Environmentalism is the New Marxism

That is an understanding that has been around quite a while, and it is examined in this article from American Greatness.

An excerpt.

Should you ever doubt the importance of the “narrative” to the modern Left, all you need to do is look around you. It’s the in the air we breathe, and the water in which we swim, attached to the products we buy and behind just about every news story we read or see. At every turn, we are admonished, hectored, harangued to get with the cultural-Marxist program.

On a plane recently, the attendants handed out complimentary dark chocolates. The brand? Something called Endangered Species Chocolate, a company that bills its products as “the first ever chocolate bars made in America from Fairtrade certified West African cocoa beans that can be fully traced from farm to chocolate bar. ESC has committed that only fully traceable cocoa beans sustainably grown and harvested under Fairtrade standards will be used to make their chocolate.”

In case, like me, you had no idea fluffy chocolate bunnies were an endangered species, or that a guilty nibble at a Hershey bar could lay waste to vast stretches of the veldt, the company offers this helpful explanation:

The cocoa used by ESC is grown by West African farmers who follow rigorous standards for protection of workers’ rights and the environment. When a customer purchases ESC’s Fairtrade certified bars, West African farmers earn a fair price and an additional Fairtrade social premium to invest in business and community projects such as improving education and healthcare, protecting their environment and improving their economic well-being.

Who could be against that? Westerners from Dickens’ Mrs. Jellyby on have sought to improve the plight of sub-Saharan Africans, but this statement of virtue-signaling posits that West African farmers are currently not getting a fair price for their cocoa beans; in our mind’s eye, we picture some nasty Belgian—call him Mr. Kurtz—terrorizing the natives from his Congolese redoubt.

Similarly, on a recent trip to the health-food store I bought a bag of moringa, a currently voguish “superfood” of powdered plant protein. Yum. It’s made by Kuli Kuli (which, like Endangered Species Chocolate, sports a nurturing “green” logo). Here’s what the packaging has to say:

“Once eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans, moringa leaves have been used in traditional medicine for many centuries… our moringa is sustainably sourced from women’s cooperatives in West Africa, where we work to improve nutrition and livelihoods. Nourishing you, nourishing the world.”

If it was good enough for Sophocles and Marcus Aurelius, it’s good enough for me. But that bit about the women’s cooperatives is a masterstroke—hey, West Africa is just like Park Slope in Brooklyn, only sunnier! You can practically see the West African women, relaxing after a hard day harvesting moringa leaves, sipping a sustainable latte and reading the New York Times, and perhaps helping to save the planet themselves with a delicious bite of Endangered Species Chocolate.

It’s all just advertising, of course, and thus harmless enough. It also goes to reinforcing the narrative: that selfish man is the cause of species endangerment, that primitive societies are superior to developed ones (but then who would buy the locally sourced cocoa beans and moringa leaves?), and that traditional medicine—which is to say, no medicine at all—is somehow superior to what those pill-pushing quacks foist on you before they climb in their BMWs and head out to the links for a round or two of golf. Were that true, the ancient Greeks and Romans might all have lived into their 80s, instead of dying in their 20s and 30s, as unsustainable folks tended to do back then.

Retrieved November 16, 2017 from https://amgreatness.com/2017/11/16/the-suicidal-narrative-of-the-modern-environmental-left/

Russian Orthodox Church & the KGB

This excellent article from the Catholic Herald notes the history and it is not pretty.

An excerpt.

The spiritual significance of the October Revolution – which actually took place in November 1917 according to our calendar – has largely been viewed by Catholics through the lens of that year’s apparitions at Fatima. Fatima, in turn, read through the life of St John Paul II, has led to a Catholic view that the challenge of 20th-century communism was a time of great persecution but also great heroism, leading to the ultimate triumph of Christian humanism.

The view from Russia itself would be rather different. Consider that, for John Paul II, the aftermath of the Great War meant the return of Poland to independence, and a rebirth of Polish freedom, subsequently to be tested. For his fellow Slav, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the end of World War I meant the end of Russian freedom. Both of course are true. In last week’s issue, Jonathan Luxmoore gave some of the highlights of the Catholic heroism in which Poles played a prominent part. However, the Fatima/John Paul lens does shift attention away from one of the principal religious dramas of our time – the October Revolution’s execution of Orthodoxy.

The persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church – the largest by far of the patriarchates in the Orthodox Church – was brutal and total. The figures are staggering. More than 100,000 Russian Orthodox priests were killed, some by crucifixion on their own churches. A Church that had over 300 bishops in 1917 was reduced to a mere handful by World War II. So fierce was the totalitarian atheism of Lenin and Stalin that the possibility of an underground “church of the catacombs” was practically foreclosed. A regime prepared to kill millions of its own for ideological purposes left no ground upon which resisters could stand, or under which they could hide.

The Russian Orthodox Church was effectively liquidated, and was on the verge of being eliminated. Then, in one of history’s great surprises, a reprieve came with Hitler’s invasion of Russia. Stalin, deciding to marshal all national energies against the Nazi threat, reconstituted the Russian Orthodox Church, but now as a branch of the communist state. Russian Orthodoxy would live, but only as a corrupted government bureau.

Thus in 1946, the state-run Patriarchate of Moscow acceded to the suppression and looting of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, making Ukrainian Catholics the largest illegal Christian community on earth. It was a historic betrayal of a loyal Christian community by its ostensible fellow Christians.

The illegal synod (sobor) of 1946 was a sign of things to come. Anyone who aspired to leadership in the Russian Orthodox Church – especially clergy who were to study abroad – had to be part of the KGB, the secret police. At the very least, several generations of Russian Orthodox leadership were forced to be passive collaborators with the regime. The Russian Orthodox Church, with its millennium-long tradition, was destroyed and replaced.

Even a quarter of a century after the dissolution of the communist party and the Soviet Union itself, the restoration of Russian Orthodoxy remains a generational challenge. A leadership generation has yet to emerge that is free from historic entanglement with the KGB. The alliance of the current Patriarchate of Moscow with the regime of Vladimir Putin – evident above all in Putin’s aggression in Ukraine – is a clear sign that the Stalinist reconstitution of the Church has yet to be overcome. Even today, the Patriarchate of Moscow cannot renounce its participation in the 1946 sobor of suppression in Ukraine.

Retrieved November 13, 2017 from http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2017/11/11/how-communism-corrupted-the-russian-soul/

Socialism Becoming Popular with US Youth

Communism/Socialism has always had an allure to the young with its absoluteness and idealistic promises of equality of all, and this article from Yahoo News reports its growing popularity among youth in America.

An excerpt.

Washington (AFP) – While working as an electrician Lee Carter received a literal shock, through one hand and across the chest, that jolted him into politics and turned him on to what was a dirty word in America for nearly a century: socialism.

His struggle to obtain compensation for the workplace injury inspired him to run for office, and this week Carter ousted a top Republican incumbent to nab a spot in Virginia’s House of Delegates, becoming one of over a dozen unabashed socialists newly elected to US state and municipal seats one year after Donald Trump took the White House.

The 31-year-old former Marine is part of a growing cadre of Americans, particularly millennials, pledging their allegiance to the Democratic Socialists of America, the nation’s fastest growing leftist group that was originally founded in 1982 as a foothold for Marxists.

Riding the wave of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders’s spirited White House bid against primary rival Hillary Clinton, the organization is helping propel socialism out of the shadows.

In the years prior to the Sanders campaign, the DSA’s number of card-carrying members hovered around 6,500 — and has nearly quintupled since 2016’s presidential race to more than 30,000.

Its median age has dropped from about 60 to 35, according to organizers, some of whom have playfully referred to the surge among youth as a “socialist baby boom.”

Dismayed by Trump’s rise to power Jacquelyn Smith in January joined the DSA, which has chapters in nearly every US state. And at just 22 years old, she managed Carter’s victorious campaign.

Organizing as a DSA member means “I am challenging the root of the problem and not the symptoms,” she told AFP, speaking at a recent convention of the organization’s local Washington branch.

“I focus a lot less on challenging Trump and a lot more on challenging why he got there in the first place,” she said, citing forces including economic inequality and white supremacist movements.

Today Smith said millennials — a generation that grew up during the 2008 financial crisis — are eager for socialism, to “embrace the ideology and really fight with it publicly.”

Under her management DSA members spent months canvassing for Carter in Virginia’s 50th district, about an hour’s drive west of the nation’s capital, knocking on more than 9,000 doors in the final four days.

