Tang Code of Laws, in English

TangCode

Half a year ago I found the Tang code of laws 唐律疏議 – that is, the Tang statute laws with their officially sanctioned commentary – but only in Chinese. But I have now also found a translation in English. Volume 1 treats of general principles; volume 2 treats of specific articles. At last, whenever I need to, I can cite the Tang code in English.

Dutch Elections: Wilders & Beyond

An in-depth analysis of the Dutch general elections of 2017, by Ignyaz Degtyarov.

Elections for the Dutch House of Representatives will be held on Wednesday, March 15. The Netherlands is a significantly smaller player on the European political field than France or Germany. Still, should the so-called ‘populist wave’ (the rise of political parties sceptical of the EU, immigration and the political establishment) also sweep the Netherlands, this sweep would spell trouble for the administrative elite of the European Union, and for the globalist, neoliberal worldview the EU preaches from its bulwarks in Brussels and Strasbourg.

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Geert Wilders with his wife on Prinsjesdag, 2014.

Riding the top of this populist wave is Geert Wilders, who at the head of the PVV (Freedom Party) has fully embraced his role of anti-establishment candidate. Since Wilders is an anti-Islamic eurosceptic who is shunned by the political establishment, it is tempting to view him as a Dutch Trump. By cancelling television debates and using Twitter to bypass the mainstream media, the PVV leader is consciously trying to live up to that comparison. And not without success: his soundbites, tweets and videos circulate in conservative and alt-right circles on Twitter and Facebook, where he is now heralded as one of the saviours of Western civilisation alongside Trump.

Should Wilders emerge from the elections as the Netherlands’ new prime minister, his victory would indeed be another blow to the pro-EU, pro-immigration establishment of European politics.

A win for the Eurosceptical parties would not be the first time the Dutch electorate had put the EU into hot water. In 2005, in a consultative referendum, a resounding 61.5% of Dutch voters rejected the proposition for a European Constitution. Last year, 61.1% of those who came out to vote in a new EU-themed referendum said ‘no’ to an association agreement with Ukraine. In both cases, the Dutch government and the EU were able to circumvent or even outright ignore the results. Now, however, with the ever-growing voice of Euroscepticism in Dutch politics, as well as the fresh experience with Brexit, the pro-EU camp cannot afford to wait until the problem solves itself.

Still, what many foreign media outlets (such as Express and Sky News) fail to realise is that, even if the PVV wins the elections, a PVV victory is far from a guarantee that Wilders will become Holland’s next prime minister. The Low Countries’ scattered political landscape has created a culture of co-operation and compromise, an obligation that could be the perpetual outsider’s undoing.

Let us therefore take a more careful look at Dutch politics, the role and nature of Wilders’s party, and the European and geopolitical implications of his ideology.

Dutch politics: what you need to know

In order to understand what is at stake next month, there are a couple of things you should know about the Dutch political system.

First of all, there are so many political parties in the Netherlands that a ‘winner takes all’ scenario – wherein one party can execute its plans without hindrance – is impossible at this point. The 150 seats of the House of Representatives are currently divided among eleven parties and another six groups or individuals who after the last elections have split off from their respective parties.[1] For the March elections, a whopping 28 parties will compete for a share of the parliamentary seats.

At least 76 seats (the majority) are needed to pass laws through the House of Representatives and thus to govern effectively. Seeing as it is rare for a single party to even get close to 50 seats, different parties are forced to co-operate and form a coalition: the so-called cabinet. The current cabinet is Rutte II, an alliance of VVD (Popular Party for Freedom & Democracy; centre-right liberal) and PvdA (Labour Party; centre-left) that is named after incumbent prime minister Mark Rutte, who led his VVD party to its second consecutive victory during the previous elections in 2012. It is customary (though not obligatory) for the leader of the biggest party to become the prime minister.[2]

Mark Rutte with Barack Obama

Mark Rutte with Barack Obama.

Forming a cabinet between two or even three parties naturally requires each party to make concessions on its political plans. The negotiators will need to reach a compromise on each issue where the different parties differ in opinion. This need makes it difficult for parties on the more extreme ends of the political spectrum to take part in government, since it would be considerably more difficult to find common ground between them and moderate negotiation partners.

Indeed, virtually all of the cabinets that we have seen since the late ’70s have consisted of political parties close to the centre. Geert Wilders’s PVV could be considered a notable exception to this rule, as they politically supported cabinet Rutte I (2010–2012), though not formally a part of it.

Geert Wilders and the PVV: what are their chances?

