On 17 July 2005, Saint Alexis
„They are vulnerable to the truth …. Let the truth then be known …. Let us put the truth more sharply …. The truth, however, does not automatically take care of itself …. We must, however, dispel illusion …. Civilizations die, in truth, only by suicide …. Just as in the case of individuals, so in that of social organisms, there can come a point where the will to survive vanishes …. The crux then is in the will …. There is no formula for an answer. In politics [“the struggle for power”], as in individual life, the foundation principle seems to be: the first responsibility is one’s own; accepting that, one does what one can.” (James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism (1950), pp. 179, 180, 43, 194, 18, 277, 54, 276, 247)
„The two terrible wars [World War I and World War II] in which even the victors had been defeated had left the unhealed scars of moral deterioration.” (James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism (1950), p. 50)
„Propaganda has always entered into the conduct of human affairs. In our time  its role has been monstrously expanded by the invention of new techniques of communication, by the increase of mass literacy, by advances in psychological knowledge, and by the enfeeblement of fixed traditional beliefs which leaves the human psyche more exposed to manipulation. The strategists of modern warfare have all come to accept, though with varying emphasis, the use of propaganda as a supplement to arms. The communists, and more recently many non-communists, have also understood the use of propaganda as a substitute for arms.” (James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism (1950), p. 165)
The determining element – “the key to the situation” which will decide the issues of war and peace today, as well as clarify the larger world struggle for power, is, I believe, the strategic reality of incommensurate religious cultures, to include the reality of secular religions, like Zionism, resurgent Trotskyite Marxism, and Neo-Capitalist “Messianic Democracy.”
If I am in error here about the lack of common measure – the incommensurability – which dangerously exists in the very meaning of the concepts of “war” and “peace” today, as understood by prevailing religious cultures (to include the growing culture of Neo-Paganism in the West), then I propose to discover a deeper reality, which is now, however, hidden from me. “The key to the situation” is often hidden, except to a man of military or political genius – and also, perhaps, to a man of religious genius, like Mohammed (who was also a military and political genius).
What, for example, is the common understanding of “the nature of modern war” and “the sources of peace” in the transcendental religions of Islam and Christianity, not only traditional Roman Catholicism and the various Protestant Reform denominations, but also modern Christian Zionism and other millenarian or apocalyptic sects today (which have their roots in earlier “Old Testament Heresies” like Hussite-Taborites of Bohemia or the Anabaptists of Münster)? In an article entitled “The Virtue of Hate,” a contemporary Jewish author from Israel emphasizes an even deeper incommensurability because of “the contrast between the two Testaments” – Old and New – and he affirms that “the nature of the Jewish and Christian responses to evil … are related to their differing understandings of forgiveness.”
What are the common understandings of war and peace, moreover, in the secular religions of historic communism and current Zionism? Or in the resurgent, “anti-imperial” Leftist Internationalism of the Neo-Trotskyites?
Back in 1950 – the year when the Congress for Cultural Freedom was also first established in then-divided Berlin – James Burnham soberly said to his tired generation: “If you are right in expecting peace in our age, then the burden of proof is on you.” And, subsequently, he added:
Neuroticism, insanity, and the comic are, however, largely a matter of context …. Putting money each week in the savings bank is not sensible behavior during an unrestrained inflation; bringing suit [litigation] for libel is not a mark of sanity in a revolution. What is historical madness depends upon what historical reality is …. But what then of [… “the Chamberlains” and “the Roosevelts,” both of them sentimental utopians], many of whose actions can be explained only by the hypothesis that they imagined themselves to be living in another century than their own?
What about us today? What illusions are we submitting to? What illusions are we willing to submit ourselves to, slothfully and servilely, or at least unthinkingly? Is there even a common and unequivocal understanding among professed Christians about what the religious genius, Saint Augustine, meant by “the tranquillity of order” (“tranquillitas ordinis”), which was his own succinct definition of peace? (Pax est tranquillitas ordinis) What might this mean in our current context, not in the early Fifth, but in the early Twenty-First Century?
In the longer light of history, what, if any, is the common standard of definition, the common specific measure, of just war and true peace in Islam, Christianity, or Post-Christian Religious Judaism (Talmudic or Cabbalistic), much less in secular Zionism and the ideology of “Global Democracy”?
When Saint Augustine spoke of peace as the tranquillity of order, and not only in his own embattled context in North Africa (circa 410-430 A.D.), after the Sack of Rome (410 A.D.), he meant a rooted order based on justice and the complementary generosity of mercy and the possibility, through Grace, of forgiveness.
He knew that people who did not believe in forgiveness hardened in their evil and in their hearts.
But, what trust do we have about true forgiveness? And, having received forgiveness ourselves under certain strict and honest conditions before God – without guile, without humbug – can we then, and will we, also render forgiveness to others: forgiveness from the heart?! From the heart.
Especially with reference to our intimate trust about the possibility and indispensability of forgiveness, wherein lies our trust, finally? And by what authority? And on what grounds? For, trust is so important, and, without trust, there can be no deeper peace, or not for long.
Trust, like gratitude, enables an inner joy. Saint Augustine himself often spoke about gaudium de veritate – the joy that comes from the truth. Slightly distinct from laetitia in Latin (which means a more outward, expressive joy), gaudium connotes a serene and interior joy, which we often radiantly articulate, he says, in the verbum cordis, in the interior word of our heart.
G. K. Chesterton once profoundly said that “the test of all happiness is gratitude,” but what do we truly consider as a gift? What gifts do we acknowledge ourselves to be the beneficiaries of? And what truths, if we are honest, give us joy? To include the joy of gratitude, as distinct from the desolation of ingratitude?
What truths do we affirm with joy? In our beliefs, what are the sources and measures of an interior as well as exterior “tranquillity of order,” as distinct from some enfeebling sentimentalism or “sham religion which glosses over our tragedies and excuses our sins.” Some such sham religions even irrationally – but opportunistically and self-servingly – deny and negate the law of contradiction, as in the Hegelian or Marxist “dialectic.” Communism, for example, spoke of “peaceful coexistence” and “the zone of peace,” but their meaning – for those who wanted to grasp reality – had to be understood “within the system of revolutionary dialectic.”
For example, in support of “the fatalist attitude” of “dialectical materialism” and “historical materialism,” Friedrich Engels once candidly, but self-refutingly, said: “Freedom is the recognition of necessity.” That is to say, freedom is an illusion, even Engels’ free will and “free reason” to make that statement.
There are further implications of such a doctrine of immutable necessity or fatalism, as in the religious doctrine of John Calvin and of Mohammed’s “Kismet.” It has to do with its implications for human responsibility. As Hilaire Belloc observed in 1931, there is also “this positive force of fatalism” in “the new Paganism” which he saw growing about him in England and in wider Europe – also as a result of Modern Science (as in the case, for example, with fatalistic Neuroscience today). Moreover, he said:
This fatalist attitude … is a temptation to which the human intellect has yielded on important occasions from as far back as we can trace its recorded experience and definitions. To the mind in that mood all things are part of an unchangeable process following from cause to effect immutably …. And one very powerful agent in producing this mood [“this positive force of fatalism” and “this new sense of Doom”] is the desire to be rid of responsibility.”
So, too, with the secular religion of communism, itself a sham religion.
James Burnham, himself a former Trotskyite who knew from the inside the allure and seduction of Communism – and its “immense attraction to the disheveled modern soul” – will help us think these matters through to the end. Writing in 1949-1950, not only after “the February 1948 Prague Coup,” but also after the 1949 Communist conquest of China and after he was no longer a Communist himself, Burnham said:
Communism is not only an underground army [conducting “political-subversive warfare” and “strategic psychological deception”] and a conquering empire, but a secular religion, the systematic dogma [i.e., irreformable doctrine] of which is the ideology of “dialectical materialism.” The communist religion is secular in that its Paradise is of this world, not of a world beyond space and time and the grave.
Even in 1946, Burnham called the struggle against the communist religion “The Third World War,” which he believed to have begun even before the formal end of the Second World War, namely in April 1944, because of the Soviet maneuvers and purposive incitements against the Greek navy then operating out of Egypt.
Some now say that we are already in the Fourth World War, or at least in its preliminary stages. But, who is the enemy? Is it Islam? Is it Zionism? Is it some other secular religion? Is it some other well-armed and fevered ideology?
Does the enemy now also ineluctably include some surviving and reviving military-religious culture like historic Mohammedanism, which is usually now called Islam? Indeed, is it true that what is now often called “Islamo-Fascism” is also actually a clear and present mortal enemy of the increasingly secularized and apostate West – i.e., a West which is certainly apostate from its own Christian foundations and moral atmosphere? And what are current Islam’s own theologically based and often historically expressed doctrines and actions concerning war and peace?
Furthermore, what are the doctrines and historically expressed actions of modern Zionism, at least since 1948, when it attained a form of temporal power in the State of Israel (as distinct from the merely promised homeland for Jews) in Palestine?
Nor should we forget, in this context, the “dialectical ideology” of “messianic democracy” in the secular struggle for power. The combination of all three is very dangerous, indeed – militant Mohammedanism, militant Zionism, and militant “messianic democracy” – especially because they are in confrontation with a “provocatively weak” Christianity. That is to say, a pathetically vestigial Christianity, at least as a corporate society and a strategically-minded religious culture, to include even the Roman Catholic Church today.
Himself noting already in 1936 the decomposition of the influence and “domination of Europeans – still nominally Christian,” Belloc expected the recrudescence and martial resurgence of “an armed Mohammedan world,” because:
Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude toward the universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it – we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today [in 1936, on the threshold of the Second World War]. The bad work begun at the Reformation is bearing its final fruit in the dissolution of our ancestoral doctrines – the very structure of our society is dissolving. In place of the old Christian enthusiasms of Europe there came, for a time, the enthusiasm for nationality, the religion of patriotism [like the religion of Jewish nationalism still today]. But self-worship is not enough, and the forces which are making for the destruction of our culture, notably the Jewish Communist propaganda from Moscow, have a likelier future before them than our old-fashioned patriotisms.
Less than a year later, in May of 1937, Hilaire Belloc conveyed a similar insight to an audience in the United States, at Fordham University, as expressed in his longer book, The Crisis of Civilization (1937):
Religion is the main determining element in the formation of a culture or civilization. Some would use the word “philosophy” rather that religion. But a social philosophy, that is, an attitude with regard to the universe held by great numbers of men in common for long spaces of time and throughout a whole society, is inevitably clothed with forms; it will always and necessarily have some liturgy of its own, some ritual, some symbols, even though it does not consciously affirm any transcendental doctrines. For example, the modern worship of the nation, the modern philosophy whereby our prime duty is regarded as being our duty to the State of which we are members [or, increasingly, “servile subjects”] – the general modern conception that affection for and loyalty towards our country is the chief political duty of man – is indeed a philosophy. But it is all in practice a religion, it has its symbols, its revered officers, its regular sequence of public ritual and all the rest of it. And if this is true of a mere philosophy, a mere mundane attitude towards visible and ephemeral things, it is quite certainly true of any positive strongly held conviction upon the Divine element in the arrangements of mankind.
