By Charlie Johnston
On Easter of 2008, I saw the Lord at the Vigil. He said to me, “Now the hour of darkness comes upon the world, but be not afraid: the darkness will not prevail.”
Whew, this has been one LONG hour!
All who value the culture of life were deeply disheartened at Ireland’s vote to legalize abortion on demand. As I noted in my little poem, though, it was the last wall to fall – not the first. What is especially disheartening is that in both the case of gay “marriage” and abortion, the Irish people voted in favor of it rather than had it imposed on them by a distant elite class. The left celebrates it as an expansion of “women’s rights.” It is no more an expansion of women’s rights than the institution of death camps in the 1940’s was an expansion of Germans’ rights.
The modern axis of evil is centered around: 1) leftist neo-fascism, 2) the violently aggressive Jihadist minority in the Middle East which has infiltrated much of the rest of the world and, 3) the government of China.
Leftism has reached its (hopefully terminal) White Queen stage. When its fascist leaders are not busy screeching “Off with their heads” about any who annoy them, they busy themselves insisting on impossible things. The White Queen told Alice (in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass) that she often believed “six impossible things before breakfast.” Modern leftists have her beat; they believe nothing but impossible things all day long. There are 20, or 30 or God knows how many genders, none having any relation to actual biology whatsoever. Arguments involving actual facts, evidence and logic are actually just expressions of white patriarchy. Oh, and white patriarchy has little to do with actual Caucasians – it applies to any of any race who do not second the impossible things the left insists on. People can be any race they imagine themselves to be, for race itself has no relation to actual biology or genetics in the leftist formulation. In more genteel times this was understood for precisely what it actually is: angry, barking insanity.
Ah, but education has entered its Wizard of Oz stage. Like the wizard with the scarecrow near the end, educators can’t actually teach anything (how could the blind safely lead the blind?) BUT they can give them a diploma. Thus, our universities are become indoctrination centers and credentials mills, the support system for the cult of impossible things. Since they can’t actually win an argument, they simply shut down, censor, vilify and attack (often violently – just like the fascists of yore) any who can. So our modern elite consists of experts without expertise, sophisticates without sophistication, and moralists without virtue.
Invincible ignorance has consequences. The learning curve of the modern left is a flat line. Nowhere is that more apparent than in their inability to grasp the iron rule of economics and human behavior: what you reward you get more of and what you punish you get less of. This manifested itself in foreign affairs by the “sophisticated” determination that smart diplomacy consists of bullying your friends and the vulnerable while appeasing enemies and the violently evil. The elite were shocked when Ronald Reagan confronted the Soviet Union, Libya, and other aggressors. They were convinced he was going to get us all killed. They were even more shocked when he toppled the Soviet Union and defanged Libya. After he left the scene, they went back to their preferred “smart” diplomacy, which gave us a nuclear and threatening North Korea, the same in Iran, and an ascendant and violent Jihadist terror movement. Once again, they are shocked when Donald Trump confronts these evils directly – and more shocked that it has been working. They do not learn. They think they can make dumb diplomacy smart by simply calling it so and appealing to their own empty expertise.
You know what really connects almost all episodes of mass shootings in America? It is not that guns are usually used: guns are used far more frequently in self-defense. Rather, it is that in the great majority of such instances, the perpetrator had previously (and often frequently) been brought to the attention of law enforcement authorities – who either did nothing or thought they could solve the problem by enhancing the future perpetrators’ self-esteem. The leftist neo-fascist thinks the law is only properly used to punish wrongthink. On crime, he attacks the tools used to perpetrate it while coddling and enabling the criminals who abuse those tools. And so we have prominent leftist officials yammering on about the “spark of divinity” in the ultra-violent MS-13 gang.
In economics, across my lifetime the cycle has become predictable. The left stifles the economy by piling on regulations and taxes to facilitate their own spending sprees – until people get fed up and elect conservatives who start rolling regulations and taxes back, reviving the economy. It always shocks the elites. Then people get complacent, the left starts reviving its absurd economic schemes until they are once more shocked by a populist revolt. The predictable rinse and repeat cycle has gotten terribly wearisome to this old fellow. But the leftist neo-fascists never learn.
I no longer believe leftist professions of compassion and caring. If they meant it, they would show some concern to make sure their programs actually work to better the lives of those they say they care for. What is common among all their policy initiatives is that they shift power away from ordinary people and to the state, the bureaucracy of which the left runs regardless of who is president. Once the power shift is accomplished, they remain utterly unconcerned about the effectiveness of the policy initiative. In the last few days the left was in an uproar about pictures of illegal alien children separated from their parents and behind cages. This proved Donald Trump was a heartless brute and we needed action to stop him now. Until they found out that the pictures were from 2014 and were from Obama’s tenure – and then it was no big deal to them. They didn’t care about the issue, only its potential to regain them power. When Trump made an extraordinary offer to regularize 1.8 million DACA recipients in exchange for shutting off the spigot of illegal immigration through shutting down chain migration and the lottery, the left would have nothing to do with it. Their compassion did NOT extend to folks already living in the shadows here if it meant shutting off the source of new dependent voters. Look hard – every proposal the left makes enhances their own power. Once they gain that power, the objects of their compassion are quickly forgotten. The poor and the downtrodden are merely collateral damage in the left’s quest for power.
