The American Mind frequently hosts voices that you will not hear in “mainstream” discourse. We do so in order to reveal the full panoply of the American mind, especially among the young, to our readers. As what was once considered “mainstream” rapidly hollows out, we publish writers representative of often-conflicting subgroups notable for their role in, and reflection of, the intellectual ferment of our era. This essay, presented pseudonymously by an author otherwise unknown to us, is representative of a growing strain of searching, if often reactionary, thought among young religious conservatives. Considered thoughts and arguments in reply are always welcome.—Eds.
Man, made in the image of the Triune God, has been considered by philosophers and theologians for millennia to be tripartite in nature. In the era before Christ, Plato wrote that man’s soul is composed of reason, spirit, and appetite. Drawing from that theory of the soul, Plato further identified society itself as having three classes corresponding to those parts of the soul: the philosopher, the warrior, and the worker.
Since then, Greco-Roman and Christian man has developed a relentless yet salutary obsession with identifying tripartitions in himself and in his world. This litany of threes includes: the division of man’s goods into the spiritual, bodily, and external; of his psychic faculties into intellect, will, and memory; of his moral virtues into prudence, fortitude, and temperance (with justice to balance them); of his spiritual virtues into faith, hope, and charity.
Understanding, wisdom, and knowledge; intellectual, irascible, and concupiscible appetites; the devil, the flesh, and the world; obedience, chastity, and poverty; those who pray, those who fight, those who work; church, military, and business; social, defense, and fiscal conservatism; Huckabee, McCain, and Romney; and so on, and so on, world without end. In fact, this tripartite order of things has also been recognized outside of Western civilization (see the Hindu caste system), which suggests it has universal applicability.
Of the aforementioned triads, though, it is the institutions of church, military, and business which will concern us most going forward. Broadly understood, these are the bulwarks underlying political power, the institutions which rule in the spheres of culture, security, and the economy.
It is therefore worthwhile to draw out how similar they are in constitution. Each tends to organize according to Dunbar’s number, a unit of 150 people—the maximum among which a stable social network can be maintained. We’ll call this group of 150 a Dunbar going forward. Our institutions generally start with a Dunbar of commoner men (laymen, enlisted, simple workers) united under a first-level leader (pastor, captain, manager), into a basic unit (parish, company, office). A Dunbar of first-level leaders are united under a primary leader (bishop, general, CEO) to form the principal group (diocese, division, corporation), which is more or less independent.
A Dunbar—or more if the country is larger—of these primary leaders may be further grouped under a bishops’ conference, high command, or stock exchange. At the absolute summit, a Dunbar of these are headed by the pope of the Universal Church, or, theoretically, can be under an emperor or part of a world-wide exchange system. The other notable class, which can exist in every level of each institution’s hierarchy, is the specialist. These specialists are the monks or religious, knights or special operations soldiers, and merchants or bankers. They will be of particular interest for us later.
You will notice that the above is only a loose and semi-idealized description of the important societal institutions, and that it has two large deviations from current reality. For one, the Church has been replaced as the cultural hegemon by the media-educational complex—the educational hierarchy being roughly analogous to the ordinary church hierarchy, and the mass media being analogous to the religious orders. For another, the generals of today have been completely subordinated to the central government in a way that the feudal warlords of the past weren’t. In many countries, they have also been separated from domestic law enforcement and the degenerate counterpart of the knights—the secret policemen. These changes bring us to our next section.
Economies of Skill
Right-wing commentators—those who wish to preserve the vestiges of, or restore, Christendom—have been lamenting the decline of the West for years and even centuries. This civilizational decline has been formulated in a multitude of ways: the descent from Catholicism to Protestantism to liberalism to communism to cultural Marxism; from 1517 to 1789 to 1917 to 1968; from feudalism to mercantilism to capitalism to socialism to the welfare state in economics; from Catholicism to Protestantism to deism to atheism to nihilistic relativism in religion; from imperialism to colonialism to nationalism to internationalism to xenophilia in foreign policy; from limited monarchy to absolutism to republicanism to dictatorship to democracy in government. However it is precisely expressed, the change fueled by pride, sensuality, and avarice is there, and, as some will tell you, it’s all the fault of William Ockham.
