The West needs a new way of dealing with the Rest.
I'll go you one further. Messianic liberalism is very bad at understanding and interpreting the behaviours of its *own* culture (at least, those elements who don't buy in to the belief system) as well. Look at the responses to "Anti-vaxers", the Gilets Jaune, the Canadian trucker convoy, etc. The vast gulf of incomprehension between the quondam Masterrs of the Universe and the great unwashed, as well as their outrage that anyone might question or disagree with their plans or actions reveals an extraordinary social gulf that can only result in violence - “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” Indeed.
I think this winter we'll see how the whole Euro elite scheme that "Europeans should be willing to starve and freeze in the dark to support the glorious forces of Ukrainian democracy" plays out. My guess is torches and pitchforks ultimately followed by either a new storming of the bastille, or some weird kind of neoliberal quasi-fascist repression to suppress wrongthink and thoughtcrime. Good times!
For Rev. Graham:
I can't make head nor tail of your point. What's in your heart (literally) is blood and muscle. What's in your heart (metaphorically) seems little different from belief. Caveat: I am not a theologian or even theology-adjacent, but to me, your argument sounds like a distinction without a difference.
I will cheerfully acknowledge that this may be a pure product of my limited understanding of theology, but I doubt I'm unique there, and frankly when I've read much of the deeper works of theology, it makes my head hurt, but leaves me no wiser.
I just re-read this piece and it passes muster. Again thank you for the quality work.
As an aside, it reminds me of a character from Douglas Adam's "Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy".
"The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier, but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.
"Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that something so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
"The argument goes something like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith, I am nothing.' 'But, says Man, the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.' 'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and vanishes in a puff of logic. 'Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
"Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid from making a small fortune when he used it as the theme of his best-selling book, Well That About Wraps It Up For God.
"Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation."
I normally see your essays but missed this one and came to it from Naked Capitalism.
Makes a lot of excellent points that I agree with. For much of my career I have been part of the global class that you describe and your analysis is spot on. Just open Linked In and see how it is filled with virtue signaling that panders to the religion of our current era: diversity, woke and climate.
Liberalism is ultimately deeply totalitarian, as your essay implies. The west claims not to pursue imperialism any more but its claims of universal principles are precisely that. Burke and Arendt’s assessments that culture, history and context matter feel far more appropriate.
We also like to ignore the fact that Nazism and Bolshevism were both driven by intellectuals and elites, just as Woke is today and just as the wars of the last century were driven by political leaders not the masses proactively clamouring for war. The war mongering of today by our current moralizing (but in reality deeply evil and disgusting) leaders is the same.
The so called Global South rejects the universal principles. I see no evidence that China (for example) wants to impose Confucian philosophy on the whole world, nor that President Putin wants to impose Orthodoxy, given his comfort with Russia’s deep diversity with respect to faith. But western elites do seek this. Unrestrained, they will take the whole world to war. It is just the intellectual logic of their totalitarian belief system.
Thank you for taking time to answer on the previous topic Aurélien. I had written an answer myself, but I will try to transpose it here to animate this new one.
It’s quite difficult to be concise when addressing these topics. It is even more difficult to bring contradiction to someone with whome we share more ideas, than 99% of fooleries brought by MSM and which still manage to cross the wall of my indifference.
I would like to point out that I largely agree with the observations you share about the decay of Western societies.
But this cyclical and systemic vision of things is insufficient in my humble opinion. These crises and shocks are "emancipatory" only at the cost of heavier and heavier sacrifices every time they occur (WW1-WW2 to name only the most notable). You smartly underlined that it’s always the same people who make sacrifices, and always the same who get benefits from them (accusing the previous one´s to be too stupid to understand why they got here...). This is particularly interesting since the very recent declarations of Macron about « the price of liberty ». (Remerber what i previously wrote about him…)
Crushing Europe twice with world wars and creating an institutional supervision with the European Union (resurgence of the rebadged Nazi project), were intended only to weaken the nations that are victims of it.
The current geopolitical situation is, in my opinion, only a "seismic replica" of the two previous world conflicts. It's so true that if you consider all indicators (financial, economic, social, political...) that preceded these conflicts, you find strictly the same mechanics today!
Unfortunately, I cannot digress in 10,000 words to try to show you how striking it is to note that in reality, the First World War has still not found an epilogue, and that contemporary actors in history are actually the heirs of the same ideology of domination.
Like some of your readers (who sometimes express it with less temperance), I feel (in all humility once again) that a whole aspect of the deep realities that influence changes you analyze in your texts is missing.
I know that it is difficult to conceive that these situations are the result of long-established coordinated projects. The shadow of the anti-conspiracy inquisition still hovering over the most controversial subjects. For my part, pulling on the thread of the eschatological vision of this ideology has been able to draw, in a fairly relevant way, a reading grid about what is happening. Moreover, it is not necessary to question one's own spiritual convictions, or their absence (and consider it as a self-realizing prophecy), to rely on them in order to give meaning to the directions that are followed.