Those grassroots efforts helped propel Carter, who ran as a socialist on the Democratic party ticket, to an upset nine-point victory against one of Virginia’s most powerful state Republicans.

– ‘Alarming reputation’ fading –

Despite their current momentum far-left groups like the DSA remain on the fringes of American politics, working within a two-party system that leaves little space for outsiders.

Retrieved November 11, 2017 from https://www.yahoo.com/news/once-taboo-socialism-finds-comrades-among-us-millennials-051949477.html

 

 

Broken Windows Policing Broken in New York

And the results are tragic, as this article from City Journal reports.

An excerpt.

The New York Times, along with anti-cop activists and the academic Left, opposes public-order enforcement as racially oppressive. With New York mayor Bill de Blasio likely to win a second term tomorrow, it now appears that his administration is following suit. There’s only one problem, as a Times article today unwittingly reveals: cutting back on such enforcement, also known as Broken Windows policing, violates the wishes of the very minority residents whom the Times purports to champion.

Two Times reporters travelled to majority-minority areas of the city to observe the New York Police Department’s new philosophy in action. A detective in Washington Heights, a heavily Dominican neighborhood of Manhattan, is letting some crimes go unpunished as a way to gain trust, report J. David Goodman and Al Baker. The detective had recently let a marijuana dealer go. “He’s up there selling weed and stuff, a bunch of small stuff,” the detective said. “And we’re worried about violent stuff.” Later, the dealer helped with some information on gangs, thus allegedly vindicating the no-enforcement policy.

This distinction between ignorable criminal “small stuff” and attention-worthy “violent stuff” is precisely what the Broken Windows philosophy rejects. Until recently, the NYPD firmly rejected that distinction as well.  A community characterized by street disorder is a magnet for violent street predation, since criminals rightly perceive that social controls there have broken down. Moreover, violent criminals do not scrupulously obey public-order laws; enforcing those misdemeanor laws gets them off the streets.

But even if there were no connection between the “small stuff” and the “violent stuff,” maintaining public order in high-crime communities is a moral imperative, because that is what the law-abiding residents there demand. (Enforcement need not always entail arrest; officers have the discretion to issue a warning instead.) The Times reporters attended a community meeting in the North Bronx, but it didn’t go according to the expected political narrative. A man complained about drug use on a playground. A woman reported drug dealing at a Chinese business: “they put their drugs right there in the Chinese place. I’m not trying to get my name involved,” she said.

Note: it is not just drug dealing that the community perceives as a scourge but also drug use—exactly what Times editors, readers, and other right-thinking people believe should be ignored or decriminalized. At a police-community meeting in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, officers had to explain why they could not easily stop “people from smoking marijuana in privately owned buildings,” in the Times’ words.  Someone had obviously made the same complaint that I have heard over and over at such gatherings: “I smell weed in my hallway, why can’t you do something about it?”

Black support for drug enforcement and other quality-of-life concerns has a long (and suppressed) history. In the 1950s, working- and middle-class blacks viewed drug addiction as a crime problem rather than as a public-health concern, writes Michael Javen Fortner in his groundbreaking book, Black Silent Majority. While the New York Times talked about the “victims” of the drug scourge, the Amsterdam News portrayed drug users themselves as the scourge. In 1959, Harlem’s New York Age called for “no leniency for the criminals, the recidivists, the junkies, dope pushers, muggers, prostitutes, or pimps. Clear out this scum—and put them away as long as the law will allow,” Fortner reports [emphasis added].

Retrieved November 7 2017 from https://www.city-journal.org/html/broken-narrative-15550.html

Russian Communism & Fatima

The record needs repeating on a regular basis, as this article from the National Catholic Register does, to enshrine the visitation of the holy Queen Mother to us, and whose instructions we have not yet fulfilled.

An excerpt.

In October 1917, as the bloodshed of the First World War continued to rage, the final apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima took place on Oct. 13, culminating with the “Miracle of the Sun.” The call of the Blessed Mother for the consecration of Russia during her apparitions and for the world to repent from sin was a powerful one, but few could have imagined the horrors that were soon unleashed in the very country named by Our Lady: Russia.

