By Bosco – Irish Sentinel Contributor –
Not many people are aware of the name August Landmasser. They may, however, be aware of a picture that depicts August Landmasser. .A famous picture taken circa 1936 shows a packed crowd making the roman salute except for one man who is seen with his folded arms. Another account says the man is Gustav Wegert who refused to make the sign on account of his Christian belief. Either way, it is a remarkable picture because it shows, in full colour, how one man can make a personal decision to follow his conscience whilst all those around him blindly follow the crowd.
Although Edmund Burke is often attributed with quotation “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is when good men do nothing”, it isn’t true. Burke did say however, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle” . Whilst the attribution is false, the substance of the misattribution is not. Whether Burke’s actual statement or the one misattributed to him, in a sense it matters not who said it. What matters is that it was said.
Although a decorated commander in the Russian army, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned near the end of World War II for disparaging comments made privately about Joseph Stalin. Years spent in the horrors of a Russian prison were not in vain as Solzhenitsyn writes in The Gulag Archipelago, those years gave him striking insight into the reality of human nature.
“It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil”
Solzhenitsyn dispenses with the notion of good and evil existing on a large scale. Instead, he believes the battle between good, and evil is fought within every human being. The various religions of the world, according to Solzhenitsyn, are dedicated to this internal conflict; they grapple and wrestle with the evil inside every human being whilst guiding them towards acts of virtue. What gives hope to humanity is the bridgehead of goodness that might reside in the evilest of men, and what gives the world concern, is the recognition that a small corner of evil is retained in the finest of men. For thousands of years, Christianity which is perpetually mocked, and scorn told the most fundamental of truths, one being that the expulsion of evil from the world is impossible. Scripture and tradition teach us about our freedom to choose but the consequences that arise from such choices. For example, in Mark 8.34 it was written ‘Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. Solzhenitsyn echoed the sentiment asserting that on an individual level, we can constrict the evil inside ourselves and encourage others to do the same. Solzhenitsyn reiterated a central theme that pervades scripture that personal dedication to the non-participation in evil is the means to ultimate salvation. As Catholics we would acknowledge that this deliverance is given to us by the grace of God, not orchestrated by our own meagre human intellect.
German pastor Reinhold Neibuhr is considered to the be the author of the serenity prayer, a prayer known to many who participate in the 12-step programme for addiction. The full prayer goes as follows: “God, give us grace to accept with serenity, the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things, which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other”.
The lesser well-known, and equally important portion of the prayer goes as follows’
“Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next”.
Again, the prayer calls for active participation in doing the good, starting with oneself, and under conditions upon which one can have exercise control or agency over. These messages, whether from Burke, Solzhenitsyn or Niebuhr ring true today as anytime. In fact, these sentiments concerning our own battle to the good is more urgent given the evil times we now inhabit.
The cynic or sceptic (or even agnostic when it comes to good and evil), will pose the question, what is good? Who defines what is good and what is bad? Maybe your version of good is my version of bad and vice versa. However well-intentioned these questions may be, they illustrate the world we now live in. Truth has been attacked at such a rate these last few years that well educated public personalities, including those seeking high office in the judiciary, have succumbed to the idiotic, questioning, by virtue of mere ideology, the realities of gender. It is now not uncommon to hear a progressive incapable of explaining what is a woman. However, the inconsistency follows the absurd because the same person will then attempt to demand “women’s rights” without being capable of defining what a woman is in the first place.
I heard one man recently talk about ‘life experiences, pathways to knowledge, variances in education” as providing a source for the good. This is dangerously inadequate because it assumes that goodness is dependent upon relative notions of knowledge. The assumption given by this man was that we shouldn’t berate another, or indeed ourselves, if we fail to recognise the good, because our experiences or knowledge was different in kind and degree to another man. This translates into the reality that a dull or lazy man’s arrival to what is good, is the same as someone who has taught about every consequence of a belief.
During the abortion referendum, there were many absurd claims made, for example the reason given by one pro choicer was that he was voting in favour of repeal of the 8th amendment because masturbating into a sock was the same as an abortion. Whilst some may laugh at the utter stupidity of the claim, it wasn’t funny at all. This man’s vote, based on sheer ignorance of biology, translated into a vote, and that vote added to more votes became a winning side, and the winning side’s proposal soon became law which was realised into the killing now of over 21.000 unborn babies. The man, who voted for abortion based on ignorance, personally participated in the destruction of innocent human beings. Actions, we were all told in our youth, have consequences.
Apparently, just before the death of the great theologian and doctor of the Catholic Church, ST Thomas Aquinas, a religious brother and confrere of the great theologian approached the saint and deferentially inquired “Master, will you not return to your writing?”
