Christian Virtue and Political Order

10/19/13, by Clement Pulaski

Faith in Christ transforms the soul and leads us to become subjects of a kingdom that is not of this world. The Gospel focuses on personal virtue and conduct, and it does not include clear instructions on how to order an earthly government. Because of this otherworldly focus and absence of direct political teaching, many have claimed that it is improper to allow Christianity to have any influence on politics. But a separation between religion and politics is impossible. Politics is the art of organizing individuals to achieve common goals, and the way in which specific groups of individuals can be successfully organized depends largely on the character and virtues of the individuals in question. A man's character and virtues are shaped by various factors, including religious faith. In fact, religious faith is often the chief factor in determining character, and when a given nation has been steeped in the Gospel for generations, the character of the individuals that make up that nation is elevated. Faith in Christ transforms not only the individual soul, but the whole society made up of those converted souls. Thus historically Christian nations will shape systems of government differently than nations of unbelievers. And just as the virtues of a population can affect the form of government, the form of government can also affect the virtues of a population. Of course many noble Christians have endured brutal anti-Christian governments and maintained their faith, but when a tyrannical government rewards vice and punishes Christian virtue, large segments of the population are driven away from righteous behavior.

With these considerations in mind it becomes clear that religion and politics are inextricably linked, and I now turn to the difficult question of what form of government is best from a Christian perspective. I begin by observing that a worthy Christian is not one who has worldly success but one who acts in accordance with the Christian virtues of Humility, Chastity, Faith, and Love. Thus the best form of government is one which encourages and allows for the cultivation of these virtues by the citizenry. (Note that this encouragement of virtue must stop short of compulsion, as truly virtuous acts can only come from the heart; however, at the same time certain types of vice must be made illegal to prevent the corruption of society).

During the first several centuries of European Christendom the principal form of government was feudalism. These societies were certainly imbued with the Christian spirit, but many pagan holdovers were also present. Most notably, the old aristocratic contempt for manual labor and low born persons was common amongst the royalty and nobility. The pagan aristocracy was lacking in Christian Humility, and this attitude persisted into the medieval period and beyond. While the feudal system did have some merit and provided a certain level of security for the peasantry, it was still far from perfection.

With the foundation of the United States we see a significant shift away from the vaunting pride of the old hereditary aristocracy. A strong work ethic became more valued than noble birth, and the sons of backwoods pioneers who grew up working with their hands could become leading statesmen. The American system was well suited to an agrarian, frontier society, but as the industrial revolution accelerated in the the 19th century new challenges arose. The settling of a savage wilderness and the management of farms and ranches required a certain amount of genuine courage and honest labor, and the men who sacrificed the most and worked the hardest were often the ones who were most directly rewarded. With the rise of the factory system and finance capitalism, however, hard work and sacrifice were undertaken by an impoverished laboring class, while the benefits went exclusively to the decadent industrial elite. This new elite found success in worker exploitation and financial manipulation, not in any honest virtues. The founding vision of America slowly faded throughout the 19th century with the growth of industry, but the Civil War marked the most decisive turning point. This conflict saw the victory of the industrialist and capitalist North over the agrarian South, and with the defeat of the Confederacy also came the defeat of the America of the Founding Fathers.

The industrial elites of the 19th century looked down on their laborers as had the old hereditary aristocracy. The sinful pride and disdain for manual labor exhibited by the 19th century industrial elites caused many honest working people to fall into the trap of Jewish Marxism. The greedy, prideful, and uncharitable factory bosses and the bankers that supported them did next to nothing to combat child labor, unsafe working conditions, and environmental destruction. It is no wonder that such an exploited class of people would be receptive to the Marxist message of worker liberation. But we must be absolutely clear on this point: Marxism is an ideology without Christian virtue, for it is based on promoting the vice of envy. The greed and pride of the industrial elite are sinful, and Marxist envy and hatred of legitimate authority are equally sinful. Faced with the realization that both laissez-faire capitalism and Marxist socialism encourage vice, the Christian might despair of finding a form of government in which true virtue reigns.

But in early 20th century Europe, a new political movement began, one which sought to mend the rift between the elite and the common man by instilling in both classes a respect for the other. This movement encouraged Humility throughout society. The Humility of the laborer required a respect for legitimate authority in place of Marxist desire to tear down all distinctions. The Humility of the elite required a respect and celebration of manual labor and the contribution that it makes to society. In place of personal pride, this movement encouraged pride in the community and in higher ideals. The different members of the nation were called to work together as one body, each member respecting the duty of the other. This social attitude is very reminiscent of the Christian duty to work together as one body, the members of which have different God-given callings. As the apostle Paul says,

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
-Romans 12:3-8

This new political doctrine, which resembled so closely the Christian vision of society, was National Socialism. This claim is no doubt shocking to those raised on the Jewish lie that National Socialism was an unspeakable evil, but the facts are undeniable. No one would deny that National Socialism promoted a strong respect for legitimate authority and hierarchical meritocracy, but the promotion of an equally strong respect for all useful and honest work, regardless of longstanding social prejudice, is less well known. This respect for honest labor is nowhere more apparent than in the National Socialist film The Triumph of the Will. At 31 min 30 sec of the film, we see a public ceremony where manual labor is celebrated and valorized in the highest terms.

Note that at the beginning of this segment of the film, Hitler salutes the workers with the same gesture and the same greeting of "heil" with which the workers salute their leader. The "seig heil" or "Roman salute" is a way of showing respect without any debasement, as when bowing before a king.

Under National Socialism modest working men are given the same praise and respect as triumphant warriors. Some might argue that Communism also praised the worker in a similar way, but I respond that under Communism the elevation of the worker is part of an effort to destroy the ruling class, along with the family, patriotism and religion. National Socialism, on the other hand, seeks to harmonize the different classes of a society, not destroy them. It recognizes that different levels of ability and affluence will always exist and promotes mutual respect between all classes within a nation. The two sins of pride and envy mark the competing world-views of pagan aristocracy and Marxist egalitarianism. When both sins are sufficiently tempered by Christian virtue, a society emerges in which the lowest form of labor, when done with diligence and honesty, is celebrated by those in high position, and at the same time a just hierarchy is respected and obeyed by the general public.

In closing, I will attempt to answer potential criticisms of my thesis about the inherently Christian nature of National Socialism. To the neo-pagans who insist that National Socialism was a return to pre-Christian Aryan values, I challenge them to point out a single example of ancient pagans valorizing the humble manual laborer. I have never heard of any pagan Europeans including manual laborers in their triumphant military displays. To the Christians who insist that National Socialist Germany somewhat lacked a thoroughly Christian character, I readily concede this. I merely assert that of the forms of government put into practice in the industrial era, National Socialism is the one that most effectively organizes society in accordance with the Christian virtues. And finally to those who argue that nationalism is itself a form of pride and therefore sinful, I respond that while nationalism can lead to pride in some cases, genuine Christian nationalism is not sinful, for it is founded on Humility and Love; Humility towards one's ancestors and self-sacrificial Love towards future generations.

Recent Posts>