Conjuring Satan—False Transcendence and Counterfeit Words in an Age of War

1. The Ukraine War as an Ideological Struggle of Light and Dark

Shortly before she was murdered, Daria Dugin appeared in the documentary, Azovstal on YouTube (hedged with warnings, lest anyone believe its contents), by John Mark Dougan, an American living in Moscow these last six years, and former police officer and marine [a more stable link to the documentary, in case Youtube removes it]. The documentary is about the war that that has been waged by the Ukrainian government in the Donbas for some eight years and which has led to the people of the region joining the Russian federation.

For those who simply repeat the refrain of the Western media that people in the region are awaiting their liberation by NATO supplied and trained Ukrainian troops, and that the election that transpired there in October 2022 was rigged, I recommend they watch this documentary—perhaps they may also watch, while they are at it, another of Dougan’s YouTube presentations. This is a testimony by Maria Lelyanova. When she first met Dougan, she was a vehemently anti-Putin Russian liberal who took her news from Western outlets (apparently it is possible to do that in Russia). They got into a conversation about the war and Russia’s role in it—it was, she said, all Putin’s fault, and most Russians were either ignorant, or like her and her friends totally ashamed of their country and its aggression.

Having met Dougan and having been a liberal and strongly anti-Putin Russian who took her news from Western outlets (it is possible to do that in Russia), Lelyanova engaged in arguments with him about the war and Russia’s role in it. Dougan’s response was to ask her if she would be willing to accompany him to the Donbas region, and see the truth for herself. To her credit she agreed—whereupon she saw the state of devastation of the region and listened to stories that led her to conclude that everything the Western media had told her about what was going on in the Donbas was a lie; the anguish on her face throughout her discussion with Dougan bespeaks the horror she had just witnessed as she roamed and spoke with the people there.

As for Daria Dugin, she knew from the outset that the Western media was lying. Her interview with Dougan was, I believe, her last media appearance before her assassination. She conducted it within the shell of a bombed-out school—and spoke of the terrors inflicted by Ukrainian troops and the ethnic supremacist militia, which Western “journalists” occasionally reported on, prior to Western media owners and government officials deciding that such truths were not in the public’s interest, and the only story to tell was the duality—Ukraine government and anti-Russian Ukrainians very good freedom lovers vs. Russian government and most Russian people completely evil.

That line, combined with the unity of purpose of Western governments (including non-NATO members) in supplying weapons to the Zelensky government and Ukrainian army, and Western media, who supply the propaganda that Ukraine is winning, that Putin will die, or be toppled any second now by a popular uprising, etc.—lends support to Daria Dugin’s claim that this war has become far more than a regional war. And, indeed, given the causal chain that led to it, and given the anti-Russian machinations that convinced the Western public that Russia was seeking world conquest by toppling the United States of America, it appears it was planned to be an international event.

Early indicators of the international machinations by the West are evident in the CIA support for Chechen and other Islamist militarists operating in the Caucasus during the second Chechen War; Joe Biden’s senate resolution 322 of 2005, which acted specifically on behalf of two Russian oligarchs and criminals, and was really the prelude to the Magnitsky Act of 2016 (you know the one named after the martyr “lawyer” [sorry that is the word that the Irish citizen who lobbied for the Act, Bill Browder, deems to be an accurate descriptor for the word “accountant”], allowing for the seizure of Russian assets); the US pronouncement at the Bucharest Summit Declaration by NATO in 2008 that NATO supported Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO.

It was in that same year that the five-day Russian-Georgian war occurred. Having been the recipient of generous military funding and training by the US (as well as weapons from the then pro-Western Ukrainian government), Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili thought he had been given the green light to attack the autonomous republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

This decision led to Russia’s military response and the beginning of what was up until that moment a new low in post-Cold War Russian-US diplomatic relations. Saakashvili, by the way, is now in a Georgian prison doing time for corruption. But before that, thanks to the support of Ukrainian President Poroshenko, he had a stint as a Ukrainian politician in 2015-16, as governor of the Odesa Oblast, only to come into conflict with Poroshenko (with each accusing the other of corruption). He was subsequently kicked out of Ukraine, only to re-enter the country through Poland before he was kicked out yet again. Thereupon, he was granted permanent residency in the Netherlands, until his Ukrainian citizenship was restored a year later by Zelensky. But then he decided to sneak back into Tbilisi, where he was arrested. Funny old world, isn’t it, when such men are heroes?

Certainly, by the time of the Maidan of 2014, NATO and the US government and the EU had made sure, and the media had fallen in line with its reporting of the “Revolution of Dignity,” that Russia was a major threat to the West’s strategic interests; or more accurately the hegemony of values and priorities that suit the tastes and interests, the careers and prospects of the West’s ruling class and those whose professional careers are predicated on serving that class.

So, when Daria Dugin reported that this war was an ideological struggle between globalism, which she depicted as those who have marshalled and stand for the darkness, and its opponents, those who are fighting for light, she was expressing which values she stood for in the context of a war that should have remained regional, were it not for the incessant machinations of the globalist project of the Western world’s elites, and its dependents and enablers, from the government to the media to the universities and to the various covert and overt intelligence agencies, weapons manufacturers and military contractors, and the military itself.

Those who watch Daria Dugin and think that the Ukrainian army are fighting for freedom against the incursions of the evil Russian Vladmir Putin hell-bent on world conquest—first Ukraine, then the rest of Europe—if they were to watch this clip, they would think that this only confirmed how evil and deranged she was that she could have the truth in such reverse, and that she had lies like flies fly from her mouth.

The demonic, as Kierkegaard, was wont to say, is the truth in reverse, and the devil is also the Prince of Lies. The question is: who here speaks the language of the devil, whose mouths are full of (f)lies?

For her part, Daria Dugin had no compunction in using the kind of language that was once routinely used throughout Christendom, but which has now largely evaporated in the West along with the belief in hell or the devil. It is not the preferred language of the Western, ostensibly well-educated liberal progressive metro-cosmopolitan urbane class, which defers to what they consider to be the kind of abstractions that all good, true and beautiful people use, such as rights and morality (of which they are the paragons).

These same smooth-talking progressives now throw their lot in with the president of an oligarchical ethno-nationalist state, from which millions of ethnically impure people fled prior to the Special Military Operation or invasion (according to how you interpret the events since February 2022), that was beholden to its own neo-Nazi styled militia before it became an all-out war state. Its very existence owes much to those same smooth-talking sophisticates who used a combination of media outlets, private/corporate and public finance, and political meddling to assist the channeling of urban political regional interests into a military overthrow of a functioning, albeit undeniably corrupt democracy, which nevertheless was able to maintain the peace between groups that cohabitated and yet lived with deeply divided allegiances and historical memories, by allowing political, regionally different, interests to compete in elections. Given what has transpired in the last eight or so years in Ukraine, Daria Dugin’s language strikes me as reasonably apt, as the country has become a living hell for much of the population—though, as is always the case, those who create hell on earth, often have the resources to live in a better neighbourhood.

While our urban sophisticates generally want to leave God out of it, they purport to be not only the class who knows everything important about the way the world is and what can be done to make it even better, which is to say they not only know what can be done to make it totally inclusive, diverse and equitable, but to be motivated by love. As such, they are compelled to denounce all those enemies of humanity out there (such as Daria Dugin, before and after her murder, and her father, and of course, the least human of all alive today, Vladimir Putin). Their love requires the daily media outpouring of bile and brimstone toward any who do not share the fantasies that they see, or agree with, or who do not use the words, the spells and incarnations, they chant repeatedly to ensure mass psychosis and hypnosis: the defiant must be shut up, abused, dehumanized—or, as we still put it, in spite of our enlightened sophistication, demonized. But ideological language has always been but the secularized use of words to express the depth of faith of the ideologues who are prepared to kill and sacrifice their enemies to get their world and to designate those who are non-human.

In other words, the Western sophisticates agree with Daria Dugin that the war is not just a regional fight but a planetary ideological struggle between the light and the dark. The only difference being which is the force of light: the one that prefers old fashioned traditions like families and churches? Or the one with the rainbow flags in churches (see below), drag queens reading to kiddies in libraries, and proudly designating the pronouns they insist on being called by, as they denounce anyone and everyone as a racist who does not go along with this? Racist? Well, one can always rely upon Creepy Sleepy Joe—as Kevin of Kevin’s Corner has christened him—to let the cat out of the bag (recall him saying how his party had put together the greatest election fraud in history):

“We need to challenge the hundreds of callous and cynical laws introduced in the states targeting transgender children, terrifying families and criminalizing doctors who give children the care they need,” said Biden.

“We have to protect these children so they know they’re loved and we’ll stand up for them and so they can speak for themselves,” he added.

“Folks, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, they’re all connected!” he claimed.

“But the antidote to hate is love,” Biden continued.

And drugs. And surgery. And ensuring that every one of the members of medical, psychiatric, social work, and teachers associations and boards get on board (or lose their credentials and job) with the decision to not inform little Mary, who is a tom-boy, or little Johnny who likes to dress up in little girls’ clothes that this is probably a phase that a lot of children go through, but instead join children in their fantasy whilst locking them inside a destiny laid out by the Big Medical and Pharmaceutical Complex pushing expensive and life-altering surgery and drugs.

Not only that, these same interests are determined to prevent the parents of these children from having any say in the matter. And that’s because, as the President, who could barely get thirty or forty people to attend his meet-and-greets when he stepped out of the basement to campaign before becoming the most electorally successful President in the history of the United States, himself says (albeit in more mealy-mouthed words) to not push for drugs and surgery is not only hateful but racist.

Now, it is true that Joe knows a thing or two about racism—Kamala Harris certainly thought so when she was telling other Democrats and the world why he would not make a fit President because he was a…. (nudge-nudge, wink-wink), and were he alive I am sure his old pal, who also knew a thing or two about racism, Senator Robert Byrd and KKK organizer and member, might be able to set us straight and confirm that if we don’t believe Joe we too are haters, and racists. That is the kind of reasoning and love that preside with the leading forces of the West’s light.

Forgive me, but I spent some forty years reading the greatest minds who have every put pen to paper, and when I try to make sense of the intricacies of the dialectics of imbecility—of which Joe is truly a master—I always need to hammer away at a few thousand brain cells. But the dialectic of imbecility, and the love and reasons, and the words that drive it, is nothing other than fake words, fake reasons and fake love. And those whose livelihoods and power is predicated upon the cultural triumph of the dialectics of imbecility also require ensuring that anyone who thinks what they are doing is as preposterous as it is politically and culturally deadly are to be deemed as haters, and hence to be punished for engaging in hate speech. Yes, indeed—the truth in reverse.

The underlying question of this lengthy and far roaming discussion that links this great evil of our time with the diabolical fakery of words (lies) and transcendence is—to whom and to what is that love directed? That was the great question of Augustine who grasped that our loves are the weights that bear us to where we are in our lives and worlds. There is no doubt the team represented by the Empires of Lies is built on love—for all worlds, all realities to which we contribute are built upon our loves; for our loves are the springs of our action. But while the Beatles in their youthful exuberance sang, “All You Need is Love,” one could hardly expect a pop group to be sufficiently well-versed in Augustine or Dante (though I think Bob and Leonard were, even in their younger days), to explore how love of the self and the things of the world are precisely why the world is the way it is. That’s why love and hate are not merely antipathetical but part of a continuum—to love God, His creation, His laws, and His gifts is to hate the devil and vice-versa (albeit demonic creation is, again as Augustine said, always privative, always negation and defacement).

2. A War Built on Lies and Conspiracies of Liars

Before, though, I dig deeper into the matter of love, and the central love—that of the self—that conjures up Satanic powers, let me just pause further upon the way in which this war has been built on lies—and lies obviously include the use of silence to conceal truth—and the use of force to defend lies, or for those with a more religiously attuned sensibility, let’s observe more of the (f)lies spread by those who serve the Prince of Lies.

As I argued in a previous essay, Putin, sadly, was telling the truth when he called the West an Empire of Lies, run by liars. He was calling out the fact that the leaders of the West were completely indifferent to the truth that Ukraine had been mired in a civil war for some eight years that had provided NATO with the opportunity to train and supply an army, that had long thrown off any concealment of serving the entire Ukrainian population, ready to take that war to another level, as it marshalled in excess of 100,000 men on the borders of the Donbas. The imminence of turning the autonomous regions of Donetsk and Luhansk into a killing field that would have made the previous 14000 or so dead (that is the usual number cited) pale into insignificance compared to what in all likelihood was about to happen as the self-declared autonomous regions were about to face a full escalation of destruction.

But this essential trigger behind Russia’s actions was never reported by the mainstream media or discussed by a political class who spoke as if all of a sudden that imperial itch which has possessed those nasty Russians from time immemorial and Vladimir Putin ever since he was a boy torturing flies and cats, inexplicably seized power of a country that had been doing so swimmingly well, a country mired in a war with Chechnya and its terrorists, subjected to the rapacious brutality of the mafia, oligarchs, and Western grifters plundering Russia’s bargain basement priced formerly state controlled resources.

Inane as the lie was, though, it worked because it was sold to a population who take pride in their knowledge, even when they know nothing (but I am getting ahead of myself for this is the very essence of the satanic), and sold by those who are so caught up in their lies that they generally believe them, too. That is because they have cleverly built a world of mirrors which reflects back the lies they speak to themselves, to each other, and to the population who takes their information from them.

Funny wasn’t it, how the mainstream media predicted the war, even down to trying to identify the exact day of invasion, whilst being silent on the massive deployment of Ukrainian troops on the Donbass, as if that deployment were nothing—but again the demonic specializes in making as much of nothing, as it does nothing of much.

Likewise, Western reporters and pundits, in the main, thought nothing of the fact that the Minsk agreement had meant nothing except as an excuse for doing nothing about people being bombed and killed in their homes—in a recent interview in Die Zeit, Angela Merkel has said, what should have appeared obvious to anyone who thought about what was going on “over there,” that being a signatory to the agreement had just been a way of buying time, so Ukraine, with NATO help, could build up its army.

I do not believe one Western journalist prior to the civil war becoming a war between nations had ever thought that the people of the Donbas region were intending to massacre the majority of the Ukrainian population and were arming themselves to go out and conquer Kiev. The population in the Donbas, because of their historical memories and attachments was, though, not a population in which the government in Kiev had the slightest interest in protecting. But it was a population which wanted to protect itself from a government and the various ultra-ethnic nationalist militias, who were pushing for ever more political persecution, and the continuation of ethnic cleansing that their national hero Stefan Bandera had engaged in when collaborating with the Nazis.

Though, unfortunately for the people of these regions, they happened to live in the “industrial heartland of Ukraine”—which accounts for some 80% of Ukraine’s oil, natural gas and coal reserves, and vast deposits of precious minerals and metals, as well as rare earth minerals essential for so much modern technology, so the option of being left alone was not going to fly with a kleptocratic class that had allied its interests with ethnic purists. Of course, those who blame the Russians claim that these resources are the real reason for Russia’s invasion—the problem with that, though, is everything else we have been talking about. Which once again is indicative of this event being conducted by the West’s appeal to truths in reverse.