If recent opinion polls are to be believed, the PVV is set to become the largest party come March. With its platform of anti-Islam, anti-immigration and Euroscepticism, as well as its centre-left plans for the economy, the PVV’s support base is surprisingly diverse.

A recent study by sociologist Koen Damhuis divides the PVV voters into three main groups:

  1. The poor underclass, which feels it has to compete with low-skilled immigrants;
  2. The lower middle class of workers and small business owners, who have to work hard to make ends meet but feel that the Dutch political establishment is more concerned with bailing out poor EU countries;
  3. Higher-educated conservatives, who agree with Wilders on a more abstract, ideological level.

Damhuis goes on to conclude that the broad appeal of Wilders is comparable to that of France’s National Front and its respective leader, Marine Le Pen.

In accordance to that similarity, the significant international coverage that Geert Wilders has gotten over the past year in European and American media often mentions him in the same breath as Le Pen, as well as Alternative for Germany leader Frauke Petry. These comparisons are not far-fetched, seeing as the three met at a conference in Koblenz just last month, but the nature of the Dutch political system already makes the situation of Wilders comparatively complex.

Wilders with the leaders of VVD and CDA after the 2010 election

Wilders (right) with the leaders of VVD and CDA after the 2010 election.

With the reality of cabinet formations, it would be wrong to assume that an electoral victory for Geert Wilders would rock the boat as much as a Le Pen presidency. All of the other major parties have stated their unwillingness to co-operate with Wilders in a cabinet formation, with Rutte even going as far as saying there is ‘zero’ chance that his VVD will form a governmental alliance with Wilders after the upcoming elections. Even though Rutte has by now accrued a penchant for breaking promises, it is likely that a third (and maybe even a fourth) party would be required to carry a potential PVV-VVD alliance past the post of 76 seats, which further diminishes the odds that we will see the rise of a Prime Minister Wilders after the upcoming elections.

PVV: a far-right party?

Now that we have learned what is at stake for Wilders in the upcoming elections, it is time to look at what he and his party actually represent. Is it a far-right party, as is often suggested by English and American media? Or is reality more nuanced?

An in-depth analysis of the PVV’s ideology is difficult, because the party offers little documentation to elaborate on the foundation of their political stances. Whereas other parties lay out their plans across dozens of pages before each election, the conceptual party programme of the PVV is – at press time – a single sheet with the party’s ten most important stances.

What we do know is that the PVV started out as an offshoot of the VVD in 2004, when then-VVD MP Wilders refused to commit to the party’s positive stance toward an eventual EU membership for Turkey. Wilders kept his seat in parliament (see note 1) and continued his political activities there as a one-man party, which would later evolve into the PVV.

In PVV’s liberal origins also lies the problem of classifying the PVV as a far-right party. Whereas Le Pen’s National Front started out as a socially conservative far-right party that softened over the years to attract more voters, Wilders instead shifted from mainstream, centre-right liberalism to a stance that was farther right, but not quite comparable to the hardline nationalism that is traditionally associated with the term ‘far right’.

Wilders’s liberal origins become more obvious when we take a look at the essence of his most controversial stances. Wilders wants to ‘de-Islamise’ the Netherlands; Wilders wants to close Islamic schools and mosques; Wilders wants to ban the Quran. Undoubtedly, these sound like harsh stances to a centrist, and they sound like proper nationalist policies to those on the far right.

But why does Wilders want all these things?

At the core of Wilders’s rejection of Islam lies his conviction that, rather than a religion, Islam is an ideology that is incompatible with what he refers to as ‘Western ideals’. When Wilders discusses the core values of the Dutch – and by extension European – society that he wishes to protect from Islamic influence, there is little to indicate that his movement is socially conservative: his exemplary traits of Western culture are ideals commonly associated with progressivism and the Enlightenment.

In a speech in Koblenz, Wilders said, ‘Day in, day out, we witness the decline of our dearly held values. The equality of man and woman, freedom of thought and speech, tolerance of homosexuality, it is all on the way back.’[3]

The PVV leader frequently puts his money where his mouth is in this regard: Wilders declined an invitation to the premiere of an American movie that is critical of homosexuals, and his party supported a motion that made it impossible for civil servants to refuse to co-operate with gay marriages out of conscientious objection. (Compare the Kim Davis case in the USA.)

While Geert Wilders’s virulence against Islam has earned him such ever-popular labels as ‘racist’, ‘fascist’ and ‘xenophobe’, his ideal vision of society hardly sounds like that of an adherent of the far right.

Geert Wilders is more accurately understood as the same centre-right liberal he was during his spell at the VVD, but with a few twists. His opposition to migration is not rooted in a nationalistic fear that his country’s ethnic or morphological composition will be changed beyond repair. Rather, Wilders sees open borders as a catalyst for growing Islamic influence, which would in turn threaten those liberal values that – to this day – stand at the centre of his political ideology.

