Sunday, April 8, 2018

There is No King in Israel: Biblical Theology Off the Rails

http://kabane52.tumblr.com/post/172719005345/the-biblical-concept-of-society-state-and

I have a kind of respect for the author of this post. He's very attentive to biblical thematics, and he has learned a lot from Peter Leithart and James Jordan in textual sensitivity. He is able to collate many interesting themes from throughout Scripture with an acute ear. He can ear the echoes of the Torah in Paul, he can see the continuities from Judges to the Apostles. Christ's work was not an abrogation of Torah, Israel, or any of thing of the sort (and much of St. Paul's work is shoring up this proposition).

But it's also clear from this piece that the guy has run off the rails. I don't mean this point in an obvious sense. In certain circles, his kind of reasoning is not only common-sense, but labeled profound for its biblical contextualization. What I mean is in terms of effect. Even someone lost like Proudhon (who I quoted before) could realize this same theological rationale is rank idolatry or a sophisticated form of atheistic pageantry. That claim might be shocking, especially for someone who self-consciously writes as a Christian (specifically eastern orthodox). The end result is that much learning has done nothing to lessen the fact that he is a fool, chasing after castles in the clouds.

The whole article begs the question of whether the Scripture intends to speak to social structures in general. The problem is failure to appreciate the apocalyptic in Scripture. Since Adam's expulsion from Eden, the world was under the dominion of Satan. Man failed to achieve maturity and perfection, and now was placed under the burden of demonic rulers. This point includes the worlds of which the patriarchs and prophets lived within. When Scripture deals with social structures, it does not always intend them as prescriptive, stable, or repeatable. Even God's Law, the very Torah, was an unstable element; it had a limited, and temporary purpose designed for it. To claim a superficial comparison is foolish.

When writing this piece, I originally intended to engage with different constituent elements of the post, but that's a futile effort. There's a radical and fundamental gulf between how he reads Scripture and how I read it. And while the point may be uncharitably phrased, it has to do with whether the Messiah truly is a king. If so, then the idea of random nations, cobbled together in the imaginations of people, can self-constitute and issue forth a covenant is absurd. Israel does not make the covenant, God does, and God did not make a covenant with the Scottish, the Russians, the English, the Greeks, or whomever. He made a covenant with Israel, and the Christ stands as the King of Israel, and not an Israel of the flesh and of the dust, but an Israel manifest in the Spirit, from the Man of Heaven. Is that Israel the Church, that eschatological assembly of God's people, or not? There is no sense in any of the Apostolic Deposit that Christ intended to delegate His authority to earthly monarchs.

It's truly a shame. The author grasps the nature of biblical theology, but overthrows all of the promises of God in one, poorly constructed, essay. It depends upon fantasies of the past and a love affair with the elements of This Age, which is passing away, despite the devil's fury. These are the kinds of heresies that fit Irenaeus' description, taking the mosaic of the King and turning it into the image of an ugly fox.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Avoiding Property, or Post-Evangelicalism's Trendy SJWism

I was at a conference for a parachurch organization that was what I would call post-Evangelical. I will define this term later, but first the story. I was sitting through a panel talking about the disenfranchised within Evangelical churches. On the panel there was a white woman, who was the daughter of a famous Pentecostal, an Asian man who had a special-needs brother, and a black man. All were pastors and all spoke about feelings of disenfranchisement, unease, or being shut out of the primary structures of authority within the churches. When it came to questions, I raised my hand and asked about class distinctions and poverty. It was not a complicated question, I wanted to know how their analyses made sense of class differences in the church, between working peoples and well-heeled white-collared folks. I got daggers thrown back at me. I was told I was off the map, that it wasn't the same, etc. etc. etc. After the panel ended, one of the conference hosts approached me and said he was sympathetic. But then, his sympathy was how he got a good job and got out of blue-collared drudgery, and the same was possible for me too if I worked hard. I was astonished, and still am.

My point was not to raise a Marxist spectre of class-war. In fact, I was at that moment more amenable to many of the fashions of post-Evangelicalism than I am now. But what stunned me was how frustrated and antagonistic these panelists got when I dared to equivocate working people, including white working people, with their experiences. Apparently I was out of line. What I got was the polite equivalent of get a job as the solution to all the ills of the world. And this point is proof to me that post-Evangelicalism is just as stupid and worthless as regular Evangelicalism in terms of social dispositions.

When I say post-Evangelical, I am referring to this clear shift in Evangelicalism that has been occurring through the back half of the 2000s, into the 2010s, now picking up steam with the election of Trump. I'm not sure how to date the shift any more precisely than that, but its clear in parachurch groups like TGC, with their Martin Luther King anniversary, that something is different. But its more a difference in tone than substance. The old Evangelicalism is looked down upon as flawed, full of racists, bigots, and reactionaries, whereas the new Evangelicalism is open to multiculturalism, identity politics, and  Social Justice™. While generally the same composition of white-collared suburbanites, it positions itself like the limousine-liberals it emulates. It's not for nothing an Evangelical Obama staffer has become a more prominent essayist for TGC, showing its political "depth".

And it's true that this post-Evangelicalism, which many times writes little articles about how "evangelical" is a worthless label, looks very different. But this change is superficial, in the same way that differences between Republicans and Democrats are superficial. Evangelicalism, since its instantiation in someone like Billy Graham, has always been about power. It was self-styled return of the Fundamentalists into the public life and capture the spotlight. Deploying the mechanisms and techniques of mass-media, advertising, and mass-movements, it sought to swing the political tide in its own direction. Both sets of Evangelicals focus on supposed hot-spots of moral decay and failure, and both sets of Evangelicals seek to acquire political power to ameliorate these flaws and set America back on its course for world dominance.

Of course, the battle has changed. Evangelicalism was stridently anti-Communist, and hitched its wagon to the middle America ethos of someone like Joseph McCarthy. Post-Evangelicalism, in contrast, has attempted to pin its hopes on the globalists. Evangelicalism is still strong and kicking, and aided in the election of Donald Trump, who played up anti-globalism and nationalist elements. But the post-Evangelical attempt to squeeze blood out of MLK's legacy signals a shift towards the Atlanticist pole of power. This approach is no less imperial and no less about American hegemony, but it's about a difference in style and approach. Its about Anglo-American educated businessmen and lawyers sitting around in Davos, sipping lattes and chatting about NGOs. Its about hidden dominance, one that is far more friendly and liberal in its demeanor.

