Historic Chinese Secret Societies and Some Strategic Implications

Author’s Note: Some twenty-three years ago, the author was asked to write about certain aspects of historic Chinese culture, especially the history of Secret Societies. This study is presented below with the very important footnote no. 1 to be found in the first paragraph about historical culture and Chinese secret societies. The author believes that the current situation with China abroad might convince us of some deeper matters of strategy and policy. The author emphasizes the high value of Dennis Bloodworth’s 1980 revised text The Chinese Looking Glass, first published in 1966 and now alluded to in footnote no. 1.

25 August 1997

Feast of King St. Louis of France

Dr.Robert D. Hickson

Professor of Strategic and Cultural Studies

United States Air Force Academy

Colorado Springs, Colorado

THE CHINESE-TRIAD PHENOMENON IN EUROPE, IN LIGHT OF THE HISTORY AND STRATEGIC CULTURE OF CHINA

Some strategic-minded, highly intelligent and courageous men whom I know in the America Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have told me that they are most gravely troubled by the actual and potential national-security threats presented to the United States by the Chinese Triads (or Tongs). These FBI agents are tough and unsentimental men; deeply honorable and aware of the subversive “solvents” of our culture and our cultural security. And, they know that the Triads are historic and strategic Chinese secret societies, which are also trans-national criminal syndicatesi, and strategic assets of Chinese national power and of international oligarchical power.

These men say that, compared to the Triads, the “Narco-Trafficantes” from Latin America and the Nigerian syndicates from Africa are mere “pifflers” and “poofery.” For, the Chinese Triads are acutely intelligent, very well organized, and, when necessary, unspeakably brutal. Moreover, they are strategic operations with a long and deep history in Chinese culture, and in China’s often troubled relations with other nations and oligarchies, such as the British. The Triads, furthermore, usually speak dialects of Chinese which are unintelligible to those who know only Mandarin, and this sober fact constitutes an additional difficulty. For, how many people in Europe or in the US, even in the intelligence or crime-prevention organizations, understand the Chao Chou, Fukien, Hakka, Hokkien, or Cantonese dialects used by many of the overseas Chinese and their Triad networks? I think that the Chinese themselves already know about the linguistic incapacities of the Americans, although I am probably not allowed to tell you the statistics I reliably know.

Therefore, in light of the recent, new public status of Hong Kong, with its whole Triad apparatus, another important question arises. To what extent have the Triads themselves been strategic assets of Chinese power, both of Chinese Communists and of the old Kuomintang and current Taiwanese, especially as long-range assets of Chinese strategic intelligence and strategic intelligence operations? Given the larger cultural and strategic phenomenon of the Chinese Triads–to include their ideology and occult organization–what should Europeans themselves essentially know and eventually do about the Chinese Triads?

In Chinese culture, if one is not tied to various supportive kin groups, the secret society has always been a special way of mobility, affiliation, prosperity, and security, especially overseas. Chinese secret societies overseas are not unlike a “trans-national corporation” or a Chinese Freemasonry (Freimaurertum). The KGB (whatever “label” it now displays) still has its own trans-national corporations, like NORDEX, which is unmistakably connected to criminal syndicates and mafias, not only in the Baltics, but elsewhere. It would be very illuminating for you also to consider the Triads as a kind of Chinese “NORDEX,” and as a form of Chinese “Special Operations Forces” (SOF), both of which are strategic assets.

Look especially at the Chinese activity now in Austria, to include the use of Chinese restaurants, even in the remotest villages of Austria, perhaps (and at least) for “money-laundering.” They are all over the place, and never filled or crowded. And, yet, they seem to flourish. Is this only a trivial fact?

Likewise, there are indications that the Chinese Triad apparatus has more than accidental contact with the expanding and diversifying NORDEX apparatus in Western Europe, increasingly now in Switzerland, as well as in the Low Countries. It is also to be considered that, increasingly so, national intelligence agencies themselves use “non official” covers of variously euphemistic sorts. How should we look at NORDEX, as well as the Triads? Where does the head of NORDEX, Gregori Luchansky, now reside, and to what extent does he know Markus Wolf, even now, and very intimately? Might not some appropriate agencies fruitfully pursue this line of inquiry, as well as the contacts of George Soros with NORDEX, and in Asia?

But, the Chinese Triads are perhaps the biggest test–on many fronts–just as the strategic culture of China may be the biggest test of the West and of Western democratic culture: not just what we are finally against, but what are we finally for. What do we finally affirm, to live by and to live for? Is it only or predominately for the spread of “democratic capitalism” and its “spirit”? China and the Chinese Triads, by contrast, will be seen to provide an even greater challenge to the older non-materialistic traditions of the West, if we now, perhaps dangerously, consider the extent to which certain Western

Oligarchies–or the cosmopolitan mafias–make use of (or are used by) the Triads and their higher strategic leadership or manipulators. To what extent is there a mutual duplicity and complicity with “criminal capitalism”?

When a man I know, who speaks with a “Bronx” New York City accent, recently saw how the Triads were not only moving into Brooklyn, next to where the old KGB apparatus used to reside more exclusively and predominately, but also meeting with the Cali and Medellin and FARC cartels in the offshore Caribbean islands, as well as in Cuba, he said: “Who are deese guys?” Who are “these guys” and “the host of squalid oligarchs” with whom they collaborate, also in Europe? An important strategic question, no?

Therefore, to the extent that we, and our strategic intelligence agencies, can take the true measure of the generic (and specific) Chinese Triads (San-Tien Hui) as “versatile and deftly strategic, deeply historical secret societies that have strategic ‘interior lines’ on the ‘inner front’ of many ‘host nations’,” we shall better come to discern their actual or potential national-security (or cultural-security) threat, and threat of strategic subversion. Every word counts in that long sentence which I have just made. Moreover, by more deeply understanding the Triads, we would then especially come to grasp how and why “organized crime is protected crime.” That is to say, protected by political and financial oligarchies, especially the imperial “cosmopolitan mafias,” and not just recently. Remember the sordid and murky Opium Wars in 19th century China, and consider the strategic “re-export” of those drug wars to the West, especially after the 1949 Communist takeover in China. Mao Tse-Tung was himself associated with the Triads and their traditions of revolt against the “usurping barbarians”; and he cherished Shih Nai-An’s 17th century Ming dynasty, Chinese novel about honorable Sung dynasty bandits, Men of the Marshes (Shui Hu Chuan), “a stronghold village surrounded by a lake of reeds and called Liang Shan Po.”

Indeed, there has often been “a murky alliance” (as Marshall Pétain, among many others, once called it) between financial oligarchies (usually unaccountable to any electorate of “democracy”) and revolutionary movements themselves (to include their own “occult organizations of Revolution” with strategically subversive, and highly useful Secret Societies). The illuminating phrase, “the occult organization of Revolution,” comes from the words of James Billington in his brilliant 1980 book of analysis, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith. (Fideism, however, instead of Faith, may have been a more fitting word in his subtitle, especially because he emphasizes, against the conventional “rationalist” interpretation of Revolution, the irrational and hermetic and feverish mentation of resentful and destructive revolutionaries).

Although the Chinese Triads (The Heaven and Earth Society) may have even had their proximate historical origins in the 17th century White Lotus Society, which was itself militantly determined to restore the Ming Dynasty after its 1644 AD conquest by the usurping Manchu barbarians out of the north (similar to the earlier Jurchen and Mongol invasions and conquests of the Han Chinese by Kublai Khan), it was only after the British-instigated Opium Wars in the 19th century (starting in 1839-1842) that the Triads became more prominent and powerful, especially in South and South-Central China. Often working with the British oligarchs, especially in and through Hong Kong and other port cities, the Triads could more efficiently help target the somewhat decadent Mandarin elite that was seen as supporting the rule of the hated Manchu (Ch’ing) Dynasty, which fell finally in 1912. One of their long-standing rally cries was: “Overthrow the Ch’ing! Restore the Ming!”

This initially patriotic, nationalist secret society, and the later, variously “diversifying,” rival Triads, became deeply involved in the prominent opium trade and other criminal activities, to include the smuggling of labor and prostitutes overseas.

With respect to the Triads, their organized crime was often protected crime, protected especially by the British and others interested in the drug trade, to include the Japanese Yakusa themselves (after the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki, which humiliated the Chinese further, after their military loss to Japan in the Sino-Japanese War, as when later the German colonies in China were given to the Japanese after the Treaty of Versailles!). If such organized crime were not protected, it would not be so sustainably “organized.” Do we agree?

Therefore, with this brief history and the long and vivid memories of the Chinese, what might the Triads be doing now in Europe, with even further protection after the reversion of Hong Kong to the Communist Leninists? (And we must not forget, as in the case of the Shanghai Green Gang, the historic Triad involvement in, and with, Formosa and the Kuomintang, and their current analogous activities in Taiwan and Southeast Asia!)

To what extent do the Chinese still want to export the Opium War back to the West, with all of its attendant corruptions and specious profits? According to several independent sources, including the secret papers of Gamal Abdel Nasser himself, Chou En-lai in the early 1950s, even before the Bandung Conference of 1955, spoke of the strategic plan to weaken and deeply demoralize the West by means of expanded drug trade. In 1974, Gerd Hamburger, an Austrian, wrote a book on this topic, which includes a discussion of the Triads. The book was entitled Die Peking-Bombe: Chinas geheime Superwaffe (The Peking Bomb: China’s Secret Superweapon) (Stuttgart, Germany: Seewald Verlag). The US troops in Vietnam later were also especially to be targeted with the drugs. We should return to this matter, but we shall first need more and very-difficult-to-gather knowledge and even more difficult, real courage–Mut zur Ethik and Mut “to come out from under the rubble” of disinformation and strategic distractions.

Vladimir Bukovsky has written a recent, trenchant book, Abrechnung mit Moskau, as yet unpublished in English, because (says the author himself) of its unflinching and uncomfortable truthfulness–and truth. It is especially uncomfortable to Western elites–or oligarchies–who themselves do not want to see the whole truth about the long-standing, continuous collusion between Western political and financial oligarchies and the “democratic centralist” elites of Communism (or Revolutionary Socialism).

In the inspiring manner of Vladimir Bukovsky’s long-standing courageous ethos, we also need–do we not?–an Abrechnung mit Peking, to include and ongoing reckoning with the human cost of Communism in China: hence, with its own still-standing Gulag System (The “Lao Gai” System) and its own strategic collaboration with Western financial oligarchies (British and others); and its use of the Chinese Triads as multi-faceted strategic assets–in drug-trafficking, money-laundering, blackmail and intimidation, and various intelligence operations. To what extent are the Triads strategic assets of Chinese power and mediating structures to Western oligarchies, as well as close-bonded secret societies with a long-history in Chinese culture? The question deserves repetition, with nuanced incremental variations, until we awaken to its sobering implications.

Before looking at the Triads and some of their current implications for Europe, in the longer light of history and of China’s profoundly sophisticated (and often deceptive) strategic culture, let us re-consider, for a moment, the courageous ethos of Bukovsky, and especially the Mut zur Ethik of a fellow Russian who is also a man of truth and who has also learned, like the Greek tragedian Æschylus, the importance of truth by suffering (pathé mathos): Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. Bukovsky, even earlier in his 1978 book, as well as in others later, has stressed the “overwhelming force” of courageous resistance to falsehood. And as, Arnaud de Lassus has said: “What is true for falsehood in general is equally true for the particular form called ‘disinformation’”–as Vladimir Volkoff has also analyzed it in his 1986 book in French, called Disinformation: A Weapon of War (La désinformation, arme de guerre); and as R. Mucchielli had analyzed it also in his book ten years earlier, called Subversion (1976)–a profound study, which will also illuminate our current understanding of Triad operations.

But, two years before Mucchielli’s own book on the strategic and subtle power of subversion, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn himself wrote his “Open Letter to the Rulers of the Soviet Union” (Moscow, 12 February 1974), about an analogously subversive power, but, this time, against evil; namely the subversive power of the “rejection of the lie.” Solzhenitsyn said:

And that refusal [of the lie] makes a breach in the imaginary circle of our inaction…. For when men turn their backs on the lie, the lie ceases to exist, purely and simply. Such a contagious disease can only exist when men co-operate with it [and are in complicity with it]. Our way must be a refusal knowingly to give support to the lie in any way whatsoever. And it is there precisely…that the key to our liberation is to be found: the refusal to participate personally in the lie! What does it matter if the lie overshadows everything, if it becomes master of everything; on one point at least let us reject all compromises; may it [the lie] not owe its victory to any help of mine!

Desiring to give a true memory to his people, Solzhenitsyn urged them–and implicitly also us–not to live the lie; and to take, if necessary, but one step at a time and “come out from under the rubble,” but not to participate in the lie and hence in our own self-deception and consequent inner self-destruction. These are fortifying words, especially for those who are wounded, or full of fear, and cannot yet face or live the fuller truth. Let us, at least, not live the lie–or imbibe the pervasive disinformation–which, for example, denies (or deflects us from) the long-standing collaboration of various national and cosmopolitan oligarchies with “organized crime” and its many resources and “controlled” (or blackmailed) assets. Despite disinformation to the contrary, the “financial capitalists” are not so stupidly greedy as to “sell or give them the rope to hang themselves.” These oligarchs have long calculated their profitable, publicly unaccountable, and power-enhancing complicities with brutal and bloody revolutionaries, as in South Africa today, and as was certainly the case with the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1991 continuously. Arnaud de Lassus makes an important and deeper point in his own 1990 Study of Disinformation, which analogously applies, I think, to the Triad Secret societies today, in Europe and elsewhere.

May I interest you in this matter, and in this eminently testable hypothesis?

What did Arnaud de Lassus lucidly and courageously say, already in 1990, that may still be of value to us, especially as an illuminating criterion of judgment? Quoting the then-recent book by his fellow Frenchman, Jacques Attali, on Sir Siegmund G. Warburg (1902-1982): A Man of Influence (1985), de Lassus says:

Speaking of the influence wielded over men in power by financiers, Attali shows that this can extend to the point of being a ‘power over power’ (p. 13–Payard edition, Paris 1985). We are thus presented with the setting up on a global scale of a ‘Mercantile Order,’ founded by an ‘austere order’ of financiers discreetly exercising their ‘power over the holders of power’ (p. 3).

(See Attali’s book, especially pages 4, 14, 15, and 86, concerning the political role of financiers, especially over the mass media of communications, understood as an “uncontrolled fief”–uncontrolled at least by the State, who must often still finance the State radio and television service in France even when it opposes and subverts State policies.)

In the light of Jacques Attali’s very well-informed and admiring book, says de Lassus,

It would be possible to draw up an organizational chart for French society, showing: (a) at the top, ‘power over power’ of the financial dynasties [hence, the dynastically intermarried families] (and, it may well be, of other hidden forces operating just as discreetly as those); and (b) lower down, the powers of the political establishment and those of the media. [It is, moreover, of great confirmatory (or corroborative) values to note], says de Lassus, that Attali’s 1985 book tells the life of one of the greatest Jewish financiers of our time (he lived from 1902 to 1982), together with the history of his family, and amounts to a vindication of a Jewish super-capitalist by a Jewish socialist.

Furthermore, in Figaro Magazine (13 January 1990), Louis Pawels gives the following summary of Jacques Attali’s “vision of the world that is about to be born,” as expressed in Attali’s 1990 book, Lignes d’horizon (Lines on the Horizon):

Since de-colonization we have seen the end of the great Western empires. We are now witnessing the death through exhaustion of the Soviet empire. We are at the same time witnessing the triumph of democratic capitalism [and its new oligarchic forms of “criminal capitalism” and “democratic centralism”?] Its advantages are obvious; its attractiveness worldwide cannot be denied. What we are seeing is the establishment of a Mercantile Order on a global scale.

How do the Chinese Triads and the Chinese financial oligarchies–to include the Bank of China–and their dynastic families in China and overseas fit into this vision, if at all? To what extent do they constitute a “power over the power of the Chinese State,” as well? And how might they help the formation of a new strategic and cultural Chinese imperium, with the help of trans-national Western elites and other globalists or “cosmopolitan mafias” (to include “trans-national criminal syndicates” who use and despise the nation-state)?

What deals were made between the old rulers of Hong Kong–British, Chinese, and others–and the new political regime? Since drugs are a kind of financial currency, and provide, as it were, an easy access to “liquidity,” under tight (or uncertain) conditions of credit, who is still protecting and using the Triad network, even as they also traffic in the removal and destructive dumping of toxic wastes from nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and also perform economic and financial espionage?

In this context, consider the long-standing and pervasive disinformation over the mutually profitable relations between certain financial oligarchies and the Communists. The massive support of the 1917 Soviet Regime in Russia by American and European financial oligarchies is now, for rational thinkers, an uncontested historic fact, but still dangerous to talk about in detail. These same oligarchies sustained that support continuously from 1917 to 1991, supplying the Soviet regime, says de Lassus:

With practically limitless credit, Western technology, ready-to-use factories, wheat and raw materials. Hence, the “military-industrial complex” of the USSR may be seen as a Western creation.

There has been much disinformation about the facts and about the explanation of the facts–and about the explanation of explanations. What is the analogous situation, now, as well as historically, in relation to Communist China (Leninist, Maoist, Gramscian, or Machiavellian)?

Now, with respect to the rising power of China, what will be the relation of these same oligarchies with the “modernizing” Chinese Communists and their overseas assets, especially the Triads?

Given that Swiss political and financial oligarchies are now under pressure from more cosmopolitan or “Maastrichtean” oligarchies, what will be the pressure on the Swiss to “compromise” or to partake of a larger “duplicity” or “complicity”? How will the Chinese assets themselves exploit this vulnerable situation, given their subtle strategic sense of timeliness and timelessness? How might the Chinese play this in an effort to divide further Europe from America, and thereby certainly to weaken the American presence in the Pacific or on the Pacific Rim? Will the “Euro” be pushed as a necessary and desirable rival currency to the US dollar, as an international reserve currency? Will the Chinese Triads–like NORDEX–be used as fronts for many strategic policies and strategic intelligence operations? I believe this to be the case even now, but it will grow in pervasiveness and importance, in my judgment.

