Thursday, June 30, 2016

What has gone wrong. It can be summed up in a word: liberalism

It is the startling descent into misanthropy and insult which hurts most. That moment when Gordon Brown called Gillian Duffy a “bigot” was but a scratching of the surface. The demographic most enthusiastic about voting Leave have been dismissed as racist or xenophobic for years, but it is only in the last few days, following the referendum, that I have seen the very legitimacy of their suffrage questioned – the prosperous, well-educated liberal left, summoning Victorian-era paternalism to question the wisdom of giving votes to the ill-educated. 
Of course, this chasm between party and people is of surprise only to those cloistered away amongst the like-minded. Much has been made of the demographic divide between the two competing mindsets prior to the referendum. But turning this into one-dimensional face-off between the haves and the have-nots presumes an irresolvable conflict. That’s too pessimistic: there is a way out of our current malaise. 
But we first need to understand what has gone wrong. It can be summed up in a word liberalism.
This from a Catholic Herald article by Michael Merrick.

In the Church we have struggled with 'liberalism' for the past couple of hundred years, or more. In the last 50 years it has become the dominant Church culture, and it has been destructive. Merrick argues that the Labour Party's embracing of it has alienated it from its core support, the working class, the same could be said of the Church.

A culture that embraces liberalism, tends to loose clarity, it becomes a culture of semantics, cut of from real life, it is always soft and eventually runs out of momentum, and leads people into a mindless reliance on 'values', 'ethos' and a host meaningless terms. Ultimately it is about babel of meaningless terms where a lack of clarity and confusion are considered the ultimate virtue. This seems to be what is coming from the mouth of the Pope and Rome at the moment, it is becoming pretty obvious it is not just intellectual disability but policy.

Liberalism offers pleasing platitudes to the masses but beyond that it convinces no one. In contemporary politics liberalism leaves us with one great theory: Equality, but when one scratches the surface this is entirely meaningless, it is a word and nothing more, it does nothing to combat poverty, social inertia, the disparity between rich and poor, the hopelessness of many in our society, it certainly doesn't address the simmering resentments, the dis-ease with cultural 'integration'. The accusation against Jeremy Corbyn, that he failed to deliver his party's core constituency members into the 'Remain' camp, seems to be exemplify all that is wrong with contemporary politics: rather than being representational it is ultimately about control. The Labour Party seems incapable of realising that it is out of touch with those who once supported it.

Within the Church we have perhaps lost sight of the fact Catholicism is a  'grassroots' movement, Catholicism is that which is believed always, everywhere and by all, it is not something imposed by a central authority but rather infused by the Holy Spirit. During the Henrician schism it seemed the people held fast to the ancient faith, the Bishops -except for Fisher- abandoned the faith and embraced the pro-divorce, pro-king liberalism of the court, it mirrored much of what had happened during the Arian crisis, it was the Church's leadership, the elite, which embraced the heresy whilst the masses held on to orthodoxy - even if it was with a degree of uncertainty.

The referrendum has revealed a gulf between between the liberal elite and the masses, has not the same thing happened (and is happening) in the Church?


londonfrater said...

All of the most viscious Fascists are Liberal socialists.

Liam Ronan said...

Excellent analysis, Father. Food for thought amidst the famine of our times.

If I may, I would offer that what has gone wrong in Holy Mother Church may be summed up in another single word: 'Casuistry' and more specific Jesuitical Casuistry.

Matthew Celestine said...

Ar immigrants not part of the Church's grassroots?

Fr Ray Blake said...

What do you mean? Most Catholics are immigrants or descended from immigrants, aren't they?

Sadie Vacantist said...

Sounds spot on to me. I'm 57 now and what we endured as young people during the 80's was appalling. The 1980 pastoral congress in Liverpool came to embody, in my own mind, the complete contempt of self-appointed oligarchs towards the faithful.

Victoria said...

Liam, could you elaborate on your comment please; I don't understand the meaning and application of 'causitry.'

Physiocrat said...

That map can be interpreted in many ways from many perspectives. It is also a map of the economic geography of the country. It is a graphic illustration of a long established economic principle, Ricardo's Law of Rent. (David Ricardo was a Brighton resident, by the way).

It just so happens that the fiscal arrangements of the EU are precisely what anyone would put in place if they wanted to damage selectively the economies of places at the geographical margins. It would be difficult to think of anything worse than VAT, CAP, a tariff wall and an high-cost food policy, which were all brought to us by the EU.

I put this piece together earlier in the week as on what lay behind the map - catastrophic economic policies. They are damaging the economies of fringe locations in every country in Europe. The divisions are a major cause of social unrest, with immigrants getting blamed for a situation which the EU has partly created which makes it hard for immigrants to find their feet. The EU is a supertanker on course for wreckage on the rocks. Better not to be on board when it hits.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I refused to vote in the referendum taking my lead from St. Thomas More's own brand of silence on the issue at hand.

What has characterized the post-Vatican II Church has been the noise. Be it liturgy, Liverpudlian pastoral congresses, mid-flight papal press conferences or synods.

It's time to shut up.

Fr Ray Blake said...

So you have said previously, your situation is somewhat different to More's in that no-one is after your life if you should speak, and certainly not if you should vote.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Victoria: Casuistry is arguing that in a particular case a sin is not a sin. Thus Spanish Jesuits in the 17th century argued that whilst duelling was wrong it was okay if it was a case of defending one's honour. Blaise Pascal in his "Letters from a Provincial" gives chapter and verse for this in Chapter VII. It was often suggesting that because one might have had a good intention overriding the obvious intention then it was okay. Currently this seems to being applied to fornication.

Liam Ronan said...

@ Victoria,

Rather than my explaining the term, may I suggest that you would be better served (insofar as understanding its history, definition and nuances) by beginning with 'casuistry' found here:

and then have a look at the Oxford definition of 'Jesuitical'


Unknown said...

Surely you are not talking about Muslim immigrants?

Liam Ronan said...

@Ursula Nusgen,

May I ask you to clarify who your question is addressed to?

John Fisher said...

What a great article.

Sadie Vacantist said...

@Ray Blake

and nobody was after More's! That came later. He sought to avoid martyrdom through silence. He did not actively seek death.

In no way am I likening my situation to his as that would be a foolish presumption. I "took my lead" from More's example as a way out of a conundrum. In good conscience, I therefore withheld my vote.

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