The Benedict Arnold option

August 31, 2016 § 52 Comments

It would seem that there is a “Benedict Option“.

On the contrary: as the Internet Clown has observed, “Not even groups like the Amish escape the influence of liberalism.”

Picturing modern politics as a black hole is of course just an analogy, and a visual aid is just a visual aid.  Hopefully some analogies and visual aids help us better grasp reality, or prompt discussion and thought which help some of us better grasp reality.

In this latest analogy political liberalism – liberty and equality as what justifies the exercise of political authority – is the singularity at the center of a black hole.  What has not yet been explained is what constitutes, in the real situation, the force analogous to gravity.

A moment’s reflection reveals that the force analogous to gravity is commitment to or loyalty to liberalism on the part of individuals and communities.

Different individuals and communities have different traditions and preferences, and are thus attached to different baskets of unprincipled exceptions.  Different individuals and communities face different real-life limitations.  Different individuals and communities are committed to conserving different things; usually in such a way that liberalism itself is not challenged. Different individuals and communities have different ideas about what constitutes ‘authentic‘ freedom and equality.  Finally, the strength of commitment to liberalism varies in different individuals and communities, everywhere from a kind of mild unreflective acceptance to intense religious fervor.

The strength of the gravity well, the amount of influence it has over you and yours, is based on extrinsic factors and intrinsic factors. That is, it is based on your own commitments and the commitments of every individual and community to whom you have ties. There is very little that anyone individually can do about the extrinsic forces. And there is really no point in worrying about those extrinsic forces before you have fully neutralized liberalism in the one place where you actually do have significant say.

A “Benedict Option” involves an attempt to create community somewhere as far from the influence of modernity’s lies as possible; so that there is some alternative to modernity in some spheres of life and/or so there are remnants of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful remaining when modernity finally destroys itself, whenever that may be.

But there is no Benedict Option which does not begin with clear identification of political liberalism, in conjunction with explicit and unequivocal rejection of it.

If your small community is fighting for its ‘religious liberty’, for example, you are kidding yourself. If your plan is to vote in the Frog Casino King or Grandma Abortion Witch – both deeply committed liberals themselves – to get things ‘moving in the right direction’, you might as well prepare yourself for an accelerated collapse toward the singularity.  If your plan is to create a joint stock corporate-political formalism as a replacement  for democracy so that the machine which rules over us will make sure that the right kind of people remain free to shop amongst the boutique polities on offer in the political marketplace, you have things you ought to spend time thinking about which are more fundamental than politics. You are in no position to deal with the extrinsic forces pulling you toward the singularity, because you have not yet dealt with the intrinsic force.

Those kinds of attempts at a “Benedict Option” are already betraying themselves from within, before they even get started.  They aren’t a Benedict Option: they are a Benedict Arnold Option.

§ 52 Responses to The Benedict Arnold option

  • itascriptaest says:

    This is a great critique Zippy. I have read that MacIntyre regrets the way his final chapter of After Virtue has been taken out of context (principally by people like Dreher). I find MacIntyre to be calling for a general repetence of liberalism. MacIntyre has no patenice for liberal rights theory or liberal political structures. All of this is lost on Dreher who seems to give into a common (and dangerous) utopian American religious fantasy of a community of believers walling themselves off on a rural compound out West.

    If your small community is fighting for its ‘religious liberty’, for example, you are kidding yourself.

    As you noted, I suspect that a lot of the Benedict Option type communities will only in fact help preserve liberalism. I have tried pointing this out to some of the more ecumenical minded at the Orthosphere that when you have certain religious groups that literally defiy classical liberalism these are not groups we ought to be emulating.

  • Alan Roebuck says:

    I thought you were going to say, Since liberalism is fueled by loyalty, we need to become Benedict Arnolds (traitors) to liberalism.

  • Zippy says:

    Alan Roebuck:
    There are multiple ironies wrapped up in the Benedict Arnold reference.