Our intelligence and internal-security communities should become deeply attentive to the Triad phenomenon in the longer light of Chinese history and strategic culture, and should follow the specific Triads closely. But, this will indispensably require knowledge of Chinese (and its key dialects) as an important strategic language. And, it will likewise require a greatly enhanced capacity “to read the culture”: to read the highly sophisticated and subtle Chinese culture, to include the culture of their historic and strategic secret societies, like the Triads. Building this capacity itself constitutes an easily intimidating strategic challenge, let alone where the lines of enquiry more deeply lead. And what will thereby be demanded of us for the protection and sustenance of a rooted, just, and civilized democratic order? For, if such a democratic order is not to be a deception, it must be attentive and dedicated to enhancing the common good (bonum commune), not to enhance the leverage and unaccountable privileges and immunities of selfish oligarchies.

How might all of this be deeply illuminated if we follow up on this concluding question: “To what extent are the Chinese Triads a form of Chinese Special Operations Forces (SOF), which are always elite strategic assets of national power and, maybe also, of international oligarchical power?”

We shall learn many things of strategic importance, if we more attentively and knowingly track the Chinese presence in Europe (hence the Triads’ “SOF” networks), in clarifying contradistinction to the Japanese presence (along with their own Yakusa networks) in Europe, as well as their strategic presence in Peru and Brazil and other parts of Latin America, the Southern strategic front of the United States. The Chinese are also strategically situated in Canada, especially on the northern front in Vancouver, in British Columbia. They are also, of course, on the strategic inner front of the United States and maybe also Europe. Are we now, after these many considerations, in a better position or to discern the nature and implications and “strategic interior lines” of the Triads in the West, and to develop a strategic intelligence agenda and an effective counter-strategy? Or, as James Burnham said in his 1964 book, Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism, will our increasingly deracinated “liberal democracies” “hand over the weapons to its own assassins”? Will our courage and informing faith derive from “the spirit of democratic capitalism” or be able to resist “the spirit of criminal capitalism”? Let us rather form and lead a new and higher chivalry, propter parvulos ad Christum trahendos.

Footnote:

1) Secret societies are very important in Chinese Culture, and with a long history, but scholars have long tended to ignore them. In his 1980 revised and expanded edition of his The Chinese Looking Glass (1966-1st edition), Dennis Bloodworth has some excellent chapters on the history and importance of secret societies in China: from the philosopher Mo Tze (5th century BC); to the “Red Headbands” of the proto-Triad “Red Eyebrows” (30AD); to the 7th century AD “Yellow Turbans”; to the 17th century “White Lotus Society” in North China and the “Hung Society” (Hung Men) in South, West, and Central China, and more. The Triad–implying a restored threefold harmony between Heaven, Earth, and Man–this “Heaven and Earth Society (T’ien- Ti Hui) or “Triple Harmony Society” (San-Tien Hui) has a rich and often obscure history as the “Triad Society” (San-Tien Hui) or, in the USA, the “Chih Kung Tong” (Society to Bring About Justice). Bloodworth says, for example: “Esoteric history that no one dared to put in writing at the time has it that the Triad was founded in the seventeenth century by an abbot of Shao-Lin [Buddhist] monastery [in Fukien Province] who had raised an invincible company of 128 warrior-monks [cf. The Western Templars]… and the [Manchu] Emperor agreed that the monastery should be set on fire and blown up. This was achieved with the help of an unfrocked traitor who was number seven in the Shao-Lin hierarchy, so that even today these secret-society gangsters never use this number in their ritual.” (Bloodworth, The Chinese Looking Glass, p. 146). Bloodworth and others have eloquently described how these historic societies of Triads “secretly organized for Revolution.” The Triads were also involved in the 19th century Taiping Rebellion, as well as in the earlier uprising of 1774. They supported this 1911 revolution under Sun Yat Sen, combated Yuan Shih-K’ai in the 1915 attempt to become a new emperor (after the Manchus fell in 1912), and the Triads fought the Japanese (especially from 1937-1945). Other famous secret societies had such names as: “the Double Sword Society,” “the Dagger Society,” “the Clear Winter Society,” “the Elders Society” (Ko-Lao Hui)–and “the Harmonious Fists Society” (the famous “Boxers” of the North China Rebellion of 1899-1900).

Finis

© 1997 Robert Hickson

i

Young Hilaire Belloc’s 1906 Open Letter on the Decay of Faith: His Polite Reply to Some Eloquent Discouragements

Dr. Robert Hickson

5 April 2021

Saint Vincent Ferrer, O.P. (d. 1419)

Blessed Juliana of Mount Cornillon (d. 1258)

Epigraphs

“The enormous evils from which we are suffering, the degradation of our fellow-citizens, the accursed domination of our plutocracy is in the act of [a complacent? or temporarily acquiescent?] settlement. But after that? Will there not remain the chief problem of the human soul? Shall we not still smell what Chesterton so admirably calls ‘the unmistakable smell of the pit,’ shall we not still need salvation with a greater need than the need for water upon a parched day? And will there not remain among us—since we are a civilized people, possessed of printing and careful of our monuments—the record of the faith? Will it not be there to return to?” (Hilaire Belloc, M.P., Open Letter on the Decay of Faith, page 13—my emphasis added)

***

“You [dear C. F. G. Masterman, a fellow M.P.] are acquainted as I am with the Gospels; you have perhaps wondered, as I have, at their astounding power of diction; there is not a book in the world that loses so little by translation.” (Hilaire Belloc, M.P., Open Letter on the Decay of Faith, page 13—my emphasis added)

***

Do not, I beg of you [dear Masterman], be oppressed by forces already dissolved. You have mistaken the hour of the night. It is already morning.” (Hilaire Belloc, M.P., An Open Letter on the Alleged Decay of Faith (March 29, 1906), page 14—my emphasis added)

***

In 1906 when Hilaire Belloc was still thirty-five years of age, he became a British Member of Parliament for almost five years. Early in his membership he wrote his Open Letter on the Decay of Faith (14 pages) which was at first addressed specifically to C.F.G. Masterman, M.P., on 29 March 1906, but it was soon also reprinted and opened to a broader audience, being then published as a compact pamphlet.1 This reprinted pamphlet also has a variant title, by its inserting the word “Alleged”: “An Open Letter on the Alleged Decay of Faith.” In either case, both titles will get us thinking—especially today over a hundred years later, and given the cumulative history of Europe and now also of the alleged United States of America.

Hilaire Belloc begins his Letter with fitting politeness and capturing benevolent simplicity:

My dear Masterman, I have just been reading some words of yours in the Speaker. They have set me thinking. And I am sorry to say they have set me writing, too. I could not but write, and when I had written I desired to make what I had written public. It is on this account that you may see, if you do see, the sentences which I print here. (3)

Belloc then goes straight to the presentation of an articulate perception of Masterman’s candid (but discouraging) claim about the abiding decay of the Christian faith. Moreover, in his initial reply, Belloc also adds some memorable vividness when he evocatively alludes to the Mediaeval Old French Epic, The Song of Roland, which depicts the strategic retreat of Charlemagne’s army from the Pyrenees Mountains of northern Spain and the treacherously effected and tragic loss of the rearguard and loyal knight, Roland:

You say there [in the 1906 issue of Speaker] that (as you conceive it) the Christian religion is in peril: nay, that the immemorial battle is now decided; that the quiet enemy has conquered and that no army will return to oust him; that we shall not hear again the horn of Roland.

Your words are clear. You speak of “the passing of a whole civilization from a Faith in which it was founded.” You speak again of “a Faith that is slipping from the horizon of mankind.” Let me detain you upon these things. (3-4—my emphasis added)

Belloc then presents a series of searching questions to Mr. Masterman, to include his use of certain metaphors or analogies:

Do you, then, really believe that this movement [of de-Christianization] of which you speak is a tide? Do you, then, really think that the things of the mind are subject to such easy, such rhythmical and such servile laws as are the things of the world around us? And do you believe that the Faith is ebbing away? (4—my emphasis added)

After some personal notes about the poetry of Matthew Arnold (“Dover Beach”) and some adventures of his maritime life in 1895 or so, Belloc returns to his earlier set of larger questions and earnestly says:

Well, then, I want to examine this question for myself. I feel, with an extraordinary vividness, the power of what you [Masterman] say: as who does not who has known or even visited this evil modern world [as of 1906]? You are right; all around us there is a sort of air, as though the fundamentals of the mind were changing, and as if the Faith, from a postulate [presupposition, axiom], were tending to be an opinion, and were in danger of becoming from an opinion a fad, from a fad to a memory. I will not deny that what you wrote struck me with a shock of recognition, and that I was disturbed by the recollection of certain mortal phrases….which are the luxury and perhaps the price of our entry into manhood. (5—my emphasis added)

After Belloc’s own honest and humble recall of some “just and rational negations which boys indulge in” (5) and “which you [Masterman] revived in me” by your “careful and significant sentences,” he especially remembers “youth’s divine hope and divine cousinship with the hills and with the morning.” (6) And he poignantly adds:

I do not mean that your mournfulness or your dread revived in me the simple and childlike denials which meant in our generation no more than this—that youth was doing what youth always does, that is, taking gaily the tragic human spirit of its time. No, your prose did much more in me that this. It re-awoke those visions of nothingness which I have suffered in the last five years, even in my own shrines [as a Roman Catholic], and which must undoubtedly haunt the soul of every man to-day who has known other things.

Well, in spite of those visions, and in spite of their poignancy, which you have recalled, I propose to examine the matter with you. (6—my emphasis added)

Belloc then begins to consider some historical analogies and their limits—as well as their capacities to mislead a later scholar inattentive to proper proportion:

As it seems to me…we exaggerate the analogy of history. Our historical knowledge is a small thing, though our tradition is a great one….since little is known by scholars… of the Dark Ages, since the Middle Ages were but a short and unfruitful [sic] dream… since the last four [post-Mediaeval] centuries have crescendoed up to an anarchy and to a tumult, all men of culture necessarily refer to the example of Rome. And surely there must have been in your mind…that parallel of the old Paganism dying, of the deserted temples, of the whining priests of Apollo,…and assaulting its own fables; of the oracles growing dumb—no prophesies, no miracles; of the sophists in the second and third centuries (who so exactly correspond to our famous Germans of to-day—the Hegels and the rest…!)…as Rome had passed through all the stages of decay; its free citizens fallen to be a proletariat; its rich men governing the world; its vices blatant; seeing these things, perhaps you thought that our religion also, the Faith, that is, was bound to fail and to go the determined course as does every limited and human thing. Now I desire to recall to you that the Faith is not of this world. (6-8—my emphasis added)

He speaks then of a certain “mood of the mind” (8)—“it is a good mood and a true [mood], it is that in which the mind [of Faith?] most nearly apprehends the ultimate realities….one can perceive at one glance Matter and Will. In such a mood no man despairs of the Faith.” (8—my emphasis added)

In this context, Belloc introduces the exemplary and heroic case of the Irish (at home and in the diasporas) under the historical conditions of protracted adversity—as of 1906, but in sharp contrast to the all-too-apostate Ireland of today, in 2021, with its growing and alluring (but often specious) prosperity.

After considering the larger case of Ireland and the Faith, Belloc anonymously mentions the current Pope (Pius X), who was still in office in 1906 (having ruled since August of 1903, and then he did continue until August of 1914):

It is said that the Pope keeps laid open before him upon a desk perpetually a page from the writings of De Maistre [Joseph de Maistre, 1753-1821]. They say he keeps this page for a short and repeated daily reading. Here is the passage.

The temples are empty or profaned; the altars are deserted. Mere reason, that powerful governor, not to be despised, which is not only the weapon of the intelligence, but is also our human power of integration, our judgement, and almost our sanity—mere reason has every temporal chance in its favour, that it will sweep the field; and if it wins it will make a carpenter’s bench of the Cross, and Jesus Christ will be partially forgotten and wholly lost, as are mere literary figures. But what if the Faith should rise and lift this Antean thing [such as the weight of mere reason], this human judgement from the earth, the common soil which is its only strength? What if the Faith, like Hercules, should lift humanity up in one of those spasmodic wrestling strains which its own history proves native to it, and should so keep it on the plane of this, that [what if] at last the Faith, and not reason, should conquer? For the Faith is a demigod. Patuit Deus[God has so revealed it].(10-11—my emphasis added)

After this first and likely true story, Belloc, in his own words, has a second and certainly true story about his own experience in the mountains of Spain:

And here is the the second story: Once in the Pyrenees I sat wakeful at night beside a companion who slept. The night was absolutely still; we were on the summits, and its was extremely cold. The pine trees were so motionless that they might have been trees of metal carved in bronze. The fire was dying, and I sat crouched close beside it with my blanket round my knees, believing that some ultimate silence had come upon the hills and me. Then there arose a little wind: the branches barely moved, but that movement was more different from the silence than I had thought one thing could be from another; the wind rose and grew with an awful rapidity; the tall trunks shook before I had heard the moaning grow strong; the sky awoke, clouds drove across the stars, and in the midst of all this noise it dawned. It is in this way that the vast changes come upon the unbounded and incalculable empyrean of the [alert and receptive] human mind. (11-12—my emphasis added)

Having prepared the way, Belloc now bears witness to the reality and uniqueness of Europe, at least as it was once, but may soon no longer be the case, Deo Volente, not even as a missionary initiative of the loyal Catholic Faith:

I desire you [Masterman] to remember that we are Europe; we are a great people. The faith is not an accident among us, nor an imposition, nor a garment: it is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh: it is a philosophy made by, and making, ourselves. We have adorned, explained, enlarged it; we have given it visible form. This is the service we Europeans have done to God. He has made us Christians. [And we adorn what we love!]….Will you [Masterman et al.] not believe that this modern phase of ours [and, perhaps, our disordered modern civilization?] is passing? I do. (12—my emphasis added)

Such are Belloc’s affirmations and encouragements, sub Gratia Divina, in the Catholic Faith.

As a Franciscan Scholar once deftly said to me: “The truth about trouble is a twofold truth. It is as Christ Himself effectively told us, as well. In the world you will have trouble, He said, but I have overcome the World.”

As magnanimous Hilaire Belloc finally said to Masterman—likely recalling not only the tragic Roland and his Horn, but especially the later Dawn in the Pyrenees that surprised and stirred our Hilary so—and we may fittingly apply it still today: “Do not, I beg of you, be oppressed by forces already dissolved. You have mistaken the hour of the night. It is already morning. H. Belloc.” (14—my emphasis added)

–FINIS–

© 2021 Robert D. Hickson

1Hilaire Belloc, M.P., An Open Letter on the Decay of Faith (London: Burns & Oates, LTD.,1906), 14 pages. It contains this note at the outset: “This Letter is reprinted with the Author’s permission from the Tribune of March 29, 1906.” Further references to the fourteen-page Letter and Pamphlet will be placed above in parentheses in the main body of this short essay.

A 1903 French Novel’s Unexpected Insights Concerning the Sorrows of Mary

Dr. Robert Hickson

25 March 2021

Feast of the Annunciation: the Incarnation

A 1903 French Novel’s Unexpected Insights Concerning the Sorrows of Mary: J.K. Huysmans’ The Oblate of St. Benedict

Epigraphs

“What a strange part, great and yet limited, did Sorrow play in the life of the Virgin!” (J. K. Huysmans, The Oblate of St. Benedict (1903, 1996), page 241—my emphasis added)

***

“She [Sorrow] now ruled supreme and, from the fury of he onslaught, it might have been thought that Our Lady had drained the cup to the last dreg. But it was not so.” (J.K. Huysmans, The Oblate of St. Benedict (1903), page 243—my emphasis added)

***

J.K. Huysmans’ 1903 novel The Oblate of St. Benedict begins his Chapter VIII with the following words:

The Feast of the Assumption [15 August] was over….The church, now empty, exhaled the soothing perfume….the scent symbolized the sepulchre whence the Virgin rose to take her place beside Her Son….

All day the heat had been overwhelming. Benediction had been preceded by the solemn Procession which [King] Louis XIII instituted in memory of the consecration of his kingdom to Our Lady, and Durtal [the novel’s protagonist and himself a gradual convert to the Catholic Faith], on reaching home, sat down in the shade of the great cedar tree.

There he [Durtal] meditated upon the Festival which was for him a Festival of Liberation from pain and the chief Festival of Our Blessed Lady. The day prompted him to contemplate the Madonna from a special point of view, for it brought him face to face with with the dreadful problem of Pain and Sorrow.1 (241—my emphasis added)

Huysmans admits his yearning “attempt to understand the reason for the existence of sorrow” (241), and himself going all the way “back to man’s beginning, to Eden, where Sorrow was born, the moment Adam became conscious of sin.” (241)

But for those who remain loyal to irreformable Catholic doctrine, the mystery of the original and abiding Purity (and Sinlessness) of the Blessed Virgin Mary always presents itself, often amidst Sorrow, and then almost always knowingly evokes our special love. Huysmans’ words also come to touch upon this mysterious matter:

Sorrow had held the Son [Jesus] in her grip for some hours. Over the Mother [Virgin Mary], her hold was longer, and in this longer possession lies the strange element.

The Virgin was the one human creature whom, logically, she [Sorrow] had no right to touch. The Immaculate Conception should have put Mary beyond her [Sorrow’s] reach, and [Virgin Mary,] having never sinned during her earthly life, she [Mary] should should have been unassailable, and exempt from the evil onslaughts of Sorrow.

To dare to approach her [Mary], Sorrow required a special leave from God and the consent of the Mother herself, who, to be the more like unto her Son and to co-operate as far as she [Mary] could in our Redemption, agreed to suffer at the foot of the Cross the terrors of the final catastrophe. (243—my emphasis added)

Now we shall go with the Narrator—and with the fresh perceptions of Durtal—into some other deeper matters of moment:

But in dealing with the Mother [Mary], Sorrow at the outset does not have full scope.

