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Authentic and Artificial Leadership

Robert Palazzolo

Perhaps the most important question confronting today's topsy-turvy Western society is the authentic meaning of human leadership and nobility. In a world psychologically debilitated through the infections of neo-Marxism and other dehumanizing pseudo-philosophies, the high meaning of human leadership has almost totally faded from the public mentality. Yet, amidst social and moral disorder, the yearning for genuine nobility exists in the human soul as an ineradicable, God-implanted tendency. I think it is the duty of the bearers of Tradition to nourish this tendency.

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A Hollywood star takes on a new role as politician
In recent times the practice of leadership has degenerated into vulgarized and demagogic counterfeit forms. While Western civilization's quantitative progress has increased, the qualitative, inner realms of personality upholding ethics and culture have rotted to the point of disintegration. Models of personal and spiritual value are almost completely lacking. In the place of the traditional gentleman and lady of Christian Civilization, today's industrial culture thrusts into our vision the grotesquely exhibitionistic figure of the "movie star" (or even worse, the "porno star").

Along with the “Hollywood” model come the millionaire by games of chance. The dishonest mass merchant, the piratical industrialist, and the amoral media boss. These types are the product of a system of counter-elite, anti-Christian values embedded within modern Western culture.

Insofar as the promotion of elevated moral standards is neglected by the leading strata, dysfunction is inevitable. When the elite becomes those who break the natural moral law, it breeds lawlessness and automatically becomes a counter-elite. When the elite fails as a model of virtuous living, barbarism expands. When the transcendent love of God perishes in the leader's heart, he is no longer a righteous, father-like guardian and inspirer of good works, but a parasite at least, and a predator at worst. The self-paganized pre- French Revolution aristocracy dug its own grave and gave bad examples to the people. Something similar is happening today with the leading strata. Thus, the embattled traditionalist remnants of Civilization must have the courage to reclaim and reassert the proper leadership in this materialist world that is heading toward a tribal primitivism.

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The Royal Gift of Healing
Above, King Charles II heals persons with epilepsy and scrofula
The most essential function of leadership in a truly civilized society is
1. The exemplary representation of spiritual virtue;

2. The promotion of civilization against disorder in all social levels.
In European Christendom, before the hegemony of materialism, the supernatural source of leadership was clear: righteous Catholic kings were not merely "servants of the public good by common consent" but somehow symbols of God who could on the day of their coronation miraculously heal the sick and diseased, as always occurred with the Kings of France (see Marc Bloch, The Royal Touch, New York, 1961).

The ideal Catholic leader of old also had the duty to judge and execute justice. Modernized Catholics believe that it is “holy” to be always submissive in the face of social evil. But the Catholic Church has never taught pacifistic submission or indifference toward evil. St. Paul explained the metaphysical and moral basis of human leadership: the ideal ruler "is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" and, therefore, "bears not the sword in vain" (Rom. 13.4). According to St. Paul, the purpose of leadership is not to passively accept consensus values, but to protect public virtue by unequivocally punishing evildoers who have transgressed God's natural law.

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In a Byzantine mosaic, Christ appears as a Roman soldier
Who believes in "evildoers" nowadays? In today’s ideological atmosphere of relativism, such a justification of elite power is considered "shocking". Yet the passivity of effeminate modern society doesn't change that mafia murders and sadistic child pornographers are evil no matter what. Evil is evil, and the role of the true Catholic leader is to combat all forms of evil and assure excellent order in society, first in his personal life, and second, in his public function as protector of the innocent against predators.

God's love does not contradict His justice. In Scripture He is often portrayed as a Divine Warrior, a conqueror of primitive chaos and dragon-slayer (Ps 74.13-14, 89.11; Is 25.8, 27.1, 51.9; Apoc 12-13, etc). Good human leaders thus should represent and mystically imitate God by repressing crime and disorder in the social sphere. According to Catholic Tradition, the Archangel-Warrior St. Michael assisted Constantine the Great in the fourth century to conquer his pagan opponent. After the battle ended, the Archangel presented himself: "I am Michael, the Chief of the Angelic Legions of the Lord of Hosts, the protector of the Christian Religion, who whilst thou wast battling against godless tyrants, placed the weapons in thy hands" (St. Michael and the Angels, TAN, 1983, p. 83).

We can understand the reason why the German Emperors Henry and Otto proudly displayed the image of St. Michael on their war-banners. Their war against heathen adversaries reflected Michael's struggle with Satan and the powers of darkness.

The just war the medieval Catholic Princes waged against anti-Christian forces was also repeated within each man in the spiritual battle against human concupiscence. St. Augustine expounds this doctrine of the “just war” each man fights: "While a good man is still on the way to perfection, one part of him can be at war with another; because of this rebellious element, two good men can be at war with each other. The fact is that in everyone, 'the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh'" (The City of God, XV, 5). Only those who have dominated their own bad tendencies can justly guide and direct others.
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Galahad introduced to the company of the Round Table
In the Middle Ages, the literary figure of Galahad stood out as the embodiment of religious idealism. His authority was spiritualized to the point of sublimity. Galahad was the superbly self-disciplined, virgin warrior-hero dedicated to the quest of mystical Christian perfection. He was the rigorous avenger of the unjustly oppressed, wherever and whenever found, using "might in the service of right".

While self-complacent moderns scoff at the "medieval simple-mindedness" of Galahad, modern society is quickly devolving into a sort of zombie indifferentism in face of the forces of organized crime and tribalism that are increasingly imposing themselves. The Catholic ideal of a personal service of a virile guardianship exerted by the superior in favor of the naturally weaker members of society is the very heart of nobility and Catholic Civilization itself.

Thus, the answer to the initial inquiry, "What is the authentic meaning of human leadership?" is answered. Edmund Burke nostalgically lamented, "The Age of Chivalry is gone: that of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded: and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever" (Reflections on the Revolution in France). I don’t agree that it is gone forever, but Burke’s complaint on the imperialism of mediocrity is still valid.

In today's age where to be rootless is glorified as part of the cult of Proletarism, we should return to the roots of Western Civilization. Eternal principles can never fade. The example of Constantine and the spirit of Galahad, the archetype of medieval Catholic idealism, must again become the inspiration for Western society. In the words of Donoso Cortes, we must have the courage for "absolute negations" and "majestic affirmations." Degenerate monetary "kings" and tribal gurus must be rejected and replaced with the reign of Catholic heroes.

Posted August 6, 2007


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