Monday 26 December 2011

Only one political principle for Christian Reactionaries


As Christians first, and reactionaries second, there is only room for one single, organising, inflexible reactionary political principle.


The Christian society is one organised-around the salvation of souls, or at least that is its ideal.

(Therefore, the Christian society is fundamentally different from the society we have.)

For Christian Reactionaries, political arrangements should be subordinated to retaining and growing the strength and possibility of Christianity.


Of course this does not at all mean that Christianity is the only important matter, since life cannot be divided and humans are corrupt, and almost all humans live 'in the world'.

It does not mean that The State/ Church should use 'compulsion' to engineer salvation. That makes no sense - the means must be the same as the end, and the end is that Christian salvation must be chosen, or not chosen.

(That is the necessity of Hell in the divine plan: because souls must be free to reject Christian salvation. This is perfectly explicit, and applies to angelic spirits as well as Men.)


Christianity is based on choice, on will; and the political principle must therefore also be based on choice, on will - that is on human attributes.

A Christian politics is necessarily a politics of individual choice - necessarily not (fundamentally) a system.

For the Reactionary Christian, civilisation must be fundamentally a thing of Man, of individual Men; therefore not of laws, rules, organisations, procedures, committees, votes, parliaments, panels, peer reviewing, nor democracy, nor mass movements, nor pressure groups...

Insofar as these things are necessary to civilisation, and they are, they must never be considered fundamental.


There is therefore no point, it is indeed counter-productive, to create blueprints for utopia for the perfect society that is Christian and much more.

Matters are too far gone, knowledge is too limited, that goal is too remote.


If we fight the battle on too many fronts, it will certainly be lost.

On the other hand, we must try to avoid being out-flanked - however this may not be possible with small forces.

The result may resemble a siege.


We cannot save everything, we must decide what it is vital to salvage.

In my opinion, when the nations and civilisations as a whole are anti-Christian then we probably, very probably, cannot save the current nation states and we cannot save our civilisation for the simple reason that Men are choosing not to save them.


There is no shortcut to the other side of salvation: we cannot make men want Good and then save them: salvation must come first: and repentance must precede salvation.


Societies have personalities (which are not the same, are the antithesis of, the results of votes and surveys and markets).

Modern Western societies must, as personalities, first acknowledge their sins (sin being the state of turned-away from God), and the cause of their sins; must take responsibility, repent, call for Divine aid.

This must come first, and it is pointless, no it is a dangerous delusion, to try and improve society without this; because it could be done only by coercion or trickery, and any apparent progress would swiftly be turned to its own undoing (since the apparent Good would in reality have come from the implementation of Bad intentions).


(contra Adam Smith, good results cannot ultimately comes from bad motivations but only briefly and delusively as a temptation; since over time bad motivations will thoroughly corrupt any well-intentioned system. Surely that is obvious by now? Isn't that precisely what we are experiencing?).


Thus the necessity for aiming fist-and-foremost at a state and practice of clear rejection of the world, and a humble acceptance of whatever consequences ensue.

(What possible inducement could people have to do this? - it might be asked. The answer is precisely the need for the conception of the wholeness of Christianity, that perceives the world as full or living intelligences ('angels') and life as Spiritual Warfare. From this perspective, suddenly, we are inside life and life is real with purpose and direction. This would be an infinite compensation for loss of worldly goods - if only we could hold to it; which we cannot, by our own efforts.)

Of course, as fallen Men, resolve will (almost certainly) fail, repeatedly; and need to be renewed; but ultimates outcomes are (as always) in the hand of Providence - and need not concern us.


As always, to a (simple) man of discernment, things are absolutely simple, what we need to do is absolutely simple.

And that state of simplicity and discernment is what needs to be striven for.



Sojka's Call said...

Choosing to be a Christian is a personal matter. The path is a personal one as exemplified by Jesus. Did Jesus extoll creating a certain kind of society? I don't think so.

I always understood he was talking solely about what the individual could do to understand their relationship with God.

If those statements are true then from a societal perspective creating a neutral medium in which people have the knowledge, perspective, and health to be able to make the choice of being a Christian seems to be our goal. Anything beyond that is creating a forceful situation that is counter-productive.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SC -

I think you are mistaken.

If you search this blog for the word 'neutrality' - and read the entries in reverse order - you will see that I believe neutrality is impossible.

A society, a law or regulation, a habit wil be either for or against Christianity (or will have certain aspects for and others against) - but it cannot be and never is neutral: just as no choice is our lives is neutral - it is either Good, or against Good.

