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It’s Jean Raspail’s World Now

This just in: [1]

Hundreds of angry and frustrated asylum-seekers broke through police lines Monday near Hungary’s southern border with Serbia and began marching north toward Budapest, while Britain and France pledged to take in tens of thousands more refugees to try to ease the crisis.

As European leaders debated how to share responsibility for the more than 340,000 people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia who are already seeking refuge, Germany promised to spend billions of euros in extra aid for those already there and those yet to arrive. France weighed whether increased airstrikes against Islamic State militants would help to stem the flow of those fleeing Syria.

But the Hungarian prime minister scoffed at a proposed quota system for refugees in the 28-member European Union, saying it wouldn’t work unless Europe first secured its borders.

Hungary’s inability to control the flow of people across its southern border with Serbia was on graphic display Monday. Crowds who had grown tired of waiting for buses at Hungary’s first migrant holding center near the border village of Roszke tore down flimsy police tape, advanced down a country road and walked around and straight through rows of police trying to block them.

Police shoved individual migrants and fired jets of pepper spray, but it had little effect as about half of the 500-strong crowd reached the M5 highway that connects Serbia and Hungary. They headed north along the shoulder, raising their arms and chanting “Germany! Germany!”

There is no law there. There is no security. Buchanan wrote a couple of weeks ago: [2]

Germany, which took in 174,000 asylum seekers last year, is on schedule to take in 500,000 this year. Yet Germany is smaller than Montana.

How long can a geographically limited and crowded German nation, already experiencing ugly racial conflict, take in half a million Third World people every year without tearing itself apart, and changing the character of the nation forever?

Do we think the riots and racial wars will stop if more come?

Former CIA agent Michael Scheuer is extremely bleak about the situation: [3]

The leaders and bureaucrats of the European Union (EU) are fortunate that they have largely disarmed the citizens of EU member states. If the citizens of Europe had personal weapons, all officials at all levels of the increasingly authoritarian EU organization might well be under fire — and rightly so – for causing the horde of unwanted, unneeded, and non-assimilable migrants that is now inundating Europe.

The migrants will produce further lawlessness, a debilitating level of societal tensions, enormous increases in the expense of social services and public housing, and contribute nothing worth having to the nations of the EU. The migrants also will wreck the status quo in EU security as the many hundreds of thousands of incomers are mixed with a goodly number ISIS and al-Qaeda organizers, recruiters, fighters, and suicide attackers who will make the job of EU security and intelligence services even more undoable. Indeed, the only upside of the migrant flood is that elected and appointed EU officials will feel proud of themselves for spending the money of the EU’s wildly overtaxed citizens for a “humanitarian purpose” that, to anyone with commonsense, clearly carries the seeds of terrorism, the end of the EU, fascism, and civil war.

Scheuer is not happy with the Pope:

And then there is the Pope Francis who wants to get all the migrants possible into Europe and wants Catholics to defy the law and put them up. The mindless, do-gooding interventionism of this Pope will not be sated until he helps to turn the EU into a gigantic Greece, and ensures the impoverishment of the rest of the Western world, while the Vatican’s art collection and property holdings remain intact.

Read the whole thing. He blames the West’s thoughtless military interventions in the Islamic world for this refugee crisis.  [3] And he calls for massive disobedience by the West’s citizens of their governments until those governments put a stop to an immigration influx that will permanently change the character of Western nations.

Very strong stuff. Ross Douthat, far more ameliorative, nevertheless says some profound issues of national identity are at stake [4] in this crisis. Excerpt:

And the countries that have opened the door widest are places like Germany and Sweden, which are motivated by a different theory of moral obligation: A utilitarian universalism, which holds that the world’s wealthy nations have an obligation to accept refugees, period, regardless of whether their own governments bear any responsibility for the crisis that produced them.

This theory has the advantage of eliminating any messy haggling over who bears responsibility for what. When tragedy strikes, everybody above a certain level of G.D.P. just has to open the gates. (Or, perhaps, to have them open permanently.)

But it has the disadvantage of being completely unworkable over the long run, as Europe is beginning to discover. The utilitarian theory is blind to the realities of culture, the challenges of assimilation, the dangers and inevitability of backlash [5]. It takes what is a deep, long-term issue for European society — one way or another, over the next century the continent will have to absorb large numbers of new arrivals, from Africa especially [6] — and brings things to a crisis point right now. And then it tries to evade that crisis by treating dissent as illegitimate, which only works until it doesn’t: One day you have a pro-immigration “consensus,” and the next a party with fascist roots is leading Sweden’s polls [7].

So prudence has to temper idealism on these issues. There may be a moral obligation to accept refugees in wealthy countries, but there cannot be a moral obligation to accept refugees at a pace one’s own society cannot reasonably bear.

Reading all the coverage from the past few days, I couldn’t help thinking of a notorious novel I had never read: French author Jean Raspail’s apocalyptic The Camp of the Saints (1973). I found an English translation for free online [8], and spent a couple of hours this afternoon reading it.

It’s easy to see why the book has been denounced as racist. Every few pages or so there’s language that makes one cringe. It is offensive to read how Raspail depicts all non-Westerners as faceless, frightening hordes. Yet beneath the ugliness of that, the novel makes some hard to ignore points. From what I can tell so far — and I’m only about a quarter of the way through the novel — the book is not about race, but about culture, and the West having become too broad-minded and humane to protect itself from an unarmed invasion by people who do not share its culture, and who do not want to adopt its culture, but only want to peace, security, and prosperity of the West.

The villains of the book are do-gooders in the European establishment — government, academia, media, the church — who have come to hate their own civilization, or at least not love it enough to defend it from a flotilla of a million Third World migrants sailing towards Europe. They are coming ashore on Easter Sunday, and all of France is in a panic. At this point in the novel, the government has decided to welcome the migrants, because the alternative is too cruel for them to contemplate. This passage, from early in the book, gives you a sense of the thing, in both its moral ugliness but also its crude realism. The speaker is a Belgian consul in India, whose government had put forth a policy of adopting Indian children as a way of easing poverty and overpopulation, but who found that there were far more Indians eager to come to Belgium, or at least to send their children, than the country could handle:

“You and your pity!” the Consul shouted. “Your damned, obnoxious, detestable pity! Call it what you please: world brotherhood, charity, conscience … I take one look at you, each and every one of you, and all I see is contempt for yourselves and all you stand for. Do you know what it means? Can’t you see where it’s leading? You’ve got to be crazy. Crazy or desperate. You’ve got to be out of your minds just to sit back and let it all happen, little by little. All because of your pity. Your insipid, insufferable pity!”

The Consul was sitting behind his desk, a bandage on his forehead. Across from him, some ten or so figures sat rooted to wooden chairs, like apostles carved in stone on a church façade. Each of the statues had the same white skin, the same gaunt face, the same simple dress—long duck pants or shorts, half-sleeve khaki shirt, open sandals—and most of all the same deep, unsettling gaze that shines in the eyes of prophets, philanthropists, seers, fanatics, criminal geniuses, martyrs—weird and wondrous folk of every stripe— those split-personality creatures who feel out of place in the flesh they were born with.

One was a bishop, but unless you already knew, it was quite impossible to tell him apart from the missionary doctor or the starry-eyed layman by his side. Just as impossible to single out the atheist philosopher and the renegade Catholic writer, convert to Buddhism, both spiritual leaders of the little band … They all just sat there without a word.

“The trouble is,” the Consul continued, “you’ve gone too far! And on purpose! Because you’re so convinced it’s the right thing to do. Have you any idea how many children from the Ganges here have been shipped off to Belgium? Not to mention the rest of Europe, and those other sane countries that closed their borders off before we did! Forty thousand, that’s how many! Forty thousand in five years! And all of you, so sure you could count on our people. Playing on their sentiments, their sympathy. Perverting their minds with vague feelings of self-reproach, to twist their Christian charity to your own bizarre ends. Weighing our good, solid burghers down with a sense of shame and guilt. … Forty thousand! Why, there weren’t even that many French in Canada back in the seventeen-hundreds. … And in two-faced times like these, you can bet the government won’t admit what’s really behind that racist decree. … Yes, racist, that’s what I called it. You loathe the word, don’t you? You’ve gone and worked up a race problem out of whole cloth, right in the heart of the white world, just to destroy it. That’s what you’re after. You want to destroy our world, our whole way of life. There’s not one of you proud of his skin, and all that it stands for …”

“Not proud, or aware of it, either,” one of the statues corrected. “That’s the price we have to pay for the brotherhood of man. We’re happy to pay it.”

If you replace “white” with “Western,” it become easier to grapple with the consul’s point.

