Musings: Tomberg on Law and the Goddess Economy

2023 Update: What we have here is the third of a series of musings on Tomberg and the world tragedy, written many years ago, when this site started in 2009. For navigation purposes, we list and link the three parts here:

And now back to 2009 — Roger Buck

What kind of civilisation is it, that could result in the most unimaginable scale of loss as that suggested by Global Warming?

Is it arguably not a civilisation which has placed certain goods – or gods – above all else? For example, the exterior good of scientific progress over and above the interior good of prayer, veneration, devotion to that which lies beyond the merely materialistic and humanistic?

Is it not arguably a civilisation that has placed economic goods over moral goods? And that now increasingly educates its young ever more toward technological proficiency and capitalist prowess, rather than religion and values?

Whatever the case, scientific goods, economic goods are not evil in themselves, but they become so when severed from other goods, including interior, spiritual and moral goods our civilisation once held high.

Now yesterday I started musing on Valentin Tomberg’s legal thinking in this regard, as he illustrates far more eloquently than I could ever hope to, a trajectory over centuries towards this severance.

There Valentin Tomberg argues that it was a failure of International Law and Order which had led to the World Wars and that this failure was due to the disintegration of law in previous centuries.

Disintegrated law – law deprived of its deeper moral content led to situations where any law could be passed simply to facilitate the power of the State. Without being rooted in moral and religious orientation, law degrades into simple justification of power. These are among his arguments and thus he calls for regenerated jurisprudence.

The numerous things he advances in support of this, cannot be adequately brought forth here. In these very personal musings, I may be able to offer little more than saying that as I contemplate Global Warming, I cannot help but feel deeply aided by this legal and moral thinking. As well as moved to my core by the sense of continued relevance to conclusions such as the following:

“The problem of International Law which has been so seriously put before us by the catastrophic events of the two world wars, is not a mere juristic, political and economic question, but also a moral and religious question.

It is a total question of human culture – and one has to give a total answer, i.e. an answer which considers the totality of the question and points out a legal system for humanity suitable to save and preserve humanity´s culture and to enable its future development, for it is in mortal peril.”

And where are we today more than sixty years later? We do not seem to be immediately threatened by world war, but by capitalism run amok.

Yet human culture is very much in mortal peril and I confess I see little hope beyond both legal and cultural renewal – of such a TOTAL nature.

Totality… thus it was, that in addition to his legal writings, Tomberg addressed many fields. Writing anonymously two decades later, he wrote in a fashion which attempted such totality – aspiring at once to an integration of theological, philosophical, psychological, political, scientific reflection and more.

And here in a more religious and symbolic language is how he approached many of the same ideas in the 1960’s:

“The sickness of the West today is that it is more and more lacking creative elan. The Reformation, rationalism, the French Revolution, materialistic faith of the nineteenth century and the Bolshevik revolution show that everywhere mankind is turning away from the Virgin.

The consequence of this is that the sources of creative spiritual elan are drying up one after the other, and that an increasing aridity is showing up in all the domains of the West. It is said that the West is growing old. But why? Because it lacks creative elan, because it has turned away from the source of creative elan, because it has turned away from the Virgin …

The Virgin is not only the source of creative elan, but also of spiritual longevity. That is why the West – in turning away from the Virgin is growing old, i.e. it is distancing itself from the rejuvenating source of longevity.

Each Revolution that has taken place in the West – that of the Reformation, the French Revolution, the scientific revolution, the delirium of nationalism, the Communist Revolution – has advanced the process of aging in the West, because each has signified a further distancing from the principle of the Virgin.

In other words Our Lady is Our Lady and is not to be replaced with impunity either by the “goddess reason” or by the “goddess biological evolution” or by the “goddess economy.”

In listing these goddesses, the author is clearly testifying to the same processes of disintegration addressed in his legal writings. Thus the “Goddess Reason” symbolically expresses the track towards autonomous reason of the Eighteenth century – reason separated from and exalted above faith and other kinds of non-empirical perception …

And is not adoration of the Goddess Economy responsible for so much sterility and lifelessness today? Sterile architecture for example, bankrupt of any inspiration beyond the worship of the “bottom line”? Sterile entertainment concocted only in adoration of the Goddess Economy? (The pornography industry certainly serves the market, for example.) And literally sterile, lifeless soil bombarded by chemicals offered up to the Goddess Economy …?

Cultural renewal is desperately needed. This was at the heart of all Valentin Tomberg’s thinking.

Now that is clear to me it also seems to me that cultural renewal cannot be enough. I am forced to consider what Valentin Tomberg was also saying about law, order.

And my friend the Trimorph – so different in orientation to myself – also indicated as much when he said in the original letter about Global Warming which started me on this course:

“We will have to decide collectively how to apportion energy sources between growing food, keeping warm (or cool), building/making stuff and travelling around.

If we simply let the market decide there will be mass famine and chaos on a scale far beyond anything the world has ever seen.”

Yes indeed, my friend. My italics are intended to echo you completely

Our society has become ordered to the Goddess Economy. And I agree with the Trimorph that we will witness unparallelled catastrophe and tragedy, if we do not find a Higher Order than that.

A Higher Order than the Market is needed. That Higher Order needs Law. That Law must be based on something more profound and moral than materialism and positivism, Valentin Tomberg would say. For positivist, materialistic law that has allowed us to come to the current impasse …

And so would I myself also say, albeit in my faltering and unfinished way …

These are but preludes to things I hope to explore as this series continues – writing as a Catholic trying to be morally awake to global materialism and its consequences. And as a Catholic struggling to think in the light of minds far more profound than my own.

Among these, I recognise not only Valentin Tomberg, but the moral genius of the Holy Father, who it seems to me, is thinking in similar terms to the legal-political thinking of Valentin Tomberg. For the Holy Father too has recently powerfully called for a higher World Authority beyond that of the Goddess Economy …

However I need time for this musing. And it may be that before this series resumes, other material will be appearing – fairly regularly I think – elsewhere at this site: Kim´s weblog, reviews, and perhaps responses and a longer article.

Italics above are my own, bold is Tomberg’s original emphasis.

Two of My Own Videos on These Themes. Article Continues Below.
My Own Book Concerning Tomberg and Catholicism. Click to See on Amazon
Michael Martin-Roger Buck