It proves very difficult to make any sense of the world, at least as it seems on the media and other internet sources. I live in the country and feel increasingly anxious faced with the prospect of travelling to a city or through “systems” like air travel. The “paying” unit goes into the system and loses all personality or autonomy until he emerges from the destination point. This impression goes beyond travel and into every aspect of life.
I follow on from my last posting on the Archons, whether they are purely spiritual or incarnate entities. There is an amusing slogan Make Orwell Fiction Again based on Donald Trump’s saying Make America Great Again. Orwell’s major novels, Animal Farm and 1984, were supposed to be warnings in the form of fiction. Orwell, a socialist himself, finally found the reductio ad absurdam of socialism and communism, so he wrote those books to warn future generations off the idea. The Nazis and Fascists were also collectivists, putting the state or the nation above the human person.
We are now faced with a “progressive Left” which appears to oppose the oligarchy of obscene wealth, greed and extreme inequality, the beginning of a new system based on medieval feudalism. In reality, it is a closed circle where the ends meet and amount to the same thing. The difference is that in the Middle Ages, the Church assumed a social role from helping the sick and the poor.
The onset of the Covid pandemic brought a barrage of cognitive dissonance around mismanagement and the exploitation of the pandemic for pharmaceutical companies to make massive profits. The same is happening today with oil and gas companies, as the current crisis caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine and our rigid zero-carbon policies reflects the pandemic almost as an analogy.
The next stage seems to be a “Great Reset” vision of a fourth industrial revolution, transhumanism, and a new social class structure. To what extent is this a conspiracy theory without serious credibility or something real overshadowing our future?
Is there an alternative to the capitalism / communism paradigm? I am not an expert in political philosophy, but I am painfully aware of the need for a new paradigm, no less than a new Renaissance to follow the worst of neo-medievalism. I have often dreamed of ideas like Chesterton’s Distributism, favouring small independent craftsmen and producers or cooperatives. We need a world that favours small businesses. Actually, I do better as a self-employed translator under the present Macron administration in France than under the more Socialist policies. It is fashionable to talk of La Macronie in negative terms as the national populists and the communist dinosaurs do. He is no saint or idol – who is? – but he does have positive things to say and do. Distributism came out of the influence of Romanticism and the Arts & Crafts movement of William Morris. We need a new form of Romanticism that will appeal to our time that is analogous with the tumultuous times of the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. The dialectic is almost the same between our time and 1780 to about the mid nineteenth century.
The dark vision of the fourth industrial revolution, transhumanism, the dark satanic mill of a fusion of man and machine, and total centralised control by a small group of unelected elite Davos overlords is presented as inevitable, but we can follow Orwell’s advice – Don’t let it happen. It depends on you. I am not a politician or an activist, but I write things like this blog which is of interest to a few like-minded people. Sometimes, an idea gets through even if I will never get the credit for it. I throw out a few ideas and things that matter to me, just messages in bottles thrown into the sea from a desert island.
The resistance will not necessarily be neo-Romantic (or a better term) but is already out there. We don’t have everything to work out from scratch, but we can look around and discern wisdom coming from a diversity of ideas and ambitions. The amazing thing is that I see the same dialectics and conflicts of ideas in the Church as in society as a whole. The big difference with the Church is becoming increasingly irrelevant as time goes by.
We can be grateful that there is a consensus against centralised authority and a need for a new kind of democracy. The fundamental choice we have is the dystopian and totalitarian ant-hill, a two-class system of overlords and obedient serfs – or the possibility of distributing not only money and wealth, but also responsibility and decision-making power. This second possibility involves critical thought and being able to think for ourselves, to think and act outside the box. Too many people follow the crowd and fashions, repeating slogans and mantras without the least critical thought. Freedom is indeed painful.
We should read Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, or at least see the excellent dramatisation played by John Gielgud. Already, Russia was lurching into nihilism, communism and totalitarianism in the nineteenth century. Putin is nothing new!
It is by depth of thought and suffering that we will hope to arrive at the degree of independence we need to resist. There are not only the human qualities, but also our spiritual life and values. I suppose I express very little that is new since discussing my reading of Berdyaev (at least what was translated into English or French) and the contemporary author Rob Riemen on Nobility of Spirit and other subjects close to the resistance against modern forms of Fascist and national socialist ideologies. It is a matter of intelligence, responsibility, human maturity and a spiritual life of some kind.
