Naturalism, Collectivism, Anti-Humanism

Yesterday I wrote briefly about the concept of a racial mystical body and its nature as both the spiritual foundation of ethnic nationalism and a source of conflict. Today I would address, not the mysticism of ethnic nationalism, but some of its philosophical teachings, namely naturalism, collectivism, and anti-humanism. I begin with naturalism, to which end I offer the following lengthy quotation:

What is meant by Naturalism? We can best describe it by contrasting it with the supernatural ideal of the Catholic Church. This supernatural ideal affirms: firstly, that the Life of Grace, a share in the Inner Life of the Blessed Trinity, is infinitely higher than the natural life of human reason; secondly, that the loss of Supernatural Life on account of the first Adam’s fall has been repaired through membership of the Mystical Body of the Second Adam, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who in the existing order is the unique Source of that Life; and, thirdly, as a logical consequence, that it is only through cultivation of our membership of Our Lord’s Mystical Body that we can be good and true men as we ought to be. Accordingly, minds imbued with the supernatural ideal will proclaim that the Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is infinitely higher and nobler than any natural society, while insisting at the same time that ordered love of country and native land must be sedulously cultivated. They will aim, not as isolated individuals, but fully conscious of their royal dignity as members of a living organism, at permeating all social life, political and economic, with the spirit of membership of Christ.

Naturalism, on the other hand, is described as follows by Pope Leo XIII: “The funamental doctrine of the Naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress and guide. Laying this down, they care little for duties to God, or pervert them by erroneous and vague opinions. For they deny that anything has been taught by God: they allow no dogma of religion or truth which cannot be understood by the human intelligence, nor any teacher who ought to be believed by reason of his authority… . It is the special and exclusive duty of the Catholic Church fully to set forth in words truths divinely received and, besides offering other divine helps to salvation, to teach the authority of her office, and to defend the same with perfect purity… .” “What Naturalists or Rationalists aim at in philosophy, that the supports of Liberalism, carrying out the principles laid down by Naturalism, are attempting in the domain of morality and politics. The fundamental doctrine of Rationalism is the supremacy of human reason, which, refusing due submission to the divine and eternal reason, proclaims its own independence and constitutes itself the supreme principle and source and judge of truth. Hence these followers of Liberalism deny the existence of any divine authority to which obedience is due, and proclaim that every man is a law unto himself; from which arises that ethical system which they style independent morality, and which, under the guise of liberty, exonerates man from any obedience to the commands of God, and substitutes a boundless licence.”

Accordingly, Naturalism affirms that our highest life is the life of reason, and consequently, denies that there has been any such things as a fall from, or loss of, Supernatural Life or, at least, that we can know of it. Naturalism also logically affirms that it is a matter of indifference whether one worships Our Lord Jesus Christ or denies that He instituted a supranational society to set for the Divine Plan for order in the world and to diffuse that Divine Life by which alone we can be really good men as we ought to be.

The relation between Naturalism, Rationalism, and Liberalism is excellently outlined by Père Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (De Revelatione, Vol. I, p. 221). He writes: “Although the term Naturalism is frequently used with the same signification as Rationalism, it rather designates the foundation of Rationalism. For Naturalism is properly the negation of the possibility of the elevation of our nature to the supernatural order, and Rationalism is the application of this doctrine to human reason as Liberalism is its application to human liberty. Hence Rationalism has its proximate foundation in Naturalism, just as on the other hand, the virtue of faith is founded in grace. If Naturalism signifies not merely the denial of the possibility of knowing the order of supernatural truth, but the denial of the very existence of that order, then it has its foundation in Pantheism. In order that no truth should be above the powers of our rational nature, our nature must be identified with the Divine Nature.”

Men imbued with the naturalistic attitude will insist that the highest social organization is the individual State or the whole group of States tending to coalesce into the world-state. They will aim at eliminating every vestige of the Supernatural Life from social organization. For those who are aware of the importance for the world of respect for the Rights of God and who understand the meaning of the Redemption, Naturalism is the forerunner of decay and death.

– Rev. Denis Fahey, C.S.Sp., The Mystical Body of Christ and the Reorganization of Society, pp. 7-9

Naturalism, then, is seen by scholastics not so much as a position in its own right, as a denial of the Catholic position, which may be termed Supernaturalism, meaning that human nature is capable of being elevated beyond itself in pursuance of an infinitely greater good. There are many forms of naturalism, some of which contradict each other in detail, but all are characterized by this general conclusion. To an ethnic nationalist, naturalism is a consequence of the premise that the highest attainable good is that of the race, which is a member of the natural order.

Collectivism for the purposes of this discussion denotes a moral and political conclusion, namely, that the subject of rights and obligations in society is ultimately collective rather than individual. Accordingly, actions are imputed in some degree to collectives rather than individuals. It is not some son of the Rothschild banking dynasty who subjected Germany to the depression in the 1930s, for example, but the Jewish race. Accordingly, all Jews deserve to be punished for this crime. Or again, society as a whole, as represented by a democratically elected government, is obligated to pay restitution to those who have been wronged in some way by its members. Therefore those who identify with communities that were treated with undue scorn in the past ought to be legally protected from the historical consequences of such treatment in the form of money, preferential treatment, and so on.

In the context of ethnic nationalism, this means especially that the ethnicity in question, since it is quasi-divine, and wherefore it has been constantly persecuted by its enemies, deserves to become a legally privileged class. Once again, this follows from the centrality of race, which is a collective. To wit, whenever the highest good is a racial good, necessarily then the highest good is also a collective one.

Against collectivism, of course, Catholicism has always held to an individualist standard of blame and praise in accordance with sound ethics and moral theology, in both the domains of morality and of politics. This is not to deny that the collective is even a notion in Catholic moral thought or that God, as the cause and judge of its very existence, may justly punish a collective. But in terms of human judgment, the agent and patient are always individual.

Finally, anti-humanism is perhaps the one name that ethnic nationalists share with Catholics. Humanism is that form of naturalism which states that the highest attainable good is the full actualization of human nature. One may speak of a Christian humanism which, without denying the supernatural Life of Grace, nevertheless emphasizes its role in restoring those aspects of human nature which were depraved by the Fall, to the detriment of the goal of supernatural goods which go above and beyond them. Or there is a secular humanism which denies the Fall altogether and thus passes into rationalism.

The anti-humanist may deny one of two things: either that human nature limits the good that we can do, or else that there is such a thing as a human nature at all. Equivocation of the term “nature” causes these two denials to be conflated at times. For example, an existentialist may say at one turn that human nature is something to be surpassed, but at another, that there is no human nature, but only a human condition. Both turns of phrase are meant to indicate the same idea.

Catholics are anti-humanist insofar as we say that the limits placed on human beneficence by our nature can be surpassed with the aid of divine grace, as for example when the soul infused with charity loves her neighbor with the very love of God Himself. On the other hand, ethnic nationalism denies humanism on the grounds that any good that is common to all humanity is necessarily inferior to that of one’s own race. This would have to imply a denial of human nature on the absurd grounds that race or ethnicity were ontologically prior to it.

Notably, there are those on the left who express this exact same idea, when they argue that human nature (or one of its aspects, such as gender) is a social construct, informed ultimately by culturally and ethnically inherited prejudices. Wherefore ethnic nationalists are implicitly intersectional (REEEEEEEEEEEEEE).

Arboretus