The intentionality of consciousness toward objects would not in itself lead to fallacious images of reality if man’s participation were automatic, producing in consciousness correct images of reality and nothing beyond that. Consciousness has a dimension of freedom, however, as it designs its images of reality. In this dimension are found such disparate phenomena as … private worldviews of the liberal bourgeois, and constructions of ideological systems. Within this wide range of problems we are here directly concerned only with the possibility of the separation of form and contents of reality, for it is in separation that the phenomena of the loss of reality originate.Eric Voegelin, “What is Political Reality?”
Many Americans, especially politicians, suffer from a form of insanity. They continue to turn a blind eye to the military preparations of Russia and China. These preparations should be front and center, but they are not. The attentive citizen glimpses the danger out of the corner of one eye, now and again. A series of “little” warnings trickle in from abroad. For example: “Japanese official warns U.S. of potential surprise attack on Hawaii – from Russia and China.” More alarming than this, a source in Ukraine (which I will not name) says that Russia’s military has secretly agreed on a price for Mexican cartels to smuggle Russian Spetsnaz commandos across the U.S.-Mexican border. This, of course, is consistent with the following Russian war preparations: “Russian jets practice bombing enemy ships days after threatening to sink HMS Defender amid NATO war games” and “Putin approves new National Security Strategy preparing Russian economy for war.”
Going back to May 8, we read the headline: “China was preparing for a Third World War with biological weapons – including coronavirus – SIX years ago, according to dossier produced by the People’s Liberation Army in 2015 and uncovered by the U.S. State Department.” In early May, according to information acquired from a Hong Kong businessman with contacts in Beijing, the Chinese Communist leadership has been expecting war with the United States within “months” – not years. As if to confirm this information, China is planning for mass conscriptions and for the return of demobilized veterans to active duty. As if to blame the behind-hand United States for all these Russian and Chinese war preparations, Russian news sources are attempting to blame America: See, especially, “US Actively Prepares for War with Russia” | New Eastern Outlook (journal-neo.org).
For those who have been paying close attention, none of this is news. China and Russia were making small telltale war preparations twenty-two years ago. Almost nobody noticed. A thoughtful observer might have understood (back then) the intent behind China’s longstanding stockpiling of gold, or Russia’s extensive underground Urals construction program during the 1990s, or China’s growing interest in places like Panama, the Strait of Malacca and the Cape of Good Hope. Strategy is not a difficult subject if you are willing to dispense with liberal illusions (i.e., belief in the “end of history”) or conservative illusions (“Reagan won the Cold War”). Early indications of Russia’s long-planned military buildup were seen in the testing of new prototype weapons during the Second Chechen War. But who bothered to notice?
Today, we are confronted with a sudden shift in the balance of power. Sadly, this is a fact that the American public has yet to absorb. There has been a massive Russian-Chinese military buildup for many years. We have not matched this build up. We do not seem interested in acknowledging it. The Russians have obtained a strong qualitative edge. The Chinese have increased their forces in quantity and quality. On its side, the United States is unready. Europe is also unready. Australia is showing courage, but cannot stand alone. Japan is trying to fill the gap, but must rely on America. India is ready to join with us. Through all this, despite significant changes in the strategic balance, America’s leaders talk and act as if America is still number one. They are still fixated by the same misbegotten notions, fooled by the same disinformation themes that have plagued our political discourse since the 1960s. To speak plainly, Americans are not living in reality.
Anyone who watched the Democratic Party presidential debates of last year would not know there was a threat from Russia and China. All these presidential hopefuls, from the left side of the spectrum, told the country that the main threat to America was from global warming and Donald Trump. This kind of thinking is literally insane. But tens of millions of Americans bought into this nonsense. Most of the news media fed into it – with the exception of Fox News. After the election, many who thought differently were kicked off Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.com. The call for outright censorship is growing.
We now find ourselves in a ridiculous situation. We live in the most advanced technological society the world has ever seen. We have machines that can do almost everything for us. We have “science” to provide answers. Despite all these advantages we have lost touch with reality. In one of Dr. Carl Jung’s later works, The Undiscovered Self, the old psychiatrist pointed to a growing rift between what modern man thinks and what is real. Linking this problem to a decline in religious belief, Jung warned, “You can always take away man’s gods, but only to give him others in return.” [P. 36]
What does the taking away of the gods have to do with America’s break from reality? As it happens, human beings relate to reality through a big picture narrative that often goes back to Sunday school. Whether we believe in God or not, we tend to believe in something that is the equivalent of God; something that serves the same function as God within the psyche. That something might be very dysfunctional – like believing that you yourself are God.