  • TNPapist says:

    What do think of Christopher Ferrara’s use of the principle of double effect to justify voting for Trump in the following video. Ferrara also uses Pius XII’s

    I’ve read some of your older blog posts, but I do not if you’ve talked about Ferrara in the past, so I don’t know if you think of his writing.

  • TNPapist says:

    I didn’t finish the thought on Pius XII, my mistake. Ferrara uses the example of Pius XII instructing Catholics to vote in Italian elections to support the notion that if one thinks Trump is even slightly honest about his policies that one should vote for him.

  • semioticanimal says:

    What does an explicit and unequivocal rejection of liberalism look like in the concrete, particularly if the Benedict Option is insufficient as described?

  • Seriously, how do you keep coming up with these titles? It’s a gift.

  • TNPapist says:

    In case people want to watch the video above the interesting part is from 12:15 to 18:00 in my opinion.

  • Mike T says:

    All of this is lost on Dreher who seems to give into a common (and dangerous) utopian American religious fantasy of a community of believers walling themselves off on a rural compound out West.

    And even then the impact of the culture cannot be fully escaped. If it could, you wouldn’t see so many problems in the Amish and Mennonite communities that parallel mainstream society.

    One thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that our society will not be healed by just discussion and persuasion. At some point, some official is going to just have to say “f#$% the Constitution and judiciary, I’m going to outlaw abortion/pornography/whatever” and mean it in a pure political will sense. (Though technically if one hews to the actual words of the US Constitution, it provides no legal basis for precedent on any of that)

    The reality before us is that we are no so different from Iran in that our nominally democratic government is ultimately controlled by a Supreme Leader. In our case, it is the Supreme Court that acts in the capacity of the Ayatollah. The genius of our system if you will is that we hide that behind the cloak of legalism and not some sort of metapolitical political system.

  • CJ says:

    What does an explicit and unequivocal rejection of liberalism look like in the concrete, particularly if the Benedict Option is insufficient as described?

    For example, Dreher says that we need the BenOp because religious liberty is at stake. “Religious liberty” is a liberal concept. The idea is that we should treat all religions equally since we can’t know which religion is true (if any).

    Rejection of liberalism would say “the law, by definition must discriminate in some fashion, and it ought to discriminate in favor of the good, true and beautiful.”

  • Todor says:

    And what about tolerating heresy? Isn’t it the crux of the matter?

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Mike T,
    The fantasy of walled compound would be an improvement on Dreher’s ongoing agony of having to choose between Trump and Clinton.

  • TNPapist says:

    This picture seems timely.

  • donnie says:

    TNPapist,

    I think a good response to the double-effect argument can be found here:

    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2008/11/06/a-heap-of-double-effect/

    Regarding the views of Pope Pius XII specifically, I think the SSPX has tackled that topic rather well:

    This application of the Church’s social teaching to the particular situation of the time [the anti-Catholic and secular spirit of Italy in the 1940s] is in accord with the teaching of the moral theologians, who speak of the grave sin of omission for those who simply neglect to elect good, Catholic representatives, and of the duty of doing all in our power of encouraging suitable laymen to work towards using the electoral system to obtain worthy lawmakers.

    But how far we are removed from this situation. Clearly, we are no longer in the circumstance of having to choose between Catholic and non-Catholic, morally upright and liberal representatives. All the alternatives are liberal, the deception and the manipulation of the public by the media is rampant. In practice, it generally comes down to the question of whether or not it is permissible to vote for an unworthy candidate (e.g., a candidate who only approves abortion in cases of rape or incest), for he would at least (we suppose) be the lesser evil. In such a case, there can be no obligation to vote, for all the reasons mentioned by Pope Pius XII that could oblige, no longer apply.

  • donnie says:

    You can read the rest of the SSPX article here:

    http://archives.sspx.org/miscellaneous/catholic_principles_for_voting.htm

    The first article on the page is a good response to the Pope Pius XII question, IMO. However, I think the second article on that page, “Can a Catholic vote for a candidate who condones initiatives not in accord with the moral law?”, is 180 degrees wrong in attempting to justify voting for the lesser of two evils as “simply prudent and permissible” and their entire argument is ridiculous on its face.

