Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Relatio Publici de Nefas Moralis: Descensus Profundus

ERIC VOEGELIN in his various books identified a new gnosticism in politics. For Voeglin, political gnosis (the Greek word for knowledge) could be defined as a direct, immediate vision of truth that was gained without sufficient critical reflection; it was the possession of a political elite, the adepts. Political gnosticism was the product of that gnosis. The modern political gnostics sought to implement and design policies based upon their privileged thinking, to "immanentize the eschaton," and thereby to solve the political problems confronting society through the ushering of some new utopian design where there would be heaven on earth, so to speak.

Now such activity is not necessarily well-taken by the population, particularly if this supposed esoteric knowledge is a corruption of the good, that is a promotion of evil under the guise of an apparent good. In such a case, there will invariably be one truth for the adepts and one truth for the rabble, the public. Budziszewski calls this phenomenon "doubling the script." There is one script for the adepts, the "shock troops," and one script for the people outside the movement.

Some such doubling of the script takes place in every movement for moral wrong, not just in totalitarian regimes but in stained republics like our own. . . . The reasons for the difference between the insider script and the public script are fairly plain. The first is that, driven by the Furies,* the shock troops of a movement for moral evil have different psychological needs. After they have plundered the palace of moral knowledge for material wherewith to build allurements to the evil they promote, they must go back into the palace and ransack it all over again--this time for sacrifices to appease an avenging conscience. The second reason is that it would be imprudent to discuss such dread sacrifices in front of outsiders. The details would shock and repel them, not draw them in. Immoralist movements require converts, or at least fellow travellers.

Budziszewski (2003), 192.

Nude Descending Down a Staircase
Marcel Duchamp

One of the most commonly used techniques in communicating to the public is the ignoring or silencing of certain truths. Myriad examples of doubling of the script through silence in the public script can be given. For example, the public is fed the line that homosexual "marriage" is a great good, and that fairness and equal rights demand that homosexuals ought to have the right to enter into monogamous(?), stable relationships just like a man and a woman. What you don't hear is the real truth, which is that homosexuality is intrinsically promiscuous, and that the "cheating ratio" of gay males, over time, approaches 100%. This is in marked contradistinction to male/female unions, where according to a 2010 University of Chicago study only 14 percent of wives and 20 percent of husbands(which is bad enough, but not near the promiscuity of the homosexual men) admitted to extramarital affairs.** Something other than the need for "marriage" for homosexuals is in place here. In other words, we are promoting a guise of stability where there is no stability. The evil that is promoted is the demise of traditional marriage, a bastion of Christian faith, and it is attacked under the guise of freedom, fairness, and tolerance. So there is one script for the public (which includes silence of the intrinsic promiscuity of gay men) and another within the adepts (who, of course, know about the promiscuous nature of gays).

Another way to double the script is to use euphemisms when addressing the public. The classic case may be abortion advocates who dare not use the word "baby" to describe what is in the mother's womb during the 9-month gestation period. At first, the medical term "fetus" was used, but that Latin term simply meant "baby in the womb," and that was too close for comfort. So that term was changed into "product of conception," "POC," or even inhumanly "blob of tissue." The term "abortion" is negative, and so the debate is defined in terms of "choice" without any clarity of what the "choice" really entails.

Sometimes, terms are redefined when the adepts communicate to the public. The definition of "person" is conveniently changed from a function of being, to a function of doing or having. By this sleight of hand, the child in the womb (who lacks certain functions such self-consciousness) is de-classified as a person.

Sometimes the meaning of terms are not changed, but the terms themselves are replaced with innocuous ones or with neologisms. By changing and softening terms, the public is persuaded of moral enormities not aware of the entirety of the truth. Sometimes the more literal terms are banned in public discourse: you are not allowed to call gay men "sodomites," because of the value-laden import of the term "sodomite," which, of course, brings down (for those who remember) the entire tradition of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all that fire and brimstone stuff. Fornication is replaced by the more clinical premarital sex. Spouse becomes "significant other." The list goes on and on.

Doubling the script is an effort at evasion, a first effort at avoiding the inconveniences at telling the whole truth. But it never is sufficient.
Inevitably, the public relations of moral wrong require lies, and a lot of them. . . . Professional advocates for the so-called new moralities are specialists in such mendacity . . . . [They are at] the advantage, because the average falsehood takes only five seconds to utter but a hundred and fifty to explode. A sound bite lasts only ten.
Budziszewski (2003), 195.

Under the modern means of communication, and the bad faith of the advocates of the new morality, the cards are stacked against the advocate of natural law and traditional morality. For the peddler of falsehood under the guise of good, there is therefore a tremendous temptation to be mendacious. Budziszewski identifies "seven degrees of descent on the downward case of honesty."
  1. Sin: to cover up our own sin, we lie.
  2. Self-protection: one lie requires others, and so "soon the liar is smothered in layers of mendacity, as numerous as onion shells, as thick as flannel blankets."
  3. Habituation: lying slowly becomes habitual, a "second nature," and we lose respect for truth. From lying we become liars.
  4. Self-deception: immersed in habitual lying, we begin to believe in our lies, and lose any desire or grasp on truth.
  5. Rationalization: to suppress our self-deception and the ennui that arises from living a lie,we begin to rationalize the truth itself, usually falling into some sort of nihilism or relativism.
  6. Technique: We get better and better at lying, polishing it into a fine art.
  7. Duty turns upside down: this is the nadir and final conclusion of lying: lying is required, a duty, and truth is the evil to be damned, excoriated, lampooned, ridiculed.

The West has reached the nadir in many particulars, and now it is our bounden duty to promote artificial contraception, support easy divorce, support abortion rights, and support homosexual marriage. All of these just two generations ago would have been perceived as abhorrent evils, as evidences of a dissipated, unvirtuous people. Modernly, these are the enlightened positions, "human" rights, and to advocate the contrary is positively evil: an imposing of one's backward notions upon progress and enlightenment, a suppression of the the legitimate aspirations of people, an effort of the rule of clerics. The world has become topsy turvy. White has become black. Light has become dark, and dark has become light.

This is where we are, and this is who we are becoming. The problem is not just in our politicians, for they came from us and we elected them. It is not just in the shock troop of evil, for we have made room in the big tent for them.

Budziszewski (2003), 197.

We turned away, and when we returned our glance, we learned that we all have become gnostics. The world groaned, and we all became gnostic. And we have bought a "truth" which is falsehood, which is no longer Truth. And we in fact despair at knowing the Truth: about God and about man.
Do we dare at last yield ourselves to Truth, to be scraped, scoured, and made honest until we can give back His Light?
Budziszewski (2003), 197.

That is a very good question, Dr. Budziszewski.
*The Budziszewskian notion of the five "Furies" has been addressed in prior postings. Search the blog under the term "Furiae" to access these prior postings.
**See Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, After the Ball (New York: Doubleday, 1989), 304-320, and Colson, "Gay 'Marriage' and Fidelity,"

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