In practice, the call for neutrality promotes an atheist, Leftist, materialist, hedonic agenda.

Dave said...

Professor Charlton,

What about Luther's concept of "two kingdoms"? He thought God ruled both the church AND the state through His Providence.

To me, this fits with your idea of individual choice. The first duty of the Christian is to submit to the state to the extent it does not contradict Christianity, since God's rule of order though the state is a blessing.

It does seem with modernity, the island of non-contradiction with Christianity is shrinking.

Also, with democracy, each Christian is both a citizen AND a ruler, and thus is *required* to exert his rule as a voter. One may not simply yield trust to the good king, for there is no king - only a ghost which represents the political center.

Wurmbrand said...

How do you avoid the problems of, say, Calvin's Geneva?

Perhaps the best man can do is to organize society as much as possible around Natural Reason (Lewis's Tao). Much of the virtue that Natural Reason enjoins can't be imposed, but its principles can be ideals that the state's laws align with.

This will mean that laws will promote virtues such as moderation, temperance, modesty, sobriety, honesty, thrift, respect for the elderly and protection of children, fairness, marital faithfulness and perseverance, parental authority, and so on. The state will generally not be concerned with private departures from these virtues because the virtues themselves (e.g. that of moderation) will prohibit "utopian" excesses; the role of the state in inculcating the virtues will be limited, will primarily be the restriction and, if need be, punishment of behavior that militates against virtuous living. For example, crime in a neighborhood makes it harder for people to live virtuously (when they are afraid, etc.), so the state will rightly exert its powers to secure the safety of neighborhoods. I'm distressed by how the armed forces of my country are involved in costly endeavors to establish democracy abroad, while in many cities there are neighborhoods overriden by crime and corruption. Isn't this unseemly?

I believe, with the Epistle to the Romans as I understand it, that the state has a legitimate role in the enforcement of laws of this type.

It is for the Church to preach divine Law, this including the obedience that is specifically due to God. I would not trust to fallible men, and certainly not to bureaucrats, the enforcement of civil penalties for failure to go to church! Attendance at sacred worship should not be a requirement of man's law ("My Kingdom is not of this world," said our Lord). Likewise it is the calling of the Church -- its calling above all -- to preach the Gospel and to dispense the Sacraments. Churches should be able to teach a robust Christianity in schools, but these should not be paid for by taxes; nor, I might wonder, should secular schools...

Anonymous said...

> "contra Adam Smith, good results cannot ultimately comes from bad motivations but only briefly and delusively as a temptation; since over time bad motivations will thoroughly corrupt any well-intentioned system. Surely that is obvious by now? Isn't that precisely what we are experiencing?)."

Not what we are experiencing at all. Leftists have good intentions, and no one had better intentions that Pol Pot.

Ponchaud hints that the sin of pride may have been the key evil, in that the Khmer Rouge perhaps desired to believe themselves saints, and everyone else sinners deserving of suffering and punishment, whereas Barron and Paul hint that perhaps the sin of lust may have been the key evil, in that the Khmer Rouge perhaps, like the fictitious party leadership in Orwell's book 1984, lusted for absolute and extraordinary power over others, power that can necessarily only be demonstrated by making other people suffer.

But even if the problem was lust for absolute power, their intent was to do no end of good things with that power.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Dave - "One may not simply yield trust to the good king, for there is no king - only a ghost which represents the political center. "

Very well phrased!


@Dale - Agreed.


@JAD - I think I expressed this too tersely. When I wrote of motivations I did not mean intentions; I meant that it was counter-productive trying to build the Good society using as 'tools' peoples bad 'motivations' such as greed, status seeking, lust, fear etc.

But it is tempting because these things work in the short term.

For example, I was very concerned at the lack of 'revolutionary science' and how it had been taken-over by 'normal science' because normal science is much more predictable and low risk.

I argued that revolutionary science could be encouraged by very large money prizes for exceptional achievement - the prizes would need to be very large to be an effective incentive, to compensate for the fact that they were retrospective and that there was a low probability of winning one.

BUT I now recognize that this *system* would have the long term effect (even if it worked in the short term) of making scientists motivated for money - of making science into a branch of business, oriented-around profit - in which case 'science' would no longer be about discovering the nature of reality, seeking and speaking truth etc.

In fact, REAL science can only be promoted by encouraging Scientific motivations.

Then apply that point elsewhere - that is what I was getting at...

Sojka's Call said...

@Dale was better at articulating what I was thinking and it was heartening to read you agreed with his words.