Facebook and other avenues of information are producing some quite horrifying tendencies. One was a video of some people tearing down Confederate statues in America as a kind of belated revenge for the Civil War. I have never really sympathised with American history and what made the background to today’s hysteria. The ingredients seem to be there for what happened in Europe in the 1930’s with the dictatorships (I’m not talking about Trump) and the so-called “antifias”, but a profound and terrifying mystery: that of evil.
Nazi Germany was a kind of death cult that involved more than politics and violence: it demanded the total and all-compassing obedience of all the people of Germany and then the occupied countries. There are many studies of this phenomenon from philosophical and psychological points of view. Some of Berdyaev’s most profound work was written from about 1933, the point when Hitler took over Germany and democracy was finished. The Führer‘s power increased as more and more blame was put on the Jewish people and the so-called “sub-humans”. Your death is my life, unlike the sacrifice of Christ: his death being our life. In this, we see the true Antichrist in all its horror.
The influence of Nietzsche and Darwin are uppermost: the denial of God and humanity (except the Ubermensch) and the survival of the fittest, no compassion for the weak. The Nazis took the Ubermensch as the archetype of their so-called “master race” of Aryans with blond hair and blue eyes, though Nietzsche’s notion was much more subtle. Darwin observed the bleakness of nature, the food chain and the absence of compassion for the weak and deformed. They have to be abandoned to their fate or killed so that the strong may survive. A turtle lays hundreds of eggs, and only two or three of them will become adult turtles. Wastage seems to be built into nature and genetics. If we see humanity from this point of view, then abortion, euthanasia and eugenics are normal and right, as are programmes of genocide and industrial murder by means of gas chambers and other “economic” and “efficient” methods. In materialistic terms, it is right and proper to purify races and get rid of the dross.
As soon as anything spiritual enters the picture, everything changes, and we do all we can to help and defend the weak and crippled, other human races and cultures. Compassion and empathy enter the picture, and we have no more rights to life and health than any other, be he rich or poor. Do unto others as thou would have done to thyself. It is the essence of the Christian Gospel, the message of Christ that is far above mere morality and convention, an essential spiritual understanding.
The other most important thing is being independent from “group-think”, from the memes of the masses. We have to find our calling in life, a way that will bring us spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth. We have to fill the void of our own ignorance with knowledge, and it is our own journey to make.
We begin to observe a separation of people into unthinking cults, increasingly polarised and suggestive of the brawling fascists and communists in the streets of Munich and Rome in the 1920’s. The media is of no help, quite the opposite. We need to think for ourselves and declare our independence. I don’t think there is a formula that goes for everyone, but the fundamental point would seem to be our spiritual and not material nature. If we are material, we are ants in an anthill to be willingly destroyed or empowered by the strong and powerful, by those with the most will. Knowledge is not secret or reserved to a few. It is accessible to us all. We have simply to desire it.
We live in society and in relationships with others, and our consciousness can regress in conditions of duress and fear. When manipulated by people of certain types of personality, we begin to lose interest in the things for which we have been most passionate for a lifetime. When we become conscious of this, we see the need to do something about it. If we allow ourselves to fall, the abyss will never be deep enough. We can find ourselves regressing under the influence of spouses, places of employment, political powers and just about everything. It is vital for us to study the history of twentieth-century Europe, how an entire population was brought to follow Hitler! We need to understand the perverse personality, the ways of the evil powers of which St Paul warns us.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The darkness is within each of us when we have regressed from our spiritual level of life. It is essential to have time alone to “take stock” of our consciousness, and then to relate to people without perverse personalities. If we find our ability to be creative being eroded away, something is very badly wrong in our lives.How we set about finding our self-awareness and consciousness will change with each of us: prayer, meditation, solitude, exposure to nature – whether it be the sea, the mountains or forests, reading the Scriptures and other writings of wisdom.
I am far from the goal, as we all are. But knowing that this is the essential in life is half the battle – at a time when I face changes in my own life.
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And so it continues: Professor: Reason Itself Is A White Male Construct. Of course, our response needs to be nuanced. Romanticism reacted against the extreme rationalism of the eighteenth century. I don’t see in Postmodernism a form of Romanticism, but rather the collapse of what little remains of classical, medieval and renaissance culture. A Wahhabi caliphate would perfectly serve the anti-humanist and nihilist agenda of postmodernism, post-humanism or whatever. The mind boggles…
Just let me know when such a monster is coming my way, and I’ll sail away from it…
I remember from when I was in graduate school at Harvard, nearly 40 years ago, now (ulp!), the rise of the, might one say, stereotypical temporal-provincialist, ageist, sexist, racist systematic dismissal of ‘Old Dead (White) Men’.
“I don’t see in Postmodernism a form of Romanticism, but rather the collapse of what little remains of classical, medieval and renaissance culture” seems a lucid encapsulating – though dark aspects of some Romanticism(s) invite further discussion in this context (cf., e.g., M.H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp, but also, controversially, Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism about the early 19th-c. scholarly attention to heterodox antique ‘Gnosis’ (in contrast with the St. Clement of Alexandria tradition) and Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger).