Only tribalism can fulfill the promises of Vatican II

By Vatican II, I mean what has generally been taken to be the “spirit” of the council:  a switch of emphasis from the “vertical” to the “horizontal” dimension of Catholicism, toward the community and away from God, toward lay action as opposed to purely cultic concerns.

There is a great deal of confusion here because what the progressives did is in almost every case the opposite of what they said they were doing, indeed even the opposite of what traditionalists accused them of doing.  I’ve noted before that organized action by the laity to sanctify the world was widespread before the council (Catholic Action, Christian Democracy and–better!–legitimism, the Legion of Decency,…), was hated by progressives who claimed to love the idea of lay action in the abstract, and collapsed immediately after the council.  The progressives praised inculturation and then forced us to use pictures of Jesus and the Apostles that make them look as foreign to us as possible.  They They called on Catholics to work together with “people of good will” but then lamented our alliance with right-wing authoritarians who provided the only protection against communist persecution.  The progressives praised Catholic communitarianism in the abstract, but then attacked without ceasing the chauvinism (“triumphalism”) any community needs to survive.  Indeed, the progressives were anxious to denounce the Catholic people–our ancestors and our average man in the pew–every chance they got.  They claimed to celebrate us as “the people of God” but never did anything of the sort.  They certainly let us know that we are morally inferior to communists, that our past is shameful and our present an embarrassment.  One might say that Catholicism after the council was much more centered on dogma and morality than it had ever been before, when the skeleton of doctrine had been clothed in the flesh of a distinctive subculture and its customs.

One wonders if the progressives ever stopped to think about what their slogans really mean.

In fact, the call for a horizontal reorientation of Catholicism is defensible, even purely from a concern to preserve the vertical aspect.  (As I’ve said before, tradition will not save us; we must save tradition.)  Vatican II came at a providential moment.  With the vigorous missionary activity of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Great Commission had been all but completed.  The gospel had been shared with every people in every corner of the Earth.  A few had accepted baptism and joined the Catholic family; most had rejected and in varying degrees persecuted us, and to them the command of the Gospel is clear:  to shake their dust from our feet, to write them off.  The natural evolution of the Catholic people would be from an evangelical community to a tribe.

Readers sometimes tell me that Catholicism can’t be regarded as a tribe, but our religion shares the core attribute of a tribe:  endogamy.  The natural effect of generations of marriage within the group would be for Catholics to develop into a distinct race.  Some might think this a falling away from the religion’s universalist mission, but in fact universalism is a vice (a necessary one, while there were souls outside to gather in), a failure to attain the virtue of particularism.  Why doubt that, in His goodness, God intended the Catholic people to be bound not only by supernatural charity, but also by the natural bonds of extended kinship?

What would it be like for men to be filled with the spirit of Catholics as the “people of God”?  The progressive council fathers never said, because to them this was merely an anticlerical slogan.  Unlike them, I mean to speak plainly and concretely.  Those who prefer meaningless verbiage can go back to Teilhard.  Catholics with a strong horizontal bond would have strong Catholic identity:  they would use the first person plural when speaking of past generations of Catholics; they would take offense at anything said against the Catholic people or our collective embodiment, the Church; in conversation, they would extol the Catholic people’s virtues and minimize their faults.  They would be eager to increase the power and status of Catholics–since power and status are zero-sum acquisitions, they would pursue this at the expense of other (rival) peoples.

Perhaps the clearest way to think about this is to imagine the case of a non-believing Catholic.  Today, when Catholics lose their faith, they become enemies of their Church, their tribe, their ancestors.  It needn’t be so.  A Catholic atheist could still regard Catholics as his people and wish to see them exalted above others.  One might claim that such sentiment does little for his soul (although I would not–tribal loyalty is a virtue), but it would certainly be useful to us to have him as a friend rather than an enemy.  Of course, it is better not to have him as a friend if he devotes his energies to attacking the vertical orientation of the Church (for our own good, he will suppose), but a properly formed tribalist is more inclined to attack the sustaining myths of rival tribes.

Look at how brilliantly the Jews have executed this division of labor!  Judaism maintains its vertical axis, the keeping of the Torah.  A subset still follow these laws, believe they come from God via Moses, and contribute high fertility.  The other half of Jews are secular but neither disaffiliate nor harass the Orthodox.  They still strongly identify with their people and do the most to maintain the uniquely high status and social power of Jews in the West.  Their critical faculties are directed outward, to undermining Gentile morale.

To be clear, an atheist Catholic couldn’t believe just anything, couldn’t for example pursue communism as a strategy to set his people above Protestants.  A tribe is a people, a history, and a spirit.  The spirit of Judaism is prophetic, egalitarian, and critical; non-believing Jews keep this spirit even when they lose the faith that birthed it.  If they wanted to, secular Jews could claim status among peoples for their traditionalism.  Having maintained their customs and identity for over three millennia, I would not begrudge them the claim.  But they almost never do make such a claim, because it violates their spirit.  Similarly, a secular Catholic filled with the spirit of his people would never claim status for Catholics as a people uniquely devoted to social justice.  The Catholic spirit is priestly, hierarchical, and sacramental.  The Church can benefit from alliance with members of our tribe who have lost the faith but kept the spirit, such as Charles Maurras.

7 Responses

  1. This entire discussion is abstracted from the man who is currently Pope. It is like he doesn’t exist.

  2. Readers sometimes tell me that Catholicism can’t be regarded as a tribe, but our religion shares the core attribute of a tribe: endogamy. The natural effect of generations of marriage within the group would be for Catholics to develop into a distinct race.

