Posts tagged “liberalism

Disappearance of Men

“Is not ours an age of mislived lives, of unmanned men? Why?… Because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Wherever the people are true Christians, there are men to be found in large numbers, but everywhere and always, if Christianity wilts, the men wilt. Look closely, they are no longer men but shadows of men. Thus, what do you hear on all sides today? The world is dwindling away, for lack of men; the nations are perishing for scarcity of men, for the rareness of men…

“I believe: there are no men where there is no character; there is no character where there are no principles, doctrines, stands taken; there are no stands taken, no doctrines, no principles, where there is no religious faith and, consequently, no religion of society. Do what you will: only from God you will get men.” (Cardinal Louis-Edouard Pie, Bishop of Poitiers, Homily for Christmas 1871)

We are living in the age of wilted men. Men today are bereft of faith and reason, virtue and character, honor and dignity. Men are empty vessels because the enemy has emptied them of the Catholic Faith. Progressivism has cultivated limp daffodils where once were virile men. It has replaced man with a curious species whose voice has been reduced to whimpers and sobs, a character more fitted to caricature than living and fighting against a world surrendering to Satan.

The heroic Bishop of Poitiers, Card. Pie, said that we have “unmanned men” because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Christ has disappeared because He has been shown the door in our society and the Conciliar Church, the wicked institution that claims Catholicity but is instead the diabolical deception resulting from the evils of Vatican II and the progressivist assault preceding it.

C.S. Lewis wrote The Abolition of Man in 1943 during the slaughter of the Second War against Western Civilization. In the chapter, ‘Men without Chests,’ he presciently wrote this, still pertinent today:

“And all the time – such is the tragi-comedy of our situation – we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

With this brilliant text, C.S. Lewis met his peer Card. Pie.

In his work Revolution and Counter-Revolution, Prof. Plinio de Correa Oliveira said, “In times of great crisis there are two types of men: those who are overwhelmed by the crisis and those who rise up to resist the trend of events and so change the course of History.”

Our times call for manned men, men with chests, and those who rise to resist events to change the course of History. The Church needs men, the revitalized Church Militant on the move to resist and fight the enemies in the world. Instead, that revolutionary Conciliar Church promotes the Church Groveling, men overwhelmed by crisis, men who promote the crisis. It is a “church” of darkness, a “church” of unmanned men. We need the army of Church Militant to rise against the enemy’s occupation of our Church and society.

But before we return to this matter, let’s look at how we have descended to such a state where men are no longer men.

Feminism vs. patriarchal society

In the 1962 pamphlet What’s Become of Father? Catholic scholar John O’Brien reports that the “problem” of the father and his role was troublesome even then. We mistakenly think of the ‘50s and ‘60s nostalgically as “good” times for the Church, the family and men. He is wrong. The assault against all three was already in full swing.

O’Brien wrote: “Time was when father was the revered head of the household, to whom the children turned for guidance in all important decisions; he was respected for his wisdom and experience, and loved for his devotion to his family. No event in the home was complete without his presence.” Such a vaunted position in the natural order of the family drove the fringe element of feminism into a ravening rage.

These harridans screamed in the streets, sharpening their tongues and knives, then went after men with a vengeance. They hated the “patriarchal” society. They vowed to destroy it. With millions of dollars pumped into academic programs called “Women’s Studies” in the nation’s colleges and universities, feminists rose to dominance. These “studies” were funded in great measure by the Rockefeller Foundation.

With the rise of feminism and women in the workplace, many women lost their natural loving instincts. Consequently, the family fell into disarray, morals declined and birth rates plummeted.” O’Brien suggests this is the case because, even in 1962, “the child’s chief, if not his only parent, is the mother, while the father is relegated to the position of a mere breadwinner.” Since then the father has ceased even to be the breadwinner and has become merely an inconsequential oaf, as countless advertising spots remind us.

Already in the early 1960s, commentators remarked on the father’s haplessness. Dr. O’Brien cites research affirming how modern culture set the woman up as a beautiful powerhouse of sex appeal and dynamic capability, relegating the male to a position of ridicule as an awkward and hapless galoot.

Reflecting the feminist vision of the male, the popular soap operas of that time pictured men as “simple-minded, easily-bamboozled and fairly expendable oafs.” In the halcyon days of television sit coms in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, the trend toward oafishness began with Dick van Dyke’s character of Rob Petrie in The Dick van Dyke Show.

As society continued its unabated descent into filth and despair, more “fathers” appeared on the television horizon. Some fathers were still portrayed as adequate, The Andy Griffith Show and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father being two examples of note. But families were changing significantly with wives as co-breadwinners, usually in high powered jobs, like Claire Huxtable in The Cosby Show, where she was an attorney and he, Cliff Huxtable, a pediatrician working from the basement in his home.

The descent of the father continued with Home Improvement, showcasing Tim Allen as a ridiculous handy man wannabee who ran an unsuccessful cable network show. Allen was saved continually by his wife. If it were not for her, the show implied, Taylor and his three sons would be living in filth, reeking of perpetual body odor, wearing cardboard boxes for shoes and garbage bags as clothes.

In Home Improvement the mother’s true role as her husband’s helpmate and “sun of the family” has become a caricature. Men are seen as pigs that need women to clean them up and boss them around. That reinforces the twisted feminized view.

Anyone who watches sit coms today can see that this early tendency to present men as big boys and fools has continued and exacerbated without restraints.

There is no doubt that the great majority of modern men have been hermetically sealed in the baggie of feminism. Nearly all are too timid and fretful to break free to demand their natural authority as men and as heads of households.

Abandoning comforts and entering the battle

For the Church, true men are vital for her restoration. Sadly, even traditional Catholic men have been too inculturated by the filth of Progressivism. Men have become weak and ineffectual.

We must remember the words of Job, (7.i), “the life of man upon earth is a warfare.” We are seduced by comfort and consumption, beset by economic woes and the vagaries of antichrists in politics.

This is not the hour to abandon the Mystical Body of Christ to its enemies and run off to some solitary forest to avoid personal inconveniences. This is the hour to enter the battle with increased vigor, to re-conquer every inch of soil the enemies took and rebuild in that place the same sacred institution more militant, pure and glorious than ever, so that the Church will be ready to face, under the protection of Our Lady, all other possible enemies until the end times.

St. Bernard roused the men of his time to enlist in the Second Crusade with stirring words: “All you who hear me, make haste to calm the wrath of Heaven! Leave off imploring His goodness with futile lamentations or mortifying yourself with disciplines, but rather take up your invincible shields. The clamor of arms, the dangers, difficulties and fatigues of war, these are the penances that God imposes on you.”

