Of all the civilizations of the world, the West is the most beleaguered and under attack. Making matters worse, it is often the children of the West—the descendants of those heroes, martyrs, and patriots who labored and died for faith, family, and fatherland—that are leading the desecration of Western Civilization. What, exactly, happened?
The enemy of Western Civilization goes by various names. Marxism is one, though this often obfuscates reality. Marxism is dead. And it has been dead for some time. Postmodernism is another. Postmodernism is trickier than Marxism since no one is quite sure what postmodernism is or stands for.
Rather than beat around the bushes of Marxism and Postmodernism, it might be better to simply assert that the attack on Western Civilization is the anti-Western ideology. Where did it come from? And why should Catholics, especially, be concerned with it?
The prophets of the anti-Western ideology are not Marx and Engels nor Lenin and Trotsky. The prophets of the anti-Western ideology are Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault. While one might say that both were influenced by Marxism, hence Marxism is the enemy, this fails to take into consideration the profound rejection and revision of classical Marxist doctrine as well as the marriage of Gramsci and Foucault by late 1960s radicals—which was later codified when they entered the professional and professoriate class in the late 1980s and the 1990s, leveraging their power of endowed professorships and media employment to propagate their acidic ideology.
We should first start with Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was an Italian socialist revolutionary who was imprisoned in Mussolini’s Italy. While in prison, he penned his famous Prison Notebooks, translated and brought to America by Notre Dame professor Joseph Buttigieg (father of Pete Buttigieg). Gramsci offered a grand rejection and revision of Marxism, analyzed why classical Marxism failed, and offered considerations on how the new revolution was to succeed.
Gramsci’s greatest contribution in the Prison Notebooks is his analysis of cultural hegemony. This is the real root of “systemic racism” and other critical theories that love the language of institutional oppression. Gramsci noted that the bourgeoisie prevented revolution because cultural consciousness, not class consciousness, was the real driving force of politics.
According to Gramsci, so long as the bourgeoisie and its values of patriotism, family, and religion dominated the institutions of society, society would be inherently counterrevolutionary. Cultural hegemony was a complex byproduct of the union of businesses, churches, media, educational establishments, and law. These cultural institutions reinforced the values of the standing majority and passed them on to the next generation, thereby preserving their cultural power.
The Marxist revolution failed because Marx never understood the importance of cultural consciousness or the role of institutions in maintaining cultural consciousness. From Gramsci, 60s radicals coined the term “The long march through the institutions.” Those influenced by Gramsci recognized his profound revelation: If the institutions of society remained in the hands of the patriotic and culturally Christian bourgeoisie, the radical utopian revolution would never come to fruition. It was necessary, then, for the revolutionaries to infiltrate the institutions, subvert the old values, propagate new values, and usher in the new revolutionary consciousness which would be held together by radical control of all institutional forces.
The second prophet of the anti-Western ideology is Michel Foucault. The French intellectual and journalist was also a pederast, but since he is a revolutionary Leftist he remains acceptable to promote and sell for the cause of revolutionary change. Foucault wrote many works, too many to go into detail here, but there is a common thread that unites his various writings. I will briefly concentrate on two.
The History of Sexuality and Madness and Civilization are among Foucault’s recognized “masterpieces.” They are also often included in extracted form in many undergraduate classes ranging from history, philosophy, cultural anthropology, and gender studies. One of Foucault’s most famous statements, found in Madness and Civilization, is that “the ultimate language of madness is that of reason.”
What Foucault meant is that rationalism, rationality, and reasonableness are simply veils for tyrannical oppression. When we speak the language of rationality, Foucault argues, the real impetus behind it is suppression. Hence “law and order” becomes a veil for societal oppression of peoples deemed “dangerous” who are almost always minorities vis-à-vis the majority.
In The History of Sexuality, Foucault goes to great lengths to humanize the sexual deviant. He argues that the demonization of the sexual other reveals the petty tyrannical insecurity of the sexual majority (the heterosexual male, especially). Foucault lionizes the deviant, the strange, and the perverse. They are the real paragons of humanity.