Indeed, only a few weeks after the final apparition at Fatima, the Russian Revolution took its last and darkest turn, and decades of suffering ensued.

A century ago, on Oct. 25, the October Revolution brought the Bolsheviks — the Communists under Vladimir Lenin — to power in post-Czarist Russia. What followed was the first officially atheist state and one of the darkest eras in human history. Its name is taken from the events on Nov. 6 and 7, 1917 (or Oct. 24 and 25 on the Julian Calendar, which is why it is described as the “October Revolution”), when radical leftist forces led by the Bolsheviks staged a largely bloodless coup d’état against the debilitated provisional government of Russia that had been established after the fall of Czar Nicholas II from power earlier that year.

Karl Marx had predicted — and based many of his assumptions on the idea — that the inevitable revolution of the workers would take place in the advanced industrialized Western European countries, where the proletariat would rise up and create a worker’s paradise. As events transpired, the communist revolution did take place, but in the agrarian and only barely industrialized country of Tsarist Russia.

The Fall of Czar Nicholas II

Having endured several abortive efforts at modernization, the Russian Empire had limped into the 20th century and was already weakened by political unrest when World War I began in 1914. By 1917, the Romanov Dynasty under Czar Nicholas II was near collapse, and the city of Petrograd (modern St. Petersburg) faced food shortages, massive unemployment, inflation and a demoralized and defeated Russian Army. The communists, under the exiled Lenin, had long agitated for political chaos, but the initial revolution, in February 1917, created a provisional government made up of conservatives, moderates and liberal socialists, as well as so-called Mensheviks (Russian socialists) and other socialist revolutionaries.

Czar Nicholas abdicated Feb. 28, 1917 (he and his entire family were later murdered), but in the next months, extremists plotted a bloody takeover. The return of Lenin from exile — with the help of the Germans who wanted to destabilize Russia’s war effort — culminated in the revolution in which the radical Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace and arrested the members of the provisional government.

The Soviet Union (born out of the so-called Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was the first state in history to declare itself atheist and to take as one if its central policies the eradication of religion from all life in the country. This had been forecast, of course, by Karl Marx, and it was given its most brutal expression in the 20th century in Russia, although communist China and the Soviet satellites also embraced similar policies. The Soviet regime persecuted all forms of religious belief, confiscated churches and places of worship and arrested and tortured priests, men and women religious and dedicated laypeople, and used the state-controlled schools to indoctrinate young people against all notion of faith. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Orthodox Church was reduced in influence so that, by 1939, there were a mere 500 churches left open of the original 50,000 in 1922. Thousands of Orthodox priests had been shot or sent into forced labor, and over the decades, they were compelled to register with the NKVD (the precursor to the KGB) and agree to all conditions imposed by the state.

The Suffering of the Church

Particular fury was spent on the Catholic Church, especially the Ukrainian Catholic Church. In 1921, there were 245 Catholic priests in Russia; by 1925, these had been reduced to fewer than 70, and most were in labor camps. The rest had been murdered, tortured to death or died in the camps. By 1926, all of the bishops in Russia were dead. In 1917, there were 1,200 Catholic churches; by 1941, there were two. The Ukrainian Catholic Church was forced in 1946 to be subordinated to the Russian Orthodox Church, all of its property confiscated and its priests watched closely by the NKVD. Similar treatment was given to the Georgian and Armenian Byzantine Catholics, and Catholic priests, nuns and laypeople were killed by the thousands after they refused to give up the faith. In the two gulags of Sandormoch and Leningrad alone, the Soviet authorities murdered thousands of Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Jews in a series of mass killings in the 1930s. Estimates place the number of Catholics murdered or exiled to Siberia and other camps by 1925 at 200,000.

The anti-Catholic and anti-Christian campaign included mandatory programs in the schools attacking the Church as an enemy of reason and a corrupt hypocritical institution that survived by feeding off the superstitions and fears of the people. Students were told about Galileo, the Inquisition, the “evil” popes and the Crusades. In the 1920s, Soviet propaganda included pamphlets, books, films and radio programs that mocked religion and portrayed the popes and priests as vile and hypocritical lechers. At the same, the virtues of atheism were extolled as the only way toward human progress and enlightenment.

