Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Anne Roche Muggeridge on Liberalism's tragic trajectory

Why are liberals so brutal, when their entire self-understanding is about opposing brutality?

There is both a general answer, applicable to revolutionary liberalism in general, and a specific answer for the case of the Church, in this interesting passage in Anne Roche Muggeridge's excellent book, The Desolate City.

It has often been said that all revolutions fail since the ideals of early reformers are inevitably betrayed by the dynamics of the very process intended to secure them. James Hitchcock, in his early study of the post-Conciliar revolution, The Decline and Fall of Radical Catholicism, noted this. The radicals had wanted a Church "more open, more honest, less authoritarian and more humane than at present." But they soon discovered that "it is also impossible to have effective revolution...without having authoritarianism, strong discipline, enforced orthodoxy, the sacrifice of individuals to the cause - all the abuses which the revolutionaries object to in the establishment...have already begun to appear within radical American Catholicism." [p.43] To survive in power over a large number of unwilling subjects who still adhere to the older idea, a revolution is forced to maintain more rigid and punitive orthodoxy than the one it is trying to supplant. Twenty years after Vatican II, the revolution, though it has failed to behead the king, has for all intents and purposes become the establishment. Yet the horrid truth has begun to dawn that the teaching authority of the Church, centred on the Roman magisterium, is not after all going to abdicate, scrap its cosmology, become a constitutional monarchy or a parliamentary democracy or a revolutionary commune. Therefore, instead of being able to settle down to consolidate its gains, the revolution has had to step up its attack. Though the post-Consiliar hierarchy, up to and including Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, have been consistently patient and gentle - the traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre is suspended, Hans KΓΌng is not - the charges of brutality directed against it by the revolution become ever more outrageous. ...

It is now time for conciliation of the revolution by the magisterium to stop. It had to be tried, but it hasn't worked; it never does. 

The Desolate City: revolution in the Catholic Church (1986, revised ed 1990) p174-5

Anne Roche Muggeridge, who died in 2010, was a great pro-lifer and Traditionalist. She married Malcolm Muggeridge's son John, and was an influence in Malcolm's conversion. Her best-known book, The Desolate City was published in 1986 and revised and expanded in 1990; in this passage 1986 seems to be the present (I don't think the reference to Archbishop Lefebvre has caught up with the 1988 consecrations and excommunications).

See an obituary of Anne Roche Muggeridge here.

The cartoon above nicely illustrates the point about the ever-shriller denouncements of oppression by the very people who represent, for many purposes, the Catholic establishment. It accompanied a 2011 article by Elena Curti which, with the thinnest of veils, called for the ordination of women. More about that here.

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