She [Sorrow] indeed set her mark on Mary from the moment of the Annunciation when Our Lady in a Divine light perceived the Tree of Golgotha. But after that, Sorrow had to retire into the background. She [Sorrow] saw the Nativity from afar, but could not make her way into the cave of Bethlehem. Only at the Presentation in the Temple, at Simeon’s prophecy, did she [Sorrow] leap from her ambush and planted herself in the Virgin’s [Mother Mary’s] breast. From that moment she took up her abode there, yet she [Sorrow] was not an unchallenged mistress, for another lodger, Joy, also dwelt there, the presence of Jesus bringing cheerfulness to His Mother’s soul. But after the treachery of Judas Iscariot, Sorrow had her revenge. She now ruled supreme and, from the fury of her onset, it might have been thought that Our Lady had drained the cup [chalice!] to the last dreg. But it was not so.

Mary’s excruciating grief at the Crucifixion had been preceded by the long-drawn anguish of the Trial; it again was followed by another period of suspense, [a period] of sorrowful longing for the day when she should rejoin Her Son in Heaven, far removed from a world that had covered them with shame. (243-244—my emphasis added)

In such words, we may see and cherish another heartful presentation of how the Blessed Mother uniquely co-operated with—and mediated for—the Humility of God in the Hypostatic Union: i.e., for Her own beloved and nourished Son, Christ Jesus. (But there are still those who say that, despite her perfections, Mary is No Co-Redemptrix, Nor a Mediatrix of All Graces.)

CODA

Because it came only from a small, incomplete fragment of a footnote, it may be of some interest to the reader to know how I recently, and so unexpectedly, discovered (and but partly read) the writings of Joris-Karl Huysmans (1847-1907), especially his novel, The Oblate of St. Benedict (1903).

Reading the Epilogue of D.B. Wyndham Lewis’ 1959 book, A Florentine Portrait: Saint Philip Benizi (1233-1285), I came in contact (at the bottom of page 133) with an abbreviated and rather arcane footnote: “L’Oblat, 1903.” Deciding then to locate, if I could, who it was who wrote these stirring words (and where), I went on an adventure and search. Here, without any original French pagination, are the later English words on the Blessed Mother that I found—as translated by D.B. Wyndham Lewis, himself a Catholic scholar, and written from his heart on page 133 in his own 1959 Epilogue about the Servites of Our Lady’s Sorrows:

It needed God’s special permission and the consent of the Mother, who, to make herself more like her Son and to co-operate, according to her capacity, in our redemption, accepted at length, under the Cross itself, the frightful agonies of the Consummation.

FINIS

© 2021 Robert D. Hickson

1J. K. Huysmans, The Oblate of St. Benedict (Cambridge, UK: Dedalus European Classics, 1996—first published in in French in 1903; first English edition was in 1924.) The current edition, moreover, contains XVI chapters, ending on page 303. All further references will be to this Dedalus edition. For convenience, the page references will be placed above in parentheses in the main body of this short essay and commentary.

St. Philip Benizi (1233-1285) and the Servite Order of the Sorrows of Mary

Dr. Robert Hickson

7 March 2021

Saint Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274)

Epigraphs

Chewing in exile his bitter cud of memories, Dante had plenty to say in The Divine Comedy about his native city of Florence. Even amid the splendours and alleluias of Paradise, he [Dante] permits the ex-troubadour Falco to flame suddenly into denunciation [from Heaven!] of the City of the Flower [Florence, Italy], the devil’s own weed, ‘planted by him [Satan] who first turned his back upon his Creator‘….

“Fined and banished [from Florence] under the pain of death in 1302,….the sombre poet [Dante, d.1321] neither forgave his city nor forgot. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that he never deigns to mention, in the Commedia or elsewhere, a very noble and saintly contemporary with whom he probably brushed shoulders in the streets [of Florence] more than once. Born [in 1265] thirty-two years after Fra Filippo Benizi, who became the fifth General of the Servite Order and was canonised at length in 1671, Dante must, like any other Florentine of his day, have known the eminent friar [Philip Benizi] at least by sight and repute for some time [d. 1285].” (D. B. Wyndham Lewis, A Florentine Portrait: Saint Philip Benizi (1233-1285) (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1959), page 1—my bold emphasis added.)

***

There are saints in the calendar of many kinds, some born in sanctity in every century and some achieving it, in some cases after half a lifetime of storm and stress. The huge, rough, tough, violent-tempered soldier who became St. Camillus de Lellis, and has been called the father of the Red Cross and the field-ambulance, is an outstanding example at one end of the scale; examples of the ‘cradle-saint’ at the other end [of the scale] are plentiful enough. Saint Philip Benizi is one of these latter, clad through life in that invisible armour which the Enemy is powerless to penetrate. Prayer came naturally to him from the beginning. Hold Writ was his normal reading, and a special devotion to the Mater Dolorosa drew him inevitably into a new order inspired by it [i.e., the religious order of the Servites].” (D. B. Wyndham Lewis, A Florentine Portrait: Saint Philip Benizi (1233-1285) (1959), page 24—my emphasis added.)

***

“Many of them [these psychological and cultural theories] omit the point that Servite devotion to the Sorrows of Mary—which are the Prophecy of Simeon, the Flight into Egypt, the Loss of the Child Jesus in Jerusalem, the Meeting on the Way to Calvary, the Witnessing of the Crucifixion, the Taking-Down of Christ from the Cross, and the Burial [i.e., with the Feast of the Seven Dolours, now celebrated on 15 September]—is neither morbid nor morose. There will be few men of his age [the 13th Century] radiating a serener joy all his life than Fra Filippo Benizi.” (D. B. Wyndham Lewis, A Florentine Portrait: Saint Philip Benizi (1233-1285), page 25—my emphasis added.)

***

In 1959 a book was published in English on the Thirteenth Century in Europe, and especially on a lesser known saint in the Marian Servite Order—which is also called the Servants of the Sorrows of Mary. That modest saint was Saint Philip Benizi (1233-1285).1

My brief essay now proposes to accentuate Saint Philip’s good influence upon a wide variety of men and women, despite the abiding inattentiveness of one often bitter exile, namely his famous fellow Florentine: the poet Dante (1265-1321).

By way of contrast, our learned and sympathetic author, D. B. Wyndham Lewis, recurrently presents for us “that pre-eminently [Philip] Benizian blend of serene simplicity and holy obstinacy which foils the world.” (134-135—my emphasis added) We, too, shall now try to be more attentive and grateful, as well.

It is now fitting for me to select and present a few representative passages from the book which vivify the principles and character of Saint Philip Benizi, often with his older mendicant companions:

It is not difficult to picture them trudging very slowly along the dusty highroad in their black woollen habits shouldering their sacks. An hour or so after leaving Bologna they reached the site of a considerable portent, to which there is sufficient testimony.

At a point of the road near Castroleone, about five miles out of Bologna, a large solitary tree standing in the baking fields [in August of 1269] a little distance off the highroad offered the only shade for miles. A knot of figures could be seen already under its branches. In compassion for his two elders [of his Servite Order], now lagging and weary, Fra Filippo [the elected General of the Marian Order, as of 1267] turned of the road for a rest. As they approached the tree they were welcomed by raucous laughter and rude japes, and perceived that the group was composed of soldiers and women of the lowest type, possibly drunk. The roughest company was unlikely to daunt a medieval friar, who was well used to it, but this collection proved even worse than the tavern-company which waylays Glutton in Piers Plowman [William Langland’s fine and rhythmical 14th-Century long-line poem] on his way to confession….

Under a fusillade of obscenities and blasphemous raillery Fra Filippo spoke up, rebuking the offenders, firmly but without heat, in the name of Christ and His mother, and bidding them amend their language for their souls’ sake. They received the reproof with viler insults and louder and uglier blasphemies, the women doubtless being far more fluent than the men. As they bellowed and screamed and laughed a premonition came to St. Philip. “My dear brethren,” he said, facing them during a pause with tears in his eyes, “there are some of you here who, unless they repent, are due to die this very day. Almighty God is very kind and pitiful. Turn you to Him and He will have mercy on you—He has sent me even now to call on you for this. Be certain that if you turn to Him He will forgive, but if you refuse you may well tremble. His bow is bent, His arrows are sharp, the weapons of death are ready. Give up this vicious life and trust in His mercy who does not desire the death of a sinner, but that he may turn from his wickedness and live.

The words in their quiet earnestness had some effect. The majority sobered down in shame, as the typical medieval ruffian was always liable to do when so addressed; but a blackguard minority turned angry, belching horrid blasphemy and menacing the friar with consequences if he did not shut his mouth and go. Fra Filippo continued unmoved to plead with them. (63-65—my emphasis added)

The reader may now better appreciate further the provocations and responsive warnings that took place before “the Judgment of Castroleone” (65) condignly and fearfully soon took place (65-66).

Another set of revealing incidents occurred in Florence, and then in Pistoia, while Philip was still the revered General of the Servite Order, and it all started after the death of the Bishop of Florence and the resultant acclamations on behalf of Philip spontaneously:

Since the death of…[the] Bishop of Florence, in December 1274, the see had been vacant [and it would remain so “till 1286, the year after St. Philip’s death” (83)], and violent-faction quarrels even over the question of a successor were frequent. Preaching daily at the Annunziata Fra Flippo harangued his fellow-citizens, noble, bourgeois, and proletarian, with eloquence and point. If they were incapable of making peace for themselves, he cried one evening, they might at least unite in praying the Holy See to give Florence a bishop capable of settling their foolish and murderous quarrels.

This seems to have penetrated. As the preacher [Philip] continued, a buzz went around the crowd. The Annals preserve the gist of it. Vivacious Tuscan gestures and flashing dark eyes may be easily supplied in imagination. (82—my emphasis added)

As Philip Benizi heard the gathering acclamations to have him as their bishop, he slipped hastily out “and quitted Florence then and there for some refuge unknown, and probably Monte Senario, to emerge a week or two later at Pistoia.” (83)

He was to encounter further disorders at Pistoia too:

In Pistoia the citizens were brawling politically and socially as elsewhere—Guelf against Ghibelline….In Pistoia likewise the generosity of the municipality and private citizens towards religious orders, and the mendicants [such as the Servites] in particular, in the matter of alms for building and endowment, demonstrates that typically medieval blend of ungovernable passions and unstinted charity which is so baffling to the modern world. Guelf and Ghibelline, having listened to the same Mass and sermon and given alms in the same dish, would whip our their swords again outside the church door and resume the fight. In his exhortations from the pulpit Fra Filippo minced no words….The city [of Pistoia], like Florence and others, is an accursed and wretched Babylon and its citizens are men of blood, creatures with neither sense nor reason, sacrificing human lives and souls to the Evil One their idol; calling on the Lord only in blasphemy, inviting His terrible judgment. Yet if they will but seek peace, the God of Peace will forgive and be with them all. ‘Meanwhile we, servants of the Most Blessed Virgin, implore her to obtain for you from Almighty God the blessings of peace, unity, and concord….’ (83-84—my emphasis added; and Philip’s own words are, at the end, partly quoted.)

Once again we may see how Saint Philip’s own words have also touched the sincere hearts of some men, even bravos and ruffians:

His [Philip’s] words had considerable effect. Many conversions are spoken of by the early chronicles; many scenes of reconciliation between enemies, many returns to religion, not a few recruits to the Servants of Mary. Among these in Pistoia was a leading Ghibelline bravo named Vanni Buonaccurso, noted for impiety, ferocity, and bloodlust. Having heard a sermon by St. Philip, he followed him afterwards into the priory and fell on his knees, saying that God’s word had pierced his heart and begging to be heard in confession. Soon afterwards he was admitted into the novitiate of the Servants of Mary. He turned out as passionate in good work as he had been [passionate] in evil doing. The cultus [public veneration] of Blessed Bonaventure of Pistoia was approved in 1828.(84—my emphasis added.)

Now we may consider Saint Philip’s influence on a prominent Guelf in Florence:

A more gratifying reward than anything the Republic could offer had come to Fra Filippo. Among the chief disturbers of Florentine peace was a member of the leading Guelf clan of the Adimari, a huge, quarrelsome swashbuckler of immense strength named Ubaldo, now in his late thirties. Brought up from childhood in an atmosphere of flaming pride and vengeance, twice exiled with his fellow-Guelfs, he had long since become a formidable duellist and a portent in Florentine affrays. Equipping him instinctively with an eagle beak and fierce hawk-like eyes, one may very well see Messer Uboldo degli Adimari stepping with his lackeys across a piazza in his steel hauberk and bassinet and particoloured hose, had on sword-hilt, ready to spring as a tiger. He too was powerless against the arrow of grace. Accidental (as the world would say) contact with Fra Filippo Benizi during the late peace-negotiations changed Ubaldo’s life. Not long afterwards, having made all possible reparation to his enemies, Ghibelline and other, he took the Servite habit and, after many penances and vigils, Holy Orders. A few months after his elevation to the priesthood Fra Filippo took Fra Ubaldo for his confessor, which speaks sufficiently for his new character, and he remained one of the best beloved of disciples until the General’s [Philip Benizi’s own] death [in the Autumn of 1285]. After thirty-five years of religious life Fra Ubaldo died in the odor of sanctity. His impressive remains rest in the [Servite] chapel on Monte Senario, not far from the [seven holy] founders’ shrine. (88-89—my emphasis added)

All of the seven original 1233 Holy Servite Founders—Servants of the Seven Sorrows of Mary—were canonized together by Pope Leo XIII, in 1888.

The last portion of A Florentine Portrait memorably presents Saint Philip’s preparation for death, as well as his gradual farewell to his Servite brothers. One representative aspect of this depiction is worthy of our consideration now, with the hope that the reader might slowly read and savor the last thirty pages or so of the book.

Here begins, as follows, that one aspect of his life and farewell, as above proposed:

So Fra Filippo returned to Florence [after seeing, in May 1285, the Pope in Rome], to work and wait in prayer and patience as before…. It was while he was thus engaged that Fra Filippo was informed by an interior voice, one day or night during prayer, that he had not very much longer to live.

Thanksgivings for this good news offered, Fra Filippo [as the Superior General] at once set about winding up affairs in hand with the assistance of Fra Lottaringo, whom he had long since designated as his successor. This concluded, he retired for a space to the Monte Senario cave of former years [8 miles north of Florence] to equip his soul for the final journey….

Fra Filippo [then] had no other ties with Florence outside the Annunziata. He had, moreover, decided already where to live his last days. The smallest and poorest of all the Servite houses of Italy was the priory of San Marco at Todi of Umbria. Where could a General of the Servants of Mary, after a lifetime of evangelical poverty and humility, more fitly die? ….

Fra Filippo, with his two friars in attendance, took the road to Umbria, sighting the red-tiled roofs of Todi in the late afternoon of August 9, 1285. (109-112—my emphasis added)

Now we go with Philip in approach to Todi and San Marco:

There was a great bustle towards sunset in the streets of Todi. An exuberant populace was streaming down to the southern gate, carrying flowers and flourishing leafy branches…. Some horsemen passing St. Philip and his brethren on the road had announced their approach, and a spontaneous mass-reception was afoot….Having perceived, to his dismay and horror, that the crowd ahead was already strewing the road with leaves and flowers, as if he had been some person worthy of honour, Fra Filippo hoped to escape round the walls and take refuge in San Marco undetected. As he and his companion-friars made their way round to the Orvieto gate two women stepped out of the shadows at a lonely part of the way and accosted them. These were prostitutes, it appeared; but, they sobbed as St. Philip questioned them with compassion, unwilling ones, driven to this shame by hunger and despair. One of the friars carried a little unexpended alms in the common purse, just enough for three days’ bare subsistence. Handing it to the women, Fra Filippo implored them to leave off their trade for the next three days at least, and meanwhile to pray hard and commit themselves to God’s pity and providence. On their own accord they promised, weeping, to go to confession, and turned away. “What punishment, do you think, my brothers,” asked Fra Filippo indignantly as the friars went on, “has Almighty God in store for those of the heartless and hypocritical rich who drive the poor into slavery like this?”

As he spoke they reached the Orvieto gate, to be met by a considerable crowd surging out with cries of “Ecco Flilippo! Evviva il santo!” ….

The two penitent prostitutes encountered by Fra Filippo and his companions near the Orvieto gate [came again]. According to…an eye witness, these women came to San Marco next day to make their confession to St. Philip in person. At their second visit Fra Filippo recommended total withdrawal from the world…. and the women, destined to figure on the Servite rolls as Blessed Helena and Blessed Flora, took him at his word. (115-117—my emphasis added)

Such is another abiding presentation of the character and manner and sanctity of Saint Philip Benizi. Moreover, “the essence of St. Philip’s message for the Atomic Age [as of 1959], as for any other, [is expressed by]: love, humility, patience, compassion, self-sacrifice, self-effacement, the sharing of the sufferings of the Mother of Sorrows with the seven swords in her heart.” (133—my emphasis added)

FINIS

© 2021 Robert D. Hickson

1 D. B. Wyndham Lewis, A Florentine Portrait (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1959), 137 pages. All further references to this brief essay will be to this 1959 text, and placed above in parentheses in the main body of our comments for convenience.

Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton on Membership in the Catholic Church: Questions and Discernments De Ecclesia

Dr. Robert Hickson

10 February 2021

Saint Scholastica (d. 543)

Muriel Agnes Hickson (d. 2009)

Epigraphs

“The ecclesiastical magisterium, in teaching and guarding this dogma [as of 1958], insists that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church and at the same time likewise insists that people who die without ever becoming members of the Catholic Church can obtain the Beatific Vision.” (Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation, page x—my bold emphasis added)

***

“Ultimately the process [of obtaining salvation in eternal life] is achieved and perfected when the person saved comes to possess the life of grace eternally and inamissibly [i.e., incapable of being lost], in the everlasting glory of the Beatific Vision. There is genuine salvation, however, when the man who has hitherto been in the state of original or mortal sin is brought into the life of sanctifying grace, even in this world, when that life of grace can be lost through the man’s own fault.” (Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation, page 134—my bold emphasis added)

***

In 1958, there was, in lucid prose, a timely and timeless, historical and theological book published just before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) by Monsignor Joseph Clifford Fenton. Its main title is The Catholic Church and Salvation and its partly explanatory subtitle is In the Light of Recent Pronouncements by the Holy See.1 From the outset, Fenton makes us aware of one developing accent in modern theology as it would soon again show itself more fully and mercifully—if not vaguely and laxly and even equivocally–at the Second Vatican Council:

Any person who is at all familiar with what the great mass of religious and theological writings of our times [up to 1958] have had to say about this dogma is quite well aware of the fact that, in an overwhelming majority of cases, these writings have been mainly, almost exclusively, concerned with proving and explaining how this dogma [“irreversible doctrine”] does not mean that only members of the Catholic Church can be saved. (ix-x—my emphasis added)

Throughout his searching book, Fenton even discusses the challenging matter of an “implicit desire” as well as the comparable matter of a person’s somehow being “in”—or “within”—the Church, but not “a member of the Catholic Church.”