It's yet to be seen whether this approach will have any success. Will the Tim Kellers successfully get a hook into an upper-strata that very much enjoys its libertine mores? Unlikely, and whatever apparent success may be self-delusion about "gospel-issues", but stranger things have happened. What has not changed is that the emphasis upon power depends upon propping up the same global American order that Evangelicalism has vociferously supported. It's sad, but Evangelicalism is a story of how the free-church tradition can be co-opted and functionally become a volk-church. As much as I appreciate Leonard Verduin's work on the Anabaptists, he was foolish to think that America had vindicated them. Yes and no. American ecumenical efforts became easy means for a nationalization to occur, and even the early Fundamentalists represented a haggard strain of this mode of thought. Losing the controversy with the Modernists taught many of them that they had gotten it all horribly wrong, but these lessons seem to have worn off pretty quickly.

This nationalization, the change to a volk-church, is clear in the kinds of values promoted. I think there's an easy case to be made that the idea of property* as a natural, given, and/or sacred right is total nonsense. It is rather a legal fiction which justifies the build up of the state, and its militarization through the police (not policing, per se), which allow the capitalists to sleep soundly. Its just as real as claims to noble blood, a social construct used to create order through a caste-system. The US has been a business-corporate state since, at least, 1865, and there's no reason to think it would change. US politics is inherently conservative, propping up that particular status-quo with vengeance. Evangelicalism has always supported it, and so will post-Evangelicalism. While the latter may, like the friendlier Atlanticism of the late 20th century, like to incorporate minorities, its quest for power will be blind to real injustices. They'll continue to parade around like idiots, celebrating movies like Black Panther, which is nothing more than a fantasy of a powerful, Americanized, African neo-liberal super state (talking with fake east African accents and wearing "tribal" clothes doesn't make it African). They'll continue to obscure MLK's actually subversive positions about Vietnam and American Capitalism, as well as his post-Christian, even atheistic, theology, under the guise that he was a good post-Evangelical, dreaming the dream of a more colorful, WASP-like, elite.

Post-Evangelicalism is about organizing to pursue political power, which is not much more than an illusion about their own cultural importance and relevance. The way out of the quagmire is not to follow the zeitgeist, but to get out of the game entirely.

*I'm defining property as the ability to claim ownership due to some self-referential right, usually dependent upon an abstracted principle of capital. There's a difference with possession, which is far more direct. If I live in a house, I possess the house, and if I drive a car, I possess the car. Pulled out temporally, there's a kind of common-sense in me "owning" a car that I drive everyday. The major issue is in terms of things like land, industrial machinery, and the like, which I have a claim to the fruits thereof for an obscure legal reason, guaranteed by laws, enforced by men with guns. To attack property is to question the institution of things like rent, taxes, and interest. My point in rejecting property is not so much to call for a revolution, but to question the social order in which I live. It's one thing for the emperor to decree that I obey his dictate because he has an army that he could send after me. It's another thing to believe that somehow the social order I live in is just "nature", or just, or because I consented and made it so, or any other legitimating just-so story. I'm not saying that living under an emperor can't be relatively orderly or prosperous, but I think Christians should be the first to see behind the curtain. Property, like divine-right of kings, is another just-so story for the powerful to feel comfortable, shoring up their continued dominance. Christians should not use these orders to structure their lives.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Who Am I Describing?

Imagine this scenario:

There is a relatively established, but somewhat shaky, monarchy that has embraced a restoration movement of religious conviction. On paper, the monarch and his court are full-fledged members of reform. Court life is intimately connected to reform minded clerics, though some who are unhappy with some of the monarch's policies. They keep nudging increased reform efforts. 
However, some reformers believe the restoration movement is far more radical than it has been interpreted by the court. In fact, some of these radical reformers believe that the monarch's court has been thoroughly corrupted, full of those who are not only immoral, but harbor alternative religious convictions. A series of foreign policy decisions, coupled with continued intransigence, even to the point of threatening reversal, has convinced these reformers that the monarch's government is beyond repair. 
These reformers join forces with other like-minded reformers in creating an extra-governmental organization that sets an ultimatum. The monarch must turn, or they will act to bring about reforms regardless, continuing on until the monarchy capitulates and realizes its error. However, the monarch turns against these reformers, unleashing waves of assaults. The reformers are popular in their location, but are generally detested in the halls of power, though not without sympathizers. These reformers resort to violence to purge religious corruption, and institute extra-governmental political bodies that exert a kind of social conformity. The government continues to wage war against these reformers and their paramilitary wing, resorting to increasingly brutal and cruel measures of bloodletting.

Who am I describing? The scenario I gave could equally be applied to the 20th century al Quaeda, or to 17th century British Presbyterians. This comparison should elicit two things. First, it's possible to have an analytical sympathy for the Jihadists, respecting that many of them were true believers in an all-or-nothing cause. I don't mean to say that they were/are right, but many of the towns and villages of the greater Middle East suffered for their shared commitment to a purer Islam. It's irrelevant if they died for a lie, these people were still terrorized with US-Saudi efforts to stabilize the Arabian Peninsula and assert hegemony over the Middle East.

Secondly, which is more important, it should highlight the functional parallels between the Christendom project, at least in its Reformed instantiation, and Islamic political thought. The idea of an Islamic Caliphate, the dream of dar al Islam, is something not so much unlike Byzantine sacral politics. There are divisions of power, the domain between the priestly/clerical/prophetic structures and the political. For the Byzantines, the patriarch and his fellow bishops occupy an equal, but separate and distinct, power with the emperor. The former fulfills the priestly office while the latter fulfills the kingly. The same is true for the Caliph and the clerical structures of the imams. And the same is true for the prophetic office of the presbyters, gathered together in a synod, in relation to the covenantally bound monarch. It's the same structural arrangement of power.

Now, I will say that the Byzantine model (which is recast for Islam and Calvin) is far superior than the imperial Papal despotism of the late Middle Ages. The supreme power of the popes wreaked havoc on Europe, ultimately destabilizing and fracturing the balance of Europe through its reckless accumulation of power. The Reformation was, in some ways, a reassessment of the Investiture Controversy, which permitted the Holy Roman Emperor to save face. He could be a good defender of Rome, while extracting every concession that the office had lost in the snow of Canossa. However, the Byzantine model is also unstable, but a way built into the system. Battles between bishops and emperors were a complex chess-game about gaining the upper-hand without ever officially redrawing the lines of power. No emperor ever feared a patriarch's ability to de-legitimate his reign and usher in a wave of anarchy. The closest thing was the Isaurian Iconoclasm, a bid to solidify the emperor as the dominant authority over the state-church.

