The projected pathology of utopia carried by society today stems from a millenarian mindset as evidenced throughout history from altruistic coalitions and alliances embracing prophetic concerns during profound prime evolutionary processes and changes going forth.
These curious coalitions are frequently explained as merely opportunistic alliances, whereby certain groups make common cause with ideological opponents in pursuit of the shared sins of bringing down Western society. This explanation sure is only partly correct. What these various movements have in common goes much deeper: they are all utopian. Each in its own way wants to bring about the perfect society and to create a new man and world.
Each therefore thinks of itself as progressive; the supporters of each believe themselves to be warriors in the most noble of causes. The greens believe they will save the planet. The leftists believe they will create the brotherhood of man. The fascists believe they will purge mankind of corruption. And the Islamists believe they will create the Kingdom of God on earth.
What they all have in common however, is a totalitarian mindset in pursuit of the creation of their alternative realities. These are all worldviews that can accommodate no deviation and must therefore be imposed by coercion. Because their end product is a state of perfection, nothing can be allowed to stand in its way. This is itself a projected pathology. The belief that humanity can be shaped into a perfect form has long been the cause of the most vicious tyrannies on the planet from the French Revolution onwards. It draws towards a system that believes violence is necessary in order to destroy the old order so that utopia can arise from the ashes. Pretending to be attracted to “peace’ and in the name of “peace”, actually stands for the opposite. It needs to empathize with the “martyrs” and the downtrodden in order to vicariously validate the cause. The Third World, intrinsically noble since it is un-corrupted by the developed world, provides an apparently inexhaustible supply of such validation.
The mindset of the totalitarian true believer creates networks between groups that might be thought to have little in common. Anti capitalists, Islamists, greens and neo-fascists all build common ground between ostensible political opposites from the “far left” and “and right”. Both which are thus to reveal having deep similarities.
Indeed it is, and this left-wing character has roots in the history of fascism, which originally derived from the left. Not for nothing were the Nazis called the National Socialist Party.
Fascism was made possibly by way of thinking. It swept across Europe at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the first outcome of which was communism. Fascism was not some aberration; it was in keeping with the avant-garde and revolutionary trends in the wider European culture. Not only did it compete with Marxism for the allegiance of the masses, but its origins lay in a revision of Marxism. Whereas Marxism has opposed liberalism, which was in turn a revolt against clerical absolutism, fascism rejected both liberalism and Marxism to create a communal, anti-individualistic and antinationalist culture. Fascism wanted to rectify what it saw as the disastrous consequences of modernization: the atomization of society and alienation of the individual in a free market economy. Although it was eager to retain the benefits of technological progress, it rebelled against modernity insofar as modernity was associated with rationalism and the optimistic humanism of the eighteenth century. Fascism disdained both universalism and individualism, as well as human rights and equality.
The French Revolution held that society was made up of a collection of individuals. Fascism replaced this idea with a theory of the organic unity of the nation, which was perceived as an organism comparable to a sentient being. Absolute moral norms such as truth, justice and law existed only to serve the collective. Subconscious instinct, intuitive and irrational sentiment, emotion and enthusiasm were considered superior to rationality, which was said to deaden sensitivity. Just like communism, pre 1914 fascism attacked the existing system and aimed to destroy bourgeois culture and to reform the world by transforming the individual, it had fascination for a lot of idealistic young people. In addition to a political revolution, fascism sought to bring about a moral revolution, a profound transformation of the human spirit. A desire to create a new type of man.
The association of fascism with anti-Semitism also found echoes in communism. Despite being born into a Jewish family, Marx, who was raised as a Lutheran, was committed to hating his own race and wanted to create a new world order through society’s renunciation of Judaism altogether through the creation of a “new man”.. His letters contain dozens of derogatory references to that effect.
The progression from communism to fascism in the creation of this new world order was bridged by thinkers whose impact on our modern age cannot be overestimated. Mussolini understood both the importance of communism and the significance as indicated by how Marx’s belief that society had to be destroyed in order to build a new one. Indeed, Mussolini described socialism as “the greatest act of negation and destruction. His own followers were the new barbarians as he declared, and like all barbarians, they were the harbingers of a new civilization. Mussolini believed that while the proletariat would not bring about Marx’s socialist utopia, the revolt by the a “superman” would destroy bourgeois institutions. Thus fascism was born.
Since both fascism and communism ere joined at the hip, as it were, in seeking to create utopia, both gathered a significant following among the Western avant-garde of the early twentieth century, who thought themselves as progressive thinkers.
In the nineteenth century, the progressive intelligentsia had bestowed the “enlightened” label on a body of thought that was to feed directly into communism and later into the obscenity of the Nazi killing machine. Indeed, after reading Darwin’s Origin of Species, Marx called it “the book that contains the foundation in natural history” for his views. The thinking that led Darwin to formulate this theory of evolution contributed not only to Marxism, but also to fascism, by way of “social Darwinism” and its offshoot in eugenics, which were the orthodoxy among progressive thinkers.