If a great battle is being fought in America over whether people will retain the right to govern themselves or submit to being ruled by an incompetent and arrogant elite, that battle seems to be already lost in Western Europe. England has come to resemble 1984’s Oceania, rather than the land of Churchill and Thatcher. British police can’t – or won’t protect adolescent girls from rape and murder at the hands of Islamic grooming gangs. But they monitor social media postings relentlessly – and are quick to arrest anyone who complains of it. British police are soft on crime, but brutally hard on wrongthink. It is no longer a free country. Europe is overrun by unvetted immigrants from Islamic countries. In Germany, they struggle with Islamic “rape gangs.” Western Europe is no longer capable of or concerned with defending itself. If ISIS regroups from the Trump administration’s obliteration of them in the Middle East, it will regroup in Europe. Unelected bureaucrats at the European Union ironically accuse any country which dissents from their rule as being “undemocratic.” Democracy does NOT mean, “Submit to your incompetent superiors!” In 1986, Alexander Natta, the head of the Italian Communist Party, complained to Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev that they had defended indefensible abuses and, in the process, created “…a bureaucratic apparatus, which serves itself,” and had swelled uncontrollably. Gorbachev agreed with the point. Now, in America at least, we are engaged in a great battle between a leviathan bureaucracy that serves itself and the very principle of self-government.
There are only two fundamental ways of determining who will wield power: through persuasion or through coercive force. The American founders chose the route of persuasion. The pre-requisites for making this possible were an absolute commitment to free political speech, extending the franchise to all who were stakeholders (those who accepted the responsibilities of citizenship as well as enjoying its benefits) in the society (though this was imperfectly expressed until after the Civil War and, then, the extension of suffrage to women), and the rigorous defense of actual individual rights as understood in natural law against any predations by a mendacious majority. Over time, each of these principles has been badly perverted – some beyond recognition.
The American founders set that principle in a framework of minimalist government. Government was NOT to be defined by what it did for you, but how effectively it got out of your way. The founders knew that when government was defined by what it does for you, it would soon be overtaken by a self-serving bureaucratic apparatus that would focus on what it could do TO you and what it could force you to do. The commitment was that if government confined itself to minimal, enumerated authority on things such as war and peace, genuine interstate commerce, a people unfettered by government constraints would reveal their genius, producing prosperity and happiness – and would deal with common problems through the spontaneous formation of voluntary associations which would accomplish social justice more effectively and frugally than any government could. As a hedge against that, the states were given far more extensive power to experiment with government entitlements and authority denied the federal government, only constrained against violating actual rights under natural law. We are far, far from the vision that initially sparked such innovation, creativity and prosperity under liberty that drove this country to become a great power. Even most conservatives now define government by what it can do for you.
All political theory is composed of competing doctrines of power. It posits who should be the winners, who should be the losers, and how to make your faction into the winner dominating – or even oppressing – the losing faction. Even the deist and agnostic founders emphasized the importance of religion in maintaining the stability of the system they created. Christianity is not a doctrine of power, but a religion of love. It particularly refines the doctrine of persuasion, as it posits that all men are created in the very image of God, sharing by adoption and inheritance in His divine dignity. Men are not to be coerced except for real offenses against the community (and wrongthink is NOT a real offense). Christianity maintains that, building each other up through love, everyone can win and live in dignity and autonomy, that life is not merely a grubby scrabble for power and dominance.
This is largely why leftist neo-fascists so loathe Christianity. While it maintains they, too, should be free to live as they choose under their own free will with dignity, it demolishes their conceit that they are superior beings who ought to decide what everyone else should do and how they should live. It destroys their claims to supreme power. This, at bottom, is what we are at battle with – and these are dark times, indeed.
In the midst of this, most of our institutional churches are paralyzed, riven between prelates who live and preach fidelity to the plain words of Christ and His apostles – and other prelates who think their job is to assure us we are all okay just as we are and to explain why Christ did not actually mean what He plainly says. If we are to prevail, if we are going to be on God’s side this time, the leadership will come from the ordinary men and women around us who are committed to faith, family and freedom. As leftist neo-fascists seek to marginalize – and even outlaw – Christian expression, it is good to remember St. John Paul’s words from Redemptor Hominis, largely directed at another authoritarian movement then beginning its death throes: “It is therefore difficult…to accept a position that gives only atheism the right of citizenship in public and social life while believers are barely tolerated…or are even entirely deprived of the rights of citizenship.”
When he was Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, St. John Paul rarely directly challenged the oppressive Communist regime on political grounds, but consistently outmaneuvered it on cultural grounds. The state would acknowledge only secular marriages. So people all went through the motions – but unless you could say which Church you were later married in, people did not consider you actually married. In Nowa Huta, the Polish government revoked the building permit for a church. So Cardinal Wojtyla erected a steel cross at the site they sought to build on and began celebrating open air Masses every Christmas Eve, regardless of weather. The Communists frequently took down the steel crosses. Rather than registering a complaint, the good Catholics just put up a new one every time an old one was taken down. Authorities finally decided it would be less of a spectacle just to give the permit. When permits were not issued in other areas, Cardinal Wojtyla instituted the concept of parishes without churches. Priests would go door-to-door, ministering to people in an area, then petitioning for a building permit. When it was not given, they would just hold Mass outdoors anyway. Officials often sought to weaponize the law against Priests. When a bothersome Priest was hit with a ridiculous and onerous tax bill, Cardinal Wojtyla told him to present himself for arrest. Wojtyla went with him and told authorities that, until the matter was resolved, he would personally take over the pastoral responsibilities for the man’s Parish. Authorities decided they were better off leaving the Priest alone rather than having the Cardinal rousing the faithful right in their midst.
I don’t know how, exactly, to apply this to the dark situation surrounding us, but it is worthy of deep contemplation. What I do know is that we have a lot of darkness yet to get through before this hour is up. May we resolve to simply speak the truth, with courage and grace, that we may be lights leading the way to the other side of darkness. Think on these things. However black things seem, I have it on good authority that the darkness will not prevail.