But that's all just a side point. The major contention in the parallel is that these arrangement depend upon the same power balance of worldly elements. It's still the Devil's political playground, and the history of Christendom has only shored up this fact. I don't deny that regimes of Christendom did genuine good, but so did pagans and muslim regimes. What I do want to recogonize that whatever Christendom is, it is not an image of Christ's Kingdom, and usually is pockmarked with betrayal, blasphemy, and seething vice. In its more guerrilla style, it can even look like terrorists. Lest this be thought only to be in the distant past, the Orange brigades of the late Ian Paisley are the true spiritual heirs of 17th century jihadists.

This post isn't a hit essay on the Reformed, per se, but calls for reassessment. For all the Anabaptist bashing, Leonard Verduin had the courage to do the research, and admit that the remnant of the Reformed in the West all owed a great deal of recognition to the radical Reformation. Whatever rump remains of the Reformed, it is in the free-church tradition, not the volk-churches of the Mainline, let alone the witchcraft practicing state-churches of Europe.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Why Does America Love the Islamicists?: The Political Theology of Global Capital and Its Useful Idiots

It was not so long ago that Hollywood gave form to the US' campaign to sink the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. 1988's Rambo III was schadenfreude about the impending demise of the USSR, and celebrated, rather openly, the victory of the Taliban with help from American guns. While Rambo I (or First Blood) was a transitional movie, attempting to co-opt the clear angst about Vietnam into a sympathy that forgave the military its sins, Rambo III was pushing the Reagan Revolution forward, along with other films like Top Gun, rehabilitating US militarism.

What made Reagan a revolutionary figure was that his victory culminated the Buckley turn, the new synthesis between global capitalism garbed in traditionalist ethos that forged the failed Goldwater campaign of 1964. The rumblings of the 60s took a toll, and yet many Americans were still loyal to the golden image of the 50s. Hence Nixon swept the field with his combined Southern Strategy and the appeal to the Silent Majority. Whatever the true radicalism was in the 60s was dead, many people wanted to move on, and a solid chunk of the youth wanted the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll without any depth. Reagan's Mickey Mouse persona helped to draw together the feel-good husk of the counter-culture in the garb of the Americana cult. Good Morning in America was the political synthesis of the new art and style into the anti-Communism and global Capital politics of the Cold War era.

Given what I quoted from Benjamin the other day, here we see the intersection between this brand of American empire with the continuance of fascistic movements throughout Europe and South America. While World War 2 involved the destruction of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the quasi-Fascist hyper-Nationalist imperial Japan, it functioned more of a consolidation for American interests. The United States was not, and never became, a fascist nation, but fascism was a useful tool for the architects of the Washington Consensus. After the Civil War, with the death of Lincoln and the dominance of the Republican party, the US became fully melded with the interests of business. While prior to the Civil War there were feuds between differing visions of Capitalism, and even potentially disruptive a-Capitalists forces, like the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the victory of the industrial North consolidated visions and helped create a new kind of American state. Leftist agitation continued to strain against this new shift, present in the populist wing of the Democratic party and the rise/fall of the Populist Party and the Socialist Party, the US was firmly entrenched as an arm of capital. Even supposed victories of Progressives was a hollow one; anti-trust legislation became a vicious weapon to break up unions and harass labor movements. The US left was permanently crippled and died a slow, and repeating, death into and through the 20th century.

The US victory over Germany and Italy was a complex process, given many forces in the American corporate world's hesitation to even enter the war. FDR swindled the country into the war, but it is my contention that the primary focus was never Germany, but Japan. The threat of the East Asian Prosperity Sphere was a threat to American, and European more generally, business interests in Asia. While FDR harnessed many leftists for his campaign, he also had to bring business interests on board. If anything, FDR was a chameleon, a consummate politician who was willing to sacrifice anyone (especially leftists like Wallace) to maintain power and ride the chariot of state. We've historically diminished Japan to a junior player in the war, but it was they, not the Germans, who posed to do the most damage to American interests. The Holocaust has become a useful tool to obscure American interests in the war, conveniently avoiding the truth that FDR turned Jews away from American shores, the US military's willful ignorance of the concentration camps, and the willingness among many American top-brass to quickly receive a soft German surrender. Both Americans and Germans agreed: the real enemy was Russia.

After the War, the US engaged in a superficial de-nazification of the German public, while many times pulling top German officials, scientists, and spies out and placed them in new supervisory roles. The heads of the Nazi party were lopped off, while the many major middle-managers were quietly restored within the new West Germany. Nazi scientists were whisked away to the US, eagerly empowered to develop military R&D. World War 2 was hardly a war to end fascism, but to re-appropriate in terms that were more beneficial to the rapidly emerging American, corporate, world order. Operation Gladio is just one instance, in Italy, of American efforts to use former fascists as a weapon to control and direct European politics. The point was not only to keep Europe from Moscow's orbit, but to keep it firmly in an American one. The new empire, birthed from the collapse of the old, was one where Washington, and its many eager architects and supporters in London and elsewhere, was chief.

But why the fascists? Per the Benjamin quote, it was the fascists who were both willing to harness the new mass movements, but with every intent to not disrupt the role of property. I disagree that Capitalism's secret face is some form of fascism, or that fascism is just classical liberalism bearing fangs. Rather, fascism is a genuinely counter-revolutionary movement, one that seeks to restore the Ancien Regime within the confines of the modern world. It recognizes that the old Baroque monarchies are dead, but still believes in their ideal. Fascism is anti-bourgeois in its ethos, but in effect, it only seeks to harness them. It's this fact that makes fascism amenable to classical liberals, to capitalists, and global marketeers. Fascism still believes in the traditional order, but it must make do within the newly awakened masses, who have a political awareness and economic alienation that was foreign to the peasantry of yore. Fascism can be a way for business interests to rest secure, even when they are not directly pulling the strings of the political process. And in terms of global capital, when economic realities far exceed national boundaries, the masters do not need to even belong to that political community. Anglo-American business can clink glasses as it profits the harnessed labor of Europe, Asia, and Africa, under regimes that are functional and useful, even if not ideal. And in someways that reality is ideal, because the fetishization of politics, the endless artistic expression of whimsy and fancy that marks fascism, with its emotional appeals to blood, soil, and the like, can absorb the energies of a people. It's a kind of curtain to hide the man pulling the levers.

