We have been conservatives for too long. We’ve been content merely to mitigate the effects of the demonic forces unleashed by revolutionary movements like Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Now, we must become reactionaries. Only by a mass reversion of the West to the apostolic faith can we end this permanent revolution and throw off the rule of Pandemonium.
In ten years, when you think back to the year 2020, which name will come to mind? Maybe it will be Donald Trump or Joseph Biden. Maybe it will be George Floyd or Rayshard Brooks. For me, I’m afraid, it will be Joseph D. Rosenbaum.
A video recorded during the Kenosha protests shows Mr. Rosenbaum—a bald, angry, diminutive man—antagonizing members of a right-wing militia. “Shoot me, [expletive],” he growls. A few hours later, he was shot by 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse.
Following his death, reporters discovered that Mr. Rosenbaum was a serial child rapist. We know that he sexually assaulted eleven boys. How many others did he violate without being caught? We can only imagine, though I don’t suggest you try.
One can’t say for sure what happened to Mr. Rosenbaum after his death. We can pray that he repented in his final moments—that he asked God for the mercy that he so desperately needed. If not, surely Mr. Rosenbaum will be counted among those of whom Our Lord said, “It were better for him if that man had not been born.”
But Mr. Rosenbaum’s is more than a cautionary tale. It’s also a symbol—a symbol of the demonic forces unleashed by revolutionary movements like Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
Radical politics and sexual perversion have always gone hand in hand. Think of Nazis like Irma Grese or Soviets like Lavrentiy Beria. Revolutions give these monsters the two things they crave most: unchecked power and moral authority. They may indulge every depraved, sadistic pleasure they like. It can always be justified in the name of the Revolution.
This link between sex and death is not incidental either. It’s the very incarnation of the revolutionary spirit. Juan Donoso Cortes observed,
When God wishes to chastise a nation for its sins, He enslaves it under the dominion of voluptuous men, who, stupefied with the opium of sensual gratification, can only be aroused from their brutal insensibility by the fumes of blood…. Revolutionary France worshiped at the same time prostitution and death; while prostitution triumphed in her temples and at her altars, death was worshipped in public places and on her scaffolds.
These sadists need the Revolution, and the Revolution needs its sadists. The two exist symbiotically.
Take the obvious example of France. Robespierre once remarked that the Reign of Terror was “nothing but justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is thus an emanation of virtue,” which is all well and good in theory. But who’s going to inflict that terror? Who will drag the countesses and Carmelites to the guillotine? Find a man like Jean-Baptiste Carrier, who ordered the Drowning at Nantes.
Adolphe Thiers called Carrier “one of those inferior and violent spirits, who in the excitement of civil wars become monsters of cruelty and extravagance.” Yet civil war doesn’t always make monsters. Sometimes the fumes of blood simply draw them, fully formed, out from the shadows.
Still, Thiers is half right. In the course of any civil war, the Greses and the Berias, the Carriers and the Rosenbaums, will infect their comrades. The ends justify the means; that is the very definition of a revolution. And so this monster, for whom no means is too cruel or excessive, is hailed as the model partisan. His fellows stand in awe of his singular dedication to the Revolution which seems to override his very conscience. Few will realize that he hasn’t got a conscience to override. Those who do balk at such barbarism. They can only hope that it will subside once the Revolution has triumphed. But that pact with the Devil can never be undone.
The Soviet Union is a perfect study in how the Revolution can become legitimized, and how anarchy itself is institutionalized. When a Yugoslav communist complained to Joseph Stalin that his Red Army had raped millions of women during their march to Berlin, he merely shrugged. “Can’t he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman…?” He knew that true revolutionaries do not—cannot—bow to the morals of those slaves and prisoners they seek to liberate.
Speaking of Stalin, there’s no better example of how the ethic of thuggery permeates the entire revolutionary movement. In its early years, he and his mentor Vladimir Lenin would execute bank robberies and kidnappings to finance the activities of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), the precursor to the Communist Party. Any crime could be justified in the name of the Revolution, even crimes against the very proletariat they claimed to serve.
We see the same ethic at play in cities like Portland and Kenosha. The ideologues of the Black Lives Matter movement justify looting as “reparations,” even when the businesses are owned by black families. A BLM organizer named Ariel Atkins has said, “I don’t care if someone decides to loot, because that makes sure that person eats or has clothes.” Of course, the looter could get a job. But, obviously, that isn’t what Ms. Atkins means. She means they can eat without quitting the field. They can protest by day and pillage by night. Looting allows activists to go full-time.
The Revolution doesn’t sleep.
It should be obvious by now that the “protests” in Oregon and Wisconsin have nothing to do with black lives or livelihoods. It has now become a justification for crime, a near occasion of sin—murder, theft, and rape, to name just three.
No revolution can succeed without its useful idiots. When protesters erected a guillotine outside the home of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, I thought of Louis Philippe II, the Duke of Orléans.