These roots of social Darwinism and eugenics lay in the ideas of eighteenth century economist thinkers who had argued that the world’s human population would increase faster than the food supply unless checked by restraints such as war, famine or disease. The resulting thought was that most people should die without reproducing. Darwin admitted that his own ideas were an extension of such thought to the natural world; in turn, intellectuals developed the thinking of this Darwinian thought process into social Darwinism. (Darwinism & Freud – The two most despicable ‘rubber stamps’ ever perpetuated upon mankind.) PERIOD! *and I am NOT speaking of Scientology either.
Applying this theory of evolution to the organization of human society, social Darwinism represented progress as a kind of ladder on which humanity could climb towards perfection. This meant that the “unfit” or lesser breeds of humanity had to be discarded on the way up. Thus eugenics, the “science of selective breeding, came into being. In Victorian and Edwardian Britain, the main targets of eugenic thinking were the poor, whom the intelligentsia regarded as over breeding throwbacks to an earlier stage of evolution. There was a fear that those higher up the evolutionary ladder would be overwhelmed by lesser forms of human life. The concept of the inherent value of every individual life was therefore seen as a sentimental block to the progress of humanity. Eugenics was therefore seen as a vital tool of social progress. Early socialists were imbued with eugenic thinking.
It would not be until the full horror of Nazism became apparent, with its extermination programs against mental defectives and other issues, that both eugenics and fascism finally became discredited. Before then however, fascism did not just appeal to convinced masses, but garnered and imbued a large following among intellectuals in the humanities from a variety of political positions. Eugenics was seen as a vital tool of social progress among early socialists This change of thinking from one major train of thought and mainstream to a complete other line of thinking was however, would eventually come to an end.
This shift in thought process is to be duly noted too. For it is this very thought process that has fooled many. It is also this thought process that has many in the masses, if not the complete masses themselves, in a belief of complete and utter truth that for a time, was self evident, only to be toppled like a house of cards with the forthcoming of the real truth. A fine example is when the world truth was that the world was flat and with an edge to it, only to be discovered that it was round. The greatest political, religious and scientific minds of the time professed flatness as the absolute truth and all went along with it, just because these great minds of the time said it was so. Until that is, it was proven incorrect. This, as it is called, is a paradigm shift, and it happens throughout history and will continue to happen in the future, regardless of who wishes to believe in it.
Now here begins the bite. Perhaps the most striking continuation of fascist ideas under the guise of left wing progressive thinking lies in the modern environmental movement, with its desire to call a halt to dehumanizing modernity and return to an organic harmony with the natural world. While all this is fine and dandy, it’s not what it outwardly appears at first.
Veneration of nature and the corresponding belief that civilization corrupts man’s innate capacity for happiness and freedom go back to the eighteenth century. That world of enlightenment and reason led to movements of the left and right. The idealizing of nature, along with the theory of human evolution through survival of the fittest which predated Darwin by a hundred years, became the galvanizing force in that century among some of the most progressive thinkers of the time. And one of the principal routes taken was through the natural world.
In the mid nineteenth century, Darwinism was sowing the seeds of environmentalism, and in so doing, fed into fascism. During the interwar period, most ecological thinkers subscribed to this way of thinking. There was a particularly close association between ecologists and German nationalists, among whom a number subsequently became part of the Nazis organization. Their thinking was that nature was the life force from which Germany had been cut off, ever since the days of the Roman Empire, by the alien Christian-Judaic civilization, the source of all the anti life manifestations of urbanism.
Such ecological fixations were further developed in German Nazism. They fixated on organic food, personal health and animal welfare. Heinrich Himmler was a certified animal rights activist and an aggressive promoter of “natural healing”. Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, championed homeopathy and herbal remedies; Hitler wanted to turn the entire nation vegetarian as a response to the unhealthiness promoted by capitalism. There was top level Nazi support for ecological ideas at both ministerial and administrative levels. Even those in power within the regime professed embedding motorways organically into the landscape. They professed against land reclamation and drainage; said that classical scientific farming was a nineteenth century practice unsuited to the new era and that artificial fertilizers, fodder and insecticides were poisonous, while calling for an agricultural revolution towards a more peasant like, natural, simple method of farming independent of capital. Himmler himself established experimental organic farms including one at Dachau that grew herbs for SS medicines; a complete list of homeopathic doctors in Germany was compiled for him; and antivivisection laws were passed on his insistence. SS training included a respect for animal life of near Buddhist proportions. They did not however, show such respect of course, for the human race.
Neither does the ecological movement, for which, echoing the planet’s biggest problem is the people living on it. Even though our contemporary era has been forged in a determination that fascism must never rise again, certain sums of these ideas that were central to fascism, about the organic harmony of the earth, the elevation of animal rights and the denigration of humans as enemies of nature, are today very much present and heralded as the acme of progressive thinking, but under the guise of progressive thought and much to the bewilderment and unknowingness of current society.