So, it's for this reason that it should not shock people that the incoming Reagan regime was capable of being cordial with the otherwise antagonistic Islamist regime of the Iranian Revolution. The October Surprise of American hostages was quietly resolved, and put to good use. Carter was humiliated, Brzezinski stepped back, and a less detente regime took the stage. I don't want to give the impression that just because the US is a firmly a business-state that it is somehow free of genuine conflict, intrigue, and back-stabbing. Hardly! Just because there is a shared platform does not mean there aren't differences of strategy, technique, and method. The Buckley Synthesis party wanted to move things along. Antagonizing the Soviet Union was a way to call their bluff, force them to respond, and hopefully cripple them. The slow play of luring them into Vietnam equivalents was not enough. But, to the point, the Reagan administration was willing to continue and deal with the Iranians. The sale of weapons to Iran began long before the Iran-Contras scandal broke, and it'd be foolish to think those relationships dried up.

The relationship between Reagan and the Mullahs, and the relationship between the CIA with the Taliban, goes far beyond those examples. I would claim that the US has, when possible, preferred Islamists regimes throughout the Middle East. Why? It's the same reason that the American deep-state has had a love affair with fascism. It works. As colonization collapsed, and British and French protectorates became independent nations, there were generally two alternatives. The nationalist and secularist pan-Arab movements or Islamicism. The former was loosely favorable to the Soviet Union, and many of its leaders were well educated in the West. Why the antagonism then? Because these movements set their sights on issues of property. Pan-Arabists believed the only way towards national sovereignty was by nationalizing its industries. The commitment to socialism was an anti-colonialist strategy. When all of a nation's wealth is held by British, American, and Dutch companies, little power can be exercised outside the wishes of these corporate masters. The same was what led leftist, pro-Soviet, movements throughout South America, Asia, and Africa. The only way out of being a pawn of corprate peonage was to seize these industries. Their Communism was never doctrinal, a means to an end, an inspiration from Marx et al. to find a way out of bondage.

Islamicists, like Fascists, had no such qualms. There was a dream of an Ancien Regime, whether the Ottoman sultanate, a united Caliphate, or some vision of an Islamic past, which now had to reckon with the facts of a global economy and modern industry. Unlike the fascists, Islamicism was not primarily dealing with "the masses", for many Middle Eastern countries were only faintly related to the manufacturing processes of the Industrial Revolution. However, like the capitalism of the US Slave south, production for a global market became key. Oil was black gold, and a key commodity along with rubber and other raw materials. Islamicism was a means to forge a social matrix to keep the wealth flowing to an oligarchy, one that forged a traditional moral order and hierarchy that was firmly wedded to the protection of property. Of course, not all Islamicists are functional. The same Wahabbist aristocracy of the House of Saud produced Osama bin Laden. We shouldn't forget the victorious Hitler had to liquidate the Brown Shirts and Heydrich when they realized the movement was not ending in the fantasy orgy of Romanticist paganism they had hoped for. Nevertheless, the movements stabilized, power secure, and wealth was protected. The Taliban was useful for the CIA's drug trafficking, but became problematic when they began to burn fields, regulate the trade, and demand more autonomy from their shadowy masters.

I'm not defending the Soviet Union, but I'm seeking to understand why many turned to the Soviet Union in the first place. Why was Lenin such a galvanizing image? Why was the Soviet Union so reviled and feared in its own time? The US spent far more blood and treasure to counteract the Bolsheviks, long before the Gulags, then it ever did for the Nazis and their liquidation of the "inferior" peoples of Europe (including the Romani and the Slavs). For all the evil, and there was plenty of it, among the Soviets, it was generally responsive to already existing regimes of terror, whether the Ancien Regime of the Czar, or the Capitalist regimes of the West. For as much evil as Lenin wrought, he was, in many ways, lost at sea, trying to effect a manageable alternative to Western liberalism and the Czarist regime. He was a lost man, but his political failures and evils depended upon previous terror. It was not Stalin who invented the gulag, but the czars of old. Lenin's successor was very much a "Red Czar" in this way!

While Bush II was the closest the US ever got to a fascist president, with the quasi-fascism of the Neo-Con movement, the US has remained firmly in the orbit of neo-liberalism, a global capitalism that has all but become virtual, borderless, and infinitely self-regenerating. Neo-Liberalism is a strategy to shore up global capitalism, seeking to create a market-state, managed by the Davos class, which hides all of its brutality and violence behind its shrouding of politics. Neo-Liberalism is clear in the work of Thomas Friedman or Francis Fukuyama. The former argues that the global market is the triumph of the economic, where the "golden straitjacket" is the only pressure (or at least legitimate one) that conforms people. The idea is that the US does not exercise its state power, but is a land of opportunity for those who will brave the market and have a will to succeed. The latter famously proclaimed the West's victory in the Cold War, the triumph of global capitalism, was the end of history. There was nothing more to develop, the ultimate triumph of Human flourish was at hand. Both of these are absurd lies, but still have currency among the chattering classes, who don't understand why many peoples revolt against international agencies. They don't understand that things like the IMF or World Bank, or even more directly in organizations like NATO, function as tools of American foreign policy. For neo-liberals, the ideal state sits in the hands of a cosmopolitan managerial class that dwells not only on the American coastal archipeligo, but also in major cities across the world. While neo-cons are not even closely anti-capitalist, they have a difference of opinion as to what is best for the business class.

In a similar way, the British Empire altered between more strictly mercantilist policy and free-trade. The victory of the latter was not so much a philosophical change, but a recognition of better policy. Mercantilism was a useful tool for British capitalists when it helped to protect their industries, and thus their power, from being overwhelmed from colonial holdings. But when the machinery was sufficiently powerful to out-compete Indian textiles, and the British navy, which could function as corporate security, was incontestably at its peak, free-trade was profitable. British policy in South America and the West Indies fundamentally crippled these new nations, many times making them into pawns of the Empire. The Americans merely inherited this dominance, as American corporations and naval presence surged in the late 19th century. But the point should be clear: the business-class can have differences of opinion as to how to proceed. The Tories promoted free-trade (in their Blue Water policies) long before the Whigs, because Tory capital interests were not identical. While the Tory party was majorly constituted from England's gentry, the traditional landed wealth, it did not mean that they had no interest in playing the market. Capitalism is not antithetical to aristocracy, even if it ultimately erodes the basis for the latter. As long as nobility can sustain their wealth, they have no reason to fear.

