The state according to Nietzsche is “the coldest of all cold monsters” and when it tries to control all dimensions of the citizen’s private and social life it then becomes the most monstrous of beasts: the totalitarian régime.
It is, strictly speaking, a creature of the modern world. Its tools only came into existence in the 20th century with the birth of industrialization, improved transportation and mass-media. Increasingly the state like a whirlpool began to drag into itself all the authority that in other times belonged to provincial or local government, to the Church and family,creating centrally-planned economies and educational systems. Modern technology spontaneously drove government in the direction of increasing control even in democracies: to some degree a social machine now exists.
Ominous is the increasing takeover of education by the state and its conversion into a tool for making people serviceable for the needs of a democratic society in line with the theories of thinkers such as Dewey. When these inherent forces of modern life come under the influence of powerful lobbying-groups committed to creating a new social order based on thought-patterns of moral relativism, even democratic governments become tools of ideology justifying social engineering in the name of “multi-culturalism” and “tolerance”.
Of course many ignore the danger since contemporary society does not bear any close resemblance to what they consider to be a totalitarian régime such as that of Nazism, communism, or the “Big Brother” state of Orwell’s 1984. The use of hi-tech and mass media for blatant control of education and family life by such regimes would be unacceptable to almost everyone. However, relentlessly even if subtly, there is a trend in this direction due to the ethos of a humanism desiring to improve the “quality of life” for the masses in “health-care”, education, and the workplace without reference to the Natural Law. This has become an open highway on which governments influenced by pressure groups and the prevailing ethos of moral relativism set up “toll booths” of political correctness at which citizens increasingly pay in the coinage of surrender of authority in local government, education and parental rights.
Moreover, the abandonment of Christianity by the masses of Western society and the increasing disintegration of the institutions of marriage and family have taken away the “firewalls” capable of protecting people against “mass consciousness and mass organization”. Nowadays in an increasingly atomized society lone individuals with temporary unstable relationships are face to face with the monster of totalitarianism: they are increasingly defenseless in the face of any future state intent on total control of institutions and relationships through the enforcement of ideological thought-patterns.
The cultural-paradigm shift is already noticeable in the colossal changes in the “common sense” of the man and woman in the street with regard to God, right and wrong, life, marriage and family since World War II. The process has accelerated since the 1960s since the elites who dominate the universities and mass media have made the ordinary man look with suspicious eyes on his own heritage: Western Civilization and the Catholic Church its architect.
Nowadays, most Catholics in Europe and North America have a culture that resembles a tattered and faded patchwork cloth of bits and pieces of Christian morality, heritage and worship sewn – for nostalgia’s sake – onto a new cloth with a world-view that is secular and practically speaking anti-Christian. Proof of this is in the polls which register little difference between Catholics and non-Catholics in their attitudes to contraception, abortion, divorce, forms of sexual perversion, and in-vitro fertilization.
The societies of Europe and North America are becoming increasingly homogenized and because of their economic power are transmitting – and even imposing – their ideas on population control on the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Though totalitarianism is new, the allure of total power has been seductively whispering to rulers throughout history from Rome to China. Even after Christianity became influential during the Middle Ages some rulers still attempted total domination of society by controlling the one institution blocking their way: the Church. In the struggle for control over nominations to positions of ecclesiastical leadership, the Church fought vigorously to defend her own and society’s freedom, culminating in the struggle between Pope St. Gregory the VII and Emperor Henry IV that ended in the Church’s victory and a respite of centuries from the threat of state hegemony in Europe.
It would only be after the Protestant reformation when many of the Protestant sects allowed massive state interference in their internal affairs that the danger re-emerged. Then the shadow of totalitarianism began to grow as despotic kings such as Henry VIII used the newly- appeared printing presses to gradually foster a remote ancestor of mass consciousness, cleaving whole Catholic populations from their ancient loyalty to the Faith and sending to the executioner’s block Catholic leaders like St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. There is no doubt that the destruction of Christendom in the 1500s and the anti-Catholic measures of the Enlightenment rulers of the 18th and 19th centuries greatly weakened the Church’s influence over Western societies and paved the road for the arrival of modern forms of totalitarianism.
Three forms appeared in the 20th century taking the “death of God” and moral relativism as the core elements of their program for power. The first two were Nazism and Communism whose control methods have come to symbolize the nature of the beast: a one party government controlled by individuals like Hitler or Stalin in which the absolute political power of a modern centralized state monitors individuals and controls their relationships.
The third form is the Dictatorship of Relativism with its Culture of Death. Whatever may be the intentions of individual politicians and bureaucrats, the praxis of faceless bureaucracies in many Western states leads to an encroachment on individual and parental rights even if the confused self-awareness, intentions, ideology and methods differ from those of blatant dictatorships.
All three, though differing in their socio-political agendas, are all essentially anti-God. That does not mean that their cultural and political leaders never give lip-service to religion as indeed presidential campaigns show only too well. However, as Pius XI in his anti-Nazi letter Mit Brennender Sorge [With Burning Concern] of 1937 stated:
“The believer in God is not he who utters the name in his speech, but he for whom this sacred word stands for a true and worthy concept of the Divinity…… [ ] Beware….of that growing abuse, in speech as in writing, of the name of God as though it were a meaningless label, to be affixed to any creation, more or less arbitrary, of human speculation. Use your influence on the faithful, in order that they may refuse to yield to this serious error. Our God is the Personal God, supernatural, omnipotent, infinitely perfect, one in the Trinity of Persons, tri-personal in the unity of divine essence, the Creator of all life, Lord, King and ultimate Consummator of the history of the world, who will not, and cannot, tolerate a rival god by His side.”
“This God, this Sovereign Master, has issued commandments whose value is independent of time and space, country and race. As God’s sun shines on every human face so His law knows neither privilege nor exception. Rulers and subjects, crowned and uncrowned, rich and poor are equally subject to His word. From the fullness of the Creators’ right there naturally arises the fullness of His right to be obeyed by individuals and communities, whoever they are.”
This concept of God does not square with either the godlessness of Communism, the dark faceless forces of destiny in Nazism, or the emasculated “god” of the Dictatorship of Relativism. As the notorious Nazi judge, Roland Freisler, told the leader of the Christian conspirators captured after the July 1944 plot against Hitler: “Count Moltke, Christianity and we Nazis have one thing in common and one only: we claim the whole man.”