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Anarchy from Above, Part II
Constructing the Health Tyranny
A good and healthy aristocracy ... should therefore accept with a good conscience the sacrifice of a legion of individuals, who, for its sake, must be suppressed and reduced to imperfect men, to slaves and instruments. Its fundamental belief must be precisely that society is not allowed to exist for its own sake, but only as a foundation and scaffolding, by means of which a select class of beings may be able to elevate themselves to their higher duties, and in general to a higher existence...
— Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, §258
Part of this prophecy or probability has already been accomplished; the rest of it, in the absence of any protest, is in process of accomplishment... They have now added all the bureaucratic tyrannies of a Socialist state to the old plutocratic tyrannies of a Capitalist State.
— Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils, 1: VI, VII
Part I of this essay can be found here.
Exactly a century ago, G. K. Chesterton—that three hundred pound mountain of a man who strode the streets and stages of London, debating with H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and other luminaries of his day; that prodigious literary volcano who produced "a hundred books, contributions to two hundred more, hundreds of poems ... five plays, five novels, and some two hundred short stories, including a popular series featuring the priest-detective, Father Brown," not to mention thousands of newspaper columns—published Eugenics and Other Evils, much of which was written before the First World War but almost all of which one might suppose had been written only yesterday. "The modern world is insane," its author contends, "not so much because it admits the abnormal as because it cannot recover the normal."
Behind this book lay the Feeble-Minded Control Bill of 1912, the same year in which the British Eugenics Education Society held its first international congress in London. That bill called, as had Winston Churchill, for the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-Minded, which in 1904 had been mandated to review "existing methods of dealing with idiots and epileptics, and with imbecile, feeble-minded, or defective persons not certified under the Lunacy Laws." It was withdrawn and replaced by The Mental Deficiency Act, which passed in 1913, coming into effect the following year on April Fools' Day.
Subsequently, nearly half of those in the half-percent of the British population deemed to fall within the purview of this legislation were institutionalized or confined to work colonies. For the objects of its attention were not the "idiot" or, moving up a step, the "imbecile" only, but also the "feeble-minded" members of society, "whose weakness does not amount to imbecility, yet who require care, supervision, or control, for their protection or for the protection of others, or, in the case of children, are incapable of receiving benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools." To these last were added those belonging to a fourth category, that of the "moral imbecile"; viz. one "displaying mental weakness coupled with strong vicious or criminal propensities, and on whom punishment has little or no deterrent effect."
Chesterton, who had objected loudly to the 1912 bill, was joined in objecting to its successor by only three sitting MPs, one of whom, Josiah Wedgwood, unsuccessfully attempted a filibuster. The Mental Deficiency Act, charged Wedgwood, was a product of "a spirit of the horrible Eugenic Society which is setting out to breed up the working class as though they were cattle." Chesterton himself insisted that eugenics—a science purporting, in the phrase of Francis Galton, who coined the term, to deal "with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race”—was irredeemable. It was "a thing no more to be bargained about than poisoning." His book explains why.
The explanation comes down to this: There is no logical stopping point for reforms that operate on the eugenic principle. There is no one who might not find himself among those requiring "improvement" or needing to be controlled, even in the matters most dear to him. It is the legislation's own supporters who are feeble-minded for not grasping that, for failing to recognize "that the reformers have possessed themselves of a principle" capable of infinite extension and universal application—"a principle whereby the deepest things of flesh and spirit must have the most direct relation with the dictatorship of the State" (2, VI).
The principle of eugenics, in other words, is the principle by which some men can seize control over the affairs of other men, even their most intimate affairs of love, marriage, sex, and child-rearing, simply by extending the categories of the incompetent or the perverse in such a way as to embrace them. On the principle of eugenics can be built the scaffolding to which Nietzsche referred when he said that society must not be allowed to exist for its own sake, but only for the sake of aristocrats and Übermenschen.
Chesterton, though he mentions Nietzsche but once, saw this scaffolding already going up. Without a clear definition of what it means to be human, or to be a human of sound mind, nothing prevents any aspect of life from falling prey to lunacy laws. Eugenists wish to improve something they cannot or will not specify, which means that there is no limit to what they may choose to regard as an improvement or as being in need of improvement. Their evolutionary fancies cover a multitude of sins; but even "the meanest Thomist of the mediæval monasteries would have the sense to see that you cannot discuss a madman when you have not discussed a man" (1, III).
