Hard rain chronicles

History will never repeat itself, precisely, any more than two sunsets will be exactly alike, or the wind will blow everywhere in the same way. Yet there are patterns, themes, human habits, that are extremely repetitive, and the intelligent student of history will notice them. There is “nothing new under the sun,” and the wise know it.

For the statesman, versed in some history (though never enough), and supposing him to have some goodwill, there must be the equivalent of weather warnings. He will know there are limits to what he can achieve, and he will know that these limits are externally imposed. Therefore he will focus on what is attainable. If the hurricane is coming, then the hurricane is coming. He cannot divert it, for no man can once it is swirling; his task is instead to predict, to the best of his knowledge and experience, where and how it may land, and look out for the safety of his people. And after it has struck — always in ways not quite anticipated — he must be ready to pick up the pieces.

All of this should be obvious, and yet it is lost on any democratic polity, once politicians begin to hold each other accountable for the weather itself. The people must choose between gangsters, as they are now preparing to do in the large republic over the Lake to my south. It is a sordid and demeaning spectacle, this contest between two candidates, neither of whom should ever have been let near any public office. Such is the disorder in the world around us, that a hard wind is going to blow, and neither has the resources of character, the chaste prudential judgement, the intelligence, the knowledge, the “temperament” or stability of mind, to be useful in a crisis. Both are shameless liars, whose lives have been devoted to self-promotion alone. Neither can be relied upon, except to increase the impact of the storm; to become, in effect, part of its fury.

The die is cast, in this respect, for the election of either is a national disaster, to compound that of the previous self-regarding fool; the fallout from America’s abjuration will continue to spread around the world. In the absence of capable leadership, there is, practically, nothing we can do, besides suffer the consequences. Americans must not vote, or if they do, only to choose the ash flavour they’d prefer; for what could be done to avert disaster was ignored, a long time ago.

No constitution, or other technical instrument, can save a people from ill fate, once the entire ruling class of a country has abandoned “the spirit of the laws,” and reduced themselves to naked lust for power. We might call this “decadence,” though the word is insufficiently strong for a condition that permeates all Western society, and is merely reflected in rulers no longer restrained by tradition and ethical norms. For generations, now, and for historical reasons we hate to explore, “consumerism” (both in market and the distribution of public services) has advanced, to a point where pleasure and convenience determine every consideration of right and wrong. Who is left with the moral authority to declare, “This you may not do!”? (This was the power of the king mentioned yesterday, a mere “constitutional monarch,” but an effective one; now gone, and we will see the consequences.)

It will seem ridiculous to offer the prescription, fast and pray. That it seems ridiculous, today, is a measure of our moral disintegration, the result of which is that we have lost the capacity for self-government in any form. We can no longer look to leaders we can trust to discern, less defend, our real interests. And so, there are no guardians of public safety; or none we would, without compulsion, obey. Wherever we look, we may see the consequences of this.

Our real and immediate interest is to rebuild the character of our civilization; to recover that common understanding of up and down; of right and wrong; of what is worthy and what is unworthy; of what is godly and what is ungodly; along with the telling power of example. Let the world titter in its cynicism: the recovery begins when we fast and pray.


(Bonus Warren essay, here.)