    I would say that this is basically was the white race is (or was, at any rate). The white race is the result of Christendom and why it is an intelligible grouping rather than an arbitrary one. The former spiritual unity of Christendom is what permits us to recognize whites as a ‘meta-people’, rather than identifying with a larger group such as Caucasians or with some arbitrarily smaller group.

  3. Some might think this a falling away from the religion’s universalist mission, but in fact universalism is a vice (a necessary one, while there were souls outside to gather in), a failure to attain the virtue of particularism.

    New souls are created every day. It is our duty to preach the Gospel anew to each generation of unbelievers.

    The confinement of the truth to a single race was the state of things before the coming of Christ. It was a prelude, and inferior to the new state of things. Trying to imitate the Jews (the group that rejected Jesus Christ) will lead to the same vices that He condemned them for.

  4. […] Throne and Altar looks at the need for Catholic tribalism. […]

  5. agreed with the Arkansan reactionary. for every Maurras, there were 5 apostates like Hitler, Marx, Nietzsche, Guevara, Mussolini, who did Catholics quite wrongly. even when some of their words and actions supported indirectly Catholic views such as:

    -natural authority (state’s authority should be respected, not worshipped, less so for its own sake, but rather for the sake of the State’s commitment to spreading the Gospel and keeping its message – confessional states may be needed, tbh),

    -natural tribes (who even while keeping their particularism and customs as God intended, are forever called to receive the Gospel)

    -and on the left end, Christian communalism and trade guilds (which are based on natural order, rather than artificial materialist equalization enforced by a bureaucrat class)

    -and universalism (which to Christians means the varying ability of all the diverse races and cultures of man to follow God and reach the Gospel, even while keeping certain natural ancestral particularisms that materially vary widely: from small monoracial Hungary and its ethnic exclaves in borderlands, to the huge mixed Castilian-speaking world. this is not to be taken to the degree of making every corner of the globe have the same post/modern degenerate customs, the same language, the same arts and media, the same vain totems, with rampant decultured miscegenation, all in the name of a materialist Neo-Babel)

    on the other hand, in the current climate in which Christian thought is increasingly persecuted (we should normalize this line of thought, btw, because it is true and it is good optics), Bonald is right in trying to extend a hand to those outside the faith who nonetheless may support Christendom tacitally, such as the nationalist movement of European-descendants (because Europeans have been the ones more affected and, and more supportive of, Christendom; without denying the immense difference for the better it has made for the other races that accepted even some of the Christian civilization’s tenets).

    however, temporary allies in a political battle should not become spiritual or even material roommates, as history shows these allies can sell us out when their materialist concerns seem fit. we could go back to the Judaizers on one hand and pagans and Gnostics of various stripes on the other trying to subvert the early Church. but we can just see the last century, how we were betrayed by secular allies: the Nazis sold the Catholic Zentrum out after von Papen got them the Concordat, destroying many Catholic organizations. Mussolini gave the Pope the Lateran Treaty but erased his accomplishments dragging Italy into the Axis and war. Petain tried his best, but crumbled before the Nazis; then again, the Brits did him no favors, while De Gaulle was a Caesarist-Napoleonic at heart that eventually wilted in Algiers and 68. Franco, the most faithful, ended up doing whatever the Opus-Dei Whig-values-loving neocons wanted; although then again, what would have happened if his successor’s car hadn’t been bombed by ETA, we will never know. that’s just Europe, Latin America’s Catholic right sold out to the CIA, IMF, and Opus Dei. and on the left end, we know what egregious havoc the neocons and “reformers” and heretical/schismatic V2 observers and liberation-theology-influenced infiltrators have done already…

    and, while endogamy is the usual natural course of reproduction between peoples of similar (usually the same) race and culture, there is also enough outliers that can and should expand the Faith through mission, crusade, and intermarriage – while avoiding all that Americanized “going to two churches” thing, which has whittled down Catholic culture tremendously in this country. true, this stance does get harder in the case of Catholic wives, or in the case of living in New England or among Southern Baptists; but, if in earlier centuries saintly women preferred death rather than marriage to a pagan who didn’t want to convert, then today at the very least we should attempt to take our lovers to Mass and hope they accept sacraments before marrying them.

    in short, Catholicism is precisely LESS tribal now, because now we think anyone who appears to think like us in some way is just like us, and we tolerate and tolerate and tolerate instead of demanding repentance, penance, or at least establishing some degree of separation… true, while holding common philosophical grounds on Aristotle with a Protestant or pagan and remaining on friendly terms with him may ease up conversion in some cases, it doesn’t abolish the ABSOLUTE need for the pagan’s baptism and the whole traditional Catholic experience, that which gives the Faith its tribal aspect – The Mystery of the Faith, if you wheel… so yeah, lead by example and all that, but lead…

  6. Well, I agree with many parts of this. One thing we should remember is that the pagan’s baptism is necessary for him, not for us. Evangelizing people other than our own children almost never works, especially given the degree of anti-Catholic propaganda outside and inside the Church, and so can’t be a major part of our survival strategy.

  7. you are right, in that one also has the natural concentric-circles way of organically growing the faith. missionary zeal starts at home.

    however, i think there’s still pagans who haven’t rejected the Gospel yet. but like you say, they aren’t the focus. we cannot convert masses through apologetics, nor even violence or intermarriage, if our side cannot lead by example. obviously, we are still to lead.

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