Notes from Underground


Milestones on the road down

First as tragedy, then as farce



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Karl Marx once wrote that "history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." I'll admit I do not know what Marx was thinking of when he penned that pithy-sounding, if somewhat cryptic, future sound bite. What I do know is that his epigram is undeniably pertinent to the sound and fury raging today over the absurd question of homosexual "marriage."

The trajectory of the cultural revolution that is running its course in the West has not been easy to chart, because as one monitored all of the awful things that have happened and are happening, he would expect to see a predictable "downward spiral." Things would start out good, then get slightly bad, then more bad, then really bad, then horribly bad, and then they would finally fall apart, and the center would no longer hold.

Yet sometimes the "worse" stuff — which one wouldn't have expected to happen until a moment just prior to the center's breaking and releasing ultimate chaos upon the world — in fact happens first, and the "less-bad" stuff follows on its heels a while later, confounding expectations. Such is the case with the current push among the degenerate elite of the West to license men who "marry" men and women who "marry" women.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me, the sight of a simpering swish holding an "I Deserve a Bridal Registry" sign at a sodomite rally does not provoke outrage. Disgust, yes. Incredulity, sure. In my lighter moments, a snicker. On my more charitable days, pity. But not outrage. I simply can't take it that seriously.

Of course, being a Catholic as well as a rational human being, I do not deny that sodomy is a perverse act. And of course the normalization of perversity is a symptom of our decline as a civilization. The spectacle of mothers and fathers being treated as if they were somehow interchangeable in their childbearing roles is terribly distressing, as is the entire breakdown of the family, which has been proceeding full tilt for decades now.

But I, for one, would let it all happen and worse, if we in the West could only recover our reverence for innocent human life. And I would strike just such a bargain, were it in my power to do so. Bring on the prevalence and predominance of social ills such as fornication, adultery, divorce, and illegitimacy if you must, I would plead. But please, in return, kind sirs and madams, strike abortion from your "menu of lifestyle options." Screw up your children's lives, if you can't be persuaded to change your destructive, family-destroying lifestyles, but for God's sake, let your children live!

Naturally, it would be best if we could recover our respect not only for the preciousness of unborn children but also for that of chastity. There is no reason why we can't have both; indeed, the two go hand in hand. In better times they did go hand in hand. Women and men who respect the sanctity of the sexual union as well as its procreative function are more likely to forgo temptation and wait for marriage; by the same token, a woman who values her body as a temple of God's handiwork is more likely to feel protective of a little body growing inside of her, rather than murderous toward him.

Likewise it makes sense that when one virtue falls into conspicuous decline, another related one will start to disappear as well. So it is hardly surprising that the loss of respect for chastity has led to a callous attitude towards the lives of the unborn.

Still, one would expect the lesser sin to come into vogue first, while the downward spiral continued on its course, and people slowly, then gradually, with more and more brazenness, worked their way into the very heart of the abyss. One wouldn't think the ultimate outrage, marking the death of civilization and the triumph of the demonic, would occur first. The opinion-shapers and social planners ought to have worked out a way to make homosexual "marriage" socially acceptable before they legitimized baby slaughter. Strange indeed that it should have happened in reverse — first as tragedy, and then as farce, rather than the other way around. But so it sometimes goes.


Beyond Marx, another prescient, if rather more blunt, assessment of the current unraveling can be found in George Orwell's 1984, in the words of Thought Policeman O'Brien, a sort of sinister father figure to Winston Smith, the book's protagonist. As he is savagely torturing Smith, as a means towards getting him to love Big Brother, O'Brien calmly explains that things will not get better, but will only get worse, and that hope for a different outcome is silly and a waste of time.

"If you want a picture of the future," he says, "imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."

I don't claim to have a picture of the future, but I do have a picture of the present. What I see is that conservatism, in its current form, is a joke. Conservatives today want to pass laws "protecting" marriage. But since when do liberals care about laws? Even if a Defense of Marriage bill were passed and signed into law, what would stop judges from striking it down, just as they struck down legal protections for the unborn in all 50 states three decades ago, on the basis of alleged "unconstitutionality"? The Constitution mentions nothing about why, almost two centuries after ratification, the several states suddenly had to legalize abortion; in fact, it mentions nothing about abortion at all; but that certainly did not deter the Left. Why should we think they would concede the point on homosexual marriage?

Be not deceived: O'Brien's boot will keep stamping on our collective face. The revolution will unfold, and casualties (both among the born and the unborn) will continue to mount. Still, it is probably true that the worst is behind us. While tragedy has not ceased, it is farce that today rules the headlines. For that we can be thankful.

We can also give thanks that our Father in Heaven is infinitely bigger than our Big Brother on earth. In the end his mighty boot will be the only one doing any stamping.

April 12, 2004

Editor's note. The collapse of chastity, modesty, and honor is a central fact of our time and a principal cause of the death of our civilization. Senior editor Ronn Neff and I strongly urge anyone interested in the subject to read Wendy Shalit's A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999). — Nicholas Strakon

© 2004 WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.

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