Writings by Dr. John C. Rao

Anti-Modernity in the United States

A Tale of Self-Deception and Voices Crying in the Wilderness

(Verbo, Madrid, 2019.)

In order to speak of the battle against modernity, one must first have a clear conception of what this phenomenon actually is. To my mind, formed by the thinkers of the nineteenth century Catholic revival steeped in an understanding of the full significance of the Incarnation and the Mystical Body of Christ, modernity signifies the intensification of an age-old willingness to accept nature “as it is”, either condemning it as a nightmare from which one must flee in horror, or exploiting it without spiritual or intellectual questioning of where it may have come from, what it might have been intended for, and how, if not living up to its purpose, it might be redeemed.

According to this approach, the principles of modernity were in some way already present in the confrontation of the Sophists and the Socrates, but forced underground in the first half of the Christian era. They then began to emerge once again in the twelfth century, through an often tense alliance of gnostic thinkers contemptuous of the belief in a nature that was the creation of a good God with the designs of power and money mongers wishing to go about their business freed from the burden of any theological or philosophical “rules of the game”. This alliance was identified by Georges de Lagarde in his now almost totally unknown La naissance del’ esprit laique au declin du moyen age (Nauwelaerts, Five Volumes, 1958).

Taking physical root in Christendom through the Protestant Revolution and the open naturalism of the centuries following thereafter, modernity’s war against God and nature has unleashed the power of irrational individual willfulness. This has then manifested itself in in a demand for the right to indulge in everything from an unabashed libertinism to an arrogant imposition of one’s personal ideological dogmas upon everyone else, to the detriment of all aspects of human personality, those of the tyrant included.

Anyone working with this definition of modernity cannot possibly envisage fighting it with the tools offered by the so-called Moderate Enlightenment. For, as Jonathan Israel, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University and one of the greatest contemporary historians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries indicates, this product of the Anglo-American (and, in a quite different but analogous form, also Prussian) experience is nothing more than a “holding action” for its more radical atheist, and democratic, versions, both libertine as well as tyrannical.1 This is due to the fact that its proponents root their objections to a thoroughgoing destruction of a normative order of things in the supposedly obvious dictates of a “common moral sense” whose underlying logic nevertheless ensures its utter ruin, defending their position by nothing other than a determined willfulness confirming its rational weakness. Moreover, that willfulness, despite regularly lashing out physically against its opponents, has often displayed an openness, under pressure, to incorporation into the “obvious” dictates of the wisdom of its purely conventional “common moral sense” of the same radical logical conclusions that it denounced but yesterday.

Despite their intellectual vapidity, the confidence with which such conventional, common moral sense based, Moderate Enlightenment arguments have been put forward has proven to make them extremely tempting to Christians, both in Europe as well as the United States, emasculating their ability properly to promote their true beliefs with their full consequences in the process. Moderates have repeatedly recruited believers into various “Parties of Order” through their insistence that any questioning of their "common sense" standpoint can only weaken the evident need primarily to deal with radical forces whose victory they nonetheless effectively prepare. Although the first use of the actual term “Party of Order” emerged in France in 1848 to unite conservative forces, Catholics included, against the “Red Menace”, recruiting sergeants for such factions were already at work and highly successful from the time of the English Glorious Revolution onwards.

Most Americans who think that they are militant opponents of “modernity”, go about their business in union with precisely this Moderate Enlightenment, Party of Order approach, utilizing arguments that make them self-deceptive fellow travellers of the worldview that they falsely convince themselves that they are actually fighting. Once again, this has the effect both of rendering illogical and emasculating the anti-modern sentiments that are indeed often present in their views, as well as thwarting the efforts of the actual enemies of modernity. The true anti-modernists are exiled into the outer darkness by the American Party of Order, which condemns them as either senseless madmen or even outright radicals: agents of one or the other version of the “Red Menace”---which today also include the representatives of a militant religion: Catholic as well as Moslem. The American Moderate Enlightenment, like Rome, always needs some evil “Carthage” to survive.

There are many ways that one might plunge into this tale of self-deception and voices crying in the wilderness, but I think that the most effective fashion that I can do so is with reference to my personal experience with the American “anti-modernity” camp, which began very early in my life, in the 1960’s, first of all, with reference to the labor of one particular individual. The man in question was Russell Kirk (1918-1994), whose chief work, The Conservative Mind (1953), was undeniably the clarion call for many thinking people to begin questioning the dominant forces in American political and social life: “a handful of individuals, some of them quite unused to moral responsibilities on such a scale”, who “made it their business to extirpate the populations of Nagasaki and Hiroshima”.2 Kirk personally, in word and in print, most certainly expressed views that indicated rejection of the entire gnostic or naturalist vision of existence, himself, with age, eventually becoming a traditionalist Catholic.