Right-wing commentators also point out that this decline has been masked by a concomitant prodigious advance in technology. Let’s explore how the two interacted. In the Middle Ages, both resources and expertise—or scale and skill—were necessary for the effective wielding of that era’s tech. The drivers of moral customs were learned clergy and theologians backed by the institutional might of the Church; the coercive apparatus was shaped by knights trained from childhood in the art of war; and contractual relations were set by guilds whose members had to go through years of apprenticeship. These were not to last, though.
Instead, revolutionaries rose up, enabled by technology whose use required neither scale nor skill. Though these technologies did not necessarily spell the end of the old order (the previous establishment could and did use them, too), they did make it possible for it to be challenged, a possibility which the revolutionaries greedily took advantage of. Their printing presses allowed independent content creators, no matter how farcical their ideas may have been, to dispute the established cultural hegemony of the Church; their gunpowder-equipped armies of novice soldiers overwhelmed knights on the battlefield; and their capitalist business arrangements superseded the guild system. Thus the revolutionaries, or the Left, gained their foothold.
With this beachhead in place, the Left was able to build the necessary new institutions when industrial age technologies, which required scale but not skill, arrived. And build it did. By the mid 20th Century, mass media midwits, put on the mic and camera by national broadcast stations, glossy movie studios, and large record companies, created a monolithic culture. States levied mass militaries, and equipped them with guns, tanks, warships, and aircraft which required staggering amounts of resources to develop and produce. Corporate colossi such as Standard Oil, General Motors, and Microsoft, funded with money created by central banks, inundated the world with their goods created via mass production. With these behemoth institutions standing so firmly and resolutely over the Western landscape, it looked like the Left would continue to wield power through them indefinitely—the End of History, as it were.
However, something funny happened. In the early 21st Century, new technologies began to allow the ostensibly-dead authentic Right to rise again in the digital age, and history resumed, drawing us swiftly into its throes. The mass media, over-politicized and aimed at audiences too broad, is declining, and a coterie of content creators with loyal niche audiences—whether they be YouTubers, podcasters, Twitter trolls, bloggers, or cartoon frogs on the internet—are filling the void with their own narratives.
The finances of governments are in shambles, and corporations are getting woke and going broke. While cryptocurrencies and smaller independent businesses have not disrupted these two yet, they are certainly chomping on the bit to do so. In each of these arenas, the mass institutions of the Left are ailing, and the new technologies of the digital age are permitting skilled operators on the Right to fight them.
You may ask, though, “Isn’t the Left using those technologies just as much as the Right is?” True enough, but to use these technologies well, one must live in accord with reality. The Left Can’t Meme, because its ideas are risible. Their men can’t fight as elite soldiers, because they do not have the required discipline or fortitude. They won’t be able to take advantage of the emerging economic order, because their businesses and gibs machines will fail without having monopoly statuses or governments to bail them out.
As long the Right plays its cards right, with prudence and courage, it will eventually win due to the fact that its political philosophy and its attendant lifestyle are in accord with reality as God made it. Therefore, it’s probable that the Right will seize this golden opportunity which God has given it through these new technologies, capitalize on their attendant Economies of Skill, win back society, and solidify this victory by establishing new large-scale institutions which also maintain the necessity of its members to be virtuous, thus completing the cycle and returning the West to a society whose power is applied through both scale and skill.
The Chastisement Before the Chastisement
Catholic doctors and seers can also give us fascinating insights into our current times. The first of these we’ll mention here is the division of the Church’s history into seven ages. These ages are 1) the Age of Apostles from Pentecost to the destruction of Jerusalem; 2) the Age of Martyrs from 70 AD to the Edict of Milan; 3) the Age of Doctors from 313 to Charlemagne; 4) the Age of Christendom from 800 to the Reformation; 5) the Age of Apostasy starting from 1517 and ending with the Great Chastisement; 6) the Age of Peace from the reigns of the Holy Pope and Great Monarch to the End Times; and 7) the Age of Antichrist—who we may expect to embody the worst of our world’s tendencies of false religion, ethnonarcissism, and revolution—from the Antichrist’s lifetime to the end of the world. From this explication, one can easily discern that we are currently in the Age of Apostasy.