Therefore, we now specifically ask, even at the outset of our commentary, just how one may be in the Catholic Church, but not be a member of the Church? (We must certainly, and always fittingly, acknowledge that we must never set limits to the Omnipotent Mercy of God!) We must, moreover, always consider how, as professed Catholics, we are practically and prudently to conduct ourselves amidst non-Catholics—especially as a Catholic missionary today. And we should thus be well grounded, but on what kinds of fundamental doctrines and on what theoretical premises, lest we be too superficial and have an incomplete presentation of the proportionate truth?

At one point of his final chapter on “Some Sources of Misunderstanding” (165-189), Fenton says:

The teaching that man could be in the Church only in intention or desire and not as a member and still attain eternal salvation “within” this society is, of course, tremendously important. It is a part of Catholic doctrine about the nature of God’s ecclesia. (170)

In his earlier chapter entitled “Salvation and the Basic Concept of the Church” (145-164), Fenton makes another important note in passing:

If a man really fights for truth and virtue, if he really works to serve and to glorify the Triune God, then he is fighting on the side of, and in a very real sense “within,” the true Church itself. (163)

Shortly afterwards, Fenton clarifies his own deeper opinion, by way of contrast:

If, on the other hand, a man is not working to please God, to glorify and serve Him, this man does not really love with the love of charity.

The situation of the person who is not a member of the Church, but who is “within” it by intention, desire or prayer can be understood best in comparison with the condition of a Catholic in the state of mortal sin. Despite the fact that he is a member of the society which “steadfastly contends for truth and virtue,” this individual’s will is turned away from God and strives for objectives opposed to those sought by the Church. He is one of those “who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God.” In other words, in spite of his membership in the supernatural kingdom of God on earth, he is actually working and fighting for the things the kingdom of Satan seeks.

The ultimate orientation of a man’s activity comes from the supreme intention of his will. For the man in the state of grace, this supreme intention is the love of charity. It is the desire to please God in all things. The man in the state of mortal sin has some other supreme objective. There is some end he seeks in contempt of God. Even though some of his acts are good in themselves, ultimately his life is directed to the attainment of that end, which is the purpose of the kingdom of Satan.

If a member of the Church should die in the state of mortal sin, he will be condemned forever to hell, the homeland of Satan’s kingdom. He will, in other words, be assigned forever to the social unit in which and with which he was fighting at the moment of his passage from this life. In exactly the same way, the non-member of the Church who dies believing God’s message with the assent of faith, loving God with the affection of charity, and sincerely willing and praying to enter God’s ecclesia, will live forever in the social unit within which he willed and prayed to live and for which he was fighting at the moment of his death. (163-164—italics in the original; my bold emphasis added)

Msgr. Fenton had also earlier made two other formulations:

If a man really fights for truth and virtue, if he really works to serve and to glorify the Triune God, then he is fighting on the side of, and in a very real sense “within,” the true Church itself. And, if a man really has divine charity, he is actually fighting this battle for the Church. (163—my emphasis added)

When a man desires or prays for entrance into the true Church of Jesus Christ, even when this objective is apprehended only in an implicit way by the person praying, the first two of these conditions are necessarily fulfilled….In order that this prayer for entrance into the Church may be effective for salvation, the prayer and the intention behind it must be enlightened by faith and motivated or animated by charity. And it must also be a persevering prayer. (162—my emphasis added)

CODA

As exemplified by this short introduction and its serene citations, one would fittingly and very fruitfully read—and read again and closely—and always with a deeply savor—Monsignor Joseph Clifford Fenton’s thorough and well-written 194 pages on The Catholic Church and Salvation (1958). Then contrast the comparable words of the Second Vatican Council. The contrast will clarify the mind.

–FINIS–

© 2021 Robert D. Hickson

1Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation: In the Light of Recent Pronouncements by the Holy See (Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1958—some 194 pages in the hardback edition). All further references will be to this edition, and placed above in parentheses of the main body of this essay.

Conversations with Father John A. Hardon About the Incarnation of Christ

Dr. Robert Hickson

30 December 2020

Saint Sabinus (d. 303)

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. (d. 2000)

Epigraphs

“How many of the three infused theological virtues—faith, hope, and charity—did Christ’s Sacred Humanity possess?” (Father John A. Hardon, S.J. in a conversation with R. Hickson in the late 1980s.)

***

“Christ as well as His Blessed Mother were both morally free, we trust, but were they thus free to sin? In Heaven we too are to be free, but will we in Beatitude thereby be free to sin? These exceptional capacities, limits, and gifts of liberty appear to be higher forms of freedom which are now especially to be aspired to by us, and striven after—with persevering virtue and under Divine Grace.” (Father John A. Hardon, S.J. in a conversation with R. Hickson in the early 1990s.)

***

In the recent public discourse concerning our federal U.S. presidential elections and their ongoing turbulent aftermath, there has been much mention of our seeking after and attaining “more liberty” and “more freedom.” When I first heard these often used but undefined conceptual words, I asked myself a couple of questions: “what do you mean and how do you know?”; secondly, do you also say or imply a “freedom from something”? or, rather, is it especially a “freedom for something”? Is it a liberation from, or a liberation for? Or are we to understand that both forms of freedom are intended to have a purposive accent and resolute orientation, even if they are not always abidingly virtuous? As in a desperate escape from a palpable tyranny.

These posed questions have also caused me to recall some things Father John Hardon, S.J. first told me, and then asked of me, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It involves some sacred Catholic matters and illuminates for us still some differentiated aspects of freedom and liberty. For example, the traditional words “Libertas Ecclesiae” have not the same meaning as “Libertas Religiosa”—calling for the Liberty of the Church, as distinct from calling for the vaguer modernist and ecumenical sense of “Religious Liberty” which became prominent, but often conveniently equivocal or even intentionally undefined in the discussions and official documents of Vaticanum II (1962-1965) and in the later years.

In the late 1980s, the Jesuit Father John A. Hardon told me about an earlier incident with his Catholic seminary students in New York at Saint John’s College. During one exchange of ideas with his theological students about the Humility of God in the Incarnation, he had surprisingly asked them: how many of the theological gifts did Jesus possess in his Sacred Humanity? Almost all of the seminarians then promptly answered: “All three of these infused gifts!”

To these unexpected words of a more or less common opinion (as lucidly expressed by his seminarians in their theology class), Father Hardon himself promptly made a terse summary critique and began a further commentary about those who had surprisingly thought that Christ’s humanity possessed all three of the Theological Virtues. Father Hardon said: “You do not thus seem to understand the fuller meaning of Christ’s Hypostatic Union.”

Father Hardon then proceeded to say of the Incarnation of Christ that “Christ is a Divine Person Who has assumed a passible Human Nature. That is to say: His Sacred Humanity showed forth that His assumed nature was both passible (able to suffer) and abidingly capable of genuine moral freedom, which thereby also enabled Him to accept and to choose freely His own sacred Passion. Christ was not a Monothelite, one who claimed that Christ had no truly free human will, but only a divine will. If that were so, it would mean emptying out the meaning of His freely chosen Passion, to include His Agony in the Garden, Lacerations, Crucifixion and Death.” (Monothelitism was gradually observed to be the subtlest of all the Christological Heresies. We should still consider this fact.)

Moreover, it was in Virginia a few days later that Father Hardon—himself a Dogmatic Theologian by formation—very slowly and quite sadly said to me in person that he was quite surprised by his mature seminary students: their unexpected and abiding doctrinal errors as they were openly expressed by his advanced seminarians in New York. Father Hardon then even began to examine me, a laymen, before we went together into Father Hardon’s local catechetical class on the Church’s traditional Doctrine of Grace: Divine Grace. That is to say, he also first proposed to me me several pertinent questions on Christology; and he then asked me for my own specific answers, to include my explanation and dogmatic rationale for the Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union along with some of its indispensable unfolding implications. (It is so that I shall not likely forget those solemn tests and answers under Father Hardon’s candid and close scrutiny. They indeed taught me trenchantly how to understand many other doctrinal matters of permanent moment.)

One of those implications Father Hardon also discussed with me presented to me another formidable mystery: “the temptations of Christ” Who suffered acutely and greatly, especially because Our Lord did not have a Fallen Human Nature. That is to say, unlike us with our perduring Fallen Nature, most of us. That is to say, it is so but for a few exceptions, such as with Mary His Mother herself who was, like her Son, also sinless from her Immaculate Conception on, and throughout her lived actions and ponderings of her heart and mortal life.

Father Hardon also asked me another truly searching and challenging theological question: “What do strict Calvinists and faithful Lutherans have in common with Pelagianism – specifically concerning the special Gifts that our Proto-Parents were given and received in their Creation before the Fall?”

Father’s brief answers to my ignorance first spoke of three kinds of gifts received from God before the Fall—as informed and faithful Catholics still affirm—and they were: natural gifts, praeternatural gifts, and supernatural gifts. After the Fall, man lost both the supernatural gifts of Divine Grace and the unique but limited preternatural gifts (e.g., bodily immortality and ordered control of his various passions, and the like), although this latter category of praeternatural gifts, very mysteriously, would never be fully restored, not even after Christ’s Redemptive Passion, Resurrection, and elevating Restoration of the generous life of Virtue and Divine Grace, especially of Sacramental and Sanctifying Graces.

After the Fall, and having been deprived of Grace, man with his natural gifts and his still gifted nature would be nonetheless wounded by ignorance and by our obscuring and disordered passions.

However, as Father Hardon himself accented it, strict Protestants and strict Pelagians both deny the very existence of supernatural and praeternatural gifts generously granted to our Proto-Parents before their Fall. Thus for Protestants, as a consequence, our fallen nature was not just deprived of grace and other prelapsarian gifts, but became even depraved. Man—under these dark premises—was thus thought to be deeply corrupted, not only wounded and deprived; but also depraved. For, it was claimed, that man had now fallen darkly beneath Nature. It was now a matter, not just of a “Natura deprivata,” but also of a “Natura depravata.” A dark view it was of man and his resultant nature, for sure! In contrast to Luther, Catholic theological anthropology shows itself to be more generous and forgiving, I think, but it is not Semi-Pelagian. Therefore, the Catholic way is potentially more joyful, and with supportive good reasons and with hope for a sincere Gaudium et Laetitia.

Father Hardon and I also discussed a note on presumption in relation to hope, as it was first deftly presented by the German Catholic philosopher, Josef Pieper; for it is so that presumption, as a form of pride, is also—at least in the Traditional Catholic Catechisms—one of the two sins against hope, the second one being despair (and its preparatory spiritual sloth). Among his other fresh insights, Josef Pieper says that “presumption is the premature anticipation of final fulfillment [Vita Eternal and its Beatitude]”; “despair is the premature anticipation of a final non-fulfillment.”

On another occasion, when discussing with Father Hardon some non-Catholic ideas (especially 1647 Calvinist ones) about freedom, redemption, grace, perseverance, and salvation, the Jesuit priest also deeply and memorably appreciated another wise and succinct Catholic insight spoken to me by Josef Pieper personally in his home in Germany: “Given the riskful and formidable dowry of our individual freedom—and until the very moment of our death—we retain the permanent possibility of our voluntary defection.”

Lest we fall from humility and lest we then fall into sinful presumption, our own hope of salvation—our own Spes Salutis—must recurrently pray for a certain fear: the Donum Timoris, the Gift of Fear. That special fear is that we ultimately could be finally separated from the Good and the Beloved.

The Gift of Final Perseverance, the Catholic Council of Trent has written, is a “Magnum Bonum”—it is indeed, sub Gratia, a very Great Gift. It certainly allows us to live our morally free and manly lives amidst the challenges of a Great Adventure full of risk, and to do it with humility and without that smooth, insidious and self-assured presumption that is—along with despair—regrettably a grave sin against hope.

Father Hardon also abidingly knew all of these components and aspects of adventure and our obligatory responsibility; and he (along with Josef Pieper (d. 6 November 1997)) has helped me so much, and so well, to savour still many fundamental facts and principles of our historic Catholic Faith.

Father Hardon, S.J. died on 30 December 2000, R.I.P. Every day I still pray for him gratefully.

–FINIS–

© 2020 Robert D. Hickson

Archbishop Viganò: Restore Christianity with Good Literature

Note: this essay has first been published at LifeSiteNews.com and is re-printed here with kind permission.

by Dr. Maike Hickson

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has recently written a preface for a book, Gratitude, Contemplation, and the Sacramental Worth of Catholic Literature, a collection of essays written by my husband Dr. Robert Hickson over the course of several decades. Being a distillation of his life work, this new book aims at presenting to the readers a whole set of inspiring books – most of them Catholic – that can help us restore a Catholic memory. That is to say, these books can help us revive a sense of Catholicity that comes to us from time periods and regions where the Catholic faith was an integral part of the state and society, from a lived faith.

We are very grateful to Archbishop Viganò for his preface, which highlights the importance of culture – and importantly, literature – for the revival of Christianity, and therefore we decided to publish it here (see full text below). His comments aim at turning our minds to the future, preparing the ground for a time where Christ again will reign in the heart and minds of man. His preface is therefore a sort of manifesto of faith and hope, and a wonderful instruction for us on how to go about preparing the ground for Christ.

The Italian prelate and courageous defender of the faith points to the importance of having a memory of our Catholic culture. “Memory,” he writes, “is a fundamental element of a people’s identity, civilization and culture: a society without memory, whose patrimony consists solely of a present without a past, is condemned to have no future. It is alarming that this loss of collective memory affects not only Christian nations but also seriously afflicts the Catholic Church herself and, consequently, Catholics.” The lack of culture among Catholics today, he adds, is “not the result of chance, but of systematic work on the part of those who, as enemies of the True, Good and Beautiful, must erase any ray of these divine attributes from even the most marginal aspects of social life, from our idioms, from memories of our childhood and from the stories of our grandparents.”

Describing this cultural tabula rasa that has taken place among Catholics, Archbishop Viganò goes on to say that “Reading the pages of Dante, Manzoni or one of the great Christian writers of the past, many Catholics can no longer grasp the moral and transcendent sense of a culture that is no longer their common heritage, a jealously guarded legacy, the deep root of a robust plant full of fruit.”

On the contrary, he explains, “in its place we have a bundle of the confused rubbish of the myths of the Revolution, the dusty Masonic ideological repertoire, and the iconography of a supposed freedom won by the guillotine, along with the persecution of the Church, the martyrdom of Catholics in Mexico and Spain, the end of the tyranny of Kings and Popes and the triumph of bankers and usurers.”

Archbishop Viganò clearly shows us that he understands the concept of a “cultural revolution” as developed by the Communist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, who aimed at winning the minds of the people by influencing and dominating their culture.

This cultural – and with it spiritual – empoverishment among Catholics, according to the prelate, “has found significant encouragement also among those who, within the Catholic Church, have erased 2,000 years of the inestimable patrimony of faith, spirituality and art, beginning with a wretched sense of inferiority instilled in the faithful even by the hierarchy since Vatican II.” It was the very hierarchy of the Church – together with many simpler clergymen – who helped promote such a devastation of the art within the realm of the Catholic Church. Let us only think of the modern churches, altars, and of modern church music!

With powerful words, Archbishop Viganò describes how this destruction is ultimately aimed at God Himself: “Certainly, behind this induced amnesia, there is a Trinitarian heresy. And where the Deceiver lurks, the eternal Truth of God must be obscured in order to make room for the lie, the betrayal of reality, the denial of the past.” In light of this analysis, it nearly seems to be a counter-revolutionary act to revive Catholic literature, Catholic music, Catholic architecture.

Explains the prelate: “Rediscovering memory, even in literature, is a meritorious and necessary work for the restoration of Christianity, a restoration that is needed today more than ever if we want to entrust to our children a legacy to be preserved and handed down as a tangible sign of God’s intervention in the history of the human race.”

It is in this context that he kindly mentions the “meritorious work” of this new book, praising its “noble purpose of restoring Catholic memory, bringing it back to its ancient splendor, that is, the substance of a harmonious and organic past that has grown and still lives today.” He adds that “Robert Hickson rightly shows us, in the restoration of memory, the way to rediscover the shared faith that shapes the traits of a shared Catholic culture.”

Dr. Hickson’s new book was published last month and contains 25 essays on many different Catholic authors, such as Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, Maurice Baring, Evelyn Waugh, Josef Pieper, George Bernanos, Ernest Psichari, Father John Hardon, S.J., L. Brent Bozell Jr., and, last but not least, the Orthodox Christian authors Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The themes of this book are war and peace, justice, the Catholic vow, saints, friendship, chivalry, martyrdom and sacrifice, just to name a few. The essays of the book were written from 1982 until 2017, the first being an essay where Hickson developed the concept of “sacramental literature” and the importance of “restoring a Catholic memory.” Anthony S. Fraser, the son of the famous Catholic convert and traditionalist, Hamish Fraser, kindly had edited the essays for his friend, before he so suddenly died on August 28, 2014, the Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo. May his soul rest in peace. We thank you, Tony!

Here is the full preface written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò:

Memory is a fundamental element of a people’s identity, civilization and culture: a society without memory, whose patrimony consists solely of a present without a past, is condemned to have no future. It is alarming that this loss of collective memory affects not only Christian nations, but also seriously afflicts the Catholic Church herself and, consequently, Catholics.

