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Civilization Is Built on Borrowed Capital

Civilization Is Built on Borrowed Capital

The historical dynamism and resilience of Western civilization bespeaks both the Christian faith that laid its foundations and its ability to transform the families, institutions, and cultures of the world into which it grew. As faith wanes within its realm, cultural revolutionaries vie for control over the estate and the distribution of its assets. The prospect of recovery or renewal of the West depends on the character and courage of its heirs to restore a depleted heritage. The following article is drawn from the first two sections of “Cultural Vandalism: Lust to Rule, Road to Ruin,” Wokeshevism: Critical Theories and the Tyrant Left, ed. Augusto Zimmermann and Joshua Forrester (Connor Court, 2023) 221-37. Reprinted with permission. 

“Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants, and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants.” – John of Salisbury (12C)[1]

“[H]uman beings are characterized by their creative power, by the power to make the past live in the present and the present for the future, by their capacity to bind time – human beings are time-binders.” – Alfred Korzybski (1921)[2]

“An author is a debtor. In the course of his work, he has drawn on the time, trust, and resources of others. He has relied on the talents of those who have gone before him, and he owes something to those who will use his work after it is published. The details of these obligations are not spelled out in contracts. They are implicit covenants. . .” – Glenn A. Moots (2010)[3] 

In 2007 the political philosopher Father James Schall published a close textual analysis of a lecture given by a former college professor. Like another lecture given three decades earlier, its aftershocks reverberated for weeks if not years.

On September 12, 2006 Pope Benedict XVI addressed the assembled faculty at Regensburg, a university which, like the civilization it represents, was originally “called forth not by itself nor from the state, but from the heart of the Church.”[4] Described as an appeal “for freedom of conscience in religious matters and a reasoned debate,” the Regensburg Lecture was intended, in part, to recall western civilization to the centrality of that faith which had launched Europe on its historical trajectory of converting tribes into nations, spreading legal and political reform, and releasing what Kenneth Minogue called “the genie of limitless possibility” by implementing the creation mandate (Gen. 1:28) through technological innovation, economic revolution, general literacy, the rise of modern science and medicine, hospitals, public libraries, institutional liberty and self-government.[5] As Christopher Dawson noted decades earlier: 

“Christianity has always been a culturally creative force. It came first into a world which was overcivilized, where the social soil was becoming exhausted and the burden of empire and law was becoming too heavy for human nature to bear. And it transformed and renewed this civilization . . . by revealing the existence of a new spiritual dimension and bringing the light of hope to those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.”[6] 

Foundational to this transformation, as Father Schall wrote elsewhere, is the Gospel’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:20-22): “No doubt, the inner dynamism of Christianity was to ‘go forth and teach all nations:’”[7] 

“David Goldman, in his book, It’s Not the End of the World: It’s Just the End of You, put it this way: “Hilaire Belloc’s famous quip – ‘Europe is the faith, and the faith is Europe’ – is precisely correct.”

Europe is where Old Testament, New Testament, Greek, and Roman traditions melded with the so-called barbarians coming off of the Eurasian continent.[8] The fusion did not happen overnight, but it did happen. Europe’s unity was hammered out in thought from the Fathers of the Church to Aquinas. The Reformation was not so much an argument against this thesis, but about its origins. Luther’s problem with Aristotle was a harbinger of divisions to come.”[9] 

At the center of this sea change lay a spiritual understanding of both God and man. Contrary to modern notions, the Christian view, as Schall observed, is that man “is intended to a supernatural end” and “seeks what is properly the inner life of the Godhead as his final good.”[10] The Russian sociologist Pitirim Sorokin argued that “Christianity raises man to the highest level of sanctification, and protects him unconditionally against any use as a mere means to an end.” Yet the material superfluity of Christendom’s flowering in the High Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation aroused hedonism as well as a utilitarian ethic that reflected an increasingly humanistic, Sensate culture.[11]

This faith stands in marked contrast to a relativistic skepticism which marginalizes its practice and asserts the primacy of will (voluntarism): an attitude that “nothing objective exists to distinguish one view from another except power or choice.”[12] Apart from clear provisions for justice, the operation of a sovereign will – whether by one, a few, many, or a state – is apt to degenerate into despotism.[13] Nicolas Berdyaev saw two opposed views of human nature at work: a conflict between the realm of the Spirit and the realm of Caesar.[14]

