18 October 2013

Uncommon Commentary #372: Good Versus Evil, God Versus Devil

The entire history of our fallen world is a struggle between Good and Evil.  This struggle is not, however, identical to that between "democracy" and "dictatorship".
The very recent idea that (what we incorrectly call) "democracy" equates to the forces of Light, and "dictatorship" to those of Darkness, may be the result of geopolitical developments over the past century or so.  "Democracies" such as the UK, USA, and France allied with one another during the two World Wars, the "Cold War", and the "War on Terror"; their opponents in these conflicts have included National Socialist Germany, Imperial Japan, the countries of the Warsaw Pact, and now "Islamofascism" [see below].  It's easy to see how the human penchant for oversimplification might lead us to conclude that "democracies" are inherently good and "dictatorships" inherently bad, but the reality is more complex.  Israel's King David, Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, Grand Prince St. Vladimir of Kiev, and nearly all the other benevolent rulers in history prior to the Twentieth Century were either absolute or near-absolute monarchs.  Further, countries whose people elect their leaders are quite capable of working evil, such as oppressing minorities and waging wars of aggression; there are so many examples that this point ought not to require elaboration (except perhaps to say that a government of the People, by the People, and for the People will be only so virtuous as the People, and that this level of virtue, because of Original Sin, is not very high).
The "democracies" could claim a higher degree of piety than either the Communist lands, which were atheist, or the fascist and quasi-fascist polities, in which adulation of the state was made a substitute for true religion (even though the US House of Representatives had, in 1918, itself adopted the idolatrous American's Creed).  As the coining of the term "Islamofascism" shows, we have conflated Islamism with oppressive rule, adding a contrast between Western hyper-secularism and Moslem fanaticism to the popular good-versus-evil equation.  As in the case of "democracy" and "dictatorship", we have insisted upon seeing Islamism and modern Western secularism as respectively black and white even though we know .how complex the world is.  Islamists unquestionably menace the world through their support of jihad, but they're not wrong in every way; they forbid many evils that characteristically disgrace their irreligious antagonists, such as pornography and induced abortion.  In fact, if Western societies would adopt a philosophy that one might (by analogy with "Islamism") call "Christianism", or, to use my term, "political theocentrism", they wouldn't be falling apart as they now are.
The great war of our time and of all time is between not "freedom" and "tyranny", or "secular democracy" and "Islamofascism", but worldliness and godliness.  All Christians, indeed, all people need to understand this.