Fear is good

In my bullying post, I wrote

Bullying itself is thought to be an evil thing no matter who it’s directed at (unless, of course, it’s directed at “fascists”, “homophobes”, “Islamophobes”, or other reactionaries who aren’t getting with the program fast enough).  This belief is false.

Some readers were confused by this and thought that I myself was endorsing bullying against “fascists” and other reactionaries.  No need to worry on this account!  Here at Throne and Altar, I am heartily in favor of both “homophobia” and “Islamophobia”.  (I’m sorry; I just can’t bear to write these stupid words without quotes.)  While I’m not in favor of historical fascism–it not being sufficiently traditional or theocratic for my tastes–I’m well aware that I would be labeled a fascist if I ever voiced my opinions in Europe.  Readers were right to point out the absurdities in the belief quoted above, which you’ll note is attributed to nameless others rather than myself and with which I register my disagreement immediately after presenting it.

Still, its worth thinking a bit more about the absurdity of the liberals’ dismissal of us as “homophobes” and “Islamophobes”.  The names imply that only someone with a mental disease would object to the attack on natural gender roles in order to accommodate perversions, and only such a person would object to their religion being supplanted in its heartland by another.  As readers have pointed out here and elsewhere, it is particularly bizarre to viciously attack all enemies of sodomy-normalization and also declare Islam off limits for criticism.

There is something else, though.  Among liberals, both those I’ve read and those I’ve talked to, there’s a passionate belief that it’s wrong to be motivated by fear and that the most evil thing about conservatism is that we’re driving people to respond out of fear.  Indeed, many liberal would actually define conservatism as the politics of “fear”.  Fear, at least the kind we allegedly play upon, is supposed to be utterly irrational.  When liberals warn voters that we’re on the verge of setting up a fascist dictatorship, they see this as a qualitatively different thing.  They do not see themselves as summoning fear to motivate the populace, because they see their concerns as rational.

The first thing to say about this is that, for everyone of all political persuasions, love is always more ultimate than fear.  What we love, we value for its own sake.  What we fear, we fear because we believe it threatens something that we love.  Liberals can’t see this in our case because they seem unable to comprehend what it is that conservatives cherish.  Substantiative community–which includes a thick moral consensus and a rich inheritance of memories and symbols through which we apprehend the Good–is a thing which they cannot imagine inspiring true devotion.  They see it only from the outside, as a network of restrictions and prejudices that thwarts their project of liberation.  They can’t imagine that we resist public blasphemy, pornography, women in the military, etc. because we believe that these things threaten a moral/spiritual community that we cherish.  Therefore, we must be motivated by “fear”, an unmotivated, irrational emotion felt only by conservatives.

Of course, it’s easy to say that liberals are just jerks for believing this about us.  I think, though, that the fault is primarily ours.  We have done a very poor job of explaining what it is that we love, describing its loveliness to those not yet sensible to its charms, and explaining how the project of atheist, androgynist utilitarianism necessarily destroys it.  The fact is that if something is truly valuable, and there is good reason to believe it threatened, fear is a perfectly rational response.  Of course I’m afraid of what will happen when children are indoctrinated in school and on television to endorse sodomy.  A whole understanding of the meaning of gender and sex–something good and beautiful–will be destroyed.  Of course I’m afraid of what will happen when Europe is one third Muslim.  It could be the end of a civilization, our civilization.

7 Responses

  1. While I’m not in favor of historical fascism–it not being sufficiently traditional or theocratic for my tastes–I’m well aware that I would be labeled a fascist if I ever voiced my opinions in Europe.

    Fascism is an annoyingly elastic word. The governments of Mussolini, Hitler, Tojo, and Franco don’t look similar to me. So, I wonder, do you have a problem with Franco’s government, in particular? It seems to me to have been quite a traditional, Catholic government, especially compared with what else has been on offer since WWI.

    Substantiative community–which includes a thick moral consensus and a rich inheritance of memories and symbols through which we apprehend the Good

    This is a scary sentence. The thing you refer to simply does not exist. At my parish, I, and only I, perform a minor bow at each mention of the Lord’s name. Catholics have been doing this for hundreds of years. It’s in the GIRM. It’s required. And, yet, I have yet to meet any layman under 60 who even knows what I am doing, or who stops thinking I’m weird when I explain it. And it’s a pretty good parish.

    The revolution in ideas in the West in the last hundred years is comparable to or even larger than the revolution at the Classical/Medieval boundary, and that revolution was spread out over several centuries. It is just incredible. A 1900 person and a current person would not understand one another at all.

    It makes one wonder what the point of traditionalism is. Or whether we really are traditionalists, rather than antiquarians.

  2. Hello Bill,

    I’m actually a big fan of Franco, Salazar, and Dollfuss, but I don’t think of them as fascists. This is a term I only apply to the Mussolini and Hitler regimes.

    The other issue you raise–are we really fighting for something that has already ceased to exist–is something that plagues me often. I tell myself that these things do still exist, but in very attenuated, semi-conscious form.

  3. “We have done a very poor job of explaining what it is that we love.”

