Eric Voegelin

 

The death of the spirit is the price of progress.  Nietzsche revealed this mystery of the Western apocalypse when he announced that God was dead and that He had been murdered.  This Gnostic murder is constantly committed by the men who sacrifice God to civilization.  The more fervently all human energies are thrown into the great enterprise of salvation through world-immanent action, the farther the human beings who engage in this enterprise move away from the life of the spirit.  And since the life of the spirit is the source of order in man and society, the very success of a Gnostic civilization is the cause of its decline.

 – (The New Science of Politics  in Modernity Without Restraint, p. 195)

 

The apprehension or hope, as the case may be, that that the ‘partial’ revolutions of the past will be followed by the ‘radical’ revolution and the establishment of the final realm rests on the assumption that the traditions of Western society are now sufficiently ruined and that the famous masses are now ready for the kill.

– (ibid, p. 231)

 

Philosophy springs from the love of being; it is man’s loving endeavor to perceive the order of being and to atune himself to it.

– (ibid, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, p. 273) 

 

The life of people in political community cannot be defined as a profane realm, in which we are only concerned with legal questions and the organization of power. A community is also a realm of religious order…  The political community is always integrated in the overall context of human experience of world and God.

(ibid, “The Political Religions”, p.170)

 

Christopher Lasch

 

The unexpectedly rigorous business of bringing up children exposed me, as it necessarily exposes almost any parent, to our ‘child-centered’ society’s icy indifference to everything that makes it possible for children to flourish and to grow up to be responsible adults.

 

Hope does not demand a belief in progress.  It demands a belief in justice: a conviction that the wicked will suffer, that wrongs will be made right, that the underlying order of things is not flouted with impunity.

 

If we distinguish hopefulness from the more conventional attitude known today as optimism – if we think of it as a character trait, a temperamental predisposition rather than an estimate of the direction of historical change – we can see why it serves us better, in steering troubled waters ahead, than a belief in progress. Not that it prevents us from expecting the worst. The worst is always what the hopefuls are prepared for.  Their trust in life would not be worth much if it had not survived disappointments in the past, while the knowledge that the future holds further disappointments demonstrates the continuing need for hope.  Believers in progress, on the other hand, though they like to think of themselves as the party of hope, actually have little need of hope, since they have history on their side. 

– (The True and Only Heaven, p. 33, 80-81)

 

 

St. Paul

 

Faith is the substance of things hoped for… 

 – (Epistle to the Hebrews, 11:1)

 

 

Reinhold Niebuhr

“Modern man has an essentially easy conscience; and nothing gives the diverse and discordant elements of modern culture so much harmony as the unanimous opposition of modern man to Christian conceptions of the sinfulness of man. The idea that man is sinful at the very center of his personality, that is in his will, is universally rejected.

(The Nature and Destiny of Man, v. 1 p. 23)

 

Both the majesty and the tragedy of human life exceed the dimensions within which modern culture seeks to comprehend human existence.

– (ibid, p. 122)

 

 

Edmund Burke

We know, and what is better we feel inwardly, that religion is the basis of all civil society.

 

It is better to cherish virtue and humanity, by leaving much to free will, than to attempt to make men mere machines and instruments of a political benevolence.  The world on the whole will gain by a liberty, without which virtue cannot exist.

 

I assure you I do not aim at singularity.

– (Reflections on the Revolution in France)

 

 

Leszek Kolakowski

 

The human rights concept includes three characteristics, among others, that are important for this discussion:

first, these rights are valid because of the inherent dignity of being human, and they make up part of the natural order, rather than being established by decree or by positive law;

second, this order is immutably valid wherever human beings live together and interact with one another;

third, these rights, however specified, are rights vested in individuals and only in individuals, not in social groups, races, classes, professions, nations, or other entities.”

(“Marxism and Human Rights” in Modernity on Endless Trial, p. 206)

 

 

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 

Power is a poison well known for thousands of years.  If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others!  But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us, and who is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal.  For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison.  For them there is no antidote. (p. 147)

 

(Why many refused to join the secret police)

Without even knowing it ourselves, we were ransomed by the small change in copper that was left from the golden coins our grandfathers had expended, at a time when morality was not considered relative and when the distinction between good and evil was very simply perceived by the heart. (p. 161)

 

If only it were all so simple!  If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? (p. 168 )

 

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.   Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too.  The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses.  Because they had no ideology. (p. 173-4)

 

– (Gulag Archipelago, vol. I)

 

  

George Orwell 

 

So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.

Within the last few decades, in countries like Britain or the United States, the literary intelligentsia has grown large enough to constitute a world in itself.  One important result of this is that the opinions which a writer feels frightened of expressing are not those which are disapproved of by society as a whole.  To a great extent, what is still loosely thought of as heterodoxy has become orthodoxy.  It is nonsense to pretend, for instance, that at this date [1949] there is something daring and original in proclaiming yourself an anarchist, an atheist, a pacifist, etc. The daring thing, or at least the unfashionable thing, is to believe in God or to approve of the capitalist system.  

– (Essays p. 1357):

 

  

Anthony Trollope

 

A huge, living, daily increasing grievance that does one no palpable harm is the happiest possession that a man can have.

– (The Eustace Diamonds p.35)

 

  

 Winston Churchill

 

We did not make this war, we did not seek it.  We did all we could to avoid it.  We did too much to avoid it. 

 

– (12/30/41 speech to Canadian parliament)

 

 

 

 

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