Nevertheless, The Conservative Mind to a large degree illustrates the problem noted above. For it introduces its readers to the thoughts of men---many of whom were very active in the political realm, such as John Adams (1735-1826) and John Calhoun (1782-1850)---who unquestionably display various anti-modern sentiments, but whose logic is crippled either by their basically “prudent”, “common-sense” oriented, foundation principles, or their historical need to grasp at whatever arguments “worked” for them to justify American slavery. Kirk’s conservatives, horrified by the direction their world was headed, were generally what they remain today: merely Whig-generated “liberals who have been mugged” or who are afraid that they will be mugged in the near future by the implications of the individualism that their Locke-rooted principles ultimately entail. They cannot escape from the basic error of all of Anglo-American modernity: its anti-intellectual naturalism, and its attempt to create a social order rooted in accepting Original Sin as a positive building block of society, supposedly controlled by checking and balancing one “free” passion against another.

Given the marred starting points of the men whom Kirk studied, either in The Conservative Mind or in his later writings, the move of a number of them towards a more substantive anti-modernity is nonetheless admittedly impressive. This is especially true in the case of Orestes Brownson (1803-1876), who became a Roman Catholic after having travelled from Calvinism through the Romantic Idealism of American Transcendentalism in the first half of the nineteenth century. His Conversations on Liberalism and the Church, published in 1869, after the publication of Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors (1864), whose critique of the zeitgeist he took to heart, reflects this step-by-step rejection of the inadequacy of the conventional Moderate Enlightenment position. That rebuff led him to see the radicalizing danger in the thought of one of his greatest admirers, Fr. Isaac Hecker (1819-1888). Hecker’s claim that the union of American liberty and Catholic Truth would lead to a “future greater than any past” was a central dogma of the Americanist movement. Condemned by Leo XIII in Testem benevolentiae (1899), this movement lived on to transform Roman Catholicism in the United States in the wake of Second Vatican Council into but one more impotent religious clubhouse, subject to the Established American Pluralist Church, united with its fellow eunuchs in defending Lockean individualism.3

Although not emphasized by Kirk, another extraordinary anti-modern voice was that of a a coalition of eleven Protestant denominations from seven northern states in 1863 which, convinced that all civil governments derive their legitimacy from God, and that the Civil War was God's punishment for His omission from the American Constitution, proposed amending the preamble to the national foundation document, “recognizing the being and attributes of Almighty God, the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, the law of God as the paramount rule, and Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior and Lord of all”. The “Christian Amendment Movement” was founded the next year and quickly renamed the "National Reform Association", which moved to alter the Constitution in an even stronger form, by “humbly acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Ruler among the nations, {and} His revealed will as the supreme law of the land…”. Despite a meeting with Lincoln, the support of a number of senators, and repeated introduction of similar proposals in Congress down until 1969, the only practical result of this initiative was the introduction of the phrase “In God We Trust” onto an admittedly major national icon---the coinage---in 1864.4

Kirk sees the period between 1865 and 1918 as having been deadly for the expression of a critique of modernity in the United States, and yet many of its requisite sentiments were nonetheless still seriously uttered at that time. This is especially true if one recognizes anti-modernity as involving a critique of the amoral, naturalist mechanism of the Industrial Revolution and the unchained freedom of its bourgeois captains. Both Protestants and Catholics—the latter establishing 1,392 newspapers and journals in the nineteenth century--- were conscious of a growing American immorality that they connected with the individual ambitions of willful industrial plutocrats. The rural population translated this critique into that politically powerful Populist Movement of the 1890’s, equating Wall Street with Sodom and Gomorrah. It was bankers and Freemasons who greeted the arrival of the Statue of Liberty in New York City in 1888 with great enthusiasm, while Catholics such as John Gilmary Shea (1824-1892), attacked it in The American Catholic Quarterly Review as a symbol of a Radical Enlightenment interpretation of freedom.

