Reports from the Ent Wald

The defenders of the ancien régime are wrong in thinking that every jot and tittle of the old moral order is correct, or was an expression of transcendent truths. But its assailants are wrong in thinking they can ignore the (very real) transcendent source of moral order, spin out a new one using "reason," and generate a civilization out of their own noodles.

The history of civilizations is one of:
1) People forge a living connection with the source of transcendent order.
2) That connection ossifies over centuries and becomes dead and brittle dogma.
3) Finally the old order snaps apart under attacks by relativists and nihilists (who are rightly angered at its stifling close-mindedness).
4) But rebellion is not itself a source of order, and so a period of chaos and decline ensues.
5) Finally, a new, living connection is forged.

We are roughly in phase three right now. Those who are frantic about the old order fading should relax a bit: civilizations come and go, and another one will arise.

Those who are self-righteous in their attacks on the old order should take a step back, and realize they are analogous to civilization's dung beetles: useful, but hardly a role to get all puffed up about.

5 comments:

  1. Who are "the defenders of the ancient regime" you are referring to? Since I assume you mean people around today (rather than defenders of pre-Revolutionary France), the statement is rather confusing, since there isn't much "ancient regime" left in the West at this late date. I am not really aware of any serious contemporary people (or any serious thinker of the past) who argue that "every jot and tittle of the old moral order is correct." Is this just about the tedious subject of same sex marriage again?

    If there is some sort of new civilization in gestation, it may well be a considerable step backward from the civilization the West has had for the last couple millennia. And I think those of us who love the civilization we have inherited are entitled to mourn its destruction and to despise those who are destroying it and the mascots to whom they want to turn over the world.

    I think you owe an apology to dung beetles for the comparison you make in the last paragraph.

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    1. "since there isn't much "ancient regime" left in the West at this late date."

      Come now: the Catholic Church is still here, isn't it? Still plenty of landed nobles kicking around Europe. But my very point is it is fading.

      "I am not really aware of any serious contemporary people (or any serious thinker of the past) who argue that "every jot and tittle of the old moral order is correct."

      I thought of mentioning that I was engaged in hyperbole, but then I thought, "No, it is so obvious everyone will realize the fact." Oops.

      "And I think those of us who love the civilization we have inherited are entitled to mourn its destruction..."

      Sure. Mourn away. I mourn with you, although perhaps not as much.

      "and to despise those who are destroying it"

      Hmmm: I would suggest that part of that civilization was "Love your enemy" and this healthy dose of despising him instead is precisely the rot that set in that has led to the crumbling!

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    2. I'm Jewish. "Love thy enemy" is not part of my cultural baggage. I respect Christianity immensely, but that part of it I am happy to do without. I don't think God asks us to be something other than human.

      Yes, I know the Catholic Church is still here but it has long since ceased to be much of a factor in Western culture. The Church itself has not demonstrated much respect for its own traditions recently, according to many old fashioned Catholics.

      I missed your sarcasm because it is very common to hear arguments against conservatism based on absurd caricatures of conservative views without seriously engaging real conservative arguments. Glad to hear this is not your shtick. ;-)

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    3. I continually fight against the people who would trash our cultural heritage as all "ignorance and superstition," Ian.

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  2. It is amazing to me how many libertarians on Facebook think marriage can be tossed aside as readily as socialists thought of private property. Maybe marriage *is* a silly contrivance--or worse yet, a patriarchal institution used to oppress women--but new people come into the world as helpless, yada yada yada, maybe we should tread more cautiously.

    (Note that I'm not even talking about gay marriage. I'm talking about marriage, period.)

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