In the wake of an ugly election and the midst of near-worldwide social chaos, hope lies in the fact that people, in general, are beginning to recognize the cause of the problems.
Events of the last year or so have been unusually significant, in that they have been indicative of an increasingly rapid acceleration of crisis in the American form of government. Scandal has piled upon scandal; leaks have been followed by counter-leaks; and rhetoric and accusation, from both the usual suspects and from sources usually silent and in the dark, have made the present political milieu into something of a hall of mirrors, where reality itself is no longer obvious.
An example of just how strange the situation became in the days before the presidential election was the otherworldly, bizarre video from Steve Piecezenik. The former high-level official in the Kissinger State Department, and one-time member of the Council on Foreign Relations, announced in a much-watched YouTube video that the Clinton organization had orchestrated a new type of coup, which he and others in the intelligence and federal law-enforcement community reacted to by launching a counter-coup via leaks to the WikiLeaks organization and others. In that video, was Pieczenik telling the truth? Has there been, as some usually sober commentators have said, a vigorous internecine struggle between warring factions of the “deep state”? Or is everything seen and heard part of an unprecedented campaign of propaganda and cointelpro?
The net result of the recent election was to induce a widespread feeling of despair. Prior to the election of Donald Trump, much of this despair was seemingly confined to the more conservative side of the population. Since the results of the election became known, that despair has manifested itself in the form of increasing violence and dangerous rhetoric from the political Left. When viewed from a distance, the situation appears disconcertingly volatile.
Standing too close to this apparent firestorm of political emotion and confusion, it is all too easy to feel that human civilization has reached a tipping point, and that a great and fearsome catastrophe looms. Stepping back, however, things appear considerably different. A perspective informed by the past demonstrates that Christian civilization has flourished even in much darker times. This was certainly true during the first centuries of Christendom, when the absolute power of the Roman state turned its malevolent gaze on the Faithful of Christ. It was true at the dawning of the Renaissance, when the great plague emptied the cities of Europe. And it was true even within recent memory, when during the bloody 20th century, the total state ascendant waged war on the world. From the trench warfare and chemical weapons of the First World War through the increasing horrors of the Second World War and on to the terrible genocides committed by communists and Nazis alike, our own recent past has, by these measures, been the most horrific of all.
And yet, during each of these dark ages, every year Christians have gathered with their families and in their churches throughout the world to pay tribute in blissful wonder at the coming Christ, the birth of God as the Son of Man, born to the humblest and poorest of human parents at a time of personal trial. This was the new birth of hope, the triumph of the individual presence of God over the manifold sins of man, and the reaffirmation of the supreme dignity of the individual, God-granted, human soul. The birth of Christ that we celebrate each year at Christmas was the birth of hope and the birth of joy. It was, Christians believe, God giving His Son to each individual, and no greater gift has ever, or could ever, be given. This gift was a revelation to the downtrodden and a rebuke to evil, including to the evil of the total state.
As it was then, it remains today. Christmas is the celebration of the coming of the Savior, the birth of hope and joy. Standing back and seeing the bigger picture of the future, informed by the grace of God and in the spirit of Christmas, it appears ever more likely that the future can be embraced with anticipation and optimism.
Trumped by Plato
The anchor of hope should never be affixed to a single leader, no matter how charismatic, intelligent, or persuasive that leader may be. Indeed, hope should never be completely associated with any human system, for humans are imperfect creatures, prone to error, forever struggling in ignorance and surrounded by temptation. The Christian, and other believers in a Supreme Being who has endowed us with “certain unalienable rights,” can put faith and hope in God alone. To do otherwise is to raise up an idol and invite the darkness of tyranny.
This is the challenge before some, and perhaps many, of the fervent supporters of Donald Trump. It is also, it should be said, the same challenge faced by the supporters of Hillary Clinton. In either case, those who seek a savior in the form of another human person flirt with heresy and court danger, to themselves and others, should that leader come to believe himself sanctified by the “power” of his office, as Lord Acton warned.
No, Trump will be no more a solution and savior than the alternative would have been. Nonetheless, his remarkable election itself should be taken as a sign that unfortunate trends of the recent past may be about to end.
It hardly needs to be said that in every election for at least 70 years (and, arguably, longer), what some call the “deep state” or the power behind the throne has had its hand on the levers of control behind the scenes. The fact that this “hardly needs to be said” is itself a sign of hope. It is the emergence into the collective awareness of the majority of a fact that was once little known, scarcely understood, and otherwise ridiculed if articulated openly.