Still, critics of the Statue’s revolutionary theme merely reiterated the Whig-Liberal party line, insisting---along with Isaac Hecker--that Catholic embrace of the “proper” American vision of liberty would give them “a future brighter than any past”. It seems to have been only French and German professors invited to teach at the new Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (1887) who were willing openly to condemn that view, and they were hounded out of their positions in the 1890’s.5 Questioning the Moderate Enlightenment “will of the Founders”---once again, their will as opposed to their Faith or their Reason---was simply not to be an American Catholic option.6

One constant source of anti-modern sentiment cited by Kirk which does, at times, approach a much more fundamental critique---and this, before, during, and after the “barren”1865-1918 period---is that coming from the American literary world. Many of its representatives were highly conscious of the devastating impact on the human mind and spirit of modern theories regarding individualism, equality, and mechanist utilitarianism. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was one of these, complaining, as he did, of the country’s “aristocracy of dollars” and its perfection of a democratic republicanism shaping a “a very admirable form of government-for dogs”.7

Particularly substantive in their critique were Paul Elmer More (1864-1937), and Irving Babbit (1865-1933), two Ivy League academics united, from 1895 onwards, in promoting what they called “the New Humanism”. The modern immorality that More objected to was “not the obvious one of obscenity or suggestiveness, but a falsification of human nature” that jettisoned “the philosophy of religion, as it has been developed through two thousand years in the central tradition of Christendom", thereby destroying the intellect, guaranteeing a social order "surrendered to the theory of ceaseless flux, with no principle of judgment except the shifting pleasure of the individual,".and with “fratricide” as its ultimate consequence. Babbit, In What is Humanism? (1895) And Democracy and Leadership (1924), identified this falsification of human nature as working through a two pronged and falsely optimistic naturalism: that represented by Baconian mechanism and the individualist sentimentalism of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.8

The interwar era hosted a variety of other literary, academic, and political attacks on at least one or another aspect of fundamental modern principles of mechanist naturalism and unchained individualism, along with their negative effects on human dignity, morality, and social order in the American environment. Sewart Bishop Collins (1899-1952), an admirer of the “New Humanism”, moved on to seek a remedy to the ills of modern government in an article called “Monarch as Alternative” (1933) in the initial issue of his journal, The American Review (1933-1937). In his own peculiar way, he also shared the anti-industrialist call of a group of twelve American writers, poets, essayists, and novelists, based at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, who, in 1930, published a book entitled I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition, which sought to use the pre-Civil War world as a kind of imaginative guide, mutatis mutandi, for solution of the problems of a dead-end, Depression era America. And there is no denying the assault on Moderate Enlightenment fundamentals that one finds in part of the Catholic Social Doctrine message of Fr. John Ryan (1869-1945), author of the “Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction” in 1919, and in Fr. Charles Coughlin's (1891-1979) joint criticism of capitalism and communism. But what always seems to be lacking in these men was what T.S. Eliot---a beneficiary and critical admirer of the New Humanism---identified in his assessment of Babbit as dogmatic rigor: the only force capable of tying their assaults on modernity into a cohesive logical whole.9

Eliot’s critique segues nicely into an introduction to two other influences upon my own youthful entry into the anti-modernist camp: a scholarly “think tank” called The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which opened its doors in 1953, and The National Review, founded two years later. Both think tank and journal, while undeniably having offered a chance for a number of thinkers who were indeed truly anti-modern in their mentality to express their views, ultimately illustrate the tragically anti-dogmatic, anti-intellectual, emasculating influence of the Moderate Enlightenment in America even more clearly than The Conservative Mind.

Frank Chodorov (1887-1966), director of the Henry George School of Social Sciences, and editor of a journal called The Freeman, created the academic organization in question, with William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008), fresh from a stint with the CIA, as its first president. It worked---as it still does---through seminars and summer schools on college campuses, and closely together with Russell Kirk’s (1918-1994) quarterly journal, Modern Age, over which it ultimately assumed control in 1976. Modern Age proved to be especially important as a mouthpiece for writers whom Dr. Paul Gottfried (b.1941), presently a member of the Institute of Social, Economic and Political Sciences in Lyons, lauded for respecting “humanistic learning, reverence for the eternal, and the sense of human finiteness, values that (alas) have less and less to do with the academic presentation of the liberal arts".10 I myself attended the ISI Summer Schools annually, from 1970 until leaving for Oxford with one of the organization’s generous Richard Weaver Scholarships, and then served as its Eastern Director in 1978-1979.

William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008) also became the founding editor of The National Review, claiming in the mission statement of its first issue in 1955 that it “stands athwart history, yelling ‘Stop’, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it”. Its collaborators and supporters were praised as being “on the side of excellence rather than newness”, as “non-conformists” in an era of “conformism” with “modish fads and fallacies” “greater than any known before” in history. Buckley, for many of those horrified by contemporary developments, was greeted enthusiastically as “the master of them that know” exactly what the errors of modernity entailed.11

Despite the admittedly very varied group of writers and participants in the work of the ISI and The National Review---which included everyone from members of old Ivy League families to many sons of Jewish-American immigrants and postwar European Catholic émigrés---anyone looking back at their reigning guidelines can see that their ethos was solidly characterized by the “Party of Order” mentality, with anti-Communism and a general sense of the need somehow to fight “cultural and moral decline” as the “Carthage” required for unity within the ranks. This approach was promoted underneath the rubric of “fusionism”, a term popularized by one of the many formerly openly leftist and Jewish-American recruits to The National Review team, Frank Meyer (1909-1972).