The epithet “Empire of Lies” applies as much to the European Union as the USA, with its preposterous claims (deluded self-understanding?) of being a force for peace, a soft-power, when it suits its interests (to spend money on projects that make it an ever-greater imperial force) whilst also being a supporter of other people fighting their wars because it suits the West’s larger program. All of the West’s warehouses, full of human rights research, draft documents, protocols, treaties and covenants mattered not a jot when there was a coup in 2014, or a killing-fields about to happen. If the EU had been useless in stopping the horrors of the Balkans in the 1990s (keeping its hands clean by belatedly coming in to try the war criminals it held responsible and to broker peace deals), on this occasion they were going to be far more proactive, and go all out in support of the ethnic-nationalist state—and the Neo-Nazis, which, of course, for the West do not really exist outside of the diabolical imaginations of Vladimir the evil one and his minions. That is probably why the USA, Germany and Italy are among the 50 countries that voted against the proposed resolution put by Russia opposing the glorification of Nazism. But why would the West care? Ukraine is a democratic state, and its decisions to close down Russian-speaking media and schools, to allow its ethnic militia to infiltrate its institutions and sabotage any change of reassuming more peaceable ties with Russia (that was Zelensky’s mandate), and now just recently raiding and closing down Ukrainian Orthodox Churches (UOC—Ukraine’s largest denomination), are just the kind of realist pebbles in the diplomatic shoes that imperial Western powers have to deal with as they race ahead, dreaming up and filling up treaties, covenants and the like, devoted to “human rights.”

These issues indicate the problems that the West has in presenting itself as the force of human goodness is that there is no consistency other than its right to dictate what “good” and “evil” are in the world. To someone who takes good and evil seriously this is exactly the way that people intending evil behave—they say what suits them when it suits them, rather than inflect their speech in deference to what they know to be true. Truth may shine in its own light, but it is darkness that requires the extinction of speech which would light up what transpires in its coverings.

The war, as in so much that has preceded it in the West, has also proceeded by way of censorship and denunciation—perhaps in a time of open warfare this would be considered a state of exception. But there is no declaration of war by the US or European powers, and the control of speech in the West is no longer anything exceptional. And everything of significance concerning this war is proceeding under cover of darkness—the main stream media refuses to allow any serious discussion of why Russia is at war, and simply ignores news that shows a very different side to the violence committed during the war. Who in the West, for example, would know that Marianna Vyshemirsky, the pregnant woman photographed, early in the war, in the Mariupol hospital which had just been shelled, and whose picture was sent all over the globe as an example of Russian brutality and cruelty, is now a Russian citizen supporting the Russian war effort? At the time the photo was taken, she was critical of the Ukrainian government and army—but her account of events was spun into an attack upon Russia and a tribute to Ukrainian bravery and determination.

Or, let’s pause upon the biggest story of the moment, a story which our media and the US government are attempting to hide/bury—the story of FTX, the biggest case of financial fraud since Enron, and political graft possibly since ever. It is a story that ranges from straight-out fraud and political and media coverup, to corrupting scientific research and influencing public policy, to bankrolling politicians, primarily, though not only, the Democratic party (FTX was the second biggest donor to the Democrats), and its progressive causes, to money laundering and this war. It is a story with a cast of characters so wide that no Netflix Series could do justice to the telling, from Sam the vegan and his parents (his Mum being a Hilary lawyer) and goofy poly-girlfriend Carolyn Ellison and her parents to (gee golly gosh, heavens to Betsy, well I never) the Clintons (and probably their parents), and the Bidens and Tony Blair and…. you and I both want this essay to have an ending, so let’s just say lots and lots of powerful and wealthy people.

In any case, as soon as the collapse was made public, along with the money-laundering, connections to the war and the political loop to the Democrats was being talked about, the factcheckers and Google algorithm manipulators were setting everyone straight that there was no money laundering going on because those who one would consider involved, like members of the Ukrainian government, and the various political recipients of FTX money, and honest Sam himself had said it just wasn’t so. Though back in March of this year, that is before the FTX collapsed and before those who make up the facts that pass their own factchecking set to work on the straight story, there was a story in CoinDesk with the headline, “Ukraine Partners With FTX, Everstake to Launch New Crypto Donation Website: FTX is converting crypto contributions to Ukraine’s war effort into fiat for deposit at the National Bank of Ukraine.” It continued:

“Ukraine Partners With FTX, Everstake to Launch New Crypto Donation Website: FTX is converting crypto contributions to Ukraine’s war effort into fiat for deposit at the National Bank of Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian government launched a new crypto donations website on Monday, streamlining its multimillion-dollar effort to turn Bitcoin into bullets, bandages and other war materiel.

Aid for Ukraine,” which has the backing of crypto exchange FTX, staking platform Everstake and Ukraine’s Kuna exchange, will route donated crypto to the National Bank of Ukraine, Everstake’s Head of Growth Vlad Likhuta told CoinDesk. Ukraine’s crypto-savvy Ministry of Digital Transformation is also involved.”

It will probably take years before anything like the full extent of this particular labyrinth of lies and fraud and endless shell-companies, and players making an incalculable number of decisions involving other people performing an incalculable number of legally dubious to out-right criminal tasks will be sufficiently public enough to be more than a salacious story of youthful folly, gaming and sex, buried amidst a blur of complexity, mostly to be cordoned off, when it gets interesting, into the financial pages.

In the meantime Bankman-Fried has finally been taken into custody in the Bahamas (which some say may well have been done to make sure he does not have to answer harder questions at the congressional hearing he is meant to appear before). And the big question is: will he be suicided like Jeffrey Epstein, or can he just keep his mouth shut in a mid-level prison with vegetables, video games, porn and drugs?

Only a week or so earlier, the New York Times had Bankman-Fried appear along with other illustrious global leaders, including the man of the year himself, Zelensky, and Zuckerberg, Janet Yellen, the actor Ben Affleck, and the CEO of Blackrock, as part of its DealBook Summit. But my readers might be thinking, but this is a heck of a digression from the war and the diabolical nature of our Western world.

Sadly, though, it is only a digression in so far as the entire story the media chooses to tell is to ensure that everything they say about FTX, which is actually very little, is a digression from the real story of politicians being funded by an enormous financial fraud and money laundering scheme that reaches from the globalist party of the US (that also allows for the RINO’s on the take—presently the press is trying to make it look as if Sam gave away donations to all parties equally, lest one suspect that the money was used to push certain liberal progressive globalist causes) to Ukraine and back. And then there is the possibility it just may have been crafted to ensure that there is no way to escape a social credit surveillance society, and the globally regulated digitalization of money that crypto has threatened to destabilize. That this objective and the objective of Russian regime change are mere variations within the greater objective—a liberal progressive globalist world feudal system, as laid out in the Great Reset and Agenda 2030. That’s the big conspiracy—well, actually it is not really a conspiracy—it is openly stated.

The conspiracies are all those everyday meetings, plannings and activities which don’t make it into the light of day, because none thinks their objectives would be better met if knowledge about them were more public. And now that the mainstream and tech media and intelligence agencies have conspired to suppress investigative reporting that reports the “wrong”—i.e., unapproved—”facts,” they can sleep comfortably in the knowledge that even if someone finds out and tells the world, they won’t be heard, though they often involve “lies” and making nothing of much—like people’s life-time savings, efficient energy systems and a reliable food supply—and much of nothing really important—take your pick from all the great “nothings” that are supposed to keep the planet and us safe from extinction—the capacities of solar and wind power to provide all the energy we will ever need, wearing masks and taking vaccines so we will be “safe,” and the pedagogical and institutional commitment to great big abstractions which dictate policy, emancipation, equity and the like. Conspiracies, conspiracies?

Sorry, of course, there were no people conspiring to do such dastardly things as deceive the Russian Federation into believing that NATO would not expand into its environs, or plot and achieve a coup in Ukraine, or start persecuting and killing Ukrainians who identified themselves as ethnically connected with Russia, or tell lies about how Russia had interfered in the US election of 2016 to such an extent that it had created the vilest succubus to ever hold presidential office, an orange haired Hitler no less, who even said he wanted to be able to cooperate with Russia, or to ensure that people would think that the information revealed on Hunter Biden’s laptop was all planted by Russians, or to ensure that people who argued the case for NATO’s role in causing the war be subjected to algorithms making their work appear conspiracy theory/Putin stooge crazy.

Likewise there was no conspiracy to ensure that President Trump would be barred from social media; nor to ensure that others who wanted to use social media to argue against mandatory vaccines be de-platformed or cast out of their profession; nor to denounce, or de-platform, sack, or incarcerate people who think Black Lives Matter is socially divisive and destructive agit prop rather than the truth; or who beg to differ on the claim that every girl or woman who thinks she is a boy or man is really a he, or who might think that the formerly he—now—she should not be in a woman’s toilet, sports-team, prison, or woman’s beauty pageant; or who think that it is not hateful to distinguish between gender and fantasy; or who think free speech means tolerating speech that goes against the new dictates on which words or their use are hateful and are a call to outright violence. For while people may well, spontaneously come up with very bad and mad ideas, to dictate which ideas be stamped as “true,” even ones as crazy as that sexual organs don’t really mean anything when it comes to sexual identity (now confirmed by no less an authority than the Cambridge Dictionary)—when it comes to enforcing and policing narratives, or implementing action within certain institutions, social spaces or media, requires panels meeting to decide which narratives, words, ideas are to be tolerated and which are to be identified as in need of being censored.

No matter how much our ruling classes bandy the term “conspiracy theory” about to shut people up by shaming them for being idiots in believing what their eyes and ears might reveal rather than the corporate media, there have been conspiracies aplenty alright, and they have all involved threats and coercion, misinformation and disinformation. And they have all been done in the name of freedom and democracy. As I write this, the mainstream media hatred being directed toward Elon Musk for releasing the so called “Twitter Files” is only matched by its utter inability to care about the magnitude of the particular conspiring that was going on at Twitter between political stakeholders, state intelligence officials and its management—which also just happened to include some very high-up former state officials—about who and what to censor or shadow ban.

Is this the world—a world in which our political class, our media and the majority of our intelligentsia simply demand they be believed and obeyed, in spite of speaking out of ignorance and/or outright lies—that those warred against Nazis (or spoke out against communists) fought for?

One person who thinks not is Youtuber and journalist Mark Jones, a former British citizen also living in Russia, who reports under the name iEarl Grey. In a podcast with John Dougan, Jones made the salient point that he is continuing the same fight as his grandfather, who fought against the Nazis. I cannot help but agree with him. And with echoes of Daria Dugin, he adds, “I don’t need to be an ideological citizen to see the ideological battle that is being fought. We have the degraded Western democracies of the West, the collective West, with their pronouns, with their trans rights. I call it Godlessness. This to me is the same war my grandfather fought. And simply I cannot side with Nazis. To support them would be to betray my grandfather’s memory and the honour of all those who fought in the Great Patriotic War. So, to me this isn’t about what country you are from; it is about whether you choose the side of light with Christian orthodoxy on the one side, or whether we choose darkness and the satanism of the West.”

I have formerly said that I do not see Russia or China as “saving” the West, for I think the West as such has been devoured by its own darkness. I am less interested in concurring that Russia as such represents the light, than emphasizing that the West is being devoured by its own darkness, by its own satanic conjurings—and this is also what the Russian and Chinese political leadership sees.

3. Why Talk of Satanism—or, Why Even Non-Religious People Can Learn from Religious Language

For those who recoil from such starkly religious language as expressed by Mark Jones and Daria Dugin, or, God forbid, Alex Jones or the writers in the Epoch Times or E. Michael Jones and many others who have devoted their lives to struggling against the West’s self-mutilation and conscious Luciferian decision and descent, I would ask your forbearance and willingness to consider that the deployment of such language is not simply or even exclusively based upon a faith and in a doctrine and teaching which one may or may not have, but a realization that the language bereft of the figurative imaginative power is less able to assist us in grasping reality.

The philosopher G.W. F. Hegel wisely saw the relationship between grasping and concepts—in the German, they share the same stem—and he also, again wisely, saw that conceptualizing follows our figuring through images, rites and the representations of religious belief. But where some like Herder, Hamann, (and my good and humble self) beg to differ with Hegel’s conviction that the concepts of reason provide a more accurate and adequate expression of the real than our faculty of imag(in)ing. Hamann had made the powerful observation that faith trumps knowledge—though Hegel had built his entire philosophy in arguing the opposite against various proponents who had believed they had identified reason’s limits.

But unlike the various targets of Hegel’s criticism (Kant, J.G. Fichte, F.W.J. Schelling, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Friedrich Jacobi), Hamann was not arguing that faith leads him to knowing more important things than what knowledge yields—but rather that faith is the condition of us being able to go in search of our knowledge and mount our reasons. That is why, Hegel’s philosophy requires the very thing that is its own ruin—a total system—while Hamann’s thought is content to pick holes in the metaphysical towers of Babel he saw the philosophers around him constructing, whilst combing satire, irony and a concession of ignorance with a philological and hermeneutical attunement to history and his own environment.

No serious faith is predicated on theology, or philosophical argument—those things come later. A faith informs and forms a life; the life of oneself and the life of those who bond with and around their faith. To understand what faiths do, requires looking at where faith has been a source of action and how it has cultivated the natural habits and sentiments. There is nothing special about faith itself—it is as J. G. Hamann insisted, an essential part of what we are—if you will, it is an ontological condition. The issue is: which faith? (Which is, but a variant on what/who to love?)

All religions—and all the language that finds religious modulation and expression, which is to say all language which not only speaks to but which is bound up with personal and social creation as it is borne by devotion, rite, ritual, incantation, supplication, and the moods of exhilaration, despair, despondency and love—deal with the arc from life to death. This is the case not only for individuals but for collectives who share that language and sense of what is to be revered and shunned, and hence of how that collective and its members live, what it holds sacred.

The tragedy and sorrow of the West today, which is of such a magnitude that anything resembling salvation cannot simply come from politics, but only from a complete redirection of faith, which is the real source of culture and the meaning of our collective and personal lives, comes from the faith that it has adopted. That faith along with the crisis of the West has been diagnosed by countless thinkers, each of whom have identified different aspects of it. To mention just a very small portion—Eric Voegelin, for example, addressed the gnostic roots; Leo Strauss, the scientistic displacement of classical wisdom; Heidegger its preoccupation with beings and technics at the expense of openness to Being; Chesterton and Belloc, the loss that accompanied the defeats of the Church; or Jacques Ellul, our worship of power and its mechanics.

While I have framed the crisis of our time in terms of a geo-political spatial entity, “the West,” the fact is that Western civilization was ever poised between turmoil, destruction, death, and a creative spirit that expanded and conjoined those in search of greater—a universal kind of—solidarity. Crisis is ever with us; or to use religious language, our souls are ever on the verge of being lost, and the devil and sin never far away.

