2016: Descent into the Abyss

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Near the middle of my economics examination I was stuck by terror. I was discussing the process of industrialism and economic history from the perspective of René Guénon and, to a lesser degree, Oswald Spengler, when a bolt of terrible lightning stuck me, and I was so shaken that I almost tore up my examination paper in a fury. The events of 2016 were simply a further descent into the lowest age, a deepening of the Kali Yuga. In order for you to understand my thoughts and feelings at that moment, I will explicate my own arguments for how and why certain economies amass riches.

Institutions are more significant that geography in understanding the changes in our history. I argue that institutions are founded upon culture, which is in turn founded on the supremacy of certain castes and religious doctrines. In comparing economic history with caste history I will reveal a pessimistic conclusion regarding the events of 2016.

I. Geography and Industrialisation

In answering the question of why this or that nation underwent industrialisation, it is easy to stray into the altogether different answer of how the nation industrialised. Nearly all modern students of history will recite the mantra: “History has no meaning. All history is materialistic.” In doing so, they ignore the cosmic, spiritual, and psychological forces at play through world events. It is clear that the English “canalmania” of the 1790s was a catalyst for pre-rail industry (between the period 1793-1843), but does this illuminate the reason the inclination to found industry was there in the first place?

Geographical determinists in Economics, History, and Geography argue that geography alone can explain all things. In the British case, the argument is made that she industrialised because she was coal rich. The moderate position, which appears perfectly sensible, is to assert that industrialisation was not possible without coal; however, to opine that “18th century nations without access to coal did not, generally speaking, become industrial powers” is as unprofound as writing that “18th century nations without access to the sea did not, generally speaking, become naval powers.” It is a fact so obvious that it hardly warrants mentioning.

The arrogance of the determinists is that they imagine their observation to be so original that no social or economic historian could have possibly considered it before. Their ignorance is the assumption that, because their observation is not always discussed, it is unseen or covered up by the “mainstream” (when on the high seas, a determinist would assume that the reason the ratings did not discuss buoyancy was that they did not know whether the ship floated on the waters). And their folly is that they imagine this observation to be rationale, for a universal materialist theory that can explain all of human thought, action, religion, and society from the dawn of time to the final judgement.

The argument is made that the success of the British Colonial Empire was determined by those same African lands that also determined the failure of the native populations. Could the failure of the Zulu people not be explained, even if only in part, by their language, which does not contain the words for those two abstract considerations on which civilisation rests: “time” and “obligation”? Also, in the Zulu Kingdom the warrior caste was supreme.

Like any Leftist universal theory of everything, difficult questions and facts are “acknowledged” (their implications are ignored), or become not a criticism at all but more supporting evidence for the theory: “the African lands could only benefit non-Africans because the land itself possessed the resources that, while exploitable by other civilisations, could not produce one itself. You have to go back before Western civilisation, before Greco-Roman civilisation… before, even, civilisation itself! The modern world is written in the pages of neolithic topography and plant species maps.” — it all sounds very plausible, but, in a similar way to Marxism, it simply kicks the can back so far though time that the theory’s plausibility is stretched to its limit, but then both theories are malleable.

The industrial capitalism on the cusp of the eighteenth century was the last stage of capitalism, until it wasn’t. It was often written in the early twentieth century (by Lenin, Luxembourg and others) that the communist world revolution had not already come about because nineteenth century Imperialism was the last last-stage of capitalism. It was then said the last last-stage of capitalism was twentieth century capitalism. Now the truly final last-stage, they say, is undeniably twenty-first century capitalism. The Geographical Determinists will deny that the first cause of prosperity was capitalism, or the first-first cause was Western civilisation, or that it is the Indo-Aryan language and culture, or that the first first-cause was the Neolithic Revolution. The first first-cause of English prosperity was the geography of the world fifteen thousand years ago. Marxists kick the last last-stage of capitalism up the road, and their cousins kick the first first-cause of prosperity back the other way.