Fusionism signified the pluralist desire to link together different schools of “conservative” thought and varied religious “orthodoxies”, whether Catholic, Eastern Christian, Protestant, or Jewish, in a common battle against the Carthaginian enemies of “freedom”, with those deemed unworthy of being part of the extensive and supposedly “anti-liberal” camp excluded. As Richard Lowry, the current editor of The National Review has noted in this latter regard: "Mr. Buckley's first great achievement was to purge the American right of its kooks”. “Kooks” included anyone who might in some way be labeled as “anti-Semitic” in the ever-broader definition of that term—crucial for a movement in which Jewish intellectuals played a major role in determining the categories of good and evil. Even more importantly in the long run, “kooks” also signified those who spoke openly about what religious orthodoxy might actually demand of men in the way of the bending of individual wills to moral requirements of Faith and Reason enforced by social authorities. For, in the final analysis, an ISI that had started out under the name of the “Intercollegiate Society of Individualists”, and a National Review whose mission statement extolled the businessman as a cultural icon, were fused more tightly with the Anglo-American Whig and Liberal love of freedom---particularly economic freedom---than with anything traditional in a broader and more ancient western sense. As the militantly libertarian Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) said of the founder of the ISI---and could have said of Buckley, as well:12

I shall never forget the profound thrill—a thrill of intellectual liberation—that ran through me when I first encountered the name of Frank Chodorov, months before we were to meet in person. As a young graduate student in economics, I had always believed in the free market, and had become increasingly libertarian over the years, but this sentiment was as nothing to the headline that burst forth in the title of a pamphlet that I chanced upon at the university bookstore: Taxation is Robbery, by Frank Chodorov. There it was; simple, perhaps, but how many of us, let alone how many professors of the economics of taxation, have ever given utterance to this shattering and demolishing truth?
I saw my task as Eastern Director of the ISI as that of aiding the anti-fusionist elements very much active under its aegis, directing funds provided by libertarians to support the lectures of more critical academics, such as Dr. Thomas Molnar (1921-2010), a noted Hungarian émigré, at Brooklyn College in New York City and Dr. Frederick Wilhelmsen (1923-1996), at the University of Dallas, in Texas, aided in this labor by some of my other colleagues in the organization. As anti-individualist heretics, we knew that we were walking a tightrope in undertaking our subversive activities, which were also complicated by many other internal disputes. Prominent among these was the battle between the “natural right” followers of Leo Strauss (1899-1973) and their “natural law” opponents, who distrusted the “Straussians” as a tribal-like cult which they accused of promoting certain seemingly traditional values among the democratic mob in order to allow them, as a privileged intellectual elite, to pursue their own questionable, gnostic goals in peace. I also remember the horror felt by Dr. Molnar when another tribal-like force---the neo-conservatives---first came onto the scene at an ISI Summer School during the 1970’s. “We will never get rid of them”, he told me, as one among them vocally attacked him for daring to mention the name of Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) in one of his lectures. And yet Molnar’s calling up of Schmitt’s legacy indicated further problems, for his own rather Hegelian and Romantic Nationalist “anti-modern” vision perplexed more traditionally orthodox members of the ISI, not to speak of the Liberal Catholics within its ranks. These included men such as Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1909-1999), himself a strange mixture of cultural traditionalism, libertarian capitalism, and admiration for the political and religious approach of Charles de Montalembert. Banquets sponsored by the organization could be peculiar events indeed, with "anti-modernists" divided in West toasting Pius IX, the glory of Wall Street, or a “Free Spain”, liberated from the yoke of Franco in 1974.

Tightrope walking of this sort became much more difficult after the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States in 1980. His victory was looked upon with great joy by almost all of the followers of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and The National Review. It conferred mainstream respectability upon their fusionist approach, providing employment to many of their supporters as well, whether in government itself or as lobbyists in newly influential conservative think tanks and pressure groups, such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. It also strengthened the ability of the Moderate Enlightenment, Party of Order mechanisms built into the American system by the “will of the Founders” to “integrate”---to “fuse”---all forces baptized as in some way or another “traditional” into one unthinking, uncritical whole; an alliance, once again, united only in fighting communism and whatever else in the future might be labeled as the Carthaginian enemy of the divinely ordained American Way and its sole guiding “anti-modern” dogma of “freedom”. Those who could not toe the Party of Order line now had less chance than ever before to avoid expulsion into the outer darkness, where naught could be heard but the gnashing of teeth.

