Tuesday, March 23, 2021

                                              March 23, 2021

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

My Recent Contributions to the Culture War: We Are All Called to Engage

 

Friends,

One of the satisfactions I receive in writing these little essays at MY CORNER is seeing them picked up and published by major Web magazines. I generally write for two reasons: first, I think—and hope—that what I have to say is of some importance, that in some way some readers will find what I write to be of interest and just maybe cause additional reflection and thought. And, second, I believe we all have a God-given duty to use whatever grace and talent we have in defense of our inherited Christian civilization which is under such severe assault in our age.

Each one of us has endowed graces, talents…and those talents are personalized, and cannot really be measured in comparison to the talents of others. It would be, I believe, wrong to appraise and weigh talents between individuals—an invidious comparison. As St. Matthew recounts in the Parable of the Talents,  we are not judged by God by how we compare to others, but on how well we fulfill and use our talent, that grace given to each of us singularly.

Thus, the brilliant scientist who does not use his knowledge, his gift from God, fails the test; while a simple but caring and Christian father who raises a family annealed in the love of Our Lord, succeeds.

My believe is that this is what we all must do…not to lament that we are not like person X the billionaire or person Y the famous sportsman, but that we understand who we are, what our goal is in this life, what talents we have…even those that appear the most mundane or smallest. For the delight and joy of Our Lord over a father who raises a truly Christian family is, surely, far greater than the disappointment over a scientist’s failure to use his knowledge.

I am a disaster at math and figures—I always check my figures three times for error. Years ago my father summed up my gardening skills thusly: “You’re the first in my family to totally lack a ‘green thumb’.” Technology and computer science elude me...I’m lucky to have even email, much less use other programs (I still have my old trusty typewriter upstairs). I’m not much of a “fix it up” guy—thank goodness I have some skillful neighbors (who take pity on me).

What I am saying is this: writing is what I can do, and sometimes maybe it will be (I hope) of value, it may reach a reader and mean something. It took me years to understand that: this is my offering to the good Lord, my talent, such as it is.

So, today I am pleased—and also honored—to mention that six of my last MY CORNER essays (from late February to late March) have been snatched up and published by online magazines at least nine times. As a writer it is gratifying to have my works published. But more, if the things I write about, the things I say can have some resonance, reach folks and cause them to think, then I will count that a success…and a fulfillment of whatever talent that God has given me.

Here are those essays and where they appeared:

First, my essay, “The Curse of Canine Racism,” published on MY CORNER, February 17, and then published by RECKONIN.com on February 26: https://www.reckonin.com/boyd-cathey/the-curse-of-canine-racism

There followed an essay which has received quite a lot of comment and exposure: “My Friend Susan, Abraham Lincoln, and the Pod People.”  It was featured on MY CORNER on February 28. And then on March 2 it was published by both -

 

1) LewRockwell.com, at: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/03/no_author/my-friend-susan-abraham-lincoln-and-the-pod-people/   

 

2) And by THE UNZ REVIEW, at: https://www.unz.com/article/my-friend-susan-abraham-lincoln-and-the-pod-people/ 

 

I reviewed the film “Firetrail” (the uncut version) on March 9, “The Film ‘Firetrail’ and Sherman’s March Through the Carolinas.” That one was picked up by both -

1) The Abbeville Institute (March 17): https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/firetrail/

2) And by RECKONIN.com (March 15): https://www.reckonin.com/boyd-cathey/the-film-firetrail

LewRockwell.com also published my long essay of March 10, “Liberty or Equality: You Cannot Have Both,” as part of their March 12 offerings: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/03/no_author/liberty-or-equality-you-cannot-have-both/

 

Also, my little film review, “Three Great Films I Recommend,” at MY CORNER on March 14, then appeared at LewRockwell.com on March 15: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/03/no_author/793401-2/

 

Lastly, my essay, “The Musical Trojan Horse: Destruction of Western Civilization through Music and the Arts,” which I authored on March 19, was republished by both -

1) THE UNZ REVIEW (March 20): https://www.unz.com/article/the-musical-trojan-horse/

2) And at LewRockwell.com on March 22: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/03/no_author/the-musical-trojan-horse-destruction-of-western-civilization-through-music-and-the-arts/

My hope is that you will return to these essays as published and read them again. Despite the diverse subjects, I think they all revolve around a central core purpose and goal: to defend our inherited Western and Christian civilization. My voice is a small one—there are others with far more resonance and influence, some of whom I have quoted from time to time. But I am aware that we all—each of us, from the father who raises a Godly family to a national figure who commands a large audience—have a role to play in the terrible conflict which confronts us and threatens to extinguish us.

