Thoughts on The Past Is a Future Country” by Edward Dutton and J.O.A. Rayner-Hilles, Part 3

Conclusion: Is The Past Is a Future Country Compatible with Trad Catholic Religious Belief?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of dystopic fiction. Setting aside why I like that genre, The Past Is a Future Country is something akin to dystopic fiction in the guise of political and demographic predictions. It is a future-oriented world in which this one — our post-Enlightenment liberal world — has finally hurtled out of control and is destroyed from within. I read it quickly, like I would read a gripping story. I concede that the destruction of liberalism seems too good to be true — I just cannot imagine it happening even if these authors have laid out a plausible path to that future. As a reactionary conservative dinosaur and a religious man living as a foreigner in my own civilization, I welcome its coming destruction. I may not live long enough to see it but knowing it is coming gladdens my heart.

While I cannot deny that a burgeoning underclass, the collapse of governments and technology, and advent of wanton violence and disorder will make life extremely difficult for my descendants, I choose a world of new Byzantiums even in that context over the insanity of late-stage liberalism. Stated most plainly, we cannot create a new Western Civilization — built on the ashes of the old one — without first destroying the liberal monstrosity we call our own. More to the point, I want to live in a Godly community in which sin and vice are condemned by that community even if lawlessness and vice surround it. In a sense, my home and church are already the functional equivalents of the very new Byzantiums predicted by the authors. The only thing we do not yet have is cooperation on economic matters in a corporate fashion. That said, it is not a stretch that we will cooperate if we have too because the community is already in place. Put differently, I already live within a nascent new Byzantium. It has not reached full maturity yet because the social circumstances have not yet demanded that it become that.

So, I clearly liked the book — it provided enormous grist for the mind to consider. The authors are very thoughtful and provide a cogent statement of where we were, are, and are going. That said, there is something off-putting about it that it took me time to puzzle over. Eventually, I found something personally galling about the tenor of the book — call that something like a personal affront. Second, I found something historically did not ring true about it — while the general trend of liberal sterility and religious/conservative fecundity is true, there was a seemingly missing theme of liberalism before the Industrial Revolution that the authors ignored or glossed over.

First, as to the personal affront objection, the authors are not, I suppose, religious people themselves. They certainly do not appear to be Catholics. They write in support of religious people not so much based on the virtues of Christianity or the idealism of the glorious reconstitution of Christendom — or its truth, but only in the Darwinian advantage that religiosity and conservatism, so defined, confer. This is not a book that relishes the coming ascendancy of religion and tribe in the West as a victory for truth or piety — the book predicts it because the authors think it is more likely in Darwinian terms. To put my objection — or perhaps discomfiture — into plainer words, I felt objectified as a Christian. I felt like I was an archetype and stripped of my moral agency in what amounts to an appeal to genetic determinism. In other words, I do not have moral or religious convictions, I have genetic dispositions that make me see the world as I do.

I suppose it is cheerful to learn that your views and beliefs are evolutionarily adaptive — that your makeup is such that you are a part of the “fittest” who will “survive.” It is likewise good to learn that my views and beliefs, which are scorned today, will be eventually vindicated in time. Who would not want that? But I concede that this type of thinking is so far from my way of understanding myself and my beliefs. To put it differently, the righteousness of the faith that I place all my trust in was irrelevant to the question of its survival, and that is something it took time for me to get my head around. Even if I were the last Christian, I would believe it. Indeed, as a contrarian, I picked it long before it conferred any advantage in the age in which I live. Perhaps my religious convictions are “adaptive” from an evolutionary point of view, but my views have never been held because of their “adaptiveness” — I have sacrificed for them because I believe in them — and I believe in Christ. Undoubtedly, my belief in God has motivated how I have lived, and the teachings of Holy Mother Church have influenced the relatively large size of my family. I abhor the immorality of homosexual acts, fornication, adultery, usury, feminism, and pornography — not merely because they are anti-social and maladaptive to Western Civilization, but because they are sinful and an affront to the living God. I believe, like other religious people, that the frequency and acceptance of that immorality is what brings forth the judgment of God in harrowing ways. One way to see the looming catastrophic collapse predicted by the authors is that it is God’s judgment for the sins of this civilization. For me and I suppose many others, I want to see a religious future not so my progeny will survive but because God’s demands of righteousness and human fecundity are gifts from God who allows humans to cooperate in bringing forth new souls who can be eventually citizens of Heaven.