This is not to say that heresy hunting was without its own difficulties, since there was to be fresh “bad blood” after 1980 between many of those interpreting the meaning of the “will of the Founders” regarding “freedom”, depending on how economically libertarian or politically neo-conservative the “fusionist” element seeking to dominate the picture might be. Many mainstream libertarians—more militant in the ISI by this time---could not bear the growth in government inevitably associated with the warmongering of the neo-conservative, regime changing, “freedom fighters”, whose influence increased exponentially during the second Bush Administration. Neo-conservatives’ emphasis upon a national “exceptionalism” freeing the country’s foreign policy from any universal, Faith-and-Reason guided moral considerations, plays well in the Trump Era among those whose “anti-modernism” is limited to protecting a Divine America from the new Red Menace---Islam and Immigration. Nevertheless, the neo-conservative equation of American security with that of the State of Israel has alienated many other ex-fusionists who found that they were not permitted to ask whence this obsession had emerged. Some questioners, like Joseph Sobran (1946-2010), purged from The National Review for “anti-Semitism”, simply fell back into the unchanging American freedom camp, emphasizing its supposedly healthier “pre-Civil War, closer to the will of the Founders” character, while others have more and more begun to see the anti-modern Defense of the West in the consciously or unconsciously neo-pagan form espoused by the incredibly mixed group of supporters of what is called the Alt Right. Aiding “America” and “liberty” as they define it is sufficient orthodoxy for most of them---and always seen as “the will of the Founders”.

This brings me to the second and ultimately much more definitive influence upon my own budding anti-modernist position: the orthodox Catholic reaction to the Second Vatican Council, which was taking manifold shape just as I was introduced to the man, organization, and journal noted above, and aiming its proponents to a study of the fullness of the Church's Tradition. Perhaps it is best to begin discussion of this reaction by noting the effect that the growing heterodoxy within the Church had in strengthening the Catholic character of some of those within the original fusionist camp: most especially L. Brent Bozell, Jr. (1926-1997), one of his brother-in-law William Buckley’s closest cooperators on The National Review.

Bozell moved decisively away from the Moderate Enlightenment liberalism of the (self-deceptively) “anti-modern” American Party of Order, as can be seen in his debate with Meyer over the need for the pursuit of virtue to take precedence over the defense of “freedom”. The National Review’s obsession with individual liberty, and its impact upon acceptance of and obedience to Catholic moral and social teaching offended him ever more deeply when it became clear that this not only involved an uncritical adulation of capitalism contravening the Church’s Social Doctrine, but also a rejection of attempts to prevent abortion in the United States, and an uncritical enthusiasm for all of America’s “liberating” foreign adventures.13

In 1966, Bozell’s anger over not just The National Review’s fusionism, but also the victory of American religious pluralism inside the post-conciliar Church led him to found Triumph Magazine, which continued publication, in one way or another, until January, 1976. Bozell offended the ever more zealous heresy hunters by calling the failure to convert the Jews a new form of anti-Semitism, denying them the fulfillment of the promises made to Israel and awaited anxiously throughout the centuries." The editors of the new journal, whose first issue after Roe v. Wade was swathed entirely in black, insisted that that a nation whose law permitted the killing of the unborn was one whose population must fundamentally break with the system; a nation in which “the Catholic Church must “forthrightly acknowledge that a state of war exists between herself and the American political order."14

Some older Catholic journals, such as The Wanderer---which gave refuge to Joseph Sobran after his dismissal from The National Review---while not as thorough-going in their critique of America as Triumph, joined in its expression of outrage over the post-conciliar collapse. Horrified as this more substantive Catholic revolt was by the complicity of the bulk of the hierarchy in the national apostasy, its supporters moved on to create a network of organizations to do the work of defending faith and morals that the mainstream Church seemed to have abandoned. Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Roman Forum, whose chairman I have been since 1991, took up the cudgel in 1968 and soon thereafter allied itself with Walter Matt’s recently founded Remnant Newspaper. Pro-life groups were a major consequence of this organizational fervor, many of them inter-denominational, with the so-called Rescue Movement, forthrightly committed to the breaking of unjust laws to save innocent lives, being the most ready to break the bones of the system in a militant way. Devotional reviews, such as The Fatima Crusader, founded in 1978, whose most prolific writer, a lawyer, Christopher A. Ferrara, remains a mainstay of the pro-life legal defense force, must also be mentioned in this regard. Individual Catholic “crusaders”, each of them with their own particular focus have also played their part in this labor, E. Michael Jones (b. 1948), with a very cutting journal, now entitled Culture Wars, and the independent cavalier, Charles Coulombe (b. 1960), prominent among them. Catholic resistance to the destructive effects of Moderate Enlightenment inspired Anglo-American religious pluralism has not been without its influence on other journals critical of the “established American disorder” as well, the forty-year old Chronicles Magazine also running what is called the Rockford Institute out of the country’s heartland.

