Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I'll get to what Mark wrote in a minute, but first I want to challenge what both Joe D'Hippolito and Diane wrote about theocracy:
If your analysis of Mark's political Weltanschaung is correct, then he is no different than many ultra-conservative Catholics who (like Buchanan) effectively decry modern civilization in favor of a quasi-medieval model in which the Church, aided by an allegedly benevolent government, had near-totalitarian control over everybody's lives.

I don't think that this description of the Middle Ages is at all true, for the simple fact that totalitarianism was very much a late nineteenth and early twentieth century innovation. Technology (particularly the ability to send and receive information) has done wonders as far as extending the power of the state and there is no way that any monarch from Charlemagne to Napoleon could achieve such feats as those of East Germany where roughly 20% of the population was under surveillance at any given time.

Secondly, I don't think that applying that any kind of totalitarian model to Mark is at all fair to him. For all of his criticism of the modern form of liberal democracy that he believes is run by millionnaires, he retains a very proud view of the Founding Fathers and the United States in general up until about the time that the Baby Boomers gained control of the state. He hasn't ever exactly explained how our political system is to be freed from the grips of the oligarchs (and I don't think that being ruled by oligarchs is necessarily inconsistent with having a society in synch with Catholic teaching, otherwise a lot of medieval Italian city-states are going to get disqualified) but then the practical policy consequences of some of Mark's nuttier ideas have never exactly been at the forefront of his jeremiads. My guess is that he favors some kind of system that "gets money out of politics," which is one of the reasons that I have always been curious concerning his view of the campaign finance reform laws.

On the argument that theocracy is the only legitimate form of government, I would just link to this Orthodox defense of sacred monarchy. I think that the Catechism takes the wisest approach to the issue of government with its emphasis on justice and the common good rather than on the particular forms of government.


Mark said...

Thanks for this word of defense, torq.

By the way, FWIW, I have no certainty at all that Antichrist will arise in the West. I think the indication of most of the Fathers and Scripture is that Antichrist is unlikely to arise in an Islamic atmosphere, largely because it's hard to picture a Muslim claiming to be God as Paul says he will. But I am extremely wary of people with detailed endtimes scenarios. For all we know, we are still living in the Early Church.

torquemada05 said...

The Antichrist is supposed to hold himself above all that is God or is worshiped, if I remember 2 Thessalonians correctly. I don't necessarily see this as being anathemic to him arising from Islamic tradition - certainly the incidents involving the Qarmatis would give one pause as to it not happening. One could also conceivably argue that the ferocious Wahhabi hatred of any of the "higher" aspects of Islamic theology such as their all-consuming hatred of Sufis might eventually lead to such a trend. And then there is the matter of the Mahdi in Islamic theology, whose coming (alongside Jesus in some forms of Islamic eschatology, no less) could easily have Antichrist-esque implications.

One of my major problems with the idea that the Antichrist arises from the West because of transhumanism, post-modernism, or the cult of personal autonomy is that it ignores that these ideas are basically at the end of the twentieth century materialist mindset rather than the harbinger of ominous things to come. Read Philip Jenkins's excellent series of books on the future of Christianity (and you can add that to the list that I am willing to send you free of charge) and you will see that as a practical matter these ideas are not likely to have any more of a future than European secularism. Spiritual matters aside, the anti-natalist mindset so prevalent among Western chattering classes is a Darwin Award as far as domestic policy is concerned. One of the points that Jenkins makes so wonderfully in his books is that these are unlikely to have much of a future in 20-30 years, let alone in an eschatological sense. I don't think that such things were nearly as self-apparent prior to 1991 and the end of the Cold War, so I think that is a lot of progress that needs to be acknowledged.

Anonymous said...

Ummmm...Diane did not write anything about theocracy. Unless there's a different Diane weighing in on the topic?

This Diane does not believe in the desirability of theocracy, never has, never will (I hope), and has never expressed an opinion on the subject on the Internet, one way or 'tother.

God bless!

Diane the Non-Theocrat

Steve Golay said...

Yes, we are still (exhaust fumes, maybe) waxing bravely on the battle fields of the 20th Century. That war is over.

The world has utterly changed.

Ah Mark, why do you still refuse to admit that Allah is nothing but Totalitarian Will - seems like the ideal parent to seed its end-time proxy upon the earth.

Most likely you detest Walid Shoebat utterly - but his book makes a few interessting points about the AntiChrist rising from Islam (and Arab to boot). Totally reject his dispensationalism - but the picture makes sense to me.

Andy Nowicki said...

Diane, I'm the theocrat.

--Andy the Theocrat

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