Politics and Catholicism – 13
We come to some paradoxes then.
If leftism is subjugation of the earth – the drive toward civilization, away from natural order – then isn’t more leftism equivalent to more civilized institutions and behavior?
If rightism is respect for the natural order, then isn’t more rightism a drive toward primitive living, before industry, science, and all the rest?
They seem quite the opposite.
That is, conservatives seem to prefer everything that happened in America from 1776 through the 1950’s, give or take a few years. Conservatives love ‘murica – liberals aren’t accused of that.
They prefer industry, they prefer making the most of all potent energy resources, they prefer capitalism and business, they prefer social traditions (very orderly, structured).
Liberals, for their part, are more closely associated with the back to earth movement, to doing what one feels, to giving the benefit of the doubt where certain practices go against the cultural grain.
They have been marching since the 1960’s, starting with the sexual revolution and gradually conquering the media, education, and politics. In many cases, they have undone what existed, rather than build new institutions. (Same-sex marriage is not a new institution – it is the loosening of an old one).
If this big idea is correct about leftism and rightism, we have already alluded to the next layer: Whatever leftism established a generation ago, rightism is now defending. Whatever leftism is pushing, no one wished for a generation ago.
There is yet another layer.
In America there is a Christian tradition, one inextricable from its founding. The Christian religion is properly ordered, so that it forms tight institutions, bright lines, and produces many goods on Earth.
For any progress to be made – and we are in the age of the Progressive – these institutions, this Christian grip on the structure of society, must be undone. The work of leftism, in this case, is to erase whatever may be attributed to the natural order, or to God, in favor of what man might do for himself.
It is, indeed, a push to subdue the earth. And men.
Meanwhile, modern rightism looks like a paradox, because it ought to be a drive toward the natural order – but it looks like a drive toward anachronistic technology and social structure, and filthy fossil fuels, and unjust wages.
Think of someone who is not conservative, if you want a true sense of rightism. Think of a reactionary.
Here is someone who quite seriously would reinstitute a monarchy (with all of its quirks and flaws) and restrict the vote, and champion the formation of socio-economic classes because …
That is what happens in the natural order. In nature, the fittest survive. The powerful get what they want first, and the weak receive the crumbs. If anything.
The natural order, you understand, is not about equality. The liberal push for equality is necessarily a synthetic effort, because men are not equal. And men are not equal to women in the natural order. And no beast is equal to a human in the natural order…and so on.
The conservative is only defending what your forebears installed. The reactionary looks at at fixed point further in the past, and identifies that as the true balance in human affairs.*
Christians will no doubt have observed something here: Original sin is a move to the Left. That is, the original disobedience of God was a play for power on the part of humans. Humans wished to subdue reality, and know it. Know it for what purpose?
“…then your eyes will be open, and ye will be as gods.”
It is enough to shudder. But!
As punishment, God brought down the natural order on humanity – hard. Women would suffer in childbirth, and man would raise produce only by the sweat of his brow. And all would die.
Natural death is the far end of rightism.
So, it is correct to say that the Old Testament is story upon story of humanity in dissonance with the natural order, and suffering greatly because of it. And God, by grace, and mercy and love, saving them.
The New Testament is widely seen – if not in these terms – as a move to the Left, and all of Christianity is sometimes mocked because of this transition.
But they should not spurn the transition so quickly. By Christ’s sacrifice, God gave humanity an escape from the extreme Right, which was NOT the extreme Left. It was neither, and both. Step back and see:
If you were a two dimensional creature, how could we begin to explain the third dimension to you? You would necessarily flatten all of our words and actions, so that you could understand them in your two dimensions. We could not really explain it at all.
And you would be right, and wrong. Mostly wrong.
That’s the role of Catholicism. At its best, and its core, it says to all the world – “Yes, but none of this is quite right. Look – you are going to live forever. Forever. Now, how does that change things here on Earth?”
It might make you more of a rightist. And more of a leftist.
But mostly, it would make a resurrectionist, with your eyes cast above you, which neither the left nor the right can comprehend.
* And again, chronology is not critical in and of itself – it is something of a tape measure, to let us know how far left we’ve come. The Reactionary might also push for things that are in the spirit of a monarchy, but have not ever existed. In that sense, if he is successful, the Reactionary is looking toward the future, through the past. Chronology is not strictly useful.