Despite the unimaginable horrors faced by Catholics and others, religion persisted, as did fidelity to the Holy See, to the anger and frustration of the Soviet regime. In the darkest days of World War II, with German forces only miles away from Moscow in 1941, Stalin allowed the Orthodox churches to reopen to give some hope to the Russians who had lost hope in the state. Cynically using the Orthodox clergy to promote the defense of Mother Russia against the German invader, Stalin held together social order and then returned to oppressing religion once the war was over.

Retrieved November 7, 2017 from http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/russias-fall-from-gods-grace-through-revolution

Capital Punishment & Protecting Yourself

An excellent article from The Catholic Thing.

An excerpt.

Capital punishment is analogous to killing in self-defense, we are told. Some have resisted that analogy, because they misunderstand it. The analogy says, not that society can use capital punishment only when necessary to protect individuals in society, but rather, only when necessary to protect society – including justice in a society, the order in society, or any fundamental constituent of the common good of society.

(Note that I did not say, “as St. Thomas taught,” even though his discussion is so lucid. The truth of what I am saying has nothing to do with the fact that St. Thomas taught it. He taught it because it is true. I won’t even say “true by natural law” as if “natural law” were a separate authority, beyond what well-formed reason and conscience say, yours and mine.)

The reason why I can resort to killing in self-defense, is that I can rightly prefer my own good over that of another. Not that I need to prefer it. If I am a Capuchin friar, I might prefer not to defend myself, out of a free choice to represent Christ in my defenselessness.

But suppose I am a father supporting ten children – then I might be morally obliged to keep myself alive by killing that aggressor. I wouldn’t have the luxury of representing Christ through defenselessness. If self-sacrifice is what I seek, as I should, then God has already set down a path for me, the path that I chose when I said my vows: to love my wife as Christ loved the Church.

What is left up to reasonable preference for me, may be mandated for a public official. It’s not up to the police officer whether to use lethal force when necessary to protect an innocent against an attack. He must do so. God, conscience, and his duty as a Christian all say this.

Not that it will be pretty. The ruthless bandit is poised to kill. Next moment he lies in the gutter in a pool of blood. What would Christ have done? Capuchin friars and others like that will advisably not assume positions as police officers.

But if killing in self-defense and capital punishment are analogous, then they rise or fall together, on the same grounds. If the one can be abolished, then so can the other. If the one is unavoidable in reason and conscience, then so is the other.

It is not difficult to see that there are circumstances in which a public official may actually be obliged, in reason and conscience, to execute an offender. You are on the front lines, and deserters will be punished. A law without a punishment is not a law. A punishment that cannot be applied is not a punishment.

“If bloodless means suffice, they must be used instead.” But what if bloodless means do not suffice? Then bloody means must be used. The man already in solitary confinement who finds his chance to murder the visiting physician or pastor. The revolutionary who remains a rallying point. Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Alfred Rosenberg, Hermann Goering, Arthur Seyss-Inquart – you think bloodless means suffice to uphold justice? You are entitled to that minority opinion, but you cannot say that it is against reason, against conscience, to hold otherwise.

I say bloody means must be used, just as the police officer must protect the innocent. Capuchin friars will advisably not wish to serve as executioners. They have been forbidden to do so by Church law. But the lay executioner does what is right and good, although necessitated.

That great servant of the public good, Thomas More, kissed his executioner, as if to bless the role: “Pluck up thy spirits, man, and be not afraid to do thy office.” It seems that this executioner, too, had not the luxury of avoiding his work: “See, my neck is very short. Take heed therefore thou strike not awry for having thine honesty” – the saint’s very last words.

Capital punishment, though, adds this over self-defense: it is necessitated morally rather than naturally or physically. Once the aggressor goes to attack you, you are on the runaway trolley, and you can’t but go right, to destroy him in saving yourself, or left, which lets him survive in destroying you. Always, not to choose is to choose, of necessity, from the nature of the thing.

But crimes once done merely “cry out to heaven” for retribution. They deserve rather than necessitate punishment. Thus, if someone were to say that killing in self-defense were excluded, he would be saying only that preferring oneself to others (when one must be preferred) is excluded.

Retrieved November 8, 2017 from https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2017/11/04/capital-punishment-eppur-non-si-muove/

Christopher Ferrara on Ecumenism, in Fatima Perspectives

Priceless.

