Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Remnants And Recluses

     No, I’m not going to blather about the Brussels bombing. There are a lot of commentators doing that already. Besides, the evidence is quite clear that the barbarians are already inside civilization’s walls. Indeed, they were invited in. What is there to be done about them now? War? Against whom? Pogroms? Sorry, I’m booked up through the Last Trumpet. A mass roundup and expulsion of Muslims from the First World? Call me when you get that planned and organized.

     Our chances to avert what’s coming from Islam’s votaries have all expired. There will be bloodshed, probably bloodshed so massive that all that’s gone before will seem mere prologue, and it will come to our shores. Brace yourselves as best you can.

     When a catastrophe strikes, such as a tsunami or an earthquake, people tend to come together to begin the remediation of the damage. When things spend a long time gradually getting really bad – systemically, organically bad, such that no one can go untouched by the badness – as they have in these United States, people tend to come apart: to confine themselves to ever smaller groups of the trustworthy and reliable. Sometimes those groups get down to populations of one.

     Jon Gabriel of Ricochet presents us with some relevant thoughts:

     A plurality of Republicans have now abandoned the ideals of a Republic while a large majority of Democrats abandoned them decades ago. As conservatives talk of third parties and protest votes, they should also plan for their likely fate as America’s Remnant.

     The concept of a Remnant was first seen in the Old Testament. When the prophet Isaiah was charged with speaking uncomfortable truths to an unwelcoming public, the Lord promised he wouldn’t change the minds of the majority. Instead, Isaiah’s blunt words were intended for a faithful minority from whom restoration would ultimately emerge.

     Gabriel, pace the great Albert Jay Nock, analogizes Isaiah’s Remnant to the position of the contemporary American lover of freedom. The parallel is well conceived. Few indeed are the genuine boosters of a free, Constitutional order. We’re heavily outnumbered by the “yes, buts” who’ve cast their lots with one of the populist demagogues currently dominating the political landscape. Barring Divine intervention, one of those demagogues will become the next president – and given the characters and observable proclivities of those persons, now that successive administrations have burst all the restraints once respected by the executive branch, Congress will slide into effective irrelevance.

     The future does not look good. More, the nation has already been badly weakened by public policies that are stupid at best, evil at worst. America will balkanize further, whether overtly or covertly. The deterioration of our social and economic bonds will cause many to suffer. Some will die before their time.

     The function of a Remnant such as Gabriel and Nock have described is to “keep the flame alive:” to preserve the memory of what was, why it came to be, and why it has crumbled; to pass that memory on to others who happen into our company wondering what has become of the greatest, grandest nation ever to grace the globe; and to wait for an opportunity to reassert ourselves, hopefully to reclaim liberty and justice for all.

     Remnants are in their nature minorities, often tiny minorities. Sometimes they consist of individual, isolated minds: recluses. Indeed, that will become ever more the case as the forces compelling us to distrust one another have their way with us.

     A recluse is writing this. That there will be more like me brings me neither comfort nor satisfaction. I profoundly wish it could be otherwise.

     In 2009, when I wrote:

     Whenever and wherever men decide that they cannot trust one another to behave honorably, to meet their obligations and honor their commitments, or to cleave to fundamental moral principles about violence, theft, fraud, filial duty, and false witness, the sequel is always the same: we recur to the State, the institution whose sole instrument is force. We accede to laws innumerable, expecting them to substitute for trustworthiness in our fellow men. They seldom have that effect, for every law, however well intentioned and carefully designed, creates a black market in the behavior it forbids: an inducement for evil men to sell their willingness to accept the risks of violating it.

The State, of course, is perfectly happy to take the burden, for its operators are past masters at the twinned arts of taking credit for good outcomes and sloughing the odium for bad ones onto others' shoulders. By gentle, all but imperceptible degrees, it pares away our freedom, our property, and what remains of our willingness to trust one another, gobbling down the slices with Pantagruelian voracity. The progression can have only one terminus, yet most of us remain willing to accept politicians' protestations of devotion to the commonweal in the teeth of all experience...until the day we find our own oxen being filleted for our masters' tables.

That's usually the day we discover that all the sand has fallen to the bottom of the hourglass...that the vector of our subjugation can no longer be reversed.

     ...things were already pretty bad. In the seven years since then they’ve gotten much, much worse.

     Think about governmental interception of all electronic communication. Think about the current campaign, by both Democrats and Republicans, to effectively destroy the privacy of private citizens. Think about the greatly expanded regulatory state. Think about the assaults on freedom of expression and religion, being carried on by both governments and nominally private institutions. Think about the mass importation of Muslims. Think about the mass indoctrination of your children going on through the entertainment media and the “public” schools. Think about the bounties being offered to private citizens for betraying the confidence of their neighbors. Think about the riots and massive property destruction that have followed the death of some black thug.

     How much trust in anyone can you afford, Gentle Reader?

     My personal reclusiveness peaked long ago. Since my retirement a year ago, I’ve seldom left my home except to go to Mass. But I’m an atypical case, a natural isolate who’s always preferred solitude and the company of my own thoughts. Look rather at your friends and neighbors. Are there any who seem to have withdrawn into themselves, to eschew the pleasures of society for a much greater amount of time alone?

     You’ll see more of it. I’m morally certain of that. Even those who’ve elected to follow one or the other of the prominent demagogues will feel the sharpening of the disincentives to trust and socialize. Already the most innocent of remarks, heard by the wrong party, can result in one’s ruination. Membership in any of a number of organizations is becoming a mark of unacceptability that can get a member shunned.