According to Eric Voegelin and Carl Jung, our present break with political reality owes everything to what Voegelin called “the murder of God” and the assumption of God’s office by totalitarian politicians. As everyone can see, the old Christian teaching has declined. The new secular teaching has taken over. Jung thought the secular psyche was prone to neuroticism. In fact, the secular mind, turning to politics for its ultimate salvation, is headed for a total break with reality; for ultimate salvation can only be spiritual. This veil of tears, this world of “solid” objects and treacherous politicians, has nothing of final salvation in it. Salvation belongs to a non-material dispensation; that is, to the realm of spirit. There is no such thing as worldly salvation except when we are momentarily taken out of danger. Yet danger always returns, and death remains inevitable. The madness of today’s politicians thus appears: Believing there is a secular path to salvation, their policies betray the soul as it leads mankind down a false path, toward false understandings. The spiritual mechanism of man’s psyche is then perverted, looking for God in all the wrong places; that is, in politics – seeking salvation in a “socialist revolution” or the “liberal welfare state” or by transforming one’s tribe into the “the master race.”
These are paths to madness, to mass murder and more. If there is no divine order, if there is no God, then man is alone in the universe. In that event, the world of cause and effect is all that is. How, then, do we escape from the absurdity of existence? The only remaining solution is “the State.” Man becomes God through the mechanism of the State. And it is through state power – through the revolutionary seizure of power – that the Marxists (and other revolutionaries) hope to save mankind. In other words, the Marxist becomes Jesus Christ. Only he is not the one who is crucified. Mankind as a whole is crucified.
The former communist espionage courier, Whittaker Chambers, famously wrote that communism “is not simply a vicious plot hatched by wicked men in a sub-cellar. It is not just the writings of Marx and Lenin … the Politburo, the labor theory of value, the theory of the general strike, the Red Army, secret police, labor camps, [or] underground conspiracy….” No. These, he warned, are merely “expressions of Communism, but they are not what Communism is about.” [P. 8]
Chambers then quoted Marx’s complaint that philosophers merely explained the world; the point is to change the world. Marx wanted to remake the universe (for which human society serves as an analog). One might say, in Marx’s view, God did not create the universe; rather the universe was in the process of creating God out of man.
Whittaker Chambers had a more Biblical way of explaining this. Communism, he said, is man’s second-oldest faith: “Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: ‘Ye shall be as Gods.’ It is the great alternative faith of mankind.” Chambers added, “It is the vision of man’s mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world. It is the vision of man’s liberated mind, by the sole force of rational intelligence, redirecting man’s destiny and reorganizing man’s life and world.”
But here is the problem: Man’s intelligence is not up to the task. Man cannot become the “creative intelligence of the world.” He cannot remake creation or remake himself. He does not possess the necessary wisdom to play God. Any attempt at such a project is bound to produce fatalities. It is bound to draw man into megalomania – a form of madness brought on by the lust for power. As Othello reacted to the demonic Iago at the end Shakespeare’s play, Carl Jung might have reacted to Marx:
I look down towards his feet; but that’s a fable.
If that thou be’st a devil, I cannot kill thee
The devil, of course, has no feet but cloven hoofs. And Karl Marx, like the villain Iago, was never killed off. Everyone said Marxism died, but it is still in the world, laughing at us. Marx’s ideology, his evil spirit, walks the land. The pious believers in Christ, in God, have not been able to defeat Karl Marx – the demidevil, the antichrist, the breaker of nations. Yes, we lied to ourselves on that score. Communism is not dead.
In 1957 Jung wrote: “Hence, it is quite natural that with the triumph of the Goddess of Reason a general neuroticizing of modern man should set in, a dissociation of personality analogous to the splitting of the world today by the Iron curtain. This boundary line bristling with barbed wire runs through the psyche of modern man, no matter on which side he lives. And just as the typical neurotic is unconscious of his shadow side, so the normal individual, like the neurotic, sees his shadow in his neighbor or in the man beyond the great divide. It has even become a political and social duty to apostrophize the capitalism of the one and the communism of the other as the very devil, so as to fascinate the outward eye and prevent it from looking within.”
Marx said the capitalists were devils. Conservatives and Christians identifed Marx as the devil. Yet the demonomania of modernity has spread to both camps. Of course, there are sincere “humanitarian” socialists, and there are sincere Christians. Yet the mania for power on both sides infects the whole. Just as there are self-aggrandizing socialists, there have been and there will continue to be self-aggrandizing patriots and pious frauds. God made man in His image and “holy” imposters have been trying to return the favor ever since. Indeed, they would have God for their creature, serving as His ventriloquists – by the arts of puppetry.
