Is Modernity a Vacuum Pump?

July 12, 2021
Source: FSSPX Spirituality
The Pantheon in Paris: a temple of secularism

A bill against separatism is currently being considered by French parliamentarians. The idea is to fight against separatism by “consolidating respect for republican principles and by modifying the laws on religion.”

The stakes are high, as historian Paul Airiau shows on the Aleteia site on January 22, 2021: “In a pure logic of power, the State has gradually transformed secularism into an instrument of preventive control of civil society and the religious sphere, in the name of the safety of bodies but also of ideas.”

This leads him to question on the same site, on January 30: “Will there soon be secular surveillance?” According to him, “religions or religious and spiritual affiliations are increasingly understood [by political authorities] as capable of undermining national unity, the primacy of civic belonging and individual freedom.”

“Public policies then became more inquisitive. A surveillance, even a desire to limit the expression of religious membership, is developing. With the emergence of jihadism on French territory, the desire to destroy an anti-modern religious ideology and influence has increased.”

“ ‘Separatism’ replaces ‘communitarianism.’ The republican obsession with secession goes from geographically situated culture (Alsatian, Breton, Basque, Corsican autonomy) to falsely localized worship (‘district’).”

Hence there are consequences for the education of children and the grants of associations: “freedom of education passes from a system of declaration to that of authorization.”

“If the use of schooling to emancipate children from socio-cultural conditioning belongs to the republican tradition, the restriction of the freedom of education marks a clear shift in relation to the autonomy of parents and interest groups, widely recognized since the 1920s.”

“Finally, to engage associations benefiting from public subsidies in the path of subscribing to republican principles renews the state's posture of mistrust towards civil society, an unequal partner, necessarily to be monitored and educated.”

And Paul Airiau concluded: “Prophylaxis to control bodies, surveillance to control consciousness: the logic has always been that of ‘the coldest of all cold monsters’ (Nietzsche), the modern sovereign state.”

The IIlusory Secular Shield

But is this surveillance secularism able to fight against separatism in general and Islamism in particular? This is not the opinion of the novelist Jean-Marie Rouart who wrote in Le Figaro on December 8, 2020:

“Secularism is an illusory defense against the Islamist will to conquer,” specifying: “How do the proponents of a secularism, pure and hard, with all their pride as freethinkers believe for an instant that they alone, with their panegyrics to Jules Ferry and Jaures, will be able to dam the Islamist tsunami that, by way of both persuasion and violence, is threatening to win out?”

The French academician also underlined the responsibility of the Church in “a distraught world, less and less guided by Christianity, which is showing signs of fatigue and even uncontrolled deviations, as G. K .Chesterton worried, facing “so many formerly Christian virtues that have become foolish.”

The Church is filled with “gloomy ceremonies, poor masses, and sermons that are spiritually weak. Given these conditions of liturgical impoverishment, can the Mass still make one believe in a Christianity infused with miracles?”

“What of Christ’s injunction: ‘I am the truth, the way and the life’—can it still be heard? For instead of strengthening itself spiritually through the timelessness and universality of the Gospel and instead of maintaining its liturgy through the masterworks of the arts, music, and song, Catholicism—under the influence of a Jansenist progressivism—has abandoned all its traditional pomp, while gaining nothing in return.”

Hence his legitimate concern for “in thirty or forty years, when the demographics of the Muslim world in France will have grown exponentially, and when we will have gradually been trapped in a world without horizon, ultra-materialistic, shaped by the multinationals and nourished by consumption, trivia, and pornography.”

In May 2021, Jean-Marie Rouart resumed his analysis in a more comprehensive way in a book entitled This Country of Men Without God (Bouquins Essais). This analysis is also that of Patrick Buisson in a book published the same month: The End of a World (Albin Michel), solidly supported by remarkable historical and sociological documentation.