Long lasting in its implications was the effort to forge an entirely new, anti-pluralist educational establishment, focused, in most places, on homeschooling children, but eager to establish solidly Catholic primary and secondary schools wherever possible as well. Ronald P. McArthur (1924-2013) added a university to this project as early as 1970, with the foundation of St. Thomas Aquinas College in California. In 1977, a year after the final collapse of Triumph, Warren H. Carroll (1932-2011), one of that journal’s most active collaborators, followed suite, creating Christendom College in Virginia, the entire original faculty of which was very much a by-product of Brent Bozell’s international Catholic vision---to which I will return at the end of this conference today.

But there is no way that the Catholic critique of American modernity can be completed without bringing into the picture the powerful impact of the post-conciliar Traditionalist Movement, born, primarily in defense of the Roman Liturgy, but also bringing in its train a greater concern for the victory of the full meaning of the Social Kingship of Christ. Despite their differences of approach, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991)’s Society of Saint Pius X, the Institute of Christ the King, and the religious communities that have been established since Ecclesia Dei, such as the Fraternity of St. Peter, have been major tools for promoting this---hopefully---fundamental critique of modernity, with practical, intellectual, and popular support from organizations such as The Roman Forum, and journals like The Remnant.

Unfortunately, however, a growth in number of groups and individuals critiquing contemporary life does not add up to a force that can, as yet, effectively challenge the dominance of the vision of modernity in the United States. The bitter disputes among the orthodox Catholics regarding the acceptability of the liturgical revolution in the Church, while important as a weakening factor is not the most significant cause of lack of impact. More debilitating is the fact that even if the Anglo-American Moderate Enlightenment represents nothing more than a "holding action" against ever encroaching radical developments, the survival mechanisms to which it has given birth since the time of the Glorious Revolution---remain enormously effective. Their promotion of a religious liberty and a division of governmental powers multiplying factionalism to the degree that a myriad of competing forces check and balance one another into impotence, along with their encouragement of the Party of Order appeal to unity---to fusionism--- versus whatever is perceived to be the "Carthage" most dangerous at the moment, both supported by a relentless propaganda of strident patriotism and mockery of their opponents as naive fools---still work together to guarantee a kind of "orderly degeneration" protecting the fundamental principles of modernity.

What this means, in practice, is that, with the exception of a few individuals (e.g., E. Michael Jones) and organizations (e.g., The Roman Forum), all of the Catholic forces mentioned above in one way or another still promote basic aspects of the Moderate Enlightenment vision and espouse major parts of the Party of Order program. This is very noticeable with respect to their continued unwillingness to accept the full consequences of the Catholic Faith concerning the social nature of man, and the consequent importance of a hierarchy of social authorities, whose vigorous intervention in individual life is necessary for the pursuit of the common good.

Hence, their almost universal support for individualism, reflected in their open contempt for all government action as intrinsically evil; their libertarian rejection of any critique of liberal capitalism; their encouragement of a Protestant sectarian-like flight from urban life to family isolation in outlying areas of the country; and even the commitment of many "anti-modernists" to unstructured homeschooling programs redolent more of Rousseau than St. Benedict or St. Thomas Aquinas. This makes their waving of the banner of the Social Kingship of Christ a rather contradictory enterprise

Moreover, even if some of them have been critical of neo-conservative Wars of Liberation, they have generally gone down this track in the name of the flip side of the coin of Americanist adulation of the divine character of the United States; the one that sees the nation's salvation in a closing of the borders to the evil that can only come from the outside: if not through a foreign Communist Menace that seems never to diminish, then through an Islamic threat or alien immorality. And this isolationism somehow always seems to work back on foreign policy in a belligerent way, and one that constantly benefits the State of Israel.