Friday, March 19, 2021

                                     March 19, 2021

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

The Musical Trojan Horse: Destruction of Western Civilization through Music and the Arts

 

Friends,

Much of the raging debate over “white supremacy” in our society and the seemingly irresistible advances of “wokeness” focus on what is happening in education and the university, or in entertainment, the media, and our political discourse. But a significant facet of this assault is what is taking place in the arts and performance music. A few months ago I published a long essay on this topic in the New English Review, and I offer it here as part of that discussion.


Our Musical Heritage and the Revolution  

https://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm?frm=190252&sec_id=190252     

      

Boyd Cathey (September 2020)

         One of the significant aspects of the current revolutionary madness sweeping the nation is the unrestrained assault on the cultural artifacts of Western Christian civilization. In effect the attack on monuments and the nomenclature of Army forts, schools and streets, and on so much more is emblematic of something more profound and irreparable, an assault on what those symbols signify.

       In a broader sense, this assault portends a basic denial of the richness and nourishing fruits of our culture and what that culture has given us. For that denial goes far beyond visible symbols in copper and granite or in place names. We have seen this in the increasing demands for a Taliban-like “cultural cleansing” of our society. And thus the mounting attacks on our artistic heritage—on those works of art that remind us of what our civilization has created and, indeed, of its bounty, goodness and creativity that have helped fashion who we are as a people.

       In this climate of nihilism the remarkable art, the superb literature, and the great classical musical heritage which have held us in delighted rapture, are being despoiled, even withdrawn from accessibility like the film classic “Gone With the Wind” (now no longer available via HBO video platforms). In some cases this has resulted in de facto or outright banning. And if a work of our heritage is simply too significant to be erased, then it will be re-cast and reinterpreted to support the revolutionary agenda.

       Penalties are now routinely meted out to the guilty defenders of the two millennia of inherited Western culture. Thus, as we watch statues memorializing Confederate heritage destroyed and symbols commemorating Washington, Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, Father Junipero Serra, and others brought down, we also should understand that this vandalism encompasses far more: the abolition of the historic inheritance and rejection of twenty centuries of civilization.

       The guardians of our patrimony may utter a mild demurrer, but more commonly, they accede to and go along with this radical transformation of Western culture. It is not as much for fear of being called “racist” or a defender of “male privilege,” rather, too many of our cultural elites are possessed of the same “wokeness” that dominates the streets, if a bit more rarefied.

       The effects are particularly dramatic in performance music.  Our musical expression gives voice to our joys, our sadness, our triumphs, our beliefs, and how we view ourselves; it is critical to our understanding of the civilization around us.  Yet for decades there has been a constant effort to undermine and reshape that expression to fit a progressivist, post-Marxist mold and agenda. A concentration on race and gender is all-consuming. “Anti-racism” and “feminism” have become the benchmarks for this transformation.

       Over the past half century and longer progressivists have been largely successful in restructuring what is sometimes termed “higher culture”—an appreciation and understanding of the role in our society of inherited art, literature, music, and architecture—and altering its relationship to most average citizens. When I was a boy, for instance, classical music was programmed regularly and popularly on commercial radio—the major local station at that time in Raleigh, North Carolina, WPTF, featured both the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturdays and a classical music program every night at 8 p.m. Network television offered us the long-running “Voice of Firestone” and “The Bell Telephone Hour.” Widely-viewed programs like Sunday prime time’s “Ed Sullivan Show” would feature Wagnerian soprano Birgit Nilsson and coloratura Joan Sutherland.

       While many of my school chums from sixty years ago didn’t really get into classical music like I did, they at least recognized its significance and resonance in society, that it was an integral part of our inheritance, and that it surrounded and annealed and helped define our culture and made that culture more complete.  Maybe they didn’t listen to the Met, but we all knew the themes from those popular TV programs like “The Lone Ranger” (with its use of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”) or “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon” (with the “Donna Diana Overture,” by Reznicek). And who can forget Elmer Fudd belting out a cartoon version of Richard Wagner—“I killed the Wabbit!”

