What do Catholic authoritarians want?

Hegemony!

Well, really we would like and end to sin and suffering, that God should renew all things and Jesus Christ be all in all.  But we don’t want to put off all of our hopes to the eschaton; for the coming centuries hegemony would do nicely.

What does this mean?  Basically, control of a culture.  Forgive me, that’s still far too vague.  Let’s ask a more precise question:  what would Catholic hegemony mean in majority-Protestant America?  Simple:  it means Catholics and Jews switching places in the social order.

Imagine an America where Catholics hold the same power that Jews hold in the real America.  As there is no law forcing everyone to be a Jew, and no formal penalties laid on Gentiles, so in Catholic America, there would be no legal disabilities set on Protestants or Jews.  We Catholics are a very tolerant bunch when we are in the minority.  Furthermore, I demand that you praise us for this, just as historians uniformly praise the Muslim Arabs for allowing freedom of religion in their empire when they were a tiny ruling minority and for employing infidels to make up for the expertise they lacked–as if they had any practical choice in any of this.

In this alternate America, reactionary Catholics control the media.  (Naturally, we want to eventually eliminate the mass media, not just control it, but let’s say that’s a more long-term goal.  First, we must use the instruments at hand to cement our power.)  Of course, I don’t mean that a room full of cardinals meeting in secred dictates what goes on television or in the newspapers.  I mean that the major media corporations are owned by self-conscious Catholics (with perhaps a few very sympathetic Protestants mixed in) and staffed either by other Catholics or by Protestants indocrinated in our ethos.  We, and those formed in our ethos, dictate the beliefs and, more importantly, the prejudices, of the intellectual elite.  There is complete freedom of expression, but anyone who criticizes the Catholic Church will lose his job and find himself socially ostracized.  Everyone knows this well enough to guard his tongue, but it is forbidded to explicitly acknowledge the grip we hold on public discourse, lest it generate resentment among the masses.  Other religions will exist and self-govern, but their leaders will be obsessed with avoiding charges of anti-Catholicism, so they will praise us to the skies.

History in the public schools is taught from our perspective.  Whenever teaching a historical incident when Catholics clashed with some other group, schools must present the Catholics as blameless victims or courageous agents of justice (depending on who threw the first punch) and their opponents as ignorant, greedy, and viscious.  I actually think that Catholic reactionaries would be more magnanimous than the Jews here.  I think we would permit Protestant schools to teach their history from their own perspective, which will of course be less complimentary to us.  Can you imagine a private school in actual America taking the side of “anti-semites” without facing the direst consequences?

Our beliefs on contested social issues would be written into the law, even where they conflict with majority opinion.  The dominant school in constitutional law will be that the Constitution is a living document which contains Catholic natural law as its implicit basis and which must therefore undergo a process of nautral maturation whereby this basis is more explicitly acknowledged.  Jewish and Protestant politicians may sometimes agitate for liberalized abortion laws, but everyone knows that they’re wasting their time, because the Supreme Court would immediately declare such liberalizations unconstitutional.  This legal hegemony is maintained even though the majority of politicians, judges, and lawyers are not Catholics.  All that matters is that most of them are either indoctrinated by us, overawed by us, or fear us.

Now, no doubt anyone reading this who is not a Catholic authoritarian would say that I have just described the most horrifying imaginable theocratic tyranny.  But how can that be, since all I have done is to swap two groups of people–reactionary Catholics+their conservative Protestant allies vs. Leftist Jews and their liberal Protestant allies?  The fact is, for a society to have any unity at all, it must have shared beliefs.  Some group must have hegemony.  In a diverse society like America, that means some minority must have hegemony.  Catholic authoritarians would naturally prefer to be that group.

17 Responses

  1. This article raises Catholic intolerance to the level of liberal intolerance. And it ignores the fact Catholicism has its share of liberals who are just as bad as Jewish liberals or any other kind of liberals.