What we now have is madness on the left and madness on the right. How can humanity escape? The public’s understanding is now so muddled that the whole of humanity has lost its bearings. If the public is not being duped by the Marxists, they are nonetheless ready to vomit up yesterday’s swill about the “banksters,” or the “Illuminati,” or the “Jews” – an ill-digested regurgitation of conspiracy theories that trace every evil deed back to the Rothschilds or the Bilderbergers or to reptiles from Zeta Reticuli. But the common problem, the central problem of the age, is a deficit of soul – and a consequent deficit of reality.
Eric Voegelin wrote about this “loss of reality” in the sphere of politics. But not only in the sphere of politics. After all, we are told that a girl is not a girl and a boy is not a boy; that each can decide to be the other on a whim. Having inverted all identity, have elevated the inferior on a pedestal of envy, the plan is now to breach the walls of a weakened civilization – if only to level that civilization to the ground. And that is exactly where we are headed.
When we hear politicians speak of global warming (or climate change), we are hearing madness. When we hear politicians say that everyone should be vaccinated against COVID-19, even those who have natural immunity, we are hearing madness. When we hear talk of “the end of history” and “the end of the Cold War,” once again, we are hearing something that is completely nuts. But the politicians who have uttered these slogans really do believe in what they are saying. And this is catching up with us. Today’s “loss of reality” in the sphere of politics is going to cause millions of deaths.
A few weeks ago, I had an unpleasant exchange with a retired CIA officer who gasped in outrage when I referred to communism as a problem. “Communism?!” He said with an incredulous ring. “What is communism? Communism is nothing!” Well, I replied, you may think that; but try telling it to the people in China who are living under it. “China is capitalist,” was his mad reply, as if communist-led countries would never use money or engage in trade to advance their schemes. China, therefore, could not be communist in his view.
This former CIA official had confused the final achievement of a communist society, which Marx said would occur only after a successful world revolution, with a society ruled by communists who were trying to bring about that world revolution. In other words, he apparently knew nothing about communist theory, communist objectives, or communist methods of organization. Looking out at the broad world, he did not see a communist threat to America – a threat centered in Beijing and Moscow, a threat from Americans who were following the program of the Communist Party. He only saw corrupt domestic politicians. That, he said, was our only problem. In other words, he had already suffered from a catastrophic “loss of reality.” He could not see the larger problem our civilization faces, and so he could not see reality. A solitary fact is not reality. On its own, it means absolutely nothing. Truth and its meaning require a connection between fact and reality as a whole. If one has no sense of the latter, one cannot make use of the former.
This is the ground of madness: to have only facts and no clue about the larger reality. This is called “not seeing the forest for the trees.” Only by seeing the big picture can we properly grasp the significance of today’s headlines. But who is paying attention? Most of our people have no idea how dangerous the situation has become. Citizens everywhere have long been persuaded by a half century of lies, disinformation, and false narratives. The political reality of the average citizen is no reality at all. What is written on this website, for example, must appear fantastical to the average American. How could some outlier – outside the mainstream media, outside the government – present insights and truths that the mainstream media have missed?
Here is what I say. The mainstream media is mad. Its themes are crazy. Please understand what has happened and what is to come: Our society, our government, our culture, our leaders, were deceived by their enemy. And even now, almost nobody has figured it out. How did the communists fool everyone? They made up a story about communism going away, about the Cold War being over. But it was not over. Communism went underground and now, for those who are beginning to notice, the trap is visibly closing – from Antifa and Black Lives Matter burning buildings and looting stores, to Russia and China openly preparing for military strikes. Furthermore, we have been attacked by a Chinese biological weapon. We have a corrupt leftist president who was elected by fraud. We have a Justice Department that will not investigate crimes committed by Marxists.
Many readers will be incredulous. America could not have been fooled, they say. America could not have been tricked. The country is not stupid, after all. Americans have eyes. We read the press. We watch TV. But I say, there are none so blind as those that will not see. The facts have always been there. We just did not want to admit them.
The Austrian-born political scientist, Eric Voegelin (1901-1984), fled to America following Austria’s absorption into Hitler’s Reich in 1938. Being born of a Lutheran father and Roman Catholic mother, Voegelin was raised as a Lutheran and saw with what ease the Nazis corrupted mainstream Lutherans and Catholics. This led Voegelin to the realization that Christendom is not altogether Christian. Voegelin’s later indifference toward institutional Christianity derived, according to Eugene Webb, “from disappointing experiences with its representatives.” Living in Vienna during the 1930s, Voegelin found that “all the clergy he knew except one were Nazis, and his contacts with clergy in Eastern and Western Europe since the war seems to him to indicate a similarly opportunistic attitude on their part toward the communist powers.”
