First we begin with a bit of a quote:
…There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man…
– G. K. Chesterton, “What I Saw in America”, 1922
There are some words to infuriate our liberals – and even some of our libertarians: “dogma” and “divine”! Did he really just say that if we want to have democracy we must have divine dogmas? You bet I did, because it is true.
When it comes down to it – as Thomas Jefferson, Deist though he was, clearly saw – if our rights are not given to us by God then they are not rights. If we are not all created equal then there is no justification for democracy because democracy’s justification is the moral equivalence of all people. It is the only equality there is or can be – because it is obvious that we are not physically and mentally equal to each other.
It there were nothing but blind evolution which accounts for our being here – if there is no God, that is – then any assertion of an absolute human right is absurd. It will fall victim to the first person who comes along and says “I don’t agree” and who has the power to enforce it. If you want to be free the first thing you must do – hard as it will be for many – is believe in God. Don’t believe in God and, eventually, you won’t be free simply because you’ll have no defense against someone who doesn’t want freedom to exist for whatever reason. Whether it is a national socialist who wants to base things upon race or an international socialist who wants to base things upon class is a matter of perfect indifference: you cannot say that the national or international socialist (and they come in all sorts of different guises) is wrong unless you have an absolute truth – God – to point to.
That right there is enough to stick in any liberal (and most libertarian) craw – but I’m about to get much worse about it.
…So far as that democracy becomes or remains Catholic and Christian, that democracy will remain democratic. In so far as it does not, it will become wildly and wickedly undemocratic. Its rich will riot with a brutal indifference far beyond the feeble feudalism which retains some shadow of responsibility or at least patronage. Its wage-slaves will either sink into heathen slavery, or seek relief in theories that are destructive not merely in method but in aim; since they are but the negations of the human appetites of property and personality. Eighteenth-century ideals, formulated in eighteenth-century language, have no longer in themselves the power to hold all those pagan passions back. Even those documents depended upon Deism; their real strength will survive in men who are still Deists; and the men who are still Deists are more than Deists. Men will more and more realise that there is no meaning in democracy if there is no meaning in anything; and that there is no meaning in anything if the universe has not a centre of significance and an authority that is the author of our rights. There is truth in every ancient fable, and there is here even something of it in the fancy that finds the symbol of the Republic in the bird that bore the bolts of Jove. Owls and bats may wander where they will in darkness, and for them as for the sceptics the universe may have no centre; kites and vultures may linger as they like over carrion, and for them as for the plutocrats existence may have no origin and no end; but it was far back in the land of legends, where instincts find their true images, that the cry went forth that freedom is an eagle, whose glory is gazing at the sun.
Not only do we have to believe in God but, at the end of the day, we must believe in the Christian conception of God (which, by the way, takes in the Jewish concept of God). See what has happened as the Christian ideal has decayed in our society. See how many of our rich are, indeed, brutally indifferent – indifferent to public decency, rising criminality, spreading poverty because they can pay the extra charge to ensure that the indecent, the criminal and the poor cannot get at them. See how many of those at the bottom of the economic pile have embraced a death wish called “welfare”, and they demand more and more and more, not seeing that all they are demanding are more chains (and the rich are more than pleased to place the chains of welfare dependency upon them). Part of the problem of really bringing home to people how awful it is now that we are post-Christian is that there are too many examples – we live behind locked doors and dare not let the children out to play and yet we pretend there is nothing fundamentally wrong. Bankers loot our wealth with the connivance of politicians and we don’t rise in revolt. Purveyors of societal decay find judges who will rule that freedom means the ability to make money off of ruining lives and none of us think ill enough of it to do anything about it.
I wrote this today because after the debate this week it really came home to me that Mitt Romney is likely the next President of the United States and it won’t matter in the least if we don’t have a moral, Christian revival in this nation. Sure, Romney can and probably would do well by our economic life – good policies firmly implemented will get wealth creation re-started, unemployment down and our fiscal system in better shape. Clear leadership will improve our position around the world. But what point in being richer if lives can still be ruined for no other reason than one person wanted to make a buck off it? A perfectly moral society is not, of course, possible – but if we are not striving for a better society; a more just, merciful society; a society in which all the weight of power and economics and popular culture is thrown in to the scales on the side of those who obey the laws, marry, have children, work hard, save…if we aren’t trying for that then all we’ll be doing is piling up a bit of wealth on the way to total collapse and, in the end, the loss of all liberty.
Democracy demands that people believe certain, self-evident truths which can only be established as revelations from Nature and Nature’s God. This is what we proclaimed in 1776 and this is what we must continue to believe if we are to survive as a free people. It is what we have steadily forgotten since 1776 and it is heavily atrophied here in 2012. Some still hold to it, but their numbers diminish – and the only people who can hold to it are those who believe in God; but even more, only those who believe in the Judeo-Christian God can restore us to the truth we proclaimed as self-evident all those years ago. Jefferson was not what we could call a Christian – let alone a Catholic – but he had enough Christian (and Catholic) knowledge as he wrote in the second half of the 18th century to proclaim a Christian and Catholic dogma as the founding ideal of the United States of America: that all men are created equal.
We’ll all see what happens – I think we still can revive. In fact some trends I see today greatly encourage me – but the enemies of truth are determined upon victory while the friends of truth have yet to really become a hard, rebellious group determined to have it’s way.