Why then does America love the Islamicists, even arming al-Nusra and ISIS affiliates? Because they will never ultimately threaten the power of Capital, the divinization of Mammon as the all pervasive pantheist god of power. Locke was, in this sense, an emissary of Satan: property as a sacred right, a natural right, a claim on the metaphysical Real, is a distinctly theological one. Perhaps this polemic is shocking. Perhaps you never thought about the grammar of calling property a "natural right", assuming that its meaning and role are clear and self-evident. But that's part of the spell of capitalism, a system which ultimately reduces all things to an exchange value, a pure liquidation of all things into values, numbers, and worth. Capitalism does not mean free-trade, and its opposite does not mean the horror of the Stalinist gulag. All of this is part of the propaganda. Capitalism is only as free-trade as is beneficial to the owners of capital, mercantilist systems have been equally effective. The inverse of Capitalism is to reject property as sacred, to reject its possession as natural and given, to reject the ability to quantify all things into value.

Marx was an anti-Capitalist theorist, but he was one who was deeply deluded about reality, with his faux-eschatology and his post-Christian Hegelian theology. I have no hope for such a fairyland, but it is sad to see so many self-professed Christians adhere to the cult of a false god. Rather than the radical reorientation of social relations that Christ wrought among His people, the Eusebian political theology not only produced the Ancien Regime, but also became the springboard for worshiping demons. I pray God would free the churches of America from the grip of the business class and the this false theology. Amen.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Fascism of Identity Politics

It's already pretty cliche to critique Identity Politics and it is more than intellectual dishonest, and pervasive, to equate Fascism as a "Leftist" movement. The latter does not apply, and the former may be true, but does not mean the claim requires no more words.

The clear point of reference for Benjamin's political writing was that he saw the 30s as the clash between the development of modernity. The Ancien Regime was in its death throes and the masses are coming to self-awareness. Will they seize their rights and be free, or will modernity be turned against them, recreating the Ancien Regime in the guise of Modernity? The latter was Fascism. I found an interesting bit from Walter Benjamin at the Epilogue of his work, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. It has an echo of relevance for the current state of American politics:

The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its F├╝hrer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values. 
All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system. It goes without saying that the Fascist apotheosis of war does not employ such arguments [...]
 the aesthetics of today’s war appears as follows: If the natural utilization of productive forces is impeded by the property system, the increase in technical devices, in speed, and in the sources of energy will press for an unnatural utilization, and this is found in war. The destructiveness of war furnishes proof that society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society. The horrible features of imperialistic warfare are attributable to the discrepancy between the tremendous means of production and their inadequate utilization in the process of production – in other words, to unemployment and the lack of markets. Imperialistic war is a rebellion of technology which collects, in the form of “human material,” the claims to which society has denied its natural materrial. Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.
“Fiat ars – pereat mundus”, says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic.

It's in this way that even though Identity Politics tends to be a faux-left phenomenon, it has always come from the business-class. As Mark Lilla put it, Identity Politics is the Reagan Revolution for lefties. While there is still sqeuamishness about the blood and death of war, its pretty clear that dyed in the wool Democrats still gorge themselves on the hyper-valorization of military "service" and the cult of the veteran.

Benjamin was a sad atheistic Jew, who had hope for an always coming, but never arriving, Messiah. He could not see the Crucified One who puts the true break with the satanic mills, and all their powers. But nonetheless, his Messianism still has a ring of truth. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Third Way is Fascism: The New Throne and Altar Theology

I last posted about Proudhon and his attack upon empty providence. His main criticism was against the Liberals and the Constitutionalists which came to dominate French political life in the middle of the nineteenth century, especially under the rotund rule of Louis-Philippe. Proudhon's assault upon Roman Catholic liberalism and deism was that it was just stalling for what had come before. Liberalism may have taken on a more progressive ethos, advocating for slow and steady processes where the people flourish when freed to pursue their own interests, but it only put forward a political-theology of transition. We see this today with doctrinaire commitment to Progress, the never-ending growth to nothing in particular. For Proudhon, and other left-wing agitators, this position was akin to atheism.

But in contrast to this atheism, there was the throne and altar theology of the Ancien Regime, the days of absolute monarchs. Louis XIV and Hobbes were mirror images of one another, the former embracing more classical images of the divinely anointed despot and the latter embracing the modernism of nature and mechanical technique. But both posited the sacred body of the king as the link that tethered Heaven and Earth. The king was as a god on Earth, the great Leviathan, l'etat c'est moi. However, the difference between the exemplar Sun King and Hobbes was that the latter put his finger on the possibility of transition. Hobbes did not deny the sacred body of the king, but he formulated it around the magic of the machine, a fascination beginning in the Renaissance and continuing through the early modern period. Instead a technical mastery could be added to the sacred history of a nation's throne and altar.

Like Proudhon, Carl Schmitt equally despised the Liberal order's stalling, obfuscating the real issues as a means for merchants, lawyers, and bankers to grow fat and wealthy. But Schmitt, writing in the early to mid 20th century, knew that the days for traditional throne and altar were dead. The age of kings had passed; there was nothing sacred in the monarch's body. Instead, Schmitt believed that anti-revolutionaries must embrace the image of the Dictator. A military generalissmo, a decisive political actor, a sovereign who wielded the power of the state by his will, the dictator could act as an absolute monarch. He could end the gridlock, frame the spirit of the laws, and allow politics to take place under the shadow of his sovereignty. Those conservatives who still dreamed of the crowned heads of Europe were fools, slowly capitulating everything to the Liberals who continued to aggregate power through the reign of capital.

Schmitt has become equally popular among leftist thinkers as well as right-wing conservatives for laying out the issues as starkly as he has. Politics and war are equivalent, it is a contest between friends and foes. Left-wing interpretations will argue for a sovereignty located in some other body, whether the assembly of the people or something of the like, but they equally depend upon a sense where a god will rule upon Earth, but perhaps understanding it as a council of the gods, or a diffusion of divinity among all. For Schmittian leftists, the political theology of paganism, pantheism, or death-of-God theology are the democratic alternatives to the monotheism of proponents of monarchy, or any absolutist regime. When accused of being Eusebius, Schmitt cheerfully accepted the accusation.