I’ll keep blogging about the book as I make my way through it. The Camp of the Saints is an unnerving book to read. Despite being badly dated in parts — it was written in the 1970s, and shows it — it is uncannily reminiscent of today’s headlines. If you can hold the episodic crudity of its language at bay, Raspail is confronting the existential dilemma facing Europe today with this invasion by the Third World. In a 2013 interview in a French magazine [9], Raspail says:

Many will be naturalized.

This does not mean they will become French. I’m not saying that these are bad people, but “naturalization papers” are not the heart of naturalization. I can not consider them as my compatriots. We must drastically toughen the law urgently.

How can Europe face these migrations?

There are only two solutions. Either we try to live with it and France – its culture, its civilization – will disappear even without a funeral. This is, in my opinion, what will happen. Or we don’t make room for them at all – that is to say, one stops regarding the Other as sacred, and we rediscover that your neighbor is primarily the one living next to you. This assumes that you stop caring so much about these “crazy Christian ideas”, as Chesterton said, about this erroneous sense of human rights, and that we take the measures of collective expulsion, and without appeal, to avoid the dissolution of the country in a general miscegenation [métissage, a word that in French carries more the sense of the English words “multiculturalism” and “diversity”]. I see no other solution. I have traveled in my youth. All peoples are exciting but when mixed enough is much more animosity that grows that sympathy. Miscegenation is never peaceful, it is a dangerous utopia. See South Africa!

At the point where we are, the steps we should take are necessarily very coercive. I do not believe and I do not see anyone who has the courage to take them. There should be balance in his soul, but is it ready? That said, I do not believe for a moment that immigration advocates are more charitable than me: there probably is not one who intends to receive at home one of those unfortunates. … All this is an emotional sham, an irresponsible maelstrom which will swallow us.

Right there is what is both urgent and appalling in Raspail. I found this blog post featuring translated highlights of an interview he gave on French TV in 2011 [10]. Here, in less provocative terms, he frames the essential moral and civilizational question posed in The Camp of the Saints:

The Camp of the Saints is a novel. It’s purpose is not to send a message. I’m a novelist. I imagined this situation which is a bit like ours today except the arrival of millions of immigrants seeking paradise did not happen in twenty-four hours, but over a longer period of time.

And The Camp of the Saints ends badly… badly or well, according to your opinion. There are four hundred pages. Imagine all the questions it raises in our minds – on a social level, on the national level, but also on the inner level of each person. What do you do? If you allow in such a mass, what happens to the country? If you don’t allow them in where is your Christian charity? Where is your pity, and many other things like that…

More:

You said I was an explorer. I spent thirty years traveling among small peoples in danger of extinction. I know well civilizations that are about to disappear. When a minor civilization is in danger it must defend itself. If civilizations have disappeared it is because they were engulfed by the tidal wave of the more advanced newcomers. With us, the situation is the reverse. We have an old civilization in Europe, in France, and we find ourselves before gigantic masses of people. Europe does not have a billion people, yet we face hundreds of thousands, millions, billions. Logically, we should be forced to defend ourselves, but how?

True enough: there are unprecedented masses of both war refugees and economic migrants moving from the Middle East and Africa to Europe in boats. If Europe lets them all in, it will soon no longer be Europe. How do those nations defend themselves against invaders who come unarmed, seeking charity? If one is a Christian, what is the Christian response? Keep in mind that you are not simply giving over your country to the Other, but are giving over the country of your children, and all your descendants.

It is not a question that can be satisfactorily answered by denouncing Raspail and his sort as heartless racists.

Like I said, I’ll blog a bit more about this novel as I work my way through it. I do not love this book. But I respect it.

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247 Comments To "It’s Jean Raspail’s World Now"

#1 Comment By Glaivester On September 9, 2015 @ 9:13 am

do suspect, though, that on Judgment Day, I will not be asked what I did to preserve Western culture. It’s far more likely that I will be asked, “I came to you as a Muslim refugee, fleeing violence, homelessness, poverty–what did you do for me?” And if the response is, “Well, I sent you and your babies back to a refugee camp to live in a tent with thousands of others in 122 degrees, dripping with humidity. That’s where you clearly belonged, and I needed to make sure we preserved our culture. Besides, you might well end up a terrorist, so we had to protect ourselves from you,” or “You already had a decent apartment in Turkey–why the hell couldn’t you be satisfied with that instead of trying to find something better for your kids?!” it’s probably not going to go very well for me.

And if Jesus shows you all of the little girls molested in the Rotherham underage sex ring and asks “what did you do to stop that?” what will you say? “Well, I wanted to prove how broad-minded I was, so I let those people in and those girls were just acceptable collateral damage so that I could feel I was morally superior by sacrificing my culture.”

You think that will go well for you?

This is all based on a misinterpretation of the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). The fact of the matter is, from a Biblical standpoint we are not taught the universal brotherhood of man. Jesus’ brothers either refer to Jews (his physical kin) or his spiritual brothers (those who believe on him). Therefore, this passage cannot refer to the general level of charity to the poor.

#2 Comment By Glaivester On September 9, 2015 @ 9:15 am

Bottom line: unless Europe is prepared to kill them all, Europe is going to have to figure out somewhere to put them, because they are not staying put as things are now.

They don’t have to go home, but they can’t stay here.

#3 Comment By Irenist On September 9, 2015 @ 9:22 am

@Mary Russell:
Many thanks for your kind words.

@ginger @Erin Manning:
Your Christian witness in this thread is very admirable. I would like to be able to agree with you both wholeheartedly. But I do have misgivings.

Perhaps the present number of refugees can be handled without any catastrophe by the present European order; maybe Elizabeth Anne is quite right to think that this crisis is manageable.

But surely there would be some number of migrants that would be unmanageable? If Europe, moved with Christian compassion, were to adopt a complete open borders policy tomorrow, perhaps half a billion people might migrate there from the Third World? Perhaps a billion? Each of these migrants would be just as much a child of God, just as much Our Lord confronting us in the faces of the least of these, as the refugees and economic migrants now. And yet, I don’t think Europe (or North America) could readily accommodate even half a billion migrants: I think there would be severe dislocations in civic order, violence, and perhaps a return of ethnic nativist nationalism that would make Donald Trump look like Albert Schweitzer by comparison. At some point, it would do no good to the migrant to move to such a disordered place. At some point, one would be more charitable to say “No.”

Now, we may be very far from that point. On a continent with Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, and Vladimir Putin, though, I think we might be closer to a hard right resurgence.

Our Lord orders us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And yet, even the most saintly Dorothy Day admirer running the most Christian of homeless shelters will eventually run out of beds. Has Europe run out of beds? No, not yet. But the principle ought to be admitted that there are limits.

Once that principle is admitted, we come to my chief misgiving: perverse incentives. As tales of Mama Merkel spread throughout the Mideast, how many more migrants will brave the journey? How many more lifeless children will wash ashore in Turkey, their parents having undertaken their grueling trek for the economic promise of Germany, and not for fear of persecution?

And what of those who arrive? At some point, Europe will, in one way or another, run out of beds. Either from unemployment, strain on the welfare system, or resurgent ethno-nationalist authoritarianism, Europe’s shelter will close for a long Night.

Miguel has said that the refugee camps in the Mideast are underfunded, which is a grave scandal. Ginger, you’ve mentioned the brutal temperatures in the Mideast—but these people were living in the Mideast in those temperatures long before any war in Syria: we can’t take everyone from everywhere hot. Now, I’d like to see the refugee camps far, far better funded. Certainly, I’d like to see them provide real relief for those mothers and their children from the brutal heat.

But I do not think it is an act of mercy to encourage more migration from the Mideast (or Africa) into Europe. Europe’s situation is simply too politically precarious right now. And Mama Merkel, far more than the more limited proposal of Pope Francis, is plainly incentivizing further migration. She is thereby worsening the long-term crisis. And that is not merciful. The lives that will be lost in future migrations, the lives that would be lost if Europe descends into authoritarianism, are children of God, too.

You are both quite right that we have no choice as Christians: we MUST succor the refugees we are confronted with—the good Samaritan cannot merely ride on in that moment of emergency. But we must also have the virtue of prudence, and try to succor those refugees in a way that does not encourage further migration, because the long trek to Germany is in itself a deadly humanitarian disaster, and because it could dangerously destabilize an already reeling Europe.

I applaud the depth of your Christian charity. But I have misgivings. With the deepest deference, I wonder what you both think.

#4 Comment By Philly guy On September 9, 2015 @ 9:30 am

Studied the Chartres Cathedral for an Art History class and thought it unique and beautiful.Do not think it would lose much of its charm if it became repurposed.Have been to Haja Sofia in Istanbul and it is beautiful and repurposed.

