Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Shaping of Reality

The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the communist economy has been recognized… the moral and religious question it used to address has been almost totally repressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man’s original certainties about God, himself, and the universe.

“The Spiritual Roots of Europe,” in Without Roots: Relativism, Christianity, and Islam, 73-4

Reflection – Communism may seem to most people today to be, outside of a few small enclaves like North Korea or Cuba, a historical phenomenon. China, ostensibly communist, has a thriving free market economy combined with a repressive central government: problematic for sure, but not exactly Marxist.
Ratzinger rightly points out, though, that while communism collapsed as an economic system in the 1990s, its spiritual and moral underpinnings have never collapsed, but take new and strange outward forms in the world today.

Who or what is God, or is there a God? Who or what is man, the human person? What is the relationship of man to the world? Underneath the specific tenets of Marxist theory lie certain answers to those questions, namely, that there is no god, that man is the sole shaper of reality, that this shaping of reality is wrought through seizing control of the levers of power. Along with this can come a certain historical determinism, a sense of inevitability of social progress along this or that line, which can then be used as a pretext to rather ruthlessly suppress dissent.

Might makes right! This is the crude expression of the underlying stance of Marxism. Whatever group has the upper hand is thereby endowed with moral probity and can punish its enemies as it sees fit.

And so… opponents of same-sex marriage routinely receive death threats. Those who question the ‘consensus’ on global climate warming (oops, I mean change), are compared to Holocaust deniers who should be jailed. And yes, those who question the ideology of sexual libertinism by suggesting that contraception is not a good thing are to be driven out of public life, by way of government mandates.

Underneath all of this is a sense that is fundamentally Marxist, that the whole point of the human project is to seize control of reality and shape it to our unfettered will. The corrosive crushing power of ideology, when man himself, the human person is to be shaped and fashioned according to the agendae of those who are in power.

This is indeed, as Ratzinger says, the central problem of Europe and of North America in our days. The answer—well, I’ve written a whole book about that! Suffice to say we need to recapture a vision of humanity that is first and fundamentally receptive and contemplative. Only from this receptive contemplative humanity can we fashion the world in peace and in love. That is our response.