Liberalism Will Not Save Us

A few days ago William Tighe, an Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College and frequent contributor to numerous Catholic publications, left the following extended comment on this blog:

As I wrote earlier today on another blog, as a comment to a post featuring Edith Piaf singing La Marseillaise:

Why should I applaud, or even listen to, some sluttish chanteuse singing a song that encapsulates and celebrates events that constituted the overthrow of France as “the eldest daughter of the Church” and enthroned “laicite” in it place?

If this is the “French heritage” that we are rallying to defend, my call would, rather, be “pereat!” The French Revolution was the first, and the bellwether, of subsequent revolutions aimed at overthrowing any Catholic Christian social order, and the Marseillaise, like the Internationale, is freighted with anti-Christian (and, indeed, savagely neopagan) ideas. Were I a Frenchman I would have no truck with “1789 and All That” and, indeed, would take some melancholy consolation in the fact that with the Charlie Hebdo massacre and now the Paris Slaughter it seems to be expiring from, as Karl Marx wrote, mistakenly, of bourgeois capitalism, its own “inner contradictions.”

And if I were to feel moved to show solidarity with the French, the flag that I would wave would be the drapeau blanc.

At the time this remark appeared, Owen White was on Facebook rightly snickering at his monarchist and traditionalist friends who didn’t think twice about distorting their profile pictures with the Tricolour. Perhaps these folks misguidedly thought that to stand with the French Republic at this moment in time is to take a stand both against Islam and for Christendom. But Christendom has been almost entirely wiped out and the country which suffered a terrible tragedy at the hands of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) played no small part in its demise. Now well-meaning Christians of all stripes are rallying behind Europe and the United States to “do something” about ISIS, as if the destruction of one highly efficient band of Muslim madmen will rid the world of Islamic terror. And even if ISIS falls and the false religion of the false prophet Mohammed is contained in the desert, what have we—good Christians of the West—left ourselves with? Unfettered secular liberalism which holds as much contempt for us as the sons of Ishmael do.

Liberalism will not save us. The self-interested forces of capitalism and sham democracy may find a way to temporarily push back the Islamic threat, but they will leave nothing for us to glory over. The time is not far off where the ostensibly protecting hand of liberalism claps us in irons for not submitting to its perverse and ungodly ideology. Watch well the stripes liberal-democratic polities deal out to the Muslims. They will be our stripes next.



  1. Ochlophobist
    November 17, 2015

    I was inspired to look to Wiki for the details of Édith Piaf’s sluttishness and while there found these gems, including a miraculous healing by Saint Thérèse, facilitated by whores:

    Piaf’s mother abandoned her at birth, and she lived for a short time with her maternal grandmother, Emma (Aïcha). When her father enlisted with the French Army in 1916 to fight in World War I, he took her to his mother, who ran a brothel in Normandy. There, prostitutes helped look after Piaf. The bordello had two floors and seven rooms, and the prostitutes were not very numerous, “about ten poor girls” as she later described, in fact five or six were permanent and a dozen for market and any busy days. The sub-mistress of the whorehouse, “Madam Gaby” could be considered a little like family since she became godmother of Denise Gassion, the half-sister born in 1931. Edith believed her weakness for men came from mixing with prostitutes in her grandmother’s brothel. “I thought that when a boy called a girl, the girl would never refuse” she would say later.

    From the age of three to seven, Piaf was allegedly blind as a result of keratitis. According to one of her biographers, she recovered her sight after her grandmother’s prostitutes pooled money to accompany her on a pilgrimage honouring Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Piaf claimed this was the result of a miraculous healing.

    In 1929, at age 14, she joined her father in his acrobatic street performances all over France, where she first sang in public. At the age of 15, Piaf met Simone “Mômone” Berteaut, who may have been her half-sister, definitely a companion for most of her life, and together they toured the streets for the first time singing and earning money for themselves. With the additional money Piaf earned as part of an acrobatic trio, Piaf and Mômone were able to rent their own place. She separated from her father and took a room at Grand Hôtel de Clermont (18 rue Veron, Paris 18ème), working with Mômone as a street singer in Pigalle, Ménilmontant, and the Paris suburbs (cf. the song “Elle fréquentait la Rue Pigalle”).

