Thursday, November 25, 2021

                                    November 25, 2021


           MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

       Thanksgiving 2021                                         

 


Friends,

I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a truly joyous Thanksgiving. I am sure that most of you have been with family and friends.

This holiday always puts me in mind of the history of this country from its hopeful beginnings as thirteen separate colonies, through its tortured periods of strife and conflict, until our own day when the very existence of the Framers’ design seems to be coming apart at the seams.

Yet, we still have hope, and we still celebrate our inheritance.

From the beginning of what became the American nation, we have given thanks to Almighty God for His bounty, for our lives and our families, for our homes, and for the multiple blessings bestowed upon us. When our ancestors came to these shores they brought with them their traditions, their customs, their language and literature, and their religious faith. They crossed the Atlantic mostly to find better land for cultivation and for more opportunities for them and their families. And they came largely in entire communities of people with the same background, same race, and same national and religious heritage.

I can find no better example of this kind of communal migration than my father’s family, which arrived in a group with other Scots in Philadelphia in 1717. Eventually, they came down the Great Wagon Road to the Piedmont region of North Carolina (ca. 1745) from which some eventually found their way to nearly every Southern state, and by 1849, to California during the famous “gold rush.”  What is fascinating is to compare the list of family surnames that appear in census records for the little community of Catheys Valley, California (near Yosemite), in 1940, with family names listed in the “Scots-Irish Settlement” in old Rowan County in 1747 (as compiled by Robert W. Ramsey in his study, Carolina Cradle: The Settlement of Northwest Carolina, 1747-1762), with listings of parish records for Antrim County, Northern Ireland (1680), and then with the records of several parishes in Ayrshire and Wigtown, Scotland,  a few decades earlier. Many of the same family names that appeared in community in the early 1600s continued to show up, in community, in 1940That is, the very same folks who once lived and worked and prayed together in communities in Scotland 400 years ago continued, through later generations, to form a community, even far into the twentieth century.

The historian Richard Beale Davis, in his exhaustive three-volume study, Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, 1585-1763, demonstrates conclusively that those early settlers, especially in the Southern colonies, brought with them their precious cultural patrimony from the British Isles, as did the German colonists from German states, and in places like Louisiana, as did the settlers from France. They were not, essentially, attempting to create a completely “new utopia” out of the wilderness, but rather to continue the experience and blessings of their inherited legacies, their customs and their beliefs.  Although by no means in conflict with their European heritage, the colonies, in particular in the South, did over the years modify that rich Old World patrimony, adjusting to distance, circumstance, climate, the presence of Indians, and the mixture of additional immigrants. The result was quantifiably conservative and localist. It was on this foundation that the American republic would one day be erected.

And it was a country that was firmly anchored in the land, by place and community, and by ties of blood and family. Which is precisely why the current Neoconservative and dominant “movement conservative” position that America was founded on abstract ideas of “equality” and “human rights,” and their rejection out of hand of the American Founding as one inseparable from land and family, is utter nonsense—and just one more indication of their philosophical origin over on the Progressivist Left and in the occluded and fevered mental gymnastics of abstract Rationalism, disconnected from the reality of American history.

Thanksgiving is a holiday to celebrate not just our blessings and our God-given bounty, but a day of recalling who we are and have been as a people, of remembering our past and our traditions, of honoring our ancestors and our common legacies, mostly from Europe, but admitting others to these shores who willingly adopt and share our beliefs, and integrate into our culture and society.

This is our heritage and our existence as a people; we have no other. It is precious beyond all price, and once lost, it leaves us in despair, isolated, atomized, and subject to the whims and dictates of “Big Brother” and the ravenous centralizing managerial Deep State.

My prayer and hope is that together, with God’s help, we may indeed reverse the seemingly irreversible revolutionary tide and recover our inheritance. But that goal can only be achieved if there be a true realization of who we are as a people. And by that I mean understanding the critical role of our families and the importance of our communities, and realizing the need to recover our constitutional liberties, comprehending the necessity of our faith, and the willingness to gird up for unconditional battle against those who would rob us of our patrimony and pervert and eventually destroy the republic.

That is my sincere wish for this Thanksgiving. May God bless you all and grant you His Graces!

