EVACUATING UTOPIA: A History of Christian Anarchism Reply

Lecture delivered by Wayne John Sturgeon at the second international conference of the National-Anarchist Movement, England, June 23, 2018.

“Isn’t the world already

At Peace and aren’t we

The only warring faction?”

-Crass

Improvements made straight roads,

but the crooked roads without improvement,

are the roads of genius.

-William Blake

INTRODUCTION

I would like to begin this lecture with a quote from a contemporary theologian, Alasdair Macintyre, who made the following candid observation in reference to our own times, when writing on the fall of the western Roman Empire:

‘When the Roman Empire was falling across Europe, the darkness of the era was illuminated by monastic communities. We are now (in the early 21st Century) in a new Dark Ages. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of goodwill turned aside from the task of storing up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. New forms of community were constructed that might survive and be sustained in the coming era of barbarianism and darkness. But the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers. They have been governing us for some time and it is our lack of consciousness at this that constitutes part of our predicament.’

Forerunners of Christian Anarchy

I would add to this that, although there may be nothing we can do about this, there is much we can do with it. In his seminal work, Against His-story Against Leviathan, the anarcho-primitivist writer Fredy Perlman defined Christianity as essentially an ‘anti-Roman crisis cult’. But at least for the Christian, the question remains whether, rather than abandoning the empire system, God has remained within the church and empire to empty it out from the inside, in the manner of a historical political kenosis – kenosis being a theological term meaning ‘to empty’. In this context, the term Apocalyptic – which literally means to unveil – can be combined with a concept of history as an unfolding process in which freedom or the spirit can be increasingly discerned and proclaimed.

Thus the life, death and resurrection of Christ can be seen ‘proleptically’ – for proleptic means to flash forward in time, in a way similar to foreshadowing. In like manner, various radical Christian intentional communities have tried to imitate the primitive communism of the Biblical Acts of the Apostles. In doing so, they have attempted to emancipate the individual from the external hierarchy of the established church and state, groups such as the mediaeval Beguines, spiritual Franciscans, Adamites and Waldensians, along with more Gnostic currents such as the Bogomils and Cathars.

In his famous panel painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch was clearly influenced by Catharism and esoteric currents such as the Brethren of the Free Spirit, who subscribed to a vision of communities held together by an ‘amoral’ path to divine illumination and perfection, sometimes referred to as ‘the nameless wilderness’ and best personified in the words of the martyr, Marguerite Porete, in her book, The Mirror of Simple Souls – a book that could best be described as a mediaeval attempt at a transcendental form of Max Sternite mystical anarchism. This is a current that was to find a particularly Protestant expression in the Ranter movement of the English Civil War, the Ranters being an ‘anti-nominal’ version of the Quakers. Indeed, the English Civil War was a significant movement in history when libertarian currents would emerge within Christianity, such as the diggers and Gerald Winstanley, the Quakers, the Ranters, the Levellers, and the more eschatologically determined Fifth Day monarchist movement.

On the European continent, Anabaptism would emerge – perhaps best described as the Bolshevik left of the Protestant reformation. Along with its similar manifestations in England, Anabaptism would eventually have to reconfigure itself over the thorny issue of violence and non-violence, and eventually come to define itself as being essentially Pacifist in opposition to the state, and the only currents of this particular paradigm to survive to the present day have been the Mennonites, Amish, Brethren and Bruderhof communities. All these groups would respond to the advent of modernity via the industrial revolution in somewhat different ways, whether of complete separatism from the surrounding culture or of adapting prophetic but pragmatic attempts at reforming it, only coming into direct confrontation with the state over military service.

If there was an underground to this more pietistic expression of a Christian counter-culture, it was to be found in more esoteric paradigms embodied in the visionary figure of artist and painter William Blake, who attempted to merge into his highly personal iconoclastic mythology of Albion a fusion of the English radical tradition, along with the mystical speculations of Emanuel Swedenborg, Jacob Boheme, the Muggletonians, the Cabala, and even a Gnostic version of British Israelism combined with divinity.