It won't do to discuss a "man," however, for then you'd have to put your anthropology on the table and make an argument both about what makes a man a man and about what makes a man better or worse. Perhaps young Winston was willing to do that? I don't know, but successive generations of Feeble-Minded Control Bill advocates have been unwilling to do it, even after the Nazi atrocities revealed to the old Winston. The very idea of human nature is anathema to them. A man is something to be invented, not something to be respected. These days, one doesn't even use the word "man" to refer to man, just as one doesn't refer to God as the maker of man in his own image. One invents one's own nature. The imago dei has become the imago mei.
Now, if one belongs to the ruling class, one also invents a nature for the other; that is, for the lower classes. Their unwanted characteristics—believing in God, for example, or in the natural family unit—must be trained out of them. Freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom to arrange themselves as and where they will, must be taken from them. Even faith in natural immunity must be pared away, for it is an obvious form of allegiance to nature and the goods of nature. It gets in the way of what Jacques Attali has called the commodification of man and the industrialization of health. People who cling to such old-fashioned ideas are said to be a threat to society. They must be penalized, perhaps even institutionalized. The scaffolding of society requires that they be redesigned for their own good, then fixed in place on a new façade. Of course, it is not really for their own good but for the good of the elite, as Chesterton so clearly saw. The function of eugenics, he argued, was chiefly to serve the industrialists and their well-heeled friends. Eugenics was a means of trimming the lower classes to an optimum number, and tailoring them to an optimum form, for the nurture of capital; that is, for the advancement of the rich. Public hygiene would serve nicely as the justification for doing so.
That is what today's capitalists, the socialist-capitalists of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, have grasped. That is what they have set out to achieve, with remarkable success. Their motives vary. A few suffer from hypochondria, perhaps, a hypochondria of planetary proportions; most suffer from an insatiable thirst for wealth and power, which they dress up as philanthropy; others are committed transhumanists, thinking to become gods. All such motives spring from the fear of death that unites fallen man in a common bondage. But these people, whatever their individual motives, are united in the common enterprise of constructing a global health tyranny by which the masses may be controlled.
Inverting the Meaning of Health
"The argument is based on health; and it is said that the Government must safeguard the health of the community." But if that be so, then the political authorities "must necessarily control all the habits of all the citizens," including their breeding habits. The habit of the rulers will surely be to oppress, and "the excuse for the last oppression will always serve as well for the next" (2, VI). "Sooner or later," hazards Chesterton, "it is very probable that the rich will take over the philanthropic as well as the tyrannic side of the bargain; and will feed men like slaves as well as hunting them like outlaws" (2, VII).
Does that sound outlandish? Think GAVI, and a GPMB with policing powers. Think with the World Economic Forum about securing the food chain through its regional action groups, and about global monetary control. Think Agenda 2030 and Logan's Run. (The latter is scarcely more outlandish than the former, and the former is not a film but a United Nations human security program.) Think about the last two years and the advance of the surveillance society through the merging of man and machine. Ponder the fact, and the design behind the fact, that "hitherto 'democratic' Western states are being transformed into totalitarian regimes modeled after China, seemingly overnight."
Now, this tyranny requires an inversion of the very meaning of health. "The mistake of all that medical talk," remarks Chesterton in his earlier work, Heretics, "lies in the very fact that it connects the idea of health with the idea of care. What has health to do with care? Health has to do with carelessness." This is as true for the body as it is for the soul. The healthy soul is the soul at peace, for "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law," as St Paul wryly remarks. The healthy body, likewise, is the body at peace, all things working in their proper order, as Augustine observes (Civ. 19.12f.). Peace indeed is a kind of carelessness, the kind a man has when his soul is in harmony with the God who made him, and the body with the soul it serves. Such a man knows no care.