Monday, November 22, 2021

                                                November 22, 2021

 

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

  Some Great Southern Books – Just in Time for Christmas




   

 Friends,

Some six years ago my friend and distinguished historian of the South, Dr. Clyde Wilson, with assistance from author Paul C. Graham and Dr. Wilson’s daughter, Anne Wilson Smith, began the Shotwell Publishing Company in Columbia, South Carolina. Since then Shotwell has published some important and unique volumes about Southern history, politics, and literature, over sixty-six titles, including some works that have become classics in short order.

There is a phrase that I used to hear from one of my former professors. I think it came originally from a dissident historian: “breaking the historical blackout.” That’s what Shotwell Publishing, in its own small way, is doing…and achieving.

Just recently Shotwell issued a summary of its 2021 round-up of new titles. And once again every inquisitive Southerner—indeed, every inquiring American—interested in preserving (and becoming better informed about) our birthright and the traditions inherited from our ancestors should have these books. They inoculate us against the fetid dross that threatens to destroy what is left of the Southland and devour what is left of our old constitutional republic. In the battle of ideas, they are like mini-arsenals which act to provide correctives to the fallacious history and the cultural and social rot spewed out regularly, each day it seems with greater intensity, by our establishment media (including most so-called “conservative media”), by all levels of our defecated educational system, and by our increasingly authoritarian government.

Only through “breaking the historical blackout,” only by arming ourselves with the insights of such intelligent, well-documented and presented works can we hope to stem the onrushing, seemingly unstoppable tide which seeks not only the destruction of our history and culture, but its erasure from memory.

Our obligation, before God and our ancestors, is severe: each in his own station in life, on whatever level he finds himself, must follow the Apostolic injunction recounted by St. Matthew in the Parable of the Talents. Each of us has a talent, even if apparently it may seem insignificant. Our solemn duty then is to utilize that talent to its fullest.

Shotwell Publishing, with its multitude of fine titles, offers us inestimable support in achieving that goal…and sustaining a veritable counter-revolution against the Powers of Darkness which seek to overwhelm and, finally, extinguish us.

Here, then, are the four most recent titles published by Shotwell, followed by other titles from earlier this year:

 

What Really Happened? Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence, Kansas
Revisiting The Evidence
By James C. Edwards

SHOTWELL PUBLISHING IS PLEASED TO PRESENT an entirely new study of a significant event in the War Between the States: Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence, Kansas.
Lincoln’s war of invasion and conquest of the Southern people is almost always told in a way that supports the victor’s claim of righteousness. That has certainly been true in regard to the raid of Quantrill’s Confederate guerillas on Lawrence, Kansas.  

Edwards has for the first time, based on exhaustive examination of the sources, tells the history fully and objectively. Civil War enthusiasts can learn clearly for the first time why the raid happened and how it was carried out. The author’s history treats both sides with truth-telling and, among other discoveries, exposes the flaws in the Union’s righteousness in the border war of Kansas/Missouri. 

It took some doing, but we finally got this one done and it is magnificent! This is the kind of quality research you get when you go to the primary source documents, apparently something no longer done in the academy (unless, of course, it serves a political purpose). Alas!
What Really Happened? Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence, Kansas is now available in a paperback and eBook edition. The paperback is currently available on Amazon, but should fan out to other retail outlets in the coming weeks. The link to the paperback and Kindle edition is HERE. You can also buy the eBook on our web site (Kindle, epub, & PDF formats included) by mashing (“clicking”) HERE.
If you liked the movie “Ride with the Devil” or the tales of Frank & Jessie James and the Confederate Guerrillas, this book on Quantrill’s Raid is right up your alley!

 

 

Next, by James Ronald Kennedy, one-half of the Southern writing legends, the Kennedy Twins: 

Nullifying Federal and State Gun Control
A How-To Guide for Gun Owners

AMERICA’S NEO-MARXISTS WHO CONTROL the political and social establishment understand that well-armed Americans will not tolerate their leftist tyranny. They understand that before they can force average Americans to accept their perverted social and political vision, they must first disarm us!
America’s Founding Fathers understood the value of arms in the hands of free men. They knew that the first step a tyrant must take to turn free men into political slaves is to disarm them. They secured the right to keep and bear arms by enacting the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment was not enacted to allow country boys to go squirrel hunting! It was enacted to allow free men to defend themselves against tyrants.
Unfortunately, too many gun-rights activists do not understand that no part of the Constitution, including the Second Amendment, is self-enforcing. Without a strong political mechanism to enforce the limitations on federal powers inscribed in the Constitution, the Constitution becomes a mere paper barricade.  

Nullifying Federal and State Gun Control: A How-To Guide for Gun Owners provides gun-rights advocates with a means to protect their rights under the Constitution. This book demonstrates the only way “We the people” can enforce our rights and liberties under the Constitution.

If you are concerned about gun rights in America and the seeming total disregard for the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by the combination of conspirators at Washington, DC, this book is a MUST HAVE
Nullifying Federal and State Gun Control is also available in a paperback and eBook edition. The paperback is currently available on Amazon. Other retail outlets can be found HERE as they become available. You can find the paperback and Kindle edition HERE. You can also buy the eBook on our web site (Kindle, epub, & PDF formats included) by mashing HERE.

 

 

Then there is a book we wished we could have gotten out last month so there would be a little more time to pick up a copy before Thanksgiving, but we didn’t (although you could still pull it off if you act quickly).  This one, as they say, is for the kids…
 

The REAL First Thanksgiving
Written and Illustrated by Charles H. Hayes
 
Description: IN THE FOUNDING OF THE UNITED STATES Southerners made the history while New England Yankees wrote the history and took credit for everything, including Thanksgiving.
In The REAL First Thanksgiving by author and illustrator Charles Hayes, a young lad named Jeffery finds out the truth about the first Thanksgiving when a magical, swashbuckling mouse named Horatio Algernon takes him on an enchanting (and educational) journey through space and time—not to Massachusetts in 1620 with the “Pilgrim Fathers” as Jeffery had expected, but to Virginia in 1607!
 Grab a seat, gather the young ones around you, and set out on your own literary adventure as you discover with Jeffery and Horatio the true story of the first Thanksgiving.
You’ll want to keep this one for your children and grandchildren!  
The gang here at Shotwell found this little book to be imaginative, educational, and just plain fun. We think you will too!
It is only available in paperback. It is currently available on Amazon and should begin widening its distribution reach if it has not already. Check HERE for the latest.

 

 

Finally,
When the Yankees Come
Former Carolina Slaves Remember Sherman’s March FROM the Sea

Edited and introduced by Paul C. Graham
 
This book expands and replaces Graham’s previous version of When the Yankees Come and includes selections from both the North Carolina and South Carolina WPA Slave Narratives.  


MANY AMERICANS BELIEVE that the coming of the blue soldiers of the North, emissaries of emancipation, was a joyful event for African Americans. Nothing could be further from the truth.
How do we know this? Because we have their recorded accounts.  
Ending slavery, contrary to self-congratulatory American myth, was not a righteous crusade. It was a byproduct of a brutal war of conquest and invasion—a total war against civilians in which black Southerners suffered as much if not more than whites. The devastation of the people’s resources in large areas of the South left African Americans as well as Southern whites suffering and sometimes starving.  
For many, it was an experience of fear, disruption of life, and cruel uncertainty about their future, to which the liberators had given no thought.  
The material gathered by Paul C. Graham makes this clear. Of late, Americans have had a taste for history by theory: the War Between the States was “about” slavery. A better understanding comes from seeing what the people who were there have to say about it. Such an approach to history as human experience can be both informative and enlightening.   
The editor originally thought there would be enough material to do separate volumes for North Carolina and possibly Georgia, but this was not the case. Thus, the book incorporates the North Carolina narratives for commentary on the “Carolina Campaign” of Sherman and company as they marched from the sea, that is, out of Savannah, Georgia through South Carolina and into North Carolina. 
When the Yankees Come is now available in a paperback and eBook edition. The paperback is currently available on Amazon, but should start appearing at other online retail outlets as their catalogues update. The link to the paperback and Kindle edition is HERE. You can also buy the eBook on our web site (Kindle, epub, & PDF formats included) by mashing HERE.  
If you did not get the first edition, you’ll certainly want to get the “new and improved” edition. Maybe it would be a nice edition even if you do have Graham’s first attempt. It was one of our first handful of publications and we have improved quite a bit in design and formatting skills since then.

 

 

 

 Lastly, we’d like to thank those of you who donated to our special project fund.

With your help we were able to get Walter Brian Cisco’s War Crimes Against Southern Civilians in audiobook format—available at AmazonAudible, and iTunes...
We are currently considering other titles that can and should be recorded. If you have a suggestion, E-mail Paul Graham at paul@shotwellpublishing.com and tell him what you’d like to see done next.

                                                                  ****

Here (below) are some other recent titles put out by Shotwell Publishing. All of them are very worthy of your consideration.

But if I were to highlight just one from this list, it would be Anne Wilson Smith’s in-depth investigative study of the notorious events which occurred in Charlottesville back in August 2017, Charlottesville Untold. The media and our political class, both Democrats AND prominent Republicans, have condemned what happened there as an “extremist right wing riot by Nazis, Klansmen, and white nationalists.” Recall that President Trump was harshly criticized not just by the usual leftist media/political types, but also by apparatchiks of the so-called “conservative establishment” (what Dr. Paul Gottfried terms “Con Inc”), such as Ben Shapiro, for meekly suggesting that there were “good people” on both sides. Anne Smith Wilson offers the first genuinely objective appraisal of what occurred in Mr. Jefferson’s city. 

                                                                                                                

 

 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

                                            November 11, 2021


            MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey



        What Veterans’ Day Really Means




Friends, 

One-hundred and three years ago, this day, the Great War—the “War to End All Wars”—World War I—came to a conclusion. An Armistice was signed, but an armistice that in many ways eventually made many of the deaths and sacrifices of millions of young men and their families seem in vain. Most of those valiant “dough boys” did not know it at the time; they fought for country, for patriotism, defending their nation against perceived evils and threats—this was their duty and what they believed.

Many of their political leaders had ulterior, secretive plans to remake Europe and reshape the world—and without doubt, the leaders France, Italy and Britain and the draconian peace they exacted and imposed on the defeated Central Powers helped propel the world headlong towards an even more horrible and momentous conflict two decades later. Yet, in those heady days of November 1918 in Allied capitals there was celebration. In the United States people filled the streets. Contemporary photographs and silent film record the joy and relief: the American nation had been in its first major foreign war—excluding the Spanish American War—since 1848, and it had not only been victorious, but had, arguably, been the deciding factor in that victory.

Ever since that day, November 11, Veterans’ Day—known first as “Armistice Day”—has been a day to honor our veterans and to recall their service. And, in many ways, it is a very personal day for many of us, a day to remember and honor members of our families who went to war, who left wives and children behind, who answered the call—and some who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

No matter whether the war could be “justified” by politicians or if it were for the right reasons, in the end the individual soldier did his duty. He knew that his nation had called, and that as a citizen he must answer that call. When the country demanded his service, he went and he did his very best. He may not have understood all the particular geopolitical ramifications or all the long-range effects of his actions, but he did understand that he was there—wherever “there” was—with his band of brothers, engaged in extreme combat, and that some of his fellow servicemen, perhaps even himself, would not “make it back.” He was serving his country, just as his ancestors for generations had done…and just as those poor Germans, those Russians, those Brits were doing.

Like many of you, I have ancestors who fought in all America’s wars, from the Revolution (with a five greats grandfather, a captain in the Continental Line, who died on a prisoner ship in Charleston harbor in 1780), several who served during the War for Southern Independence (including a great-granddad who survived Gettysburg), a great uncle who was in the US Navy during World War I, and my father who served in the 101st Cavalry and was seriously wounded in the Saar region of Germany in early 1945.

More recently, I honor today a beloved cousin, James Lowell Brake, who served honorably in both Korea and Vietnam. “Jim” married my cousin, and in so many ways, despite their eventual retirement in Newport News, Virginia, three hours distant, they became very dear and close to me. Cousin Jim passed away in 2008, and his wife of fifty-four years, two years ago.

