Andy Nowicki published an indictment of bourgeois Republican ninnies’ sensibilities last month on Alternative Right: “Sex and Violence Traditionalism.” In short, Nowicki reprimands American Christians who find “family friendly” books and films the only acceptable art and entertainment. While criticizing the Christian review site Plugged-In, he notes that “their habitual tendency is to equate sanitization with sanctification and G-rated-ness with holiness.” Of course, there is a need for family friendly gatekeepers because parents who expose their children to popular culture need trusted and accessible information about the content of books, albums, movies, and shows. Yet, adults are more than parents, and culture is more than the Veggie Tales, however positive such cucurbitaceae morality plays may be. Nowicki offers Flannery O’Connor, Shakespeare, and holy writ as devastating counterexamples to the nauseating, saccharine tendencies of contemporary Protestant megachurch aesthetics.
And of all mankind!
A few weeks ago, Laura Wood posted a comment from the Patriarch of Moscow in “Feminism Destroys Nations.” Of course, I had to read a story about my head bishop. Wood linked to an article in The Guardian, a leftist rag in Britain, but you may read the original Interfax story, “Patriarch Kirill says feminism offers wrong priorities for woman’s role in society”:
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia said he criticizes feminism.
“I consider this phenomenon called feminism very dangerous, because feminist organizations proclaim the pseudo-freedom of women, which must appear firstly outside of marriage and outside of family,” the patriarch said at a meeting with members of the Ukrainian Union of Orthodox Women in Moscow.
Patriarch Kirill said that the center of the feminist ideology was not family and the upbringing of children “but another function of women, which is often opposed to family values.” It is no coincidence that most feminist leaders are unmarried, the patriarch said.
“I noticed this when I worked in Geneva, at the World Council of Churches, when the feminist theme was just beginning to develop,” he said.
Patriarch Kirill said there was nothing wrong with women pursuing careers, politics, business and many other spheres, “which today involve men mostly”, but the system of priorities should be straight.
A woman is first and foremost “a guardian of the family fire and centre of the family life,” the Patriarch said.
“A man is gazing outwards, he must work and make money, while a woman is always gazing inwards, where her children are, where her home is. If this incredibly important function of a woman is destroyed, then everything will be destroyed - the family and, if you wish, the motherland,” Patriarch Kirill said.
The patriarch said that today “the opinion is being imposed that woman’s calling to be a mother is humiliating, that there are higher and more honorable duties and that fulfilling woman’s natural devotion - and I would like call this devotion - puts a woman in an inferior position to a man.”
“I have a lot of contact with married people. I have seen very few families where a woman was in an inferior position. If one puts a powerful microscope and looks closely, in particular at a husband, and then analyzes the information, it will become clear who the head of the family is,” the patriarch said.
Patriarch Kirill said women’s organizations were the ones to pay attention to such issues as divorces, orphans and birth rate decline.
And to think that I was fearful of Patriarch Kirill’s elevation to the primacy, as he was the Russian Church’s most visible leftwing ecumenist! I have repented of that opinion, and I am ever surprised by the man. Imagine a Western bishop’s questioning feminism (sic), an idol of our heathen age. O Russia, land of fools, saints, and martyrs—often incarnate in the same human beings—how the Lord continually shows you mercy!
Last month, Dr. Bruce Charlton offered a simple Rosetta Stone to interpet contemporary politics in the West: “Attitude to the sexual revolution is the single most decisive litmus test of Leftism.” The post is short and worth quoting in full:
A positive attitude to the sexual revolution is the hallmark of Leftism, which trumps all other themes and unites disparate (and hostile) factions.
To be pro-the sexual revolution is not only the cornerstone of Marxists, Communists, Fascists, Socialists, Labour parties and Democrats; but is shared by mainstream Conservatives, Neo-Conservatives, Republicans; and by Anarchists and Libertarians; and by sex-worshipping neo-Nietzschian pseudo-reactionaries - such as those of the ‘manosphere’.
To be pro-the sexual revolution is the nearest thing to a core value of the mass media; and of art both high-brow and low.
This vast conglomeration is the Left alliance; it is modern local, national and international politics - united only by being pro-the sexual revolution: but this is enough.
What is the sexual revolution?
Simply the divorce of sex from marriage and family.
Marriage and family are social institutions; but sex cut-off from (‘liberated’ from) marriage and family is (sooner or later) a monstrous, insatiable and self-stimulating greed for pleasure and distraction.