In addition to the PVV’s inherent liberalism, its zealous, proactive dedication to Israel also prevents it from being classified as a proper far-right or nationalist party. The reason is not that the far right is anti-Zionist by definition (there is a far right in Israel itself, after all), but that Israeli interests are closely tied to a foreign policy whose orientation is globalist rather than nationalist.

With Wilders denouncing boycotts on Israeli products as ‘anti-Semitism’, and persistent rumours of the PVV itself being partially funded by American Zionist lobbyists, the party’s dedication to the Israeli cause is not to be taken lightly. As a consequence, it is anyone’s guess whether the PVV would break with the establishment’s tradition of military adventures in the Middle East – adventures that usually benefit Israel in one way or another.

In any case, the alt right, nationalists and other associated groups should think twice before throwing their weight behind Wilders: he ultimately represents a brand of conservatism from which, in any other situation, they would not hesitate to distance themselves.

Alternatives for Wilders?

Even if the field of 28 parties seems to indicate otherwise, the Dutch political spectrum is not terribly diverse. Many parties are eyeing the same voter demographics, and their decision not to co-operate with one another is not rooted in fundamental disagreements over policy, but rather is the result of personal differences.

To illustrate: the new parties Nieuwe Wegen (New Roads) and DENK (THINK) are both offshoots of PvdA (Labour), and Artikel 1 in its turn is an off-shoot of DENK. These are four parties going for exactly the same demographic. In addition to these four, SP (Socialist Party) and GroenLinks (Greens) are trying to gobble up the leftmost flank of the PvdA.

Even so, there are some viable alternatives for Wilders and his PVV to form a cabinet:

VNL (For the Netherlands) is a new party that thinks the VVD has scooted too far to the left on economic issues. Party leader Jan Roos has set his sights on the classical liberal, who prioritises low taxes and minimal government interference. The question is whether many such people exist in the Netherlands.

GeenPeil is a party that favours direct democracy. While this party also emerged from a milieu of Euroscepticism (it was among the initiators of the Ukraine referendum, along with VNL’s Jan Roos and the soon-to-be-mentioned FVD), its idea is to consult its members on each parliamentary vote. Simply put, the party’s members can vote yes or no on a given proposition, and the MPs will honour the opinion of the party’s majority. In its essence, GeenPeil represents Utilitarianism put to practice in everyday politics.

FVD (Forum for Democracy), with its harsh stances against the EU, migration and Islamisation, may seem like a PVV offshoot at first. The surface, however, hides a much more ideologically mature party than the populist PVV. Led by the erudite 34-year-old Thierry Baudet, the FVD sports a list of accomplished candidate MPs, ranging from famous lawyer Theo Hiddema to Dutch Army captain Susan Teunissen and various professors, entrepreneurs and journalists. Where PVV is (unjustly) plagued by its anti-intellectual tokkie (‘chav’; underclass) image, FVD instead has the problem of perhaps being too intellectual for its own good, something which Baudet has publicly acknowledged might be a ‘handicap’.

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Thierry Baudet, Dutch journalist, broadcaster and author.

Unlike the PVV, the FVD has elaborated on most of its stances, giving the voter a much better idea of what he can expect, should the party obtain any seats in the House of Representatives. For instance, the FVD has said that it is opposed to regime change in the Middle East, and in favour of ‘normalising’ relations with Russia. In expressing this stance, party leader Baudet has even used the term multipolarity, which may indicate that he is familiar with the geopolitical framework of Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin. In addition, the FVD intends to support Christians in the Middle East, and wants to offer Afrikaners the possibility of returning to their European homelands – at least as far as Holland is concerned.

Conclusion: beyond Wilders

While Wilders is undoubtedly the most flamboyant figurehead of the Dutch anti-establishment movement in the upcoming Dutch elections, he is frustratingly one-dimensional when it comes to distinguishing himself from said establishment. His aversions toward both Islam and the EU are rooted in Dutch chauvinism rather than in a genuine, consequential desire to restructure the Netherlands, Europe and the world according to nationalist (or anti-globalist) principles.

While the envisioned success of the PVV would be a definite blow to the EU establishment, Wilders enthusiasts should realise that – like Trump – he is at best a stepping stone toward a new, more sovereign mentality in politics. For both ideological and practical reasons, comparisons to Austria’s Norbert Hofer or France’s Marine Le Pen – while understandable – are ill-advised, and Geert Wilders should in fact not be considered a far-right politician at all.