The emergence of this awareness seems almost unprecedented, so much so that Plato, the Greek student of Socrates, would be astonished. Indeed, it’s possibleSocrates himself would be astonished.
In his allegory of the cave, Plato compared the effect of education and the lack of it on human nature. In the famous section of his Republic, Plato uses Socrates to describe a group of people chained in a cave all of their lives, the extent of their knowledge of the world being shadows cast on the wall of the cave by things passing in front of a fire behind them.
“And now,” Plato has Socrates say in his dialogue with Glaucon, “look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error.”
At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows.... And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he’s forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.... He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day. Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
The election of Donald Trump is the result, simply, of a very large fraction of the American people having at last made the rugged ascent up from the cave and seeing more clearly what has been happening.
Moreover, it isn’t just Americans emerging from the cave, but this is instead a worldwide phenomenon. Before Trump, the result of Brexit, so frightful and astonishing to the deep state’s agents in the U.K. and Europe, sprang from the same growth of awareness. In fact, this same trend has been apparent in France with the rise of Marine Le Pen, in India with the election of Narendra Modi in 2014, and with the rising popularity of Norbert Hofer in Austria and the leadership of Viktor Orbán in Hungary.
The success of these leaders has little to do with each of them taken as individuals. Indeed, in many cases, some of their policy ideas are counter to the theological underpinnings of Christian liberty. Yet their rise to power speaks especially to the growing worldwide awareness of the machinations, lies, and manipulations of the internationalist deep state, which seeks to overthrow any vestiges of tradition in favor of a transnational bureaucratic tyranny.
For the first time in a very long time indeed, the program of the internationalists has met significant resistance. That’s a gift worth celebrating.
The Strength of Freedom
The technocrats of the deep state have long sought a fully managed economy for the entire world. They look wistfully back at the old Soviet scheme of five-year plans and rub their demonic paws together at the prospect of similar control over the whole planet. Fortunately, that eventuality looks less and less likely in the wake of the watershed awakening of recent years.
The alternative remains the amazing inventiveness, effort, productivity, and goodwill of free enterprise. Even shackled with high taxes, ObamaCare, currency manipulation, and red tape, individuals working to build companies, invent new products, and save for their families and rainy days continue to enrich the world.
This Christmas, people the world over will be reminded of the Gift of Christ, and will remind others, by giving and receiving gifts of their own. Under Christmas trees around the world will be gifts, from the most modest to the most grandiose, of incredible variety. On tables, families and friends will dine on the widest variety of foods ever available, many once considered to be extraordinary rarities and luxuries that only the princelings of power could access.
This is solely due to the power of free enterprise, or, more fundamentally, the productive power of individual freedom. Each person does what is necessary for the good of him or herself and family. This isn’t usually the vain pursuit of riches, but only application of God-given faculties in procuring food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. In so doing, these efforts have the follow-on impact of enriching the lives of others. By learning, helping, producing, and trading, the world grows healthier, more prosperous, more advanced. Hunger decreases and lifespans increase.
Hans Rosling provides an astonishingly visual representation of this at his website, gapminder.org. Built with his “Trendalyzer” software, the site presents animated bubble charts on numerous topics, including one on lifespan and income per person. When the chart starts in 1801, world average lifespan levels are almost uniformly capped at age 40, with most far below that. Meanwhile, incomes are likewise small. Playback of the animated chart shows the continual and astonishing increase in average lifespan worldwide by 2015 when the chart ends, along with a simultaneous steep rise in personal income. It’s most noteworthy that this trend corresponds with the advent and growth of modern free enterprise. The dips it encounters along the way are always due to the wars waged by unhinged state power and the genocidal crimes of the total state.
Nothing vindicates famed economist Adam Smith more than this. Writing just a few years before Rosling’s chart picks up the story, Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations:
Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.
Today, the invisible hand is driving innovation faster than ever in ways that are practically invisible, but no less of tremendous impact. Food, for example, is packaged more effectively now than ever before, making it more reliably transported for longer distances while retaining flavor, freshness, and nutrition. Yet the technology that makes this packaging possible is completely unknown except to the scientists, engineers, and production technicians that make it on vast, high-speed machines every day. These machines deposit multiple layers on thin films simultaneously at speeds of up to 2,000 feet per minute or faster. The technology and its benefits are ubiquitous, and contribute considerably to the vast improvements of life and welfare charted by Rosling.