This amnesia affects all social classes and is not the result of chance, but of systematic work on the part of those who, as enemies of the True, Good and Beautiful, must erase any ray of these divine attributes from even the most marginal aspects of social life, from our idioms, from memories of our childhood and from the stories of our grandparents. The Orwellian action of artificially remodeling the past has become commonplace in the contemporary world, to the point that a class of high school students are unable to recognize an altarpiece depicting a scene from the life of Christ or a bas-relief with one of the most revered saints of the past. Dr. Robert Hickson calls this inability “deficiency of dogmatic understanding”, “Catholic illiteracy of pestilential proportions”.

Tabula rasa: millions of souls who only twenty or thirty years ago would have immediately identified the Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan or Saint Jerome or Saint Mary Magdalene are capable of seeing only two men along a river, an old man with a lion and a woman with a vase. Reading the pages of Dante, Manzoni or one of the great Christian writers of the past, many Catholics can no longer grasp the moral and transcendent sense of a culture that is no longer their common heritage, a jealously guarded legacy, the deep root of a robust plant full of fruit.

In its place we have a bundle of the confused rubbish of the myths of the Revolution, the dusty Masonic ideological repertoire, and the iconography of a supposed freedom won by the guillotine, along with the persecution of the Church, the martyrdom of Catholics in Mexico and Spain, the end of the tyranny of Kings and Popes and the triumph of bankers and usurers. A lineage of kings, saints, and heroes is ignored by its heirs, who stoop to boasting about their ancestors who were criminals, usurpers, and seditious traitors: never has falsification reached the point of such incomprehensible perversion, and it is evident that the desire to artificially create such ancestry is the necessary premise for the barbarization of the offspring, which is now practically accomplished.

We must also recognize that this removal has found significant encouragement also among those who, within the Catholic Church, have erased two thousand years of the inestimable patrimony of faith, spirituality and art, beginning with a wretched sense of inferiority instilled in the faithful even by the Hierarchy since Vatican II. The ancient apostolic liturgy, on which centuries of poetic compositions, mosaics, frescoes, paintings, sculptures, chiseled vases, illuminated chorales, embroidered vestments, plainchants and polyphony have been shaped, has been proscribed. In its place we now have a squalid rite without roots, born from the pen of conspirators dipped in the inkwell of Protestantism; music that is no longer sacred but profane; tasteless liturgical vestments and sacred vessels made of common material. And as a grey counterpoint to the hymns of St. Ambrose and St. Thomas, we now have poor paraphrases without metrics and without soul, grotesque paintings and disturbing sculptures. The removal of the admirable writings of the Fathers of the Church, the works of the mystics, the erudite dissertations of theologians and philosophers and, in the final analysis, of Sacred Scripture itself – whose divine inspiration is sometimes denied, sacrilegiously affirming that it is merely of human origin – have all constituted necessary steps of being able to boast of the credit of worldly novelties, which before those monuments of human ingenuity enlightened by Grace appear as miserable forgeries.

This absence of beauty is the necessary counterpart to an absence of holiness, for where the Lord of all things is forgotten and banished, not even the appearance of Beauty survives. It is not only Beauty that has been banished: Catholic Truth has been banished along with it, in all its crystalline splendor, in all its dazzling consistency, in all its irrepressible capacity to permeate every sphere of civilized living. Because the Truth is eternal, immutable and divisive: it existed yesterday, it exists today and it will exist tomorrow, as eternal and immutable and divisive as the Word of God.

Certainly, behind this induced amnesia, there is a Trinitarian heresy. And where the Deceiver lurks, the eternal Truth of God must be obscured in order to make room for the lie, the betrayal of reality, the denial of the past. In a forgery that is truly criminal forgery, even the very custodians of the depositum fidei ask forgiveness from the world for sins never committed by our fathers – in the name of God, Religion or the Fatherland – supporting the widest and most articulated historical forgery carried out by the enemies of God. And this betrays not only the ignorance of History which is already culpable, but also culpable bad faith and the malicious will to deceive the simple ones.

Rediscovering memory, even in literature, is a meritorious and necessary work for the restoration of Christianity, a restoration that is needed today more than ever if we want to entrust to our children a legacy to be preserved and handed down as a tangible sign of God’s intervention in the history of the human race: how much Providence has accomplished over the centuries – and that art has immortalized by depicting miracles, the victories of the Christians over the Turk, sovereigns kneeling at the feet of the Virgin, patron saints of famous universities and prosperous corporations – can be renewed today and especially tomorrow, only if we can rediscover our past and understand it in the light of the mystery of the Redemption.

This book proposes the noble purpose of restoring Catholic memory, bringing it back to its ancient splendor, that is, the substance of a harmonious and organic past that has grown and still lives today, just as the hereditary traits of a child are found developed in the adult man, or as the vital principle of the seed is found in the sap of the tree and in the pulp of the fruit. Robert Hickson rightly shows us, in the restoration of memory, the way to rediscover the shared faith that shapes the traits of a shared Catholic culture.

In this sense it is significant – I would say extremely appropriate, even if only by analogy – to have also included Christian literature among the Sacramentals, applying to it the  same as action as that of blessed water, the glow of the candles, the ringing of bells, the liturgical chant: the invocation of the Virgin in the thirty-third canto of Dante’s Paradiso, the dialogue of Cardinal Borromeo with the Innominato, and a passage by Chesterton all make Catholic truths present in our minds and, in some way, they realize what they mean and can influence the spiritual life, expanding and completing it. Because of this mystery of God’s unfathomable mercy we are touched in our souls, moved to tears, inspired by Good, spurred to conversion. But this is also what happens when we contemplate an altarpiece or listen to a composition of sacred music, in which a ray of divine perfection bursts into the greyness of everyday life and shows us the splendor of the Kingdom that awaits us.

The author writes: “We are called to the commitment to recover the life and full memory of the Body of Christ, even if in our eyes we cannot do much to rebuild that Body”. But the Lord does not ask us to perform miracles: He invites us to make them possible, to create the conditions in our souls and in our social bodies so that the wonders of divine omnipotence may be manifested. To open ourselves to the past, to the memory of God’s great actions in history, is an essential condition for making it possible for us to become aware of our identity and our destiny today so that we may restore the Kingdom of Christ tomorrow.

+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana
Apostolic Nuncio

28 August 2020
Saint Augustine
Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church

“The Fall”: A Poem by Isabella Maria Hickson

Note: This poem was written this fall by our 12-year-old daughter, Isabella Maria. As a sort of a short respite in these difficult times, we hope you will enjoy it, at the end of this season and on the last day of November.

***

The cool and beautiful fall

Is like a different color in the season’s hall

It has a change in the weather

That alteration comes like a feather

The leaves all turn yellow, orange, and red

And softly fall upon the earthen bed

***

All the animals get ready for the winter cold

And take all the food their homes can hold

All can sense the oncoming chill

That comes in a hurry over every hill

They make their homes stronger

To help them last much longer

***

Every being of any kind

Does not want to be left behind

In the preparation for the winter’s frost

For they know the very great cost

If they do not take heed to hurry

The winter will come in like a flurry

***

So when it changes from warm to cool it is the fall

It is like a new attire for Queen Season’s ball

So it is the time the many leaves to rake

And harvest and all kinds of things to bake

The time to slowly stay at home

And get ready to build out of snow a dome

***

So let us thank God for this lovely season

He gave us for a great reason

To Weaken and Manipulate the Complex Human Immune System

Dr. Robert Hickson

23 November 2020

Pope Saint Clement I (d. 100)

Saint Miguel Pro, S.J. (d. 1927)

To Weaken and Manipulate the Complex Human Immune System:

A Strategic Objective and Desirable Application for Some Malefactors

Epigraphs

“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades….Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” (President Dwight David Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (17 January 1961), Section IV—my emphasis added.)

***

“We face a hostile ideology—global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily [as of 1961] the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration.” (President Eisenhower’s January 1961 Farewell Address, Section III—my emphasis added.)

***

In 1996 a good professional acquaintance, with his deep knowledge of foreign biological-warfare research (to include some newly discovered bio-agents and their long-range applications), said to me:

The common target seems to be the human immune system, both as to its weakening and its risk-filled manipulations. And thus we have also come to know of the actually and the potentially weaponized micro-organisms and toxins that are both stress-activated agents and self-sabotaging, autoimmune agents of latent diseases (such as MS—multiple sclerosis—produced now even in little children). Moreover, certain subtle toxins—such as all marine toxins—are themselves very complex, yet they are also thereby covertly useful in camouflaged assassinations.

These words shook me very much, and fostered our further-searching discussions; and they gradually opened me up to a much better and differentiated understanding of some of the cultural and military consequences of the revolution of molecular biology. That is to say, for example, the potential consequences of resorting to psycho-tropic and neuro-tropic, or digital, weapons. And even genetic weapons! These matters have personally shaken me more than any other revolution I have ever earnestly studied, to include the cybernetic realm and some deceitful manipulations in cyberculture.

However, this brief reflective introduction—ultimately about the immune system—does not propose to consider the deeper technical matters involved, many of which are very sensitive (and often still classified) and, besides that, they are so discouraging to discuss.

For, these matters are indeed often shocking and all too conducive to futility and moral paralysis. By mentioning our earlier 1996 conversation, we wanted to arouse an attentive moral awareness. We never intended thereby to help bring about what we have always tried to insure against: namely a succumbing to final despair, or to spiritual sloth, or to a fatalistic and timid resultant disposition willing to submit and, effectively, to give up in a cowardly acquiescence.

Let us also contemplate, and not forget, what President Eisenhower had more famously warned us about back in January of 1961 and in his eloquent Farewell Address:

We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. (President Eisenhower, Farewell Address, January 1961—Section IV—my emphasis added.)

Let us now further contemplate, if we may, the “misplaced power” of “a scientific-technological elite” currently (as of 2020)—given the often esoteric, at least highly specialized, developments transpiring in the fields of nanotechnologies and robotics and neurology, for example. Especially the convergences and overlaps between information sciences and the life sciences, as with the “cyborgs.”

Were there to be discovered now a well-formed and competent man, such a man could also learn much and teach us much by way of contrasts. He could, for example, go regularly to various scientific conferences at home and abroad on the lookout for “scientific and strategic breakthroughs.” Then he could, if fitting, warn us of some of the coming dangers—to include the moral and spiritual dangers. For instance, he might tell us more about the human effects on the human immune system coming from anti-materiel “radio-frequency weapons” at certain frequencies.

What if, for example, he were to discover evidence of a potential or actual capacity and intention for the targeting of agricultural targets—a form of economic warfare—such as against seeds and against the bees (those indispensable pollinators!). What if that elaborated capability were found in a foreign country? More positively, what if some country—even our own—had biological agents and covert methods of withering all three of the major “drug crops”? Would that be a form of economic warfare to some countries or some financial elites and “narco-trafficantes”? Some biological agents are reportedly good for dissolving the world’s trash; but they can also be turned to destroy material targets, such as bridges, if they are not strictly limited and regulated.

What if you were credibly told that a certain country has a selective bio-agent that can specifically destroy the human eyeball (including that of a child nearby)? We may not long remain unengaged here, can we?

A fortiori, the intentional weakenings and manipulations of the human immune system—to include the larger revolutionary subversions of the cultural immune system (as in the case of the Catholic Church currently )—are quite intimately consequential. That is, they are often corrosively destructive and weakly resisted, with but few enforceable limits able to be set in the first place. It is a slippery slope, as is the case with the manifold risks of experimental vaccines.

It has been said that one of a good farmer’s main purposes is “to increase the fertility of the soil.” Analogously, a truly wise man will sustain his attempts “to enhance the human immune system” thereby protecting it from being vulnerably and dangerously weakened; and also guarding it against its being rashly and detrimentally manipulated.

The various misuses—the unjust abuses—of the revolution in molecular biology are the most difficult and tormenting things that I have ever had to face.

Be careful, as you enter this realm, this very slippery realm, Deo Volente.

Protect the fertility of the little ones. And encourage the full fruitfulness of the little ones, too.


–FINIS–

© 2020 Robert D. Hickson

The Indirect Grand-Strategic Approach in the Context of Biological Warfare and China

Author’s Note, 11 November 2020: After this 22-page-text from November 1997 was somehow discovered and read in early 1998 by General Peter Schoomaker himself, and by some of his General Staff at the Special Operations Command, I received a personal invitation to speak more thoroughly about these matters, especially about the strategic culture and capacities of China. In July of 1998, I was a visitor to the U.S. SOCOM in Tampa, Florida.

Robert D. Hickson

15 November 1997

The Indirect Grand-Strategic Approach and Context of

Biological Warfare (and Bio-Terrorism) in the Likely Near Future:

A Trenchant Strategic Challenge to American Special Operations Forces and to Our Incipient Strategic Culture

Epigraph One (and Timely Parables)i :[FOOTNOTE ONE]

They [the Spartans] had not been many days in Attica [summer, 430 BC] before the plague first broke out among the Athenians [six to seven months after Pericles’ Funeral Oration]. Previously attacks of the plague had been reported from many other places in Lemnos [an Ionian island] and elsewhere, but there was no record of the disease being so virulent anywhere else or causing so many deaths as it did in Athens. At the beginning the doctors were quite incapable of treating the disease because of their ignorance of the right methods. In fact mortality among the doctors was the highest of all, since they came more frequently in contact with the sick. Nor was any other human art or science of any help at all. Equally useless were prayers made in the temples, consultations of oracles, and so forth; indeed, in the end people were so overcome by their sufferings that they paid no further attention to such things…. I myself shall merely describe what it was like…. I had the disease myself and saw others suffering from it…. Words indeed fail when one tries to give a general picture of the disease; and as for the sufferings of individuals, they seemed almost beyond the capacity of human nature to endure…. Though there were many dead bodies lying about unburied, the birds and animals that eat human flesh either did not come near them or, if they did taste the flesh, died of it afterwards. Evidence for this may be found in the fact that there was a complete disappearance of all birds of prey…. Some died in neglect, some in spite of every possible care being taken of them…. The most terrible thing of all was the despair into which people fell when they realized they had caught the plague; for they would immediately adopt an attitude of utter hopelessness, and, by giving in this way, would lose their powers of resistance…. So overwhelmed by the weight of their calamities that they had actually given up the usual practice of making laments [prayers] for the dead…. and, living as they did during the hot season in badly ventilated houses, they died like flies…. for the catastrophe was so overwhelming that men, not knowing what would happen next to them, became indifferent to every rule of religion or of law…. and adopted the most shameless methods…. Athens owed to the plague the beginnings of a state of unprecedented lawlessness. Seeing how quick and abrupt were the changes in fortune…, people now began openly to venture on acts of self-indulgence which before they used to keep in the dark…. Money and life seemed equally ephemeral. As for what is called honour, no one showed himself willing to abide by its laws…. No fear of god or law of man had a restraining influence. As for the gods, it seemed to be the same thing whether one worshipped them or not, when one saw the good and the bad dying indiscriminately. As for offenses against human law, no one expected to live long enough to be brought to trial and punished: instead everyone felt that already a far heavier sentence had been passed on him and was hanging over him, and that before the time for its execution arrived it was only natural to get some pleasure out of life. This, then, was the calamity which fell upon Athens….

(Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War: 431-404 BC, Book II, 47-54).

***

The concept and reality of biological terrorism and longer-range biological warfare, and our adequate defense against them – to include a possible and intelligently discriminating counter-offensive – will provide a trenchant measure and test of our strategic culture as a nation; and a sobering indication of the extent to which a truly strategic culture does not, in fact, exist, much less a much needed (and increasingly needed) grand-strategic culture. For, a grand-strategic culture takes a longer view of war and peace and rootedly sustainable civilization: hence of indirect and subversive warfare, as well as more direct and immediate warfare; of deceitful peace as well as true peace; of chronic as well as traumatic dislocations and challenges; and of their combined and abiding effects on a common culture and nourishing way of life; hence on the life of children, which is marked by resilient hope, not by self-pitying cynicism nor by paralyzing and self-sabotaging despair. For, a truly grand-strategic culture thinks and selflessly acts, not in terms of mere triage, but in terms of the nobler ethos that “the more defenseless one is the more that person calls our for our defense.” Such a long-range strategic culture conduces to life, not to death, nor to spiritual death, i.e., sloth and despair.

In these long sentences, every word counts and the provocative challenges stand, to be developed further in this paper and in all of the reflective comments I propose to make during this four-day colloquium. Furthermore, I would contend that, as a result of our multiple strategic vulnerabilities, disinclinations, and vacillations as a nation, we all too often allow other nations who have a strategic culture to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative against us and to our disadvantage – nations such as Great Britain, Israel, and China who have many of their own national-security assets abroad, with strategic interior lines on our own strategic inner front and precarious strategic thresholds (like Mexico and the offshore islands, as well as Canada). The Chinese Triads are an example of such a strategic national security asset – a combination of a trans-national criminal syndicate, a strategic intelligence operation, and a form of potential (if not actual) Chinese Special Operations Forces.ii [FOOTNOTE TWO]

The subtle threat of hostile biological operations (and especially their psychological effects on the target) – both short-term and long-term biological operations – will provide an acute and unmistakably clarifying test of our purpose and resilient coherence as a nation. From my own experience over the years, however, in the military and strategic intelligence community – to include in our Special Operations Forces (SOF) – we have not been either thoughtfully taking the longer view of such bio-warfare issues, in the longer light of military history and the indirect, mentally dislocating approaches of revolutionary, subversive warfare; or anticipating (as strategists should) the indirect approaches of new forms of asymmetrical niche (or nidus) warfare which use, as weapons, selective bio-toxins or the plague. And such agents include virulent neuro-toxins, and the targets include plants, soils, foods, and animals, as well as human bodies and minds.

Therefore, a mere military strategy – even a capacious and long-range military strategy – will not be sufficient to take the measure of such a strategic (often indirect) threat and challenge especially the challenge of what I prefer to call psycho-biological warfare and terrorism.

