Michael Matt made reference to one of the most poignant incidents of the Vendée’s rising during the French Revolution in his talk for the Roman Forum’s Conference, “Catholics on the Global Auction Block”, in New York City on November 11th. He noted how many of the Catholic Vendéens, having had their normal routine disrupted, having marched into battle and seemingly having made their point, did what normal people would most want to do: they went home, where they hoped, finally, to be left in peace. Unfortunately, their enemies, driven by revolutionary obsessions, simply would not cease and desist. Ready to go for the jugular, they refined their techniques, kept up their pressure and, in the end, directed the republican army’s notorious “infernal columns” against their Catholic fellow countrymen in history’s first known genocide.
This incident sticks out in my mind a great deal these days in connection with the strange fallout from my recent appearance in Prague and the attack on my lecture there by Cardinal Vlk. Remnant readers will remember that I wrote an open letter to the Cardinal to explain that he was indeed correct in identifying me as an opponent of Americanism, but that he had no grounds for accusing me of thereby giving aid and comfort to anti-Semites, neo-Nazis and terrorists. Having made my point, all I really wanted to do was to put the whole issue behind me. I did not see the need for defending myself any further over an open and shut case, just as I would not feel pressed to devote vast amounts of time proving to someone who insisted that jumping off the Empire State Building would leave him uninjured that he might, perhaps, actually be wrong.
Three things only were on my mind for my post-Vlkian existence: continuing my regular writings against the influence of that crushingly powerful Americanist/Pluralist vision of political and social life which has given believing Catholics the “freedom” to recite their dogmatic principles in little Never Never Land hideaways in exchange for public enslavement to history’s most successful materialist enterprise; working, alongside my colleagues on this and other journals, to end Catholic support for a war in Iraq fomented by naturalist ideologues and self-interested politicians, and this before the inevitable reaction to its wildly mendacious and unjust character was cleverly manipulated to chastise the Faith along with its erring children; and, finally, finishing a book on Church History demonstrating how loyal Catholics through the ages have all too often been misled by a sophistic use of words to betray the message of the Word Incarnate.
Unfortunately, I had not taken account of the fact that my own ordinary daily priorities might be disrupted due to the impact of a new set of “infernal columns”--those published on several Catholic web sites, inspired by certain spiritual and intellectual concerns packaged in a form which was, until a month or so ago, totally unknown to me. These columns were clearly ready for action, and determined to press the story of my problems with Cardinal Vlk to the bitter end. I do not believe that their march was occasioned by a real interest in the substance of what I had said in Prague, but by a conviction that my talk there could provide further material for a cause célèbre. This could be seen in their effort to splice it into a taller tale, a story involving one of the most extraordinary collections of truths, half truths, historical howlers, equivocations, insinuations, speculations regarding issues of secondary esoteric import and obsessions with individual persons’ daily labors that I have ever encountered to date.
Alas!, I am ultimately a “small fry” in the list of desperados targeted by these new infernal columns. Nevertheless, their assaults have left a smear on my own reputation which will now remain imbedded on the Internet, perhaps for all eternity. Bloggers, indulging an idle curiosity dangerous to their souls, will discuss the slur to wile away the evening hours when there is nothing else to do, many of them experiencing that frisson of joy which comes from thinking that they are “onto and sharing something really big”. Inevitably, despite all the evidence to the contrary, some will come away from their game-playing thinking that John Rao must be, if only just a teeny-weeny little bit, a touch neo-Nazi, a touch anti-Semitic and a touch Islamic terrorist--all because he is anti-Americanist. After all, was his name not seen out there in cyberspace, tossed together, suggestively, by defenders of the Faith, with an array of identifiable Bay Guys? You know. The old, familiar Stalin-Hitler-Mohammed-John Rao nexus?
What this, in turn, means is that I am forced to take desperately needed time away from teaching what I consider to be really important for Catholics to know if they are to protect themselves in a very dangerous contemporary world; time that now must be spent to defend myself against absurdities; to prove that that leap off the Empire State Building is really bone-crushing after all. Well done, Smear Reports! Let the mind games being! Let the secondary, peripheral and esoteric concerns of Never Never Land Catholicism take precedence and triumph over the substantive matters that are truly destroying us.
Now smearing of Catholics dedicated to the Traditional Mass by their conservative brethren is obviously not a new phenomenon. I remember how angry we at Una Voce America were some years ago over the hatchet job done on us by one such group of concerned conservatives which constituted itself the unquestioned voice of doctrinal and liturgical orthodoxy and then printed its bizarre and misleading conclusions on the Internet. But The Smear Reports I am speaking of today are not of this conservative genre; these new ones are issued by men and women who call themselves traditionalists, and whose guns are aimed with obvious gusto against others who take pride in the same name.