Devotees of the deity, Public Health, on the other hand, know nothing but care. At its command, they mask and double mask. They jab and triple jab. They consume their daily digest of "case" and death statistics. They accept confinements and lockdowns, sacrificing their rights and freedoms on its altar. They fear and avoid and vilify their neighbours, even family and friends. They ruin their financial and political economies, stunt the development of their own children, accepting alike the known and unknown side-effects of all these careful actions. Once they were healthy, even careless. Now they are unhealthy in their attempt to stay healthy; or rather, they are striving to regain the health they lost by merely fearing its loss. And they can't seem to stop. The god won't let them stop even when they want to stop, at least not for long. They were driven to care, and they are riven with care. They know no peace.
Many thought Chesterton's predictions unlikely, his objections overdrawn. But within a decade involuntary sterilization of the mentally deficient was taking place from Europe to Asia and here in North America. Within two decades the Nazis had a full-blown public hygiene regime and were performing their horrifying eugenic experiments on undesirables. That did give eugenists elsewhere pause for thought; some of the upper scaffolding was hastily removed in the West. Yet here we are, a generation or two later, performing the most peculiar contortions for the god of Public Health, contortions never before asked of us, not even during the smallpox epidemic that scarred the nineteenth century. No thoughtful reader of Eugenics and Other Evils can fail to see that its predictions continue to come true before our very eyes.
Chesterton understood the essential link between the medical and the political in the modern world, a world forgetful of God and unable properly to identify man. He understood it on a level even prophets in our own time have not understood it. Attali, for example, also fingered the link as economic. He has warned us of "the production of men," of their commodification and commercialization for practical consumption. He has warned us that economics, medicine, politics, and policing all lie on the same axis. He has put us on notice that "these machines for monitoring our health, which we could have for our own good, will enslave us for our own good," rendering us subject "to gentle and permanent conditioning." The man of the wealthy nations "will certainly be a man who is much more anxious than he is today, but who will find his answer to the pain of living in a passive tutelage, in painkillers and anti-anxiety machines, in drugs, and who will try at all costs to live a kind of commercial form of conviviality." Moreover, predicts Attali, "in the next twenty years genetic engineering will be as commonplace, as well-known and as present in everyday life as the internal combustion engine is today."
Are we not witnessing the beginnings of this? Has it not been given a green light by the WHO, despite worries about a slide to dystopia? And do we not realize that its driving force is, as Chesterton claimed, economic rather than philanthropic? Attali knows, as Chesterton and Huxley knew, that all this goes to the heart of what it means to be human and to live humanly; that it touches especially on the family and on reproduction. Indeed, there is nothing it does not touch. "Medicine is indicative of the evolution of a society that is moving towards a decentralised totalitarianism. We can already see a certain conscious or unconscious desire to conform as much as possible to social norms." We must expect "an invisible and decentralised 'Big Brother.'"
What I am saying here is not a kind of complacency in the face of what seems inevitable. It is a warning. I believe that this world in preparation will be so awful that it will mean the death of man. We must therefore be prepared to resist it, and it seems to me today that the best way to do so is to understand, to accept the struggle, to avoid the worst.
Yet Attali does not share Chesterton's understanding either of man or of God, nor yet of the evil with which man must contend; that is why he seeks only damage control rather than real redemption. In that sense he is rather like Chesterton's sparring partner, H. G. Wells, that earlier futurist who was the father of science fiction. "Mr Wells," remarked Chesterton in the same passage of Heretics, "is not quite clear enough of the narrower scientific outlook to see that there are some things which actually ought not to be scientific. He is still slightly affected with the great scientific fallacy; I mean the habit of beginning not with the human soul, which is the first thing a man learns about, but with some such thing as protoplasm, which is about the last." Approached in this way—without regard for the soul or for original sin, in which men such as Wells did not believe and which men such as Attali do not understand—the improvement of man becomes the business of eliminating the bodily and mental defects which trouble him; that, and the management of environmental threats such as war or famine. The same elitist solution, at once economic and bureaucratic, presents itself to all of these problems. Guided by science, the State will reorder social and individual life so as to eliminate as many threats as possible. In doing so it will reorder man himself.