An astonishing repackaging of this ideal was accomplished during the 1970’s. While Western politicians were committed to growth and a consumer society was taking off, the dread of overpopulation also grew. It is probably no coincidence that the fear of global immiseration coincided with the end of empire and the West’s loss of control over the developing world. Reports from the UN World Conference on Human Environment in 1972 preached imminent doom as a result of rising technological capacity and argued that man had to replace family or national loyalties with allegiance to the planet. The Club of Rome, which was founded also in 1972, prophesized imminent global catastrophe unless resource use was curbed, a view that the oil shock of 1973 served to further validate and embed in Western consciousness.
If ecology was to take off however, it had to shed altogether its unhappy links with fascism, racial extermination and ultra nationalism. It took a number of different opportunities to do so. During the 1960’s in both Europe and North America, it identified itself with radical left wing causes, latching on ‘alternative’ politics such as feminism and, in Britain, Celtic nationalism. In the 1970’s, it was the “small is beautiful” idea of the anti Nazi émigré that took hold.
In 1971, the president of the Soil Association in Britain, which was critical in both promoting deeply antirational ecological ideas and laundering them as fashionably progressive, which eschewed artificial fertilizers and promoted self sufficient farms as preserving the spirit of the soil. When the Soil Association was created in 1946, it embodied this ‘organic farming’ ideal. But this president of the association was also the founder of a movement called anthroposophy, which was based on the development of a non sensory or so called super sensory consciousness. It held that early stages of human evolution possessed an intuitive perception of reality, including the power of clairvoyance, which had been lost under the increasing reliance on intellect. It promoted the belief that the human being passed between stages of existence, incarnating into an earthly body, living on earth, leaving the body and entering into the spiritual domain before returning to be born again into a new life.
These essentially pagan and irrational ideas were, as we shall see later, intrinsic to ecological thinking. But they were also to surface in a remarkable new alliance between neo-Nazi doctrines and radical left wing, anti capitalist and New Age ideas. Toward the end of the 1960’s, finding itself criticized for espousing reactionary views, the Soil Association turned sharply leftwards and developed an egalitarian socio economic perspective instead. It published articles admiring Mao’s communes in China and suggested that plots of land a few acres in size should be distributed similarly among the British population.
In Germany, the green movement that emerged from the student protests of 1968 bitterly attacked the biodynamic organic farmers for their perceived authoritarianism and social Darwinist beliefs. Thus, German Greens of the 1970’s, with a considerable communist element, had less to do with ecology than with participatory democracy, egalitarianism and women’s rights.
Among radicals in America, there was a split after 1968 between those favoring organized terrorism and alternative groups. Young radicals in the latter camp, galvanized by outside inspiration, claimed that multinational capitalism was responsible for pollution. Environmental concerns offered up a radicalism for the middle classes.
The result of all this ferment was that the green movement became not just radical but radically incoherent. It became the umbrella for a range of alternative, anti Western causes and lifestyles. But its constant factor was a strongly primitive, pagan and irrational element. This new paganism, often based on Atlantean theories of a lost golden age and theories of cultural diffusion via a vanished super race, is open to all and especially attractive to the semi educated, semi rational product of today’s de naturing educational process, stripped of religion, reason, tradition and even true history.
Despite a veneer of fashionable progressivism, the fact is that environmentalism’s fundamental opposition to modernity propels it straight into the arms of neo fascism. For just like their precursors in the twenties and thirties, today’s ultranationalist and neo Nazi groups chime with many of the ideas that also foster and march under the green banner. In France, Italy and Belgium, the Nouvelle Droite combined Hellenic paganism with support for the dissolution of national boundaries; it was anti capitalist and anti American, adopting socio biological arguments to stress the uniqueness of each race and culture within national boundaries and to oppose colonization and empire. In Germany, the radical right journal was pacifist and ecological. Such groups met the left on the common ground of New Age paganism, expressed in particular through the religions and cultures of the East.
From the 1970’s onwards, neo fascist extremists began to repackage the old ideology of Aryan racism, elitism and force in new cultic guises involving esotericism and Eastern religions. Some groups mixed racism with Nordic pagan religions, celebrating magical signs of ancestral heritage and mystical blood loyalty. In the United States, Britain, Germany and Scandinavia, racial pagan groups today ponder runes, magic and the sinister mythology of the Norse gods. Like the Nazis, these groups resort to the pagan world to express their antipathy to any extraneous organisms that disturb their idea of racial or national purity. The very fact that the racial interpretation of these esoteric ideas, cosmologies and prophecies betrays them overwhelmingly, causing great anxiety about the future of specific identities in multiracial societies.
To those accustomed to thinking of New Agers as vegetarian, pacifist tree huggers, such connections may come as something of a surprise. Nature worship, paganism and organic mysticism were all closely associated with Nazism and anti Semitism through prewar German thinking. This will help to explain how New Age turned from a left liberal movement to a fascist style of paganism.
The apocalyptic revivalism of neo fascism corresponds precisely to the agenda of radical Islamism. Because Islamism is a form of revolutionary utopianism, it marches along side the left. But as a revolt against liberalism and modernity, it is closely allied with both communism and fascism. That is because just like these two secular Western movements which also led to fanaticism, terror and mass murder, Islamism repudiates modernity and reason in the interests of creating a perfect world. And so, ironically, considering it believes itself to be a hermetically sealed thought system owing its influence only to God, Islamism has drawn heavily upon and formed alliances with communism and fascism, both represent=ting a heretical world it despises and aims to destroy.