Throughout both works, Foucault asserts that the majority is always oppressive to the minority. The minority exists, inherently, as the other that the majority’s insecurities and pettiness are always pressed against. The majority, then, is always tyrannical and oppressive; the majority—the reasonable, the normal—is cast as the antagonist of human history and even civilization. They are enemies of freedom.
As such, the minority becomes the new martyr for Foucault. The minority has always been abused by the existing majority; it is now, however, in the new age of deconstruction that we can see the majority for what they truly are: petty and insecure tyrants (at least according to Foucault). In order to achieve freedom, there must be an inversion of the majority-minority relationship (itself a radical revision of Hegel’s “master-slave” dialectic based on recognition and emergent relationships of love). Freedom is achieved by the minority’s valorization and the overthrow of the majority’s values and laws in Foucault’s vision.
The marriage of Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony and Foucault’s deconstruction of the majority and idolization of the minority is the heart of the anti-Western ideology. Everything Western, because it is the majority and previously held institutional and cultural authority, becomes the embodiment of oppression and tyranny. Everything that is opposite the West, ipso facto, becomes the valorized minority that stands against Western oppression. The anti-Western ideology is, at its core, a celebration of everything alien to the Western tradition.
Thus the rule of law is understood as “white supremacy.” Thus freedom and individualism become code words for “white supremacy.” Thus religion becomes understood as an institutional force for “white supremacy.” Thus all structures of politics, law, and justice become systems of “white supremacy,” etc., etc., etc.
Hatred of Western history, heritage, and values becomes necessary for the anti-Western ideology to destroy the West. For the West, in this outlook, is the manifestation of all evils in the world. Only by denouncing everything Western—the cultural values and its majoritarian ideals—can the utopia eventually come into existence through the negation of everything Western.
Catholics, therefore, must understand how this anti-Western ideology will eventually be used as the battering ram against the Church. For the Church is a Western institution. The Church’s history is bound with that of the West; it matters not the contemporary global reality of the Church. The Church’s heritage, its literature, theology, and art, are all the products of the majority we must denounce and destroy.
We see this already with a renewed spurt of vandalism, church burnings, and denunciations. But no one cries for anti-Catholicism precisely because Catholicism is a Western faith and institution. Trying to claim the victim card misunderstands the nature of victimhood in the anti-Western ideology. Westerners can never be the victim; they are always the victimizers. This is why anti-Catholicism never has the attraction of anti-racism, anti-Semitism, or anti-colonialism.
If there is to be a future for Western Civilization, it runs through the veins of Catholics because Catholics must cherish their tradition and all that is good and noble in it. A recovery of the Church Fathers and Catholic literature is an undeniable return to Western sources. The teachings of the Church, which promote the values of faith, family, and community, stand to reinforce the very structures that anti-Western revolutionaries see as cruel and oppressive. Precisely because Catholicism is a Western religion, its survival will always be seen as a force for counterrevolutionary activity and a last bastion of Western sins: colonialism, oppression, misogyny, etc.
We already see the anti-Western ideology making its moves against the Church. This is not a time for Catholics to lie down, allow themselves to be bullied and intimidated, or—as is often the case with the hierarchy—denounce their own history and heritage in the name of “listening.” Doing so will make us all orphaned pilgrims, strangers in our own land, cut off from our own patrimony.
The survival of the West rests in its ability to recover its values and sources of ingenuity and sustenance. This will mean, minimally, a return to faith, family, and community. It will also entail a renewed love and appreciation of its history, heritage, and cultural accomplishments.
Catholicism, therefore, is uniquely positioned to lead this regeneration of Western Civilization. It may not be easy, but it is necessary for both the health of the Church and the resurrection of Western Civilization against the acidic and demonic forces seeking its total and complete annihilation. The end of Catholicism in the West is nothing short of a microcosm for the end of the West itself. The revival of Catholicism in the West would be nothing less than a revival of the West itself.
[Photos: Antonio Gramsci (Left) and Michel Foucault (right)]