Christendom dies in order to give birth to Europe when this perfect organism breaks from 1517 to 1648 in five successive ruptures, five hours of birth and rearing of Europe, five daggers in the historical flesh of Christendom. Namely: the religious rupture of Lutheran Protestantism, the ethical rupture by Machiavelli, the political rupture at the hands of Bodin, the juridical rupture of Grotius and Hobbes, and the definitive rupture of the Christian mystical body in the treaties of Westphalia. From 1517 to 1648, Europe was born and grew, and as Europe is born and grows, Christendom passes away and dies.
The first rupture is caused by Luther, the true father of Europe. For the Lutheran heresy is the same as many of the medieval heresies in the quality of the heretical matter, and even repeats to the letter some of them, as that of Wycliffe and Hus in the charismatic conception of political power, in denying the Eucharistic transubstantiation and in inflaming the animosity of the peasants in the wars of the Lollards or in the Bauernkrieg; however, it differs among all by its enormous dissemination and the entrenchment provided by the favorable moment. While medieval Christendom before Luther was, in spite of its fissures, a political edifice founded on the unity of the Faith, after Luther such unity would be impossible. After Luther, with the disappearance of the unity of faith, the spiritual organicism of Christendom dies, to be replaced by Europe, a mechanistic equilibrium between coexisting differing beliefs. Direct consequence of the establishment of individual interpretation; instead of a single faith, equal consideration of beliefs; instead of the same understanding of sacred texts, as many interpretations as readers; individual interpretation becomes the formal mechanism of external harmony among believers, instead of the organic body of the Church that served as the backbone of medieval Christendom.
To the loss of unity of conscience is added the paganization of morality; such is Machiavellianism. For Scholasticism, virtus was the restraint of appetite, mastery of the passions, restraint of impulses; for Machiavelli, virtù will be what it was in paganism before Christianity, namely: ambition that tames adverse fortune, a sword that cuts the thread of an enemy’s fortune, power that justifies itself unscrupulously by the mere fact of being in power. Having passed from Latin to Italian, the linguistic root has passed from Christianity to paganism; and, by justifying the imperious will alone, by transforming virtù into a new ethical criterion, Machiavelli has replaced the organic ethics of Scholasticism, which referred man’s actions to the judgment of God, with another pagan ethics, in which good and evil result from the clash or mechanistic balance between power-hungry wills. Machiavelli is another father of Europe: just as Luther separated man from God in his earthly facet by handing him over, handcuffed, to God in his postmortal stage, so Machiavelli has separated ethics from its religious foundations. Therefore, virtue is Virtù, that is, the strength that yields events to the will of man in a game of strictly mechanical forces; and society is constituted around the constellation of dominant forces when this new pagan, that is l’uomo virtuoso, overcomes the fickleness of adverse fortune.
The mechanicism that Luther generated in consciences and the mechanicism that Machiavelli transferred to behavior became a new mechanicism in politics when Jean Bodin secularized power in his theory of la Souverainité. In order to put an end to the struggles between Catholics and Protestants in France, a third party arose, that of the “politicians”, which proclaimed the neutralization of royal power by separating it from any religious content and, therefore, the possibility of obeying a prince without taking God into account, in a direct and neutral relationship between the subject and the sovereign. This school of thought, defended in Les six livres de la République and which contained the absolutist heritage of the Romanists of the school of Toulouse, degenerated into absolutism, increasing until 1789, and whose maximum expression would be the inscription that Louis XIV had placed in the Hall of Mirrors of his palace at Versailles: Le roi gouverne par lui-meme, a reflection of that other of L’etat, c’est moi, with which he enjoyed so great success. An absolutism that destroyed the harmonic variety of the Christian social body to strengthen the power of the ruler, and that therefore, supposes another new rupture of the medieval organic order, by substituting the mystical body of the traditional Christian society for a new balance mechanically supported on the all-powerful scepter of the kings of the enlightened despotism.
The new philosophy of law of Hugo de Groot and Thomas Hobbes is also mechanistic, a new natural law that supplants the natural law of Scholasticism, which was based on the measured order of Creation. What separates Grotius from St. Thomas or Hobbes from Duns Scotus is, precisely, that with the thinkers of the eighteenth century begins the secularization of the philosophy of law, consisting in seeing in natural law only the internal law of the mechanical workings of a machine. Where St. Thomas considered the universal order governed by norms dictated by its Creator, Grotius sees only an order subject to laws that are fulfilled independently of the Author of Nature. Where Duns Scotus referred order to the Divine Will, Hobbes considers only human will separated from the order that the Divine Will created. By eliminating God from the two Thomist and Scotus conceptions, intellectualist and voluntarist, of scholasticism, it concludes with the Divine Principle that in organic development measured the structure of natural law, to refer it to the mechanical equilibrium of forces understood rationally by Grotius or described punctually by Hobbes.
And, finally, the march of European political institutions is also mechanistic, contrary to the enclosed organicism of the corpus mysticum that was medieval Christendom. In domestic politics, the demolishing absolutism of kings will be succeeded either by the demolishing absolutism of democracies, or by Montesquieu’s system of mechanical checks and balances; in international politics, since the treaties of Westphalia, the interplay of relations between the powers will be a system of balances of alliances and counter-alliances.
Europe is mechanicism, neutralization of power, formal coexistence of creeds, paganization of morals, absolutisms, democracies, liberalisms, national or domestic wars, abstract conception of man, society of nations, UN, parliamentarianism, liberal constitutionalism, Protestantism, republics, limited sovereignties of princes or peoples. Christendom was in turn social organicism, Christian concept of power, unity of the Catholic faith, tempered powers, missionary Crusades, conception of Man as a concrete being, courts representative of the social reality understood as a mystical body, systems of concrete liberties. In other words, despite the unity postulated by Dawson, two opposing civilizations and two opposing cultures: Europe, the civilization of the Revolution; Christendom, the civilization of Christian Tradition.
F. Elías de Tejada
Translated by Daniel Rodríguez Guerra, Círculo Carlista Camino Real de Tejas