The common interest with communism was first made evident when the Muslims of the Russian Empire were conscripted into the Red Army. During the first session, the president of the International called in his speech five times for holy war against the British and French, colonialists and the rich in general. Thus the Bolshevik jihad was launched against the common enemy, the materialist West, in the mountains of Afghanistan and elsewhere that the Russians faced the forces of imperialism.
The Muslims found much in common with communism. Not only did they have a common enemy, but they shared a utopian vision for transforming the world by negating all distinctions between peoples. Like Communism, Islam rejects narrow nationalism. Islam is international and recognizes only the brotherhood and unity of nations under the unity of Islam only.
There is a eerie similarity between the Marxist-Leninist and Islamic outlooks in both their Orwellian inversion of aggression and self defense it needs to duly be noted here. For Communism, aggression was specific to class society while the Soviet Union was by definition peaceful. Likewise, Islamic thinkers hold that Islam represents peace on earth and so anything un Islamic must trouble the peace by its very existence. As a corollary, since neither the Soviet Union nor the Islamic world could be guilty of aggression, any terror committed by either was by definition self defense, while self defense by the outside world was considered an act of aggression.
Like Nazism, Islam promotes a subordination of the individual to the collective, celebration of the leadership principle, hostility to liberal democracy and to capitalism, male supremacy, sexual repression and glorification of death in the war with unbelievers. It was therefore not surprising that Arab nationalism in Palestine, Syria and Iraq during the 1930’s modeled itself on Italian and German fascism.
There is even more striking correspondences between fascism and Islamism. The idea of using suicide pilots to destroy the skyscrapers of Manhattan originated in Nazi Germany. Nazis planned to fly explosive crammed light aircraft without landing gear into Manhattan skyscrapers. Hitler was in a delirium of rapture at this thought of seeing New York going down in towers of flame. He described the skyscrapers turning into huge burning torches and falling, reflecting a disintegration of the city in the dark sky. Hitler wanted to kill in order to liberate mankind, or more precisely, Wall Street. From there, his insidious threads radiated across the entire world.
To this day, Western Islamists continue to draw upon neo fascism. Since 2000, the Muslim Association of Britain and the General Union of Palestinian Students have both published the so called Franklin Prophecy, which is an anti-Semitic hoax manufactured by the American Nazi movement and first published in full publication February 1934. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee has used its website to reproduce material taken from these sites while the pro Hamas Palestine Times has promoted work by an author who is a revisionist historian and whose website has links to Holocaust denial material.
As can not be emphasized too strongly, the reason for these otherwise bewildering alliances between groups that appear to be mortal enemies ideologically, left wingers and fascists, Islamists and greens all harbor a utopian vision of perfecting the world.
Prominent Islamist Abul ala Maududi wrote that Islam is not the name of a mere religion, nor is Muslim the title of a nation. The truth is that Islam is a revolutionary ideology which seeks to alter the social order of the entire world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals.
The unsettling fact is that it is both plausible and possible for bad deeds to be done for the highest of ideals. That is a very frightening thought. Those wanting to bring about the perfect society see no higher ideal than that. Ever since the French Revolution, all such impossible agendas have led straight to persecution, tyranny and totalitarianism. To the French Terror, or the gulags of Russia, to Auschwitz and to the use of children as human bombs; yet the true believers in each case believed they acted from the highest of motives.
The Islamists committing mass murder in New York’s Twin Towers or a Jerusalem café really do believe they are fighting for justice and to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.; The communists and the fascists really did think they were ending, respectively, the oppression and corruption of mankind. The environmentalists really do think they are saving the planet from extinction. The radical left really do think they will erase prejudice from the human heart and suffering from the world. And those who want Israel no longer to exist as a Jewish state really do believe that as a result, they will turn suicide bomb belts into cucumber farmers and that they are moving in the way that history intended.; All very frightening thoughts indeed.
That is why those who promulgate hatred are generally to be found among the high minded, since they are devoted to the most lofty and admirable of ideals. That is why lies about global warming or irrationality about the defense of the West against Islamism are associated with the intelligentsia. That is why those with the most highly developed faculty of reason so often end up promoting the most diabolical of agendas.
But there is yet another factor linking these various ideologies of Islamism, environmentalism, Darwinism, ant capitalism and anti Zionism. In their very different ways and in very different contexts, they all attempt to address a spiritual emptiness in the human condition, and that gives them a further common characteristic that moves them away from the sphere of reason altogether, and into the province of self belief.
This may come as a surprise to some, but we are currently living through a millenarian age in the West.
