fpb: (Default)
For decades now we have been importing war. The massive immigration of Muslims into western countries – began with the aftermath of the Algerian war in France and with the opening of West Germany to hundreds of thousands of Turkish gastarbeiter, “guest-workers” whose grandchildren are there still – has inevitably brought to the West the native pathologies of Muslim societies, that is, the tendency to assert themselves by violence and the disregard of any law that is not Sharia – or rather, their interpretation of Sharia.

It does not matter, from that point of view, whether or not the majority of Muslims is peaceful or respects the law. No doubt they do. But the same may be said of their correligionaries in their countries of origin, and yet all those countries suffer from the same pathologies, unless they are repressed by force. I can personally testify what a pleasure it is to work with one particular Egyptian client – pleasant and warm in manner, accurate in all they do, paying on the dot, and as upright as a flagpole. Yet we have seen that Egypt as a country has only two choices – military oppression, or religious savagery; and that the people themselves have eventually preferred oppression to letting their own large religious minority loose on the country.

I do not have to show why or how that is; it is sufficient to remark that it is so – and it is certainly so. Muslim countries are affected by civil violence on a scale unknown to pretty much any other civilization, and are correspondingly backward in all that we regard as advanced civilization – from health care to industrial prosperity; since all those things depend on a stable and decently non-violent state of society.

We have pretty much ignored the rising local symptoms of this pathology in our own countries, because, in effect, what can a few lunatics with knives do to a society whose defence is in RPGs, armoured vests, machine guns, rocketry, aircraft and aircraft carriers? Muslim violence, even where it prevailed, has always been treated as a public order problem. But now we no longer have that luxury. Terrorists no longer come with home-made explosives and handguns bought on the local black market. Because of the existence of vast war zones where armies meet with armies, each armed with modern weapons and increasingly learning military tactics, Mumbai first, and Paris now, have met with terrorists who moved and fought like trained commandos.

Some people like to say that this is the West's own fault; but that is nonsense. I was totally against the idiotic support for the so-called Arab Spring, that put Egypt, the largest Arab country, into deadly danger, and turned Libya and Syria into militarized wildernesses; and I have the blog posts to prove it. I said four or more years ago that the so-called Arab Spring in Syria was nothing but a Sunni insurrection – whatever few deluded secularists and democrats may have tried to join or direct it – and I gave my reasons to think so; and facts proved me right. But the fact is that long before the folly of Cameron, Obama and Hollande, before even Bush II's misconceived invasion of Iraq, events in the Muslim world were moving in that direction. The first state in the Muslim world to collapse into a welter of warlords and religious militias was Somalia, and that was long before Bush II came to power. Then there was the matter of Chechenia, and while the Russians may be blamed for that, Chechenia's hopeless jihad against the Bear was entirely the result of internal pressures. Certainly the Russians cannot be said to have encouraged the rebel factions against themselves, as the West insanely did in Syria and in Libya.

In effect, the Muslim world has been drifting towards civil war for at least a quarter of a century. Libya, Syria, Iraq, are latecomers to the party; and the forces that tore them apart had been sharpening their claws in Somalia and in Nigeria, in the Caucasus, in Afghanistan, in Bosnia, and – so far as anyone is allowed to know – even in Chinese Turkestan, in spite of the immense military and police apparatus that faced them there. Veterans of each jihad move to each new battlefield; we hear of Chechens, Uighurs, Iraqis, Libyans. In effect, a manifold insurrection has been brewing in all sorts of places, few of which we even got to hear from – who apart from me has ever paid any attention to the jihad in the Central African Republic?

And as we had little or no real part in the genesis of this war, so we have no real choice in whether to fight it. Nobody is going to like it. The Anglo-American expeditions to Iraq and to Afghanistan nearly tore apart both countries and the whole western alliance from the inside: the idea of having to face jihad now as it dominates the Fertile Crescent and Libya, let alone everywhere else in Asia and Africa, is so unimaginable that few people or nobody even dare speak of it. And yet the so-called Islamic State is an immediate and deadly threat, it not to our territorial integrity, then at least to our internal peace. The underground railway of volunteers, fed by the treacherous Turkish government of Recip Erdogan, is by now bringing not dozens but hundreds of Muslim volunteers from all European countries to the front line, where they are trained not even, as iin the Afghan and Pakistani terrorist camps of the recent past, in explosives handling and suicide bombing, but in modern warfare. When they come back, which they regularly do, they have become not just a public order threat, but a military one. We have no choice. The war has come to us at last, decades after we began to import it, and we will be made to fight it whether we want to or not.

And let us not delude ourselves that the mere repression of the Islamic State – which would be well into the power of European countries even without American support, if only they wanted to – will be enough. This war moves like a mole to any of a dozen possible frontlines, and once the European extremists have learned how to reach them, they will reach them. Sooner or later, our troops will be back in Afghanistan – possibly in the company of Chinese divisions – as well as in Nigeria, in Central Africa, in Somalia. This is the logic of events.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
For me, personally, the final evidence of the guilt of British criminal Hanratty, of anarchist Nicola Sacco. and of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg - however different the circumstances - have been a personal shock. They are the undeniable proof that people can lie even in the face of death and eternity, that claims of innocence from the scaffold are no more reliable than from any other point. The case of Sacco's fellow-accused Bartolomeo Vanzetti seems even darker: he was probably himself innocent, but he knew that Sacco was guilty as Hell, and he deliberately died with a lie on his lips, for the sake of his imagined revolution. (And to add a further taste of futility to his false sacrifice, the historical fact is that the only party who benefited from his and Sacco's executions were the Communists, who had organized all the protests against their executions, and who were sworn enemies of Vanzetti's Anarchists and would have murdered him a good deal more nastily if he had ever fallen into their hands.) But perhaps the most significant of these is the lie of Hanratty, because that had nothing of the ideological justifications of Vanzetti and the Rosenbergs. Hanratty was not fighting for any "cause", however bad: he was a rapist and murderer with no ulterior motives. And he declared his innocence right to the point of death with a passionate intensity that deceived generations of activists including myself.
fpb: (Default)
The people who say that history is on their side are the people who look back to the recent past and see a direction in it. That is why they are bound to lose: because the future is practically never like the past. It changes, and changes exactly at the point when a tendency has reached its peak and seems established as a law of history - because when a tendency has reached its peak, it has peaked. Example: Hitler grew up in a world where Germany was growing economically and politically stronger and stronger, till by 1914 she was effectively the strongest power in the world, strong enough to launch that bid for world domination that became known as World War One. (Very simplified version of what happened - but that is what happened.) Hitler could not imagine a world where German power would not go on growing above all others, as he had seen it in his childhood and adolescence, and so he went into another World War, without being able to get his head around the fact that in the intervening years America and Russia had grown way beyond Germany's potential. Come the war, America and Russia ate Germany and burped. Likewise, Lenin grew in a period when the Socialist movement was growing riotously all over Europe, from about 1890 to about 1910, when most European countires had a Socialist plurality among their electorates and in their parliaments. Convinced that socialism was the wave of the future because it was the wave of his own recent past, Lenin brutally imposed his own tyrannical version of it on Russia - but Socialism was in fact peaking across the West. It would never achieve more than a plurality in any election, and never, in spite of its claim to represent "the people", represent more than an important section of it. And on this partial and mistaken claim Lenin and his followers built their demand for absolute power. Indeed, by introducing into the unstable Socialist movement the acidic element of his own centralized and aggressive movement, and by associating it with tyranny and unreason, Lenin may actually have sped up its decline. People can't see the future, only the recent past, and the very fact that they declare that history is on their side proves it beyond any doubt - for history is the record of the past.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
The people who say that history is on their side are the people who look back to the recent past and see a direction in it. That is why they are bound to lose: because the future is practically never like the past. It changes, and changes exactly at the point when a tendency has reached its peak and seems established as a law of history - because when a tendency has reached its peak, it has peaked. Example: Hitler grew up in a world where Germany was growing economically and politically stronger and stronger, till by 1914 she was effectively the strongest power in the world, strong enough to launch that bid for world domination that became known as World War One. (Very simplified version of what happened - but that is what happened.) Hitler could not imagine a world where German power would not go on growing above all others, as he had seen it in his childhood and adolescence, and so he went into another World War, without being able to get his head around the fact that in the intervening years America and Russia had grown way beyond Germany's potential. Come the war, America and Russia ate Germany and burped. Likewise, Lenin grew in a period when the Socialist movement was growing riotously all over Europe, from about 1890 to about 1910, when most European countires had a Socialist plurality among their electorates and in their parliaments. Convinced that socialism was the wave of the future because it was the wave of his own recent past, Lenin brutally imposed his own tyrannical version of it on Russia - but Socialism was in fact peaking across the West. It would never achieve more than a plurality in any election, and never, in spite of its claim to represent "the people", represent more than an important section of it. And on this partial and mistaken claim Lenin and his followers built their demand for absolute power. Indeed, by introducing into the unstable Socialist movement the acidic element of his own centralized and aggressive movement, and by associating it with tyranny and unreason, Lenin may actually have sped up its decline. People can't see the future, only the recent past, and the very fact that they declare that history is on their side proves it beyond any doubt - for history is the record of the past.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
The drift away from normative lifelong monogamous marriage seems to be as old as the human race. That seems to me to be what Our Lord meant when He said: "Moses told you so [allowing divorce] because of the hardness of your hearts, but from the beginning it was not so." Jesus had asked "What did Moses teach you [about marriage]?" And he had been answered that Moses - the biblical character Moses - had allowed a man to repudiate his wife. But Jesus answered that Moses - the traditional author of the first five books of the Bible - had, before that, taught that God Himself had made men male and female, and had ordered that they shall leave their respective families and become "one flesh". This is what God ordered, "and what God has put together let no man tear asunder."

In other words, the drift from monogamy had taken place even in the history of the Chosen People. Indeed, this was one thing in which Jews, Greeks and Romans were very like each other. It was not that the ideal of lifelong monogamy was not known; in the area I know best, Rome, it was implicit in numerous features of religious and ritual ideas, for instance the prescription that the priest of Jupiter (Flamen Dialis), highest ranking of all priests in Rome, should be married with a single wife who shared his duties, or the fact that the children who assisted in certain important sacrifices should be "patrimi matrimi", that is, having both parents living. This indicates that the condition of being married to the same wife, in an unbroken partnership, and having had children with her, was regarded as a religiously pure and desirable condition. But what was more likely was the life story of Caesar - who had actually briefly been Flamen Dialis at seventeen - who was married four times, and eventually had his much-desired male heir not from his wife but from Cleopatra, who was never married to him - but was the highest-ranking and most powerful monarch at the time. Caesar's enemy Cato the Younger "lent" his second wife Marcia to his friend and ally Hortensius, divorcing her so that Hortensius could marry her, and remarried her, with no problem at all, when Hortensius died! In the Greek world there are several accounts of brothers marrying their own sisters to keep the family patrimony intact, something, indeed, that seems to have become a system among the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, the Greek dynasties that ruled Egypt and Syria after Alexander the Great. Cleopatra herself (Cleopatra VII), Caesar's lover, was the product of more than a dozen generations of married incest. How she felt about that charming family tradition is shown by the fact that her first act as a ruling queen was to have her brother murdered.

All this has one clear, visible and easily identifiable common feature: power. Violations of the natural rule of monogamy always come from displays of power or consideration of political and economic convenience. Poor and middling folks did not take more than one wife, and did not divorce, things that would have cost money.they did not have; at most, they may have wasted a little money on a girlfriend, or a favoured slave, or a prostitute. (And their culture, from King Lemuel to Plautus, always warned them that such women were financially ruinous.) It was the sovereign kings of Egypt or Iran or China who kept harems, as a display of their personal power. It was the importance of holding large inheritances, or even royal power, in a single line, that led that very practical nation, the Greeks, to allow married incest. When Cato "lent" his wife to his friend Hortensius, it was because Hortensius, an older man and the greatest orator in Rome, was an important part of the alliance he was establishing against Caesar. (He would not give him his daughter, as would have been more natural, because she was already married to Caesar's worst single enemy, Bibulus.) Wealth, kingship, political power, and the display that go with them, were the levers that had broken monogamous marriage across the civilized world from Rome to China.

Even in the Christian West, and in spite of Our Lord's clear and revered teaching, the way of political power to get around His prescription was visible, often to the point of hilarity. In Ireland, indeed, polygamy was accepted by the local Church until at least 1200 in theory, and until 1500 and more in practise; in other words, it could not be uprooted until the English had set out to destroy the whole class of Irish lords in earnest. In the Germanic countries and in Italy, they took advantage of the fiction that the kind has two selves - his public and his private one - to invent the "morganatic marriage", a marriage that involved only the king as a private person. So many kings (such as the founder of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II) had two wives, one official and married as a matter of policy, but also meant to give him the heir, and one private, whose children were usually ennobled. In France we reach the height of farce: girlfriend of the King becomes, by the seventeen hundreds, an official post, and great balls are held to find the lucky candidate. As a result, the languid and undersexed King Louis XV chose the beautiful and accomplished Madame Pompadour as he had been expected to, but did little more, all her short life, than have friendly and enjoyable talks with her. It had taken enough out of him to have a son - the future guillotine victim, Louis XVI - with his official wife.

Obviously, nothing is clearer than that divorce, outlawed by the Catholic Church for more than ten centuries, re-entered the Western world thanks to the most brutal exercise of naked political power, that of Henry VIII. The results, for him, were absolutely disastrous; the first symptoms of that mental and physical illness that destroyed his life and ruined his kingdom were when he had Anne Boleyn, the very woman he had "married" after forcing his first wife away from him, murdered under form of law after less than a year of "marriage", out of a mere and monstrous suspicion that she had been having incestuous relationships with her own brother! Nobody ever saw any evidence of this beyond the King's suspicions, and I for one have no doubt whatever that this is nothing more than the paranoid fears of an aging and already very guilty man (he had already murdered his friend Thomas More and dozens of others, and unleashed the monster Thomas Cromwell upon the Church) when he saw his beautiful young "bride" chatting and enjoying herself with her brother - a young lord as handsome and charming as Henry himself had once been, and would never now be again. Mind you, Anne Boleyn was a home-wrecker and a slut, and while I don't say she deserved to be humiliated and murdered under form of law by the man she had seduced, she took her chances when she set her cap at an aging and already married tyrant. Kings are dangerous. But the principle of divorce, born in such elevated and admirable circumstances, remained on the English statute book, migrated to America with the first English settlers just as slavery did, was slowly broadened, and eventually spread across the West. And we are still lucky: if the Lutheran Philip of Hesse had successfully managed what he had plotted in secret together with Luther and seven of Luther's chief followers, Europe might have been saddled not only with divorce but with polygamy. But that proved a bridge too far, even for them.

Feminists ought to oppose divorce, polygamy and all other marriage "variations", because they are historically always born as displays of male power and that is what they are nine times out of ten in reality. However, I do not agree with what seems to be the implication here, that the degeneration of ordinary marriage has anything to do with the invention of "gay marriage". I think the issue there is quite different. Caesar may have married four wives, but did not consider marrying four husbands. Even in the most degenerate environments, men saw a fundamental difference between attachments between or within the sexes,and never thought of granting the status of marriage to the others. Juvenal makes a savage joke out of the very notion that a man might marry another.

No, the fact is that a new, and bad, doctrine has been introduced. It had, originally, nothing to do with sexuality at all. You may find it in a famous play, "Henry IV" by Pirandello, in which the protagonist manages to force the people around him to act as though he were the emperor Henry IV (a historical figure from the Middle Ages). Its basic doctrine is the omnipotence of the will, the notion that will forms the identity of a man independently of his/her birth, characteristics, connections. or anything else. This, it may surprise you, was the central doctrine of Fascism, I mean the real thing, the doctrine formulated by Benito Mussolini after he abandoned Socialism in the wake of World War One. Not surprisingly (although his admirers tend not to discuss the matter) Pirandello himself was a black-as-coal Fascist, a favourite of Mussolini's, and the head of Mussolini's Academy of Italy. The political relevance was that Italian Fascism promised Italy, a middling power in the shade of mightier neighbours, the ability to change itself into the Roman Empire, merely by concentrated will. Willpower was the god of the Fascists.

Having failed politically in the most extreme manner (and having shown for all the world to see that Willpower was exactly the quality which Mussolini most lacked), the doctrine of the omnipotence of the will and the malleability of the self migrated, of course, to the universities, especially in the USA. That is where you got people like the horrible Professor John Money applying them to real human beings in the context of sex. The rest you know. But the point is that, whatever evil we may have done or accepted in the context of normal marriage, "gay marriage" and the associated evils of gender ideology are something new. The drift away from the norm of one man, one woman, for life, is ancient, universal, and - taking the word to refer to fallen human nature - natural. The doctrine of the subservience of self and gender to will, on the other hand, is a wholly modern evil. It would be disastrous whether or not the situation of marriage were bad, just as it was disastrous - look at what it did to my country - when it had not yet been associated with gender and sex at all.

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An English translation of Luigi Pirandello's three most famous plays, including "Henry IV"; http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42148/42148-h/42148-h.htm

Courage

Nov. 22nd, 2012 11:34 pm
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
As a rule, I don't have much time for those artists who remained in countries ruled by criminal tyrannies and made their peace with their usurping governments. But in the case of Zoltan Kodaly, Hungarian composer and educator, I shall make an exception. An anecdote from The New York Times, 4 November 1961:

Mr. Kodaly was recently invited by the Communist officialdom to address an assembly of factory workers. The spare, 79-year-old composer accepted the invitation. He arrived at the factory carrying a battered briefcase. Officials asked Mr. Kodaly what he was going to tell the workers. He replied curtly that this concerned only him.

The composer mounted the rostrum, opened his briefcase and withdrew an old book. It was the Bible. His opening remarks were to the effect that he was not much of a hand at writing speeches and that he proposed to read what someone else had written. Mr. Kodaly then proceeded to read from the New Testament about brotherly love.
fpb: (Default)
We have been dazzled too long by the might of inevitability
And certain that that which prevailed should therefore forever prevail;
That History exists as an engine, grinding visible futurity
And that History's justice comes sure as a stamped envelope in the mail.

Yet the world, good and bad, has existed, with truths towering big as the sky,
Without which, as without air and ocean, human history'd simply not be
And to all who pretend to rewrite them, all these truths give one simple reply:
It is certainly not your denial that can dent any of our eternity.
fpb: (Default)
Mr. Will Crooks, as I know him in his own house at Poplar and in that other House at Westminster, always seems to me to be something far greater than a Labour Member of Parliament. He stands out as the supreme type of the English working classes, who have chosen him as one of their representatives.