       Today, it is niche programming on television and radio: cable channels dedicated to a specific interest, radio devoted to the top 40 hits and specialty music, or 24-hour talk.  Classical music has completely disappeared from commercial radio and TV. And even classical performances’ relocation to public broadcasting thirty years ago, with its limited audience, is increasingly tenuous. Now when PBS offers a “great performance” it is more likely to be rock music from the 1970s or maybe some celebratory ethnic sampling.

       The template today distorts that important element of our heritage and denudes us in the face of repeated assaults from cultural Marxism and its minions. The arts have become highly politicized, and classical music, now largely compartmentalized, plays a role in that process.

       As Marxists Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs explained a century ago, Western and Christian society—its hegemony”—could only be overthrown through patient development, the education of a class of cultural revolutionaries. And it was through a “long march” through the culture—in education, entertainment and the arts, religion—that the West would be defeated, not by force of arms.

       The intellectual labor of the Marxist Frankfort School (situated at Columbia University after being expelled from Nazi Germany), and especially their influence in American collegiate education, literary studies, and use of “critical theory” to, first, devalue portions of Western culture and, then, totally re-position it as a handmaid of cultural Marxism can be widely debated. But the effects of their theories cannot.

       Music is seen as an important vehicle for altering the culture. For Theodore Adorno, “the objective validity of [a musical] composition…rests with neither the composer's genius nor the work's conformity with prior standards, but with the way in which the work coherently expresses the dialectic of the material. In this sense, the contemporary absence of composers of the status of Bach or Beethoven is not the sign of musical regression; instead, new music is to be credited with laying bare aspects of the musical material previously repressed: the musical material's liberation from number, the harmonic series and tonal harmony . . .”

       One can argue that the most recent attempts at cultural “purification” have gone farther than anything Adorno or his cohorts of the Frankfort School would have envisioned or desired. Yet, the dismemberment of the corpus of our inherited culture and its ideologization could not have occurred, at least in the same way, had it not been for those earlier Marxist theoreticians and their followers.

       Classical music in this narrative is too white, too masculine. Not only has it been de-emphasized in our schools and by broadcast media, but every effort has been made to re-interpret it, reconstruct it to give it a more politically-correct, less “racist,” less “white,” and less “oppressively male” character, both in how it is presented on stage and who does the performing.

       Increasingly, there are those suggesting a form of affirmative action in how musical ensembles are formed and the musicians employed. “The status quo is not working [in employment]. If things are to change, ensembles must be able to take proactive steps to address the appalling racial imbalance that remains in their ranks. Blind auditions are no longer tenable,” writes New York Times chief music critic Anthony Tommasini. “[T]he audition process has to be altered to take into fuller account artists’ backgrounds and experiences.” In other words, race (and gender) should be major determinants in whether an aspiring musician gets a position in a musical organization or not.

       This is especially pressing in opera where demands for more black and minority personnel—singers, staff, company board members—grow. And in particular there is hostility to whites filling black-face roles, such as Otello in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera of the same name, roles which have traditionally been assumed by the best vocalists and not based on race. In other words, a Placido Domingo who is white and whose Otello is one of his signature roles, would by this standard partake in racism. Indeed, Joshua Barone, again in the Times, labels internationally-renowned Russian soprano Anna Netrebko’s defense of the practice as “racist,” the eventual kiss of death for an artist.

       But it is in public performance that revolutionary changes and restructuring are most apparent and culturally effectual.

       There are literally hundreds of examples I could give, everything from the hyper-leftist “Eurotrash” presentations in opera, to the discovery of second (and third) level women or black composers who are now boosted by “woke” critics and global capitalist record companies as “the new Beethoven or Mozart.” 

       Let me cite a couple of recent examples that have caught my attention.

       Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s comic opera of genius, The Abduction from the Seraglio, which playfully makes fun of Islam, was recently heavily censored and its lines rewritten by the Canadian Opera Company. For that production north of the border the company had some bright “woke” scribbler rewrite the dialogue  “in order to remove racist and anti-Islamic language.” But, then, is it still Mozart?