Yes, even those Catholic elements that seemed most likely to adopt a truly anti-modern spirit are terribly exposed to complete conversion at the hands of coreligionists who never were tempted to leave the Party of Order camp, and who have always maintained that the basically wonderful American-Catholic system has simply been temporary wooed away from "the true will of the Founders and the Fathers of Vatican Two who recognized their wisdom". This faction, under the auspices of people like the late Fr. John Neuhaus, the still active George Weigel, the American members of certain all too powerful international religious orders and movements, and probably the vast bulk of the episcopacy and the clergy, believe that once Founder Wisdom is reasserted in State as well as Church, once the American Way is globally victorious, "the future brighter than any past" will indeed be assured.

One must admit that some of those Americans who have been most disturbed by the obvious collapse of order around them, Catholics prominent among them, have been tempted down another direction, that which is represented by a variety of forces that call themselves the Alt Right, the Dark Enlightenment, the Neo-Reactionaries, and the network of magazines and Internet sites promoting them. That these elements are critical of the American Establishment is undeniable, but their strange mixture of apostate Christian and Jewish writers, some of them highly immoral from a traditional statement, often openly pagan and gnostic in vision, xenophobic, racist, and frequently just as individualist and Americanist in their vision certainly do not represent an anti-modernism as I defined it at the beginning of this talk. They lack the "dogmatic rigor" that Eliot deemed necessary to talk up that crusade effectively.

Still, my own experience, confirmed by daily observation, has been that the United States remains a hopeful source of militant anti-modernity. There is so much of an increasing awareness of there being something wrong with the "established disorder" that even journals like First Things, which, under Fr. Neuhaus' control was actually the promoter of One Thing---the adulation of the Anglo-American Moderate Enlightenment as the sole salvation of Roman Catholicism---has become much more open to the criticism of such modernism as offered by true supporters of the Social Kingship of Christ. Self-deceptive though most supposed American anti-modernists continue to be, their defenses are weakening. But "the voices crying out in the wilderness" need greater self-confidence and learning to be able effectively to take advantage of them, and this psychological strengthening requires a tightening of American Catholic unity with the international Catholic community, in space as well as in time.

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), who benefited mightily from the work of More and Babbit, and even more so from that of Charles Maurras, passed on their insights of all them in his poetry and in his work as editor of The Criterion in Britain, after his emigration from the United States. Eliot came to the conclusion that the only way that the anti-modern aspects of the vision of all such men could be rendered truly cohesive and fruitful was by recognizing the primary importance of Catholic religious dogma. He did not think that the United States provided the proper atmosphere for stimulating men and women to make the commitment necessary to achieve this goal, and lamented the fact that Americans like himself could only escape their debilitating environment through “exile”: either by “hiding out” in New York City, in one of the small and anachronistically still humanist southern universities still living in his day, or by fleeing the country entirely. 15 Ezra Pound (1885-1972), another exile, echoed Eliot in his characteristically more brutal form. Answering a query upon his return to Italy regarding what it felt like to be released from the mental asylum in which the American government had incarcerated him after the Second World War, announced that he had not been set free at all: “When I left the hospital I was still in America, and all America is an insane asylum.”

Brent Bozell thought something similar. Very much iinfluenced by Friedrich Wilhelmsen, who came to love Spain's historical Catholic culture while teaching at the University of Navarre, Bozell saw this land as providing precisely that kind of atmosphere for a Catholic spirit to thrive that Eliot saw lacking in the United States. Moving his family there, he founded the Society for the Christian Commonwealth whose educational arm, the Christian Commonwealth Institute, headed by Warren Carroll, conducted annual classes, lectures, and seminars for Americans at the El Escorial in Spain starting in 1973.

It was this argument of Eliot, of Wilhelmsen, of Bozell, and of Carroll that convinced me that the “voices crying in the wilderness” in America needed a more cohesive training in Catholic dogma---especially the full meaning of the Incarnation and the Social Kingship of Christ taught to me by those nineteenth century revival thinkers to which the "reactionaries" of the 1960's pointed my attention, truly shaping my own anti-modernism----outside of the emasculating, self-deceptive, Moderate Enlightenment, Party of Order atmosphere provided by even the best forces within the United States. Hence, the program that the Roman Forum now runs every year in Italy. But it is an anti-modern program designed to form "voices in the wilderness" who will go back into that Platonic Cave called America to awaken the good men and women of many backgrounds, non-Catholic as well as Catholic, whose decent sentiments tell them that they have been cheated by the world around them. And it does so in the spirit of Ernst Jünger’s perceptive comments in his strangely powerful novel of 1939: On the Marble Cliffs:

"Now battle had to be joined, and therefore men were needed to restore a new order, and new theologians as well, to whom the evil was manifest from its outward phenomena down to its most subtle roots; then the time would come for the first stroke of the consecrated sword, piercing the darkness like a lightning flash. For this reason, individuals had the duty of living in alliance with others, gathering the treasure of a new rule of law. But the alliance had to be stronger than before, and they more conscious of it." (Ernst Jünger, On the Marble Cliffs, XX)

