Sunday, October 27, 2013

"... and on these faces there is no smile."

Catholic writer Hillaire Belloc on modern paganism and atheism:

The Barbarian hopes — and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marvelling that civilization, should have offended him with priests and soldiers .... In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true...

We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile.

We are in a spiritual war. We of course always have been, but this century brings this war to a cusp. Our barbarians rule our entertainment and our arts and our science and much of our industry and too much of our government. Sometimes they're plainly menacing, sometimes exasperating, sometimes even entertaining. But Belloc is right. Awful faces are watching, and not smiling.  


  1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 27, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    Belloc makes the point that the Barbarian cannot make nor sustain; he can only befog and destroy.

    Belloc is precisely correct.

    And Belloc is empirically correct...

    One need only look at the ramshackle societies created by the Left in the 20th Century. The pools of stinking, toxic industrial waste they bequeathed the citizens of Eastern Europe and Russia. The blight that was "Soviet architecture", and the simple truth that no ideologically pure Communist writer, painter, or playwright produced a single major work of note. Even Malevich was eventually banned from painting.

    Today, one need only look at the crumbling city of Havana. Cuba, whose GDP in the 1950's was the rival of some European economies and (according to the UN) boasted a vibrant middle class, has slowly collapsed into a piteous museum of antique cars and rundown buildings.

    And, of course, there is Detroit. The American canary in the coal mine.

  2. Brilliant author, brilliant post.
    Kudos, Dr Egnor.

  3. Are you sure Belloc isn't talking about the Jews?

    There was also literary Jew-baiting, which in the hands of Belloc, Chesterton and their followers reached an almost continental level of scurrility. Non-Catholic writers were sometimes guilty of the same thing in a milder form. There has been a perceptible anti-Semitic strain in English literature from Chaucer onwards, and without even getting up from this table to consult a book I can think of passages which if written now would be stigmatised as anti-Semitism, in the works of Shakespeare, Smollett, Thackeray, Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, T. S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley and various others. Offhand, the only English writers I can think of who, before the days of Hitler, made a definite effort to stick up for Jews are Dickens and Charles Reade. And however little the average intellectual may have agreed with the opinions of Belloc and Chesterton, he did not acutely disapprove of them. Chesterton’s endless tirades against Jews, which he thrust into stories and essays upon the flimsiest pretexts, never got him into trouble—indeed Chesterton was one of the most generally respected figures in English literary life. Anyone who wrote in that strain now would bring down a storm of abuse upon himself, or more probably would find it impossible to get his writings published.

    -- George Orwell

    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 27, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      I'm sure.

      "The Barbarian" within is the man who laughs at the fixed convictions of our inheritance. He is the man with a perpetual sneer on his lips.
      --- F Wilhelmsen

      The Barbarian is you, Troi: a sneering, semi-literate tick on the ass of civilization, contributing nothing while greedily sucking out the spoils of other people's work.

    2. Wow, you really are a bitter old man, aren't you? A sad man without a legacy.

      You seem to consider yourself a contributor, unlike me the parasite. So, what have you ever contributed?

    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 27, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      Bitter? Because I I have you pegged? Don't flatter yourself.

      "what have you ever contributed"

      Do your own homework.

    4. Troy,

      I wonder if you noticed Wells, Shaw, and Huxley on Orwell's list?
      Maybe you would care to comment on their ideologies and pedigree? Perhaps on their 'scientific' racism/anti-Semitism and it's foundations?
      Could it be that you do not understand the nature of such hatred and what restrains it? How insidious such scapegoating is? What the principle of divide and rule is all about?
      You may also want to note that in his seminal dystopian works the Church has almost always eviscerated.

      His commentary (taken out of context, once gain) is about a cultural phenomenon that was in vogue before the nightmare of the holocaust revealed the reality of blaming a single group (in this case the Jews) for the ills of society. You know? Like you blame Catholics and Christianity for...well... EVERYTHING.

      PS. Orwell left one BIG notable off his defenders list: Sir Walter Scott (1820 Ivanhoe).

    5. "Do your own homework."

      Playing with toy ships in your bathtub doesn't count as a legacy.

    6. Do your own homework.

      Oh well, I guess we'll just have to take your word that you have made some important contributions to society.