Louis Philippe was a disciple of Rousseau, a high-ranking Freemason, and a notorious libertine. He used his position as head of a cadet branch of the royal family to promote the French Revolution. He sat in the National Assembly as a deputy for Paris, caucusing with the Jacobins. He bankrolled much of the early revolutionary activity, and his residence, the Palais Royal, became the Jacobins’ de facto headquarters. Once the French Revolution was in full swing, he shed his titles and his family name, laughably styling himself “Philippe Égalité.” He voted to execute his own cousin, King Louis XVI, who was guillotined on January 21, 1793. Less than a year later, on November 6, Monsieur Égalité met the same fate.
Mr. Bezos, a longtime donor to progressive causes, quickly aligned his company with the Black Lives Matter movement. In June, Amazon gave tens of millions of dollars to a number of “anti-racist” organizations, including Black Lives Matter, Inc. He later published a snarky post on Instagram, saying he was “happy to lose” customers over his support for the left-wing insurrectionists.
Now protesters have erected a guillotine outside Mr. Bezos’s mansion in Washington, D.C. They say his vocal support for Black Lives Matter doesn’t excuse the fact that he shortchanges his employees. The protest’s organizer, a former Amazon employee named Chris Smalls, asked the crowd: “Give a good reason why we don’t deserve a $30 minimum wage when this man makes $4,000 a second.”
Historians can’t decide whether the Duke of Orléans was a fool or a coward. Was he stupid enough to believe his fellow regicides would spare a Prince of the Blood? Or was he simply hoping to appease the revolutionaries by throwing his poor cousin under the bus? I’m sure the same will be said of men like Mr. Bezos.
Of course, we pray that no harm befalls him. Yet our oligarchs have bankrolled these radicals for decades. “Woke capitalism” is the engine driving the Revolution in this country. If they think the new sans-culottes will show them gratitude and mercy, they’ll have earned their fate—just as Philippe Égalité earned his.
“How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been,” C.S. Lewis noted, and “how gloriously different are the saints.” The tyrants-in-training of BLM and Antifa are of a piece with the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, and the Jacobins. Their animus towards white, heterosexual men isn’t meaningfully different from Hitler’s hatred of Jews and gypsies. Their contempt for the wealthy is virtually indistinguishable from Lenin’s or Stalin’s. Their hatred of all things wholesome and sacred is strikingly like Robespierre’s.
The difference is that Hitler and Lenin and Robespierre had the chance to act on their hatred. BLM and Antifa haven’t—at least, not yet. And they all trace their lineage back to one especially bright angel who decided that it was better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.
Here we come to the heart of the matter. Revolution is demonic because demons were the first revolutionaries. In Paradise Lost, John Milton gave the name “Pandemonium” to Satan’s capital. It means “all-demon-place,” and that’s precisely what the Revolution produces. Once the old order has been destroyed and man’s base passions have been unleashed, they can’t be contained again. Our existence becomes a continual offering of innocent life to these monsters.
This is always the way with revolutions. When the RSDLP’s Menshevik faction voted to pursue a more peaceful path to power, they expelled the extremist Bolsheviks from the party. We know how that story ends. Like the Duke of Orléans, the Mensheviks thought they could achieve a moderate revolution. They tore down a dam to water their garden and were shocked when their house was swept away.
So it goes. Radical ideologues empower men the depths of whose evil they themselves cannot begin to fathom. They’re like schoolgirls who play with Ouija boards, never suspecting there might really be demons lurking within—not, of course, until they meet them face to face.
Reflecting on the horrors of Revolution, which had ravaged his own beloved country, François-René de Chateaubriand declared: “No, I shall never believe that I write upon the tomb of France. I cannot be persuaded that the day of mercy will not follow the day of vengeance.” Yet he also made clear that revolution is not something external to us, but that, like sin, it’s a consequence of our own decisions:
A revolution, prepared by our moral corruption and errors, breaks out in our midst. In the name of the law, we overturned religion and morality; we renounced experience and the customs of our fathers; we defiled the tombs of our ancestors, the only solid basis for any government, to found upon uncertain reason a society with neither past nor future.
This has been the condition of Western man for the better part of five centuries. How do we break this cycle? Only by an act of perfect contrition—a mass reversion of the West to the Catholic and apostolic faith—can we end this permanent revolution. Only by taking arms with Saint Michael, beneath the banner of the Sacred Heart, may we throw off the rule of Pandemonium.
We have been conservatives for too long. We’ve been content merely to mitigate the effects of revolution. Now, we must become reactionaries. We must rebuild Christendom, not merely curate the ruins. What we need now is a counter-revolution—“the opposite of a revolution,” as Maistre said.
Christ the King must reign once again over all things spiritual and temporal. We must confess the unconditional sovereignty of God over His creation.
But we must begin with a radical conversion of ourselves to the Christian faith. The law of love must reign in our own hearts before it can rule in the world. We must be true prayer warriors, the shock troops of spiritual combat—perfectly disciplined in mind, body, and spirit.
Never doubt for a moment that we are the cause of this revolution, no less than Antifa or Black Lives Matter. Our disobedience empowers the demons of Revolution just as much as theirs, perhaps even more so.
Remember, if you’re not on the side of the angels, you’re under the thrall of demons. There is no DMZ.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Republished with gracious permission from Crisis Magazine (September 2020).
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The featured image is a detail from “The Pandemonium” (1841) by John Martin (1789–1854) and is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. It has been brightened for clarity.