A hierarchy that is not consecrated and thus ordered in all its parts to the vision of the Good vouchsafed by the common cult is as likely to work good as is a broken clock to display the correct time. A profane institution is finally, and thus fundamentally, and thus thoroughly misdirected away from the proper mundane end of all human acts: the achievement, maintenance, repair and restoration of that proper harmony among and within things under and toward heaven, in virtue of which alone is there any health, prosperity, propagation, contentment, wisdom.
As each level of a subsidiaritan political hierarchy fobs off upon its subsidiaries every duty it possibly can, each level of the hierarchy will interfere with subsidiary systems less and less. The result should be a libertarian’s dream – and quite nice for sovereigns, too (indeed, optimally nice).
During a solar eclipse, light from the sun is not only diminished by the occulting transit of the moon, but that same light is also temporarily polarized. The polarization shows things fleetingly in a new and revelatory way, as long as one is looking. (It helps to be looking, as it were, out of the corner of one’s eye.) Rather than photographing the eclipse itself, as it passed over my city, and as many people were doing, I photographed the city. The shots in this post document what I saw.
You can’t do anything at all if the world isn’t ordered. Actions are conceivable under conditions of absolute disorder, but their effects are not. So, since acts can complete their actuality only insofar as their actions somehow eventuate in effects – which cannot happen under conditions of disorder – then actions cannot actually happen except under conditions of order.
This holds not just for the cosmic order that warrants our expectations of the consequences of our actions, but for its social subsidiary.
Only in the context of a social order can we do anything as individuals.
Feminists, Marxists, libertarians – indeed almost all moderns – are alike stuck in the improper reduction of all social relations to struggles for power. They cannot see that struggles for power are not the basis of society, but rather defects thereof. Society is constituted fundamentally of charitable exchange, communion, friendship, familiarity, commensality.
There is struggle, to be sure. But you can’t struggle for social power if there is no society to begin with.
The modernist’s reduction of society to its diseases leaves him unable to understand his quotidian predicaments in any other way than as constant battle. This dooms him to … constant battle. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Yesterday, 17 July, my wife and I celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of our marriage by going to dinner at a The Bistro, a local establishment in Oswego, New York, our city of residence, where we have previously had pleasant experiences. Not the least part of that pleasure is the affability of the establishment’s bartender, Mark, whom I know also from Old City Hall, where we both like to drink. Mark, a former SUNY Oswego Philosophy major, is a friendly acquaintance.
In any case, I tried to dress for the occasion. It was too hot and muggy for a jacket but I wore a black tuxedo-style shirt with a bow tie and I sported my new hat, a white Panama with the characteristic broad brim and a black band. When we decided to eat at the bar, I put the hat on the table behind us, where, of course, I failed to retrieve it when we got up to leave. (The two Martinis might have had something to do with it.)
Not only did I leave the hat behind, but I forgot it entirely. Then, around ten o’clock this morning, my telephone (yes – I maintain a land line) rang and when I picked it up I recognized the voice of my friend Dick Fader, who is also a regular at Old City Hall. Dick told me that he had just received a telephone call from Mark (my number not being known to him), and that Mark had told him (that is, Dick) that he (that is, Mark) had rescued my hat when he left work, and that he had left it for me at Old City Hall.
Open to discussion…
My essay A Novel for Our Time appears at Baron Bodissey’s Gates of Vienna website. The “novel for our time” is Dark Angel (1952) by the Finnish writer Mika Waltari (1931 – 1979), a fictionalized account, drawing on historical sources, of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Waltari’s work is today largely forgotten, but during his lifetime it received widespread appreciation and made itself available to non-Finnish speakers through translations in a dozen languages. (Waltari’s novel The Egyptian, for example, would become the basis of a lavishly produced Hollywood film of the same name.) Dark Angel is partly allegory, being a study in loyalty to civilization and its opposite; and it is partly a call to its audience to remember an event that is increasingly obscure or entirely unknown to most Western people. Most importantly – and most relevantly from the perspective of sixty years later – Dark Angel is an attempt to grasp the essence of Islam. Waltari’s characterization of Islam stands at an angle to a number of assumptions that critics of that creed at the present time make of it – and in a way that heightens the claim of radical incompatibility between Islam and the West.
For those who are interested, Quincy Latham and I have continued over at Quas Lacrimas with our discussion of issues and problems raised in my recent post, The Summary of the Law is the Sine Qua Non of Society Per Se. Quincy has published two posts of worthwhile reflections: Defection and Discussion of “Defection”. I have responded at length to both of his posts, and other commenters have raised a number of interesting tangential issues.
The Summary of the Law is composed of two Great Commandments that both take the form “thou shalt:”
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Notice then that in the Decalogue, there are only two commandments that are likewise prescriptive:
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)
Honour thy father and thy mother … (Exodus 20:12)
These four prescriptives are related. Those of Exodus are corollary elaborations of those given by Jesus as the foundation of all law. Thus:
- Love God, for he who is supreme deserves no less than your supreme loyalty; so, therefore: Keep holy and lively his Cult; preserve its doctrines and faithfully observe its observances, such as the sabbath, rituals, fasts and feasts, and so forth.
- Love your fellow as if he were a human being like you, or there’ll be hell to pay; so, therefore: Honor your parents; likewise ergo the things that they honor: keep and honor your kin, and your patrimony.
If you are not doing these things, you have no society. If you don’t agree about First Things, you’ll have a hell of a time reaching completely harmonious and pacific agreement about anything else, including how people ought to treat each other; and if you don’t agree about that, you won’t care about keeping a patrimonial tradition; so that you won’t have a perdurant culture, or therefore a robust and durable people. No cult, no culture; no culture, no nation.