An excerpt.

The current unparalleled crisis in the Church is largely the result (aside from the utterly disastrous “liturgical reform”) of the proliferation of pseudo-doctrines, slogans and buzzwords in post-conciliar thinking. Among these are “ecumenism” (an essentially meaningless neologism) and its absurd mantra respecting Protestant “ecumenical dialogue partners”: i.e., that “What unites us is greater than what divides us.”

The slogan manifestly violates the first principle of rational thought: the law of non-contradiction, which states that a thing cannot be, and not be, at the same time and under the same aspect. For example, running water can become ice, but it cannot be ice and running water at the same time.

The ecumenical slogan posits the nonsensical notion that Catholics and Protestants are simultaneously united and divided, which is not the same thing as saying that Catholics and Protestants might happen to agree on this or that isolated point of doctrine while not being united in the same religion. That is, the word “united” is being abused to suggest a unity that does not and cannot exist so long as Protestants remain outside the Church that Christ founded, the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is identical to the Mystical Body of Christ.

As Pope Pius XII explained in his landmark encyclical on the Mystical Body:

“Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. ‘For in one spirit’ says the Apostle, ‘were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free.’

“As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered — so the Lord commands — as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit.

This has been the constant teaching of the Church: that there is no Christian unity outside of her, and that Protestants are not within her unity, notwithstanding any valid baptism they may have received at the hands of some non-Catholic minister. To recall the teaching of Pius XI in this regard: “the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.”

That is, without the return of the dissidents to the one true Church, there is no unity with them. Hence, alluding to the teaching of his predecessor, Pius XII insisted in his instruction regarding the “ecumenical movement” that the bishops “must restrain that dangerous manner of speaking which generates false opinions and fallacious hopes incapable of realization; for example, to the effect that the teachings of the Encyclicals of the Roman Pontiffs on the return of dissidents to the Church, on the constitution of the Church, on the Mystical Body of Christ, should not be given too much importance…”

But it is precisely “fallacious hopes incapable of realization” that animate the futile enterprise of “Catholic ecumenism” with its suspension of the law of non-contradiction in order to posit the absurdity of unity in the face of irreconcilable division.

Retrieved November 5, 2017 from http://www.fatimaperspectives.com/ef/perspective1105.asp

Defining Christendom

Great clarity from the Imaginative Conservative.

An excerpt.

A few months ago, I gave a couple of talks at a C.S. Lewis Conference at Montreat College in North Carolina. In between talks I enjoyed a convivial conversation with Tom Ascik, an attendee at the conference—and, coincidentally, a contributor toThe Imaginative Conservative—who recorded our conversation. I thought the drift of our discussion on the Benedict Option might be of interest to readers of The Imaginative Conservative. This being so, the transcript of our discussion follows.

Mr. Ascik: Rod Dreher in The Benedict Option says that Christendom is over. What do you say?

Mr. Pearce: It obviously depends upon how you’re defining the word Christendom. For me, Christendom is the Church Militant; it’s the Body of Christ in the world. And of course, in this sense, Christendom is never over until the end of time, but that’s how I define Christendom. I think he’s defining it in a different way, and that’s fine, but I will continue to use the word Christendom in a positive sense and a living sense because I think it’s still very much alive.

What about Christendom as a social force, as a force organized in society, as its being the culture or the custom of society?

The first thing we have to clarify is that there’s never been a golden age. The more you understand history, the more you understand, in the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, that history is the long defeat with only occasional glimpses of final victory. In that sense, when the Church is being persecuted, she’s also being purified. When she is living in times of comfort, she often becomes corrupt.

In that sense, we have to understand history as an ongoing struggle against the forces of darkness, against the fabric of sin which is woven into the very fabric of the Fallen cosmos in which we live. There’s a certain type of progressive who makes the mistake of thinking that there’s a golden age in the future. There isn’t. But a certain type of traditionalist or conservative sees there being a golden age in the past, which there hasn’t been. Such conservatives are in danger of thinking that everything was better in the past and that things will inexorably get worse in the future. This very easily leads to despair.