    In 1932, she met and fell in love with Louis Dupont. Within a very short time, he moved into their small room, where the three lived despite Louis’ and Mômone’s dislike for each other. Louis was never happy with the idea of Piaf’s roaming the streets, and continually persuaded her to take jobs he found for her. She resisted his suggestions, until she became pregnant and worked for a short while making wreaths in a factory.

    In February 1933, when Piaf was 17 years old, her daughter, Marcelle, known as Cécelle, was born in the Hôpital Tenon. Like her mother, Piaf found it difficult to care for a child while living a life of the streets, as she had little maternal instinct, parenting knowledge, or domestic skills. She rapidly returned to street singing, until the summer of 1933, when she opened at Juan-les-Pins, Rue Pigalle. Marcelle’s father, Louis, whom Piaf never married, was incensed. They quarrelled and Piaf left, taking Mômone and Marcelle. The three of them stayed at the Hôtel Au Clair de Lune, Rue André-Antoine. Marcelle was often left alone in the room while Piaf and Mômone were out on the streets or at the club singing. The father eventually came and took Marcelle away, saying that if Édith wanted the child, she must come home. Like her own mother, Piaf decided not to come home, though she did pay for childcare. Marcelle died of meningitis at age two. It is rumoured that Piaf slept with a man to pay for Marcelle’s funeral.

    1. Ochlophobist
      November 17, 2015

      What great tragic heights.

      Her mother’s maternal grandfather, Said ben Mohammed (1827–1890) was a Moroccan acrobat. So a Muslim immigrant to France ends up providing that nation, via his progeny, its most famous singer who was raised by whores and whose sight was restored by the Little Flower.

      French flamboyance. Where does one even begin?

      1. Woody Jones
        November 17, 2015

        A quick read of the Wikipedia entry strikes me as odd that they do not mention that she dedicated “Non, je ne regrette rien” to the “paras” fighting for Algerie Francaise. I read once that when the generals’ putsch against De Gaulle failed and the 1er REP were being shipped off to exile or something for supporting it, they were singing that song.

        1. Woody Jones
          November 17, 2015

          If one really wants to get the feel for that period of French history, one would want to read “The Centurions” and “The Praetorians” by Jean Larteguy, if you can find an inexpensive copy. I understand that demand for those books was boosted by many in the Pentagon who turned to them to understand how an earlier fight against Islamic (although in that case, mostly secular in ideology) terrorism could be defeated.

          1. Woody Jones
            November 17, 2015

            “The Centurions” is now back in print, available at Amazon, “The Praetorians” to follow next year. You can also watch the movie inspired by the first, “The Lost Command”, with Antony Quinn as Colonel Raspeguy (in France, widely assumed to be a fictional version of Gen. Marcel Bigeard), but sadly it is twisted into a liberal American’s idea of things in some respects.

  2. evagrius
    November 17, 2015

    Thanks Owen for bringing in context, as they say, to the comment.

    I’ve always thought that Edith Piaf and Billy Holiday were “souls sisters”…Such similar lives in many ways…

    It seems to me that it’s quite easy to pass judgement on other people’s lives…far far too easy.

    As for the rest of the remarks, I refer readers to inquire on Wikipedia concerning Louis Massignon…I believe he had a far better grasp of Islam than most of us.

  3. gregorystackpole
    November 18, 2015

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Augustinian heritage of such a kind as to render the state’s role to be very worldly? Keeping the peace is such a thing that anyone –Christian or pagan– can participate in it. It does not recruit the state into propagating a religion, it merely secures the conditions in which religion is possible — worldly peace. (Augustine’s endorsement of Imperial power against the Donatists is known to contradict this position, but it is his position in the _City of God_) The motives for this can vary between Christians and pagans, because the sphere of the Augustinian secular is _this_age_, and within this age the different aims resolve in identical worldly –though not necessarily eternal– results.

    1. Gabriel Sanchez
      November 18, 2015

      The state’s role is worldly, but that does not mean that the state, by right, can fail to heed the eternal law of God. The state’s duty does not end at maintaining public order (though that’s part of it); the state should also be directed toward the common good, and part of that duty includes protecting the true religion and stopping the propagation of error.

      I would argue that while St. Augustine’s basic insights still hold, they have been developed over the centuries. Also, Augustine could not have contemplated the rise of modern liberalism or the pernicious effects of secularism.

      1. gregorystackpole
        November 18, 2015

        What do you think of R. A. Markus’ work on this issue of Augustine and his relationship to Secularism/Secularity/The Secular?

  4. J.V.
    November 18, 2015

    Liberalism will not save us, it is true. The current values we hold in the West, as I noted on my own blog, are not of the nature to grit us through a conflict with an enemy that has devoted itself to an idea or ideal of this degree. This said, you’ll be hard pressed to find persons of influence (even in the churches) willing to say “the expirement” is failing us as a culture and it is time to rediscover our tradition.

  5. Anthony
    November 18, 2015

    The main problem isn’t even Islam, it is the West’s disavowal of our Christian roots. I will never stand behind the tricolor of the French Revolution. The flag of the reign of terror. A revolution that destroyed most of Christianity in the west. The French Revolution did more damage to Christendom than Islam was ever able to. The Muslims are just picking at the carcass of what is left.

  6. Shane
    November 18, 2015

    It is possible that many people showing French colors are not trying to make any political statement about liberalism. They might simply be wanting to show that the people who suffered are still on their minds and in their prayers. In addition, it’s a helpful reminder of the tragedy which, in the cycle of news media, can be too quickly forgotten.

    I’m no fan of the Revolution nor do I support its secularism. And I think it wise to refuse to let secularism co-opt freedom, equality, and fraternity, all of which are good when properly understood and exercised.

    1. J.V.
      November 18, 2015

      “It is possible that many people showing French colors are not trying to make any political statement about liberalism. They might simply be wanting to show that the people who suffered are still on their minds and in their prayers.”

      More than likely, I think that is what they intend to show. Most people (Catholic or otherwise) are not thinking of Masonic connections or conspiracy – it is far simpler than that. France was attacked, these are the French colors, bingo. That’s it.

      Now, whether or not the values the West espouses will get it through this is another matter.

      1. Paul Goings
        November 18, 2015

        I very much agree. No one is thinking, “Oh, good, I finally get a chance to demonstrate how much I support the mass murder of the clergy and the aristocracy.” They feel close to France or the French for one reason or another, and want to show some degree of sympathy or solidarity. The current French flag is.. The current French national anthem is… End of. Over-analysis by a small community of anoraks is a waste of time.

        1. Gabriel Sanchez
          November 18, 2015

          No, I don’t think most people are saying that. I just appreciate the irony of people who would normally scoff at the French Republic waving its colors about as a show of solidarity.

        2. Anthony
          November 18, 2015

          Would people be standing behind the swastika if it were still the German flag and the attacks happened in Berlin on Friday? I doubt it. At least the post Nazi German government has apologized for the atrocities committed under that flag. The French revolution committed genocide in the Vendee butchered priests and nuns, killed religious in 1870 during the commune, with no apologies from any subsequent French government. Bastille day is celebrated every year with fanfare. Us anoraks are just pointing out that if the revolution never happened, Europe might still be Christian instead of functionally atheist. The Europe of 1683 was able to withstand the Ottoman Empire at the gates of Vienna. It seems like the Europe of 2015 can’t stand up to rag tag groups like ISIS. The difference is in 1683 the west still had the faith. After the revolution of 1789 and the wars to spread it by first the revolutionaries and then Napoleon, Christendom was crushed beyond repair. If Europe doesn’t get back to its Christian roots, no amount of air strikes in Syria will stop the Muslim onslaught on the European continent. The French and the rest of the EU will have a new symbol on their flags. I’ll give you a hint. Look up and you will see it in the sky on some nights.

          1. Mome
            November 19, 2015

            “The French revolution committed genocide in the Vendee butchered priests and nuns, killed religious in 1870 during the commune, with no apologies from any subsequent French government.”