As it relates to the question of genetic determinism — that we effectively lack moral agency because our actions and beliefs are determined by the genetic material that we receive and which makes us, I am not ready to reconcile it by adopting something like a Calvinist worldview of predestinarian thought. For the uninitiated, Calvinism, which is the most thoughtful and intellectually compelling form of Protestantism, put forth the view that man lacked free will — that his eternal destiny was preordained always by the sovereignty of God. The elect were always going to be the elect, and the damned were always going to be the damned. Genetic determinism fits nicely with a Calvinist view that God programmed us to be exactly what we would become. As a Catholic, I revile this Calvinist position — as it is considered blasphemous and inconsistent with the majority view in Christianity that man has free well to make his destiny even if God supplies the necessary grace for him to be saved through faith and works. So, we Catholics start with the principle that man has free will — he has agency and is culpable for the choices he makes.

The next principle appears to be that man’s culpability is conditioned by his circumstances. I believe most Christians would accede to the idea that God not only meets man where he is, but He also judges man where he is.

Finally, most Christians would not object categorically to the notion that certain psychological conditions are heritable and therefore genetic, at least in part. Obviously, there are things like serious psychological pathologies like schizophrenia or clinical depression, and there are, from a Christian perspective, similar pathologies and obsessions like homosexuality or cross-dressing (things that used to be considered secular pathologies before psychology was liberalized in the 1960s). If I divorce all of this from Darwinian language and reject too that genetics provides a complete answer to human behavior (and thereby reject the absence of free will), do I object to the idea that piety, virtue, cooperation, and the conscious protection of tribe contribute to the survival and thriving (i.e., are adaptive) for a given group — and the converse principle that the lack of these traits and the attack on tribe contribute to the destruction and desolation (i.e., are maladaptive) of a given group? No, I do not. Do I object to the idea that these traits, or their opposites, have a natural or genetic component? No, I do not. If I accept that our nature (or genetics) plays a significant part in what we believe and how we will act, and I do, then it does not strike me that the analysis done by these authors, reliant as it is on Darwinian notions, is offensive.

Catholics certainly accede to the notion that Original Sin — that is, our first parent’s disobedience in the Garden corrupted our natures thereafter. If we liken genetic information to computer code, we could liken Original Sin’s effect to a form of corruption of that code. Whatever we do in this life, we cannot avoid the effects of the original corruption because we all sin and cannot avoid it completely — in other words, our sinfulness is baked into the now corrupted code of our nature; or in still other words, our sinfulness is now natural or genetic. Parenthetically, that is why we needed a Savior. The corrupt code (that is man’s wounded genetic nature) and actual sin (that is the manifestation of the corrupt code in action) combine to create a variety of bad outcomes in people and societies. Stated differently, every sickness and every disaster in the world, physical, mental, or otherwise, comes from this cocktail of wounded nature and actual sin. In theological terms, creation groans under man’s mismanagement and disobedience, and man’s mismanagement and disobedience are traced to our first parents and Original Sin. That some are more wounded — sicklier, as it were — it likewise a fact of the world. And we see that in a variety of ways. I accept that homosexuality, for example, can have a partially natural (i.e., genetically influenced) foundation, and therefore homosexuality experienced in the homosexually-inclined is what we Catholics would call a “cross” — that is, a particular moral weakness or infirmity (i.e., maladaptation in Darwinian terms) to which we are inclined and must battle until we die. Salvation comes from more than faith alone, it comes too from our work, aided by God’s grace, in undertaking this battle, day-in and day-out, even if we experience setback after setback. The maladaptive traits and individual strands of liberalism outlined in the book are like the example of the “cross” of homosexuality — they are tendencies or disordered longings towards the impious and the vicious, and they are behaviors that can be helped in the right environment, but in any event must be resisted and condemned regardless. The liberal misanthrope does not lack moral agency because he is genetically inclined in antisocial ways (i.e., sinful ways), but his liberal misanthropy is just another expression — or symptom — of man’s postlapsarian condition. In that sense, I therefore synthesize the hard Darwinian thought of the authors with my religious convictions that demand culpability in all that man does. Put simply, God’s ways are the sine qua non of adaptiveness — adaptive not merely for natural ends such as human survival and thriving, but also and more pointedly, adaptive to our final end, which is Heaven.