The issue of our time is not so much the ever-permanent presence of the forces of destruction, war, pestilence, and our own tortured and torturing hearts, but the added layer of delusion and deceit that are not just discernible in our practices but in how we speak and (don’t) see what we are or what we do. In such a world of self-delusion and self-imposed blindness my heart breaks for the generation of lost souls of the young so caught up in their wrath and fanaticism that they seriously think that once the weather is under their control and they can have the sex organs of their choice, and that they can enjoy themselves unconditionally—be fully emancipated—all will be well. They are so f’d up and they have been made that way—and they think they can fix up the world, when they would, if I may defer to Jordan Peterson, be better off just learning how to tidy up their bedrooms, and then going and reading a serious book or two, or doing the gardening or something else useful, because thanks to the failure of the last generation so many are not capable of doing anything other than throwing tantrums and pulling down statues, burning books, and buildings and denouncing people for lacking their approved “virtues.” To say that we are in the grip of Satanism is only far-fetched if one has no idea that Satanism is the worship of death and the killing of our God-given or (for the naturalists, natural) potentialities.

Dostoevsky and Baudelaire both understood that the devil is a smooth-talking, urban sophisticate oozing charm and wit. Baudelaire and Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov were themselves too intelligent to believe in God, but that did not stop them being visited by the devil; the demonic—as with the hellfire of war—is like that; he just comes in, irrespective of what we think or believe. And that is the condition we find ourselves in. We live in a world where evil masks itself under the very abstractions that serve to conceal intentions beneath the grander sounding norms we venerate. That is, our kind of intelligence is purchased by sacrificing the most elemental apertures of the species’ intellection—the eye and the ear—and the symbolic imagination, as it combines our most important communal associations of life and death. We also live in a time when we are oblivious to how what we worship and say is an invitation to our own collective and personal demise. We summon the demon who speaks to us in soothing tones, because we think we are so very clever. That faith in our cleverness is closely bound up with the displacement of our daily acts of transcendence in favour of descent into our own appetites and innards of destruction, assisted at every step by the words and formulae that we draw upon to drive us ever further down there.

4. Satanism as a Romance with the Self (and the Warring Members that Make it)

The difference between Paul’s description of the flesh as made up of warring members and Freud’s depiction of the Id is negligible in so far as they both identify our appetites as tumultuous and destructive. But where Paul sees our salvation in becoming members of Christ’s Church, being born anew in Christ, Freud holds out the prospect of a rational cultivation of our most potentially destructive appetites which will make us more fulfilled and complete.

As convinced as Freud was of his intelligence, diagnosis, and psychiatric cure for our discontents, many would say that he sought the impossible—for there is no rational cultivation of our appetites as such, merely rationalizations about why we might succumb to our appetites. That even Freud knew they had to be curbed was the basis of his Eros and Civilization, and that they could be connected to the death drive (the demonic) of Beyond the Pleasure Principle. The great political and social question facing every group is where must they be curbed? And the respective answers to that inevitably draw us into what does the group hold as sacred—which might also be put thus: What do we accept as having unconditional authority over us? Knowing the answer to that question—which can also be formulated as which God(s) do we serve—is essential for identifying why a particular “life-world” (to use the term of Edmund Husserl) is the way it is. The respective answers we can find in the West of a mere few generations back compared to today provide the key to what we have become. But allow me an anecdote that I think provides an important cipher about what the educated professional classes of the West hold sacred.

Last night, I went to a concert given in a Uniting Church. The concert was beautiful—two harpists with glorious voices. On the wall behind the performers was a huge cross, though Jesus was not on the cross—and no image of Him was to be seen in the church. Beneath the cross lay a huge gay pride flag. A smaller version of the flag was to be found on the window as one entered the church. The symbolism was all too evident, though I have zero doubt that those involved in making the decision thought that they were good people making a statement about their commitment to diversity and inclusivity. They may well find aspects of the Christian tradition to their liking, though I am also sure that they find much that is merely the “prejudice” of a more “ignorant” time, and they most likely believe that their faith in diversity and inclusivity is divinely intended. I also suspect that Christ’s absence not only from the cross but this church had to do with the belief that God is beyond gender—and, at least prior to transgenderism requiring a complete overhaul of pronouns, quite possibly a she—though it is hard to spin Jesus Christ in his earthly incarnation as not being a man. Perhaps, for them, the absence of Christ suggests Christ redeemed. In any case, he would be among the supporters of LGBTQ+ because they, in case one had not noticed, are still persecuted; and to deny the right to hang the pride flag in the church or on government buildings would only confirm how much hatred still exists toward members of this community.

That they might not be able to fly this flag in the mosque does not stop the same people denouncing those who would deny that it should be flown in a sacred space as homophobic, being able to swiftly change gear and denouncing as Islamophobic someone who also might point out that Muslim countries are far less tolerant of LGBTQ+ things, and that if they tried it on there, they probably would be getting, at the very least, a very long jail sentence. Comparative cultural understanding—as opposed to blathering meaningless formulae, such as the importance of respecting all cultures—does not figure very highly among the inclusivity and diversity ethic. But this is why the Vice Chancellor at my university can urge all students staff to celebrate Ramadan one day, whilst encouraging all to participate in LGBTQ+ week celebrations the next. He was particularly proud of the drag queen participation to kick off this year’s annual Christmas party.

I also have no doubt that had I spoken up and said I thought the use of a church to fly a pride flag was not only dumb, and a tasteless, political and bullying gesture directed at traditionalists, but an act of sacrilege, I would most likely have been hissed at, and most assuredly asked to leave. The people who made this decision to hang the flag beneath the cross think that it is not only acceptable but a sign of their goodness and their faith that the wall of their church be adorned with a huge flag to a group bonded by its sexual choices.

That the flag itself is one which is equated in its symbolism with the word “pride” is itself indicative of the great importance, indeed as its placement illustrated, the sanctity that is now placed upon our sexual appetites. The way in which sexuality features in contemporary Western culture and daily life is an interesting symptom of the difference between us and previous generations.

Sexuality in itself within the Christian tradition belongs to “mere nature”—although nature is construed as being divinely created—rather than belonging to the sacred as such; and it was only in the holy bonds of matrimony that it took on the form of a sacrament. That is, apart from the fact that Christians (and Jews and Muslins for that matter) have traditionally condemned same-sex practice, there is a more important point that I think is the source of serious social disintegration and civil strife. For my point is not about whether same-sex practice is moral or not, but where sexual appetite itself now figures in the order and scale of values, and in the ordering and configuring of our institutions; also, whether sex is something that is done or something to be sacralized. This is where I believe the real social division around sexuality—in all manner of variations—sits today: there is not a dispute within public institutions about whether people, of a certain age, may express their sexual preference, but whether a particular type of sexual preference should be a source of a certain kind of sacredness. That kind of sacredness is itself predicated upon a particular view of the self, which is itself symptomatic of an orientation to life that defies its “laws”/orders—for it is the defiance of life’s laws, made under the presumption that the self is the creator of its own laws.

The most important poem in the English language, Paradise Lost, took this act of revolutionary defiance as its central theme—the fall as the result of pride; the result of the created aspiring to take control of creation; the angel taking the place of God. Blake, Shelley, and Byron would all see Milton’s Satan as a heroic figure, though while it is indisputable that Satan gets all the best lines in Paradise Lost, Milton’s depiction of Satan is not in the slightest bit flattering. Milton’s Satan is a creature of restless being, and endless suffering. His sole solace is the words he tells himself. They themselves are but the delusions of a self that flies to become what he cannot be; in search of escape from the prison of a self—a prison that is completely of his own making. It is a great fall, to go from being one of God’s favourites to a lowly slithering creature seeking to tempt others into sharing the same ambitious delusions that have made a hell of his own self. There is, in sum, nothing heroic in Satan’s actions—his words are all heat and light, putrid sulfur; and his deeds are nothing more than restlessness, accompanied by words.

For his part, God does not need great lines—His word is creation itself. The modern mind may wish to elevate to a heroic station a being who is a king over nothing but his own torment, and may recoil from Milton’s expression of faith, but the poem is an expression of faith. And while it is also an attack upon the abuse of prerogative political power, and rightly so given how the doctrine of the divine right of kings had so easily become a formula in defiance of Christian duty, rather than a means for delivering it—it is much more a prophetic poem of what happens when man seeks an infinite universe and ignores the finitude and fragility of his own being.

Milton may have been hailed by the romantics, but he was no romantic. Nevertheless, if one wishes to understand the modern soul, one cannot underestimate the importance of the romantic consciousness—and that consciousness would be responsible for valorizing various priorities in what we now value and how we now act, by calling for others to join in the creative ambitions they held.

It was also the romantic consciousness that valorized the demonic on the basis of Satan being the arch rebel, not only against God, but against the order of creation itself. In 1797 the literary critic Friedrich Schlegel noted the “tendency of modern poetry to Satanism.” When Schlegel made this note, Blake had already written the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, whilst Goethe would follow shortly after with the publication of Faust, a work which provides a definitive formulation of the demonic—the spirit of negation—and then Baudelaire and his lyric masterpiece, The Flowers of Evil, with its section devoted to Satan’s Revolt. That is to say, the leading poets of Great Britain (Blake, Shelley and Byron), Germany, and France all made the devil intrinsic to modern “redemption.”

Just as words are the currency in which past and future are inflected via the priorities of the present, poets excel in their ability both to gauge the value and efficacy of that tender, at the moment of its circulation, and to combine those words in ways which elevate our sensitivity to what really is and what thus must also be. Shelley may have been overstating it somewhat, and mistaking the modern poet with the Homeric bards, when he said that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, but only somewhat. For the master craftsmen of the word introduce new coin that when potent enough becomes part of our everyday life and way of living: for good and ill, our priorities owe much not only to the sexual revolution of the 1960s but the modern bards with guitars who have been our pied pipers into this world we now inhabit. They are late pieces of ballast from the Romantic revolution; and I confess I love much of their creation, but I cannot deny that so many of the most creative musical minds and performers of the last fifty years have sided with and enthused those who are making merry hell, and their muddled musings whether coke-baked or merely the produce of narcissistic self-delusion have invariably supported the present ruling class that is creating a world of slavery in the name of freedom. Van Morrison, God bless him, and Eric Clapton have made themselves hated today by speaking out against the hellish conformity that our ruling political class is building. But poets and musicians have contributed to the fueling of the Heroic/Satanic defiance which has made the Self the be-all and end-all of existence.

That defiance was also the defining gesture of an age which had emerged from the first anti-Christian revolution and was limping toward the first openly atheistic revolution—ironically enough given the range of this essay, it is noteworthy that it is that country, having consciously thrown off its atheistic and communist past, that is now considered the source of all today’s evil by Western powers whose attack upon the truths revealed through traditional Christianity is a centre-piece in the strategy of their “world-making.”

Revolution was both a product of an enlightened age wishing to overturn crown and altar and all traditions which were not created by reason’s light, and the romantic age that sought to unleash the vitality of darker powers and passions in order to bring into existence a world that was as sublime as the artistic creations of the geniuses of the spirit. On the surface romanticism was a reaction to the excess of faith in light of an earlier generation; but it was also primarily a family squabble within the modern soul, a fraternal reaction, in which genius was “the middle term,” the genius who could fathom and express all. In the one, the scientists were the geniuses who could plot the mechanics of the world that could be incorporated into medicine and the various physical structures of the world and ourselves to build a better one for our needs. In the other, the world was to be an artistic occasion for those with the vision and insight and knowledge to also build anew. Though, unlike the philosophes many of them seemed far less ready to ditch tradition, for they appreciated it was a repository of experience and knowledge, and they would find sustenance in myth because it expressed knowledge of intimations and things closer to the nether aspects of our being. But in the main, and with occasional notable exceptions of genuine religious conversion, tradition was not itself something that should fetter the genius of the poetic creator; and its more typical legacy was to have fellow artists view traditions as syncretistic aesthetic opportunities. Romantics and the enlightened philosophes were both engaged in building the world out of the vicissitudes of the self as a god in its own right.

Carl Schmitt had astutely observed this in his book Political Romanticism when he wrote of the centrality of J.G. Fichte’s egoic philosophy in romanticism. For Fichte, the world is but the fact-act of the postulating and ever acting I; and the world but the occasion for that act. Having noted how the romantics were “fond of perceiving themselves as members of a higher organism,” Schmitt continues: “Just as in the schism between reality and possibility and between finitude and infinity, the community and history had availed themselves of functions that, in Christian metaphysics, belonged to God, here too they became the true cause for which everything else is only an occasion. Closer examination shows, however, that it is neither of these two demiurges—humanity and history—but rather the romantic subject itself that takes everything as an occasion. Here the opposition of romantic productivity to the activity that Fichte’s ‘ego’ postulates is the appropriate point of departure for the exposition of the romantic character. That is because this Fichtean ‘ego’ became the romantic subject.”

Revolution was another common thread between enlightenment and romanticism. The dialectical character of that relationship, as well as its revolutionary commitment, is visible in the kinds of contradiction that are typical of the modern radical imagination and which are starkly evident in the contemporary mythologizing and “romanticising” of indigenous life, of natural wilderness and of the energy provided by the sun and wind, on the one hand, and faith in science and social and emancipation progress—”I believe in the science”—on the other. It is the contradiction that breeds Extinction Rebellion and a society in which surgical tampering (and hence highly developed science) with genitals and vaccines is seen as essential commitment to emancipation; a society in which an entire population can be forced to wear masks because nature is a threat to our very existence, and one in which all things natural are to be esteemed so that the mere Anthropocene can be seen as a kind of cancer upon infinitely wonderous and sacred nature, a society in which the drive for total emancipation exists side-by-side with the drive to ensure none not comply with technocratic dictates. In sum, it is a society that in wanting to have everything is prepared to leave so many with nothing – perhaps mere organ assemblages to be harvested for the new transhumanist gods, or brain implants that will be able to be programmed to do the bidding of those doing the transplanting.

The revolutionary mindset that united the men and women of clarity and distinctness, of light and mind, and the students of the mechanical parts and laws of existence, with those devoted to discerning and expressing the darker and more chiaroscuro truths disclosed by myth and stemming from heart and passions, as Camus pointed out in his brilliant and important mid-20th century work L’Homme révolté, was above all a metaphysical revolt, a revolt predicated upon the deities of our own mental imaginings responding to the inevitable trials and habitual unfairness that comes with life; not rebellions we undertake against specific injustices.

Camus had rightly also identified the primary importance of the Marquis de Sade within this call for metaphysical rebellion—for de Sade wanted nothing less than the entire annihilation of the world, if that were necessary to satiate his infinite libidinous energy. It was, albeit unintentionally, a position that mirrored the philosopher Kant’s insistence that justice must be done even if the entire world were to perish. Neither was interested in modulating his passions (Sade) or ideas (Kant) to the requisite adaptations of life’s craggy contingencies. The dialectic of the modern satanic and moral purist (as expressed by Kant philosophically, and the Jacobins politically) eventually yielded a mindset in which absolute emancipation and absolute justice were perfectly congruent, and the body and it sexual organs were to provide the point of “indifference.”