Cousin Jim was one of those soft-spoken veterans who did not boast or talk that much about his service, yet his life and his career were remarkable in so many ways. Originally from the Rocky Mount, North Carolina, area, he remains for me an unsung hero. Here is a portion of his obituary from The Rocky Mount Telegram (February 18, 2008):

“Jim attended Rocky Mount High School and matriculated at North Carolina State University. Upon graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in June of 1953. One week later, he married the former Barbara Perry of Raleigh, N.C. In September of that same year, Jim was called to active duty. He went on to graduate from Air Command and Staff College in 1965 and Armed Forces Staff College in 1968. He served in Korea and flew during the Vietnam War, where he was a forward air controller and logged 529 combat missions marking targets for the fighters. Jim worked at the Pentagon on the Air Staff for 4 years from 1968-1972. In 1975 he went to Japan as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and Programming for the Air Forces in North East Asia. He also served on the Japanese Joint Committee. His last assignment was Commander of Pope Air Force Base at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he retired a Colonel. During his long career he received 13 different medals, including the Legion of Merit with one bronze leaf oak cluster and the Air Medal with four silver leaf clusters.”

But this account only begins to tell of a full life well lived. Cousin Jim, after his retirement from the Air Force, served as a substitute math and science teacher and worked at the Virginia State Department of Environmental Health. And for many years he and his loving wife were very active in the local St. John’s Episcopal Church.

When I think of Jim, when I think of my late father and the long list of soldiers on both sides of my family, I wonder what they would think, what they would say, if they were able to return for a fleeting moment and view the American nation of 2021. We honor them today, but we should also ask ourselves how we have received and treated the precious heritage and the legacy they passed on to us.

As boy I remember my grandfather on my mother’s side recounting to me, as if it were yesterday, about Jefferson Davis’s funeral procession down Fayetteville Street in 1893 in Raleigh (on his way to final burial in Richmond); granddad was just sixteen when that happened. And I recall my grandmother on my father’s side, who was born in 1865 (and died in 1962), telling me that as a small girl she remembered a centenarian neighbor who, when he was a boy, had seen George Washington in Charlotte on his great Southern Tour in 1791!

Relative to the history of most European countries or to ancient Rome and Greece, the American republic’s history, our past, is short. It has been 245 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed, and 234 years since the US Constitution became the governing document for thirteen former British colonies. The country established by the Framers incorporated the insights of English law and custom, and was founded on a belief in a just and munificent God who offered both hope and direction to the new commonwealth.

The Framers were both adamant and deeply concerned: for future generations they established what they understood to be a fragile constitutional confederated republic, and, accordingly, they created safeguards and implanted established balances against the growth of an unchecked executive power (or abuse by other branches). Under the 9th and 10th Amendments the respective states and citizens were recognized as depositories of original God-given rights—rights not conceded by the Federal executive, but held directly through tradition and from the Creator.

Our fathers and ancestors fought for that country, for that reality of families and the land they had cleared and planted—for “blood and soil,” and for the local and regional liberties that they had inherited from their ancestors, and for the faith they had received, and, in sum, for the Western and Christian civilization they brought with them to the New World.

When my ancestor Phillip Perry landed in Virginia in 1646 and when my ancestor James Cathey came to Philadelphia in 1717, they brought their families with them, they brought their traditions and customs, their faith. They came for new and fresh lands, to raise their families, not for some nebulous “idea” of “making the world safe for democracy” or for “human rights in South Sudan.”  Yes, their offspring would help create a new nation here on this continent, but in many ways what they created was an extension of that European and Christian culture—a culture they did not leave behind when they crossed the Atlantic.

The “American experience” gave that cultural inheritance a tint, certain characteristics, particular American aspects that distinguished us from the countries of old Europe. But from the beginning—from the debates in Philadelphia, from the writings of the Founders and Framers—we were also aware of that historic European legacy and those traditions that so shaped us, even if we progressively transformed them in our own peculiar ways.

Our fathers and forefathers served and fought for those beliefs and those traditions, for that legacy handed down to them, and which they handed down to us. The fetid cultural and political decay we behold around us in 2021 is not what they sacrificed for. They may have given their all and their lives for our right to act stupidly, but that doesn’t mean that they wanted us to act stupidly. They did not fight for “global democracy,” much less for the universal right of same sex marriage or gender fluidity. They went to war for home and state, for family and loved ones, for duty to the country.

That inheritance and our traditions are under attack domestically as never before (save perhaps by the Federal government back in 1861-1865). As we honor our veterans—as I honor my father, my Cousin Jim and my ancestors who are buried in the Carolina soil they cleared, planted, and held so dear, and where they raised their families—we should re-dedicate ourselves and our families not only to their memory, but to their beliefs and to the Old Republic they so loved.

