Romanticism takes off!

I was doing my daily rounds today and found Brexit: Hell No? This little article reflects a comment from yesterday in my previous posting in the theme of inevitability. A light bulb moment happened. I remembered my old philosophy classes at the Angelicum thirty years ago. The Dominican professors droned on in Italian, which I could hardly understand, especially with a thick southern accent – but something rubbed off on me. The word that came into my mind is determinism. Open up a new tab on your browser, read the Wikipedia article and then come back here…

* * *

I have to admit that the word determinism hit me subliminally as I read Rad Trad’s article. He describes the so-called “liberal” establishment as being characterised by teleological determinism. The acceptance of the “new orthodoxy” becomes inevitable. This was an aspect of Marxist and Leninist teaching, that everything was the inevitable result of brute forces shaping man’s destiny to which he must submit.

All of a sudden, something comes out of the woodwork to challenge the inevitability of “growth” and “closer integration”. Brexit put a spanner in the works, and many of us will suffer. Unless the British government fails to implement Article 50, many of the perks we Europeans have had (visa-free travel and residence) for the last twenty years will be over. Fine for myself, I fulfil all the requirements for getting French nationality (though I would hope to keep my British passport too). But for others who are younger than I am and who have a culturally European outlook and would not be satisfied workin’ down ‘t’ pit in Barnsley (sorry I forgot that Maggie Thatcher shut down the entire coal mining industry in the 1980’s).

I suspect that the EU will collapse from its own weight and go the way of the Soviet monolith in November 1989. I remember it when I was a student at Fribourg. A friend came to my room to tell me that the Berlin Wall had fallen. How was it possible for something so eternal and indestructible? It happened – and to Russia itself. I thought of all those sad faces of Czech seminarians at the Nepomuceno College in Rome who had left home with such heroism. Marxist inevitability was over, and left-wing politics is still in tatters, discredited and as dead as the dinosaurs.

The Industrial Revolution thought it had everything in the bag, and along came William Blake and the dark satanic mills of his poem Jerusalem (set to music by Parry and sung as something ultra-nationalistic). Then along came the Romantics protesting that there was more to humanity than rationalism and the Machine. Grass roots movements? Here’s our chance for anyone who can write books, poetry, paint beautiful images, compose music, advance the cause of human thought. As the French Revolution guillotined the old order before guillotining itself, a chink has appeared in the black opaque curtain. Man is free and soars like an eagle in the heights of the imagination and his life of the spirit.

You, my dear reader, and I can do nothing about the political and financial movements in the world, but we can put our imaginations to work – just two hundred years after Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein on the shore of Lake Geneva in 1816. We look on the prospects of post-humanism and trans-humanism with horror – but for the first time, the Thing is no longer inevitable. In the words of Wordsworth:

“O pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For great were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven!” (The Prelude, x, 690-4.)

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3 Responses to Romanticism takes off!

  1. Why don’t people see the European Union in prophetic vision, as I do? It is clear to me that the EU fulfills a number of biblical prophecies; Daniel 11, Isaiah 10:12-14, the Antichrist of Revelation as well as a revived Babel. It will not collapse under its own weight, father, but by the sore, great and strong sword of the Holy One of Israel.

    • Dale says:

      Patrick, I think because such illusions are often made in reference to power organizations that seem more interested in power and prestige than anything else. Not too long ago even middle-of-the-road Protestants were saying the same things about the Roman Catholic Church, and the Old Believers have said the same thing about the official Russian Orthodox establishment. In Greece the Old Calendarist jurisdictions have made the same references to the established, New Calendar, state Church as well. Perhaps such references have simply been overused?

    • I have the impression that this whole apocalyptic theme is getting very tired. We read apocalyptic passages in the Gospels as well as the Old Testament. The events in question never occurred unless they were simply natural catastrophes like volcanoes, earthquakes and meteorites hitting the earth. This notion is perhaps one of the greatest obstacles to the credibility of Christian apologetics. The apocalyptic events were anticipated by Christ to happen soon. If they happened then, why bother talking about them now?

      If they are the only justification for giving everything up for Christ and carrying our crosses, it all melts away like the morning mist. There has been little in the way of satisfactory explanations of why the events never happened – it all became a damp squib and the eschatological narrative (other than our own deaths as persons) gave way to the institutional and political church. Christianity is otherwise waved off as two thousand years of failed prophecies and becomes a simple philosophy of life when it is not dismissed as nonsense. This is the drama of late 19th century historical criticism.

      The notion of God having anything to do with human history or life needs to be seen differently. Otherwise you cannot “save” God from the mystery of evil. It is good for us to study and compare other religious and mythological narratives, especially from the early periods of church history. This is why I find Gnosticism of interest, not as a religion to replace orthodox Christianity but as a key of interpretation and understanding.

      God had absolutely no interest in “punishing” Nazism. Hitler lost because he was defeated in war by the Allies and the Soviets. He was not turned into stone or a pillar of fire – but committed suicide in the most banal way. As many ex-servicemen emerged from World War II as atheists as convinced believers and monastic vocations!

      It sounds boring, but we’ll still be slogging away in our jobs and paying taxes in ten years’ time…

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