In the temporal world of the judiciary, the administrative and the legislative, the three powers of the State that are (or should be) separate and distinct, those who are called to these responsibilities need to have a sound understanding of human nature and the nature of reality. They have to understand their identity as human beings, coherence and an ability to relate to reality. Vital questions for any statesman or legal authority revolve around the understanding of the human individual in society, and of the individual and society in reality at large. This understanding has to repose on a solid philosophical basis in terms of metaphysics and epistemology. You won’t find very much of that in most politicians whose ideology is little more than self-interest. From metaphysics comes a basis of spirituality in the individual and the community in the form of the Church. Chesterton once said “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything“. “Nature abhors a vacuum” is a postulate attributed to Aristotle. In a benign form, religion provides man with self-understanding and a sense of community.
A spiritual model of humanity links the individual or person to ultimate reality, even if that truth is mysterious and unattainable by the simple use of reason. There are issues to be faced between German Idealism and various forms of Realism. What is Truth? I have already written a few articles in my open-minded scepticism. Post-Truth. Novalis has always been a great favourite of mine. He offers a refreshing alternative view on Truth than something that powerful people possess. I quote from the encyclopaedia article:
The challenge of romantic philosophy consists in the attempt to think systematically but without allowing thought to stagnate in a final set of truths or dogma. Philosophy ought to be open-ended; it should develop in close interaction with the natural sciences as well as the humanities. In short, philosophy should take the shape of a sustained intellectual experiment; it should be forever on its way and thoroughly inductively minded.
The idea of “ultimate reality” is a partial description of God. the archetype of the reality to which we aspire. Totalitarianism, with its roots in history, understands the human being as a mechanistic automaton driven by individual self-interest and governed by impersonal laws of nature. We are governed by self-interest, a function of the pleasure and happiness, freedom from want, pain, and sadness, and standards of biological fitness including survival and reproduction. These are governed by the use of money. In its excess, man is viewed as an economic unit subject to monetary control, through centralisation and mechanical determinism. This is a negation of human dignity and sovereignty, reducing the human race to cattle. Such a dystopia is incompatible with any kind of religion other than what Marx called the “opiate of the masses“.
I see so many parallels between the early nineteenth century and our own time. There were authors like Dostoevsky and Charles Dickens who gave us a highly realistic portrait of their time, the sufferings of the poor and the weak. From the late eighteenth century, we have the prophetic personality of William Blake (1757-1827) who wrote the famous hymn Jerusalem containing the enigmatic words satanic mills, which probably did not mean cotton factories in Lancashire, but atheistic universities and governments. We live in a time of abundance, with more comfort, food and technology than we would ever need. Poverty is still as real as it ever was, but in most of the western world, the Welfare State will generally offer basic accommodation and a minimum income. What was implicit in the era of the Industrial Revolution becomes that much more radical in our dialectic between the time of abundance and the negation of the human person.
What we need now is a new Renaissance, a new humanism and a new Romantic movement. We need to be Christians but Christian Humanists. I may be accused of “going along with” Vatican II and Pope John Paul II. The latter was introducing a form of Romantic philosophy in his “existential personalism”. There were many fine intuitions in reaction to the old scholasticism and totalitarianism of the central Papal authority. In reality, a century or so ago, European Catholicism was less centralised than many think. Dioceses had little bureaucracy and the Bishops ministered like parish priests – just as today in the small Continuing Anglican Churches. The Synod truly had a meaning in the convergence of independently-thinking responsible members of the institution. “Synodality” is something else, and nothing more than the introduction of technocratic and Woke totalitarianism into the Church.
We first have to work on ourselves. It isn’t easy. Jung called it individuation, which comes from suffering and self-knowledge. Few of us ever dare to break out of the mould and leave the Matrix! Hope in the future will be brought by those who have learned à se démerder (manage on your own, find the solution by your own means to the problem and not depend on others). Fontaine said in his fable Le Chartier – “Aide–toi, le ciel t’aidera“. It means, loosely, God helps those who help themselves. It applies as much to humanity as to the individual person.
Thank you Anthony . Very interesting
I wonder if you’ve read any of Iain McGilchrist ?
The master and his emissary ?
There’s a good interview on YouTube ..— https://youtu.be/yHkXN8Oxhx8
I’m listening to the interview now. We have the essential role of science and reason, but also spirituality that is beyond and above both science and reason. Sense of wonder… It all resonates.
Yes indeed . Have a blessed Sunday .
I’m watching the mass from St Peter’s , Vatican . Wonderful homily by Pope Francis on Poverty .