Perhaps there are many such organizations and sites on the Internet. How could I know for certain unless I took another thousand hours away from eating, bathing and sleeping to hunt through the Black Hole opened up by Google for me to find out? There are only two of them—Fringe Watch and the LeFloch Report-- with which I am now familiar, and that just recently due to the persistent prodding of a young friend of mine deeply outraged by their arguments. Though reflective of different attitudes towards the Indult and the Society of St. Pius X, they appear to work hand-in-hand. It seems to be the latter, the one which is friendly to the Society, that has mobilized its infernal columns against my unsuspecting self.
What worries The Smear Reports? Its editors would argue that it is obviously the defense of the pure, unadulterated Catholic Faith. More specifically, they would say that they are troubled by the horrendous danger of subversion and secularization of the Catholic Faith due to the infiltration of the ranks of the traditionalist movement by a very specific group of representatives of what they call “perennialism”. Perennialism, they explain, is a mixture of philosophical, theosophical and theological speculations of gnostic character that seeks to unify men on the basis of common natural truths expressed throughout history under different outward forms. Ultimately pagan in its presuppositions, perennialism is used today to promote the victory of an anti-Catholic, secularist, rightist, racist, misogynist, ruralist movement. Infiltration of traditionalist circles is taking place either directly, through the work of true believers, or indirectly, through the connivance of useful idiots, yours truly among them. The perennialist, right-wing, racist victory would clearly be better served by the unity of its would-be Catholic allies, and, hence, the devotion of its fifth columnists and fellow-travelers to a “traditionalist ecumenism” which seeks to downplay the substantial differences within our own ranks. Traditionalist ecumenism, one ought to be advised, only seems to be acceptable when practiced against the danger of perennialism by Fringe Watch and the LeFloch Report, whose anti- and pro-Society backs must be sore from the mutual love taps they regularly give to one another.
As intimated above, the problem with The Smear Reports is not that they are devoid of truth. They often affirm sound principles, such as the importance of believing in the Social Kingship of Christ. They frequently attack gnostic and pagan notions which truly are reprehensible, and have indeed left a trail through all of human history. In fact, there is an extensive mainline scholarly literature on the so-called “Hidden Tradition” which contemporary groups seek to apply to modern religious, political and social life.
What makes The Smear Reports dangerous is the fact that, having asserted their Catholicism and made some interesting points about the perennial esoteric tradition, they then deal with individuals, groups and events in an equivocal fashion, relating everything they study to the service of their idée fixe: i.e., the supreme and overriding significance of the infiltration of traditionalism by right-wing racist perennialist organizations, true believers and fellow travelers. Obsession with this point prevents them from: a) really coming to terms with their targets, not just as robotic straw men and useful fuel for causes célèbres, but thoughtfully, so as to grasp how and to what degree their ideas and action might or might not be open to Catholicism; b) recognizing which of the Church’s manifold enemies is actually most dangerous today, and has already effectively infiltrated the traditionalist movement with its own esoteric principles; c) properly understanding the doctrinal principles behind the Social Kingship of Christ and their relation to human action in a world of free will; and, d) avoiding themselves becoming propagandists for an infinitely more successful naturalist “perennialism” than that carried by the mosquito they are dedicated to swatting.
Allow me to preface an elaboration of these assertions by saying something about the Catholic Social Movement that grew out of the nineteenth century struggle against the secularizing naturalism of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution to fight for the attainment of the Social Kingship of Christ. This movement gained the full support of the Church from the reign of Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878) onwards. Central to its battle for a social order and social institutions transformed under Christ the King was a sense of the urgent need to fight against the idea that social structures and social authorities were somehow unimportant to the individual’s efforts to gain salvation; that man could live a truly human life aimed towards God in a world where both society and individual, as well as the natural and supernatural realms, were clinically divided from one another and allowed to work at cross purposes.
Hence, the movement’s full-scale war for the Kingship of Christ and against the twin naturalist errors of an anti-social, individualist liberal capitalism and anarchism on the one hand, and an anti-individual, socially totalitarian marxism on the other. Hence, also its opposition to the separation of Church and State supported by both these different wings of naturalism. In fighting this war, Catholics actively seeking the Social Kingship of Christ showed their understanding of man’s holistic character. They underlined their recognition that all false separations of body and spirit would inevitably lead to the creation for a new kind of twisted unity of government with naturalist ideologies transformed into bizarre pseudo-religions themselves.
The chief problems for Catholics dedicated to “restoring all things in Christ” from the 1800’s onwards were two-fold. One was the fact that the influence of the naturalism and materialism of liberals, anarchists, marxists and then fascists--who subordinated a primary commitment to any idea to a restoration of order based on the will of a powerful leader--was exceedingly strong. Another was the realization that while the Faith gave broad guidelines to their actions, much of their temporal labor had to be based upon reason and prudential considerations, and that these, being fallible, could engender internal divisions over practical political programs and strategies.
