Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Wielding the Sword of the Spirit

 From The Imaginative Conservative:

The latent nationalism of the barbarian tribes who had settled Europe always served as an internal threat to the foundations of Christendom. The church, common academic language, and common culture did much to attenuate the latent nationalism. Inklings of nationalism arose, however, in France as early as 1302 and especially in post-Reconquest Spain in the late fifteenth century. But, nationalism did not emerge full-blown until Martin Luther’s revolt against the Church in the early sixteenth century, as the barbarian “spirit of the old gods was imperfectly exorcised by the sword and…has continued to haunt the background of the German mind.”13 Following the examples of the proto-nationalists of the previous centuries—restless souls such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus—Luther more than any other figure of his age “embodies the revolt of the awakening German national spirit.”14 Like all nationalists, Luther rejected the profound depth and intricacies of Christendom–its culture and polycentric political system–and de-intellectualized “the Catholic tradition,” Mr. Dawson explained. “He took St. Paul without his Hellenism, and St. Augustine without his Platonism.”15

The French Revolution and its introduction of the infection of ideologies into the world, a disease that has yet to end, first successfully mixed nationalism and ideology. Indeed, more than any other event, the French Revolution demonstrated the need for an ideology—a pseudo-religion, created by the mind of man, rather than historically uncovered through and across the generations—to unify linguistically, culturally, and biologically diverse peoples around a central nation-state. The results, though, have been devastating, as the mix of nationalisms and ideologies has unleashed “the powers of the abyss—the dark forces that have been chained by a thousand years of Christian civilization and which have now been set free to conquer the world,” Mr. Dawson believed. “For the will to power is also the will to destruction, and in the last event it becomes the will to self-destruction.”16 Or, as Mr. Dawson bravely stated at a peace conference in Italy, just prior to World War II, with Hermann Goering attending as the German representative, “The relatively benign nationalism of the early Romantics paved the way for the fanaticism of the modern pan-racial theorists who subordinate civilization to skull measurements and who infuse an element of racial hatred into the political and economic rivalries of European peoples.”17 Certainly, the vast killing fields of the twentieth-century ideological terror regimes has proven Mr. Dawson’s analysis correct. (Read more.)


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