We should pay heed to them in our continuing crusade to storm the captured citadel and free the imprisoned Truth. We Catholics can still be the great men needed for our times. We must go into the world, in all domains, to battle for Holy Church and her dignity. We must recapture that which has been taken, defend those assaulted, and restore to God His rights.

What a horrible thing it would be if we, as Catholic men, dropped our arms and fled the battlefield. Then, to end with the words of the heroic Card. Pie, “What a disappointment for mothers to realize that the male they gave birth to is not a man, and will never deserve to be called a man!” We are Catholic men or we are nothing.


ABCs and 123s

“Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.”
― Benjamin Franklin

According to a recent survey, the average college student’s idea of Tyrannosaurus rex is modeled on Barney the purple dinosaur. Accurate portrayals in movies and textbooks make no difference: students continue to believe T. rex stood upright instead of pitched forward like the real thing.

Once people get ideas in their heads it takes very little to keep them there, and the problem applies to Catholicism no less than paleontology. A veteran professor of history [John Rao] at a Catholic university [St. John’s, Staten Island, New York] notes that  despite their terror concerning grades in my courses, almost all of my students completely ignore the pro-Catholic, record-straight-setting information I give them, and recite the dominant errors and mantras aimed against the Faith on tests. As far as I can determine, this is in no way due to deeply-rooted conviction on their part. Rather, it merely indicates the power of the propaganda fed them from practically every social channel since early youth. They simply cannot expel the erroneous and hostile words from their heads. [For more, see comment below]

So how do we drive the historical and philosophical equivalent of fluffy purple dinosaurs out of discussions relating to the Faith when information doesn’t penetrate, discussion doesn’t help, pleading doesn’t work, and nothing we say seems to make any difference? What’s needed, it seems, is shock and awe, or at least their closest literary equivalent: paradox, aphorism, and other forms of pointed statement or questioning that disrupt settled expectations and stick in the mind where they can continue to do their work.

Among their other benefits, such verbal devices could provide snappy responses to anti-Catholic talking points. The assumptions of public discussion presume liberal secularism. They are part of a comprehensive outlook on man, society, the world, and reality itself that most people don’t exactly believe but don’t know how to escape. The result is that Catholics get tongue-tied, or give up points they shouldn’t, because they’ve already accepted their opponents’ basic principles and don’t know how to avoid one objectionable consequence after another. We need the verbal equivalent of jiu-jitsu to turn the assumptions and discussion around. Paradox, aphorism, and pointed inquiry seem to fit the bill.

G. K. Chesterton was a master of the strategy as applied to everyday public discussion, and I think that’s at least half the secret of his popularity. Nicolás Gómez Dávila was another great Catholic aphorist, although one who worked at a less popular level. And at a higher level still, thinkers like Pascal and Simone Weil said things suitable to shock almost anyone out of his torpor.

In an age of memes, tweets, and spin the tradition of aphorisms that transfix and transform seems to have vanished. It’s not at home in a world that rejects boldness and truth in favor of focus groups and what seems likely to sell to this demographic or that. The anonymous English scholar who blogs as Deogolwulf has composed some good aphorisms that debunk the errors of secular progressivism. He doesn’t present himself as Catholic, though, and his recent compositions are all in German, so the rest of us need to step up as well.

A good paradox or aphorism requires imaginative and literary talents, and few of us can match Chesterton in that regard, let alone some of the others I’ve mentioned. Still, as GKC himself said, “if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” So with that in mind, and to do what little I can to help get things started, I’ll list some snappy questions I included in my book The Tyranny of Liberalism, and append some items a friend gleaned here and there on the internet. Others can and should add their own.

Given where they appeared, mine have to do with secular liberalism, the movement that has given us Benedict’s “dictatorship of relativism.” So they don’t cover everything we must deal with, but may nonetheless be useful against a major fortress of anti-Catholicism:

■If liberalism is tolerant, why all the propaganda and reeducation programs?
■If it’s based on consent, why the emphasis on judges, experts, bureaucrats, and theorists?
■If it’s skeptical and empirical, why the demand for radical transformation of all social arrangements everywhere?
■If liberalism unleashes creativity and emphasizes the individual, why does it make everyone and everything the same?
■If it lets people choose their values, how can it prescribe their opinions of other people’s values?
■If choosing my values is good, why does it become bad if I choose cultural cohesion and somewhat traditional sex roles?
■How can “diversity” (respecting differences) and “inclusiveness” (eliminating the effect of differences) be the same?
■What can freedom in private life amount to if government insists on the reeducation of children and radical reform of family life?
■Equal celebration of cultures means that particular cultural standards must be driven out of social life, since otherwise one culture will dominate others. How is that different from the abolition of culture?
■What’s the difference between saying someone has to treat beliefs about God and morality as equally worthy, and saying he has to treat his own beliefs as personal tastes and thus not beliefs about God and morality at all?

A friend has gathered other aphorisms and pointed comments from the web. Again, they’re mostly political, but that can be hard to avoid at a time when secularism makes all things political:

■What gives us freedom of spirit without self-control is disastrous. (Goethe)
■Liberalism bases human dignity not on having a human essence, but on having an active will.
■When liberty is worshipped as an end in itself, it results in the vulgarizing inclination merely to do what one likes.
■The leftist is fashion-sensitive precisely because fashion provides the stimulating novelty that alone dulls the pain and boredom of life in a Godless, meaningless universe.
■In the absence of virtue the soul gorges on imitations of virtue such as liberalism.
■Liberal society—forever trying to turn anomalies into the norm.
■License is no friend to the poor.
■The real dichotomy is not between democracy and other types of government, but between an authority based on the will, and an authority based on something transcending the will.
■The Great Lie is none other than the promise made by the serpent in Genesis 3:22—the promise that by joining the cosmic revolution against God and His order man could become a god unto himself, defining reality itself by will alone.
■As a lie accrues power, it seeks to obliterate any vestige of the truth that could expose it.
■It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. (Upton Sinclair)
■Modern Man is ashamed of innocence and prides himself on understanding evil, while the Christian is ashamed of his knowledge of evil and seeks understanding of Good.
■The faithful believer experiences a deep and abiding inner assurance that cannot be transferred to another person and is thus quite baffling to those without it.
■A coincidence is an event in which God chooses to remain anonymous.

