The West needs a Joan of Arc

Dean Ericson writes:

I’m reading Wikipedia’s account of Joan of Arc, a subject I’ve never studied. It’s quite fascinating. It seems God chose this young girl to lead the French army in defeating the English. Imagine that, God taking sides in a war and helping one side defeat the other by the extraordinary agency of a young girl. If God can help the French defeat the English then surely he can help us defeat the liberals. By what extraordinary agency, we can only wait and see.

LA replies:

I would say this: that the entrenched power of liberalism over our institutions and our collective mind is now so great that only divine intervention can prevent the wreck of our civilization.

- end of initial entry -

Irv Pollack writes:

“I would say this: that the entrenched power of liberalism over our institutions and our collective mind is now so great that only divine intervention can prevent the wreck of our civilization.”

One of the most powerful sentences you have ever penned.

Maybe Bachmann is our Joan of Arc?

Alexis Zarkov writes:

In my opinion, liberalism has already wrecked our civilization. To set things right, we need to first purge it from our schools, courts, and media as well as government. Then the repair process can begin, and I think it would take at least 40 years. Solzhenitsyn said it would take something like 100 years to repair the damage done to Russia by Communism. Unfortunately Russia has never undergone the Communist equivalent of denazification, so the repair process has yet to begin there. A great evil must be annihilated, not simply contained. Had we not utterly defeated Japan and Germany in WWII, those evil regimes would be a major cause of trouble in the world today. For example, we settled for an armistice (really a cease fire) with North Korea, and that regime remains a growing existential threat to the West. In fact, in 2009 North Korea repudiated the 1953 armistice, so technically speaking, a state of war exists right now on the Korean Peninsula. To eliminate liberalism, we must first recognize that its evil, and unfortunately today (thanks to liberalism) we have trouble recognizing anything as evil because the very concept of evil has been eviscerated from our thinking.

LA replies:

But aren’t you getting ahead of things? Before liberalism can be purged, it must first be defeated. At present it is in charge.

Bob A. writes:

LA stated: “I would say this: that the entrenched power of liberalism over our institutions and our collective mind is now so great that only divine intervention can prevent the wreck of our civilization.”

I am in total agreement with your statement, however would like to note that in the not too distant past you would have denounced such sentiments as overly pessimistic and defeatist.

There is a tiny remnant of Christians who will eventually resurrect old European civilization which has all but ceased to exist. This will occur only after liberalism in all its odious iterations has been purged as the dominant ethos of our current post-Christian civilization. There will be no “soft landing.” The demons of the Enlightenment have defeated our will to resist. What remains of our civilization is crumbling around our heads. The end will be catastrophic, but European man will survive. White Christian Europeans shall rebuild. As Hillarie Belloc said, “Europe is Christianity and Christianity is Europe.

Without Christian Europe, mankind is lost. The greatest gift God ever bestowed on mankind was white Christian Europe. Modern man has failed to appreciate that basic truth to its great detriment. Open borders, liberalism, the cult of diversity, the cult of equality, multiculturalism, rejection of authority and hierarchy, egalitarianism, and democratism have all acted in concert to destroy what God has given to mankind. And now, the destruction shall continue unabated.

During this Christmas season, Handel’s Messiah should serve to remind us of the providential nature of European civilization. God bless all reactionaries who resist in His name. Merry Christmas, Larry.

LA replies:

Over the last month or two, there has been a basic change in my outlook, as discussed in a few entries about two weeks ago. I will have much more to say on this soon.

In a nutshell, while in the past I said that it was possible to win back our civilization and we should not give up that possibility (though I always said the odds were much against it), now I feel that America and the West will not abandon liberalism until the civilization is destroyed. That’s the change in my thought. However, this doesn’t mean we give up. First, we must still fight against specific very bad things that we can possibly stop, like amnesty and Obamacare. Second, we must continue to uphold an opposite vision to the prevailing liberal vision and look for ways to build viable alternatives that can survive the coming disaster.