1 See, J. Israel, Radical Enlightenment, Enlightenment Contested, Democratic Enlightenment (Oxford University Press, 2002-2013)

2 Bradley J. Birzer, Russell Kirk: American Conservative (University of Kentucky Press, 2015), p. 88.

3 Russell Shaw, “The Weathercock and the Mystic: The Prophetic Friendship of Orestes Brownson and Isaac Hecker”: https://www.crisismagazine.com/2006/the-weathercock-and-the-mystic-the-prophetic-friendship-of-orestes-brownson-and-isaac-hecker. The phrase of Hecker cited is on his tomb at St. Paul’s Church, Lincoln Center, NYC.

4 Jim Allison, “The NRA (National Reform Association) and the Christian Amendment”, http://candst.tripod.com/nra.htm; See, also Christopher Ferrara, Liberty, the God that Failed (Angelico Press, 2012).

5 There is a wide literature on the reception of the Statue of Liberty. John O' Kane Murray, A Popular History of the Catholic Church in the United States, p. 553; Francesca Lidia Viana, Sentinel (October, 2018), https://placesjournal.org/article/sentinel-the-statue-of-liberty/?cn-reloaded=1); "Who’s Afraid of Lady Liberty?” (October, 2018), https://harvardpress.typepad.com/hup_publicity/2018/10/whos-afraid-of-lady-liberty.html; Barry Moreno, The Statue of Liberty Encyclopedia (Simon and Schuster, 2000); Carol E. Harrison, “Edouard Laboulaye, Liberal and Romantic Catholic” (https://h-france.net/rude/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/HarrisonVol6.pdf; The American Catholic Quarterly Review, (Volume 10, p. 8); Robert Hieronimus and Laura E. Cortner, The Secret Life of Lady Liberty: Goddess in the New World (Destiny, 2016).

6 See J. Rao, Americanism and the Collapse of the Church in the United States (Roman Forum, 1995.

7 Robert Merry, “The Political Thought of Edgar Allan Poe”, The Imaginative Conservative (https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/11/edgar-allan-poe-political-thought-robert-e-merry.html).

8 Russell Kirk (1985). The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot, (Regnery. 1965), pp. 423–424;  Claes Ryn. "An American Classic". www.Kirkcenter.org. The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal. Retrieved 24 August 2014.

9Clyde Wilson, "Russell Kirk's 'Southern Valor'", The Imaginative Conservative https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2012/09/russell-kirks-southern-valor.html;

Seward Collins, “Monarch as Alternative”, Conservatism in American Since 1930, ed., Gregory L. Schneider (NYU, 2003, p. 22); On Ryan, see https://cuomeka.wrlc.org/exhibits/show/bishops/background/1919-bishops-reconstruction T.S. Eliot, "The Humanism of Irving Babbit", Selected Essays (3rd edn., London, 1951), p. 452.

10  Frank Chorodov, Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist. (Devin-Adair, 1962); http://dictionary.sensagent.com/modern%20age%20periodical/en-en/

11 https://www.nationalreview.com/1955/11/our-mission-statement-william-f-buckley-jr/

12 Jonah Goldberg, "Fusionism Today", National Review (https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2018/12/03/frank-meyer-fusionisms-impact-today/; Jack Cashill, https://www.wnd.com/2019/01/heads-should-roll-at-national-review/; Murray N. Rothbard,  "Frank Chodorov, R.I.P", Left & Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought. (3, 1, 1967), 3–8.

13 See Jonah Goldberg, above; Brent Bozell, Mustard Seeds: A Conservative Becomes a Catholic Christendom Press; Michael David, The Fatally Flawed Fusionism of Frank Meyer, https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/01/frank-s-meyer-fusionism-michael-davis.html.

14 E. Michael Lawrence, ed. The Best of Triumph.  Christendom Press, 2001); Daniel Kelly, Living on Fire: The Life of L. Brent Bozell, Jr. (Open Road Media, 2014); George A. Lopez, Ronald Lora, William Henry Longton, William Longton, The Conservative Press in Twentieth Century America (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999); Jeet Heer, https://newrepublic.com/article/122056/last-time-conservatives-dismissed-major-encyclical-it-ended-terribly.

15 David Levy, “The Politics of T.S. Eliot”, https://traditionalbritain.org/blog/politics-ts-eliot; Russell Kirk, in The Conservative Mind, and also Eliot and His Age (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2008).

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