    Not even groups like the Amish escape the influence of liberalism, much less the SSPX.

  • Well, the SSPX is clearly schismatic but it is also the modern apotheosis of liberal traditionalism – Liberals in Fiddlebacks – in that it chooses what it will or will not obey (it obeys only that which is in synch with its own will which means it does not obey) and it literally makes its own rues ( its canon aw is part old code part new etc etc.). and so there is a lotto entertainment to be derived from reading so many soi disant trads supporting a schism despite Tradition itself completely repudiating the veil idea that there is such a thing as a good schism.

  • The SSPX is not schismatic.

  • Hrodgar says:

    If they have avoided formal schism, it is largely due to the very softness on the part of the Vatican that they abhor. Consecrating bishops not only without the permission of, but in express contradiction to the clear command of, the Roman pontiff was certainly an objectively schismatic act; Quartus Supra is quite clear on the point, and is probably worth a read anyway. The question of schism in this case seems, however, to have been kept somewhat ambiguous, and I think deliberately so, again because the very tendencies in the Vatican which the SSPX, albeit with good reason, objects to.

    And anyway, Mick does make some good points, whether they turn out in the end to have been in schism properly so called or not. His position is, at least apparently, no less reasonable than the unqualified approval that comes their way, and they are certainly not unaffected by liberalism.

    Probably the most sympathetic skeptical critique of them I’ve read is the Rad Trad’s “Quo Vadis, FSSPX?”; might be worth a look after you get done with Quartus Supra.

  • The position of the SSPX, based on my research amounts to this:

    1) They are not in schism

    2) They are very, very out of line

  • Hrodgar,

    The “Quo Vadis” article was certainly…something. Keep in mind that in the same article this was written:

    The truth is that Benedict XVI is not the Pope of the Catholic Church. The church he leads is not the Catholic Church. If you wish to be truly Catholic, reject the false church whole and entire. Have nothing to do with it. Join the sedevacantists, who will be the last true resistance against the New Church. The sedevacantists have retained the true faith whole and entire; they have not “adjusted” Church teachings to justify their resistance to the new religion of Vatican II or the evil disciplines emanating from modernist Rome. Sedevacantists would be offended to have Benedict XVI declare them in union with his false church!

    So I’m not taking them entirely seriously.

  • Zippy says:

    I thought donnie’s point was that a particular argument which happened to be made by the SSPX was a good argument. Endorsing one of their arguments hardly constitutes endorsement of the society itself, particularly given donnie’s disclaimer about another argument of theirs being ridiculous on its face.

  • Zippy. You’re right, and I was at least enlarging the point if not distracting from it.

    +++++++++++++++++++++

    Catechism of St Pius X

    16 Q. Who are schismatics?

    Schismatics are those Christians who, while not explicitly denying any dogma, yet voluntarily separate themselves from the Church of Jesus Christ, that is, from their lawful pastors.

    ++++++++++++++++

    The SSPX schismatics established a rival episcopacy to which they adhere and that is non possums in Catholic Tradition

  • Zippy says:

    FWIW I agree with the point, which donnie also raised. More generally, it is a common traditionalist trap to try to fight liberalism with liberalism, fight rejection of authority with rejection of authority. It is an understandable error but an error nonetheless; a human response to the paradox of what to do about a liberal king, an anti-monarchy monarch.

  • Hrodgar says:

    malcolm,

    I suppose I should have included a link. This is the article I was speaking of: http://theradtrad.blogspot.com/2014/01/quo-vadis-fsspx.html

  • Hrodgar says:

    Didn’t realize Novus Ordo Watch had written an article with the same title. Huh. Yeah, not what I was going for at all.

  • […] bleak picture, I know.  But I have also already mentioned the critical difference between political liberalism and gravity.  Political liberalism derives […]

  • Thanks for the link, Hrogar. I’ll check it out.