Springtime in Pottersville

“Even so then, at this present time  also, there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace” –  Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans (11:5)  

I recently found myself standing before an old Catholic church and school building in the middle of New York. The abandoned structures were fairly typical of scores of churches and schools financed by immigrant dimes and nickels in the northeastern United States during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century.

If I’d looked around a little more I probably would have been able to figure out which nearby building had once housed the convent in which the teaching nuns had lived.  The impressive stone facade of the church, along with the red-brick school building, was obviously built to withstand the test of time.  The immigrant Catholics who’d raised these towering steeples were certainly not rich. But they understood they were housing the Real Presence of our Lord, and thus sacrificed a great deal to make it happen.

Sadly, many of these Catholic complexes, built in urban neighborhoods, have long since been turned into apartments or community centers or simply shuttered.  Those that remain open could be much needed oases of light in a desert of urban blight, but, alas, are locked most of the time, their campuses hauntingly silent.

I closed my eyes and imagined the energy and activity that once defined these places a hundred years ago: the children of immigrant Irish or Italians, dressed neatly in school uniforms, Baltimore Catechisms in hand, in the tow of young nuns in full habit or chasing after good-natured priests in cassocks.  I can hear the children’s laughter and the bells ringing, and smell the incense lingering over the holy sacrifices offered daily.   I can see and hear and feel the lives of my forefathers that once bustled in this now-dead place. These men actually made things in America.  They used their hands and toiled for long hours, six days a week.  Their wives made due with little, despite considerable hardship and suffering.

While our culture today points to the “Greatest Generation” as that comprised of good guys, loyal wives and wise-cracking World War II soldiers, I would humbly submit that the previous century’s immigrants who eked out a hardscrabble existence in a country that neither valued or appreciated them, raised large families in chronic poverty and persevered in building their faith— may well be more deserving of the accolade.  The sacrifices they expended are literally carved into the brick and mortar of their churches and schools that still stand, if empty, today.

So, what went wrong?

In the century that separates us from the hope and optimism of the Christian people who laid the cornerstones for these buildings, something dreadful happened.

Like almost anyone born after the Second Vatican Council, I am a “convert” to Tradition. I was born in 1971, the high-water mark of optimism following the Council.  The new Pentecost was in full bloom.  No change was off-limits, even to that which had been previously considered unchangeable.  The very foundations of Holy Mother Church shook from the tremors of novelty and transformation.  The new theology was all the rage, even if it was boring, bland and modern.   To see the physical manifestations of this theology, one need look no further than the churches built in the early 1970s.  Even architecturally, the human element of the Church was running from everything that had come before.

Like almost all of my generation, I spent most of my life completely ignorant of the fact that traditional Catholicism existed.  Like the prisoners in Plato’s cave, we genuinely believed that the shadows of Catholic reality – existing in new and heretofore unrecognizable forms – were the real thing.  We did not know that the priest used to face the altar during Mass, for example, or that the prayers were once offered in an ancient tongue.  We never knew that priestly vestments were anything other than those polyester bed-sheets, or that Communion was distributed in any other manner but in the hand and to folks dressed in Led Zeppelin tee-shirts and ripped jeans.

The things that I now love so much about the Faith are the same things of which my generation had been kept utterly ignorant. We’d been robbed of our birthright and given a modernist mess of pottage in its place. Are we angry about that? You bet!

Even long after my re-version to the Catholic Faith, after years of reading the Church Fathers and the Lives of the Saints, I still did not know about the real thing.  Re-version to the modern Church can be a confusing experience.  I had read of great men and women of faith who were ready to sacrifice their lives for our Lord, but what I encountered in reality was modern Catholics who seemed to be going through the motions.  My enthusiasm ran into the strong headwinds of aging hippie priests who told me the Church I was reading about didn’t exist anymore.  My RCIA teacher informed me that “purgatory” is a doctrine on the way out and artificial birth control is not wrong so long as I didn’t believe it was wrong for me.

It was almost as if there was a conspiracy of silence by the vast majority of Catholics about how things used to be.  The very meaning of what it meant to be Catholic had been radically altered, but nobody told us.  It is only by the grace of God that a few of us managed to discover a whole new world of traditional Catholicism.  When I first participated in the old Mass—when I first heard Gregorian Chant—I understood that this Catholicism of old – the constant and changeless Catholicism – was precisely what I’d been missing my whole life.  I also understood why men and women from previous generations had suffered so much at the thought of losing it.  I was grateful to God when I discovered that authentic Catholicism was being preserved by the spiritual equivalent of the survivors of a nuclear war. In the midst of an utterly broken and immoral society, men and women of good will were preserving the soul of the Catholic Faith.

So, there I was, standing before an example of the old Catholic church that can be found in any New York neighborhood, pockmarked by urban rot.  I began visualizing what once was, while lamenting what has been so tragically lost.  A thought occurred to me just then:  Maybe we’re all living a nightmare.  Maybe we will wake up tomorrow to see reality as it should be and as it once was.  In our churches perhaps we’ll again see the ancient liturgy of our fathers offered in all its glory once again.  Our schools will teem with wide-eyed children taught by faithful sisters.  Convents and monasteries will again be filled with holy men and women storming the gates of heaven with their prayers and sacrifices for the world.  Our bishops will fearlessly proclaim the unique salvific power of our Lord and his one true Church.  They will educate Catholics and non-Catholics alike on the social kingship of our Lord and the Catholic vision of social order.  Our seminaries will be filled with devout young men anxious to offer their lives for the greater glory of God.  Orthodox Catholic colleges will educate young people in mind and soul in the greatest traditions of the Church’s intellectual life, and these young men and women will again become the seedbeds of a society based on faithful Catholic families and vocations.

Large families centered on faith will become the norm again as they always were – with mothers raising their little ones, fathers supporting them by hard work. The Church’s missionary work will be reignited as Protestantism continues to collapse, resulting in numerous adult baptisms again becoming a regular Easter occurrence.  Our Church will again lead the way against divorce, abortion, obscenity and contraception.

Yes, I can see it:  I can see a bright, vibrant society.  It happened before; it could happen again.  But first we must face the hard facts.  We live in a world where every single measure of Catholic life is in abject decline.  Instead of life, we see death.  Instead of vibrancy, we see decay.   Every day we’re made to witness the diabolic assault against our Lord’s holy priesthood that shakes Holy Mother Church to her very core. Bankrupt dioceses, shuttered schools, and empty seminaries tell the real story—it’s been a disastrous fifty years since the opening of the Second Vatican Council!