       And after years of patiently waiting to see a presentation of one of the more fascinating and significant operas of the first decade of the 19th century, Gasparo Spontini’s Fernand Cortez, originally produced (1809) to glorify the French invasion and conquest of “backward” Spain (it was later revised to reflect the 1815 triumph of the Bourbons), a decent video (on the Dynamic label) emerged this spring from the May Florence Musical Festival in Italy. It’s a fairly traditional, well-sung production—few of those “Eurotrash” touches that ruin so much of current musical and theatrical ventures these days. Yet, because Spontini glorifies (in some wonderfully heroic music) the conquest of Mexico and the conversion of the heathen Aztecs to Christianity, the director felt compelled to add a projected on-screen message both at the beginning and at the end basically condemning Western and white colonialism and racism. Nevertheless, the original libretto and music emerge, and I expect to see fierce condemnations of its revival as “racist” despite the cosmetic application of political correctness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BJjMaAsT6M 


Video promo for Fernand Cortez (Dynamic Records DVD, 2020)

      

       Indeed, there is an effort underway—incredibly—to make Ludwig van Beethoven into a black man. You see, as musicologist Brenton Sanderson has written:

Given Beethoven’s status as the archetypal musical genius, it is unsurprising that aggrieved Blacks have, since the early twentieth century, attempted to propagate the myth that Beethoven had some African ancestry. The basis for this spurious claim was the composer’s somewhat swarthy complexion, and the fact a part of his family traced its roots to Flanders, which was for a period under Spanish monarchical rule. Because Spain had a longstanding historical connection to North Africa through the Moors, a degree of blackness supposedly trickled down to the great composer.

       But, given the nature of such tergiversation and the implicit (and unwanted) recognition of the superiority of the Western canon, the major effort of our cultural revolutionaries is rather to de-emphasize or even deconstruct the classical tradition altogether:

. . . such efforts [to appropriate the classical tradition] are self-defeating, merely serving to treat the Western canon as fundamental and all other styles as deviations from this norm, thus reinforcing “the notion that of classical music as a universal standard and something that everyone should aspire to appreciate.” Trying to make Beethoven Black and desperately scouring the historical records for examples of non-Whites who wrote symphonies is to accept “a white-centric perspective that presents symphonies as the ultimate human achievement in the arts.” Black musicologist Philip Ewell agrees, and advocates “overthrowing the existing structure and building a new one that would accommodate non-white music a priori—no reaching for ‘inclusion’ necessary . . . ”

       This process is occurring likewise through the emphasis on gender and what is termed gender equality.

       Thus, while we might acknowledge the genius of a Clara Schumann or Fanny Mendelssohn in the nineteenth century, increasingly we have such ventures as “Project W,” a collection of compositions, newly written by feminist composers, or the buzz surrounding the rediscovered music of black woman composer Florence Price (1887-1953) who satisfies both criteria: female and black.

       Now, I happen to enjoy the music of Price. She skillfully integrates various folk themes and traditional melodies into her compositions (notably her several symphonies), somewhat like what Antonin Dvorak did with his famous “New World Symphony” (No. 9), with the use of the “Goin’ home” theme in the Largo movement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY6IjlZ-12w 

“Juba Dance,” from Florence Price, Symphony no.1

      

       But Price, for all her genuine musical talent and felicities, is not Dvorak. And although her output is colorful and musically entertaining, one wonders if she had been a white male would she be getting the same notice and present-day fame?

       Indeed, such well-versed critics as David DeBoor Canfield in the prestigious Fanfare magazine (July/August 2019) admit that too many contemporary (and progressive) writers are “way over the top in finding her music to be superior to that of any of her contemporaries (including Gershwin and Copland).”

       It’s not.

       It is enjoyable and estimable in its own right, and I am pleased that it is being programmed and broadcast. But we do not have here another Aaron Copland or George Gershwin, much less a new Beethoven—who, if memory serves me, were white males and within the classical tradition.

       The fairest evaluation of Price’s music I have seen came back in 2001, in the same venue as Canfield’s review but nineteen years previously, perhaps in less oppressively “woke” times than now when every word in every Twitter message is held up for severe judgment on its strict obedience to advancing progressivist norms. As critic Michael Fine wrote:

Her orchestral music . . . is workmanlike but rarely inspired. There are sweet and expressive moments, notably in the Grieg-like slow movement of the Third Symphony, but the music meanders excessively. Promising moments . . . never deliver. Her scoring is occasionally effective, mainly while setting traditional music such as Deep River in the Mississippi River Suite, but even here she offers few new insights into these remarkable melodies. The Mississippi Suite bears a superficial connection to Delius's Florida Suite and Appalachia with its descriptive sounds of the river and riverbank life. Yet Price lacks the English composer's genius and intuitive understanding of natural landscape's musical shape.

