In yesterday’s post, “The TRS Lexicon,” I mentioned my distaste for the alternative Right’s use of “Cathedral” to mean the general left-liberal consensus among the establishment in the modern West. I find it perverse to call good evil and evil good, and I take the Left as the antithesis of Christendom. The “The TRS Lexicon” suggests that Moldbug uses Cathedral as an anti-Christian slight, but there may be other reasons. Moldbug himself states that leftist ideology functions as our contemporary established religion in “A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations,” and he is certainly right.
Moldbug notes that the contemporary establishment cooperates to advance a certain agenda without any central organizing power. Conspiracy theorists want to attribute the seemingly coordinated moves in dismantling Western civilization to some agent—worldwide Jewry, the Freemasons, plutocractic dynasties like the Rothschilds and Rockefellers, elite conferences like the Bilderberg Group, et cetera. Moldbug’s point is that there need be no central Committee for Public Safety. An ideological virus has been far more successful than the Comintern in spreading leftist ideas. So, there is no Council of the Elders of Zion, no ruling hierarchy, though the West has an equivalent to an established church. This Moldbug calls the Cathedral. While I disagree with his (and others’) use of the term, the following is why it makes for an effective image.
Medieval Christendom was not perfect; medieval men were fallen like their heathen ancestors and descendants. However, all aspects of medieval society—explicitly religious life and practice, politics, domestic and international policy, the fine arts and everyday craftsmanship, economic activity at all levels, municipal affairs and family life—all aspired to the Christian vision. Medieval man understood everything as having its proper place in the City of Man in orientation, ultimately, toward the City of God. A widely acknowledged order of the Good made possible a civilizational unity in Christendom not seen since the beginning of the modern age. Indeed, this fragmentation of modern life is a significant source of our civilization’s ills, and such is why modern ideological movements seek to recover an all embracing vision for man. The totalitarian age is an attempt to found that unity anew, whether in Marxism, National Socialism, technocratic commercial republicanism, or whatever the latest ideological mutation may be. The utopian dreamers of today yearn for some simulacrum of wholeness. They want to build their own Cathedral—an updated version of the French Revolution’s Temple of Reason where they may find salvation as l’homme régénéré.
Moreover, the term “cathedral” lends itself to such a social unity. A cathedral is, of course, the seat of the bishop in a diocese. It is therefore the central locus of Christendom: there, where the bishop, priests, deacons, and all the people of God—emperors, kings, nobles, guildsmen, peasants, merchants—unite to perform the most essential function of man—the worship of God. The cathedral is thus the image of society united in its highest act. On a more pedestrian level, the medieval cathedral provided the practical necessities of the town’s common life. Beyond the cult, it served as the source and center of public identity and pride, the main civic meeting space, the chief educational establishment, and the default market location for cities that had not yet developed additional public buildings. In every way, it was the focus of medieval social life—the House of God. The cathedral’s edifice itself recalls an even greater unity. The architecture and embellishment of the cathedral recapitulates the whole cosmos; it contains the heavens, the realm of angels and stars, the earth and sea and all that is therein—birds, hooved creatures, both wild and livestock, fish, reptiles, mystical beasts, and flora, both of the woods and of the pasture. It contains the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant; both the breathing saints and the ones who pray in the bosom of Abraham join together in the worship of God. It embraces all of history in stone, glass, paint, and mosaic—from the creation of Adam to the Last Judgment. The cathedral is the collective microcosm of creation—the place where the microcosmic priests meet to pray, where they participate in the neverending doxology of the universe in praise of the eternal God.
So, when Moldbug sought a term adequate to capture the extensive reach of modern leftist ideology and the human mechanisms that foster it, it is not surprising that he chose the “Cathedral.” In the Church of the Antichrist, the term fits perfectly.