Belloc then helpfully illustrates his meaning, “that a culture is formed by its religion”:
A group of human beings which believes, in general and firmly, that good or evil-doing in this life are followed by corresponding consequences after death, that the individual soul is immortal, that God is one and the common omnipotent Father of all, will behave in one way; and a group which denies all reality in ideas of the sort will behave in another. A group which concentrates its spiritual vision upon the image of terrifying and even maleficent powers will behave thus and thus; another group, which upon the whole contemplates more genial powers friendly to man and in tune with beauty, will act otherwise. The whole of a human group is given its savor and character by the spirit which thus inhabits it; and that spirit may justly be called in nearly every case a religion – although if the term be preferred it may (in cases where the sense of mystery is weak) be termed a philosophy [rather than a religion] …. If such and such things are held in awe, others [held] in abhorrence, and others again presumed indifferent [i.e, as a mere matter of indifference], such and such is the result upon Society as a whole. Change the elements, regard with abhorrence what was formerly thought of with indifference, [and hold] with indifference what was formerly held sacred, and the whole character of your polity is transformed. This we can see today [in 1937] by comparing at least a part of the new world developing before our eyes with the world of the last generation: that older world the sanctions and sentiments of which so many are now abandoning.
Because of his own intellectual integrity, Belloc challenges his own postulate, and his challenging contrasts will also clarify our mind. He says (again speaking in 1937) that
Efforts have been made to give some other element than this element of religion (or philosophy) the determining character in a civilization. Thus, many may seek that determining character in race or blood …. Others propose economic circumstances as the determining element and say that a polity is what it is through the way in which wealth is produced and distributed therein. But these and all other explanations are really no more than a restatement of a philosophy or religion. The man who makes race everything … is merely preaching a religion of race. The man who makes economic circumstance everything is merely preaching the religion of materialism. Indeed, to do them justice, both consciously proclaim this truth: that a culture is formed by its religion …. The Marxian Communist, in proclaiming economic circumstance to be everything in forming a culture, does not disguise his open and emphatic materialism [i.e., his “religion of materialism”].
Belloc then concludes the defense of his fundamental premise (and mine), as follows:
This second postulate, that religion is the making of a culture, will upon a sufficient examination, I think, be granted; and if it is at first unfamiliar and therefore doubted, that is because we are accustomed to think of religion as a private matter, whereas, in social fact, it is a public one. Things really [not just nominally, but especially] held to be sacred are held sacred throughout the society which is affected by them.
Religion – religious culture – is a potent and formative social fact.
These postulates and the larger context may help us better now to deal with our current topics, more completely, more thoroughly.
It is therefore the contention of this essay on comparative religious and strategic cultures – to include the strategic culture of the secular religion of Zionism, as well as the deft and resourcefully energetic strategic culture of Post-Christian Judaism (which is largely Talmudic, and sometimes also Cabbalistic) – that we must first of all see the facts, the reality, not merely their respective and sometimes specious words, especially concerning War and Peace, and in justification of themselves.
If we do not see the deeper realities about Islam and Zionism, if we do not come to know them more intimately by their historic fruits and by their current fruits, wherever and whenever they have been in power, then we will likely lose our sense of proportion and nourish illusions instead of “the truth of things” (the veritas rerum). This veritas rerum, moreover, is not always sad nor hard and full of tears, as the poet Virgil often implied! (“Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.” – “There are tears at the heart of things and all things that perish touch the heart of man.”) Without access to certain crucial realities and determining facts, we are more likely to set up intrinsically unfulfillable expectations, and to be deceived, especially with the willing collaboration of our self-deception – as well as, perhaps, our fear.
Such illusions, when rudely shattered, will likely sap our confidence and further sabotage our most intimate trust. Such shattered trust, so hard to repair, may also then lead us to overreaction: i.e., to resentment and punishing unforgiveness, and even to a dangerous desperation and a reckless abandon in further wars – in what the Chinese themselves have recently called “unrestricted warfare.” (The goals are focused and disciplined, the means are unbounded, to include what they call “non-military forms of warfare.”)
“In any case,” says Burnham, “it takes only one side to make a war and to define its stakes.” To the extent that we truly desire to enhance the prospects of peace as a dynamic “tranquillity of order,” based upon our abiding disposition to be just (suum cuique reddere), as well as merciful (misericors), and to give, also to our enemies, forgiveness from the heart, we ourselves must be nourished from deeper sources of truth, troth, and trust. Superficiality is not enough, nor mere nature.
In Evelyn Waugh’s historical novel of the late third and early fourth century after Christ, entitled Helena, he depicts the prayer of a mother (the future Saint Helena) for her son, the Emperor Constantine. The prayer reflects some profound insights about war and peace.
It is a meditative prayer offered up in Bethlehem early on the Feast of the Epiphany (6 January – Twelfth-Day – i.e., twelve days after Christmas, also known as the Feast of the Nativity). Helena was attentively present there before attending Mass in a little church at the shrine of the Nativity. She was, says Waugh, “dead to everything [even her quest for the True Cross] except the swaddled child long ago and those three royal sages who has come from so far to adore him.” The Emperor’s Mother then especially identifies with the three Magi, for, like her, they, too, were late-comers to Christ. Addressing them in her imagination, she says:
“Like me, … you were late in coming. The shepherds were here long before; even the cattle …. How laboriously you came, taking sights and calculating, where the shepherds had run barefoot …. You came at length to the final stage of your pilgrimage as the great star stood still above you. What did you do? You stopped to call on King Herod [who himself, thereafter and as a consequence, ordered that lethal hunt for Christ himself which led to “the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents,” those whom the Latin poet Prudentius called the “Flores Martyrum” – “the Flowers of the Martyrs,” as distinct from the later and fuller Fruits]. Deadly exchange of compliments in which there began that unended war of mobs and magistrates against the innocent.”
Some thirty years later, as those of the Christian Faith believe, another mob and other magistrates and religious elites would again call out for the Blood of the Innocent, and prefer Barabbas instead. For, such was the Humility of God – and such was His selfless Love, to the end.
Today, moreover, there is still afoot – and sometimes it seems so pervasive – an almost mystical hatred of innocence and purity. And this attitude is not a good preparation for peace. Indeed, we men are not only sending our women to do our fighting for us, even in unjust wars of aggression, but, with the craven help of medical doctors (another weapon of mass destruction), we are killing the innocent in the womb and out sight; and we are, let us face the fact, morally speaking thereby drowning in the blood of our children. When men can be so soft and so slothful and so craven in effective tolerance and active complicity with this killing, there will be no peace. And, certainly, there will be no internal tranquillity of order. Those who would aid the establishment of true peace must squarely face this sad fact, and then, by way of resolute action, help bring about a “strategic course correction.”
Helena now continues her prayer and her Epiphany-address to those three other late-comers to Christ with whom she so intimately identifies, even though they were, she regrets to acknowledge, so consequentially imprudent in the presence of the unjust Herod:
“Yet you came [even after what you so unknowingly set in motion], and were not turned away. You too found room before the manger. Your gifts were not needed, but they were accepted and put carefully by, for they were brought with love. In that new order of charity that had just come to life, there was room for you, too. You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or the ass.”
Then, this gracious and humble mother becomes more explicit about her own identification with the mystery of the Three Magi, or Wise Men, from the East; and she asks her spiritual “cousins” for their special intercession for her own son, who is even more a late-comer to Christ. She says:
“You are my especial patrons, … and patrons of all late-comers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth [the truth of “the new order of charity”], of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through politeness make themselves partners in guilt, [patrons] of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents. Dear cousins, pray for me, … and for my poor overloaded son [Emperor Constantine]. May he, too, before the end find kneeling-place in the straw …. For His sake who did not reject your curious gifts [“brought with love”], pray always for the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the Throne of God when the simple came into their kingdom.”
May we all remember the words of this mother, words of moral beauty and spontaneous spiritual generosity.
Furthermore, earlier in this historical novel, Helena herself was speaking in private with her “poor overloaded son,” who was still, by his own choice, unbaptised. Constantine then says to his mother that, unlike Emperor Nero, who “thought he was God,” he, however, is different:
“I know I am human. In fact I often feel that I am the only real human being in the whole creation [a very humble insight!]. And that’s not pleasant at all, I can assure you. Do you understand at all, mother?”
“Oh, yes, perfectly [says Helena].”
“What is it, then?”
“Power without Grace,” said Helena.
“Now you are going to start nagging about baptism again.”
“Sometimes,” Helena continued, “I have a terrible dream of the future [rooted in that historical, democratic vote that chose Barabbas]. Not now, but presently, people may forget their loyalty to their Kings [including their loyalty to Christ the King] and emperors and take power for themselves. Instead of letting one victim [like her son Constantine] bear this frightful curse [of “Power without Grace”] they will take it all on themselves, each one of them. Think of the misery of a whole world possessed of Power without Grace [the Libido Dominandi, sine gratia Dei].
The phrase, “libido dominandi,” occurs on the first page of Saint Augustine’s masterwork, The City of God (De Civitate Dei). For, this pejorative phrase means a deeply disordered disposition which leads sensual and prideful man even unto the contempt of God (usque ad contemptum Dei). And this uprooted and disordered spiritual attitude will certainly never lead to peace, which, we will remember, Saint Augustine defined as the “tranquillity of order” (“Pax est tranquillitas ordinis”), to include both the internal order of the soul and the external order of the commonwealth (or Bonum Commune).
An example of the sad effects of this libido dominandi and this “power without grace” is the life, vividly depicted by Waugh, of Emperor Diocletian himself. Several years after this “slave-born Diocletian ruled the world” with great power and was fawned over, his many sycophants (both military and civilian) would even “have to go in on all fours and kiss his skirts” whenever they would “ just see Diocletian in full court rig.”
Diocletian’s own soul, however, became very weary with all of this. Even though “the work of empire prospered” and “frontiers were everywhere restored and extended” and “treasure accumulated,” something still was wrong. That is to say, “in the inmost cell of the foetid termitary of power, Diocletian [himself] was consumed by huge boredom and sickly turned towards his childhood’s home.
Far away from this self-sabotaging “foetid termitary of power” and its pervasive moral stench, Diocletian wanted and attempted to escape; and, therefore, “He ordained a house of refuge on the shores of the Adriatic” whose self-sequestering “Walls grew at a startling pace.” But, “It stood in a new, raw desert of its own making.” Diocletian wanted to escape from the consequences of power, and created another wasteland – even amidst a fruitful setting on a beautiful seacost.
One is here reminded of Tacitus’ trenchant remark, in his own work entitled Agricola, which was written to honor his father-in-law, who was himself a Roman general once assigned to Britain: “Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant” (“Where they make a desolation – a devastation – they call it peace.”)
With further subtlety, therefore, Waugh then has Helena herself (who was born and raised in Britain) say to her somewhat superficial friend, Calpurnia, the following words about Diocletian’s new estate without windows or openness to the light:
“It’s not a style that would ever go down in Britain [especially not as a “house of refuge”],“ said Helena at length.
“I suppose it’s very modern, dear” [replied the more shallow Calpurnia, her companion, who was also visiting “the new palace”].