II. Culture and Capital

Culture is born from religion. The success of the Europeans — to industrialise, and amass wealth — was from the fact that they actually dug the coal out of the ground and burnt it, and had the means and the will to do that. Why did they have the will and means to do that? I will compare disparate cultures to reveal a few principles.

An industrialising society presupposes the separation and conflict between God and nature. If there is divinity in the trees, rivers, and mountains, then industrialisation will be resisted. It is only after this belief is subverted that industrialism and capitalism can assume direct control. Capitalism as a force, or as a living entity, or as a form, must reign supreme and destroy all culture that opposes it. This force driving capitalism is like YHWH: jealous, vindictive, sublime; possessing a power and fury that can destroy cities, nations, and even entire Empires. Nick Land compared this force or form to Immanuel Kant‘s Transcendental Self in his essay ” Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest” (1988). There is a sentience to capitalism, a “capitalism beyond capitalism” that actuates it through a demonic providence.

The Japanese isolated themselves for centuries before the Meji Restoration and resisted Western intervention. In traditional Japanese architecture, it is hard to tell where the domain of man ends and the domain of nature begins. This is because man is nature and the divine is nature. Nature, man, and the divine flow into each other and are not put in opposition to one another. The Shintō tradition sees divinity in nature.

In Mahatma Gandhi‘s India, traditionalists fiercely resisted industrial capitalism. Gandhi himself said, “Industrialization is, I am afraid, going to be a curse for mankind.” Industrialism pollutes rivers in a land with sacred rivers (Gaṅgā’s avatarana is perpetual, and her flowing waters an extension of Śiva). Nature is sacred; the sacred, nature. The Ganges is used as something of a dumping ground now. Capitalist businessmen dump rubbish in the river, they pollute the river, and due to local climate change, the river itself is receding, and will perhaps one day dry up. The Hindu tradition sees divinity in nature.

The Native Americans (see the current protests at Standing Rock) begged their Yankee conquistadors to leave the beauty of their sacred land unspoiled, which did not harmonise with Protestant American exceptionalism and imperial/capitalist manifest destiny. If nature is wicked and base then the world can gouged out, ripped up, and mutilated. The only worry is upsetting the countryside banker, who will see and enjoy fewer pretty things and passing pleasures on his walks. If nature is sacred then clearing the rainforest is desecration, and polluting the ocean is profane.

The American Colonialists saw nature as something to be tamed, something to be exploited for their own gain. The Native Americans were nature, and nature was them. The Christian, and especially Protestant/Jewish metaphysic is that nature is wicked and base. (edit: thanks to imnobody00 for pointing out this terrible error. Emotion can cloud my reasoning) In Spengler’s Decline of the West the Christian/Western/Faustian world feeling is always vertical. In Christianity this verticality is found in Genesis, the Gospels, and the writings of Roman-Christian theologians. Nature is matter, all matter is base, the spiritual man must raise himself out of matter, overcome nature, and strive towards the divine.

In St. Bonaventure’s The Journey of the Mind into God all study of the material world is subordinated to the study of the immaterial. St. Augustine delineated the ‘City of Man’ from the ‘City of God’. The City of Man populated with those consumed by earthly pleasures of this fleeting world, and the City of God populated by those that overcome nature and the pleasures of matter, devoting their lives to the contemplation of God. The victory of the immaterial over the material, the City of God over the City of Man is inevitable to St Augustine.

There is an explicit demarcation between the divine and the earthy, the material and the immaterial, the domain of spirit and the domain of matter. The supernatural as distinct from the natural. The belief that heaven is – even if a continuation of this world – in some other sphere from our own, is opposed to the Gnostic or Eastern belief that ‘heaven’, or ‘nirvana’, is a state of being that can be experienced in our mortal lives through the divinity of the other and nature. The eternity of the moment, which is not an extension of time but a timelessness, is to be experienced in our life and not in some other state of supernatural being. The immaterial is higher and more noble that the material in the western mind, and so generally speaking the world can be gouged out, moved about, and exploited with no theological or cultural consequences. It is also worth noting that vegans, environmental activists, hippies, etc. are normally followers of some new-age philosophy or pseudo-religion which carries with it an echo of the traditional eastern belief that there is divinity in nature.

