MICHAEL McKINLEY. Defence policies and alliances have become a new religion. PART 1 of 5Jan 22, 2018
Government pronouncements in Australia, especially in the fields of Strategy and National Security, it is claimed, are determined by scientific rationality and definitely not configured according to religious belief. This is both fraudulent and a dangerous conceit: religion, has not been banished; indeed, the present reeks of ecclesiastical history and religion (more specifically, its deformation, religiosity). Accordingly, the proposition is that a more politically accurate understanding of Australia’s mindset is to be afforded by an interrogation of five aspects: the present state of world politics in history; the acutely deranged state of the present; the emergence of the Papal Presidency in the US; the religious state of the Australia-US Alliance; and White Papers and their like as religious documents.
- The 15th Century Present
We need to speak of a frightening prospect – a Great Power in decline, not only decline but in a state of moral torpor and rampant corruption, given over to the forces that are destroying it, and will eventually destroy it unless they are arrested and defeated.
The beginning of this decline has no incontestable date but there seems there is broad agreement that a period of sixty years leading up to it provide unequivocal evidence that its trajectory is unsustainable, not least because its principal Orders (religious, education, political, economic, military-strategic) are in an advanced state of decomposition. Above all, it is in default of its essential purpose, which is nothing less than the salvation of those it governs from the world of threats and menaces.
Its Judaeo-Christian Religion – once a source of civil pride and strength, and an inspiration to many, is now asserted stridently, aggressively and mercilessly – but is neither a moral beacon to others, nor a cause of unification domestically. The wars it requires and justifies are a strategic demonstration less of strength and more of strategic incompetence and military impotence. They serve only to remind all who observe and can think that they are essentially mandated blood sacrifices forever commemorating the founding murder which the Great Power itself commemorates, and though they might be ordained as sacred violence in its service, they are more truthfully defined as imperial wars and genocide.
Notwithstanding the opprobrium and ruinous costs of these, imperial expansion, an obsession with Islam, and endless war are to the fore. By its own decrees, the Great Power is faultless: all such strife is the result of the world failing to understand what the Great Power knew by revelation – that religious belief is imperative, that peace between peoples of different levels of enlightenment is possible if, and only if, belief in the One God is unified. Then, and only then, would life on earth reflect the true order of the Divine Plan – what the ancient Greeks knew as cosmopolis.
To this end, it is necessary to define and proclaim those things that have to be formally set apart, banished, exiled or excommunicated – in other words, those deserving of the solemn theological curse known as anathema. Ironically, in light of the extant situation, there is general agreement on the inclusions in this category: atheists, pagans, heretics, polytheists, Jews, Muslims, sexual deviants, and those who would, in any way whatsoever, challenge the unity which had been forged under the Great Power.
It has also been necessary to test the faith of believers by forcing them to concentrate on certain mysteries which are essentially incomprehensible, even preposterous, to the human mind. Far from being an exercise in futility, such an effort is thought necessary to introduce all followers to the understanding that faith, not information or reason is the prime requirement for salvation. Reason, of course, has its place and is recognised as a sophisticated way of knowing God and Nature; indeed, faith can accommodate science in so many ways but it is entirely unacceptable that it should challenge faith, let alone usurp it. In that way, it iss held, lies damnation.
Political life is scandalous and the more so the higher in the realms of power that one looks. Where representative government is the issue, representation has come to mean “of a privileged few,” and where government is required by law to be accountable and responsible, it simply is not.
Education, even of the basic kind predicated on functional literacy is denied to many in direct relationship to their proximity to poverty. Even Higher education, thought to be mandatory for those responsible for governance in the system, is scarce. For the most part, instruction in a few techniques has supplanted education – the universities, in particular, being more concerned to align themselves within to the needs of interests without. The predictable result is universities almost totally unconcerned with education as a moral enterprise and their ancient warrant to help build the ethical and moral character of students.
Where the pursuit and creation of wealth are concerned the system is, in a word, unjust. Money, and the power it buys are deployed ostentatiously and those enriched are encouraged to believe that their status is a token of God’s favour.
And finally, war – unsuccessful and endless – and both consequences proceed directly from the inversion of the Great Power’s foundational purpose. Promiscuous and deceitful alliances contribute to this, but the underlying pons asinorum is the Great Power’s delusion that it is ordained by God to order the world and that all who oppose it are the incarnation of evil. It therefore thinks of itself as divinely ordained and claims an indulgence to act in ways that only ensure that it will be resisted. By the twisted logic of this delusion resistance can only be regarded as insolence to God requiring great and terrible punishment, the execution of which creates a wilderness of enemies, restive subordinates awaiting their opportunities to rebel, and perpetual strife.
The description to this point has been kept at a hopefully inoffensive level of generalization for the purpose of exploring an historical parallel, the first line of which, in its unfolding, changed the world, but not without an extended period of war and destruction which, even when it had passed, disfigured global politics. The second line is yet to fully reveal itself its consequences, but already it portents are ominous.
As regards the former, the description applies to the Catholic Church in the period leading up to the Protestant Reformation, and most particularly to the Renaissance Papacy in the period 1470-1530; the latter, notwithstanding the lack of a culminating event, refers to the condition of the United States and its deterioration in all aspects of its own identity and power, especially since the end of World War II.
To phrase it through precedent, the United States now exists in a pre-Reformation, or pre-Tridentine moment (depending on one’s view of American Exceptionalism in the first place).
From 1982 to 1988, Michael McKinley taught diplomacy international relations and strategy in the department of Politics, at UWA. From 1988 to 2014 he taught diplomacy, international relations and strategy at the ANU. He is currently a member of the Emeritus Faculty at the ANU.