Tuesday 22 March 2011

Living in enemy-occupied territory


"Enemy-occupied territory---that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage."

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity.
Reactionaries are also living in enemy-occupied territory; and have been for many generations.
Over the generations the occupying forces have either destroyed or infiltrated all the institutional powers.
This is why the leadership of all powerful institutions (including all the powerful churches) are corrupt (I mean the leadership as a class, not every single person), and all these leaderships will therefore either subvert or neutralize all sources of potentially reactionary power.
Which is why mainstream politics is futile.
This is why the only uncorrupt groups have the character of a covert, counter-revolutionary cell. 
And that little, is the best that can be hoped for, and we are lucky if we have even that - most people do not.


Alex said...

The futility of mainstream politics can be expressed in this homespun way: You can have one thing, or you can have the same thing. If you want anything else, you can jump out of the window.

I believe some incorruptible individuals still exist - or at any rate a tiny minority is highly resistant to corruption. But these individuals have retired from the world and inhabit secluded places that have no formal structure. This should be understood as an isolation of sensibility rather than physical separation from the rest of society.

If these people have any influence, it's by example. They are most unlikely to coalesce into 'cells' with political aims. We cannot expect to be rescued from our predicament by men and women who are indifferent to the impostures of politics.

A few bleak lines from Kipling sum up my pessimism at this hour:

This is the midnight—let no star
Delude us—dawn is very far.
This is the tempest long foretold—
Slow to make head but sure to hold.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Alex - thanks. By 'cell' I intend to imply something little more than what we are doing now - communication between a handful of scattered individuals.

If these individuals were geographically or institutionally concentrated, then it would be a cell proper - even if there were no strategic aims or plans to 'do' anything.

A handful of people merely behaving with integrity, pursuing the Good, would be something. But indeed a single individual (e.g. a Saint) is sometimes enough to make a significant and even widespread difference, as we know for certain from historical examples.

Brett Stevens said...

From the respectful dissent category: the mainstream is delusional because it's a market.

When culture changes, the markets and elections change to match. Yes, they are infernal devices (have no souls) but they are also relatively representative devices.

Our problem is that very few people see anything resembling the truth, and they are disunified. The right is fragmented, the Christian establishment is fragmented, and everyone is under assault from the easy lure of "selling out" to the lies that we tell our public to lull them to sleep.

If we could unite 2% of our population on some coherent belief system and future state they desire, we would have change very quickly.

The Crow said...

And this is achieved by doing what we are doing, only doing it with purity of intent.
Ideas are the things that change things. Separate from manipulation or unworthy goals.
The World (of people) is a mess.
Yet The World (in itself) is not.
Fix people's madness and The World of People is fixed.
Sanity and reason are the only tools that have any chance of success in this: armed revolt will certainly not suffice.
The World is made better, one idea at a time.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ Crow - as a Christian I believe the world is a mess, and always has been, but sometimes there were broadly-Good institutions (i.e The City of God - e.g. the ideal church or Byzantium) - but not now.

Actually, I think the current Pope may be one of the individual exceptions in the West: a substantially uncorrupt and beneficial force.

But although he is Pope - a fact which may yet prove decisive - Benedict XVI strikes me as an isolated (and very elderly) figure in a thoroughly infiltrated, neutralized, secularized and politically correct Church.

Nonetheless, he has already provided for an historic reunification with the Catholic element of the Anglican/ Episcopalian church. This was an extraordinary surprise to everyone (except himself). Who knows what may emerge in relation to the Eastern Orthodox Church (repairing the schism with which he has stated is his highest priority)?

Alex said...

The Crow said: The World is made better, one idea at a time.

The 'liberal consensus' to which the educated elites have, as it were, signed up, incorporates a number of ideas. Some if not all of these ideas have the character of moral imperatives, and some have priority.

Like any political philosophy, the liberal analysis begins with an account of the nature of man. If the world can be changed 'one idea at a time', then a systematic attempt to refute modern liberalism should begin by considering that account. Perhaps next in line for critical investigation, would be liberalism's supersession of the view that there is a natural and theologically validated hierarchy which ought to preside over man's estate. And so on.

In my opinion, this blog isn't a textbook critique of liberalism or an Everyman's Handy Guide to Changing the World. However, Bruce Charlton does address the fundamental question of man's nature etc., and often by indirection finds direction out.

In other words, sometimes his criticism of the prominent characteristics in liberal ideology (e.g. political correctness) is intuitive rather than dogmatic. But all his discourses tend to counter the status quo.