When I was a little boy, my elementary education in Upstate New York was dominated by a sort of liberalism that seems to have disappeared. These good teachers were mostly Catholic, some had served in the Second World War, and all loved humanity. Like the Protestant William Jennings Bryan they thundered a Biblical message and refused to allow mankind to be crucified on a cross of gold.They taught me that it was our duty to care for the poor. To them liberalism represented helping every human being, no matter how weak, find a place in our culture. Money was less important than values. Community mattered and men were called to be stewards of the Earth. They wanted to create a garden, but they never valued the canary in the mine shaft over the man with the pick.There was nothing in the idealism of their message I reject to this day. These good men and women, true public servants, were not bitter, but hopeful. They loved their nation, many had been marked by this service.Where have they gone? How did their cause come to be associated with the culture of death and not the culture of life they embraced? How did their gentle tolerance become an excuse for libertine excess?Christian economic conservatives believed in the goals, all of them, of their liberal brothers and sisters. God commands us to help the poor, love the fatherless, and lift up the oppressed. No Christian can measure the worth of a man by the marketplace. No, the difference between liberals and conservatives was about how to achieve these goals not the goals themselves: Justice, Mercy, Duty, Peace, Honor.Christian conservatives have no love for the Darwinian economics which values only success. Like Dickens, we despise Scrooge as he is. We just question whether the best way to redeem him is through punitive taxation. But despite our differences, one could have a gentle affection for the old Christian liberals, the Christian democrats, because if they loved humanity ineffectually, they loved truly.Holland is just another sign of the end of this kindly regime, dimly remembered from my childhood. Modern liberalism, secularism really, now is defined by who it can kill. Kill the unborn. Kill the weak and sickly child. Make society such that no one desires or can afford enough children to replace the population. Create a culture so libertine that children are scarred by the violence and ugliness that pervades their lives. There is nothing good about liberalism anymore. Modern liberalism is ineffectual and hateful. The party of Bryan, Scoop Jackson, and Zel Miller has become the party of abortionists and people who value snail darters over loggers.In trying to use the state to do what it was not designed to do, redeem and help humanity, these noble men behaved foolishly. They turned over power to an instrument that can never be trusted. The Christian democrats socialized medicine, placing the state in the role of the priest and patriarch. For a while, when they still ruled, all seemed well, but power soon grows. It is hard to watch pain, hard to understand suffering, expensive to give the care promised. It is easier, even morally easier, to kill.The state always devolves to utility. And so it proved in Holland. Christian democrats were full of platitudes from the Bible that got in the way of utility. The monstrous state soon developed wicked protocols to make efficient what was never designed to fit into a flow chart: the worth and value of a human life. Tiny Tim must be miserable, perhaps it would better for him (and, oh, also for us and the hard pressed social welfare system), if we put him to sleep. He must die and “so decrease the surplus population.” So somehow people who rejected Scrooge-morals in business embraced them in the state and became hard and cruel when they began to be compassionate. They stamped out private stinginess to blow it up into a monstrous, huge rationing of care and help.It is a bitter thing, the death of the Christian democrats. It is a warning and a bell in the night. Sincere desires cannot overcome bad means. The ends never justify the means, because bad means soon change the ends. Messianic liberalism was not, perhaps, so noble after all. It hoped for heaven and now in Dutch hospitals brings us hell. Perhaps some ghost of their Christian past can come and remind them of a better way and the hope of redemption.
Essay / Misc.