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The Evil Empire of Yesterday and Today

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On March 8th, 1983, United States President Ronald Reagan gave a powerful speech to the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals gathered in Orlando, Florida to reiterate the Christian identity of the United States and the Atheist threat of the USSR. It was on this occasion that Reagan defined the USSR as an “Evil Empire”.

President Reagan reiterated to American Evangelicals what he said on the 8th of June, 1982 before the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The Cold War was interpreted as a war of civilizations between the Christian West and the Atheist-Marxist Soviet world.

It is important to underline what the president says about the war of civilizations:

-about the USSR
-about what the United States are/should be
-about the dangers inside the United States

What is an Evil Empire?

The USSR is rightly referred to as an Atheist power, governed by Marxist-Leninist ideology, devoid of true morality because everything is subordinated to ideological interest. A totalitarianism, where the State crushes the individual and cancels his freedom, is a system where religion and family are violated by political power (e.g.: “[L]et us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.”).

The United States, on the contrary, is shown by Reagan as a very religious, God-fearing country, where the freedom of families and communities is sacred, where good is recognized as such and evil as such, where the Ten Commandments and Christian values guide the choices of the people.

Whether this was true in the States in the 1980s or just a rhetorical device for propaganda is not the subject of this article. What matters is that President Reagan thus justified the war of civilizations between the USA and the USSR, between the West and the Soviet world. The war, for Reagan, was therefore not a war between Americans and Russians, between East and West, between Anglosphere and Eurasia but a meta-geographical war, a war of moral-spiritual-political models, a war between the free Christian world and the evil Atheist Communist Empire.

For Reagan, the USSR was the empire of evil because it was an Atheistic system, an enemy of religion, and totalitarian, which annulled the freedom of people, families and communities in the name of the omnipotence of the State. For Reagan, anevil empire is not evil because it is Russian, Slavic, Orthodox or Eurasian. Rather, it is evil because it is Atheistic, materialist, centralist, bureaucratic-technocratic, oppressive and dirigiste.

For Reagan, the USA is a power of good not because it is Anglo-Saxon, Western or Protestant, but because it is “under God”, it cultivates goodness, it protects the freedom of families and communities, it is a religious country. Allow me to provide the first of two extensive quotations from his speech in 1983:

The American experiment in democracy rests on this insight. Its discovery was the great triumph of our Founding Fathers, voiced by William Penn when he said: “If we will not be governed by God, we must be governed by tyrants.” Explaining the inalienable rights of men, Jefferson said, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” And it was George Washington who said that “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.

And finally, that shrewdest of all observers of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, put it eloquently after he had gone on a search for the secret of America’s greatness and genius — and he said: “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the greatness and the genius of America. . . . America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Well, I’m pleased to be here today with you who are keeping America great by keeping her good. Only through your work and prayers and those of millions of others can we hope to survive this perilous century and keep alive this experiment in liberty, this last, best hope of man.

I want you to know that this administration is motivated by a political philosophy that sees the greatness of America in you, her people, and in your families, churches, neighborhoods, communities — the institutions that foster and nourish values like concern for others and respect for the rule of law under God.

So the real values that determine the clash of civilizations has nothing to do with any racial, ethnic or geographical category, but solely on the basis of theological truths.

Domestic Enemies

Reagan celebrates the American myth and the virtues of the American people, but he also identifies dangers for the American system. He says he want to tenaciously oppose these ideological dangers, such as the emergence of secularism and the liberal-radical drift in matters of religion, education, abortion, etc.. Here is a lengthy quote which should reveal my point to the reader quite quickly:

Now, I don’t have to tell you that this puts us in opposition to, or at least out of step with, a prevailing attitude of many who have turned to a modern-day secularism, discarding the tried and time-tested values upon which our very civilization is based. No matter how well intentioned, their value system is radically different from that of most Americans. And while they proclaim that they’re freeing us from superstitions of the past, they’ve taken upon themselves the job of superintending us by government rule and regulation. Sometimes their voices are louder than ours, but they are not yet a majority.

An example of that vocal superiority is evident in a controversy now going on in Washington. And since I’m involved, I’ve been waiting to hear from the parents of young America. How far are they willing to go in giving to government their prerogatives as parents?

Let me state the case as briefly and simply as I can. An organization of citizens, sincerely motivated and deeply concerned about the increase in illegitimate births and abortions involving girls well below the age of consent, sometime ago established a nationwide network of clinics to offer help to these girls and, hopefully, alleviate this situation. Now, again, let me say, I do not fault their intent. However, in their well-intentioned effort, these clinics have decided to provide advice and birth control drugs and devices to underage girls without the knowledge of their parents.

