The End Of Ethics
June 13, 2021 (The Wanderer) There are two solutions on the horizon to our present national crisis. The first is a purely political one, which seeks to impose a way of life on people in the form of a set of arbitrary rules. We see this today with the widespread imposition of political correctness. The second is not primarily political but Christian, specifically ethics based on the natural law. Insofar as the latter urges people to live by love of God and neighbor, its appeal is to the inner person.
The purely political solution, as history teaches us, consistently fails to bring about what it promises. The Christian solution will succeed, but only when people decide to live in accordance with their inalienable dignity. Politics has the power, but Christianity has the blueprint.
Politics operates from the outside. Christianity proceeds from a person’s willingness to choose what is good. Politics rules from the few who are in power. Christianity renounces power and appeals to everyone. Is the power of politics, however, capable of making men good? Can it even make men civil?
As Christianity begins to lose its influence, politics becomes more coercive. The increased empowerment of politics inevitably leads to the erosion of personal freedom. The replacement of ethics by politics is the loss of a moral compass which allows people to direct their own lives. The loss of ethics is one of such magnitude that it leaves no room for an adequate replacement. The Christian solution may fail; the political solution will always fail.
The distinguished historian, Christopher Dawson, has indicated that without the nourishment that a spiritualized ethics provides, “society does not possess a civilization, but only a technological order resting on a vacuum” (The Crisis of Western Education, p. 150). There is an obvious relationship, he adds, “between the breakdown of the moral order when it is deprived of its spiritual aims and sanctions and the breakdown of civilization when it loses its relation to the moral order” (ibid., p. 199). Politics cannot stand alone.
The politician who dismisses the principles of Christianity as so much pie in the sky believes himself to be a realist. In this regard, he is a disciple of Machiavelli and therefore looks upon society as an art form that, like a block of marble, can be carved into a suitable image. He is not a respecter of either personal initiative or human freedom.
Unfortunately, he is ignorant of both history as well as human nature.
Politics, in the sense we have described, operates through power.
Christianity operates through love. In the final analysis, the power of love will triumph over the love of power. But the antagonism between these two approaches is a continuing drama that outlines the course of human history. It is not likely that one could ever be entirely free from the other.
Politics is concerned with expediency, getting the job done as quickly as possible. Christianity is dedicated to truth which enables people, perhaps slowly, to flourish in a context of realism. Politicians are utopian, holding to the unsupportable belief that through political influence alone, society can achieve justice for all. Christianity acknowledges the imperfections of man and understands that a perfect world is not possible. Christianity does not despair of this world, but hopes for a better one in the hereafter. In fact, it is the Christian belief that one’s reward in Heaven is commensurate with his service to others while he is on Earth.
With regard to the notion of utopia, Thomas Molnar has made a most realistic point in his book Utopia the Perennial Heresy, one that the new political enthusiasts should read and take seriously: “From time to time the belief spreads among men that it is possible to construct an ideal society. Then the call is sounded for all to gather and build it — the City of God on Earth. Despite its attractiveness, this is a delirious ideal stamped with the madness of logic.”
We are now dealing with ideas that are essentially delirious. They may be short-lived, one hopes, but they must be exposed for what they are so as to limit the amount of damage they will cause.
The end of ethics is the end of aspiration. It is, consequently, the abolition of man, for man is a being who cannot live without hope. To be constricted by a politically correct straitjacket means that one is no longer functioning as an autonomous human being.
Despite the notions of “diversity” and “inclusivity,” which represent a completely politicized form of ethics, many individuals, especially in the teaching professions, have been suspended, punished, expelled, or directed to sensitivity training because there is no room for their views in the newly politicized and contradictory meanings of these two notions. The regnant politics, shorn of personal ethics, should be more accurately cast as featuring “uniformity” and “intolerance.”
Hence, it cannot abide philosophical criticism that would expose its duplicity. Paradoxically, it is not only welcomed by many universities, but given a place of unchallenged authority.
Unlike the United States Constitution, it has no provision for self-correction. Its fragile future will be held together only by power and deception.
At the close of his book, The Gods of Revolution, Christopher Dawson addresses the futility of politics without Christian ethics as well as the fragility of Christianity:
“Consequently it is to Christianity that Western culture must look for leadership and help in restoring the moral and spiritual means of our civilization. If it fails to do so, it means either the failure of Christianity or the condemnation of civilization” (p. 166).
By Donald DeMarco
Threats To The Nation
June 14, 2021 (The Wanderer) Last week I tried to cover some of the threats to our Church by the forces of darkness. This week I’d like to turn my attention to our nation. Both topics, considering the state of the world today, can be unsettling to consider. I understand that. Bear with me, however, for one last column on the topic, for a while anyway.
I don’t necessarily want to date myself, but I grew up partly during the time of the Red Scare when people were finding Communists behind every corner and under every bed. I remember finding out about most of those things as a kid watching the old black-and-white television news programs. I have vague memories of Douglas Edwards, Huntley-Brinkley, and John Cameron Swayze whose Timex watches would “take a licking and keep on ticking.”
Communism, air raid drills, and all that scary stuff — but that’s over, of course. We learned to live with the Red Menace, ultimately deceiving ourselves that we were too smart to be overtaken. After all, we had a Red-busting FBI to protect us — we kids knew about that since we saw it nearly every week at the movies.
