ELEISON COMMENTS DCCLXXX (June 25, 2022) : BANKRUPT LIBERALISM
On the TFP website is another excellent article by John Horvat from one month ago entitled As Liberalism crashes, where should we look for solutions? Now these “Comments” no more agree with everything that that appears on the TFP website than TFP has to agree with everything that appears in these “Comments”, but articles by John Horvat show an exceptional ability to relate a godless world to God, because the Church’s full doctrinal depth gives him a handle on our godless scene —
Modernity presents liberalism as the beginning of history. Before liberalism, liberals claim, there was nothing but ignorance and darkness. Liberalism is credited with all progress and security in the modern world. Thus, as liberalism crashes and crumbles, most liberals automatically exclude that which came before it as a possible solution.
Something remarkable existed before liberalism. It was medieval Christendom. This Christian civilization transformed the West into a model of charity and order. Christendom may not have been perfect, but it acknowledged and worked within the limits of fallen human nature. It was firmly based on reality, not fantasy. Christendom was the first civilization to give rise to hospitals and universities. It is responsible for representative government and the rule of law. The arts and music flourished under its influence.
When liberalism arose from the Enlightenment and the horrors of the French Revolution, it gave rise to a century of turmoil, mass industrialization and materialism. Liberal political movements persecuted the Church, curtailing her freedom and confiscating her property. Its governments absorbed the charitable functions of the Church into their cold bureaucracies.
Liberalism secularized and desacralized society by establishing the fiction of living in a world without God. Modernity paid a heavy price for maintaining this fiction. The godless system gave rise to terrible wars and unnatural ideologies. Today, liberalism is bankrupt. Its internal contradictions are destroying all remaining structures of order. It does no good to look any more to liberalism when seeking solutions for the resulting crisis. It will only produce extreme versions of itself. It is far better to look behind liberalism and thus return to the roots and wellspring of Christian civilization.
Christian civilization is born from a different set of premises. It works with human nature, not against it. The system relies on organic solutions which naturally and spontaneously develop inside a social order oriented toward the common good. This practice of subsidiarity provides an incredible amount of freedom as social units seek aid for their needs and help others in their shortcomings. A Christian civilization is not a tyranny of God, as liberals claim. Rather, the temporal and spiritual spheres each take care of their respective activities and areas of responsibility. When it practises virtue, such a society can flourish economically and politically as well as help guide souls to sanctification and salvation.
Yet many liberals prefer to insist that a man can be a woman and a woman can be a man rather than admit the marvellous reality of human nature as created by God. They would rather pursue a delirious fantasy than live in ordered liberty following the natural moral law. The only way out for those who still believe in truth, tradition and God is to abandon the liberal narrative and its flawed premises. The faithful must seek solutions outside the liberal box and return to that Christian truth and beauty – ever ancient, ever new – that calls out to souls.
Liberty-from, maybe, but liberty then for what ?
A positive programme liberty-from has not.