This solution was already that of the early eugenists, who brought Darwinian theories to bear on the program J. S. Mill had articulated (just two years after Origin of the Species) in the second chapter of Utilitarianism:
In a world in which there is so much to interest, so much to enjoy, and so much also to correct and improve, every one who has this moderate amount of moral and intellectual requisites is capable of an existence which may be called enviable; and unless such a person, through bad laws, or subjection to the will of others, is denied the liberty to use the sources of happiness within his reach, he will not fail to find this enviable existence, if he escape the positive evils of life, the great sources of physical and mental suffering—such as indigence, disease, and the unkindness, worthlessness, or premature loss of objects of affection. The main stress of the problem lies, therefore, in the contest with these calamities.
Mill was full of optimism about this contest. Freed from sectarian religion and its "Calvinist" pessimism, man would at last pursue the good of man with a common spirit, guided by social institutions—especially institutions of public health—in tow of the best and brightest. "No one whose opinion deserves a moment's consideration," he confidently asserted, "can doubt that most of the great positive evils of the world are in themselves removable, and will, if human affairs continue to improve, be in the end reduced within narrow limits."
Even that most intractable of enemies, disease, may be indefinitely reduced in dimensions by good physical and moral education, and proper control of noxious influences; while the progress of science holds out a promise for the future of still more direct conquests over this detestable foe. And every advance in that direction relieves us from some, not only of the chances which cut short our own lives, but, what concerns us still more, which deprive us of those in whom our happiness is wrapt up. As for vicissitudes of fortune, and other disappointments connected with worldly circumstances, these are principally the effect either of gross imprudence, of ill-regulated desires, or of bad or imperfect social institutions. All the grand sources, in short, of human suffering are in a great degree, many of them almost entirely, conquerable by human care and effort.
This Pelagian optimism, this hope of becoming carefree by being careful, was less pronounced by the close of the Second World War and the dawn of the nuclear age. It rebounded somewhat towards the end of the twentieth century, until the ghost of Malthus began to cry out again among the tombs, or rather among the cradles, reminding us that more of the latter would make for more of the former. This inclined many to split the difference between progress and decline by speaking instead of sustainability. Sustainability, of course, has as its great nemesis Disaster!—that exceptionally useful fellow who produces the fear that drives us forward when optimism wanes, motivating us "to accept the struggle, to avoid the worst," even if that means accepting, as Attali advises, a global health tax and a global police force and a global government; the very opposite of Chesterton's distributism and an obvious opportunity to complete the scaffolding by which the elite scale the pinnacles of power.
Subverting Freedom from the Inside
The "modern craze for scientific officialism and strict social organization," to which Chesterton alludes in his preface, is at once a cause and a consequence of the "silent anarchy" that, like a cancer, is destroying our freedoms. Silent anarchy is the anarchy from above. "It is not in the least necessary that anarchy should be violent; nor is it necessary that it should come from below. A government may grow anarchic as much as a people" (1, III). For anarchy is not mere chaos. Anarchy is making the exception the rule, rather than allowing it to prove the rule. Anarchy means doing again and again what ought to be done rarely or but once. It is the inability to stop doing something. It is not freedom, but the end of freedom.
The end of freedom happens when freedom is not directed to its proper end. When God is eclipsed and nature and man, for want of light, have become obscure and indefinite, when nothing can be known with any certainty or received as a given, freedom has no object and hence can have no subject. Freedom disappears. "Liberty," says Chesterton, "has produced scepticism, and scepticism has destroyed liberty."
The lovers of liberty thought they were leaving it unlimited, when they were only leaving it undefined. They thought they were only leaving it undefined, when they were really leaving it undefended. Men merely finding themselves free found themselves free to dispute the value of freedom. But the important point to seize about this reactionary scepticism is that as it is bound to be unlimited in theory, so it is bound to be unlimited in practice. In other words, the modern mind is set in an attitude which would enable it to advance, not only towards Eugenic legislation, but towards any conceivable or inconceivable extravagances of Eugenics.