“I cannot.” St Thomas replies but does not explain why. How can he, who has never been one to say much to anyone about his interior life—how can he tell even this beloved brother in Christ his deepest spiritual secrets, his profound weariness with the world, his horror at the anti-Christian heresies he has lately had to refute?
Brother Reginald presses him again. “Master, will you not return to your work?” Thomas Aquinas replies with an emphasis that ensures he will not be asked again: “I can write no more. All that I have written seems like straw.”
And on that enigmatic note, his life’s work ends; within months this great intellect will cease on this mortal coil at least. What he saw or experienced or thought on that day in 1273 that brought him to this break of routine and renunciation of his vast undertaking will become guesswork for future generations. One can casually conject why the erudite saint came to this conclusion. Perhaps he saw everything pale into insignificance with the merest peek at the throne of God, or maybe, St Thomas recognised the innate corruptibility of man.
If we take the latter accusation, it allows me to segue into the domain much beloved by classical liberals. John Stuart Mill, a writing in the 1800s discussed in his essay ‘On liberty’ how much control society has in preventing or allowing the actions of a person to be realised. In it, Mill articulates ‘The harm principle’ which states that the only actions that can be prevented are ones that create harm. To put it another way, a person can do whatever he wants as long as his actions do not harm others. Mill believed that if a person’s actions only affect himself, then society, which includes the government, should not be able to stop a person from doing what he wants. This even includes actions that a person may do that would harm the person himself.
Mill, of course, didn’t stop here for he knew that halting the discussion of the harm principle at ‘anyone can do whatever they want just so long as it doesn’t affect anyone else,’ problems, nonetheless, arise. One such problem may be what to do with people who want to end their own life. Mill would have disagreed with this sentiment. While underpinning Mill’s harm principle were three important ideas that helped shape the harm principle; The first that harm principle itself derives from another principle, that of utility ( The principle of utility states that people should only do those things that bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people), the second that there is a difference between harm and offense and thirdly the acknowledgment that we live in a society, that it is rare for an action just to affect one individual, that it can have wider implications. Mills discussion on Harm versus offense is interesting, but I mention Mill merely to highlight the emergent position, one retained by many classical liberals to this day, that freedom expression ordinarily is an expression of laissez faire consumerism; where in the marketplace of ideas, the best ideas will win out.
I would argue this is precisely one of the reasons we are seeing the collapse of the West. I view virtuous public people who inhabit dissenting ranks against the manufactured zeitgeist, who once acknowledged themselves to be sceptics or liberals. It is ironic because many of these characters unwittingly played their own part in the catastrophe, we see play out today. When these commentators were hostile to tradition, they probed, and poked unsettling long established norms through their lens of scepticism and classical liberalism. It was this dalliance with “the marketplace of ideas” that opened pandoras box to the calamities of the west today. The assumption, which I believe to be gravely wrong, was that we should be able to challenge all traditional mores; religion, family and nation under some type of egotistical intellectual game, but it had consequences, consequences Mill himself would have foreseen. The consequences arise because we are not atomistic, but rather social animals. In the same way large corporations knew for decades, that the masses don’t generally think at all, they act like a herd. Corporations used the marketplace of consumerism that allowed tat to be sold at alarming rates because they were well aware that the public are extremely gullible. The false assumption of those who promoted the marketplace of ideas, and that the best ideas will win out in the end, was that the marketplace was inhabited by rational individuals. People consume ideas the same way they consume products, irrationally. Therefore, many of these now ex sceptics and classical liberals, played a sizeable role in the totalitarian culture they now seek to be defended from.
We live in a world now where applicants to the judiciary, are not only selected on the basis of affirmative action ( a type of sanctioned discrimination) but that those selected cannot answer the most rudimentary questions such as “what is a woman?”. The absurdity goes further because the same selected to office then vociferously agitated for women’s right while at the same time being incapable of defining the would-be recipient of those rights. We have politicians denouncing priests who molested children (contrary to the faith in which they were ordained to profess) while openly endorsing, at a governmental level, the grooming of children as young as 4 years with critical race theory and sexually explicit LGBT propaganda ( which has included paedophilia, see Dr James Cantor, a sexologist and psychologist who has advocated for the inclusion of “P” for paedophilia into the LGBT acronym and movement proper.)
I mention the former sceptics and classical liberals not to denounce them, but to highlight the point that each of us, in some capacity, whether through laziness, indifference or even complicity, have played a role in the present tyranny. So too have previous generations who we might like to laud, because the disconnect from the past wasn’t a quick break but rather began with a contusion that allowed a wound to fester until it finally had to be removed. The removal may be attributed to the current generation, but the bruising was established long before the amputation occurred, and our culture, religion, nation have been amputated, quite ferociously from the corpus of our identity resulting in a deformed and disfigured entity to take its place.