Millenarianism is a religious belief in the perfectibility of mankind and life on earth. It is a doctrine of collective and total salvation that derives from the belief of some Christians in the ‘end times’ or ‘last days’ based on the Book of Revelation (20:4-6) According to these verses, after the Second Coming, Christ will establish a messianic kingdom on earth and reign for a thousand years before the Last Judgment. This belief in turn is rooted in Wrath, followed by the resurrection of the righteous in Israel. Millenarianism came to mean any belief that the struggle between the forces of good and evil would climax in a triumph of the good, when injustice and oppression would end and its perpetrators be punished.
Historically, millenarianism became a way of coping with large scale disasters, and it surfaced in highly charged periods of change and stress. In the Middle Ages, it flourished among marginalized people against the background of natural disasters such as famine or plague, particularly the Black Death, when millenarian exaltation and unrest were whipped up by would be prophets and false messiahs. The desire of the poor to improve their lives was transfused with fantasies of a world reborn into innocence through a final apocalyptic massacre. Extermination of certain groups was to be inevitable after which the righteous would prevail, establishing a world without suffering or sin.
In our present era, we are enduring the effects of the paradigmatic millenarian creed of Islam. Its central precept is the need to establish Islam as God’s kingdom on earth. Only when Islam rules everywhere, will the world be brought into a state of perfect justice and peace. This millenarian myth accepted by pious Muslims in every epoch is that an Expected Delivered call the Mahdi will make his appearance at the end of time, followed at the Day of Judgment by the Antichrist, who will then be killed, and thus the Kingdom of God will arrive on earth. Among Shia Muslims, the Mahdi is an even more central figure known as the Hidden Iman, whose expected return is to be the backbone of faith. His reappearance will be preceded by a long period of chaos and degeneracy, accelerating until evil, falsehood and wickedness dominate earth. The disintegration iis to be complete and universal and will be characterized by political unrest, immorality, falsehood and a total disregard for the principles of religion.
Islam in its radical manifestations is also apocalyptic, holding that this disintegration describes precisely the condition of the world today, and that the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth is imminent.
At the heart of Islam is the belief that it embodies the absolute and unchallengeable (note the word unchallengeable here) truth. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, which teach that divine intentions are revealed through a historical process of interrogation and discovery, Islam holds that sacred doctrines were fixed in time by Mohammed, with no further development possible. Ever since Islamic advocates of reason were defeated in a seminal battle in the thirteenth century, the belief in a fixed and unchallengeable truth has made the dominant strains of Islamic theology inimical to rationality and to freedom. It has also made inescapable the view that everything else is unreasonable and tyrannical.
Building on the belief that Islam is perfection, radical Islamists are the ‘elect’, a small core of the righteous whose superior knowledge of this perfection is absolute and cannot be challenged. Hence the Islamist ideologue of, We must create out of nothing a minority of pure upright and educated men. There must exist an upright community, devoted to the principle of truth, and whose sole goal in this world is to establish, safeguard and realize correctly the system of Truth. Very, very scary indeed.
In an Orwellian inversion, the tyrannical imposition of Islam upon the world is viewed as its liberation. Just as Lenin believed, whatever fosters the revolution is good; whatever hinders it is bad. In the millenarian and totalitarian mindset, there is never any middle ground; and truth and reason are turned upside down to fit their mannerisms of thinking.
Now on to the bitter pill to swallow.
There is an assumption that Western society since the Enlightenment has embodied a belief in the power of reason, which acts as a kind of inoculation against the virus of religious obscurantism that characterized life in medieval Europe and is so obviously on display in the Islamic world today. But in fact, the Enlightenment served in part to secularize millenarian fantasies. A key idea of certain Enlightenment thinkers was that reason would bring about perfection on earth and that ‘progress’ was the process by which utopia would be attained. A view satirized by Voltaire and held by Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift.
According to the editor of Encyclopedic, the bible of Enlightenment humanism, No bounds have been fixed to the improvement of the human race. The perfectibility of man is absolutely infinite. This idea was further developed in the nineteenth century and espoused by the apostle of social Darwinism, Herbert Spencer, who believed that life would get better all the time. “Progress is not an accident but a necessity” he wrote. “Surely must evil and immorality disappear; surely must man become perfect.”
It was reason that would redeem religious superstition and bring about the Kingdom of Man on earth. This idea infused the three great secular tyrannical movements that were spun out of Enlightenment thinking: the French Revolution, communism and fascism. For the French Revolutionaries, the millennial hope lay not in scripture, but in theories of freedom and the general will as expressed by the liberated voice of the people. The Committee of Public Safety abolished the worship of God on November 10, 1793 and substituted for it the Cult of Reason. At its core and at the same time, this committee of twelve men summarily executed thousands of people, from aristocrats, no matter how innocent, to internal dissenters, no matter how loyal. Terrors which ended only after the two masterminds were finally executed.
What I am trying to point out here is that many things spoon fed to us, especially in this day of technology being able to disseminate communications, from the news media to the government, to big business to the plethora of ‘ism’ movements on the march today, we as individuals HAVE to THINK for ourselves rather than letting these other entities do that for us. That doesn’t mean being psychotic, but it doesn’t mean being manipulated and told what to think, what is truth and so forth. We are quickly loosing our ability to truly be free, and to truly be free is to truly be mentally un manipulative and be able to stand on our own feet and think independent of outside influences, especially those with power and money over the many of us.
