History of the Counter-Enlightenment

Written by Trad Patrick

The Counter-Enlightenment was a conservative movement of the 18th through to the 20th Century. It’s main goal was to reverse the socioeconomic, philosophical, and religious changes that the Enlightenment, French and American Revolutions brought to the world. The ideals of this liberal time period brought about an end to the medieval worlds view of the world as one governed by God and King.

The medieval world was also better described as Throne and Altar Conservatism in which a nation was ruled by a hereditary monarch instead of an elected leadership made of the of the populace. This style of conservatism also looked to the Church as co-leadership of the nation in matters pertaining to morality and decency. It was also a time in which the Church days of feasting and fasting were put first. It was also the Kings duty under this Latin Conservatism to defend the Church and by proxy becoming a sacred person himself.

Religious doctrine would be the basis for public policy in matters pertaining to the family and education these matters could not be changed by the state but instead would have to addressed back to the clergy for reformation. In this counter-enlightenment or Latin Conservatism the preaching or practice of paganist or heretical faiths would be prohibited or even outright outlawed. In the post enlightenment world this was to be considered barbaric as peoples should be allowed to practice their faiths openly and without so-called persecution. Yet the Latin Conservatism had no issue with Muslims or Jews worshipping their faiths in their own countries; it would just not be allowed within the nation itself. One of the biggest supports of the early 20th century of this movement was of course Charles Maurras.

Maurras was the leader of the French Counter-Enlightenment party know as Action Françoise. Members of the party took an oath that stated they would defend France but also the Church against religious influences that were hostile to Catholicism. He believed that the Republican constitution in France at the time was brought about by foreign and dangerous influence. He was right and like other great minds of this Latin Conservatism he sought for a nationalism that was rooted in a love of culture and faith brought by the Catholic Church. This did bring him to have some issue and ruin in with the Catholic Church that was already feeling the effects of a liberal infection at the Vatican. Maurras and people like Franco and others were constantly fighting against this infection at both the secular and theological level.

While the Latin Conservatives wanted a restoration of the marriage of Church and State the liberal humanists and the theological modernists were busy fighting back harder and harder and this fight brought about new dangerous ideologies in the form of socialism, liberalism, and of course communism. The Counter-enlightenment folks saw these new forms of liberalism as the danger they were and in much stronger ways then we do today.

One of the main issues those addicted to freedom have with this movement is it sees the idea of being ruled by elected officials as dangerous and they saw the coming chaos, bloodshed, and tyranny that followed because of it all. What they saw all come to be in our modern world. They wanted to fight back against the coming rule by oligarch. They also saw how the revolutions in America and France were not of God but of Satan and the damage they both brought far a=outweighed any perceived good. The advent of freedom of religion brought with the destruction of the Church and the turn toward Atheism and a worship of mammon and deviancy.

While I could write a whole article just on the idea of mammon worship I will just say that in the context of the counter-enlightenment they were anti-Capitalism and wanted to restore a medieval guild style economy and a more local subsidiarity based system of trade and commerce. They saw capitalism as a system that could easily be infected by liberalism and boy were, they ever right when you look at the woke capital of today.

While the term of Latin and throne and altar conservatism are used this movement has very little in common with the modern or Burkean conservatism of our days. It also has very little in common with so-called populism as both ideologies are very much entrenched in the idea of personal freedom and liberty. While the Latin Conservatives believed in a greater good society based around the ideals of Rerum Novarum and Quadressimo Anno. I find it safe to say that populism and modern-day conservatism are very liberal leaning in many aspects of their ideologies.

What we see in America today in conservatism is the lolbert lean that if a gay or trans person says they are conservative then they are and are somehow an ally. Yet the Counter-enlightenment folks would see this disorder for what it was and work ton outlaw it rather then placates it. Conservatism has become instead of a counter-revolutionary ideal a pro revolutionary idea and sides with all they we as Catholics have fought back against for thousands of years.

While this movement shares some common threads with fascism it was not fascism per say. While they both agreed on the move toward monarchy and a restoration of nationalism and guild style hierarchy they differed in the timeline and approach. While fascism was born out of Roman empire style govt. counter-enlightenment went back to the middle ages for a look at a more Catholic approach. The fascist while mostly Catholic did not put the church as front and center as the Latin Conservatives did. They agreed on the Church leading in areas of morals but different in the Church having ultimate say.

Both systems and parties were advantageous to Catholics and paved a way for a return to tradition many people get hung on lies and distortions about both. Neither system was revolutionary; they were both counter revolutions by the sheer aspect that they both pointed to the errors of the French and American revolutions. They were both born out of a need to fight back against a liberal and dare I say communistic.

The real threat to Catholics is a liberal world that thrives on your ignorance and rejection of tradition. People today are afraid to speak up for their culture and faith and it is all because they are too comfortable with the spoils of the modern world. The major issue with what we have come to coin as classical liberalism is that it rejects tradition and instead pushes the ideals of free-market economics, feminism, gender theory and devotion to a democracy built on the foundation of voting and evils that are contradictory to a Catholics way of life.

As Catholics we must work to divorce ourselves from this world of classical liberalism and enslavement to modernist ways of life. The only answer to the ills of the modern world is a counter enlightenment based upon the ideology of what Fr Denis Fahey coined as the pinnacle of human society and that is the middle ages.

Trad Patrick runs the "Rights and Duties" podcast, available on YouTube and wherever Podcasts are found.