So, is the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic the Great Chastisement that will bring the Age of Apostasy to an end? Well, in the aftermath of the Great Chastisement, the Holy Pope (with the support of a Great Council akin to the Council of Trent) and Great Monarch are prophesied to bring the vast majority of the world to the Faith by subduing the West’s Revolution and converting the pagan nations along with the remaining Islamic holdouts. It looks like the world is moving into a situation where that could happen.
In the Western nations, which are still the undisputed military powers of the world, we see a Western European coalition led by the United States facing an Eastern European bloc led by Russia. In the Islamic nations (will the Middle East return to one day being the center of religion and culture?), we see Sunnis led by Saudi Arabia versus Shiites led by Iran. And in the unbaptized nations, which are the rising economic powers, we see China surging against a ring of competing Asian countries (perhaps eventually led by India, the other great Asian unbaptized civilization). Because of this worldwide powder keg which has shaped up, it’s plausible that now is the time for the Great Chastisement to bring the spark.
On the other hand, the Church’s influence in the world is at a nadir, and the Right is not ready to rule. How could the Restoration begin from such humble environs?
It can’t. And this is where the coronavirus pandemic comes in.
Instead of being the Great Chastisement itself, we can think of the pandemic as the Little Chastisement, or the Chastisement Before the Chastisement. While chastisements can be truly terrible in their effects, God mercifully bestows them upon those whom he loves for good reasons. In this case one of them, we can believe, is to give breathing room for the emerging Restoration.
On the negatory level, we can see this Restoration’s chief opponent—the Establishment—being waylaid right now. Stock markets are wrecked, economies are paralyzed, sportsball is canceled, juvenile jails are closed, healthcare systems are swamped above capacity, and porous borders are tightened. There’s no telling right now just how low the Establishment will be brought.
On the positive level, among other things, online education and work are being normalized. This is big. Americans will cut down on the great burden of commuting. Without needing to live near major cities for jobs, families will spread out to areas with cheap real estate. And children and college students will be propagandized much less effectively than they were in person. Families are staying home with each other, and communities are banding together.
It appears, then, that now is the Right’s time to rebuild in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, much as the Holy Pope and Great Monarch will, it is said, reconstruct civilization in the aftershocks of the Great Chastisement. This is hopefully the moment to lay fertile soil for the coming of those two epochal men.
What Is to Be Done?
What precisely can we do? If you’re the Holy Pope, you might want to start drafting your edicts. If you’re the Great Monarch, you’ll probably want to gather your court. Chances are, if you’re reading this, though, you’re neither of them. So let’s start with what the least exalted of us can do.
If you’re a child, obey your parents in their legitimate commands, ignore everything you are taught in school, and prepare for your adulthood to the extent that is reasonable.
If you’re a woman, aspire to tradwifehood. Continuing our fixation with threes, the life of a tradwife boils down to being a trusted spiritual counselor for your husband, managing your outward comportment with feminine aplomb, and being the headmistress of your children’s education. The archetypes for those roles are the virgin, the lover, and the mother. Since you can see those roles are contradictory if taken literally, there’s no need to try being all three in actuality. Holding them as ideals is sufficient.
If you’re a man, do your best to become a patriarch. The essential duties of the patriarch are to lead his household spiritually, protect his family, and provide his dependents with the necessary material goods. Prayer, training, work, and reading are the ordinary ways one improves his ability to do each. Becoming active in, and possibly ascending the ladder of, the Church, the military, and the business world are the usual ways you can fan out and contribute to society. Your archetypes to strive for are the cleric, the warrior, and the merchant.
All of the above advice is cliché throughout right-wing internet thought. That’s because it’s correct. Also common among the right-wing web is the exhortation to get together a community of like-minded virtuous men and form a Mannerbund. What is novel in my essay will be my propositions on how to form two particular types of Mannerbund.
First, I’ll sketch out a modest group which most of us are capable of forming. We can call it the Saturday Society, although the “society” part makes it sound more formal than it really is. Basically, it would be a group composed of young men intent on bettering themselves spiritually, physically, and materially through prayer, exercise, and work.
