EITHER CATHOLICISM, OR WORLD DICTATORSHIP!
Extracts translated from a famous speech of Donoso Cortes to the Spanish Parliament, january 4, 1849
...Gentlemen, the basis of all your errors consists in your not knowing the direction being presently taken by civilization and the world... Gentlemen, these are marching with giant steps towards setting up the most gigantic and devastating dictatorship in all human history... I need not be aprophet to see this coming. I need only survey the frightening march of human events from the one and only true standpoint, namely the heights of the Catholic Faith.
Gentlemen, there are only two possible means of controlling men, either from within by religion or from without by politics. These two means of control stand in inverse relation to one another, such that when religion is on the rise, political repression drops, and when on the contrary religion drops, then political repression, or tyranny, must arise. This is a law of mankind, a law of history. If anyone thinks otherwise, let him recall how the world and society were before Christ, before there was any control of men from within, by religion. What you had then was a society of tyrants and slaves. Quote me one people from that age where there were neither slaves nor tyranny. This is a fact that nobody disputes. Freedom, true freedom, freedom of all and for all, came into the world only with the Saviour of the world. This is a fact recognized even by the socialists...
WHEN CHRIST RULES
Gentlemen, lend me your ears, I beg of you. I am going to put before you the most remarkable parallelism in all history. You have seen that in the ancient world religious control could drop no further because it was non-existent, then political repression could rise no higher because it had risen to tyranny. Well, wherever with Jesus Christ religious control comes into being, there political repression disappears completely. This is so certain that, Jesus Christ having founded a society with His disciples, it was the only society that ever existed without its government resorting to farce. Between Jesus Christ and His disciples all government was by love of the Master for His disciples and by love of the disciples for their Master. In other words, when control from within was complete, liberty was absolute.
Let us follow the parallelism in time. We come to the Apostolic age which for my purposes here I will extend down to the conversion of the Roman Empire under Constantine the Great. During this period of time, gentlemen, the Christian religion, that is to say control of men from within, was at its height; nevertheless that thing happened which happens in all societies made up of men: there began to develop a germ, no more than a germ, of license and freedom from religion. Well, gentlemen, watch our parallelism; to this slight drop in the religious temperature corresponds a slight rise on the political thermometer. There is still no government worth speaking of, but now a germ of government is necessary. Thus amongst Christians at this time there were no magistrates in the true sense of the word, there were only arbitrators to negotiate agreements among friends, these arbitrators being a government in embryo. And that is in reality all that there was; Christians in Apostolic times did not file law-suits, did not go in front of the law-courts. They settled their disputes by means of arbitration. Notice, gentlemen, how outer government and inner corruption will go hand in hand.
We come to feudal times, the Middle Ages, in which religion is still at its height, but we find it to some extent vitiated by human passions. And what do we find in politics? That a real and effective government is necessary, but the most light-weight of governments is enough, and so we have feudal monarchy, which is the most light-weight of monarchies.
Let us continue the parallelism into the 16thcentury. In this century, coinciding with Martin Luther’s “Reformation”, that enormous political, social and religious scandal in which whole peoples shook off their intellectual and moral yoke, we observe the following institutions: firstly, from being feudal the monarchies rapidly become absolute. Now here you might think, gentlemen, that a monarchy could go no further than being absolute. After all, how can any government be more than absolute? But in point of fact the thermometer of political repression was bound to rise higher, because the religious temperature was still dropping, and it did drop further. And so what second new institution arose? Standing armies! If you wonder what a standing army is, recall what a soldier is - a soldier is a slave in uniform. Thus you see that exactly as religious control drops, so political control rises, to absolutism and beyond. Not content with being absolute, governments asked for and obtained the privilege of being absolute with a million men under arms.
And yet, gentlemen, the political thermometer was bound to rise still further because the religious temperature was still dropping, and so another institution of political control arose. The governments said, “We have a million men under arms but they are not enough. We need more. We need a million eyes”. Yet still religion grew cooler, so still political repression rose.
Not content with having a million men under arms and a million eyes, the governments required a million ears and obtained them, with bereucratic centralization by which all claims andcomplaints of citizens came before the government. Yet still religion dropped, and so even standing armies and bureaucracies were not enough. The governments said, ‘A million men under arms do not give us enough control, nor a million eyes, nor even a million ears. We need more. We need the privilege of being simultaneously present everywhere”. And they obtained what they wanted, with the invention of the telegraph!
Gentlemen, that was the state of Europe and the world when in 1848 the first outbreak of the latest revolution proclaimed to us all that there was still not enough despotism in the world, because the religious temperature had dropped below zero. Well, gentlemen, one of two things must happen...
Either the religious reaction comes, or it does not come. If it does come, you will see, gentlemen, as religion grows warmer, how, quite naturally and spontaneously, without any effort on the part of peoples or governments or men, the political thermometer will begin to drop until it marks the nice temperate day of the people’s liberty. On the contrary if the religious temperature continues to drop, then I know not how far it will have to go before it comes to a stop. Gentlemen, I know not, and I tremble to think of it. Ponder the parallelism I have put before your eyes and consider the following: if,
religious control was at its height no government at all was necessary,
then when religious control is non-existent, how will any amount of government
be enough? All possible despotisms will be too few.
here is the sore point. Here is
question of Spain, the question of Europe, the question of mankind, the
question of the world.
Consider one further thing, gentlemen. In the ancient world, tyranny was ferocious and devastating, and yet that tyranny had physical limits, because all the states were small, and international relations as we know them today were virtually nonexistent. As a result, there could be no large-sale tyrannies in ancient times except for one, the Roman Empire. But now, gentlemen, how things are changed! Gentlemen, the way is now clear for one gigantic, colossal, universal, immense tyrant; everything is ready for him; gentlemen, consider well - there is no further resistance to his coming, either physical or moral! There is no physical resistance, because with steam-boats and railways, frontiers have been abolished, and with the electric telegraph, distance has been done away with; and there is no moral resistance because minds are overthrown and all patriotism is dead. Tell me then if I am not right to be preoccupied with the immediate future of the world; tell me if in dealing with this question I am not dealing with the one real question.
THE ONEREAL QUESTION
Only one thing can prevent catastrophe, one thing and one thing alone. Catastrophe will not be prevented by granting more liberties, providing more guarantees, or writing more Constitutions. It will be prevented by everyone striving as far as lies in their power to bring about a sane religious reaction.
Now, gentlemen, is such a revival of religion possible? Possible, yes. But isit probable? Gentlemen, here I must say with the deepest regret that I do not believe it is probable. For I have seen and known, gentlemen, many individuals who left the Catholic Faith and returned to it, but I have never seen, gentlemen, any people or nation as a whole that returned to the Faith, once having lost it...