Catholic political parties and pressure groups desiring the Social Kingship of Christ thus found that they had to be as wise as serpents. They had to maneuver to gain a hearing for their weaker position in a world dominated by their foes, all of whom shared much in common, as similar by-products of the same underlying Enlightenment naturalism. What made their maneuvering difficult was not only the greater strength of their opponents, but also the fact that all these enemies, in different ways, emphasized themes that touched on specific, immediate Catholic concerns for individual freedom, social justice, and social order. Points of contact could be, and were, appealed to by liberal, anarchist, marxist and fascist propagandists who did not share the spirit behind them, in the hope of co-opting Catholics for their own quite hostile purposes.
Four options thus lay before the Catholic Social Movement working for the Kingship of Christ under these conditions, and those options remain the same today: it could listen to the siren songs of political co-operation, allowing itself to be co-opted by one of the ideological forces noted above for the sake of some narrow, immediate practical “Catholic” gain; it could try to compete with its opponents on their own terms, turning itself into a political ideology, claiming the support of the Faith not just for its broad principles but its rational and prudential judgments as well; it could continue to squiggle and squirm, to stay viable and try to keep its integrity, with all of the nuances of a movement based on Faith and Reason, in a world not particularly to its liking; or it could give up its political mission entirely and wait for either a miracle to establish the Social Kingship of Christ or the Apocalypse to bring the need for it to an end.
The third option was really the only acceptable one, the sole that stood firmly by the full Catholic understanding of action in the public sphere. There is absolutely no way that I can take the time in this article to describe the torturous decisions that loyal Catholic activists, dedicated to achieving the Social Kingship of Christ but aware of the problems posed by the mystery of iniquity, felt called upon to make in the political and social reality forced upon believers by the unpleasant and downright evil conditions of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. To put oneself in the position of a Polish or an Hungarian Catholic forced to deal with both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, while simultaneously wondering what the victory of a Liberal Capitalist America allied with the latter would mean is to gain some sense of the dilemmas that the activist for Christ has had to face. All these decisions were subject to errors and mistakes. And all were made while facing the competition of fellow believers preaching all too easy alliance with spiritual opponents, the building of a Catholic political ideology demanding more support from the Faith than it could legitimately offer, or a social quietism permitting the strongest representative of the Status Quo to do whatever it is it wished.
Let us now turn back once again to the infernal columns of The Smear Reports. I share their love for promotion of the Social Kingship of Christ. I share their hatred for gnosticism and its perennial influence in seeking to build a unity of ultimately anti-Christian forces. But I reject as utterly irrational the two conclusions that they believe to flow logically therefrom: 1) that a rightist, racist “perennialism”, and a “traditionalist ecumenism” promoting it are “The Big Naturalist Problem” facing the Catholic Faith today; and 2) that everyone who does not share this conviction is an anti-Semite, a Communist-Nazi Hermaphrodite, or an idiot useful to the victory of the syncretist perennialist cause. Most importantly, however, I fear the influence of these conclusions because I find that they have turned the editors of The Smear Reports themselves into either agents or useful idiots of what is really The Big Naturalist Problem” for the Catholic Faith today: the Americanist/Pluralism of the New World Order. This true, immediate danger bombards them with enough esoteric perennialism to satisfy the most insatiable conspiratorialist. And it turns the hunt for the Social Kingship of Christ into a meaningless cyberspace pasttime.
That Problem with a capital “P” is not only the strongest material force in the world today. It is also the one that is most openly behind global revolutionary upheaval. On the practical level, the regime change that it favors requires acceptance of certain specific constitutional mechanisms and social policies. These “check and balance” into oblivion all rational and faith-filled attempts even to mention possible vices and crimes which prosper under such a system, much less correct them. Intellectually and spiritually, regime change involves positively promoting systemic evils through an evangelical and ever more insistent preaching of a universalist, gnostic, pseudo-religion of individualism and toleration. This is said to be mankind’s first sure-fire means of both avoiding divisiveness as well as assuring order and freedom. Americanist/Pluralist pseudo-religion has already co-opted the traditional denominations of the western world, which it has generally reduced to the level of subordinate spiritual “clubs” promoting pluralism in slightly variant Catholic, Protestant and Jewish ways. Its mission today is to bend Islam to its will in the same fashion. And, just as nineteenth century Catholic social thinkers predicted, the pseudo-religion of pluralism preaches its message in union with the State more closely and more intensely than any Faith has ever done in history.