            Actually, the construction of the Sacré Cœur in Paris was a motion of national penance, particularly for the Commune, but also with a view toward repenting of all the wrongs since the Revolution, complete with a national vow to that effect.

    2. Gabriel Sanchez
      November 18, 2015

      I suspect that is what is going on to some extent. I remain bemused, however, by those who ought to know better doing it. In other words, if one self-identifies seriously as a monarchist or a traditionalist or whatever, why would you choose to show solidarity by holding up the French flag? I pray for the people impacted by the tragedy and the souls of those lost, but that doesn’t mean I need to salute the French Republic itself. But then again, I consider myself to be someone who “knows better” at least as far as French history goes and so I don’t feel comfortable showing solidarity with the Tricolour.

      I also wouldn’t show solidarity with an American flag either, for whatever that’s worth.

  7. Felix R
    November 18, 2015

    It’s a shame that William Tighe would say such things about Edith Piaf. She was the daughter of a prostitute, no doubt, but what is little known is that, for all her sins, she was a devout Catholic who consistently supported conservative pro-Christian politics. This was because she was blind as a child and was miraculously cured during a pilgrimage by the inmates of the brothel she grew up in to the shrine of the Little Flower at Lisieux. Imagine a world where even the fallen women made pilgrimages…

    Also, while I am as monarchist as the next man (probably more so), I would like to point out that modern France only survives because of the passionate defence of her by devout Catholics during the First World War. Good Catholics can still support their government and, as Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange argued, a government which governs de facto for long enough becomes de jure.

    1. William Tighe
      November 18, 2015

      “France only survives because of the passionate defence of her by devout Catholics during the First World War”

      Well, for that matter, I think that the wrong side won the Frist World War; at least, the “other side” should have won it in 1914.

      1. rex
        November 18, 2015

        “Well, for that matter, I think that the wrong side won the Frist World War; at least, the “other side” should have won it in 1914.”

        Hear, hear.

      2. Dale
        November 18, 2015

        I completely agree with this sentiment, and had it not been for Wilson gnashing at the teeth to get the United States involved in the War, Germany would have won.

      3. Woody Jones
        November 18, 2015

        I too am with Prof. Tighe on this one. Did not Pater Edmund Waldstein write a piece on the recent Austrian novel Die Komet, which hypothesizes what Europe, and especially Austria, would have been like if the Central Powers had won.

      4. Felix R
        November 19, 2015

        Well, there is a pretty good case to be made that a central powers victory would have been better for Europe but you can’t fault anyone for fighting to defend their country from invaders.

        1. Dale
          November 19, 2015

          When one considers that one of the chief causes of the war was the huge Russian buildup along Germany’s borders and the Tzar’s refusal to defuse the situation, you are correct. Germans had no choice, but to defend themselves. Unfortunately, because of the alliance between liberal France and dictatorial Russia, everyone was drawn into the fray…willingly one might add.

  8. Mome
    November 18, 2015

    The flag of the French Revolution, the First Republic, is also the flag of the First (kind of) and Second Empires, as well as the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Republics. It doesn’t merely symbolize revolutionary ideals, though it does symbolize non-monarchist ideals. For the vast majority of the world, the flag simply represents France and the French people. The history of everything just about presents us with all kinds of ironies, but the meaning of many symbols change over time. Big whoop.

  9. evagrius
    November 21, 2015

    Love the reactionary romanticism…a true grasp of the situation…of course…I would like to know how/why the revolution occured…after all, the Church in France was so spiritual, so in touch with the peasants…oh, wait, that was in Quebec…well, the questions occured a century and a half or so later…but wait…the results…oh, the “quiet revolution”…but what happened to all the wonderful spiritual teaching when the power to dominate went away? Oh…the quiet revolution happened…Damned secularism! …

    All you romantic reactionaries need to think a little deeper…not that will actually happen…

    As for modestinus and his claim about “error has no rights”…true, but human being do…unless you see them as mere abstractions…

    such thinking ill becomes someone trained in law…

Comments are closed.