Different perspectives on liturgy – the character of worship – and the place of the classical heritage engendered rifts. Pope Benedict contends that, historically, “Biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level,” which resulted in a mutual enrichment that culminated in an “inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry” in Scholastic philosophy. This medieval synthesis was “countered by a call for a dehellenization of Christianity” that arose within the Reformation and developed through a series of three stages which, he argued, led to the positivist reduction of science to “the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements” and the exclusion of “the question of God.”[15] Man himself is then reduced to “the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms.”[16] As Karl Marx declared: “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.”[17] Indeed, all the fixed stars of the old order seemed to be falling. As Pope Benedict concluded: “In this way . . . ethics and religion lose their power to create a community and become a completely personal matter.”[18] Social atomization invites the imposition of controls over populations rendered at once detached yet dependent, restive yet submissive.[19]

James Kurth, a Presbyterian elder, takes a different tack: “the central and fundamental issues involved the way that the Christian believer reached a state of salvation and the roles that the priestly hierarchy and the parish community played in the process.” The Reformers were persuaded that “the believer can achieve a greater knowledge of God . . . through reading of the Holy Scriptures.”[20]

Even so, Kurth agrees that a declension has occurred. A subsequent “Protestant Deformation” takes too far the rejection of hierarchy and community in other domains of life. Although free markets and liberal democracy are valuable byproducts of the Reformation, “the free market could not be so free, nor the liberal democracy so liberal, that they became anarchy.”[21] Institutions must be ordered according to some principle, such as the written contract and a written constitution. The question which confronts us today is: How may we defend these institutions – and the liberty they protect – against the siren calls of rival claimants to authority? Against the deceptive inculcation of ideologies that – like Irving Janis’s groupthink[22] -- coerce conformity?[23]

The historical divisions which undercut Christian unity – represented in part by the medieval Battle of the Universals – reflect an unresolved epistemological and cosmological tension which is nested within the beating heart of the West.[24] This conflict of worldviews shades into rationalism and voluntarism at the extremes.

The challenge issued by the German Pope may be likened to that of the earlier Reformer, Martin Luther. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a product of the same venerable academic tradition, detected the Christian university’s roots in Biblical precedent: 

“Luther, the man who offered comfort to his prince, was no isolated individual like Thomas Paine; he was the rightful spokesman of the City of God, the guardian of the opened and re-opened Bible, the trusted interpreter of Holy Scripture, one of the ordained seventy interpreters of the old Church, with the power of binding and loosing, but with the authority to open and close a public discussion in matters of national interest. The German professor was always careful to keep as part of his title the addition, ‘Public Professor,’ in order to make clear his political sovereignty. . . . The salvation-character of scholarship, utterly foreign to the rest of the world, is the religious key to the political building erected by the Reformation.”[25] 

Perhaps the closest recent parallel to the Regensburg Lecture may be found in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard Address, in which the exiled Soviet dissident diagnosed the self-inflicted wounds of a West which had, in recent centuries, turned to materialism from “the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice.” The consequences of this lapse have been suicidal: “The two so-called world wars (they were by far not on a world scale, not yet) constituted the internal self-destruction of the small progressive West which has thus prepared its own end.”[26]

In the face of mortal danger Solzhenitsyn challenged his audience: “How is it possible to lose to such an extent the will to defend oneself?”[27] Citing Karl Marx’s assertion that “communism is naturalized humanism,” Solzhenitsyn said he saw “the same stones in the foundations of an eroded humanism and of any type of socialism.” Even so, the materialism of the West was no match for the more self-conscious materialism of the Communist bloc: 

“The interrelationship is such, moreover, that the current of materialism which is farthest to the left, and is hence the most consistent, always proves to be stronger, more attractive, and victorious. Humanism which has lost its Christian heritage cannot prevail in this competition. Thus during the past centuries and especially in recent decades, as the process became more acute, the alignment of forces was as follows: Liberalism was inevitably pushed aside by radicalism, radicalism had to surrender to socialism, and socialism could not stand up to communism. The Communist regime in the East could endure and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who (feeling the kinship!) refused to see communism’s crimes, and when they no longer could do so, they tried to justify these crimes. The problem persists: In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. And yet Western intellectuals still look at it with considerable interest and empathy, and this is precisely what makes it so immensely difficult for the West to withstand the East.”[28] 