The Great Void 

On May 8, in the weekly Valeurs Actuelles, a French historian severely judged the conciliar and post-conciliar period which ran from 1960 to 1975: “In a few years time, they opened a great clearance sale: the second death of God whose religious burial, as it should be, has taken in history the name of “the Second Vatican Council”;

“The programmed destruction of the ritual and festive Catholicism of the small and the humble - that of the Rogation days and Corpus Christi, that of the saint-intercessors and of the rosary -, the collapse of the faith, the libertarian offensive against verticality and the “name of the Father” as a principle and source of authority, the biological, legal, and social deposing of paternity with the pill and the loss of the pater familias;

“The dissolution of the family in the name of the right to individual happiness, sex as an ersatz love, the replacement of popular traditions by a mass culture imported from abroad, the ethnocide of the countryside, the end of peasants and the deconstruction of landscapes, is, in techno newspeak, the land consolidation that devastated France at the end of the 1950s.”

And to draw this implacable conclusion: “For having been relieved of the great stories which gave meaning to life and human suffering, for having buried the immense wealth amassed by human intelligence in order to contain the anguish of its finitude, our time is more helpless in the face of Covid, more powerless to rectify the scourge of its own void, than the Middle Ages were in the face of the Black Death. Modernity is a vast process of cancellation and destruction of meaning.”

What strikes the reader in Patrick Buisson's book is the exhaustion of Catholicism after the Second Vatican Council. It is exhaustion in the strongest sense of the term: drying up, the emptiness of parishes and seminaries which manifests an interior, doctrinal, and spiritual emptiness.

On BFMTV, on May 8, reacting to the remarks of Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, who had considered that it was not possible to have a discussion with people who refuse “to place the law of the Republic above the law of God.” Patrick Buisson asserted: “A Catholic thinks that the natural law is above the law of the Republic. It does not scandalize me at all that a believer places natural law, divine law above that of the Republic.”

Previously he had declared: “Our relationship with Islam is linked to the decline of the sacred in our society. We are a society where the sacred is foreign. How do you want Muslims to assimilate? What values ​​do we offer them?”

The Secular Faith

Will he be heard? Certainly not by the thurifers of “political correctness,” such as Aurélien Taché, former LREM deputy and co-president of the New Democrats, who affirms in the weekly Le Point of May 18: “in order to prevent transcendence from putting peace and freedom in danger, it is democracy and human rights that must be re-sacralized.”

“For this I will cite another Buisson, Ferdinand, whose parentage I claim this time: ‘We have a faith as ardent as that which others draw from their beliefs. Our own religion is that of the Revolution itself, that which had for ‘Tablets of the Law’ the immortal Declaration of the Rights of Man.”

One might think they were reading Vincent Peillon, the Minister of National Education under François Hollande, in his book Une religion pour la République [A Religion for the Republic]. The secular faith of Ferdinand Buisson (Seuil, 2010); or Caroline Fourest in her Eloge du blasphème [In Praise of Blasphemy] (Grasset, 2015) and in her Génie de laïcité [Genius of Secularism] (Grasset, 2016), a secular response to Chateaubriand's Genie du Christianisme [Genius of Christianity].

This debate will be at the heart of the summer university of the Society of Saint Pius X, on August 11-15, 2021, at La Martinerie near Châteauroux (Indre), whose theme is: “Is secularism the remedy for separatism?”

There is no doubt that the participants in these study days will seek first to go back to the causes: religious freedom and openness to the modern secular world, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, desacralized liturgy, etc.

Frankly going back to the causes to effectively dismantle the modernist vacuum pump, so much so, as Bossuet said, that “God laughs at the prayers that are made to Him to avert public misfortunes, when we are not opposed to what is done to attract them.” (History of the variations of Protestant churches, 1688)

Université d’été de la Fraternité Saint-Pie X du 11 au 15 août 2021 à l’école Saint-Michel, domaine de La Martinerie, 36130 Montierchaume

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