For some years now, the Federal Government has helped with funds to subsidize these clinics. In providing for this, the Congress decreed that every effort would be made to maximize parental participation. Nevertheless, the drugs and devices are prescribed without getting parental consent or giving notification after they’ve done so. Girls termed “sexually active” — and that has replaced the word “promiscuous” — are given this help in order to prevent illegitimate birth or abortion.

Well, we have ordered clinics receiving Federal funds to notify the parents such help has been given. One of the Nation’s leading newspapers has created the term “squeal rule” in editorializing against us for doing this, and we’re being criticized for violating the privacy of young people. A judge has recently granted an injunction against an enforcement of our rule. I’ve watched TV panel shows discuss this issue, seen columnists pontificating on our error, but no one seems to mention morality as playing a part in the subject of sex.

Is all of Judeo-Christian tradition wrong? Are we to believe that something so sacred can be looked upon as a purely physical thing with no potential for emotional and psychological harm? And isn’t it the parents’ right to give counsel and advice to keep their children from making mistakes that may affect their entire lives?

Many of us in government would like to know what parents think about this intrusion in their family by government. We’re going to fight in the courts. The right of parents and the rights of family take precedence over those of Washington-based bureaucrats and social engineers.

But the fight against parental notification is really only one example of many attempts to water down traditional values and even abrogate the original terms of American democracy. Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged. When our Founding Fathers passed the first amendment, they sought to protect churches from government interference. They never intended to construct a wall of hostility between government and the concept of religious belief itself.

The evidence of this permeates our history and our government. The Declaration of Independence mentions the Supreme Being no less than four times. “In God We Trust” is engraved on our coinage. The Supreme Court opens its proceedings with a religious invocation. And the Members of Congress open their sessions with a prayer. I just happen to believe the schoolchildren of the United States are entitled to the same privileges as Supreme Court Justices and Congressmen.

Last year, I sent the Congress a constitutional amendment to restore prayer to public schools. Already this session, there’s growing bipartisan support for the amendment, and I am calling on the Congress to act speedily to pass it and to let our children pray.

More than a decade ago, a Supreme Court decision literally wiped off the books of 50 States statutes protecting the rights of unborn children. Abortion on demand now takes the lives of up to 1-/2 million unborn children a year. Human life legislation ending this tragedy will some day pass the Congress, and you and I must never rest until it does. Unless and until it can be proven that the unborn child is not a living entity, then its right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must be protected.

You may remember that when abortion on demand began, many, and, indeed, I’m sure many of you, warned that the practice would lead to a decline in respect for human life, that the philosophical premises used to justify abortion on demand would ultimately be used to justify other attacks on the sacredness of human life — infanticide or mercy killing. Tragically enough, those warnings proved all too true. Only last year a court permitted the death by starvation of a handicapped infant.

I have directed the Health and Human Services Department to make clear to every health care facility in the United States that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects all handicapped persons against discrimination based on handicaps, including infants. And we have taken the further step of requiring that each and every recipient of Federal funds who provides health care services to infants must post and keep posted in a conspicuous place a notice stating that “discriminatory failure to feed and care for handicapped infants in this facility is prohibited by Federal law.” It also lists a 24-hour, toll-free number so that nurses and others may report violations in time to save the infant’s life.

Now, I’m sure that you must get discouraged at times, but you’ve done better than you know, perhaps. There’s a great spiritual awakening in America, a renewal of the traditional values that have been the bedrock of America’s goodness and greatness.

One recent survey by a Washington-based research council concluded that Americans were far more religious than the people of other nations; 95 percent of those surveyed expressed a belief in God and a huge majority believed the Ten Commandments had real meaning in their lives. And another study has found that an overwhelming majority of Americans disapprove of adultery, teenage sex, pornography, abortion, and hard drugs. And this same study showed a deep reverence for the importance of family ties and religious belief.

I think the items that we’ve discussed here today must be a key part of the Nation’s political agenda. For the first time the Congress is openly and seriously debating and dealing with the prayer and abortion issues — and that’s enormous progress right there. I repeat: America is in the midst of a spiritual awakening and a moral renewal. And with your Biblical keynote, I say today, “Yes, let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”

Now, obviously, much of this new political and social consensus I’ve talked about is based on a positive view of American history, one that takes pride in our country’s accomplishments and record. But we must never forget that no government schemes are going to perfect man. We know that living in this world means dealing with what philosophers would call the phenomenology of evil or, as theologians would put it, the doctrine of sin. There is sin and evil in the world, and we’re enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might.