And so with that said, I press on with these thoughts.
Secular millenarian impulses did not stop at communism and fascism, but today infuse the progressive mind. From multiculturalism to environmentalism to post nationalism, Western progressives have fixated on unattainable abstractions from the venerable realization of utopia. The world of every day reality is rejected. All that matters is the theoretical future that is perfect and just, without war or want or prejudice. A future where fallen humanity has returned to Eden. And since that future is perfect, the idea of it may not be changed or challenged in any way. Which is why the progressive mind, in pursuit of the utopia where reason and liberty rule, is very firmly closed.
In that respect, an intriguing and immerging comparison can be made between sexual libertarians of today and the fourteenth century European sect known as the Heresy of the Free Spirit. Thye were Gnostics, believing they possessed perfect knowledge. Strictly speaking, Gnostics are not true millenarians since they anticipate a state of perfection beyond this world but rather than within it. Nevertheless, as the Free Sprits, intent on their own individual salvation, played a significant part in the revolutionary millenarian ferment of the Middle Ages. And the similarities with today’s ‘free spirits’ are striking.
Adherents of the fourteenth century sect believed they had attained a perfection so absolute that they were incapable of sin. Thus they repudiated moral norms, particularly with those pertaining to sexual behavior.
Indeed, since these adoptions were permissible of what was previously forbidden has progressed way beyond free love into such formerly transgressive areas as illegitimacy, homosexuality and sadomasochism. This trend has been driven by the ‘elect’ of the intelligentsia who, like the Free Spirits of the Middle Ages, regard themselves as the embodiment of absolute virtue. It is a delicious irony that such peop0le, who consider themselves to be at the cutting edge of modernity, reflect in certain respects such a widely irrational, obscurantist medieval Christian sect.
The very condition of the modern world provides emotional rocket fuel for the belief that it can and must be transformed. Anomie, the state of radical footlessness caused by the snapping of attachments in a post religious age that leaves people without meaning or purpose in their lives, can find its antidote in apocalyptic beliefs that galvanize people and make them feel alive. Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.
The mass movements of today are not so much political as cultural: anti imperialism and anti Americanism, anti Zionism, environmentalism, scientism, egalitarianism, libertinism and multiculturalism. These are not merely quasi religious movements, evangelical, dogmatic and fanatical, with enforcement mechanisms ranging from demonization through ostracism to expulsion of heretics. They are also millenarian and even apocalyptic in their visions of the perfect society and what needs to be swept aside in order to attain it. Even if, while embodying certain characteristics of medieval heretics, they simultaneously embody the authoritarianism of the persecutors of those heretics in the medieval church.
Their view of the human condition is essentially one of sin and redemption. They name the crimes committed by humanity. Oppression of Third World peoples, despoliation of nature, bigotry, war, and offer redemption and salvation by a returning to the true faith and path. Dissenters are heretics forming diabolical conspiracies against the one reveled truth. It is believed that the decision to invade Iraq, Israel’s military operations, manmade global warming and the persistence of religious faith cannot possibly have any reasonable basis because they deny the unchallengeable truths of anti imperialism, environmentalism and scientific materialism, and so the explanations must lie in conspiracies by the neocons, Big Oil or creationists, whose various hidden hands and agenda are detected everywhere.
The left wing intelligentsia, the environmentalists and the Darwinists are today’s Gnostics; their knowledge of a higher truth puts them on a plane above the rest of humanity, who have to be exhorted to change their ways in order to be saved from themselves.
The environmentalists, through their scientific credentials, possess exclusive access to the truth that the planet is being destroyed. They preach that the earth has been sinned against by capitalism, consumerism, the West, science, technology, mankind itself. Only when these are purged and economic materialism is rejected will the earth be saved and the innate harmony of the world be restored; otherwise we will descend into the hell of a drowned and parched planet where the remains of the human race battle it out for the few remaining resources.
The language and imagery conjure up a secular witch hunt. In a similar vein, the atheist evangelists assert that all must comply with their pronouncements on pain of excommunication from the realm of rationality.
The crucial element in all millenarian movements is the reaction that sets in when the prophecy of utopia fails, which of course it has done every time throughout human history. The inevitable outcome is that the disappointment turns ugly. Adherents of the cult create scapegoats upon whom they turn with a ferocity fueled by disorientation, anger and shame, in an attempt to bring about by coercion the state of purity that the designated culprits have purportedly thwarted.
When the classless utopia failed to materialize in the Soviet Union, Stalin murdered dissidents and sent them to the gulag. When Germany failed to achieve its apparently rightful place as the paradigm country in Europe, Hitler committed genocide. When Mao failed to bring about universal justice and the Confucian ideal of harmony, he killed, jailed or otherwise terrorized millions of Chinese.