III. Caste and Capital: Monarch to Bourgeois

Now that I have laid down some groundwork and discussed the general. I will now explain how the supremacy of castes in affects the amassing of riches. All castes, except the bourgeoisie, direct existing wealth to various ends. Only the bourgeois class creates wealth, creates industry as a means to create wealth, and creates wealth as an end in itself. I will then focus on the three lower castes in England, and the United States.

In the supremacy of the Brahmanas, pre-existing wealth is directed to pursue the divine. It is used to fund the journey of the mind into God. The Church raise money through tithes, and direct their wealth in the service of God. The wealth is used to spread the good news, and secure the stability and strength of the Church. In the supremacy of the Khatriyas, pre-existing wealth is directed to pursue war. The metaphysical or artistic war is the purpose, as is the stability of the state. To expand the borders, to secure the family name, etc. Money is raised from pre-existing wealth. It is raised through taxes and by plunder. Many kings went into debt, but this indebtedness only smooths the transition to the next caste and the supremacy of the Vaishyas. Now, pre-existing wealth is directed to pursue the creation of new wealth, which then breeds newer riches and profits. Wealth is used to beget more wealth, profits are used to amass larger profits. In the supremacy of the Shûdras, the wealth created by the Vaishyas is appropriated and distributed to the masses.

The first transition of power from the Khatriyas to the Vaishyas in the anglo world was that from the monarchy to the bourgeoisie in England, the inception of which lies in the thirteenth century and Magna Carta. The English Civil war was the beginning of the transition from bourgeois on the monarchy. The Catholic monarchists tried to restore Catholic and Monarchical supremacy, but failed. The period between 1642-1688 is the English period of transition from the supremacy of the monarchy to the supremacy of the bourgeoisie.

The completion of this transition comes in the so-called “Glorious” Revolution. The Whigs in Parliament invited the Protestant William III to overthrow the rightful Catholic king, James II. This was not simply the destruction of Catholicism by Protestantism, but the destruction of the monarchy by the bourgeoisie. The significance is that now Parliament chose the monarch of England, rather than the monarch of England choosing his Parliament. William did dissolve Parliament in 1695, but re-established it soon after to be dominated by the Whigs. The Whigs had, through the Convention of 1689, decentralised power away from the monarch in the 1689 Bill of Rights. Arch-Whigs like Edmund Burke would later write that, “the Revolution was made to preserve our ancient indisputable laws and liberties, and that ancient constitution of government which is our only security for law and liberty.” And so, Parliament and the commons were finally supreme over the monarch. Whigs rejoice, and their linear history is vindicated by this revolution, but we know it is a slipping down into a lower age.

At the same time William III agreed to decentralise power, Louis XIV of France assumed direct control of the affairs of state. Louis XIV appointed ministers, his ministers did not appoint him. Industrialism occurred in England before France simply because the bourgeoisie were supreme in England centuries before France. Their revolution of 1789 was not the completion of the transition from monarch to bourgeoisie, but the beginning of that transition, which finally completed in the third Republic. This lead to the economic golden age in the minds of the bourgeoisie that were to be called Les Trente Glorieuses between (1945-1975).

The most significant economic institutional changes the Whigs brought about after the revolution of 1688 were twofold. First, the founding of the Bank of England in 1694; and secondly, the establishment of the Royal Exchange, from its reconstruction in 1689 to the act of 1697, as the world’s first modern stock exchange. These, and other institutional changes, rose out of the supremacy of Protestantism, and the supremacy of the bourgeoisie.

The English middle-class was born. They had disposable income to fuel a consumer culture, they could invest in shares; now firms had a source of demand and a source of income (raising capital from shares or receiving loans from private investors). Firms were allowed to innovate as they saw fit, hire and fire as they saw fit, and make unlimited profits. By 1700, coal as fuel cost in England cost 0.42 grams of silver per million B.T.U.s, and wood as much as 5 grams. It was only a matter of time before this new bourgeois culture stumbled upon the cost effective coal. By 1750 the country boomed with coal, cities in the North East of England began to use steam. Steam and coal not to fuel the home but to fuel industrialisation.

