Ever since Brexit, in Britain, the Italian referendum vote last week, the many polls showing the rennaisance of the Catholic right in France and Germany and now the Trump victory here in the states, there have been many analyses of what is happening in the west these days. Some say that all of these events represent a kind of populist revolt whipped up artificially by demogogic politicians using hate speech to corral the votes. Others say the populist revolt is real and would have happened without demogogic politicians because of the ravages causes by globalization on populations in every country throughout the world. Globalization has meant that the super-rich get richer and most of the rest of the world’s population gets immiserated. The only thing that interrupts this inevitable dialectic imposed on us by the neo-liberal elite (and embodied by the Clintons and the Obamas) is the occassional world economic collapse like we saw in 2008.
While there absolutely is a large scale reaction against the neo-liberal order going on across the world (as evidenced by the Sander’s campaign on the left and the Trump campaign on the right), I do not think that this analysis of the current political moment captures the whole story. Most especially I am interested in what the present political moment means for the Church.
When people rebel against globalization and the neo-liberal order with its identity politics, its politically-correct thought control police, its creation of “sacred victims” everywhere you look (from gays and lesbians to blacks and muslims etc), its promotion of abortion and pornography with the concomitant suicide of the west, its promotion of constant apologies for what the west supposedly inflicted on sacred victims and the constant war on religion, and the elevation of scientists as the new clerical order etc etc…I say when people rebel against all this …in my view they are rebelling against heresy. Therefore the so-called populist revolt is really a revolt against heresy. These practices and ideologies are all legacies of the French revolution and then of the various incarnations of Marxist philosophy. They can all be conveniently referred to as modernism or the modernist heresy.
The populist moment then represents a kind of general revulsion or rejection of the bill of goods being sold to ordinary people over the last few centuries of “enlightenment”. When ordinary people living in southern France in the middle ages came across the Albigensians or the Cathari they were both impressed and repulsed by them. They were impressed by them because these fanatics were clearly intelligent, good people. The problem was that they were clearly insane. They urged everyone to stop reproducing because they saw the world as entirely evil. Yet they practiced free love and despised marriage. They practiced abortion while counseling abstinence. They accumulated wealth while preaching voluntary and literal starvation so one could leave this vale of tears and so on. The Cathari women were given the political and religious power so the women basically ran the cult.
I think people today see the left-wing ideologues, the social-justice warriors so commonly produced by our universities today exactly as ordinary people in the middle ages saw the Cathari. There is a mixture of admiration concerning their fanatical passion to fight injustice and to stop all hate speech and protect all victims and so on…and then repulsion at the fanaticism and the effeminate hatred of the world and the worldly things of the flesh. just as their was an overt suicidal ideology at the heart fo the Cathari heresy, so too there is an overt suicidal ideology at the heart of the leftist ideology. The left sees the West as the source of all evil in the world and the Church as the source of the West. Thus, there is an almost fanatical hatred of the Church among “progressives” and other leftists in the West.
The Cathari Albigensian heresy contributed to the ideologies that the French philosophes picked up on and that then fueled the French revolution. It is an old story…gnosticism in new guises. That is what modernism is–a world-hating, effeminate gnostic ideology. And that is what the populations around the world are reacting to. they are rejecting on a mass scale the old gnostic heresy in its most recent incarnation in the ideologies of the neo-liberal elite.