March 10, 2021
MY CORNER by Boyd
Liberty or Equality:
You Cannot Have Both
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:
the Egalitarian Heresy of the 21st Century
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.
we witnessing this today?
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
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.
by the Emperor Constantine at the First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) and two centuries
later by the Emperor Justinian
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.)
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.
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.
folly, then, to even discuss “equality” in this sense.
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.)
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.
late author-essayist, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in his classic volume, Liberty or
. 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.)
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.)
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.
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.
is where we find ourselves in America today.
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.
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.
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.