Parallels of Decay: Lessons from American Politics for Catholics

Note Before Reading

This article was originally intended to be presented to a broader, Catholic audience, and thus it expounds upon concepts that should already be quite obvious to the average American Sun reader. I have chosen to keep it in its original format because I want to maintain its holistic integrity and because I hope that some members of my original target audience discover it. I believe the crux of the piece stills provides a valuable and novel perspective on the Roman Church even to those Sun Readers that are familiar with the subject.

In my attempts to publish this article on well-read Catholic websites with a dissident slant, I found that none of them would have much interest in such a political charged piece.

This led me to the conclusion that there is almost no crossover between emerging Populist political theory and “Traditional Catholicism” (as it will be defined later in this article). E Michael Jones’ Culture Wars Magazine is the closest example, but his opinions on the post-Vatican II Church do not align with the aforementioned Traditional Catholicism. Publications such as Church Militant or One Peter Five report exclusively on the corruption within the Church, which serves its own purpose, but rarely sheds light on the political implications of a particular scandal or hierarchal disgrace.

In my opinion, these reports are necessary but redundant. The Church is corrupt and getting worse. No more evidence is needed to make this accusation.  What is lacking in the headspace of Traditional Catholics is a broader understanding of the forces working against them. As a result, it is insular as a movement and lacks ideas for effective action. Until this vacuum of thought is filled, it will continue to be facile. This idea alone probably deserves an article by itself, but for now I present you with the topic at hand.

Lessons from American Politics

The internal political workings of United States are remarkably complex and are formed by a myriad of big money donors, politicians, federal agencies, and more. What emerges from this morass is identifiable control mechanisms that are enacted against the citizenry, and these methods are similar across borders and oceans due to America’s outsized influence in a globalized world.

As a result, we can observe that the American political environment that has been cultivated and – more importantly – maintained bears a striking resemblance to the present state of the Catholic Church. In this piece, I will attempt to demonstrate how Pope John Paul II is to Catholicism as Ronald Reagan is to Conservatism, how Charlie Kirk and Bishop Barron function identically within their respective organizations, and how Traditional Catholics can learn from the triumphs and failures of America’s peripheral political movements, namely the Populist Right.

Why They Are Similar

We begin by acknowledging the obvious dichotomy of Left vs. Right, Democrat vs. Republican, Conservative vs. Progressive, etc. that exists in mainstream political discourse, and will hereon refer to the mainstream right as “Conservative Inc.” The corporate name that has been popularly bestowed upon them correctly implies they are not a platform to promote the ideals and will of the people, but rather a carefully curated product created by and paying dividends to those in power.

Before continuing further, the idea that President Trump has transcended the corporate brand of Conservatism must be dispelled. Despite his election being fueled by his outsider status, we enroll the President as a loyal stockholder as well.  Verily, he has defied it in his prudential approach to foreign entanglements and harder stance on immigration, but while he does not hold all of the positions of a “traditional” conservative, he enforces and conforms to the culture that has existed within Conservative Inc. since, at least, the time of Ronald Reagan. What’s more, he has done everything in his power to be accepted by – nay, absorbed – into the Conservatism Inc. board of trustees.

Outside of Conservative Inc. lives the Populist Right, which has existed in many iterations and accepted various monikers such as Paleo-Conservative, New Right, Dissident Right, etc. They are, at their core, Right-Wing American Nationalists, and in many cases reactionary movements. For our purposes, we will simply use the umbrella term “Populist Right.” This strand of Rightwing thought reached its crescendo in American politics when Donald Trump was elected president. Soon thereafter, the Liberal establishment descended upon it from every side with a great ferocity, and it was all-but extinguished in the disaster of the Charlottesville rally. The media made it political suicide to associate or support it in any fashion after that infamous debacle, eliminating the possibility of Donald Trump lending it sympathy or political support (though it is very questionable if he would have done so in the first place).

Traditional Catholics share a very similar niche in their own religious ecosystem. By Traditional Catholics, I refer to Churches where the Latin Mass is celebrated. Conservative Inc. equivalent Catholics will be referred to as “JPII Catholics,” defined by their more conservative interpretation of Vatican II as demonstrated by Pope John Paul II.

The similarities between the Populist Right and Traditional Catholics are currently almost entirely in their nature and not in their substance. They do not share a common ethos, but they are each a group of outsiders, and existing power structures focus a great amount of attention and effort in keeping them on the margins of acceptable thought. This similitude can offer Traditional Catholics invaluable insight into their own attempts in resisting Rome’s march toward a wholly un-Catholic universalism and worldliness.