December 12

Tim W. writes:

Have you or your readers ever seen the 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc? This is an incredible film. It was shot on a set outside Paris by Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer. The star is Maria Falconetti in a perfect performance that has often been ranked among the greatest in film history. The movie is silent and the story is told almost entirely through Falconetti’s facial expressions. Falconetti was a French stage actress who usually appeared in romantic comedies. Her only other film credits were two minor ones from 1917, early in her acting career.

The movie is about Joan’s trial. There are no battle scenes. The film begins with Joan being brought before her judges. Dreyer was an unusual director who often made odd films. The investors who put up the money for The Passion of Joan of Arc were furious with him for constructing expensive sets which were barely seen in the film. Instead, we get lots of close-ups of Joan, with her facial expressions conveying the story. That may unfortunately sound a lot like modern films with their ridiculous number of close-ups, but in this case it works because of the subject matter. The film is incredibly compelling and harrowing as it reaches its conclusion.

Criterion has a high quality version of this film on DVD. You can watch it in complete silence (as it was originally released) or with a new and excellent score called Voices of Light, composed by Richard Einhorn and performed by the Radio Netherlands Philharmonic and Choir.

Alan M. writes:

I’ve been harboring this thought for a while and this post seems the most appropriate both from the initial subject matter of Joan of Arc and the latter subject matter of the collapse of western civilization to share it.

It is a play on Arc/Ark.

The job for each of us at this time is to make ourselves an ark/arc, then work on our families, then our friends, then our communities, etc. in order for some part of our Western civilization to face the coming battles and potential deluge. Whether we will each be called to be an Arc or an Ark, God knows. However, the preparation for both is the same. Getting right with God and working to live in the Holy Spirit. Cleaning out our own Augean stables. Making ourselves a fit carrier the fruits of our civilization. Preparing mentally, spiritually, and physically. Watching and listening to know when to work, to pray, and, yes, to fight.

This has always been our calling for almost 2000 years. However, we have allowed ourselves to become distracted. The urgency for this work is only now more readily apparent as our distractions fail us.

Turning to the truth, though it might be painful, always results in peace and hope. They are the sure markers of staying on the path. Despondency is not. Noah and Joan of Arc were faithful, listened to God, and acted according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit with faith and courage. They are models for us all.

Pentheus writes:

Here is one of my favorite pictures at the NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art: Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-Lepage (1879).

As the blurb at the Met page explains: “With the loss of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), the national heroine from Lorraine, Joan of Arc, acquired new symbolic importance among the French. A succession of sculpted and painted images of the medieval teenaged martyr appeared in the Salons of the 1870s and 1880s.”

One of the striking things about it this picture is the style and setting that is—or could be—of the modern present (i.e., in 1879) and not necessarily of the past. Contrary to the critical reaction to the picture at the time—“many of whom found the presence of the saints at odds with the naturalism of the artist’s style”—it seems that the painter’s point was to affirm the possibility, the eternal realness, of the same inspiration in modern times no less than in The Age of Faith. In my opinion, the artist succeeded in depicting the apparitions of the saints in a way that does not look kitschy or merely a story illustation. (Such as the fact that Joan is facing away from them, which suggests that they are not perhaps literally, visibly present in the scene but only present to or the source of her inspired consciousness.) That is, he integrates successfully the supernaturalism and spirituality of the subject matter, with the naturalism of the style, the medieval with the modern. I cannot think of any other painting like this.

It is probably needless to say that I cannot imagine an artist of our times sincerely and unironically invoking Christian faith in the service of nationalist spirit. (leftism and liberalism in art since the 19th C. being almost wholly a great No, with no ability—excepting Communist/socialist social realism [D. Rivera] and Soviet/Chinese propaganda posters of the 1930s-70s—to say Yes even about its own aims and ideas of the good.)

Apropos of this painting and Mr. Ericson’s comment: What we need is not a Joan of Arc, but rather more artists (whether visual or literary) like Mr. Bastien-Lepage and his colleagues, instead of the overwhelming irony / negativity / critique / meaninglessness / art-about-art-ness that characterizes most artists since the 1940s through today.

The struggle we are engaged in is not against a foreign army but a mental and spiritual civil war amongst our citizens. Although we can readily denominate some committed leftists and liberals as certain enemies, the important battle—as has been noted by VFR in “Why I bother arguing with anti-Semites”—is to win over the undecided majority, to swell a new tide to move the conformist flotsam that is the mass, to win back otherwise sensible people who we find suddenly parroting lib-left-PC slogans and memes with which they have been indoctrinated via education, media and social pressure.

Furthermore, for most of us, we are not seeking to spread a counter-ideology, but rather simply to oppose the dominant one for our wide variety of reasons. As well-demonstrated on this and other sites, “conservative” or “right-wing” does not signify any one single issue or ideology. In my experience, leftists and liberals, despite some differences in particular enthusiasms or willingness to acknowledge certain non-liberal realities, all pray the same rosary of dogmas and victim classes. People denominated as “conservative” or “right-wing,” whether self-described or categorized as such by libs, are basically everyone else, anyone who disagrees with or demurs from praying any one of the liberal rosary beads. It is really the same as “Catholic” and “non-Catholic.” The first is a specific ideology, the second is not.

And not only artists, but really each one of us must be that Joan of Arc in our statements and conversations with people in our regular lives. (Although, as I say hereinafter, it is better to think of this as missionary work rather than warfare.) This requires some courage, and a lot of discipline and discretion so as to maximize the effect and not undermine your own cause. The point is not to tell people how they are wrong now but to encourage them (literally, to give them courage) to allow themselves to see that their normal, un-indoctrinated perceptions and conclusions and values were/are not wrong in the first place. The goal—contrary to the apparent belief of many conservatives—is not to “win an argument with a liberal” but to win souls and minds that can be won. And by “won,” I do not mean right there on the spot but perhaps eventually. Your expectation in such remarks and conversations is not to “win an argument” nor to induce some kind of immediate conversion experience, but simply to plant seeds that may grow. These can be seeds of doctrinal affirmation, or, no less, nay maybe even more useful, seeds of critical doubt in the dogmas of the Established Church of Liberalism. It is not easy, and often can be uncomfortable, to be the only person in the room who is doubting “global warming” or “same-sex marriage” or affirmative action or feminism, but your calm and unshakeable example of willingness to say these things (artfully) without fear of social rejection can make a strong impression on some—even if only one—of those present.

It would be too far a digression for me to detail some suggested approaches and tactics I have found useful, but as a general point it is not best to regurgitate undigested what you have read on VFR or other sites, but rather to translate this in the ways that will be most effective. One of the best methods is to pose questions, with the intent, not to stump people or catch them out, but simply to implant those questions in their minds. Often it is useful to frame your questions in lib-left terms (e.g., “How can it be good for the economic and political development of Third World countries, or for world peace, if the U.S./West drains off all their most educated, ambitious, and productive people—the non-corrupt liberal bourgeoisie and the working proletariat—via mass immigration?”). To give people some frame by which they can see that it is “okay” to see your point as valid can accomplish a great deal, I believe.

Most of us are not artists; and most of us, in our increasingly un-free society, are unwilling to risk the serious consequences that could result from putting our views in signed letters to the local newspaper. Writing a blog, or comments to VFR and other sites, does indeed have some value, but only amongst those who are already inclined to agree. I think we all agree that it is pointless at this time to invest much if anything in electoral politics when there are no substantially worthwhile candidates to support. So, the best most of us can do is work our influence, as best we can, upon the people in our lives. I know that I have had some success in this way, my aim not being any kind of indoctrination on behalf of any particular “conservative” dogma, but rather, simply a kind of inoculation of minds and spirits against the dogmas and assumptions of the dominant Established Church. I cannot know how this has then spread to others via these friends and acquaintances, but I believe it is inevitable to some degree. We can only throw a pebble into the pond, but it ripples no less far than a larger splash.

To conclude: We may not have today the artists we need, and perhaps we do not expect to have a personal vision of saints in our garden, but we do have this painting by Mr. Bastien-Lepage—himself of the modern age no less than we, in the larger civilizational scheme of things—to help us (as it has for me, anyway) maintain the heart daily to vow, despite all the dispiriting trends, “I will not cease from mental fight.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 10, 2011 11:20 AM | Send

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