This is a dismal report, but an important part of the larger picture. Consider the Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, whose final years were taken up in an attack on the Church of Denmark – written out under the title, Attack Upon Christendom – in which he called the institutional church “a knavish trick.” The Church of Denmark, he explained, no more resembled the Christianity of the New Testament than “a square resembles a circle.” Truth is something that belongs to the spirit, to the soul. It does not belong to an institution. It is does not belong to the State, or to the minions of the State; or to those who chase after money. That which is merely plausible, readily understood and profitable, is not truth.
Kierkegaard objected that “the eternal is not a thing which can be had regardless of the way in which it is acquired.” His point being, “The eternal is acquired … in the difficult way which Christ indicated by the words: ‘Narrow is the gate and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.’”
Voegelin’s concept of “political reality” is spiritually grounded, resting outside of institutional understandings and institutional “creatures.” Therefore, the path to “political reality” is also narrow. The truth about politics is not upheld by political parties, state institutions or schools of political science. The gate of truth is a narrow one, and few are they that find it. One might ask why any institution, given what institutions are, should value the truth above what is expedient for its administrators. The sad answer is, no institution can be found that values the truth for its own sake; for institutions and the creatures within them value only what immediately serves their interests. And as we all know, lying often serves such interests more readily than the truth.
People everywhere want the truth to be simple, so they can claim to understand it. People everywhere want the truth to flatter their own prejudices, so they can feel good about it. People everywhere expect the truth to be profitable, so they can make money from it. Yet the truth is none of the above. You want the truth? – then pick up your cross.
We all like to imagine we are on the side of truth. Look at the Germans in 1939. They thought they were justified in following Hitler. And Nazi Germany was a churchgoing nation. The Germans, in fact, thought of themselves as “decent.” But there was something amiss in this decency. There was something corrupt in it. The same is true of America’s decency today. I am not saying that America is a Nazi country. No. But America is inwardly corrupt – on the right and on the left. This is not to say that other countries are better. Merely, all of humanity – especially in these modern times – suffers from a kind of degeneracy, and there is no use being defensive about it.
– To quote that line again: “Narrow is the gate and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.” Our civilization is collapsing because we suffer from a “loss of reality.” Our civilization is collapsing because we have lost our way. We are caught in a net of lies because we prefer lies. Richard Weaver was correct when he blasted modern skepticism regarding objective goodness, truth and beauty. We are not concerned with truth, he wrote. We are not focused on goodness. Our loss of reality is doubly accounted for here; for those who do not care about the truth might well be driven to madness by a readiness to embrace lies; and those who care not for goodness, by nature, succumb to that special madness called “evil.”
Even the pagan philosopher, Julius Evola, wrote that “a transcendental realism” is the basis of all civilizations – Christian and pagan. Only today, under secular society, we deny that transcendental realism is possible. According to ancient Sanskrit texts, the era we are now living in was foretold as a “dark age” in which spiritual truth would be eclipsed by mechanical skill and technical knowledge. This age was then described as one of “falsehood, evil, or unreality.” Here, again, we encounter Voegelin’s theme – that we suffer from “loss of reality.” And here is the root cause of modern totalitarianism.
The greatest darkness, according to Voegelin, comes from those who claim absolute knowledge – who talk of “absolute proof” of things that cannot be known. Voegelin referred to such people as “gnostics” (small g). These include the chiliastic true believers of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, who established false messianic political movements “in terms of the Judeo-Christian apocalypse.” These were fanatical communistic sects – precursors to Marxian communism – as described by Igor Shafarevich in his magnificent book, The Socialist Phenomenon.
In his introduction to Shafarevich’s book, Aleksandr Solzehnitsyn explained that “no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach.” In other words, socialism is a reaction against the harsh realities of the world. Voegelin wrote, “The soul’s rebellion against the order of the cosmos, hatred of the gods, and the revolt of the Titans” was known to the ancient Greeks. We have, in our Christian teachings, the story of Satan’s rebellion against God. This is what Marxism represents. It is the old story of rebellion. This is what totalitarianism signifies. According to Voegelin, the totalitarians who claim “absolute” knowledge must also claim “absolute power” in their “revolt against God.” The whole process is advanced by a series of lies. Nothing here opens the soul to wisdom, but to “persistence in the deception, where revolt against God is revealed to be its motive and purpose.”