Moreover, it is blessed, in doing so, with the help of talented and well-rewarded “snake oil salesmen”. Such snake oil salesmen are always around, ever on the hunt for the right sort of winning “pitch” to divert their victims’ attention from the criticisms of honest merchants horrified by shyster influence over a clientele that has a right to something substantive and good. The most dangerous of these junk peddlers have always been the snake oil salesmen of the Status Quo, which is forever fearful of the consequences of a message of truth, goodness and beauty for an established order which it wants to keep free from censure. From the days of the Sophists onwards, these spokesmen for acceptance of nature “as it is” have tried to discredit the work of anyone, Socratic or Christian, seriously dedicated to a profound study of all of life’s influences and institutions in order to understand how they can be used either to help or to hinder men in their efforts to grasp and then carry out the divine will. Spokesmen for the established order have sought entirely to eliminate such philosophical and theological endeavors. When they have been unable to do so, they have tried to emasculate and cheapen them. Emasculating and cheapening them involve depicting the one-dimensional, flawed and unexamined demands of the Status Quo as themselves the best, most obvious expression of divine will and reason, and unquestioning defense of such a godly, rational order as the most perfect theology and philosophy.
The chief weapon of the snake oil salesmen of the Status Quo in this soul-killing enterprise has been a repertoire of suggestive, fear-inspiring arguments designed to divert truth-seekers away from even the tiniest contemplation of possible escape from the back of Plato’s cave, much less any attempt actively to correct and transform all things natural through the supernatural work of Christ. Such concerns are identified by them as either a pathetic waste of time or dangerously revolutionary. If forced to press their case on religious terms, the snake oil salesmen will present the path to the Father of Lights as something purely inward and individual, which can only be badly distorted and led down wicked detours by concern for the outward conditions of the cave of ordinary life. The conditions of that cave--which the supposedly deluded Catholic activist sees as weighted in favor of superficial, secondary, soul-killing frivolities and materialist obsessions in need of purgation--are presented as the evident, unchangeable and even holy framework in which God wishes us to work out our salvation. In short, the weapon of the propagandists of the Status Quo is an enormous, rhetorically-charged, intellectual and spiritual wet blanket; one designed to smother all aspirations to anything other than regular schlucks of the dulling “snake oil of mindless acceptance” that they peddle. And this ensures a sickness unto death.
The snake oil salesmen of the Americanist/Pluralist Status Quo, which saw a chance to dominate the entire globe by the 1990’s, have utilized all these approaches to defend their employer, though clear difficulties have arisen due to missteps on the bloody path to the New World Order of freedom, tolerance and eternal peace. As the sores of this First Horseman of the Apocalypse have become ever more open, its survival has required a correspondingly greater emphasis on themes diverting attention away from its blatant crimes and miserable failures. This emphasis involves arousing a greater fear of the supposedly more imminent dangers posed by the three other Horsemen--all of whom happen to be anti-Pluralist in character--along with the intolerant, totalitarian hatred that they produce. These villains—Soviet Communism, Nazi Fascism and Terrorism—are indeed evil, but, at least at this particular moment in time, do not have the same seductive, destructive impact on Catholic orthodoxy and Catholic integrity as exercised by their Americanist/Pluralist comrade-in-devastation.
Lovers of the First Horseman have had to underline fresh arguments to keep the Soviet Communist theme alive, ever since the leadership of the East Bloc began to discover that the corporate and criminal freedoms guaranteed by Americanist/Pluralism gave it a much more solid chance to tighten effective grip on its populations than economically-backward Marxism ever offered. Nevertheless, the clear weakening of the usefulness of the Communist Menace demanded a greater focus upon the threat posed by the Nazi-Fascist Horseman. Hence, those daily evocations of the horrors of the Holocaust, which stir up a real sympathy for human suffering and fear of genocide in order to manipulate them for the justification of every illicit action of the anti-Nazi-Fascist “good guys”: i.e., the United States and its Israeli ally. This is supplemented by propaganda directed against the third anti-Pluralist Horseman, Terrorism-in-General, which has to be managed carefully, since it can itself easily degenerate into the racist tool condemned elsewhere. For, despite its accordion-like flexibility as a weapon for saving the Status Quo’s peeling skin, the hype on behalf of a War against Terror (which can be turned against any firmly-believed ideal) strikes an immediate, popular, macho, “us-and-them” chord, encouraging vigilante attention marking “us” as a totally different form of life from “them there wicked A-rabs”. I hear this sort of nonsense regularly: not from people who are justly concerned about the absurdity of uncontrolled immigration, but from men and women who somehow think that every single Middle Eastern or Moslem arrival in the United States possesses a peculiar gene for destruction of God’s Country and its global mission. All this, in total indifference both to a history of internal Moslem division which makes any such notion of their militant unity ridiculous as well as to the way in it serves to justify brutal Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
One would think that The Smear Reports, in their fight for the Social Kingship of Christ and against machismo and Islam would be eager to take on the “blow ‘um all up” imperialism of the Americanist Pluralist Goliath in some practical and immediate way. After all, even if one looks just to Iraq alone, its intervention there has been nothing other than a disaster for our Catholic brethren and a blessing for truly militant Islamic groups. But no. The mission has to be accomplished. And what about The Smear Reports’ desire to mobilize the faithful versus universalist religions of naturalist political import? Oh, yes, they will admit the problems for Catholicism lurking in the naturalism evident in some of the ideas motivating the New World Order, but—and this is very significant--only on the theoretical level. All practical work against that kind of obvious, open, self-proclaimed, militant naturalism seems to be viewed by them as heretical; as falling under the condemnation by St. Pius X of the work of the Sillon Movement, which, interestingly enough, shared all of the First Horseman’s concern for spreading liberal democracy. Any practical battle against the evils of the First Horseman appears to be tantamount to seeking paradise on earth. Besides, such practical work would take time away from the somehow righteous political labor of swatting at the flies of “The Great Big Rightist Racist Conspiracy” working with anti-Pluralists to seduce American traditionalists.
