Are the Russians controlling how you think? Does it matter?
Both government investigators and pundits around America are seriously exercised just now about the Russian influence on the most recent American presidential campaign. A good part of the agitation concerns social media promotional efforts funded by Russia, ostensibly to discredit Hillary Clinton and boost Donald Trump.
Of the promos I’ve seen so far, my favorite is the Facebook ad showing the Devil arm wrestling with Jesus. The Devil is saying, “If I win Clinton wins!” Our Lord is saying, “Not if I can help it!” But even this favorite ad is a stupid way to attempt to influence an election. To see how stupid, ask yourself this question: Which side was the ad I mentioned above designed to help?
Assuming that is a rhetorical question with no answer, consider another one: Who in the United States is dumb enough to be influenced politically by ads of this nature? Assuming this is a rhetorical question with an obvious answer, ask yourself whether, on the whole, Americans really are so underdeveloped mentally and morally that we deserve the results we get. You probably will not like the answer any more than I do.
Here’s what matters: It takes a certain cohesiveness between cultural values and natural law; that is, it takes a largely virtuous people actively engaged in fostering a largely virtuous culture for democratic and republican forms of government to work. Neither that “virtuous people” nor that “virtuous culture” exists any longer in the United States. Apart from the question of launching ads under false pretenses—such as arranging for advertising that would be understood differently if viewers knew who really paid for it—the main moral issue in advertising is whether it promotes truth or falsehood, goodness or evil.
On that point, we already accept a great deal of morally deficient political advertising. (The skewing of our values is similarly illustrated by the familiar patterns of our judicial system, which routinely claims the moral high ground by loading up for bear in order to strain gnats.)
Jesus vs. the Devil
For a moment, let us go back to my advertising example: Jesus vs. the Devil. In America, the dominant cultural reaction to such an ad is, first, to deny that so stark a distinction can be made between two political parties; and, second, to deny the obvious implications of the ad on the grounds that the teachings traditionally associated with Jesus Christ are very often evil. This, by the way, is called the “sin against the Holy Spirit”. It is diabolic, but I suppose people today would prefer the expression “Luciferic”, for they call it enlightenment.
That such stark distinctions cannot be made between Democrats and Republications is certainly true apart from particular issues. Moral confusion and venality run deep in both parties. But this does not change the reality that what we call American (and Western) culture as a whole is in the death-grip of the Devil, gone mad on unfettered arrogance and the “right” to fulfill any heretofore illicit desire. Sin really does darken the intellect. Our declining culture has essentially no moral compass other than an ever-changing “enlightened [Luciferic] public opinion”.
Now the first principle of sound political and juridical analysis is that “enlightened” public opinion—the opinion molded by society’s elites—is never orchestrated by Jesus Christ. Worse, in our time it is orchestrated very specifically as a rebellion against Christ, despite how many alleged “churches” hasten to go along. Therefore, we really do face a stark choice, a choice not unlike the one visually projected in the advertisement cited above. Until we recognize where our reflexively dominant opinions come from today; until we stop getting comfortable with them and making excuses for them, or even trying to cover them with a Christian veneer; until we identify the source rightly, even within the Church—until then, there is little hope for us in this world.
But there is still the choice between this world and the next. The lesson of the Gospel is that we really cannot have both. Christ vs. Satan. God vs. Mammon. This is our test question. Choose one.
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