The Guardian, the Left, and Anticatholicism

The picture is, of course, by Poussin. It details Helios and Phaeton with Saturn and the Four Seasons. A mad, arrogant driver who bit off more than he could chew. An embodied sun-cult. A god who ate his children, whose mother was Hel, and who killed his father. Some fake naturalistic pantheism. It was painted at a time when Europe was deep in corruption, demented ideological division, economic crisis and global cooling. Draw your own conclusions.

As I understand it, a woman of middle class London Jewish heritage has written an article for middle class state employees, the earnest, benefit recipients with a degree, and rich people who consider themselves educated and post-protestant. That article has had a go at, broadly speaking, 'Popery and the Church'.

Well, know your market; and, anyway, I don't blame anyone from that culture, even its periphery, for feeling at odds with the Catholic or Orthodox parts of the Church. After all, people acting in its name, or locating their antisemitism within a darkness it failed to enlighten for a long time, have spent the better part of two thousand years attempting to restrain, convert, exile or kill them. They'll be reconciled in some fashion at the end, and if my faith is misplaced it won't matter.

It was, until a while ago, impossible to imagine the culture which we could call 'Western' without the catholic church. The Church, directly and as a bogeyman to kick against, nurtured and produced that culture after all. These days, I am somewhat inclined to agree with Alex Boot's point that the clash of civilisations happened and that the west lost--beaten by a sort of abyssal modernity focussed on nothing other than some narcissistic syncretism, materialism, and the cult of the empty individual.

Except that, well, that would be too easy. We remain residually Christian; people seem still to think that humility, charity, and liberty under law have some sort of cachet. Oh, I know--some, genuinely, are inclined to call their morality 'secular'. They do that because they have tunnelled through the inside of it and tried to blow it out with a straw and some hot air. They mean well.

Really, though, what is the alternative to a culture which can emphasise good things but understand, through logic and the wisdom of centuries, that people can't be defined by one aspect of their selves? That people are fallen, and have a sense of that? Selfish liberal individualism? Materialism? Ideas that invert morality and the stuff we are, and elevate the elements of some genetic dance to metaphysical status?

I wish everyone would grow up and calm down.

Unfortunately the left, as it and the culture that produced its more decent aspects as well as its materialism dies, won't. The same people determined to be 'scared of things', to be 'angry' about things, are going to find the monster they have created eating them soon. Abortions and 'mercy' killing and homosexuality, for example, are human things. They are as human as eating, or redeemed criminals. This, however, is the first culture since the Roman gang were consumed in the sixth century to elevate these activities to the status of things upon which a human identity could be hung, and to a par with the stuff of moral crusades.

Those who describe themselves as the modern left see war, and sympathise with those who wage it in Palestine; they see unfairness and elevate some state sticking plaster over it. They see populations and see a problem; they see a vast global overcapacity, and unemployment, and promote attempts by states to stave off reckoning. They see ignorance and spread it with environmental cults and progressive education.

Peace is not made by appeasement any more than spending makes wealth, and class is not denied by simply throwing money at people whilst barring them from decent employment and proper education and social discipline. All this, whilst modernity lives mired in metastasizing lies.

And, before you think it, many of those who define themselves as right are in effect the mirror image of that group. Equally, I'd be dishonest if I didn't acknowledge that many who call themselves left would view my words as caricature; my get out would be that I didn't mean them, unless I did. I am a barrister (non-practising) after all....

Why is it that those of the left spend their time thinking women should be maimed by medical establishments or chemicals and separated from their children, or that technology should be reversed rather than accelerated, or that science should be elevated beyond the skeptical, and made more than a tool predicated upon a search for convenience and elegance?

Oh, I don't know. The right do it too, because in truth 'left' and 'right', when a media-political class representing a particular section of the global bourgeois is in charge, mean nothing much. Revolution isn't my bag; I think the detonations of the Reformation and the French Revolution were as disastrous as anything that ever spewed forth from Rousseau or Lenin.

It's a fool's game to uphold form and labels over essence. I should stop this 'left-right' nonsense and refuse to use the words, except I can't, because everyone does. A few years ago, someone noticed that people classed as schizophrenic were often associated with second generation Caribbean and Irish communities, and lazy connections were often made with alcohol, as they were with American Indians.

What if, though, your internal language and learned responses and cultures were utterly at odds with the language and behaviours which they were expected to adopt? What if you sensed, in some part of your conscience, that your instincts were right and that the world was mad, but you never connected with the institutions or the insights that could make sense of that? Was that why they broke down? The English speaking world's harsh imperative; you are free to speak. But you speak the language of the world, or the voices and labels confuse you, more than any logic game predicated on gerunds.

Isn't there some way, though, as Robert Kennedy might have said, to see wrong and want to right it, to see violence done inside and outside people and want to end it, to see poverty of the spirit and the flesh and want to disperse it, and to see darkness and want to dispel it? Or is it just better to have a good old hate and to 'get angry' about something?

Love and Reason; the only things that will save us in this world. That is to say, they are the only things that will remotely improve our position at the margin of the existence our souls may enjoy. I think that those things are the highest reflections of God, though you may not. Frankly, if it wasn't for my faith, which is more flawed than most I would readily admit, I'd despair. But to despair is a sin.

Thank God I'm a Catholic.

Comments

Martin said…
Couldn't put it better myself.
Martin Meenagh said…
That's high praise. Thanks, Martin.

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