In contrast, Thierry Baudet and his FVD offer a platform that would genuinely contribute toward a change in vision in global politics, a substitution of sovereignty for today’s American hegemony: a veritable Weltenwende of which Trump was but the first indicator. This is an anti-establishment party not only in appearance, but in its root ideology. Contrary to the PVV, FVD’s desire to curb migration does not descend from a naive attempt to defend a banal interpretation of so-called Western values, but instead incorporates a coherent set of policies that demonstrates Baudet’s understanding of geopolitics. To be sure, the FVD is not a traditional nationalist party either, as it is unlikely[4] that its views on gay rights, feminism and other social questions differ that much from those of Wilders. Even so, the practical implications of the FVD’s comparatively fleshed-out worldview would contribute toward a world order in which nations could determine their own fates once more. Wilders’s geopolitical stances, meanwhile, are mostly determined by what will sound tough on Muslims. Hence, Baudet’s FVD is the most interesting party to watch from an anti-globalist point of view, even if it is thus far marginal in size.

Which party the alt-right, nationalists and associated groups should back on election day is open to debate. The answer depends on whether voters and sympathisers favour the short-term shock of a Wilders win or the long-term vision of Baudet’s sovereign politics – if they even believe either has any chance of ever getting into a position of power. One thing is certain: the Battle for Holland does not end on March 15, 2017.

Notes

[1] In the Dutch electoral system, a seat belongs to the individual rather than the party he belongs to. Should an individual member of the House of Representatives choose to distance himself from his party, he is allowed to keep his seat, should he desire to do so.

[2] In the Netherlands, a prime minister is not directly elected by the people.

[3] From the speech transcript on the PVV website: ‘Tag für Tag erleben wir den Verfall unserer liebgewordenen Werte. Die Gleichberechtigung von Mann und Frau, Meinungs- und Redefreiheit, Toleranz von Homosexualität, all das ist im Rückzug.’ Translation my own.

[4] So far, the FVD party programme has not elaborated on these topics, but the reader must understand that the Overton window differs per country, and in the Netherlands it would be political suicide to question gay rights.

Liberalism’s Authoritarian Defence

At ARC Media, Damn Yankee speaks of university students as wards of the state, coddled and helicoptered by an administration that answers to state funds. I will not say the university campus is where liberalism assumes its most grotesque proportions, but it is enough – or ought to be enough – for the observer to see its sickliness. This is no esoteric knowledge. It is commonly enough known that, even while making noises against the fearsome authoritarianism of Donald Trump, today’s American university is an institution that makes much of free enquiry in name but suppresses it in practice.

The liberal ideology that animates many universities, the ideology of ‘freedom’, protects itself from what is foreign to it. The liberal system, by its own logic, would exclude what was exclusive, till all that was left was nonexclusion. For this reason T. S. Eliot says in ‘The Idea of a Christian Society’ that liberalism has no positive content of its own, only a negation. As paraphrased by a 1970 review in the Times Literary Supplement,

The tradition of ‘liberalism’ derives from our achievement and successful practice of religious toleration; but that worked because in fact the members of the various communions were all substantially agreed in their assumptions concerning social morality. The comfortable distinction between public and private morality is no longer valid; now the individual is increasingly implicated in a network of social and economic institutions from which, even when he is aware of their control of his behavior, he cannot extricate himself. The operation of these institutions is no longer neutral, but non-Christian.

Losing pieces that were extrinsic to itself but native to the Protestant tradition of which it was a development, liberalism has borne the sickly fruits proper to an unsustainable parasite. The end is not the beginning, because the parasite eats its own beginning, like an Ouroboros eating its own serpentine tail; yet this thing cannot keep on eating itself for ever. Liberalism, having by its nature destroyed the foundation it stood on, has taken a form that classical liberals at turns decry and mock – now dismay, now derision – but only as one shakes one’s fist at the rain.

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Liberalism has had to protect itself from full-throated Protestant Christianity, which by nature opposed a mere marketplace of ideas as much as Jesus opposed the buying and selling of (access to) God in the temple’s Court of the Nations. Still liberalism goes on, opposing any Christianity that cannot be bought and sold, even while its newer forms welcome in an Islam by which it would be destroyed. Such a parasite both Christian and Muslim ought staunchly to oppose, as the continual manufacturing of a nothingness that vainly calls itself peace.

