Leviathan Groaning

On June 25, 2009, a seven year old boy was abducted at gunpoint from his terrified parents. They had just boarded a plane to fly to the country where the boy’s mother had been born, and where her kin still lived. They were leaving their own country for good, because they had grown weary of the harassment they suffered there from a syndicate of well-placed thugs. They themselves had broken no law.

The boy’s name is Domenic Johansson. He is now going on ten years old, and he has seen his mother and father only very briefly since. The thugs, officials of the Swedish government, have allowed the parents very little opportunity to visit. Domenic’s mother has suffered a nervous breakdown, and is now quite incapacitated. The foster-woman into whose care Domenic was given has informed the boy that she will never let him return to his mother and father, no matter what any court might say. Domenic, once a cheerful little boy, looks haggard, crushed, dull, as if the heart had been ripped out of him.

What was the crime committed by Christer Johansson and his wife? They did not run drugs. They did not steal. They did not cheat the government of its yearly right to a third of their corn, milk, potatoes, and apples – or whatever it is that the Lords and Ladies of Stockholm now exact from their tenant citizens. Or what was the moral sewer wherein they were raising their little boy? It could not have been a sewer of fornication; the Johanssons are married, and the Swedes have turned fornication into their national pastime. It could not have been the dry gulch of nihilism; Christer Johansson did not work for Swedish television. The crime was simply that the Johanssons, a devout Christian couple, had pulled Domenic out of the state school and were educating him at home. It was, we should note well, perfectly within their rights by the Swedish law then in force to do this. It was also within their rights as specified by the European Union.

The Swedish government has attempted to cover their tracks by finding Domenic’s father guilty of being “narcissistic.” Their evidence for this supposed narcissism is Christer’s stubborn insistence that he knew better than the thugs what was best for his son. Narcissism indeed – if that were a crime, or if that disqualified people from being decent parents, then the Scandinavian countries ought to get together to address an enormous crisis. They should run barbed wire around one whole country, say Norway, ship to that land of ice all the people in Scandinavia who look at themselves in the mirror too complacently, and turn Denmark into a vast orphanage.

What makes for such cruelty? I cannot imagine the black heart of a man (or, alas, a woman) who struts before a simple little family, and steals their child away. That person, we would say, should be hauled before a court of law and then be banished from civil society. He – she – should be granted plenty of spare time to think again about the cruelty, while staring at the blank walls of a prison cell. How much worse it is, however, when the abduction involves an entire social organism: the long arm of a dull-witted and compliant police force, the convoluted brains of a corrupt judiciary, and the seething metaphysical hatred burning in the heart of politicians, who cannot abide a single little reproach, not even in the form of a happy little boy, against their claims to know what is best for everyone. So far from repenting in sackcloth and ashes, the Swedish thugs have compounded their sin by breaking their own laws, denying the Johanssons their right to choose their own legal counsel. The Swedish education domina has even written, openly, brazenly, that all homeschooled children should be abducted.

Back in the days when Swedes were men, not sheep, they raided the coasts of Europe in their long ships, burning and looting. Oh for the Vikings of old! For when they had either loaded their ship with your tribute or razed your village to the ground, they left, to enjoy their spoils; and you could go on living your life without interference, with your cow and a couple of chickens, and a field for corn and potatoes, and children, whom you would love and raise by your best lights, as mothers and fathers have done since the dawn of the human race.

And now, from the far whale-road of the Northmen, and the wintry binding of the waves, my mind returns, with the cry of a sea-bird, to my own native land. And I see something like the same misshapen hulk I saw moving across the arctic fens, now battening in warmer climes.

There was a time when certain things were considered holy. The family was holy: it was a realm of order and authority and love, not to be burst into by marauding benefactors. “A man’s home is his castle,” went the saying, meaning that the home, for father and mother and children, is as an independent dukedom, with its own traditions, its laws, its bonds of loyalty, its wisdom, and its hard-won wealth. So long as no crimes against God and man were committed, that castle was to be honored; for upon such families the whole social order was founded. One would no sooner set spies in the home to rat on mother and father, as the Soviets did, than one would burn down a church. It is not simply that one would refrain from abducting a child, as the Swedish government has done. One would not wish even to associate with someone who could conceive of so vile a thing.