    Early America did just fine without any group having hegemony. This was done through decentralized government which allowed each community to enforce its own values.

    I will be curious to read the comments and see which has more support, the early American vision of religious freedom or bonald’s vision of Catholic intolerance. If the latter, I should withdraw from the world of reactionary thought and dedicate my time to Orthodox Judaism.

  2. Absolutely brilliant. This is the best argument I’ve yet seen why traditionalists should not seek to play the power game in the current system. The system must be changed.

    Fschmidt: National union requires an overarching identity with which particular communities must be integrated to some degree. Otherwise, there is no union, but a confederacy, a coalition.

  3. Am I being serious in this post? There’s an interesting question, and I’m perversely pleased to see commenters taking different views. Is this Bonald the fantasizing authoritarian speaking in earnest, or Bonald the paranoid anti-semite making a parody? I often give free reign to my thoughts and am sometimes not sure myself. I expect my true beliefs are as follows: It would be better for power to be decentralized and the national hegemon be replaced by local hegemons. But whether nationally or locally minted, I would like the hegemonic beliefs in the place where I live to be ones I agree with.

  4. Much better, I agree with your true beliefs.

  5. Sometimes the author doesn’t know the full intent / import of his product. For myself, I could never go along with the program described above. It is untrue to Catholicism. One of the things I admire about the Catholic Church is its honesty about the claims it makes for itself. The hegemons of today engage in massive subterfuge to wrest control of what isn’t rightfully theirs.

  6. The deference shown to Jewish sensitivities appears enviable, but we must remember that the aim of the Church is not to minimize incidents of sacrilege, but to minimize the population of Hell. I think casual sacrilege tends to engross the population of Hell, not only with the soul of the perpetrator, but also with the souls of those he has taught to look upon holy things with contempt. But repression of sacrilege also tends to arouse sympathy for the perpetrator, and to give an aura of heroism to what is, in fact, gross bad manners.

    Although it is tiresome to be the target of boorish mockery, we Christians should recall that this is precisely what Christ told us to expect, and we should take heart from the fact that, for all its appearance of toothless senility, Christ and his Church still inspire fear in the minds of their enemies. No one (outside of Afghanistan) desecrates the Buddha because, deep down, everyone knows that Buddhism is not a serious religion. If they are doing unspeakable things with a crucifix, it’s because they see in the crucifix a symbol possessing power that must be neutralized.

    One comment on the apparently enviable status of Jews. It is true that great deference is shown to Jewish sensitivities, but this has not translated into any significant wave of conversions to Judaism. You would think that Christians who have repudiated supercessionism should at least try to convert and become Jews, as they would then enjoy the temporal benefits of legal protections without putting their souls at risk.

    None of this should be taken as advocating supine acquiescence in the face of cultural and religious aggression. We have a duty to defend holy things and should not confuse forgiveness with simple cowardice. Our best weapon is the economic boycott. It got us the Production Code back in 1930. The laity are not nearly as well disciplined now as then, but it doesn’t take vast numbers to effect change. What is wanting, as always, is leadership, beginning with revival of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

  7. You are implicitly assuming that the size of polities is more like a knob to be twisted than it is like a phenomenon governed by social laws. This seems unlikely to me.

    A related problem with decentralization are modernity’s many crusaders. We had decentralization in the US. Northerners (or more accurately Northern abolitionists) decided they didn’t like it; that they didn’t like it because they didn’t like what other people were doing in their polities; that they didn’t like it enough to be willing to fight; and then decentralization ended. And violence isn’t even required. The color revolutions appear to have been affairs pulled off by Western NGOs and intelligence agencies using money and propaganda, rather than armies. So, how do we know saying “I wish we had decentralization” isn’t like saying “I wish the world was full of unicorns farting essence des fleurs?”

