This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

A republic ex nihilo

Americans view the constitution much like the Protestants in general view the Bible: not as the product of a pre-existing Idea, but as a living, breathing, creator-Idea, the origin of a way of life. In England the constitution is simply the acknowledgement of a reality that has developed over centuries, a kind of legal chronicle not responsible for the creation of anything entirely new. This also what the Bible has been for Catholicism from the beginning. For Protestantism, however, since it had rejected the Church and its Tradition, the Bible had to become something that it never was: the product had to become the producer. The Bible had to be placed before the Church instead of after it, as one of its productions, and had to become the source—the only source—for Christian doctrine and conduct. In other words, the Letter had to replace the Spirit. In fact Protestantism is a kind of combination of idolatry of the letter combined with individualistic rationalist sentimentalism. To return to the American constitution, we can say that it differs from the English one by being viewed as a creative force that brought into being a way of life. The Constitution is the American Bible, but it is a Protestant Bible and not a Catholic one. This is why Americanism and Catholicism have never been able to live in harmony.

In Europe, the forces of tradition were opposed to the constitutionalizing movement that swept over the Western world because for them it represented the antithesis of tradition, as the Letter is the antithesis of the Spirit. It is not so much that constitutions are faulty, but that they are faulty when they are seen as the sole guide and are seen as replacements for Tradition. In other word, it is not constitutions but ideological constitutionalism that is to be feared, and that is precisely when Europe was dealing with. A similar battle occurred within the religion sphere with the Bible, what it was, and what Protestantism made of it. In other words, the Constitution became the equivalent, on the political level, of what Protestantism made the Bible on the religious level: an immortal document that hovers above any real, living authority, and theoretically replaces that authority; this document speaks for itself, in some mystical way, and bestows great liberties (the equivalent of political grace) on everyone who remains faithful to it.

Constitutions, understood in this way, made tradition unnecessary and rendered its existence evil, since traditional authority was a living and breathing and teaching thing, and would constantly be offering specific interpretations of the Holy Document that would not be pleasing to all. That was the underlying conflict in Europe. In America, with no tradition to speak of and therefore no traditionalists to fight for it, there was no ‘alternative point of view’ to oppose the Constitutionalizing movement. That is why the Constitution seems ‘commonsense’ and ‘the obvious best solution’ and it explains the peculiar American blindness to any alternative point-of-view, a blindness that prevails to this day.

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