An easy way to illustrate the parallels between the two groups can be demonstrated in two figures: Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. Any Conservative Inc. client would cite Ronald Reagan as the Godfather of the modern Conservative movement. The Populist Right does not share their unfettered admiration, and would quickly point out that he signed an amnesty bill that permanently rendered California a stronghold for the Democrats, among other follies.

On the other hand, JPII Catholics see the Saint they are named after as the epitome of everything good that has sprung from the Novus Ordo. To be clear, I do not consider Saint JPII to be a wicked man by any means. I agree with his Sainthood. But as a Traditional Catholic, I recognize that he reaffirmed Orthodox Catholic social teaching while simultaneously furthering a subtle liberal agenda, epitomized in his kissing of the Koran. This scandal is hard for a lamb of the JPII Catholic flock to come to terms with and look upon in an objective fashion, just as a member of America’s Conservative Inc. would never want to truly examine the negative aspects of Reagan.

This shared skepticism of widely believed narratives is one of the principle unifying factors between these two ideological camps, and a principle dividing factor with their opponents. For further illustration: Traditionalists are unafraid to question the efficacy of Vatican II, while the Populist Right is unafraid to challenge the tenets of democracy.

A second unifying factor between the two groups is a negative outlook toward the current direction of their respective institutions. As a Catholic, this should be obvious: belief in God is vanishing (1), scandals abound, and disbelief in basic Catholic dogma among even Church-attending laity is rife (2). Yet, speaking to a typical JPII Catholic, one sadly finds that they have their head buried deep in the sand with respect to the crises in the Church, or they are uninterested in discussing them. My own anecdote involves a college student telling me he believes his generation is turning the tide back toward the Faith. This optimism is not just false, it is foolish and dangerous. Nonetheless, I have found it to be the prevailing attitude among young JPII Catholics.

The Populist Right’s pessimism lies in the numbers as well: deaths of despair have never been higher (3), illegal immigration seems impossible to quell, and usurious debt is sinking countless lives into economic ruin. Conservative Inc. can only speak to the (limited) economic prosperity of a rising stock market and tax cuts, while ignoring the unspeakable spiritual misery of a society in love with Mammon.

The real value of finding similarities between the Populist Right and the Traditional Catholic movement is not in comparing them to each other, but rather in comparing their enemies. Who are their enemies? The easy answer is the ideological liberals. The unabashed revolutionaries. The secretive saboteurs and infiltrators. They stand upon their papier-mâché moral high ground and operate the levers of power with little resistance. We know the Liberals well and they know us. They are no longer the “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” to use a favorite Catholic adage. It is, in fact, those who feign orthodoxy and conservatism that deserve our critical focus.

Beware the Gatekeepers      

Conciliatory, ineffectual, deceptive and even sinister – these are the words that best describe the Gatekeepers of Conservatism Inc. While putting on the veneer of preserving America’s most sacred values – those of free speech, free enterprise, and universal access to the increasingly illusory “American Dream” – Conservatism Inc. in fact distracts, distorts, and corrupts what an organic, efficacious Conservative movement would stand for and pursue. Nowhere is this more evident than in TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk normalizing homosexuality and even transgenderism as compatible with “Conservatism.” Trump’s complicity in this transmutation of American Conservative morality is apparent as well in his launching a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide (4), making the normalization of sodomy an official initiative of the Empire.

This applies to the Catholic Church in much the same way. The Church’s own brand of Conservatism Inc. is represented most completely, in my opinion, by Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. What exactly does Bishop Barron have in common with the imposter Charlie Kirk? Not his belief system, but rather his role as a Gatekeeper of the intellectual mainstream. The general strategy is simple enough; repeat easy, agreeable slogans that every Catholic would support, denounce and censor ideas that are potentially inflammatory or effective, and do not challenge your ideological foes in any consequential way.

Charlie reprises the same tired conservative talking points that his donors demand and doesn’t let the conversation veer too far from subjects relating to the negative effects of socialism or the importance of protecting Israel. Meanwhile, he surrenders to and even embraces revolutionary leftist initiatives like sexual liberation ideology (including photo-ops with drag queens). A generous interpreter of Charlie’s positions might say he was a lukewarm Conservative.

Bishop Barron, likewise, reinforces basic orthodox Catholic beliefs in his many books and speaking arrangements, but occasionally includes doctrinal poison pills, as he did in his talk on whether or not Hell was empty or crowded(5). He doesn’t do serious combat with enemies of the Church like LGBT-advocate Fr. James Martin, who has referred to him as a friend(6). Furthermore, he acts as an arbiter for ideas that really challenge the Church’s hierarchy, such as Taylor Marshall’s book Infiltration. Essentially, Bishop Barron keeps the laity pacified and as far away as possible from potentially disruptive ideas like the apparent subversion of the Church.