“Not a window in the whole place” [continued Helena].
“On our lovely coast [i.e., the Dalmatian Coast]” [said Calpurnia].
Do we get the impact of this subtle presentation: a refuge along the lovely coast of light of Dalmatia, with no access from within one’s own home to the outer light?!
Helena continues her conversation, without further comment, as follows:
“I never met Diocletian. My husband [Constantius, who had by then married another woman, Theodora, and had very insouciantly divorced Helena herself for political reasons!] had a great respect for him, but I don’t think he can be very nice. [And Diocletian certainly was a little shaky about Christians!]
“The coast will never be the same again if he comes to live here” [said Calpurnia]
“Perhaps he’ll never come. Emperors often don’t do what they want” [said Helena, by way of ironical conclusion].
Not knowing herself, unfortunately, what was to come, Helena then hesitatingly expressed a generous, but vain, hope. That is to say, a hope that was not to be fulfilled. She said to her politically attentive friend, Calpurnia:
“If only Constantine [my son] can keep clear of politics, I sometimes hope that perhaps one day, when he’s finished his service [his military service for the Empire], he may want to come and settle down here with me [on the Dalmatian Coast]. He’s married now with a son [Crispus, who would alas soon be dead, and perhaps even murdered]. I’ve made the place very nice for them. Just right for a retired colonel. If only he keeps clear of politics [and, therefore, stays apart from its “foetid termitary of power”].”
With her own illusions, Helena – not yet knowing what would soon be in store for her, with her own new sacred missions and growing life of grace – then said also to her friend, and very resolutely:
“I shall never move now. The time for that is past. I wanted to travel once, to Troy and Rome. After that I only wanted to go home to Britain. Now I’ve struck root here, emperors or no emperors. [Before long, however, she herself would be at home in Bethlehem in the light, and then laboring uniquely to find the true Cross of Christ, with all of its implications of spiritual light, as well.]
Evelyn Waugh’s novel of late Antiquity may serve as a vivid parable for us all. For, we, too, must now increasingly confront our own permeating forms of “power without grace” and various manifestations of “the foetid termitary of power,” imperial and otherwise. We, too, must strive to find the causes and sources of war and the source of true peace, so that we may mitigate or forestall war and enhance the prospects of peace, the tranquillity of order, both inwardly and outwardly, privately and publicly – without sentimental illusions, without intrinsically unfulfillable expectations.
As the strategic-minded James Burnham once said:
It illuminates nothing to seek refuge in vague abstractions about “peace” and “international law” and “friendship” and “cooperation.” We must be concrete. What kind of peace, on what basis? Whose law, enforced by whom? What terms of friendship? Cooperation towards what end?
Himself speaking specifically about the purposive communist manipulation of large-scale public conferences in the immediate aftermath of World War II, Burnham knew (as a former Trotskyite) that “the conferences are battlegrounds” and that such subversive “performances” are “acts of war” – part of the communist strategy of political warfare. So as to warn and correct the naiveté of the West, Burnham soberly asks: “But if I want war and you want peace, what is there to confer about?” There is no common ground for honest discourse. There is an incommensurability of purpose. And such psycho-political methods are themselves, very designedly, weapons of war.
Furthermore, Burnham says: “We give him [the enemy] an extraordinary advantage by not seeing the truth” – by “not understanding the nature of the war” as he, our enemy, sees it. For example, for the “dialectical logic” of the communist strategists of “political-subversive warfare” and the deceptive psychological warfare contained in “the continuity of Resistance” (against the declining capitalist powers in 1949 and 1950, after “the conquest of China”), war and peace have special meanings and special functions. Indeed, “each was a means of conducting the struggle for power,” because they (like Clausewitz and von Treitschke) understood that “the struggle for power … is historically continuous.”
More succinctly than Carl von Clausewitz himself (after his own deep study of Napoleon’s military campaigns), von Treitschke said: “War is only the violent form of politics.” In his own “theory of warfare,” Clausewitz had stated “his famous principle,” as follows: “War is nothing but the continuation of politics [“the struggle for social power”] by other means.”
Burnham, however, argues – even as of 1949-1950 – and during the preliminary stages of what he called the Third World War (which for him, once again, began in April 1944, even before the formal conclusion of the Second World War “in the communist-led mutiny in the Greek naval forces stationed in Alexandria,” in Egypt ):
From the facts themselves, the necessary conclusion emerges. We must, in order to remain in accord with the facts [and accept fully “the contemporary reality” – p. 75], revise Clausewitz’ principle, carry it a required step further. In our day [1949-1950], partly through general social and technological developments, and partly by the deliberate plan of the totalitarian movements, the distinction between “military” and “civilian” has been obliterated. The line of demarcation between “peace” and “war” has disappeared.
At the end of his important chapter, entitled “The Nature of Modern War,” Burnham says:
In this century [the twentieth century], all nations, whatever their theories, have had to take practically into account the changed nature of modern war. Everyone knows that wars are no longer a matter merely of armies fighting each other on battlefields. The crustiest soldier understands that the military machine is linked indissolubly to the economy as a whole, to technology and science. The hoariest sea dog will grant the need of psychological warfare, even if it doesn’t much interest him. Most staff officers will admit, I think, that wars don’t end and begin as neatly as they used to, and that what goes on in peace will have a considerable effect on what happens in war. All this may be general knowledge, and may be acted upon in practice. Nevertheless, only the communists, so far, have recognized that Clausewitz’ principle has become outworn, that the line between peace and war has vanished; and [as of 1950] only the communists are acting upon that recognition. Only the communist doctrine and practice accepts fully the contemporary reality.
There is, moreover, a profound confirmation of Burnham’s thesis in Major General J.F.C. Fuller’s 1961 book, The Conduct of War, 1789-1961: A Study of the Impact of the French, Industrial, and Russian Revolutions on War and Its Conduct, and especially in his Chapter XI, entitled “Soviet Revolutionary Warfare,” which itself contains an important section four, called “Peace as an Instrument of Revolution.”
And, what about today? With the resurgence of religion-based warfare – which is much more deeply motivated than what Burnham calls “the secular religion” of communism – what is “the contemporary reality” about “the nature of modern war,” and will we first face and accept this reality fully? Zionism itself is at least a secular religion, and is often further sustained by even deeper religious motives which are more linked to the Jewish sense of the divine and of their chosenness.
Is it not true that, whoever the enemy is, “we give him an extraordinary advantage by not seeing the truth,” by “not understanding the nature of the war,” especially as he sees it, no matter how many internal divisions the enemy himself may have? Or may appear to have!
For example, as Burnham acutely says in his 1967 book The War We Are In: The Last Decade and the Next:
It was not long after Mohammed’s death [632 A.D.] that Islam was embroiled in fierce and bloody internal disputes. These did not stop the extraordinary explosion of Islam out of the Arabian desert east to Java [Indonesia] and westward through North Africa into Spain and France. Within the frame of reference of Islam itself, the disputes, whether judged as struggles for power or for doctrinal purity, were significant enough. But within the frame of reference of Christendom, Hinduism and paganism, it really didn’t matter which Islamic wing conquered – which, that is to say, did the burying.
So, too, today, not only with resurgent Islam and intransigent Zionism (along with the help that political Zionism receives from strategically organized world Jewry and its own unmistakably political and sometimes subversive warfare); but also it is so in the case of “messianic” American Imperialism, which itself appears, more and more, to be a new form of revolutionary “dialectical materialism” in favor of a “global economy without borders” – without national limits. The ideology of Globalization itself seems to be a form of philosophical materialism and monism, and practical atheism, even if there is not a strict form of “economic determinism.” But, it now also includes “chaos theory” as well as “complexity theory” within its self-justifying ideology of power.
Unless we first fully face and acknowledge the truth about “the nature of modern warfare” – to include direct and indirect forms of modern economic and financial warfare – we shall not be aiding the establishment of a better peace. That is to say, a more rooted and fruitful tranquillity of order.
Secondly, if we refuse to seek the truth and if we continue to accept or become indifferent to and cynical about the prevalence and permeation of the Lie, we shall further sabotage trust. For, the greatest social consequence of the lie is that it breaks trust; and trust, once intimately broken, cannot ever, even with “forgiveness from the heart,” be easily repaired. Trust is so indispensable in any deep personal relation and in any community which is to advance and sustain the common good. (The current American war in Iraq comes to mind.)
If key matters of truth are effectively “taboo,” especially in the public order of essential discourse, we shall slowly atrophy – as individuals and as smaller ethnic cultures or as larger nations – or we may, alternatively, despair and seek vengeance and irrationally conceived wars of reckless abandon. (The current American war in Iraq comes to mind.)
Speaking the truth about power – real power – and speaking the truth to power is our twofold duty, although it is often a dangerous duty. This duty fulfilled and habitually sustained is a source of deep peace. Saint Augustine – himself a very courageous man – also often spoke, as we have already noted, of the “gaudium de veritate” – the joy that comes from the truth. Truth, in the classical Western understanding of philosophical realism, means “the conformity of the mind to the reality” – reality in all of its abundance. And the concept of “the truth of things” (the Veritas Rerum) means “reality manifesting itself – unveiling itself – to a knowing mind.” May we all come to know this deeper gaudium de veritate rerum.
We must avoid sentimentalism here, however. For the truth is often dangerous, especially the truth about the reality of temporal power and its often hidden instruments. The final test is martyrdom.
But, what truth are we willing to give witness to? What truth are we willing to live for and, if necessary, to die for? For, we are only as courageous as we are convinced. But, what, in our innermost being are we truly convinced of? What do we really cherish and wholeheartedly love?
And do we believe in the reality – and the necessity – of forgiveness?
Moreover, by way of contrast, what are the intimate effects of unforgiveness and of “impenitent remorse” – and of what one Jewish Rabbi from Israel, writing in the largely neo-Conservative journal First Things, has proudly called “the virtue of hate”?! He was especially speaking about the act of hate against the enemies of one’s group. Furthermore, the ancient Stoics – like the philosopher Seneca – considered mercy (misericordia) itself to be an enfeeblement, a disabling human weakness, a sign of one’s insufficient self-control and inadequate self-mastery. And even hope (spes, elpis) was regarded by the Stoics as a self-sabotaging orientation, since hope had to do with expectations of a future good, and the future, as such, was not under one’s control or mastery!
This Stoical ethos, of course, so full of pride and rigidity and the sense of self-sufficiency, is the polar opposite from the full Christian ethos, and not only with regard to mercy and hope, but also to the expectant possibility of forgiveness.
Often enough, one who disbelieves in the possibility of forgiveness becomes inwardly desperate and hardens in his evil – even though he may self-deceptively try to excuse his own sins. Indeed, not all guilt is “neurotic” – although guilt is, most certainly, “a maladjustment to reality,” a higher, invisible reality.
To the extent that our life is pervaded – or invaded – by deceit and varieties of deception – to that extent will the foundations of our trust be tested – and often shaken. Neither persons nor communities can flourish without trust.