  • Mick Jagger,

    I do agree with Zippy and donnie, but for what it’s worth, you’re cutting down a very complex issue to a soundbite. That’s, to put it mildly, not the full story of what happened.

  • Believe it or not, I have great respect for Pope Paul VI. He came into the Church at a complex time and was obviously infected by the modernist rot. At the same time, “Humane Vitae” was a brave and necessary document, and later in his papacy he seemed to be disillusioned with the extent of the modernism in the Church; it seems, from some of his quotes, that that really isn’t what he hoped would happen.

    In any case, “Humane Vitae” helps me have a lot more respect and good will for that Pope than I otherwise would have.

  • donnie says:

    I thought donnie’s point was that a particular argument which happened to be made by the SSPX was a good argument. Endorsing one of their arguments hardly constitutes endorsement of the society itself.

    Yes, precisely. My aim is not to start a debate over the SSPX. But since Mr. Ferrara cited Pope Pius XII’s March 10, 1948 address to priests in Rome as a magisterial pronouncement applicable to our current situation, I wanted to point out that the SSPX, a group that shares Mr. Ferrara’s views on most things, does not buy his argument one bit.

    Nevertheless, one good article doesn’t mean the SSPX have it all figured out with regard to voting either. Their second article on the same page of the link I posted is a rather atrocious attempt to justify voting for “the lesser of two evils” as “simply prudent and permissible.”

    Anyway, getting back to Mr. Ferrara’s argument, he says that if a person believes Trump is being honest about his commitment to the pro-life cause, then the moral question of who to vote for in this election is clear. My question to Mr. Ferrara would then be, what if a person believes Trump is being honest about his commitment to enact mass deportations of political undesirables? What if a person believes Trump is being honest about his commitment to “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”? Is the moral question of who to vote for supposed to be clear for these people too?

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    But since Mr. Ferrara cited Pope Pius XII’s March 10, 1948 address to priests in Rome as a magisterial pronouncement applicable to our current situation,…

    On the one hand there is Pope Francis’ post-synodal exhortation addressed to “TO BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND DEACONS
    CONSECRATED PERSONS CHRISTIAN MARRIED COUPLES
    AND ALL THE LAY FAITHFUL” (literally in all caps, in its official release) in his explicit capacity as “THE HOLY FATHER”. I have a notion of what I believe Ferrara thinks of that document, and his thoughts may not be too far off from my own.

    On the other hand is a speech that Pius XII gave to his diocesan priests while acting in his capacity as diocesan bishop of Rome (for those unaware of Catholic inside baseball the Pope is also the Bishop of Rome, a separate office as an ‘ordinary’ diocesan bishop, with his basilica at St. John Lateran (as opposed to St. Peter’s qua Pope); a truly beautiful church a short walk from the Holy Stairs which Christ ascended up to be judged by Pilate, stairs brought from Jerusalem and installed in Rome by St. Helena — but I digress) — a speech only available in Italian, at least on the Vatican website. That speech is rather careful to explicitly state that it only applies in the precise circumstances in Italy in which it was given. Was that part of the speech also an exercise of the Pope’s authoritative magisterium that applies to us now, or are we just picking and choosing which parts of that speech are part of the Pope’s authoritative magisterium that apply to us now?

  • Wood says:

    Donnie,

    I’m a non-voter, and I won’t start now. But I’m tempted to vote for Trump in the way I’d be tempted to throw my shoe at Hillary from 40,000 fools back at her inauguration – both probably just as manly and effective at combating the real problem. Fortunately, Trump keeps saying things to dispel my temptation. Those waterboarding statements are despicable and come up more than I would have expected. I’m (naively) shocked so many Christians are applauding a statement from someone who is basically saying he will torture people even better and harder than prior Presidents have tortured people. I’m sympathetic to Ferrara’s thoughts that he just wants to “buy time” to homeschool and raise his kids. But I check myself that there are so many wrong assumptions there. Geez, happy Labor Day eh? 🙂

  • donnie says:

    Zippy,

    The term, “unprincipled exception” comes to mind…

  • donnie says:

    Wood,

    I don’t deny the temptation for a moment. Swearing off voting was a lot easier back when Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton was a forgone conclusion. But then the Golden Wrecking Ball came out of nowhere and I have to admit the temptation to get on board was strong. Hell, it still is pretty strong.

