There is so much evil in the world. A Catholic cannot be surprised. We have the doctrine of Original Sin: this is a fallen world; Satan is its prince. He, Satan, must rejoice in the bad ideologies that are the source of so much woe. The decline of Reason, which lets the bad ideologues get away with so much, must buck him up no end.
So, Catholics should expend much more of their energies in actively opposing bad ideologies. Personal piety is, of course, important; but reasoned resistance to these ideologies is also important.
Where to start? Well, I’m going to leave out, for the time being, other religions. I could never be a Muslim; but have to admit to respect for much in Islam. At the same time, when Islam morphs (rather easily, as it happens) into a programme for perfecting human society it partakes of the evils of secular ideologies – religious Iran is less ghastly than North Korea but it is ghastly.
So, the baddest of the bad is Materialism – Satan’s twentieth century masterpiece. It is no exaggeration to say that when Materialism takes hold, Reason and Morality cease to have any purchase. Without Reason and Morality the pit beckons.
Materialism is the metaphysical assertion that the physical universe is all that there is. There is no justification for this assertion – none. See earlier posts. But if the physical universe is all that there is, then there are no metaphysical truths – Materialism has destroyed itself. Would that that were an end to it.
Even in the materialist mind, though, lingers an unjustified, metaphysically incoherent longing for Justice, for a better world. Should we thank God for this phenomenon? Should we wish that all Materialists took the following (coherent) line: the physical world is all there is and I will act as I please? This is tough. It must be the case that this longing has, at least sometimes, mitigated the horrific consequences of the materialist mindset. At the same time, when Materialism and a longing for Justice coexist (incoherently) the results are frequently catastrophic. Incidentally, Leftists talk of Social Justice. Catholics never should. Catholics should proclaim Justice simpliciter. What is worse: greedy self-serving Materialists or Materialists passionate about “Social Justice”? Well, in the twentieth century it was the latter who “shut the gates of Mercy on Mankind”, who slaughtered human beings by the hundreds of millions. Give me Ayn Rand every time.
An inclination towards Justice seems to me to be the default human position, at least where we ourselves are concerned. What would we mean by “it isn’t fair” if we didn’t believe in Justice? C S Lewis develops this idea brilliantly in the first chapter of Mere Christianity.
So we start by believing in Justice and some contract the materialist meme . This meme does not destroy our belief in Justice. The two co-exist with disastrous consequences.
We might expect a metaphysical truth mixed with a bad idea to be at least better than a bad idea on its own. Perhaps not. This reminds me of C S Lewis’ Last Battle in which the ape tells the assembled Narnians that there was a donkey masquerading as Aslan – true. By mixing some truth with his big lie (that Aslan is in the stable and that the ape is his mouthpiece) he strengthens his lie.
As the nineteenth and twentieth centuries wore on materialism and its bastard offspring Socialism gathered strength and developed a corpus of doctrine. Regrettably, Materialism, being incompatible with Reason, the Socialists managed to construct doctrines which were in defiance of actual observation and Common Sense. They cast Capitalism in the role of demon, whereas Capitalism (the idea that by serving your fellow man you serve yourself) is the only system whereby humanity has consistently improved the lot of ordinary people.
The logical flaws in socialist economics (for example, its hopelessly inadequate price theory), as well as its counterfactual predictions, meant that state violence was inevitably necessary to make the system work. I was talking to a catholic friend recently, who suggested that Socialism was a good idea perverted by bad people. No! Socialism requires ruthless bastards in charge to make it work at all.
Lest you should think that I am talking only about Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Kim Jong Ill, please remember that Hitler and Mussolini were Socialists. How comes it that Fascist and Nazi are only ever used now as terms of abuse, while many apparently decent people proudly proclaim themselves to be Socialists? Otherwise wholesome young people wear tee-shirts featuring Che Guevara, a murdering bastard if ever there was one.
Nazis and Socialists and now Environmentalists! Dear God! By “Environmentalists” I do not mean people who like clean air and water better than polluted air and filthy water, but those who take the position that people are the problem and that growing the economy means raping the Earth. Their science is flawed and their “remedies” are calamitous. Regrettably, the environmentalist cause has been taken up by many mainstream churches.
It is also, regrettably, the case that some strands of Christian thinking are tainted with Socialism. Some members of the early Church lived communally but communal living is no part of the Creed. Socialism undermines Charity and St Paul teaches us that Charity is the greatest virtue.
Oh God, protect the Church of Rome. Remind Catholics that You love humanity. Remind them that they are made in Your image, endowed by You with Reason, Ingenuity and Free Will. Remind them that Your Kingdom is not of this World.