The Devil and the Inscrutability of the Defeated

Suppose this nation were to come under attack. Or suppose it was the nation next door, or “the West,” or the whole planet, that had been invaded. We would expect the inhabitants to come to their defense; and so long as their political institutions held out, they would show organized defiance. Fifth columnists would be identified and seized, and resistance offered to anyone who resembled an enemy soldier.

This is what we do. We fight.

But as we learn from history, nations do not always win wars. Their defenses may fail. Conquered, their peoples adjust to new masters, and make the best of it, as they are able. Though not always: some nations make the worst of it, through perpetual resentment.

The problem, for a people trying to defend themselves, is that the invader may be irresistibly larger and more powerful. This, for instance, appears to be the problem for Ukraine, which finds itself pitted against an enemy many times bigger, extremely aggressive, and with a direct claim on the linguistic identity of many Ukrainians.

Worse, the victims of periodic Russian (or Soviet) aggression may have feckless allies, in NATO or whatever. For instance, the United States, which has acquired a reputation for abandoning its wars. They don’t keep allies for long, under stress; they will cut and run (as they have done everywhere, from Vietnam through Afghanistan).

Sad, and discouraging, but the attack is now on America itself. And it is not some friction-toy dictator like Vladimir Putin, or Xi Jinping. Granted, they command considerable inventories of nuclear missiles, and other weapons of mass destruction (such as nasty biological works), that would make them formidable adversaries in a war. But I’m not thinking of them as The Enemy at the moment.

Rather, not a natural, but a supernatural force, comes to mind. In old-fashioned, common English, shared by all the English-speaking peoples, I speak of the Devil. Though I should pause, for the inevitable tittering. Yes, the Devil.

The modern cultural habit is to doubt his existence. Some, who deny the “personal devil” as a ridiculous exile from the Dark Ages, may nevertheless acknowledge there is such a thing as evil in the world. But having no autonomous existence, it cannot organize itself. Certainly, it cannot invade anybody (as a few of the authorities of the Catholic Church might still dispute).


My belief is that we are being systematically beaten, by a knowing Enemy, whom we greet with skepticism and guffaws. That, to my mind, is the measure of the success of the demonic propaganda. For since the 18th century, the wise have observed, that the most signal accomplishment of the Devil has been to prove that, by the light of the Enlightenment, he is rendered invisible. He is just a metaphor.

But what if, like every other belief founded in the Western enlightenment, this proof should prove false? What if, far from not existing, the Devil was at the head of a vast invading army?

Stalin once asked how many divisions the pope had, and the answer was none. If possible, the Devil has even less. But as Stalin discovered, wars cannot be reduced to technological means and sheer numbers. Something like Will determines the ultimate winner, even here in the material world. Alas, the devil Stalin had Will, too, in addition to his plurality of divisions.

He (the Devil) does not need all these divisions, however. For the battle we are losing is of a more spiritual nature. Modern medicine may or may not be preserving us from being killed off (though it is an open question when we replace the old infant mortality with new abortions in our population statistics). The Devil’s weapons are, for the most part, not employed in shooting people down (officially).

But from what I see, a large sampling of the general population is already dead, though technically moving; and a country (Canada even more than the United States) has been successfully invaded, and put under alien rule. The dead have buried the dead, as it were.

Moreover, the loyalty of those showing provocative signs of life cannot be safely predicted. The majority may be “activists” in everything understood by that term. They are, if not Satan’s divisions, still Satan’s tireless footmen, working his bureaucracies to telling effect. All evidence of an America within a Christian West is being methodically erased.

Among these people I characterize as dead, resistance is over. Career advancement and even physical safety require them to declare loyalty to the other side, or maintain a confused silence. They have, through spiritual death, adapted to their changed situation, now that (in the broadest sense) Christendom is no more.

They display what I call “the inscrutability of the defeated.” They keep their mouths shut.

While there are advantages to working openly for the Devil – it puts bread on the table, as they say – there is no real satisfaction in belonging to an army of occupation. This I have noticed in Canada. Joy is absent from the bureaucracies, as powerful as they may be. Indeed, joy is inaccessible to the professional bureaucrat, or time-server (as he used to be called).

I refer not only to government departments but to virtually any enterprise which employs a large multitude of souls. All will be engaged in a repetitive activity, which excludes independent thought. The inmates become indifferent to the consequences of what they do.

And yet, there never was an invasion, as of tanks or spaceships. The enemy has not destroyed our roads and bridges, or done other palpable damage to our infrastructure. Physical ugliness is everywhere quite obvious, but it has been installed with our permission. We have done what people do, who follow detailed orders, as a way of life.

It might be called the first tenet of liberalism that “the Devil does not exist.” The second tenet is that we work for him.


*Image: A cartoon from Judge magazine by Grant E. Hamilton, January 31, 1885. The Devil overlooks Washington, D.C. and says, “To begin with, I’ll paint the town red.”

You may also enjoy:

Robert Royal’s Signs of the Beast

Michael Pakaluk’s Where Have All the Devils Gone?

David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist in Canadian newspapers. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: