Notable on the Web, April edition

At First Things, Wilfred McClay writes about The Moral Economy of Guilt.  We often hear that modern man has lost the sense of sin, and McClay does tell how our understanding of guilt has replaced psychological adjustment for the knowledge of objective transgression, but that’s only half of the story.  As he points out, guilt is ubiquitous in the world today.  For the first time in history, we can feel guilty about things happening across the world.  To escape the guilt, people desperately seek the status of victim, or seek to associate with an “official” victim in some way, and we prove our righteousness by scapegoating those accused of insensitivity.  I think this deserves further exploration.  It does seem to me that that the public sphere, and, especially, the academic sphere are more moralistic, more given to moral oneupmanship than it was in the past.  Thomists, Scotists, and Occamists were able to argue robustly without ever accusing their opponents of being heartless toward the poor or being dupes of imperialism or whatever.

Gerry Neal has presented an excellent series of posts on Christian soteriology from an evangelical Protestant perspective here and here and here.  I intend to address some of his points in detail in later posts, but for now I would just recommend readers check out his lucid presentation of the Protestant position.

I am really impressed by Alte’s work at Traditional Catholicism.  Just look at all the sources and different metrics she consulted to flesh out the rise of multigenerational households.  She’s also doing good work for patriarchy showing which kinds of welfare do and don’t undermine patriarchy and explaining to other women what men find endearing in a wife.

Ed Feser takes apart a particularly silly and obnoxious objection to theism here and here.

The Mad Monarchist remembers Pope St. Pius X, scourge of the modernists.  If only God would send another like him!

If Justin is right, it wasn’t just the Soviets who committed outrageous crimes against the post-WWII defeated German population.  I would not be a bit surprised if it is true, and I have no reason to doubt it.  The movies I’ve seen from the WWII era, and decades thereafter, demonized and dehumanized Germans to a shocking degree.  The rule in movies used to be (and, to a large extent, still is) that any person with a German accent is always absolutely evil.  There was never any sense that the enemy armies were composed of decent men, fighting for their country as we were.  The Enemy Below was noteworthy because that sort of thing was so rare.  The self-righteousness of the Allies was a terrifying thing.  What’s more, it’s still going on.  A while back, I saw a book in the Cornell bookstore lamenting the attention Germans gave to the bombing of Dresden.  Could it be, the author kept suggesting, a sign of neo-Nazi sympathies?  “Well I’m shocked”, I was tempted to say, “How dare those dastardly Germans mourn their own dead?!”  Today, our self-righteousness has inflated to such a degree that historians and Jewish organizations are hounding countries for being neutral during the war (c.f. the “shame” that allegedly fell on Ireland, Switzerland, and Vatican City for not jumping into the war on our side).

Finally, something totally apolitical.  Imagine what it would be like to have had Oscar Hammerstein as an uncle.

18 Responses

  1. Wow, thanks!

    Regarding post-WWII behavior, many Germans were driven out of Sudetenland. My mother’s family lost all of their property and were chased out of their homes at night.

    There was a hit miniseries on German television a few years back about the Dresden bombing. It was heart-wrenching.

  2. In light of your recent post on taxes, I would recommend First Thing’s article on “The Emancipation of Avarice”. The main idea is that in teleological ethics we used to focus on the individual, and we condemned greed because it led men astray from his true end, whereas now, with our utilitarian ethics, we focus on aggregate “social utility” or maximization of wealth, and the modern economy is based on this emancipation of avarice. It’s an article that libertarians, capitalists, etc., need to think about.

  3. BTW, in the Wikepedia article about the German Wirtschaftswunder, they note:

    The West German Wirtschaftswunder was partly due to the economic aid provided by the United States and the Marshall Plan, but mainly due to the currency reform of 1948 which replaced the Reichsmark with the Deutsche Mark as legal tender, halting rampant inflation. This act to strengthen the German economy had been explicitly forbidden during the two years that the occupation directive JCS 1067 [Morgenthau Plan] was in effect. JCS 1067 had directed the U.S. forces of occupation in Germany to “…take no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of Germany”.

    It continues on to list the pain they intentionally inflicted upon the devastated Germans.

  4. Germans? Are they even human?

    As someone whose grandparents were “ethnically cleansed” from Bohemia in 1945 … um, yeah.

    Our moral turpitude on this is really shocking. Our mass media, especially Hollywood (run by … whom?) has totally dehumanized German victims.

    I used to be deeply shocked by the evils the Third Reich committed 1939-45. However, having been treated like sh*t for being German for a long time, I see things differently.

    I used to keep my grandfather’s medals – Iron Cross and all that – hidden away, now they are proudly displayed, and my children are taught to honor what he did in a good cause.

    Yesterday was The Boss’s birthday … we raised a glass, discreetly … not like it’s a free country or anything.

  5. Sudetenland is in Bohemia, for clarification.

    Hitler was a maniacal tyrant and the war was a landgrab, pure and simple. I don’t celebrate him, and I think we’re all better off now that he’s gone. You should have seen what the Eastern Front did to my male relatives. It was horrendous, and all for nothing. Germany was completely decimated by the war, even before the Allies began dismantling what was left of it.

    If anything, we should be wary of the possibility that America will also degrade into the same national-socialist (i.e. militaristic authoritarian) policies, as the economy collapses. They will keep us busy with war so that we don’t notice them tightening a noose around our necks and brainwashing our children against their Christian traditions.

  6. bonald, I had the same reaction when I first found out about it, like, “is this true”. The Wikipedia page on the subject certainly corroborates it, but I dug into the sources, and focused on Deitrich’s book, which appears to be quite legit and quality historiography. There are other sources covering it, but I have not searched that far and wide yet.

  7. Alte, the sad irony is, A.H.’s brand of economic policies was brilliant, and might actually be just what we need. To be clear, I don’t mean his militarization. If you haven’t looked into his economic policies, I would recommend it.

    Also, there is nothing contradictory with maintaining traditional culture and national socialist policy. In fact…. when you look into it… that is exactly what the Nazi program was all about. Fighting the corrosive effects of modern liberalism.

    It was his economic policy and his cultural policy that was responsible for his political isolation.

    I do agree with you, btw, it would be a huge mistake to let them lead us down the path of militarism and war. Oh wait, um… aren’t we already there?

  8. A bishop speaking on the creation of what was to become the Permanent Warfare State:
    http://blog.tomroeser.com/2006/10/stuarts-america-first-frustrates-fdrs.html
    (…)

    Born in Cincinnati, educated at Mt. St. Mary of the West seminary there and at the Catholic University of Louvain and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he received a doctorate in sacred theology, he was 66-year-old Archbishop Francis Beckman. He had been bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska before coming to Dubuque in 1930. He had made a few national broadcasts from Dubuque but they had been suffused with academic language. Now he would change and speak plainly.

    On Sunday, October 19, 1941 he became an outspoken critic not just of the war but of the Roosevelt administration. He was first and only Catholic bishop to do so publicly. I’m indebted to The Wanderer’s able news editor, Paul Likoudis, for the text which he unearthed from a yellowed copy of Fr. Charles E. Coughlin’s magazine Social Justice dated November 3, 1941.

    That Sunday, the Archbishop called on the American people over NBC radio to resist President Roosevelt’s designs to go to war. Speaking to American mothers, he said: “The time is short for speaking and I will be brief. I will mince no words. People, we are at a crossroads of Constitutional government. Our laws are hypocritically evaded and then explained away under the guise of a `national emergency’; the greatest dictatorship on earth is made or is in the making.

    “War or peace in this sad land is a question crying for immediate answer. Bitter history attends to the downright hypocrisy, faithless and ruthless cunning which has led a nation of peace-minded people to the very brink of war. The plan of the interventionists has been well drawn and adroitly pursued: Step by step and lately, inch by inch, our people in their guilelessness have been betrayed, betrayed, be-spoiled and disillusioned. At the moment the culmination of this plan is simple: `Arm the ships and create the incidents.’ The intelligence of the American people can no longer be limited by `measures short of war’: the appeal now is to the passions and prejudices…The war hysteria and propaganda put forth in this country has no parallel as a deliberate, studied appeal to the emotions. Hitler is to be stopped if it takes ten years, 10 million men, $300 billion with never a thought of where we shall begin and where we shall end. I fear lthis is either folly of men who are mad or who are eager, through war, to cover their own mistakes.

