The best wishes come naturally: Merry Christmas to all my readers!
But the worst fears aren’t far behind. For, just as we celebrate the Incarnation of Our Lord and thus the birth of history’s greatest civilisation, we remind ourselves that a new, surrogate, civilisation has taken over.
It’s animated by various passions, but the principal one is the urge to erase Christmas from public consciousness. Barring that, the new lot are willing to settle for merely vulgarising Christmas, ridding it of any sacred meaning and reducing it to a combination of shopping spree and drinking bout.
Many deeds, both great and wicked, were done in the name of Christ. He redeemed original sin but He didn’t expunge it, thereby turning people into little angels. Doing so would have eliminated free will, turning people not so much into angels flapping their wings as into puppets jerking at the end of a string.
Freedom to make choices presupposed the possibility that some choices would be good, some bad and some downright evil. Yet at least man still retained the ability to know the difference – absolute standards of virtue existed, and they were recognised, if not always followed, by all.
Our relativist, anomic, materialist modernity consigned such absolute standards to oblivion. As a result, it has undone most of the great deeds of Christendom and outdone most of the wicked ones.
Some wicked deeds were justified by mock-Christian demagoguery, along the lines of liberté, égalité, fraternité. Modernity served those beautiful things on a platter, except that, on closer examination, that dish turned out to contain piles of severed heads.
The 20th century, the first completely atheist one in history, continued the tendency to invoke such mock-Christian allusions as millenarian happiness, while ratcheting up hostility to actual Christianity. Severed heads began to number in millions, not thousands.
The gurus of the new order, from Marx and Engels to Lenin and Stalin, sputtered hatred of Christianity so profusely that the toxic spittle engulfed continents. Whole groups, social, racial or ethnic, were now slated for destruction irrespective of any individual wrongdoing.
This was what Prof. Rummel called democide, murder by category. Modernity might not have invented that evil, but it certainly raised it to a level never seen before.
Democide may or may not equate genocide, murder by specifically ethnic or racial category. In that sense, all genocide is democide, but not all democide is necessarily genocide.
Anti-Christian modernity excelled at both. In the name of universal equality, communists murdered all sorts of categories equally: social, cultural, religious, professional and also sometimes ethnic. The Nazis eschewed even mock-Christian demagoguery, replacing it with straight racism justified by unapologetic paganism wedded to national, or rather racial, self-interest.
They replaced all-encompassing democide with more narrowly targeted genocide, an attempt to eradicate whole ethnic and racial groups, mostly though not exclusively Jews. Unlike the Bolsheviks, the Nazis didn’t persecute Christians specifically. But, like the Bolsheviks, they didn’t bother to conceal their hatred of Christianity and its every tenet.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ, Europe is again witnessing genocide at its very heart. Putin and his acolytes have been unequivocal in their stated goal: unless the Ukrainians overthrow their government, ditch their sovereignty and surrender, they’ll all be exterminated.
The methods have changed since communist execution cellars, Nazi gas chambers and concentration camps favoured by both. In fact, they are more reminiscent of Holodomor, the artificial famine of 1931-1932 that killed by starvation some five million Ukrainians, conservatively estimated.
Those murders, however, were committed in the grey area between democide and genocide: it was mostly Ukrainians who were killed, but not specifically for being Ukrainian. Their crime was their love of freedom and consequent refusal to submit to collectivised agriculture in particular and communist despotism in general. Those who repudiated their opposition were allowed to live.
Putin, on the other hand, targets the whole population, just like the Nazis did with the Jews. But it’s cold, not gas chambers, that the Russians have chosen as their genocidal weapon. Unable to stand up on their hind legs and defeat the Ukrainian army like fighting men, they instead fight like mass murderers.
Russian rockets are aimed at the Ukraine’s infrastructure, especially her capacity to keep her civilian population warm during the typically inclement winter. Destroying power stations and dams in no way degrades the fighting capacity of the Ukrainian army. It merely kills civilians, in their thousands at the moment, in what the Russians hope will become millions soon.
If this is substantively different from the Holocaust, the difference escapes me. In fact, if anything, the Nazis had an advantage over Putin’s murderers, that of honesty.
They didn’t claim to be the Jews’ brothers. They didn’t insist their mission was Christian charity towards the Jews. They honestly said the Jews were sub-human vermin who had to be exterminated to preserve the racial purity of the Volk.
Top marks for both honesty and monstrosity then. However, while scoring high on monstrosity, the Russians fail honesty altogether.
In a recent TV address, Putin said: “There’s nothing to accuse us of. We’ve always seen Ukrainians as a brotherly people and I still think so. What’s happening now is a tragedy, but it’s not our fault.”
Just imagine, if you can, Hitler declaring that, as a pious Christian, he had always seen Jews as brothers and continued to do so in spite of the unfolding tragic events that weren’t his fault.
Yet Hitler didn’t and couldn’t claim anything of the sort. That’s why he was only monstrous, while Putin with his Christian pretensions is also emetic.
Christ warned against such people: “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.”
This is my worst fear this Christmas: that many shall be deceived, and the will to thwart evil hiding under a Christian mask shall dissipate. But on the eve of one of our most sublime events, I can’t leave you on this frightening note.
So, at the risk of repeating myself, a very merry Christmas to all of you. And perhaps, as you raise a glass of festive champagne, you’ll spare a prayer for those who are dying for their freedom – and yours.