One of the things we have to avoid is the sort of thinking that leads to the belief that we’ve lost. The belief that we’ve got to batten down the hatches and try to salvage the remnant that’s left of Christian civilization. We haven’t lost. It’s an ongoing fight, which in terms of the world is a long defeat, but in terms of final victory is assured. For each of us, of course, our part in the fight is our proverbial three score years and ten, and then we’re going to meet our reward. If we fought well, we get a good reward, an eternal one. In this sense, the end of the world, for each of us as individuals, is very near indeed. The world ends when we die. It is this “end time” that we need to keep in mind, not some doom-laden apocalypse, the latter of which is wholly in the hands of God and is, therefore, in the safest hands imaginable.

Retrieved November 6 2017 from http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2017/10/conversation-benedict-option-joseph-pearce.html

Communism Strong in World’s Largest Country

The Romance of Communism—or the death of Communism—as portrayed by many in the West, shows its real, and very alive, face to the world, as this article from the Washington Post reports, validating, once again, the warning of Fatima.

An excerpt.

BEIJING — For 3½ hours, China’s President Xi Jinping commanded the stage and the nation’s television screens as he set out a far-reaching agenda for the Communist Party, outlining a vision of total control, not only of the nation’s economy and the Internet but also of culture, religion and morals.

The Communist Party already has a hand in just about every aspect of life here. But Xi’s speech Wednesday — opening a five-yearly congress of the party’s top leadership — cast the net even wider.

His was a vision of a reinvigorated Communist Party, backed by a strong economy and a powerful, modern military taking an even more central role in the affairs of the nation and a more confident role on the world stage.

“Achieving national rejuvenation will be no walk in the park,” Xi told more than 2,200 members of the party’s elite, speaking beneath gigantic red drapes and a huge hammer and sickle in the mammoth Great Hall of the People, a monument to Communist authoritarianism, on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

“It will take more than drumbeating and gong-clanging to get there,” he added. “Every one of us in the party must be prepared to work even harder toward this goal.

Yet outside, the run-up to the 19th National Congress has been marked not by confidence but by the Communist Party’s particular brand of paranoia.

Dissidents have been arrested or railroaded out of town, lest they disrupt the celebratory mood by saying anything remotely critical. Ordinary public gatherings — anything from a top-level soccer match to regular gym classes — have been closed down or postponed.

Censorship of the Internet and controls on private chat groups have dramatically intensified, while long lines built up at subway stations in the capital this week as security checks were stepped up. The WhatsApp messaging service has been blocked. Foreigners living in the city have been visited by police for passport checks, and volunteers with red armbands and security personnel patrol almost every street corner. Banners extolling the party dominate almost every free space.

Factories throughout Beijing were ordered to close in a bid to curb air pollution, while every arm and level of the government has been straining for months to make sure nothing is left to chance, that nothing will spoil this, the big moment for the president.

In a week’s time, Xi will be formally granted another five years in power as general secretary of China’s Communist Party.

On Wednesday, with a large illuminated red star gleaming in the ceiling 30 yards above his head, he painstakingly set out what he sees as his achievements over the past five years and his vision for the next five — a campaign speech with particularly Chinese characteristics, and with the support of the entirety of the tiny, handpicked electorate already guaranteed.

“For five years, our party has demonstrated tremendous political courage and a powerful sense of mission,” Xi said, boasting of having driven profound and fundamental change in China but also warning of many difficulties and challenges ahead.

His speech beaming across the nation on state television, China’s leader also set out his ideological contribution to the party’s intellectual canon, ponderously named “Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” One official later described it as the “third milestone” in the party’s “ideological innovation”— after Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory.

Retrieved November 6, 2017 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/confidence-control-paranoia-mark-xi-jinpings-speech-at-china-party-congress/2017/10/18/6e618694-b373-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html?utm_term=.6e556d503063

 

Communism’s Deadly Century

Ably noted in this story from the Wall Street Journal.

An excerpt.

A century ago this week, communism took over the Russian empire, the world’s largest state at the time. Leftist movements of various sorts had been common in European politics long before the revolution of Oct. 25, 1917 (which became Nov. 7 in the reformed Russian calendar), but Vladimir Lenin and his Bolsheviks were different. They were not merely fanatical in their convictions but flexible in their tactics—and fortunate in their opponents.