Schmitt was a contemporary of the rise of Fascism, and it's not a surprise that he eventually embraced its German variant, Nazism. But the Nazi party was not exactly fascist, or it was a mutant strain of it that began to veer down a different path. When Hitler was beginning his agitations in the early 30s, Schmitt advocated for president Hindenburg to use his sovereign, extra-constitutional, power to round up the Nazis and execute their leaders. However, when Hitler took power and enacted his political will in the Night of Long Knives, Schmitt was impressed. His theory of the dictator depended upon Spanish counter-revolutionaries who equally theorized a dictator to replace the defunct and incredulous monarchs of Europe. He was very much of a piece to the movement against the Liberal order of the 19th century, as well as against the revolutionary fervor of Marxist Communism and other varieties of socialism.

I bring all of these things up because there is a growing interest among conservative Christians in the Middle Ages. This phenomenon is linked to a general apathy, impatience, and disgust with the current liberal order of the United States. The US is the apogee of constitutional liberalism, having transformed, over the course of the 20th century, into its more globalist variant, neo-liberalism. It is a government run on behalf of business interests, giving the appearance of limited government, but only limited in terms of maximizing profits. The golden era of the Robber Barons also involved government funds to crush labor unions and strikes, as well as protect US business interests abroad. In today's neo-liberal landscape, the ruling class is not only limited to US shores, but constitutes many multinational corporations who depend upon American firepower and international hyper-power to bully enemies into submission. This system is complex and delicate, finessed by a deep-state that undergirds major forces in both the Democratic and the Republican parties.

This conservative Christian whiplash has both targeted this corrupt and decadent liberalism, but also still has its sights targeted upon the godless political theology of Marxist Communism. These commentators have showed some tacit agreement with Marxist critique of Capitalism, but anti-Communists all the same. Many of these critics style themselves as offering a third-way between the two, a return to the sunny days of yore. There is a cross-confessional alliance, manifest in the movement, now mostly defunct, of Radical Orthodoxy.

Drawing upon a neo-Platonic metaphysics of transcendental perfections, they see a world united between a chain of being between Heaven and Earth. This harmony involves a monistic union, an entrenched hierarchy that peacefully brings together rulers and ruled in a harmonious relationship of mutual service. Philosophers like David Bentley Hart (a peculiar Eastern Orthodox) have successfully integrated theologians like Gregory of Nyssa, Hindu theologian Ramanuja, Sufi Islam, and Medieval Platonists, like John Eriugena , together as offering a consistent platform of Being. They rail against capitalistic consummerism, as well the atheistic materialism of more radical leftist political theologies. This philosophy is conjoined to politics in thinkers like John Milbank (Anglo-Catholic), but has diffused into a much wider audience, especially through more popular works like Rod Dreher (ex-Roman Catholic, peculiar Eastern Orthodox).

Even though there are many divergences, in practice and in thought, among these people, there are far more similarities than not. This leads me to my main object of critical inquiry, the blog Mere Orthodoxy. Over the past year, there has been a tepid embrace of Rod Dreher, but, more generally, an interest in the same set of anti-bourgeois critiques, seeking to find a way beyond the liberal order. It's not exactly clear what they want. Many contributors have embraced the fundamentals of Oliver O'Donovan's political theology, which is, in someways, a peculiar, and critical, embrace of Christendom. There is a distinctively Magisterial Protestant flavor, not advocating for some return to the Gelasian dyarchy, but belief in a Christian political society as a goal to strive for. But, again, it's not clear what their desire amounts to. What is this third-way politics?

Well, my major claim, and challenge, is to say that all of what I've mentioned above is, at its root, an embrace of fascism.

Now, again, when I say fascist, I'm not saying Nazi. Nazism may be a brand of fascism, but fascism is a broader movement. It is the counter-revolution for the modern world. Gone are the days of kings; this age belongs to the dictator. Ironically, perhaps, many otherwise liberal corporations will back fascism when it's convenient, usually when feeling heat from revolutionary leftists. Capitalism finds a second home within fascists orders, compromising on maximal profit for survival. But, primarily, fascism is the reinstallment of an ancient order within the modern world. It is the recognition of a natural hierarchy, the primacy of the family and the noblesse oblige relations between peasants and lords, conjugated into the employee and employer relationship. Capital is not the only form of power, but is subjugated (at least in theory) to a code of honor that respects, and reflects, the law of nature as particularly manifested within a group of people. It is Mussolini calling upon the images of Rome, while also building a modern army and running the trains on time. It is the Ancien Regime renewed in a way amenable to the features of modern living, technology and all. A new sacred mastery, a new charisma, is born from the rubble.

So, to put it plainly, Mere Orthodoxy represents a Magisterial Protestant wing of fascism. It is not self-consciously so, nor would it necessarily be in perfect agreement with other versions. But it is interesting enough to suggest that one of the patron saints of MereO, G.K. Chesterton, embraced fascism in an equally indirect way. Chesterton is, of course, the big proponent of third-way thinking in the British turn-of-the-century with his co-theorist Hilaire Belloc. Distributism was an attempt to return to the Medieval guild-system, reconstructing a relationship between the owners and the contracted, redistributing wealth in a way that props up a more just, more natural, hierarchy of the country squire. Of course, the case can quite easily be made that distributism is a fantasy. But, while Chesterton pursued this vision in print, he also tipped his hat to the great good that Franco was doing in Spain. Protecting the Church, routing the Communists, and restoring order was the greatest good. In this way, Chesterton had embraced fascism, even as it was not exactly a perfect instantiation of the order he envisioned.

 And, I think, that's the rub, it's not what you will theorize, but what you will advocate for once it is already in place. This is the new Throne-and-Altar theology of the modern world. Again, fascism is not Nazism, though the latter is a version of the former. The uniting factors is trying to reinstitute a sacred monism, whether Christian or not (because, as Chesterton pointed out in Orthodoxy, all nations have an altar upon which they sacrifice), in terms of the modern world. Fascism does not mean anti-semitism or genocide (though it can), it does not mean violent paramilitaries (though it can, especially as it sees itself fighting for the soul of the nation), it does not mean expansionist policies. We forget that even as the US toppled Hitler and Mussolini, it left Franco alone, and did a good job in gathering up ex-Fascists and ex-Nazis and re-purposing them in constructing a new world order. American Capitalism has had a coy love-affair with fascism, which has been a useful tool to breakdown and tear a part anti-Capitalist regimes.