       That verdict could be extended generally to dozens of other composers and musicians who happen to be black or female, or perhaps transgender or lesbian. It represents a substantive judgment on the new template—the irresistible narrative—of the profession and what passes for intellectual thought on the pages of journals concerning the performance arts. And eventually it affects us all.

       The overriding goal of the cultural revolutionaries in music is to utilize the musical inheritance of our civilization ideologically as a means to transform society. A new history must be created. In this narrative unfamiliar composers must be highlighted, others re-imagined or re-interpreted, not for the excellence of the composer or his or her works, but for the greater objective of power and cultural dominance in society. And some works, beyond the pale, must simply be suppressed.  Gone from view, gone from memory.

       Although I am certain that Florence Price, were she alive today, would be gratified by the attention she is finally getting, I doubt she would care for some of the reasons for it.

       The post-Marxist nihilist revolution places our artistic heritage in peril, radically restructures our expression in the service of ideology. And as a result threatens to rob us of the beauty, richness, and grandeur of two millennia, and replace it with the barren straight-jacket and the ideological mentality of the Gulag Archipelago.

       The battle for our cultural heritage remains to be fully joined. If we do not, we and it are lost.

________________________
Boyd D. Cathey was educated at the University of Virginia (MA, Thomas Jefferson Fellow) and the Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain (PhD, Richard M. Weaver Fellow). He is a former assistant to the late author Dr. Russell Kirk, taught on the college level, and is retired State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives. Has published widely and in various languages and is the author of The Land We Love: the South and Its Heritage (2018). He resides in North Carolina.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

                                              March 14, 2021

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

Three Great Films I Recommend

Friends,                                    

Someone asked me yesterday at the Food Lion–tried to pin me down–about my three favorite films. Originally, the question was my single favorite, but I simply refused to answer that. But I finally agreed to name just three (with a few more listed, but I had to make a choice). After mentioning such classics as SONG OF BERNADETTE and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, and the two Ron Maxwell classics, GODS AND GENERALS and GETTYSBURG, and my love for John Ford’s THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT, I narrowed my choices down, painfully, to just three:

One, an English (New Zealand) production, DEAN SPANLEY, has got to be one of the most wonderful film experiences for anyone who loves English drama set circa 1900. It is both whimsical and funny, but also endearing in its treatment of a father/son relationship. I watch it at least once or twice a year…I laugh heartily, and also tears well up in my eyes at the last scene. With Sir Peter O’Toole (his penultimate role), Jeremy Northam, Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, and Judith Parfit, it is expertly cast…a truly ennobling cinematic experience. Here is a brief Youtube snippet:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d91Ol7rui4

 

Unfortunately, the DVD is not available in the US format, but the film is available via Netflix and online. If you love classic English drama (and humor), this one is a keeper. Do look it up.

Next, I would pick a Western…and that is very difficult to do, given my love of the genre…there are so many great ones. But forced to choose, in spite of my love for John Ford, I would have to go with Sam Peckinpah’s RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, starring my two favorite Western actors, Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea, both of whom epitomize the old, traditional and conservative Hollywood. I saw this film as a boy at the theatre with my father when it came out in 1962. Its theme and dialogue have never left me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRp3_JUZHiw

Lastly, a Russian film from 1998, THE BARBER OF SIBERIA, which barely edged out in my preferences another Russian film, ADMIRAL (2008), which I dearly love as well. THE BARBER OF SIBERIA, which almost entirely is in English, stars Julia Ormond, Richard Harris and a marvelous Russian cast. Again, it is both humorous…even hilarious… but also wistful and evoking some tears at the end. It’s long, but entirely worth it. Directed by the famous right wing, monarchist Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, it is available in the US (be sure to get the Ruscico DVD), and I think also online.  But worth every minute of it. There is a fantastic scene in the Kremlin with Tsar Alexander III that you’ll have see to believe:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG3uGjKnGJM

So just three…but there are some others that are almost equal in my estimation. But I have narrowed down just these three….and each of them affirms the great traditions and inheritance of our civilization.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

  

March 10, 2021

 

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

Liberty or Equality: You Cannot Have Both

 

Friends,

Occasionally I will write and publish longer, more detailed articles and essays for The New English Review. These essays are normally about classical music, philosophy, even a short story and a poem or two. They are not keyed necessarily or directly to specific current events. They usually differ from the shorter pieces of political and social commentary that a reader will find here at My Corner by Boyd Cathey.

