-Juan Donoso Cortes
(Intro and translation by Gornahoor)
“Catholicity is a complete system of civilization, so complete, that in its immensity it embraces everything—the science of God, the science of the angel, the science of the universe, and the science of man. The infidel falls into ecstasy at sight of its inconceivable extravagance, and the believer at sight of its wonderful grandeur. If there be any one who, on beholding it, passes by with a smile, people, more astounded at such an amount of stupid indifference than at that colossal grandeur and that inconceivable extravagance, raise their voice, and say, “Let the fool pass.” All humanity has studied for the space of eighteen centuries in the school of its theologians and its doctors; and at the end of so much application, and the end of so much study, up to to-day the abyss of its science has not been sounded. There, it learns how and when all things and times are to end, and when and how they had their beginning: there, are discovered secrets which were ever hidden from the speculations of the philosophers of the Gentiles,” and the understanding of their sages: there, are revealed the final causes of all things, the concerted movement of everything human, the nature of bodies and the essence of spirits, the ways by which men walk, the term to which they go, the point from which they come, the mystery of their peregrination and the line of their journey, the enigma of their tears, and the secret of life and death. Children suckled at its prolific breasts, know today more than Aristotle and Plato, the luminaries of Athens. And yet the doctors who teach these things, and rise to such sublimity, are humble. It was given to the Catholic world alone to present a spectacle on earth reserved formerly to the angels in heaven—the spectacle of science bent in humility before the divine throne.”
-Juan Donoso Cortés
I will be doing a weekly (if not more) posting of Reactionary reading material I can find online. I hope you, dear readers, can find this helpful in your endeavors to understand the schools of reactionary political thought. I hope this will be beneficial to you. I cannot stress the importance of reading original material, and not just blogs.
This weeks reading:
To lately I have been trudging my way though a book entitled Liberty: The God That Failed by Christopher A. Ferrara. I highly recommend this book. As of now it is one of the best books I have ever picked up.
Within the first chapter of the book Ferrara goes into detail about the foundations of the Christian Commonwealth in Greek Philosophy. Its a fantastic and detailed account of how this Greco-Catholic Synthesis gave rise to Christendom and the proper ordering of man in regards to the State (referring to the Civitas, not the modern concept of the nation-state.)
What follows is a brief summary of Ferrara’s explanation of the Greco-Catholic Synthesis,
There arose a synthesis of the two great elements of the Western theologico-political tradition that began in Athens after its fall in the 4th century BC. It began when Socrates claimed to men that they must “care for their souls”. This turned the mind of Greece toward a higher ideal of state and society which led to a search for a new God. The Platonic-Aristotelian system developed for the time a philosophical realism. Ethics and politics based on the view of man as a creature possessed of a rational and immortal soul who inhabits an orderly universe which has a fixed and knowable essence. For Plato it was the Forms. For Aristotle, his “hylomorphism”, which became the Christian philosophical doctrine of matter and form. Every being in this universe is a substance, a unity of matter and the form that determines its nature. With the soul, as Christianity would teach, being the form of man. The Greeks viewed that the rational soul is ordered by nature to the practice of virtues (this was later assimilated into the Christian view in light of revelation). Mans happiness consists of an activity of the soul in accordance to virtue. The highest state of such virtue for Plato was the communion with God, and for Aristotle it was the contemplation of God for those who are capable. For the Greeks this was the summum bonum (Highest Good) through which the Greeks sought with unaided reason prior to the revelation of the New Testament.
This leads us into the political thought that began to develop under the Greeks and was later assimilated into the Christian Commonwealth. Man, being an ensouled creature whose purpose is a life of virtue and an encounter with God, led both Plato and Aristotle to teach that mans perfection requires life in the “State” which originates with the family. Aristotle claims the State is “a creation of nature” and “man by nature is a political animal.” So for the Greeks, along with the Christian leaders that followed them, a good State is one whose laws and institutions take care of the soul by promoting and protecting both virtue and religion over and above mere security of temporal things such as property. For the Greeks, along with the Catholics that followed, religion was not simply a private thing but a public honoring of the divine. The bedrock of the State from the view of the Greeks which was further defended under Christendom is summarized in Aristotle’s Politics:
But a state exists for the sake of the good life; and not for the sake of life only… It is clear then that the state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime, and for the sake of exchange. These are conditions without which a state cannot exist; but all of them together do not constitute a state, which is a community of families and aggregations of families in well-being for the sake of a perfect and self-sufficing life… by which we mean a happy and Honorable life…. Political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of living together.
The Greeks viewed man and the State as the politics of the soul. Greek philosophy produced a new order of values which helped pave the way for the universal religion of Christianity. Copleston in his book A History of Philosophy stated, “It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of Plato in the intellectual preparatio evangelica of the pagan world” and “the natural theology of Aristotle was a preparation for the acceptance of Christianity.”