I am not advocating leftist political theology, nor am I condemning the new throne-and-altar theology tout court through association with the word fascism. Instead, I am simply making a case that this is what this new form of political speculation is in its sympathies. I wish to draw some conceptual lines, perhaps in a startling and upsetting way.

What I am condemning is that this order bears the name of Christ. All throne-and-altar regimes are blasphemous that claim their well-spring in the Prince of Peace. The New Testament reveals the political order of Israel is realized in the reign of Jesus Christ, who reigns from Heaven, and still is yet to return and fully usher in His reign. His people are present in the many assembles across the Earth, and it is in them that one tastes Heaven, in the bread and wine that reflects upon the great conquest and judgement of the cross.

The classic premillenial theology, like that of Ireaneus, clearly understood a disjunction between the rulers of this age and the eventual coming of Christ. He could offer respect to Caesar without investment in the state; he was a Christian, a foreigner living under the government of a Human worshiper of demons. If a Christian were to ever occupy such a position, perhaps it is best to think of Roger Williams, who removed the altars of state, and left them empty, refusing to use the machinery of politics to decide. Christians possess a distinctly a-theological political theology, and that is because the Christian adheres to one king and one king alone. There is a throne and altar, but it is in the Heavenlies. What we see here below is, at best, a footstool.

I was, briefly, enchanted with the idea of this "third-way", but it is a betrayal of the faith delivered unto the Apostles. I hope Christians may read this message and turn their back on this blasphemous political theology before it robs them of their life. Turn away from this path and learn to live as sojourners seeking the peace of the city. Do not fall into the sin of Jeroboam. Keep yourself clean from idols.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

When the Devil is God: The Shattered Fragments of Christendom Before an Anguished Apostate

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is one of the architects of both socialism and anarchism. Writing in the 19th century as an deputy of the French assembly, Proudhon stirred up a lot of public anger with what was deemed, and has been quoted since, as an atheist manifesto. I quote the notorious section in full:
“If God did not exist” — it is Voltaire, the enemy of religions, who says so, — “it would be necessary to invent him.” Why? “Because,” adds the same Voltaire, “if I were dealing with an atheist prince whose interest it might be to have me pounded in a mortar, I am very sure that I should be pounded.” Strange aberration of a great mind! And if you were dealing with a pious prince, whose confessor, speaking in the name of God, should command that you be burned alive, would you not be very sure of being burned also? Do you forget, then, anti-Christ, the Inquisition, and the Saint Bartholomew, and the stakes of Vanini and Bruno, and the tortures of Galileo, and the martyrdom of so many free thinkers? Do not try to distinguish here between use and abuse: for I should reply to you that from a mystical and supernatural principle, from a principle which embraces everything, which explains everything, which justifies everything, such as the idea of God, all consequences are legitimate, and that the zeal of the believer is the sole judge of their propriety. 
“I once believed,” says Rousseau, “that it was possible to be an honest man and dispense with God; but I have recovered from that error.” Fundamentally the same argument as that. of Voltaire, the same justification of intolerance: Man does good and abstains from evil only through consideration of a Providence which watches over him; a curse on those who deny its existence! And, to cap the climax of absurdity, the man who thus seeks for our virtue the sanction of a Divinity who rewards and punishes is the same man who teaches the native goodness of man as a religious dogma. 
And for my part I say: The first duty of man, on becoming intelligent and free, is to continually hunt the idea of God out of his mind and conscience. For God, if he exists, is essentially hostile to our nature, and we do not depend at all upon his authority. We arrive at knowledge in spite of him, at comfort in spite of him, at society in spite of him; every step we take in advance is a victory in which we crush Divinity. 
Let it no longer be said that the ways of God are impenetrable. We have penetrated these ways, and there we have read in letters of blood the proofs of God’s impotence, if not of his malevolence. My reason, long humiliated, is gradually rising to a level with the infinite; with time it will discover all that its inexperience hides from it; with time I shall be less and less a worker of misfortune, and by the light that I shall have acquired, by the perfection of my liberty, I shall purify myself, idealize my being, and become the chief of creation, the equal of God. A single moment of disorder which the Omnipotent might have prevented and did not prevent accuses his Providence and shows him lacking in wisdom; the slightest progress which man, ignorant, abandoned, and betrayed, makes towards good honors him immeasurably. By what right should God still say to me: Be holy, for I am holy? Lying spirit, I will answer him, imbecile God, your reign is over; look to the beasts for other victims. I know that I am not holy and never can become so; and how could you be holy, if I resemble you? Eternal father, Jupiter or Jehovah, we have learned to know you; you are, you were, you ever will be, the jealous rival of Adam, the tyrant of Prometheus. 
So I do not fall into the sophism refuted by St. Paul, when he forbids the vase to say to the potter: Why hast thou made me thus? I do not blame the author of things for having made me an inharmonious creature, an incoherent assemblage; I could exist only in such a condition. I content myself with crying out to him: Why do you deceive me? Why, by your silence, have you unchained egoism within me? Why have you submitted me to the torture of universal doubt by the bitter illusion of the antagonistic ideas which you have put in my mind? Doubt of truth, doubt of justice, doubt of my conscience and my liberty, doubt of yourself, O God! and, as a result of this doubt, necessity of war with myself and with my neighbor! That, supreme Father, is what you have done for our happiness and your glory; such, from the beginning, have been your will and your government; such the bread, kneaded in blood and tears, upon which you have fed us. The sins which we ask you to forgive, you caused us to commit; the traps from which we implore you to deliver us, you set for us; and the Satan who besets us is yourself. 
You triumphed, and no one dared to contradict you, when, after having tormented in his body and in his soul the righteous Job, a type of our humanity, you insulted his candid piety, his prudent and respectful ignorance. We were as naught before your invisible majesty, to whom we gave the sky for a canopy and the earth for a footstool. And now here you are dethroned and broken. Your name, so long the last word of the savant, the sanction of the judge, the force of the prince, the hope of the poor, the refuge of the repentant sinner, — this incommunicable name, I say, henceforth an object of contempt and curses, shall be a hissing among men. For God is stupidity and cowardice; God is hypocrisy and falsehood; God is tyranny and misery; God is evil. As long as humanity shall bend before an altar, humanity, the slave of kings and priests, will be condemned; as long as one man, in the name of God, shall receive the oath of another man, society will be founded on perjury; peace and love will be banished from among mortals. God, take yourself away! for, from this day forth, cured of your fear and become wise, I swear, with hand extended to heaven, that you are only the tormentor of my reason, the spectre of my conscience.

