One may argue for years with a man who gets almost everything right, except the key point. Such has been the case with our Chief Texas Correspondent (see his various comments). Though surrounded by Catholic influences, he puts up a stand, reminiscent of the Alamo. He is in fact representative of the best in the USA “Tea Party” movement (that would be iced tea, in Texas). And we are generally well disposed towards the Tea Party types. They are, in the main, good-hearted “populists” looking back upon what they imagine to have been a populist Constitution.
It survived, largely intact until 1829, because it wasn’t. The U.S. Founding Fathers rightly distrusted The People, & therefore put checks & balances to restrain them. But they created an opening for mass market party politics, & the cart drove through. In a similar way, the Fathers of our Canadian Confederation tried to limit the inevitable horrors of democracy, by creating an appointive, backstop Senate & so forth. But they left the stable doors open, & the horses were soon at large.
The degeneration starts with pride, envy & covetousness; with the discovery that the government’s monopoly on force can be used to appropriate goods & services; to settle all the old scores by spite; to advance one’s class at the expense of another; to free the citizen from his moral obligations — all demands spoken in the name of the demos, the mob, The People, “equality” — from astride a tall wild horse.
The key point here is, strangely enough: God or Man? Will the order of a nation depend on God’s immutable commandments, or on “evolving” conceptions of right & wrong, & human decisions made day to day? From the start, in both countries, there was a tension between these two incompatibles. In United Statist terms, “One nation under God” was in play against “We the People.” To our view, in the end, the self-worshipping People have won; & perhaps Christ has left them to get on with it. Our theory is that Christ goes where He is wanted, & leaves when He is not. He has gone, perhaps to Africa.
We put it that way in the full knowledge that we will be treated as mad, by the atheist Enlightened. Their reaction might be, “Have you been to Africa lately?” To which we might reply, “Have you checked on those Vandals & Huns?” The Europe that was raised by the Church from savagery to the highest pinnacles of civilization started with unpromising tribal material. It took centuries to Christianize them; centuries through which heresy often flourished within the Church herself. Some centuries from now, we may look to Africa again, as the centre of our human world; to the magnificent cathedrals of Africa — Europe having returned to its barbaric condition, & America with Europe. Already, we are in more need of missionaries from Africa, than Africa is in need of missionaries from us.
Back here in the 21st century, let us not pretend that democracy can save us. The voice of The People is not the voice of God. Humility, not arrogance, offers the only way forward; meekness in the face of both God & our neighbour.
For “secular” political instruction, we could turn to the Chinese. Not, however, to those of the last few centuries, but to the sages of the Han, the T’ang, & the Sung Ch’ao. They were blessed with the wonderful Confucian doctrine that, when political life has degenerated, we need 正名. In English we call this a “Rectification of Names.”
That is, we must return to using words correctly, to mean what they mean, to infer what they infer. We must escape from the imperium of Humpty Dumpty, wherein words mean what we want them to mean. Proper use of language has in itself the power to restore customary order & relations between persons; & therefore obedience from below, & benevolence from above, within the natural human hierarchy; a place for everyone, & everyone in his place. Take such words as Confucius himself flagged. On marriage for instance: “husband” & “wife.” Then, “father” & “son.” Then, “elder” & “younger.” Then even, “ruler” & “subject.”
And let us recall, as Confucius himself, that the truth is liberating. For this we do not even need Christianity: only the will to rise out of our depravity again.