June 3, 2012

THE HARDEST THING FOR A CONSERVATIVE TO ACCEPT...:

"Witness" at Sixty (Joseph Wood, 5/26/12, Catholic Thing)

Chambers recalls that he was originally drawn to communism for its two main promises, change and hope: 

The tie that binds [communists] across the frontiers of nations, across barriers of language and differences of class and education, in defiance of religion, morality, truth, law, honor, the weaknesses of the body, and the irresolutions of the mind, even unto death, is a simple conviction: It is necessary to change the world. . . .It is the same power that moves mountains; it is also an unfailing power to move men. It is not new. . . .Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: "Ye shall be as gods." [It is] the vision of Man without God.

He continues: "[Communism] had one ultimate appeal. In place of desperation, it set the word: hope. . . .In the twentieth century, it seemed impossible to have hope on any other terms."

Observing an interwar world that was "without faith, hope, [or] character," Chambers embraced the change and hope offered by communism as a "choice against death and for life." But in subsequent years, he cast off "the whole web of the materialist modern mind. . .paralyzing in the name of rationalism the instinct of [man's soul] for God." He realized that in choosing secular statism and collectivism for ostensibly virtuous and noble reasons, he had chosen the very thing whose essential nihilism made virtue and human dignity impossible.

Chambers argues that a "man is not primarily a witness against something. That is only incidental to the fact that he is a witness for something. A witness, in the sense that I am using the word, is a man whose life and faith are so completely one that when the challenge comes to step out and testify for his faith, he does so, disregarding all risks, accepting all consequences." 

That's one reason he became a powerful witness against all forms of materialism, in favor of God and life, of the nature and value of the human person. He witnessed, not through political participation in the usual channels (though he does vote), but by denouncing the inhuman political system spawned by Marxism and then testifying against an existential threat to the best of what American political institutions once represented. 

When Chambers decided to break from communism, he believed he was joining the losing side. While he shared much of the philosophy of American conservatives, he did not join in their sometimes sunny optimism. His viewed the West as in decline, though he believed strongly in the underlying truths of Western beliefs and ideas. Those truths are ultimately the source and object of his witness, of what made that witness right regardless of the odds against its success.

In the end, although he made both his living and his lasting contributions through writing and editing, his great loves were his faith, his family, and the labor and land of his farm. He maintained a great trust in the American people - most of them - despite his skepticism about what American institutions and elites had become.

...is the Whiggishness of History.  Thus they convince themselves that an essentially Republican president is a gay Muslim Socialist.
Posted by at June 3, 2012 8:09 AM
  

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