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Modern vs. Catholic Totalitarianism (re-dated)
November 12, 2008, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Culture, Politics | Tags:

“…modern totalitarianism, based on a purely materialistic conception of man, is of necessity more oppressive than an authoritarianism enforcing a spiritual creed, however rigid.  Take the medieval church even at its worst.  The authority of certain texts which it imposed remained fixed over long periods of time and their interpretation was laid down in systems of theology and philosophy, gradually developing over more than a millennium from St. Paul to Aquinas.  A good Catholic was not required to change his convictions and reverse his beliefs at frequent intervals, in deference to the secret decisions of a handful of high officials.  Moreover, since the authority of the Church was spiritual, it recognized other independent principles outside its own. Though it imposed numerous regulations on individual conduct, there were many parts of life left untouched and governed by other authorities–rivals of the Church–like kings, noblemen, guilds, corporations.  And the the power of all these was transcended by the growing force of law; while a good deal of speculative and artistic initiative was allowed to pulsate freely through this many-sided system.” 


“It would seem to me that on the day when the modern sceptic first placed his trust in the Catholic Church to rescue his liberties against the Frankenstein monster of his own creation, a vast cycle of human thought had come full swing.  The sphere of doubt had been circumnavigated.  The critical enterprise which gave rise to the Renaissance and the Reformation, and started the rise of our science, philosophy, and art, had matured to its conclusion and had reached its final limits.  We have thus begun to live in a new intellectual period, which I would call the post-critical age of Western civilization.  Liberalism to-day is becoming conscious of its own fiduciary foundations and is forming an alliance with other beliefs, kindred to its own.”

Michael Polanyi, The Logic of Liberty, 133.


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