[NFR: “Repurposed.” That sentiment makes me sick — and believe me, I would say the same thing if you blithely suggested that it was no big deal to “repurpose” the Dome of the Rock as a Christian church or a fitness center. Can you not understand what these buildings mean to religious people? Is the Wailing Wall nothing more than a barrier of stone. Your opinion is, literally, barbaric. — RD]

#5 Comment By Glaivester On September 9, 2015 @ 9:38 am

All of you people saying that Christians need to make sacrifices, including destroying our countries and cultures, by allowing a foreign invasion, in order to obey Christ – I challenge all of you to give a week’s worth of pay (after tax) to an international charity (if you are Christian yourself, then preferably a Christian charity that seeks to evangelize), at least a portion (say, 30% or more) of which is to go to the persecuted Syria and Iraq.

[11] Will you put your money where your mouth is?

#6 Comment By Sean Wisnieski On September 9, 2015 @ 11:35 am

“In the case of the positive moral precepts, prudence always has the task of verifying that they apply in a specific situation, for example, in view of other duties which may be more important or urgent.” –Pope St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 67

Yes, we have a positive moral duty to help those in need. But we also have other positive moral duties against which to balance that. We are obliged to maintain the rule of law, for instance; to promote the common good; to protect the rights of workers; to strive to maintain a moral consensus; and so on. A man who sells his possessions to help the poor isn’t as admirable if he wounds and impoverishes his wife and children by doing so.

The “neighbor” in “love thy neighbor” isn’t just limited to my literal neighbor, but it also doesn’t exclude him (or my family, or my countrymen generally), and those neighbors of mine may be positively harmed by importing hundreds or even thousands of refugees into our communities.

Indeed, a strong case can be made that to my duty toward my LITERAL neighbor is stronger than my duty toward foreigners. We are bound by common social ties, after all, and grace perfects nature, not murders it.

#7 Comment By Patrick On September 9, 2015 @ 11:37 am

@ M_Young:

Ah, ok. About the “impos(ing) that morality on the rest of us”, do you just mean Christians advocating policies they favor and participating in the normal political process? I see that immigration issues fall disproportionately on the Southwest and South, and that it is a bit unfair for the rest of the country to make laws that they don’t live under as a practical matter (Vermont ain’t So. Cal), but surely Christians can advocate for policies they want under the agreed-upon political process? Or no?

#8 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 9, 2015 @ 11:52 am

No, I said that when one is citing racists and advancing a rather extreme viewpoint the burden of arguing is on you. I also said that as viewpoints go it was shockingly pity of character for Rod.

That something is ‘racist’ (whatever that means) doesn’t make it either untrue, immoral, or false. This reminds me of that other thread where Engineer Scotty said something snarky about ‘human biodiversity’ being racist. Either it’s true that there are innate and genetically based differences between races in terms of things like intelligence, propensity to violence, propensity to dishonesty, etc., or it isn’t, but either way, it’s not a matter that can be settled by saying ‘this is racist, and it hurts my feelings!’. (For what it’s worth, most people who actually study the matter in depth seem to believe that some racial differences in cognitive and behavioural traits are at least partially genetically based).

Also, Islam isn’t a race. Slovakia has said they’d be happy to accept Middle Eastern immigrants who converted to Christianity, and I think that’s the right decision for them. (For the record, I also think it might sense for America or Germany to welcome in millions of Muslim refugees, as long as they stay there and don’t migrate to countries like Poland which do have a distinct religious and ethnic identity they want to preserve. As said above, America doesn’t have much of a culture to be destroyed).

#9 Comment By Irenist On September 9, 2015 @ 11:54 am

@Glaivester:

This is all based on a misinterpretation of the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). The fact of the matter is, from a Biblical standpoint we are not taught the universal brotherhood of man. Jesus’ brothers either refer to Jews (his physical kin) or his spiritual brothers (those who believe on him). Therefore, this passage cannot refer to the general level of charity to the poor.

The interpretation that the least of “the brethren” (τῶν ἀδελφῶν) in Mt. 25:40 differs importantly from “my neighbor” (μου πλησίον) in the good Samaritan parable in Lk. 10 is certainly countenanced in some Calvinist and Baptist circles, inter alia. And, indeed, this reading can find Scriptural warrant in Matthew 12:50, where Our Lord tells us that “whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother (μου ἀδελφὸς καὶ ἀδελφὴ καὶ μήτηρ).” I think it’s a respectable reading for a sola scriptura exegete to favor.

However, as a Catholic bound by both Scripture and Tradition, I cannot endorse your reading. Catholic exegesis, not least the social teaching of the popes of the last few centuries, has consistently applied the term “brethren” in Mt. 25:31-46 to all of humanity—with no less wide a scope than “neighbor.” For instance:

Sacred Scripture continually speaks to us of an active commitment to our neighbor and demands of us a shared responsibility for all of humanity.

This duty is not limited to one’s own family, nation or State, but extends progressively to all mankind, since no one can consider himself extraneous or indifferent to the lot of another member of the human family. No one can say that he is not responsible for the well-being of his brother or sister (cf. Gen 4:9; Lk 10:29-37; Mt 25:31-46). Attentive and pressing concern for one’s neighbor in a moment of need — made easier today because of the new means of communication which have brought people closer together — is especially important with regard to in the search for ways to resolve international conflicts other than by war. It is not hard to see that the terrifying power of the means of destruction — to which even medium and small-sized countries have access — and the ever closer links between the peoples of the whole world make it very difficult or practically impossible to limit the consequences of a conflict.

—Pope St. John Paul the Great, Centesimus Annus § 51.

Thus, as a Calvinist (or Arminian Baptist, as the case may be?), you are certainly free to restrict your circle of charity to those within the visible church as you understand it–although given your laudable charitable generosity, it does not appear that you have done so? In any case, as a Catholic, I have no such freedom: the Vicar of Christ tells me that Our Savior would have me understand my obligations to the least of these to be cosmopolitan and universalist, like the Catholic Christian faith of my fathers itself. The King has spoken through His Vicar about how I shall be judged at the Return of the King, and I must obey.

#10 Comment By Joe Laughon On September 9, 2015 @ 12:45 pm

Considering the native European birth rate is slowly rising, the Muslim birth rate is decreasing, and Europe remains a remarkably peaceful place, perhaps in reality the crisis isn’t much of one? Sure there are immense difficulties in assimilating pockets of recently arrived people and Islam creates an additional self segregating factor. But I’ve yet to see how a small minority among half a billion Europeans will require a second Battle of Tours.

#11 Comment By hammersmith On September 9, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

I thought I was the only one who read that book!

#12 Comment By SLW On September 9, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

[NFR: You really think the Chartres cathedral is interchangeable with any other house of worship? Sigh… — RD]

[NFR: “Repurposed.” That sentiment makes me sick — and believe me, I would say the same thing if you blithely suggested that it was no big deal to “repurpose” the Dome of the Rock as a Christian church or a fitness center. Can you not understand what these buildings mean to religious people? Is the Wailing Wall nothing more than a barrier of stone. Your opinion is, literally, barbaric. — RD]

But what does Chartres mean to Christ? I’ve read “How Dante..” and know what Chartres means to you, but what does it mean to Christ? More or less than other houses of worship? Do you honestly think he’d prefer to minister at Chartres than a one room church house in the Ozarks? The only prerequisite that I recall from the Bible is that where three or more or gathered in His name, there He is also.

I totally get the destruction of a major cultural touchstone, and that such things are tragic, but from a religious perspective, it’s all just dust and more dust.

When you remove Christ from whatever meaning attached to things by religious people you’re left with a whitened sepulcher.

#13 Comment By Irenist On September 9, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

@Sean Wisnieski:

Indeed, a strong case can be made that to my duty toward my LITERAL neighbor is stronger than my duty toward foreigners.

The Good Samaritan was not the literal neighbor of the victim by the roadside—although of course, unless the Samaritan was depriving his family of food money when he paid the victim’s bill at the inn, the Samaritan’s duty to the victim wasn’t in conflict with his duties to closer kith and kin. That conceded, though, we do also have a duty to the stranger, in particular: the Church is the New Israel, and qua adoptive heirs engrafted onto the tree of Israel, we were strangers once in Egypt. But these are mere quibbles: I write to praise you, not to bury.

We are bound by common social ties, after all, and grace perfects nature, not murders it.

Now, this is a vital point! God’s graces to a St. Francis, lover of Lady Poverty, do not mean that God disdains the duties of a St. Louis, King of France: the natural virtues of the statesman have as much a place in the plan of Providence as the supernatural virtues of the ascetic. The celibate, poverty-vowed renunciant goes beyond nature, but only a Gnostic (or a Shaker) would have us all be celibate renunciants, and only a Marxisant liberation theologian (or a Ranter, Digger, Leveller, or peasant communist follower of Thomas Müntzer) would have us all vow poverty.