Blake would have a considerable enduring legacy of influence on the British political esoteric underground, and is seen as a precursor to the Situationist concept of subversive urban exploration or secularised anarchic pilgrimage, known as psychogeography, a word first coined by Guy Debord and which has been further developed under the more gothic themed paradigms of hauntology and dark ecology.

Blake would also be a significant influence on the more radical cultural cutting edge of theological liberalism, inspiring the ‘Christian atheism’ of Thomas J.J. Altizer, whose 1960s book The Gospel of Christian Atheism polemicised a form of situation ethics and declared that God was the being Jesus but that he had actually died on the cross as a form of self annihilation! Altizer articulated a synthesis of Blake, Hegal and Nietzsche, conceiving of theology as a form of poetic vision in which the immanence of God could be manifest even though the crucifixion itself celebrated a cosmic and historical descent of the Godhead that culminates in the actual death of God himself.

This is perhaps similar to Proudhon’s conception of God as an ‘operative fiction’. Blake would write of ‘all deities in the human breast’ as if the image of God in human beings is only in the imagination, what he referred to as the ‘divine imagination’. Like the Taoist tradition, arguably the closest obvious spiritual tradition to a form of mystical anarchism along the lines of a natural order, this speaks of reality as a dynamic interplay of opposites similar to Blake’s saying, ‘Without contraries, there is no progression.’ However, Blake tried to arrive at a higher synthesis in his anti-Swedenborgian tract, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. This was a reconciliation and proto-Jungian individuation of mind-body duality, imagination and reason, conscience, morality and desire.

Blake would also challenge proto-leftist preoccupations with hyper-egalitarianism, insisting that ‘one law for the lion and ox is oppression’. In this respect, perhaps Blake deserves comparison with Nietzsche, although Blake was more mutualist in his spiritual conception of society than Stirnerite in his individualism. Blake’s central insight that art is the science of freedom finds modern spiritual contemporaries in the paintings of English artist Cecil Collins and the German artist Joseph Beuys. His prophetic prototype of ‘albion’ can be best described as the mystical template for the collective individualation and healing of nationhood.

Russian Orthodoxy and Mystical Anarchism

Perhaps the most well known and celebrated Christian anarchist and the first to adopt the title was the Russian novelist and thinker Leo Tolstoy, who developed a paradigm of libertarian anarcho-pacifism based on a very literalist and constitutional exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount – although Tolstoy would adopt a completely reductionist Christology, rejecting New Testament miracles and the divinity of Christ, opting instead for a rationalist and liberal humanist understanding. So within the confessional creedal understanding of Eastern Orthodoxy, it would fall to fellow Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev to articulate a genuine bibliocentric Christian anarchism. Berdyaev would justify this by equating anarchism as a form of political apothaticism, this being a school of orthodox eastern mysticism. Apothatic refers to a term used to dictate a particular style of theology that stresses how God cannot be known in terms of human categories, ‘apothatic’ literally meaning in the Greek ‘negation’, which can also be described as the negative way. For example, to say ‘God is personal’ would be a ‘cataphatic’ statement, the opposite to apothatic, referring to something that is a positive or affirming statement, whereas an apothatic statement would not necessarily deny this but would balance and complement it by saying ‘God is not personal’ in any way we could describe in human terms, as if to imply that the transcendent Creator Spirit is an old man with a white beard! This is perhaps a similar concept to that of the Zen tradition in Buddhism.

Berdyaev would also use orthodox Christian ecclesiology as a working template and model for an anarchist communitarian society, suggesting that the orthodox conception of ‘Sobornost’, a hierarchical but decentralized form of church organization arranged synodically through a ‘conciliarist’ approach to consensus, is a Pentecostal form of anarchism.

Thus, Sobornost bears similar meanings to the word ‘gathering’ but is literally akin to the root meaning of the word ‘liturgy’, meaning ‘work of the gathered people’ – maybe the nearest English equivalent being the term ‘commonweal’. Berdyaev would use the term to refer to a middle way of co-operation and mutualism between several opposing ideas that converge in organic synthesis, akin to anarchist Kropotkin’s term ‘spontaneous order’, when the dichotomy or duality of conflicting forms are transcended – much akin to the chaos symbol, used by modern Russian Eurasianists. The synthesis is the point that Sobornost is reached, creating dynamic change in flux. Thus, Berdyaev conceived of heaven as ‘eternal creativity’.