But where does “Saturday” come in? Well, for this society to be anything other than a hodgepodge group of guys who independently do the above listed mundane activities, they’ll have to meet and do things together. Saturday, as a day when most do not work, would be an ideal time for that. So what exactly would they be doing together on these Saturdays? The first thing they would do, and the other main reason Saturday was chosen, is the First Saturday Devotion. This would be done because it is an especially powerful devotion and because Our Lady specifically asked us to do it.
On the second Saturday of the month, a group work-out, training session, or sports game would be conducted. On the third Saturday, they can do charitable work together. Thus, by doing those three, they can bond together through the application of their habits of prayer, exercise, and work in a way that benefits not just them, but the community and even the world.
Now, here are some suggestions on how to recruit for this Society. If you are reading this and interested in forming a local version of this Society, it’s likely that you have friends who would also be interested. Start with them. Beyond friends and their networks, I’d suggest going to the Catholic young adult events which most dioceses have. There, talk and befriend people (they’re usually nice and the type of people you’d want to befriend anyway), and once you get a handle on that scene, throw out the idea of the Society to the guys who you think would be good fits.
Do the same in the gyms you work out at or in your professional circles, although in those places you’ll likely find it harder to get prospects to join a Society so explicitly Catholic. If you can’t find many takers, it’s no problem. There’s no inherent reason why this group would need to have a multitude of members.
A New Brotherhood
In contrast, my second proposed Mannerbund will need to be organized more thoughtfully. This group is much more ambitious in scope, and its creation will require the expertise of a relatively accomplished person. I trust that one of the American Mind’s august readers, or someone that they know, will be up to the task.
Drawing on the demonstrated importance of and need for influence in cultural, security, and economic matters, this Mannerbund will be composed of the men pound-for-pound most capable of operating the levers of power in those zones—the specialists, who are the lifeblood of the bodies which they serve. In short, this dedicated brotherhood will be a religious order, chivalric legion, and banking guild all rolled into one. It sounds wildly ambitious, but it’s been done before; see one Knights Templar.
However, I’m not proposing the revival of the Templars. Instead, this will be a new brotherhood, one that has actually been described by visionaries as an indispensable aid to the Holy Pope and Great Monarch. And to receive the added graces which it will need for the upcoming Age of Mary, it will be dedicated to her Immaculate Heart. We shall therefore call it the Brotherhood of the Immaculate Heart, and it will intend to be the lifeblood flowing from her heart, acting as her instrument in spreading her ever-abundant graces throughout the world.
To see how it should be organized, we will first have to describe what ends it will be ordered toward. In an ultimate sense, it will be, as all things should be, for the greater glory of God. More particularly, it will do so by aiming to assist in establishing the social reign of Christ the King and the queenship of His Holy Mother. Even more specifically, it will do it by aiding authorities in the cultural, military, and economic aspects of political life. This, I believe, would be the best way for those who are called to such to fulfill God’s holy will.
So here is how it will operate in those three spheres. First, the religious aspect of the Brotherhood will naturally take the lead in cultural affairs. As this brotherhood will be comprised of skilled, properly-formed friars, it will be well-suited to take advantage of the previously mentioned Economies of Skill in the media landscape. Blogs, podcasts, web-courses, online comments, and low-production videos will be its bread and butter at first. If it expands to the size needed to publish traditional mass media and run schools, it may consider doing that as well. This will all, of course, be in support of reverent liturgies and the appropriate art and architecture that go with them. And while this cultural engagement will take place wherever the Brotherhood is stationed, we may anticipate that its primary field of action will be in Asia, where the brothers would be missionaries to the great pagan nations.
The chivalric element of the Brotherhood would be much the same as the religious. Its occupation will be security concerns; and it will also leverage Economies of Skill by being special operations soldiers, which are so crucial in today’s battlefields, themselves; by being proficient in 4th-Generation Warfare; by using cheap, easily obtainable weapons; and possibly by integrating drones into their arsenals. Its primary burden will assuredly be in protecting innocents from radical Islam.
Again, the banking facet of the Brotherhood will have parallels to the other two. It will have its proper subject (economics); its particular skills (business expertise and perhaps the pioneering of cryptocurrency usage); its primary field of action (the lands which formerly comprised Christendom). Its members would investigate and do due diligence on whether clients are worthy of transacting with—whether, in particular, they are sufficiently pious and upright.