Today’s West is hard-pressed to make a full-throated defense of freedom. Michael Polanyi, Paul Valéry, José Ortega y Gasset, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Nicolas Berdyaev, Gabiel Marcel, and many others made note of this same deficiency generations earlier and attributed it to a shallow philosophical positivism that reduced man and science to strictly natural processes. These critics understood that science is an offshoot of the complex Christian civilization which gave it life.[29] Once plucked from its cultural roots, science diminishes into a mere technicism that is unable to sustain the whole civilized enterprise. Scientists themselves are increasingly products of the prevailing positivism. When Ortega wrote The Revolt of the Masses in 1930, he described the type of man coming to predominate as “a barbarian appearing on the stage through the trap-door, a ‘vertical invader.’”[30] Ortega was concerned with the rise of a new primitivism, not simply C. P. Snow’s later idea of a rift between two cultures: science and the humanities. Like Polanyi and Valéry, he believed that modern men were becoming divorced from the civilization which – despite all – still nurtured them.

A civilized person should be equipped, like Robinson Crusoe, to rebuild civilization. It is not simply a matter of having the right answers but knowing the right questions to ask. We struggle with a widening gap between what Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn called scita and scienda. Scita is the body of knowledge generally available to the people and their representatives. Scienda, however, is the knowledge necessary to make sound decisions. With the reliance – even dependency – of credulous leaders on narrow expertise, “a new and outright humiliating fideism is being bred in the very shadow of rationality and scientism.” Formulaic thinking enjoys an advantage in the scrum of intellectual one-upmanship and in the interest of preserving power. 

“The way to avoid a development which spells catastrophe for our freedom lies in the creation of sacrosanct domains beyond the grasp of power-hungry centralist forces, areas where the individual or limited groups can act freely, because there scita and scienda are still correlated – in the family, the small enterprise, the village, the borough, the county.”[31] 

The attraction that communism held in Solzhenitsyn’s day – the demonstration effect of a powerful myth – is also true of present-day social justice and liberation movements. Absent from any consideration, however, is the Christian imagination which originally envisioned the West’s civilizational enterprise and the powerful thrust that still carries it forward. Christianity is the West’s unacknowledged bedrock.[32] 

Nehemiah’s job: entrepreneurial rebuilding[33] 

The economic historian David Landes described “the Church as custodian of knowledge and school for technicians” and attributed western inventiveness – eyeglasses, mechanical clocks, printing presses – to four factors: the Judeo-Christian respect for manual labor, its subordination of nature to man, its sense of linear time, and the free enterprise market. “Success bred imitation and emulation.”[34] Historically, there resulted a great release of energy which enhanced human flourishing and brought about social changes of the sort Rosenstock-Huessy noted: the peace of the land, the free choice of a profession, philanthropy, freedom of the mind.[35] The traditional “hieratic monopoly” of Latin – a source of power to clergy and rulers alike – was broken once the Bible was translated into the vernacular languages.[36] Both literacy and liberty became widespread regardless of class and gender, placing government by consent within reach, along with challenges to traditional sources of authority. Recordkeeping flourished, as did popular literature, much of it explicitly Christian. Westerners became “passionately curious about other peoples and societies.” Social mobility increased both vertically and laterally. As Landes exclaimed enthusiastically: “Literate mothers matter.”[37]

Rosenstock-Huessy similarly described the missionary calling of the West – embodying the Great Commission – as it radiated outward from the nucleus of a loose-knit Frankish/Saxon empire. Giving rise to a revolution in education, it issued forth into a series of clerical, then increasingly secular, revolutions – German, English, French, and Russian – that traversed the continent, then the world. It is a civilization originally fashioned out of the European wilderness and the ruins of imperial Rome.[38]