It is bizarre, of course, that atheists should want to assume God’s office. But as Jung said, “You can always take away man’s gods, but only to give him others in return.” The new gods, of course, are the builders of man’s communist future. They want to be God, says Voegelin, “for inscrutable reasons.” But here I turn to Kierkegaard’s book, The Sickness Unto Death. The whole problem can be resolved, suggests Kierkegaard, when we realize that the atheist has committed the “sin of despair”; for this is the opposite of faith and the origin of what Kierkegaard called “intensified defiance: sin as the intensification of despair.” Here is the ultimate error – the error which permeates modernity. It is at the core of the revolutionary’s being. It wills to be itself “out of spite,” says Kierkegaard. It adheres “out of malice.”
Kierkegaard further relates: “Rebelling against all existence, it feels it has obtained evidence against [existence], against its goodness. The person in despair believes that he himself is the evidence, and that is what he wants to be … in order to protect against all existence….”
Those who have seen the Marxist revolutionary up close can testify to the reality of Marxist despair. Voegelin, of course, is correct in saying that the revolutionary’s self-deception involves the pretense of striving for a superhuman ideal. In truth, the revolutionary is not forward-looking. He is not spiritually contented or happy. He is self-pitying. According to Voegelin, Nietzsche’s Dionysian dance is therefore a mask. His “superman” is a fraud. The ideal of the Soviet man was also a fraud. All of Marx’s lies, and Lenin’s lies, and all the socialist lies are masks behind which sits black despair. The will to power, the craving for political power by way of revolution, is merely a narcotic used to chase away this despair.
Why are they so despairing? Why have they “lost reality”? Because these people have no faith, no real interest in the truth, and are possessed by what Voegelin called a “demonic mendacity.” It is an interlocking web of self-deceit, rooted in spiritual arrogance. Consequently, these people are in need of psychiatric medications. Depression is a correlate of their narcissism and their psychopathy. From these people we are not going to hear the stoical refrain of the ancient philosophers; namely, that philosophy is above fate, uncorrupted by desire or self-delusion. The many fine gifts of our despairing intellectuals are lost to the poor sportsmanship of these jilted “lovers of humanity.” What did they expect? If they had loved God, instead of “the people,” they might have discovered faith, they might have discovered truth. But no, they had to love “humanty.”
What can one say? Unrequited love is a bitch.
Alas, this melodrama is yet another chapter in the book of self-deceit. If you listen to the modern rebel, he easily switches between his love of “the people” and his love of self. This brings us to Nietzsche’s famous statement: “If there were gods, how could I endure not being a god?” Marx went even further. His secret thought was, “Whether there are gods or not, how could I endure not being one?” The mad project of replacing the old world of God with the new world of man – as a work of man – is the “principal point of Marx’s gnosis,” wrote Voegelin. Marxism, therefore, is not merely a pack of intellectual swindles; for the murderer of God is also a mass murderer of men. The logic of this could not be more obvious – whether one is atheist, pagan or Christian.
To believe a lie, to make the world in the image of that lie, is the sense in which Marx sought to be a creator in place of God. The kind of world he promised to create, according to Voegelin, is a “second reality,” a “swindle” born of spiritual pathology (i.e., the sickness unto death), which reinforces the revolutionary’s original despair while doubling his malice.
Here is the ground of today’s political insanity. Carl Jung, writing over sixty years ago, said, “The change must begin with one individual; it might be any one of us. Nobody can afford to look around and wait for somebody else to do what he is loath to do himself.” Jung then tells the story of a Rabbi who was asked why God showed himself in olden times and nobody sees him now. The Rabbi replied, “Nor is there anyone nowadays who could stoop so low.” Jung went on to say that God really does speak to us, even today. But he doubted whether there were many willing to “stoop so low” as to “consider the possibility that the vox Dei might be perceived in a dream.
Links and Notes
Eric Voegelin, Anamnesis: On the Theory of History and Politics, Volume 6 (University of Missouri Press, 2002), p. 366.
Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1990), p. 36, pp. 36-37.
Whittaker Chambers, Witness (Washington, D.C., Regnery, 2001), pp. 8 – 10.
Eugene Webb, Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History, (Kindle version) Location 3826.
Søren Kierkegaard, Attack on Christendom (Princeton University Press, 1972), p. 100.
Voegelin, Science, Politics and Gnosticism (Washington, D.C., Regnery, 1997), p. 34, p. 23.
Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death (Princeton University Press, 1980), p. 73-77.
Please note: Zeta Reticuli is a binar star system in the southern constellation of Reticulum.
The man who is grounded in history knows something of the ever-present tension between the ideal and the prudential, so that his judgment should reflect wisdom rather than cleverness or fantasy.Richard Weaver
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