Indeed, I think the insistence upon the supernatural order of the Beatitudes to the complete exclusion of the natural order of the Mosaic or Davidic state, has always been essentially Gnostic: Marcion both rejected the Old Testament as Scripture, and preached an antinomianism broadly akin to that of Winstanley or Müntzer. In the Old Testament, God countenances the natural order of the civil state, in all its unavoidable cruelty—its wars, its national particularism, its punitive Justice. In the New Testament, the same God, Incarnate, guides us higher, to the supernatural order of turning the other cheek, of taking the stranger for our neighbor and our brother, of forgiveness and Mercy. The extraordinarily taut tension between these two orders understandably drives a Marcion (or a Hauerwas) to want to reject the natural, Israelite, carnal, “Constantinian” order. And, indeed, St. Paul is quite clear (as is His Master) that the supernatural order is higher, and the natural exists only to serve the supernatural, which is ultimately the highest fulfillment of the Law.

But we cannot reject nature. We are neither Marcionites nor Mennonites. We can and must acknowledge the paradox, the nigh-unbearable tension, between nature and grace, between the Justice of Mount Sinai and the Mercy of the Mount of Beatitudes. This would be impossible, were it not for the Passion on Mount Calvary: for the Cross resolves the paradox; the Cross is where Justice and Mercy kiss.

@Hector_St_Clare:

Either it’s true that there are innate and genetically based differences between races in terms of things like intelligence, propensity to violence, propensity to dishonesty, etc., or it isn’t, but either way, it’s not a matter that can be settled by saying ‘this is racist, and it hurts my feelings!’

Of course. Reality doesn’t care what we think: wishes aren’t horses.

(For what it’s worth, most people who actually study the matter in depth seem to believe that some racial differences in cognitive and behavioural traits are at least partially genetically based).

Well, other than the occasional Boas, Lewontin, or Gould, most of the people who have bothered to study the matter in depth (particularly in recent years) have been . . . um . . . already quite open to the idea of genetically mediated racial differences in cognitive and behavioral traits.

That said, I have read Nicholas Wade, Cochrane and Harpending, and Gregory Clark, along with plenty of iSteve, HBD Chick, and Razib Khan, and although I haven’t read them yet, I’m pretty well acquainted with the gist of the arguments of Murray and Herrnstein. My acquaintance with “human biodiversity” is . . . diverse. On one hand, that there has been some recent, regional human evolution (malaria resistance, lactase persistence) is undeniable. And sure, the ethic IQ gaps both within the U.S. and in cross-national comparisons are quite persistent. OTOH, Richard Lynn’s IQ data is positively revered by HBD/race realist types, and one of the consistent findings of Lynn’s IQ data was that the Irish in Ireland were as dumb as a bag of rocks. And maybe we were. But as erstwhile TAC publisher Ron Unz has pointed out, that’s quite inconsistent with the extreme rapidity with which the Flynn Effect brought Irish-American IQ’s up to the national average—even accounting for some sort of high-IQ bias confounder on account of emigrants having been the pluckiest of the Irish or whatever. Likewise, HBD/race realist rebuttals to counterexamples like East Germany and North Korea (genetically similar populations whose divergence seems far too recent to be genetic rather than socioeconomic) seem to me unpersuasive. (As do HBD rebuttals of Unz’s point about the Irish and the Flynn Effect.)

I can countenance the idea of Cochrane and Harpending that ghettoization and strong selective pressure may have genetically improved the median IQ of Ashkenazim: the rightward shift of Ashkenazi IQ is persistent, and does indeed appear to indicate a “higher ceiling.” The idea that East Asians may have been subject to broadly similar selection pressures with broadly similar results is also plausible.

But the Irish, East German, and North Korean examples make me much more leery to adopt Clark’s evidence that Indians, or the general HBD/race realist consensus that aboriginal peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and the Americas, have a “lower floor.” I’m not saying it’s impossible: as you rightly note, reality doesn’t care about our ideals. I’m saying that the populations in question have existed in relative penury (often accompanied by blatant or structural racism) throughout the modern period, so the “poverty confound” on the IQ data seems to me to be ineradicable.

Thus, due to the “poverty confound,” even if the worst aspersions upon non-Eurasian intelligence happened to be true, we, in 2015, simply cannot be in a position to have an epistemically justified, evidentially warranted belief in that truth.

Yes, the race realist can point to boogie black kids having a lower median IQ than preppie white kids, when both have the same household income. But I am too much of a conservative not to think that a centuries-long assault on the integrity of the black family (e.g., selling children down the river from their mothers) isn’t going to leave a lasting impact unreflected in mere income stats.

Also, assuming arguendo that some groups really are nitwits (perhaps us Irish and you Indians, e.g.), what practical policy proposals would flow from that? I’m already opposed to affirmative action on unrelated grounds, and other than that, “give every child the best opportunities we can” seems to apply to the Einstein and the child with Down’s Syndrome alike. So while the matter may be of abstract interest—and cause real pain to those tarred as members of the less advanced peoples—the practical value seems quite limited indeed.

More disturbing for me personally, although it’s perhaps merely the triumphant “I told you so!” of the vindicated outcast Cassandra, I seem to notice on the “race realist” blogs a certain morbid mirth, a certain perverse pleasure, in pointing out the very worst peccadillos of people of color. Lewis wrote that we would have gone over to the Enemy when we find ourselves wishing that his wickedness should be wickeder, “his blackness blacker” (ahem), just so we can feel superior to it, for then we shall be rejoicing that the world is more evil than it might’ve been. If, arguendo, some of us are ethnicities of nitwits, that ought to be a grim truth, subject of sorrow rather than rejoicing. But what I see instead in the iSteve precincts of the Web are a kind of WASP ethno-nationalism and apparent malice toward, well, the least of these. I respect that these people think they’re speaking hard truths to effete power. But must they display such unseemly delight about it?

#14 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 9, 2015 @ 4:52 pm

Also, assuming arguendo that some groups really are nitwits (perhaps us Irish and you Indians, e.g.), what practical policy proposals would flow from that? I’m already opposed to affirmative action on unrelated grounds, and other than that, “give every child the best opportunities we can” seems to apply to the Einstein and the child with Down’s Syndrome alike. So while the matter may be of abstract interest—and cause real pain to those tarred as members of the less advanced peoples—the practical value seems quite limited indeed.

This is exactly how I view it as well. It is very hard to see what the policy consequences of race realism are supposed to be if not some kind of Social Darwinism or, perhaps, eugenics. But such policies, besides being inhumane (and, I believe, unchristian), are — as I said a couple of days ago, perhaps on another thread — based on an obvious fallacy, a confusion of description with prescription: To say that Darwin’s description of natural selection (or any other biological fact) requires us to adopt certain social policies is like saying that Newton’s Law of Gravitation requires that we never build buildings taller than one story. If there really were lower IQs or other disadvantaging traits wired into the DNA of certain groups, this obviously wouldn’t be the fault of the individuals in those groups — so the goal of policy should be to minimize the damage they do to those individuals, not egg it on.

Also, while Hector knows more about this than I do, my understanding was that biologists generally don’t talk about “races” anymore anyway, because the term implies a kind of fixity and group coherence that isn’t there. They talk about “clines,” or if I understand this correctly, gradations. Right?

#15 Comment By Erin Manning On September 9, 2015 @ 4:53 pm

Irenist, I’m sorry for not responding earlier; I’m battling a migraine today. But I did want to share this link:

[12]

The author argues that even before our military involvement in the region and the subsequent rise of ISIS and similar terrorist groups, Syria had suffered the effects of an unprecedented drought, due to global climate change, that had devastated the livelihoods of many of its citizens. Already destabilized and suffering from the lack of adequate food and water, the Syrian people were then pushed to the brink of the current migration by the military actions of the US and others.

I have not independently researched these claims as I can barely look at a screen just now, but perhaps the author has a point. If the Syrians are fleeing their home country because rapacious global policies enacted by first-world multinational corporations have contributed to third-world drought conditions then perhaps the first world does have a significant responsibility to ameliorate the distress we have caused (even if we are not personally and individually responsible).

#16 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 9, 2015 @ 4:56 pm

The anti-immigration intellectuals blame the elites — albeit some veer into wildly paranoid conspiracy theories, but you generally won’t find Glaivester or M_Young indulging in pogroms against immigrants. The latter do target the most accessible, weak, vulnerable defenseless, because, who wants to risk serious injury going up against someone from an immigrant culture who is really dangerous?

They don’t have to go home, but they can’t stay here.