We return to the “canalmania” mentioned earlier. After the Grand Junction canal was opened between London and the Midlands in 1793, the area grew exponentially. middle-class bourgeois investors flocked to invest their new disposable income in canal companies and by 1813, half of all companies registered on the London Stock Exchange were canal companies.

If the English transition began with civil war and was completed by revolution, the American transition began with revolution and was completed by civil war. The transition of power from the monarch to the bourgeoisie began in their revolution. It was a Whig revolution, praised by the Arch-Whig, Burke, and others as a just cause. This transition was completed in 1865 by the destruction of the agricultural and aristocratic south by the industrial and bourgeois north. Since this time, America has been dominated by the bourgeoisie.

IV. The Final Transition: Bourgeois to Slave

The final transition is that from the supremacy of the Vaishyas to the supremacy of the Shûdras. In Western Europe this found its inception in Socialism of all forms. The desire of the nineteenth century Socialists was to distribute the wealth of the bourgeoisie to the masses.

In England this cultural transition is evident in the reform act of 1832, universal suffrage, and mass democracy. Power is further decentralised from the bourgeoisie to the masses. Similar events are found in American history in the early twentieth century with the democratisation of the second chamber.

The principle of the transition from bourgeoisie is the appropriation of the means of production and the wealth owned by the bourgeoisie, and the distribution of it to the masses. Socialism attempted to do this in Russia, but the failure was that there was no bourgeoisie! they wanted to move from monarch to slave in one step. This is why there was so much turbulence over the twentieth century, and the pure Marxist theoretician Georgi Plekhanov predicted the failure of the Bolshevik Revolution for this very reason.

Bennito Mussolini was a Socialist before he was a fascist. Indeed, almost every fascist thinker and theoretician was a Socialist. They were anarcho-syndicalists and despised the northern “bourgeois” nations of England, America, and Germany. They believed that these countries controlled global wealth and the global means of production. The anarcho-syndicalists wanted to seize the global means of production and distribute global wealth from the bourgeois nations to the underdeveloped nations including Italy. This is essentially the same as Third World Communism, and like Third World Communists such as Mao and Pol Pot, Mussolini realised that given the failure of the Bolshevik revolution, his movement must move from anarcho-syndicalism into national-syndicalism. Italy could only industrialise and seize the global means of production if the people grouped together, not by class solidarity, but by national solidarity.

In “Kant, Capital, and the Prohibition of Incest,” Nick Land describes Nationalism as the desire of the mass of a nation to seize the global means of production. Nationalism is the desire to appropriate the wealth produced by the international bourgeoisie and is no different in this respect to Socialism.

V. Descent into the Abyss

What has been the appeal of Trump and Farage to the masses? Both have come from the bourgeoisie and have railed against the international bourgeoisie, calling on the mass to seize the global means of production and distribute the wealth the bourgeoisie created. Did not Karl Marx himself predict this? That in late stage capitalism, members of the bourgeoisie would turn class traitor and distribute the wealth of their class to the masses?

What is this rising tide of populism and nationalism, a restoration? No! a descent into the abyss. I once admired Trump, and thought that perhaps he could be at least the first rung on the ladder to restoration. How foolish I was. Nationalism, populism, and socialism are all attempts by the Shûdras to assert supremacy over the Vaishyas. To distribute the wealth created by the bourgeoisie to the masses. Differences concerning which mass are more deserving: Americans, Whites, Proletarians, etc. are arbitrary (the “white race” is the white nationalist’s “international proletariat”). The principle remains that this is a transition into a lower caste, into deeper depths, into the final age of man.

Will I, in my old age and infirmity, decry the next decade as the completion of the transition from the Vaishyas to the Shûdras? Is 2016 the year the ground swallows us up and we fall deeper into the lowest age?