We are now witnessing just such an extravagance in the form of pandemic measures that have no terminus, emergency powers that require no emergency, a state of exception that is not exceptional but permanent. By way of illustration, I give you Nova Scotia's "chief medical officer of health," Dr Strang, who recently forbade his subjects from cheering on bridges or beside highways. What a very odd action for a doctor, cheering being precisely the sort of carelessness that is good for one's health! It is at once mad and mean, the perfect illustration of a meanness so magnanimous as to be unable to stop. It confirms Chesterton's diagnosis in the fifth chapter of the second part:
There is one strong, startling, outstanding thing about Eugenics, and that is its meanness. Wealth, and the social science supported by wealth, had tried an inhuman experiment. The experiment had entirely failed. They sought to make wealth accumulate—and they made men decay. Then, instead of confessing the error, and trying to restore the wealth, or attempting to repair the decay, they are trying to cover their first cruel experiment with a more cruel experiment. They put a poisonous plaster on a poisoned wound. Vilest of all, they actually quote the bewilderment produced among the poor by their first blunder as a reason for allowing them to blunder again. They are apparently ready to arrest all the opponents of their system as mad, merely because the system was maddening.
In Canada this seemingly irresistible force has met an immovable object, or so we may hope. The Freedom Convoy that all across the country passed under bridges lined in sub-zero temperatures with cheering supporters has parked itself on Parliament Hill, to the dismay of the prime minister, who ran away and hid before poking his head above the parapet to hurl insults. It is his anarchic government that has no brakes, not the truckers with their banners reading "Enough is Enough!"
If the latter cannot bring the former to a halt, if there are mass arrests or merely mass frustrations, chaos is likely to ensue because anarchy has become endemic. If anarchy prevails and chaos does not ensue, the alternative is bleaker yet—a police state, aided and abetted by those who hate those who love freedom. Certainly there are such haters, a good many of them. The media has cultivated them, the prime minister has encouraged them. Some have clambered up the scaffolding around the wing that houses the medical bureaucracy, perching themselves on the heights where "officer" rather than "health" is the operative word. These are busy policing the floors beneath them, peering through windows, beating down doors, purging dissenters. Likewise in the universities. Of their own corruption and its enormous cost in lives they say nothing, of course.
None of this would have surprised Chesterton in the least. As Thomas Lemke put it (pre-covid) in the Acta Historica Medicinae: "In his view, eugenics threatened both freedom and democracy. He saw it as an integral part of a more general social trend to disenfranchise people in favour of a dictatorship of state-medical experts that would eventually lead to a regime of oppression, in which individuals would be monitored and controlled right down to their daily lives and most intimate decisions."
Just here, a crucial contention of Eugenics and Other Evils comes to the fore. What makes a health dictatorship so attractive to those who wish to control the masses? What makes it such a fit instrument for the industrialists of the Davos coterie, who have learned how to combine socialism and capitalism into a single monster they market as inclusive capitalism? The answer does not lie merely in the vast sums of money to be made in the drugs and vaccines game and in the general commodification of man. It is not found only in the den of that twisted sister to Mammon and Moloch called Reproductive Health, of whom terrible tales can be told that even Attali does not tell. Nor is it hidden away in the secret haunts of the adventurists at DARPA or in the private councils of the military-industrial complex. It lies out in the open, in the link between health and liberty, a link some are intent on exploiting to the detriment of both.
Where being healthy means being carefree, health and liberty go naturally together. Where being healthy means being careful, Public Health rapes, kills, and consumes Lady Liberty. This starts innocently enough—though not so innocently that Chesterton, like Father Brown, cannot immediately spot the evil that is afoot—but it does not end innocently, nor can it. Leaning on Sir Thomas Shakespeare, Lemke points out the paradox arises with eugenics when it passes over into genetic science: "It promises to defeat and eliminate diseases, but to achieve this goal must ultimately make all those who require genetic monitoring and 'treatment' sick and disabled. From this perspective, there are no longer any healthy people, but only 'asymptomatically sick' [people] or 'persons at genetic risk'" (n. 11, emphasis added). Lemke rightly remarks that "one could summarise Chesterton by saying that the tyranny of the future prevails through the permanent reference to possibilities, chances and risks."
Summarizing a later prophet, Ivan Illich, David Cayley makes much the same point. In a sustained analysis that rewards reading in full, Cayley highlights the fact that Illich "detected among his contemporaries a new 'conceptual and perceptual topology,' a new 'mental space,'" discontinuous with that of the past.
