I asked someone the other day how a “normal” person would know if the barbarians we always fear are at gates have finally broken through to the inside. Turning on the tv makes one concerned about barbarism. Today’s egregious example was the beating of a fifty year old woman in broad daylight for no reason discernible than perhaps she was white. G.K. Chesterton said that “Barbarism, as we mean it, is not mere ignorance or even mere cruelty. It has a more precise sense, and means militant hostility to certain necessary human ideas”. Chesterton, at the time, was making the case that the Prussians were barbarians. Missouri Synod Lutherans aware of their own history will probably agree.
He writes, “I took the case of the vow or the contract, which Prussian intellectualism would destroy. I urged that the Prussian is a spiritual Barbarian, because he is not bound by his own past, any more than a man in a dream. He avows that when he promised to respect a frontier on Monday, he did not foresee what he calls “the necessity” of not respecting it on Tuesday. In short, he is like a child, who at the end of all reasonable explanations and reminders of admitted arrangements, has no answer except “But I want to.”
Chesterton joked the Prussians were famous for “war games but in truth they could not play at any game; for the essence of every game is that the rules are the same on both sides.”
Keep these concepts in mind as we watch the march of barbarism.