Communism entered history as a ferocious yet idealistic condemnation of capitalism, promising a better world. Its adherents, like others on the left, blamed capitalism for the miserable conditions that afflicted peasants and workers alike and for the prevalence of indentured and child labor. Communists saw the slaughter of World War I as a direct result of the rapacious competition among the great powers for overseas markets.

But a century of communism in power—with holdouts even now in Cuba, North Korea and China—has made clear the human cost of a political program bent on overthrowing capitalism. Again and again, the effort to eliminate markets and private property has brought about the deaths of an astounding number of people. Since 1917—in the Soviet Union, China, Mongolia, Eastern Europe, Indochina, Africa, Afghanistan and parts of Latin America—communism has claimed at least 65 million lives, according to the painstaking research of demographers.

Communism’s tools of destruction have included mass deportations, forced labor camps and police-state terror—a model established by Lenin and especially by his successor Joseph Stalin. It has been widely imitated. Though communism has killed huge numbers of people intentionally, even more of its victims have died from starvation as a result of its cruel projects of social engineering.

For these epic crimes, Lenin and Stalin bear personal responsibility, as do Mao Zedong in China, Pol Pot in Cambodia, the Kim dynasty in North Korea and any number of lesser communist tyrants. But we must not lose sight of the ideas that prompted these vicious men to kill on such a vast scale, or of the nationalist context in which they embraced these ideas. Anticapitalism was attractive to them in its own right, but it also served as an instrument, in their minds, for backward countries to leapfrog into the ranks of great powers.

The communist revolution may now be spent, but its centenary, as the great anticapitalist cause, still demands a proper reckoning.

In February 1917, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated under pressure from his generals, who worried that bread marches and strikes in the capital of St. Petersburg were undermining the war effort against Germany and its allies. The February Revolution, as these events became known, produced an unelected provisional government, which chose to rule without the elected parliament. Peasants began to seize the land, and soviets (or political councils) started to form among soldiers at the front, as had already happened among political groups in the cities.

That fall, as the war raged on, Lenin’s Bolsheviks undertook an armed insurrection involving probably no more than 10,000 people. They directed their coup not against the provisional government, which had long since become moribund, but against the main soviet in the capital, which was dominated by other, more moderate socialists. The October Revolution began as a putsch by the radical left against the rest of the left, whose members denounced the Bolsheviks for violating all norms and then walked out of the soviet.

The Bolsheviks, like many of their rivals, were devotees of Karl Marx, who saw class struggle as the great engine of history. What he called feudalism would give way to capitalism, which would be replaced in turn by socialism and, finally, the distant utopia of communism. Marx envisioned a new era of freedom and plenty, and its precondition was destroying the “wage slavery” and exploitation of capitalism. As he and his collaborator Friedrich Engels declared in the Communist Manifesto of 1848, our theory “may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”

Once in power in early 1918, the Bolsheviks renamed themselves the Communist Party as they sought to force-march Russia to socialism and, eventually, to history’s final stage. Millions set about trying to live in new ways. No one, however, knew precisely what the new society was supposed to look like. “We cannot give a characterization of socialism,” Lenin conceded in March 1918. “What socialism will be like when it reaches its completed form we do not know, we cannot say.”

But one thing was clear to them: Socialism could not resemble capitalism. The regime would replace private property with collective property, markets with planning, and “bourgeois” parliaments with “people’s power.” In practice, however, scientific planning was unattainable, as even some communists conceded at the time. As for collectivizing property, it empowered not the people but the state….

But if we’ve learned one lesson from the communist century, it is this: That to implement Marxist ideals is to betray them. Marx’s call to “abolish private property” was a clarion call to action—and an inexorable path to the creation of an oppressive, unchecked state.

A few socialists began to recognize that there could be no freedom without markets and private property. When they made their peace with the existence of capitalism, hoping to regulate rather than to abolish it, they initially elicited denunciations as apostates. Over time, more socialists embraced the welfare state, or the market economy with redistribution. But the siren call to transcend capitalism persists among some on the left.

It also remains alive, though hardly in orthodox Marxist fashion, in Russia and China, the great redoubts of the communist century. Both countries continue to distrust what is perhaps most important about free markets and private property: Their capacity to give independence of action and thought to ordinary people, pursuing their own interests as they see fit, in private life, civil society and the political sphere.

Retrieved November 6, 2017 from https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-communist-century-1509726265