Monday, January 14, 2013

The Spirit of Antichrist

In my last post, Denying the Incarnation while Going to Church, which I just wrote ten minutes ago, it struck me that the quote I closed with was quite on point.

In the blustery King James translation (1 John 4:2-3) ...

Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Like all inspired writing, this is true on many levels.

***

It is true in philosophy.

It is true in games.

For example, let's say you and I (dear reader) are about to invent a board game, on which we hope to make lots of money.  "What rules should we write?" you will ask, for you and I both agree that you can't play a game without rules.

"The rule is I get to pass GO and collect $200 any time I want to, but you don't," I reply.

"That's not fair!" you object.

"There is no such thing as fair or unfair," I answer, regarding you with that haughty disdain I use so often.  "It's just rules and we can write them any way we choose."

***

Such was the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, who denied any transcendent origin of law.  For Hobbes, society and its laws were man-made arbitrary constructs.  Today almost every single person on earth is a Hobbesian.  Almost every single human being believes this, that law is whatever we make it - laws are man-made rules which are entirely arbitrary, having no connection to any higher principle.  Thus "gay marriage".  

And this is the spirit of antichrist at work.

For all bad philosophy denies the reality of the external world (God operating in the flesh).  All bad philosophy begins with nominalism and ends with subjectivism and solipsism.

All good philosophy begins by acknowledging the reality of the external world - and marveling at it.  All good philosophy is realist, and is kept from straying too far off track by its realism - its acknowledging God operating in the flesh, before our eyes - among us.

***

And the transcendent is there.  The transcendent is real.  There transcendent is merely before our eyes.

As soon as one player appeals to "fairness", for instance, there it is - there is the transcendent among us - there is the general principle that gives rise to the concrete expression of it in good rules and good laws; there is incarnation at work.

Deny the transcendent and you deny the obvious.  Deny the obvious and you deny reality.  Deny reality and you deny God, for He is the most real thing there is and the source of whatever reality you and I partake in.

Acknowledge the reality of anything - even a telephone pole, which incarnates an unseen (and transcendent) form - and you begin to acknowledge the reality of the source of everything - God.

***

So the split in this world is not so much between believers and non-believers, between liberals and conservatives, between blacks and whites.  The split is between nominalists and realists, between those who deny the transcendent and those who acknowledge it, between those who think reality is what we make it and those who see reality for what it is and who lives their lives in an effort to conform to it.

The split is between the spirit of antichrist - which denies reality - and the spirit of Christ, which not only affirms reality, but enfleshes in it, dies with it, redeems it.

1 comment:

The OTHER Anonymous said...

Hobbesian political theory inspired the thought of David Ricardo, which laid the groundwork for both socialism and capitalism. By abolishing the natural law, most notably liberty (freedom of association/contract) and private property, Hobbes made the absolutist State supreme.

Not surprisingly, Walter Bagehot (the "rival" of Albert Venn Dicey) commented favorably on Hobbes in his book, "The English Constitution" (1867), which may have been in part something of a response to Orestes Brownson's "The American Republic" (1866). Bagehot loathed America, sneered at Magna Charta, and believed the ideal situation for a country was that of India under the East India Company: a private corporation run by and for the financial and economic elite. Bagehot thought that one of the great weaknesses in the American Constitution was that it did not provide for a dictator in times of crisis.

Not surprisingly, John Maynard Keynes was a disciple of Bagehot's political thought and economics. In his "Treatise on Money" (1930) Keynes declared that the State has the right to "re-edit the dictionary" with respect to the natural law, specifically freedom of association (liberty) and private property. Even less surprising is that Keynesians have often called for a dictatorship (cf. John M. Clark, one of the New Deal Keynesians) so that the economy would finally work right.

Harold Moulton pointed out the natural trend to totalitarianism inherent in Keynesian economics in his 1943 pamphlet, "The New Philosophy of Public Debt." Heinrich Rommen and Mortimer Adler were even more explicit that the abandonment of the natural law we see in, e.g., Keynesian economics and the "living Constitution" school of constitutional law leads straight to totalitarianism. Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler presented a possibility for getting away from the Keynesian (and Monetarist and Austrian) "slavery of past savings" in their two books, "The Capitalist Manifesto" (1958) and "The New Capitalists" (1961), while the "Capital Homesteading" proposal of the Center for Economic and Social Justice develops the thought into a practical proposal that Cardinal Dolan says is consistent with Catholic social teaching, especially the principle of subsidiarity.