But, wherein reposes our trust – in whom do we trust and by what authority? And what authority do we trust – and on what grounds? To answer these questions, one must finally also face the reality of religious authority. This matter cannot be honestly or rationally evaded or eluded or avoided. What religious authority, after all, do we trust?
Islam and historical Judaism have their own answers, which are very different from Christianity. And within Christianity itself – especially between historical, traditional Roman Catholicism and the various Protestant Reform Denominations – there are profound differences not only about the sources of Divine Revelation, but also about the sources of reliable (and continuous) doctrinal and moral authority.
Therefore, with respect to our considerations of War and Peace, in light of the reality (or possibility) of Truth, Trust, and Forgiveness, we must understand how the different world religions (especially Islam, current Judaism, and Christianity) understand these concepts (and realities) of “War” and “Peace” and the extent to which their own religious (or secular religious) adherents are morally obliged to speak the truth also to “non-believers” or “infidels.” For, it is my confirmed understanding that certain religions that are active today permit their members to “deceive,” to “lie to,” a non-believer, such as a “non-Muslim” or a “non-Jew.” Members of both modern Islam and Talmudic (sometimes also Cabbalistic-Gnostic) Judaism have also, moreover, very frankly told me so.
And what about those reputedly cunning Jesuits of history and of legend? That, too, has presented a moral problem, also to other Roman Catholics. For example, thinkers and writers like Blaise Pascal, who was somewhat of a Jansenist, wrote an embarrassingly sophistical book in the seventeenth century against the Jesuits, entitled the Provincial Letters. Pascal appears to have thought that cunning Jesuits even had a philosophical system of “mental reservations” and deceitful rhetorical manipulations wherein they could “justify” lying – at least under certain conditions. Whatever the actual corruptions to be found in some “Jesuitical practice” in history, the Catholic Church itself has no permission nor principle of lying (prevarication, deception) in its moral theology or in its missionary doctrine.
But, to what extent is that also true of other religions – as distinct from strict Christianity, which preserves a wholehearted acceptance of Christ’s own hard words about truth and against hypocrisy and against those who would “scandalize the little ones”?!
If we do not face the actual truth about these diverse and, I believe, incommensurate religious cultures, we shall be dealing with a self-deluding equivocation: with equivocal – and often intentionally deceptive – words about “Peace” and “War.” But, these words will largely conceal, not reveal, reality – and have many weakening and even destructive consequences upon our lives. For, we shall thereby be living with illusions, with delusional expectations about “dialogue” and “ecumenism” and the coming “convergence” or syncretistic “tranquillity of order.”
People like James Burnham and General Fuller – with their unflinching honesty and longer view of history and culture – will help us take the measure of facts, not mere words, in the ongoing struggle for social power, especially cultural and religious power. The over-secularized, often apostate and neo-paganized West is perhaps especially blind today to the reality of religious motivations, to include the reality of secular religions (like Zionism) and their long-range strategic motivations and highly intelligent, very long-range strategic operations.
It will help us to understand part of the reality about War and Peace today, if we, for example, closely examine the fruits, wherever Zionism has been in power. Let us look at the reality, not at the sophistry! Let us look at the facts (and acts), not merely at the words!
To what extent, concretely, does Zionism or Islam manifest forgiveness? And, is it even in their doctrine? Indeed, we should look at their “unity of theory and practice” – as the Marxists used to say – and look at the concrete history of both of these religious and cultural manifestations. Consider, for example, the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire (and how it spread in spite of persecutions), and compare it with the later spread of Islam. Which one, unmistakably and intrinsically, is a warrior religion? On the evidence of history, which one is inherently “a religion of the sword” – in faithful imitation of “the sword of the Prophet himself”?
Let us clear our minds of cant. Let us remove our illusions. Even though the Islamic world has suffered many injustices at the hands of the secularized, revolutionary West (especially during and since the French Revolution and Napoleon), let us not forget Islam’s own earlier history. Let us not romanticize the culture of the Seljuk or Ottoman Turks – nor the other warrior peoples who were so easily recruited and “Islamicized.”
Indeed, Sura 9 of the Koran – which is a late sura, revealed at Medina – was always found to be very attractive to such warlike people. In the words of the scholar, Gabriel Oussani:
Sura 9 treats of the campaign to Tebuk (A.H. 9) [631 A.D. – 9 years after Mohammed’s Flight from Mecca]. It opens with the “release” promulgated at the pilgrimage of the same year and declares the antagonism of Islam to all other religions. All but Muslims are excluded from Mecca and the rites of pilgrimage. Idolaters are threatened with slaughter and slavery. War is declared against Jews and Christians until they are humbled and pay tribute. This Sura is called “the crusade chapter,” and in the early campaigns [of conquering Islam] was often read on the field before battle.
Can it realistically be expected that Muslims will ever renounce and remove Sura 9 from the Koran? If they did, they would thereby renounce their own “norm of faith” – because they believe that the divine Koran is not a thing of time, but from all eternity. Let us face the facts, and not be enervated by illusions, nor destroyed through our craven self-deceptions.
And what about the concept of the Dar al-Sulh in the Muslim faith? The Dar al-Sulh is an all-too-little-known category coming between the Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam and of “Peace”) and the Dar al-Harb (the Zone or the House of War). The Dar al-Sulh is a useful strategic-political category devised to enable Muslims to temporize, to prepare their „strategic advantage“ (what the Chinese call Shi’h), and thus to improve their “correlation of forces” where initially they are in a minority, as in Western Europe today. The doctrinal progression, therefore, is from the Dar al-Sulh to the Dar al-Harb to the Dar al-Islam. That is to say, this strategic category – the preparatory Dar al-Sulh – is an explicit category of deception, indeed strategic deception., to enable even a potential „Fifth Column“ within the enemy camp! Do we agree? The Dar al-Sulh is analogous to the former Soviet doctrine of „peaceful coexistence“ which was manipulated within their own dialectical categories of „zone of war“ and „the zone of peace.“
Moreover, because Muslims themselves hold to a full denial of the Incarnation, must they not logically consider faithful Christians to be “idolaters”? That is to say, because Christians – on Muslim premises – are seen to worship something and someone who is created, and not the Creator! That is the strict definition of idolatry.
To what extent, however, in our own “complicated and fatigued society,” will there be “a prolonged and stubborn resistance to Mohammedanism,” as such, and as was once the case? And who is today having children? To what extent are large Christian families now being formed and quietly settling in Muslim countries? What are the demographic facts – birth, deaths, and migrations – and their implications for peace or war?
Given the cultural and religious factors of military strategy and grand strategy, what is “the strategic key” to our current situation, in our efforts to enhance the possibility and durability of true peace, not just a temporizing “armistice”? What are the most important “clues to the truth,” in the longer light of history?
Will the West indifferently surrender? Or, will there still be “a struggle between Asia and Europe” – as was historically the case between 333 B.C. and 634 A.D. – i.e., from “the conquest of Alexander [the Great] to the coming of the Mohammedan Reformers”? Furthermore, in 614 A.D., “just before the appearance of Mohammedanism,” the Persians themselves “sacked Jerusalem” with the encouragement and incitement of the resident Jews (as well as the accompanying “nomad” Jews), and cruelly slaughtered, on a great scale, the Christians of Jerusalem. The year 614 A.D. – twenty years before the arrival of the Muslims – is one of the darkest moments in the history of Jerusalem, and certainly for Christianity. But, it is an historical fact – as cited by many Jewish scholars, as well. Moreover, it is also an historical fact that the Jews often collaborated with the enemies of Christianity, including Islam, and not only in Spain. These large facts must also be faced today – and their abiding implications.
Reflections On „The Key To The Situation“
James Burnham’s exposition of what “the Great Captains of History” have called “the key to the situation” will help us better to discern our concrete reality today, in world politics and war, and in the historically continuous struggle for social (and cultural) power. After we consider Burnham’s lucid exposition, we propose to conclude with Hilaire Belloc’s sobering analysis of “the New Paganism,” the religion of Neo-Paganism, as a new and also influential cultural and strategic factor concerning the prospects of peace, as well as the darker reality of war.
At the end of Part I of his book The Struggle for the World (1947) – a section, written in 1944, which is entitled “The Problem” – James Burnham introduces and explains the concept of “the key to the situation.” His exposition is done in a brief five-page chapter (Chapter 10), entitled “The Main Line of World Politics.” While considering his elucidation of this important concept, whereby to take a better measure of reality, we should fittingly ask ourselves: “What is the Main Line of Politics today?” – now almost sixty years later. Moreover, we should recall – and then apply to our own concrete situation – the four main sections of his acute book: i.e., The Problem; What Ought to Be Done; What Could Be Done; and What Will Be Done.
Leading us to deeper discernments, Burnham begins his Chapter 10 with these words:
THE GREAT CAPTAINS of military history, varied as they have been in every other respect, have all been noted for their grasp of what military writers have called “the key to the situation.” At each level of military struggle, from a brief skirmish to the grand strategy of a war or a series of wars [perhaps like today], they have understood that there is one crucial element [e.g., the Revolutionary Jewish Leaven in Messianic Politics] which is the key to the situation.
With his characteristic concreteness and specificity and vividness, Burnham then illustrates his point and this important concept:
The key may be almost anything: a ford across a river [hence a key “nodal point” or “choke point” or geographical junction], or a hill like Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg [in the American Civil War]; a swift blow at the enemy reserve, or the smashing of the enemy fleet as at Trafalgar or Salamis; stiff discipline on the flanks as at Cannae [against Hannibal], or a slow strangling blockade for an entire war; a long defensive delay to train an army or win an ally, or a surprise attack on a capital; control of the seas, the destruction of supplies, or the capture of a hero.
In our current situation, what might such a Great Captain say? For, it is important to remember that:
The great captain concentrates [without enervating distractions or diversions] on the key to the situation. He simplifies, even over-simplifies, knowing that, though the key alone is not enough, without it [this “key”] he will never open the door.
Even if “the great captain” by temperament should “concern himself also with a thousand details,” nevertheless, he “never allows details to distract his attention, to divert him from the key.”
Often he turns the details, which in quantitative bulk total much larger than the key, over to his subordinates. That is why the genius of the great captain is often not apparent to others. He may seem a mere figurehead, indolent, lethargic, letting the real work be done by those around him. They fail to comprehend that the secret of his genius is to know the key, to have it always in mind, and to reserve his supreme exertion for the key, for what decides the issue.
What might be “the key to the situation” today in the eyes of a Muslim captain of genius who is trying to decide the issue with his main adversary, the United States? Or what might be, for a Zionist leader and captain of genius, the key to securing and maintaining decisive influence over the United States?
For, just as in the case of the principles of explicitly military struggle, so, too, is it the case in the larger political realm. In fact, says Burnham:
The principles of political struggle are identical with those of military struggle. Success in both political knowledge and political practice depends finally, as in military affairs, upon the grasp of the key to the situation. The exact moment for the insurrection, the one issue upon which the election will in reality revolve, the most vulnerable figure on the opposition’s leadership, the deeply felt complaint that will rouse the masses, the particular concession that will clinch a coalition, a guarded silence that will permit an exposure [of a scandal or a grave sin] to be forgotten, the exact bribe that will open up a new Middle Eastern sphere of influence, the precise hour for a great speech: at each stage and level of the political process there is just one element, or at most a very small number of elements, which determines, which decides.