Total freedom construed appetitively (Sadean and not-Kantian), and complete virtue unsullied by appetites (Kantian and not-Sadean) has become the West’s sacred temple—which is to say the temple is the self, the self, though as it conforms to what it is supposed to be—virtuous and fully committed to total emancipation, which is also to say a self that is compliant with what the satanic heroic rebels define it to be.

The monument to that dialectical resolution was the totalitarian revolutions of the 20th century, the children of which are the people who seek to completely rebuild the world so that it conforms to their ideas about emancipation. Their intellectual “leaders” invariably recognize the Marxian and post-Marxian “mother” (total critique in search of complete emancipation), but largely ignore (mainly through ignorance or willful decision not to confront inconvenient truths) the absent/unseen fascistic “father” (corporatism and “communities” bound by leadership). To be sure, both built obedience around the cult of the leader; and today’s globalised corporatist powers have retained the primacy of compliance with the decrees of leaders, whilst, quite cleverly leaving the primary leaders to remain rather faceless (though the narcissistic temptation to be loved and seen does afflict many of the more prominent ones).

Thus, just as the modern elite, as I have suggested many times in this magazine, reconciles communism and aristocratism of Marx and Nietzsche by having radicalised foot-soldiers tear down traditional authority in the name of equality, the power of the most wealthy is enhanced by their purporting to represent the interests of their clients, which is to rebel against the existing order of oppression. That representation relies upon those very foot-soldiers, who also seek out vassals (their own clients) amongst those in the lower classes.

Communism did breed a new class of rulers, as earlier dissidents said time and time again; but global corporatist governance has been far more successful in retaining its power over its under-classes and maintaining relationships of dependency, thanks to ensuring, with the help from their foot-soldiers, that they are sexually satiated, even if pornography is the primary means of slaking sexual desire amongst the less well-resourced males, drugged up, and self-satisfied in their “knowledge” about the world; which, given that they are educated into a level of sophisticated stupidity, is nothing but phrases and formulae circulated by teachers, professors and journalists, who pretty much think the exact same thing on any important topic.

If as I have suggested the modern revolutionary disposition is predicated on the hybrid of enlightened and romantic ideas and priorities about us and the world, not only as they are but what they can be, it is also, as Milton foretold, pride that is the fulcrum for the creation of this new world; and that pride is nowhere more obvious when we note how lacking in experience, how young the greatest exponents of revolution are, when they choose to devote their lives to it. Saint-Just was not even thirty when he went to the guillotine, Robespierre not forty, Marx in his mid-twenties when he wrote, feverishly from Paris, that he had discovered the solution to “the riddle of history,” Lenin’s brother Alexander was twenty-one when he was executed for his role in attempting to assassinate the Tsar, which no doubt played a decisive role in Lenin himself, drawn into revolutionary circles before he was twenty.

The notion that youth know so much that they should be politically committed is so commonplace in the West (New Zealand is currently having a judicial inquiry into whether sixteen-year-olds should have the vote) that to suggest that there is a connection between political commitment and pride would be seen by many people to be mere prejudice. We are meant to believe that even a child is not only able to diagnose the causes of the world’s ills, as if the world’s ills are settled and knowable to all, but also knows how to fix them. Of course, “fixing the world” requires believing in the science and the technocrats and corporate and political global (Western) leaders, who fund the science and whose profits are predicated upon the same leaders selling their solutions to the population at large. All of this is pride writ gigantic: from the billionaires and technocrats who believe they alone (hence those who criticize them must be silenced) can save us from oppression, poverty, climate, overpopulation, disease, and possibly even death itself so they and some of us—ermm, I mean them—may live forever, to the politicians, teachers, journalists, celebrities who tell us what to do, and what to think, so the planet and the species can be saved, to the poor idiots who think that they should be proud of their sexual being, and the even poorer idiots who think that all of this should be the priority of the Christian churches.

If I may briefly return to the great big pride flag in that church for the moment. Pride in one’s achievement is something not to be taken too far; for one’s own grasp on reality, being up today may be swiftly followed by being very down tomorrow: fortune is a great wheel. But the brief flicker of pride in a moment of great achievement, the success following devotion to a pursuit involving vast efforts, much time, and many obstacles may well be warranted and briefly pleasing—but pride in one’s mere being, and in a being defined by sexual appetite is something of very recent pedigree, and not something that owes anything at all to achievement. Being proud of one’s sexual appetites is so silly it belongs in comedy, as evident in some of the best jokes by the late great Norm MacDonald. Heterosexuals don’t have a flag, but if they did, that would be as diabolical as it was foolish—and it is not inconceivable that the great new world order might one day require that people bond around some symbol expressing their sexual preference.

Folly is ever the footman of the (d)evil—folly opens the doors and windows of the soul for (the d)evil’s entrance. We have in the West succumbed so much to folly, we think it is a gesture of solidarity and love (and see as hateful those like me who think this is nuts) to embrace this destruction of meaning and this elevation of sexual pleasure that it is perfectly reasonable to hang a pride flag under a cross in a church.

Were one simply to draw on the church wall people engaging in anal sex or cunnilingus or fellatio it would be far harder to keep up the pretense that we were talking about something dignified—but it would at least be honest, an honest way of saying that we want sex—”and when do we want it—now.” But that is only partly true of course; for while that is what the symbolism of the flag really expresses, the fact that this desire is dressed up and decorated and valorized in a way that is as far from actual sex as possible—flags are usually associated with ceremonies requiring strict decorum, while churches are (at least for non-Satanists) not usually the place for sexual activities.

What is essentially a statement about sexual desire and choice, a statement of the sort that satanists would, in more ritualistic attuned times, make by having orgies in a church, is publicly presented as if it were about love. But the Church and traditions more generally have never persecuted people for merely loving each other; the strictures of tradition kick in when it comes to how the love is demonstrated. Early Christian fathers were not romantic—sex was sex and love was love; and given how common it is for people to have sex who do not love each other, and how common it is for people who love each other deeply and not to have sex, it is symptomatic of the triumph of the myth of romantic love (so brilliantly dissected in Flaubert’s Madam Bovary) that we who live in an age that is so hypersexualized want to delude ourselves into thinking sexual attraction is the equivalent to love and that that should be the basis of the family.

Most of the human race until relatively recently would have thought this ridiculous—note this is a very different point from saying that sexual attraction may also involve love, and may even lead to love, but in and of itself it is not love. This is why I would be just as incensed over the stupidity of a flag dedicated to any kind of sexual pleasure or relationship in a church as I am to the pride one. I am incensed not because I find same sex immoral, but because I find the idea of hanging up a flag about sexual preference (and transforming preference into an identity) in a church to be a symptom of the mental derangement and blindness of the modern soul—a derangement based upon a failure to understand what is really sacred and what is simply something people choose to do. Dressing this all up as if it has some kind of historical continuity with the early Church martyrs, who adopted lives of renunciation, is simply an indication that people have lost their minds—and losing one’s intellect, as Dante reminded his readers in The Comedy, is also the price one pays for favouring sin. One chooses damnation, by choosing the particular objective of the moment, in place of fathoming the discernable flow of consequences that follow from damnable choices.

No, the real issue is sex and NOT sex—it is a desperate hunger for the sacred. The fact that the church I visited has thrown out all vestiges of sacred imagery except the centre-piece of the Christian faith, the cross (albeit a Christless cross) does not mean that those who attend it wish to live without the sacred. We as a species are creatures who desperately require transcendence. In a time where we compartmentalize life so that religion is simply a compartment we can enter into or leave alone, it is commonplace to ignore the fact that while religions cultivate us in different ways according to what they deem sacred and what aspects of our selves and lives they prioritize, they do so because of an original disposition which persists even in a purely secular environment. That disposition is natural, which is why the failure to reflect upon our nature is a very stupid and dangerous thing; and the insistence upon our lives being mere social constructs is an extremely unfortunate formulation that shows indifference to the limits of the act of “construction.” Construction, of course, is an engineering term and no one thinks they can construct a bridge or building without the right materials and knowledge—but in social thinking, the term serves to displace the importance of the materiality of ourselves, and to valorize the use of words—which stands in the closest relationship to the way in which false transcendence is bound up with false words.

And that is what this war in Ukraine has exposed—a war that is very much the result of false words entered into by an “Empire of Lies,” which has made of the self and its appetites the true object of worship. To be sure the larger abstractions of freedom/emancipation and equity enable that act of worship, lest the inanity of it be too obvious. But therein is the great diabolical trick—self-worship based upon verbal rites/formulae that are but vapid incantations deployed to hurt and persecute—all done in the name of love.

We are all dependents, at every second; and though the stupid elite enablers like to babble on about their autonomy, our dependent nature is not lost on those who have strategically positioned themselves to decide what the future with our limited resources must be like—which is just another way of deciding who must do what, to ensure their survival and wealth enhancement—which is also to say, who will live, and who will die.

The thing about the devil’s party, as I have said in the book I coauthored with my friend Guan BeiBei on Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin, is that it can never endure, because it is a party of Selves devoted only to themselves and their own appetites. But that too is why the values are so empty—and being so empty must be proclaimed at such volume and with such force and why the cultural war keeps finding new sacrifices to be made: today I read of a lesbian actress being threatened with a three-year jail term in Norway for an act of hate speech, i.e., publicly stating that sex organs define male and femaleness. The Satanic powers feast of our conceits and what we are prepared to give and to say to justify the appetites that fuel them.

Little daily acts of transcendence require that we lose our self in something higher, in an art, a craft, a love, a relationship, a commitment, a way, the depth of our faith and the Lord or God we serve; and that in losing ourself, more becomes of our selves—that is also because it is not a known identity but a mystery to be revealed. When words assist us in that transcendence, they too reveal their potency, through the very reality that they reveal. The Satanic is the promise of the overcoming of mystery, of the obliteration of revelation. Its means for achieving this are delusions, fueled by lies and animated by pride, which is followed by death—death of the soul, and of peoples.

I said above, I do not know if I can unequivocally affirm that Russia represents forces of light in the present war, but I cannot unsee the darkness in the forces that the West has sided with. Turning that around, if indeed it were possible, can only begin with us not being willing to accept lies as truths, and refusing to enter into the satanic church of the modern self’s identities and appetites.


Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen booksHe also doubles up as a singer songwriter. His latest album can be found here.


Featured: “Sole Morte,” by Odd Nerdrum; painted in 1987.

Christmas and the Aesthetes

This essay was first published in 1905.


The world is round, so round that the schools of optimism and pessimism have been arguing from the beginning whether it is the right way up. The difficulty does not arise so much from the mere fact that good and evil are mingled in roughly equal proportions; it arises chiefly from the fact that men always differ about what parts are good and what evil. Hence the difficulty which besets “undenominational religions.” They profess to include what is beautiful in all creeds, but they appear to many to have collected all that is dull in them. All the colours mixed together in purity ought to make a perfect white. Mixed together on any human paint-box, they make a thing like mud, and a thing very like many new religions. Such a blend is often something much worse than any one creed taken separately, even the creed of the Thugs. The error arises from the difficulty of detecting what is really the good part and what is really the bad part of any given religion. And this pathos falls rather heavily on those persons who have the misfortune to think of some religion or other, that the parts commonly counted good are bad, and the parts commonly counted bad are good.

It is tragic to admire and honestly admire a human group, but to admire it in a photographic negative. It is difficult to congratulate all their whites on being black and all their blacks on their whiteness. This will often happen to us in connection with human religions. Take two institutions which bear witness to the religious energy of the nineteenth century. Take the Salvation Army and the philosophy of Auguste Comte.

The usual verdict of educated people on the Salvation Army is expressed in some such words as these: “I have no doubt they do a great deal of good, but they do it in a vulgar and profane style; their aims are excellent, but their methods are wrong.” To me, unfortunately, the precise reverse of this appears to be the truth. I do not know whether the aims of the Salvation Army are excellent, but I am quite sure their methods are admirable. Their methods are the methods of all intense and hearty religions; they are popular like all religion, military like all religion, public and sensational like all religion. They are not reverent any more than Roman Catholics are reverent, for reverence in the sad and delicate meaning of the term reverence is a thing only possible to infidels. That beautiful twilight you will find in Euripides, in Renan, in Matthew Arnold; but in men who believe you will not find it—you will find only laughter and war. A man cannot pay that kind of reverence to truth solid as marble; they can only be reverent towards a beautiful lie. And the Salvation Army, though their voice has broken out in a mean environment and an ugly shape, are really the old voice of glad and angry faith, hot as the riots of Dionysus, wild as the gargoyles of Catholicism, not to be mistaken for a philosophy. Professor Huxley, in one of his clever phrases, called the Salvation Army “corybantic Christianity.” Huxley was the last and noblest of those Stoics who have never understood the Cross. If he had understood Christianity he would have known that there never has been, and never can be, any Christianity that is not corybantic.

And there is this difference between the matter of aims and the matter of methods, that to judge of the aims of a thing like the Salvation Army is very difficult, to judge of their ritual and atmosphere very easy. No one, perhaps, but a sociologist can see whether General Booth’s housing scheme is right. But any healthy person can see that banging brass cymbals together must be right. A page of statistics, a plan of model dwellings, anything which is rational, is always difficult for the lay mind. But the thing which is irrational any one can understand. That is why religion came so early into the world and spread so far, while science came so late into the world and has not spread at all. History unanimously attests the fact that it is only mysticism which stands the smallest chance of being understanded of the people. Common sense has to be kept as an esoteric secret in the dark temple of culture. And so while the philanthropy of the Salvationists and its genuineness may be a reasonable matter for the discussion of the doctors, there can be no doubt about the genuineness of their brass bands, for a brass band is purely spiritual, and seeks only to quicken the internal life. The object of philanthropy is to do good; the object of religion is to be good, if only for a moment, amid a crash of brass.