Sobornost is the dynamic political opposite of a secular materialist republicanism, which in reality is the rule of oligarchy under the appearance of universalised values. To Berdyaev, orthodoxy rests upon a popular monarchy, the monarch symbolizing a code or rule of law without an over-centralized state, amidst a confederation of free peasant communes. A similar constitutional paradigm has been discerned in ancient mediaeval Iceland, Anglo-Saxon England and, of course, Cossack Russia, the ‘skete’ or hermitage being the spiritual centre of society.

The skete, meaning a call or cluster of communities or individuals, and a church fellowship or parish, is not ultimately governed by synods but by tradition, as embodied in personal living examples of holiness – for example, organic developments of the Holy Spirit from everyday life, as manifested in people. If the family is the basis of society, then the family as biblically understood existed prior to the state, if not civilization. To some extent the state can be considered as part of the kingdom of Satan – Satan literally means ‘adversary’ – and only ordained by God to fulfil his purpose by default, and thus inadvertently glorifying him in the sense that ultimately the serpent eats its own tail.

The Berdyaev conception of Sobornost would thus be best understood as a metaphysical third way beyond atomistic, capitalist individualism and collectivist Marxist statism. In the vision of Berdyaev, Bolshevikism is merely the merger of serfdom to industrialisation. Many of the so-called Russian old believers felt Marxism was pre-figured in the Masonic styled westernisation of Russia by Peter the Great. Thus, both Marxism and liberal capitalism are merely western exports and innovations imposed on the peoples of Eastern Europe.

Berdyaev would also develop a vision of eschatology being much more Christ-centred than the dualistic and Manichean preoccupations with antichrist that are so evident in the Protestant world of populist evangelical movements today. Perhaps only the Jewish religious existentialism of Martin Buber and Gustav Landauer come close in articulating and deconstructing the state as merely a set of mystical social relationships.

Another anarchist current within the Eastern European tradition can be discerned in the Russian symbolist current of the early 1990s, which promoted a form of mystical anarchism partly inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Vladimir Solovyov, its leading advocate being Georgis Chulhou, who lived from 1879 to 1939. He was a symbolist poet and opponent of both liberalism and Marxism, opposing materialism, rationalism and positivism and embracing a non-acetic form of Christianity. This was an earth-embracing spirituality based in the veneration of the divine Sophia as the teleological god of history.

This vision of the divine Sophia as the consummating of the historical process was to find further development in the social spiritual activism of the Serbian theosophist Dimitrije Mitrinovic, a participant in the New Age journal of A.R. Orage in the 1920s, which initially promoted Guild Socialism patterned after the pre-Marxian vision of William Morris, before becoming the leading advocate of social credit as defined by Major C.H. Douglas in opposition to the one world globalist statism of Fabian Socialism as advocated by H.G. Wells. Mitrinovic advocated a vision of a decentralized pan-Europeanism run upon Bakuninist lines rather than Marxist centralization co-ordinated by a mystical, almost synarchist elite. This was rather akin to H.G. Wells’ conception of a ‘new samurai’, a conception not dissimilar to that of science fictional Jedi knights and obviously an influence on John Hargreaves’ Kibbo Kift Kindred movement and the Greenshirt social credit movement in the later 1930s.

Inspired by the Sophian mysticism of Vladimir Solovyov, Mitrinovic discerned in the Holy Spirit – the third person of the Holy Trinity – the manifestation of the divine Sophia, the feminised hypostasis of the Godhead that would usher in the organic ‘ordering of the world in which races, nations and groupings of all kinds would be functionally related to each other’, as quoted from Dimitrije Mitrinovic, a biography by Andrew Rigby.