That is to say:
The great political leader (who is often also a great captain [on the battlefield]) – Pericles or the elder Cato or Mohammed or Caesar or Henry of Navarre or Bismarck or [Alexander] Hamilton or Lenin or [Pope] Innocent III or the younger Pitt – focuses on the key. He feels whether it is a time for expansion [as in the Empire] or for recovery, whether the opposition will be dismayed or stimulated by a vigorous attack, whether internal problems or external affairs are taking political precedence. He knows, in each political phase, what is the central challenge.
What do we consider “the central challenge” today about the future life of civilized Europe, for example, or about the seemingly protracted kind of paramilitary or irregular war we are in?
For all of Italy, “during the late 12th and for most of the 13th centuries,” for example, “the key to the general political situation” was the struggle between the Papacy and the Hohenstaufen Empire. Earlier, in “the first generation of the 5th century B.C., the political key in the Aegean was the attempt of Persia to conquer the Hellenic world” and “all of the contests among the Greek states, and all their internal city squabbles, were in reality subordinated to the relation with Persia.” Later in nineteenth-century America, “and for a whole generation of people” until it was decided by the Civil War, the key was the struggle for a united nation” and “everything else in politics, foreign or domestic, was secondary.” (Is the struggle for a united Europe such a key?)
And, finally, as an historical illustration, Burnham goes back to the period of the French Revolution, and especially of Napoleon, who was fatefully blinded to a certain strategic reality, even though he himself was also “a great captain”:
For Western Civilization as a whole at the turn to the 19th century, the key was the contest between England and France. England won, perhaps, because her governing class concentrated on the key, whereas Napoleon, only vaguely glimpsing the key with its shaft of sea power, dissipated his energies.
To what extent does “the governing class” in the United States today grasp the key to the situation? Or, is it, rather, vaguely and blindly allowing America itself to drift and foolishly to have centrifugally “dissipated [its] energies,” unto its own destruction? Or, is the American “governing class,” in fact, subordinated to what the Israelis themselves and their own international apparatus consider to be “the key to the situation”? That is to say, the key to their own military-strategic and grand-strategic position and advance? But, are we really “permitted” to discuss such matters, and such truth, in public, even as an hypothesis? And why not? Is that, too, a “key to the situation”?
It is true, says Burnham, that for any given nation “the political key is located sometimes among internal, sometimes among foreign affairs.” As of early 1947 (when The Struggle for the World was first published), Burnham saw that the political key for the United States “during most of its independent history” had been “internal: union or slavery or the opening of the West or industrialization or monopoly.” By contrast, he says, “for England, quite naturally, it [the political key] has been more ordinarily, though by no means always, an external problem.” But, he adds:
We have entered a period of history in which world politics take precedence over national and internal politics, and in which world politics literally involve the entire world. During this period, now and until this period ends with the settlement, one way or another, of the problems which determine the nature of the period, all of world politics, and all of what is most important in the internal politics of each nation, are oriented around the struggle for world power between Soviet-based communism and the United States. This is now the key to the political situation. Everything else is secondary, subordinate.
And what of today? Is there such a revolutionary challenge which also promises to implicate us in a protracted conflict? It would seem that the increasingly self-isolating American-Israeli Alliance is actually effecting an ever-larger strategic combination of adversaries against it. Indeed, this entangling Alliance is uniting, not dividing, its growing enemies, and they daily accumulate. However, as Burnham says:
The key [to the situation] is much of the time hidden. The determining struggle is not apparent in the form of individual political issues, as they arise week by week. The deceptive surface is the cause of the political disorientation and futility of so many of the observers and actors, which so particularly infect the citizens and leaders of the United States [even in 1947]. They base their ideas and actions on the temporary form of political events, not on the controlling reality.
With his lucid “incremental variation” of nuances, Burnham thus speaks of “the key to the situation,” “the determining struggle” and “the controlling reality” – as distinct from “the deceptive surface” and “temporary form of political events.” We, too, must cultivate our ability to discover such a decisive, though perhaps hidden, key to our current situation of war and precarious peace.
Often it is the case, says Burnham, that
The eyes of the public become entangled in the many-colored surface … The statistics and records and swarms of historical facts are admirable enough to have at hand. But by themselves they are shadows, ashes. If we do not look through them to the living body, the focal fire, we know nothing. If we do not grasp that [in 1947] Trieste and Thrace, and Armenia and Iran and North China and Sweden and Greece are the border marches between the communist power and the American power, and that all the statistics and records are filigree work on the historical structure, then we know nothing. We know less than nothing, and we fall into the trap which those who do know deliberately bait with all the statistics and records. It is their purpose to deceive us with the shadows and to prevent us from seeing the body.
It would seem that the pervasive charge of Anti-Semitism today deflects our vigilant attention, analogously, from the focal fire and living body of injustice and untruth, which is part of a deeper struggle for Jewish power and for their largely unaccountable influence in the world.
Just as Burnham understood how certain front groups were “simply a disguised colony of the communist power planted within the enemy territory,” so, too, today with disguised colonies of the Zionist power or the Mohammedan power planted within the nations of the West, also as a potential “Fifth Column.” Other devices, says Burnham, are likewise “manipulated” by foreign intelligence services “to further the communist [or the Mohammedan or Zionist] objective of infiltrating and demoralizing the opponents in the Third World War [or, perhaps, now in the Fourth World War].”
Moreover, just as Chiang Kai-Shek was once an important “shield of the United States against the threat of communist power out of the Heartland [i.e., out of the consolidated Eurasian Landmass],” who today might be an analogous shield, also in need of support, against the Mohammedan thrust into the West? This also includes Islam’s own northward push from the frontier which essentially is to be found along the long geo-strategic, geo-cultural line that one could draw on the map between Gibraltar and Vladivostok. This line which constitutes the northern march is very revealing of reality. These are important facts about the “border marches” between the broader Islamic civilization and other historical cultures, just as the slow Chinese migration and permeation into the Russian Far East today is also likely to be a large problem in the future. For, sometimes it is true that “demography is destiny.” For example, the “loss of vitality” in the West today – i.e., Europe’s grave shortage of children – will also be gravely consequential for the future, and very dissipating of its traditional way of life and cultural continuity.
What are “the determining facts” for us today? Does Western Civilization today, for example, require a sort of Empire for its own protection? Is there now also “an intolerable disequilibrium” developing, as there was, in the eyes of Burnham, back in 1947?
As was the case in early 1947, there were “two power centers” in the struggle for world power. The communist power was, says Burnham, “alien to the West in origin and fundamental nature;” and the other power center was then the United States which, he says, “is itself a child, a border area, of Western Civilization.” Burnham then pursues the inner logic of that grave situation, in order to draw out for us some of the deeper implications. He says:
For this reason, the United States, crude, awkward, semi-barbarian, nevertheless enters the irreconcilable conflict [with the communist power] as the representative of Western culture.
But, what about today? For, in 1947, Europe was divided and exhausted. But what about today? Who will be the representative of Western culture today against alien, and maybe mortal, external and internal intrusions? Will the Europeans themselves and the United States decide to make a choice, or will they delusively try to avoid making a determining decision?
Back in the vulnerable and unstable period which followed immediately after the Second World War, James Burnham acutely saw the moral disparity between the two rivals for world power at the time; and he offered a sobering exhortation:
Between the two great antagonists [in the year 1947] there is this other difference, that may decide. The communist power moves toward the climax self-consciously, deliberately. Its leaders understand what is at stake. [“In any case, it takes only one side to make a war and to define its stakes.”] They have made their choice. All their energies, their resources, their determination, are fixed on the goal. But the Western power gropes and lurches. Few of its leaders even want to understand. Like an adolescent plunged into his first great moral problem, it wishes, above all, to avoid responsibility for choice. Genuine moral problems are, however, inescapable, and the refusal to make a choice is also a moral decision. If a child is drowning at our feet, to turn away is to decide, as fully as to save him or to push him under.
Burnham’s concluding words of Part I of his book – “The Problem” – will also prompt us to re-consider the key to our situation today in the aftermath, as it would seem, of the Third World War which he was then examining in its early stages:
It is not our individual minds or desires, but the condition of world society, that today [in the year of 1947] poses for the Soviet Union, as representative of communism, and for the United States, as representative of Western Civilization, the issue of world leadership. No wish or thought of ours can charm this issue away. The issue will be decided, and in our day. In the course of the decision, both of the present antagonists may, it is true, be destroyed. But one of them must be.
The determining element – the controlling reality – which will decide as well as differentiate the issues of war and peace today in the larger world struggle for relative social power is, I believe, the trenchant strategic reality of incommensurate religious cultures.
This strategic reality includes the phenomenon of a secular religion like Zionism or the New Paganism, as was the case, for sure, in the Third World War with the martial and messianic secular religion of Communism. Today, we observe new forms of secular religion such as “Messianic Democracy” with its own martial delusions about “freedom” and “liberation” and its own “dialectics” of neo-liberal materialist economics. And this ideology has its own aggressive oligarchy – or globalist “nomenklatura” – which has contempt for national roots and for the inherent dignity of the human being, as well as for long-standing traditions of sacred reverence and rooted human piety.
Indeed, this rootless and restless and sapless, new “globalist” ideology appears to desire the subversion of other historic cultures, and it is reckless in the cutting of their roots. Those who are rootless themselves tend to uproot others. Those who would uproot the Muslim world will create even greater problems for themselves.
Indeed, this de-stabilizing and fragmenting secular-religious ideology promotes “permanent war,” doing so as if it will thereby bring about “permanent peace” – that is to say, once its restless (and rootless) “democracy” is installed! However, this febrile ideology is an arrogant and dangerous delusion. It will not recognize its own fever and blinding hubris. Nor will it recognize that it, too, like communism, is an idol and “a god that failed.” It is “a mind-forged manacle” (the poet, William Blake) which has wrought so much devastation and so much desolation, so much suffering and death.
From our foregoing analysis of incommensurate religious cultures – some of which are also notably strategic and explicitly militant religious cultures (e.g., Mohammedanism and Zionism) – we are led to conclude that religious civil wars will likely, and increasingly, be in our future, especially in the West. There is likely to be not only a growing “Balkanization” in the West, but also a growing “Lebanonization.”
This, for sure, will be an unwelcome fact and a grave shock to those who have long cherished and promoted the secular Enlightenment and its Cult of Man. For such people and for their own secular religion, it will not be an easy matter to face a trenchant traditional insight of truth and of confirmed wisdom: namely, that “all wars are ultimately religious” – and “all human conflict is ultimately theological.”
We, too, shall face a choice and must, after all, decide. (This knowledge of reality and moral decisiveness is also the requirement of the first cardinal virtue of prudence (Prudentia), which is itself the strategist’s key virtue.) In this context, we should remember what Burnham himself once said: “No wish or thought of ours can charm this [strategic and religious-theological] issue away. The issue will be decided, and in our day.”
