in the conduct of war. Because they can externalize the costs of their own aggression onto others (via taxes), both kings and presidents will be more than 'normally' aggressive and warlike. However, a king's motive for war is typically an ownership-inheritance dispute. The objective of his war is tangible and territorial: to gain control over some piece of real estate and its inhabitants. And to reach this objective it is in his interest to distinguish between combatants (his enemies and targets of attack) and non-combatants and their property (to be left out of the war and undamaged). Democracy has transformed the limited wars of kings into total wars. The motive for war has become ideological democracy, liberty, civilization, humanity. The objectives are intangible and elusive: the ideological "conversion" of the losers preceded by their "unconditional" surrender (which, because one can never be certain about the sincerity of conversion, may require such means as the mass murder of civilians). And the distinction between combatants and non-combatants becomes fuzzy and ultimately disappears under democracy, and mass war involvement the draft and popular war rallies as well as "collateral damage" become part of war strategy.
Finally, the third myth shattered is the belief that there is no alternative to Western welfare-democracies a la US. Again, theory demonstrates otherwise. First, this belief is false because the modern welfare-state is not a "stable" economic system. It is bound to collapse under its own parasitic weight, much like Russian-style socialism imploded a decade ago. More importantly, however, an economically stable alternative to democracy exists. The term I propose for this alternative is "natural order."
In a natural order every scarce resource, including all land, is owned privately, every enterprise is funded by voluntarily paying customers or private donors, and entry into every line of production, including that of property protection, conflict arbitration, and peacemaking, is free. A large part of my book concerns the explanation of the workings the logic of a natural order and the requirements for the transformation from democracy to a natural order.
Whereas states disarm their citizens so as to be able to rob them more surely (thereby rendering them more vulnerable also to criminal and terrorist attack), a natural order is characterized by an armed citizenry. This feature is furthered by insurance companies, which play a prominent role as providers of security and protection in a natural order. Insurers will encourage gun ownership by offering lower premiums to armed (and weapons-trained) clients. By their nature insurers are defensive agencies. Only "accidental" not: self-inflicted, caused or provoked damage is "insurable." Aggressors and provocateurs will be denied insurance coverage and are thus weak. And because insurers must indemnify their clients in case of victimization, they must be concerned constantly about the prevention of criminal aggression, the recovery of misappropriated property, and the apprehension of those liable for the damage in question.
Furthermore, the relationship between insurer and client is contractual. The rules of the game are mutually accepted and fixed. An insurer cannot "legislate," or unilaterally change the terms of the contract. In particular, if an insurer wants to attract a voluntarily paying clientele, it must provide for the foreseeable contingency of conflict in its contracts, not only between its own clients but especially with clients of other insurers. The only provision satisfactorily covering the latter contingency is for an insurer to bind itself contractually to independent third-party arbitration. However, not just any arbitration will do. The conflicting insurers must agree on the arbitrator or arbitration agency, and in order to be agreeable to insurers, an arbitrator must produce a product (of legal procedure and substantive judgment) that embodies the widest possible moral consensus among insurers and clients alike. Thus, contrary to statist conditions, a natural order is characterized by stable and predictable law and increased legal harmony.
Moreover, insurance companies promote the development of another "security feature." States have not just disarmed their citizens by taking away their weapons, democratic states in particular have also done so in stripping their citizens of the right to exclusion and by promoting instead through various non-discrimination, affirmative action, and multiculturalist policies forced integration. In a natural order, the right to exclusion inherent in the very idea of private property is restored to private property owners.
Accordingly, to lower the production cost of security and improve its quality, a natural order is characterized by increased discrimination, segregation, spatial separation, uniculturalism (cultural homogeneity), exclusivity, and exclusion. In addition, whereas states have undermined intermediating social institutions (family households, churches, covenants, communities, and clubs) and the associated ranks and layers of authority so as to increase their own power vis-a-vis equal and isolated individuals, a natural order is distinctly un-egalitarian: "elitist," "hierarchical," "proprietarian," "patriarchical," and "authoritorian," and its stability depends essentially on the existence of a self-conscious natural voluntarily acknowledged aristocracy."
Yes most of the integrists (they are hardly "traditional") are just as anti-American as you. If you'd prefer to molly-coddle terrorists, perhaps hiding behind some perfumed monarch is the natural thing to do.
The Religion Forum is known for "Catholics" who despise the Pope or don't recognize his authority at all.