By Charlie Johnston
(I am trying to put the finish on an important piece today. While I am at it, several readers suggested I post what was originally a comment by me as a stand-alone piece. I think that will be useful. I want to note, too, that there has been a good response to your letters to officials in Texas and Texas Right to Life about the travesty visited by the Harris County District Atty’s office, which charged with investigating Planned Parenthood and credible evidence it is engaged in profiting from selling the organs of dead babies, instead chose to indict the whistle-blowers while running interference for the most heartless and ghoulish of abortionists. One reader told me her State Representative, Tony Tinderholt, sent an aide out with the letter she wrote his office, to thank her and discuss the issues of life and prosecutorial misconduct with her. There will be much more to say about this going forward, But I am grateful for those who have the courage to stand up to the media-governmental complex that shields Planned Parenthood no matter how hideous its deeds.
But for now, the piece I promised:
I was still in high school when I developed my fascination with historical societies on the verge of catastrophic collapse. I suppose the reason is obvious to people here now, but it was not to those who knew me then, just a manifestation of my peculiar mania for how to build and keep a healthy, functioning culture. One of the things that astounded me was that in each of these societies, the overwhelming majority of people did not believe there was anything seriously wrong until doom was right on top of them. The most common reason voiced for why there was nothing to worry about was that “we have been through this before.”
Sophisticated, elite Romans laughed at the attacks on its borders by primitive Germanic tribes. Rome was the most powerful nation in the history of the earth and destroyed those who had dared attack it before. Such primitive, backwards tribes were a laughable annoyance, not a threat. And so the empire fell. Even after the storming of the Bastille, the French King thought he merely had a communications problem. And so France fell. Czar Nicholas thought the rumblings in the Russian provinces that had reached near Moscow were just the same old restiveness that was common to Russian politics. He was so unconcerned he was out of the country with the Army when Russia was seized by the revolutionaries. German Jews had a world-weariness. They had seen and survived pogroms in Russia and Europe repeatedly over the years, so most thought Hitler was just a virulent form of what they had already seen many times. And so began the Holocaust.
In hindsight, it is easy to see that the violence ripping these societies was structural and foundational – not business as usual at all. Yet the great majority of people, even the most sophisticated, cannot see the difference between transient and structural damage until all is in ashes. I am not sure if any in power in Rome understood the danger. In France, only finance minister Jacques Necker knew this was something foundational – and he was reticent to speak of it because he was ridiculed by everyone else in power for his alarmism when he did. There were a few in the Duma and in the Tsar’s court who sensed something different was afoot, but not so as to act with dispatch. Of prominent Europeans, the only two who consistently warned of the danger of Hitler’s toxic populism were Winston Churchill and Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII. (Yes, contrary to the smears that erupted against the late Pope in the early 60’s, Pius was second only to Churchill in his public warnings against Hitlerism before it was too late – and tireless in his efforts to protect Jews targeted by that regime, housing many secretly in his Gandolfo retreat). Both German business and social elites and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain believed Hitler was a man they could do business with and bend to their will.
The problems we face are not transient disruptions, but structural failures. The financial system is not having a downturn in the business cycle; all the structural safeguards and cushions have been gutted. The global collective security arrangements that have held since the end of WWII have often had adjustments, but now they lay in tatters, shredded by the Obama administration’s “smart diplomacy.” Both former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and current ruler Vladimir Putin stated this baldly a year and half ago, but the western media almost completely blacked that warning out. The rule of law in the west is dead. We do not have occasional abuses; rather the justice system, itself, has been weaponized as a tool in the raw will to power.
The general public may not be able to discern the difference between a social flesh wound and a wound to the heart. But I do – and so do many of the most historically and financially knowledgeable people – which is why you can dismiss me as alarmist, but you ought to be terrified when people like Victor Davis Hanson, Admiral Stansfield Turner (ret), and the bankers at Citibank and the Royal Bank of Scotland say things that make me look like a Pollyanna by comparison.
A flesh wound heals itself, given time. A heart wound bleeds out and you die. Our society is dying around us even as silly officials try to maintain it’s only a flesh wound. If God were not going to intervene with a Rescue, we would be at the edge of a new and brutally dark age of slavery and global misery. It has already begun. I do not come to warn of a Storm. It is already upon us and visible to all who are not willfully blind. I come to proclaim a Rescue, that the Lord of Hosts is not finished with us – and has work for each and every one of us if we will accept it.