Charlie and Bishop Barron, for all of their differences in occupation and beliefs, are fundamentally the same in their functioning within the power structures they serve. By no means are they the only Gatekeepers, but merely two of the most prominent. This beast is a hydra, and where one falls in ignominy, another will be foisted upon us. They tend to form cliques and strictly regulate who they interact with, even barring debates with undesirable elements so as not to be exposed.

This aversion to fair debate is an important point that should be explored further. One must understand that they have nothing to gain from a discussion and everything to lose, for they are not supported by the weight of their ideas, but instead are propped up by powerful figures in the shadows. By giving a platform to individuals who have gained merit from their ideas, they risk having their feeble propositions dismantled by uncompromised and formidable intellectuals. They will instead debate easy opponents who their audience has a natural inclination to disagree with: atheists, radical feminists, communists, and the like.

I will not speculate on whether or not Bishop Barron and Charlie Kirk are intentionally carrying out this gatekeeping duty, but they should be judged carefully against the above criteria and their demonstrated integrity. I would venture to say, however, that the ideological damage they inflict rivals the most radical of Liberals.

Retaliation

Attack those that yield power and behold the hydra! It rages at one of its own being vanquished! In their retaliation one discovers that the Liberal and Gatekeeping Conservative elements are many heads on the same snake. The language they use in denouncing their opponents are identical: racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, white supremacist, conspiracy theorist, etc. These words should mean nothing, and yet they hold immense power in the minds of the masses, and so the established powers, left or right, will ensure your character is properly assassinated in the public eye.

The war waged against either side is not remotely reserved for retaliations. Pope Francis has not hesitated to denounce Traditional Catholics, both directly and indirectly, and members of his liberal mafia have done the same. Traditional priests are routinely repressed in seminaries and their dioceses as well. In the political realm, members of the Populist Right are beleaguered with reputation-destroying insinuations and defamations by the media apparatus and its cronies. If all else fails, they are deplatformed and effectively scrubbed from the Internet.

The hope in both the Populist Right and the Traditionalist movement is in the growing legitimacy crisis of the established power players in each camp. Recently, Charlie Kirk was challenged and exposed in the QA portions of his speaking events, revealing the emptiness of his faux ideology. Meanwhile, the worshipping of pagan idols in the Vatican Gardens and their placement in St. Peter’s Basilica has brought unprecedented outrage to every sensible Catholic. All but the most liberal Catholics defended it. JPII Catholics, at least in my own experience, keep their heads buried in the sand. When I curiously probed what one of my own JPII Catholic friends thought of the affair, the response was simply, “Bizarre.”

Lessons from the Populist Right

So the Church and American politics are on similar trajectories of decay. So what? There are important lessons to take away from the failures of the Populist Right since Trump’s inauguration, and Traditional Catholics would do well to take notice and learn:

  1. Infighting = Destruction – After the inauguration of Trump, each faction of the Populist Right – with its different brands of American Nationalism – began to dispute what the proper direction of his presidency was. The resulting infighting made everyone forget what united them in the first place, and the subsequent splintering shattered their momentum. SSPX, FSSP and Indult congregants cannot afford to be so petty.
  2. There will be Infiltrators – The Populist Right was infiltrated by federal agents both in their organizations and in their online communities. We already know that was the strategy of Freemasons and Communists in the Church. Don’t be so naïve as to think they won’t infiltrate Traditional Catholic communities as well. We must be vigilant and denounce bad actors as soon as they are identified.
  3. Don’t Pay the Grifters – This really goes hand-in-hand with the infiltrator warning. Beware the grifters, who will piggyback off the momentum of a bourgeoning movement to line their own pockets.
  4. Public Displays of Strength are Powerful, but… – Many Populist organizations were allowed to thrive online for years without resistance. It was only when public meetings and demonstrations were carried out that the tentacles of the State unleashed their might to suppress them. Traditional Catholics must be smart about moving the bulk of their activism off of podcasts and articles (hypocrite that I am) if they want to sprinkle the streets stained by iniquity with holy water and prayerful processions.
  5. Never Apologize – The phalanx of liberal power loves apologies. Never give them one. Political actors who apologize for past or present “transgressions” are never rewarded for it. In fact, they are demonized further (7). This is a simple and obvious lesson that so many fail to internalize. If you have guilt on your heart, ask for mercy and forgiveness from our Lord.

