A number of virtues are truly indispensable to maintain any civilization and to prevent decline into barbarism. One of the most vital of these is undoubtedly the virtue of respect.
Respecting, or having an admiration or due regard for God’s outstanding creatures and providentially established natural order, is demanded by Scripture and natural law. The dominion mandate demands a form of respect for all of God’s creation as it is redeemed in Christ, and the fifth commandment specifically reveals the necessity of respect to one’s ancestors. In Aristotle the notion of honor or respect is intrinsically linked to unequal yet friendly relationships between superiors and inferiors, where honor and respect are necessary for the endurance of a healthy relationship. Furthermore, the recognition of divine providence demands an attitude of contentment, where we focus on the good in our circumstances, and hierarchical respect involves the same thing, where we focus on the good characteristics and achievements of our superiors. Respect in many ways is contentment applied to hierarchy.
Human civilization, throughout all of history, has been highly dependent on the perpetuation of the virtue of respect within a society. The education of the next generation, by which a culture is maintained, is possible only within the established framework of respect for the authority of superiors.
Leftists, in defiance of this established traditional notion of respect, love to draw an apparent connection between respect and equality. Both are presented as intrinsically related human rights. However, for the evolutionary Marxist, “respect” requires the leveling of all the components of the universe. Fundamentally, everything is equal. While different stages of (evolutionary) development are recognized, these are seen as purely coincidental – with the inevitable consequence being the moral relativization of all authority, and by extension, respect. By drawing this connection, the notion of respect is sacrificed and collapsed into the notion of equality, which takes ultimate precedence in Marxism. In this leveling paradigm, for example, having respect for women, and not in the sense of respecting true womanhood but strictly as atomized individuals, is absolutized, while having due respect for men and for true womanhood are both stigmatized. Respect towards all races is semantically turned upside down to mean having so little respect for any race that you have to advocate the amalgamation and consequent extinction of all races.
This sacrifice of the virtue of respect at the altar of equality means the total collapse of all societal pillars. This can, in contemporary society, most clearly be seen in its detrimental effect upon the family and public school system in the West, where both have nearly collapsed due to the absence of authority and discipline. In communist countries, this has also facilitated complete economic collapse. Cultural Marxists in the West have consequently, through inconsistency, been hesitant to apply this principle in the economic sphere, which has saved Western nations from complete economic collapse. Despite all the “equal employer” rhetoric of which companies have become so fond, the actual workplace has, thankfully, maintained an atmosphere characterized by fundamental inequality. The authority of superiors, even today still called as such, and CEOs are taken for granted. All economic prosperity, even leftists (subconsciously) recognize, is dependent on maintaining the notion of respect at the cost of equality in the sphere of economics.
This social collapse sanctioned by egalitarianism was explicitly prophesied in the eighteenth century by the anti-Enlightenment traditionalist conservative, Edmund Burke, in his famous proposition that those who do not look back or respect their ancestors, will not look forward to progeny by which civilization is perpetuated. Burke also pointed to the monarchical and aristocratic political structure that characterized our civilization prior to the usurpation of the French Revolution in favour of an egalitarian social structure, as one that helped the social fabric remain characterized by a virtuous respect for centuries.
Hillary Clinton’s philosophy in her book, It Takes a Village, is symptomatic of this evolutionary and egalitarian sacrifice of the virtue of respect. Sacrificing the teleological role of the family and parenthood in favour of a purely instrumental one when it comes to raising children, is a devaluation that enables the disregard for respect within the familial structure.
Respect for one’s parents, especially for the father of the household, is presupposed in the biblical recognition of God as the Father of believers. The familiarity with which Christ reveals the Father to us must be understood against the backdrop of the fifth commandment. Inseparable from the notion of God as our Father, in the biblical paradigm, is the notion of God as the all-ruling pantokrator (II Cor. 6:18, Rev. 1:8, 4:8, 11:17, 15:3, 16:7, 16:14, 19:6, 19:15, and 21:22).
Western civilization, built on the pillars of Athens and Sinai, flourished by understanding the non-egalitarian nature of societal relationships characterized by mutual, yet differing, kinds of respect between inferiors and superiors. Traditionalist Christians have a duty to reclaim and redeem the true meaning of the virtue of respect from the leftist-egalitarian devaluation and destruction thereof at the hands of the Marxist-infected zeitgeist. The perpetuation of this virtue is intrinsic to the redemption and flourishing of our families, clans, and nations.