Thus it is unthinkable to the liberal system that its approach to sexual responsibility should be anything but value-free. All the values it can take are the ones that appear not to be values at all. Condoms it will distribute, but never the word chastity. At last, through a technologically enabled amnesia, it is even forgotten in the ‘adult’ world that sexual relations by nature produce children. To this extent the liberal system has had to inure itself against God and nature, and no mere reset to 1689 or 1782 can change the leopard’s spots. The liberal system brings the full power of public propaganda, with the implicit or even explicit threat of force, to bear against what would challenge – even well within the liberal frame, even through such a culturally libertarian degenerate as Milo Yiannopoulos – its newest liberal mores. Seeing this self-protection, one is reminded of Macbeth, who must wade deeper and deeper into blood to keep the throne he has won by shedding blood.

For this self-protection, the liberal system cannot be faulted morally. But persons can be faulted, for persons are not inert things but living, breathing beings made in the image of God, endowed with reason. A system may be wicked in structure, and worthy to be destroyed in favour of another; but those responsible, for sin or for good works, are persons. A system cannot hold itself responsible, but persons can hold themselves responsible in relation to a wicked system, and they can also call upon the Name of the Lord to fight the angels of Satan.

Not Travelling Backwards

Benito Mussolini in The Doctrine of Fascism (1932), on fascism as opposed to mere reactionary desire to return to the world before the French Revolution:

The Fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789, a year commonly referred to as that which opened the demo-liberal century. History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet. Monarchical absolutism is of the past, and so is ecclesiolatry. Dead and done for are feudal privileges and the division of society into closed, uncommunicating castes. Neither has the Fascist conception of authority anything in common with that of a police ridden State.

Whatever my disagreements with Italian Fascism, Mussolini is right about the need to do more than drive the world backwards. The way forward is never simply backwards, any more than it is to destroy all sense of historical givenness. Both past and present we must receive as a gift of God. Experience is a teacher from which we must learn, and the moment is an opportunity to do good according to the deeper sense of the mos maiorum (custom of the elders) and, more importantly, the law of God. The world has indeed changed. A woodenly literal use of temporal constitutions that once stood, and once worked in their own way, no longer fits living reality; to return to those constitutions unchanged, having forgotten nothing and learned nothing, would be unjust. That Marxism and liberal democracy have been found wanting is not a sign from heaven that we must take up again all the temporal things that were thrown down before them. However our peoples have changed, we must respond to their needs as they are now, not as they once were. Let that be unchanged which is immutable in the sight of God, and let that be changed which will bring the people as they are today and tomorrow into the obedience of God’s unchanging law.

With Muslims, Against Irreligion

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Aleksandr Dugin, in response to the question ‘Quelle place pour l’islam en Russie?’, advocates a front of traditional religions against sæcular postmodernity:

Our traditional model is that of peaceful coexistence between Orthodoxy and Islam, based on mutual understanding. It is true that the notion of the sacred is not the same in the Orthodox Christian vision and in the Muslim religion; but the difference that exists between the Christian sacred and the Muslim sacred is much less than the difference between religious consciousness and secular consciousness. For example, Orthodox and Muslims share the same attitude regarding any attack on holy places whatever they may be. That’s why representatives of the Islamic clergy took part in demonstrations against Pussy Riot. Another example: the group FEMEN attacks both Christianity and Islam. Since then, those who believe in God find themselves in the same camp. And when our faith in God is brutally attacked, we become united with each other. My conviction is that Christians, Muslims, and the adepts of other traditional religions should form a common front against the secularism that attacks us. Defensive today, this Front could become offensive tomorrow. In the modern or postmodern world, the religious factor becomes more and more important. We are on the way to what the American sociologist and theologian Peter Berger calls ‘desecularization’. And in this new phase, believers reunited within the common front will mutually aid each other to restore sense of the sacred in all domains of life.

Within large empires such as Russia and China, a peaceful coexistence between Christianity and Islam is a simple necessity. Russia has Tatars and other peoples who have practised Islam for centuries; China has not only a largely Muslim population in East Turkestan (Xinjiang), rich in natural resources that are vital to national security, but also about 10 million Hui Muslims in China proper. At the same time, both Russia and China have more Christians than Muslims. As in Syria and Iraq, sectarian fighting could only serve the interests of foreigners waiting to profit from the deaths of others.

Just as necessary for the survival of the greater Chinese and Russian peoples is a mutual understanding that can put forth a united front against sæcularist dissolution. The cutting short of the religious instinct which these nations must oppose is a cultural degeneration that would dissolve all meaningful national feeling. This cultural degeneration calls to mind the worst of America: pilgrimages made to a Uniqlo store in Beijing on account of a viral sex tape filmed in one of its fitting rooms (inter alia). Needless to say, such a video opposes socialist core values, and one can only expect more and grosser wickedness if the culture is allowed to slide further in that direction. To some, Sodom and Gomorrah may be a joke, but suppressing them is a matter of national survival.

