Category Archives: Politics

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.

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?

Passivism and Struggle

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The failed 1926 general strike in the United Kingdom.

Free Northerner wrote half a year ago against activism and for passivism as a way to defeat the American Deep State. Naturally, in his piece, he quotes Sunzi’s Art of War:

What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy. Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

To be wise as serpents, indeed, is the infallible counsel of Jesus Christ. Therefore let Sunzi be heard, and his words be heeded. Fights in the streets, attractive as they are to young men, who love to prove themselves by martial heroics, are not the way. Instead, the Lord would have us watch for the right time, the ripe time, the time the Greeks call καιρός, the passing instant when an opening appears which an arrow must drive through with force. The space that appears is, in the Zhuangzi, the space into which Cook Ding moves his knife without tiring out the blade: ‘A good cook changes the knife once a year – because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes the knife once a month – because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room – more than enough for the blade to play with. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.’ Such, it seems, is the principle Free Northerner advocates for war against the tyrant: to make no mistakes, be in a position that makes defeat impossible, and never fail to strike at the spaces that open until – ‘flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground.’

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Christians thrown to the lions.

About power, then, Free Northerner is no quietist; unlike many advocates of Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option, whose hands and tongues are tied by the need to appear respectable and avoid being seen as extremists, he is not shy of seizing power. When they’re ill, he’ll go for the kill. Thus he speaks of power and authority:

As Mao once said, power comes from the barrel of a gun. Power is violence. The ability to force your will on others, even if it might be concealed behind a few layers of a civilized facade. In society, many men have more violent force than any single man, now matter how strong he might be, so man’s capacity for violence comes from his authority, which is, essentially, how many armed men can a man get to follow him?

Authority comes from either illusion or legitimacy. Legitimate authority comes from men obeying you because they accept you are their rightful leader. Illusion comes from people obeying because they believe others perceive you as legitimate and are afraid of the violence they will enact should they disobey. It is necessarily tyrannical. Legitimacy lasts until it is squandered or the authority dies. Illusion and the tyranny that results lasts until someone openly disobeys without consequence and [thus the illusion] is dispelled.

Right now, the left holds power and it holds legitimacy. People believe the left should rule because they believe in equality and the rule of the people, two left-wing ideals. Cthulu continues to swim left as people hold these ideals ever stronger.

The myth that the repræsentative institutions of the liberal state are actually the ‘rule of the people’, of course, is a strong one – though the myth weakens as the people see that the media, which once held them securely in thrall, are baldly and boldly lying. Indeed, Free Northerner says, Golden Dawn in Greece has become a major force precisely by switching, after decades of work with little fruit, from an activist to a passivist strategy. In the face of tyranny, the quiet building of institutions is something I heartily approve of. To gain skills useful to those around us, that is wisdom. To appear weak while building strength, that is wisdom. To be quiet until the perfect moment to speak, that is wisdom. Patience, no doubt, is everything in this game. There is nothing new under the sun. The Church has beaten the ungodly before, and indeed we can and will do it again.

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‘The Resurrection of Christ’, Tintoretto, between 1579 and 1581.

Nevertheless, doing the work required will be more difficult perhaps than many passivists reckon. Free Northerner says,

You can not change the education system to stop being leftist, but you can homeschool your kids. You can’t stop the Supreme Court from driving bakeries out of business, but you can become an elder at your church and keep gay ‘marriage’ out. You can’t change divorce laws, but you can build a working home with a good woman. You can’t stop the feminist invasion and destruction of male public spaces, but you can create your own male private spaces.

While I agree that these are crucial areas in which to work, I am highly sceptical that the Deep State will leave us alone to do our natural work. The Deep State already has broken the power of the sovereign states to resist. What state magistrates, after all, beholden to the power of national party officials, will actually call for nullification and give it teeth? And this Deep State, in its arrogance, has shown no signs of stopping. It has continued to intrude deeper and deeper into those parts of life in which the magistrates once respected the natural sovereignty of the family and intervened only in cases of gross injustice.

For homeschooling without fulfilling the Deep State’s requirement, you can be jailed for extremism. For keeping sodomitical ‘marriage’ out of your unregistered religious meeting, you can be jailed for extremism. For keeping your wife from using her freedom to work outwith the home, you can be jailed for extremism. For creating discriminatory male spaces that are at all visible, you can be jailed for extremism. In any divorce, moreover, court settlements can easily – as they already do – favour the party who better serves the system. In my æstimation, Free Northerner has still banked on too much freedom.

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‘The Drownings at Nantes in 1793’, Joseph Aubert, 1882.

There is certainly something passivism gets right: attracting too much attention will get nothing done. But even the Church in Qing China, between 1724 and 1860, was persecuted sporadically. Foreign missionaries were banned, of course, but now and then Christians also had their books and images confiscated, and they themselves after interrogation were compelled to recant their faith. To these things the Church was subjected even when it remained largely quiet and even when most of the magistrates were inclined to turn a blind eye to Christianity in order to avoid causing trouble for themselves. The Church remained resilient in China because it was so much a part of the fabric of social life, though quietly, that the ‘cure’ against Christianity would generally be worse than the ‘disease’. But I can only imagine that the Western magistrates will be more zealous to stamp out hidden institutions that do not teach or at least submit to the Deep State’s propaganda, and that – at least now and then, if not as fiercely as the Japanese – they will deal exemplary punishments to cow both churches and other institutions into submission.

When the Deep State decides to take children away from their parents to make them janissaries for ‘social justice’, it will not deem resistance acceptable, and it will not hesitate where the Qing dynasty magistrates did. Is a passivist then to allow his children to be taken? For the sake of not attracting attention, will he give up his natural duty and not fight because the time has not yet come? I do not know, but I think most believe it justified, right, and necessary then to take up arms against the will of the magistrates, and to call his neighbours to defend their own right and duty by defending his right and duty. But that is the spark of civil war, and I cannot say in what circumstances men will accept that as a duty and actually win.

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‘The Oath of Brutus’, Edouard Cabane, 1884.

The hope of winning a civil war against a ruler tyrannical and still feared is not in a few armed men. Against a nuclear power with some of the world’s most sophisticated weapons, a few men with guns cannot win. There are some, I know, who seem to believe that with their Second Amendment guns they can take on a powerful army. But the only hope of victory is if the military and police forces, won over by the justice of the few men’s cause, refuse to impose the wicked will of the Deep State that pays their salaries. If these forces be evenly split in opinion, God knows with what bloodshed the people will win their freedom.

Here I have still præsumed that the men defending their families from tyrants will be armed – and so, it seems, has Free Northerner – but of course even this condition we cannot safely count on. Whether ’tis better to suffer the confiscations of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them – who knows which way gives life? It could be here that men of valour had the practical hope of defence, but here that the wicked and the fearful were too many and too strong. Yet later, disarmed, they would have no news to make, and the people might already have turned too docile.

And all the while, of course, traitors let hordes of invaders into Europe and seek, for votes, to do the same in Americas.

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Cologne train station. ‘The sex mob scandal has a background.’ Reuters.

In the Church, we see the likes of Russell Moore, who as head of the Southern Baptist Church’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) plays a leading role in George Soros’s front group Evangelical Immigration Table. This state of affairs does not inspire confidence. I strongly suspect that most evangelicals, in any case, lack the biblical conviction, the habits of character, and the institutional strength to withstand the will of the powers that be. They lack both the will and the ability to fight in their hearts. It is true, of course, that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. But when the struggle touches flesh and blood, decadent Western Christians think they must contend for nothing but their own miserly freedom to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord – Lord, that is, of their hearts and little else. Such freedom, they do not see, means no more than the ‘freedom’ in Hong Kong to chose by, yes, universal suffrage a Chief Executive from among two or three candidates approved by the oligarchs; most the people of Hong Kong, despite their other idiocies, can see that such universal suffrage means nothing. The Church that we know is filled with those who do not see the costs. When you point out the costs of certain moral commitments, they may often move the goalposts by judging those commitments ungodly and, though they may not say it, judging you a blasphemer. In the end, all you have in common with them are some theological opinions about the gospel, and perhaps very little agreement about the law of nature.

Realistically, even when things are quiet on the whole, the quiet will be punctuated by dramatic incidents. These incidents even the passivist must expect. He must be ready both to suffer the consequences of such incidents – for he will not always pass unnoticed – and, sometimes, to strike before the general strike and the general collapse. It is not often in one battle, after all, that even a Sunzi wins a war. Even when the battles are few and carefully chosen, they are more than one. Nor even with excellent intelligence does a general avoid all surprises, and yet he is compelled to do his best to win a war with as few fights as he can and as many fights as he must.

The readiness to strike, moreover, generally depends on some habit of actually striking where the iron is hot. There is no martial virtue in a people that has never expected and trained to fight.

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‘Leonidas at Thermopylæ’, Jacques-Louis David, 1814.

It remains to be seen what the Church will fight for when the American Deep State’s directives interfere with daily life around the world, and what the Church, urged on by accommodationists, will surrender by degrees to an aggressive power; it also remains to be seen, as the Deep State attacks the power of the Church as well as the freedom and dignity of the native peoples in the countries it holds, whether Christians around the world will build the institutions to strike when the time is ripe. In any case, the Church must equip its people for psychomachia (the war of the soul), the Inner Crusade, so that the people may have the virtue to take up arms and use them well for the good of the commonwealth when the will of God brings both need and opportunity.

There are many concerns that I must give to God. He alone can grant victory, and he alone holds the cosmos in the palm of his hand.

Family Service as Public Service

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‘Trahimur omnes laudis studio, et optimus quisque maxime gloria ducitur.’

Supporting your family is a public act, a service to the commonwealth, if you lead by example and teach your children to win dignitas by serving the people. The citizen who will not serve the people he belongs to is a mere ἰδιώτης, tending to his own affairs to the neglect of the whole, and the neglect of his own soul’s aspirations – for the individual man is incomplete in himself – but he who does serve is worthy of honour, and neither the Lord nor his reverent children will forget.

Even where the Way is not ascendant, even where his faithfulness and the liberality of his spirit go unnoticed, his spreading abroad God’s gifts is not something the Lord will allow to have been in vain. As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Though our own work in itself is vanity of vanities, by the love of God it is the abundance of his abundance. By doing what is well pleasing to the Lord, and teaching our children to do the same, we perform the highest acts known to man: we pay honour to the commonwealth and, by faith in Christ, to God himself. And the Father who did not forget his Son in Hades will also not forget us who work by the same power, by the same humanity which the Son has taken on and redeemed.

Take Back the Arch of Constantine

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I need not tell you that this is a picture of Muslims claiming the public space to pray their salat. Observe, however, that this act of submission to Islam takes place right in front of two historic places:

  1. the Arch of Constantine, commemorating the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (‘in this sign thou wilt conquer’);
  2. the Colosseum, where St Ignatius of Antioch, student of St John the Apostle, was fed to the lions as a martyr of the faith.

This site the Muslims carefully chose for an act of aggressive protest on Friday, gathering in the thousands, after Italian authorities ‘shut down a number of so-called “garage mosques” to avoid young people becoming radicalized’. The Italian policy is sensible. Thomas D. Williams reports, ‘Until now, Italy has shown itself to be remarkably resilient to attacks from Islamic terrorists and has been proposed as a model for counterterrorism for the whole world, in part because of its willingness to deport radicalized individuals seen as a threat to national security.’ I fully support Italy’s sensible measures and believe that backing down in the face of protests would bring to Rome what has happened to Paris. Through both violence and public shows of Islam’s demographic strength, Christianity would be silenced in the public spaces of Italy.

But it is not the time to complain. It is the time for Italian Christians, seeing their country’s public spaces invaded, to act in the Name of the Lord. Let action begin in the places sacred to the faith of Jesus Christ. The main struggle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities. It must begin with the true faith, with love for our Lord, not with resentment. So the Muslims pray; let the Church pray too.

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CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Wikipedia user RClay.

As the sun is ready to set on Saturday, a procession – with litanies said and Psalm 16 (15 in the Roman reckoning) sung – goes up to the Arch of Constantine, which marks in stone the victory of Christ and the conversion of the Roman empire to the Christian faith. For why? thou shalt not leave my soul in hell; neither shalt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. Reaching the Arch, the procession of believers moves anticlockwise thrice around it, and the office of Vespers begins.

Deus, in adiutorium meum intende.
Domine, ad adiuvandum me festina.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Alleluia.

Lumen hilare, known in Greek as Phos hilaron.

As dusk falls, candles are lit, for light but also to signify the light of Christ, while the hymn Lumen hilare is sung. Then follow the Psalms and the rest of the office, concluding with the Magnificat and the final prayers.

In this way the Muslims may be kept from driving the worship of the Lord out of the public squares, if Roman Christians faithfully and visibly gather at landmarks of the faith to give their praises to God in Christ. Let that be the beginning of a response to the land’s invasion by an aggressive Islam.

Irregularity Not Injustice

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I don’t know where people get off thinking that religious folk have to oppose extrajudicial killing as a mortal sin. Is it morally licit? Maybe not. But it’s not as cut and dried as many make it out to be, and many of those who think it is also make a lot of excuses for ‘nuance’ about other things that are much more clearly wrong.

Even those who generally are morally principled, I think, are often unduly influenced by the opinion of their peers, and forgetful of history they’d rather not remember today. Ruled by fear, they are unnerved by having to think about taking up arms against a power ruling with arbitrary injustice; except, fearing to think even of such things, they can only declare evil the power they fear. But a fearsome power is not in itself evil, nor is a tame power good. Power, political power, is always a proper object of fear, though we seek to keep it from pursuing injustice rather than justice, the common good rather than private gain. Indeed, justice matters, but justice is not always neatly in the system of procedural rules any more than the gospel is always neatly in the organs of the Church hierarchy: it is not always wrong for Cicero to have Catilinarian conspirators strangled without trial, nor is it always wrong for the people led by a lesser magistrate to resist by force the imposition of an unjust order. Protestants of all men ought especially to know and acknowledge what they themselves – or at least their fathers – have lived by. Irregularity does not in itself prove injustice.

So let us not, looking at the rulers of the world’s nations today, be so naïve as to make a fetish out of procedure. For Protestants, even our own religious principles militate against the liberal insistence that justice comes forth from regular procedure and only from regular procedure. The love of safety is only that: love of safety. In the communication of right, in the sharing of justice, there are deeper things in the constitutions of man and human society.