The Greek foundations of natural theology, ethics and political philosophy along with the structure of the philosophy and theology of Christianity created the “synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church” (As Benedict XVI puts it). This reached its pinnacle under Thomistic philosophy. Which all comes together under the Greco-Catholic Sythesis: Which is summed up nicely by Ferrara in his book Liberty: The God That Failed,
-reveals the God for which the Greeks were seeking;
-explains man’s tendency to commit evil, and the fact of evil in the world, as consequences of the Fall of man on account of the original sin of our first parents;
-offers fallen man redemption through the grace won by the Redeemer, which repairs the defects of the rational soul clouded by Original Sin;
-completes (in the Aristotelian-Thomistic system of Thomas Aquinas and other medieval scholastics) the Greek picture of philosophical realism- a hierarchically ordered universe of divinely created and fixed natures of substances, with man and his rational soul at its visible summit and God at its highest good;
-adds the theological virtues (faith, hope and charity) to the cardinal virtues explored by Plato and Aristotle (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude), and the concept of punishable transgressions against divine law- sin – to offenses against the natural order, concerning which there had been no explicit divine “ought” or divine prohibition in Greek philosophy.
This Greco-Catholic synthesis creates an understanding of human freedom as not only the practice of virtue, but liberation of the soul from the effects of sin.
So there you have it, a basic summary of the Greco-Catholic Synthesis. As I work my way though this wonderful book I plan on further summarizing topics of interest for my readers. I also highly recommend the purchase of this book. It is a great addition to the book collection of Catholics and Reactionaries.
It is taught in these modern times that the rise of the Enlightenment philosophies and the overthrow of the Throne and Alter was a necessary step in securing “Liberty” for the common man. This “Liberty” is a false liberty. It is the enthronement of a false idol that attempts to claim its legitimacy from the vague notion of the “will of the people”. In short it has become nothing except the pursuit of licentiousness. True liberty is only found in the Christian commonwealth.
As Chrstopher A. Ferrara puts it,
Christendom needs no defense against the charge that it was the enemy of liberty rightly understood. If liberty is defined, not as a mere absence of restraint on human action in the pursuit of whatever one considers happiness, or as the ability to acquire a hitherto unknown abundance of gadgets and other material comforts, but rather as the good life of virtue, the secure possession of truth in individual and social life, and freedom from the bondage of sin for the sake of eternal felicity, then the commonwealths of Christendom were bulwarks of true liberty in comparison with the collapsing secular state of political modernity, which have experience moral, spiritual and cultural decline from the moment they were established- at the point of a gun in every case.
The bedrock of a stable Civilization is that of religion. Without such a bedrock it dies. Many of those in the reactosphere recognize this truth. We witness the downfall of civilization quite glaringly in the modern times and it no doubt correlates with the diminished piety toward Religions tradition. Many in this modern tragedy see only darkness in our future. The decay of all we know. As Juan Donoso Cortes points out
In proportion to the diminution of faith, truths diminish in the world; and why the society which turns its back on God, beholds all its horizons suddenly obscured by terrifying darkness.
Even the men who ushered in the ideology of chaos and death recognized this reality. In the Social Contract, Rousseau writes, “That there never was a state formed without religion serving as the foundation”. Even the disgraceful and abdominal Voltaire in his Treatise on Intolerance states, “That wherever there is a society, religion is absolutely necessary.” One could assume however, that this is why the ideology of liberalism is near dogmatic in its disposition, a new religion if you will. But that is a topic for another time.
Religion is a requirement. Not a suggestion. This is even more so the case in a free state. A state that lacks political repression must have religious repression. Polybius states that holy fear is more necessary in free states than in others. This is simply because man is fallen in nature and requires some form of restraint upon his will. Or as Maistre puts it, “Man when reduced to himself, is too wicked to be free.” Without such restraint passions will consume him. No other remedy is better then that of religion. Political repression may restrict his will in some capacity, but only a reverent fear of the divine can truly place the proper chain on man and order him to the proper disposition.
We are all attached to the throne of the Supreme Being by a supple chain that restrains us without enslaving us. Nothing is more admirable in the universal order of things than the action of free beings under the divine hand. – Joseph De Maistre
Without a revitalization of reverence toward the divine and the traditions of Religion, all shall perish.
Sorry for the absence folks. Ive been busy with life. I am currently working with a few other Catholics on a little project. I shall have news up about it here within the next few days. Stay tuned.
I highly recommend this talk given by Fr. Ripperger on the demonic spirts that have been building in the last several generations. It’s very accurate and during the part about my generation I was able to see the things I struggle(d) with. Very good talk.
Well I bought myself a Kindle Paperwhite (highly recommended) which has allowed me to increase my book consumption. I am reading several books at the moment, one of them being Evola’s Fascism Viewed From The Right. Which is a critique of fascism. Although Evola is “out there” at times he nonetheless makes some good insights on rightist thought.
Ideally, the concept of a true Right, what we mean by the Right, ought to be defined in terms of forces and traditions that act formativily on a group of nations, and sometimes also on super-national unifications, before the French Revolution, before the advent of the Third Estate and the world of the masses, and before bourgeoisie and industrial culture, with all it’s consequences and it’s games, which consist of actions and concordant reactions that have led to the contemporary chaos and to all that threatens to destroy the little that still remains of European culture and European prestige”