True, Christianity and Islam are not the same religion, nor can a generic religiosity credibly oppose late modern (capitalist) sæcularism. As Coptic priest Zakaria Botros constantly shows, moreover, Islam as devoutly practised today is not benign. Religion, as we see in the case of Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi Islam, is not always better than irreligion, and indeed is often a geopolitical tool of irreligious interests. Faced with these realities, we must be realistic. Nevertheless, when a serious Christian makes common cause with Muslims against irreligion, sacrilege, and blasphemy, the appeal he makes is not to the perverse doctrines of the Muslim, but to the genuine religious feeling of the man, the image of God; not to vice, but to virtue; not to hæresy, but to truth.

Therefore let this common front be found wherever possible, lest what remains of traditional religion and true religious feeling, in both Christianity and Islam, be corrupted by the power of Mammon. Let the late modern market not rule over the hearts of Christians and Muslims, but let the justice of God be proclaimed and rule over all commerce of matter. Only thus can a true religious freedom be found, ruled not by demands of markets but by the conviction of the Holy Ghost.

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Self-Determination through Guilds

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William Morris on the power of mediæval guilds, in ‘A Summary of the Principles of Socialism’:

‘The trade guilds which in the first instance were thoroughly democratic in their constitution, protected the craftsmen against unregulated competition, or from the attempt to oppress them in any way. Moreover, as it was easy then for a labourer to obtain a patch of land, and to remove himself wholly or in part from the wage-earners, so a journeyman apprentice starting in life as a mere worker could and generally did attain to the dignity of a master craftsman in mature age. The amount of capital to be amassed ere a man could work for himself was so small that no serious barrier was placed between the journeyman and independence; besides, the arrangements of the guilds were such that wherever a craftsmen wandered he was received as a brother of his particular craft. Although also the rest of Europe was behind England in the settlement of the people on the soil, the craft-guilds were even more important in the Low Countries and part of Germany in the Middle Ages than in England. Thus it should appear that in the record of the feudal development the period reached in each country when the peasant was a free man working for himself upon the land, and the craftsman was likewise a free man master of his own means of production represents the time of greatest individual prosperity for the people.’

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Justice Requires Æquity

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Many, following Thomas Jefferson, assert that all men are created æqual and therefore that all men must be treated the same; others assert with the like vehemence that men are not created æqual and therefore that no one is bound to care for other men except a certain class regarded as one’s own. But Lactantius says this, in Divine Institutes 5.14.15–20, on justice:

‘The second part of justice [after pietas] is fairness; I mean not simply the fairness involved in good judgments, which is itself a laudable thing in a just man, but the fairness of levelling oneself with everyone else, what Cicero calls “equality of status”. God who created human beings and gave them the breath of life wanted all to be on a level, that is, to be equal, and he established the same conditions of life for everyone, creating all to be wise and pledging them all immortality; no one is cut off from God’s celestial benevolence. Just as he divides his unique light equally between all, makes springs flow, supplies food and grants the sweet refreshment of sleep to all, so too he bestows fairness and virtue on all. No one is a slave with him, and no one is a master, for if “he is the same father to everyone” [Lucr. 2.992], so are we all his children with equal rights. No one is poor in God’s eyes except for lack of justice, and no one is rich without a full tally of the virtues; moreover, no one is illustrious except for goodness and innocence; no one is most notable except for lavish works of charity; no one is most perfect except for having completed every degree of virtue. That is why neither Romans nor Greeks could command justice, because they kept people distinct in different grades from poor to rich, from weak to strong, from lay power up to the sublime power of kings. Where people are not all equal, there is no fairness: the inequality excludes justice of itself. The whole force of justice lies in the fact that everyone who comes into this human estate on equal terms is made equal by it.’

From Distributism to Better Things

What took me away from distributism: too much wishful thinking and nothing significant about actually using force to protect national sovereignty. Concretely, there is overlap between distributism and national syndicalism, but the former seems to suit ultimately bourgeois fantasists who have little concern for geopolitical reality. The latter actually aims to defeat international capitalism and strengthen the place of the nation. Some will reckon that a weakness; I consider it a strength. There are alternatives to the usury-owned bourgeois managerial state, but I think distributism is not it. What force it lacks, national syndicalism has. So forgive me for not being a hobbit.