In “The European Miracle,” the economic historian Ralph Raico draws upon the work of Peter Bauer, David Landes, Norman Cantor, Helmut Schoeck, and Harold J. Berman to discern the reasons for the West’s success, noting especially its model of civil society and its relative absence of institutionalized envy:[39] 

“The key to western development is to be found in the fact that, while Europe constituted a single civilization – Latin Christendom – it was at the same time radically decentralized. In contrast to other cultures – especially China, India, and the Islamic world – Europe comprised a system of divided and, hence, competing powers and jurisdictions.”[40] 

The West’s great wellspring was a visionary and voluntary Christian missionary enterprise that began – through covenantal enterprises – by reclaiming arable land, salvaging the remnants of its spiritual and secular antecedents, and crafting new inventions and institutions as practical embodiments of faith, hope, and charity. As Rosenstock-Huessy concluded in Out of Revolution, “the unique experiment of the Western World consists in regenerating a former world.” 

“No nation, no cities, yet an emperor, was the paradoxical situation a thousand years ago. . . . The unique experiment of the Western World consists in rebuilding a former world. . . . It was European civilization as a whole which was called upon to represent the idea of the ancient city-state! The civilized nations are sectors of one city. The concept of a universal civilization opposing a multitude of local economic units was the emperor’s gift to the European tribes.”[41] 

The kings of early Christendom were bound by oath to uphold the inherited body of laws which held their kingdoms together.[42] Medieval Europe was decentralized, yet a common legal order spread through most of it.[43] The condominium of church and state divided sovereignty and decentralized it with respect to territories as well as functions.[44] Civil liberty and self-government requires checks and balances to protect private initiative and free enterprise because “every political power tends to reduce everything that is external to it, and powerful objective obstacles are needed to prevent it from succeeding.”[45] The rule of law within regimes of divided, delegated, and responsible power is an essential underpinning of Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Friedrich Hayek’s idea of spontaneous order.

As the influence of Biblical faith recedes, so do what Ernest Gellner called “the conditions of liberty.”[46] Today’s shrinking world bound by mass communication networks provokes and amplifies demands for simple authoritarian solutions to life’s injustices and inconveniences. Yet we should consider: Why has a relative absence of external oversight historically prevailed where the Christian ethic of moral self-government is widely practiced? Does political, economic, and moral self-discipline require elaborate central command structures or a population force-fitted into ideological straitjackets – perhaps a Procrustean bed – that turn citizens into subjects?[47] To the contrary: Politics, the art of persuasion, flourishes best in the absence of despotism, the technology of coercion. Rather than dictate outcomes in advance, governments that respect free inquiry, liberty of expression, and entrepreneurship have enabled innovation to flourish. As a result, the face of the world has changed within the span of an ordinary lifetime.

The West’s current neglect of its moral – even more than its physical – infrastructure weakens the resilience required for nations, families, and individuals to recover from life’s calamities. [48] An intrusive regulatory state which fosters dependency provokes public exasperation. Here we find parallels with the French Revolution.[49] In “Heart of Darkness,” Joseph Conrad characterized civilization as a thin veneer. It is a common resource which must be renewed and defended every generation.

How each rising generation is educated is truly a matter of national security, but this does not make education the unique and specific responsibility of the state. Paradoxically, the state must depend upon virtues it is not well-equipped to instill. As the Christian political philosopher J. Budziszewski puts it: “Through subsidiarity, the government honors virtue and protects its teachers, but without trying to take their place.”[50] A healthy civil society nurtures a variety of institutions, including the voluntary associations described by Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America.[51]

When Francis Lieber delivered his inaugural lecture at Columbia in 1859, he summarized the role of Christianity in the change from ancient to modern times: 

“How else can we explain these patent facts, that modern states with liberty have a far longer existence – where is the England of antiquity counting a thousand years from her Alfred, and still free? – that liberty and wealth in modern nations have advanced together, which the ancients considered axiomatically impossible; that modern liberty may not only advance with advancing civilization and culture, but requires them; that, occasionally at least, modern states pass through periods of lawlessness without succumbing. . . ; that the moderns have found the means of combining national vigor with the protection of individual rights; and that by international law a “system of states,” as Europe has been called, can exist whose members are entire sovereign nations? Much of all this is owing to the spread and development of Christianity.”[52] 