There can be a restoration, but 2016 has not been a move towards it. There is, there must be, a path to restoration.

This restoration is only possible in you. You must restore the noble virtues to reign supreme over yourself. You must begin and end with you; your feelings, your struggle, your spiritual journey matter more than the caprice of the masses. You can only help others after you have helped yourself. Turn away from the elevation of political figures; they will not save you, they will only lead you into despair. The noble will find no home in populism; the hopeful, no consolation.

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Alexander

Beethoven, Bruckner, and Wagner are my philosophers. I am a (busy) student interested in economics and the arts. My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm_fN39CwOHBgt2hlMmX_jQ

30 thoughts on “2016: Descent into the Abyss

  1. Of course this is the case. History does not go backwards, it circulates. There is only one direction we are heading and it is DOWN. It would be ridiculous to think that after Trump, perhaps someone better might follow, and then someone even better. This misunderstands what is wrong with America. Populism in the contemporary era is another iteration of ‘Liberalism growing a thorn in its own side’. Similar in a way to Communism, populism threatens the established Cathdral, and may be a driving factor in its ultimate dissolution (where Communism failed). This is its tangible benefit. It is in the Landian sense, ‘accelerationist’.

    The Reign of Quantity ends as Sodom and Gomorrah ended, and it would be cruel to subject a single generation more than necessary to its corruption. The decline doesn’t care whether you enjoy it or not, it’s going to decline anyway.

      1. You can circulate down:

        A point at 90 degrees north (or up) from the origin of a circle rotates counter-clockwise around the circumference, at each change in position moving closer south (or down) until it reaches 270 degrees, from which point it begins to move up, closer north.

        His metaphor analogises the human position in time to a point on a circle; sometimes revolving up and sometimes revolving down.

        ‘Revolution’ in the political sense is of course a homonym of the geometrical description of circular change.

        1. One can circle or rotate around a centre point (in a circle or a sphere, 2D/3D context), or even spiral around within a sphere (a 3D context). But unless the space outside of a circle is defined by a point of perspective, then up, down, or ‘north’ are simply arbitrary, or abstract, points of reference to whomever is viewing the circle. In of itself there is no up or down outside or in a circle. Clockwise and anticlockwise, left and right, are valid options with which to describe the direction of movement around a circle, but again one would have to set a clear point of reference outside of the circle to establish this perspective.

          I understand the analogy very well sir, I’m just making a very minor point regarding utility of language within a purely abstract context.

          1. It is an objective geometric (non physical) fact that two points rotating around a circle in the same direction can posses opposite vectors which we can define as ‘up’ and ‘down’. This property is also possessed by a square but not a triangle or a line.

            A circle is useful for the metaphor because it has mechanical connotations are easy to mentally associate with. A square would be logically acceptable though.

            If you were making a point about the utility of language then what is said point? You conceded that you understood the metaphor and thus that the language functions well but still cluttered the comment section with useless and wrong pedantry.

            A moderator should delete all these comments because they are absolutely unrelated to the article.

            1. So you got my technical point then.

              I believe that the language conveyed the point in a very rough, colloquial fashion. But if one were being technically correct, or precise, then the movement described would be improper. In the history of civilization, it is best to speak of peaks and troughs, zeniths and nadirs, or high point/low point, etc..

              1. “…best to speak of peaks and troughs … ” … like the graph plotted by the rotation of a point around a circle; a sine curve.

                … I’m only being facetious but you walked right into that one.

                Anyway we have talked to much about something so trivial.

                Goodnight.

  2. “If nature is wicked and base, as it is in the Christian tradition […] The Christian, and especially Protestant/Jewish metaphysic is that nature is wicked and base. […] In Christianity this is found in Genesis, the Gospels, and the writings of Roman-Christian theologians. ”

    Sorry, but that’s not Christianity. That’s gnosticism, where the spirit is good and matter is the wicked. It’s also the opinion of Plato and other Greek philosophers, but not Christianity.