This is hardly the only place where “invisible” technology is accelerating wellness and wealth. It is now possible to protect functional ingredients within a coating at a scale that can only be viewed with a scanning electron microscope, and then disperse those protected ingredients into other substances and environments that would otherwise be hostile to them, thereby bringing their benefits to new and novel applications never before possible. Though the fundamental basis for this technology has been known since the 1940s, advances in materials science, chemistry, physics, and, ultimately, manufacturing have made this technology now much more broadly available.
Of course, everything is enabled by the increasing power of computers, and that increasing power comes from ever more subtle and sophisticated manufacturing capabilities.
The majority of computers most people use every day are powered by processors from Intel, making them a convenient example of technological innovation. Just a few years ago, in 2011, Intel was selling its “Sandy Bridge” line of chips, based on a 32-nanometer process of fabrication. Now, just five years later, the company has introduced its “Kabylake” line of processors, based on a 14-nanometer process.
It’s astonishing that in just a few short years it has been possible to mass produce these devices at such infinitesimally small sizes. And it’s purely due to the power of free enterprise. An infinite supply of communist five-year plans would not have produced such an outcome.
Within the next year or so, the company will likely introduce chips based on a 10-nanometer process. And that’s not all: In 2015, IBM demonstrated a lab-scale chip made with a seven-nanometer process. Since then, other labs have begun work on five-nanometer fabrication processes. For comparison, a single human red blood cell is about 5,000 nanometers across.
The Unknown Country
No one can know the mind of God. He is beyond human comprehension, beyond the universe of matter. What we can know is only what is revealed through the power of the intellect he provided or by His miraculous grace. By these means freely applied and guided, as it were, by an “invisible hand,” human civilization has reached a level of unprecedented advancement. And with a new awakening among Americans, and more broadly, among large numbers of citizens of other nations, that the operatives and bureaucrats of the “Deep State” seek a broad return to poverty, tyranny, and oppression, new possibilities have come into view.
There can be no perfection, no utopia. There will always be those who turn from God, meaning there will always be evildoers. There will always be mistakes, even well-meaning ones. Perfection cannot be achieved and utopia is a mirage, an unknown, unreachable country.
But perhaps now the dystopia we have been hurtling toward is now no longer the fait accompli it seemed and that historian Oswald Spengler wrote about. Writing after the First World War, but a decade before the Second, Spengler noted in The Decline of the West that we were then living in the age of “contending states” with permanent armies and associated control mechanisms that were driving the fate of the world.
In an eerily predictive passage, one that still chills today, he wrote:
The place of the permanent armies as we know them will gradually be taken by professional forces of volunteer war-keen soldiers; and from millions we shall revert to hundreds of thousands. But ipso facto, this second century will be one of actually Contending States. These armies are not substitutes for war — they are for war and they want war. Within two generations it will be their will that prevails.... In these wars of theirs for the heritage of the whole world, continents will be staked, India, China, South Africa, Russia, Islam, called out, new technics and tactics played and counterplayed. The great cosmopolitan foci of power will dispose at their pleasure of smaller states — their territory, their economy and their men alike — all that is now merely province passive object, means to end, and its destinies are without importance to the great march of things.
This, of which Spengler wrote, was the manifestation of the deep state, the malevolent force that millions around the world have indicated that they oppose by choosing Trump, and by choosing Brexit.
Reflected in the decades-old prose of Spengler is the cry of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán: “We will not be a colony. Hungarians won’t live according to the commands of foreign powers, they won’t give up their independence or their freedom.”
We are on the cusp of something new. Millions have been brought screaming into the light from the darkness of the cave in which they had been chained, and seeing the real, have revolted from it.
There is a new demand for freedom and independence, the like of which has not been seen before on such a mass scale. If its objectives are even partially achieved, it will lead to a new birth of human possibility, one that, launched from our already advanced technology, can scarcely even be imagined.
Christmas each year reminds us of the gift of Christ, who came to bring a renewal of dignity to the human person by opening up salvation that had been damaged by the deceiver. That deceiver still attempts to thwart God’s grace and pollute His creation. But, the forces of those who have spurned God have been rebuked this Christmas season. It is a reminder that those who have turned from the Good and embraced evil cannot win, no matter how much damage and pain they can inflict. It recalls the words of Jesus to Peter:
And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The tide may have been turned, and a new opportunity has appeared. Be of good cheer, and let’s make the most of it!
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