Allow me to examine these practical matters in greater detail by first reiterating the fact that I am fully aware of the existence of the sort of unacceptable rightist political forces disliked by The Smear Reports. They are one of the many historically-active children of the all too fertile naturalist Enlightenment. Such rightist groups do not have the answer to what ails us, because they are not rooted in Christ. While not “The Big Problem” today, they are likely to gain ever greater support insofar as at least some of the concerns that they address—such as local, national and ethnic autonomy—are shared by many of the people who suffer from the more pressing ravages of the globalism of the New World Order. Moreover, because those precise concerns intersect with a number of the serious worries of Catholic opponents of Americanist/Pluralism, they can indeed make an appeal for these potential allies’ support, and even, in theory, co-opt them. Anything is possible in a world of sin. This particular possibility has existed since the very birth of all of the different Enlightened-inspired political movements, which grew up in a Christian environment, have often fished for secular themes in supernatural Christian waters and indulged a taste for secularized Christian language to boot.
My awareness of the existence of such undesirable rightist groups is a personal one. Once, in 1989, I was invited by an Italian organization in Tuscany to discuss delivering a talk against Americanism at one of its future meetings. This preliminary dialogue revealed that association’s acceptance of a few of the ideas outlined today by The Smear Reports, although without the jazzed-up talk regarding perennialism. None of its members would even have been able to identify such a principle, much less support it. There was no effort made to “use” me. Everyone at the discussion was as up-front as he possibly could be with his respective beliefs. The rightists decided that they did not want me to speak for them when they realized just how Catholic my position was. I did not especially want to speak for them either, not only because of what their leaders seemed to be—rather embittered and power-hungry fascists—but also because their objections to Americanism turned out to be merely an objection to Americans and not to the pseudo-religious political ideology sadly misshaping my country’s destiny. All they wanted was an Italian-dominated New World Order; and one of similarly revolting character.
But let us, just for the sake of argument, say that my hosts went ahead with the invitation, and, indeed even encouraged me to come to their assembly despite my firm statements of Catholic belief. What if they assured me that I could say exactly what I wanted to say? That has also happened to me in my dealings with naturalist organizations of varied types over the years, and more than once. Would I be obliged, without any shadow of a doubt, to turn that kind of invitation down? Would I have to assume that only I, along with the Catholic cause I represented, could be co-opted and changed by the encounter? Was it not possible that this association’s audience might be seduced by me and my Faith instead? Did possession of the name “rightist” turn each and every member of that public into an absolutely predictable automaton, whose thoughts and actions were forever fixed? Or did they not still have a free will making them open to possible change? What if, per impossible, Pius XI had been invited to send a high-level representative to read and comment on Mit Brennender Sorge at a Nazi Party Conference? Or Pius XII to dispatch a legate to Moscow---not to kowtow, but to explain, in depth, his condemnation of Marxist political activity? After all, the Vatican, even in pre-conciliar days, regularly sought out that sort of possibility. Would Pius XI have been compelled to refuse and run into the arms of Communist and Liberal Democratic opponents of what appeared to be somewhat waffling Fascists? Would Pius XII have had to embrace Pluralist and Nazi enemies of Marxists whose invitation indicated the beginning of a doubt of their own beliefs? Which Catholic doctrine is it that tells me that I can have nothing to do with the sinner, even while I am given full freedom to attack his sin?
It is precisely in this practical political and social realm of the sinner who nevertheless possesses free will that Catholic activists have generally had to work. Once again, they are, to a very great degree, obliged to operate in that realm not on the basis of their Faith alone, but with respect to many rational and prudential judgments. From the earliest days of her history, the Church has proven herself to be very flexible in what she permits her active, loyal children to do in this changeable realm. If nothing else, the whole missionary experience demonstrates that truth. Was it not precisely into a world of dangerous pagan temptations and frightening Germanic rulers that St. Augustine of Canterbury and St. Boniface were sent? Did not St. Gregory the Great, in a very famous letter, instruct the missionaries in Britain to work with whatever points of contact in the pagan camp they could find, so as to permit potential converts “to rise by degrees” to acceptance of full Christian Truth? And, in fact, open discussions with pagan priests were a regular means of making inroads into the kingdoms of chieftains whose predecessors had been known to martyr missionaries just shortly before, and whose successors would sometimes do so again. One shudders to think what the history of the Middle Ages would have been had the Catholic saints who engaged in these ventures been attacked as fellow-travelers of a pagan perennialism and its political representatives; traitors, whose religious and diplomatic games with suspect barbarians would also work to subvert the Faith in the orthodox lands from which they had gone forth.
