Here’s an excellent, brief, 2018 essay about the trend – especially among a group of Catholic scholars in America – to dump liberal democracy for theocracy. Shadi Hamid’s focus is fundamentalist Islam, but his argument applies as well to the emergence, here, of intellectual briefs for what UD calls a Cathophate.
Ol’ UD remains truly shocked right down to the ground that respectable American academics openly argue for a future of religious tyranny in this country, of “Christian authoritarianism — muscular paternalism, with government enforcing social solidarity for religious reasons.” I mean to say that the moment I grasped what Adrian Vermeule and Patrick Deneen and company were about, I was fucking gobsmacked, and I still am. I’m still all of a mucksweat about it. I’m like in permanent Margaret Dumont shock.
Chalk it up to UD‘s naivete + emotional instability if you like, but I actually don’t get why all sentient Americans aren’t shitting themselves over being told by Mariolatric Madoffs that they need only invest in the Edmund Waldstein Radiant Future Fund to realize Total Happiness Now and Forever. God does not want you for an Individual Liberty friend! In Bondage and Submission lies Salvation!
Whew. Hold on. Getting a little hot here…
… Margaret Dumont only pretended to be scandalized by the twisted Marx Brothers; similarly, maybe UD‘s sublimating her actual erotic attraction to The Story of O, Saved by Flagellants… ? To the idea of a total male total priesthood running their switches over her bum… ?
Yet. As Hamid asks, “Is a lack of meaning really worse than a lack of freedom? … What liberalism’s critics appear unable, or unwilling, to address is whether a lack of meaning is a worse problem to have than a lack of freedom.” Maybe liberalism – “the political order that privileges non-negotiable rights, personal freedoms, and individual autonomy” – issues in some degree of conceptual confusion, and maybe even in a difficulty or refusal to commit oneself to clear philosophical/theological convictions – but is this really so unbearable a position to be in that one’s only option is rule by monks who think burning heretics at the stake is key to good governance?
“Endless free choice,” as Deneen disparagingly calls it, is a dead end. Choice needs to be a means to something else, but to what? Legally based religious systems—which only Islam among the largest religions potentially offers—quite consciously seek to restrict choice in the name of virtue and salvation…
And that’s the thing. Deneen can argue all he likes about the disabling side effects of individual liberty, but what he’s really about is damnation or salvation. The Medieval Church wafts you upward; free thought’s an express train to the abyss.
As the doorbell ringers at the beginning of The Book of Mormon put it: Have fun in hell.