Representative government, a mystical institution, is said to have originated in some of the monastic orders. In any case, it is evident that the character of it is symbolic, and that it is subject to all the advantages and all the disadvantages of a symbol. Just exactly as a religious ritual may for a time represent a real emotion, and then for a time cease to represent anything, so representative government may for a time represent the people, and for a time cease to represent anything. But the peculiar difficulties attaching to the thing called representative government have not been fully appreciated. The great difficulty of representative governments is simply this: that the representative is supposed to discharge two quite definite and distinct functions. There is in his position the idea of being a picture or copy of the thing he represents. There is also the idea of being an instrument of the thing he represents, or a message from the thing he represents. The[Pg xiv] first is like the shadow a man throws on the wall; the second is like the stone that he throws over the wall. In the first sense, it is supposed that the representative is like the thing he represents. In the second case it is only supposed that the representative is useful to the thing he represents. In the first case, a parliamentary representative is used strictly as a parliamentary representative. In the second case a parliamentary representative is used as a weapon. He is used as a missile. He is used as something to be merely thrown against the enemy; and those who merely throw something against the enemy do not ask especially that the thing they throw shall be a particular copy of themselves. To send one's challenge is not to send one's photograph. When Ajax hurled a stone at his enemy, it was not a stone carved in the image of Ajax. When a modern general causes a cannon-ball to be fired, he is not understood to indicate that the contours of the cannon-ball represent in any exact way the curves of his own person. In short, we can in modern representative politics use a politician as a missile without using him, in the fullest sense of the word, as a symbol.

In this sense most of our representatives in modern representative government are merely used as missiles. Mr. Balfour is a missile. Mr. Balfour is hurled at the heads of his enemies like a boomerang or a javelin. He is flung by the great mass of mediocre Tory squires. He is flung, not because he is at all like them, for that he obviously is not. He is flung because he is a particularly bright and sharp missile; that is to say, because he is so very unlike the men who fling him. Here, then, is the primary paradox of representative [Pg xv]government. Men elect a representative half because he is like themselves and half because he is not like themselves. They elect a representative half because he represents them and half because he misrepresents them. They choose Mr. Balfour (let us say) half because he does what they would do and half because he does what they could never do at all.

We are told that the Labour movement will be an exception to all previous rules. The Labour movement has been no exception to this previous rule. The Labour Members, as a class, are not representatives, but missiles. Poor men elect them, not because they are like poor men, but because they are likely to damage rich men: an excellent reason. Labour Members are the exceptions among Labour men. As I have said, they are weapons, missiles, things thrown. Working-men are not at all like Mr. Keir Hardie. If it comes to likeness, working-men are rather more like the Duke of Devonshire. But they throw Mr. Keir Hardie at the Duke of Devonshire, knowing that he is so curiously shaped as to hurt anything at which he is thrown. Unless this is thoroughly understood, great injustice will necessarily be done to the Labour movement; for it is obvious on the face of it that Labour Members do not represent the average of labouring men. A man like Mr. J. R. Macdonald no more suggests a Battersea workman than he suggests a Bedouin or a Russian Grand Duke. These men are not the representatives of the democracy, but the weapons of the democracy. They are intended only to fulfil the second of those functions in the delegate which I have already defined. They are the instruments of the people. They are not the images of the[Pg xvi] people. They are fanatics for the things about which the people are good-humouredly convinced. They are philosophers about the things which are to the people an easy and commonplace religion. In a word, they are not representatives; they are not even ambassadors. They are declarations of war.

Such being the problem, we must reconcile ourselves to finding many of the Labour Members men of a definite and even pedantic class; men whose austere and lucid tone, whose elaborate economic explanations smack of something very different from the actual streets of London. This economic knowledge may be very necessary. It may remind us of our duties; but it does not remind us of the Walworth Road. It may enable a man to speak for the proletarians, but it does not enable a man to speak with them.

Now, if a man has a good rough-and-ready knowledge of the mechanics of Battersea and the labourers of Poplar; if the same man has a good rough-and-ready knowledge of the men in the House of Commons (a vastly inferior company); he will come out of both those experiences with one quite square and solid conviction, a conviction the grounds of which, though they may be difficult to define verbally, are as unshakable as the ground. He will come out with the conviction that there is really only one modern Labour Member who represents, who symbolises, or who even remotely suggests the real labouring men of London; and that is Mr. Will Crooks.

Mr. Crooks alone fulfils both the functions of the representative. He is a representative who, like Mr. Keir Hardie and the others, fights, cleaves[Pg xvii] a way, does something that only a man of talent could do, expresses the inexpressible, sacrifices himself. But also, unlike Mr. Keir Hardie, and the rest, he is a representative who represents. He is a picture as well as a projectile; he is the stone carved in the image of Ajax. He is really like the people for whom he stands. A man can realise this fact, merely as a fact, without implying any disrespect, for instance, to the Scotch ideality of Mr. Keir Hardie, or the Scotch strenuousness of Mr. John Burns. They are expressive of the English democracy, but not typical of it. The first characteristic of Mr. Crooks, which must strike anyone who has ever had to do with him, even for ten minutes, is this immense fact of the absolute and isolated genuineness of his connection with the working classes. To all the other Labour leaders we listen with respect on Labour matters, because they have been elected by labourers. To him alone we should listen if he had never been elected at all. Of him alone it can be said that if we did not accept him as a representative, we should still accept him as a type. I need not dwell, and indeed I feel no desire to dwell, on those qualities in Mr. Crooks which express just now the popular qualities of the populace. I feel more interest in the unpopular qualities of the populace.

The greatness of Mr. Crooks lies not in the fact that he expresses the claims of the populace, which twenty dons at Oxford would be ready to express; it is that he expresses the populace: its strong tragedy and its strong farce. He is not a demagogue. He is not even a democrat. He is a demos; he is the real King. And his chief characteristic, as I have suggested, is that he represents especially those popular good qualities[Pg xviii] which are unpopular in modern discussion. Will Crooks is to the ordinary London omnibus conductor or cabman exactly what Robert Burns was to the ordinary puritanical but passionate peasant of the Scotch Lowlands. He is the journeyman of genius. All that is good in them is better in him; but it is the same thing. Walt Whitman has perfectly expressed this attitude of the average towards the fine type. "They see themselves in him. They hardly know themselves, they are so grown."

In numberless points Mr. Crooks thus completes and glorifies the common character of the poor man. Take, for instance, the deep matter of humour: humour in which the English poor are certainly pre-eminent among all classes of the nation and all nations of the world. By all politicians, including Labour politicians, humour is only introduced exceptionally and elaborately; by all politicians the comic anecdote is led up to with dextrous prefaces and deep intonations, as if it were something altogether unique and separate. All politicians take their own humour very seriously. Mr. Crooks recalls the real life of the streets in nothing so much as in the fact that humour is a constant condition. He and the poor exist in a normal atmosphere of amiable irony. If anything, they have to make an effort to become verbally serious: something of the same kind of earnest that it costs an ordinary member of Parliament to become witty. Anyone who has heard Mr. Crooks talk knows that his permanent mood is humorous. He is never without a story, but his face and his mind are humorous before he has even thought of the story. He lives, so to speak, in a state of expectant reminiscence. The man who[Pg xix] said that "brevity was the soul of wit" told a lie; nobody minds how long wit goes on so long as it is wit. Mr. Crooks belongs to that strong old school of English humour in which Dickens was supreme; that school which some moderns have called dull because it could go on for a long time being interesting.

I have merely taken this case of popular humour as one out of a hundred. A similar case of Mr. Crooks's popular sympathy might be found in his pathos, which is equally uncompromising and direct. Even his political faults, if they are faults, against which so much criticism has for a time been raised, have still this pervading quality, that they are essentially the popular faults. This instinct for a prompt and practical and hand-to-mouth benevolence, this instinct for giving a very good time to those who have had a very bad time, this is the very soul of that immense and astonishing altruism at which all social reformers have stood thunderstruck: the kindness of the poor to the poor. This attitude may or may not be the great vice of the governors; there is no doubt that it is the great virtue of the people. The charity of poor men to poor men has always been spontaneous, irregular, individual, liable therefore in its nature to some faults of confusion or of favouritism.