Thus, at the outset, the strategic-minded, unflinchingly truthful, military historian B.H. Liddell Hart may help us understand the larger strategic context for the coming hostile use of, and defense against, bio-toxins. This historically considered strategic context must also include the insufficiently anticipated and very destructive aftermath of the earlier promiscuous resort to (or complicity with) the essentially lawless ethos of guerrilla warfare, especially in World War II, and its fruits in the subsequent “deceitful peace” or “camouflaged war.” Liddell Hart’s newly added, 1967 chapter on Guerrilla Warfare, added to his second, revised edition of his earlier, classic book, Strategy, will help us understand this troublesome and dangerous aftermath resulting from the illusionary pursuit of peace through total military victory alone, especially in World War II. Liddell Hart’s insights on the self-sapping resort to guerrilla warfare and its longer-term aftermath – to include his own humble admissions of his earlier errors, short-sightedness, and inordinate attachments concerning “the effective operations of T.E. Lawrence during World War I in the Middle East” – will help us to examine the current and future challenge of irregular, but strategic, biological warfare.

In his newly added Chapter XIII (Guerrilla War) for his second edition of his book, Strategy, Liddell Hart said: “If you wish for peace, understand war – particularly the guerrilla and subversive forms of war.” He saw this as a “necessary and fitting replacement for the antique and oversimple dictum, ‘If you wish for peace, prepare for war,’ which too often has proved to be not only a provocation to war, but a matter of mistakenly preparing to repeat the method of the last war in conditions that have radically changed.” (p. 361) So, too, is it the case today in the ambiguous milieu of asymmetrical niche warfare, and lesser forms of asymmetrical response, where bio-toxins and their difficult-to-discern methods of delivery may be used against us; if only as a reprisal, for example, were we to be maneuvered soon into using small nuclear weapons against Iraq and its facilities for producing weapons of mass destruction, such as the nominal “Chicken Farm.”

However, what Liddell Hart said about nuclear power in 1967 may even more soberly apply today to biological and chemical power. He said:

For, if the nuclear power now available were unleashed and not merely maintained as a deterrent, its uses would mean “chaos” not “war,” since war is organised action, which could not be continued in a state of chaos. The nuclear deterrent, however, does not apply and cannot be applied to the deterrence of subtler forms of aggression [like bio-terrorism or bio-warfare]. Through its unsuitability for the purpose [of deterrence] it tends to stimulate and encourage them [i.e., the “subversive forms of war” and “subtler forms of aggression,” like strategic psycho-biological warfare.]

Furthermore, and very important for understanding the milieu and strategic context of irregular biological warfare, we must consider the original rationale for the widespread use in World War II of “guerrilla and subversive forms of war,” and its destructive aftermath – indeed, a bitter, and embittering, harvest still. Liddell Hart says:

In the Second World War…guerrilla warfare became so widespread as to be an almost universal feature…. Its growth can be traced largely to the deep impression [T.E.] Lawrence [and his Seven Pillars of Wisdom] had made, especially on Churchill…. [I]t became part of Churchill’s war policy to utilise guerrilla warfare as a counter-weapon…instigating and fostering “resistance” movements…and …these efforts were extended wider and wider [even into Asia, and building upon what had been fermenting there already]. A more extensive and prolonged guerrilla war had been waged in the Far East since the 1920’s by the Chinese Communists…. During this struggle, the Communists also played their hand with a view to the future…so effectively that …they were better placed to profit from the result [i.e., the Japanese collapse] and fill the vacuum than Chaing Kai-Shek’s Nationalist regime. (pp.362-363, emphasis added)

And since World War II, “the combination of guerrilla and subversive war has been pursued with increasing success in the neighboring areas of South-east Asia and in other parts of the world.” (p. 363) Moreover, Liddell Hart predicted:

Campaigns of this kind are likely to continue because they fit the conditions of the modern age and at the same time are well suited to take advantage of social discontent, racial ferment, and nationalistic fervour. The development of guerrilla and subversive war was intensified with the magnification of nuclear weapons, particularly the advent of the thermonuclear hydrogen bomb in 1954, and the simultaneous decision of the Untied States Government to adopt the policy and strategy of “massive retaliation” as a deterrent to all kinds of aggression. (p. 363 – emphasis added)

What Liddell Hart then says about this illusionary policy and strategy should illuminate and desirably correct our own response today, perhaps, to the variegated and newly subtle threats from biological weapons, in the longer light of the lawless aftermath of guerrilla and subversive warfare once (and maybe still) so promiscuously and un-farsightedly resorted to. He says:

The implied threat of using nuclear weapons to curb guerrillas was as absurd as to talk of using a sledge hammer to ward off a swarm of mosquitoes. The policy did not make sense, and the natural effect was to stimulate and encourage the forms of aggression by erosion to which nuclear weapons were an inapplicable counter. Such a sequel was easy to foresee, though not apparent to President Eisenhower and his advisors…. (p. 363 – emphasis added)

For the time being passing over his profoundly discerning analysis of the principles of guerrilla and subversive war, we now focus on Liddell Hart’s unsettling, but sound, conclusions about “the dangerous aftermath of guerrilla warfare” (p. 369) or “camouflaged war” (p.367) – a term he preferred to the misleading “concept of ‘cold war’” (p. 367). He says:

This broad conclusion [that “in the atomic age guerrilla warfare may be increasingly developed as a form of aggression suited to exploit the nuclear stalemate”], however, leads to a far-reaching and deeper question. It would be wise for the statesmen and strategists of the Western countries to “learn from history” and avoid the mistakes of the past when seeking to develop a counter-strategy in this kind of [asymmetrical] warfare. The vast extension of such warfare during the last twenty years has, to a large extent, been the product of the [World War II] war policy of instigating and fomenting popular revolt in enemy-occupied countries that Britain, under Churchill’s leadership, adopted in 1940 as a counter to the Germans – a policy subsequently extended to the Far East as a counter to the Japanese. The policy was adopted with great enthusiasm and little question. (p. 367 – emphasis added)

This promiscuous and undiscriminating resort to guerrilla and subversive forms of warfare produced many “a handicap to recovery after liberation” (p. 369),

But the heaviest handicap of all, and the most lasting one, was of the moral kind. The armed resistance movement attracted many “bad hats.” It gave them license to indulge their vices and work off their grudges under the cloak of patriotism [or of socialism, or Communism, or Zionism?]…. Worse still was its wider effect on the younger generation as a whole. It taught them to defy authority and break the rules of civic morality in the fight against the occupying forces. This left disrespect for “law and order” that inevitably continued after the invaders had gone. (p. 369)

Moreover, as Liddell Hart continues to articulate his insights applicable to our issues of bio-warfare and bio-defense:

Violence takes much deeper root in irregular warfare than it does in regular warfare…. [T]he former makes a virtue of defying authority and violating rules. It becomes very difficult to re-build a country, and a stable state, on a foundation undermined by such experience. (p. 369 – emphasis added)

Humbly, Liddell Hart added: “A realization of the dangerous aftermath of guerrilla warfare came to me in [belated] reflection on [T.E.] Lawrence’s campaigns in Arabia [during World War I] and in our discussion on the subject” (p. 369). Some, like Ord Wingate, had, soon after World War I, become “filled with the idea of giving the theory [of T.E. Lawrence and Liddell Hart’s own “exposition of the theory of guerrilla warfare”] a fresh and wider application” (p. 369), says Liddell Hart:

But I was beginning to have doubts – not of its immediate efficacy, but of its long-term effects. It seemed that they could be traced, like a thread, running through the persisting troubles that we, as the Turks’ successors, were suffering in the same area where Lawrence had spread the Arab Revolt. These doubts were deepened when re-examining the military history of the Peninsular War [against Napoleon] a century earlier and reflecting on the subsequent [disordered] history of Spain. (p. 369 – emphasis added)

In addition to other analogous examples from the military history of irregular warfare (to include French irregular warfare in 1870 against the invading Germans), which soon produced many “an epidemic of armed revolutions that continued in quick succession…and [later] broke out again” (pp. 369-370), Liddell Hart soberly notes, however, that:

These lessons of [earlier] history were too lightly disregarded by those who planned to promote violent insurrections as part of our [World War II] war policy. The repercussions have had a shattering effect in the postwar years on the peace policy of the Western Alliance – and not only in providing both equipment and stimulus to anti-Western movements in Asia and Africa [and Latin America]…. The military effects of the Maquis as an instrument against the Germans were outweighed by the political and moral ill effects on the future. The disease has continued to spread. (p. 370 – emphasis added)

However, to what extent, if at all, will we now learn these fuller lessons of history and apply them to understanding and countering the strategies of the indirect approach which now extend to the use of bio-toxins and of a “Fifth Column” on the “inner front” of a targeted country, like the United States? Liddell Hart concludes his chapter on Guerrilla War, in the longer light of strategy and grand strategy, with the following words:

It is not too late to learn from the experience of history. However tempting the idea may seem of replying to our opponents’ “camouflaged war” activities by counter-offensive moves of the same kind, it would be wiser to devise and pursue a more subtle and far-seeing counter-strategy. (p. 370 – emphasis added)

Given that “ubiquity combined with intangibility is the basic [psychological and strategic] secret of such a [hostile guerrilla or irregular bio-warfare] campaign,” what might such a “more subtle and far-seeing counter-strategy” look like when it is to be employed against asymmetrical (hence indirect and deceitful) forms of biological warfare and bio-terrorism, both of which are even more especially effective in “producing more cumulative distraction, disturbance, and demoralization among the [targeted] enemy, along with a more widespread impression among the [targeted] population [i.e., the psychological consequences on the people’s mentality, caused by such biological toxins]” (p. 365)? Imagine that the well-organized, highly intelligent, secret societies of the Chinese Triads were to conduct such bio-terrorist operations?

A versatile and highly gifted friend in our strategic intelligence community recently wrote me a thoughtful letter in response to an unclassified paper I sent him on the Chinese-Triad Phenomenon, especially as it is manifested increasingly in Europe, but also as a larger strategic asset of Chinese international power, working, as the Mossad also economically does, through its analogous overseas Chinese cultural communities. In the paper to which my friend insightfully and courteously responded, I had, moreover, suggested that the Chinese Triads – like the deployed Japanese Yakusa – should properly be considered as a form of Chinese “Special Operations Forces (SOF)” whose assets (location, accessibility, and talents) could be strategically activated on the “inner front” of foreign cultures while at the same time themselves retaining efficient “interior lines” as a disciplined, long-traditional secret society in the context of Chinese history and of China’s own subtly (indeed graciously) deceptive strategic culture.

Imagine the challenge to the U.S. national security apparatus, as a whole, if the Triads – in addition to their activities as a trans-national criminal syndicate involved in drugs, money-laundering, trafficking in illegal toxic-waste dumping, economic espionage, and illegal technology transfer (also through Canada) – were to be activated to perform information warfare (hence deception) operations and psychological operations such as “bio-terrorism” and more long-range biological warfare. The Chinese and the Chinese Triad apparatus would, in any event, provide an excellent and trenchant test case for the readiness of our defenses against strategic psycho-biological warfare – and a deeper test (and measure) of our own incipient strategic culture.

In response to such connected considerations, my friend (who has a doctorate in an advanced physical science and knows China, as well as several classes of strategic technological innovation, and foreign “research, analysis, and acquisition processes”) said to me, in part, as follows:

It [your paper] was timely, given the focus these past few weeks on the visiting Chinese governmental leaders. It prompted one to review a recent paper on the strategic culture of China. Oddly, there was no mention of the Chinese-Triad Phenomenon.

We naturally view all governments as fundamentally segregated from criminal syndicates. We recognize some element of corruption in every government, but we see only the tactical component. Criminal activities come and go, but the legitimate strategic interests of the governments persist. While the view may have been true for much of our (US) history, it certainly is a poor model for Asia. In China, the politicians come and go but the Triads persist. Their strategic objectives, operations, and methods have remained consistent, integrated in Chinese culture.

And as Chinese culture spreads throughout the world, so does the Chinese-Triad Phenomenon. Economic development in China is providing an ever stronger base for Triad operations. Advances in telecommunications and transportation technologies are providing the Triads with greater reach, enabling the expansion of their strategic objectives.

Your paper captures an element of Chinese strategic culture, The Chinese Triad Phenomenon, that has not received sufficient recognition by the Intelligence Community. Relegated to the status of tactical criminal activity, the strategic threat posed by the Triads is largely ignored. Your efforts to relate current and future threats in terms of the historical Chinese-Triad strategic culture are of utmost importance.

Given this sober analysis of a man who never flatters, but who speaks the truth as he sees it and calls things by their right names, how might we consider “the current and future threats” of bio-terrorism and deceptive psycho-biological warfare “in terms of the historical Chinese Triad strategic culture”? If we could sufficiently deal with the subtle and often gracious Chinese strategic culture’s capacities for “strategic information warfare, strategic deception, strategic psycho-biological operations and even more chronic and protracted psycho-biological warfare” (as in the Soviets’ intended use of plague), we would be in a more decisively secure position of “bio-defense” against other sophisticated or unsophisticated adversaries in this field of asymmetrical “weapons of mass destruction.” That is to say, Chinese grand-strategic culture provides us with a highly excellent “benchmark” threat, at least potentially, and the most challenging test of our adequate defense and fuller responses against bio-terrorism and fuller biological warfare.

How would our Special Operations Forces (SOF) respond to such a Chinese “Bio-Warfare” threat, in itself, or as part of a larger strategic operation, such as a strategic information warfare attack? One of the missions of our SOF – a mission, however, that many of them have told me they would prefer not to deal with, or to even think about – is “counter bio-terrorism,” in contradistinction to “anti-bio-terrorism.” The former mission requires the operatives to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative, strategically, as well as tactically and operationally. The latter implies a more strictly defensive posture of “force protection.”

Nevertheless, our properly long-range strategic response to bio-terrorism and fuller-scope biological warfare – chronic developments as well as traumatic incidents – will be illuminated and further helped by understanding, in the longer light of military history, the appropriate strategic context of such a demoralizing and intractable form of warfare: strategic psycho-biological warfare, as I designedly prefer to call it. By considering also the likely hostile application of “the grand strategy of the indirect approach” to new variants of revolutionary psychological (or psycho-cultural) warfare, such as strategic psycho-biological warfare, we shall better be able to understand the subtle strategic challenge to our nation and its way of life, and to form our adequate far-sighted counter-strategies. In the longer light of the history of revolutionary warfare – including subtle forms of ambiguous aggression and subversive warfare – B.H. Liddell Hart will again help us take the measure of certain things to which we may be initially all too inattentive or even condescendingly depreciative.

Therefore, before more specifically examining some likely future forms of asymmetrical biological warfare and strategic bio-terrorism, I propose again to examine some profound insights of this strategic-minded military historian, Liddell Hart, from his specially expanded second edition of his classic book, Strategy, wherein, as we have already seen, he treats of guerrilla warfare and other forms of ambiguous aggression and subversive warfare; and of their long-range consequences upon civilization and morale and the human spirit.

What Liddell Hart farsightedly said about World War II and the consequences of the Western illusions about victory, as well as the long-range aftermath of the unrestricted resort to guerrilla warfare, should analogously illuminate, and perhaps correct, our illusions about the purported end of the of the Cold War, our putative “fruits of victory,” and their longer-range consequences. Nuclear weapons and guerrilla warfare are to the purported victory and real aftermath of World War II as biological and chemical (or drug) warfare are to the purported victory and real aftermath of the “Cold War.” What does Liddell Hart have to say to us, after all, to elucidate the likely future forms of ambiguous and subversive asymmetrical warfare (or lesser indirect and asymmetrical responses) against the United States, especially on our home front, and given our increasingly precarious mastery of our own communications? Strategists are concerned to secure the “home base,” so that they can more fully become “master of the communications,” to include mastery over the communications of one’s opponent. But, mastery of the communications will be precarious, or altogether illusory, without first securing one’s strategic base and its own internal communications. Thus, Liddell Hart again far-sightedly has much to tell us of moment, in the longer light of history.

In his Preface to the Second Revised Edition (1967) of his book, Strategy, where, shortly before he died (1970), B.H. Liddell Hart added a new and important Chapter on Guerrilla War (Chapter XXIII), as well as a new Preface, where, in part, he said:

The last edition of this book was published in 1954, just after the explosion of the first hydrogen bomb – a thermo-nuclear bomb resulting from the development of nuclear fission into nuclear fusion. Even his first hydrogen bomb had an explosive force a thousand times greater than that of the first atomic bomb of 1945.

In Liddell Hart’s preface to his first edition, he had predicted (in 1954) that such technological innovations “would not radically change the basis or practice of strategy” and “would not free us from dependence on what are called ‘conventional weapons’ although it was likely to be an incentive to the development of more unconventional methods of applying them!” (emphasis added). Since 1954, he adds, “experience has clearly confirmed the trend predicted at that time,” and

Above all, such experience has emphatically borne out the forecast that the development of nuclear weapons would tend to nullify their deterrent effect, thereby leading to the increasing use of a guerrilla-type strategy (p. xv, emphasis added).

In his Preface to the first edition, Liddell Hart had said:

The hydrogen bomb is not the answer to the Western peoples’ dream of full and final insurance of their security. It is not a “cure-all” for the dangers that beset them. While it has increased their striking power it has sharpened their anxiety and deepened their sense of insecurity. (xvii).

Today, is this not a fortiori the case, given our dawning, yet reluctantly growing, awareness of the existence of bio-toxins as weapons, and our acute vulnerability to the unsophisticated as well as sophisticated forms of delivery against a target, civil as well as military?

Looking back to the hopeful expectations of World War II leaders in the West, Liddell Hart says:

The atomic bomb in 1945 looked to the responsible statesmen of the West an easy and simple way of assuring a swift and complete victory – and subsequent world peace…. But the anxious state of the peoples of the free world today [1952] is a manifestation that the directing minds failed to think through [emphasis original] the problem – of attaining peace through such a victory. They did not look beyond the immediate strategic aim of “winning the war,” and were content to assume that military victory would assure peace – an assumption contrary to the general experience of history. The outcome has been the latest of many lessons that pure military strategy needs to be guided by a longer and wider view from the higher plane of “grand strategy.” (xvii – emphasis added except where specifically noted)

To what extent have we properly considered “victory” in the Cold War and its aftermath from the higher plane of grand strategy, especially in light of our strategic vulnerability to biological weapons of mass destruction and bio-terrorism, against which “a pure military strategy” will be gravely insufficient.