So Who Won the Cold War?

One can ask whether the USA of 2024 corresponds more to Reagan’s idea of a good power “under God” that protects religion and family, cultivates freedom and lives according to the Ten Commandments, or to the opposite project, the Liberal neo-totalitarian one which was beginning to take root during Reagan’s time. In short, did Reagan win or lose? In the clash with the USSR, he certainly won. But can the same be said in the internal cultural war?

We should also question ourselves about the foundations, i.e. whether Liberal neo-totalitarianism is a foreign body with respect to the Liberal origins of the USA, as Reagan believes, or whether it is rather the most coherent development of it as the anti-Liberal Catholic Magisterium suggests and as the counterrevolutionary Catholic school of thought teaches. Likewise, we should ask ourselves about the genetic links between Liberalism and Marxism. We would discover, perhaps, that their family is the same after all. But all this and much more is not the intent of this writing.

Here, much more modestly, we simply want to assume the Reagan category of “Evil Empire” with the related framework of war of civilizations and evaluate its historical relevance today.

Unlike in 1983, in 2024, the USSR no longer exists!

One could then conclude that the war of civilizations is confined to the past with the victory of the Christian West over the Atheistic Communist evil empire. But this would be extremely naive for the simple reason that the West, if it was ever Christian in 1983, certainly is not (anymore) today.

Geography in this case doesn’t matter, nor does ethnicity, because the war of civilizations that Reagan talks about is only accidentally a (cold) war between Americans and Russians. It is, rather, a war between two paradigms: the Christian one of free peoples and the Atheist statist one of the “Evil Empire.”

Let us therefore consider the essential features of the two systems as outlined by Reagan.

If today, in 2024, we think of an irreligious political-ideological system, enemy of the family, which systematically reduces the spaces of freedom for parents in the education of their children, for entrepreneurs in economic activity, for owners (for example homeowners) in the use of one’s assets, etc., a system that pursues the homologation of the masses and “Pensée unique“, a system that criminalizes and psychiatrizes dissent (for example, think of what happened during the years of Covid madness), a system that dogmatically imposes “official truths ” (the one on Covid and the so-called vaccine, the one on the anthropic cause of climate change and related ecological conversion, the one on sexual fluidity and LGBT+ rights, the one on political correctness) and claims to re-educate the people, and so on. If we think about all this, we don’t think about the USSR but about very Western entities such as the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, California and the DemocraticUSA in general.

Those internal dangers that Reagan spoke about in 1983 are today no longer simple dangers but the dominant cultural-legal-institutional reality throughout the West.

Today’s West is the world of abortion elevated to a civil right, of sodomy celebrated with pride, of arbitrary and fluid gender identity indifferent to reality, of gay marriage, of sexual education from an early age, of cleared transsexualism, of euthanasia as a right of self-determination. All of this occurs within a highly secularized cultural framework of mass practical atheism hidden under a suffocating cloak of state re-education on the basis of the various and different ideological options of the system (the green one, the gender one, the woke one, … the Liberal-radical one which absorbs them all).

Not only is the West increasingly and openly anti-Christian and irreligious so that social life is increasingly distant from the Ten Commandments, but the spaces for secular freedom are also increasingly reduced in the name of higher reasons (the fight against the pandemic, the good of the planet, equality, non-discrimination, gender equality, the fight against patriarchal violence, etc.) and through pervasive public control/intervention in the lives of people, families, businesses, communities, and in the use of property (house, land, car… cash) and in the very speech of people (crimes of opinion are multiplying and new ones are always imagined, from that of homophobia to that of climate denial).

And today’s West does not limit itself to doing it at home but works steadily to export all this to the world through the means of propaganda and political pressure, blackmail and deception, so that it is precisely the West that is the global sponsor of abortion, contraception, homosexuality, sexual libertinism (passed off as rights to sexual self-determination), family disintegration and much more.

And it is always the West that is the promoter on a global scale of those international and “humanitarian” policies that aim to disarticulate traditional societies, religious and moral bonds, and to liquefy strong identities.