Not good enough. There are no empty steppes or open prairies to drive them out into. What happened to the ships full of Jewish refugees turned away from South America and North America? Did they sail off to a distant shore singing “Wooden Ships, On the Water”? (Yes, I know, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young didn’t introduce that song until decades after WW II). No, they had to return to the German ports they left from.

So like I said, any solution has to designate SOME place where they WILL be directed, shipped, taken… and make it possible for them to live there until some other arrangement can be made.

While we’re quoting inspirational literature, I offer this citation from C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle: “The dwarves is for the dwarves!”

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 9, 2015 @ 5:01 pm

The possibility that there are some genetically determined differences as to intelligence of different definable population groups is irrelevant to policy.

The differences are in the shape of curves, not absolutes for all or even most individuals in the group. All the curves range from morons to geniuses. The percentages may vary some. Thus, each individual has every right to be evaluated AS an individual, not on the basis of his group identity.

The sooner we eliminate race as a criterion, the sooner we can free all the geniuses to be geniuses, and stop pretending that some geniuses are morons, while some morons are geniuses, because “those people are all alike.”

Hector has agreed with me on this in the past. I don’t know if he’s changed his mind.

#18 Comment By dominic1955 On September 9, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

Erin Manning,

“Dominic1955, Siarlys is right. I was referring to Ursula Le Guin’s famous story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” You can read it here, if you are at all interested:

[13]

So, no, I wasn’t trying to come up with those silly hypotheticals involving, say, an IVF lab next to a day care center when both buildings are on fire, etc.–nothing like that.”

But, in essence, its the same silly thing.

“I was saying, as Le Guin says in her story, that if the survival of your civilization depends on turning your back on the suffering of the innocent, then perhaps it is time to reconsider your civilization, or at least your place in and/or support of it.”

Its the same sort of shrill nonsensical point though. What entity is out there waiting to set up a non-European child to sacrifice to, I haven’t a clue, in order that Chartres will be preserved? Newsflash, there isn’t one and will not be one so making a hysterical point about the value of one child’s life is more than Chartres is nothing but grandstanding theatrics. Its not an either/or situation.

Its the same schtick the heretics try in order to shame people into thinking we must have ugly vestments and ugly church buildings-its a false dichotomy playing on naïve heartstrings because of an imaginary evil.

THAT is how its the same as the kill a baby or nuke New York type of scenario. I don’t care if you dress it up in much better writing.

#19 Comment By dominic1955 On September 9, 2015 @ 5:17 pm

SLW,

“But what does Chartres mean to Christ? I’ve read “How Dante..” and know what Chartres means to you, but what does it mean to Christ? More or less than other houses of worship? Do you honestly think he’d prefer to minister at Chartres than a one room church house in the Ozarks? The only prerequisite that I recall from the Bible is that where three or more or gathered in His name, there He is also.”

That isn’t what the Bible means and Chartres has His Eucharistic Real Presence so, in a sense, yes, Jesus prefers Chartres to the Ozark room. But then again, He prefers any Catholic Church as well.

#20 Comment By Irenist On September 9, 2015 @ 5:44 pm

@Eamus Catuli:

It is very hard to see what the policy consequences of race realism are supposed to be if not some kind of Social Darwinism or, perhaps, eugenics.

Yup. Race realists tend to be pretty brazenly eugenicist fans of inner city Planned Parenthood facilities and provision of contraceptives to Africa. Pro-lifers, not so much.

my understanding was that biologists generally don’t talk about “races” anymore anyway, because the term implies a kind of fixity and group coherence that isn’t there. They talk about “clines,” or if I understand this correctly, gradations. Right?

That sounds right, for much the same reason that the fashion for genetically determined phylogentic clades in taxonomy has led many biologists to see even separate animal species as more continuous than discrete. But in fairness, I don’t think the more sophisticated race realists (as opposed to the White Nationalist knuckle draggers (as it were) to whom they end up, however inadvertently, giving aid and comfort) are really that committed to “race” per se. They’re quite happy to hypothesize about how, e.g., medieval manorialism and Roman canon law on cousin marriage inside the Hajnal Line led some European populations (the English, some of the French, the Low Countries, the Rhineland, the northern Italians) centered on Frankish Austrasia, to be genetically predisposed to exogamy, nuclear families, atomic individualism, and high trust civic orders, whereas the benighted Occidentals outside the Hajnal Line (the Irish, the southern Italians, the Eastern Orthodox, the Arabs) are instead supposed to be genetically predisposed to being endogamous, clannish, and prone to tribalism, nepotism, corruption, and graft. They’re also quite happy to blog deep thoughts along the lines of East Africans make great marathoners, but West African muscles are optimized for strength and sprinting, which is why American blacks aren’t out-marathoning Kenyans, but are mighty successful in the NFL. That is to say, although they cherish their disdain for other ethnic groups, they usually are disdaining them at the more granular level of ethnicities rather than races, despite the name. There are exceptions to this—most of the HBD types today seem to be of the view that some sort of passage through agricultural civilization is a necessary genetic prerequisite to the sort of intellect and impulse control optimal for modern living. Thus, although happily observing of specific ethnicities that, say, the Sicilians are more clannish than the Swedes, or the Masai better marathoners than the Yoruba, HBD/race realist sorts are usually also pretty sanguine about making broad generalizations about the general inferiority of those not blessed to have descended from the Axial Age, medieval, and early modern peasant farmers of the North African and Eurasian ecumene. IOW, they’re happy to draw ethnic distinctions, but they’re also awfully ready to make broad statements to the effect that Eurasians are a lot smarter than Amerindians and Africans with their maize and yam horticultures, and what’s worse, to say that Australian aborigines and some of the Kalahari peoples are just unfathomably dopey Paleolithic types on an even lower level than the benighted horticulturalists.

Again, I want to stress that in not one of these cases involving cognitive or emotional efficacy have the HBD/race realist crowd, IMHO, adequately accounted for what I call the “poverty confound.” Every single one of the non-Eurasian races (and quite a few of the Eurasian ethnicities) the race realists disparage has a relatively longish history of being treated like garbage by some conqueror or other, and of being wracked by famine, disease, poverty, and war. Were the Irish of 1945 genetically inferior because they missed out on Carolingian manorialism, or were they just really malnourished? (My dad grew up a few doors down from Frank McCourt, and his family subsisted in Malthusian fashion almost entirely on thin oatmeal of the sort I’d call “gruel.” He says the lads in his parish would gather round the windows of a row house where someone was frying rashers, just so they could delight in at least getting to smell meat for a change. So my money’s on malnutrition.) If the aborigines are functionally retarded, how’d we like to go out naked into the Outback and find ourselves enough insects to eat, without any aboriginal help? If blacks are so dumb, how’d MLK graduate Harvard Div. at 19? (Yes, Hector, that last one’s anecdotal. But still!)

Anyway, as you can see I’m deeply skeptical of this stuff. Now, the fact that it offends me doubtless compromises my objectivity. Granted. But, although I take all such speculations with more grains of salt than the Holy Land pilgrim will see comprising Lot’s wife, it can be entertaining to read, in the way that lengthy expositions and comment threads embodying all sorts eccentric views can be one of the great pleasures of reading the Internet generally—not just the race realists, but the Less Wrong/transhumanist blog archipelago, or libertarians, or anarchists, or Marxists, or monarchists, or academic feminists, or queer theorists, or neoreactionaries, or just about any religious sect you can think of, etc.—sometimes nothing whiles away a rainy day or three like a deep dive into some alien worldview; I suspect that’s what motivates much of the liberal TAC commentariat, almost all of whom would place my own Catholicism squarely within the Web’s wacky world of weird worldviews (which is fine). But given that charitably exploring outré worldviews is a hobby of mine, I think even my distaste for race realist conclusions probably doesn’t completely stop me from being fair to them. And with that said, they just haven’t addressed the poverty confound. And given the pernicious—at best racist, at worst eugenicist—implications of their views, I’d like to see way, way better evidence before budging from my hopefully egalitarian default on cognitive and behavioral traits.

#21 Comment By M_Young On September 9, 2015 @ 6:47 pm

” but surely Christians can advocate for policies they want under the agreed-upon political process? Or no?”

Many of the people who in SSM arguments here reject Christian morality is a basis for policy in that regard turn around and use alleged Christian morality as the reason we should open our borders.

#22 Comment By M_Young On September 9, 2015 @ 6:59 pm

“The author argues that even before our military involvement in the region and the subsequent rise of ISIS and similar terrorist groups, Syria had suffered the effects of an unprecedented drought, due to global climate change, that had devastated the livelihoods of many of its citizens. Already destabilized and suffering from the lack of adequate food and water, the Syrian people were then pushed to the brink of the current migration by the military actions of the US and others.

