Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Lack of History

Mark gives us a fairly solid encapsulation of his view of the war on terrorism.

And not surprisingly, it is one of moral equivalence between Islamic extremists and the West:
f it comes to that, I also think that much of Islamic culture is also extremely sick and depraved and that normal people do well to look on that with horror and revulsion too. As I've made clear many times, I think the essence of our clash of civilizations is between those who want to remake the world in the image of Foaming Bronze Age fanaticism and those who want to indulge in the secular messianism fantasy of a humanity that will be saved by some amalgam of Self-Esteem, Technology, pagan spirituality (including the worship of Pleasure and her consort Pride, {expressed by countries as Nationalism), militarism, money, and Machiavelli. Neither of these visions has the least room at all for the Church, except insofar as Christianity is useful. At present, Christianity is still quite useful here in the West. And the West retains enough of the Christian heritage and enough real believers in Christ that the secular messianic spirit of antichrist that animates the dreams of our Manufacturers of Culture cannot do to the Church all it would like to do--yet. Indeed, I have hope that the Church will continue for long years yet in the more hospitable world of the West. But I will not be surprised if another Diocletian arises in my lifetime. I will not even be surprised if it happens as the result of some Muslim outrage against the West. Our elites are itching to crush Christianity on the excuse that one Abrahamic religion is the same as another. And voices of reason from the Church are easy to paint as treason when a city has been destroyed.

I am confident in Christ Jesus that the Church will weather the storm as these two pathological civilizations destroy each other. But it will still be agonizing and it will still probably kill millions. Deliver us from evil, O Lord.

There is probably a lot that can be said in response to it, and one thing that I will say for D'Souza is that at least he was willing to take a side in the current struggle. I do not think that Mark's view of basically writing off the West is shared at all by Pope Benedict - if it were, he not be so urgently trying to persuade Europe not to sign its own suicide pact.

Now Mark, as I understand his position, believes that the West will never be sufficiently morally superior in his mind to overcome radical Islam until we become some perfect image of righteousness. I do not believe that this going to occur short of the eschaton and I think that arguments that America was completely pure in past conflicts is more idealized history than anything else. During World War 2, for instance, the United States maintained a great deal of institutionalized racism throughout much of its territory. The argument that this did not make an Allied victory far more preferable to a Nazi one is IMO quite morally obtuse. As long as there is sin, we are always going to have societies that fall quite short of our idealized norm. That doesn't mean that Catholic social teaching on say government is an entirely worthless endeavor. If there is nothing left but a slow descent into depravity and oblivion, we would all be fools to remain politically active. But one of the benefits of being a Catholic, at least for me, is that it frees one of the benefits of this kind of despairing historicism. Is our situation now really all that worse than it was when St. Augustine was writing and the barbarians were literally at the gates? Somehow I doubt it.

One of my major criticisms of Mark is that it never occurs to him that the type of mentality that he encounters in Seattle on a regular basis was not always the consensus of the elites and there is absolutely no guarantee that it will not reverse itself. Indeed, I would argue that if one were truly this despairing about the future that the logical alternative would be to completely abandon the organized pro-life as a doomed venture from the onset. The same goes with any serious concern about torture or the Iraq war. To make the argument that the current views of society's elites are going to be etched in stone forever and ever is worst form of historical narcissism, which is one of the reasons why it is so prevalent among progressives.

3 comments:

Roger H. said...

I'm wondering if Mark even read D'Souza's book before offering his thoughts on it.

Phillip said...

Mark does not need to read. He can divine the thoughts of others. He can even tell others that their conscious understanding of their own thoughts is wrong. He will then go on to explain what their thoughts truly mean and explain to them that his understanding of their thoughts is better.

Victor said...

I'm pretty confident he read the title, at least up to the colon divider.