Liberty is not the basis of rightly ordered society, as liberals think. Liberty is rather a byproduct of a rightly ordered society. A society that lacks liberty – that, i.e., contravenes the doctrine of subsidiarity (that devolves to each organ of the social hierarchy (thus, in the limit, to individuals) all the powers they can well handle, or delegate in their turn) – is not just; but that injustice lies, not in its lack of liberty, but in the fact that it is wrongly ordered to begin with.
Edmund Alexander “Ed” Emshwiller (February 16, 1925 – July 27, 1990) was a commercial artist and illustrator and later, in the 1960s, an auteur of so-called experimental film. He is notably identified with the science fiction genre, having contributed scores of covers to Galaxy magazine, and other similar periodicals, in the 1950s and 60s. Emshwiller’s illustrations also graced many a paperback cover, as in the case of the Ace paperback edition of John Brunner’s Atlantic Abomination. I have posted Emshwiller’s Abomination (so to speak) previously at The Orthosphere. It is time to display it again. Emshwiller’s painting instantiates the possibilities that lay within the popular and commercial genres of art in the middle of the last century. It is a powerful image with many resonances in the archives of painting and drawing, which, to my mind, speaks deeply to our condition.
I invite commentary on Emshwiller’s image, or indeed on Brunner’s story, his lone foray into H. P. Lovecraft territory, should anyone have read it.
P.S. I call dibs on any That-Woman interpretation of the image.
The Orthosphere yesterday reached 1,000 posts since we began writing here in early 2012. Meaningless in itself, this passage nevertheless marks a milestone. It is fitting then to reflect on how well we have met our original purpose, of providing a traditional, orthodox Christian perspective on the maelstrom ever in progress here on Earth.
How can we tell whether a given sort of government coercion is just?
Government just is coercive control. But coercion eo ipso traduces a man’s dignity – which is to say, his status as an image of the Most High, and therefore in his very being a thing worthy of all honor and respect; a King, indeed, within his own small domain. Men ought then to be coerced as little as possible. So the basic problem of just government is to discover where coercion is justified nonetheless; and the moral hazard of all government is that it will coerce where it ought not to. The probability that government will err is obviously very high; so then is the probability that it will coerce unjustly.
From The Edict of Milan (February 313 AD): “Perceiving long ago that religious liberty ought not to be denied, but that it ought to be granted to the judgment and desire of each individual to perform his religious duties according to his own choice, we had given orders that every man, Christians as well as others, should preserve the faith of his own sect and religion.
When you carry an improper reduction into practice, you end up destroying valuable things – you make your theory a weapon. This can end in only two ways: you drop your weapon, or you use it to hack at yourself.
Take, for example, libertarianism.
If abortion is murder, then to procure the services of an abortionist is to hire a hit man. It is to take out a contract on another human life. Who signs such contracts, or pays for them, is then as much a murderer as the knife man who does the cutting.
This is hard, but that’s how truth is.
GNON is an acronym popular among reactionaries. It stands for “the God of Nature Or Nature.” It is intended to function for reactionaries and their interlocutors of an agnostic or atheist persuasion as the Torah, Logos, dharma or Tao do for religious types, but without entangling them in any religious commitments, or the difficulties that ever attend them. It is the Order of Being. The general idea is that, whether or not there be any God of Nature who is its source, Nature herself has an inherent and utterly implacable, incontrovertible order, which we contravene at our peril, and which it behooves us therefore to discover and then faithfully and meetly enact; so that, recusing ourselves for the nonce from any tiresome discussions of a religious sort, with their endless bitter controversies over obscure points of doctrine, we may get on quickly to remembering that it is a Very Bad Idea to Mess with Mother Nature, to learning about her, and to shaping our policies accordingly.
Where God is not reckoned, no lesser authority whatsoever can seem quite legitimate. It’s not just that lesser authorities derive their authority from the supreme authority of God (although they do), but that if there be no supreme authority then there can be no perspective upon things that is indubitably, certainly more competent to reckon truth than any other. And this means that the competitive advantage of competence to truth must be distributed among men more or less adventitiously, rendering any such authority as is anywhere to be found merely capricious, nowise founded upon objective intelligible reasons – which is to say, unjust.