Anarchist Currents in the Reformed Tradition

In the Protestant tradition, without doubt the most significant contribution to a theology of Christian anarchism has been made by the French Calvinist and universalist Jacques Ellul, a contemporary and associate of the controversial Jewish historian Bat Yeor and whose seminal book The Technological Society was an influence on the Unabomber manifesto, Industrial Society and its Future, although Ellul would not have approved of the unabomber’s methodology.

Ellul had briefly attempted to join the Situationist International, having been recommended by Raoul Vaneigem but had been rejected by other intellectuals amongst the Situationist International on account of his Christianity, although Vaneigem himself would go on to write one of the best books on the Brethren of the Free Spirit.

Ellul defined ‘technique’ as ‘the totality of methods arrived at and having absolute efficiency for a given state of development in every field of human achievement.’

Hence, as a feudal society was defined by the principle of domination and bourgeois society by exploitation, the technological society would be defined by the organisational characteristic of cybernetics, a paradigm suggestive of modernist transhumanism.

Ellul traced the roots of anarchism back into the mainstream Biblical narrative, suggesting that if we look at the Old Testament, the family and tribal unit is the organic natural human association and existed prior to the state, and it was the first murderer – Cain – who built the first city, which would evolve into the Tower of Babel. This served as the Biblical prototype for the end time, Babylon, a globalised, centralized uniform monoculture into which divine intervention in time past devolved into the decentralized ‘ethnos’ of the nations.

So the Bible’s historical narrative begins with an individual becoming a family, then a line of Patriarchs becomes a tribe, and then a confederation of tribes united by popular judges becomes a monarchy, although the office of the monarch was given to the people of God as a sign and judgement on their opposition to God. Ellul noted that virtually all Hebraic monarchs are portrayed as corrupt, and this monarchical succession would lead to the dispersion and visitation of foreign domination upon the Nation of Israel until their promised messiah had come.

Here, Ellul perceives Christ as the ‘anarch’ of a new age, and the early church as first fruit of a social, spiritual transformation of existing power structures until this was recuperated by the statism at the time of Constantine.

Other elements within the reformed Protestant tradition would adopt a similar narrative, but from within a more radical Anabaptist perspective such as the Church of the Brethren Theologian Vernord Eller, and attempt to fuse the central Biblical meta-narrative into a call to radical discipleship, based on non-violence and complete apoliticism, similar to the Amish but without necessarily completely rejecting the surrounding secular culture. Those that stayed within conventional society who wished to engage in more activist paradigms, seeking to change the system or to use the old Quaker slogan of ‘speaking truth to power’, would embrace either the more syncretistic fusion of Marxism with Christianity known as liberation theology, or be influenced by the religious Christianity of Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoffer, who was imprisoned and murdered by the Nazis, or the political theology of the cross as expanded by fellow German, Jurgen Moltmann.

Anarchist Currents in the Roman Catholic Tradition

Within the Catholic tradition, the most notable example of a more urban centric, practical Christian anarchism was that of Dorothy Day, an American woman who founded the Catholic Worker movement in 1933. Day was deeply influenced by the anarchism of Kropotkin, along with the agrarian distributionism of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. She would agitate for an uncompromising fusion of populist Catholicism, with social justice activism via the medium of the newspaper, The Catholic Worker, and through communal houses of hospitality in New York, which were opened for homeless people.

Day was to fall foul of both the church hierarchy for her anarchist views, and also the left during the Spanish Civil War, as she could not support the republican cause while it was murdering priests and nuns. Despite her obvious anti-fascist and anti-Franco stance, it was this that led her to adopt a pacifist position that was to identify the Catholic Worker movement at that time as the first overtly pacifist movement in the history of the Catholic Church.

Day would also use non-violence as a methodology for transcending what she perceived to be the violence intrinsic in the left/right political dichotomy, and go on to embrace an essentially Catholic type of Christian existentialism known as Personalism, which sought to transcend both social cultural extremes of collectivism and atomistic individualism.

A similar philosophical current is also to be found in the writings of the anarchist veteran of the Spanish Civil War, the Jewish French patriot mystic Simone Weil, who was a harsh critic of both her native Judaism and the institutional church. This led to her life-long refusal to be baptised, adopting instead a form of neo-Catholicism, being deeply immersed in the writings of Hinduism and Buddhism, along with the Greek and Egyptian mystery cults, while being at the same time opposed to religious syncretism.