Turning Christians into Followers of Christ

After Tuesday’s resounding victory for Donald Trump, you’ve got to love some of the sanctimonious remarks tweeted by evangelical clerics and retweeted by evangelical theologians. Here is one:

I could not help saying something. The craven capitulation to globalist propaganda, the Pharisaic condemnation of Christians who disagreed and voted accordingly, the rejection of a reading of holy Scripture on natural law rather than liberal ideology, all conspired to elicit a response. Never before liberal modernity have such things been imagined, and never before have such things been taken into the Church to be enshrined as orthodox doctrine.

(Edit: I see that the bloke has deleted his tweet, but it remains here for posterity.)

I see. The Lord has called upon me, a Chinaman, to be a race traitor and regard my people as nothing. After all, if any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. If the Chinese nation were to fall on account of an unrestrained flood of strangers from abroad, I should not oppose it so long as the strangers were Christians or potential Christians. For it is said that water is thicker than blood, and therefore the common bond of baptism erases every consideration of ethnicity in civic prudence. I would be astonished were the sentiment not so common.

Then, a red herring all too easy to find is the proposition that the world is saved by the weakness of Christ on the Cross and not by the strength of the nation. No shit. I fail to see how this truth about everlasting salvation impinges upon my duty to consider myself responsible for my own family, my own tribe, and my own nation. It is Christ that has justified me by his death; therefore I shall never do good works again, because such works would deny the gospel. God forbid! Yet here is an accusation of implicit hæresy against all who would support our own people according to the principle taught by St Paul, that if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Have any of us claimed that a man will thus be accounted holy before God, or that the human race will thus be healed of sin? For that indeed were hæresy, and that indeed were publicly to be opposed. Yet not once have I heard a professing Christian make that claim, which liars now pin upon Christians who support the policies Donald Trump stands for. In the hands of these snakes, even truth is wielded as a weapon against truth. May they crawl on their bellies to the end of their days, and may their heads be crushed in the dust unless they repent.

This sort of nonsense, by the way, is why millions of Christians have abandoned going to church. Such a fate befell the Protestant Episcopal Church as it left orthodoxy behind, and it now happens to all the other churches that pander to those who despise Christians. They are the Pharisees who call others Pharisees and talk about making them ‘followers of Jesus’.

No, turning Christians into actual followers of Christ, fearing no death and conceding nothing to the powers and principalities, is quite other than certain clerics have imagined. The task of learning to do so, and teaching others to do so according to God’s word as it is – and not as the plastics wish it to be – will be neither easy nor quick. God willing, however, it can be done.

Natural Beef

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By Julie A. Brown (CC BY 2.0).

I once saw a specimen of beef in Wegman’s, so fine that I could not help drawing my parents’ attention to it, that they too might appreciate the beauty by which naturally raised beef is distinguished: the meat’s deeper red and the fat’s orange tinge, but especially the fat’s delicate fractal interlacing with the muscle. When we consider the necessity of food for the human race’s large population, and for its various populations considered severally, I hope we can treat with dignity what is often a short and miserable life.

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We Must Desire What Seems Impossible

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John Williamson Nevin, in ‘Catholic Unity’:

‘Nor should it relieve the case at all to our feelings, that we may not be able to see how it is possible to bring this state of things to an end. An evil does not cease to be such, simply because it may seem to exclude all hope of correction. Those who seek to reconcile us to the system of sects in the Church, by insisting on the impossibility of reducing them to the same communion, presume greatly either upon our ignorance or our apathy as it regards the claims of the whole subject. If we know that the Church is called by her very constitution to be visibly, as well as invisibly one, we are not likely to believe that any difficulties which stand in the way of this are absolutely insuperable in their own nature. And if we have come to feel the weight of the interest itself, as exhibited in the last prayer of the Saviour, we are not likely to be soothed and quieted over the general surrender of it by a view which cuts off all hope of its ever being recovered.’

Supreme Court Judicial Review Not Absolutely Binding

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John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.

Many have spoken – rightly, I believe – against some Americans’ attachment to provisions of a paper constitution which neither have real force nor conduce to the good of the American people. Not infrequently is it also alleged that the US Constitution teaches a harmful concept of judicial review. Nowhere, however, does the Constitution say or imply that the courts have exclusive right to review a law or executive order’s constitutionality; no more does it establish that the Supreme Court of the United States has supreme right to interpret the law unchallenged and with absolutely binding force. The Supreme Court did articulate a certain principle of judicial review in its opinion on Marbury v. Madison (1803), but in vain would we search for any such principle in Article III, which lays out the powers of the judicial branch of the US fœderal government.

Section 1 is brief and does not tell us all that much.

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

In this section, the only relevant point is that the Supreme Court is primary in institution, and that the inferior courts are secondary thereto, the individual existence of each being subject to the will of the Congress.

Section 2 is longer. We can look at each paragraph in turn.

1. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; – to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; – to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; – to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; – to Controversies between two or more States; – between a State and Citizens of another State; – between Citizens of different States, – between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

This paragraph spells out the cases of law and æquity to which the judicial power extends. It can tell us nothing about the power of judicial review.

2. In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

This paragraph establishes that the Supreme Court now has original jurisdiction in cases affecting diplomats and in cases in which a state is either the plaintiff or the defendant. All other cases of the kinds spelled out in Paragraph 1 go to the Supreme Court only by appeal. In judging appeals, the Supreme Court has the power to sustain or overturn the judgements of the inferior courts in both matters of the law and matters of fact. That is to say, it holds supremacy over the inferior courts in the judgement of two things:

  1. how to interpret and apply the law, with the authority to declare an inferior court mistaken in its judgement of the principles in the law;
  2. the facts of the cases already tried, with the authority to declare an inferior court mistaken in its judgement of the events and what those events mean.

This paragraph also establishes, however, that even this appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is in some respects restrained by the Congress: the Congress has the right to make exceptions to what appeals the Supreme Court may hear and to make regulations on how it may handle the appeals it does hear.

3. The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

This paragraph, the last in Section 2, has nothing relevant to the concept of judicial review.

Section 3 treats of cases in which the courts must try persons for treason against the United States. It says nothing about judicial review, but only specifies in what way a person may be convicted of treason, and what limits must be observed in any attainder of treason.

1. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

2. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

The paper constitution, then, in fact says nothing to imply that only the Supreme Court, with the inferior courts subject to it, has the exclusive legal power to judge what is and what is not constitutional. Indeed, given the conventional limits – for example, that a case must be ripe for being judged in court by virtue of an ambiguous law’s having actually been applied and not merely enacted – it is clear that someone else has to interpret the law before it has ever reached a court, and that a consensus on interpretation would keep it from ever appearing before the courts. Both President Jackson and President Lincoln have in fact openly defied the will of the Supreme Court, and the rational observer will judge their acts not by their submission to the judgement of the Supreme Court but by the criteria of justice itself.

From these facts we can infer that the real constitution is bigger than the paper constitution, and that the application of the paper constitution is always contingent on power. The paper constitution, such as it is, does not make the Supreme Court’s constitutional judgements absolutely binding; nor, as can be seen by those who are not committed to corrupt customs, does it exclude those who have power and true justice from rejecting that court’s opinions when they are neither just nor persuasive.

Brexit Hits the High Court Snag

Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, presided over the three-day hearing

Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, presided over the three-day hearing.

BBC reports, ‘Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU, the High Court has ruled. This means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – beginning formal exit negotiations with the EU – on its own.’

You think democracy works, goy? No, it doesn’t. We know the Brexiteers, drawn from actual working-class Labour as well as Conservatives, outnumbered the Remainers, those limp-wristed liberals. Yet even now the liberal globalists, who pay lip service to ‘the will of the people’ but decry working-class opinion as demagoguery, will weasel their little fink fingers into the matter in order to stop the very thing they make a show of honouring. Will they leave no way but violence?

All Souls

Today, the day after the Romanists’ observance of All Souls’ Day, I wanted to link to some 25 pages from the Rt Rev. N. T. Wright’s For All the Saints? Remembering the Christian Departed (SPCK, 2003) about the bodily resurrection of Christian believers and various other matters related to the destination of the departed. If you have not already read Dr Wright’s thoughts, I highly recommend them.

Along with the theology, I think a bit of æsthetics is in order here. For that purpose, there may be few things as grand and yet sober as the funeral procession in Brussels of the mighty Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Below, I show some parts of this procession.

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See here the heraldic dignities of the dead emperor. Four men display the arms of Burgundy, of Castile and León, of the Empire as ruled by the House of Habsburg, and of all Spain. They are followed by other imperial insignia: standards, maces, golden tabards. Yet for all this grandeur the men are all dressed in black, and for all the sombreness they show the colourful signs of earthly dominion under God.

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See here, following the horse dressed in the imperial arms, first the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, then the sceptre, then the sword.

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See here the orb and the imperial crown, and staves of authority.

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See here the emperor’s mourning son, King Philip II of Spain, his train carried by a nobleman; behind him follow a line of other nobles.

What lordly dignities! what great power on earth! And yet, once summoned by his Maker to a presence he cannot flee, the emperor could not refuse, and like all men he was buried into the dust from whence he had come, to await the resurrection of the dead.

Poem Published in The North American Anglican

The North American Anglican has published a poem by me, ‘I Travelled These Roads with My Father Once’. Check it out, and tell me what you think. Be sure to look at their other stuff, too!