My religious views notwithstanding, I see the arguments made in this book aligning with both my anecdotal experience and deductive powers — and the predictive value of the arguments made are based upon social science evidence. Regardless of whether the authors of this book see the triumph of religion in the West as a vindication of truth or the vindication of Darwin or something else, it could be that we are both right. Setting aside the Darwinian nomenclature, perhaps the point is that Christianity and the communitarian “binding” conservative values that the authors propose as adaptive is another validation of what one of the great luminaries of Western Civilization, Saint Augustine, once famously said: man is restless until he rests in God — that is, man is both adaptive and happy in his environment when he is pious, virtuous, communitarian, and cooperative, and he is maladaptive and unhappy when he is not. It has been programmed by God into the special creation that is man — his need for piety and virtue separating man’s destiny from that of all other creation even if that programming was damaged by man’s catastrophic fall from grace in the Garden.

Second, as to the historical objection, it seems to me that destructive forms and iterations of liberalism existed in the West long before the material excesses of the Industrial Revolution gave rise to the maladapted. And I am not even talking about other late-stage empires in decline in similar circumstances. Using their model of binders versus individualizers, how best could we describe the advent of the Reformation era in Europe, which cleaved Christendom in two? Or the rise of the Enlightenment, which ultimately led to the weakening and eventual destruction of both crown and aristocracy? The political revolutions of 1649, 1776, 1789, and 1848 all took place in the West before the Industrial Revolution. All of them exhibit, in the parlance of the authors, the power of the individualizers at the expense of the binders. All of them were essentially liberal and withdrew conservative capital from the greatness of Western Civilization.

To thus generalize a is the West was uniformly composed of religious conservatives until the advent of maladaptive people who survived and procreated because of the ease of life afforded to us by the Industrial Revolution ignores a liberal thread that runs through the West for at least five hundred years — or more if you count the liberal antecedents for the Reformation (like the Hussites or Lollards). True enough, the previous threads of liberalism were not anti-natalist per se, which is something that separates them from the current liberal disease. However, the omission of the growth of greater individualistic movements in Europe for a very long time ignores something basic in our historiography. So, when the authors say that the “past” is a future country, are they saying that the future religious/conservative elite will lead us back to the yeoman farmer of the American frontier — or further back to the Puritans of the Commonwealth of England — or even further back to the days of unity under the umbrella of a united faith and people as such existed in medieval Christendom? Perhaps by leaving this question unasked, the authors allow interested religious conservative readers to fill in the blanks: an American Evangelical reading the work sees the “good ol’ days” as America circa 1800; a French monarchist sees it as a return to the days of the Sun King; and a traditional Catholic sees it as a return to the days before the Reformation cut Christendom in two. The point, it seems to me, is that leaving this obvious liberal thread unaccounted for — because it does not fit the genetic explanation for the maladapted modern liberal world — weakens the work significantly.

Now, it could be that the authors considered this — and they saw something different in kind about the liberalism we experience today, and they do not see the two threads as related or causal but merely consecutive. Even If I find that a stretch, it would have behooved them to address it and disentangle it as best they could. For my own part, I would have preferred them to connect it — to see that the liberal virus has been growing in the West for a long time (with phenomena like the Reformation, Enlightenment, etc.) such that the overthrow of “Peak” liberalism today in the near future is not merely a repudiation of the liberalism of the 1960s and beyond but an overthrow of liberalism that can be traced back hundreds of years. In other words, had they said that Western man was fundamentally conservative, binding, ethnocentric, communitarian, pious, and religious until for example, 1600 — that would have made more sense to me. Be that as it may, I agree with the authors that modern liberalism is going to die of sterility; but the hope for someone like me is that it dies in all of its destructive forms, not merely its modern iteration — and that a new Christendom is reborn out of the ashes.

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Is the future predicted by these authors really going to come to pass? I am not sure. They confirmed my observable supposition that political realities will eventually be influenced by who breeds and who does not. The demographic advantage for religious/conservative people and its implications for the future in the near term is something that I do not recall being distilled so thoroughly as it was in this book. Likewise, the demographic advantage of the stupid and impulsive is similarly obvious. I see now that my anecdotal experience of the growth of the very stupid and morally challenged was a clue to a frightening aspect of our future. But one thing that struck me is that the authors view the underclass monolithically — and the picture they paint of the underclass and new religious/conservative elites in the future is one in which intellectual and civilized people are surround by maladaptive Orcs. But no matter what we can say of the stupid and morally challenged, they are definitely not Orcs.

