allows himself to be serious only in t:he little fable he tells of thernspider and the bee. The spider, boasting of his superiority, deridesrnthe bee as a vagabond and “a universal plunderer upon nature”rnand describes himself as “a domestic animal, furnishedrnwith a native stock within myself.” For proof, he points to “thisrnlarge castle [i.e., his web] . . . built with my own hands, and thernmaterials extracted altogether out of my own person.”rnThe bee, in his own defense, defends the classical traditionrnof what Christian Kopff likes to call human assimilation: “I visitrnindeed all the flowers and blossoms of the field and garden;rnbut whatever I collect thence enriches myself without the leastrninjury to their beauty.” The spider, on the other hand, may exeelrn(as the moderns arc fond of claiming) in mathematics, butrnhis building “is too plain and the materials are naught.” Thernbee hurls back the spider’s boast of self-sufficiency, observingrnthat “if we may judge of the liquor in the essel by what issuesrnout, you possess a good plentiful store of dirt and poison in yourrnbreast,” and concludes:rnthe question comes all to this; whether is the nobler beingrnof the two, that which, by a lazy contemplation ofrnfour inches round, by an overweening pride, feeding andrnengendering on itself, turns all into excrement and venom,rnproducing nothing at all but flybane and a cobweb;rnor that which, by a universal range, with long search,rnmuch study, true judgment, and distinction of things,rnbrings home honev and wax.rnWhat Swift realized is that the struggle is not betweenrnRacine and Euripides or between Milton and Vergil, but thatrnthe battle ranges Racine and Milton and Pope and Shelley andrnT.S. Eliot against the venomous little scribblers who look intornthemselves and find only poisonous filth. Here and there inrnBritish literature, one can meet untutored “geniuses” from thernlower classes, such as James Hogg and John Clare, but evenrntheir tastes had been trained by attempting to write for a literaryrnsociety nursed on the classics.rnThe second coincidence—even more telling—is that manyrnof the arguments used by the moderns are the same sorts of argumentsrnused today b the multiculturalists: traditions are not,rnby themselves, worthy of respect; mere antiquity is no guaranteernof literary excellence; the progress of civilization has led tornimprovements of taste. By these criteria. Baroque art was superiorrnboth to Michelangelo and to the Elgin Marbles, while thernhighly mannered dramas of the 18th century were seen as anrnimprovement upon the crude simplieit}” of Sophocles andrnShakespeare, whose works were rewritten to suit contemporaryrntastes.rnBecause it is easier to pick up a fad than to master an art, thernignorant and untalentcd will always prefer the fashion of thernmoment to the solid accomplishments of the past. They willrnalso run after any foreign craze that comes along. The 18thrncentury witnessed an Oriental fad, and French intellectualsrnwere fond of introducing exotic foreigners who could pass judgmentrnon the inadequacies of Christendom—Montesquieu’srnLettres Persanes are only the most famous example. How seriousrnthey were in their Orientalizing remains to be seen. Butrnhow serious are the multiculturalists who babble about ZenrnBuddhism or the Popal Vu? Do any of them, apart from a fewrnspecialists, actually know the languages that would give themrnaccess to the foreign cultures they pretend to celebrate?rnEither by accident or by design, the attack upon the classicsrncoincides with the internal subversion of Christendom. Sincernthe 18th century, European writers and intellectuals haverngrown ever more skeptical of their own culture and ever morerncredulous about the claims made for Oriental and primitiverncultures. Repudiating the rich and varied traditions of Christianrnmysticism and philosophy, they turn to Hindu scriptures,rnZen Buddhism, and the Cabbalistic and Hermetic literaturesrnthat hold out the promise of inner peace to the spiritual andrnmagical powers to the ambitious. As Mary Lefkowitz hasrnshown rceentl}’, the central claim of Afroeentrism—that an ancientrnmystical doctrine created in Egpt is the basis of all thernvorld’s great philosophies—was invented b- sillv white malernFreemasons whose grasp of reality was on par with that of thernaverage tarot reader or small-town palmist.rnAmericans are used to thinking of the Masons as a set of philanthropicrnbusinessmen who fund charities and oceasionallv gornto conventions where thc get drunk in public and rip up hotelrnrooms. Many Europeans, on the other hand, speak darkly of arncenturies-old conspiracy of rich and powerful Freemasons, withrna past as bizarre as the histor of the Nlaltese Falcon. Both sidesrnare right. While American Masons derive from a reformedrnBritish tradition, the European Freemasons—and their morernmstical offshoots—have been involved in every devilish plotrnagainst Christendom since e^•cn before the French Reolution.rnIn Italy recently, Maurizio Blondet (a respectable journalistrnwho has written for 11 Giornale) caused considerable stir withrnhis little book Gli adelphi della dissoluxione. The focal pointrnof Blondct’s study is the ultrahighbrow publishing firm of Adelphi,rnpresided over by hermetic novelist Roberto Calasso (a favoriternwith American literary degenerates). Along the way,rnBlondet traces the intersections of cabalistic sects, messianicrncults, and enlightenment philosophies that seem to be eonvergingrnin the late 20th century.rnWhat these various groups have in common is a burning hatredrnfor Christianity (particularly the Catholic Church), a deliberaternpractice and celebration of sexual depravity, partieular-rn1}’ sodomy and incest, and a pretension to mystical wisdom thatrntranscends the everyday knowledge of cab drivers, scholars, andrnscientists. Some are nominally Christian (especially Catholic);rnothers nominally Jewish (though historically at odds with RabbinicrnJudaism); but all preach the need for dissolution—moralrnand spiritual dissolution, ves, but also political dissolution. Asrnone renegade Catholic intellectual explains to Blondet, thernPopes ha’e made a mistake in trying to delay the arrival of Antichrist.rnThis remark, vhieh is the inspiration of the book,rnsends the journalist looking for the meaning of katechon in St.rnPaul, and he discovers—in Thomas Aquinas and elsewhere—rnan ancient tradition that regarded the Roman Empire (andrnthe Christian Church, which succeeded to its power) as thernforce of order preventing demonic powers from taking over ourrnworld. His researches carrv him into strange places, but everywherernhe finds the cult of depravit’ coupled with an assault onrnRomanitas.rnI had wanted to think of Blondet as a well-read conspiracyrnmonger—he does tic in stories of the “^ale Skull and Bones andrnthe CFR, for example, without actuall) endorsing them—^butrnhe IS, for the most part, sober and restrained, insisting that he isrnexamining a theology, not unraveling a conspiracy. Turningrnaway from the feverish subject of his book and een assumingrnthat all the representatives of the hermetic tradition are chariatansrnand their dupes, the conclusion is, nonetheless, frightenlO/rnCHRONICLESrnrnrn