To what extent, if at all, is there a further sobering analogy between what Liddell Hart says of World War II’s aftermath, and the purported “fruits of victory” accrued to the West from their claimed triumph in the Cold War?

Liddell Hart said:

In the circumstances of World War II, the pursuit of triumph was foredoomed to turn into tragedy, and futility. A complete overthrow [cf. unconditional surrender, Nuremberg Trials with Soviet Judges, as well, etc.] of Germany’s power of resistance was bound to clear the way for Soviet Russia’s domination of the Eurasian continent [along with Communist China after 1949], and for a vast extension of Communist power in all directions…. No peace ever brought so little security and, after eight nerve-wracking years, the production of thermo-nuclear weapons has deepened the ‘victorious” people’s sense of insecurity. But that is not the only effect (pp. xvii-xviii)

According to Liddell Hart, moreover, the hydrogen bomb and other modern weapons of destruction combine:

To make it plain that “total war” as a method, and “victory” as a war aim are out-of-date concepts. That has come to be recognized by the chief exponents of strategic bombing. Marshal of the R.A.F. Sir John Slessor recently declared his belief that “total war as we have known it in the past forty years is a thing of the past…a world war in this day and age would be general suicide and the end of civilization as we know it.” Marshal of the R.A.F. Lord Tedder earlier emphasized the same point as “an accurate, cold statement of the actual possibilities,” and said: “A contest using the atomic weapon would be no duel, but rather a mutual suicide.” Less logically, he added: “that is scarcely a prospect to encourage aggression.” Less logically because a cold-blood aggressor [willing to use, for example, biological operations] may count on his opponents’ natural reluctance to commit suicide [with nuclear weapons] in immediate response to a [bio-toxin] threat that is not clearly fatal [to national life]. Would any responsible Government, when it came to that point, decide to use the H-bomb as an answer to indirect aggression, or any aggression of a local and limited kind? (p. xvii – emphasis added)

And what are some of the consequences which Liddell Hart draws from this predicament, consequences which may include the incentive for other countries asymmetrically to resort to bio-warfare or bio-terrorism against the United States? He concludes in an interim way by saying:

So it may be assumed that the H-bomb would not be used against any menace less certainly and immediately fatal than itself. The trust which the statesmen place in such a weapon [H-bomb] as a deterrent to aggression would seem to rest on an illusion…. The H-bomb…increases the possibilities of “limited war” pursued by indirect and widespread local aggression. (xvii) – (emphasis added except for the word “increases,” which was accentuated in the original).

Moreover, he says:

We have moved into a new era of strategy…. The strategy now being developed by our opponents is inspired by the dual idea of evading and hamstringing superior air-power. Ironically, the further we have developed the “massive” effect of the [strategic, nuclear] bombing weapon, the more we have helped the progress of this new guerrilla-type [asymmetrical] strategy. (p. xix)

Given this “new guerrilla-type strategy” bent on “evading and hamstringing” our technological superiorites, “our own strategy,” therefore, “should be based on a clear grasp of this concept,” he says:

And our military policy needs re-orientation. There is scope, and we might develop it, for a counter-strategy of a corresponding kind – [a counter-strategy that could resourcefully use and, with our big weapons, not] destroy our potential “Fifth Column” assets [in other countries]. (p. xix)

Very important to our purposes in this paper, Liddell Hart further argues:

The common assumption that atomic power has canceled out strategy [to include the strategy of psycho-biological warfare and asymmetrical bio-terrorism] is ill-founded and misleading. By carrying destructiveness to a “suicidal” extreme, atomic power is stimulating and accelerating a reversion to the indirect methods that are the essence of strategy –since they endow warfare with intelligent properties that raise it above the brute application of force. [And might we not aptly consider here that such “indirect methods” would especially characterize, not “the American way of war and military culture,” but the Chinese military and strategic culture?] (p. xix – emphasis added)

“Although grand strategy was missing” in World War II, “signs of such a reversion to the ‘indirect approach’ had already become manifest in World War II where strategy played a greater part than in World War I (p. xix). Moreover:

Now, the atomic deterrent to direct action on familiar lines is tending to foster a deeper strategic subtlety on the part of aggressors [now often called “asymmetrical responses” or “asymmetrical niche warfare”]. It thus becomes all the more important that this development should be matched by a similar understanding of strategical power [to include “grand-strategical power”] on our side. The history of strategy is, fundamentally, a record of the application and evolution of the indirect approach. (p. xix – emphasis added)

Despite our arguable lack of a “strategic culture,” unlike the Chinese, Israelis, and British; and despite our liberal (and sometimes self-sabotaging) Constitutional and Juridical Order, the United States must especially understand “the grand strategy of the indirect approach” when applied to bio-terrorism and more sustained psycho-biological warfare. Is it too chimerical also to suggest that we need unflinching sobriety about this particular array of subtle threats, and hence our own grand strategy of the indirect approach, at least in counter bio-terrorism?

Liddell Hart himself, of course, acknowledged the superiority of the indirect over the direct approach,” the former often working by an “unsuspected infiltration” that “turns the flank of …opposition” and resistance. As in war, “the aim is to weaken resistance before attempting to overcome it; and the effect is best attained by drawing the other party out of his defenses.” (p. xx). “Lure and trap” or, recalling Stonewall Jackson’s motto: “Mystify, mislead, surprise.” Working on the mind of the opponent is key:

This idea of the indirect approach is closely related to all problems of the influence of mind upon mind – the most influential factor in human history. Yet it is hard to reconcile with another lesson; that true conclusions can only be reached, or approached, by pursuing the truth without regard to where it may lead or what its effect may be – on different interests…. Avoid a frontal attack on a long established position; instead, seek to turn it by flank movement, so that a more penetrable side is exposed to the thrust of truth. But, in any such indirect approach [to the frightening issues involved, for example, in psycho-biological terrorism and warfare] take care not to diverge from the truth – for nothing is more fatal to its real advancement than to lapse into untruth. (pp. xx and xxi)

Why is Liddell Hart so sensitive to the dangers of lapsing into untruth, since he is also so attentive to the strategic advantages and effects of deception? He advises us wisely to avoid “the more common fault of leaders – that of sacrificing the truth to expediency without ultimate advantage to the cause” (p. xxi) – for leaders are to be “philosophical strategists, striking a compromise between truth and men’s receptivity to it.” (p. xxi)

This “tactful deformity” is what we must resolutely avoid in the matter of defending against bio-terrorism and strategic psycho-biological warfare, given what appears to be much evasion or denial of the truth by political leaders and diplomats, and even the intelligence community. We are told, often enough, not to frighten the citizenry inordinately; nor to jeopardize sensitive ongoing diplomatic negotiations with the Russians, or Cubans, by mentioning the history and current activities of their biological warfare program. Nor are we, some tell us, even to examine too closely or candidly the dangers to public health of a neuro-toxin like pfiesteria in our domestic waters, which, unfortunately, could also be collected and further cultivated by a sophisticated adversary for their further use against us (or others) at a later time. However, we are told that such unflinching truthfulness about the public health dangers would damage a state’s business and commerce. Such a view of governance is, of course, acutely irresponsible and short-sighted. For, the discovery of the truth, and of the suppression of truth, will break trust among the citizenry. And, trust, once broken, is so hard to repair, and only after a long time. Wise men have long noted that the greatest social effect of the lie is the breaking of trust.

But, having an adequate counter-strategy and set of coherent responses to bio-terrorism or irregular bio-warfare will especially require sustained and co-operative trust, especially where psychological shock and panic could be so easily induced. The strategic psychological effects of the hostile use of bio-toxins must be kept uppermost in our minds.

A few years ago, there was a story going about that the Cubans had a bio-agent ready for use which would, focally and concentratedly, dissolve the human eye-ball – hence the eye-balls of little children. Although this report might have been mere “Rumint” – “rumor intelligence” – and untrue, consider the psychological effects of such a possibility – even as a mere speculative possibility. But, to what extent is there any public – or secretive – discussion of any of Cuba’s multi-talented, long-developed biological warfare program – to include its earlier experiments in Africa and its training facilities for foreigners, for example? Yet, there is ample discussion about our purportedly mature need now to recognize Cuba diplomatically and help her developmentally.

What are the particular challenges in this area of bio-terrorism and bio-warfare for our Special Operations Forces, which include psychological operations and civil affairs units and assets, in addition to the more well-known (or, at least, well-publicized) commando-type units that have, of course, access to some of the most advanced war-fighting and other technologies: our Special Forces, Seals, Air Commandos, Rangers, Delta Force, and the like? In response to this question, I propose to make some constructive observations, many of which should not be further developed in this un-classified context. Since “SOF” is properly supposed to be a strategic asset of U.S. national power, and potentially very important to our national security apparatus and its truly strategic intelligence community, comments intended to enhance “strategic SOF education” (as distinct from training) and the long-range, “strategic culture and intelligence assets” of our Special Operations Forces should also, therefore, aid the much needed development of our nation’s grand-strategic culture, in light of larger international developments and the likely ambiguous and deceptive milieu of future forms of warfare.

Since civilian leaders, it would seem, increasingly have had no or very limited military experience, nor savor of military culture and strategic history, their imagination and inclinations might all too readily turn to “Special Operations Forces” as “the Force of Choice” and misapply them into a mis-diagnosed milieu, or so frequently deploy them that the SOF become withered out by “ a warp-speed operational tempo.” Several of the thoughtful SOF leaders I know have already inordinately experienced the “fast-forward pace” with no clear sense of strategic purpose, and often are dubious about the long-range effects for the good. But, because the SOF have so many talented persons who are strivers, they may be able to do and sustain, in the short-term, what others could not do at all. And this kind of accomplishment might, therefore, be even more self-deceiving in the long-term. Given the acronym, “SOLIC,” special operations (S.O.) are really a very limited response to a much larger and often misdiagnosed (and intractable) milieu (L.I.C.), where we need a longer and a better preparation “to read the culture” – to understand the deeper culture of foreign nations, to include the religious culture.

Certain SOF officers told me a year or so ago, for example, that they had to be more concerned about whether their units enroute to Peru had “nine millimeter” training, than about understanding the deeper culture – including, the strategic drug culture – and whether Fujimori and some of his leaders were working with the Japanese Yakusa – Japanese trans-national criminal syndicates and also, at least historically, part of Japan’s own national security assets abroad. (A Korean colonel, in fact, recently assured me this was still the case, at least in Korea).

If we were to ask, “Where are the centers for strategic SOF education and long-range thinking today, in the longer light of SOF history and the lessons to be learned, and who are the seminal thinkers?”, what would be the true answer? When General Wayne Downing helped set up the SOF curriculum at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, California, was strategic SOF education the main purpose, even though General Downing has himself often emphasized that SOF are, essentially, strategic assets of the United States along the entire spectrum of conflict? Given the rate and extension of SOF’s varied foreign deployments – indeed their often fatiguing “warp-speed operational tempo” – and given the many pressing obligations of even the longer-viewed Joint Special Operations Forces Institute (JSOFI) at Fort Bragg, where and how is real strategic thinking going on in SOF, especially for the mission and implications of “counter-bio-terrorism,” and its “interface” with other elements outside of the Department of Defense?

On the one hand, the military is being given a greater assortment of quasi-military or police-like missions; and, on the other hand, several elements of our police and law-enforcement agencies – such as the FBI’s Hostage-Rescue Team (HRT) – are becoming, as it were, more “militarized.” They are trained like commandos, almost like a Delta Force, and their “rules of engagement” are increasingly ambiguous or equivocal, and difficult to execute within the Constitutional and other constraints with which they must abide. The grave case of Lon Horiyucchi, whom I know and cherish, trenchantly illustrates the matter.

If the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to be given greater responsibilities and assets for dealing with the dangers and aftermath of bio-terrorism or more extensive biological operations, they will also need to be especially connected with the strategic intelligence community, and perhaps some enhanced longer-viewed resources amongst the medical-intelligence assets of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) or others.

But, once again, the judicious allocation of very limited resources into missions attentive to strategic biological warfare and bio-terrorism threats will not be adequately done, or done at all, unless there is first a sufficient understanding of the need for a truly grand-strategic culture that can take the measure of indirect strategic uses of “weapons of mass destruction,” especially the more intractable biological weapons and their paralyzing or panicking psychological effects – maybe far more destructive than combat shock-trauma. And this takes us back to our starting considerations about our purpose and coherence and resilience as a nation that is willing, able, and dedicated to protect our citizens, to include our diplomats abroad. Thus, we must be willing to form a deeply moral and protective grand-strategic culture with a fuller vision of purpose and sustainable common good, not just the narrower public interest.

To the extent that we may proceed to form our own intelligently far-sighted grand-strategic culture within our national security institutions and their “advisory organs,” how might we, in the context of this colloquium on Bio-Defense, and as a test case foresee and forestall a culturally subtle, grand strategy of the indirect approach (logistically and psychologically) aimed, first of all, at preparing our sufficient moral disintegration or breakdown before then conducting strategic operations with bio-toxins against our nation?

Grand strategy, being more inclusive and long-viewed should control strategy. Grand strategy is, more properly, the higher architectonic art, but its principles often run counter to those which prevail in the field of strategy, especially in the field of military strategy, which is often enough only “high operational art” rather than true strategy, or generalship, “the actual direction of military force” comprehensively, and co-ordinatedly. Moreover, grand strategy is “policy in application,” or “policy in execution” (322), that is, the policy governing the direction and purpose of military force, in combination with other weapons (e.g., economic, political, and psychological). “Such policy in application is a higher-level strategy, for which the term ‘grand strategy’ has been coined.” It is, therefore, especially attentive to the “post-war prospects,” and its essential aim is “to discover and pierce the Achilles Heel of the opposing government’s power to make war” (214), in the words of B.H. Liddell Hart. Grand strategy attempts to diminish the possibility of resistance – to dislocate and to paralyze the opposition’s leadership; “to exploit elements of movement and surprise, the physical sphere and the psychological sphere.” Grand strategy, not intrinsically dependent on force, aims at the opponent’s “strategic paralysis” and “the reduction of fighting to the slenderest possible proportions.” Thus, for example, “the indirect approach to the strategic rear” of an opponent aims at “a grand-strategic distraction and further indirect strokes at the [opponent’s] strategic foundations” (213). But, true grand strategy “must take the longer view” (349-350), because “its problem is winning the peace”; to “conduct the war with a view to post-war benefits and civilized life”; “to look beyond the war to the subsequent peace – to avoid damage to the future state of peace.” Thus, grand strategy, according to Liddell Hart, “tends to coincide with morality.”

With an illustrative reference to Ancient Greece (5th BC) and the Peloponnesian War, Liddell Hart says: “In contrast to a strategy of indirect approach [like the delaying “Fabian Strategy”] which seeks to dislocate the enemy’s balance [physically and mentally] in order to produce a decision, the Periclean plan [the “Periclean Strategy”] was a grand strategy with the aim of gradually draining the enemy’s endurance in order to convince him that he could not gain a decision.” (p. 10). [So, too, maybe with America’s “asymmetrical adversaries” in the near future]. Such is just one manifestation of a “theory of war with psychological weapons…. To paralyze the enemy’s military nerve-system is a more economical form of operation than to pound his flesh” (p. 219). This “way in warfare” begins “with a double D – demoralization and disorganization. Above all, [such] war would be waged by suggestion – by words instead of weapons, propaganda replacing the projectile” (p. 219). And so, instead of an artillery bombardment, “moral bombardment would be used in the future,” and “all types of ammunition [including bio-toxins] would be used, but especially revolutionary [psycho-biological] propaganda” (p. 219). In the longer view of strategy:

The object of war is to make the enemy capitulate. If his will to resist could be paralyzed, killing was superfluous – besides being a clumsy and expensive way of attaining the object. The indirect way of injecting germs into the body of the opposing nation, to produce a disease in its will, was likely to be far more effective (p. 219)

Moreover, says Liddell Hart: “It was Lenin who enunciated the axiom that ‘the soundest strategy in war [maybe even, or especially, psycho-biological warfare] is to postpone operations until the moral disintegration of the enemy renders the delivery of the mortal blow both possible and easy.’” (p.208). There is, Liddell Hart, continues, “a marked resemblance between this [statement of Lenin] and Hitler’s saying that ‘our real wars will in fact all be fought before military operations begin’ … and ‘How to achieve the moral breakdown of the enemy before the war has started – that is the problem that interests me’” (p. 208).

In light of the long-articulate, Chinese strategic culture of deception and psychological (and patient) indirection, not only in Sun Tzu or Sun Pin and their later commentators, how might the incipient American strategic culture – including the SOF strategic culture – adequately prepare for, and respond to, a strategic psycho-biological warfare attack, to include the desirably preparatory “moral breakdown” or “moral disintegration” of its strategic opponent. Once again, a characteristically subtle Chinese scenario, with intelligent variations and resourcefully alternative objectives, and would provide the acutest measure and test of American strategic intentions and capabilities, especially in defense and counter-offensives against biological terrorism and irregular (“high-tech” and “low-tech”) biological warfare. In light of their own strategic culture (which includes the Chinese Triad Phenomenon), the Chinese could give grand strategy of the indirect approach a new extension, logistically and psychologically, into biological operations, “both in the field and in the forum” (in the words of Liddell Hart – p. 207). How might we foresee and forestall such grand-strategic moves?

However, and by way of conclusion, pointedly to return to the personal matter of protecting our foreign diplomats from bio-toxins or psycho-tropic drugs, I have a story to tell. A few years ago when, through one of my students at the Joint Military Intelligence College (DIA) – herself in the National Security Division (Division 5) of the FBI – I tried to introduce a highly informed and deeply thoughtful man who is attentive to psycho-tropic drugs and other things that can be – and have been – directed at our diplomats and others abroad, there was so little interest that he could not even get an interview, the mission of the FBI to protect our diplomats abroad, notwithstanding. Someone else in the FBI, from the same area, but now working at the Department of State, also declared personal helplessness and the Bureau’s long-range futility; and was finally feckless himself, unable to recommend someone in the FBI who would take up these issues, and unwilling even to meet this well-informed, strategic-minded man whom I know. Such facts as these are very revealing of the state of our nation. But I still believe profoundly that truly convinced leaders – when pierced to the core by the unflinching and sober truth – can greatly help to make a “course-correction” and help us recover from this sloth and drift. We are only as courageous as we are convinced. But, in these matters of bio-terrorism and strategic bio-warfare, and their increasingly undetectable “high-tech” delivery systems, what are we truly convinced about?