Well then doubling their population in 25 years didn’t exactly help, did it. And I know Turkey has been engaged in massive dam building up river from the fertile crescent, though I don’t know if that affects Syria per se.

Besides, these ‘refugees’ will consume more carbon as they settle in Germany, because it is cold there. So if you were really concerned about global warming, you wouldn’t want them in the north.

But of course none of this is about rationality. It is about blaming the West first, and because the West is to blame, it deserves to be changed utterly.

#23 Comment By M_Young On September 9, 2015 @ 7:01 pm

“It is very hard to see what the policy consequences of race realism are supposed to be if not some kind of Social Darwinism or, perhaps, eugenics.”

I’d be happy with abandoning dysgenic policies, like paying for women to have 11 kids.

#24 Comment By Irenist On September 9, 2015 @ 8:17 pm

@Erin Manning:

Agreed. The First World certainly bears great responsibility: even had our wars (WWI, Iraq) not destabilized the Mideast, we’d still owe the desperate our surplus wealth in justice, as Chrysostom preached. I just question whether incentivizing migration does anyone, including the Syrians, any lasting favors.

But never mind that right now: just know that I’m praying for you to get over that migraine.

#25 Comment By Irenist On September 9, 2015 @ 8:20 pm

@M_Young:

What’s the non-dysgenic alternative? Letting those 11 kids starve to death? Seriously asking.

#26 Comment By Patrick On September 9, 2015 @ 11:53 pm

@ M_Young:

“Many of the people who in SSM arguments here reject Christian morality is a basis for policy in that regard turn around and use alleged Christian morality as the reason we should open our borders.”

Ah, gotcha. Yeah, that is the thing with heresy. Either Christianity is entirely true, in which case no abortion, SS”M”, or anything: or none of it is true and I’d either convert to Cosmanian Orthodoxy (if I didn’t believe in God) or convert to Judaism (if I didn’t believe in Christ but still believed in God.) Cosmanian Orthodoxy has the advantage of not being half-assed in it’s measures: it beats liberal Protestantism in that sense, ha.

#27 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 10, 2015 @ 12:30 am

What’s the non-dysgenic alternative? Letting those 11 kids starve to death? Seriously asking.

Contraception.

#28 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 10, 2015 @ 12:42 am

Also, while Hector knows more about this than I do, my understanding was that biologists generally don’t talk about “races” anymore anyway, because the term implies a kind of fixity and group coherence that isn’t there. They talk about “clines,” or if I understand this correctly, gradations. Right?

That’s quite correct. It’s also irrelevant though. Here’s a rather valuable insight of the HBD crowd (as far as I know, I don’t know of anyone else who’se thought of it). The common ‘conventional wisdom’ about the former German Democratic Republic- the country next door to where you live- is that it was an economic failure, and thus it demonstrates the failure of Marxist economics, or of central planning, or communism, or something like that. OK, that requires we elide over a few things, like the fact that most modern-day eastern Germans think the GDR was ‘more good than bad’, and that East Germany fell into a horrible recession after 1990, and that East Germany was tied with the Czech Republic as the most egalitarian society in the world after the Byelorussian SSR, or that it had a very high Human Development Index. But still, let’s run with that. The question then becomes, what should we have expected from East Germany, if it weren’t for the dreaded evils of Marxist economics? Should we have expected it to perform at West German levels? Well, actually, probably not. East Germany for the first few decades after independence had a national IQ *ten points below* West Germany, which is to say, at the level of a typical Latin American country. (IQ rose in the 1970s and 1980s, so this effect went away over time, and I have no real idea what caused it, though I have some ideas). Given that, you could make a strong argument that the GDR actually *overperformed* its national IQ, and there are deeper and more important things going on than which economic system they chose to follow.

#29 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 10, 2015 @ 12:50 am

Studied the Chartres Cathedral for an Art History class and thought it unique and beautiful.Do not think it would lose much of its charm if it became repurposed.Have been to Haja Sofia in Istanbul and it is beautiful and repurposed.

“Repurposed”?

This is revolting. The purpose of the Hagia Sophia and the Chartres cathedral aren’t to look pretty, they’re to enable to worship of God. ‘Repurposing’ it to serve a false religion is, yes, blasphemy.

#30 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 10, 2015 @ 1:09 am

There’s too much wrong with this to explain in brief, but basically, you’re overstating the degree of stability in those countries previously — dictatorships are not especially stable long-term

What evidence do you have that ‘dictatorships aren’t especially stable”? After the failure of the Arab Spring and the attempt to ‘democratise’ the former Soviet Union, with all that followed, you still think democracy is the right prescription for every culture? Unbelievable.

I remember mocking the Arab Spring protesters back in 2011, and predicting that nothing good would come of them, and it turns out I was right.

#31 Comment By Erin Manning On September 10, 2015 @ 1:11 am

Irenist, thank you so much for your prayers! I’m much better now that the thunderstorms have rolled through. My kids call me a human barometer. 🙂

And I don’t think that any and all pragmatic concerns about *how* to handle refugees are necessarily unjust–so long as the questions remain those of how best to help, not how best to justify maintaining the status quo.

#32 Comment By dominic1955 On September 10, 2015 @ 8:07 am

Patrick,

“Either Christianity is entirely true, in which case no abortion, SS”M”, or anything: or none of it is true and I’d either convert to Cosmanian Orthodoxy (if I didn’t believe in God) or convert to Judaism (if I didn’t believe in Christ but still believed in God.) Cosmanian Orthodoxy has the advantage of not being half-assed in it’s measures: it beats liberal Protestantism in that sense, ha.”

Pretty much. Liberal Protestantism makes absolutely no sense to me. I think it would make more sense if someone told me they were joining the Moonies, but that’s none of my business…

#33 Comment By Patrick On September 10, 2015 @ 11:28 am

@ dominic1955:

“Liberal Protestantism makes absolutely no sense to me.”

Me neither – these people gave us Prohibition. But imagine how attractive it would be if you were a gay man? Episcopalianism, for instance: all the bells and whistles that you like about Catholicism without the “intrinsically disordered” stuff. Or imagine how attractive it would be if you liked getting along with people to begin with (that really isn’t my favorite Christian feature.)

I think people are attracted to the heresies that suit their personal strengths or biases as it were. I could see the Amish, for instance, because I think technology really does have a corrosive effect on society (of course, they’re calling it evil, which is heresy.) But liberal Protestantism? It is all the boring parts of Christianity with none of the good old stuff – often I kind of like that the Catholic Church has “the right enemies”, which isn’t really a holy thought.

#34 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 10, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

East Germany for the first few decades after independence had a national IQ *ten points below* West Germany…

The original reason for building the Berlin Wall was that higher-performing, better educated, east Germans were leaving for the west, where they could make more money, leaving behind the plodding masses. The idea was to stop the brain drain.

A really sane, really human, and for that matter really Christian culture, would be able to provide meaningful work and participation in the community for all levels of IQ, skill, etc. (with some extreme outliers in either severe medical conditions or persistently destructive anti-social behavior requiring some institutional parameters), while avoiding the traps of inherited caste status, allowing for social mobility but not raising expectations that EVERYONE is going to be a doctor or a lawyer next generation. For those who are in some manner “advanced,” a “good” culture should inculcate that while there are some advantages, “from those to whom much has been given, much is expected.” Otherwise stated, from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs. I think there was a well known American Catholic who used to say that, if she didn’t actually coin the phrase herself.

dominic, for a mystic, you can be such a literalist sometimes. It is not true, as someone else remarked, that Omelas IS Salem Oregon. The name was derived by playing anagram games with Salem, O. Le Guin never claimed Salem was a utopia, nor that a child was kept in a cell in misery to sustain the existence of Salem, Oregon. The story, of course, is allegorical, the “compact” that is the center of it improbable. Erin and I would probably both object to some of the sexual themes that run incidentally through Le Guin’s spinning of the tale.

But, one can easily transpose the allegory to real life, real world situations. Is it possible that my comfort living in the USA is made possible by the misery of some child somewhere around the world, or a few million of them? Actually, it is. I cannot walk away so easily as those who walk away from Omelas. Its not one city. Its the entire economy of a planet. Besides, there being no supernatural power that decreed the utopian bliss in exchange for one child’s misery… I could actually try to alleviate the misery rather than just walk away.

So, to come back to Chartres. Unlike the implausible burning straw men dominic holds up for our derision, IF the price of preserving Chartres, beautiful as it is, was keeping one child in squalor, then it might well be a Christian’s duty to sacrifice Chartres, if that were part of the price of releasing this child to live a wholesome, fulfilling life.

We all know that the world is far more complex than any allegorical tale, but Erin made a fair answer to those who would subject refugees to artillery fire or lock them up in dank caverns lest Chartres be overwhelmed by the barbarian hordes.