And the same antithesis exists about another modern religion—I mean the religion of Comte, generally known as Positivism, or the worship of humanity. Such men as Mr. Frederic Harrison, that brilliant and chivalrous philosopher, who still, by his mere personality, speaks for the creed, would tell us that he offers us the philosophy of Comte, but not all Comte’s fantastic proposals for pontiffs and ceremonials, the new calendar, the new holidays and saints’ days. He does not mean that we should dress ourselves up as priests of humanity or let off fireworks because it is Milton’s birthday. To the solid English Comtist all this appears, he confesses, to be a little absurd. To me it appears the only sensible part of Comtism. As a philosophy it is unsatisfactory. It is evidently impossible to worship humanity, just as it is impossible to worship the Savile Club; both are excellent institutions to which we may happen to belong. But we perceive clearly that the Savile Club did not make the stars and does not fill the universe. And it is surely unreasonable to attack the doctrine of the Trinity as a piece of bewildering mysticism, and then to ask men to worship a being who is ninety million persons in one God, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

But if the wisdom of Comte was insufficient, the folly of Comte was wisdom. In an age of dusty modernity, when beauty was thought of as something barbaric and ugliness as something sensible, he alone saw that men must always have the sacredness of mummery. He saw that while the brutes have all the useful things, the things that are truly human are the useless ones. He saw the falsehood of that almost universal notion of to-day, the notion that rites and forms are something artificial, additional, and corrupt. Ritual is really much older than thought; it is much simpler and much wilder than thought. A feeling touching the nature of things does not only make men feel that there are certain proper things to say; it makes them feel that there are certain proper things to do. The more agreeable of these consist of dancing, building temples, and shouting very loud; the less agreeable, of wearing green carnations and burning other philosophers alive. But everywhere the religious dance came before the religious hymn, and man was a ritualist before he could speak. If Comtism had spread the world would have been converted, not by the Comtist philosophy, but by the Comtist calendar. By discouraging what they conceive to be the weakness of their master, the English Positivists have broken the strength of their religion. A man who has faith must be prepared not only to be a martyr, but to be a fool. It is absurd to say that a man is ready to toil and die for his convictions when he is not even ready to wear a wreath round his head for them. I myself, to take a corpus vile, am very certain that I would not read the works of Comte through for any consideration whatever. But I can easily imagine myself with the greatest enthusiasm lighting a bonfire on Darwin Day.

That splendid effort failed, and nothing in the style of it has succeeded. There has been no rationalist festival, no rationalist ecstasy. Men are still in black for the death of God. When Christianity was heavily bombarded in the last century upon no point was it more persistently and brilliantly attacked than upon that of its alleged enmity to human joy. Shelley and Swinburne and all their armies have passed again and again over the ground, but they have not altered it. They have not set up a single new trophy or ensign for the world’s merriment to rally to. They have not given a name or a new occasion of gaiety. Mr. Swinburne does not hang up his stocking on the eve of the birthday of Victor Hugo. Mr. William Archer does not sing carols descriptive of the infancy of Ibsen outside people’s doors in the snow. In the round of our rational and mournful year one festival remains out of all those ancient gaieties that once covered the whole earth. Christmas remains to remind us of those ages, whether Pagan or Christian, when the many acted poetry instead of the few writing it. In all the winter in our woods there is no tree in glow but the holly.

The strange truth about the matter is told in the very word “holiday.” A bank holiday means presumably a day which bankers regard as holy. A half-holiday means, I suppose, a day on which a schoolboy is only partially holy. It is hard to see at first sight why so human a thing as leisure and larkiness should always have a religious origin. Rationally there appears no reason why we should not sing and give each other presents in honour of anything—the birth of Michael Angelo or the opening of Euston Station. But it does not work. As a fact, men only become greedily and gloriously material about something spiritualistic. Take away the Nicene Creed and similar things, and you do some strange wrong to the sellers of sausages. Take away the strange beauty of the saints, and what has remained to us is the far stranger ugliness of Wandsworth. Take away the supernatural, and what remains is the unnatural.

And now I have to touch upon a very sad matter. There are in the modern world an admirable class of persons who really make protest on behalf of that antiqua pulchritudo of which Augustine spoke, who do long for the old feasts and formalities of the childhood of the world. William Morris and his followers showed how much brighter were the dark ages than the age of Manchester. Mr. W. B. Yeats frames his steps in prehistoric dances, but no man knows and joins his voice to forgotten choruses that no one but he can hear. Mr. George Moore collects every fragment of Irish paganism that the forgetfulness of the Catholic Church has left or possibly her wisdom preserved. There are innumerable persons with eye-glasses and green garments who pray for the return of the maypole or the Olympian games. But there is about these people a haunting and alarming something which suggests that it is just possible that they do not keep Christmas. It is painful to regard human nature in such a light, but it seems somehow possible that Mr. George Moore does not wave his spoon and shout when the pudding is set alight. It is even possible that Mr. W. B. Yeats never pulls crackers. If so, where is the sense of all their dreams of festive traditions? Here is a solid and ancient festive tradition still plying a roaring trade in the streets, and they think it vulgar. if this is so, let them be very certain of this, that they are the kind of people who in the time of the maypole would have thought the maypole vulgar; who in the time of the Canterbury pilgrimage would have thought the Canterbury pilgrimage vulgar; who in the time of the Olympian games would have thought the Olympian games vulgar. Nor can there be any reasonable doubt that they were vulgar. Let no man deceive himself; if by vulgarity we mean coarseness of speech, rowdiness of behaviour, gossip, horseplay, and some heavy drinking, vulgarity there always was wherever there was joy, wherever there was faith in the gods. Wherever you have belief you will have hilarity, wherever you have hilarity you will have some dangers. And as creed and mythology produce this gross and vigorous life, so in its turn this gross and vigorous life will always produce creed and mythology. If we ever get the English back on to the English land they will become again a religious people, if all goes well, a superstitious people. The absence from modern life of both the higher and lower forms of faith is largely due to a divorce from nature and the trees and clouds. If we have no more turnip ghosts it is chiefly from the lack of turnips.


Featured: “St. Columba Altarpiece,” by Rogier van der Weyden; painted ca. 1455.

Flavigny the Sweet

Flavigny can pass for one of the most beautiful villages of Burgundy. Its houses of ashlar, noble, old places gnawed by lichen and moss, with the windows fashioned in the old way, surround the church at the center of the village, mounted like a crown upon a tooth. The narrow nave of the church of Saint-Genest shows vaulting of a delicate gothic style; a lace tribune connects the two lateral parts of the building. A whole battery of statues attracts the eye: the wooden monks of the stalls, the Angel of the Annunciation and the Virgin breastfeeding, with a little Jesus suckling greedily in her arms.

Downstairs, at the village gate, the seminary of the Society of St. Pius X sends out a number of young abbots who pass through the narrow streets in black cassocks, without buttons or buckles on their belts. The park where these good seminarians stroll opens onto the Alesia valley. A huge Crucifix at the end of the park dominates the view like a victory on a ship that triumphs over the horizon—the sentinel before the barbarians. We then learn that Louis de Funès participated in the renovation of part of the church and that one of the first bishops of Mosul rests in the cemetery among the sisters. At the entrance of the village, not far from the large gate of Saint Joseph, the old abbey of Saint Peter houses the confectionery, remarkable for its aniseed with exquisite perfumes: mandarin, violet, rose. The loving shepherd and the greedy shepherdess, he dowdy, she the pretty pearl, illustrate these very good sweets and never fail to charm.

There are abbeys which look like citadels in the scrubland; others are havens and border a river; the abbey of Flavigny is a castle in the countryside. These Benedictines lived happily first in Clairval, Switzerland, in the early 1970s, stemming from the Olivetan order. Then, following Dom Joly, they made their way through the peasant lands of Burgundy. No, they have not been there for a thousand years. Recently arrived, on the scale of Christianity, as if no accident of history had jostled them, they seem peaceful in their home. The abbey is housed in a former 18th century pleasure castle.

In the main street, in front of a Swiss household, owners of a black tractor, the facade of the abbey. Straight, severe, sober. A statue of Saint Joseph, another of the Holy Queen. The church is a kind of upturned ship’s hold, carved in one piece. On the polished and shiny marble floor is engraved the cross of Saint Benedict. At Compline, one can only see the cuckoo clock, as you let yourself be carried off by the wave of the Psalms in the darkness, borne by the determined voices of the monks. Then the statue of the Virgin lights up for the Salve Regina. Mary dazzled replaces the moon’s luminescence.

After crossing the courtyard of the Ursulines, where a crucifix is planted, bearing the words: “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis,” the sun turning around the cross like a dial, the main building, in the heart of the abbey, shows a classical and neat façade. The stone is round and polished, the forms majestic and masterful. From the main staircase, where a magnificent Piéta is enthroned, you arrive at the refectory of the 1950s, tiled as in a hospital. Through a door, you pass from a wooded and classical sacristy to the chapter house, a former ballroom with deep mirrors and precious moldings. From the outside, the courtyard of honor has cachet, the façade has allure; a kind of grace that a classical play of the walls and high windows, as was savored during the Regency period, gives this abbey, set on this Burgundian acropolis, the appearance of a hermitage and a hunting lodge; a place of retreat from the world without austerity or pain.

A statue of the merciful Christ rises above the building. The effigy, dipped in gold, shines. In front of this main courtyard is a terrace; from the terrace, an exquisite walk leads down to the gardens. From the fruit trees, the Mirabelle plums, one passes through an alley of narrow trees to a vegetable garden, where a brood of hens lives among fields of leeks and potatoes. Further down is a bush artfully trimmed according to the laws of topiary at the level of a remarkable belvedere. And further down still, sloping paths descend into the forests. You should see the monks dressed in white, on their monastic 31, processioning on August 15 with Mary crowned. The walls are then covered with a blue sheet printed with fleur-de-lis. Long live Mary, Protector of France, Mother of priests, Guardian of our homes!

October mornings are filled with joy: a sheet of light wool spins over the valley. Out of nowhere a polished amber stone rises, rolls into the sky and spreads its golden rays from west to east. The whole village ends up embellished in yellow gold. The trees rain their leaves in the park. The leaves die with their colors more varied, more sonorous than those of life. The splendor of autumn here results from a degradation of organs from which life has withdrawn. The singing services, the bellowing of the cows below, resounds in the cells and accompanies the awake monk in falsetto.

It was not only the delicate and powdered nobility that sought to flee the city and enjoy the relaxation of the countryside, nor even the great families of the cities to escape boredom, Schifanoia, or the monarchs of Prussia to covet without care. The Benedictines too are happy here; hermits of the pastures, dead to the world and alive in the woods. They themselves in this countryside seem carefree. They are quiet, quiescent, neither hurrying nor running. We see them getting busy and then disappearing, suddenly, going underground, we don’t know; or sitting in a tractor, unloading a lot of manure and a mound of vegetables. Sometimes they wander in nature. On Thursday, day of relaxation, they go around the lakes of the region and rest. Festina lente. Saint Joseph de Clairval is about joy.

Life turns with the flavor of the seasons, without hardness nor fatigue. Matins, rings the hour, when Paris wakes up. The monks in cool, white robes, shine for God, who rejoices their sparkling youth. And the wise bent monk carries his thirty years in white. The church, immersed in a skillful ballet of light and shadow, draws frozen figures of monks for Lauds, one in white on his knees, the other in black prostrate among the massive stalls. They take time for the short offices, and shorten the long ones; they never dine or lunch without abundance, with little wine, little fantasy, and a proportion to contemplative reverie.

The Abbot says a Pater noster in the measure of a military chant, at a walk. You might have known Father Thomas leaning on his cane, explaining masterpieces of Christianity, lucid and gifted with an unimaginable energy under the plenitude and the quietude that his blue eyes illustrate. And Father Alphonse, charismatic like those actors of the 70’s who have disappeared, serious and gentle, deep and slow like the rare old car engines; or Father Vianney, the pivotal tower of this chess game, prior, director of the printing house, father-hotelier, Catholic sphinx, with a face as thin as a mask, mobile gait of changeless time, measured transport of humility. These monks and others have practiced the retreats of St. Ignatius in Flavigny and everywhere in the kingdom of France.

These methodical exercises for the soul, comparable to a gymnastics of the body, are for the spirit the means of washing the soul with bleach. Alternating teachings and meditations, over five days, you passes from the underworld to the glory of the Lord, under the standard of Christ and against the standard of the devil. These exercises, which have made the merit of the saints, known and recognized in history, effervescent in consciences like a pill against stomach aches of passions and troubles, have the hardness about them, the memory of a Catholicism of combat. Everywhere one celebrates, and hell exists. While we had perhaps forgotten it, here are the meditations reminding us of it. We are not laughing. We are faced with our creaturely misery, as if we were fat, grey, bloated, in the mirror, in front of the portrait of our condition. It is with a fear mingled with love for the good God that you make your way to the end of the retreat, falling moved, after the general confession, reassured by the preacher monk as to his own discouragement. And after five days of silence, the world comes back to us, and we come back to ourselves reassured, strengthened, galvanized in the perspective of our salvation and our duty.


Nicolas Kinosky is at the Centres des Analyses des Rhétoriques Religieuses de l’Antiquité and teaches Latin. This articles appears through the very kind courtesy La Nef.

The Last Enemy

The Last Enemy (as named by St. Paul in 1Cor 15:26) was also the first enemy, and has been our enemy throughout human existence: it is death. Death is more than the separation of the soul from the body, it is the threat of non-being. In the writings of the Fathers, particularly those of the East, being is equated with goodness. For it was God who called all things into existence and saw that they were “very good.” As such, being and goodness are deeply and utterly intertwined. We do not say that any created thing is inherently evil. If it has existence, that existence is good. This same fundamental understanding yields its opposite: non-being has the character of evil, or, more accurately, we can say that what we term as “evil” is simply the character and work of non-being. So, Jesus says of Satan that “he was a murderer from the beginning,” and “he is the father of lies.”

In the work of the fathers, most famously in St. Dionysius, evil is described as a “parasite.” It has no existence of its own but rather works to pervert that which does have existence. So evil is not a “thing” or something “existing.” Rather, it is a will, a perversion, a misdirection and an attempt to direct being towards non-being. This is the ultimate rebellion against the goodness of God who is Being, “Being beyond all being,” the source of all existence and every good thing.

There are a variety of ways that this movement towards non-being manifests itself in our lives.

Christ describes two of them. He tells us that if we are angry with our brother, we have committed murder. He also says that if we lust after someone, we have committed adultery. Both this “murder” and this “adultery” are true on the level of being. They are actions that attempt to reduce the being of another. As such, they are actions of Satan, “the murderer from the beginning,” and the “father of lies.”

We also seek to kill ourselves throughout the day. In subtle ways and choices, we often make moves towars lesser being or even non-being itself. The false identities and consumer-based personalities that often fill our closets or inhabit our anxieties are not part of the path to the truth or the reality of being. When Christ says that He has come to “bring life, and that more abundantly,” He is pointing towards the fullness of being that is grounded in God Himself.

It is the nature of our modern culture that it constantly drives us to be what we are not or to become someone (or something) other than ourselves. The ground of our culture is the economy, while the ground of being human is communion with God. Christ is quite clear: “You cannot serve God and mammon (money).” The power of money, and its alure, is its ability to generate pleasure, and forestall pain, neither of which are sinful nor death-dealing in and of themselves. It is, however, the secular nature of the context in which they occur that make them harmful.

Christ said, “There is none good but God.” It is a grounding of the good, as it is the grounding of being as well. A plant that has been up-rooted dies. Human beings do as well, though the death is slow and takes a myriad of forms.

Our rooting in God (“in Him we live and move and have our being” Acts 17:28) is essential. The moral compass of a culture in which the Christian tradition is dominant is insufficient to give life. It is, however, of use in preventing a culture from spinning into worlds of death-dealing nonsense. For all intents and purposes, that compass has disappeared for the larger part of our culture purveyors. We are not only dying, but dying in increasingly bizarre ways.