Standing before that venerable old church building, I was reminded of It’s a Wonderful Life.  In that fabled film, George Bailey is provided the opportunity to see the value of his life through a vision of how the world would have been had he never been born.  The homey town of Bedford Falls is thus transformed into the seedy, shameful Pottersville—a dark place much like the whole modern world today. The moral of the film is that the good we do in life, however seemingly insignificant, reverberates over time to change the world.  The vision of a locked church and a padlocked school reminded me that we’re all living in a spiritual Pottersville, almost as if the Catholic Church had never been born.

It is hard to meet an intelligent, Mass-going Catholic today who still denies the Church is in crisis.  Most recognize the decline but still refuse to lay blame at the feet of those who had the audacity to arrogate to themselves the power to change virtually every aspect of the Church’s identify in less than a generation.  What took millennia to organically grow through rites and rituals and ideas and Tradition –while nurtured by the hands of saints – was deemed anachronistic by an imperious generation of churchmen who thought they knew better.  In time, when the age of novelty is far passed, our descendants will no doubt marvel that these men got away with it.

But even today with the wreckage of Catholic life so evident, and a “cause and effect” of that wreckage so obvious, many good Catholics recoil at the notion that the changes brought about by the Council are the cause.  They seem to miss the forest for the trees.  Instead of an honest appraisal of the reality around them, they cling to the idea that if only the Council were implemented correctly things would get better; or if the new Mass were only celebrated reverently the liturgical crisis would end.  But if we look at the crisis in the Church as a whole, the problem is clearly not one of execution, but rather of principles.

What is the use of quibbling over whether a more honest translation of the new Mass will cure its many ills when the fruits of the whole experiment have proven so disastrous! I stood before that shuttered Catholic church because the liturgy for which it was built ceased being offered there, and the clear Catholic doctrine that used to be preached from its pulpit is no more.  This was not a mistake made on the margins; rather, it was a wholesale change in direction with cataclysmic effects.  We took the wrong path, and when one takes the wrong path and realizes it the only solution is to turn around.  There is no other choice.  Indeed, a remnant in the Church is doing exactly that right now, working their way back to the right path and begging shepherds and fellow sheep to do the same.

They say we are experiencing springtime in the Church, and indeed we are. But not the springtime promised or anticipated. Springtime is necessarily a period of rebirth – and we are witnessing the rebirth of the Church in the most unlikely of places.  It is not happening at ordinary Catholic parishes.  It certainly is not happening at meetings of regional conferences of bishops.  It is happening, however, on the dining room tables of home-schooled families.  It is happening at afternoon Masses offered in inconvenient places according to the ancient form.  It is happening among large families that reject artificial birth control and its surrogate— “natural family planning”.  It is happening among teenaged girls wearing veils in churches.  It is happening with young priests discovering the fullness of their priesthood in the old Mass.  It is happening among fathers who embrace their role as head of the household and single providers.  It is happening among mothers who once again are the hearts of Christian homes.  It is happening among families that pray the rosary together.  Simply stated, it is happening among those who view the traditional Faith as the single most important part of their lives.  It is happening, and, to the extent that any of us are a part of it, we can take heart in knowing that the revolution has failed. God will not be mocked much longer.

Instead of the Orwellian “springtime” that was as manufactured as the liturgy upon which it was based, the real “springtime” is an organic movement of the faithful who are coalescing around the ancient traditions of Christianity.  And as miniscule as it may seem at the moment it is growing, and it is growing at a time when the world thought it long dead and buried.  Like the mustard seed of the first century, the Christian men and women of the remnant of faithful Catholics are again at work in the vineyard.

So while we may live in Pottersville for the moment, it won’t be forever and all hope is certainly not lost. Rebuilding Christian civilization is going to be difficult and it’s going to take time but, Deo Gratias, it has already begun.

Utopian Dreams

The Utopian dreams of Socialists, if they could be realized, would not give us a Utopia, for they do not take account of some of the most essential elements of human nature. When we have taken away his property and given it to others, we have not thereby turned the millionaire into a nobleman or the recipients of his money into saints. A drastic law or an economic system, which shall make it impossible for men to corner the market, will not place either speculator or producer or consumer within the gates of paradise. For paradise is first of all a condition of heart: it does not wait for crops and it does not follow the markets. It may exist where food is coarse and scarce; it never comes simply because luxuries abound or because men are at ease.

Even if a man makes two blades of grass grow where before only one grew, the exhortation of Carlyle, the extra grass-blade will not solve the deep problems of his life. It may make his cattle fatter, but will it make his life larger and nobler? No, indeed, for out of the heart, not out of fatted cattle, are the issues of life. Another blade of grass? Yes, by all means, for that is good, if used as means to nobler life. But just the grass-blade or the millions of them upon a thousand acres, will not uproot the vice that kills or take away heartache.

The same truth faces us when we go to the other extreme where poverty pinches. And the pinch of poverty is a real calamity in thousands of lives. Church and state may well unite, not only to stamp out pauperism, but to prevent the conditions that breed paupers. But what we see in nine cases out of ten as the real cause of distress is not so much low wages or an unjust land system, as deficiency of life: weak wilt, disordered body, low vitality, feeble conscience, industrial incapacity. What every charity worker deplores is not so much low wages as low life. The problem is human, not simply economic. There is no more necessity that we equalize things than that we equalize knowledge. There is, however, supreme need that we equalize opportunity for knowledge and for property, but on condition that both become the servants of life. We may well put a high value on these material conditions, which Socialism so overemphasizes, and we may well demand a more just distribution of the goods of the world. But let us not be deceived. It is not by such means that a Paul is created, a Sistine Madonna painted, a Hamlet written, or a Washington produced.

“The Way to Utopia: A Brief Essay”

Freedom in Danger

From an address delivered on April 4, 1943 by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Today we shall speak about a grave danger facing the world— not America alone. That danger is the threatened loss of something which is on the tongue of everyone, namely, freedom.

A proof that we are in danger of losing it, is that everyone is talking about it. If you suddenly came into a country where everyone was talking about the health of the lungs, you would immediately conclude that a disastrous microbe was rampant. In the last war everyone spoke about “making the world safe for democracy,” and yet the world became so unsafe for democracy, that within twenty-one years democracy had to stumble into another war to preserve itself.

Now, we ought to be worried about freedom, simply because everyone is talking about it! Slaves talk most about freedom; the oppressed talk most about justice; the hungry talk most about food.