Friday, November 5, 2021

                                         November 5, 2021

 

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

   The Devils in the Demonstrators

                         

Friends,

[The following essay was first published in the November 2021 issue of Chronicles Magazine, available in print or online at:  https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/the-devils-in-the-demonstrators_1/. An earlier version appeared at MY CORNER on September 13, 2021. That version was substantially revised and edited. It is here republished with permission of Chronicles. The photograph is of the annual Confederate Flag Day, March 3, 2018, in House chamber of the historic 1840 North Carolina State Capitol building.] 

                The Devils in the Demonstrators

                                    By Boyd D. Cathey

I was chairman of the Annual Confederate Flag Day at the North Carolina State Capitol in March of 2019 when our commemoration was besieged by several hundred screaming, raging demonstrators—Antifa-types and others. It took a mammoth police escort for us to exit the surrounded Capitol building.

I clearly recall the disfigured countenance, the flaming eyes, the foul imprecations of one of the protesters: he was young, white, and obviously not impoverished, probably the son of some well-to-do parents who had shelled out thousands of dollars for his education at one of North Carolina’s premiere universities. His contorted, angry grimace was that of a possessed soul, made mad by years of slow and patient educational indoctrination from our complacent society which tolerates and encourages everyday evil in nearly every endeavor we experience.

I remembered that day—that face—over two years later as I finished watching a made-for-television Russian series titled Demons. Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1872 novel of the same name (also known as The Possessed), the plot is fairly complex and difficult to compress into a filmed series. Yet, enough of that complexity and meaning still comes forth while watching its English subtitles.

I read the novel many years ago. Even back then it was a difficult read, especially for someone unfamiliar with Russian history of the mid-19th century and Dostoevsky’s interest in the ideological visions of various revolutionary and nihilist movements then existent in Imperial Russia.

But the television series does an admirable job of encapsulating the novel’s main themes and storyline. And like much of Dostoevsky, the theological questions of good and evil, sin and redemption, and order and disorder are never far from the surface. For the great Russian author saw deeply into the hearts of his fellow men, particularly those vacuous and empty souls of the fanatical idealists who professed a secular vision of a future socialist and globalist utopia on earth, a paradise without the encumbrances and limits of tradition, tsarist authority, and God. But it was precisely such natural and real lineaments which both regulate our innate freedom of will (so that it may not become license), and also provide a safe and ample space for our existence.

In tracing the evolution of revolutionary thinking personified in his diverse characters, Dostoevsky captures and illustrates—as perhaps no other author before or since—the true nature of evil which inevitably ends not only in the destruction of the individual, but eventually also spurs the dissolution and decay of the social fabric of society.

That evil—and it is pure demonic evil as Dostoevsky reveals in Demons—is all consuming, a madness which he both historically and theologically identifies with rebellion against God and, in his particular view, in opposition to the traditional Russian Orthodox Church. But that meaning is applicable for all of traditional Christianity.

In another Dostoevsky novelThe Brothers Karamazov, his worldly and secular character Ivan makes a statement often expressed as: “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” By novel’s end he realizes that God does—must—exist, and therefore there must be—and are—rules and law, both divine and human, that must be observed for there to be any kind of human society. Indeed, without them there can be no genuine liberty, no justice, no true happiness.

In Demons the revolutionary cell in Dostoevsky’s imagined provincial town is composed of mostly young members of the upper classes, a couple of disaffected military officers and intellectuals, and the magnetic personality of Nikolai Stavrogin.  Stavrogin is highborn, refined, handsome, self-assured, and intelligent. And yet there is, as the narrator of the story informs us, something repellent, deeply cynical, and inherently foul about him. The other revolutionaries are fascinated by him, specifically Pyotr Verkhovensky, perhaps the most loathsome and manipulative character Dostoevsky ever created, a man capable of murder simply on caprice or whim, without any apparent sense or thought of regret. Truly he is a man possessed.