Indeed, says Belloc:
The battle for right doctrine in theology is always also a battle for the preservation of definite social things (institutions, habits) following from right doctrine: nor is there anything more contemptible intellectually than the attitude of those who imagine that because doctrine must be stated in abstract terms it therefore has no practical application nor any real fruit in the real world of real men. Contrariwise, difference in doctrine is at the root of all political and social differences; therefore is the struggle for or against true doctrine the most vital of struggles.
This is “the key to the situation.” The truth matters. Many still believe that the truth matters, especially when it is thought to be a divinely revealed truth, or a long-confirmed sacred truth. For, such truth touches the human heart to its roots – and it is believed to come from the heart of God.
“Is religion from man or from God?” – this is one of the fundamental questions asked down the years, and it still needs to be faced and answered.
Islam believes that it is correcting the distortions of both the Jewish Revelation and the Christian Revelation, and that its own Revelation is the completion and fulfillment of the Divine Message coming to man from outside of time.
But, Post-Christian Judaism and Traditional Christianity both consider Islam to be a false religion. Traditional Judaism, moreover, tends not to regard Christianity as a form of “integral Monotheism” but, rather, as a form of Paganized “Tri-Theism” (i.e., a form of polytheism, not a unified Trinity).
“Is there such a thing as the true religion?” – this is another fundamental question that must be faced and answered. What, after all, is our answer?
Part of my own reasoning about the matter would argue, first of all, that, “if there is a God, then there is one – and only one – true religion.” In other words, God is not Himself an internal contradiction, nor a deceiver. That is to say, the true religion is unique, and comes not from man, but from God; and it is thus divinely protected from doctrinal error on intimate and essential and ultimate matters.
For those who know that I am a traditional Roman Catholic, it will be clear what I consider to be the uniquely true religion from God, and the one which is authoritatively protected against fundamental error.
This fundamental conviction also implies a further twofold affirmation: Truth exists and the Incarnation happened. The final test is martyrdom. For, we are only as courageous as we are convinced.
Martyrdom today, moreover, may even be more stressful and demanding than the bearing of blood witness for the truth with one’s own life. For, there are “white martyrdoms”, too, namely grave forms of protracted mental suffering and agony of soul, but which do not display external or visible signs of blood. And this form of enduring and faithful conviction and living witness to the truth and love will remain for all of us an eloquent example of real trust and hope. For me, Christ is our example of love and fidelity to the end. And He died forgiving His persecutors – with forgiveness from His Heart. (His Heart, too, was pierced.)
For those who are perseveringly and genuinely “after the truth” and who also want to understand the different and largely incommensurate views of different religious cultures (and especially the views of some of the World Religions) on “War and Peace” and on “Truth, Trust and Forgiveness,” too – and who also then intend to act upon their fuller knowledge and understanding – I have a recommendation. As a preliminary investigation, I think they should read and savor the following studies:
1) Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Farleigh Dickenson University Press, 1985) – This book examines the Mohammedan system of specific legal disabilities or servitude for non-Muslims, as it was manifested historically, in partial mitigation of their more aggressive rules of “jihad.” (The Turks called it “the millet system,” instead of “the dhimmi system.”)
2) Bernard Lazare, Antisemitism: Its History and Causes – first published in 1894 in France (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1995).
3) Rabbi Louis Israel Newman, Jewish Influence on Christian Reform Movements – first published in 1995 by Colombia University Press (New York, New York: AMS Press, Inc., 1996).
4) Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages – first edition in 1957, revised and enlarged edition first published in 1970 (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1970).
5) General Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel’s Fateful Hour (New York, New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1988 – revised and updated edition, first published in Hebrew in 1986). See especially Chapter 5, entitled “Nationalistic Judaism.”
6) Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1992).
7) Norman F. Cantor, The Sacred Chain: A History of the Jews (New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994).
8) Israel Shahak, Jewish History – Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years (Pluto Press, 1994) – the second printing has a New Foreword by Edward Said, as well as Gore Vidal’s original Foreword. See especially Chapter 5, which entitled “The Laws Against Non-Jews.”
9) Israel Shamir, Flowers of Galilee: The Collected Essays of Israel Shamir (Tempe, Arizona: Dandelion Books, 2004). This book has now also been translated into French and into German, both of which editions have a fresh and candid new Introduction which was designed specifically for two separate European audiences and historic cultures.
10) Barbara W. Tuchman, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour [and the Balfour Declaration] – first published in 1956 by New York University Press (New York, New York: Ballantine Books, 1984 – with a New Preface to the 1983-1984 Edition).
11) Serge Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet – Islam: History, Theology, Impact on the World (Boston, Massachusetts: Regina Orthodox Press, Inc., 2002). This book has on its cover the following words: “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam,” but the book is very “politically correct” about issues of Israel, Zionism, and Judaism in general.
12) Christopher Ferrara and Thomas E. Woods, Jr., The Great Façade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church (Wyoming, Minnesota: The Remnant Press, 2002). This book reveals much about strategic “cultural warfare,” especially by way of doctrinal and moral subversion.
13) Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004). Professor Slezkine speaks of the Twentieth Century as “The Jewish Century.”
14) Jacques Maritain, Three Reformers: Luther – Descartes – Rousseau – first published in 1925, in French (New York, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940). See especially his three Chapters on Rousseau, and most especially the third of those chapters, entitled “Debased Christianity,” pp. 140-164.
Before going on to consider Hilaire Belloc’s profound remarks on “the New Paganism,” as he saw it developing already in 1931, we should quote and consider what Jacques Maritain himself had said in 1925, only six years earlier, about the further-growing phenomenon of a “Debased Christianity,” and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s own important contribution to it. Such a debasement of the historic Christian Faith, in Maritain’s view, was marked by a pervasive subjectivism and anti-intellectual emotionalism, which, in combination, further produced a self-sabotaging“ sentimental theology.” Maritain says:
Above all – and this is the most important point – Jean Jacques [Rousseau] has perverted the Gospel by tearing it from the supernatural order and transporting certain fundamental aspects of Christianity into the sphere of simple nature. One absolute essential of Christianity is the supernatural quality of grace. Remove that supernatural quality, and Christianity goes bad.
To complete the argument of this important paragraph, Maritain immediately adds:
What do we find at the source of modern disorder? A naturalization of Christianity. It is clear that the Gospel, rendered purely natural (and, therefore, absolutely debased), becomes a revolutionary ferment of extraordinary virulence. For grace is a new order added to the natural order and, because it is supernatural, perfecting without destroying it [i.e., the created natural order]; if that order of grace be rejected in so far as it is supernatural, and its shadow [be] retained [i.e., the shadow of supernatural grace] and imposed on reality, then at once the natural order is upset by a self-styled new order [e.g., “a new world order” of “power without grace”] which would take its place …. [Moreover,] nominalist theology [as in Luther] completely confused nature and grace. [emphasis is in the original text in italics, other emphasis added].
With a reference to Hilaire Belloc’s friend, G. K. Chesterton, Maritain then adds: “[You] need only lessen and corrupt Christianity [as with “the corruption of the New Paganism,” as we shall soon see] [in order] to hurl into the world half-truths and maddened virtues, as Chesterton says, which once kissed [i.e., were graciously combined, like magnanimity and humility, in concord and without divorce or restless isolation] but will now for ever [in their tense isolation] hate each other;” and “that is why the modern world abounds in debased analogies [i.e., disproportions and counterfeits] of Catholic mysticism and shreds [i.e., isolated fragments] of laicized [i.e., secularized and naturalized, or de-supernaturalized] Christianity.”
Speaking now not of a “debased Christianity,” but, rather, of another and increasingly growing religion, the religion of “the New Paganism,” as it was manifested already in Europe in 1931, Hilaire Belloc observed the following:
In the sphere of social texture the New Paganism must also and of its nature, wherever it gives its tone to society, reintroduce that status of slavery [servitude, servility] from which our civilization sprang and which only very gradually disappeared under the influence of the Christian ethic. The revival of slavery must not be confused with the spread of mechanical [“and coercive”] restriction applicable to all. They are cousins, but they are not identical. Slavery is the compulsion of one man or set of men to work for the benefit of others. It is a compulsion to work, backed by the arms of the State …. It is a thesis I have developed at greater length in my book, The Servile State [first published in 1912]; I here only touch on it as a main social result to which the New Paganism will give birth.
Contributing a further insight about how language will likely be employed to conceal reality, Belloc says:
That this novel status [and ill fruit of the New Paganism] will bear the name “slavery” I doubt; for it is in the nature of mankind, when they are proceeding to call that good which once they called evil, to avoid the old evil name. In the same way that fornication is not called fornication but “companionate marriage.” Probably slavery, when it comes, will be called “permanent employment;” and a century hence, a rich man [or a governing plutocrat] will say to his friends, talking of his new gardener: “He’s a permanent. Paid for him at the Bureau only last Thursday.” In the form of security and sufficiency for the men who labor to the profit of others, and in the form of registering and controlling them in the form of an organized public supervision of their labor, slavery is already afoot [as of 1931]. When slavery shall succeed it will succeed through the acquiescence [and passivity or sloth] of those who will be enslaved, for they will prefer sufficiency and security with enslavement, to freedom, responsibility, insecurity and the threat of insufficiency.
As is the case in Europe and America today, there is the growing realization and fear of a burdensome combination: the combination of insecurity and insufficiency. Such a psychological vulnerability – and economic and military-strategic reality – will likely conduce to the New Servile State. Do we agree?
Furthermore, Belloc argues:
The New Paganism will then, I say, give us, in those societies where it shall obtain the control of the mind, increasing restriction against general freedom and increasing restriction against the particular freedom which left some equality between the man who worked and the man who exploited [employed] him under contract – it will replace that idea of contract by the older idea of status. In saying this, my object is to point out that the discussion of the New Paganism is not a mere academic discussion [like the analysis of the doctrines of Ancient Stoicism, for example], but, as I have called it, one of immediate practical importance. If we adopt it [i.e., the New Paganism] we must be prepared for its consequences; if we abhor those consequences, it is out business to fight the New Paganism vigorously.
What Belloc is analyzing in the growing religion of the New Paganism is a corporate thing with grave public consequences, not just a private or individual thing. Returning to his theme of religion and its practical consequences for the tone and mentality of a whole society, he says:
And here I have, as on so many other points, a quarrel with those moderns who will make of religion an individual thing (and no Catholic can evade the corporate quality of religion) telling us that its [religion’s] object being personal holiness and the salvation of the individual soul, it can have no concern with politics. On the contrary, the concern with politics [as in the case of Judaism, Zionism, and Mohammedanism] is inevitable. Not that the Christian doctrine and ethic rejects any one of the three classical forms of government – democracy, aristocracy, or monarchy, or any mixture of them – but that it does reject certain features in society which are opposed to the Christian social products, and are opposed to them [like the modern materialist science and ideology of “neuroscience”] because they spring from a denial of free will [and hence human moral responsibility and accountability!].
The traditional Christian view – certainly the essential view of Roman Catholicism, as distinct from Calvinism – was once brilliantly summarized by Hilaire Belloc’s friend, G. K. Chesterton, in his book entitled The Common Man, in his essay called “The Outline of Liberty”:
Will made the world; Will wounded the world; the same Divine Will gave to the world for the second time its chance; the same human Will can for the last time make its choice.