Attitude to the sexual revolution therefore marks the difference between those who are ultimately in favour of human society; and those who delight in its destruction (aka Leftists) who see social collapse as primarily an opportunity to feed their personal addictions; to use other people to make themselves feel good about themselves; to distract themselves with pleasure, and pleasure themselves with distraction.
I wonder, though, about the Christian, specifically Roman Catholic, batallions of the Old Left. Think of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement. These folks remain with us, even today, though they no longer appear to be well organized. The more conservative members of the “social justice” crowd may represent a form of traditionalist socialism that rejects the sexual revolution but affirms a state managed version of communitarian life.
Bruce Charlton has posted simple praise of Thatcher for having achieved something remarkable during her time as Britain’s prime minister: “What did Margaret Thatcher do? Fixed the economy, stupid”:
Then positive thing Mrs Thatcher did was to reverse decades of British economic decline. . . .
Margaret Thatcher diagnosed the problems, publicly repented of the policies of the past, told Britain what it needed to do (‘roll back’ socialism), explained that short term prosperity had to be sacrificed to the longer term, took the necessary measures and -
Sure enough, things did get worse, there was a period of sharp recession and exacerbated decline.
But Mrs Thatcher held the line until the battle was won, and the impending economic collapse was not just averted but reversed.
Then Britain had a period of strong economic growth.
Many economists had diagnosed Britain’s problems; several politicians knew what needed to be done; perhaps several of these politicians could believe that these things could be done and might even have started the job of fixing the economy…
But only Mrs Thatcher could see-it-through in the face of a level of orchestrated vilification and misrepresentation from the Leftist intelligentsia and organized labour (and most of her own party) which was astonishing at the time and in retrospect.
Thatcher’s leftist and conservative detractors fail to see how remarkable her political virtues were. In a democratic regime, it is exceptionally noteworthy whenever a leader prescribes unpleasant but requisite medicine and then has the statesmanship to carry the changes through successfully. An Iron Lady, indeed!
The United Kingdom this week celebrates the memory of Margaret Thatcher. She will be remembered for as long as the English nation survives. However, her effects upon the world will continue in the more common manner, as well, through her descendents. Her son Mark has two children, Michael and Amanda. The Daily Mail has a story on the grandson: “Entering the family business? Baroness Thatcher’s American football star grandson takes on the world of U.S. politics,” which includes football footage of the young man. The Telegraph also features a story on the grandchildren with a current photograph of Michael: “Margaret Thatcher: The grandchildren in the US who share the Iron Lady’s spirit”:
As they perused the well-stocked aisles of their local shop, the wealthy residents of Highland Park were charmed by the polite and handsome young man behind the counter.
They had no idea, however, that this former high school American football star was upholding a family tradition that began 100 years ago in the English town of Grantham, some 5,000 miles away.
Michael Thatcher, the only grandson of the grocer’s daughter who became the world’s most powerful woman, now serves customers at a store and pharmacy in Texas.
The Thatcher kids have been raised as Texas Republicans, for better or worse. I wish them every proper good.
Last week, Laura Wood featured a delightful video on The Thinking Housewife: “A Glimpse of Political Dignity.” It shows an interview of Margaret Thatcher wherein the Prime Minister refuses to dance like a monkey to entertain the plebs. It also shows the generational (and regime) difference between Thatcher and the interviewer. Not too long ago, the West’s leaders conducted themselves seriously. In the last few generations, we have seen the cultural spirit of democracy continue to triumph in the West, as every standard is lowered to the level of actors, trollops, and proles.
Sadly, the Anglosphere’s greatest leaders in the last century, including Churchill, Thatcher, and Reagan, never seemed to have realized the pernicious nature of democracy. For them, democracy was simply Lincoln’s rhetorical definition of the American republic—government of the people, by the people, for the people. Yet, democracy inherently breeds and facilitates the politics of resentment, jealousy, relativism, egalitarianism, thievery, and, eventually, tyranny. Only with mighty external supports like widespread and committed Christian piety and civic dedication to the common good could a people live decently in a democratic regime without succumbing to its harmful tendencies. We have forgotten the lessons of our founders as well as Tocqueville’s sage remarks.
Today, Britain conducts the funeral of its Iron Lady. May her beloved country reassert its worthiness to survive and to flourish, and may the memory of Margaret Thatcher be eternal.