She wrote that, ‘Each religion is alone true, that is to say that at the moment we are thinking of it we must bring as much attention to bear on it as if there were nothing else…a synthesis of religion implies a lower quality of attention.’

Just weeks before her death, Simone Weil produced an essay, On the Abolition of Political Parties, that argued how party agendas actually prevent democracy from finding correct solutions to problems, and corrupt the souls of their members, Weil making the case that true politics of free association can only begin when party lines and party spirits end.

Another less well-known but important synthesis of a traditionalist Catholicism with anarchism would be the anti-democratic monarchical personalism of Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, an Austrian who lived from 1909 to 1999, who described himself as a ‘liberal of the extreme right’, arguing that majoritarianism in so called democracies are a threat to individual liberties, declaring a Christian based monarchy the only enduring alternative to humanistic totalitarianism. His early work, entitled The Menace of the Herd, demonstrated an appreciation of Proudhonist mutualism, although he would later embrace Austrian economic theory and become an influential philosopher on the Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist libertarian movement. His work clearly influenced the more secularist ideology of Hans Hermann Hoppe.

Leddihn argued that Nazism and Fascism, rather than being radical right-wing movements, were essentially leftist democratic movements that ultimately had roots in the French Revolution and proto-Protestant groups like the Hussites that, when secularised, unleashed trajectories of equalitarianism, conformity, materialism and state centralization.

Perhaps here we find the praxis for a new prophetic understanding of what could be called the manifestation of the spirit of antichrist on earth, at least philosophically if not metaphysically.

In the western nations, the post-war social and cultural consensus was to build a civilization that was to be, in some respects, the complete nemesis of that envisioned by reactionary National Socialism. However, it would appear this very nemesis of racist totalitarian ideology is, by being defined by its Nazi precursor, in fact partaking of the same spirit while, in theory, being in complete opposition to it.

One thinks here of the chief visionary of the European Union, Richard Nikolaus Coudenhove-Kalergi, who lived from 1894 to 1972. He wrote in his book, Practical Idealism – a book that was, and still is, banned in Germany – of a form of state racial social engineering of the peoples and populations of Europe, in which the future European would be comprised of an ethnicity he described as ‘a Eurasian-Negroid race of the future, similar in appearance to the ancient Egyptians’. A conception very possibly as evil if enforced by authoritarian state interventions in public and individual life as the ‘racist’ supremacist doctrines it was possibly meant to counter, although written in a time before Hitler!

Leddihn was true to his Catholic soul while being federalist in the European sense, or more accurately a con-federalist, as he always condemned centralization and separatism alike, and proclaimed a notion of ‘soul and soil’ rather than ‘blood and soil’, understanding that genuine racism was a form of apostacy from the human race. According to Leddihn, ‘neither atomisation nor levelling lies within the Catholic religious tradition – what it demands is “variety in unity”…yet if there must be extremism, then a wild individualism takes precedence over its opposite form. As a result anarchism rather than communism or socialism is the classic form “radicalism” in the Catholic orbit. Even in the Protestant mind the anarchist will always be an individual from a Catholic or Greek Orthodox country and never a member of a Protestant nation…it is for the anarchist, then, that even the European Catholic Rightist had a weak spot in his heart.” (Quoted from Liberty or Equality, The Challenge of Our Times, page 202, Erik Ritter Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn).

ccording to both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox prophecy, before the advent of the antichrist there will come a great Christian monarch and king – whether perceived as the restoration of the Russian Tsar as Christian king of the third Rome or a Roman Catholic monarch based in Western Europe. Catholic scholars are keen to stress that his rule or dominion will not take the form of a centralized autocratic absolutism, but will instead uphold the genuine Catholic principle of subsidiarity. This is a concept very similar to decentralization or historical regionalism. Centralization is thus the very opposite of the principle of subsidiarity, and is the divine antithesis of tyrannical autocracy.