    Christianity assumes that the world is ultimately good. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1: 31). ” He hath made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected” (1 Timothy 4 4). This is why I was astonished when you said the Genesis and the Gospels say that nature is wicked. Maybe you could provide a quote.

    In Christianity, when God wants to save the world, He assumes a material form, Jesucrist, who is God and man, who eats, drinks and shits. So the material is not wicked at all. When Jesus resurrects, He has a body and it is not a pure spirit. After resurrection, He says to the apostles: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.” (Luke 24, 39-40). Then He eats fish to prove it.

    In addition, the ultimate hope of Christians is to be resurrected like Jesus. In the resurrection, the believers will have a body and will live in a material world (“the New Earth”).

    “Nature is matter, all matter is base, the spiritual man must raise himself out of matter, overcome nature, and strive towards the divine. There is an explicit demarcation between the divine and the earthy, the material and the immaterial, the domain of spirit and the domain of matter. The immaterial is higher and more noble that the material […]”

    False again. It’s not that the Christian strives to raise himself out of matter and strive to the inmaterial. The material is ultimately good but can be misused. The same way, the immaterial is ultimately good but can be misused. So there are sins of the matter and the spirit. Sins of the matter are lust, gluttony… Sins of the spirit are pride, rebellion, heresy… The sins of the spirit are the worse. As you see, very different from the dualist gnosticism you imagine Christianity to be.

    I think you are trying to conflate Christianity with capitalism. I don’t know if this is true (capitalism could be caused by other causes) and, if it’s true, I don’t know the rationale behind that. But I know your explanation does not make any sense.

    1. ‘Sorry, but that’s not Christianity. That’s gnosticism, where the spirit is good and matter is the wicked. It’s also the opinion of Plato and other Greek philosophers, but not Christianity’.

      Sorry old boy, but that’s demonstrably wrong. Try this one to begin with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xIZfs5xBBc (esp. 4:12-9:18, personally I’d listen to the whole thing as it’s quite interesting) -there’s some basic, yet useful things to consider here on the topic of religious approaches to the issue of matter.

        1. I’m sorry, but he did have a masters degree in theology, and knew a few things about world religion. I don’t advocate everything he said, and he certainly became more of a hippy as he got older, but the points made in that video excerpt serve as a good base to correct the errors made in the extract I cited.

  3. than geography*

    Also:
    “The American Colonialists saw nature as something to be tamed, something to be exploited for their own gain. The Native Americans were nature, and nature was them. The Christian, and especially Protestant/Jewish metaphysic is that nature is wicked and base. In Spengler’s Decline of the West the Christian/Western/Faustian world feeling is always vertical. In Christianity this is found in Genesis, the Gospels, and the writings of Roman-Christian theologians. Nature is matter, all matter is base, the spiritual man must raise himself out of matter, overcome nature, and strive towards the divine. There is an explicit demarcation between the divine and the earthy, the material and the immaterial, the domain of spirit and the domain of matter. The immaterial is higher and more noble that the material, and so generally speaking the world can be gouged out, moved about, and exploited with no theological or cultural consequences. It is also worth noting that vegans, environmental activists, hippies, etc. are normally followers of some new-age philosophy or pseudo-religion which carries with it an echo of the traditional eastern belief that there is divinity in nature.”

