Magazine article The American Conservative

OLD and RIGHT

Magazine article The American Conservative

OLD and RIGHT

Article excerpt

Belsen and Buchenwald are no isolated phenomena, no absurd anachronisms, no strange monsters born out of time in a generation of humanitarianism and piety. The so-called century of the common man is one in which there has been a complete retrogression from the humanitarian ideals nourished by our fathers. More common men have been tortured, more done to death more brutally, more starved, more mutilated, more condemned to rot their souls in prison in 20th century Europe than at any time since the Thirty Years War.

The century of the common man is the century of his crucifixion at Vimy and Passchendaele, at Gallipoli, Ypres, and Mons, in Moscow, in Warsaw, and Stalingrad, at Licide and Guernica, in Vienna and Berlin as well as Auschwitz, at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, in Athens and Rome, Rotherhithe, Poplar, and Rotterdam, and all along the weary track from Tunis back to Alamein. In numberless and nameless places he lies forgotten except by those who loved him, and his survivors still pursue the unending struggle for power in the name of some race or ideology.

The cause or occasion of the revolution in our times has been the coming of the machine to human lives. But its real challenge, like that of all such periods, is spiritual rather than political and economic. The economic and political tensions which exist on the surface are merely symptomatic of the deep tension between modern scientific knowledge and power and our traditional ethic and culture. The various "isms" which have afflicted the modern state are not so much truly political phenomena as new religions. …

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