Let me expand on this: let us assume that the world goes exactly as the authors prognosticate — we see a new elite of religious conservatives who are largely ethnically European and Christian. Civilization is preserved within the confines of the new Byzantiums or the havens they create. Outside of these enclaves is an underclass that is not ready, by any stretch, to meet the challenges of a world that does not provide food, housing, and medical care as has been common during the age of the welfare state. If we use the collapse of the Western Roman empire as our example — after all, the very usage of Constantinople as the haven for civilization following the fall of the Western empire is indicative and used by the authors — we see what the Catholics of the fifth and sixth centuries (and beyond) did. Yes, they preserved civilization in Constantinople with the Greeks, but they also created outposts of light and civilization in monasteries that dotted the geography of Western Europe. Slowly they converted the barbarians around them to civilization and Catholicism. The authors of this book suggest something like the future underclass will simply die off because of mutational load and stupidity in a much more challenging environment than exists today. Perhaps some will — perhaps most will, but what is missing is that the challenge of the new Byzantiums will be not merely to preserve civilization as if it was an oasis, but to rebuild something like a new Western Civilization. And that necessarily means a missionary attempt to reach the underclass in the future.

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Saint Boniface, Pray for Us.

4 replies
  1. Hairy Iranian Guy
    Hairy Iranian Guy says:

    “ Finally, most Christians would not object categorically to the notion that certain psychological conditions are heritable and therefore genetic, at least in part. Obviously, there are things like serious psychological pathologies like schizophrenia or clinical depression…”

    IOW, Jesus creates some ppl at a distinct disadvantage. Haha, the convolutions of forcing everything into a religious worldview. A schizophrenic has free will, but he’s schizophrenic and his decisions are biased by his condition. Perhaps praying to Jesus would cure him of the condition Jesus gave him? Or maybe he should visit a post-Enlightenment psychiatrist who can prescribe him some sort of Atheist-inspired medication to undue his Jesus-given condition and give him some sort of temporary respite?

    Oh, and St. Boniface was Christianity’s version of ISIS.

    • Non Importa
      Non Importa says:

      Many would say you are a sick twisted guy to equate St. Boniface with ISIS; with little to no understanding of Christianity.

  2. European-American
    European-American says:

    There is a popular commercial that airs on the Fox News Channel that claims to be an organization of Christians & Jews, but all the donations raised goes towards the Jewish plight and not the Christian. Apparently it must do well, for how could they continue to pay for those lengthy mainstream ads unless Fox was donating the slots for free? But we all know that there are plenty of poverty stricken Christians, and Jews are likely the wealthiest demographic group in the world per capita. So why can’t we see the reverse situation on today’s TV ads? We’ve seen some prominent Christian marketing in major sports arenas recently, (e.g. “He gets us!” marketing at the Super Bowl), but they are seeking new non-Denominational Christian worshippers, and not trying to help its own people by raising funds. In fact, it seems that when Christians do fund raising, it’s often for “the Others.” And so it’s give, give, and more give, but our Western Civilization is being destroyed by those who take, take, take! Also, I have noticed that these pleas for financial aid to the Jewish “Others” has been highly visible in our old newspapers even as early as around WWI, and in those ads they also sought out Christians to get donations to help the Jews in war-torn Europe. I wonder how much of those funds went directly to Bolsheviks?

    I wonder if “the Others” were an impoverished population of Asatru worshippers from the Sierras of CA, and these European descendants managed to scrounge enough money for one Fox News ad seeking donations, how many of our majority American Christians would view these people as vile heathens unworthy of assistance? In other words, can the White Christian ever get along with the White pagan, because there certainly seems to be a boost in spirituality and interest in this ancient European religion. Can we all just get along, like we seem to do with the people bombing Palestinian women and children and innocent men in Gaza?

    Dr. Andrew Fraser’s book Dissident Dispatches proved that Christian theological teachings at the university level were hopelessly woke, and Eastern Orthodox Christians of Russia and Ukraine didn’t fair too well from 1917 till the fall of communism.

    As some commenters from have inquired, have we been worshipping the wrong God? Whose ever god(s) we do worship, hopefully the Americans of European heritage GET united in a spiritual bonding that will secure a future replete with dignity and respect for their children, grandchildren and onwards, for again as Dr. Fraser recently spoke on TPC radio program, “We are facing a plutocratic oligarchy that worships The Other,” and Christians are easily exploited in this paradigm.

  3. Count Lippe
    Count Lippe says:

    Rome was the one that cut Christendom in two by breaking with the Orthodox Church.
    Smith also leaves off the unpleasant thought of how many of his “Trad Catholic” kids will join the barbarians.
    That’s going on right now. Mainline Protestants got in bed with Jews on abortion and rightly saw their numbers and power evaporate. Roman Catholics then became the biggest religious bloc in the Northeast and elsewhere. Yet RC politicians work against pro-life (their church’s signature issue) to the point that every state where RC is the biggest bloc is solidly pro-abortion.
    The future is now as far RC Church is concerned.

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