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).

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Three forms of Liberalism

We’ve already hinted that Liberalism universalizes itself, encroaching on all areas of life and thought. Thus, it is alarmingly naïve to entertain a view of Liberalism that recognizes it only as a limited set of political ideas. The Liberal movement invaded political philosophy, to be sure, but it reached both above and below that level, disturbing the mind of man not only in the voting booth, but also in the marketplace, at work, and in the church pew. With its withering touch, this new life outlook dictated not only how he would earn his daily bread, but even how he would relate to the sacred.

As Pope Paul VI was to say, “at the very root of philosophical liberalism is an erroneous affirmation of the autonomy of the individual in his activity, his motivation and the exercise of his liberty,”[1] which always carries with it, usually unconsciously, an unprecedented optimism about the mental aptitudes of the individual.

If we pause and survey the last several centuries, do we not find movements within the religious, economic, and political spheres that clearly manifest the same mentality?

Tocqueville thought he saw correspondences between the most significant personalities of the preceding period: “Who cannot see that Luther, Descartes, and Voltaire used the same method and that they differed from each other only in the greater and lesser use they claimed to make of it?”[2]

This “shared method” is Liberalism, and it is evident even in the broad social transformations that took place. We will mention three of these transformations specifically: Protestantism, Capitalism, and, although we’ve driven it home already, the Enlightenment.

The Reformation was nothing more than the liberalization of religion, destroying hierarchy, insisting on equality, showing a naïve optimism about human aptitudes, transferring to the judgment of the individual the weightiest of all tasks—the interpretation of both Scripture and Tradition. In the economic sphere, it is obviously Capitalism that represents an unrestrained embrace of individualism and liberty through the doctrines of sanctioned self-interest and ‘free markets’. And we have just finished describing precepts which, through the Enlightenment, expressed the same symptoms in the political realm: free speech, absolute rights, and secularism.

[1] Pope Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens, 35.

[2] Tocqueville, op. cit., p. 495.

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