    Agreed. The problem, of course, is that in explaining what is wrong with homosexuality we would also have to attack divorce and probably contraception. I expect gladiatorial combat would be legalized before divorce would be made illegal in the United States, so I don’t expect to see a reasoned attack on homosexuality made in the wide public sphere any time soon. This is why places like the National Organization for Marriage are so painfully and obviously inarticulate, even to those who wish to interpret them benevolently.

    Which is why it is impossible, it seems, for the nation / Western Civilization to be brought to a halt, made to turn around, and begin abandoning its paths. The only course that isn’t simply slow despair would be the path of the ghetto / community, as you’ve pointed out, I believe. But no one really knows how to found cities anymore, although this was apparently an art in ancient times. . . that, I suppose, is what preoccupies me.

  4. Yes, you’ve nailed it. You can’t explain why sodomy is wrong without first establishing that contraception is wrong. This once again illustrates the error of so many intellectual conservatives in thinking that concessions to liberalism are the path to intellectual seriousness. In fact, they’re the path to incoherence, followed by surrender.

  5. “Substantiative community–which includes a thick moral consensus and a rich inheritance of memories and symbols through which we apprehend the Good–is a thing which they cannot imagine inspiring true devotion. They see it only from the outside, as a network of restrictions and prejudices that thwarts their project of liberation. They can’t imagine that we resist public blasphemy, pornography, women in the military, etc. because we believe that these things threaten a moral/spiritual community that we cherish. Therefore, we must be motivated by “fear”, an unmotivated, irrational emotion felt only by conservatives.”

    but you are afraid of people who do not believe like you do. very very afraid.

    you are afraid of women soldiers. strong women who fight for their country. you would forbid any mention of these brave women. A woman who is as strong and brave — and as good a shot — as a man would completely destroy your world view. Women like this shouldn’t exist. Right?

    you are terrified of homosexual men and women, including those in the armed forces, would have to say. of course you would ban any mention of lesbians and gay men from any mass communication including on line (good luck with that) as well as traditional newspapers, TV, radio, etc. strong gay women and men would completely destroy your world view. Men and women shouldn’t exist. Right?

    you are scared to death of men who publicly say that they want raise their kids while their wives work full time. you can wrap your “holy” sex ideals around men who nurture their kids and women who financially support their families. Families like this shouldn’t exist Right?

    Sorry. People exist who you don’t like. Talk to your god about it and let us know what you think your god says.

  6. Interesting comment, “calvin christian.” I gather you didn’t actually read Bonald’s post, which said, in effect, that even if the leftist caricature that conservatism is motivated *solely* by fear were true (and it isn’t) it wouldn’t be a bad thing. So your insisting that it is true doesn’t really establish anything.

    It’s also interesting how many bland misapprehensions of Bonald’s “world view” you exhibit, which evidently doesn’t stop you from criticizing it. For instance, your assertion that “A woman who is as strong and brave — and as good a shot — as a man would completely destroy your world view” is obviously false and suggests you just don’t know anything about his “world view” beyond what you can square with the stereotypes you’ve a priori decided it must fit into. The comment “People exist who you don’t like” is also an interesting one, since it’s tautologically true. How can you dislike someone who doesn’t exist, except perhaps in leftist fantasyland where particularity doesn’t really matter? And where/when has Bonald ever denied the existence of homosexuals etc.? One of the main themes of his blog is not only that perverts exist but that they wield power disproportionate to their representation in the population. About 15 minutes of googling would have revealed this to you and saved you an otherwise quite embarrassingly ignorant comment.

    I say all of this is “interesting” not in the sense that it’s worth listening to (the ignorant bleating of an irrelevant bystander never is) but in the sense that it’s remarkable, the level of hubris a person can exhibit in reading one, single blog post and then declaring that you not only know the entirety of a person’s “world view” on the basis of it but that such a “world view” is not worth knowing anything about it. Amazing, remarkable pride, of a sort you rarely ever see displayed so shamelessly.

  7. Hello Calvin Christian,

    Proph has already made most of the distinctions I was going to make (sorry, this is a “dead” blog, so I’m sluggish in reading and responding on it).

    * Women are indeed called to exercise the virtue of fortitude, but not in the same way as men, and certainly not in ways that undercut men’s distinctive callings.

    * The tradition is more flexible than you imagine on the issue of women working for pay. It is not always wrong, like sodomy is, but it is usually not ideal. That men have a particular calling to protect and provide while women have a particular calling to nurture hardly requires some esoteric religious intuition on my part. It has been the common sense belief of the entire human race until yesterday.

    * Homosexuals should indeed be mentioned in newspapers, TV, etc, so that their monstrous perversions can be properly excoriated.

    * Your use of the lower case for “god” indicates a misunderstanding of the concept, as if divinity were a category capable of multiple instantiations. Since in Him substance and essence are one, He is inherently singular; “God” is a proper name and should be capitalized. (I’ve also taken the liberty of capitalizing your name, on the assumption that you are a distinct individual.)

    * Finally, as I said, and as Proph reminded you, there is nothing inherently illegitimate in seeing certain behaviors as incompatible with one’s desired moral and social order. Liberals do it all the time, as of course they must to have any coherent beliefs at all. Calling this “fear” doesn’t get you anywhere.

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