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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Gab@StFerdinandIII - Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Corona, 'The Science' or Scientism, Islam, the State, the cult of Gender Fascism, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from.  It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Chateaubriand and his critique of the irrational 'French Enlightenment'

No reason, no logic, no justice, no faith in the Age of 'Reason'

by StFerdIII

 Francois Chateaubriand was a late 18th century, early 19th century writer and political philosopher.  He survived the tumult of the French Revolution and its totalitarian aftermath of war, carnage and suffering.  There is a context to his writing and thinking that is unique which gives rise to differing interpretations around reason, faith and the state.  Chateaubriand was a notable critic of the French Revolution with good reason.

In 1789 within France and much of Europe the previous year’s harvest had failed, leading to food supply issues, hunger and discontent.  The regime of Louis XVI and his court appeared to be inert and unable to deal with such fundamental issues.  There was a perception within France of widespread injustice, over-taxation, regime corruption and indifference along with a noticeable erosion of Christian idealism under attack from Enlightenment secularism and egoism.  The French state was near bankruptcy, and the Third Estate (non-nobility or clergy, composed of the cities) took over the governance of France, calling itself the National Assembly.  Within a few months in 1789 the National Assembly had begun erasing political structures with its Declaration of the Rights of Man, and the institution of secularism and a rejection of France’s Christian past.  In essence the demolition of the foundations of France had begun.

A Counter revolutionary perspective was offered by a few including Chateaubriand who along with Hugo, is one of the most important of the French Romantics.  Chateaubriand was a Christian Catholic, who for a short time had apostasied and proclaimed Atheism as his religion.  Chateaubriand was from an impoverished family, which had once been very wealthy, who could trace his lineage back to St. Louis IX (mid-13th c.) and had once joined the French army, left, went to the backwoods in Virginia and returned to fight with the Austrian army against the new ‘Republican’ government of France, and when they were defeated in 1792, fled to Holland and London where he rediscovered his Catholicism.

Chateaubriand had a vibrant and animated respect and love for France’s Christian past, in marked contrast to the ‘philosophes’ and atheists of 1789, who desired to destroy the Catholic culture of France, Church hierarchy power and privilege, and install a new religion of ‘reason’ and ‘rights’ in the guise of a secular totalitarianism, which found its completion in Napoleon’s dictatorship.  The past was rendered ‘dark’ and uncivilised and the atheist-philosophe promise of unlimited ‘progress’ and ‘freedom’ would be justified by secular despotism. 

For Chateaubriand and many other thoughtful commentators, the atheist coup in France was a disaster.  Nothing but death, destruction and endless warring resulted.  Society was not remade in a ‘reasonable manner’ using ‘reason’.  It was deformed and crippled, its once proud heritage and outputs shattered and burnt.  Chateaubriand eloquently expressed this destruction of civilisation through extoling France’s achievement including the greatness of Gothic structures, and the superiority of the Bible over Homer and the social benefices of Christian doctrine and romanticism.

Chateaubriand’s ‘Genius of Christianity’ was published in 1802.  It was a defence of Catholicism and tradition.  Napoleon had just signed a concordat with the Vatican and being a Catholic in France was now acceptable again.  Yet despite the superficiality of the concordat, the devastation wrought by the demagogical philosophes would presage that of the Communists and ‘progressives’ in the 20th century.  Church, buildings, society, family and faith were taken over by the state and even effaced in much of France with a vicious civil war killing 100.000 Catholic peasants in the west of France (La Vendee). 

In light of the atrocity of the revolution and Napoleon Chateaubriand published in 1814, ‘On Buonaparte and the Bourbons’ which summarised the case as to why the French had been better off under the Royal family.  To wit:

 “A king of France once said that if good faith had been banished from the company of men, it must be found in the heart of kings.”

“The foreigner, not yet king, wished to have the bloody corpse of a Frenchman as a stepping-stone to the throne of France…..Everything was violated to commit this crime; the rights of men, justice, religion, humanity.”

“In ten years he devoured fifteen billion in taxes, which surpasses the sum levied during the 73 years of the reign of Louis XIV.”

“He crowned his despotic works with conscription….The sons of the French were harvested like trees….Each year eighty thousand young men were cut down.”

For Chateaubriand and many others, the French Revolution was an unmitigated disaster.  Enormous quantities of taxes, money, men and women were spent and thrown away.  Millions died in various European wars.  The family of Napoleon for a short while enriched themselves at the expense of the conquered and of the French peasant.  Totalitarianism, secret police, and an attack on religious traditions, freedoms and achievements were deployed against a population which had expected a liberation, not an occupation.  The philosophes, basing their utopian ideals on coffee house theories and ‘reason’ created a society that was devoid of reason, justice, logic and faith.   


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