Belloc himself goes on to describe the New Paganism, most of whose adherents “know nothing of the Paganism of antiquity,” for (even in 1931),
There never was a time when educated men had a larger proportion among them ignorant of Latin and Greek, since first Greek was taught in the universities of Western Europe; and there was certainly never a time during the last two thousand years when the mass of people, the workers, were given less knowledge of the past and were less in sympathy with tradition …. The New Paganism, should it ever become universal, or over whatever districts or societies it may become general, will never be what the Old Paganism was. It will be other, because it will be a corruption. The Old Paganism was profoundly traditional; indeed, it had no roots except in tradition. Deep reverence for its own past and for the wisdom of its ancestry and pride therein were the very soul of the Old Paganism; that is why it formed so solid a [natural] foundation on which to build the Catholic Church, though that is why it offered so long and determined a resistance to the growth of the Catholic Church. But the New Paganism has for its very essence contempt for tradition and contempt of ancestry [as so, too, does “Neo-Catholicism” with all of its “itch for innovation” and “ecumenism” and “converging syncretisms,” rather than true conversion of heart!]. It respects perhaps nothing, but least of all does it respect the spirit of “Our fathers have told us.”
Concluding his cumulative analysis of the New Paganism, in contradistinction to the Old Paganism and its pietas (and “respect for roots”), Belloc says:
The New Paganism despises reason, and boasts that it is attacking beauty. It presents with pride music that is disordered, building that is repellent, pictures that are a mere chaos, and it ridicules the logical process [and “law of non-contradiction”], so that, as I have said, it has made of the very word “logical” a sort of sneer.
The Old Paganism was of a sort that would be open, when due time came, to the authority of the Catholic Church. It had ears which at least would hear and eyes which at least would see; but the New Paganism not only has closed its senses [or benumbed them with drugs!], but is atrophying them, so that it aims at a state in which there shall be no ears to hear and no eyes to see. The one [the Old Paganism] was growing keener in its sight and in its hearing; the other is declining towards a condition where the society it [the New Paganism] informs [i.e., “gives inner form to”] will be blind and deaf, even to the main natural pleasures of life and of temporal truths. It will be incapable of understanding what they are all about.
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s friend, the mathematician Igor Shafarevich, showed in his The Socialist Phenomenon how society seemed to be moving again, more and more, towards the managed collectivist and anonymous, impersonal society – like that of the insects – and where the higher faculties of the human person were being levelled down!
Moving beyond the mere temporal and natural order of things, Belloc comes to his conclusion and peroration, by way of clarifying contrast:
The Old Paganism had a strong sense of the supernatural. This sense was often turned to the wrong objects and always to insufficient objects, but it was keen and unfailing; all the poetry of the Old Paganism, even when it despairs, has this sense. And you may read in those of its writers who actively opposed religion, such as Lucretius [in his poem, De Rerum Natura, himself a follower of the materialist philosophy], a fine religious sense of dignity and order. The New Paganism delights in superficiality, and [like the Secular Enlightenment] conceives that it is rid of the evil as well as the good in what it believes to have been superstitions and illusions.
But, there, says Belloc, the New Paganism “is quite wrong, and upon that note I will end,” for
Men do not live long without gods; but when the gods of the New Paganism come they will not merely be insufficient, as were the gods of Greece [even in their Gnostic Eleusinean Mysteries], nor merely false; they will be evil. One might put it in a sentence, and say that the New Paganism, foolishly expecting satisfaction, will fall, before it knows where it is, into Satanism [or the “higher” allure of Gnostic Luciferianism or some of their esoteric Hermeticism!].
To the extent that those of the West will refuse to understand the current and deepening strategic conflict of incommensurate religious cultures – to include the religion of the New Paganism – they will morally disarm themselves and “hand weapons over to their own assassins” (as James Burnham once said of secular Liberalism itself).
And, what is more, they will likely lose their deeper will to survive.
If they do not resist and candidly and openly speak about the strategic-cultural challenge of Christian Zionism, Jewish Zionism, Resurgent Mohammedanism, the New Paganism, and other forms of messianic or apocalyptic ideologies, they will be further living with narcotic illusions. They may “enjoy” them while they are being destroyed by them, as is always the case with “opiates.” But this would be a further sign that their will to survive has vanished – at least as a continuous culture rooted in historic Christianity and its gradually formed public order of Christendom, which is now only anemic and vestigial and exiguous.
If only by “the test of children” and by “the test of the vitality of families,” this surrender and sense of futility already – and very tragically – appears to be the case. A certain sense of “fatalism” and “doom” – which is also a part of the New Paganism – has come to pervade the roaming restlessness and uprootedness of the West. Within that roaming unrest of spirit – the traditional vice of spiritual sloth (or acedia) – there may also be concealed an implicit despair. But, are we still vulnerable to the truth? Will we recover our trust in forgiveness? And will we ask for it in a deeper conversion of heart, as well as make a sincere reparation and “course correction,” before it is too late?
It has been wisely said that “the chief moral evils of mankind … come not from material conditions or political arrangements, but from the corruption of the heart.”
Yet, the corrupted heart is not so easily open to conversion, to the conversion of heart it needs, nor to its deeper purification and healing. Nonetheless, such a troubled and disordered heart maybe touched by grace and good example, especially the example of holiness, where purity and charity are combined.
As in the case of an individual person, so, too, says Belloc, is it the case with society itself:
The conversion of any society … is the work of Grace, and insofar as men are the agents of Grace it is the work of example; it is Martyrs and Saints who will reintroduce the Faith, insofar as it can be restored.
For, on the evidence of history, many have come to prefer, instead, the Gospel without grace, power without grace, power divorced from responsibility, the gradual corruption of the heart, and the despair that comes and chills the heart in the absence of the Faith. Such is the gift, such is “the terrible dowry of human freedom.”
For, we remain free to refuse mercy, we remain free to refuse forgiveness. But (in the words of Georges Bernanos): “May the hour of mercy not strike in vain …. May we not be found to stand impenitent under the eyes of Mercy …. [and] Blessed be he who has saved a child’s heart from despair.”
Conversion of heart is the strategic “course correction” we need. Even back in 1931 – two years after the Great Economic Depression and on the eve of the gathering Civil War in Spain, which was itself “a Rehearsal for World War II” – Hilaire Belloc wrote, for those who care for “reality in history,” the following words with his characteristic lucidity and candor:
Our civilization developed as a Catholic civilization. It developed and matured as a Catholic thing. With the loss of the Faith it will slip back not only into Paganism, but into barbarism with the accompaniments, and especially the institution of slavery [or what he often called the return of “the Servile State” – the servile status and condition]. It [“the New Paganism”] will find gods to worship, but they will be evil gods as were those of the older savage Paganism before it began its advance towards Catholicism. The road downhill is the same as the road up the hill. It is the same road; but to go down back into the marshes again is a very different thing from coming up from the marshes [and mephitic swamps of Natural Religion] into the pure air. All things return to their origin [ad fontes – to the sources of their life]. A living organic thing, whether a human body or a whole state of society, turns at last into its original elements if life be not maintained in it. But in that process of return there is a phase of corruption which is very unpleasant. That phase the modern world outside the Catholic Church has arrived at.
Now – in the year 2005, almost seventy-five years later – the corruption and soft apostasy of which he speaks seems also to have invaded and pervaded much of the Catholic Church and “the corporate quality of [its] religion.” To the extent that its permeating “false ecumenism” and “dialectical convergence” and “syncretism” increases, the likelihood of true peace will diminish. The Church’s growing “provocative weakness” will make attacks on the Catholic Church more likely and wars against the traditional Church and Faith also more cruel and destructive. Yes, the devastation of religious civil wars seems also more likely to come. And this is already afoot. The conflicts between varieties of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam will intensify. Into the demographic vacuum, and into our spiritual and moral vacuum, alien religions will come and spread. The collisions of alien and incommensurate religious cultures will intensify intimate strife – and there will come, more and more, “an explosive uprising against injustice.” If such injustice and insecurity and insufficiency are experienced as a kind of arbitrary injustice (even unto the point of randomness), people’s worlds will break apart, and even the strongest characters may break as was shown in the experience of the Gulags!
But, “the key to the situation” is the Catholic Church. The more it appears to defect from its integrity and historic Faith, the greater will be the devastation – and the spiritual desolation.
When Tacitus (circa 55-118 A.D.), in his Agricola, spoke of the destructive work and sweeping power of the Roman Legions in Britain – as distinct from the Mohammedan Armies (or the Neo-Imperial Messianic Democratic Armies) – he said: “Ubi sollitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant” – “Where they make a devastating desolation, they call it peace”! So, too, with false “ecumenism” and “dialectical syncretisms” and “convergence without conversion” – and its false and deceitful peace.
When we have rejected – and continue to reject – the Gift we have received in the Incarnation and all that followed from the Humility of God, we, too, will come to know another, and more deeply devastating, desolation: the desolation of ingratitude, whose fruits will be the congealment of lovelessness and the corrosion of hopelessness. And there will be no peace – no true peace, no tranquillitas ordinis founded on truth and trust and the grace of forgiveness from the heart.
– FINIS –
© Robert Hickson
 See James Burnham, The Struggle for the World (New York, New York: The John Day Compay, Inc., 1947) – Chapter 20 („The Main Line of World Politics“), pp. 130-135, for an exposition of what „the great captains of military history“ and other “commanders of genius“ have called „the key to the situation,“ a matter to which we shall return, at the end of this essay.
 For a deeper understanding of comparative strategic culture and the distinctive political and military cultures of different historical civilizations, see Adda B. Bozeman, Strategic Intelligence and Statecraft (Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s, Inc., 1992).
 In his The Socialist Phenomenon (New York, New York: Harper and Row, 1980), with a foreword by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Igor Shafarevich also spoke about „the Socialism of the Medieval Heresies,” and their modern offshoots. This important book was first published in 1975 in Russian, in Paris, France.
 Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik, „The Virtue of Hate,“ in the Journal First Things (February 2003), pp. 41-46.
 James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism (1950), p. 9.
 Ibid., pp. 10-11 – my emphasis added.
 Hilaire Belloc, The Path to Rome (New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1936), p. 157. This vivid book, first published in 1902, speaks eloquently about such a „sham religion“ that has „glozed over our tragedies and excused our sins,“ and is marked by rootless superficiality.
 See James Burnham, The War We Are In: The Last Decade and the Next (New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1967), pp. 19-23.
 Hilaire Belloc, „The New Paganism“ in his book Essays of a Catholic (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books, Inc., 1992), p. 6 – my emphasis added. This book was first published in 1931.
 James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism (New York, New York: The John Day Company, Inc., 1949, 1950), p. 268.
 Ibid., p. 177. In May of 1948, the revolutionary Zionist State of Israel came in existence, three months after the Communist Coup in Prague.
 James Burnham, The Struggle for the World (New York, New York: The John Day Company, Inc., 1947), pp. 1-4.