We are all agreed that the external threat to our freedom and the freedom of the world comes from the totalitarian states. There is no need to develop this thesis.They are Satan’s vicegerents of tyranny, the anti-Christ’s advance agents of adversity. But our point is that the gravest threat to freedom comes from within; I do not mean within America alone, I mean within the hearts and souls of men throughout the world.While the world is attempting to preserve freedom in the political order, it is surrendering it in those deeper realms upon which the political reposes.

Picture a group of men on a roof-top proclaiming in song and story the glories of architecture, while below saboteurs have already knocked out half the foundations of the house— and you have the picture of modern freedom. Politicians in the upper stories are glorifying freedom while false philosophy in education, and so-called Liberal Christianity, have knocked away its supports.

Firstly, freedom is denied in education today. This may sound bizarre to some educators who have been shouting catch-words about freedom for decades. But I submit they are talking about license—not freedom. They are concerned with freedom from something; not freedom for something; they are interested only in freedom without law rather than freedom within the law. And the proof? Do not many educators today assume that evil and sin are due to ignorance, and that if we educate, we will remove evil? Do not others assume that evil is due to bad environment, bad teeth, or bad glands, and that an increase of material wealth will obliterate evil? Can they not see that these assumptions destroy freedom; for if evil is the result of ignorance, and not the result of a perverse use of freedom, then Hitler is an ignoramus, but he is not a villian? Can they not see that education without a proper philosophy of life can be made the servant of evil, as well as of good? Have they not the vision to see that if evil and sin are to be attributed solely to external circumstances, then man is not free to do wrong? Then wrong is in our environment, but not in us. Is it not inconsistent to praise a free man for choosing what is right, and at the same time, when he does wrong, to deny that he is free?

That kind of education which denies guilt and sin is destroying freedom in our schools, while our soldiers are fighting for it on the battle fronts of the world. Modern religion has also denied freedom. Oh, do not misunderstand! I know it preaches freedom. But here we are searching hearts, not lips. Modern religion denies freedom because it denies hell. In a recent survey of ministers it was discovered that seventy-three percent did not believe in hell.

If there is no hell, why should there be a heaven? If there is no wrong, and hence no sin for which men ought to be punished, why should there be a heaven where they should be rewarded for their virtues? If there are statues erected to our patriots, why should there not be prisons for our traitors? Whom do they think God is— a kind of grandmother who laughs off the wrong-doing of His children, as if there were no scales of Justice, and He were not the God of Righteousness?

This sugary, pale ersatz of Christianity has set at naught the very words of the Christ Whom they preach— the Christ Who on more than a dozen occasions said there was a hell. Hell is the eternal guarantee of human freedom. If God were to destroy hell, at that moment He would destroy human freedom. So long as there is a hell, we know that He so respects human freedom that He will not by Force or Power destroy even that free will which rises up against Him with an everlasting “I will not serve.” Satan is thus destroying our freedom at the very moment he has let us believe that we are most free. He did so by the very same temptations which failed when he tempted Christ on the mountain at the beginning of His public life.

Satan tried to tempt Our Lord from His Gospel of Love by offering three substitutes. In the first temptation, instead of winning souls through love, Satan suggested that Christ buy them with bread, inasmuch as men are hungry.

In the second temptation, Satan suggested that Christ win them by manifesting great Power over nature, such as throwing Himself from a temple tower unhurt.

In the third temptation, Satan suggested winning souls through politics. He unfurled before the mind’s eye of the Savior all the kingdoms and empires and nations of the world, and in a frightening boast, as if to imply all were his, said: “All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me” (Matthew 4:9).

Our Lord refused to surrender freedom. If souls would not love Him without the bribery of bread, without the exhibitionism of Power, and without selling himself to Caesar, He would still not force them. Freedom would endure through an eternal heaven and an eternal hell.

Satan is now back again in the world, and oh, how he is succeeding in destroying freedom. Souls are today selling themselves out for that bread which today they call security; for that power which is now called Science and Progress, while others, in over a fifth of the world’s surface, have bartered their freedom for dictators and tyrants.

Dostoievsky, that great Russian writer of the last century, was right when in a great flash of genius he warned that the denial of sin and hell in education and religion would end in a world Socialism where men would surrender freedom for a false security. He pictured anti-Christ returning to the world and speaking to Christ, thus: “Dost thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only hunger? And men will come crawling to our feet, saying to us: ‘Give us bread! Take our freedom.’

I wonder if those days are not already here; Finally, in place of free men, the anti-Christ pictures the new Socialistic State in which he and his followers will organize every-thing after convincing people there is no sin— there is only hunger. And Dostoievsky again pictures anti-Christ speaking to Christ: “They will tremble impotently before our wrath, their minds will grow fearful, they will be quick to shed tears like women and children, but they will be just as ready at a sign from us to pass to laughter and rejoicing, to happy mirth and childish song. Yes, we shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life like songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these sins we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves, and they will adore us as their saviour who have taken on themselves their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from us. We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have children— according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient— and they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. What I say to Thee, 0 Christ, will come to pass, and our dominion will be built up. I repeat, tomorrow Thou shalt see that obedient flock who at a sign from me will hasten to heap up the hot cinders about the pile on which I shall burn Thee for coming to hinder us. For if any one has ever deserved our fires, it is Thou. Tomorrow I shall burn Thee. Dixi. (I have spoken).”

This frightening spectacle is already taking place on a large part of the earth’s surface. By denying responsibility to God, men have surrendered their freedom to Satan. Such is the inevitable outcome of the world unless we pray. Pray we must, lest we succumb to the challenge the world hurled at the Cross: “Come down and we will believe.” They were willing to admit that they would believe if He would only show His Power by stepping down from His gibbet! Poor fools! Did they not see that they were asking Him to force them to believe, which would have been the end of freedom? They were free to believe that He was the Son of God, as the thief did, so long as He did not come down to smite them!

They had freedom so long as He left their faith in their own hands and not in His. His refusal to come down was the guarantee of freedom. The nails which pierced Him were the stars of the flag of freedom; the bruises of His body battered by free men, were the stripes of that flag. His blood was its red; His flesh its blue and its white.

So long as Our Lord hangs on His Cross, man is free! The moment He comes down in Power, man is His slave, and He is man’s dictator. But come down He will not! Freedom will never be destroyed— not even in hell, for even there He leaves man the eternal choice of his rebellious will.

So He did not come down! If He came down He would have made Nazism, Fascism, and Communism before their time. The coming down is the death of love. If He came down, He never would have saved us! It is human to come down. It is divine to hang there!