The New Testament occasionally makes comments about “lawlessness.” St. John equates sin and lawlessness (1Jn 3:4). When our communion with God is disrupted, lawlessness is the result. That is to say, the inner law, the natural compass of our well-being, begins to malfunction. We lose our direction. Our actions (even intended “good” actions) can become corrupted and serve only to destroy our lives. That this takes place on a cultural level is deeply alarming. Historically, cultures serve as something of a hedge around our lives. They cannot make us good, but they encourage us towards the good and turn us away from evil. Today, this is decreasingly true.

God has given us more than the background of culture with its shifting laws and mores. He has primarily given us the Church, together with its Tradition, and the life of the sacraments. This is more than a protective “garment of skin” (as the Fathers sometimes described the protection of laws and customs). The Church makes possible our active grounding in the communion of life itself. This is the content of all of the sacraments and the basis for the whole reality of the Church. The canons and moral teachings serve the purpose of nurturing us in the true life of Christ (they are not mere laws of outward conformity).

This reality makes it utterly important that the voices who seek to change the Church’s teaching or discipline to conform it to modern cultural norms should be ignored and resisted. Our culture in no way reasons in accordance with our life in Christ. It is the whisper of death that is of a piece with the first lying whispers in the Garden.

Some time back I ran across an interview with Tom Holland, a non-Christian historian, who readily admits that our civilization is rooted in Christianity and is in great danger of losing that grounding. It is deeply honest and worth a listen if you’re interested. We often take for granted the stability of the culture (at least this was once the case). Today, the case for cultural change is not being driven by rebellious, seditious groups, but by the most powerful political, social, and corporate structures themselves. Not since the Protestant Reformation has such a sea-change been marketed from the “top down.”

I take consolation from two thoughts (and a few others). The Scriptures have this:

Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor.
(Psalm 62:9)

And, famously, this:

The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”
“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”
(Isaiah 40:6–8)

The life of God given to us in the Church abides forever. It is heard in His word. It is written in every rock and tree, every element and molecule of our body.

My prayer, “O Breath of God, blow in our world. Reveal your life in our lives and save us!”


Father Stephen Freeman is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, serving as Rector of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.


Featured: “The Crucifixion,” by Giotto; painted ca. 1320-1325.

Condemnation of Abortion in the Age of the Church Fathers

The condemnation of abortion by followers of Christ is not new. From the earliest days of Christianity, it has been considered a sin and preached against. Although the truth of this teaching has not changed, some seem to want to redefine both truth and sin. On Women’s Equality Day 2022, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called restricting abortion “sinful.” Specifically, on August 26, this U.S. representative twisted the idea of sin, stating, “The fact that this is such an assault on women of color and women [in] lower income families is just sinful. It’s wrong that they would be able to say to women what they think women should be doing with their lives and their bodies. But it’s sinful, the injustice of it all.” Pelosi’s idea of sin regarding abortion is the opposite of Church teaching. Her postmodern thinking has made her believe, or present as her belief, that rather than abortion being sinful, the restriction of it is “sinful.”

We will look at what the early church fathers had to say regarding the issue of abortion. For the record, this author has looked, but could not find, any church father that agreed with the U.S. Speaker Pelosi. In fact, every church father that addressed the issue roundly condemned it.

The Jews in the ancient world forbade abortion. The Jewish historian Josephus described the Mosaic law with respect to abortion. In his work Against Apion, Book 2, written circa 80 AD, he stated: “The law, moreover, enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have done so, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind.” Christianity, rooted in the Mosaic law to which Josephus referred, did not change this understanding of the fetus as a living child, and of the deliberate destruction of it as murder.

In ancient pagan Rome, abortion was legal. Some people at the time thought that the soul was introduced into the body after the birth of a child. The church father Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220 AD) refuted this idea. As part of his refutation, he described in chilling detail the process of the abortion procedure, which does not seem to have changed much in two thousand years. In chapter 25 of his work A Treatise on the Soul, he writes:

“Accordingly, among surgeons’ tools there is a certain instrument, which is formed with a nicely-adjusted frame for opening the uterus first of all, and keeping it open; it is further furnished with an annular blade, by means of which the limbs within the womb are dissected with anxious but unfaltering care; its last appendage being a blunted and covered hook, wherewith the entire foetus is extracted by a violent delivery. There is also (another instrument in the shape of) a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is managed in the furtive robbery of life: they give it, from its infanticide function, the name of ἐμβρυοσφάκτης, ‘the slayer of the infant’, which was of course alive.”

Tertullian made it clear the fetus was alive, even if unborn. (For more details on abortion in ancient Rome and the Christians, see here).

One of the earliest Church Fathers who spoke on the topic of abortion was St. Barnabas. Writing between 70 and 100 AD, he exhorted “You shall not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shall you destroy him after it is born.” St. Barnabas clearly views the fetus as a living human child, and equates abortion with “slaying,” that is, murdering, the child. Notice also that St. Barnabas addresses abortion and infanticide in the same sentence, considering them equivalent sins.

St. Hippolytus, writing around 225 AD, explained in his work Refutation of all Heresies, Book IX, that “Whence women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round, so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time!” Clearly, the practice of sidelining one’s religion [“reputed believers”] in order to accommodate [“for the sake of their family and excessive wealth”] or approve of pet sins did not originate recently.

St. John Chrysostom states that abortion is worse than murder. His Homily 24 on Romans, written in the late 300s AD, asked: “Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? Where there are many efforts at abortion? Where there is murder before the birth? For even the harlot thou dost not let continue a mere harlot, but makest her a murderess also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevents its being born. Why then do you abuse the gift of God, and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter?” His heartfelt preaching against sin arose from certain conviction of the Gospel of life. How striking, and how current it seems, when Chrysostom upbraids those who “follow after a curse as if a blessing.”

Other early church fathers who spoke out against the sin of abortion were St Cyprian of Carthage (c. 210 – 258 AD) in his letter to Cornelius, (number 48, numbered 52 in some sources); St. Basil the Great (329 -379 AD), in his epistle 138; St Jerome (c. 347 – c. 419) in his epistle 22; and St Ambrose (339 – 397 AD), in his work On the Hexaemeron. The practice of abortion is likewise forbidden in the Didache also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles which was written in the first century or at the latest, the first part of the second century.

From the historical record, it is clear that the early church fathers condemned abortion as a sin. To speak otherwise is to confuse reality.


Phillip Cuccia is a retired army officer, who served in armored and cavalry units, and then taught Military History at West Point, before joining the Army attaché corps, and serving in Italy at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. He has a Master’s degree in security studies from Sapienza University in Rome and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Napoleonic Studies from Florida State University. He currently teaches history for Liberty University. He established the Eusebius Society in 2019.


Featured: “Kronos devouring his Children,” by Goya, ca. 1797.

Asking the Question of God

Likely for the first time in the history of humanity, a civilization officially has no God; its authorized authorities act in all things as if God did not exist. This civilization is ours, the West, once Christian and now profoundly de-Christianized in record time. Of course, everyone can believe, practice a religion, but faith is now a private matter that is not supposed to encroach on the public sphere.

The alternative is very simple—either God exists or He does not; there is no third position. Officially, as a state institution, we have therefore made a choice: He does not exist. Although our regimes claim to be “neutral” (“secular”) and think they have achieved this neutrality by protecting freedom of religion and worship—within the limits of public order—they are, in fact, atheists. In our historically unprecedented situation, perhaps this is the lesser evil and ultimately the only viable balance that still maintains a certain civil peace.

Rejection of God without Consequences?

That non-believers, who have apparently become the majority, are satisfied with this state of affairs or even defend it, seems normal and natural. On the other hand, it is more surprising on the part of believers—is it not extraordinary that they never question the rejection of God within our overdeveloped societies and its possible consequences? Historically, is there no link between the erasure of God from the city and from consciences, on the one hand, and the slow decline of an apostate Europe, on the other? Is it a mere coincidence that, in this context, criminal materialistic ideologies arise in the West, at the origin of two atrocious world conflicts, a real European collective suicide? Is there also no link between this erasure of God and the exacerbation of a Promethean hubris which claims the autonomy of man, of his all-powerful will unbound by any limit, moral in particular?

In our postmodernity, we benefit from unprecedented living and health conditions, and yet malaise has never been so widespread; many of our contemporaries claim to be less happy than previous generations. Is this crisis not the consequence of the inner emptiness that drives us, of the absence of meaning given to our lives? Certainly, even if the subject is taboo, the main dimension of the crisis we are experiencing is spiritual and has to do with the ignorance of God.

The weakening of Christianity leads to a growing misunderstanding of the Christian universe. The vision of the family and children, the concept of natural moral law have become inaudible to many, often more out of inculture than hostility. During a recent debate between Fabrice Hadjadj and Antoine Bueno on birth control, the latter dared to make this revealing admission: “I understand almost nothing of my opponent’s answer. We don’t speak the same language.” These words are terrible in that they show how the fractures are worsening to the point where we no longer understand each other, so that any minimum common basis for living in society in peace and respect for the other is gradually disappearing.

The Triumph of Manichaeism

And this worrying factor is amplified by the extension of the obligatory thinking that reduces the complexity of the world to a Manichean vision. The subjects on which debate becomes impossible, for which an “official truth” exists, are constantly expanding: abortion, gender, Covid, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict—thus feeding conspiracy fantasies. On these issues, opponents of the dominant doxa are not treated as legitimate challengers, which should be self-evident in a democracy, but as enemies to be eliminated: one does not discuss with such people, one discredits them, one criminalizes them, one excludes them from the perimeter of respectability so that, in the eyes of the media, they no longer exist.

I don’t see how to resolve the fractures mentioned above, symptoms of the “decivilization” and “barbarization” of our societies, without succeeding in re-Christianizing a part of the French. I am intimately convinced that it is the radiance of all the holy souls who sincerely seek God, the prayers that go up to Him untiringly, that prevent the world from completely unraveling—hence the crucial importance of contemplative religious orders.

In the Bible, indifference to God is common; and even when God became incarnate in His Son, how many listened to Him and believed in Him? In the Old Testament, the chosen people often denied God; we are analogously in a comparable situation. I am not saying that our misfortunes are a divine punishment, I am saying that the rupture with the supernatural order has also broken the harmony of the natural order, which thus goes adrift: the flouted natural laws are enough to make us lose our footing according to the normal course of things. And in the Bible, each time, the only remedy was to return to the God of the Covenant. Perhaps we Christians should take the Bible a little more seriously.


Christophe Geffroy publishes the journal La Nef, through whose kind courtesy we are publishing this article.


Featured: “Funeral of the Anarchist Galli,” by Carlo Carrà; painted in 1911.

Walter Schubart: Can the East regenerate the West?

In his 1938 book, Europe and the Soul of the East (Europa und die Seele des Ostens—translated as Russia and Western Man), the Latvian writer of German origin, Walter Schubart, questions the possibility of a spiritual rebirth of the West compromised by Promethean ideology. In his eyes, the heroic man, that is to say the man who submits the world to his will, has run out of steam and must give way to the Messianic Man who alone will be able to reconcile the East and the West.

The spiritual decline of the West is a fact. Since the advent of what is usually called “modern times,” old Europe has abandoned making belief in God the condition of the possibility of the common good and of human life. The Promethean era—named after the Titan who stole the divine fire to give it to men—has reversed all values to make materialism, individualism and technical progress a new trinity. The superhuman has replaced the divine as the philosophical horizon. But the man who conceives himself as his own measure is exhausted and the 20th century has shown that the West has been irremediably attracted by its own destruction.

Therefore, where can we find the resources for the spiritual recovery of Europe? How to reinject spirituality into the worn-out carcass of Promethean Man? In the eyes of Walter Schubart, the salvation of the West must come from the East—and, more precisely, from that country torn between the two worlds since the reforms of Peter the Great—Russia. To the figure of the Promethean Man—of which Napoleon was the most perfect incarnation—Schubart opposes the figure of the Messianic Man.

Let us specify above all that for the author of Europe and the Soul of the East, history is cyclical and is divided into four ages. Each age produces a prototype of man who is characterized by his relationship to the universe: the Harmonious Man, the Heroic Man, the Ascetic Man and the Messianic Man. The Harmonious Man, the ideal of ancient Greece and China, does not perceive the heterogeneity of the spiritual and the material as a source of conflict. He contemplates the universe with love and is fully satisfied with the order of things. For him, “the problem of the meaning of history is already solved,” specifies Schubart.

The Heroic Man, the model of ancient Rome and modern Germany, sees chaos when he looks at the world. He wants to order what surrounds him, to make it conform to his will.

The Ascetic Man, on the other hand, considers material existence as a lure and turns away from it to devote himself solely to the spiritual. His objective is to live outside the world and within himself, while waiting for physical death. The Hindus and the neo-Platonist Greeks had adopted this philosophy.

Finally, the Messianic Man wants to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth and relies on an inner mysticism. To do this, he must reconcile what has been separated, through the love he carries within himself. The early Christians and the Slavs are emblematic of this temperament.

Schubart also breaks down the last millennium of the West into two ages: the Gothic Age, which was dominated by the Ascetic Man, and the Promethean Age, which was and still is dominated by the Heroic Man. In his eyes, the Promethean Age has run out of steam and must give way to the Johannine Age (of Saint John) which has the Messianic Man as its model. The Promethean age, as we have said, is characterized by man’s desire to detach himself from God: “No matter that Western man finds his destiny in the economy, or even in politics or in technology, he is certain that he no longer finds it in spirituality, nor in divinity. He has definitively renounced a spiritual attitude towards life. Attracted by material powers, he has finally succumbed to the forces of the earth—he has made himself a slave of matter,” writes Schubart. The contempt for the material that characterized the Gothic Age and its Ascetic Man is mirrored by the contempt for the spiritual that characterizes the Promethean Age and its Heroic Man.

Russia: A Link between East and West

The Johannine Age that the author calls for must therefore be envisaged under the sign of unity, in accordance with the temperament of the Messianic Man: “The Messianic Man does not act out of a spirit of domination, but is guided solely by a constant concern for conciliation; the feeling that animates him is love. He does not seek to divide in order to rule, his concern is to unite what has been separated,” emphasizes Schubart. For the Messianic Man, in this case for the Slavic soul, the spectacle of a fragmented world is unbearable. The separation of the material from the spiritual, of the soul from the body, of man from nature, and ultimately of man from God, strikes him with a deep sense of longing. The Messianic Man wants to recover the lost unity that was the joy of the Harmonious Man: “The image of the Universe that the Harmonious Man has of it is more or less the same as that which the Messianic Man had of it. However, whereas the one has already reached the goal, the other still seeks to reach it in a very distant future; both consider the Universe as the beloved being to whom they give themselves in order to unite with it.”