Verkhovensky, who claims to be taking orders from a central committee in St. Petersburg, is bedazzled by Stavrogin and wishes him to lead the revolutionary efforts; but Stavrogin hesitates. In the depths of Stavrogin’s consciousness, there is that awkward awareness of his own misshapen and fatally damaged soul. Finally, after some hesitation, he visits a spiritual guide, Father Tikhon, where he confesses that he has lost any sense of good and evil, and that all that remains is simply avarice. Stavrogin is a man who refuses God, but in his frustration he innately realizes that nothing else can satisfy that emptiness. Indeed, without God, without the fullness of faith, it is the Devil, Evil Incarnate, who fills the void. Without God, everything is permitted.

Ivan Shatov is perhaps the character with whom Dostoevsky most closely identified. He had once idolized Stavrogrin and looked up to him as a potential leader who would inspire Russia to Christian regeneration. Disillusioned, he has now come to regard him as an irresponsible man of idle luxury. Stavrogin, he declares, is driven by a passion for inflicting torment, not merely for the gratification he receives in hurting others, but to torment his own conscience and wallow in amoral carnality.

Verkhovensky detests and hates Shatov, and conceives a plan to assassinate him, for Shatov, he believes, stands in the way of the triumph of the revolution. And, in fact, one of the conspirators lures Shatov to a remote location where he is cruelly murdered, much to the insane delight of Verkhovensky.

But the conspiracy unravels, and the conspirators are arrested or, in the case of Verkhovensky, flee to St. Petersburg where he can again work his revolutionary mischief. And Stavrogin, understanding finally the futility of his life, and understanding more profoundly than any other of the revolutionaries the nature of the revolutionary contagion—a true “demonic possession”—does what for him is the only logical action: he hangs himself. Unable or unwilling to make repentance, and knowing darkly that he has been possessed by demons, but refusing the mercy of God, like a brightly burning supernova, he collapses upon himself, extinguished and damned.

Of all the great counterrevolutionary works—novels, autobiographies, narrations—Dostoevsky’s stands out for its very human, very real description of the sheer personal evil and demonic lunacy of the then-nascent Marxist revolution incubating in Russia. In more recent times, we have a George Orwell, an Arthur Koestler, and an Aleksander Solzhenitsyn who recount what they experienced or what they saw and observed. But it was Dostoevsky who with deep insight visualized it a century earlier, who plumbed the depths of the human psyche and the inherent and personal nature of what is essentially a “revolution against God and Man.”

For the rejection of God as He desires to be known and obeyed through his Word, His law, and through His church does not result in a secular utopia, a kind of secular parousia or Second Coming. The revolutionary madness is, as Dostoevsky declares, a form of possession of men who have misshapen and empty souls which have then been occupied by demons, by evil.

Thus, as I watched Demons I remembered that day over two years ago with its seemingly possessed protesters. I also recalled images flashed across the television screen more recently of our latter-day violent Verkhovenskys and Stavrogins, those deracinated students, wooley-brained woke academicians, effete Hollywood celebrities and media personalities, and political epigones who have turned the American republic into a charnel house where the bones of a once-great nation lie in trash heaps.

Over the past many decades, we have permitted our government to impose on us and much of the world what is termed liberal democracy and something we call “human rights.” But those precepts and vision are of a secular, globalist world where the Verkhovenskys dominate a complacent and obedient population, where our culture has been so infected and so poisoned that, as William Butler Yeats prophesied a century ago, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

It does not and will not end well. The “American Century,” without the kind of repentance that was offered to Nikolai Stavrogin, and which he would not accept, is over. And despite our insouciance and material gratification, there will be a price, a severe and heavy price to pay.

Observing the pre-World War I revolutionary fervor which would soon overtake the world, the Anglo-French critic and essayist Hilaire Belloc wrote these lines in This and That and the Other:

“The Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this that he cannot make; that he can befog or destroy, but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilisation exactly that has been true.

We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us: we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile.”

Dostoevsky, through Father Tikhon, reminds us that there is a way out of the fetid and poisonous bog we are drowning in. In his day it was not taken by the revolutionaries who eventually would have their way in Russia and later in the world, with the charnel house counting eventually 100 million victims.

Like Verkovensky, that frenzied youthful demonstrator against Confederate symbols back in March 2019 was possessed, incapable—unlike Stavrogin—of recognizing his diabolical possession.

Good and evil stand in eternal conflict; one must triumph and one must be extinguished. Dostoevsky fully understood that, and so must we.

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