The West – enriched by a high view of fallen human nature[53] – is now being actively and openly challenged by its progeny in favor of what Roger Scruton called a “culture of repudiation” which mimics the fervor of the Christian faith but attacks both its content and its credibility.[54] Wayne Allen concluded: 

“The twentieth century has rightly been called the “Age of Ideology,” and it might well be the last stage of modernity in its struggle with postmodern nihilism, which will kill man’s reverence for reason entirely. Every event, each person, all actions require reconstruction in terms of the ideology if it is to maintain its status as a science (of Nature or History).”[55] 

One of the great ironies of the modern mindset is its subsistence on the memory and accumulated moral capital of a Christian civilization which, in its youth, built locally financed cathedrals to the glory of God.[56] Today that borrowed capital is in short supply and the old verities – squandered – are nearly forgotten.[57] The past half-century’s much-lamented fiscal crisis of the state, however, is not due so much to insolvency as by overextending the state beyond its competence, depleting rather than replenishing the stock from which it draws. The result – as with earlier civilizations[58] – is profligate borrowing against future diminishing returns and throwing off all constitutional restraints, thus impoverishing services and intensifying compulsion. The problem is not strictly financial. It is philosophical, theological, and – as a practical consequence – demographic.[59] Even so, the culture of the West is still aided by powerful binding forces, such as belief and trust, which belong to the fiduciary life of a Western world originally shaped by the fine arts and philosophy of Greece, the architecture and law of Rome, and bound together by the faith, morality, and prophetic traditions of Judaism and Christianity.[60]

Near the end of a book published in 1908, The Servile State, Hilaire Belloc wrote: “There is a complex knot of forces underlying any nation once Christian; a smoldering of the old fires.”[61] The default culture of the West is still recognizably – if sentimentally – Christian. The historian Willis Glover sees a “historical continuity of modern humanism with the Christian faith” and adds: “It would be hard to name a time when people were so consciously concerned with the problem of meaning.”[62] As the West loses the religious bond that generated its culture, careful attention should be given to reclaiming and rebuilding this moral and spiritual infrastructure.

In ancient Judea Nehemiah’s job as governor was to rebuild the ancient walls of Jerusalem. Today it is the job of imaginative leaders to stand in the gap against a festering cynicism provoked by breaches of public trust and to restore the enterprising vision which inspires citizens to move mountains. 

Photo source:

[1] Cornelis van der Geest’s Kunstkammer in Antwerp during the visit of the Archdukes Albrecht and Isabella in 1615, by Willem van Haecht (Wikimedia Commons);

[2] Alexander the Great visits the studio of Apelles, by Willem van Haecht (Wikimedia Commons). 


[1]John of Salisbury, Metalogicon, Book III, Chapter 4, cited in Scott D. Troyan, Medieval Rhetoric: A Casebook (Routledge, 2004) 10.

[2]Alfred Korzybski, The Manhood of Humanity (Alpha Editions 2022 [1921]) 35.

[3]Glenn A. Moots, Politics Reformed: The Anglo-American Legacy of Covenant Theology (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2010) xiii.

[4]James V. Schall, The Regensburg Lecture (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2007), 79.

[5]The Creation (or Dominion) Mandate, the Great Commandment, and the Great Commission are three facets of a repeated Biblical summons to faithful stewardship. Kenneth Minogue, Politics: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford, 1995), 48. Niall Ferguson, Tom Holland, Charles Murray, Marcello Pera, and other religious skeptics regard Christianity as essential to the West. See Jonathon van Maren, “Grave Men Facing a Grave Faith,” Convivium

[6]Christopher Dawson, “Christian Culture as a Culture of Hope,” in Christianity and European Culture: Selections from the Work of Christopher Dawson, ed. Gerald J. Russello (Washington: Catholic University of America, 1998), 49-50.

[7]James V. Schall, Remembering Belloc (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2013), 155.

[8]On the rise of Otto, Augsburg, and the conversion of Hungary, see Tom Holland, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World (New York: Basic, 2019), 214-21; on Europe as a product of two “secondarities” – Rome and Christianity – see Rémi Brague, Eccentric Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization, trans. Samuel Lester (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2002 [1992]). What purists criticize as “cultural appropriation” is endemic to both.