That said, I think the real hazards of cultural obliteration are somewhat greater than a liberal in Malibu has any need to recognize, and considerably less than some of the more raucous voices here are warning. As Hector points out, there are countries with greater and lesser capacities for absorbing refugees, and we need to establish where they ARE going to go, rather than either let them roam in search of a good stopping point, or opening up on them with artillery.

#35 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 10, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

I’d be happy with abandoning dysgenic policies, like paying for women to have 11 kids.

OK, but I fail to see what that has to do with race or ethnicity. Wouldn’t the same policy apply to white women who had 11 kids?

@Hector:

What evidence do you have that ‘dictatorships aren’t especially stable”?

Well, they seem to have a way of rather messily collapsing. What’s the dictator dictating, anyway, if not some kind of imposed order on what would otherwise be warring factions?

After the failure of the Arab Spring and the attempt to ‘democratise’ the former Soviet Union, with all that followed, you still think democracy is the right prescription for every culture? Unbelievable.

If by “democracy” you mean suddenly one day asking people to vote on stuff, with little or no preparation, no, that’s not necessarily the right prescription at all. If you mean voting as part of a system of orderly government supported by well-developed civic cultures and institutions, then yes, I would call that the worst solution except for all the others. Any society large enough to include a diversity of opinions and worldviews — and nearly all actually existing societies do — is going to be more stable long-term if there are mechanisms for managing those disagreements and coming to decisions that have the widest possible buy-in, as opposed to just one guy or some small committee of oligarchs telling everyone how things are going to be. That’s just common sense.

As to East Germany, I’m not sure I followed your point, but if IQs are bouncing around noticeably over the course a few decades, then I’m pretty sure we’re not talking about something in the DNA.

#36 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 10, 2015 @ 2:01 pm

Forget to address the first response there to M_Young, in case that’s not obvious.

#37 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 10, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

Also, to anticipate one objection: I don’t think ALL dictatorships necessarily sit atop what would otherwise be warring factions; some do, but Hitler’s and Tojo’s apparently didn’t, for instance, since functioning democracies emerged in fairly short order after the dictators were removed. But then, those were nonetheless unstable for another reason — i.e. without democratic accountability, the dictator or ruling clique had too much power to embark on insane projects like conquest and world war. This has a way of provoking massive resistance from other nations, as it turns out. Not good for stability.

#38 Comment By panda On September 10, 2015 @ 2:09 pm

:What evidence do you have that ‘dictatorships aren’t especially stable”? After the failure of the Arab Spring and the attempt to ‘democratise’ the former Soviet Union, with all that followed, you still think democracy is the right prescription for every culture? Unbelievable”

Um, no offense, but both the collapse of the Soviet regime and the Arab Spring, are pretty good indications of the inherent instability of authoritarian regimes in ubranized countries. Let’s put it otherwise: when was the last time a liberal democracy was overthrown in a revolution?

#39 Comment By Irenist On September 10, 2015 @ 5:18 pm

@Hector_St_Clare:

What’s the non-dysgenic alternative? Letting those 11 kids starve to death?

Contraception.

Fair enough: yours is a logically consistent position. But on the flipside, that’s why I think a pro-life Catholic has to be a seamless garment Catholic: sans contraception and abortion, social welfare provision is needed.

@Erin Manning:

Irenist, thank you so much for your prayers! I’m much better now that the thunderstorms have rolled through. My kids call me a human barometer. 🙂

Greater Fort Worth got rain yesterday, too? With the exception of the deluge last spring, I’m usually pretty happy to see rain here in DFW: good for the farmers, good for the water supply, cuts my summer sprinkler bill. But now I’ll have to try to remember to say a quick prayer for you when the raindrops start falling….

And I don’t think that any and all pragmatic concerns about *how* to handle refugees are necessarily unjust–so long as the questions remain those of how best to help, not how best to justify maintaining the status quo.

As I had hoped and kind of suspected, beneath differences of emphasis, it looks like we’re on the very same page.

@Patrick:

I think people are attracted to the heresies that suit their personal strengths or biases as it were.

Indeed. A less impassioned and commonsensically populist social reformer than Muhammad wouldn’t have been an iconoclastic, brimstone-preaching Arian. A less prophetic temperament than Luther’s would’ve accepted correction at Worms. A less self-confidently erudite scholar than Calvin wouldn’t have insisted upon following Augustinian logic to inhuman conclusions. A sanguine, vigorously healthy and less mathematically bookish Pascal mightn’t have been a Jansenist. Had Spinoza had a less tidy mind, he mightn’t have preferred pantheism. Had the Founders been less Enlightened, they might’ve been less Deist. Had Schleiermacher been less kindhearted, he wouldn’t have been a universalist. If Crossan didn’t have such consuming compassion for oppressed peasants, he wouldn’t insist so stridently that Jesus was nothing but an oppressed peasant. If Walter Kasper wasn’t sincerely concerned about reaching out to the marginalized, he wouldn’t be a Modernist.

@Siarlys Jenkins:

Is it possible that my comfort living in the USA is made possible by the misery of some child somewhere around the world, or a few million of them? Actually, it is. I cannot walk away so easily as those who walk away from Omelas. Its not one city. Its the entire economy of a planet. Besides, there being no supernatural power that decreed the utopian bliss in exchange for one child’s misery… I could actually try to alleviate the misery rather than just walk away.

Bravo, sir! The brightest gem in a comment strewn with them.

@Eamus Catuli:
W/r/t your discussion with Hector_St_Clare, it’s only fair to note that the Roman principate and empire were dictatorships before they finally evolved into a more traditional “Oriental monarchy” (as Gibbon might say) at Constantinople, but the Roman autocracy, in one form or another, lasted fifteen centuries—far longer than any modern democracy. OTOH, under modern post-industrial conditions rather than ancient agrarian ones, authoritarian and even totalitarian dictatorships seem able, if so inclined, to keep the lid on roiling ethnic and sectarian hatreds (e.g., Stalin, Tito, Mobutu, Hussein, Gaddafi), but do seem quite brittle in the face of “black swan” events against which developed democracies are rather more resilient. Then again, lacking the civic traditions and institutions Eamus Catuli mentioned, the choice may be between ochlocracy and tyranny, rather than between democracy and tyranny. In that case (as in the Balkans, post-Soviet space, and Arab world), dictatorship is often the least of the actually available evils, “North Atlantic democratic and civic traditions” not being on the menu. In particular, if one draws Kirkpatrick’s admittedly sometimes fuzzy distinction between merely authoritarian (Augustus, Constantine, the Stuarts, Napoleon III, Bismarck, Salazar, Franco, Tito, Suharto, Ataturk, Chiang, Rhee, Peron, Pinochet, Putin, Assad, whoever’s actually running China and Iran this year) and full-on totalitarian (Savonarola, Torquemada, Calvin, Cromwell, Robespierre, Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim, ISIS) regimes, with some sort of in the fuzzy middle between the two (Caligula, Nero, Julian, Theodosius, Muhammad, Charles IX, the Tudors, Philip II, Napoleon I, Ho, Diem, Hussein, Gaddafi, the quasi-Talibanesque Wahhabi monarchies of the Gulf), then the choice between chaotic mob violence and the sort of authoritarianism found in modern China or the Augustan principate (where if you keep your head down and stay out of politics you can probably enjoy a quiet life with your family in relative peace and calm) ought to be made on behalf of the latter by anyone of minimal prudence. Democracy > authoritarianism > mob-ruled bloody chaos > totalitarianism, as the Mideast ought to have taught us by now. (I assume I preach to the choir, but it’s worthy of explicit remark, I think.)

#40 Comment By Glaivester On September 10, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

Thus, as a Calvinist (or Arminian Baptist, as the case may be?), you are certainly free to restrict your circle of charity to those within the visible church as you understand it–although given your laudable charitable generosity, it does not appear that you have done so?

I am a Baptist who has decided not to worry too much what the cosmological meaning of predestination is. I am not saying that my charity is restricted to the church, just that the parable of the sheep and the goats was not about general charity.

I am a firm believer in being charitable to all, although I tend to be biased toward the idea that charity toward non-believers generally ought to point to the gospel (I do give money to beggars, but always along with a card inviting them to my church). I also believe we have special charitable obligations toward fellow believers. I just don’t feel that we ought to be doing it under the fear that we will lose our salvation if we do not. I also don’t want people to give the impression that charitable giving is a substitute for faith in Christ.

Finally, I am concerned that we don’t use one passage, interpreted broadly, in a legalistic way that defies all common sense. Jesus, after all, said it was okay to rescue a trapped animal on the Sabbath, although this was not specifically mentioned in the law.