In current times, the failure of the environmental vision of spiritual oneness between man and nature has seen mankind blamed for despoiling the planet and imperiling the survival of life on earth. The failure to arrive at a perfect state of reason in which all injustice and suffering are ended has been blamed on religious believers. The failure of the apparatus of international law and human rights to prevent war and tyranny has been blamed on America. And the failure of the existence of Israel to bring about the end of the Jewish problem has been blamed on the Jews themselves.
Having identified scapegoats upon whom they can project their anger and shame, disappointed millenarians have tried to carve out their perfect agenda and society through coercive measures against the people they hold responsible for the failure of their vision(s).
In our own time, the left forces people to be free in a myriad of different ways. In Britain, left wing totalitarianism wears the pained smile of ‘good conscience’ as it sends in the police to enforce ‘hate crime’ laws, drags children from their grandparents to place them for adoption with gay couples, or sacks a Christian nurse for offering to pray for her patient. In America, school textbooks are censored by ‘bias and sensitivity’ reviewers who remove a reference to patchwork quilting by women on the western frontier in the mid nineteenth century (stereotyping of females as soft and submissive), an account of a heroic young blind mountain climber (bias in favor of those living in hiking and mountain climbing areas but against the blind), and a tale about growing up in ancient Egypt (elitist references to wealthy families)
Some would call this a form of tyranny; but to the progressive mind, tyranny occurs only when their utopia is denied. Virtue thus has to be coerced for the good of the people at the receiving end. There can be no doubt that it is virtue, because progressivism is all about creating the perfect society and is therefore inherently and incontestably and inexorably virtuous; and so, like the Committee of Public Safety, like Stalinism, like Islam, it is all incapable of doing anything bad. Unlike everyone else, of course, who it follows can do nothing but bad.
Progressives feel justified in trying to instill and stifle any disagreement with their agenda on the grounds that the people they are trying to stifle are ‘fascists’, a term employed without irony. A sense of humor is not known to be a millenarian trait. Never engaging with the actual arguments of their opponents, they demonize them instead through gratuitous insults designed to turn them into pariahs while they themselves characterize all reasoned arguments against them as outrageous insults. Dissent is labeled as pathological, homophobic, xenophobic, Islam phobic, with phobia, or irrational fear, used as a synonym for prejudice. There are even outright accusations of insanity, a weapon used by totalitarian movements from the medieval Catholic Church to the Jacobins to Stalin’s secret police.
Calling today’s conservatives ‘fascists’ is particularly absurd since such people tend to believe in limiting state power and giving more freedom to the individual, a position that shades off into libertarianism. Nevertheless, leftists see the alternative to themselves as ‘fascist’ by definition. So the more that conservatives believe government should be limited and the more freedom they want for individuals, the more ‘fascist’ they become in the eyes of the left.
Even more fundamental is the trap that is sprung over the issue of truth. Any fact that challenges the world view of the left is ignored, denied or placated or explained away, because to admit even a scintilla of such truth would bring the entire utopian house of cards crashing down and with it the left winger’s whole moral and political identity. That’s why progressives refused to acknowledge the French Error, Stalin’s gulags or the millions dead under Mao; that’s why today they refuse to acknowledge black racism, Arab rejectionism of Israel or the fact that the climate was warmer a thousand years ago. But here’s what follows from this denial: Anyone who objects to the falsehoods of the left and points out the truth must be right winged, and thus ‘fascist’. In this way, truth itself is demonized and the bigger the truth that is told, the more demonized the teller becomes.
These ideals are held in the belief that at the heart of the ideological true believer invariably lay a deep self contempt, which was transmuted into hatred of others, since mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without belief in a devil. In other words, it is essential for the true believer to have someone or something to hate. The believer is defined in large measure by what he or she is not. Positions are then taken not necessarily because they are so believable, but principally because the alternative is so unthinkable.
This particularly evidence among scientific materialists, who are driven to take manifestly ridiculous positions simply because the alternative, belief in God, is unacceptable. Scientists sometimes put forward absurd theories purely to prevent the ‘Divine Foot in the door’. They cannot tolerate the slightest possibility of a metaphysical explanation. Such an approach betrays the most basic principle of scientific inquiry; that you always go where the evidence leads. Instead, it makes evidence dependent on a prior idea, in the manner of dogmatic ideology.
Surely this betrayal of science has occurred because scientism, or scientific materialism, is an ideology whose goal is not to gain knowledge and truth, but to suppress knowledge and truth if these threaten its governing idea(s). The priority is to safeguard the materialist world view in the teeth of any evidence to the contrary and thus maintain with it the prestige of science as the source of all the knowledge in the world. Defenders of this idea must preclude opposing points of view, for materialism is a closed thought system which cannot be challenged. Anything outside it is deemed non science and relegated to the status of fantasy. Any true scientific challenge to materialism is labeled ‘bad’ science, and therefore skeptics can be dismissed as not understanding ‘how science works’.
Gnostics take it a step further. They don’t only dismiss opponents’ arguments; they maintain that such opponents could not possibly have meant what was said. Their own Gnostic infallibility apparently means that he alone knows what was really in someone’s mind. Confronted by the fact that many scientists are religious believers, they dismiss most of the beliefs as not really religious except in terms of Einstein’s professed religious sensibilities, which says weren’t really religious belief at all, but rather claims of having to scrape the barrel in order to find genuinely distinguished modern scientists were truly religious. Really? Well then, how about Francis Collins, who heads the Human Gehome Project; or the botanist and former director of Kew Gardens, Sir Ghillean Prance; or the physicist Allan Sandage, considered to be the father of modern astronomy; or the Nobel Prize winning physicists William Phillips and Arno Penzias, all of whom are fervent religious believers?
Materialists set up an absolute dichotomy between science and religion, which are presented as engaged in a battle unto death; reason versus faith, good versus evil. Any scientist who accepts the integrity of religious arguments or any religious believer who accepts evolution is therefore deemed not to be telling the truth. So when the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote in his book Rocks of Ages that Darwinism was compatible with both religion and atheism because science and religion were non overlapping magisterial, dealing respectively with empiricism and questions of ultimate meaning. Gnostics have decried that Gould could possibly have meant much of what he wrote in Rocks of Ages. And after Pope John Paul II said in 1996 that he supported the general idea of biological evolution while entering reservations about certain interpretations of it, it was said that the pope’s response was simply that he was a hypocrite and that he could not be genuine about science.
A Gnostic knows that reprehensible behavior can by definition be practiced only by others, but never him or herself.
For the millenarian, the high minded belief in creating a perfect world requires the imperfect world to be purified by the true believers. From the Committee of Public Safety to Iran’s morals police, from Stalin’s purges of dissidents to British and American hate crime laws, utopians of every stripe have instigated coercive or tyrannical regimes to save the world by riddling it of its perceived corruption. Again, saving the ignorant from themselves.
The symmetry today is as obvious as the paradox. At a time when radical Islam is attempting to purify the world by conquering it for Islam and thus creating the Kingdom of God on earth, the West is also trying to purify the world in order to create a secular utopia in which war will become a thing of the past, hatred and selfishness will be eradicated from the human heart, reason will replace superstition, humanity will live in harmony with the earth and all division will yield to the brotherhood of mankind. The paradox here however is that, while it might be thought that the liberal West is trying to eradicate the kind of hatred and killing that radical Islam brings in its wake, the drive to purify inevitable results not in harmony but in strife.
But there is a further curiosity. That in doing so, the secular West is not merely adopting a quasi religious posture, but a specifically Christian one. The governing story of Islam is the imposition of its doctrines through conquest and submission. Accordingly, it is today attempting to fashion its utopia through conquest and submission. The governing story of Christianity by contrast, is of sin, guilt and redemption. And remarkably, that is precisely the pattern lying behind the Utopian agendas of Western secular progressives, even though by severing these concepts from their transcendent Christian context, they have perverted their meaning and turned them from the engines of truth and justice into their own antithesis.
For the left, the West is guilty of exploiting the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. Britain has to do penance for the sins of imperialism and racism. Israel has to do penance for the sins of colonialism and racism. America has to do penance for the sins of imperialism, slavery and racism.
For the environmentalists, the West is guilty of the sins of consumerism and greed, which have given rise to far more than it needs. So these things must be taken away and the West must return to a simpler, austere, pre-industrial way of life.
Because of its sins, the West is being punished through the wars and terrorism against it. The West ‘had it coming’ on account of its manifold iniquities. America is responsible for Islamic terrorism. Israel is responsible for Palestinian terrorism. And Britain is responsible for the radicalization of British Muslims and the 7/7 attacks on the London transit system because it has backed America and Israel and ‘lied’ about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
As a result of all this sin, guilt and punishment, the Western progressive soul yearns for expiation and redemption. By electing Barack Obama as president of the United States, Americans wanted to redeem their country’s original sins of slavery and racism. Through its strictures against Israel, post Christian Europe wants to redeem its original sin of anti-Semitism. By campaigning against carbon dioxide emissions, environmentalists want to redeem the original sin of human existence. As for the scientific materialists, the sin to be redeemed is not by man against God, but rather by God against man. Their governing story is that un-corrupted man fell from the Garden of Reason when he partook of the forbidden fruit of religion, which now has to be purged from the world to create the Kingdom of Man on earth.
For all these millenarians and apocalypticists and Utopians, both religious and secular, the target is the West. The West is seen as an enemy not because it offers an alternative system of values, but because its promises of material comfort, individual freedom and dignity of unexceptional lives deflate all Utopian pretensions. The anti heroic, anti Utopian nature of western liberalism is the greatest enemy of religious radicals, priest, kings and collective seekers after purity and heroic salvation.
That is why the West is squarely in the sights of all who want to create utopia and are determined to remove all the obstacles it places in the way. For environmentalists, that obstacle is industrialization. For scientific materialists, it’s religion. For transnational progressives, it’s the nation. For anti imperialists, it’s American exceptionalism. For the Western intelligentsia, it’s Israel. For Islamists, it’s all the above and the entire un-Islamic world. And meantime, in all their fervor and desire for redemption and their suppression of dissent from the one revealed truth, Western progressives and radical Islamists are closer than either would like to think……