The Revenge of the Gods of the Copybook Headings

All of our economic woes, more or less, have come from defiance of what Rudyard Kipling called the Gods of the Copybook Headings. These are the nonpartisan, scientific, and implacable laws of economics and human behavior on which Henry Ford elaborated as follows:

Most of the wisdom of the world was in the copy books. The lines we used to write over and over again, the homely old maxims on which we practiced to obtain legibility of our p’s and q’s, were the essence of human wisdom. (Ford Ideals, 1922)

The implacable laws in question include the basic economic concept that no system can deliver more value to its stakeholders than it produces. Ford’s mastery of these principles, along with what we now call lean manufacturing or the Toyota production system, built a multibillion-dollar enterprise and made the United States the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth. Ford prospered by acting in accordance with the Gods of the Copybook Headings, while Kipling described what happened to those who went against them:

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

The “Gods of the Market Place” refers to temporary fads like Dutch tulip bulbs, dot-com stocks, mortgage-backed securities, and, if the Obama administration has its way, carbon credits. These lesser gods of Kipling’s pantheon are temporary, ephemeral, and mortal, while those of the Copybook Headings are eternal and immutable. Kipling continues:

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Eight-thousand-dollar handouts to first-time home-buyers, $7,500 tax credits to purchasers of the General Motors Volt, and multibillion-dollar “stimulus packages” all sound like “robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul,” or incurring billions in national debt for the same purpose. The next sentence is even more terrifying in light of Bank of New York Mellon’s proposal to charge depositors to hold large sums of cash. The concept of negative interest suggests that the bank does not expect to loan the cash even at trivial interest rates, which suggests in turn that there are no economic opportunities to which borrowers might apply the money.

The Great Depression was the opposite of the scenario described by Kipling because people had very little money. Anybody with the independent means to grow, mine, or make something could, however, usually get by. Farmers could, for example, often exchange food for vital services like medical care. This leads to the point, which Ford stated explicitly, that any society’s affluence relies directly on its ability to grow, mine, and/or manufacture things. Only with the products of mining, agriculture, and manufacturing can we then pay for services like medical care, news and commentary, and so on, along with entertainment that improves our quality of life.

Our country’s problem is very straightforward, and it is quite likely that the investment community recognized it during the first week of August. There is a widespread delusion, which is shared by the numerous members of Congress, that it is possible to have an affluent society without growing, mining, or manufacturing anything. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said openly that we can run an economy by trading in carbon credits:

According to financial experts, carbon permits could quickly become the world’s largest commodities market, growing to as much as $3 trillion by 2020 from just over $100 billion today. With thousands of firms and energy producers buying and selling permits to emit carbon, transaction fees for exchanges and clearing alone could top nearly half a billion dollars.

No, Senator, a commodity is something you can eat (cattle, pigs, wheat, soybeans), burn to make energy (coal or oil), or use to manufacture something (iron, aluminum, and now rare earths that are unfortunately controlled by China). Carbon credits have less intrinsic value than baseball cards, collectible comic books, and Dutch tulip bulbs (an investor who lost his life savings on those could at least plant them and have tulips) and are therefore not commodities.

To this may be added the president’s belief that we can build a “green economy” on “renewable energy.” There is nothing at all wrong with green manufacturing; Henry Ford made enormous profits, paid higher wages, and lowered his prices simultaneously by eliminating material and energy waste from his processes in an era with few if any environmental protection laws. The problem consists of subsidies or mandates for cost-ineffective renewable or green energy sources. If, for example, Mr. Obama’s friends and campaign donors at General Electric could make cost-effective solar panels or wind turbines, they would not need government subsidies or mandates for the purchase of their products.

If delusions like “green economy” and “carbon permits as commodities” represent our country’s understanding of basic economic science, it comes as no surprise that investors don’t want to stay around when, as Kipling concluded:

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Rudyard Kipling, with his gift as a poet and prophet, has put this into focus in his poem, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.” Although written in 1919, it is pertinent to the conditions that exist in the world today. His “Gods of the Copybook Headings” are, in effect, those rules of human conduct that are so well defined by centuries of experience that they have become immutable. To disregard them, says Kipling, will inevitably lead to failure and destruction.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

America: Time to Start Over

This must have been what it was like living in the 1930s: politicians running around, fingers in their ears, unwilling or unable to confront a rising conflagration that they helped to light.

Back then, the threat came from a revivified and revanchist Germany. Western leaders stood by while the Germans rearmed, then looked the other way as ever larger chunks of the Continent fell to the blitzkrieg. When the enervated Western elites finally took a stand over Poland, it was too late — the fire was so large that, by the time it was finally quenched, the world lay in smoldering ruin.

Today we face a different, though no less mortal, sort of threat: the wealth of the West has been revealed to be largely illusory, built on the foolish foundations of credit that shift and scatter like sands in the wind. Individuals, governments, and corporations for decades have borrowed against the future, gambling that later economic growth would finance current incredibly high living standards, standards which every good Westerner came to believe their birthright.

It never occurred to these citizens and policy-makers that the economic growth they counted on may never arrive, that their obscene levels of borrowing would themselves be enough to strangle future wealth in its cradle, long before it had a chance to grow.

The reality is this: the total debt portfolio of the United States is conservatively estimated at $130-150 trillion. And that’s just us; add up the red ink of every person, nation, and company on the planet and we’re talking many hundreds of trillions. To put that in perspective, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the whole world was last year a mere $65-70 trillion.

In short, we have been living a “hundred of trillions” lifestyle on “tens of trillions” in actual wealth. The difference between the two sums is money that would have belonged to the future: future kids would have used it to pay for their education, future inventors to invest in their ideas, future couples to buy their first home. It is money they will now never have; we have plucked it from their pockets and purses before they were even born. It’s easy, after all, to rob someone who doesn’t yet exist. So that we could pretend to be richer than we are, we have ensured that our children will be poorer than they deserve to be.

This is a monstrous moral failing, a horrendous crime against our heirs. The difference between ourselves and Bernie Madoff? Not much, really. It is the height of hypocrisy to put a man like Madoff behind bars for engaging in the same sorts of financial shell games that we like our politicians to play. Social Security is every bit as much of a scam as a crooked hedge fund, yet FDR is lionized while Madoff rots in a cell — nothing could better encapsulate the moral and literal bankruptcy of our civilization.

The consequence of all this debt is easy to predict — decay, decline, demise. Such has been the fate of all entities, both public and private, whose commitments have so overwhelmed their resources, and such will be our own fate. We have murdered our future with a million papercuts; our republic was KIA by IOU.