You smartly (again !) used the christian roots of european nations to explain the moral dilemma with which governing elites have to manage with. Did you considered, as an alternative, that the protestant view of christianism would have been the perfect move ?(particularly with the confession idea you mentioned). How do Machiavel would have get rid of spiritual barriers and easily reached the liberal ideal they looked for, preserving the peoples to completly reject their core believes, if he had to do so? From the Magna Carta to the Protestant Reformation, before getting rid of the message, get rid of the messanger!
The transcription in the « catholic France »would be the 1905 law and the advent of the new « laicism religion », 10 years before the first world war…
This obviously gives a whole new signification to the insightfull expression you used: « Messianic Liberalism »
I’m pleased you used the UNESCO as starting point since this will allow me to show you show you what i try to underline. Do you know who its first director was ? Julian Huxley, brother of Aldous Huxley. This seriously puts into perspective the prospective talents, almost prophetic, of the author of « Brave new world »… Reading the first few lines of Julian’s biography will probably help you to answer the question you asked about the capacity of such organisations to reach their goal of « bringing peace on the free world »…
Replace « peace » by « domination », each time you read it in all constitutions, from those of all countries, to each international organization created or reformed since the Second World War, and the vertiginous idea of an improbable thightly organised globalism by a very small bunch of crazy personalities, immediately becomes much more evident to conceive.
Thank you for your work and attention. I probably hugely lack of the cultural fondations you seem to have, and which makes you so interesting to read. This help me a lot bringing order in my thoughts since it pushes me to write them and confront my own concept.
Insightful essay as always. I want to add a story that I heard/read from different sources. Apparently, Russians had a hard time translating Orwell's story (in 1984) about 2+2 = 5 somehow being an unnatural outcome, forced by the powerful while the people, left to themselves, would be automatically drawn to some objective truth. The Russian intellectual tradition is different, apparently. To them, the proposition that 2x2=4 is what's associated with tyranny and compulsion. The best expression of this comes from Dostoevsky in the Brothers Karamazov, appropriately placed into the mouth of the Grand Inquisitor: "2x2=4 is mathematics. Try arguing with that." Of course, autocrats of not just Russia, but non-Western world generally, justified their (ab)use of power on "truth"--it was objectively true that the Russian Empire/Soviet Union/Japan/China were backwards and they had to do any and everything to catch up and survive...try arguing with that. Not surprisingly, the likes of Peter I, Stalin, and Mao are objects of mixed feelings in their countries. That "truth" is not a self evident outcome of "freedom" was seemingly lost on even a cynic like Orwell, I think, is an illustration of how powerful (and IMHO, how dangerous) an idea like "truth shall set you free" is. (Interestingly, this is a notion that people who studied US Congress in 1970s and 80s would have scoffed at. Prophetically, David Mayhew predicted in 1976 that the introduction of tv cameras into US Congress--essentially, one of post Watergate developments--posed a grave danger to the workings of the traditionally American way of politics. Politicians would stop negotiating and start haranguing on "the truth," and thus subverting the sinews that held everything together. When you negotiate, you can please almost everyone somewhat. Alleged "Truth (tm)" is divisive and makes coalition building untenable beyond some limits.)
That said, yes, the day of sermons is over (long since).
As grounds for statecraft, the delusion of specialness is lethal. Vital statecraft conducts business in a condition of:
-- objective respect for one another’s personal and national sovereignty,
-- objective acceptance of multivariance in all aspects of domestic and foreign culture, and
-- objective fidelity to the definitive principle of indivisible security in the making of bi-and multi-lateral arrangements, agreements, treaties, MOUs, cooperative organizations, etc.
That's the new way of dealing with the rest.
"So what happens now?"
Answer: "The West" aka Neo-Nazi Neo-Cons bring down on their countrymen, and from a direction completely unfamiliar, something like what happened to Neo-Nazi Neo-Cons' ancestors in ancient Egypt, 720 BC, 586 BC, and 70 AD.
God has no favorites. He loves all equally. And when one isn't obedient, He has to punish them.
Sorry to have to write it, but, this is gross misrepresentation -- probably unintentional, but egregiously irresponsible -- of St. Paul and Christianity:
"Belief was key, and precisely what you were required to believe was critical, because getting it right was the key to salvation, just as doing all the right things with the wrong set of beliefs was fatal."
What's in the heart, as St. Paul says, matters, not what one believes. Here's another way to put it: As is the feeling, so is the result. "Credo" as Augustine and the creeds use it references the whole and holy, integral personality -- body, mind, intellect, heart, and spirit -- acting in concert Godwards, not words memorized, recited, and putatively ascribed to. Even an atheist can be intellectually prepared and honest enough to recognize that fact.