Guilt and Conquest

“One of the most striking examples of the power of guilt – an incident that changed the course of history – is in the life of King Harold of England during the Norman Invasion of 1066. Harold was an inspiring leader, a man unusually able to inflame others with intense loyalty and obedience. During his brief reign, he faced two major crises – and they occurred less than three weeks apart. The first was the Battle of Stamford Bridge, in which Harold successfully repulsed the attempted takeover of England by the King of Norway. The second crisis was the Battle of Hastings, which he lost to the Normans led by William the Bastard (later known as William the Conqueror – which shows what happens when winners write the history books).

“One important reason for the difference in outcome between the two battles was King Harold’s state of mind, which underwent a drastic change just before the conflict with William. While preparing for the battle, he received word that the Pope had excommunicated him and had given his blessing to William. It turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: Harold acted as if the life had been sucked out of him. When he went into battle against William, he was unable to lead his men. David Howarth writes that, in marked contrast to the encounter at Stamford Bridge, “. . . the English army never moved. It never acted as if it had received a general order: it stood where it was all day, only shrinking in on itself as its numbers fell. It never made a concerted attack, nor in the end did it make a concerted retreat. Either Harold never gave a general order, or else it·was never carried out. . . . The strangely passive battle he fought seems to fit a mood of fatalism, as if he scarcely fought for victory but simply awaited the expression of God’s judgment. His behavior at Stamford Bridge and Hastings was utterly different. Both battles were equally long and equally hard fought, between armies almost equally matched; but in the first he was always in attack, and in the second never. In the first, and in the whole episode of York, he undoubtedly inspired everyone; but in the second, he left no evidence of leadership at all. He acted like a different man: something had changed him in the eighteen days between. . . . He was behind the line, and most of the men in front, one can only suppose, stood facing death all day without a word of encouragement or command from the King they were fighting for.”1

“Guilt produces passivity, and makes a man programmed for defeat. The importance of this for totalitarianism cannot be overemphasized. If a whole society can be made to feel guilty, it will be unable to withstand an enslaving state: it is ripe for conquest. This has long been recognized as the most successful method of rendering men passive and pliable, incapable of resistance to statist domination and control. A major aspect of the Communist takeover of China was the manipulation of envy and guilt by the organization of community discussions “around leading ques- tions, such as, ‘Who has supported whom?’ and ‘Who has made whom rich?’, and the encouragement of the aggrieved to ‘spit out their bitterness’. . . . the Communist exploitation of grievances was probably more systematic than anything in the past.”2

“If the church is bemused by guilt-manipulators and sapped of her vigor, our nation is lost. Christians alone have the power of dominion over the Evil One; we alone can provide the moral force to prevail against the enslaving state, for the principle of liberty in Christ has set us free from the bondage of men; we alone can preserve our land from destruction, for we are the salt of the earth. But if the day comes that we lose our savor, we will be cast out with the heathen.

“We would like to tell ourselves that this can never happen to God’s people, but that is a devilish lie to keep us secure in the very mouth of destruction. It happened to the churches of France in 1789; of all Europe in 1848; of Russia in 1917; of Germany in 1933. In every case, the churches had been rendered impotent – by guilt, by fear, by benefits; and always because the church departed from the word of God as the only standard for every area of life…Life is a battle – no, more: it is a war to the death with the forces of evil. We cannot merely hold our ground. If we do not conquer we will be conquered. If we do not gather with the victorious Christ, we are scattering abroad. There is no middle ground, no possible moderation or compromise.”

– Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators, Chilton

1. David Howarth, 1066: The }’ear of the Conquest.(New York: The Viking Press, 1977), pp. 176ft”.

2. John Meskill, An Introduction to Chinese Civilization (Lexington: D. C. Heath and Company, 1973), pp. 324ft”.



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