The ‘Reign of Terror’ that culminated in the French Revolution (1789), the Russian ‘Red Terror’ of Lenin and Stalin, African genocide in Rawanda, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, and legions of other rulers have embraced violence for political ends. Where was the Church’s voice throughout such disintegration? Why did all of them fail, yet America thrives?
The ‘Reign of Terror’ that engulfed French catholic civilization was a theological expression, embodied in Robespierre, of monarchal absolutism. Such genocidal anarchy has its origin in both the permissive legislative culture that forments the criminalization of political differences within a philosophy of pure immanence. This happens in civilizations that openly embraced fervent ideologies/theologies. Remember, France, Russia and Rawanda were throughly Roman Catholic. (A later post will explain the specific problems with Post Reformation Catholicism that contributed to such violent anarchy.)
The civilizations that partook in genocidal mania occurred because their was no alternative political culture outside native theological precedents. Neither civilizations possessed alternative spheres of autonomy like Colonial powers of the British Empire. Protestant cultures had formed mercantile interests that bred fierce cultural, economic autonomy. Catholic cultures remained mired in static monarchies that were incubators for Marxism.
Vatican I and the drive to confront this Protestant ethos as a Counter-reformation remained mired because of weak monarchies threatened by Napoleon. The Roman Catholic Church herself, its Magisterium in Rome became permanently paralyzed from a lack of political autonomy, reached only in the very late 20th century. The theological and cultural consequences were violently severe for the Church had no voice, no currency as it remained tied to effete monarchies with agricultural economies surrounded by powerful Protestant mercantile nations, dynamic, profitable and unafraid to challenge authority.
Because the Church’s mindset was primarily infused with a love toward the archaic, it could not shape the events that thwarted her; she never developed a theological anthropology, a humanism based on freedom and dignity as a bulwark against either Marxism, Fascism, Communism nor the secular world that would propel the leaders of Capitalist nations. An archaically developed institution remained unable to either face or shape responses to contemporary challenges. All of this would change with Pope John Paul II.
Nevertheless, the Church in its Counter-Reformation mode would never acknowledge humanist developments that shaped the social fabric of the west, the end of slavery, the political tenants of equality as unhoused theology. Instead, immediately after the Congress of Vienna, the Vatican was caught unaware of the Satanic presence that borne totalitarian life.
The Germanic romantic movement of Hegel, Engels and Marx soon come home to Catholic Italy. This totalitarian revolution was born outside the mouers, the habits of Angelo mercantile autonomy. It espoused the principals of absolute equality in a theologic language similar to renaissance humanism, except this governing presence was totally unhinged from any true moral framework. The Angelo-Saxon framework for the preservation of autonomy as liberty was not developed outside its Protestant mercantile ethos. Monarchial catholics were caught unaware that this Satanic romanticism, absolute, efficient and lethal was mounting.
The causes of State terror that dominated the 20th century have their origin in a violent unmoral revolution, a utopian dream of conquest, unalloyed from any moral reserve.