Returning to Burke, Solzhenitsyn, Niebuhr and Aquinas it seems each of them happened on the realisation that seems quite obvious to us reading, or so it should; that the buck stops and starts with us, that we, as individuals, must start the counterrevolution in our own minds before we can expect it to be won in our own house, our own street, town, county and country. So too the inconvenient truth that some, if not most, will never accept what you believe. Those who participate in grave evil, the lies and distortions they peddled resulting in real life consequences beyond an academic essay or street slogan have the blood of 21,000 dismembered lives on their hands. But then again, many of those whose hands are stained in that blood won’t reflect on their collusion but will shout even louder “throw them in the bin”.
The propaganda is so successful that you will find many “nationalists” who would outperform the grandest displays of Rev Ian Paisley from the 1960’s. So complete is the brainwashing that even some “nationalists”, who would berate the sources of propaganda eg RTE, The Irish Times, Newstalk etc, that the same “nationalists” echo the very irrational falsehoods originating in the propaganda sources they themselves revile. The irrational generalisation for example that 4% of the clergy who acted CONTRARY TO THE FAITH by molesting children, are representative OF THE FAITH despite the faith clearly condemning such evil, seems oblivious to quarters of anti-Catholicism within nationalism. An interesting statistic that makes the generalisation more absurd is that in 2018, according to UK figures, a massive 76% of all molested children were abused by a parent. Would those who claim to the generalisation about 4% of priests, apply this data to label all parents paedophiles? Of Course not. It would not only irrational, but quite simply, insane to conclude that most kids who are molested are victimised by their own parents, would lead to the accusation that all parents are paedophiles. The same “nationalists” who would be thoroughly irate if a rebel song that was written 60 years would be misappropriated by diversity, seem at the same time very energetic to displace a cultural marker that has been with our nation for over 1600 years, a marker so indelibly linked to our persecutions and tragedies that it forged the very essence of our people. If the propaganda has been this successful, and it has, why do we think we can change the minds of those who gleefully endorse the treachery?
Recently, in my own family I had a conversation with a man who had the same rearing I had. He was raised with the same values and traditions. He told me that homosexuality was a good thing because it is an expression of love between two people. I made the point that love shouldn’t be conflated with sex, that should two brothers, or say a mother and her son, express their love sexually to make that love real? He objected to the equation of homosexuality with incest, but he didn’t get the point. His claim was premised on idea that love was virtuous when expressed carnally, to alter the variables of man and man for brother and brother merely clarified the sophism of his claim. His reply was outrage, and he finalised his claim by acknowledging that his position was emotional and that was no different to my argument which was rational. Of course, when the basis of a person’s argument becomes emotional rather than rational, there is no real point in continuing. To continue to persist in such a discussion would be as futile as indulging in a debate concerning a person’s preference for chocolate ice cream over another’s for strawberry. One cannot dislodge an a apriori commitment to a worldview, because no rational argument can dislodge such an emotional commitment.
The realisation is this, maybe our faith, nation and values will be lost, destroyed, and we will be persecuted for holding them. Perhaps the avalanche of evil is so suffocating that we can scarcely breath and will die under the weight of such maleficence. However, one thing that cannot be taken from us is our decision not to participate individually in the evil. Whilst we cannot truly control what others do, we can control our own involvement. Even if only a tiny remnant remains faithful to God, nation and family, we must wholly embrace that membership and be satisfied with it.
In conclusion, it must be admitted, that those reading this article are already on board with the sentiments contained or at least sympathetic to it. The tragedy is that those who aren’t, will not read it, and even if they do, will disregard it. So, what is left? In truth, the recognition that the author of this piece will remain true to what he believes and outside that he has no control. Finally, one would have to be a combination of Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and the dead not to recognise that the West is dying on its feet, that every virtue is being recategorized as a vice, and every vice a virtue.
Finally, imagine a courtroom; the defendant is in the dock, and the prosecution has a signed confession from the defendant, the accused openly admits on the stand his guilt, there are reams of testimony from witnesses to corroborate the accused’s guilt, there are rooms full of exhibits of circumstantial evidence that would inculpate the defendant, and yet the prosecution seeks to still to establish more and more evidence against the accused. Similarly, how many more times do we need to show those who some call “asleep” the masses of evidence of the evil that exists in our land? How many more times do we send videos of state sponsored grooming by teachers’ unions? or self-interested migrants abusing our nations? of politicians being treacherous? or the legacy media spinning falsehoods and lies? The case is long established, it is overwhelmingly proven, but still, those we try to convince, and they, being the majority, continue to deny it or worse., actively participate in the destruction of our nation.
Surely, I and others have said enough, we have made our case so no more needs to be said.