[9]Schall, Belloc, 153. This Germanic contribution was marginalized through the “grand narrative” of the Great Books curriculum – what M. Stanton Evans called the” liberal history lesson” – following the First World War. See David Gress, From Plato to NATO: The Idea of the West and Its Opponents (New York: Free Press, 1998); M. Stanton Evans, The Theme Is Freedom (Washington, DC: Regnery, 1994).

[10]Schall, Regensburg, 91.

[11]Pitirim A. Sorokin, The Crisis of Our Age: The Social and Cultural Outlook (New York: Dutton, 1941) 139. See also Nicolas Berdyaev, The Meaning of History (Meridian Books, 1936) 156

[12]Schall, Regensburg, 91.

[13]See Jacques Maritain, Man and the State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951, 44-46; St. Augustine, City of God, IV, 3-4.

[14]See Nicolas Berdyaev, The Realm of the Spirit and the Realm of Caesar (London 1952) 46-48;

[15]Ibid., 142. For a discussion of positivism, see “Politics of the Mind” in Paul Valéry, The Collected Works of Paul Valery, vol. 10: History and Politics, ed. Jackson Mathews, Bollingen Series 45 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1962), 106.

[16]Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic: Including A Free Man’s Worship (George Allen & Unwin, 1976).

[17]Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, chapter 1.

[18]Schall, Regensburg, 143.

[19]See, e.g., Christopher Dart, “The Sixties Scoop Explained,” CBC

[20]Originally a lecture at the 2001 meeting of the Philadelphia Society. James Kurth, The American Way of Empire: How America Won a World – But Lost Her Way (Washington: Washington Books, 2019), 58, 59.

[21]Ibid., 62.

[22]Irving L. Janis, Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign Policy Decisions and Fiascoes (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1972).

[23]These practices may be described as “an establishment of religion” in contravention of the American Constitution. Steven Alan Samson, “Binding Leviathan: The Case for Institutional Liberty,” The Market for Ideas, 28 (Mar.-Apr. 2021).

[24]On realism vs. nominalism, see Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2014), chapter 23.

[25]Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man (New York: William Morrow, 1938), 397-99.

[26] See also James Burnham, Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism (New York: John Day, 1964).

[27]Evidence of this willful failure is available to all with the eyes to see and the ears to hear. See, e.g., A. L. Rowse, Appeasement: A Study in Political Decline, 1933-1939 (W.W. Norton, 1963). The epigraph on the title page reads: “”’Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?’ Oxenstierna.”

[28]Ibid. “Marxism owes its remarkable power to survive every criticism to the fact that it is not a truth-directed but power-directed system of thought.” Roger Scruton, A Political Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2006), 149. On Western intellectuals who sympathized with Communism, see Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba (New York: Harper Colophon, 1983).

[29]Marcel attributed reductionism to a “depreciatory resentment” against the integrity of the real world. Gabriel Marcel, Man Against Mass Society (Chicago: Gateway, 1962 [1952]), 156. G. K. Chesterton, with typical irony, spoke up for the idea of "science for science's sake." Pure science is flexible; it can correct its mistakes and weaknesses. But when applied to society it is made concrete. A single moment from an ongoing process of scientific development is then preserved and turned into a social reality. G. K. Chesterton, "The Inefficiency of Science," North American Review (November 1929), 588‑589; see also Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (New York: Avon, 1967).

[30]José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses (New York: W. W. Norton, 1932), 87.

[31]Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, “Scita Et Scienda: The Dwarfing of Modern Man,” Imprimis (October 1974).

[32]See Vishal Mangalwadi, The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011).

[33]The core of this section was published in Romania at Profit, June 7, 2021. The title is a hat tip to Albert Jay Nock’s essay, “Isaiah’s Job.”

[34]David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998), 58-59.

[35]Rosenstock-Huessy, Revolution, 30-32.

[36]A now-secularized intellectual class or clerisy has persisted. Although its roots are in the Church and monasteries, it betrays political ambitions. A century ago Julien Benda regretted the loss of a universal language: “All humanity including the ‘clerks,’ have become laymen. All Europe, including Erasmus, has followed Luther.” Julien Benda, The Treason of the Intellectuals (La Trahison des Clercs), trans. Richard Aldington (New York: W. W. Norton, 1969 [1928]).