I learnt yesterday of the death of Mrs. Barbara Willke this past Sunday evening. The Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati posts the details: “In Memoriam: Mrs. Barbara Willke”:
With great sadness, Cincinnati Right to Life mourns the loss of Mrs. Barbara Willke, who served as co-founder along with her husband and as chairman of the organization for 28 years. She died peacefully Sunday night at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, after suffering a severe head injury due to a fall. Funeral arrangements are pending.
“Mrs. Willke was a woman of courage and intelligence whose lifelong commitment to preserving the sanctity of human life is a moving legacy,” said Paula Westwood, Executive Director Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. “No one can fill her shoes.”
Barbara Willke was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and internationally known author, lecturer, and expert in human sexuality. She held B.S. and R.N. degrees from the University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing & Health, plus graduate studies at University of Dayton.
Mother of six, grandmother of 22, foster mother of several teenagers, Barbara headed the Department at the College of Nursing for five years before her full-time career as wife and mother. She is the wife of Dr. John Willke, past president of National Right to Life, president, Life Issues Institute and president emeritus, International Right to Life Federation. They would have been married for 65 years this June.
With Dr. Willke, Barbara co-authored twelve books on human sexuality and abortion. Together they created audio and visual materials that were proven to be basic teaching tools throughout the world. Their materials have been translated into 30 languages on all five continents. She and Dr. Willlke frequently appeared on radio and TV shows. They have spoken in 64 different countries.
Mrs. Willke was awarded honorary doctorates from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and, along with Dr. Willke, Cincinnati’s Xavier University.
Congressman Henry Hyde’s words bring to mind Barbara Willke:
When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God — and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world — and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him, because he loved us!’
I used to volunteer at the Right to Life office in North College Hill when I was a teenager, and I would always find Mrs. Willke tirelessly working in her office, though she was decades older than retirement age. Even though she and her husband were instrumental in founding the right to life movement in America and were internationally celebrated in prolife circles, Mrs. Willke humbly remained in Cincinnati and toiled in our small, unpretentious R.T.L. headquarters. She would frequently come out to say encouraging words and to show her appreciation to the volunteers while we helped stuff envelopes and did other clerical tasks in the back workroom. She was always kind and grandmotherly, manifesting a quiet but radiant and peaceful joy. May her memory be eternal! And of that, I am certain. I do not have definite views on the afterlife, but if souls may converse in the presence of the Lord, then I suspect that her friend the late Nellie Gray was there to welcome Mrs. Willke home.
View from the Right featured a dismaying post several weeks ago about the rot in America’s black underclass: “Life of an inner city security guard.” The post was in response to a story on The Blaze about an Atlanta mall security guard and his trials while working among the incorrigibles: “Shock Video: Mall Security Guard Forced to Tase Mother After She Attacks Him While Toddlers Hurl ‘Gay’ Insults.” It is horrifying, though not surprising. Neither the American elite and nor the middle classes enforce standards anymore. The poor, especially the non-white poor, live ferally without guidance, standards, or, all too often, consequences.
In January, Patrick Buchanan published one of his seemingly endless articles on how America is going to hell in a handbasket while the country’s supposed leaders twiddle their thumbs: “America’s Role in a Darkening Age.” Our American Cassandra always preaches the same message, but no one in power cares to listen. I still appreciate Buchanan’s work. Is it his fault that our society’s elite has gone mad? What interested me in this article in particular was Buchanan’s quotations from Robert Kaplan’s “The Return of Toxic Nationalism” in The Wall Street Journal. Kaplan laments the fissures in the globalist liberal temple that he and his ilk support and from which they profit. Kaplan writes:
We truly are in a battle between two epic forces: Those of integration based on civil society and human rights, and those of exclusion based on race, blood and radicalized faith. It is the mistake of Western elites to grant primacy to the first force, for it is the second that causes the crises with which policy makers must deal—often by interacting with technology in a toxic fashion, as when a video transported virtually at the speed of light ignites a spate of anti-Americanism (if not specifically in Benghazi).
The second force can and must be overcome, but one must first admit how formidable it is. It is formidable because nations and other solidarity groups tend to be concerned with needs and interests more than with values. Just as the requirement to eat comes before contemplation of the soul, interests come before values.