It is the Russians who have the task of turning the West from the Promethean to the Johannine Age, precisely because the Slavic soul—because it is fundamentally Eastern—is impervious to materialist and atheistic doctrines. Written in 1938, the thesis of Europe and the Soul of the East immediately raised an objection—why should salvation come from Russia when the Soviet Union has achieved on earth the exact opposite of what Messianic Man has a right to expect? Communism has turned materialism, atheism and technical progress into a state ideology: “The Russians, who are faithful to the Church, see in the Soviet Union the ‘Kingdom of Antichrist,’” responded Schubart.

For the author, the contradiction is merely superficial. Bolshevism is, according to him, only a vast enterprise of sabotage of the Promethean ideal. Schubart held that the advent of the Soviet Union was merely a harmful consequence of the Occidentalism which has been trying to impose itself on the Russian mentality since Peter the Great. The monstrous character of the Soviet Union resided precisely in this contradiction between the Slavic soul and the Promethean ideal: “The Russian is carried by a living feeling of universality. The contemplation of the steppes without limits always brings back his glance towards the infinite one. It will never be able to put itself in harmony with Promethean culture whose fundamental base is egocentrism and which supports individual emancipation or—what amounts to the same thing—the decline of the gods.”

The Unsinkable Russian Soul

Similarly, state atheism advocated by the communist regime had no hold on the deep convictions of Russians: “The absence of religious feeling, even within religions—this is the characteristic of contemporary Europe. The persistence of religious feeling, even in a materialistic ideology, is the characteristic of the Russian Soviet world. With the Russians, everything has a religious character, even atheism,” writes Schubart. This paradoxical formula translates a deep truth: the Russian man cannot do without religion, even when he renounces it. Schubart relied on Dostoyevsky’s Demons to support his point. Indeed, Stavrogin and Kirilov deploy, each in their own way, a mystical impulse in their enterprise of negation of divinity. Despite their respective nihilism, they position and define themselves only in relation to God. Unlike Westerners, they cannot be indifferent to this question.

Finally, the historical failure of communism, which Schubart did not see in his lifetime but which he foresaw, is a demonstration by the absurd of the intrinsically spiritual character of the Russian mentality: “Russia has provided the world with proof that a culture without God is doomed. It has also proved that the autonomy of the individual is an illusion,” says Scunart. And it is this unsinkability of the soul which can allow Russia to realize the synthesis between East and West, between the metaphysical spirit and the Promethean spirit, between faith and reason: “…modern Europe is a form without life—Russia is a life without forms. In the first case, the soul has abandoned the body and left an empty carcass. In the second case, life has destroyed the forms that hindered it.” Messianic Man—”the perfect man,” says Schubart—of the Johannine Age must above all be understood as a reconciled man, as a man who reaches out with all his might toward the lost harmony of Homer and Lao Tzu, even if it means finding the apocalypse in his path.


Matthieu Giroux is a Dostoyevskian sovereignist and the editorial director of PHLITT. This article appears through the generous courtesy of PHLITT.


Featured: “Strelka,” by Andrei Remnev; painted in 2015.

Wilberforce’s Attack on Vice is Needed in the USA

This writer has been researching the life and thinking of William Wilberforce, who was the chief advocate for the elimination of slavery in the British empire, which in fact was abolished by Great Britain in 1833. This research revealed that Wilberforce also advocated for a change in morals and manners in Great Britain and its worldwide empire. He was concerned that Biblical values were eroding, and that a much higher standard of personal as well as public conduct was needed among English-speaking Christians. He thus was a preacher and polemicist to the country/empire as a whole, and not only to a particular congregation from a particular pulpit. Wilberforce, in addition to fighting to end slavery based on the Biblical premise that all men and women were created in God’s own image, sought to encourage “piety and virtue, [and the prevention of] vice, profaneness and immorality.” This aspect of his work or mission became known as the Society for the Suppression of Vice (SSV).

This SSV, founded in 1802, grew rapidly and had over 1200 members by 1812. It was authorized by King George III who, the reader undoubtedly recalls, was the monarch whose control we rejected during our War for Independence from 1776 to 1783. Thus, the move for moral purity had legal authorization by a king whom we considered to be so immoral.

The list of SSV’s offending behaviors was quite long. It included profanation of the Lord’s Day (Sunday), profane swearing, publication of blasphemous, licentious and obscene books, selling by false weights and measures, keeping of disorderly public houses, brothels, and gaming houses, illegal lotteries, cruelty to animals.

Well, dear reader, are you at all shocked that the one man who was the key player in bringing slavery and the slave trade to an end in the British Empire was, at the same time, on this moral crusade? Are you suddenly aware that the obverse side of the moral coin that was being held by Mr. Wilberforce contains all these moral injunctions? That high-minded and Biblically grounded individual saw then that slavery, although particularly un-Biblical, was only one side of the moral crisis besetting British society. If he was concerned about the general moral estate of Great Britain at that time, how much more should our Senators, Representatives, Judges, elected officials of all stripes—Governors, state legislators, mayors, city council members, etc.—feel dismayed and disgusted not only by our country’s moral downslide, which, by early 19th century standards, is our moral collapse.

In New York City, while prostitution is still illegal on the books, the ladies are no longer looked upon as perpetrators to be tried. The women are not put in jail, and instead therapy is offered. The judgment that this behavior is degrading and fosters a decline in public morals is removed from the equation. Prostitution is perceived simply as a type of maladjustment.

Also, the ACLU has successfully fought against obscenity laws for decades to the point where outright porno magazines are publicly for sale in stores and have been so for decades.

When I was growing up, gambling was restricted to Nevada. Now it is a staple in many states. Lotteries of all kinds are also advertised, and tickets are for sale in every bodega and newspaper store. With these gambling outlets, the idea of something for nothing pervades society. It accentuates the covetousness of society condemned without equivocation in the Ten Commandments. Gambling in the stock market is considered a wholesome and admirable “business activity.”

What about swearing? God’s name is regularly used in vain for decades. When this writer worked in an office with industrial engineers, the F-word was standard fare. One pastor I had years ago said that whenever he felt frustrated as a young man, he would start cursing. When he entered Bible college, he still had the same habit. But since he noted that the other students did not indulge in that profane pursuit, he resolved and prayed to be able to overcome that sin. He kept on cursing until one day, feeling very frustrated by some setback, he found that he grabbed the back of a chair (as he typically would) but that no curse words came out. The vain, immoral reactions to life’s frustrations were overcome. Although there were some occasional outbursts after that one successful moment, the corrupt speech was clearly defeated. Finally, it disappeared entirely.

Licentious and obscene books and films are standard fare. Nudity, conjugal relations, passionate kissing scenes, couples undressing themselves or each other, as well as an explosion of pornographic videos in theaters and especially on the Internet has turned our country into a sex-obsessed village. Conservative publications obsess about the sexualization of children in the early grades in our schools, but have allowed the pornographic obsessions of the Internet to run amuck. Pornography is driving a wedge even between the adult male and female populations. Settings to prevent this on cell phones or computers are strict (against), moderate, or off, but those settings are easily accessed and changeable. The concept of “prurience” that was once the basis for declaring reading or visual matter obscene is now out the window. Instead, any laws attempting to restrain this unfettered obscenity and vulgarity are considered an infringement on free speech.

This writer was invited to a lecture by someone representing the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). He spoke forcefully about the suppression of free speech that obscenity censorship represented, and how pleased he was that his organization had been at the forefront of crushing the accursed, rigid, Victorian morality behind all censorship.

During the Q&A following his talk, one person in the audience said that censorship was challenged because some literature like the novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence had some obscene passages; but it was nonetheless considered to have redeeming literary merit, which offset the need for censorship. But the questioner then asked, “What about patently obscene material which has no redeeming literary merit? Shouldn’t that material be banned?” The speaker just brushed off the questioner by saying, “I don’t think so.” He gave no reasons in support of his primitive position.

We know that obscene literature degrades the minds of the users. Lust in the heart and mind—not only homosexual lust as some moralists would say—is according to the Bible to be discouraged as it offends the Living God who desires us to live on the spiritual level. All lust outside of wedlock is ungodly. Wilberforce understood that the morals of the Bible are eternal and uplifting. We need to revamp our laws and enforce our laws that are already on the books. We conservatives complain about the sexualization of children in the present world of trannie-ology; but we must acknowledge that in all areas of morals, including the sexual, we have been too lax for decades in allowing immorality to hold sway. Just as we are surely glad to be rid of the travesty of slavery, we must stand wholeheartedly against the trashy tolerance that has developed over the past few decades.


Jeffrey Ludwig presently teaches philosophy at a public university. He has also taught at Harvard, Penn State, and Juniata College, and during a stint as a high school teacher was listed four times in Who’s Who Among America’s High School Teachers. His latest book, Christian Perspectives, Vol.1 is now available.


Featured: “William Wilberforce,” by John Rising; painted ca. 1790.

Ukraine and the Collapse of Western Values

“Russia, an aging tyranny, seeks to destroy Ukraine, a defiant democracy. A Ukrainian victory would confirm the principle of self-rule, allow the integration of Europe to proceed, and empower people of goodwill to return reinvigorated to other global challenges. A Russian victory, by contrast, would extend genocidal policies in Ukraine, subordinate Europeans, and render any vision of a geopolitical European Union obsolete. Should Russia continue its illegal blockade of the Black Sea, it could starve Africans and Asians, who depend on Ukrainian grain, precipitating a durable international crisis that will make it all but impossible to deal with common threats such as climate change. A Russian victory would strengthen fascists and other tyrants, as well as nihilists who see politics as nothing more than a spectacle designed by oligarchs to distract ordinary citizens from the destruction of the world. This war, in other words, is about establishing principles for the twenty-first century. It is about policies of mass death and about the meaning of life in politics. It is about the possibility of a democratic future.”

This is how Timothy Snyder, one of the most prominent academic representatives of the Western establishment, describes what’s at stake in the war in Ukraine, in the September issue of the American journal Foreign Affairs. Defense of “European values” against barbarism, democracy against dictatorship, heroic virtues against war crimes. Such is the narrative that has been served up to us, day after day, by Western leaders and media, since February 24, with a tone and a unanimity that broaches no dissent.

Are we really sure that this vision corresponds to reality and that this war corresponds to a struggle between the good guys and the bad guys? And what are these famous values that we hear so much about, but which we are careful not to define and, above all, to put to the test in our own behavior? For what is the value of a “value” that has been rendered useless because it has been adulterated or devalued by attitudes that are even more criminal than those of which the adversary is accused? These questions are not insignificant because, seen from the rest of the world, Europe is showing that it has failed to share its internal model—cooperation between member nations on an egalitarian basis of mutual respect—with the other nations of the world and that it is losing its honor and its credit with them.

An inventory is necessary.

The first problematic observation is that the founding value of Europe since 1945, the one that was proclaimed for seven decades to justify the creation and success of the European Union—peace between nations—has totally disappeared from official and media discourse since last April.

It is true that peace had already suffered a serious setback in the 1990s, during the Yugoslav war, when Germany’s premature recognition of the independence of Slovenia and Croatia set off a firestorm; and in 1999 the German and NATO chiefs concocted the false Operation Horseshoe and staged the Raçak massacre, allegedly planned by the Serbs to liquidate the Kosovars, and thus justifying the bombing of a European state for 78 days at the cost of dozens of deaths and billions of damages. This ideal of peace was also undermined by the gradual transformation of NATO into an increasingly aggressive alliance after the demise of the Soviet Union, as evidenced by the aforementioned attacks on Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, most of them committed in violation of international law. Not to mention the continuous bombing of the civilian population of Gaza or the deportation of the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands by the British to install a military base (Diego Garcia), recently condemned by the International Court of Justice.

Despite these deviations, peace, officially at least, remained a foundation for action and a claimed “value” of Europe and the West. It was in the name of preserving peace that President Sarkozy rushed to Moscow in the summer of 2008 to meet with President Putin after the failure of the war in Georgia, unleashed by Saakashvili.

It was also in the name of peace that Europe, led by France and Germany, negotiated and guaranteed the Minsk Agreements that followed the overthrow of the Ukrainian government and the uprising in Ukraine’s Eastern provinces after the February 2014 riots and the joining of Crimea to Russia. There had even been hope that peace would be possible between Ukraine and Russia in late March of this year, until the media coverage of Bucha and the visit of Boris Johnson in early April put an end to any hint of negotiations on the Western side.

Since then, peace has disappeared from the European horizon. Moreover, ministers and the media, led by the President of the European Commission, are constantly calling for more war, more arms deliveries, more sanctions, more financial support, more energy austerity, stigmatizing the few voices that dare to call for de-escalation and diplomacy—as traitors. This wide gap between proclaimed values and actual behavior undermines the entire Western discourse on values.

In the same vein, how are we to interpret the discourse of European leaders and media, who have no words harsh enough to castigate the nationalism of Serbia, Russia, Hungary, Turkey, China (vis-à-vis Taiwan), the chauvinism of the so-called “far-right” parties in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and elsewhere, as well as the separatism of the Catalans, of the Donbass and Crimean republics—but who then have every possible consideration for the secession of Kosovo, the independence of Taiwan, the occupation of the Golan Heights and the colonization of the West Bank, which are not recognized by international law, and for the “righteous struggle” of the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist battalions, which has been condemned by the United Nations in the resolutions against Nazism? How can one praise the nationalism of some by providing them with arms, financial support and political recognition, while condemning the nationalism of others, who, unlike the former, have not started any war? What is a value that deserves all respect, even when it is stained with blood, but is given no respect when it is expressed peacefully through the ballot box?

The second value defended by the West is democracy. As for peace, we want to applaud. But on closer inspection one has doubts. How can one justify the unconditional support to a country, Ukraine, under the pretext of democracy, when this same country has banned all opposition parties (last March), closed all non-governmental information channels (in 2021 and 2022), banned all opposition parties (last March), closed all non-governmental news channels (in 2021 and 2022), banned minority languages (and even majority languages, since Russian is spoken by two thirds of the population), has had dozens of journalists, political opponents and even negotiators murdered by its security services, and allowed rampant corruption to develop (122nd position in the world corruption ranking, not far from Russia), sold off 17 million hectares of good agricultural land to three American multinationals despite popular opposition, forcibly enlisted the male population in its army, executed prisoners of war, used its own civilian population as human shields (see the Amnesty report), filled its army and its administration with notorious neo-Nazi sympathizers—to name but a few of the facts that have been acknowledged by the dominant media? Is this really the model of democracy we want to defend?

And what about our own appetite for democracy when we rush to Baku to cajole the dynast Aliyev who keeps attacking Armenia, to Saudi Arabia to coax Prince MBS who had the journalist Kashoggi cut into pieces, to Qatar to smile at the emir, or to Cameroon to make friends with President Biya who has been in power for 40 years—for the sole aim of getting a little gas or oil? All this to boycott Vladimir Putin, who has only been president for 18 years and who is ready to deliver us less polluting gas and oil for cheap?

