One can readily understand what the dread of passing evils can do, and what great eternal evil follows!
-Pius XII, Exsul Familia Nazarethana
The current crisis to which I refer is not what one would expect, the displacement of peoples, the present wars in which neither side is really “the Right side”. Rather it is the crisis of ideals and definitions, of right and proper relations; not so much what is happening as how it is dealt with- and how it ought to be dealt with. What is at stake is the Right Order of the World, of Human Society, the proper and just relations of beings and of states of being, and the solution is to be found, following the example of the ancients, by looking at the Right Order of the Human Person and Soul to which earthly things are ordered.
Traditionally understood, the human soul consists of three parts, or “faculties,” the Reason (Intellect), the Emotions (and Memory), and the Will. Each of these parts corresponds not only to parts of Man’s physical nature (called for convenience the Mind, Heart, and Strength), but to three great principles of human society: Civilization which tends to universality, Culture which tends to diversity, and Politics which tends to order. Civilization is essentially moral, the great framework by which rights and laws are guarded, and being based in the universal rational nature of Man, seeks to bring all men into itself for their Common Good. Culture is essentially amoral (though it can have moral or immoral elements), the customs, practices, and art (normally within the framework of Civilization) by which groups of men live, which being rooted in personal diverse (only to a certain extent held in common) memories, likes, and dislikes of the persons who compose it, tends naturally and organically to divide itself. And finally, Politics is both partly moral and partly amoral, as it seeks to order the relations of the first two principles, and serve them.
Now in the rightly ordered Soul, the Emotions and the Will are both subordinated to the Reason, while the Intellect itself binds the Memory and the Will into coherent moral action without suppressing them. The emotions and memory inform the Reason, but ought not have sway over it, and the Will ought firstly to serve the Reason, and only secondly the emotions. Thus Culture and Politics should be subordinated to Civilization, which itself binds all three aspects together. Yet how do these principles concretely affect human society, both persons and the most fundamental of human societies, the family? Civilization does so through the institution of the Country, Culture through the Nation, and Politics by the State.
Here we reach the current confusion of terms, for all three of these distinct ideas have been ridiculously used and conflated with each other. Considering firstly the Country, we should consider it as the original meaning of the Latin phrase from which it is derived; terra contrata, the land spread out before me, and its inhabitants whoever they are. The Country is primarily a geographical jurisdiction ordered to the Common Good of those living within it, and with unifying them in a common Civilization. Indeed St. Thomas Aquinas uses the definition of Cicero to describe the people of a country as “an assembly of the multitude consenting to law (ius), and united for the advantage of community.” (Summa Theologica, I-II, Q. 105) It is a Fatherland (Patria) to its peoples as it provides them with protection, rights, and also, importantly, moral duties. St. Isidore in the Etymologiae writes “A fatherland (patria) is so called because it is common to all who were born in it,” as a father is to all of his children. A country is in this sense a realm, its borders are the borders of the authority of its law and ruler, and is in general a fixed and stable institution with historical foundations, and tends to be larger than any one cultural sphere. Hence we find in the Sacrétemporal wisdom of Saint Stephan of Hungary, “a country of one single language and one set of customs is weak and vulnerable.“
Considering the Nation, the difficulty arises over the precise usage of the word. Great Catholic authors such as G.K. Chesterton have used it to refer to the whole people of a given country, and the varied customs and ideals of life contained therein, what the Romans referred to as the Gens (the whole people of a region). However, for the first thousand years of Catholic Civilization (and the Church which has more or less consistently used the word Gens or Gentes), the Nationes (the Nations) referred exclusively to the Barbaric nomad tribes outside of the Holy Empire, and were considered a threat to the established and stable realms, as in the old prayer for the Emperor imploring God Almighty to “graciously look down on the Roman Empire that those nations who confide in their own haughtiness and strength, may be reduced by the power of Thy right hand.” The question arises, “Is there a positive traditional usage for the word nation?” I would answer yes there is, and in order to avoid the errors of Nationalism, it must necessarily be a strict definition.
A Nation is an ethnic, linguistic, and cultural group of persons, who hold a common language and culture, and to some extent common descent. It is part of the civilizing nature of Countries that they allow the flourishing of nations within their borders, as in times of peace languages and customs become more diverse and separate from themselves as new nations are formed, while in times of instability men look to uniformity for comfort, security in numbers, and thus wrongly disband or suppress distinct and unique nations for the sake of an “identitarian drive or herd instinct”. Yet nations themselves do not have borders, being composed not of fixed territory, but of persons with the natural ability to move and dwell in other places. A Nation might have its homeland (Heimat), its place of origin and formation in a particular Country and region, but it does not own that country, nor should all its members be forced to dwell there. Affection for the Nation is in itself natural, but is secondary to the moral duties imposed by the County which is itself ordered to the Common Good, whereas a nation in itself is not. Indeed according to the writing of Pius XI in Ubi Arcano, the nation is properly the object of amor, affection, whereas the Country is the object of charitas, self-giving sacrificial love.
