As 2020 commences it is perhaps appropriate that we take stock—that we take a look globally at just where we are, politically, culturally, religiously.
All our basic and fundamental social institutions are under tremendous stress, if not outright attack, not just legally and politically, but far more insidiously, in how they are defined and how they affect us. Our very language is altered to reflect this radical transformation: words and phrases are banned, old words are recast and redefined, implicit (and often explicit) speech codes have more effect than anything that the older “less free” society of our grandfathers experienced. And this linguistic terrorism—for that is what it is—is inculcated into our young from the very beginning, in the primary grades, via television and Hollywood, by unthinking parents, by friends.
And the family? Has not our society redefined that also? Any two people who “love” each other for a while and who cohabitate (shack up) for a time, with or without children? No matter what sex, or any “intermediate” sexual orientation. No permanency, and certainly nothing sacred or sacramental. Very little sense of responsibility: if a fetus happens because the necessary birth control didn’t work, very simply abort it. No problem; nothing must stand in the way of the pleasure, the sexually stimulated moment. How many tens of millions of lives has our society, in its lust for pleasure, snuffed out since 1972?
All the nations of Western Europe protest proudly how “democratic” they are. In the United States we never cease talking about how precious “our democracy” is (just witness the ceaseless verbiage spewed forth during the recent impeachment hearings). In the rest of the world no country ever boasts of being an authoritarian state: when was the last time we heard a nation’s leaders waxing eloquent about how totalitarian they were? Even the most autocratic Islamic state now declares itself “democratic.”
Has not that word lost its savor and meaning altogether?
Democracy—the rule by the populace, as defined by the ancient philosophers—does not exist anywhere, save perhaps still in a few Swiss cantons, or on the lowest levels of governance in some faraway communities in Wyoming or Idaho. The rest is fraudulent, bought and paid for by major financial interests and lobbies, and on a supra-national level by the likes of globalists such as George Soros, whose Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) now reach into nearly American city and county of any size, handsomely funding candidates who will do his bidding. Just ask the voters of Virginia.
The established church—at least in America and Western Europe—seems to have surrendered to the most diabolical and anti-Christian forces: the major Protestant denominations have all joined in the mad rush to become more “woke” and more revolutionary, adopting the slogans and platforms of the Progressivists who seek nothing less than the abolition of historic Christianity and the civilization which is based on it.
In large part, the visible Catholic Church—once the stalwart opponent and beacon of Christian counter-revolution against demonic Progressivism—has followed the leftist course mapped out at the Second Vatican Council, with its present supposed head acting as a cheer-leader for revolutionary change on every level. Opposition to his lunacy is rising, but the formal elements of power are now in the hands of Progressivists.
Perhaps only in Eastern Europe and in Russia do we see a coherent resistance, religiously and politically, to the madness that afflicts us. Ironically, it was the separation from America and from Western Europe—the Iron Curtain—that in a way saved those countries from the poisonous infections coming from our nation which was dominated in large part by the victors of 1861-1865, and which had become the “Typhoid Mary” of Progressivism.
For the defeat of the Southern Confederacy on the field of battle was not just a military reverse; it signaled the defeat of a major outpost of Western civilization and its vision of society which was distinctly connected to and annealed by 1,500 years of traditional Christianity. This was the realization of thousands of European volunteers to the Confederate cause—from Naples, from Spain, and from other countries of the old continent. What they saw in the Confederate crusade was a continuation of the struggle against liberalism which raged throughout the nineteenth century. The Southern cause was the cause of legitimacy, of tradition, of the old established order, of the survival of a Christian inheritance vouchsafed to those warriors at Manassas and Gettysburg.
And now, after more than 150 years of subjugation and indoctrination by the scions of the Yankee victors, there is perhaps “a light coming from the East,” a message of resistance telegraphed to the descendants of the heroes of Chancellorsville. Hope exists always as long as there are men standing forthrightly for it, willing to go to battle, willing to teach others, willing to pass it on. As the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno once wrote: “our life is a hope which is continually converting itself into memory and memory in turn begets hope.”
Thus, when the yoke of Communism was lifted in Eastern Europe, it was to the wellsprings of national identity, to national heritage, to pre-Communist religious faith, that many of these nations turned. They had largely escaped the forty-five years of “Americanism”—in the worst cultural sense—that Germany, France, and Italy had experienced.
Yet, it is this same narrative, this same globalist “Americanism” that today’s conservative movement—Neoconservativism—continues to push on the rest of the world, just like their uncomfortable bedfellows a bit further to the Left. Both the Establishment conservatives AND the open Left share the same postulates and objectives, differing only in degree and expression.
As Southerners the lessons we glean, then, may come from Eastern Europe and from Russia, and they remind us of who we were as a people, of the inheritance which in so many cases we have discarded. Those former Eastern Bloc nations, in particular Russia and Hungary, stand as “signs of contradiction,” and offer to us lessons, if we would only examine them.
Despite the Swamp and the Deep State—despite the future technological tyranny which stares at us in the face—despite the assaults in every aspect of our lives—despite it all there is Hope and the vague but very real awareness that we are human, creatures made by God, and that our role is to stay the course, remain true to the faith and to our inheritance.
My favorite Psalm is number 26, in particular these words (vs.3): “Si consistant adversum me castra, non timebit cor meum. Si exurgat adversum me praelium, in hoc sperabo”: Even if entrenched armies were to stand against me, my heart would not fear. If a battle would rise against me, I would have hope….
A very happy and blessed New Year in the Hope that never dies!
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.