    So, asked the question: Will you be moving to one of Peter Theil’s artificial islands, say one named TraddieLand? I answer: No. Asked: Why not? I answer: There exist torpedoes. Now, if, someday, the artificial islands all come equipped with ICBMs which the USgov can’t shoot down, that’s an entirely different matter—that’s a language modernity respects. But, we don’t live in that world.

    This topic interacts in interesting ways with the response to modernity topic. I find it much easier to imagine a “conspiracy” of Catholic lawyers all of whom were brought up in SSPX-attending households than a conspiracy of Catholic lawyers all of whom were brought up in AmChurch suburban parishes. Scalia reputedly attends the EF, e.g.

  8. Try to imagine the normal reaction to all this that would be forthcoming from a (typically heavily armed) half Protestant, half Jew who still has a great deal of respect for the Catholic Church. Fighting for his religion is encoded in his genes but he still loves lots of Catholics on so many levels. Especially the Schoolgirls.
    Anyway, such unpleasantness should just always be avoided by sensible people,

  9. I have a question for Catholics. Jesus said:

    “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

    Catholicism is a mess, plagued with liberalism. How can catholics criticize other religions and ask for authority when they cannot even get their own house in order? Why is the focus here on civic politics? Why don’t catholics first make Catholicism a respectable conservative religion?

    To be honest, I think Catholicism is hopeless. My suggestion to catholics is to convert to some other religion like Eastern Orthodox Christianity, an Anabaptist sect, or Orthodox Judaism. But whatever one does, I agree with Jesus that one should first get one’s own house in order before criticizing others. Since I joined Orthodox Judaism, my focus has been on what I can do to improve Orthodox Judaism and I have little interest in criticizing the world at large.

  10. Hello fschmidt,

    You’re right that each religion should focus primarily on itself, but we’re all part of one society. It’s very unlikely that the Catholic Church, or any other single religious body, would be allowed to purge itself of liberalism while living in a liberal-hegemonic society. Liberal members of one religion don’t just work to subvert their own religion; they also attack conservatism in other religions. It would be very difficult for them to only attack their own traditions, since most anti-traditional arguments work just as well on every religion or “thick” community. Our defense and counter-attack must be similarly broad. Part of this will be negative, e.g. conservative Catholics criticizing liberal Jews and Anglicans. Part of it will be positive, e.g. conservative Catholics defending Orthodox Jews, as I did here: https://bonald.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/the-jews-that-its-okay-to-bully/. It’s true that certain combindations come up more often than others–we talk more about conservative than liberal Mormons, more about liberal than conservative Anglicans–but there are demographic reasons for this.

    Still, your point is well taken. Conservative Catholics griping about liberal Catholics may spur us to reform; conservative Catholics griping about liberal Jews often pulls us down into identity politics.

  11. Fschmidt,
    There is, to be sure, a great deal to deplore in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church. There is a great deal to deplore in Orthodox Judaism, for that matter. But all of this is entirely beside the point. There is, as you know, only one good reason to hold a belief, and that is because you believe it is true. I would agree that certain anabaptist sects are very well run, and that they do an admirable job of educating and disciplining their members. I also believe they are riven with false doctrine. We can disagree about what is true, but there is no reason to confess a faith other than the belief that that faith is true.

  12. I would rather be part of a moral community that doesn’t share my beliefs than part of an immoral community that shares my beliefs. I do not share most beliefs of Orthodox Judaism. I joined Orthodox Judaism because they have so effectively resisted liberal morality. Orthodox Judaism is run by men, separates men and women during service, enforces modesty, and has a very low divorce rate. This is what I care about, not their metaphysics.

    For Catholics, the easiest choice is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The difference in doctrine is trivial but Eastern Orthodox Christianity has resisted liberalism much more effectively than Catholicism has.