Last night I went back and reread one of those longer essays. And I thought—given the Harris/Biden administration’s insane emphasis on what they call “equity,” and the dogmatic imposition of “equality” (which is whatever the progressivist Left currently defines it as)—that I might dust it off and offer it here. I think it gets into and explores the rickety structure, the utter egalitarian fakery that is being imposed on us and on our society, and, in fact, the slogan behind which all sorts of unnatural and devastating—and Satanic—evil is shoved down our throats and pounded into the malleable brains of our captive children.

I pass it on here:

Facing the Egalitarian Heresy of the 21st Century

https://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm?frm=189998&sec_id=189998

by Boyd Cathey (March 2020)

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in The Masque of Pandora, writes, “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” He was not the first to use a version of the phrase, which is found in Sophocles’ play, Antigone. But the meaning has been fairly consistent for over two millennia.

Aren’t we witnessing this today?

A large number of our fellow citizens seem possessed by a kind of madness. They seem to exist in a kind of parallel universe, with its own set of beliefs, its own standards of truth and particular narrative of facts. In almost every respect this universe represents the contrary, the negation, of the inherited, rooted foundation on which our historic Western and Christian civilization is based.

This contrary reality did not all of a sudden spring up, it has existed and been cultivated and nurtured for centuries. Its founding ideologues understood that their premises and desired objectives ran up full force against the ingrained traditions and historic legacy of a culture and civilization that traced its origins not only to the beliefs of the ancient Hebrews, but also to the highest art, philosophy and statecraft of the Greeks and Romans.

Encouraged by the Emperor Constantine at the First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) and two centuries later by the Emperor Justinian the Great, the empire both East and West recognized the primacy of Divine Positive Law—the laws and revealed teachings of God and His Church. But not only that: this transformation signaled the explicit foundation of Europe based not only on Revelation, but also upon the reality of Natural Law, those rules inscribed in nature and integral to it that also have as their Author, God Himself. The Christian civilization that came about was built securely and firmly not only on Holy Scripture but also the traditions and the legacy of those ancient cultures that were not destroyed by the Faith, but fulfilled and completed by it.

In the incredibly rich inheritance of ancient philosophy there was a recognition that there were discernible “laws” which govern the orderly operation and functioning of the social order and make possible a harmonious communal existence within society. What the Christian church did was to confirm the existence of those laws while adding a capstone, a divine sanction and specificity derived from Revelation and the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church. Thus, this transformation of ancient society was prescriptive, conservative in the best sense of that word.

Is this template not the exact opposite of the modernist, progressivist revolution which seeks to cut society off from its inheritance, depriving it of the accumulated wealth of that heritage?

No doubt, change and reform, in some degree, always must occur in society. But these changes do not affect the necessity of our acceptance of the unaltered and unalterable higher laws given by God or the laws inscribed in nature. Rather, they occur on a practical level in any well-functioning society. There is a quote from Prince Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s famous novel describing the revolutionary turmoil of mid-19th century Italy, The Leopard (Il Gattopardo): “Things will have to change in order that they remain the same.” In 1963 director Luchino Visconti directed an exquisite film of the same name based on that novel, starring, quite improbably, Burt Lancaster. The film vividly portrays the tensions between the immemorial past and the circumstances created by political and social change.

What Lampedusa’s principle character, the Prince of Salina is saying is that no society—no culture—can completely denude itself of its inheritance and its history and actually survive. And more, a denial of natural law and the Divine Positive Law ends catastrophically. Such experiments in total revolutionary transformation have inevitably ended in violent bloodshed and incredible destructiveness—in the massacres of the French Revolution, and more recently, in the Gulag and the concentration camp, or in blood-soaked Maoism.

Over the past half century and more we have witnessed a different kind of revolution; it does not employ as weapons of choice the tank and bayonet, nor the Gulag as the final destination for unrepentant opponents. It leaves nothing of substance behind in its wake. It is an unfolding, all-encompassing cultural movement, subverting and then incorporating in its service diverse extreme revolutionary elements injected into our educational system, into our entertainment industry, into our politics, even into the very language we use to communicate with each other. The “violence” it metes out is mostly of a cerebral nature, not of the physical kind, but rather predicated on shame, humiliation, and the fear of the loss of a job or reputation. It plays on the natural human desire for conformity, while steadily upping the ante in our laws—constantly moving the goalposts of what is acceptable and unacceptable. It is the kind of intellectual “violence” now writ large that once impelled people to look the other way when their neighbors were hauled off to Siberia under Comrade Stalin, or to Dachau under Hitler. But, arguably, it is worse, for it denies the very existence of those immutable laws that govern the universe.

