Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Doug Farrow on the "Savior State"

Doug Farrow is one of the most penetrating writers around today when it comes to issues relating to the culture of death and the creeping fascism that is coiling itself around the neck of a feeble and declining Western culture. He has an article in Touchstone that everyone should read carefully. I endorse everything he has to say; in fact, he says here more effectively what I have been trying to say myself on this blog for quite some time. The article is called "The Audacity of the State."

"When I speak of the audacity of the state, the kind of state I have in mind is what we may call the savior state. The main characteristic of the savior state is that it presents itself as the people’s guardian, as the guarantor of the citizen’s well-being. The savior state is the paternal state, which not only sees to the security of its territory and the enforcement of its laws but also promises to feed, clothe, house, educate, monitor, medicate, and in general to care for its people. Some prefer to call it the nanny state, but that label fails to reckon with its inherently religious character. The savior state does have a religious character, precisely in its paternalism, and may even be comfortable with religious rhetoric.

We are familiar with such rhetoric from ancient times. Was Caesar not soter? Did his coinage not mark him out as divi filius and pontifex maximus? “This, this is he,” says Anchises in Virgil’s Aeneid, the one you’ve been waiting for—“the man you have heard promised to you so often, Augustus Caesar, son of a god, who will once again establish the Golden Age in Latium, in the region once ruled by Saturn.”

We are familiar with it from modern times too. The savior state is the kind of state that Hobbes envisioned, or that Louis Du Moulin had in mind when he said that “the Commonwealth is a visible church.” It is the kind of state that emerges when it is assumed, as Herbert Thorndike pointed out in objection to both “Hobbism and Independency,” that “a man may be heir to Christ’s kingdom and endowed with Christ’s Spirit without being, or before he be, a member of God’s church.” It is the kind of state that Obama had in mind when, during the presidential campaign, he invited a Christian audience in South Carolina to see him as “an instrument of God” and to help him “create a Kingdom right here on Earth.”"
This creation of a state which replaces God is the modern project, another Tower of Babel enterprise. It is not Christendom or Christian theocracy that constitutes the real and present threat to freedom and human dignity. It is "the Savior State."

"It is customary these days to associate the religiously audacious state with theocratic Islamic countries such as Iran, or with Christendom, and to see them as belonging to a “medieval” mindset. The savior state should not be associated with Christendom, however, but with the demise of Christendom. It is a great achievement of the Enlightenment to have taken credit for the doctrine of the separation of church and state, when in fact it effectively abolished that doctrine.

Separation of church and state was predicated on the eschatological reserve on which Christianity insisted, a reserve that required a doctrine of “the Two” and refused to combine the kingly with the priestly in a single office or person. To combine these offices (with their respective “swords”) belonged to Christ alone, and any other claimant to both was ipso facto a kind of Antichrist.

This same eschatological reserve, while supporting all manner of advances in civilizing social and political life, repudiated all utopianism, whether progressive or regressive. It sought no return to a Golden Age, nor did it trumpet “Change you can believe in.” It knew of two loves and two cities made by those loves, and it sought only peace as far as possible between them and within them."

I'd love to quote it all, but you can read it here for yourself. Please do.

1 comment:

penny farthing said...

Whoa. Sounds terrifyingly familiar, what with *certain politicians* and their promises/campaign rhetoric. Fascinating blog. And so many postings. I've been reading it for a while.