Conscience was holy, too; as were the churches wherein the consciences were formed. I cannot imagine George Washington intruding upon a Quaker meeting to conscript men. He would have considered it a blot on his sacred honor to do so despicable a thing. I cannot imagine even that progressive Puritan, Woodrow Wilson, prying open the gate of a Catholic school to compel the nuns to conduct courses in state-approved licentiousness.

But the Leviathan has no such scruples. Consider the case of the current administration, wishing to compel Christian employers to provide insurance policies for free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. Even before we consider the sheer harm these things have done to the common good, what decent person would want to bring the churches to heel? What kind of soul must one have, to wish to cow every religious institution into submission, so that one may gain one’s will? The same kind of soul that is required, I believe, to order policemen to board a plane and remove a little boy, screaming and wailing, from his mother and father he loved, all because they dared to oppose the lovingkindness of the State.

Let us be clear here. The American Leviathan loathes everything that is not Itself. It does not want self-reliant people who can take care of themselves and their neighbors. It does not want people teaching their children in their own way. It does not want free associations, like the Boy Scouts, who actually do things like clean a park or build a bicycle path, things that benefit everyone, and for little or no cost to their towns and cities. It does not want private schools with their own curricula. It does not want private universities with their own ideas about what sports to sponsor, or what people they should hire. It will allow the shells of these things, so long as the “free” truckle to its will, and the “private” strip naked to its searching glare. Its pact with the little people is simple enough. The Leviathan will promote a false freedom, mere license, which helps to destroy every other social institution in existence, from the family to the neighborhood to the local school to the church. Then the Leviathan, having built a sufficient number of prisons, will come a-knocking on every door to help.

This is really the central meaning of the debate concerning whether the Catholic Church should provide for Fornication Protection Kits – for that is what we are talking about, though no one wishes to say so openly. The diktats from Levi come cloaked in the language of medicine, just as the diktats from Lotta and Lars come cloaked in the language of children’s welfare. But just as no one without a diseased mind can really explain why it is a benefit to children to be yanked out of their innocent mother’s lap and sent to live with strangers, just because mother and father wanted to teach them to read and write, so no one without a diseased mind can explain why it is a benefit to women’s health, or anybody’s health, to underwrite the sexual revolution.

The abortifacients and contraceptives heal no disease. They do not restore proper function to any organ or limb. They do not soothe chronic pain. They do not shield the taker from casual infection. If a couple were infertile, that would be a medical problem. It would require a remedy. That is why we call it “medicine.” But the problem with the fornicators is not that their reproductive organs are not working. They are working just fine. When people engage in a reproductive act, using their reproductive organs in a natural way, then reproduction is the healthy and natural and perfectly predictable result.

More than that: the sexual revolution itself is the cause of tremendous human misery. The problem with Pope Paul’s Humanae Vitae was not that the Holy Father was wrong in his predictions. He said that the sexual revolution – that is, the regime of Pill-popping – would result in more, not fewer, unwanted pregnancies and children born out of wedlock. The cognoscenti laughed at him, but he was right. He said that it would result in more, not fewer, abortions. The illuminati laughed at him, but he was right. He said that it would result in more divorces, and a debased view of women as mere objects of sexual gratification. The women’s liberationists laughed at him, and then proved him right themselves by turning men into those same objects. No, the Pope erred in not being pessimistic enough. Even he did not foresee that the reign of sexual license would destroy human communities and human culture. Even he did not foresee that the people of a once great nation would, as placid as pigs in a sty, give over their most precious civil liberties just to ensure a good roll in the mud.

Leviathan cannot brook a single opponent. The Johanssons learned this lesson, to their excruciating sorrow. We Catholics are learning it now.

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Anthony Esolen is the author or translator of 28 books, most recently In the Beginning Was the Word: An Annotated Reading of the Prologue of John (Angelico Press), No Apologies: How Civilization Depends upon the Strength of Men (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord, a book-length poem made up of 100 poems centered on the life of Christ. He has also begun a web magazine called Word and Song, on classic hymns, poetry, language, and film. He is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts.

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