It has been highly effective, utilizing as its major weaponry the terrifying twins, the inexpungable accusations of “racism” and “sexism,” and a whole panoply of sub-terms that accompany such charges: “white supremacy,” “historic white oppression,” “colonialist imperialism,” “misogyny,” “toxic masculinity,” and increasingly expanded to incorporate terms like “anti-migrant” or “anti-transgender” bigotry.

The overarching desire of this progressivist revolution is, in fact, not reform—not what Lampedusa’s Prince of Salina says consolingly about some things changing so that other things can remain the same. No, it is incredibly “post-Marxian,” making the older Communist and Marxist revolutionary dreams seem tame in comparison. It invokes and demands a total transformation in which nearly all, if not all, of those institutions, those traditions, and that inheritance vouchsafed to us from our ancestors is rudely discarded, rejected, and condemned as racist, sexist, fascist—in other words, our remembered past is cut off from us.

This progressive revolution is predicated on the idea of equality. Yet, in fact, the equality as envisaged does not exist and has never existed in nature. For revolutionary “equality” is a slogan, in reality an exercise in guile and subterfuge employed to shame and cajole a weak-willed and gullible citizenry into eventually dissolving the traditional social bonds and inherited natural (and moral) laws that have governed our culture for two millennia. Its true objective is domination over and power in society.

As an increasingly independent outgrowth of an historic cultural Marxism formulated decades ago and insinuated into our educational systems and entertainment industry, this assault on our historic culture makes the template of the old Soviet Communists appear conservative. Josef Stalin would never have, and never did, put up with same sex marriage, transgenderism, or the kind of feminist extremism we see around us today. True, the Soviets talked of equality, and women occupied some professional positions, but for the Reds a strong family and observance of supposedly “outdated” traditional morality were still important.

Revolutionary equality, in the form of egalitarianism, is not only a rebellion against the Divine Positive Law, but also against Nature, that is, against the way things are and function naturally in our world, those workings and that usual consistency observed as prescriptive laws for thousands of years.

There is a parable in the Gospel of St. Matthew, the Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25:14-30; The Parable of the Bags of Gold/NIV), which both mirrors and confirms those laws. The three servants of the Master are given unequal amounts and told to be faithful stewards and invest the talents wisely. The first two, those with the largest amounts, comply and double their accounts; but the servant with the least amount fails to use his one Talent, and thus is condemned: “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? . . . So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents . . . As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The parable’s message is that men are created unequally in abilities, in status, in kinds and types of intelligence, in physicality, in position. We must not compare our status invidiously with those around us, for we are not judged by the talents or positions of others, but by our own God-given unique capacity, our own talents, and how well we measure up and fulfill our own specific roles in society. Thus, perhaps ironically and to emphasize this point, the servant with more Talents is blessed, but the servant with the fewest is condemned, not because of rank or possession but because of non-compliance with the mandate of the Master.

Egalitarianism as a movement is, as the late Mel Bradford termed it, a heresy, fraught with extreme consequences for Western society: “Equality as a moral or political imperative, pursued as an end in itself—Equality with a capital ‘E’—is the antonym of every legitimate conservative principle…there is no man equal to any other, except perhaps in the special, and politically untranslatable, understanding of the Deity. Not intellectually or physically or economically or even morally. Not equal!” (Modern Age, Winter 1976, p. 62.)

It is in the realm of morality and the observance of moral law that the effects of egalitarianism have been most aggravated. Indeed, the destruction of masculinity and emasculation of men has been a disastrous consequence of the “women’s movement.” For centuries—indeed, not that long ago—an inherited code of honor, deference and respect on how to treat women, prevailed in Western society. While, it is true, certain functions and roles were generally not open to women historically, that in no way diminished or lessened their critical importance and special position in society. Indeed, as child bearers and mothers it was they who most uniquely governed the essential running of the family and were the substantial foundation of society.

The Church understood that women were not the same as men, that women were different and that they had unique God-given roles. Like the Blessed Virgin in Bethlehem who cared for the Cradle in the Stable and nourished the Son of God who would bring grace and salvation to the world, the primary role of women was the nourishing of familial offspring and the continuation of the human race. There could be no more significant role than this and, in that sense, women occupy in Christian teaching an exalted and unequalled position, modeled on that of the Blessed Virgin.

