Volver, or Christianity and the Degenerative Ratchet

“Christianity is dead” is an extreme categorical statement with which one can quibble, but one cannot deny that Christianity has lost whatever power it once possessed to guide civilization. As a political force, it is non-existent. It is even less powerful than that ancient gathering of a few dissident Jews in Palestine. At least they had potential force.

Reactionaries who think they can “revive” the religion of their ancestors, who think they can “restore” their throne and altar, are forgetting the core neoreactionary insight: the degenerative ratchet. Once something embarks on leftward movement (as Christianity has done since, at least, the Reformation), there can be no stopping its leftward movement. One cannot go back along the same leftward path. The way out of the degenerative ratchet cannot be the way in.

Ultimately, those who use the language of  “return” or “regeneration” or “restoration” seek only one thing: to turn back the clock on Christianity. Back to the 1950s. Back to the 1850s. Back before that drunken German monk ruined everything. It doesn’t matter when. Volver. The idea is to move backward along the leftward path, to move rightward once again, to return, to go back to some point in the past before the leftward movement became so extreme. The idea is to get out the way we came in. Which is impossible. 

The only way to stop the leftward movement—the degenerative ratchet—of Christianity is  . . . catastrophe.

A degenerative ratchet can only progress, until it cannot go on, and it stops. What happens next is something else—it’s Outside. Moldbug calls it a reboot.  History can tell us to expect it, but not what we are to expect.

. . . This is why NRx is dark. The only way out of a degenerative ratchet is catastrophe.

Does the Bible itself not bear this out? God does not return His people peacefully to Eden. God reboots. God resets. Catastrophically. When He saw that all of mankind had fallen into utter degeneracy, he sent a world-destroying Flood, rebooted the earth, and began a completely new covenant with Noah. Whenever Israel misbehaves in the Bible, God scatters it. And what else is Jesus’ Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection but the complete turning-on-its-head of everything Israel had expected? What else is the Gospel but a complete reset of the “kingly” Messianic expectation? God does not return things to a golden age of the past. He lets things fester until He decides they can’t fester any longer, then He washes everything clean in a divine catastrophe.

There can be no “return” for Christianity. There can be no “restoration” of some imagined pagan past. The degenerative ratchet has done its work, and we can’t look behind us down that already-traveled road. Better to look forward to the generative catastrophe ahead.

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13 responses

  1. Alex

    “There is no period of history which doesn’t end in catastrophe. The first period of history began with creation and ended in the Flood. And what does the Flood signify? Two things: the natural triumph of evil over good and the supernatural triumph of God over evil, by means of a direct, personal, sovereign act.
    “Men were still wringing wet with the waters of the Flood, when the same battle started up again … At our Lord’s coming it was everywhere night, deep, palpable night. The Lord is raised on the cross, and daylight returns to the world. What does that great catastrophe signify? Two things: the natural triumph of evil over good, and the supernatural triumph of God over evil, by means of a direct, personal, sovereign act.
    “What does Scripture say of the end of the world? It says that the Antichrist will be lord of the universe, and that the last judgment will take place at that time, along with the last catastrophe. Like the others, it will signify the natural triumph of evil over good, and the supernatural triumph of God over evil, by means of a direct, personal, sovereign act.
    “And don’t tell me that if defeat is certain, fighting is useless. In the first place, fighting can lessen, can soften the catastrophe; and in the second place, for us whose glory it is to be Catholic, fighting is the accomplishment of a duty, not the result of calculation. Let’s thank God for having allowed us to do battle. Beyond this favour, let’s not seek the grace to win. For those who fight generously for His cause, His infinite goodness reserves a reward far greater and more precious to man than victory here below.”

    – Juan Donoso Cortés, 1846.

    January 1, 2015 at 11:18 pm

  2. A cleansing fire is, in the accounts of most who experience it, a catastrophe. It is nevertheless a perfectly natural and healthy thing.

    January 2, 2015 at 12:22 am

  3. Pingback: Volver, or Christianity and the Degenerative Ratchet | Reaction Times

  4. Would it be uncouth to point out that my particular faith claims to be a Restoration by direct sovereign act? You’ve outlined the bill, and this seems to fit it.

    But I’ll hush, because this is not my house, and I should be well-mannered.

    For Christians who reject my particular thesis (and for those who don’t!), perhaps the best response is to hold true and remember that this has all been foreseen, and it does not change our orders: go forth, teaching and baptizing all nations.

    January 2, 2015 at 9:13 pm

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  7. Nyan Sandwich

    Preach it, brother. Prepare for the happening, because there is no turning back. Out of the ashes of the West we will rise and launch ourselves up and to the right.

    January 2, 2015 at 11:22 pm

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  12. Mike

    “the core neoreactionary insight: the degenerative ratchet.”

    The key NRx insight is the ultracalvinist hypothesis. The “ratchet” isn’t even a reactionary insight – the term was used (possibly even coined) by Keith Joseph, one of Thatcher’s advisors, to refer to more or less the same thing.

    January 15, 2015 at 8:48 pm

  13. viking

    as god said
    In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
    At the mongrel dogs who teach
    Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
    In the instant that I preach
    My pathway led by confusion boats
    Mutiny from stern to bow
    Ah, but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now

    Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
    Too noble to neglect
    Deceived me into thinking
    I had something to protect
    Good and bad, I define these terms
    Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
    Ah, but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now

    Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/my-back-pages#ixzz3X7TuyQ5A

    April 12, 2015 at 6:07 pm

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