Hardwater tea

A great number of things are not going to change, no matter what the hopey-changelings decide. I touched on one of them yesterday. We may project some “ideal” system of education that will turn everybody into intellectuals, who read difficult books right through; who with standardized, methodical training can become “anything they want to be.” But the “common man” may not take to it; notwithstanding his own vague goal of self-improvement. He may endure college for the meal ticket; but not as a means to discovery and wisdom. Give him a challenging book to read, and no prospect of a test, and he will get to about page six.

Verily, we have tried to do this, since the last World War, in North America: to put anyone who thinks it might be to his advantage through college. The politicians are still promising to let more in, or to cover the debts of the last lot who took their advice. But not one in ten university students today benefit from higher education. They have neither the equipment nor the calling for mental work, so that standards must be constantly lowered to accommodate them. And that is before remembering that most of our universities have been taken over by the whacko Left, who think in vicious slogans, and whose only interests are in recruitment and brain-washing.

I do not think that the social teaching of the Church is founded upon rot about human nature. Men are of much different capacities, and their callings are as many as there are men; they are not interchangeable. No scheme of social engineering, and especially not universal schooling, will answer to men’s inmost needs. It can only try to turn the man into what he is not; help him to aspire to things beyond his reach, and to neglect what is within it.

“Germany is a nation of aristocrats,” said a gentleman who was once in the habit of annoying me. He was of German ancestry, yet did not seem to have absorbed lessons of his own national history. His German ethnicity I could not hold against him: jingo nationalism has no national home. My point to him was that the great majority of people everywhere are called to humble stations, and contentment lies in the root of happiness.

National myths — beliefs in “exceptionalism” — are all essentially contrary to Christian teaching, and pitted against it. The people of one nation are not intrinsically better than those of another. They improve or worsen by cultural traits, which are beyond the remit of the nation state, and its calculating politicians. They do not belong in a national machine, premissed on some abstract “equality,” but by nature to a family and a landscape and an inevitably hierarchical order. No one is abstractly “free”; the nature of each is instead “subdued to what it works in, like the dyer’s hand.”

I am not condemning the common man, nor despairing of human nature. I am merely pointing out that our “systems of education,” directed from central bureaucracies by liberal-progressive goons — “engineers of human souls,” like Stalin — is advanced and promoted by manipulation of human weakness, to the end of their own mercenary gain, power, and prestige. For this reason it is entirely politicized.

On the contrary, I believe the overwhelming majority of men (a term which includes women, incidentally) are quite capable of horse sense, and a certain basic decency. But they are also weak, through sin, often unexamined. The function of mass advertising — the primary tool of modern innovation, whether in the service of politics or commerce — is to tamper with them: to arouse and exploit envy, pride, greed, wrath, gluttony, lust, and sloth, by the “scientific” mastery of temptation. It is to lead people astray from their own real interests.

Each is endowed with an immortal soul, and the lowest wage slave is as likely, or more, than the chiefest executive to find Heaven. We know this from Christian teaching, which through the centuries has been pitched at a level that the simplest could understand, and has sought to free men from the very sins the advertiser is trying to encourage. It was thus the opposite of populist.

Christianity is about how things are, not about how things can be altered.

My political observation is that the great majority, except perhaps among the hardier folk in the mountains, do not care much for civic freedom, and never did. It is not a comfortable thing. They want to be taken care of; they want someone looking out for them; they want to feel part of something; they would like to avoid hard work and intelligent thinking.

All these are legitimate desires, in their proper contexts. But a man with the rat cunning of, say, a Trump, or an Obama, knows how to exploit these desires, with sparkledust dreams and empty promises. Those who care little for freedom they enslave.

The “mass man” of our post-modernity is not different from a European peasant of, say, the thirteenth century, except that he is told more lies, and is lost in their maze. Through cynical flattery, he believes ridiculous lies even about himself, such as that he is his own Maker. It was from the beginning a purpose of the Church to free him from exploitation, by revealing the emptiness of what the world offers. Our treasure lies elsewhere.


There is a very good article by Sandro Magister today (here). He touches upon something I would, if I could, broadly expand upon: the spiritual catastrophe that follows when the Church herself turns from her otherworldly mission, to false, pseudo-mystical abstractions about “the people,” and to hyping very worldly political causes. It has helped me clarify in my own mind the spontaneous revulsion I felt when first told, from the Throne of Peter, that, “The word ‘people’ is not a logical category, it is a mystical category.” For this is not what Christ taught at all.

God is God and man is man. The man has a face, and we must not lie to him.