My first experience with parts of this quote was in Richard Wurmbrand's book Marx and Satan, which documented the relationship between Marxist theory and a virulent atheism. Wurmbrand suffered much under the Romanian Communists, and I don't blame his antagonism. But he misunderstood the atheist frustrations that burst out in 1848. To merely condemn them as violent and crazed satanists is to ignore the fact that the established Roman church of France was well acquainted with bloodshed, cheer-leading regimes that crushed and dominated the peasantry. To call upon Satan was, many times, a tongue-in-cheek challenge to the Ancien Regime of princely bishops surrounding the sacred body of the king. If such a king was as God on Earth, than it'd be better to side with the devil.

After the initial furor, Proudhon wrote a follow up piece God is Evil, Man is Free, which explains his position. According to Proudhon, the accusation that he is an atheist is false. It is in fact France which is atheist. He is targeting the Liberals and French Constitutionalists, which, by the mid-19th century, the Roman church overwhelmingly supported. They rarely invoke God in public life, they explain away or shrug off the horrors of life as mere providence, though such a concept only describes what-is-as-what-is. This fatalism is nothing else but collapsing God into the status quo. And not only that, but Proudhon counters the lame justification that God is vindicated from all evil if there is some utilitarian good that emerges from it, that God must allow things to proceed this way because. Proudhon condemns this "Malthusian economy" as nothing but atheist. Ultimately, it is the Roman Catholics, namely the Jesuits, and the Deists who are the true atheists.

Proudhon's major point is not that God does not exist, in a metaphysical way, but that the God does exist within French society, in its capitalist economics and constitutional monarchy, looks exactly like Satan. Instead, he argues that while Christianity is a prophecy, it is socialism that is the realization. For Proudhon, man's freedom is realized in the abolition of monarchy and priestcraft, the withering away of a state apparatus, corporate wealth through private property, and all sacral political orders.

I'm not saying Proudhon is right. He was biblically illiterate, but that did not mean he didn't understand how Scripture was being read and used in his own day. But, nonetheless, he offers a desperate and angry cry. He shakes his fist at the political theology of monarchist orders, where God, which as "Jehovah or Jupiter" is equivocally Christian or Pagan, is used to prop up an order which grinds laborers into the dust. He sees in the liberal political order, which both Jesuits and Deists support, a continued, but conjugated, order of the regime of kings. The difference between the very catholic king Louis XIV and the atheist Hobbes' Leviathan is null. The state is truly a god, and theology becomes a mask disguising a social order for a cosmological and natural order.

I think Proudhon must be taken seriously though. His accusation, that an empty providence is no providence, should shock. There are so many political pundits who postulate that God doesn't stop school shootings because He was kicked out. There are those, like the late Chuck Colson, who blame the damage of natural disasters upon poor Human planning, that God had nothing to do with it. There are even those atheist Lutherans, who basically revel in the chaos of a no-world order, which, as Zizek has astutely noticed, is the key pathway into atheism. If God is dead then Humanity is free, formed into collectives which are the Holy Spirit. This collapse of God into the social order, the atheism Proudhon accuses the Liberal deists of, is the beating heart of Luther's theology, its schizophrenic adherence to a radically freeing gospel along the active support for the burgeoning authority of the nation-state. It's not a contradiction, it's the core. The massacre of the peasants in 1525 is a feature, not a bug. I don't care if Luther coined theologia crucis, he knew nothing of it.

The alternative is not to embrace throne-and-altar, but to understand the peculiarity of providence in St. John's Revelation of Jesus Christ. This "apocalypse", the unveiling of what things truly mean, shows us a world in the grasp of Satan which Christ overthrows through His wounds. The slain lamb is the one worthy to receive the throne. This vision is from which Pascal rightly noted that this world reflects the one who made it. Providence is shaped like a cross. I have no doubt Proudhon would scoff at this claim, but his brainless optimism in Human capacity and the potential for socialism would be overthrown if he saw the 20th and the 21st century. Of course, he and Marx were deathly opposed, and he would not be surprised that those revolutions who took up the Marxist creed became brutal tyrannies. But his stupidity in regards to Human behavior overestimated the perversity of the Human mind. It's not economic inequity that spurs the kind of sadism and viciousness one can see at every level of society.

But none of this should take away from Proudhon's useful diagnosis. Petr Chelcicky made the same back in the 15th century. He condemned the alliance between emperor and pope as nothing less than a subversion of the faith. Calling upon Christ's commission to St. Peter that he would become a fisher of man, Chelcicky describes this attack:

It was then and there that the net became greatly torn, when the two great whales had entered it, that is, the Supreme Priest wielding royal power with honor superior to the Emperor, and the second whale being the Emperor who, with his rule and offices, smuggled pagan power and violence beneath the skin of faith. And when these two monstrous whales began to turn about in the net, they rent it to such an extent that very little of it has remained intact. From these two whales so destructive of Peter’s net there were spawned many scheming schools by which that net is also so greatly torn that nothing but tatters and false names remain. 
They were first of all the hordes of monks in all manner of costumes and diversified colors; these were followed by hordes of university students and hordes of pastors; after them came the unlearned hordes with multiform coats-of -arms, and with them those of the wicked burghers. 
The whole world and its wretchedness have entered Peter's net of faith with these evil hordes. And the multitude of these wretched hordes arrogate to themselves pagan and worldly rule, every one of them endeavoring to have dominion over the others. They try to embrace as much of the earth as they are able, using every means and every ruse or violence to get hold of the territory of the weaker, sometimes by money and at other times by inheritance, but always desiring to rule and extend their realm as far as they can.
However, unlike Proudhon, Chelcicky believed that the Father of Jesus Christ, the God from whom all lights emerge, would have a reckoning, that the sacral political economy would be thrown into the fires of hell. Until that day, the Christian response to Proudhon's tears is the enthroned lamb. God help us.