    Probably the thing that I struggle with the most about this election is that while I recognize the childishness and futility of throwing a shoe at Hillary, and won’t be throwing one myself, deep down I really want to wake up on November 9th to find out that the majority of the country threw their shoes at Hillary anyway.

  • Mike T says:

    donnie,

    Just remember, you can write in whoever you want. In one race, I literally wrote “Cthulhu” as my choice because it was only the incumbent running.

    If every conservative who can’t stand Trump came out and vote for “Mickey Mouse” or “McAfee/Cthulhu 2016” it would still send a message that the majority of the country didn’t want Clinton even if she wins by a narrow margin.

  • TNPapist says:

    To be honest, I am slightly tempted to vote for the Frog King myself, especially after watching Ferrara’s video, but I felt (correctly in this case) that Zippy and others probably addressed Ferrara’s arguments.

  • Wood says:

    TNPapist,

    I’ll defer to Zippy and others, but personally I feel like a recovering alcoholic regarding liberalism. It *may* not be a sin for an alcoholic to enter into a bar, but the safest way of preventing a falling back into alcoholism is to abstain and flee from those bars. Regardless of my temptations to vote, I’m abstaining.

  • donnie says:

    Mike T,

    If we’re going to play the “if every conservative did X” game, I’d rather that every conservative repent of liberalism and recognize the authority, the laws, and the eternal reign of Christ the King.

  • Hrodgar says:

    MikeT,

    So what?

    Let us grant, for the sake of argument, setting aside problems that arise from attempting to communicate via voting, that such a thing would “send a message that the majority of the country didn’t want Clinton.”

    Who doesn’t already know that? And what makes you think anybody would care?

  • TNPapist says:

    Long story short, I don’t think I’ll be voting for the Frog King (or anyone else) at this point. The points about double-effect and the context of Pius XII orders knocked me back in the not voting camp. To be perfectly honest though the temptation to vote would be much harder to resist if I lived in a battleground state (that probably shows that liberalism runs deeper in me than I want to admit).

    This is slightly off topic, but is there a list of articles on Zippy’s site that are recommended to start off with when reading. I’ve been an on and off lurker/reader since 2015 and I eventually came to understand where Zippy et al where coming from jumping from article to article (as well as other sites like Bonald’s). I was thinking of sending some of Zippy’s articles to friends, but I am afraid they would not understand where Zippy was coming from and they would not necessarily get the full effect. Thanks

  • TNPapist says:

    Oh… I just saw the list of permaposts… to be honest I mostly read the mobile version of this site and never noticed. If there are any other recommended articles that would be appreciated, but otherwise ignore the second half of my previous comment.

  • …you’re cutting down a very complex issue to a soundbite. That’s, to put it mildly, not the full story of what happened.

    But that observation holds true for every single problem the One True Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church has ever faced and the one answer never permitted as an answer to any of the problems ever faced is schism.

    I’ll leave it at that as the sspx problem is only tangential to the topic.

    Thanks for your patience, Zippy.

  • donnie says:

    Mike T,

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in my earlier comment. When I said that I really want to wake up on November 9th to learn that a majority of the country threw their shoe at Hillary, I meant that I want to see the majority of the country to vote for Trump, despite all the moral reasons that nobody ought to. Deep down I know that one of those two individuals is going to be president, and as flawed a man as Donald Trump is, he is the best major party nominee for president this country has seen in a long, long time.

