Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Catching the Wave

It's not too often that we who write for the Just Third Way blog manage to figure out which way the crowd is going, get out front, and wave the flag. More often than not we're standing on the sidelines trying to get people to listen to which way they should be going. We seem to have managed to catch the wave yesterday, though, with our posting, "I'm a Little Teapot."

William McGurn's opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal ("Are Americans Bigots?" WSJ, 08/10/10, A13) confirms our opinion piece yesterday ("Cursed be he who said what I said before I said it!") discoursing on the claim that contempt for ordinary people has been increasing dramatically among leaders in politics, academia, and the media.

We've had discussions on this for some time at the office (doesn't everybody?), and we've come to the same conclusion drawn by Dr. Heinrich Rommen, one of Germany's leading jurists before being forced to flee from the Nazis, and who ended up teaching at Georgetown, although not, oddly, in the law school.

In his book on the natural law, Rommen, who was a student of the great Father Heinrich Pesch, S.J., renowned as the founder of Solidarism, and a member of the Königswinterkreis (headed by Father Oswald von Nel Breuning, S.J., who drafted Quadragesimo Anno under the direction of Pius XI), theorized that the shift in the basis of the natural law from Intellect (Nature), discernible by reason alone (the Thomist concept), to Will, interpreted by faith (William of Occam's distortion of Duns Scotus's emphasis on primacy of the Will) was responsible for the unfortunate rise in positivism, even nihilism, and provided the ultimate philosophical basis for the rise of totalitarian governments, notably (not surprisingly, given Rommen's experiences) the Nazism of the Third Reich.

The bottom line to all this is to put inordinate power over the social order into the hands of elites who surrender to the urge to run other people's lives . . . always for the good of those others, of course. To achieve this, the elites find it necessary first to redefine basic natural rights such as life, liberty (freedom of association), property, and the acquisition and development of virtue ("pursuit of happiness") — thereby redefining the natural law, an impossibility under the Thomist primacy of the Intellect — and then redefine humanity's substantial nature.

In other words, the elites, using a profoundly anti-Catholic orientation (and anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim as well, if you accept the philosophy of Maimonides and Ibn Khaldûn as normative for those faiths), divide the human race into two parts. These are "Us" and "Them." "We" (Us), of course, are fully human, the only ones who truly understand the truth, and are ordained by God to run the world. "They" are inferiors, only partly human or not human at all; e.g., Hitler's division of humanity into Culture Creators (Aryans, or full humans), Culture Carriers (non-Aryans, or partial humans), and Culture Destroyers (Jews, Gypsies, Negroes, etc., or non-humans).

This is obviously a disturbing trend, but at least some in the media appear to be taking note of it. Whether those who should be paying attention to the warning signs are, in fact, doing so is another issue.



Lee Faber said...

How, exactly, does Ockham lead to the Nazi's?

Michael D. Greaney said...

The full argument can be found in Heinrich Rommen's book, The Natural Law (Liberty Fund in Indianapolis puts out an edition), as well as Mortimer Adler's article on "What is the Natural Law."

To try and be brief, however, Ockham's distortions of Duns Scotus's emphasis on the "Primacy of the Will" led to a shift in the basis of the natural law from its true foundation in humanity's nature as a reflection of God's Nature, to the belief that the law is found in a revelation from a deity or something else, such as the Aryan Volksgeist, or Spirit of the People, a theory of racial supremacy.

Shifting from Intellect (Nature/Reason) to Will changes what is right from being right by nature and discerned as such by reason (lex ratio), to being right because it is commanded or believed by the people (lex voluntas).

Thus, in a very real sense, William of Ockham's work led directly to the "Triumph of the Will," as Leni Riefenstahl's film put it, and to the plague of moral relativism that has set the stage for many of the ills currently suffered by the world.