It is the misfortune of Mr. Crooks that alone among modern philanthropists and social reformers he has really been the typical poor man giving to poor men. This quality which has been seen and condemned in him is simply the quality which is the common and working morality of the London streets. You may like it; you may dislike it. But if you dislike it you are simply disliking the[Pg xx] English people. You have seen English people perhaps for a moment in omnibuses, in streets on Saturday nights, in third-class carriages, or even in Bank Holiday waggonettes. You have not yet seen the English people in politics. It has not yet entered politics. Liberals do not represent it; Tories do not represent it; Labour Members, on the whole, represent it rather less than Tories or Liberals. When it enters politics it will bring with it a trail of all the things that politicians detest; prejudices (as against hospitals), superstitions (as about funerals), a thirst for respectability passing that of the middle classes, a faith in the family which will knock to pieces half the Socialism of Europe. If ever that people enters politics it will sweep away most of our revolutionists as mere pedants. It will be able to point only to one figure, powerful, pathetic, humorous, and very humble, who bore in any way upon his face the sign and star of its authority.
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President Obama never had a Polish friend, obviously. If he had, he would never have committed the gaffe of speaking of a "Polish" death camp in the context of Nazism. My friend [profile] bufo_viridis, the wisest and mildest of men, showed me long ago that there is no faster way to get a Pole mad - even one who has doubt about his country's victim mythology and no sympathy for extreme nationalism. And I can see what he means: it would be like calling the foibe where Tito's Yugoslav executioners disposed of the bodies of tens of thousands of Italians "Italian death caves". Not smart, Mr.President. And a word of warning: apologize without ifs or buts. Some of your supporters have shown a disposition to try and minimize the impact of your words or question their national significance. Don't. Just don't.
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KING GEORGE IV

I HAVE just been reading what is not only a very excellent biography, but a very much-needed book. It. is a study of ‘George the Fourth’ by Mr Shane Leslie. It is in no sense what even shallow people would call a whitewashing of George IV, though it is the restoration of a blackened portrait. It has not the tone of an advocate for the defence any more than for the prosecution. But it is a criticism of the critics of George. And it is a very dam aging criticism too.

The truth is that poor George has been the victim of a prolonged effort of Propaganda. It was partly Whig and partly Victorian propaganda. But because it went on for a very long time and enlisted many literary men of what may be called the Whig patronage, it has come to seem to many of my generation and the next a normal truth of English history. It is quite obvious that, long before we come to the really fine qualities of the man, even his ordinary qualities were caricatured in the most unscrupulous and scandalous fashion. In weakness and in strength he was very much of a man — of what we call a man’s man. He has not only been represented as a ladies’ man — which perhaps he was; he has been talked of as a lady-killer almost in the literal sense of Bluebeard. The truth is that George’s conduct, while wrong by a Christian standard, was very far from being exceptionally wrong by the ordinary heathen standard of hundreds of such men of the world. Very few of those men have risked so much as he did for the one heroic love of his life; and, if he had risked more, he might well have been called a hero. But he was not a hero; he was a very human being; a man, but not a monster. Yet it certainly is as a monster, swollen, bloated, and abominable, that he haunted even our nurseries like a nightmare.

A coincidence of two causes, I think, produced this lurid transformation and tradition. The first was aristocratic and the second democratic; and together they turned both the Whig and the Radical against the King’s memory. The first was that he had been in every sense, and even remained in some sense, a Radical himself. At least he was once a Liberal even with a large ‘L’, and was always a liberal with a small one But he had changed sides in the ordinary party sense, and joined in the ordinary shuffling and inconsistency of the party system. The Whigs hated him for having been a Whig more than for being a Tory. But the aristocrats who had known him knew he was intelligent, knew he had understood what he was doing and what he was undoing His very intelligence let him in for a charge of intellectual treason. That was the sort of monster he was — a constitutional monarch who could not act for himself, and yet could think for himself.

The second cause that coincides with this was the genuine popular legend of the pathos and innocence of Queen Caroline. Now about that the King may have been wrong, but he certainly was not inhumanly or inconceivably wrong; and the wrong certainly was not all on one side. George was really wrong not in divorcing Caroline, but in marrying Caroline. In divorcing her, as a matter of fact, he was simply ceasing to be a bigamist. For he was already married to a much better woman. But the mob has a mysterious sort of power of hitting the right nail with the wrong hammer. George was very properly pelted for being false to his wife; only he was really being false to quite another wife. Anyhow, his popularity with posterity was killed by those two combining forces. It was killed by the horror of the populace who knew nothing about him, and the jealousy of the gentry who knew too much about him. But the time has come when a more rational and reliable estimate can be made than was possible to the Whig tradition which Thackeray inherited from Macaulay; and with admirable wit, sympathy, and compact criticism, Mr Shane Leslie has made it.

In truth, there is a great deal to praise in George IV. At any rate, there was a very great deal to praise in the Prince Regent. It was not entirely his fault if there was less to praise in the King than there had been in the Prince. If ever a man’s life was broken and brutally mismanaged by other people, it was his. His father was a fool who repeatedly relieved the monotony of that fact by becoming a lunatic. If anything, he was quieter and less mischievous as a lunatic than he was as a fool. He pestered and oppressed his children, and drove them into dark and devious ways. Yet even here there is a good example of the way in which the world is unjust to the Prince Regent. It has often been repeated that he wanted his child to be trained to be truthful, and admitted that he had fallen into lax ways in such matters, through the false position into which the old family tyranny had forced him in his youth. This is used as evidence against him — that he had himself confessed to being a liar. But no real liar ever confesses to being a liar. The confession is not a proof of how false he was, but of how candid he was.

He was forbidden by bigots and tyrants to call his wife his wife, and that is a situation which no man’s sense of honour will ever perfectly survive. It broke George’s career across the middle; and the second half was a crippled thing. Yet even as a cripple he did things that the active and ambitious around him did not think of doing. Mr Shane Leslie, among his many admirable phrases, uses one that is especially vivid and veracious; George had ‘a fierce streak of humanity’. His acts of mercy were abrupt, angry, and even militant. They had the flash of finality; they were absolute renunciations or abject apologies. He was devoted to pugilism; but when a pugilist was killed in the ring at Brighton he took a vow never to see a prize-fight again. He had a profoundly Christian hatred of the callous spirit in the criminal law, which executes men as if by clockwork, and he paved the world with pardons for condemned men. He pardoned them not in a patronizing and facile fashion, as much meaner enemies have implied, but, on the contrary, with vigilance and vivid worry and a sort of insomnia of responsibility. He sat up all night looking for a loophole in the law by which he could let some obscure criminal free. He took trouble in exactly the type of cases in which most men (especially men of his position) would never think of taking it. He happened to turn down a street where a man stood in pillory for a political offence — having, indeed, been put there by the police and the lawyers for a libel upon George himself. George was so much distressed at the thought that he might conceivably be supposed to have triumphed ungenerously over his slanderer that he wrote a personal letter apologizing for the ‘indelicacy’ of his conduct. A man moved in such a case to such an apology ought not to be called, merely with a sneer, the First Gentleman of Europe.

George’s liberality was anything but a mere party pose and the making of a cabal against his father. He was liberal about the very things on which most party Whigs were not liberal at all — for instance, he sympathized with the point of view of the Irish. If he could have come to the throne with his real wife as a Queen, it is possible that the whole tragedy of a hundred years might have been averted. There are a great many good things that might have happened if the younger and more generous George could have become a normal and national King. There is nothing that can be done now except do reasonable justice to his memory; and it was long before anybody thought of doing it. But nobody who reads Mr Shane Leslie’s lively and pointed paragraphs has any excuse for thinking that Thackeray exhausted the subject or that there is no picture of George except in the cartoons of Gilray. He will know well enough that the man who kept a complete set of Jane Austen in each of his houses, that he might read at any moment, was not a coarse and comic drunkard understanding nothing but bruisers and cock-fighting. He will know that the man who endangered his crown out of chivalrous devotion to a devout and religious woman was not an utterly selfish satyr whose very appetite was cold. He will know that the friend of Fox and Sheridan cannot possibly have been a mere dummy dressed up as a dandy; and that the man whom Canning and Castlereagh often thought too clever for them can hardly have been entirely a fool.
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125 years ago, Theodor Mommsen gave crushing evidence to prove that no piece of Roman history - meaning the traditional history, as told by Livy, Appian, Polybius and the other ancient historians - before 380 BC, and few before 275 BC, were reliable. Theodor Mommsen was not only one of the greatest historians of ancient Rome who ever lived, but one of the most widely read. Every specialist since is familiar with his work. And in fact his powerful argument - first set out in an article in a magazine called Hermes in 1886 - has been expanded and proved again and again by many other scholars, in particular the Italian Ettore Pais.

Get it? No story told about Rome before 380 BC, and precious few before 275 BC, are reliable history. The matter is complicated by the fact that, while the stories are certainly unhistorical, the stages in political evolution they describe do seem to have happened as they are described. Rome started out as a monarchy of sorts; it was ruled by Etruscan kings for about a century; when the Etruscans were driven out, it became a republic. And there seems to be a basic reliability, in spite of numerous variants, about the lists of consuls and other officials that were handed down. But the history, the history itself, is not history. It is a bunch of stories. It is a vast, indeed amazing, body of legends.

This is perhaps more significant to me than to many of my readers, because, being Italian - and with family connections with the city of Rome itself - these are my heroic past. Italian children learn stories about Romulus, Numa, Tarquinius the Proud, or Furius Camillus, at school, like American children learn about Washington and Lincoln and Irish children about Brian Boruma and Daniel O'Connell. But the fact that these stories are all just stories struck me very forcefully.

Now when the Greeks came to look at the Romans, the one thing they did not find was a large body of stories such as they had, about various gods and their interactions with each other and with heroes who were themselves sons of gods and often hardly to be distinguished from gods. (Herakles, Helen, Menelaus and Diomedes, to mention only a few, received divine as well as heroic cult.) And not seeing the kind of mythology they were familiar with, they concluded that the Romans - these people with their enormous amount of "historical" stories and heroes - had no mythology.

