Do you reject Satan and all his works, and all his empty promises? – Rite of Confirmation
If you undergo Confirmation as a Catholic, you’re asked that question, and you’d better answer it correctly. Yet Catholics are usually Confirmed around thirteen years of age. The young Catholic is seldom much acquainted with Satan, and – in this country, until recently – is unlikely to have brushed against his works or his promises. We shield our children from such things, as is our duty. Yet we adults are immersed in a world that’s steadily coming to resemble Hell. Satan’s fist squeezes us ever more tightly, yet we do almost nothing to resist him.
In this connection, have a subtle haymaker from the brilliant and sadly neglected David Warren:
Politics is the modest equivalent of war. It invites, in its nature, a kind of moral corruption in which what should never be done to another without cause, is given an arbitrary cause. The politician may argue that he did something in order to improve the economy, or hasten success, to be on the right side of history; whatever.
The rules for personal goodness do not apply when politics comes into play. The chance of being fair usually does not exist, for it will slow the advancement of progress. The clearest moral laws will come into question, when something can be gained by questioning them.
Mr. Warren’s gentle phrasing sneaks up on the reader. But the last sentence in the above snippet tears all the veils away.
If there are moral laws, then they constitute absolutes: rules that must not be broken for any reason. But men are not the creators of absolutes. We may recognize them when we encounter them – we’d better – but they do not originate with us. However, some men seek to evade or deny them.
Which men are known for this?
It’s time to put it with maximum bluntness:
Right and wrong are merely obstacles.
Political action is completely disconnected from “need.” It bears no relation to “progress.” It’s the diametric opposite of “the common good.” It serves no “security” but that of the men in power. Knowingly or otherwise, such men serve evil.
The endless attempts to substitute anything else for right and wrong as our moral boundaries are exactly and only concerned with subverting the barriers right and wrong present to the politician. Indeed, such attempts are what define a man as a politician; nothing else is required.
The giveaway is this: whether or not he occupies a public office, he who seeks to effectuate such a substitution always strives to harness the power of the State to his cause.
The point is power over others. That is the politician’s supreme hunger. It has never been otherwise. Indeed, it cannot be.
Among the most telling of all the quotes in my collection is this one, from Eric Hoffer:
A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business…The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice the utmost humility, is boundless.
Rare is the man of substantive achievement – deeds that have actually created value for himself or others – who enters politics. The exceptions have swiftly discovered how hostile the political class is toward them. Few rise high enough or last long enough to be worth mentioning.
We called for “outsiders” to break the seals on the corridors of power. We championed Donald Trump: the construction magnate, the man of demonstrable achievement who knew how to get things done. We applauded Ron Paul: the obstetrician, the man who penetrated the fraud that is fiat currency, and was willing to say so. We celebrate Rand Paul: the ophthalmologist, the man of principle who has pointed out the perfidies of Washington time after time, albeit to no avail. Three good men. Political outsiders.
What should our enthusiasm for those figures have told us about ourselves? What deeper understanding should it have illuminated for us…and why didn’t it?
Political action is plunder. Politicians are criminals. They are the muscle, the leg-breakers, the triggermen for Lysander Spooner’s “secret band of robbers and murderers.” They cannot be anything else. We do a good man, a man who sees right and wrong clearly, no favor by raising him to political office.
Ann Barnhardt, among others, has said that the desire for political power is an inherent disqualification for it. Miss Barnhardt sees clearly. Her acerbity is of no moment. She knows right from wrong.
But knowing right from wrong is a foundation, not a fulfillment. It does not suffice to say “I know evil when I see it.” Nor does it suffice to point it out when it happens by.
We must cease to “choose the lesser evil.” We must cease to pretend that there is any such thing as “a necessary evil.” We must withdraw all sanction for it or consent to it.
Governments have amassed power enough to exterminate us all. The wholly manufactured COVID-19 pandemic is proof. How much longer will men whose strongest desire is unbounded power over us, who rankle at the slightest criticism, who seethe at the merest hint of opposition, resist the urge to employ that power in its ultimate expression?
Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us….In order to obtain and hold power, a man must love it. Thus the effort to get it is not likely to be coupled with goodness, but with the opposite qualities of pride, craft, and cruelty. – Leo Tolstoy
The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from the violence to which it owes its very existence. – Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi
“No power that is merely earthly will serve against the Hideous Strength.” — Clive Staples Lewis
Reject the State.
Dismiss its promises.
Pray for it to come to an end.
Not to criticize Ann Barnhardt, but the statement, “the desire for political power is an inherent disqualification for it” is too narrow. It should simply be the desire for power is an inherent disqualification for it.
In my experience, the person who most wants to be the boss at work is the last person you want to work for.
It’s a good point. Ann was talking specifically about aspirants to the presidency, but I think she’d agree with your wider characterization.