The greatest danger is not that we will lose, but that we will win having become what we fight in winning. What will it profit us if we win the whole world and lose our souls?
Yet I am told, very often told, that this is merely weakness and defeatism. “We must fight as we must fight, sometimes nasty and when we have won and are done, we will drop those tools and live like gentlemen.” This is more or less what friends on both the right and left have said to me lately.*
Why? Why would decent people think that they must do bad that good may come. They believe the other side is so bad that normal politics will no longer work. This is true of some people, Christian people, I know on both the left and the right.
My conservative friends feel as if they have been losing for decades. If something tough is not done, the slide into decadence will continue and liberty will be lost. They hate crudity, lies, and ethical corner cutting. They avert their eyes when an illegal turns out to be a child or a mother who has been here for decades. These are not cruel people, but they have faced an educational system that will not even dignify their point of view with a rebuttal. They send good kids to government schools and they come back having heard only one side of the argument and it is never their side. Good citizens listen to music, go to theater, watch video, go to movies and everywhere they are mocked, their values are cast aside.
As a result, when someone promised them one nasty moment and then victory, then it feels like surgery. It will be brutal and painful, but then be over. There is a tendency to minimize the harms with the hope that this time we will have someone who will punch back for us. God certainly can use a Cyrus or even an ass, but I need not hope for Persian conquest or root for governance by an ass.
When he throws his one punch, maybe after four years, we can drop the bad means and go back to civility. We will solve this crisis by any means. One can even do so nobly: one hates what one must do, the people one must work with, but the sacrifice will be made. We will save orthodoxy, America, and honor by any means.
This is the White Terror and it did not work. Russians faced the Red Terror and followers of Lenin who preached a gospel of by any means. Against this, the rule following, the decency, seemed powerless. Why die like a gentleman when one could win and save Holy Mother Russia?
The White Terror unleashed hell on the enemies of Russia. Conservatives, moderates, and those opposed to the butchers in Moscow butchered the Bolsheviks in turn, but it was all for worse than nothing. First, no White Terror could ever match the horror that those with no ethics whatsoever could do. White was bloodless compared to the Reds.
Second, the White Terror grew and fed on prejudice. Soon Jews, always the Jews, became the target of the White terror squads. First it was pogroms, then it was burning out peasants who might have helped the Reds. Before very long, most Russians rightly found little difference between such Whites and the Reds. Whites lost all their virtue and were left only with the vices that had bred the revolution at the start.
Gentlemen became brutes, scholars killers, and Mother Russia was lost in blood drawn by those who professed to defend her. No old Russian was left, because in using any means, old Russia committed suicide. The tools of Satan could not be dropped because noble cause and good men ceased to be noble or good.
One cannot do evil and simply drop the tool. Plato and the Bible are right. Lies infect the soul. Wicked deeds, even for good ends, corrupt and soil and so when the time comes to stop, those who won, even if they win, are unable to turn back. The Revolution had won and destroyed the past the moment the defenders of the past were willing to use Red tactics to win a White victory.
“By any means” sometimes wins in the short term, a Charles X or Metternich turns back the clock using force, but failure is sure and the swing back from reaction will be one hundred times worse than what the original conservative was reacting to.
Reaction breeds revolution far more wicked than the original evil.
Aren’t you forgetting Lenin? Are you ignoring the anarchists defiling churches and murdering ministers?
I recall them and, God help me, I will never give into such men.
Nobody should doubt that there are rioters on the street. Like all leftists rioters since the 1930’s, they call themselves “anti-fascist” and use that good cause to hide their plans for liquidating millions who cannot adapt to new ways. In government, education, and media, there is an establishment that may not throw molotov cocktails on the streets, but do as they please where ever they have power. If they decide it is so, yesterday’s moral consensus is declared today’s evil.
Oddly, the left with power can never satisfy the “anti-fascists.” The leftist moderates agree that the system is evil, but go slowly from within the system. Many become part of the system and moderate into mere functionaries. The anti-fascists grow restless and long for direct action by any means. Soon a leader is found who starts with a small cadre of disruptors and waits, biding time until the moment has come to seize power.
The Red Terror comes then, in Russia, China, Eastern Europe, Korea, sub-Saharan Africa. Secularism has never been able to be satisfied with incremental change. Utopia, or at least more justice, must come quickly and so people begin to die.
There is, in the end, nothing to choose between when those on the right who fight fire with fire and use any means and those on the left who do the same. If you say: “by any means”, then you have lost faith . . . faith in God, in the power of virtue, and a Paradise coming that makes martyrdom worthwhile.
I am asked if all I advise is to lose . . . as if I am a too dainty to win. No. Fight. Fight hard. No fight is beautiful, dainty, or quite good, but do fight with honor, truth, and doing as little evil as we can. Why? I have faith: faith in God and that as Lincoln said that right makes might. If they kill us off, then our noble lives and deaths will remind future generations of what once was and could be again.
The wrong will not prevail forever, the dark will not triumph. We must die with clean hands, so those who win can govern with clean hands. This is not easy, we will do evil, but at least we can try.
I reject the “by any means” of the left and reactionary fear that adopts “by any means” on the Right. I reject Marxist-Leninism and Bannon-Leninism. Why? My faith is in the Cross, a sign of torture, becoming a Crown of the King of Kings. Let us fight by any noble means with hope in the power of the right as God gives us the ability to see the right.
* This is a not a direct quote of an individual, but a paraphrase of a sentiment from several people.
Based on a precis of a lecture at The Saint Constantine School college program.