Essays

The Age of Caesars: Without True Authority, There Is No Life

FOR HUMAN BEINGS to live together in a mutually beneficial way, there must be peace and security. Peace and security require a competent authority (Auctoritas) with the power (Potestas) to define and enforce law. Law must be grounded in a truth which, when applied, will bear the fruit of peace and security. Thus, truth in matters of law is proven not by the approval of the people or by the arbitrary will of the rulers, but by the fruit which it bears.

But how is truth to be initially discerned? Through using his God-given gifts of reason and conscience, man can discern from both the natural world and his own human nature that certain acts are right or wrong. That is not to say that truth arises from within man; but rather, since man lives in God’s creation and is created in God’s image, man is capable of deducing certain fundamental moral truths which God has set over man and creation.

Still, the problem arises that some people will never realize or consent to the most basic rules of civilized life. Therefore those in authority must have the means and the will to enforce what is good and punish what is evil. This is contrary to notions of democracy and equality, which involve the false assumptions of moral relativism and a tolerance for ideologies which conflict with the moral code.

The real basis of political authority and law must not be economics or social status, but rather a commitment to the spiritual, heroic ideals that are worth living and dying for. A dominant economic “class” can never claim legitimate authority if its members live materialistically and fail to embody superior values. The justification for a ruling class is not wealth or formal education, but commitment to preserving the traditions which express the fundamental principles from which the civilization arises. Genuine nobility and authority are rooted in moral truth, since the spiritual welfare of the people takes precedence over material needs.

Moral truth is the operational programming of society, the stage script of the community, and therefore there can be only one… the one which is rooted in the laws which God wrote in Nature and made evident to men through reason and conscience, the one which produces peace and harmony in the community. When those in authority betray the truth which underlies law in order to conform to the demands of the masses for a false moral code, those in authority negate their own legitimacy and thereafter possess mere power. Such rulers have sacrificed their Auctoritas for the sake of greater Potestas, ceasing to be worthy of either.

Because authority arises from moral truth, the nature of authority is to create, build, and grow. Power wielded by legitimate authority may be used destructively, but only when necessary to safeguard greater growth and creation. Society becomes corrupt when leaders seek to maintain momentary peace, or to increase their own popular support, by compromising with immorality. Leaders are doomed to inevitably abuse their power once it is unbridled from the restraining moral source and purpose from which it arose.

There is a line in the film Braveheart in which the Scottish hero William Wallace declares that “men follow bravery, not titles.” In the early stages of a society, there is no conflict between the two, since titles are earned through bravery and other virtues. Only once society starts to drift from its founding values do those with titles begin to lack bravery and other virtues, depending instead on the abuse of power to maintain their social position.

Such an abuse of power is its own negation. Once a ruler has sacrificed his own moral authority for a short-term gain in power, such a man must be disobeyed and eventually overthrown by those who still hold to the truth upon which civilization depends. Such over-throwers are the new Auctoritas. And by the power of command which comes from truth and righteousness, they are destined to seize Potestas.

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Source: Legion of St. Michael

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