And finally and more briefly, the State is the institution set up for the governing of a Country and the various nations within it, which gives force to the laws of Civilization, and to some of the particular customs of the nations. The State is not society, it is not even properly a society, but those members of political society acting as guardians of Natural Law. The State must not and cannot be allowed to usurp those functions which are personal, or belong to other communities within society, and it must be understood that those other functions are not being carried out solely by individuals, but by a multiplicity of other communities of varying degrees of sovereignty. What concerns this present discourse is that the State has a threefold role in promoting the Patrial Common Good (that is Defense, the Administration of Justice, and the Maintenance and Regulation of Communication and Commerce) and that the State ought not be ordered to a particular Nation primarily, but ought primarily and necessarily serve the Common Good of the Country and its Gens, and secondarily the Ius Gentium (often incorrectly translated as “the law of nations,” more correctly the “Right Order of Peoples” and by extension of Countries; i.e. Interpatrial Law).
Here a note upon the concept of Sovereignty. The error has been spread that Sovereignty can only mean exclusive “ownership,” control free from all outside interference, and thus the only Sovereign is that who has absolute power (see that argument that only a Sovereign of a “Nation” owns any property in the real sense). This contradicts both the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity. A Sovereign is one who is super regnos, who has Authority and consequently jurisdiction, which is by no means exclusive. The Father of a Family who owns property is thus Sovereign, he has authority and jurisdiction over his property and those who dwell upon it, but is himself under the rule of the law. Thus Countries themselves are Sovereign and yet bound by the Ius Gentium, whose protector and embodiment is the Emperor and the Empire.
Let us now consider the proper relation between the Country and the Nation, and between these and the Civilization of Mankind as a whole. It is true that the cultures and languages within a Country shape the overall similarity between themselves, but it is also true that the Country itself, particularly its geography, shapes the cultures within it as well. Any nation organically formed or transplanted into a country will at some point take on characteristics of that country, and yet at the same time will add to those characteristics by the flow of peoples and ideas. Thus a Country rightly ordered and organically formed will itself achieve a unity in the diversity of its peoples, its persons. Likewise, the cultures within a Civilization are shaped according to a certain moral form by it, while those elements of Culture which are the Common Heritage of all Mankind shape and form our very Catholic Civilization itself.
Yet the remnants of that Western Civilization are now in a desperate cultural crisis. This is partly the result of the spiritual crisis in the Church and the World, and partly the result of the rampant Nationalism and Racism which rent Civilization, destroying historical countries and reshaping them to the desires of artificially and inorganically created “nations”, which rest chiefly on the suppression of authentic cultures. The cry goes up for “the defense of our Culture,” but what does this really entail? Culture is lived, its existence continued by people actually living it, allowing it to organically change so long as that change does not conflict with the moral order of Civilization. Culture is not threatened by the mere existence of other cultures within a close proximity, but the idea of “defending one’s own culture” in these times merely means unjustly suppressing someone else’s culture, out of nothing more than collective egoism. This program of so-called “cultural defense” leads not to the Rechtsstaat, but to the Polizeistaat, as identitarian cultural purity becomes more and more the end goal of the State. Thus a concrete love of Locality (which is true Patriotism) and of Mankind as others of one’s own nature and common destiny, and ultimately in both cases ordered to a Common Good, must be the guiding principles in this regard, not mere affection for culture and nation.
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn once wrote that ” In an ideological war mere nationality becomes a secondary consideration.” I would add to this that in such an ideological and civilizational war such as we now face, even Patriality is a secondary consideration to being on the Right, fighting for the Common cause that is the Good of Mankind. This vast anarchy of war which forces the displacement of peoples has created the problem of refugees that are not only of a different culture, for as such they could be easily organically integrated into new Fatherlands, but of a foreign Civilization. This precludes the possibility of freely opening borders to them, but it does not preclude eventual integration and conversion. A particular refugee could always (given his circumstances) adopt a prominent nation of his new Patria and that nation’s culture, and thus be organically integrated. However there is nothing to prevent from adapting his own nation to his new country, provided only that it conform to the moral structure of the Civilization he has now entered, and of which he has become a part. The resettlement of these persons ought not to be handled at the level of Patrial Government at all, as this is a violation of the principle of subsidiarity, and should instead be left up to the local communities in which they are to settle to determine if this is practically possible given the conditions of the time. The idea that all refugees or immigrants should be deported simply because “they’re all foreigners” or because of so-called “incompatibility of race” is mere emotion gone to the head and overthrowing reason and good sense.
Such people have forgotten that we do not truly have a homeland in this World. We are all exiles, the lost and banished children of Eve, who can only truly love the land of this vale of tears in so far as it reflects our one true homeland, with our Great Father who made us, our Brother who died for us, and the Spirit who even now gifts and inspires us. This world was made that we might all of every race, nation, people, tongue, and country live rightly in it and love it, in the hope of the world that is to come.
Uni trinoque Domino
Sit sempiterna gloria
Qui vitam sine termino
Nobis donet in Patria
☩ CHRISTVS REGNAT ☩
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