Yet because values like minority rights are under attack the world over, the United States must put them right alongside its own exclusivist national interests, such as preserving a favorable balance of power. Without universal values in our foreign policy, we have no identity as a nation—and that is the only way we can lead with moral legitimacy in an increasingly disorderly world. Yet we should not be overturning existing orders overnight. For it is precisely weak democracies and collapsing autocracies that provide the chaotic breathing room with which nationalist and sectarian extremists can thrive.
Buchanan quotes Kaplan’s maddening “Without universal values in our foreign policy, we have no identity as a nation—and that is the only way we can lead with moral legitimacy in an increasingly disorderly world.” We have no identity as a nation without universal values in our foreign policy? How extreme, how insane, how ideologically reductionist must one be to assert such a statement? And yet, our propositionalist patriots, who see the United States as merely a tool to remake the world according to their desires, dominate the conservative half of American power. It is beyond appalling.
The American Conservative featured an essay by Andrew Bacevich a few months ago that offers good political advice: “Counterculture Conservatism: The right needs less Ayn Rand, more Flannery O’Connor.” Bacevich’s argues that conservatives must incrementally transform the culture back into one that understands and respects conservative principles. Leftist agitators radically changed American culture over the last few generations by taking over the media, the academy, N.G.O.s and foundations, and the goverment. We must fight them on all fronts; political power won in random elections will not suffice. I think that Bacevich is obviously right, and the short-sighted focus on this or that election misunderstands the cultural change that undergirds electoral politics. A radical change in America made the Obama presidency possible. The country as it currently is would be incapable of electing someone like Coolidge or even Reagan. Our little platoons must fight many battles to change the direction of our culture war.
I appreciate Bacevich’s general characterization of American conservatives:
As human beings, our first responsibility lies in stewardship, preserving our common inheritance and protecting that which possesses lasting value. This implies an ability to discriminate between what is permanent and what is transient, between what ought to endure and what is rightly destined for the trash heap. Please note this does not signify opposition to all change—no standing athwart history, yelling Stop—but fostering change that enhances rather than undermines that which qualifies as true.
Conservatives, therefore, are skeptical of anything that smacks of utopianism. They resist seduction by charlatans peddling the latest Big Idea That Explains Everything. This is particularly the case when that Big Idea entails launching some armed crusade abroad. Conservatives respect received wisdom. The passage of time does not automatically render irrelevant the dogmas to which our forebears paid heed. George Washington was no dope.
In private life and public policy alike, there exists a particular category of truths that grown-ups and grown-up governments will respectfully acknowledge. For conservatives this amounts to mere common sense. Actions have consequences. Privileges entail responsibility. There is no free lunch. At day’s end, accounts must balance. Sooner or later, the piper will be paid. Only the foolhardy or the willfully reckless will attempt to evade these fundamental axioms.
Conservatives take human relationships seriously and know that they require nurturing. In community lies our best hope of enjoying a meaningful earthly existence. But community does not emerge spontaneously. Conservatives understand that the most basic community, the little platoon of family, is under unrelenting assault, from both left and right. Emphasizing autonomy, the forces of modernity are intent on supplanting the family with the hyper-empowered—if also alienated—individual, who exists to gratify appetite and ambition. With its insatiable hunger for profit, the market is intent on transforming the family into a cluster of consumers who just happen to live under the same roof. One more thing: conservatives don’t confuse intimacy with sex.
All of that said, conservatives also believe in Original Sin, by whatever name. They know, therefore, that the human species is inherently ornery and perverse. Hence, the imperative to train and educate young people in the norms governing civilized behavior. Hence, too, the need to maintain appropriate mechanisms to restrain and correct the wayward who resist that training or who through their own misconduct prove themselves uneducable.
Conversely, conservatives are wary of concentrated power in whatever form. The evil effects of Original Sin are nowhere more evident than in Washington, on Wall Street, or in the executive suites of major institutions, sadly including churches and universities. So conservatives reject the argument that correlates centralization with efficiency and effectiveness. In whatever realm, they favor the local over the distant. Furthermore, although conservatives are not levelers, they believe that a reasonably equitable distribution of wealth—property held in private hands—offers the surest safeguard against Leviathan. A conservative’s America is a nation consisting of freeholders, not of plutocrats and proletarians.
Finally, conservatives love and cherish their country. But they do not confuse country with state. They know that America is not its military, nor any of the innumerable three-lettered agencies comprising the bloated national-security apparatus. America is amber waves of grain, not SEAL Team Six.