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Would ‘Compulsion’ Be Hell?

There was once an epic struggle between Stalinist Communism and the Catholic Confessional State. When Khrushchev denounced Stalin in 1956, Hans Morgenthau wrote that Communism “lost the moral conviction of its own legitimacy.” Morgenthau was right, for Communism slowly but surely collapsed. Before the Second Vatican Council, it was common to refer to Catholicism as triumphalist and sure of itself. Since the Council, Catholicism has suffered a crisis of authority, as the Catholic Faith itself has come unraveled.

Then came the New Left in the late 1960s. Daniel Cohn-Bendit summed up the aspirations of the New Left: “One day we shall ourselves organize our own lives. We will not be doing it for our children — sacrifice is counter-revolutionary and comes from a Stalinist-Judeo-Christian humanism — but finally in order to have untrammeled enjoyment.” You know what happened: sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Not sacrifice, not heroism, but pleasure — and liberal capitalism was happy to comply in whatever way it could.

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