  13. Hello fschmidt,

    I believe I conversed with you for a time at the Alcuin blog. You said much the same things there as above, i.e., what a religion teaches you must believe is not as important as how its members are generally and currently behaving. I think we left off with your “informing” me that the Catholic Church split off from the Eastern Orthodox. I’m sorry that I had doubts as to whether you were in earnest, because it now looks to me like you were, based on your persistence and consistency in asserting similar positions here as you did there. I will say now that my ability to articulate the Catholic reason (which is very convincing to me, certainly enough to keep me within the communion) for asserting the Catholic Church as the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church is lacking. Suffice it to say, however, that your understanding about Catholic vs. Eastern Orthodox and Western and Eastern Christianity is so oversimplified, putting aside for the moment whether your foundational premises and facts are correct, that I doubt whether even an Eastern Orthodox believer would put things quite the way you did.

    Perhaps someone else here can do a better job of articulating the Catholic position as against Eastern Orthodoxy than I could do. There is much accessible information, I’m sure, to be found at Catholic apologetic websites that could help you with this, if you were interested in knowing how a Catholic might not be able, in good conscience, to become an Eastern Orthodox Christian, even if their members behave better than ours.

  14. Bonald, I would like to ask a favor of you. Please investigate Eastern Orthodox Christianity, attend some Eastern Orthodox services, and discuss the differences between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy with priests of both churches. And then report your findings in a post to this blog.

    Most readers of this blog are Christian. I believe that the single most effective thing that Christians could do to fight liberalism would be to revitalize the Eastern Orthodox Church. This is the most traditional church in all of Christianity. It has effectively resisted liberalism. If revitalized by some passionate traditionalists, it could become a formidable force. A revitalized Eastern Orthodox Church could also proselytize (which they don’t do now) and thereby make people more conservative.

    I personally have no interest in the difference of belief between religions. What I care about is fighting liberalism, and this is my motivation behind this post.

  15. I think you might form a somewhat different opinion of the Eastern Orthodox if you observed them in their native habitat (Greece, Russia, etc.). The Orthodox Church in the United States may look rigorous and orthodox, but this is largely because it consists of (a) recent immigrants who are sufficiently committed to the faith for them to carry it with them to the new world, and (b) converts who are seeking a high level of “tension” with the surrounding society. This is almost certainly a temporary situation. Over time, the descendants of these folk will regress to the mean of religiosity and demand more cultural accommodation. In a couple of generations there will be “cultural” Orthodox who want therapeutic liturgy and pretty buildings for weddings and funerals.

    I’m sorry you have such a low opinion of Roman Catholics. The people in my parish are not great scholars or saints, but most appear to be doing their best to live a faithful life. The homily is often therapeutic, but is at other times rather bracing. The liturgical changes that start this Advent are all excellent.

    You must recognize that there is within the Roman Catholic church a range of attitudes, opinions, and behaviors, but we are often treated as a monolith because we haven’t divided into sects. Imagine if i ignored the qualifier “orthodox” in your Judaism, and just lumped you together with the Reformed, Conservative, and Ethno-nationalist branches of your faith. Imagine if I began scolding a Hard Shell Baptist for his Unitarian beliefs. The Roman Catholic Church isn’t just Father O’Bubblegum tickling alter boys in the Vestry, or Sister Harridan burning her brasier on the steps of the convent.

  16. Well said, JMsmith.

  17. JMsmith, there is an “Orthodox Church in America” though I don’t know much about them. It’s true that most Eastern Orthodox churches in America are for immigrants and their children tend to assimilate (into mainstream liberal culture). This is bad. Orthodox Judaism had the same problem in America until they solved the problem with dynamic thinking. If Orthodox Judaism could do it, there is no reason why Eastern Orthodox Christianity can’t do the same.

    My wife was raised Roman Catholic and she shares my low opinion of what the Catholic Church has become. It sounds like it was much better 30 years ago when my wife went to Catholic church. I am not quite sure how Catholicism could have a significant range behaviors since it is centralized. I would love to see a conservative Catholic service. How would you suggest I find a conservative Catholic service here in El Paso, Texas to see for myself? I visited a random Catholic service here and this was my review.

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