“To stamp out world Communism I would be willing to destroy the entire universe, even to the furthest star.”

“To stamp out world Communism I would be willing to destroy the entire universe, even to the furthest star.” December 23, 2014

Ryan McMaken on some of the truly insane things rattling around in the attic of conservatism.

All merely human political ideologies, even the ones we like, are–apart from grace–capable of willing (and, if we are not careful, enacting) gigantic evil–and often in reaction to gigantic evil. The appalling thing about our present age is that, so far, a great many Catholics are more shaped by, than shaping, our culture and are quite willing to not merely endure, but cheer for, the beloved mortal sins of their political tribes (abortion for lefties, torture for righties, unjust war for everybody). To those tempted to play this game (and who isn’t?), Jesus has a warning: “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.”(Mt 5:13).

We live in an hour when we are being called to put Jesus and the Faith before all the traditions of men. We must not fail Him in this.

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  • Marthe Lépine

    There is a question I had wanted to ask before: I remember reading in a blog some time, possibly this one, something to the effect that when someone “cultivates” hate for someone else, it can happen that the “hater” would eventually start acting like the person being hated and even imitate some of that hated person’s faults. And I have been wondering if that could also happen on the scale of a country, such as, for example,the US appearing to become increasingly totalitarian after hating everything “communist” and totalitarian for so many years. And, before someone stones me to death, this is an honest question on which I would love Mark’s response.

    • capaxdei

      You become what you love. So don’t love to hate.

    • Dave G.

      Possible. Though it could also be less innocent. It could be that those who screamed against everything totalitarian and everything communist were, in the end, merely biding their time.

  • antigon

    ‘We live in an hour when we are being called to put Jesus and the Faith before all the traditions of men. We must not fail Him in this.’
    Not sure a prominent prelate you love thinks that qualifies as the ‘deep theology’ for which he recently praised the public perjurer Walter Kasper; but if not, one joins you in hoping he will change that view.

    • Marthe Lépine

      I find it hard to understand what you just wrote and hard to see what it has to do with the subject at hand… Was it what is being called an “ad hominem”?

      • antigon

        ‘Was it what is being called an “ad hominem”?’
        No. It was proposing Padre Kasper’s ‘deep theology’ is more disposed to the traditions of men, in particular adultery, than the Faith Mr. Shea recommends, & for which Thomas More was martyred.

        • Marthe Lépine

          I am a little disappointed. I have read so many very good comments from you in the past few weeks, and this one is not at your usual level. But nobody’s perfect, I suppose.

          • antigon

            Ah, dearest M. Lepine, while granting my perfections dim to non-existent, I fear your disappointment may lie less with expression than approval of content.

      • Heather

        It was a snark about Pope Francis and Cardinal Casper, and not particularly related to the subject at hand.

        • antigon

          Dear Heather:
          Unless of course the introductory quote of Mr. Shea’s about the Faith & the traditions of men had some relation to said subject.

  • Marthe Lépine

    I wrote my first comment/question before following the link to the actual article, and now I am truly frightened. Many of the ideas quoted there and attributed to early so-called conservatives (I wonder about that name, since I cannot see much that is conservative
    in suggesting the destruction of an entire “civilization” to further an
    ideology) whose names I am not familiar with since they spoke or wrote mostly when I was in my 20’s and not particularly interested in US politics, seem to me to be truly and deeply evil, and I am afraid that that evil has continued to fester and maybe even grow in US politics. However I cannot think of any human solution by the present time. Or, maybe, praying and fasting and being prepared to suffer persecution, and a lot of effort to keep hoping that God is leading history…

    • Alma Peregrina

      “I cannot think of any human solution by the present time.”

      The human solution to this is to acknowledge that humans don’t have perfect solutions, so they shouldn’t sacrífice entire civilizations in order to further theoretically perfect solutions.

    • I think that the Buckley piece is drastically taken out of context. The two positions being debated were to succumb to Soviet nuclear blackmail and submit to communism rather than risk nuclear annihilation or risk nuclear annihilation and fight on after the USSR got the bomb. The positions were short handed as better red than dead or better dead than red.

      The US obviously chose better dead than red and I think that the better red than dead contingent is usually pretty quiet about their historical preference for slavery rather than the risk of war. Now does Buckley still sound evil given the wider context of the debate that he was participating in?

      Some people personally had to make the choice for their own lives. The Church, in many instances, calls these people martyrs and honors them. I think it is important to draw the right lessons from these martyrs and all the martyrs who would not buckle.

      When christians faced the roman emperor’s death penalty for not sprinkling incense on a brazier in his temple, some gave in. My understanding is that they were punished for it by the early bishops. Given the standard applied to Buckley in this article, how should we think about those bishops, who arguably went further.

  • petey

    “So, were Buckley, Schlamm and Manion insane, or were they just sociopaths?”

    you’d wonder. they were willing to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of millions of others for their own philosophy. and good to see buckley skewered, his hagiographers made me ill.

    i haven’t been to LRC in a while, thanks for the link.

  • Dave G.

    “a great many Catholics are more shaped by, than shaping, our culture and are quite willing to not merely endure, but cheer for, the beloved mortal sins of their political tribes ”

    True. And unless our age is somehow unique in human history, I’d wager the shaped by and cheering for are not limited to just two tribes of the moment.

  • Kirt Higdon

    Sort of interesting that the link is to an article on LewRockwell.com (a hard core libertarian website) and quotes extensively from Murray Rothbard whom Mark has condemned to the outer darkness in some of his previous posts. It’s interesting too that some of the persons or organizations condemned by McMaken underwent some remarkable changes themselves. The John Birch Society, never particularly pro-war, is now a very anti-war and certainly anti-torture organization. L. Brent Bozell, whose quote was the most extreme cited, evolved into an exemplary Dorothy Day type Catholic before his death.

    Kirt Higdon

    • Ryan McMaken

      Mark and I can disagree on some stuff and agree on others. 🙂 And a good point about Bozell, who later changed his stance on war and was subsequently condemned by Buckley (who was Bozell’s own brother-in-law) for Bozell’s reluctance to bomb Vietnamese women and children back into the stone age.

    • chezami

      And I’m glad of those changes. However, it is surprising to me to learn of those crazy things rattling around in the attic. And I still think Rothbard is nuts.

  • Douglas Pearson

    “abortion for lefties, torture for righties, unjust war for everybody” Bring me more wine garcon!

  • John

    Yes, OK Mark, but why do you support censorship on your blogs? This is about as Marxist as you can get. I find that you are not capable of an adult disagreement.

    • chezami

      John: My blog is my blog. It is not the free press and you are here on my magnanimous suffrage and Olympian generosity. You have no “right” to comment here. I let you comment here because I am kind and generous and altogether wonderful and humble. And when you stupidly tread on that generosity by calling me a Marxist, you get kicked out as I would kick out any rudesby who enters my living room and insults me while trying to sell me junk I don’t want. Goodbye!

      (If you want back into my living room, feel free to write me and apologize for being a boor.)

      • Dave G.

        I leave you with a bit of Christmas advice. If you don’t want to be called things in your living room, then following the Golden Rule principle, stop calling people things who you have invited into your living room. Have a great Christmas!

      • antigon

        And just for the record, I note that Mr. Shea does regularly put up with a good deal of bitchiness – never from me of course – for which indulgence I wish him a most merry 2nd day of Christmas, & this despite…oh never mind. Merry, merry!

        • chezami

          And Merry to you too!

      • yan

        Come on man. ‘My blog is my blog…’ really? I hope this is meant as satire…..one would think so, given the language of ‘magnanimous suffrage’ and ‘Olympian generousity.’ And yet…you kicked him out? For calling you a Marxist? Is that there a fightin’ word? You wouldn’t be one of dem ilk that would destroy even the furthest star to stamp out Marxism, right?

        Why not demonstrate your lack of totalitarian impulses by…..letting the man post….hm? So he calls you a Marxist…..he means that you want to control the narrative…..which, in this narrow example, is true….but generally, quite untrue! Or else, I wouldn’t be posting right now….. : )

        Ok one more thing: analogizing blog to living room, is, well, a bad a analogy. Come on now…..smile on yer brother….

        • chezami

          Nobody appreciates my sense of humor.

        • petey

          “So he calls you a Marxist…..he means that you want to control the narrative”


    • jroberts548

      I don’t think you know what Marxism is.

      A privately owned entity (Patheos) restricting how others use it to say something is the opposite of Marxism. This blog is Patheos’ property; you have no right to demand you get to use it. Patheos and its agent, Shea, are perfectly free to ban whomever they want from commenting or even reading. What you’re demanding is that Patheos let you use its capital as you see fit, rather than as it sees fit. You seem to be proposing some sort of common ownership, as Patheos’ capital should be redistributed – you’re imagining you have a right to their website. This is indeed about as close to Marxism as you can get.

      Maybe you’re just using “Marxism” as a random insult for things you don’t like.

  • Idler

    Did you not ever hear of hyperbole? “I’ll climb any mountain…”?

  • RSM71

    While I do not disagree with what is said here, it should be noted that one of the few Nietzsche quote which I find true — “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster” — can often be used against Mark (and other bloggers).

  • $3285169

    Keep up the good work, Mark. People do not usually have the luxury of observing unvarnished delusional rants. Typically, they only suspect or intuit the world has gone slightly mad. Your blog serves a valuable purpose in revealing and showcasing the crazy among us. Readers discover they are not paranoid, delusion and insanity is real and present.

  • I haven’t gone through every charge, but I do admire Buckley so I actually followed the charge against him in the attached article. Unsurprisingly, Buckley chose ‘better dead than red’ over ‘better red than dead’ which is the unspoken alternative in that long ago popular debate.

    We still believe in martyrdom, right? Being willing to die for a point, including to fight an ideology that is condemned by the Church is not something we’re actually against these days, is it? I’m thinking of the many christian martyrs who in real life chose better dead than red. Is it too hardcore to say that Mr. McMaken owes them an apology when he calls such sentiment evidence of widespread blood lust?

    I wouldn’t be willing to defend every conservative feeling his oats over the past 70 years as being correct on every point. That would be insane as you only have to do that with a totalitarian movement and conservatism is not that. So maybe some of the other stuff in the article is truly of the bat guano crazy variety. I don’t care enough about Bozell, for instance, to chase the charge against him down.

    At the very least, the article is flawed. Does it descend into an out and out hatchet job? Somebody who cares more than I would have to research enough to do a full fisking.

    • Dan13

      We believe in martyrdom. What we don’t believe is compelling others to be martyrs. So it is “better dead than red” if you are talking about maintaining one’s faith in light of a theoretical communist persecution that may result in one’s martyrdom. But it is wrong to make that choice for someone else by starting a nuclear war, and it is also wrong to compel one’s own martyrdom by instigating it through violence.

      • And here’s the problem, “compelling others to be martyrs” is not what Buckley was saying nor any of the large numbers of faithful catholics who adopted the better dead than red position. Any martial defense against a sufficiently determined opponent risks genocide. You don’t have to have nukes to do this. the Mongols demonstrated how to do this with very simple weapons.

        There is something of an inverse relationship between your willingness to go to war in a righteous cause and suffer devastating casualties and the actual suffering of those casualties. Dictators attack weaklings by preference. It seems to be pretty heavily associated with the dictatorship style of social organization.

        In the theoretical hothouse of the comboxes here I can see where the actual outcome of this global bet would carry little weight but let’s not forget that this game has already played out.

        Better red than dead would have led to an entirely unnecessary bout of global slavery and world-wide persecution of the Church. To the extent that this camp was advocated, it assisted in the persecution of catholics and others suffering under communism and encouraged the communists to double down and persist in their evil ways.

        Doesn’t that bother you at all?

  • DrJPM

    The article by Ryan McMaken is offensive in that he labels Buckley’s opinions with conservatives as if he spoke for the entire group. While Buckley may call himself conservative, he does not speak for conservatives. I am a Catholic first, a conservative second, from the Thomas Sowell Basic Economics variety and so much of what is said against conservatives has been offensive to me. To argue the merits or not of a solution to an issue is fair. What is the best strategy? Should there be rent control? a minimum wage? socialized medicine? torture? But, there appears to be a lot of labeling in recent articles about conservatives that just don’t seem to fit the Catholic spirit of debate.

  • DrJPM

    I guess i would add that the link to Ryan McMaken’s article says Ryan McMaken on some of the truly insane things rattling around in the attic of conservatism. Arguably, you can say that about any group. For exampls, Ryan McMaken on some of the truly insane things rattling around in the attic of liberalism/ mormonism/Catholicism/communism, etc. No matter what group someone identifies with, there are fringe elements from some who identify with that group. I wager many here could pull up “truly insane” things that have been said over the years from a variety of groups. It seems rather derogatory to conservatives in general, rather than an individual and his/her opinion.