Totalitarianism or Anarchy?

November 2005

Last month in this section, we noted how Michael O'Brien, a novelist, contended in The Catholic World Report that same-sex "marriage" (and hate-crimes legislation) constitutes a "New Totalitarianism." Now we learn from The Catholic World Report (Aug./Sept.) that "same-sex marriage leads to anarchy in family life" (it wouldn't in the opposite-sex Catholic families we know), and will result in outright anarchy. We also learn that "Anarchy is the widespread rejection of established authority, or the refusal to accept that there are limits or boundaries that should not be transgressed. Anarchy need not arise because of a bloody revolution. It can result, less dramatically, from widespread acceptance of license..." So says Seana Sugrue, an Associate Professor of Politics at Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla.

So, what is it? A "New Totalitarianism" or "Anarchy"?

Sugrue says, "anarchy doesn't last very long," so she settles for what she calls a "soft despotism," which is quite a ways from totalitarianism, which is a hard despotism.

Sugrue's big point is that "marriage is a pre-political institution." So what? So are polygamy, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, rape, violence, theft, war, and so forth. They are all pre-political.


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New Oxford Notes: November 2005

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Sorry Editors, but you are dead wrong on this one.

The central statement that “marriage has an existence independent of state power; same-sex marriage is not” is correct. Indeed you contradict yourselves within a few sentences in this piece, first conceding that marriage is ‘pre-political’ then suddenly saying, in effect, that it is purely political.

CCC states:
1603 Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures.


The ‘definition of marriage’ that the state or any human organization formulates can at most only be a recognition of something that already exists naturally. Marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman, and can only exist where one man and one woman freely enter into it. As a Sacrament it is the man and woman themselves who effect it, while the priest is simply a witness:

1623 According to Latin tradition, the spouses, as ministers of Christ's grace, mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church.


This section makes it quite clear that *only* the mutual consent of a man and a woman put marriage into effect:

1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear. No human power can substitute for this consent.

I am aware that the above passages pertain to the Sacrament of Matrimony—that is, marriage within the Church. But by this sacrament Christ has further sanctified and elevated a natural phenomenon, not brought a wholly new and alien institution to earth. This is what the natural phenomenon is—a freely entered lifelong union between a man and a woman.

States and other human organizations can get it wrong in attempting to recognize and officially regulate what exists by nature—a case in point being humanity and human rights. One’s human rights are *recognized*, not conferred, by the law; for they exist by nature. That a black man is a person with human rights, that a human child in the womb is a person with human rights; these are facts regardless of the extent to which our laws, past or present, have succeeded in recognizing them.

It doesn’t matter that California did not recognize marriages between Oriental and Caucasian persons—any union between a man and a woman, whatever their ancestry, is a marriage. This is nature; the state was myopic regarding reality.

We oppose the legal establishment of ‘same-sex marriage,’—or at least, I do—not because we want to ‘outlaw’ something that exists or could exist, but because IT DOES NOT EXIST, whether or not the state (or the population) thinks it does. There is no such thing as ‘same-sex marriage’; in formulating a definition of marriage which includes it, the state is showing itself myopic with regard to reality, and engaging in an act of fantasy which is harmful in its effects but unreal in its substance. What we DO want is simply for the state to protect as best it can what already exists by nature.

If it does not exist in nature, anymore than marriage between a man and a horse exists in nature, then state “recognition” of queer “marriage” can only be accomplished by applying the force of the law in support of an artificial construct which does violence to nature. It is irrelevant whether this is done democratically; there is such a thing as ‘tyranny of the majority.’ So Sugrue is correct in identifying it as soft despotism.

That despotism may be very real in its effects, if and when the Church is forbidden to publicly recognize marriages between a man and a woman unless it also participates in sham ceremonies that pretend to ‘marry’ two men or two women.
Posted by: guerrero paciente
April 30, 2009 11:59 PM EDT
... perhaps I should also add, the failure to establish homo "marriage" in law is NOT soft despotism, for in fact it is not an 'outlawing' of anything. It is simply a failure to engage in an act of positive fantasy.

You cannot outlaw what does not exist. Preserving the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman is not more "soft despotism" than failing to extend human rights to chimpanzees is soft despotism.

Despotism means the taking away of real human that exist, or the failure to recognize them. NOT the failure to recognize and enforce what certain confused or depraved individuals think exists, or wish to exist.
Posted by: guerrero paciente
May 01, 2009 12:04 AM EDT
[Ed: The above post should read "Despotism means the taking away of real human rights that exist, or the failure to recognize them."] Posted by: guerrero paciente
May 01, 2009 01:08 AM EDT
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