     There is no Last Graf. Just watch the crowds. Watch the incentives that drive them and the directions they adopt. Watch as they shrink, little by little, calving off splinter societies of ten here and a dozen there. Then watch those splinters as the dynamic tears at them.

     Inside every Remnant are N Recluses biding their time, until there arrives at last the right and necessary moment to get out.


Oldfart said...

A slightly different take on the "remnant" was posted by Mike Vanderboegh in December of 2008.
I'm dealing with a tablet and fat fingers here so I'll not try to cut and paste it. Instead, I'll ask any who might be interested to Google "We will not go gently into that bloody, collectivist good night." Mike's a pretty good writer too.

D. Gottfried said...

I appreciate your site and your efforts therein. If I might make an observation that God saves a remnant for HIS purposes. In our current cesspool that has ripened over the last century, we tend to forget that this isn't about us. And while God loves His own in their fragile limitations of time and space, He still exercises a sovereignty that is no respecter of man and his self centered agenda, both corporately and individually. The forces that rail to destroy us are also set against God and if we are to accomplish something "good" and/or restorative then our wills need to be set upon God's directions for us, both corporately and individually. And the conundrum exists when you have prayed all you can for direction and then you are finally compelled to actually DO something. We should hope to be so lucky as to be led to exercise exceptional charity. History is rife with examples of righteous men rising up with arms to exact a terrible price on tyrants and their lackeys. Personally, I am torn between the seduction of nationalistic jingoism and then remembering who I am called to be and to follow. There is no clear overlap and, as a nation, we continue to take on water. That may be part of God's plan for an errant nation. That DOES set the stage for a remnant to emerge but I think it will have less to do with politics and more to do with calling a people up and out of the cesspool.

Unknown said...

I also have a different take on the definition of the so-called 'remnant' and they certainly aren't the faux liberty-loving 'conservatives' of the punditocracy or the GOPe. No hint of liberty-loving in that direction. Only the right hand of the progressive oligarchy. The 'Trump demagogue' meme is getting very old very fast.

Anonymous said...

Very well written. Thank you.

I use to think of myself as being in the remnant of the so-called 'Liberty Movement'. I now question if a 'Movement' actually exists. Certainly folks seem to be dividing into smaller groups. As the 'pot slowly comes to a boil', folks who seemed 'like-minded' a few years ago now seem less compatible. Perhaps we might change if patriots took the offense? I don't know.

Shawn said...

Anon, 3-24/2:44,

I do think a Liberty Movement exists, but it is one that has no centralized leadership to speak of, nor has it any largely definable structure. This isn't a bad thing either, as these kinds of organizations are very hard to kill. Just look at the troubles we're having with the war on terror for an example. The division you see, IMO, is due to people becoming less sure about the number of those willing to stand firm with them, and due to peoples' current tendency to fixate on each others' differences, rather than that which can bind them together in solidarity. Divide and conquer is a tactic of the left, and they use it well. The fact that folks seem less compatible of late is likely due to them falling prey to this tactic, which must be resisted at all costs! As for patriots taking the offense... personally, my faith doesn't allow for such intentions. That doesn't mean that any would be aggressor will have an easy time of subjugating me or mine; they will be met with fierce violence in a fight to the death, but only one which I don't initiate. In a world where battle lines are near nonexistent, influence can be had cheaply, and folks like you and I can become pawns in someone else's game, this is the best I can do for now. We'll se what the future brings.


Anonymous said...

Two Poems for these dark and troubled times:(both adapted from the noble works of others)

I stand amidst desolation,
In this land of broken kingdoms.
Where the cold and pitiless waste,
Gnaws at the dying heart,
Of our dying lands.

For I have come,
Through Fire and Darkness,
And watched as the lawless
Burned the world.

And in these ruins,
I have shored myself.
Against Time’s wreckage,
And across the decay of years.

That there might one day be,
When the world has changed,
The light of a distant dawning.

Yet for now,
All is darkness,
In the halls of the dead.
All is silence,
In the halls of the dead.

Behold the halls which stand in darkness,
Behold the cold winds which blow in the emptiness.
For these are the rooms of ruin,
Where the spiders spun,
And the great machines fell silent,
One by one.
And vast the echoes across endless night,
And the soft winds sigh,
Across the desert sands,
That once were seas.

We have wandered far alone,
The sun went down an hour ago.
I wonder if we face towards home,
As we walk in silence upon broken roads.

For if we lost our way,
In the light of day,
How shall we find it,
Now that night has come...

God be with us, the faithful remnant...
-The Grey Wanderer

Anonymous said...

You query, "... My personal reclusiveness peaked long ago. Since my retirement a year ago, I’ve seldom left my home except to go to Mass. But I’m an atypical case, a natural isolate who’s always preferred solitude and the company of my own thoughts. Look rather at your friends and neighbors. Are there any who seem to have withdrawn into themselves, to eschew the pleasures of society for a much greater amount of time alone?..."

Way before my retirement (five years ago), the time I spent among people was related to work and familial responsibilities. Now, living alone with but dog and cat for company, I find the animals better company than the people with whom I associated (though often accuse myself of having become more animal than person0.

Now, even trips to town for necessities creates a maelstrom of emotion that I sometimes lose and postpone trips to the very end of "got to absolutely have it now!". When in town, I have no shame in telling people how little I want to be among them.

I am One with my Reclusive nature and make no apologies for my dislike of people, though God and I do often have discussions as to the "Why?" I am as I am.