    I think you completely ignore sacramental theology. The whole point of sacramental theology is to reconcile the two. Ever since Plato and the discovery of metaphysics there has been a need to reconcile metaphysics with physics. Platonism is especially conscious of this, being the most developed philosophy of antiquity, and as it developed it become increasingly more religious and sacramental (or theurgical. Augustine says what the pagans called theurgy, Christians call sacraments). Since Plotinus it was very clear intellect had to be reconciled with the material, and hence one gets Iamblichus and Proclus as a reaction to the pure intellectualism of Plotinus. Christianity was, in antiquity, basically this late stage of Platonism in its most intense form and sacramental or theurgical form. Thomas Aquinas in his later years perfectly understood pagan neoplatonism and critiqued it (through mostly his knowledge of the Liber de Causis, which he drew from extensively, thinking, at first, it was Aristotle). I really think Spengler had a bad grasp on neoplatonism and its Christian developments, because until recently almost no light had been shone particularly on Proclus and Iamblichus and what they meant and the reception of these men by Pseudo-Dionysos and the Christian religion at large. This was mostly due to the counter-reformation stupor that the Western Church was stuck in, and the general tendency of the Protestants to be as ignorant as workably possible.The Christian view in antiquity is just not at all how you put it. It was primarily sacramental, meaning that it reconciled the outward with the inward. The sacrament is an outward sign of an inward reality. The point of it is to reconcile the outward to the inward, to move outward, inward, and then upward — not as Plotinus and the Protestants would have it — inward and upward. There is a stepped skipped, which Iamblichus clearly saw, and which was received by the Christians and furthered developed. The problem is, and always was, Protestantism. Plotinus’ ambiguities effect no one because his One is a serene master. The Lord, however, removed from the Temple, removed from Sacrifice, removed from various sacramental rites, is a cruel master as you say, and a domineering one.

  4. Augustine had an enormous influence on the nascent Church. It is well known that his earlier Manicheanism stayed with him mto some extent, even after his views evolved into Platonism and ultimately Christianity. Consequently, we can see that medieval Catholicism had dualist elements. Nevertheless, I agree with John that Christianty is not fundamentally Manichean; the Incarnation represents the intersection and union of Heaven and Earth. Also, one mustn’t forget that classical theism is a kind of weak panentheism in that God is the source of Creation at every instant in the present moment. So even though Christianty does not regard the manifest order as Divine, it does see an extremely intimate relationship between Creator and created- the world being a creative expression of Who God is.

    1. yes, and Augustine also wrote that people love their opinions not because they’re true but because they’re theirs. WCR believes in vincit omnia veritas, so always comment your ideas.

  5. Alexander,

    Do you think that Christianity is compatible with what Guenon and the Perennialst school call the transcendent unity of religions?

  6. I’m with you.
    For me, there is an elegance and beauty to the Advaitic-Perennialist “solution” to the problem of the plurality of Revelations. But, in the final analysis, I am not convinced that Christian theism can be reconciled to the unqualified nondualism defended by Guenon-Schuonian Traditionalists.

  7. Alex, you’re being much too pessimistic at the end. We must always have hope. We are not necessarily further away from a restoration by going “down the ladder.” Sometimes one has to go down to go up — think of Dante. There is no resurrection without the death on the cross.

  8. Alexander, a religion and a culture does not appear ex nihilo. It has a grounding in a particular material context. If that material context changes then so will the religion and so will the culture. One has only to look at the Christianity that is practiced today and contrast it with the Christianity that was practiced by our forefathers to accept the manifestly obvious proposition that profound technological change has wrought profound theological change. If old religious teachings and cultural practices prove to be obsolete or even untenable amidst new material circumstances then those teachings and practices might be compromised upon or even cast aside entirely. So to place the foundations of your historiography on religious and cultural practices is a bit like the parable of placing one’s house on sinking sand.

    All of this is not to say that religion, culture, and even language doesn’t have any impact on the actions of a people or of a civilization. Of course it does. Rather, it is to say that there is a constant interplay between these things and the material context; one affects the other, and the other affects the one. Consider this quote from your essay:

    “The Native Americans (see the current protests at Standing Rock) begged their Yankee conquistadors to leave the beauty of their sacred land unspoiled, which did not harmonise with Protestant American exceptionalism and imperial/capitalist manifest destiny. If nature is wicked and base then the world can gouged out, ripped up, and mutilated. The only worry is upsetting the countryside banker, who will see and enjoy fewer pretty things and passing pleasures on his walks. If nature is sacred then clearing the rainforest is desecration, and polluting the ocean is profane.”