But as time went on we began to realize that our childhood comforts might not be that comfortable after all. I remember watching the antiwar marches when I was in college and wondering why so many of my friends were starting to parrot the Red line, even quoting Chairman Mao. A lot of it didn’t make much sense to me, except that there was a growing group of people who always seemed to blame America for everything; at the time they were mostly members of far-left fringe groups that sprang up on college campuses advanced by people who didn’t want to get drafted.
They burned their draft cards, I put on the uniform. They were just going through a growing phase, or so I thought.
Until the past few years. Then things started to come together for me. I’ve watched — on my color TV — marchers taking to the street with a completely different agenda than I had seen before. Their talking points and political pronouncements started to resemble the extension of things I had heard watching those old Senate hearings on TV.
Then things started to really bother me — like replacing education with indoctrination and differing standards for certain sets of people.
I remember at one of the colleges in which I taught we were told not to fail certain students even if they didn’t attend class and turned in poor work. Journalism turned from an honorable profession to another indoctrination outlet. Then there came those with same-sex attractions demanding equality in marriage; the rise of the transgender movement, and the embrace of a shifting morality that accepted literally everything as normal.
Of course there was the attack on religion by newly self-proclaimed gurus of the left, the expansion of welfare programs which for too many eliminated the need for work. That was followed by attacks on some of our most valued institutions. And the biggest of all, in my opinion, has been the weakening of the family and the rise of the abortion state.
The problem with all of this was that most of it seemed so unconnected. The divergent groups pushing each of the above movements seemed only loosely connected to one another. But behind the groups there was an explanation that most folks pooh-poohed, not because it was wrong but because it seemed so silly. It was the Red Menace; Communist infiltrators, their fellow travelers and their useful idiots. All ready to undermine our way of life.
There is a quote attributed to Joseph Stalin, although its authorship is disputed, which is worth noting:
“America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”
From that time, during the Red Scare, there was a book written by a former FBI agent, W. Cleon Skousen, The Naked Communist (1958), as a warning for Americans. It didn’t exactly corroborate the Stalin quotation, but it did introduce those who were interested to the history and “theology” behind Communism.
The author listed 45 goals that the Communist Party outlined for success in the United States. I’ve taken some of them directly from the book.
See if you recognize anything:
- “Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. . . .
- Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights. . . .
- Infiltrate the press. . . .
- Gain control of key positions in radio, TV and motion pictures. . . .
- Continue discrediting American culture. . . .
- Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them ‘censorship’ and a violation of free speech and free press. . . .
- Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV. . . .
- Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as ‘normal, natural, and healthy’. . . .
- Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with ‘social’ religion. . . .
- Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of ‘separation of church and state’. . . .
- “Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs. . . .
- Discredit the American founding fathers. . . .
- Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture — education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics. . . .
- Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat. . . .
- Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce. . . .”
Anything ring a bell?
Here’s what the book’s author had to say by way of warning:
“The conquest of the United States by Marxist forces has been an important part of the plan of Communist leaders for many years:
‘First we will take Eastern Europe; then the masses of Asia. Then we will encircle the United States of America which will be the last bastion of Capitalism. We will not have to attack it; it will fall like an overripe fruit into our hands.’ This clearly reflects the Marxist intent to overthrow the United States by internal subversion.
“The biggest mistake of the West has been allowing itself to drift into a state of mental stagnation, apathy, and inaction. In some circles, motivations of patriotism, loyalty, and the traditional dream of ‘freedom for all men’ have been lying dormant or have been paralyzed by a new kind of strange thinking.”
How are these predictions working out? Are you seeing it in today’s politics and society? If not, classify yourself as one of Comrade Stalin’s useful idiots. But if you can see the path we are on, you know we all need to do something.
Mr. Skousen not only gave us a warning, he also listed several things that we might do to stem the Red Tide, that is, if it is not too late:
“Stay close to your children to make sure they are being trained to think like Washington and Lincoln, not like Marx and Lenin . . .
Don’t forget their spiritual needs. . . .
Take your children to church, don’t send them. Be sure they are getting true religious values, not modernistic debunking.”
“Don’t be misled by the current atheistic drive to take God out of the classroom. . . .
Teachers who believe that teaching atheism is a necessary part of a good education are not really qualified to teach in a Judaic-Christian culture. They are entitled to be atheists but, as public employees, they are not entitled to teach it. If they do, they are violating an important constitutional principle.”
For the media:
“In fulfilling the task of exposing crime, corruption, and inefficiency in the American culture, be careful not to destroy confidence in American institutions. Because the negative forces in our society are more likely to be ‘news’ than the positive accomplishments, it is easy to overemphasize the negative side and provide extremely damaging propaganda to the enemy.”
And for ministers:
“Watch for those who would use the principles of peace, brotherhood, tolerance, and Christian charity to obscure the conspiratorial aspects of Communist ‘peace.’ The peace of Communism partakes of the prison and the grave. Remind professional pacifists who have accepted the paralyzing peace propaganda of the Communists that the same Jesus who taught ‘love thy enemy’ never advocated surrendering to him.”
Sounds a lot like the 1950s, and that’s what scares me. It sounds so much like the 1950s that good men are likely to dismiss this as a relic of a bygone era in our history not having anything to do with today’s reality; a curiosity of a time and place long ago that we needn’t bother with.
That should be enough to keep the frog in the pan for now. Oh heck, let’s just cancel the whole thing.
By Deacon Mike Manno