Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Chuch and the Radicals I

Andrew Sullivan cites this quotation of Cardinal Ratzinger's:

In this regard, the consumerism and relativism of the West can be just as dangerous as the totalitarianism of the East: It's just as easy to forget about God while dancing to an iPod as while marching in a Hitler Youth rally. There's a difference, to be sure, but hardly anyone would contest the observation that in elite Western society, as in totalitarian Germany, the moral vocabulary has been purged of the idea of sin. And if there's no sense of sin, then there's no need for a Redeemer, or for the Church.

Andrew responds, "A free society where people can listen to iPods and freely debate their own ideas of truth and the good life is all but indistinguishable from a Nuremberg rally?"

Defenders of Benedict maintain that the experience of living under the Nazis was of relatively less consequence for the development of his ideas than his negative reaction to the 1968 Paris student uprising, which led to his turn to theological conservatism. In fact, among the countercultural Left, one of the most commonly repeated ideas was the conflation of Western, Liberal consumer society with Nazi Germany. In "Nation of Rebels" Heath and Potter document the frequency of the idea in the writings of Marcuse and Reich, among others. Theodore Roszak is quoted as criticizing Playboy magazine because it promoted conspicuous consumption - it had become "an indispensible form of social control under the technocracy. Under the Nazis, however, youth camps and party courtesans were used for the same integrative purpose- as were the concentration camps, where the kinkier members of the elite were rewarded by being allowed free exercise of their tastes." The authors point out: "Note the extraordinary equivalency here: in Roszak's view, a pool party at Hugh Hefner's mansion and the "joy division" at Ravensbruck are just variations on the same system of repressive control."