What folly, then, to even discuss “equality” in this sense.

Our present culture is filled with raging egalitarian revolutionaries—many political, many academic, many in entertainment, many in media. They are, to quote T. S. Eliot, “destroying our ancient edifices to make ready the ground upon which the barbarian nomads of the future will encamp in their mechanized caravans.” (Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, 1948, p. 108.)

These revolutionaries tell us that they strive for “correcting historic inequality” and “freedom from oppression.” But their program—their revolution—is a dystopian nightmare which pushes the unobtainable goal of egalitarianism. That program destroys true liberty and succeeds in enslaving millions in unrequited passions and envy, unbound and unreasoned, cocooned in a pseudo-reality. In their quest for an abstract equality they destroy the historic liberties which define and give texture to human society.

The late author-essayist, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in his classic volume, Liberty or Equality, wrote:

. . . it suffices to say that the artificial establishment of equality is as little compatible with liberty as the enforcement of unjust laws of discrimination . . . ‘Nature’ is anything but egalitarian; if we want to establish a complete plain we have to blast the mountains away and fill the valleys; equality thus presupposes the continuous intervention of force which, as a principle, is opposed to freedom. Liberty and equality are in essence contradictory. (Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality, 1952, p. 3.)

And again Bradford: “The only freedom which can last is a freedom embodied somewhere, rooted in a history, located in space, sanctioned by a genealogy, and blessed by a religious establishment. The only equality which abstract rights, insisted upon outside the context of politics, are likely to provide is the equality of universal slavery.” (Bradford, A Better Guide than Reason, 1979, “Preface,” p. xii.)

In their frenzied revolt against the laws of nature and nature’s God, the revolutionaries qualify as what the great English writer G. K. Chesterton called “lunatics.” In his volume, The Poet and the Lunatics (1929), Chesterton’s character Gale asks the question: “What exactly is liberty?” He responds, in part:

First and foremost, surely, it is the power of a thing to be itself. In some ways the yellow bird was free in the cage . . . We are limited by our brains and bodies; and if we break out, we cease to be ourselves, and, perhaps, to be anything.

The lunatic is he who loses his way and cannot return. Now, almost before my eyes, this man had made a great stride from liberty to lunacy. The man who opened the bird-cage loved freedom; possibly too much . . . But the man who broke the bowl merely because he thought it a prison for the fish, when it was their only possible house of life—that man was already outside the world of reason, raging with a desire to be outside of everything.

Our modern egalitarian revolutionaries have, to use Chesterton’s parable, gone mad. In their frenetic quest for abstract equality and a freedom not rooted in place, family and history, they are men and women “already outside the world of reason,” enslaved by an unrestrained rage to destroy the edifice of Western Christian civilization which is grounded on both Divine Positive and natural law. That destructive rage is matched only by their profound inability to create anything of real and lasting value to replace what is destroyed.

This is where we find ourselves in America today.

It is no exaggeration to state that millions of our fellow citizens have been infected by an ideology that posits a mythical, egalitarian “counter-reality” which has poisoned their thinking and worldview to the point that co-existing with them in the same nation, in the same geography, becomes increasingly difficult if not impossible. Their template is highly aggressive and contagious; it must increase and grow, or it dies. And, if opposed, it fights back viciously and with total war.

The nightmare scenario described by Chesterton nearly a century ago has arrived today with full force: it surrounds us, it cajoles us, it demands total subservience . . . especially if we have the slightest inclination to think for ourselves, to doubt the new dogmatic and constantly advancing egalitarian templates on feminism and racism. What was perhaps tolerable five years ago is now met with demands for the execution of a social and political death sentence, and what may be tolerable today will soon be seen as a sin against the triumphant and ever-evolving social justice warrior mantra of truth.

That is, until men stand and forcefully oppose this lunacy, completely, honestly, rationally, and without hesitation.

________________________
Boyd D. Cathey was educated at the University of Virginia (MA, Thomas Jefferson Fellow) and the Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain (PhD, Richard M. Weaver Fellow). He is a former assistant to the late author, Dr. Russell Kirk, taught on the college level, and is retired State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives. Has published widely and in various languages. He resides in North Carolina.

                                                June 11, 2021   MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey     The Battle for the West is Also a Cult...