Watching the eunuchs in Washington squabble over the debt crisis is a sobering experience, in that it makes perfectly clear that our political class is every bit as unequal to the times as was its 1930’s counterpart. I shudder to think how pale and poor are the hands that hold the reigns of state in these times of peril. Our politicians really haven’t the slightest clue what they have wrought, nor the faintest idea of the severity that awaits us.

Of course, the thing about democracies is they usually get the political class they deserve. The American voting public proved its utter unworthiness to govern itself when in 2008 it elected an attractive but empty suit to the most consequential office in the world. He shouted hope. What for? We didn’t ask. He promised change. What kind? We didn’t care. He looked good on TV, which is really, when you get right down to it, all that matters these days.

I have come to the conclusion that this crisis is so vast that it is effectively beyond the scope of our present institutions to effectively address. That is because our institutions are part of the problem; indeed, they are the problem.

The old way has brought us to this precipice, and will sooner or later push us over. Time to start dreaming of a new way.

Time to start America all over again.


The word socialism may indicate various things. There is the socialism which is immoral and unchristian, which declares that “property is robbery,” and which would rectify inequalities by seizing on all wealth and dividing it among all men.

There is a doctrinaire socialism, which has its plans carefully elaborated on paper without taking account of human nature. It disregards the law that a social system must be developed from the living organism of society, and can not be manufactured brand-new for the occasion out of the brain of an amateur.

Then there is the socialism of responsible statesmen who yield bit by bit to the requirements of the multitudes. This, is founded, not on any deep, true principles, but on present material interests; it proceeds sometimes on right and sometimes on wrong lines, and at the best only does imperfectly what Christianity would have done in the natural course had it not been impeded.

Finally there is a Christian socialism, grounded on the equality of all men as declared by God, on brotherly love, and on the right of every man to receive a proper subsistence in return for honest labour. —Bishop James Bellord, 1899

Tolerance and Diversity: America’s Experiment with Dishonesty

Tolerance is a call to allow others of different political, social, philosophical and religious persuasions to be a part of what has long been established in the nation. Sister, diversity, is the gate keeper of new changes that tacitly are the promise of a way to better living, through change itself. The slogan of  Barack Obama’s campaign and now his administration is ‘change we can believe in.’  No need to criticize that grand notion, all we need to ask is; how has that been going?

Change is good with practical limitations applied but total change may actually be the axe that smashes the foundations of a people and brings their social construct to the ground. Finding ways to control and utilize the great Mississippi River are changes that we accept but should the river suddenly change course the nation would be plunged into confusion.

It is only when we ask and attempt to answer the question, ‘what is the motive behind the call to change;’ from which we would expect an entirely new reality to emerge. Tolerance and diversity is a concept that has gone largely unexamined and has no clear definition. By allowing other ideas, cultures and behaviors on a new grand scale, do we mean to establish them? If they were not already established why are we allowing them? If they are transient, nascent and mere bumps along the cultural journey of a people then aren’t we submitting our nation to the rule and sway of pop culture?

How have the religions, social concepts and political persuasions we are so eager to allow, faired in their own settings or place of origin? Has Islam done anything to pull nations out of seventh century social patterns that see women as chattel, children as shields for terrorists and other cultures as the great Satan? Until that happens, what is our keen interest in the new to us religion predicated upon? What is the attraction?

Why weren’t we suddenly driven to study and allow the Taoist religion of Japan into our culture immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor? We were all willing to accept that Japan had given us full reason to see her as an enemy. What has changed in the American psyche that after watching two of our tallest buildings crumble to dust with 3,000 people in them we now are urged to refrain from labeling the perpetrators of this act as terrorists. We are encouraged to allow them to build mosques and we have charged or commissioned entire governmental agencies like NASA to reach out to Muslims in good will. It is from these kinds of changes that we get the first clues that tolerance and diversity not only need to be better defined but they need to be scrutinized from top to bottom.

Calling for other ideas to be tolerated is at the surface a very noble idea. When changes are forced on people against cultural norms already accepted and practiced, the real purpose of the call to change becomes apparent. It is not the acceptance of others ideas and cultures that is being called for it is the establishment of them against what already prevails. That, by any other name is known as an invasion or as some might say an attack.

In order for tolerance to be effective it must by nature be allowed to raise questions about what is true and ultimately what is practical. You can toss socialism around or fling it in the face of every American, but we have been established as a capitalistic society and we didn’t get that way overnight. It has been thoroughly tested and proven to work, where socialism is still floundering around the globe and nations have risen and fallen trying to make it work.

When it was accepted that we were a people of the Constitution, founded on Biblical principles and open to any private capitalistic venture that the imagination could conger, we stumbled from time to time, but this great river flowed in only one direction. Now we spend our days struggling to define, address and categorize the so called ‘change we can believe in.’

An advanced degree in psychology is not required to see that any relationship predicated on changing a partner’s entire personality, characteristics and basic beliefs, is doomed to failure. Even if a mate is very young the odds are against us, if we think we can remake them into our own image. America is no young mistress anymore but she is a fully developed women of the world and the idea the she needs to suddenly be transformed or changed is as absurd as trying to reverse the flow of the Mississippi.

It is here that we can say that change is good if it is not an invasion of our culture that results in its demise, but it is not worth anything if it is founded on ulterior motives and practiced at the expense of honesty.

Trying desperately to pull America out of the great cultural melting pot she has always been, and drop her in the great sludge pot where everything is forced on us to the exclusion of our own seasoned and well formed culture, is a kind of rape. We naturally go on the defensive when this happens and the evidence of this active defense is seen in the new isolationism so apparent in terms like, the left, the right, far left, far right, centrist, independents and libertarians. These terms indicate our level of resistance to the great sludge pot of change, not that we can believe in, but that is wrecking the country, if we would be honest enough to admit it.

There are as many definitions of these almost overused terms as there are terms but in general anything left of center could use any one of the following definitions. It can’t be wrong if it feels so right. My opinion is as good as law. Keep God out of everything. The constitution is not progressive and should be re-written. I have a great secular education therefore I’m too smart to be wrong. I’m too ignorant to know what you are talking about. I keep an open mind that hasn’t any room for you or your ideas.

Those to the right of center can be described by other definitions gleaned from their oft repeated exclamations and assertions. Such as; I like America the way it used to be. We should check if that’s constitutional. We’re proud of our men and women in uniform, let’s pray, Stop spending our money faster than we can make it. Abortion is murder. Gay is not natural unless you mean you’re just happy. What does the Bible say about that?

