I don’t often stray into politics on this blog because, quite frankly, I’m not much interested in it. My ancestry is Mennonite and Amish and their pacifism and isolationism is written pretty deep in my genetic code. That is to say, we want to mind our own business and believe that less government we have the better. We have a deep distrust of ‘the system’. If the politicians and wheeler dealers aren’t exactly persecuting us at the moment–it’s not long before they will be.
We distrust ‘the system’ and we especially distrust anybody who thinks ‘the system’–any system–will be able to really fix what is wrong with the world. This means we distrust any kind of ideology–either to the Right or to the Left. Ideologies are most often false religions. Ideologies are for people with too much pride or too few brains, or too little courage to actually take a religion (any religion) seriously and follow it to it’s proper conclusion. Instead they jump on the bandwagon of some shallow ideology (and all ideologies are shallow) and seek some sort of economic or social or political solution.
History shows it doesn’t work, and the reason it doesn’t work is because there is a fault at the very heart of every ideology. An ideology has as its basic premise that its main idea is ‘right’ and everybody else is ‘wrong’. At the root of every ideology, therefore, is hubris–pride–the assumption that the idea (and me and all my comrades who ascribe to it) are right and must use these ideas to change the world. What then results is that the ideologues do attempt to change the world, and because they don’t have much time to do it (because they will all be in their graves within 60 years) they force their agenda on others, and this inevitably results in the loss of civil and human rights–and often in the slaughter of millions. This from the ideologues who most often standing up for ‘the poor’ or ‘the masses’ or ‘the people’. When they find that ‘the people’ don’t actually want their brave new world they kill them or lock them up.
The ideologue then (like the Left wing in US and UK) ends up being more corrupt, venal and violent and intolerant than the right–because they never thought they would be and very often are blind to the very corruption they propagate.
So, I’m not right wing or left wing, but I do claim to be a conservative Catholic. This is simply because I want to ‘conserve’ what is good from the past rather than throw it out in the name of the latest ideology. I realize everything from the past isn’t necessarily the best, but I’d rather have the devil I know than the devil I don’t. I’m conservative because I can see what is behind me better than I can see what’s in front of me. I can learn easily from the past, but I can never learn from the future because it isn’t here yet. This is also why I distrust any ideological politician (of either right or left) who promises me some great new future.
I’m also conservative and Catholic because I believe in the doctrine of original sin. That is to say, Man is created in God’s image and is good, but that image is wounded by sin. This core truth is often neglected or denied by ideologues–especially when thinking about themselves. The typical ideologue does not believe in original sin–especially he does not believe that he has original sin. Nevertheless, he usually believes in the total depravity of his enemy. Conservatives Catholics believe in original sin, but we also believe in the possibility of redemption. Therefore we are pessimistic about mankind, but optimistic about man.
Finally, I distrust ideologues because they are blind to their own failings and the weaknesses of their ideology. They have to be, or they would not be ideologues. I am therefore, also distrustful of all Catholics or Christians or religious people of any stripe who turn their religion into an ideology. Run from the Christians who demand total, unthinking loyalty. Run from the Christians who see opponents as enemies. Run from Christians who build little fortresses of faith for themselves and their comrades, for the only thing worse than an ideology is a religion that has become an ideology, for then they will kill and persecute not just believing in their good cause, but believing that they are doing God’s will.