The Greeks could be excused for this gross category mistake. Scholars ever since Mommsen cannot. That textbooks, and indeed scholarly investigations, about Roman origins, continue to be produced, in which "the problem of Roman mythology" is seriously argued and repeated, is inexcusable and an intellectual scandal.
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The change in political thought - or at least in political sentiment - which was beginning in the sixteenth century was stealthier. It has left its mark on some purely literary texts. In Malory Sir Mador says to Arthur, Though ye be our king in that degree, yet ye are but a knight as we are (xviii. iv). The slaying of a bad king like Mark excites nobody's disapproval (xix. xi). Lancelot spares Arthur in battle, not because he is a king simply, but because he is that most noble king that made me knight (xx. xiii). In Jacobean drama we find a very different tone. Amintor, on learning that the man who has injured him is the king, says that that very name wipes away all thoughts revengefull, and has in it a terror which paralyses mortal arms (Maid's Tragedy, II. i). Camillo cannot find in all history a single instance of a man who has struck an anointed king and flourished after (Winter's Tale, I. ii. 358). No doubt allowance should be made for court patronage in these dramatic examples, and for the French origin in Malory. But there is no question that in these quotations we hear the echo of a very important change in men's attitude to the royal power. The doctrine of Divine Right has risen above the horizon. During the following century it will reach its full blaze of paradox in Filmer’s Patriarchia, Hobbes's Leviathan, and Bossuet's Politique tirée de l'Escriture Sainte.

It would, however, be easy to exaggerate the adherence to this doctrine in sixteenth-century England. Emphasis on the sacred authority of the Prince does not necessarily mean that the Crown is being exalted against Parliament or the Common Law. "Prince" could often be translated "government" or "State". It would also be easy to miss the true and permanent significance of what was happening if we overstressed its connexion with one particular form of government, the monarchical. That connexion (as Hobbes knew) was temporary and largely accidental. The Divine Right of Kings is best understood as the first form of something which has continued to affect our lives ever since - the modern theory of sovereignty. It is often called Austinian, but might just as well be called Johnsonian, for it is very clearly stated in Taxation No Tyranny; all government is ultimately and essentially absolute. On this view, total freedom to make what laws it pleases, superiority to law because it is the source of Iaw, is the characteristic of every state; of democratic states no less than of monarchical. That doctrine has proved so popular that it now seems to many a mere tautology. We conceive with difficulty that it was ever new because we imagine with difficulty how political life can ever have gone on without it. We take it for granted that the highest power in the State, whether that power is a despot or a democratically elected assembly, will be wholly free to legislate and incessantly engaged in legislation.

It seems, however, quite certain that many ages (not barbarous) believed nothing of the sort. Aristotle (Politics, 1282b) explicitly ruled that the highest power should hardly legislate at all. Its function was to administer a pre-existing law. Any legislation there was should be directed to supplementing and particularizing that law where its necessary generality failed to meet some concrete situation. The main outlines of the law must be preserved. It creates, and is not created by, the State. I do not know that Aristotle ever tells us where this original and immutable law came from; but, whether derived from our ancestors or from a philosophical constitution-maker, it must be accepted by the State as a datum. There is no sovereign in the Johnsonian sense. Roman practice and Roman jurisprudence took a very different view, but the Middle Ages (at first unconsciously) reverted to Aristotle. Two factors worked against the emergence of a theory of sovereignty. One was the actual dominance of custom in medieval communities. England, says Bracton, uses unwritten law and custom (De Legibus, I. i) - speaking truly about England, though wrongly thinking that this was peculiar to her. A. J. Carlyle quotes coronation oaths (not English) in which the king swears to keep les ancienes costumes. Pleas are to be decided selonc les costumes: custom is to be determined either by the previous decision of a court, or, significantly, by the fact that no one can remember when it was not so. This law or custom is the real sovereign. The King is under the Law for it is the Law that maketh him a King (Bracton, I. viii). It is true that Bracton often exalts the power of the king, but he is thinking of it as an executive power. The other factor was the doctrine of Natural Law. God, as we know from Scripture (Rom. i.15), has written the law of just and reasonable behaviour in the human heart. The civil law of this or that community is derived from the natural by way of particular determination' (Aquinas, Summa Theol. 1a. 2ae. xcv. iv). If it is not, if it contains anything contrary to Natural Law, then it is unjust and we are not, in principle, obliged to obey it (ibid. 2a. 2ae. LX. v). Sedition is, of course, a sin; but then the perturbatio of a tyrant (defined, from Aristotle, as one who rules in his own interest) is not sedition, for his rule is unjust (ibid. 2a. 2ae XLIi. ii). Thus for Aquinas, as for Bracton, political power (whether assigned to king, barons, or the people) is never free and never originates. Its business is to enforce something that is already there, something given in the divine reason or in the existing custom. By its fidelity in reproducing that model it is to bejudged. If it tries to be original, to produce new wrongs and rights in independence of the archetype, it becomes unjust and forfeits its claim to obedience.

It would be quite impossible here to suggest the causes, or even to trace the process, of the change which introduced the concept of sovereignty. Wycliffe, a pioneer of the new theory, was exceptional in his own age. The years 1445 and 1446 are important: in the first the Cortes of Olmedo announced that it was contrary to divine law to touch the Lord's Anointed, and the second saw the publication of Aeneas Sylvius' De Ortu Imperii Romani in which he declares the emperor to be legibus solutus. Nor can I here deal with works which attacked the novelty. Its naturalization in England may be seen in Tyndale's Obedience of a Christian Man (1528), where we are told that The King is in this world without lawe and may at his owne lust do right and wrong and shall give accounts to God only. It is true that this quotation gives (by itself) a false impression of Tyndale's character and of that strange treatise in which he flings such appalling power to Henry VIII almost scornfully, like a bone to a dog; but it is a fair illustration of Tyndale's political theory. The First Book of Homilies (or, to give it its true title, Certain Sermons or Homilies) (1547) substantially agrees with him: rebellion is in all circumstances sinful.

(C.S.Lewis, History of sixteenth-century English literature, excluding drama, Oxford 1957, pages 46-50)
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The history of the Western Church begins with the Pope recognized as the ultimate court of appeal. Kings were crowned by bishops and therefore could, in extreme cases, be uncrowned (as Pope Innocent did to King John Lackland, and Gregory VII to Emperor Henry). But in the late middle ages, the kings - beginning with the king of France - began to realize that they could bring the Church under their own control, and make themselves effectively lords and masters. The Great Schism was the result of this, with the king of France and his allies manipulating the Avignon succession, the Italian states (then immensely powerful) and varying numbers of allies behind the Rome succession, and eventually a third line of Popes based in Spain. This was obviously intolerable, and in the end unity was restored, but in the meanwhile Czech Bohemia had gone off on its own tangent, the Hussite revolt, which demonstrated that a whole state could break off from the Roman communion and not only survive (at least for a while) but become powerful and threatening. By the time of the Reformation, the idea of breaking away from Rome and remaking the church in whatever image the ruling classes wanted it had already become reality, which is why the revolt caught on so fast. Luther was not much of an innovator - even his public personality was pretty much imitated from that of earlier Dominican preachers, especially Tauler. But while two centuries earlier anyone would have been horrified, as if by the ending of the world, at the notion of breaking up the Church and renouncing Roman allegiance - the reason why France and the other kingdoms had tried to pull the Papacy to themselves, ripping it up in the process, was that they still thought only in terms of one Church led by one Pope - the idea could now be easily entertained, especially by lords who bordered on Bohemia and whose fathers and grandfathers had suffered from Hussite raids within living memory.

The point is that the Reformation is by no means the only assault that the papacy had to suffer in the transition from the Middle to the Modern ages. Equally poisonous, and possibly even more dangerous, was the increasing nationalization of the local Catholic churches by all the great powers - Empire/Austria, Venice, France, Spain, Portugal. By 1600, the Pope had almost no right of intervention in anything but the most shocking affairs in local churches, and the local sovereigns treated church institutions and patrimony as their own to be dealt out as they saw fit. In France, abbacies were given to women and bishoprics to atheists. In a sense, Henry VIII had blundered: the example of the kings of France and Spain showed that he could pretty much have done as much with the Church and its goods as they did, without quarrels or excommunications. The only difference between the churches of France and of England until the revolutionary age was that, while the Anglican body was open to infiltration from outright Protestants, especially Calvinists, because of its claim to be "reformed" and its general theological weakness, the Church of France was not, and the Calvinists, however strong they were in France (which was, after all, the country of origin of Calvinism), remained an excluded minority and had to develop their own institutions. But that did not spare England from a civil war very much like France's, between the Calvinist minority and the majority - Catholic in one case, Anglican in the other. In both cases, the result was a pyrrhic victory for the Calvinists: Henry of Navarre became king of France, but had to accept the Catholic faith to be able to rule it; Parliament defeated Charles I of England, but made such a botch of governing that it was overthrown by the military leader Cromwell, and eventually had to re-admit the king and the Anglican Church.