[37]Landes, Wealth, 32, 52, 178.

[38]Rosenstock-Huessy, Revolution, 496. See also Vishal Mangalwadi, “Toward a Third Education Revolution,” in The Third Education Revolution, ed. Vishal Mangalwadi and David Marshall (Sought After Media, 2021) 23-54.

[39]One form is redistribution of wealth; another is rent-seeking: a pay-to-play scheme that, like toll castles, enriches the gatekeeper. See Jonathan R. T. Hughes, The Governmental Habit Redux (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 1-12.

[40]Ralph Raico, “The Theory of Economic Development and the European Miracle," in The Collapse of Development Planning, ed. Peter J. Boettke (New York: NYU Press, 1994). See Niall Ferguson on the “open access pattern” that arose among the elites in medieval England and Western Europe. Niall Ferguson, The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die (New York: Penguin, 2013), 24-25.

[41]Rosenstock-Huessy, Revolution, 488-89.

[42]Minogue, Politics, 26-27.

[43]See Ruben Alvarado, A Common Law: Western Civilization and the Law of Nations (Aalten, The Netherlands: WordBridge, 1999). See also Evans, Freedom.

[44]Joseph Lecler, The Two Sovereignties: A Study of the Relationship Between Church and State (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1952), 10.

[45]Raico, “Miracle.”

[46]At the end of a chapter entitled “From the Interstices of a Command-Admin System,” Gellner noted: “A recent Moscow joke runs as follows: what is the one thing worse than socialism? Answer: that which follows socialism.” Ernest Gellner, Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and Its Ruivals Penguin, 1996), 149.

[47]See Steven Alan Samson, “Ideological Straitjackets Turn Citizens into Subjects,” Townhall Finance, October 28, 2020.

[48]Aaron Wildavsky balances anticipation (prepared and alert) and resilience (sufficient resources held in reserve). Aaron Wildavsky, “If Regulation Is Right, Is It Also Safe?” foreword to Rights and Regulation: Ethical, Political, and Economic Issues, ed. Tibor R. Machan and M. Bruce Johnson (San Francisco: Pacific Institute for Public Policy Research, 1983), xv-xvii.

[49]Thomas Molnar, The Counter-Revolution (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1969), 6-8.

[50]J. Budziszewski, The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man (Dallas: Spence, 1999), 70.

[51]Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 2, part 2, chapter 5.

[52]Francis Lieber, Miscellaneous Writings, vol. I: Reminiscences, Addresses, and Essays (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1880), 382-83.

[53]Psalm 8::4-6; 1 Cor. 6:3. Immanuel Kant referred to “the crooked timber of humanity” out of which “no straight thing was ever made.”

[54]2 Tim. 3:5. See Roger Scruton, The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2002), 68-83.

[55]Wayne Allen, “The Rock of Ages,” manuscript copy of a book review of Hitler, the War and the Pope by Ronald J. Rychlak, published as “Pius XII and the Culture Wars,” Culture Wars (October 2001): 42-44.

[56]See Francis A. Schaeffer, Death in the City (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1969).

[57]See Kipling, “Gods of the Copybook Headings.”

[58]Dawson, “Hope,” 49-50.

[59]On the demographic decline, see Steven Alan Samson, “The Grapes of Parnassos,” April 16, 2007.

[60]Culture crystallizes out of an original cultus. “Religion” derives from re-ligare, to bind. Man is, Alfred Korzybski observed, a time-binder. Nicholas Berdyaev understood the weakness of Christianity’s cultural byproducts when plucked from their roots. Marx and Nietzsche signified “the end and destruction of humanism; both aroused forces “which it was far from the creative mind to set in motion.” Nicholas Berdyaev, The Fate of Man in the Modern World (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1935), 31; see also Marcello Pera, Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians: The Religious Roots of Free Societies (New York: Encounter Books, 2011).

[61] Hilaire Belloc, The Servile State (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1977 [1913]), 198.

[62]Willis B. Glover, Biblical Origins of Modern Secular Culture: An Essay in the Interpretation of Western History (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1984) 15.



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