As for those in the center it is hard to imagine a more miserable place to try to balance a life without very much clear definition. Centrists remind me of the scriptural passage in which Christ offered the only definition that would actually describe the middle of the road position.
” But because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.” Rv: 3:16

Soldiers of truth don’t end their support of the troops when first blood is drawn and they want to know the extent of the victories and the defeats. There is no successful warfare without knowing both. To show the world the enemies of democracy, freedom and this very nation, can never be called; far anything. It is always right to tell the truth and to uphold the great country we all have been so blessed to be born in. 

The Orwellian Logic Behind Abortion and Population Control

A recent Associated Press story on the work of the ASPCA had this to say:

It took years of campaigning to change thinking about sterilizing pets, but it has paid off. This year fewer than 4 million unwanted dogs and cats will be euthanized, down from as many as 20 million before 1970.

There are several reasons: Aggressive adopt-a-pet campaigns are carried out every day in cities all over the country and breed rescues save many dogs. But animal experts believe spaying and neutering has played the biggest role in saving so many lives.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal correctly calls this out as eerily Orwellian:

Did you catch that “saving so many lives”? True, fewer animals were put to death, but that’s because they weren’t born in the first place. By this logic, hunting a species to extinction “saves lives” because it prevents any more of the species from being killed.

This sort of deceptive language is commonly deployed on behalf of totalitarian regimes to conceal their brutality to human beings. It’s fascinating to see it used in this context, where the moral stakes are so much lower.

Exactly. It’s a classic case of a warped “destroy the town to save it” mentality. The ASPCA is saving the animals lives by preventing them from being alive. What’s far more disturbing is that the ASPCA’s Orwellian language of animal control is often used against unborn humans, in two inter-related debates: population control (which even has an ominous name), and abortion.


Pro-Choice Action Network crows about “the tremendous benefit to society of ensuring that every child is a wanted child.” But abortion doesn’t magically make children suddenly become wanted. What they’re really saying is that they’ll prevent “unwanted” children from being born. Unlike ASPCA, they don’t stop reproduction before conception, so their real message is that if all the unwanted children would die, children would be happier. You might as well suggest raising the per capita income by killing the poor.

Of course, these pro-choice mantras about wanted and unwanted children are false: many women abort children they want but feel they can’t keep, due to pressures from their finances, families, or the fathers of the baby; and of course, an untold number of children who reach childbirth are abused or treated as if they’re unwanted by their families. Two things should be noted about this. First, many of those children grow up into happy and well-adjusted adults – a lousy childhood is a terrible shame, but it’s generally not the final chapter. Second, abortion actually makes this problem dramatically worse, not better.

We can see this most acutely in the realm of children with disabilities. Right now, the statistics for the unborn disabled are disturbing: over 90% of those children who are identified as having Down’s Syndrome while they’re still in the womb will be aborted, and the statistics aren’t much better for a number of other mental or physical disabilities. What message, exactly, does this send (on behalf of both parents and society) to those children who are born with Down’s Syndrome, or to those physically- and emotionally-healthy children who suffer some sort of childhood accident, and become disabled? If you’re aware that your sibling was killed by abortion for being disabled, and then you become disabled, who wouldn’t feel like an “unwanted child”?

The fact is, abortion perpetuates a mentality which treats children like commodities. If you don’t like the hand you’ve been dealt, get an abortion and try again. It’s this mentality which creates a culture increasingly hostile to children, and it’s no mystery why, even as society has become more economically enriched and technologically advanced, we’ve become increasingly barbaric towards the vulnerable. If we could just eliminate the undesirable members of our society, every citizen would be a wanted citizen, right?

Population Control

On the population control front, the parallel is obvious. Not only do the two groups use identical language about controlling population sizes, but many of the more famous would-be population controllers have backgrounds in biology (Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich) or environmental sciences (Club of Rome’s founder Alexander King, Limits to Growth author Donella Meadows, etc.), and have approached the idea of controlling humans as if we’re simply another animal.

Here’s how Paul Ehrlich begins Population Bomb:

I have understood the population explosion intellectually for a long time. I came to understand it emotionally one stinking hot night in Delhi a few years ago. My wife and daughter and I were returning to our hotel in an ancient taxi. The seats were hopping with fleas. The only functional gear was third. As we crawled through the city, we entered a crowded slum area. The temperature was well over 100, and the air was a haze of dust and smoke. The streets seemed alive with people. People eating, people washing, people sleeping. People visiting, arguing, and screaming. People thrusting their hands through the taxi window, begging. People defecating and urinating. People clinging to buses. People herding animals. People, people, people, people. As we moved slowly through the mob, hand horn squawking, the dust, noise, heat, and cooking fires gave the scene a hellish aspect. Would we ever get to our hotel? All three of us were, frankly, frightened. It seemed that anything could happen – but, of course, nothing did.

If you didn’t already know that this book was about population control, you could hardly be criticized for expecting that the author was some sort of racist or xenophobe, talking about how disgusting and scary he finds the people of the Third World. And frankly, you wouldn’t really be wrong.

Ehrlich didn’t think that the problem with the world was that there were too many Ehrlichs — that his wife or his daughter simply put too much strain on the Earth to be allowed to live — but that there were too many beggars, paupers, and Indians. Of course, the absurdity is that the natural resources being used by the Ehrlichs (for example, in flying a family of three from the United States to India, and staying at a hotel) dwarf what the average Indian was using, and natural resources, after all, were what Ehrlich claimed to be worried about.

Like the other examples discussed above, Ehrlich was quick to employ the Orwellian claim that he was wanting this for India. It was our moral responsibility to make sure that fewer Indians were poor. Earlier, I remarked that you “might as well suggest raising the per capita income by killing the poor.” Ehrlich drains that claim of any irony — that’s his actual proposal. Widespread abortions, along with birth control and sterilization of the poor, were all part of his plan (and still are). Here’s how he presents this as a sort of charity:

Old India hands will laugh at our reaction. We were just some overprivileged tourists, unaccustomed to the sights and sounds of India. Perhaps, but the problems of Delhi and Calcutta are our problems too. Americans have helped to create them; we help to prevent their solution. We must all learn to identify with the plight of our less fortunate fellows on Spaceship Earth if we are to help both them and ourselves to survive.

So we should prevent poor children from being poor … by preventing poor children from being, period. By this logic, bringing humanity to extinction helps “both them and ourselves to survive” because it prevents any more of the humans from being killed (or worse, poor).