In all this, and in every other religious conflict in the seventeenth century, the struggle was about controlling the one form of Church in the State. The Puritans were certainly not fighting for religious freedom, as is shown not only by their behaviour during the English civil war but also by the kind of commonwealth they set up in north America when they had the chance. Except for late creations such as Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, state churches were the rule (the state church of Connecticut was not disestablished until1831) and intrusive religious control the norm. But this was not, it must be clear, a direct result of the mediaeval norm, so much as a perversion. In the Middle Ages, the Church was independent of the State, and judged it when necessary. It also tried to mitigate the cruel customs of the time. (It is no coincidence that slavery was legislated almost out of use in mediaeval Europe.) It did not serve the State, in so far as such a thing as the State existed - which was in fact a welter of lordships bound together by written law and personal obligation. The idea that the State could possess the Church, rather than the reverse, is a late-comer to western civilization. And while it first became manifest in the struggle to control the Papacy in the fourteenth century, it has lingered long and in some ways it is with us still. As ;ate as 1905, the French government made an all-out effort to destroy and take over the Catholic Church, under guise of "democratizing" it - a democratization from above carried out with military occupations and confiscations, against the will of the Catholic faithful. Mexico tried it even later, under Plutarco Calles, and of course we have the whole sordid history of the various totalitarian tyrannies. None of them worked.

The idea that the Church can be independent of the State - an idea that many modern statesmen, including Obama, still haven't completely absorbed - only really became prevalent in the last three centuries, and even so it left a lot of people behind. The first Protestant churches, and the Anglicans, were state bodies, even more purely than the contemporary Catholic Churches, and however much they might prate about the right of private judgment. They only existed where the local princes said they could. It is for that reason that they have, in the long run, not made the transition to the contemporary world very well. Even after the various princes lost power or interest, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians and so on kept the instinct to stick to what the boss says, and identified the boss with the various societal leaderships which managed to make their views sound like the voice of the people; hence the disheartening show of supposed Christians throwing the Bible and Holy Tradition overboard bit by bit. And that is even where the political power did not in fact directly impose such betrayals, as it did to the state Lutheran churches of Scandinavia, to the Church of England, and so on. Those who actually picked up the opportunity and ran with it were those bodies that had never been the tools of any state power, beginning with the Baptist churches, and to whom the congregational principle was more than just some sort of political excuse not to have a bishop. These churches started out as the most insignificant of the insignificant - there is not even a clear starting point or a famous founder; a number of congregations seem to have started in various places in England and New England, and just gradually found each other, and never anything but the sketchiest of common beliefs. And today they are a power across continents, rooted from Russia to Latin America and from Africa to England, and have imposed their image on the whole of Protestantism, so that "Protestant" and "Evangelical" are almost synonymous.

The Catholic Church, poisoned nearly to death by the state-church principle, nonetheless was struggling towards the idea of independence even before the earliest Baptist congregations gathered. The main reason why the Jesuits got a bad name - and the reason why the Catholic kings of all Europe demanded and eventually obtained their suppression - is that their theologians theorized the independence of the Church. As long as the vast majority of Catholics were subjects of no more than four absolute sovereigns - the kings of Portugal, Spain, France and the Emperor (later Emperor of Austria), independence was a practical impossibility, and indeed the so-called Age of Enlightenment saw the high tide of State control and use of the Church, reaching the stage of self-conscious theorizing as "Gallicanism" and "Febronianism". What the French Revolution demanded of the Church - total and declared obedience to the State - was what all the "Enlightened" despots of the time, except for the atheist Frederick II of Prussia, had been consciously working towards. Both sides of the struggle were enemies of the Catholic Church, as I pointed out here: http://fpb.livejournal.com/517145.html .

But that was only part of the breaking point. The other part is the growing number of Church bodies that were either under non-Catholic sovereigns or large minorities in non-Catholic countries. By 1815, all the strongest non-Catholic sovereigns in Europe were responsible for vast bodies of Catholics: Britain for Ireland, Prussia for Silesia and west Poland, Russia for east Poland and Lithuania, the Netherlands for Belgium - in fact, Catholics were an overall majority of the briefly united Kingdom of the Netherlands, which soon made trouble. It was becoming a more and more common experience for Catholics to live in states that had no relation to their church, and to deal with them as an independent group. The balance finally tipped when, as a direct result of the last and worst English attempt to exterminate Ireland's Catholics, a huge mass of Catholic immigrants poured over the English-speaking world (http://fpb.livejournal.com/554795.html ). While at the same time the old Catholic powers drifted in various ways towards institutional anti-clericalism - which was to dominate all of Portugal, France, Spain and Italy after 1871 - the English-speaking Catholic Church, spear-headed by millions of hungry Irishmen, her path opened - oh delicious irony! - by the conquering sword of its own traditional enemies in London, poured as relentlessly as a lava flow unchecked across the face of five continents. And it did so on an entirely volunteer basis, supported purely by the endeavours of its individual members, with no support and little sympathy from imperial or federal authorities: http://fpb.livejournal.com/534114.html . By 1850, the Pope felt strong enough to throw a direct challenge to the world's greatest empire, and established a new hierarchy of bishops over the British mainland itself. The British huffed and puffed, but found there wasn't anything they could do. An enormous new body of churches suddenly reared up across the world, grown in a conscious tradition of relying only on itself and on its own forces, law-abiding but wholly autonomous of the State.

The final stage of this part of the drama was the First Vatican Council and the dogma of Papal Infallibility. The reason why it was done then is that the Church, and especially the Vatican, felt the hot breath of the anti-clerical Savoy government of Italy, and of an increasing number of contemporary governments, and wanted to make it clear that it answered to another authority than theirs. Papal Infallibility is the Church's Declaration of Independence: it obeys no earthly power, neither authoritarian nor democratic, but only the law that built it and the authority that it has always recognized.

Today the Catholic and Evangelical churches are the two most potent and lively Christian realities in the world, spread across the continents, and growing. Everything that comes from the bad old tradition of state churches is rotten or dead, and even the Orthodox are learning to be independent of the Tzar. That, by the way, is the link between the First and the Second Vatican Councils: as the First Council - that was left unfinished when the troops of the King of Italy stormed Rome and the Council Fathers scattered - had only defined the role of the Pope, the Second defined the whole Church - bishops, priesthood, laity. There is much about Vatican II that bewilders an impartial observer: it condemned no heresy - not even Communism - and its constitutions, while admirable, do seem like a restatement of the obvious. But they are a restatement of Church doctrine in terms of the new world in which the State Church has died and the Church as a whole must live in a wholly autonomous way. That is why it was summoned and that is why it spoke.

And since history is the greatest of comedian and the master ironist of all ironists, I might as well close by placing the Council malcontents in their place in this frame of interpretation. It does not take much to understand that the "spirit of Vatican II" gang, the people who apparently want to turn the Catholic Church into an imitation of the American Episcopalians, belong to the same trend that has wrecked the old, state-supported Protestant denominations: that is, to a kind of person who instinctively seeks the sanction and support of what seems the contemporary consensus; that is, someone who wants the approval of an earthly power, and not having it in the state, looks for it in the consensus. But on the other hand, the so-called conservative dissident and schismatics, Lefebvrites and sedevacantists, can all be seen, with no effort at all, to be nostalgic for the state church and the King's authority. That is the real burden of all their songs; that is what Lefebvre preached about all the time. The real, live burden of his doctrine was the evil of the Revolution. In short, both the open opponents of Vatican II and its abusers and subversors are basically motivated by their itch for a political, terrestrial authority, king or revolution or consensus. Leonardo Boff and Marcel Lefebvre are brothers under the skin.
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The following poem, written by Alfred Noyes in 1914 or 1915, has, to the best of my knowledge, never been reprinted, anthologized, or quoted, anywhere. So I would like my friends to read it and answer this question: do you think, as I think, that it is a good poem? Purely as a poem, I mean? Do you think it's right or wrong to have completely neglected it? All of you who read would do me a great favour if you commented, individually, as much as you can, because this is part of my research for the book I am writing.

THE REDEMPTION OF EUROPE
...donec templa refeceris.
Under what banner? It was night
Beyond all nights that ever were.
The Cross was broken. Blood-stained might
Moved like a tiger from its lair;
And all that Heaven had died to quell
Awoke, and mingled Earth with Hell.

For Europe, if it held a Creed,
Held it through custom, not through faith.
Chaos returned in dream and deed;
Right was a legend; love - a wraith;
And That from which the world began
Was less than even the best in man.

God in the image of a Snake
Dethroned that dream, too fond, too blind,
The man-shaped God, whose heart could break,
Live, die, and triumph with mankind.
A Super-Snake, a Juggernaut
Dethroned the highest of human thought.

The lists were set. The eternal foe
Within us as without grew strong
By many a super-subtle blow
Blurring the lines of right and wrong
In Art and Thought, till naught seemed true
But that soul-slaughtering cry of new!

New wreckage of the shrines we made
Through centuries of forgotten tears...
We knew not where their scorn had laid
Our Master. Twice a thousand years
Had dulled the uncapricious Sun,
Manifold words obscured the One:

Obscured the reign of Love, our stay,
Our compass through this darkling sea,
The one sure light, the one sure way,
The one firm base of Liberty;
The one firm road that men have trold
Through Chaos to the Throne of God.

Choose ye, a hundred legions cried,
Dishonour or the instant sword!
Ye chose. Ye met that blood-stained tide;
A little kingdom kept its word;
And, dying, cried across the night:
Hear us, o Earth, we chose the Right!

Whose is the victory? Though ye stood
Alone against the unmeasured foe;
By all the tears, by all the blood
That flowed, and has not ceased to flow;
By all the legions that you hurled
Back, through the thunder-shaken world;

By the old who have not where to rest,
By lands laid waste, and hearths defiled;
By every lacerated breast
And every mutilated child;
Whose is the victory? Answer ye
Who, dying, smiled at tyranny:

Under the sky's triumphal arch
The glories of the dawn begin.
Our dead, our shadowy armies march
E'en now, in silence, through Berlin;
Dumb shadows, tattered blood-stained ghosts,
But cast by which swift following hosts
?