    “My dear friends, liberty is the corpse of war and in this critical hour we should be most concerned for it. Hard-won by men who would turn over in their graves if they were to view the revolting spectacle in Washington today. It is time for the peace-loving people of this nation to get down to the business of salvaging their rights…I am not willing for the sake of decorum to remain silent. I have no choice but to remain unswervingly true to my sacred office. A worthy shepherd of his flock deserts them not in the hour of their need.

    “Religion is concerned primarily with spiritual affairs, yes; but when a course is set by temporal authorities (an obviously wrong course) which ends in courting godlessness, war and the loss of religious liberty, every single man of the cloth, be he Catholic, Protestant or Jew, in my mind has no alternative but to stand up to the government, tell his people the truth whether they like it or not. ..This is America and we should not fear to love it, honor it, defend it first, last and always.”

  9. Hi Justin,

    That is, I think, a defensible position, although there needs to be an emphasis on what one is defending from liberalism and how, since I’m pretty sure there’s a difference between us and the Nazis. Then again, I’m not sure that there was any coherent Nazi program, just as I’m not sure that fascism is a real ideology, as opposed to just meaning “whatever Mussoulini or Hitler did”.

  10. Thanks for the link, Stephen. I’ll look at it when I get the chance. I do think there are some sensible heads working at First Things.

  11. Hi Alte,

    Wow: “no steps…toward economic rehabilitation…” It should be a warning for all of us where ideological self-righteousness leads. Thanks for sharing what happened to your family (both sides!) during and after that dreadful war.

  12. Off topic but what the hell is going on FPR. The comments on the SSM article are appalling.

    here

  13. The bright side is the article itself. Frankly, I expected Front Porch Republic to drift into liberalism long ago–such is the fate of “third ways”–and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the willingness of many of their writers to hold the line on culture war issues.

  14. Also, there is nothing contradictory with maintaining traditional culture and national socialist policy. In fact…. when you look into it… that is exactly what the Nazi program was all about. Fighting the corrosive effects of modern liberalism.

    Justin, that is just plain wrong. There were superficial similarities that deceived some well-intentioned Germans at the time, but there is no true similarity between Nazism and traditionalism, besides a common enemy. The fact that the Nazis opposed modern liberalism doesn’t mean they were traditionalists of any sort.

    To give a few examples: We want limited immigration and cultural cohesion, not an Aryan fantasy-world. We want authority, not Führer-worship. We want Christianity, not faux-paganism. (Do not forget, Hitler was no Christian.) And the list goes on…

  15. There are some liberals who read FPR, and I think the issue of gay “marriage” brought them all out of the corners where they usually lurk, and over the Easter holiday Wilson probably just didn’t care to deal with all the lunacy. The comments there are not usually that crazy.

  16. I hope they’ve made a fresh start under their new editor. There is some reason for hope with the current issue.

  17. A couple years they finally re-consecrated the Frauenkirche in Dresden, and (if I remember correctly) the cross on top of the church was made in England by the son of an RAF pilot who had flown a bomber over Dresden. It was a nice sign of reconciliation, but it was also one of the few times that Germans as a whole mentioned the fact that what happened to Dresden was an appalling act of revenge.

    On occasions Germans will talk about these things, but too often it is only the neo-Nazis who dare mention these things, and so the issue becomes seen as an exclusively neo-Nazi concern.

  18. Justin,

    Hitler’s economic positions are difficult to discern, as he was implementing them during a war. Who knows what they really were?

    We want limited immigration and cultural cohesion, not an Aryan fantasy-world. We want authority, not Führer-worship. We want Christianity, not faux-paganism. (Do not forget, Hitler was no Christian.)

    This. Hitler outlawed homeschooling and weakened parental roles, cracked down on Catholicism, tried to build an empire (including in Asia and Africa), lived in some sort of bizarre Wagnerian fantasia, was a sexual hedonist, etc.

    A truly awful man, who was indifferent to the horrific suffering of his own people. That is the exact opposite of traditionalism, which is supposed to be built upon the love of God, family, and country. Also, Hitler’s nationalism erodes patriarchy by usurping the role of the family head and replacing it with the state.

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