Admittedly, the same Church that allows great flexibility in the hunt for religious and political “seeds of the Logos” on which she might be able to graft the fullness of Faith in Christ, admits that mistakes can be made in this dangerous practical realm. Such mistakes have very often been made. St. Boniface, in his letters, describes in vivid detail his fears for his personal integrity in what he nevertheless notes to be necessary dealings with the corrupt and cynical leadership of the Catholic Kingdom of the Franks. Catholic activists for the Social Kingship of Christ have indeed overstepped boundaries, courting and making alliances with groups with whom agreements ought not to have been made. Hence, it is perfectly within every Catholic’s right to criticize Arthur Penty if he praised Soviet experiments in collectivization, although I am not absolutely certain that he continued such praise forever. Similarly, it is in every Catholic’s right to question whether Pius XI should have abandoned Don Sturzo’s Popular Party and Charles Maurras’ Action Française the way that he did, or given support to Mussolini’s Italy and held up Hitler (for a few months, in 1933) as the only man in Europe really doing something to oppose the Marxist menace. And, yes, Catholic activists with great freedom to offer rational and prudential solutions to modern problems have made the horrific error of claiming that their specific policies were backed by the Faith itself--making opposition to them tantamount to heresy--and sometimes painted their vision for the future in colors a bit too paradisical to be acceptable. Sad as it may be, mistakes—and sins—have been demonstrably unavoidable in the realm of practical Catholic life. But practical life cannot be abolished to prevent this reality.
Let us now toughen The Smear Reports’ argument still further. Let us say that dangerous rightist groups dedicated to a universalist perennialism have learned their lesson regarding their own potential subversion by Catholic heroes like St. Boniface. Let us say that they have now entrusted the work of liaison with our fellow believers on possible points of contact solely to their best trained and most committed, pagan, macho, racist, perennialist operatives. What then? Well, I fully admit that such operatives could find an entry into the traditionalist community. But would that entry come by their working with anti-Americanists and anti-Pluralists? Au contraire! Rather, it would come from the fact that Americanism and Pluralism, which have already deeply infiltrated the traditionalist camp, have prepared the pathway and in many respects already done the job for them.
Ockham’s Razor, which tells us to avoid esoteric explanations for effects easily proven by obvious causes, can be invoked at this juncture. Why bring in the alliance of neo-Nazi Wotan worshippers with Catholic groups noted for promoting Blessed Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors and Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum novarum to explain the growth of perennialism and political naturalism? Why do this when the powerful sociological impact of the Americanist/Pluralist environment, working twenty four hours every day on every blessed inhabitant of this land, is there to clarify it? Where else has one ever seen such a powerful, successful push for a universalist religion, and from the days of the Founders onwards? Where else has dogma-dissolving faith in the innate wisdom and energies of the self-sufficient Everyman and his pet fantasies been more professed? Where else has the conviction of living in a socio-political paradise been stronger, along with the unshakeable belief that this Garden of Eden must either spread its political and social truths everywhere or protect itself from the entry of impure Elements from the gene-damaged outside world? Where else can one note such an adulation of a “rugged individualist”, protestant-friendly existence, disdainful of all social authority and, hence, the entire urban environment that built Catholic Christendom? Open your eyes and smell the universalist, naturalist, atomist heresy, Smear Reporters! You do not need any perennialist “politically naturalist” help to teach it, other than that which played a role in Enlightenment thought in general, and worked to create Americanist/Pluralism in the first place. What you claim to dislike is the very life blood of the everyday American environment; the environment that I demand my Catholic right to be able to criticize.
And, sad to say, the influence of that environment is all too embarrassingly alive and well in the American Traditionalist Movement, some of whose members sit proudly on the First Horseman’s steed, ready to call its rampage a Catholic Crusade along with the best of them. Such sadly misled traditionalists, having declared themselves “obvious” defenders of orthodoxy, feel absolved from all further need to investigate what the full character and nuances of their Faith really involve. Such Masters of Them That Know go so far as to condemn all such investigation as the exclusive plaything of those elitist philosophers and theologians who caused the problems in the Church in recent times. This is tragic, because further investigation would prove that they have fallen--hook, line and sinker--for the most successful anti-Catholic pseudo-religion of all, the one that destroys the Faith as it pats it on the back. This pseudo-religion is proudly taught in many of the textbooks of a good number of the Catholic home school programs across the length and breadth of this land, creating a longing for a life in the Little House on the Prairie, and not one ready to welcome the glories of Catholic France, Spain, Austria and Italy. Give me a Little House on the Prairie mentality and I’ll give you a dangerous spirit of self-sufficient isolationism breeding a million perennialist problems, and with infinitely more clout than any reading of its theosophy would possess.