 Twelve years before the establishment of the Zionist power and State in Israel, a Catholic historical scholar from Great Britain wrote the following, in March 1936, with great foresight: “Syria, which is the connecting link, the hinge and the pivot of the whole Mohammedan world, is, upon the map, and superficially, divided between an English and a French mandate, but the two Powers intrigue one against the other and are equally detested by their Mohammedan subjects, who are only kept down precariously by force. There has been bloodshed under the French mandate more than once and it will be renewed, while under the English mandate the forcing of an alien Jewish colony upon Palestine has raised the animosity of the native Arab population to white heat. Meanwhile an ubiquitous underground Bolshevist propaganda is working throughout Syria and North Africa continually, against the domination of Europeans over the original Mohammedan population.” Hilaire Belloc, The Great Heresies (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books, Inc., 1991), p. 78 – my emphasis added. This book was first published in London in 1938. Chapter 4 is entitled “The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed.”
 Hiliare Belloc, The Great Heresies, p. 76.
 Ibid., pp. 11-12 – my emphasis added. As we shall see later in this essay, Belloc also saw the growing religion of “the New Paganism,” which was “the resultant of two forces which have converged to produce it: appetite and the sense of doom” – the two main “marks” of which are: first, “the postulate that man is sufficient unto himself – that is, the omission of the idea of Grace” and “the second (a consequence of this), despair.” (Hilaire Belloc, “The New Paganism,” Essays of a Catholic (Rockford: Illinois: TAN Books, Inc., 1992 – first published in 1931), p. 5.)
 Ibid., pp. 12-13 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 13 – my emphasis added.
 In his The Coming Defeat of Communism (1950), Burnham spoke of the communist removal of limits: „We must never forget that the communists are capable of anything: no means whatsoever are prohibited if they are thought to be for the end [i.e., the goal] of the revolution. They will, if necessary, kill, torture, and exile to the slave camps of Siberia tens of millions of East Europeans.“ (p. 134 – my emphasis added.)
 James Burnham, The War We Are In: The Last Decade and the Next (New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1967), p. 12.
 Evelyn Waugh, Helena (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1950), p. 222. These citations come from Chapter 11, entitled „Epiphany,“ which should , for many reasons, be closely read and savored.
 Ibid., p. 223 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., pp. 223-224 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 224 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., pp. 185-186 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., pp. 84 and 94.
 Ibid., p. 100.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added. James Burnham himself once said that „Boredom is in any case the most insistant response to senility [and decadence]“ and „boredom becomes further soured by derision.“ (The Coming Defeat of Communism, p.2 – my emphasis added.)
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 101 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 103 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 102 – my emphasis added.
 James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism (New York: The John Day Company, Inc., 1949 and 1950), p. 27.
 Ibid., p. 43 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 38.
 Ibid., p. 73 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 64 and 60-61, respectively.
 Ibid., p. 60 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 67 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 75 – my emphasis added.
 (New York, New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1992). General Fuller’s book was first published in 1961, only five years before his death in 1966, after a long and fruitful life, both a life of military command on the battlefield and a life as a professor of military studies and strategy.
 James Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism (1949, 1950), p, 73.
 James Burnham, The War We Are In: The Last Decade and the Next (New Rochelle, New York, 1967), p. 333 – my emphasis added.
 Gabriel Oussani and Hilaire Belloc, Moslems: Their Beliefs, Practices, and Politics (Ridgefield, Conneticut: Roger A. McCaffrey Publishing, no date – but published sometime after 11 September 2001), pp. 46-47 – my emphasis added. This quotation about Sura 9 comes from Oussani’s own chapter on the Koran which he originally published in 1907.
 Ibid., p. 113. (ISBN 0-9661325-6-4) There is no date on this recent compilation of two earlier texts, which were originally published in 1907 and 1936, respectively. Belloc’s portion was written in 1936.
 Ibid., p. 114.
 James Burnham, The Struggle for the World (New York, New York: The John Day Company, 1947), p. 130 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 130 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., pp. 230-231 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 131 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., pp. 131-132.
 Ibid., p. 132 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 133 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 134.
 Ibid., pp. 135 and 134, respectively – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 134 – my emphasis added .
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 James Burnham, The War We Are In (1967), p. 12.
 James Burnham, The Struggle for the World (1947), p. 135 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added. In his 1967 book, The War We Are In, James Burnham reveals that „The analysis of communist and Soviet intentions in Part I of The Struggle for the World was originally part of a secret study prepared for the Office of Strategic Services [O.S.S.] in the spring of 1944 and distributed at that time to the relevant Washington desks.“ (p. 10)
 Ibid., p. 135. James Burnham’s additional words, spoken twenty years later (in 1967), may sharpen our mind even further about this matter, and in this new context in the year of 2005. In his 1967 book, The War We Are In, he said: „A political group – nation, party, faction, or any other group, such as a church or family or business organization, so far as it is acting politically – asserts its freedom and defines its nature by its choice of enemy. Since the struggle for relative power [to include “power without grace”] is of the essence of politics, there will always be an enemy or enemies. If the enemy is not chosen but imposed, then in relation to the enemy the group is not free, but a victim. The enemy, of course, can be only another political group (or other groups), conceivably an individual; but never an abstraction. To name “War, Hunger, Disease [or “Drugs” or “Terrorism”] as the enemy is an evasion, not a choice” (p. 27 – my emphasis added). Even today, as was the case “in the conduct of the Third World War,” there “has been confusion about the enemy” (p, 27). Moreover, “our actions entail a rather definite selection of the enemy even while our words deny or obscure it; and we may reasonably suppose that at least some of our leaders are conscious and deliberate in this selection. Of course, the enemy is there, whether or not he is acknowledged in public or admitted in private; he has chosen us, whether or not we have chosen him.” (pp. 27-28 – my emphasis added.) As it has been wisely said: “Reality is that which does not go away even if you stop thinking about it!”
 Hilaire Belloc, Essays of a Catholic (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books and Publishing, 1992), pp. 9-10 – my emphasis added. The first edition of this collection of essays was published in 1931.
 Jacques Maritain, Three Reformers: Luther – Descartes – Rousseau (New York, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940, p. 142 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., pp. 142-143.
 Ibid., p. 143 – my emphasis added.
 Hilaire Belloc, Essays of a Catholic (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books, Inc., 1992 – first published in 1931), p. 8 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 9 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 G. K. Chesterton, The Common Man (New York, New York: Sheed and Ward, 1950), p. 236.
 Hilaire Belloc, Essays of a Catholic (1931), pp. 10 and 11 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 12 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Ibid. – my emphasis added.
 Hilaire Belloc, The Crisis of Civilization (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1992 – first published in 1937), p. 165 – my emphasis added.
 Ibid., p. 198 – my emphasis added.
 These are the words of Georges Bernanos from his novel, The Diary of a Country Priest.
 Hilaire Belloc, Essays of a Catholic (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1992), p. 1 – my emphasis added. This book was first published in England, in 1931. The essay quoted above is the first essay in the book, entitled „The New Paganism.“
 See Hilaire Belloc, The Crisis of Civilization (1937, 1992), pp. 24-34, for an especially profound discussion of “the conversion of the Roman Empire (A.D. 29-33 to A.D. 500)”, at a very crucial time when the Catholic Church was also “the key to the situation.” He says: “What was the major note running through this high pagan world, with all its splendor and all its noble appreciation of beauty and order? It was despair. The further that civilization [of Rome] proceeds in its development – a rapid development changing it and ageing it within three centuries – the more this mixture of despair penetrates it …. The Greco-Roman society was dying of old age, but to say that is only to say half and the less important half of the truth; the other half of the truth is that it was dying in despair, when there arrived slowly to permeate it a force [the Faith and the Church] whereby it was transformed [pp. 24-25, 27] …. It [the Church] relieved and dissipated despair, [which was] the capital burden imposed by that void [for the Church itself was “an alien body in the midst of a soft deliquescence: solid and with edges, in the midst of a society that was dissolving” – p. 35] …. We must begin by laying it down, again as an historical fact, not to be removed by affection one way or the other [i.e., either for or against Christianity], that the conversion of the Roman Empire was a conversion to … the Catholic Church. The Empire was not converted to what modern men mean when they use the word ‘Christianity’ …. It [the Empire] was transformed by adherence to the doctrine and discipline as well as the spirit and character of a certain institution; and that institution is historically known; it is a Personality which can be tested by certain indisputable attitudes, practices, and definitions. It claimed and claims Divine authority to teach, to include in its membership by a specific form of initiation those who approached it and were found worthy; to exclude those who would not accept that unity and supremacy. It performed throughout the society of the Empire and even beyond its boundaries a certain liturgical act of sacrifice, the Eucharist [i.e., “the Act of Gratitude” – p. 28], it affirmed its foundation by a Divine figure who was also a man, and a manifestation of God. It [this Institution] further affirmed that its officers hold their authority through appointment originally by this Founder, who gathered a small group for that purpose; it affirmed that from the members of this small original group, in unbroken succession, descended the spiritual power which could be claimed by officers and by them alone, in a particular manner, over the whole body of Christianity, and, in general fashion, over the whole world at large. In order to understand this very great thing which captured and transformed the old pagan world, we must grasp its nature …. ‘What was it that spread thus so rapidly and so triumphantly throughout the Greco-Roman world?’ Secondly, we must appreciate the method by which this revolution was accomplished [whether one considers it to be “an illusion or a revelation of reality” – p. 25]; lastly, in order to understand both the nature and the method of the thing [i.e., the Catholic Church, the Catholic Thing, the Res Catholica] we must discover why it met with so intense a resistance, for that resistance explains both its character and ways of propagation [so very unlike the ways of historical Islam!] – and it was victory over that resistance which established the Catholic Faith and practice so firmly over our race for so many centuries and generations” (pp. 24, 25, 26-27, 28, and 31 – my emphasis added; italics are in the original). Belloc’s historical argument, essentially and succinctly, is that this “gradual process” of conversion occurred through an instrumentality which was “not a vague frame of mind, but a definite society from the first” (pp. 27-28): “the Catholic Church.” That is to say: “The Catholic Church visible was not an influence that spread; it was a Thing. It was [a] fixed Corporation, a Club, if you will; it was an organization with form and members, a defined outline, and a discipline. Disputes arose within it, certain of its members would overemphasize [and isolate!] this or that [doctrine] among the doctrines for which it [the Church] stood, and so [i.e., thereby] warp the proportion of the whole. But no innovator … would ever pretend that there was not one body [i.e., the Corpus Christi Mysticum] to be preserved …. Never did any one of those at the origin [of the Church as a disciplined institution] propose that discord upon essentials could be permanent.” (pp. 27, 28 – my emphasis added). In other words, the Catholic Church was not – and is not – a dialectical Hegelian organization which believes that there is a disquieted (rootless and restless) contradiction in the heart of things (even in the heart of God, as it were). The truth always mattered: stable, defined, rooted truth; and irreformable doctrines (i.e., the dogmas of the Faith). The Old Paganism was gradually converted to the Catholic Church and its informing Faith. It is much more uncertain, however, despite its own despair, that “the New Paganism” will be so converted, but we must try, speaking the truth by our own example and doing it with love and true forgiveness.