It seems to me that the concepts behind which most have obediently lined up in the last year belong to this new topology. Notable are the concepts of risk, safety, management, and, above all, life. We have been "practicing" and acculturating these ideas for many years, but it took a pandemic to show how completely they have taken hold. Mass quarantine appeared as an unquestionably necessary step, and not as a debatable novelty, because life must be protected, risk must be averted, safety must be paramount. The damage to established styles of conviviality and engrained cultural habits was endurable because these new concepts increasingly determine our way of life— they are our culture. The idea of distancing and avoidance as a practice of solidarity worked because enough people already thought of themselves as components of an immune system—a life writ large—rather than as members of a polity or culture.
The pandemic, suggests Cayley, has been "played out in the realm of hypothesis, model, and metaphor," a realm in which the person is made to disappear. "This means that responsibility is often exercised not in the face of an actual neighbour but in relation to a risk profile. This hypothetical neighbour, in effect, goes on for ever. And so we are, as Illich says, 'caught.'"
Quite so, and just as Chesterton predicted. We are caught not only by a hook in the mouth, so to say, but caught like the fish that has actually swallowed the hook. We are caught from the inside. Liberty is eradicated from the inside out rather than from the outside in. In the advance of a health dictatorship, it is not merely policing around the perimeter of our lives that we have to watch out for, but policing from the centre. It is not merely the things most distant that must be sacrificed, but the things most intimate. Chesterton again:
It is not only true that it is the last liberties of man that are being taken away; and not merely his first or most superficial liberties. It is also inevitable that the last liberties should be taken first. It is inevitable that the most private matters should be most under public coercion. This inverse variation is very important, though very little realised. If a man's personal health is a public concern, his most private acts are more public than his most public acts... The policeman must be in a new sense a private detective; and shadow him in private affairs rather than in public affairs. A policeman must shut doors behind him for fear he should sneeze, or shove pillows under him for fear he should snore. All this and things far more fantastic follow from the simple formula that the State must make itself responsible for the health of the citizen. (2, VI)
Cayley immediately goes on to mark, as must we, that the contrast between being components of a system and being members of a culture has been stark, perhaps starkest, where religion is concerned. "The rituals of health and safety were approved and encouraged; religious rituals were banned. The first were treated as consensual, substantive, and mandatory; the second as empty optional husks practiceable only at the pleasure of the state."
Religion has indeed been the first and the most important casualty of the covid health dictatorship. Even the Catholic religion, to which Chesterton turned in the year he published Eugenics and Other Evils, has quickly succumbed. It succumbed to the inversion of the meaning of "health" because it had already succumbed to the inversion of the man whose health it is. It put body above soul, rather than soul above body, and so lost the liberty of both, as if re-enacting what happened long ago in the Garden. It traded in its own divine religion for the civil religion of the eugenists, who (says Chesterton) want "a new kind of State Church, which shall be an Established Church of Doubt," a church that permits them any kind of questioning they like and any kind of discovery that pleases them. It will be an established church because it will be state-funded and submission to it will be compulsory. It will be a church of doubt because "they have no Science of Eugenics at all, but they do really mean that if we will give ourselves up to be vivisected they may very probably have one some day" (1, VIII). It will also be a religion, as Lemke soundly parses it, "that defines new catalogues of virtues and moral obligations," a religion "within which it is a social 'sin' not to orient one’s activities towards eugenic goals."
Too many places of worship, like too many houses of healing, have become mere creatures of the State. There are now bishops who, at the behest of the State, will withdraw priestly faculties or access to the sacraments for refusing the jab, just as Dr Strang will hang you from the bridge on which he finds you cheering. There are now laymen who wouldn't shun you for corrupting their children with heresies but would happily see you arrested for refusing to present a symbol of subservience to the State as you cross the threshold of the house of God. They have so succumbed to heresy, in fact, that they do not recognize any meaningful distinction between God and the State. "But it's the law!" they say, though they do not even pause to learn whether it is legitimate law or just more anarchy from above. Nor do they ask whether it contravenes the law of God, or which should take precedence. One wonders whether they would balk even at the point where Thomas Hobbes—who was definitely not for balking, as a general rule—told them they could and should balk; viz., at the point where the sovereign seats himself in the house of God as if he were God (De Cive 15, XVIIIf.). Which he does, as well when he closes up the house of God, or determines who may pass by its font, as when he says, "Worship me in that house."