None of this seems to make any impact whatsoever on The Smear Reports. They, too, are among the Masters of Them That Know, absolutely certain that that which appears on their websites is Gospel Truth. For them, the real enemy is, once again, the union created by pagan perennialists, who have managed to harness the three anti-Pluralist Horsemen of the Apocalypse to work smoothly together for their nefarious cause. The power and influence attributed to this Legion of Super Heroes in its labor to seduce the Catholic world is absolutely mind-boggling. It has bamboozled a wide array of the top names in the anti-war movement to work for its ecumenical Übergod. It has constructed cells of simultaneous Communo-Nazi-Islamo-Terrorist character. It has transformed pro-urban, non-ruralist calls for Catholic Social criticism—like my own-- into back-to-the-land Distributist arguments which bear no relation to them, and all Distributist arguments into neo-Communo-Nazi propaganda five minutes away from overturning the foundations of Holy Church. It has apparently infiltrated organizations like the Roman Forum, perhaps to gain financial support for its disreputable work, maybe following the guidelines laid down by those terrorist pro-life groups which the FBI, just a few years ago, thought might be getting our money through the medium of my Gardone Seminars on Church History in Italy. Look! Up in the sky! Leaping tall buildings in a single bound! Headed for the Roman Forum bank account to milk it of the $120 profit made at our November 11th conference! It’s the Super Perennialists! And if they were as gifted as they are made out to be, I might well be tempted to hand those government-destroying greenbacks over to them--if only out of admiration for this tour de force alone. Except that I would not really know to whom to make out the check.
Speaking of that November 11th conference, the LeFloch Report, as to be expected, suggested that it would have been much more suitably directed to uncovering the machinations of traditionalist ecumenism on behalf of perennialism. Had this utterly pointless endeavor been pursued, still another occasion would have been lost to instruct people in subjects like the full consequences of the Incarnation, the history of the Catholic Social Movement and, last but definitely not least, the achievements of great fighters for Tradition of the recent past. These include men like Dietrich von Hildebrand, whom I find to be more and more neglected by new recruits to the movement who think they can do without knowledge of their experiences. But, then again, von Hildebrand, anti-Nazi though he was, worked together with Engelbert Dollfuss. And Engelbert Dollfuss held together a motley alliance of enemies of Nazism, from Pius XI to pagan Austrian nationalists. Just another group of perennialists fit for burning in The Smear Reports’ insatiable bonfires!
In the final analysis, The Smear Reports have separated the love of the Social Kingship of Christ from the work of the Catholic Social Movement. They have transformed the transformation of all things in Christ into a new form of quietism—a Social Quietism. This Social Quietism has nothing whatsoever to do with the battle against the Sillon that they constantly bring up as though it were their trump card in the War Against the Great, Naturalist, Perennialist Evil. Yes, the Sillon did promote a political naturalism that sought union with non-Catholic groups on the grounds of commitment to a common Enlightenment ideology promoting liberal democracy, which was itself baptized as the sole acceptable Catholic form of government. (Sound familiar? Perhaps Americanist? Perhaps Pluralist?) And, yes, divinization of specific political systems or programs is a temptation to which the Catholic Social Movement is subject--if it does not remember that it is composed of part Faith, part Reason and part prudential judgment; if it does not learn from the mistakes of activists throughout Church History in making decisions that can dissolve the Faith into something unacceptably broader and politically corrupt. But the answer to such temptation is not abandonment of all social and political criticism. The environment around us does not cease to become significant to the struggle to gain salvation just because we choose to make believe that this must be the case due to fear of mistakes made in dealing with it. Discussion of political and social flaws and suggestions for their correction are in no way the same thing as calls for the construction of the Earthly Jerusalem. The equation of the two is nothing other than a plea for Social Quietism.
All such Social Quietism inevitably heads towards one of two ports. On the one hand lies a flawed mystic harbor, where the Catholic life is turned into a thoughtless waiting for a strangely millenarian-minded Holy Spirit to come to work for creation of what indeed is a naturalist paradise on earth. On the other lie the docks of Catholic Never Never Land, where traditionalists can concern themselves solely with the proper celebration of the liturgy. Traditionalism, in Never Never Land, becomes a Roman Catholic High Anglicanism, with a beautiful ritual which poses no challenge to the existing Status Quo and the dogmatic Pluralism dictating how we live once the Mass has ended and the chapel doors have opened to the reality outside. Never Never Landers can indulge this hand-me-down ritualism only up until the moment they are dispatched either by their Americanist/Pluralist masters--who will disdain them no matter how much they bow and scrape--or the outraged opponents of the New World Order--who will look upon them as nothing other than fellow-travelers and whitewashers of a blatant economic and political exploitation which mocks the message of Christ.
