Saturday, March 20, 2010

Not Quite Alone

“What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue!” – Burke

About fifteen years ago a man named Charles Sykes wrote a book, called Dumbing Down Our Kids, which was considered a classic in conservative circles. I read the book a few years after its publication. The book was terrible. Sykes criticized the liberals for teaching values instead of facts. We had to get back to facts and nothing but facts was Sykes’ mantra. If you think you hear the echo of Thomas Gradgrind in Sykes’ plea for facts, you are right; he does sound like Thomas Gradgrind:
Now, what I want is, facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!
Sykes’ response to an educational establishment that taught liberal values was to resurrect a “factoid” method of education that leaves the human soul out of the picture. Sykes’ book revealed the moral bankruptcy of contemporary conservatism. A conservative, Godless, value-free Sykes’ education or an atheistic, value-laden, liberal education is a Hobson’s choice.

A book that was much better than Sykes’ ‘classic’ work was the book, The Public Orphanage: How Public Schools Are Making Parents Irrelevant by Eric Buehrer. In his book, Buehrer made the case for values in education. The liberals were not wrong to teach values, Buehrer maintained, they were wrong to teach liberal values. I couldn’t agree more. Virtue does not consist of avoiding the bad, it consists of loving and actively pursuing the good. Herman Melville’s reading of Shakespeare sheds some light on this issue. The evil bastard son of Gloucester in Shakespeare’s King Lear has this to say about bastards:
Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well, then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate: fine word,--legitimate!
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
In the margin beside that passage in his copy of Shakespeare, Herman Melville wrote, “There is often an energy to demonism that mere virtue often lacks.” Melville is correct. The spiritual void in the conservatives’ pragmatic, value-free education cannot compete with the liberals’ utopian, value-laden education. The liberals get the cream of the white crop of the current generation because they have a faith. Nor do those who reject utopian liberalism embrace pragmatic conservatism; they embrace despair. It was not always thus. In the early to mid-20th century, there were still men of European ancestry, such as Russell Kirk, Andrew Lytle, and Whittaker Chambers, who saw and espoused a conservatism grounded in the traditional Christianity of the European people. And so long as virtue and faith were connected, there was still a Promethean fire in the virtuous European to counter the demonism of the liberals. However, when the conservatives became positivists the fire died and the liberals held the field unopposed by any force capable of halting their advance toward what they see as Utopia, but which is in reality Hell on Earth.

The internecine wars of Christian Europeans – Catholic vs. Protestant, Cavalier vs. Roundhead, Royalist vs. Covenanter, and so on – were terrible. But those conflicts, waged by the worst on each side, were always settled by the grace of God working in the best on both sides. The greater tragedy is the tragedy of modern Europe. There is no Christian army in the field; there is only the army of liberals. The pragmatic, utilitarian conservatives do not even constitute an opposition, because they are not interested in fighting liberalism. They only want to make it more conformable to their pragmatism.

The greatest of all tragedies has befallen the European people. They have descended to the level of swine; they are content to merely feed and wallow in garbage. The superficiality of our modern swinish culture indicates that the European has arrived at the last stop on the road to oblivion. One is reminded of the Greek soldiers in Homer’s Odyssey. The evil sorceress, Kirke, gives the men what they seek, swinish oblivion. But the pagan hero, Odysseus, rescues them with a magic herb and his sword. It will take a Christian hero, with faith instead of a magic herb, to wield the sword that frees his people from swinish oblivion.

God is to be found in the depths so if God is to be avoided it is necessary to create a superficial world where there is no depth. We need look no further than academia to see such a world. In academia, the abstraction rules; something is considered sacred to the extent it contradicts the essential truths of the European heritage. Old Europe was patriarchal; academia is matriarchal. Old Europe was Christian; academia is anti-Christian. Old Europe kept the black savage at bay; academia worships the black savage. And our entire society has become part of academia. What started out as little pockets of superficiality confined within the halls of academia has spread to every nook and cranny of the European nations. Now, wherever there are Europeans gathered together we no longer see human beings we see swine. This is a heartbreaking sight if you once knew, through a sympathetic connection to the Europeans of the past, the Europeans when they were human.

The colored barbarians, who never quite reached the fully human level of existence, have always had more in common with the large, predatory animals than with the antique European. They are delighted with the new swinish Europeans because swine are easy to slaughter.

We few, the remnant Europeans, are not pagans like Odysseus. We do not believe in magic talismans. Our God has told us, and shown us, that divine charity is above and superior to magic talismans. But we can, like Odysseus, attack the evil sorceress who has consigned our kith and kin to swinish oblivion. The scientistic, egoistic spirit of the modern age, which is spewed out like garbage in our schools, our churches, and every major educational outlet of the modern world by conservatives and liberals alike, must be resisted and defeated so that the swine can see His world.

“But can swine see and believe?”

“They were not always swine. If one swinish European reclaims his humanity, will not more follow in his train? That is a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

Solzhenitsyn stated in his great work, The Gulag Archipelago, that he felt like the Gulag was a nation unto itself. The prisoners were physically isolated from Russian society but they were a truer, better society than the Russia outside the Gulag, because in the Gulag there was a true communion of souls.

In post-Christian, swinish Europe, the Christian European does not even have the comfort of knowing there are others in the Gulag that think and feel like him. His isolation is greater. He needs communion with other hearts like his, but he cannot find any in the herds of European swine. The only strengthening comfort left for the Christian European, and it is no small comfort, is communion with the dead. And of course, I’m not referring to some kind of spiritualist séance; I’m talking about that silken tie of sympathy that links one human soul to another. The communion of saints is more than just a phrase; the dead are alive, and they speak to us from His world because He sustains all true communion with His love. We only see through a glass darkly, but we must hold to that dark vision or the white European world will become a permanent feeding trough for swine who were once human beings. +

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