We may acknowledge of religious leaders what Chesterton acknowledged of secular leaders. They are not all of a mind, and such minds as they have are not always clear. "Most of them are as much bewildered as the battered proletariat; but there are some who are less well-meaning and more mean, and these are leading their more generous colleagues" toward an evasion of their true responsibility. Into which of these categories this or that religious leader fits (even the present pontiff, alas) would be difficult to decide; that many have been played for fools is difficult to deny. Yet there is still some "power of resistance in the tradition of the populace itself" (1, V), whether in the churches or outside them. If there weren't, there would be no protests or freedom convoys, nothing to resist the process of accomplishment.
The scaffolding for a new Babel has been going up since Christendom was brought down—defenestrated, as we might say, with Baron von Hohenfall in 1618—but the grand ziggurat of global tyranny has only appeared in something like its full outline as recently as 2018, with the European Commission's adoption of a universal health passport plan just in time for the covid crisis. Construction of its upper levels, through the erection of a Public Health tyranny such as Chesterton warned of, is proceeding at a furious pace even as covid itself is fading. Man is again reaching for the very heights of heaven, this time by reaching into the molecular depths to seize control over the human genome. Will construction of this eugenic paradise, this paradise of the ruthless rich seeking unrestricted wealth and micro-managerial power, continue apace to its consummation and final judgment? Or will it be suspended, for a time, through the reassertion of dying traditions of liberty, of those "crumbling creeds and dogmas," including "the idea called Democracy"?
Abiding in Hope
In America, and indeed globally, the idea of democracy took a bullet to the head back in 1963. Yet it clings precariously to life. Covid has been used, by men of the same sort, in an attempt to euthanize it. Such men are not philanthropists but misanthropes. Among themselves, they "pretend that they despise humanity for its weakness. As a matter of fact, they hate it for its strength" (Heretics XIV).
Let us show them something of that strength, then, so far as God grants it. Yes, "they have their great campaigns and cosmopolitan systems for the regimentation of millions, and the records of science and progress" (Eugenics 2, VIII). Yes, they behave as if they "had a right to dragoon and enslave fellow citizens as a kind of chemical experiment," and to do so "in a state of reverent agnosticism" about what may come of it (1, II). But against all that, we have something more than "wild words of despair" to hurl back at them, words snatched away in the cruel, relentless winds of change. We have, as Chesterton points out in his final chapter, the lessons of history, including the example "of all the millions who died to destroy Prussianism" and eventually (though he did not live to see it) Nazism. We have, more fundamentally, knowledge that the cries of the oppressed are etched deep "in the red granite of the wrath of God" and that the pleas of the righteous will not go unheard.
Which is to say, we have a firm hope in which to abide, a hope that never fails because the Love on which it is founded cannot fail. We have been told by the Architect of our salvation that their great tower, the tower they are building under supervision of the architect of man's fall, is built on sand; that the winds will blow and beat upon it, until it collapses in eternal ruin; that He himself will fell it with a single word. Already, wrote Chesterton in the conclusion to his magnum opus, The Everlasting Man, "we can see their brains reeling on every side and into every extravagance of ethics and philosophy; into pessimism and the denial of life; into pragmatism and the denial of logic; seeking their omens in nightmares and their canons in contradiction; shrieking for fear at the far-off sight of things beyond good and evil, or whispering of strange stars where two and two make five." Too true, all too true. "But the brain of the believer does not reel," for the believer has built his house upon the rock, which he will not forsake for a tottering tower.
That rock is the Man called Christ, "the Man Who Made the World," the everlasting Man who of old gave water to his people in the wilderness and today gives to the baptized, as Irenaeus says, "the power to drink spiritual waters, which spring up to life eternal." Anarchy from above will be met by judgment from on high, by the sharpened swords and scythes of the Cherubim. The thirst for life abundant will be slaked, not for the tyrant, but for the poor in spirit. The mighty will be cast down, the rich sent empty away. It is those who hunger and thirst for righteousness who shall be satisfied, and ascend the heights of heaven.
read Anarchy from Above, Part III