According to the Reagan scheme, it can therefore be said that the West has lost its Christian identity and its being a land of freedom for families and peoples, becoming precisely that monster that Regan had identified in essence in secularism and in the dirigiste claim of public interference in familiar life. And this now adult Liberal monster is terribly similar to the late Soviet monster. It doesn’t speak Russian and doesn’t call itself a Communist. However, like the old USSR, it is an enemy of Christ and true freedom. And like the old USSR, it tirelessly strives to make proselytes by spreading its errors and horrors throughout the world. We think of the European Union as increasingly similar to the Soviet Union in its hostility to Christianity, in its centralized dirigisme, in its self-referential technocratic-bureaucratic power system, in its systematic imposition of a single thought, etc.

However, today’s West is not a compact monolith, and the USA deserves separate consideration.

The United States: Evil Empire or the Last Best Hope?

Because the USA is both the dominant center of the West – therefore also the driving force of this new wicked and degenerate anti-Christian Liberal Atheism – it is also the place where the resistance to this new totalitarianism is strongest. In fact, at least half of all Americans oppose it,  even being ready to take up arms, because they have moral and cultural beliefs that are irreconcilable with the new Western paradigm. And these resistant Americans have more and more cultural and political weight in the USA, despite being despised and disqualified by the dominant system. The USA is thus contested terrain, where the new Western paradigm was born, from where it was propagated but where it has not yet managed to establish itself stably. The USA, in this, is still contestable. And this is the American exception in the West of these 2020s. All this should not mislead us, in fact, if it is true that the opposition to Western neo-totalitarianism is strong in the USA, it is also true that the common American culture is the Liberal one of Protestant origin.

Where instead is the paradigm of the “new West” fully successful and without significant opposition on a political level? In Western Europe and the Anglosphere (United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and, consequently, in all supranational and international realities emanating from the collective West.

The perfect expression of this wicked and perverted neo-West is: the French Republic, which elevates abortion to a constitutional right; the United Kingdom, which makes homosexuality the flag to be raised in the world and sends to prison those who dare to pray in front of the clinics where they carry out abortions; the Netherlands of euthanasia, even of infants,  which is now common practice; the Switzerland of assisted suicide offered as welfare…; not to mention Liberal-totalitarian Canada and the neo-Soviet EU.

Up to now, even the USA, meaning not the people but the Administration, has been part of this system, perhaps with the partial exception of the four years of Trump. But in the USA, the game is still open. Just think of the recent ruling of the Supreme Court of Alabama on cryopreserved embryos. And look at the political-cultural forces that support Trump and could soon have ample room for maneuver.

It is painful to say, but looking honestly in the mirror, it is precisely the West (Western Europe plus the Anglosphere) that must realize it is the new evil empire. It doesn’t matter whether the capital is London, Paris, Washington or Brussels, the new evil empire is an ideologically homogeneous reality and intrinsically hostile to Christianity.

The fact that the dominant center of the West, i.e. the USA, is also the center of resistance and a still contested/contestable space gives rise to hope regarding the possible rapid collapse of the neo-totalitarian West, a bit like what happened with the collapse of the USSR.

It will probably be from the USA that the (controlled?) demolition of this new evil empire will begin because it is in the USA that the resistance forces (certainly not perfect but still providential in blocking the diabolical system) have the real possibility of conquering power and, in prospect, of changing the internal balance of power and overturning cultural hegemony to its own advantage.

Just as the old Soviet evil empire collapsed miserably, so will the new Liberal-totalitarian evil empire collapse just as miserably. We have the task of not being trapped by the Gorbachevian deception of perestroika or an illusory reform of the system.

The Communist system could not be reformed, and the Liberal neo-totalitarian system cannot be reformed. The Soviet system had to collapse, the Western neo-totalitarian system must collapse. Faced with the empire of evil, the old one and the new one, the only reasonable and Christian posture is intransigent opposition, courageous resistance, implacable refutation.

Catholics can only be in opposition, intransigently in opposition, without any Ostpolitik-like surrender towards the evil empire. The empire will collapse, and we must be ready for the reconstruction of the true West, of the true Europe, of Christianity, which will not be the Liberal democratic West of a few decades ago when a certain residue of Christianity still remained. It would be foolish to settle for turning the clock back to Reagan’s USA or to the Italian 1950s.

Not a slightly less secularized Liberal democracy, but the respublica christiana must be the political horizon of Catholics. From the rubble of the Liberal-radical West, it will then be possible to rebuild the true Europe: Christianity.

But first, indeed, the evil empire will have to collapse.

Translated by Samuele Salvador

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