A question arises as to whether the Brotherhood should have a female branch. Maybe. But the Sisterhood, in keeping with its feminine nature, would have to be a bit different from the Brotherhood. Its nuns would best be more contemplative than the brothers. Instead of protecting others’ bodily goods through soldierly means, its nurses would do so through medical care. And, avoiding the high-stakes world of finance, its charitable organization would focus on the simpler methods of giving alms.
If the Sisterhood will be optional, though, auxiliaries will be integral. First: these oblates, reservists, and part-timers will be needed to enhance numbers. Second, the Brotherhood’s mission will involve engaging with the outside world, which is where these auxiliaries spend their daily lives. Third, auxiliary membership will be a boon for those who are unable to commit to the full life of the Brotherhood, yet would like to do their most for society. Fourth, since birth-rates are in a catastrophic state throughout the world, it will be best to have affiliates who are able to marry and rectify our deficiency of descendants. Fifth, it is often joked that religious life is the final true solution to the incel and cat-lady questions; if persons of those two groups are not fit for complete membership in the Brotherhood or Sisterhood, they can at least find refuge and purpose as auxiliaries.
With these basic functions and classes listed, we may now give a more concrete outline of the organization. Like most specialist groups, it will be on the smaller side in numbers. Each site—which will simultaneously be a monastery, a fortress, and a bank branch—will be staffed by between nine and 18 full brothers, who all manage to live as religious, knights, and bankers. They will be headed by a superior, who will be flanked by a brother priest to be chaplain of religious affairs, an officer-knight to be captain of security matters, and a managing banker to chair the business operations.
Associated with this small group of brothers there would hopefully be scores of auxiliaries and even more clients from the surrounding community. Once a site reaches more than 18 brothers, it will spin off nine of them and establish a new site. Due to there then being multiple sites, one will have to be designated as the head site. If the Brotherhood grows to be large enough, this cathedral, castle, and corporate headquarters with its grand superior may require the expertise of a bishop, a general, and a CEO. Any more precise plans than these can be decided when the time comes.
Making it Real
So, how could such a grandiose organization be formed in today’s world? In short, it won’t be created by no-names like me (who can, though, create local Saturday Societies, which could become bountiful sources of recruits) scribbling on the internet; it instead will be made with the backing of a multitude of experienced and powerful men. Basically, we will need guys like Fr. Chad Ripperger, Erik Prince, and Peter Thiel to sit down and hammer out a plan. Otherwise, it will become a bunch of eccentric randos LARPing as Templars.
This brings up two other obvious difficulties: will the Establishment allow such an organization to exist? And how will weirdos and feds be kept out? These are interrelated. First, we should note that the Establishment isn’t omnipotent and that it already allows churches, private military companies, and dissident businesses to exist. The principle of religious liberty should shield the Brotherhood from some of the Establishment’s heat. And with the current crisis, Trump in the White House, and potential allies in power, the demand for its suppression is even less likely right now.
Second, and more importantly, it won’t directly oppose the Establishment, but actually cooperate with it in its legitimate exercises of authority. Third, it won’t do anything illegal or displeasing to the feds. You can’t be entrapped if you refuse to do anything illegal. Fourth, membership would require great commitment and competency. Weirdos and feds can’t hack that level of dedication; for the same reason, they haven’t been able to penetrate groups like the FSSP. So, with the Establishment now stretched thin and fearful due to the coronavirus crisis, it may welcome or at least reluctantly accept any help it can get from the Brotherhood in sustaining civilization. The plan is that, when the Establishment inevitably fails, the Brotherhood will be around to aid the Holy Pope and Great Monarch in restoring civilization anew and better than ever.
We on the Right will succeed in doing this. We are the only ones remaining with a true understanding of the tripartite nature of society. We have been gifted by God with the technological means needed for our glorious undertaking. We have been granted the necessary opening for action via the virus. The steps which we must now take are manifest. With the grace of God and the sacrifices of the Brotherhood of the Immaculate Heart, we are guaranteed to slash the standard of Satan, restore Christendom, and crown Christ as King of All Nations. After all, we have been promised, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”