Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Religion and the Inculcation of Values

Apropos the preceding post and "Religion and the Inculcation of Morality," I offer these thoughts by Christopher Dawson:
[T]he Liberal movement, with its humanitarian idealism and its belief in the law of nature and the rights of man, owes its origin to an irregular union between the humanist tradition and a religious ideal that was inspired by Christian moral values, though not by Christian faith.... [T]he whole development of liberalism and humanitarianism, which has been of such immense importance in the history of the modern world, derived its spiritual impetus from the Christian tradition that it attempted to replace, and when that tradition disappears this spiritual impetus is lost, and liberalism in its turn is replaced by the crudity and amoral ideology of the totalitarian state.

"Europe in Eclipse" (1954), compiled in
The Dynamics of World History
UPDATE (01/19/08): Relatedly, Mark Steyn writes today:
...Jonah Goldberg has a brilliant new book out called Liberal Fascism, which I hope to address at length in the weeks ahead. I note, however, that American liberals, not surprisingly, don't care for the title. As it happens, the phrase is H.G. Wells's, and he meant it approvingly. Unity [Mitford]'s dreamboat Fuhrer described himself as "a man of the left."... Even when they're not in thrall to the personality dictators, a big chunk of Western elites have a strange yen for the sterner ways of distant cultures, from Hillary Clinton's Hallmark sentimentalization ("It Takes A Village," etc.) of a tribal existence that's truly nasty, brutish and short to Germaine Greer's more explicit defence of "female genital mutilation." Late in life, Miss Greer has finally found a form of patriarchal oppression that gets her groove back as much as National Socialism did Unity Mitford's.

If you're unlucky, it's not just the elites who fall for ideologically exotic suitors. It would seem to me, given how easily the Continent embraced all the most idiotic "isms" three-quarters of a century ago, that it will surely take up some equally unlovely ones as it faces its perfect storm of an aging native population, a surging Muslim immigrant population, and an unsustainable welfare state...

A Western nation voluntarily embracing sharia? Sounds silly. But so does Unity Mitford. Liberal democracy is squaresville and predictable, small-scale and unheroic, deeply unglamorous compared to the alternatives. And kind of boring. Until it's gone.