The New Pope’s Liberalism vs. Thomas Aquinas’s Leninism

Thomas Aquinas was the Leninist of his day; he was a Party man. For Aquinas, nothing should be done without reference to The Party. All focus should be on The Party.

The Party is the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). Aquinas was perfectly willing to hijack his own organism into the service of The Party, and he did all of his reasoning from there.

And evolution, of course, has made hijackers of us all, not just Aquinas. Using our clever brains, we can disrupt the normal course of things to our purposes. Imagination before essence. That’s our evolutionary strategy; our superpower (just as the eagle’s superpower is strong wings, claws, and vision).

Aquinas’s hijacking of the imagination was directed toward orienting life to the Trinity. Aquinas, like Lenin, was a hedgehog, not a fox. (“The fox knows many things, the hedgehog one big thing.”)

The hedgehog, ideological impulse characteristic of Thomism and Leninism is to deploy hijacking in a very particular way. It pretends to make of a singular hijacking strategy a universal law: everyone ought to hijack their purposes to the Trinity, or the Communist Party, or whatever. Single vision and universalist hijacking subsumes a diversity of human evolutionary functions to one overriding goal that everyone should strive toward. “You ought to be a Communist,” or “You ought to orient to the God of Christianity.” The flies change, but the Big Shit is the same. The Big Shit is taken to be the highest good. Those who don’t orient to this Bigger Shit, however imagined, are deviant.

It makes for a difficult atmosphere for eccentric joys and interests, dissent, imagination, play, art, and science (as Michelangelo discovered in relation to Savonarola, Galileo in relation to the Inquisition, and Trotsky in relation to Stalin).

So ideological thinking is not ecological thinking; it’s not the way of Walt Whitman’s “variety and freedom” (the democratic insights he drew from Nature and evolution).

Absolutist ideologies of the Thomistic and Leninist varieties are very unstable absent harshness, powerful carrots and sticks, violence. Absent force, you need a lot of powerful psychological techniques to make people stay put ideologically. If you can’t force people, you’ve got to spell-cast them with words, not swords–otherwise diversity will assert itself again. That’s why ideology gets subverted by time, ecology, and evolution. Ecology and evolution accord with entropy and the diverse productions of time.

And it’s why there’s such turbulence within the Catholic Church today over masturbation, women priests, contraceptive technologies, gay marriage, divorce, remarriage, dogs going to heaven (!), and the new Pope’s liberalism. We’re multiple, and Thomistic ideology, resisting Nature, is singular.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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