Modern Day Christian and Libertarian Paradigms

There are a number of significant contemporary Christian anarchist paradigms in the world today, beginning with the sojourners movement in America. Although not being explicitly ‘anarchist’, it has been described as a Protestant version of the Catholic worker, which still endures today.

On the fringes of the 1980s anarcho-punk scene there was the Christian anarchist fanzine, A Pinch of Salt, part of the ‘swords into ploughshares’ anti-militarist movement.

The Australian evangelical activist Dave Andrews has set up international anarchic Christian communities in Delhi and Australia, and currently works in Christian Muslim relations and peace-making.

While not a self-proclaimed Christian, British anarchist Paul Cudenec has made a significant contribution to the synthesis of spirituality and mystical perennialism with anarchist philosophy in a series of outstanding books, most notably The Anarchist Revelation.

In America, there is a movement called ‘Jesus Radicals’, which describes its mission as ‘undoing oppression from a framework of anarchist politics and liberative Christianity.’

It has to be said that these various groupings, to a greater or lesser extent, would be very much part of a leftist current of anarchist discourse, although there is the more libertarian anarcho-capitalist ‘vine and fig tree’ orientated initiative, which stands at the cutting edge of modern day Calvinist post-millennial full preterist theonomist theology. Contemporary orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart has come out in favour of ‘anarcho-monarchism’, as have many traditional Catholic fringe groups, also seeking to reconfigure this with the vision of J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton’s distributist economic theory.

One explicitly Christian anarchist current that ‘perhaps’ deserves mention is that of the Robert Anton Wilson inspired spoof Dadaist, Situationist, perennialist paradigm known as ‘discordianism’. This is obviously an influence on the occult esoteric Sufi anarchism of Peter Lambourne Wilson, aka Hakim Bey, which utilises insights gleaned from Pagan chaos magick, tantra, Zen Buddhism and Taoist alchemy. Lastly, Geoist or Georgist currents within libertarianism perhaps hold the best praxis for anarchist activism in the contemporary era, along with new paradigms such as panarchism – defined as being the principle where governments would become ‘political churches’, only having jurisdiction over their congregations who had elected to become members.

Please refer to the website, http://www.evolutionofconsent.com

Whereas panarchism is a political variant on the ancient philosophical concept of the ‘one and the many’, ultimately this can only be reconciled by an embrace of a social trinity based on the Pauline conception of the body of Christ, which serves as a template for an organic Christian commonweal. Georgism or Geoism as radical economic theory based in a redistributionist conception of land value can obviously be seen hinted at in the Biblical conception of the Jubilee and in the parable of the vineyard (Mark 12). Perhaps this is a commentary on the line in Ecclesiastes 5.9 that says that ‘The Profit of the Land is for all and the king serves the land.’

The work of alternative Geo-Austrian economist Fred Harrison is of major significance here, as shown in the seismic book, The Traumatised Society: How to Outlaw Cheating and Save Our Civilization, published by Shepherd-Walwyn 2012.

Fellow Geo-libertarian Fred Foldvary has advocated what he describes as a ‘geo-confederacy’ based in Georgist alternative economics as a conflict mediation tool for nations engaged in territorial disputes, with particular relevance and application to that of the land of Israel and Palestine. This is described in the book, Land, A New Paradigm for a Thriving World by Martin Adams.

Among other modern libertarian currents worthy of mention is the paradigm of agorism as developed by Samuel Konkin the Third, a form of revolutionary counter-economic anarcho-capitalism, and the minarchist philosophical libertarianism of Robery Nozick. Nozick makes the case that, in the state of nature, property rights lead logically to the moral impermissibility of any government other than a minimal or ‘night watchman’ state, Nozick arguing that over time in a genuine anarcho-capitalist society of competing subscriber protection agencies, one would eventually come to dominate with a monopoly or force and thus constitute a de-facto minarchist government.

Conclusion: Christian Anarchism in the Age of the Anthrocene

The true pessimist transcends himself, for only by rejection can the world be totally affirmed.