The practices and aims of liberals everywhere are not a mystery. They are manifest each day, and have been exposed and expounded upon ad nauseam. They are open revolutionaries preying upon a declining civilization. It is our faux Conservative and Orthodox allies, serving as subversive tools to power, that hamper Traditionalists from regaining ground against the truly insidious corruption that pervades our Church. We must publicly challenge them at every opportunity and show the world how shallow their ideas and weak their resolutions are toward furthering the Kingdom of God on Earth.

It is with great interest that we should watch the developments of the American political theater and, particularly, the progression of the Populist Right. Despite its incongruity with the Traditional movement in terms of its goals, their own failures and successes have great lessons to teach us as we gain more leverage and traction within the Church. In this dogged fight, we must employ every resource at our disposal.

Citations:

1. https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/belief-in-god/

2. https://onepeterfive.com/new-survey-shows-disparity-of-beliefs-between-latin-mass-novus-ordo-catholics/

3.  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/life-expectancy-for-american-men-drops-for-a-third-year/

4. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/trump-administration-launches-global-effort-end-criminalization-homosexuality-n973081

5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmsa0sg4Od4

6. https://www.facebook.com/FrJamesMartin/posts/here-is-my-friend-fr-robert-barron-author-of-catholicism-on-the-vatican-and-the-/349403245123608/

7. https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2019/10/30/study-public-apologies-make-liberals-and-women-desire-more-punishment/

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Thurgood says:

    “…as we gain more leverage and traction within the Church”
    Citation Needed

    Like

    1. Bohemond says:

      Three factors: significantly higher birthrates in traditional Catholic communities, declining attendance at Novus Ordo masses and increasing attendance at Latin Masses, and numbers in traditional seminaries far outpacing Novus Ordo seminaries (SSPX will be as large as the Jesuits in 2040 at current pace from what I remember).

      The chief obstacle is the liberal hierarchy, but if the traditional congregations continue to grow as Novus Ordo’s decline, they will have greater pressure to concede a real position in the direction of the Church to Trads.

      Like

      1. Stop with the “we have so many babies!” tripe.

        Any observation of a TLM will show: their congregations are aging, large families are a quarter of the parish, and middle aged families are absent in numbers (due mostly likely to divorce).

        The TLM has been around for 40 or 50 years, and shows no geometrical growth rate you would expect from a thriving population.

        You may breed them, but you don’t keep them.

        Like

  2. Brooklyn Dave says:

    Amazing article.I think this is the first article I’v ever read where many of my same particularly muddled feelings have been expressed in such a clear and concise manner. Most conservatives/traditionalist Catholics that I know have been so psychologically besieged that they are comforted with a few teddy bears and lollipops such as the Latin Mass. “As long as I have my Latin Mass, all is well in my world.” Most do not have the stomach for a good fight. They are weary, tired and spent. I love the parallels you make between the religious and the political. Keep writing articles like this.

    Like

  3. stallard0 says:

    I sympathize with your cause, but you must appreciate that, to an outsider, a tiny minority (relative to people who still throw money in the coffers) of hardcore conservatives vs the entire Vatican (inclusive the Pope, if we’re being honest), the majority of prelates, and the indifference to mild hostility of 99% of normie caths is an absurd battle that many “heretics” earnestly fought and were all trounced. I know you all hold out hope for divine intervention to cleanse the temple, but if you ask the “JPII” catholics, you’ll see that they settled into an embarrassed defeatist posture while blocking their ears and yelling when any news of desolations in Rome arrives because their former zeal for the same was worn out by every scandal and blow endured for decades, cowed equally by Rome cutting off anyone who gets too uppity (c.f. Jansenists, etc.). When push comes to shove, the apostasy of the church of Rome (how could sanctioned idolatry be anything but that?) simply cannot be squared with the Roman faith. Either you live the lie and lose communion with the Truth, as the fantasists such as the sedes or the self-deluded such as your elderly parishioners do, or you let the Spirit open your eyes to what is plainly before them. God bless.

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    1. Bohemond says:

      I’m not sure what point you are ultimately trying to make, and I think you underestimate how tired even practicing normies are of the charade of the Novus Ordo. Also, following the theme of the article, the global banking cartel currently has the Vatican wrapped around its finger, the same as America. If the money power were to ever collapse and be succeeding by a Caesarian figure, perhaps the Catholic Church could once again act in its own interests, which would include promoting the Traditional Rite and phasing out the failure of the Novus Ordo.

      I generally subscribe to Oswald Spengler’s theory of historical cycles, which includes everything I mention above: the subjugation of the money power by a Caesar-like figure and a “second religiousness” leading to a return to a more “Gothic Christianity.” These historical movements are already becoming apparent. The fall of globalism means the scrapping of the project to turn the Vatican into a seat for the world religion. What comes after, in my opinion, is the return of Traditional Catholicism.