    On a first reading this sounds plausible enough. There can be no doubt about the fact that the Amerindian pagans attributed far more divinity to nature than their European Christian counterparts. But to what extent did this belief in the divinity of nature actually prevent the Amerindians from altering their environment? Was the “sacred land” actually kept “unspoiled” like in the Rousseauian fantasy of the noble savage? Consider for instance the Amerindian use of fire:

    “The modification of the American continent by fire at the hands of “Indigenous people” was the result of repeated, controlled, surface burns on a cycle of one to three years, broken by occasional holocausts from escape fires and periodic conflagrations during times of drought. Even under ideal circumstances, accidents occurred: signal fires escaped and campfires spread, with the result that valuable range was untimely scorched, buffalo driven away, and villages threatened. Burned corpses on the prairie were far from rare. So extensive were the cumulative effects of these modifications that it may be said that the general consequence of the Indian occupation of the New World was to replace forested land with grassland or savanna, or, where the forest persisted, to open it up and free it from underbrush. Most of the impenetrable woods encountered by explorers were in bogs or swamps from which fire was excluded; naturally drained landscape was nearly everywhere burned. Conversely, almost wherever the European went, forests followed. The Great American Forest may be more a product of settlement than a victim of it.”

    Or consider the Amerindian role in the decimation of the Buffalo population, an animal they considered “sacred”:

    “According to historian Pekka Hämäläinen, a few Native American tribes also partly contributed to the collapse of the bison in the southern Plains. By the 1830s the Comanche and their allies on the southern plains were killing about 280,000 bison a year, which was near the limit of sustainability for that region. Firearms and horses, along with a growing export market for buffalo robes and bison meat had resulted in larger and larger numbers of bison killed each year.”

    What we see here are two instances in which religious beliefs clashed with the material context of the Amerindian’s everyday life, and in which a belief in the divinity of nature was not sufficient in preventing the destruction of nature on a massive scale. Moreover, a change in this material context (the introduction of firearms and horses) had the effect of making the Amerindians compromise on their belief in the sanctity of the Buffalo as an animal worthy of preservation. We can even look at a country like Bhutan in which the dominant Buddhist religion mandates a strong respect for the environment, and in which the Buddhist government strives to take the environment into account whenever a policy decision is being considered, but in which certain compromises are made nevertheless to accommodate modernization:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/environment-bhutan-dolomite-env-dc-idUSPAR54656020070606

    Conversely, the “Yankee conquistadors” with their “Protestant American exceptionalism and imperial/capitalist manifest destiny” and with their belief that “nature is wicked and base” and that “the world can [be] gouged out, ripped up, and mutilated” created the first national park in the world, were instrumental in the creation of the conservationist and environmental movements, and are among the most vocal opponents of deforestation and ocean pollution in the world today.

    This cultural shift happened, again, because of a change in the material context of America. The advent of 19th century Romanticism in America, as exemplified by men like Thoreau and Muir, heightened people’s aesthetic appreciation for nature. Furthermore, the loss of forests that resulted from the logging activity of European settlers gave a great sense of urgency to the cause of conservationism. These two factors complemented the previous cultural assumption that nature was only something to be made use of for the maintenance and betterment of civilization with the belief that nature had inherent beauty and value in its own right and should be protected for that reason.

  9. I’m not sure if this post was supposed to be about economics, or philosophy.

    The Industrial Revolution began in Western Europe–actually Northern, was probably dud to it being the first region to have questioned the source of all power. Europe was a veritable backwater, as compared to many other areas. Conventional wisdom of the day–as handed down by the Kings, Potentates, etc.–declared that all power came from the king, et all, and that “God” had given it.

    When Europeans began to question that authority, the rise of people like Galileo began to question if, indeed, the Earth was the center of the universe, which is similar to questioning god having given all power to the kings. That gave way to Enlightenment, Discovery, Exploration, etc.

    In time, while Southern Europe, corporations were formed under the power of the kings, who expected special privileges, and sometimes bankrupting them. To the North, Stock Companies were formed–such as the East India Company–and since the kings couldn’t use them as there own private piggy bank, that’s where the investment cash flows went–to the North, and not to the South!

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