|Editorial Thoughts For The Times (3) Romanism?
Is the Roman Empire finally coming to an end? Is its continuation as the Roman Church on the point of collapse? If it is, what is to replace it? What will Europe be without it? President McAleese Emeritus does not seem to have given any thought to that question.
It is clear that she wants to dissolve Christianity into a morass of individual subjectivist notions, free of structures. Not very long ago she was a militant ultra-Romanist, but now she wants to end the inculcation of children into the doctrines of Christianity, beginning with the ending of baptism of infants.
She appears to be saying that Christianity has been superseded by the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, as issued by the United Nations when it consisted essentially of Communist Russia and laissez-faire capitalist America, and which therefore had no hard and definite meaning.
How will life be lived in a Europe from which Christian culture has been rooted out comprehensively? Will it be lived matter-of-factly, transparently, without illusions, in the Crystal Palace imagined by Chernyshevsky scientifically in his novel, What Is To Be Done? About a century and a half ago?
Lenin tried to give effect to Chernyshevsky’s objective vision of matter-of-fact transparency in social relations a generation later. Dostoevsky reacted vehemently on its publication with his Notes From The Cellar.
Lenin constructed a State to give effect to Chernyshevsky’s streamlining of life. It didn’t work out. Dostoevsky’s resentment of the attempt at a scientific objectification of life remains in circulation.
Sigmund Freud, a Jew in Vienna, surrounded by a very civilised form of Christianity, from which he was detached by a culture preceding Christianity, approached the matter from a different angle with his book on The Future Of An Illusion.
Freud is famous for tracing personal psychological trauma to the repression of sexual impulses, and treating all human energy as sexual in its source. He is less famous for saying that the existence of civilisation is dependent on mass suppression of the sexual impulse, and that the force of suppression, which made the remarkable European civilisation possible, was Christianity—which he saw, of course, as an illusion.
The form of Christian suppression of the instincts on which European civilisation was raised was the form which was woven into the structure of the Roman Empire.
The form of Protestantism which broke off from it a thousand years later, and became a major force in the British state, presented itself as a return to original pre-Roman Christianity but was in fact a splinter broken off from the Roman form. It would not have been possible without Rome, but it condemned Rome for making compromises with paganism. To mark its difference with Rome, it set about suppressing Art and corralling it into a kind of streamlined Christian Chernyshevskyism—which broke down very quickly.
The Roman system lasted for so long, and produced the culture which culminated in the Renaissance, by making provision within its ecclesiastical structure for a wide variety of impulses—manifesting as Orders emphasising different aspects of the Christian ideal—and by not expecting that the mass of the lay members would ever live as Saints!