This would be bad enough, but the problem with The Smear Reports goes further still. Abandonment of the Catholic Social Movement for the Kingship of Christ, with all of its admitted risks, does not free them from the dangers of political engagement. For their Social Quietism has turned them—perhaps gradually and totally unconsciously--into “snake oil salesmen” for the active acceptance of the demands of nature “as is”, whose practical demands upon believers cannot be questioned under pain of sin. What this means, in a world dominated by the Americanist/Pluralist Status Quo, is acceptance of its established order just “as is”. That established order’s arrogant conviction of its total infallibility, its capitalist materialism, and its imperialist desire to make the entire world over in its image to avoid divisiveness and intolerance just… “are”. They are the conditions which God has given us to live in. Failure to accept those conditions as they are, or, worse still, efforts to correct and exalt them, are blasphemous illustrations of political naturalism.
Moreover, these conditions cannot just be endured by Catholics. They must be praised, alongside the God that gave them to us. Hence, like Michael Novak, George Weigel, Father Neuhaus and many other Catholic conservatives before them, the a-political approach of The Smear Reports ends by flying the snake oil flag of the First Horseman with seeming enthusiasm, as a truly Catholic banner. This explains why its causes célébres----from the association of each pipsqueak critique of Israel foreign policy with anti-Semitic bloodlust to the notion that only a Nazi or a Communist would entertain a worry about Liberal Capitalism—“just happen” to be the same as that of the Status Quo. Real Catholics, in their minds, would appear to be those who dedicate themselves to the same causes as the other Americanist/Pluralists around them, and avoid all criticism of the system like the plague.
But such a divinization of one of the many political systems emerging from the Enlightenment; such a permission for the Status Quo to set the ground rules for what the Incarnation can and cannot affect is the essence of that Social Modernism which St. Pius X truly attacked in condemning the Sillon. LeFloch and other enemies of that movement—some of them highly active, politically, on behalf of the Action Française-- must be tossing about violently in their graves, seeing how their names have been invoked to serve purposes so alien to their own vision.
Perhaps someone will object that I am merely feeding my own idée fixe in turning Catholic attention towards the danger of Americanist/Pluralism and away from perennialism and traditionalist ecumenism. Those who would like to explore my response to such an objection more thoroughly should consult the appropriate writings on my website, For the Whole Christ, (jcrao.freeshell.org). For the moment, and just in passing, let me remind everyone that my comments regarding the New World Order’s devotion to a worldwide democratic revolution backed by a universalist religion of toleration simply repeat what its proponents have already openly and insistently stated. It is they, after all, men like George Bush, Sr. who first adopted this term “New World Order” to describe their peculiar construction project; not I. Moreover, my “obsession” with the Americanist/Pluralist threat to the world and seduction of traditionalists comes from obvious facts: not just from George W. Bush’s bombing of helpless peoples into oblivion, but also from the manifold public and private statements of fellow Catholics who have baptized the building of a Liberty Land Theme Park in Iraq, where all too familiar kinds of immoral “stuff happens”, as a glorious and holy Crusade for Christ. The real obsession indulged by The Smear Reports, on the other hand, is one based on an esoteric idea connected together with reprehensible political movements which people like myself totally reject, have lectured and written against and can be associated with only through fanciful insinuation and equivocation.
I have written this article because I am angry, and because I think that it addresses matters which must be tackled by those among my fellow believers who have been awakened to the evils of Americanist/Pluralism, before they are stung in the same way that I have been. But this article is as far as I am willing to go in debating The Smear Reports under present circumstances. I would be falling into a trap that Martin Luther describes if I went any further down this pathway. Luther noted that, while Catholics of his day were formulating intricate arguments answering one or another of his theological points, Melanchthon and he sat in a beer hall inventing new, sophistic topics that slammed the unsuspecting Roman apologists totally from out of left field. This is what generally happens in our own time in a debate between a journalist trying to do serious work and a web site with esoteric interests. While the journalist seeks to answers his opponent with in-depth arguments, the web site—whatever its sincerity might be-- can come up with new and juicy insinuations from the Twilight Zone….again and again and again and again. And which are most likely to be grasped, remembered and spread? The arguments or the insinuations?
As far as I am concerned, at least at the moment, the proper forum for further discussion of these issues is a face off, with adequate time for thorough examination of issues of theological, philosophical, historical and sociological import, as well as a chance for direct questioning and answering with the parties concerned all present. Will such a debate take place? I would encourage it, and with the widest possible publicity. Partly, I must admit, because I have no doubt what the outcome would it.
Originally Published in The Remnant
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