Integralism: A New Totalitarianism?
Let me see if I can get this right. One and a half years ago, the American people and American-based multinational corporations naïvely or not so naïvely accepted the warnings of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that, owing to the arrival of COVID-19, hospitals would soon be overwhelmed nationwide if we didn’t cancel or close sporting events, churches, restaurants, bars, theatrical productions, schools, and even parks to public use, thereby enabling a series of lockdowns that punished lower-middle-class households while generating handsome returns for owners of stocks that had been purchased with money generated by outsourcing factory work that formerly sustained neighborhoods in which lower-middle-class citizens lived. Next, George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police provoked calls from affluent white people who live in suburban or upscale neighborhoods to defund entire police departments at the exact same time police were most needed by people of every color who live in inner-city neighborhoods where riots broke out in response to Floyd’s killing. And then, after statues of Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee were toppled owing to the belief that, unlike similarly racist Union counterparts, these generals had committed treason by fighting for the South in a Civil War that was fought, at least partially, to determine which side was guilty of treason, the Civil War erupted all over again — this time to reinstitute skin color, rather than the dignity of the human person, as our guiding first principle.
And that’s before mentioning other significant 2020 events like the metaphysical reach of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bostock decision, Turkey’s occupation of the Hagia Sophia via eminent domain, and Donald Trump’s near victory in a presidential contest that had been rigged by The New York Times, China, the entire Democratic leadership, old-school Republicans, Trump’s personal failings, the FBI, and almost all major corporations to ensure that he lose.
Big as these events have been, however, I have begun to think of their sum total as a prelude to a different, possibly more fearful event that could be still to come. It is entirely possible that I am wrong in this assessment, and indeed, I hope that I am. But given the robust energies on view at a New Polity conference on “Founding the Christian Society” that I attended this spring in the former mill town of Steubenville, Ohio, I suspect that my assessment can serve as a reasonable betting line.
What are those energies and what might they mean? Succinctly put, they are energies that bear an uncanny resemblance to ones that surfaced in the Weimar Republic during the late 1920s and early 1930s, when Germany’s parliamentary democracy was under stress to the same degree that ours is now and intellectuals began searching for a “third way” to provide solutions to problems that socialism and classical liberalism were evidently unable to solve.
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