We must not become “fanatics” in George Santayana’s memorable sense, and we must not, if possible, allow ourselves to come to the point that Rome did, according to the ancient historian, Livy. Without fostering and forming our own truly strategic culture – and longer-viewed grand-strategic culture – we will be more prone to correspond to Santayana’s definition of a “fanatic,” even in our generous and selfless efforts to enhance our “integrated defense in depth” against bio-terrorism or more subtle forms of strategic psycho-biological warfare. For, Santayana defined a “fanatic” as “he who, losing sight of his aim, redoubles his effort.” We must not lose sight of our proper strategic and grand-strategic aim, which is itself an issue of great moment and of currently uncertain determination in our divided nation.

Moreover, the Roman historian, Livy – like the modern Cambridge philosopher and rascal, C.E.M. Joad, in his post-World War II and final book, Decadence: a Philosophical Inquiry – was also attentive to the disordered decadence of Rome, which had lost its civic love and friendship, grown in frigidity and a spiritual congealment of soul, and had “dropped its object” and abandoned its longer-view of purpose and hope, in its new corrosive ethos of cynicism, flippancy, and superficiality. In his general introduction to his own multi-volumed history of Rome from her mythical beginnings, Livy memorably wrote that, by 19 B.C., Rome had declined and come to such a point that we could “tolerate neither our vices nor their remedies” (“nec vitia nostra nec remedia pati possumus”). To what extent is that situation also now the case with us?

It is difficult to build on rotted wood. It is more difficult, without love and love’s willingness to suffer and protractedly sacrifice, to recover from deep decadence, a loss of purpose and meaning, especially within our growing “narco-democracies” and “narco-cultures” that conduce to despair. It is from within such a milieu, and growing, that our own sacrificial strategic culture must resist the infiltration and permeation of bio-toxins, strategically designed and employed, with especially grave psychological and moral consequences which, without a deeper responsive love and wisdom on our part, will further conduce to despair, to include the despair of the children. “Blessed be he who has saved a child’s heart from despair” – which is itself a deep protective disposition that comes from the heart of chivalry.

“Chivalry in war,” says the un-quixotic Liddell Hart, “can be a most effective weapon in weakening the opponent’s will to resist as well as [in] augmenting [one’s own] moral strength” (p. 322). And such chivalry – hence the protection of the defenseless and “the little ones” – is unmistakably linked to true grand strategy. For, it is the case, says Liddell Hart, that:

Grand strategy should both calculate and develop the economic resources and man-power of nations in order to sustain the fighting services. Also the moral resources – for to foster the people’s willing spirit is often as important as to possess the more concrete forms of power. Grand strategy, too [especially in dealing with bio-terrorism and strategic bio-warfare against the home front and our communications], should regulate the distribution of power between several services, and between the services and industry. Moreover, fighting power is but one of the instruments of grand strategy – which should take account of and apply the power of financial pressure, of diplomatic pressure, of commercial pressure, and, not least, of ethical pressure, to weaken the opponent’s will. A good cause [“likewise, chivalry in war”] is a sword as well as armour. (p. 322 – emphasis added).

In this daunting context of bio-defense against bio-terrorism and irregular biological warfare strategically designed and applied, let us keep in mind a final long-range insight of Liddell Hart; lest we, losing sight of our aim, redouble our effort, but effectively sleepwalk into hebetude and even strut to our confusion. He says that:

[while] chivalry in war can be a most effective weapon in … augmenting moral strength; furthermore, while the horizon of strategy is bounded by the war, grand strategy looks beyond the war to the subsequent peace. It should not only combine the various instruments, but so regulate their use as to avoid damage to the future state of peace – for its security and prosperity. The sorry state of peace, for both sides, that has followed most wars can be traced to the fact that, unlike strategy, the realm is for the most part terra incognita – still awaiting exploration, and understanding. (p.322)

Even moreso is this the case, and not otherwise, in the realm of grand strategic defense and counter-offense against the subtle psychological threats and aftermath of bio-terrorism and biological warfare – and especially for the defense of the children, for whom we must create a habitation and not a ruin. Nor are we to make what Tacitus saw and feared: “Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant (Where they make a desolation, or wasteland, they call it peace).” Such sophistry, too, especially for the sake of the children, must be unremittingly combated. For that, too, – the “strategic culture of sophistry,” and pervasive propaganda – is part of the larger psycho-biological war we are in. Words matter. The truth matters.

Finis

© 1997, 2020 Robert D. Hickson

i [FOOTNOTE ONE CONTINUED] Epigraph TWO:

Civil War in Corcyra, 427 BC:

Misuse of Language, Misuse of Power;

Factional Anarchy in the Cities

… They [the Corcyraeans] seized upon all their [domestic] enemies whom they could find and put them to death …. They went to the [sacred] Temple of Hera and persuaded about fifty of the suppliants [seeking asylum in the sanctuary] there to submit to a [judicial] trial. They then condemned every one of them to death. Seeing what was happening, most of the other suppliants, who had refused to be [treacherously] tried, killed each other there in the Temple; some hanged themselves on the trees, and others found various means of committing suicide. During the seven days… the Corcyraeans continued to massacre those of their own citizens whom they considered to be their enemies. Their victims were accused of conspiring to overthrow the democracy, but in fact men were often killed on grounds of personal hatred or else by their debtors because of the money they owed. There was death in every shape and form. And, as usually happens in such situations, people went to every extreme, and beyond it…. So savage was the progress of this revolution, and it seemed all the more so because it was one of the first which had broken out…convulsed with rival parties…democratic leaders…and oligarchs…. In the various cities these revolutions were the cause of many calamities – as happens and always will happen while human nature is what it is, though there may be different degrees of savagery…. In times of peace and prosperity cities and individuals alike follow higher standards…. But war is a stern teacher; in depriving them of the power of easily satisfying their daily wants, it brings most people’s minds down to the level of their actual circumstances [or “ most people’s character sinks to the level of their fortune”].

So revolutions broke out in city after city, and in places where revolutions occurred late the knowledge of what had happened previously in other places caused still new extravagances of revolutionary zeal, expressed by an elaboration in the methods of seizing power and by unheard of atrocities in revenge.

To fit in with the change of events, words, too had to change their usual [customary] meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future [to be prudent, provident] and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defense. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect. To plot successfully was a sign of intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching. If one attempted to provide against having to do either, one was disrupting the unity of the party and acting out of fear of the opposition. In short, it was equally praiseworthy to get one’s blow in first against someone who was going to do wrong, and to denounce someone who had no intention of doing any wrong at all. Family relations were a weaker tie than party membership, since party members were more ready to go to any extreme for any reason whatever…. and the members of these parties felt confidence in each other not because of any fellowship in a religious communion, but because they were partners in crime….Revenge was more important than self-preservation…a victory won by treachery gave one title for superior intelligence. And indeed most people are more ready to call villainy cleverness than simple-mindedness honesty. They are proud of the first quality and ashamed of the second.

Love of power, operating through greed and through personal ambition, was the cause of all these evils. To this may be added violent fanaticism which came into play once the struggle had broken out…. They were always ready to satisfy their hatreds of the hour. Thus neither side had any use for conscientious motives; more interest was shown in those who could produce attractive arguments to justify some disgraceful action [i.e., sophists]. As for the citizens who held moderate views; they were destroyed by both extreme parties, either for not taking part in the struggle or in envy at the possibility that they might survive.

As a result of these revolutions, there was a general deterioration of character throughout the Greek world. The simple way of looking at things, which is so much a mark of a noble nature; was regarded as a ridiculous quality and soon ceased to exist.

Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion. As for ending this state of affairs, no guarantee could be given that would be trusted, no oath sworn that people would fear to break; everyone had come to the conclusion that it was hopeless to expect a permanent settlement and so, instead of being able to feel confident [trustful] in others, they devoted their energies to providing against being injured themselves as a rule those who were least remarkable for intelligence showed the greater powers of survival. Such people recognized their own deficiencies and the superior intelligence of their opponents; fearing they might lose a debate or find themselves out-maneuvered in intrigue by their quick-witted enemies, they boldly launched straight into action; while their opponents, overconfident in the belief that they would [strategically] see what was happening in advance, and not thinking it necessary to seize by force what they [like good sentimental liberals?] would secure by policy, were the more easily destroyed because they were off their guard….

They [the “arrogantly oppressed” avengers] were swept away into an internecine struggle by their ungovernable passions. Then with the ordinary conventions of civilized life thrown into confusion [as in guerrilla war and irregular, subversive forms of warfare], human nature always ready to offend even where laws exist, showed itself proudly in its true colors, as something incapable of governing passion, insubordinate to the idea of justice, the enemy to anything superior to itself [the envious essence of rootless, mass democracy and atomization?]; for, if it had not been for the pernicious power of envy, men would not have exalted vengeance above innocence and profit above justice.

Indeed, it is true that, in these acts of revenge on others, men take it upon themselves to begin the process of repealing those general laws of humanity which are there to give a hope of salvation to all who are in distress, instead of leaving those laws [of humanity] in existence, remembering that there may come a time when they, too, will be in danger and will need their protection….

The people of Corcyra were the first [in the Peloponnesian War] to display in their city the passions of civil war….

(Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War: 431-404 BC, II 81-85)

[FOOTNOTE ONE CONTINUED]

Epigraph THREE (and Another Timely Parable)

Sacrifice Amidst the Luxurious and Promiscuous Milieu

of the Fourth Freedom in America

I [Tom Wolfe] think that above all, the 20th century will be remembered as the era of the fourth phase of freedom, which is the phase this country [the U.S.] is in right now. It is the most bizarre form that freedom has ever taken, and I think this should be of particular interest to the officer corps of the American armed services. I think you will find this fourth phase very frustrating. It may even bring you grief…. But, as I say, we are today in the fourth phase of American freedom, and it is the strangest of all. The fourth phase is freedom from religion. It is not freedom of religion; it is freedom from religion….

DeTocqueville said, in 1835 [in Democracy in America], … that American society would have come apart had it not been for the internal discipline of the American people. This internal discipline, he said, was rooted in their profound devotion to religion. What we are now seeing is the earnest rejection of the constraints of religion in the second half of the 20th century; not just the rules of morality but even simple rules of conduct and ethics … Today, you in the military are going to have to confront, in this really quite marvelous manic fourth phase of freedom in America, the most amazing pulls upon your motivation – as you see the money, the freedom, the luxuries that are so easily available. You are going to realize that everyone else – not you – is living in the age of Everyman an Aristocrat [a decadent Aristocrat]. That is the fourth phase of freedom in America. For the first time in the history of mankind, everyone, every man and woman, now has the capability of availing himself or herself of the luxuries of the aristocrat, whether it be a constant string of young sexual partners or whether it be the easy access to anything that stimulates or soothes the mind or the nervous system or simply the easy disregard of rules of various sorts…. I marvel at it, and I wonder at it, and I write about it. But you [in the military] will have to deal with it. You are going to find yourselves required to be sentinels at the bacchanal. You are going to find yourself required to stand guard at the Lucullan feast against the Huns approaching from outside [and from within – on the inner front]. You will have to be armed monks at the orgy.

If I use religious terminology, I use it on purpose. One of the most famous addresses ever delivered in this century by an American was the address on 12 May 1962, by Douglas MacArthur at West Point, in which he enunciated the watchwords of duty, honor, country. The rest of the speech is less well remembered. He said that the soldier, above all other men [and especially “the Christian soldier”], is expected to practice the greatest act of religion: sacrifice.

(Tom Wolfe, “The Meaning of Freedom,” Parameters: U.S. Army War College Quarterly (March, 1988), pp. 2-14. An adaptation of his 1987 lecture to the cadets of West Point – The Meaning of Freedom” (8 October 1987))

ii [FOOTNOTE TWO]

[FOOTNOTE TWO]: Secret societies are very important in Chinese Culture, and with a long history, but scholars have long tended to ignore them. In his 1980 revised and expanded edition of his The Chinese Looking Glass (1966-1st edition), Dennis Bloodworth has some excellent chapters on the history and importance of secret societies in China: from the philosopher Mo Tze (5th-century BC); to the “Red Headbands” of the proto-Triad “Red Eyebrows” (30AD); to the 7th-century AD “Yellow Turbans”; to the 17th-century “White Lotus Society” in North China and the “Hung Society” (Hung Men) in south, West, and Central China, and more. The Triads – implying a restored threefold harmony between Heaven, Earth, and, Man this “Heaven and Earth Society” (T’ien-Ti Hui) or “Triple Harmony Society” (San-Ho Hui) has a rich and often obscure history as the “Triad Society” (San-Tien Hui) or, in the USA, the “Chih Kung Tong” (Society to Bring About Justice). Bloodworth says, for example: “Esoteric history that no one dared to put in writing at the time has it that the Triad was founded in the seventeenth century by an abbot of Shao-Lin [Buddhist] monastery [in Fukien Province] who had raised an invincible company of 128 warrior-monks [cf. The Western Templars] . . . and the [Manchu] Emperor agreed that the monastery should be set on fire and blown up. This was achieved with the help of an unfrocked traitor who was number seven in the Shao-Lin hierarchy, so that even today these secret-society gangsters never use this number in their ritual.” (Bloodworth, The Chinese Looking Glass, p 146). Bloodworth and others have eloquently described how these historic societies of Triads “secretly organized for Revolution.” The Triads were also involved in the 19th-century Taiping Rebellion, as well as in the earlier uprising of 1774. They supported this 1911 revolution under Sun Yat Sen, combated Yuan Shih-K’ai in the 1915 attempt to become a new emperor (after the Manchus fell in 1912), and the Triads fought the Japanese (especially from 1937-1945). Other famous secret societies had such names as: “ the Double Sword Society,” “the Dagger Society,” “the Clear Winter Society,” “the Elders Society” (Ko-Lao Hui)and “the Harmonious Fists Society” (the famous “Boxers” of the North China Rebellion of 1899–1900).

FINIS

© 1997, 2020 Robert D. Hickson

APPENDEX

Dr. Robert D. Hickson

October 1996

National Security Education and Strategic Intelligence

Given the conditions of modern life and culture – and the reality of spreading “narco-democracies” and other regimes of opiate dullness and danger – our adequate education in national security and strategy (or in strategic intelligence and cultural security) must include an examination of hitherto often unconsidered realms of knowledge, and in combination: e.g., finance, psychology, and deep culture.

True National Security Education and Strategic Intelligence should be able to understand, especially today, and apply the counterpointed meanings of “indirect warfare (and strategy), inner front, interior lines, and inner revolution.” For example, we shall be able to take the measure of much reality of strategic import – and not just in the Mid-East or Far-East – if we consider in combination, and in the longer light of military and cultural history, the concepts of: “the strategy of the indirect approach; the strategic inner front; oligarchic (or factional) interior lines; and the mind’s inner revolution” (or psycho-cultural revolution; in part, the Hegelianization or Marxization of the “inner man,” dialectically). And then it is important that we apply such concepts to illuminate our own innermost and deepening national-security vulnerabilities and grand-strategic needs.

To what extent is it so, for example, that “organized crime is protected crime” – protected by political and financial elites – and not just the so-called “Russian Mafia” or the more subtly organized crime of the Chinese Triads, which are strategic assets of Chinese intelligence (perhaps analogous to, but deeper than, the KGB’s trans-national corporation NORDEX). And the dangerous question about protected “organized crime” is, especially sometimes, “protected by whom, how so, and why?” What, finally, is their philosophy (their racial-biological or cultural ideology, or implicit theology)?

For, it has been wisely said that “all human conflict is ultimately theological,” and especially, perhaps, long-range, grand-strategic, human conflict, as in the Middle East. Strategists – military and psycho-cultural strategists – must increasingly, therefore, understand both theology (and religious culture) and counter-theology and its culture; and hence the deeper meaning and implications of “narco-democracy” and its “opiate sophistries,” as well as its cruder forms of “drugged language” and “bread and circuses” (as in the entertainment and advertising “industry,” the “cult of athletics,” and mass “government education,” or numbness and increased entropy). Most dangerous, however, are the strategically induced and subtler “opiate sophistries” of psycho-cultural revolution, which is the deeper front of “narco-democracy” or the “pharmacological revolution.” Sophistry itself often implies the strategic corruption and subversion of language (and logos), and thus of rationality. Sophistry, too, is a form of “information warfare.”

Strategic sophists, essential to psycho-cultural revolution, are always not only “iconoclasts,” but also “logoclasts.” By way of symbolic subversion and deceitful euphemism, they are “de-constructionists” of a people’s most essential language and living memory; and subverters, finally, of human reason (including attentive and receptive, silent contemplation).

For, truth matters, and it its entirety. According to the most continuous, long, articulate tradition of Western philosophy – the philosophia perennis (itself a philosophy of substance not just of process and change and emergence) – truth is both “the conformity of the mind (intellect) to reality;” and, from another perspective, “reality manifesting itself – unveiling or disclosing itself – to a knowing mind.” Revolutionary psycho-cultural warfare, with its strategic sophistries and seductive illusionary liberations, distorts and subverts – and deeply strives to destroy – such an understanding of truth. And such psycho-cultural revolution thus distracts and corrupts man’s truly strategic intelligence (logos) and his national-security institutions of strategic intelligence. Our National Security Education and Strategy today must be responsively aware of the subtle varieties of such psycho-cultural revolution, to include the sometimes fevered, over-technical “Revolution in Military Affairs (R.M.A.).”

A scholarly book on Mainland China some six years ago had a trenchant and suggestive title, in the longer light of history, as well: China Misperceived: American Illusions and Chinese Reality (1990, by Stephen Mosher). As military and cultural history teach us, strategic deception most effectively depends on – and manipulates – an adversary’s self-deception (actual and potential) especially his long-term cultural, ideological, and strategic self-deception. Our Strategic National Security Education should be informed, I believe, by such widely applicable considerations.