Friday, August 11, 2017

Offsite Post: ‘The Self-Defeating Tradition of the Post-Schism West’

Thanks to the folks at the Geopolitica website for posting this essay of ours.  It begins this way:

Since the so-called Age of Enlightenment, for Western Europe and her colonial offspring, the history of the world centers around individual freedom, either getting it or losing it.  

In the context of the [u]nited States, this vision usually begins with Magna Carta and ends with the pinnacle (so say some) of all human political development, the u. S. Constitution of 1787:

I doubt too whether any other convention we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an Assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies. . . . Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best.

(Benjamin Franklin, quoted by Matthew Spalding,  

There is a major problem with this vision and goal of history:  Just as the goal is achieved, just as the individuals are hermetically sealed inside their impervious spheres of self-government, just then does defeat come upon their project of perfecting the political order.  For individuals concerned primarily with their own rights and freedoms cannot love.  They can only be afraid - of someone imposing limitations on them, of someone taking their freedom.  Self-love is their underlying motivation, and self-love is the mother of all the vices as the Holy Fathers teach very clearly.  St Maximos the Confessor (+662) says in the Third Century on Love,

Self-love, as has often been said, is the cause of all impassioned thoughts. For from it are produced the three principal thoughts of desire; those of gluttony, avarice and self-esteem. From gluttony is born the thought of unchastity; from avarice, the thought of greed; from self-esteem, the thought of pride. All the rest - the thoughts of anger, resentment, rancor, listlessness, envy, backbiting and so on - are consequent upon one or other of these three (ch. 56, from The Philokalia, Vol II, p. 92 (p. 321 of PDF document),  . . . 

Acquiring individual freedom in the modern Western sense of the words is not the perfection of society but the cause of its dissolution.

 . . .


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

No comments:

Post a Comment