Taken from Charles Williams, Poet of Theology

by Glen Cavaliero

It took the organized church over seven hundred years to fully develop and consolidate its fundamental doctrinal system from the Nicene Creed in 325 AD to the seventh ecumenical council in 787 AD. These councils attempted to articulate basic essential Christian beliefs and lay the dogmatic boundaries concerning theological speculation and mystical formation.

If the period from the Council of Nicea to what has been called ‘the Great Schism’ of 1054 can be described as the millennium of Christian evolution, then the second millennium could be described as the devolution of Christianity, beginning with the ascendancy of the Papacy which then in turn seeded roots within the western sphere of Christendom, which would later germinate into Protestantism. Two Orthodox theologians, Father John Romanides and Christos Yannoras, perhaps best sum up this development. Christos Yannoras concluded thus when addressing western cultural development:

‘The proclamation of the death of God is revealed as the historical outcome that makes clear the whole theological development of western Christianity. The replacement of ecclesial experience with intellectual certainty prepares for rationalist agreement with certainty. Rationalism, freed from the metaphysical guarantees provided from scholasticism, assumes the role for the historical preparation for the dominance of an empiricism centred on the individual and an empiricism centred on the individual is the open door at which nihilism appears.’

Perhaps the Roman Catholic anthropologist Rev. Girard would bring us full circle in his thesis that all human social conflict originates with ‘mimetic desire’ or rivalry and that the scapegoating mechanism is the origin of all sacrifice sublimated, and the foundation of all organized human religion, and thus is intrinsically necessary to control, redeem and transcend the violence inherent in human mimetic rivalry. Thus, the Bible alone is the only religious or spiritual text that unveils and reveals these ideas and works to denounce the scapegoat mechanism that is at the heart of all civilized existence.

This dynamic of scapegoating which, for the Catholic anthropologist was the foundation of all human civilization and religious metaphysics as a socialized form of collective sacrificial violence, brings us to a tentative conclusion.

If The Book of Revelation is a book of futurology then to some extent the modern obsession with so-called ‘conspiracy theories’ is merely a secularisation of the Biblical apocalyptic discourse. In truth, the term ‘apocalypse’ merely means in the Hebrew, ‘to unveil’. I do not believe in the conspiracy theory of history but I do believe in trajectories that are ultimately theological in nature. Conspiracies of history are reductionist if not theologically dualistic and Manichean in orientation, and can perpetuate the worst kind of opponent, Nietchzian themed scapegoating known as ressentiment, be it the Jews/Zionists, the Jesuits, the Papacy, the Caliphates, the Islamicists, the Freemasons, the oligarchs or the Illuminati shape-shifting reptilian international! If certain conspiracies exist, to some degree they are merely reflections to some degree of ourselves, so the problem is not with whatever bogeyman best holds a mirror up to you, but with God. So pick your enemies carefully for they will define you – a sobering reflection upon identity politics, whether of the left or right.

In this context, though, I do not believe this world is going to be saved in the conventional sense, as I believe in the coming collapse of industrial civilization. This would render any attempt to reform it impossible, and there is nothing we can do to prevent this. But there is something we can do with it.

Christianity was described at the beginning of this lecture by the anarcho-primitivist Fredy Perlman as a ‘Roman crisis cult’ and essentially an agricultural religion, kenotically understood. Then perhaps Christianity is, in a prophetic sense, speaking to late modernity from within the belly of the beast and laying down a template for the transformation of human consciousness. The Book of Revelation serves as the unveiling and emergence of a transitional praxis and aid to discernment, to find meaning and purpose within the collapse process that is currently manifesting.

With this in mind, I will end not with a scripture or quote from a Christian theologian but with the inhumanist mystic Robinson Jeffers:

The Answer

Then what is the answer? Not to be deluded by dreams. To know that great civilizations have broken down into violence and that tyrants come, many times before. When open violence appears, to avoid it with honour or choose the least ugly faction, these evils are essential.

To keep one’s integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted and do not wish for evil, or be duped by dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will not be fulfilled. To know this, and know that however ugly the parts appear, the whole remains beautiful. Integrity is wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man, or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions or drown in despair when his days darken.

Wayne John, June 2018

 

 

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