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      1. stallard0 says:

        The point I am mostly trying to make is that, as far as I broadly support your party and the necessity of keeping optimistic, I simply do not believe you are facing the reality of the situation.

        Normies are just not crying out for their priest to turn around and start chanting in Latin, despite how it might seem from your perspective. I have known a lot of Catholic boomers personally and did not get from any of them that the reforms were even a mixed blessing. The hollow façade of early 20th century Roman Catholicism made way for a very shallow but at least more sincere expression of faith. And from the generations following, those who did foster more than a nominal faith almost invariably looked at the pop-evangelical world, not in the forgotten missals and dogmatic books. I am aware that there are holdouts, beyond online larpers, who exist in huddled sanctuaries in most cities. I know that they are sincere. But for every one of those, there are a hundred parish churches with boomers who are content singing Wesleyan hymns and love seeing their granddaughter serve as lector or altar girl. In that respect, the church, I would seriously contend, is in a similar position to the “mainline” churches.

        To speak of the Vatican being just now controlled by bankers is amusing. The Italians basically invented banking, and banking families have controlled the papacy almost uninterrupted since the Italians wrested control from the French and entrenched its self-declared supremacy over the barbarian churches over the mountains. Money and power had been the constant, primary concern of the Vatican until an entirely different sect of bankers humbled the domestic variety. One notorious example of course is the papacy funding the Dutch to overthrow the French-supported James II Stuart out of simple geopolitics to the self-evident detriment to the Roman faith in the British Isles. The disgusting corruption of the Vatican financially was as much of a reality in Luther’s day and before as it is now.

        The idea that the collapse of one power will naturally raise up a Caesar to save the day is mere wishful thinking. There are of course cases where this did happen, but there are many cases where it didn’t, and you are left with defeated fools pining for Nero or Constantinos Redivivus. For my part, surely how e.g. David came to power shows that the Lord can accomplish anything to his power, but I would dread to stake my faith on a restoration of the church by a figure other than the one Who most assuredly promised to return.

        I most certainly don’t see the trajectory of any global cycle arcing toward the establishment of the papacy as a spiritual emperor. I suppose from the perspective of looking for one, he would be the best candidate, excepting a hypothetical caliph, but the foreseeable prospects for the Vatican are absolutely dire. The pope already parrots global regime propaganda, his flock is either dying (Europe), falling away from his power (South America), or growing steadily but second fiddle to others (Africa). His court are clearly on the side of the Enemy, and have every design to continue to make the traditionalists squirm while staying one step behind the episcopalians. If I thought throwing my lot in with the Zeitgeist was the right option, I would have to choose the Mohammedans. I have faith that Christ will prevail eventually, and the mushy neo-evangelical advance in many corners of the globe is despite flaws encouraging, but for today, on a secular analysis, the prize horse has to be the religion of the Arabian conqueror, which draws from endless coffers to evangelize almost as well as Christians, with a much harder message.

        I do perceive that you are approaching this from a Spenglerian, nationalist perspective first and a Roman one secondarily. Committed Romanists have to tread on eggshells whenever the pope is mentioned for fear of violating the most harmful doctrine to would-be reformers of any stripe. Doellinger got the last laugh when he saw right through the supposed security of the dogma and foresaw that the Jesuits would end up dogmatizing their casuistry, to the results that we see today. Spengler naturally approached the subject from an atheistic perspective, and clearly foresaw the forging of an entirely new religion casting off the old. Personally I care for neither of them. I could not care less for some uomo nuovo in a foreign garb. I care about about our people and the faith of our forefathers, and I trust in the God that they worshiped and who shone his face on them. This is the only serious hope I see to save our dying civilization.

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      2. Bohemond says:

        I appreciate some of the points you are making, however I think you are misinterpreting some of my arguments, but that’s ok. To sum up what I am trying to say, I think the arc of religiousness of Western civilization leads back to Traditional Catholicism. I don’t know exactly what the road to that destination is, but historical movements and trends are making it clearer every year. There was no hope in the Latin Mass just over a decade ago and now the apostates (as you correctly call them) in Rome are worried.

        What all this means for the future of Protestantism, I don’t know. Perhaps they shed their poisonous liberal elements as well. And respect to you for knowing what you are talking about despite being a Prot. Usually they have their heads buried in the sand and are just looking for their next emotional high. Though I would love to know how you justify sola scriptura and, by extension, any of your interpretations of the canon that the early Church compiled for you. But this comment section probably isn’t the best place for that debate.

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