“Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists.” – Joseph de Maistre
We come to explore why the series is called Politics..and Catholicism. (Sure, go for a James Lipton voice there).
Earlier I made reference to properly ordered religion. We will admit, for the sake of discussion, that a plurality of religions might qualify as properly ordered, even though they cannot all be 100% true.
We saw last time that the building and development of civilization just is a move to the left of the natural order. It is an attempt by a population of humans to buffer themselves against the unrelenting current of the natural order (such forces as entropy and predation, which is entropy at 4x speed). In so doing, a population can succeed so well that they are capable of swimming beyond stasis, further left, upstream.
This Cthulhu will do, unless there is some compelling reason (or force, or impulse) not to. Some restraint, some dissonance with the population’s experience and expectations against reality, perhaps. Or else some overwhelming incentive, worthy of abandoning the promises of swimming further left.*
Before stating the expected thesis…what is so bad about swimming ever to the left, anyway? Didn’t we say that way lies Utopia? Even if it is ever receding, doesn’t this indicate the desired and everlasting march of human progress?
(Perhaps you see a river in your mind, and a far-off horizon. The Utopia is exactly like the horizon, but it is so haunting and alluring – not almost spiritual, but actually so – that the emptiness of the horizon reflects a world where natural dangers are erased, and life is lived tranquilly, with perfect understanding of everything. Even the present feverish pitch of sexual fixation and exposure is suffocated and vanished, only a means to this godlike end. Yes, I have tasted and seen…)
The problem is two-fold, and unfolds like proofs for the existence of God. On the one hand, you have the historical account – every time we’ve tried Utopia, it ends in absolute disaster. Look to any revolution and the events that follow. It is easy to point to Stalin’s Soviet Union, but consider the “enlightened” French Revolution, when so many rationalists found themselves enraptured in a murderous frenzy.
On the other, it is a practical impossibility, which is why it so often ends in bloodshed. People cannot be depended on to act with perfect virtue, no matter what traits are called virtuous. You can call stealing good, or murder innocent – and people will violate them. In order to silence the signal of human discord and rebellion, those humans must be exiled…or exterminated.
It is not only discord, but it is also the human inability to completely comprehend everything, which is necessary for controlling all variables in an environment (including an artificial one). Ask a film director how difficult it is to make a movie exactly according to his vision – and then he has no control at all over the theater, or your living room.
Such a paradise cannot be achieved on this side of Glory. It is utterly opposed to Glory, moving ever to the left, where men are made into gods, and all the natural order is destroyed, terminating in the abyss.
In other words, that way lies irreversible damnation. Once walk through the gates – leave all hope behind.**
What shall it be, then? The primal, fearsome end of the natural order, which is death? Or the everlasting oppression of one man, or some men, dominating all the others, destroying that which conflicts with their designs?
Enter religion. And you thought they invented “Hell” just to scare you.
*Here we have an understanding why suffering typically provokes a move further to the left – over time a population will inevitably lose members. The reflex – not the reason, mind you – is to swim further away from the danger, not to live in harmony with it. Therefore, a wealthy country experiencing relative peace will come to find smaller and smaller losses as intolerable as the great losses it once suffered. If we have swum this far upstream, the rhetorical question goes, we can surely swim further and provide comfort/security/wealth to even more of our population.
**Yes, Hell is real.