And answer, England! At thy side,
Through seas of blood, through mists of tears,
Thou that for Liberty hast died,
And livest, to the end of years
! -
And answer, Earth! Far off, I hear
The paeans of a happier sphere:

The trumpet blown at Marathon
Resounded over earth and sea,
But burning angel lips have blown
The trumpets of thy Liberty:
For who, beside their dead, would deem
The faith, for which they died, a dream?

Earth has not been the same since then.
Europe from thee received a soul,
Whence nations moved in law, like men,
As members of a mightier whole,
Till wars were ended...
On that day,
So shall our children's children say.
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Nearly every cynical motto in history is largely or wholly wrong, but there is none more wrong and more downright mendacious than the celebrated piece of flummery about history being written by the winners. Almost from the beginning, the losers did more to write and preserve history than the winners. We don't know how the Persians reacted to the Greek-Persian wars that were the subject of Herodotus - the first historian; not because his work silenced theirs, but because, much later, Persian civilization was destroyed and replaced by Islam, and no Persian annal or memory has survived. We do, on the other hand, know that the Athenians certainly did not win the Peloponnesian wars - the subject of Herodotus' successor, and Greece's greatest historian, Thucydides. According to where you place their endings, they either lost completely or managed to recover some autonomy, but they lost, and lost big. And yet, because all the writers from that period - including even the pro-Spartans! - are either Athenian or from the cultural area of Athens, everything we have of this great event is seen through Athenian eyes.

That is a phenomenon we find again and again. In an area I researched in depth, Dark Age Britain, nearly every useable source and fragment comes from the defeated British side, including the only three named and outstanding authors - the preacher Gildas and the bards Taliesin and Aneirin. The English were too busy settling and organizing their conquests to bother to write records, even when they learned Latin; it took a century and a half before a historian arose - Bede - and although he was in fact one of the greatest who ever lived, he knew so little of events in the original period that his account is virtually worthless.

That is the case, again and again. The Roman conquest of Greece is described - brilliantly - by the Greek, Polybius, one of the political leaders who found themselves one way or another in Rome's way. The history of the Roman Republic is written down for all time by the passionate republican Livy - at the court of conquering Augustus. The fall of the Roman Empire is chronicled almost entirely by Romans - it will be centuries before the Germanic and Arabic conquerors have historians of their own. The Longobard Paul the Deacon writes the history of the Longobard people after the Franks Pepin and Charlemagne have conquered them. The greatest historian of the Muslim Middle Eastern golden age is the Christian, Jacob Bar-Hebraeus. Caesar Baronius takes up the cudgels on behalf of the Catholic Church, halved in size by the fury of the early Reformation, and incidentally codifies the discipline of modern history. Inca princes with Spanish names write histories of the fallen Inca empire. The Four Masters and Geoffrey Keating collect the history of Ireland as Ireland is being ground down by the loving attentions of Cromwell and his successors. These are the men who, as a rule, write the best history; and their motivation is all too clear. "Let our children know what manner of men their fathers were; and that if we were defeated at last, it was not without honour." A victor has other things to think about.

In the twentieth century, indeed, we have had a rather more extraordinary phenomenon: history being rewritten by the defeated in the very lap, almost inside the head, of the winners, by means of a partially deliberate political manipulation. The popular image of the First World War is almost entirely the result of manipulation by a more or less overt alliance of Communist and German writers, united by the common need to make the Allies look uniformly bad and immoral, who have managed to impose what I would call the Black Legend of World War One. To make a couple of instances, popular texts of this type never mention German war crimes, and only ever speak of "brave little Belgium" with an implied sneer, while giving a great deal of space to accounts of allied propaganda, with the implication that allied propaganda was responsible for these things. The opposite was true, of course. Large areas of literature, including masterpieces, have been consigned to the memory hole in order to convince educated persons that the only significant literature that came from the war was the rhetoric of anger of Owen and Sassoon. History is written by the winners? Get real. In our time, and under our eyes, the winners have allowed the losers to rewrite their own history under their very eyes.

So avoid the crap about history being written by the winners, please. It's crap.
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It is a curious phenomenon how certain important historical developments have tended to take place at the very last minute in which they were possible. When the Colonies revolted against Britain, Britain’s power was growing, but still limited: the country had barely ten million inhabitants, as against three million Americans, and the effort of a long and major operation beyond the seas was simply beyond it. Twenty years later, Britain had more than fifteen million inhabitants, was able to fight major and very lengthy wars in Europe and India at the same time, settle Australia, and build up a naval presence in the Mediterranean so strong that Napoleon was never able to dislodge them from Sicily, Sardinia, Corfu or Malta. An American insurrection in 1800 would certainly have failed. By the same token, Italy won independence and unity in 1859-60 after decades of unrest and occasional insurrections and war, mainly through Garibaldi’s genius for insurgent warfare; but the 1860s were also the decade in which the new technology of repetition and machine guns and heavier artillery became widespread. From 1789 to 1848, rulers and governments had had no answer to revolted cities and insurgent warfare, but by 1871 they definitely did, and the fate of the Commune of Paris served notice on the world that barricades and revolts in capital cities would no longer be an effective way to regime change. If Italy had not been united in 1860, it never would have been. More such examples could be made.
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Considering the following lines:

Clark is a wonderful fellow. In a day when many are seeking a reward for what they contributed to the return of the Democrats to the White House, you don't hear Clark clamoring. All he asked in return was that we advertise his law firm on the backs of one-dollar bills
-- John F. Kennedy on Washington lobbyist and ex-Truman aide Clark Clifford

Groucho Marx, SJ Perelman, Dorothy Parker, could not have done any better. It is a line that slides around its subject like an anaconda - and then strangles it. It's still funny fifty years after all its participants became history. A man who could produce a line like that was wasted as a politician; his business was comedy.
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Anyone who thinks that the massive police operations - they barely deserve the name of war - carried out by the USA and its allies since September 11, 2001 could have been avoided are talking total nonsense. What do they propose the USA should have done? Sat there and taken it? The reaction was absolutely inevitable, and indeed the rest of the world saw it coming and ran for cover. All the USA's worst enemies bent over backward to offer sympathy and support, beginning with Fidel Castro - the man who had tried to encourage Nikita Khruschev to atom-bomb the Yanquis. Only two governments openly congratulated the bombers and showed no compunction about the mass murder of civilians: Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Taleban Afghanistan. Why? because they both knew that there would be no point pretending. Saddam may not have been directly involved in the bombing, but his policy ever since his disastrous defeat in the previous war had been so unrelentingly hostile and dedicated to breaking down Anglo-American positions by every possible means that it would not have been safe to let him exist while the Allies were at war elsewhere in the Muslim world; and the Taleban were neck-deep in the conspiracy that had led to the massacre. It was, in fact, driven by largely local Afghani considerations. People don't remember that that was not the only major terrorist act that took place at the same time; one day or two before, the Taleban had murdered Ahmed Shah Massud, the Lion of Panjshir, the legendary hero of the struggle against Russia and the most prestigious leader of internal resistence against them. In Afghani eyes, this murder was at least as significant as the assault on the Twin Towers. The two were part of the same terrorist strategy. Three thousand Americans were butchered at least in part in order to reinforce the image of the Al Qaida-Taleban alliance in Afghanistan and frighten its enemies.

Of course, it went wrong; but anyone who thinks that the Taliban had not intended a war against America, or foreseen American intervention, simply does not understand the fact. That is what they wanted. That they lost it only means that they had overrated themselves and underrated the enemy; well, have I got news for you - that happens. And where America is concerned it happens with particular frequency; everybody from the Confederate rebels of 1860 to the Kaiser to Hitler and Tojo always found the Union more determined, more fierce,and infinitely quicker in action and thought, than they had imagined. The Taleban imagined themselves as the guerrilla hordes of a new Vietnam; within a few months of the masaacre, they had found out the difference.

What happened in Iraq and Afghanistan after the initial campaigns was not a war. A war means Cannae, Waterloo, the Somme. A war means armies clashing on battlefields, men dying by the hundreds every day, units surrendered or destroyed. No such thing has happened practically anywhere in ten years. The drip drip drip of casualties murdered by explosive devices is more typical of what the British forces had to face in Northern Ireland, or, for that matter, Italy's police forces in Sicily. It is grand policing, not war. The frequently-made parallel with Britain in the nineteenth century is absurd: British troops were faced and defeated in vast pitched battles against hordes of tribal warriors welding jezail rifles and knives, which has never happened in the Afghan operations. It is little more than Italy suffers for policing Sicily or Naples.

Finally there is the charge that the war has weakened America and reduced it to a debtor country with its bonds firmly in Chinese hands. Certainly operations have not been well managed: I have long since said that no wartime leader could do anything more stupid than cut taxes in the middle of a campaign, not only because expenditure inevitably rises, but because it undermines the message that the war is a common concern and the country ought to help to pay for it. But to blame the decline and deindustrialization of the USA on the war is beyond ridiculous. These things began almost thirty years ago, in the Ronald Thatcher era, which Bob Dylan welcomed with "Union Sundown" - an ambiguous title that meant both the ruin of unionized labour and the decline of the Union, that is the USA - and Springsteen sang that, in "Your hometown", "Foreman says these jobs are going, boys, and they ain't coming back - to your hometown". The war made barely any difference to this process, which has been to a large extent encouraged and welcomed by successive administrations.

The occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq was inevitable; indeed, it was the least that could be done in the circumstances. People who pretend otherwise as good as say that three thousand dead should have been forgotten.
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Read more... ) Do you see, now, to what an extent we have all been bamboozled?
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There is no such thing as a man (homo sapiens) without religion, unless of course we count the victims of dementia. All human beings have an overall understanding, however tentative, of reality as a whole; a framework, instinctive or reasoned, that allows them to understand how things connect to each other, how they form a whole, what their meaning and goal and usefulness are.

That is what religion is. Every other definition is clearly fallacious. If we envisage it, for instance, as the search for what is morally or aesthetically highest, then a number of proven religions simply don’t make it. The ancient Aztecs sacrificed human beings in their thousands and in circumstances of the most horrible depravity; as for aesthetic excellence, it would be a curious taste that found it in their gods with their skeletal faces and corpse-like bodies. (There is indeed beauty of a sort in ancient Mexican art, but it is in my view to be found in the whole, in the design of the pyramids, the discs, the slabs of stone, rather than in the individual that populate them. You might say that it is a synthesis that builds up an overall beauty from details of horror.)

Was that not a religion, then? Heck yes! The Aztecs were convinced that the universe had the shape they envisaged, and, being the kind of place it was, it demanded that many human beings should be sacrificed to it. In doing so, the Aztecs fulfilled the duties that their vision of the world involved. Other religions have postulated, for instance, that there is a fundamental ontological difference between believers and unbelievers, such as that the unbelievers are so far out of the proper human level that their proper position is as slaves and prey to the believers; or that different classes of human beings amount to different kinds of being, so distant from each other that to think of sexual congress between them is disgusting, as we would think of sexual congress with a dog. (That is not so hard to understand if we turn from caste to race. The complex of taboos and horrified fascination that drove the destructive relationship between whites and blacks in the old south had its centre in sexual ideas, so that the idea of a black man possessing a white woman was both compulsive and terrible. That is how believers in caste regard sexual congress between a higher and a lower caste.)

It follows that religion does not have a dependent relationship on morality; it does not search for or obey a morality already made. This, if they were able to formulate enough, would be the most widespread stupid idea about religion of our day. People would say - and say with a straight face - that the practices of this or that religion which strike them as immoral cannot be to do with “what religion really is”, or even with “what that religion really is”. The general idea is that real religion must inevitably be moral; which is mistaking the stream with its source. Religion defines morality, not the other way around. The people who declare war on the world in the name of their God; the people who butcher men on high altars and raise their still-beating bloody hearts to heaven; the people who will eagerly commit murder rather than allow sexual congress between different castes or races; all these people are doing the right thing according to their own religion. They are following the dictates that teach that, because the universe is a certain kind of thing, because mankind and the internal divisions of mankind are a certain kind of thing, because the world contains certain relationships, therefore those acts are objectively good and dutiful. The Aztec priests were certain that, if their service to the gods with its thousands of butchered dead were to cease, the universe would collapse. The end of their drive came not just because the Spanish put an end to the sacrifices and the universe did not in fact collapse - that could have been remedied in any of a hundred ways (including to claim that the arrival of the Spanish had itself been the expected collapse, that had destroyed the world as they knew it). What put an end to it was a different view of reality and of God, the view taken in Cortez’s hulls by his Franciscan preachers and their books.

Religion makes morality. I will deal later (if any of my readers remind me) with the relationship of this with CS Lewis’ famous argument for an underlying universal moral sense or “tao”. For the present I will only say this: that religion as an understanding of reality - a philosophy of reality, as I call it - is, like any other aspects of philosophy, an understanding of reality. Reality is what it claims to understand, but reality comes first. And so, if religion delivers a structured understanding of morality, we have to understand that a moral impulse is a part of reality, a part, that is, of human nature. Religious doctrine, however, varies to such an extent that what one religion declares true - in the field of morality, mind you - another declares false.

Compare, for instance, two capital religious texts, Galatians 3.28 (St.Paul says the same thing in the same terms in two other letters, but I shall use this one) and the Purusa Sukta, RigVeda Hymn no.10.90 - but, like the Pauline verse, repeated in all the other Vedic collections. The interesting thing about these two passages is that they present almost the same religious image: a supernatural unity in the form of a man, in which exist at once, either all of creation, or the whole Church. The Purusha of the Vedic hymn is nothing else than The Man, cosmic unity in the image of a man, who is divided so that all of creation might have individual existence. All concrete things are found in him. In St.Paul, however, it is the Church that is at one and the same time The Man - the body of the Son of Man: “Now ye are the Body of Christ” - 1Corinthians 12.27. And this is cosmic body of the Son of Man is a very articulated thing indeed - nearly as varied as the body of the Vedic Man:

St.Paul:
13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14For the body is not one member, but many.
15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.
25That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

RV 10.90:
6 When Gods prepared the sacrifice with Puruṣa as their offering,
Its oil was spring, the holy gift was autumn; summer was the wood.
7 They balmed as victim on the grass Puruṣa born in earliest time.
With him the Deities and all Sādhyas and Ṛṣis sacrificed.
8 From that great general sacrifice the dripping fat was gathered up.
He formed the creatures of-the air, and animals both wild and tame.
9 From that great general sacrifice Ṛcas and Sāma-hymns were born:
Therefrom were spells and charms produced; the Yajus had its birth from it.
10 From it were horses born, from it all cattle with two rows of teeth:
From it were generated kine, from it the goats and sheep were born.
11 When they divided Puruṣa how many portions did they make?
What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet?
12 The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rājanya made.
His thighs became the Vaiśya, from his feet the Śūdra was produced.
13 The Moon was gendered from his mind, and from his eye the Sun had birth;
Indra and Agni from his mouth were born, and Vāyu from his breath.
14 Forth from his navel came mid-air the sky was fashioned from his head
Earth from his feet, and from his car the regions. Thus they formed the worlds.

There are differences. St.Paul is in deadly earnest because he is addressing people who must be set straight here and now; the author of RV10.90 is calmly setting out an idea of the universe for people whose allegiance is not in doubt and whose individual salvation is not immediately his concern. But there are also subtler similarities: the Purusa must be offered as a sacrifice so that the worlds might exist; Jesus Christ, whose body is the Church, is also God as creator (“through Him all things were made”) and at one and the same time the ultimate victim in the ultimate sacrifice. Clearly these two complexes of ideas have much in common.

When it comes to societal morality, however, they contradict each other flatly. St.Paul stated clearly that, whatever the difference in offices and gifts, all members of the Church are fundamentally equal: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” And if there should be any doubt, "God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked, That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another." Specifically, it is the union of the Church with the sacrificed body of Jesus in the Eucharist that makes every Christian equal in dignity with every other. Conversely, the cosmic sacrifice of the Purusa creates, among all other separate and autonomous orders of things, the four Varnas or basic castes (the word “caste” in ordinary usage denotes a “jati”, which is a sub-group of the Varnas): “11 When they divided Puruṣa how many portions did they make?/ What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet?/ 12 The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rājanya made./ His thighs became the Vaiśya, from his feet the Śūdra was produced.” The Man, therefore, may be one, but men are many, and their differences are ontological, as much as those between Sun and Moon, thunderstorm and fire and wind, the air, the sky and the earth. (“13 The Moon was gendered from his mind, and from his eye the Sun had birth;/ Indra (the god of storms) and Agni (the god of fire) from his mouth were born, and Vāyu (the god of wind) from his breath./ 14 Forth from his navel came mid-air the sky was fashioned from his head/ Earth from his feet, and from his car the regions. Thus they formed the worlds.”) For a world to exist, such things as sky and sea, moon and sun, wind and fire, must have their own existence and be separate from each other; and for the same reason - the two groups of two stanzas balance each other and positively demand to be read as doublets of each other - holy men (brahmanas) and warriors (rajanya) and the mass of free men (vaisya) and the mass of serfs (sudra) must exist and be separate.

Since religion is the interpretation of reality, the philosophy of reality, it is at least terrifyingly difficult, and on the whole better left alone, to try and take a position outside religion and try to assess the religions in terms of a universal morality that can be found outside and above them. While the impulse to morality, like for that matter the fact of war, can be found in every society in the world, the way that it is conceptualized and formulated varies from religion to religion. Just as it is a matter of high morality for Christians to treat all men as equals, so it was a matter of high morality for the authors of the Mahabharata that the four Varnas should each recognize and perform their caste duties. That was one of the first thing that visiting ascetics asked noble kings, in particular the most just king Yudhisthira, when they honour their courts with a visit.

Ultimately such differences can be embraced by debate, though not necessarily undone - that would amount to conversion. But it is very important to accept that each person has his or her own religion, in the sense of his or her own view of existence; and that religion by its nature generates a picture of morality, gives the moral impulse a frame and a shape. There is therefore no more dangerous delusion than to pretend to judge and condemn someone else’s religion from the point of view of morality; and that is because the morality you invoke inevitably turns out to be that of your own religion. You therefore end up condemning the other guy’s religion on the grounds that it is not yours, and very likely he, not being necessarily any wiser than you, condemns yours because it is not his.

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