I don’t want someone thinking, for example, that “turn the other cheek” means that if someone rapes your wife, you should introduce him to her sister as well.

#41 Comment By Eric V Hutchins On September 10, 2015 @ 8:52 pm

1. Many people still living remember when the nations of Europe, and the United States, could not be bothered to take in another refugee population thought to be so unlike “us” that the massive growth of their numbers amongst the populations of those countries who had no room for them would unsettle the social fabric and lead to unacceptable levels of people “not like us” living in our midst. In 2015, Jews are not thought to be so alien that “we” would leave six million of them to do die at the hands of the most barbaric regime in the history of European “civilization.” Fat lot of good our acceptance of them now did those who died then.
2. I am sure Raspail’s novel was moving. Let me suggest another read which might more intelligently inform your response to this situation. Try reading the first chapter of Niall Ferguson’s The War of the World. It is not fiction. It describes the beginning of “civillized” Europe’s (and Turkey’s) descent into genocidal madness. The slaughters of Armenians and Greeks recounted in those pages will sicken you. The fact that no “Great Power” could spare the military manpower to help prevent those slaughters will, or should, cause you to question the moral worth of the “democracies” and other repositories of that European “civilization” you think so endangered today by the waves of all of these way too dark skinned people.
3. These “civilized” Europeans have no trouble with boatloads of people of quite alien character as long as they are being brought into their realms in chains as slaves. Their wholesale importation was in fact one of the pioneering global businesses of the modern era, and a highly profitable one, contributing more than a little to the prosperity of France, Holland, England and Spain, oh, and of the United States.
4. The foreigness of these people who are so threatening to “civilization” has never been much of an incovenience to the Europeans who have take up comfortable “imperial” residence in the foreigners’ own countries. The Europeans who took up such residence were actually quite willing to engage in wholesale slaughter in order to extend their stays. Something must have attracted them.
5. That said, seven billion people cannot comfortably reside in Western Europe and the Western Hemisphere without disrupting to some degree the lives of the current residents. It is, however, rational for a large percentage of those who were not born in the First World to want to escape the poverty, anarchy, corruption and chaos of the Third World. After the citizens and governments of the favored part of the world have given some thought to just how many refugees they can accomodate, they may want to give some thought to imposing order in the disordered lands on their southeastern periphery. Thomas P.M. Barnett, in The Pentagon’s New Map, said something about the inescapable necessity the civilized countries would face of providing public order in the lands within walking distance which are cursed with being the battlegrounds of the unending war between Oceania, Eurasia, East Asia, and their proxies. The Paleocons of TAC are seriously ill disposed towards the creation of an American empire, or the revivification of the British Empire, with good reason. Empire and liberty consort ill with one another. However, something other than what has been done should be done to provide order in the lands of chaos, lest those lands export anarchy to Christendom in the form of their fleeing populations. I applaud TAC for not blaming all of this on the incumbent President. You cannot really blame all of it on the man he succeeded in office. Considerable responsibility must be apportioned to Thomas Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who both, after the wars they respectively led, opposed the reestablishment of British and French supervision in lands which then and now greatly needed it. It is still unjust to call them to the bar of history for their failure to settle an intra-religious civil war that has raged with only minor interruptions for almost one thousand, four hundred years. Do you think that the combatants would have settled this by now, were they amenable to reason? They are not. We know that, or should. So now, the Bear is fishing in troubled waters which, we should understand, he knows quite well. These waters are his backwaters. And, he has large populations who are kin to the peoples of these lands living within his borders. Putin cannot ignore this, even if he wanted to, which he may, given his and his generals’ memories of Afghanistan. We are, all of us, between a rock and a very hard place. There are no easy ways out of this. There never were any.

#42 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 10, 2015 @ 9:56 pm

Irenist, for some reason I can’t find the original comment that prompted my remark about dictatorships and stability, but I was responding to someone who seemed just to assume that dictatorships were stable — because, you know, it looks that way at any given moment when the dictatorial control happens to be working. The comment seemed to overlook the possibility of underlying instability that the dictatorship was keeping down. So I made what I thought was a fairly obvious and banal point, one that I’ve often seen made in criticism of both neocon adventurism (when/if it assumes that what lies just back of a dictatorship is Jeffersonian democracy) and Kissingerian realism (which sometimes seems based on the notion that you can achieve stability just by keeping the dictators and strongmen in power forever, perhaps occasionally sending the CIA on covert missions to swap out one for another).

But because these threads don’t really thread, what I’ve often seen happen here, happened: this narrow point, meant to correct or complicate a specific earlier point, gets mistaken for some kind of general statement about the fundamental realities of the world, with people demanding that it be defended as such. Sometimes this dynamic is useful, because it opens up a significant new dimension of the issue under discussion, and sometimes it just gets everyone confused.

Also, may I say that you write like you’ve memorized the encyclopedia. I mean that in a good way.

#43 Comment By dominic1955 On September 10, 2015 @ 11:52 pm

Patrick,

“Me neither – these people gave us Prohibition.”

Shudder. I know.

However, Catholics aren’t completely blameless in this. Some Catholics, even priests, jumped on the Prohibition bandwagon too. They might not have been overtly heterodox in their theology, but I think they got a little bit too much into Americanism and trying to impress their Mainline pals.

“But imagine how attractive it would be if you were a gay man? Episcopalianism, for instance: all the bells and whistles that you like about Catholicism without the “intrinsically disordered” stuff.”

Sure, but while there does seem to be a lot of out, loud, and proud gays in liberal Mainline churches, and there is a certain trope of the “gin and lace” homosexual Anglo-Catholic who is a fan of all the ritual but would rather it hollowed of its Catholic meaning, by and large its not like all the gays have gone Episcopalian. It seems like many gays don’t get liberal Christianity either and that it makes more sense to just sleep in on Sunday or go to brunch than darken the door of the local Piskie franchise.

“I think people are attracted to the heresies that suit their personal strengths or biases as it were.”

Oh, I absolutely agree.

“I could see the Amish, for instance, because I think technology really does have a corrosive effect on society (of course, they’re calling it evil, which is heresy.) But liberal Protestantism? It is all the boring parts of Christianity with none of the good old stuff – often I kind of like that the Catholic Church has “the right enemies”, which isn’t really a holy thought.”

An exorcist once told me something similar-there is a very good reason why a proper “religious” Satanist (as opposed to the various run of the mill hedonists and eccentrics that call themselves the same but don’t buy into all the black magic and stuff) only bother to desecrate Catholic Churches-and in such a way that “makes sense” for lack of a better word. Only punk kids do stupid stuff like spray paint 666 or pentagrams on a Baptist or other Protestant church.

#44 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 10, 2015 @ 11:55 pm

Let’s put it otherwise: when was the last time a liberal democracy was overthrown in a revolution?

Chile and Uruguay in the 1970s, for starters (though those were counterrevolutions, not revolutions). And yes, those were both urbanized countries with a 40-year history of democracy. Possibly Thailand (counterrevolution) and Venezuela (revolution) more recently, though whether Thailand and pre-Chavez Venezuela qualify as democracies is somewhat open to question (they were both formally liberal-democratic, but in practice highly oligarchical).

There haven’t been any that come to my mind in recent decades other than those, but I’d suggest the causality is reversed: its not that liberal democracy leads to stability, but that unstable political orders tend not to conduce to liberal democracy.

#45 Comment By blackhorse On February 3, 2018 @ 9:07 am

Raispell was up for discussion at TNR yesterday, so I took a look at ACs back pages. Some reactions:

“It is offensive to read how Raspail depicts all non-Westerners as faceless, frightening hordes. Yet…” Uh, hold that caveat for a minute. There are some unpleasant historical parallels to faceless hordes. Recall the yellow peril? The eternally unassimilable negro? Heck, the Irish, Italians and Slavs (now all honorary white folk) were once ‘faceless hordes’.

“an unarmed invasion by people … only want to peace, security, and prosperity of the West” Cads! Ingrates! Grow your own!

“the book is not about race, but about culture” They don’t listen to opera? Eat their peas with a spoon? Aren’t Christian. Hm. Back to pagan hordes again.

“The villains of the book are do-gooders” Of course they are. Shades of Ayn Rand.

#46 Comment By blackhorse On February 3, 2018 @ 9:08 am

ps in case there was any doubt, “The Camp of Saints” subtile is “The end of the White World”

#47 Comment By blackhorse On February 3, 2018 @ 9:14 am

Oops correction-“end of the white world” was the publishers blurb. Still it is right there on the cover, so it’s a selling point.

ps an while Im here, Catholics used to be considered unassimilable. Likewise, Jews, particularly from the east. The Orthodox kind of got a pass because the numbers were small, but maybe didn’t get enough scrutiny (what goes on behind that screen? And why the beards?).