By John-Henry Westen

Michael O'BrienMarch 14, 2008 ( – Canadian Catholic author Michael O’Brien has made available to his latest essay which centers on the current “moral anarchy” and the general inability of society to see it, even those who embrace morality. The blindness, he says, is due to compromise.

O’Brien quotes Plato referring to states in which an excess of freedoms severed from responsibility have degenerated into open anarchy, which in turn precipitates tyranny. He asks: “But what about a ‘republic’ in which moral anarchy reigns in a matrix of prosperity, order, and apparent civic freedom? Can democracy be undone spiritually without a shot being fired within its frontiers?”

“Indeed it can; indeed it is happening. Yet the psychology of perception, our own unrecognized consciousness-shift from the moral cosmos to the materialist cosmos now surrounding us, tells us that our situation is basically stable. We admit there are problems, even serious problems, but we feel confident that our freedom is intact, and that all grave threats come from exterior sources.

“Ours is a self-blinded condition, a willing cooperation with the very thing that is killing us—a slow and complex process that involves many pleasures of bodily and emotional appetite and the more dangerous pleasures of intellectual and spiritual pride.

In his preface to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes: “The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see the final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”

“Who are these people? Did we elect them? In all probability we did, and we did so because they understood human nature sufficiently to offer us many apparent ‘goods’ in a package-deal containing the great evils that are an essential part of their agenda.

“The very quality of our cooperation with the terms of the deal should tell us something about ourselves: we have come to accept as normal a complicity, albeit reluctant, with the most hideous crimes and endless self-justifications fostered by our governments, which have become aggressively materialistic in political philosophy (where there is any conscious philosophy at all).

  Our compliance is not enforced by starvation or the threat of torture chambers, but is rooted deep in the psyche, neo-Pavlovian and passive, for there are few things that condition human judgment as powerfully as security and dread, pleasure and the fear of pain, real or imagined.

“In the 21st century tyranny has mutated into a new form of “soft” totalitarian materialism that is promulgated and enforced not through jackboots or concentration camps, but through cultural and economic pressures of unprecedented power.

O’Brien quotes Pope Benedict XVI telling politicians to avoid the seductions of false “lesser evil” arguments.  Such arguments, he says, end “in the spread of the conviction that the ‘weighing of benefits’ is the only method of moral discernment, and that the common good is synonymous with compromise . . . In reality, if compromise can constitute a legitimate balancing of different particular interests, it becomes a shared ill whenever it involves agreements that are harmful to the nature of man.” Benedict concludes his remarks with the warning of Christ that “if salt loses its flavour, it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

 O’Brien continues: “What is now occurring globally is a new wave of the original forces that launched the tide of the French Revolution, followed by successive revolutions that increasingly secularized the human community. Then came the great waves of the Communist revolution, Fascism, and so forth, wave after wave that reshaped human societies and institutions-indeed the very perceptions of life itself. We are presently in the midst of the worst and most dangerous wave of all, the tsunami of worldwide Materialism.

“Resistance will cost much in terms of sacrifice, for it asks men of good will and good conscience to stand firm in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds . . . The manifestations of the struggle vary from continent to continent, but are the same in essence: mankind is presently involved in a worldwide war against the eternal value of the human person.”

“(S)wiftly we fall into fractures between the interior and exterior life, forgetting (or never having learned) that individuals and nations alike cannot long sustain two contradictory modes of interaction with the world: for example, one set of rules about human life for domestic policy, and a different set of rules for foreign policy. The interior and the exterior should be one, as well as positive and morally true, otherwise disintegration follows.

“You are presented with a choice. Threatened by a foreign leader with a Koran in one hand and in his other a nuclear weapon, you can choose to elect as your own national leader a figure with a Bible in one hand and in his other a nuclear weapon. Which of the two would you want to determine the future of the world? Oh, and as a supplementary detail, both of them are willing to drop the bomb on the other.

“Recoiling in horror, you might then turn to an alternative set of candidates, thinking you must now elect a leader who, like you, abhors nuclear weapons. He may or may not have a Bible in one hand, but it is more likely he will have The Humanist Manifesto (a sacred text of Materialism) in one hand and a suction tube in the other.

“Are these our only choices?” says O’Brien. “If so, this is no choice at all. It is a piece of deadly theater.”

To read O’Brien’s full essay click here: (pdf document)