    When I assumed this election would be globalist sociopath Bush vs. globalist sociopath Clinton, swearing off voting was easy. Sometimes I wonder if God sent this country a nationalist sociopath just to test me…

    Wood’s alcoholism analogy is rather apt. If I let myself anywhere near that voting booth on November 8, I will pull the lever for Trump, as terrible as that sounds. Liberalism, especially right-liberalism, is an addiction. And I’m trying to stay off the bottle.

  • But that observation holds true for every single problem the One True Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church has ever faced and the one answer never permitted as an answer to any of the problems ever faced is schism.

    So what? My comment stands. Calling it a schism is boiling down an extremely complex situation to a soundbite, and from where I’m standing is probably not true.

  • “If your plan is to vote in the Frog Casino King or Grandma Abortion Witch – both deeply committed liberals themselves – to get things ‘moving in the right direction’, you might as well prepare yourself for an accelerated collapse toward the singularity.”

    That was a special kind of brilliance. Thank you.

  • donnie says:

    Slightly off-topic, but since the Frog Casino King has been mentioned quite a few times already I thought I’d share this hilarious piece of satire for anyone that could use a good laugh:

    http://a-cnn.com/index.php/articles/item/2027-trump-becomes-catholic-now-running-for-pope

  • Step2 says:

    donnie,
    That was really impressive. However, in light of recent events it could use an update:
    LAUER: And when people like me press you for details like that gentleman just said on what your plan is, you very often say, I’m not going to give you the details because I want to be unpredictable.
    TRUMP: Absolutely. The word is unpredictable.
    LAUER: But yesterday, you actually told us a little bit about your plan in your speech. You said this. Quote, “We’re going to convene my top bishops and they will have 30 days to submit a plan for soundly and quickly defeating modernists.” So is the plan you’ve been hiding this whole time asking someone else for their plan?
    TRUMP: No. But when I do come up with a plan that I like and that perhaps agrees with mine, or maybe doesn’t — I may love what the bishops come back with. I will convene…
    LAUER: But you have your own plan?
    TRUMP: I have a plan. But I want to be — I don’t want to — look. I have a very substantial chance of winning. Make Rome great again. We’re going to make Rome great again. I have a substantial chance of winning. If I win, I don’t want to broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is.
    LAUER: But you’re going to…
    TRUMP: And let me tell you, if I like maybe a combination of my plan and the bishops’ plan, or the bishops’ plan, if I like their plan, Matt, I’m not going to call you up and say, “Matt, we have a great plan.” This is what Pope Francis does. “We’re going to have a Year of Mercy start on a certain day.”
    LAUER: But you’re going to convene a panel of bishops, and you’ve already said you know more about modernists than those bishops do.
    TRUMP: Well, they’ll probably be different bishops, to be honest with you. I mean, I’m looking at the bishops, today, you probably saw, I have a piece of paper here, I could show it, 88* bishops and archbishops endorsed me today.

    *I’m sure it is merely coincidence Trump managed to come up with exactly 88 official supporters.

  • donnie says:

    Haha, very funny Step2.

    Honestly though, if a converted Trump did somehow manage to become Pope and his entire plan was, “get Cardinals Burke and Sarah and Archbishop Schneider in a room together and wait for them to come up with some great ideas,” well, all I’d have to say is “Deo gratias!”

  • […] an election outcome, the more you must first ignore, and then embrace and affirm, liberalism.  The objective potency of your affirmation of liberalism always vastly outweighs your objective potency in terms of determining the […]

  • […] I despise the kind of trashy culture where people have paternity tests revealed on ‘live’ TV while screaming at each other.  But I can’t help being aware of it. There is no escape from it. […]

  • […] philosophy is right there in its name: liberty.  As long as the alt-right is going on about free speech and freedom of religion and the like it is simply policing liberalism’s worst excesses: preserving liberalism’s […]

  • […] idea, but a very real force which operates in society: a pervasive influence as inescapable, for individuals and small communities, as gravity.  Political liberalism is a doctrine with vast numbers of adherents, riddled with […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading The Benedict Arnold option at Zippy Catholic.

meta

%d bloggers like this: