Per Scriptum E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern
As my autumn semester begins, I will not have time to write any more on this blog. Perhaps I shall take it up again next summer, but in the meantime, I would like to leave my readers with a few themes from my work here. What is Landmarks of Liberty all about?
First, Landmarks of Liberty assumes a Providential view of history. As Patrick Henry once said, “there is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations…” Second, it is an attempt to render the Western world as a separate entity, advanced, civilized, and cultured, but now faded and withered. This is not to condone the historical methods of European overlords who wished to exert power through imperialism; only to notice the undeniable advances within just such civilizations. These we might call civilizational landmarks; the cultural, moral, and economic trappings of the largely Western Christian world. As de Tocqueville noted of America, civilization flourished underneath government within voluntary social institutions. The unique element here was the absence of social coercion, in other words, liberty. Hence, we might call our civilizational landmarks, landmarks of liberty.
Third, the “Time of Troubles” for Western civilization started in 1914, and the catastrophic signs of civilizational erosion first appeared during the First World War. In this war, the devastating effects of ideology, or the many ism’s of the modern world including progressivism, liberalism, imperialism, coerced globalism, etc., began to replace the cultural heritage of the Western world. Not only was the West literally torn apart for its wrongs, it became dehumanized and culturally depressed with itself. Might I relate how far the West has fallen? As John Milton once said of the fall of humanity in Eden, this is a “sad task, yet argument not less but more Heroic then the wrauth of stern Achilles on his Foe pursu’d…” (Paradise Lost, Book 9) We still reap, at least materially, the benefits of the old West, but like a summer gone, we feel the nipping chill of an approaching nihilistic winter. It is a quiet autumn on our Western front, and beneath the ivy we may still glimpse the moldering remnants of our older world.
Symphony of the week
To leave this blog with a fitting symphonic moment, I’ve chosen Sir Edward Elgar’s larghetto from his Second Symphony as my symphony of the week. It was used as the funeral march for Edward VII; the drawing of the curtain in the last age of Western glory before World War I. As Elgar would later say of his Third symphony, larghetto displays “stately sorrow… Naturally what follows brings hope.” Hope we would have, if only we would recast our ancient landmarks that ever soften between the tendrils of ivy and quake before the ever approaching gales of winter. “Remove not the ancient landmarks, which thy fathers have set.” Proverbs 22:28
I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew…
O Lorien! The Winter comes, the bare and leafless Day;
The leaves are falling in the stream, the River flows away.1
1. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, (Houghton Mifflin Company: New York, 2003), 363.
Image of Cole Thomas The Present 1838 from Wikipedia