Marxism is an ideology. An ideology, whatever else it is, is ersatz religion. It is religion for haughty and cynical Europeans for whom the idea of God is no longer amusing nor fashionable.

This is why heresies and ideologies spread through students, literate young men of the age when religious instruction must satisfy both head and heart, mind and soul — and if real religious instruction is lacking, an ideology will proffer itself instead, offering a simple and foolish answer, based in theory rather than the wisdom of accumulated experience.

Ideologies make it their business to answer life’s difficult questions with a simple slogan-sized answer, fit for all occasions. Such simplicity seems scientific, like the simplicity of Newton’s three laws of motion, which reduce all the complexities of astronomy and ballistics elegantly to three expressions. What is lacking is the solemn and magisterial care taken to balance competing interests or competing principles seen in all proper legal or theological thought.

The great boast of the Conservatives is that we have no ideology. This is often misunderstood to say we have no principles. Rather, it means we ground our goals in the Christian religion, which in turn is grounded in the Jewish, which comes from God. We have no need for an ersatz religion if we have the true religion.

The one attempt to erect an abortive Conservative ideology but based on secular humanism rather than based on Christian teaching, was libertarianism, that is, radical capitalism. It soon devolved into the same sort of zealous and simplistic folly as Marxism, its mirror opposite, for its principles forbade not only public works, but also public decency laws, laws governing intoxicating drugs, censorship, blue laws, and, depending on the particular school of libertarian thought, public recognition of marriage, of copyright, of national boundaries. In the same way Marxism merely ignores the individualistic side of man, the need for individual liberty, libertarianism simply ignores the collective side, the need for communal unity.

Marxism, in practice, by eliminating individuality, crippled collective ability to act. For this reason the Soviets in years past, and the Chinese today pirate and copy inventions and technology from the West.

Libertarianism, were it ever put in practice, would create a fissiparous commonwealth that soon must break into ever smaller units, hence eliminating collectivism, which will cripple the individual ability to exercise his freedom.

The sovereign individual of the libertarian commonwealth stands on his own land, armed to the teeth, enjoying the pipe of opium he smokes grown from his own poppy garden, but if his wife or wives abscond with his bastard children down the private road owned by the plutocrat cuckolding him, he cannot follow, and no private arbiter will hear an action for alienation of affections, which is not a tort in this commonwealth.

Woe betide if the men of neighboring nations, Nephelogetes or the Aleopolitanes, come in caravans across the border, bearing weapons. Naturally, only those parishes on the borders themselves will suffer the trespass. What will urge the sovereign individual to send his sons to die in war or send his treasures to the war coffers if he is no himself living in a border province? Group loyalty is alien to his character.

Orthodox opinion, as ever, balances both and allows for both. The heretic, in his simplistic opinion, attempts to reduce all the world to one answer: everything is collective or everything is individual. So he gets neither. The orthodox regards both as sacred, and so gets both.