Similarly, there are no words harsh enough to denounce Russia’s interference in the affairs of democratic countries, as was the case throughout Donald Trump’s term and during the 2017 French elections. But what is the response when two American special prosecutors (Messrs. Robert Mueller and John Durham) establish the opposite? Nothing! On the contrary, we enthusiastically endorse our interference in the political functioning of third countries, as was the case in Venezuela in 2019 with the support for the self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido, with the putsch against Bolivian president Evo Morales and with all the color-revolutions designed to overthrow legitimate governments like the one in February 2014 in Ukraine.

Australian journalist and filmmaker John Pilger recounts that during his eighty-three years of life the United States government has succeeded in or attempted to overthrow fifty foreign governments, most of them democratic; that it has interfered in the elections of thirty countries; that it has waged war or dropped bombs on thirty countries, most of them poor and defenseless; that it has fought liberation movements in twenty countries and tried to assassinate the leaders of fifty nations—all this at the cost of carnage, massacres and destruction beyond reckoning. A fine example of democracy and respect for the people!

And finally, what are we to think of our own democratic functioning when we support a war without having consulted the citizens, when we scuttle neutrality without debate, as is the case of Switzerland, when we are engaged in warmongering against the opinion of the people? Let us recall in this regard the poll conducted in Germany and published on August 30 by the magazine Stern, to the absolute indifference of the Western media, because it is contrary to the dominant doxa: 77% of Germans are in favor of peace negotiations in Ukraine (as opposed to 17% who believe that nothing should be done); 87% believe that it is necessary to talk to Putin (as opposed to 11%); 62% that heavy weapons should not be delivered to Ukraine (as opposed to 32%). Another survey in Austria gave more or less the same results. These are popular opinions that we should not listen to.

The third category of values we are supposed to defend in Ukraine is human rights. Western ideologists claim that Russia committed a crime of aggression, the worst of all crimes according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, by launching its “special operation” against Ukraine. This is possible. But the Russians, in the same fashion as the Western accusations about the Uyghurs in China, counter that they have only responded to the crime of “genocide,” perpetrated by Ukrainian forces since 2014 in the Donbass, at the cost of 14,000 deaths, attested by the UN. Ditto for violations of humanitarian law, the taking of civilians as hostages, the execution of prisoners. According to estimates in August, the UN put civilian casualties at 5587 dead and 7890 wounded since February. That’s 6,000 dead and 8,000 wounded civilians too many, but it’s a far cry from the widespread massacre and hundreds of thousands of civilians killed by NATO troops and pro-Western armies in Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen.

Crimes against crimes, accusations against accusations. We are no further ahead if we look at things from a little distance. And in any case, if we are honest, we have to admit that we do not know enough at the moment and that, if we wanted to judge the supposed aggressor for his crimes, we would have to start with ourselves.

In the same way, the West, and Europe in particular, likes to present itself as a model of freedom of expression, compared to a Russia that would shamelessly flout them. But how to explain then that our sycophantic media trample all the criteria of objective information by unanimously taking sides with Ukraine, without listening to the other party? Altera pars audiatur say journalism manuals. On Wednesday morning, three experts were debating, on the morning news on France Culturel all of them viscerally anti-Russian, Edwy Plenel in the lead. Where is the famous pluralism of the press? The diversity of opinion? And why were the Russian media RT and Sputnik banned from the EU? Isn’t this a crass attack on freedom of expression, even when it is justified under the pretext of countering “Russian propaganda?” Since when is censorship democratic and representative of freedom of expression? And how can we justify the despicable treatment inflicted on Julian Assange, Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, because they denounced the turpitude of the NSA, the American crimes in Iraq, or the compromises of Hillary Clinton and the Biden son?

The last point, for a list that could be lengthened—is the flagrant violation of the right to private property, with the confiscation of the assets of the Russian Central Bank, the private assets of the oligarchs, and the sequestrating of billions of Afghan and Venezuelan assets by the American and British central banks?

The fourth and final category of values betrayed by Western practices is ecology and the fight against climate change. Since the Rio Summit in 1992, the West has posed itself, not without difficulty and with much internal debate, as the champion of the fight for the “preservation of the planet” and the development of green technologies by declaring war on CO2 emissions. In 2019, its political and media elites were swooning over Greta Thunberg and the youth-strikes, while at the same time calling on the countries of the South, which account for almost nothing of greenhouse gas emissions, to join the pack in exchange for huge investments, which the manipulative President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars.

Three years and six months of war in Ukraine later, what has happened? Nothing but an abandonment of all the promises made and the betrayal of the countries of the South. In the name of the fight for Ukraine and the “bringing of the Russian economy to its knees,” Europe has begun to import, at great expense and with great quantities of oil tankers and polluting bulk carriers, gas and shale oil that were once reviled. Coal-fired power plants are being reopened in Germany and Poland with the blessing of environmental ministers who would have cried scandal only 12 months ago. And soon it will be the turn of nuclear power plants.

All over Europe, the Greens, who were once at the forefront of the anti-nuclear and pacifist struggle, have become leaders of the most warmongering and anti-environmental policies, under the pretext that this would be temporary and that it would not compromise the climate objectives! Like the socialists who voted for military credits in 1914, today’s Greens have put on the green-gray uniform to adhere to the most virulent militarism and convert to the benefits of fossil fuels certified as “democratic” even though they are bought in Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Azerbaijan. Look for the error!

As for the countries of the South, they feel more cheated than ever. At the last Euro-African summit on climate change held in Rotterdam on September 5, not a single European head of state made the trip, with the exception of the Dutch host! This is a slap in the face that Africans will not soon forget, as the continent has only contributed 3% of historical greenhouse gas emissions and was promised $100 billion per year in aid from 2020. The European heads of state were too busy fine-tuning the latest sanctions against Russian natural gas.

The preceding catalogue of small and large violations of the values professed by the West in the context of the war in Ukraine is symptomatic not only of the hypocrisy of the West—which is nothing new—but of the collapse of the moral principles and exemplary behavior which it used to pride itself on, in order to justify its domination over the rest of the world. It was in the name of these values that it fought and won the Cold War against the Soviet adversary. The great diplomat and Cold War theorist George Kennan had already written in 1951 that “…the most important influence that the United States can bring to bear upon internal developments in Russia will continue to be the influence of example: the influence of what it is, and not only what it is to others but what it is to itself…. Any message we may try to bring to others will be effective only if it is in accord with what we are to ourselves, and if this is something sufficiently impressive to compel the respect and confidence of a world which, despite all its material difficulties, is still more ready to
recognize and respect spiritual distinction than material opulence.”

We have to admit that we are not on this path. Fed on propaganda, to the point of indigestion, Europe is convinced that it still embodies a moral ideal and that it can be satisfied with declaiming the moral clichés of the Cold War—Good against Evil, democracy against dictatorship—without having to apply them. Whatever the outcome of this conflict, whatever the responsibilities of each party, it is clear that it is only deceiving itself, and that this war, waged in the name of morality through the Ukrainians, is only the mask of a desire for universal predation and world hegemony that has never been satisfied and that no longer deludes—nor amuses—the other six billion inhabitants of the planet.


Guy Mettan is a well-known Swiss journalist, writer, and politician. His latest book is Creating Russophobia: From the Great Religious Schism to Anti-Putin Hysteria. His website is Planète bleue.


Featured: “Escuchando la lengua detractora” (Listening to the detractor’s tongue), by Edwin Alverio; painted in 2015.

Christ Against the Skeptics: The Example of St. Maria Goretti

There are those who take Christ’s commandment “thou shalt not judge” (Mt 7:1-6) as a philosophical sentence that aims at suspending all judgment, at all times and in all places. It would be necessary, therefore, to give in to a kind of suspension, of restraint marked by relativism; everything would have to be without a scale of values or appreciation. To give one’s opinion would be seen as an overstatement, the worst of vanities—the horror—almost nihilism. We would have to think of a life without truth that would lead us to a dead end. We thus read Christ as we read Sextus Empiricus, who urges us, in the face of the complexity of the things of life, to practice epoché, the virtue of the suspension of judgment, as a purgation against blabber, an extinction of bad, diffuse and confused thoughts, golden silence in the face of bronze logorrhea and endless palaver in search of the truth. You will not judge because my life is my life, your life is yours; we do what we want; you do your job and I’ll do mine. In essence, the provisional morality of the moderns is always in this direction.

It is because Jesus Christ died and rose again that His words have a scope that goes beyond the practical remarks of a Stoic philosopher. What Tertullian found absurd while giving him faith, credo quia absurdum; what is a folly born of the cross; what is a grandiose struggle against death, life—ends in eternal glory and gives Jesus’ words a strength that connects us to heaven. None of the great Latin moralists rivals the teaching of Jesus. Seneca teaches us to be happy for a long time, Jesus to be happy forever in His Kingdom.

The commandment of Christ is not of this kind. Modern people are assailed by these nonsense phrases inspired by the Gospel and rephrased in a limp manner: “There’s no accounting for taste;” “to each his own;” “who are you to judge?” When Jesus commands us not to judge, he does not forbid us to give our opinion on a painter, a film, a book; he does not forbid us to say what we feel and think. The judgment that Jesus speaks of is the condemnation of a person in view of eternal life. This judgment is not the same as the one commonly accepted.

Yes, Jesus forbids us to judge others in order not to be judged. To judge the other when one is vitiated oneself, deranged and stained by sin is of the Pharisees, the bourgeois Catholics that Bloy railed against, who in public adorn themselves with beautiful and good virtues while in private they sink. They have a damned mass inside them. Not to judge a person is not to lock him up in his sin but to leave him the possibilities of his grace. God is the only judge capable of judging for eternity a soul fixed at the moment of its death. To judge for eternity one’s neighbor is a matter that is beyond us; we are unworthy, incompetent. In doing so, we fall into the pride of doing without God and replacing Him. Our impotence brings us back to our condition and we shine before the greatness of God by our impotence.

So, an alcoholic husband who beats his wife should not scandalize me? And I should keep quiet for fear of judging, of ending up as a Pharisee. This is where we have to distinguish between judging the person and the actions. To judge the actions of a violent husband seems obvious. In the West, beating one’s wife does not require any explanation. However, this man, let’s admit that he is my father, that I love him, and wish him well, know his distress and pain, I would have every right and duty to condemn his behavior but I would also have the duty and right to put him back on the right path, to offer him the possibility of being redeemed and to make him find grace.

It is easy among us, among those who are called “traditionalists,” to take the greatest efforts, the most beautiful piety, the most beautiful set plate, and to make sure of one’s state of grace before the host at communion. It is easy then to condemn the one who out of despair, out of lack of hope, threw himself from the bridge into the Garonne. But the holy Curé d’Ars reminds us: between the bridge and the water, in his fall, the suicide may have had time to convert. What science do we have to know this and to judge in eternity a man converted in extremities? In the same way, before the woman who has had an abortion, anger and fury, like an alchemy, must change into mercy. Misericordes sicut pater.

And worse still, what about when you have a murderer before you? Such serious crimes, even if they are served in prison, cannot help but be branded on a man’s skin. In the perspective of eternity, however, this is the power of Christianity, a power that shakes the guts, disarms and upsets and can change a man and convert him. A society that lives by God understands that there are two kinds of justice, that of the body and that of the soul. One can condemn harshly and still forgive, one can acquit broadly and still fall into perpetual damnation. If the body of the condemned man has been punished, imprisoned, even executed, his soul belongs to no tribunal, no law, no judgment of men; it is left to God, supreme judge of a supreme court. A society that lives without God does not understand the need to save and judge souls. Modern society indulges in a real confusion between condemning, condoning and forgiving. The whole thing forms an indistinguishable fruit salad. Forgiveness has lost its metaphysical power and condemnation is often clothed in every excuse. It takes a powerful, almost supernatural fortitude to condemn a man’s heinous crimes and, at the same time, to hope for his conversion, the redemption of his crimes through confession and contrition in view of salvation. Christianity is gifted with this kind of story. Maria Goretti’s story is the proof.

The Example of St. Maria Goretti

Two families lived in a hamlet, lost in the scrub of Lazio. Assunta Goretti was a peasant farmer, widow, mother of two daughters. Mary, the elder, was a young girl of eleven, pretty, devout and pious. In the house next door lived the Serenellis, whose son, fat, vulgar, deranged, a masturbator, a fan of pinup girls, had his heart set on the young girl.

Only known photograph of St. Maria Goretti (1902).

One day when Assunta was in the fields, the young man found Maria in the courtyard that separated the two houses. “Come with me!” The pretty girl, understanding well what was being played out, refused. Alessandro insisted again and the girl refused again. Then, he took her arm, pulled her into the kitchen; thinking of raping, took off her clothes to satisfy his fatal desire. “Stop, stop, Alessandro, if you do that you will go to hell.” Furious because of this refusal, the big beast, taken by the demon, seized his knife and struck the young girl. He did not spare her. Five blows fell her to the ground. He then attacked again with nine more: perforated lungs, pierced heart, intestines, spleen. She is found in her blood. Agonizing, after the confession, in front of all, she exclaims, “Let him be forgiven, for I forgive him, in the name of God’s love.” Alessandro spent thirty years in prison.

One evening, in prison, he received a dream visit from Mary. He was overwhelmed. Behind bars, in irons, in the damp darkness of a cell, he was converted, spent years loving Christ. He was converted. When he got out of prison, he returned to Nettuno, fell on his knees in front of Assunta and asked for her forgiveness, who, in the name of Christ, forgave him. The next day both went to Mass and took communion together. Serenelli ended his life in the Capuchin Order, worshipping the blessed woman he had killed, in poverty and love of Christ.

Nothing seems to be right in this story. How can a young girl forgive her attacker so quickly and allow the help of grace? How can a mother agree to forgive her daughter’s murderer when the simplest thing would have been to curse him for life? How could this man, so heavy, feel the urgency of such a conversion to the point of being, in the end, the worshipper of his own victim and believing in the eternal life offered to God in remission of sins? Something is beyond us and beyond good sense and common sense.

Everything should have been simpler: once a killer, always a killer. Irrecoverable, irredeemable, irremissible. Through deep, unsuspected and inexplicable ways, the Lord offered him the possibility, whatever the opinion, whatever the doxa thinks, the possibility of conversion despite the horror, despite the crime. While this does not excuse anything and does not remove the weight of condemnation in the eyes of men, even the worst of us has the possibilities of his grace offered to us, and our judgment will not be able to do anything about it; our opinion, our preconceived notions, our suspicions, our suspicions can do nothing. The truth comes from God. Alessandro Serenelli is in the line of executioners who became mad in Christ, St. Paul being the first.

We do not know everything. Only God knows the nature of our heart, what is inside, with which black or red blood it is filled. Are these not the edifying and surprising examples that can change our view of judgment? There are suspicious men who, in good faith, can only converted by seeing it with their own eyes.


Nicolas Kinosky is at the Centres des Analyses des Rhétoriques Religieuses de l’Antiquité. This articles appears through the very kind courtesy La Nef.