Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Anti-Western Westerner


To relieve the psychic pressure of the paradox of a Westerner who is anti-Western, a psycho-ideological mechanism is required.

That psycho-ideological mechanism is the Gnostic-Utopianist complex.

Another way to relieve the pressure is simply through persistent indulgence in the Pascalian divertissements, including various addictions. Other than the deranged logorrhea of a Hunter S. Thompson or a William S. Borroughs, or the slightly more coherent ramblings of a Charles Bukowski, this way of relieving the pressure rarely rises to the level of ideology, our main concern here; though I suppose one could argue that the amorphous prevalence of the Pascalian divertissements on a sociocultural level constitutes a kind of ideology, however ragged and incoherent it might be. If it is such, it is part of the Gnostic/Utopian complex, insofar as an escape from imperfection is cultivated on a mass scale.

The classical Gnostic relieves the existential and ontological pressure of being unable to bear being himself by succumbing to the belief in a mythology of a true self (the pneumatic spark) that is trapped inside an evil body & soul which, in turn, is trapped within an evil cosmos created by an evil demiurgewhose evil is reflected in the irredeemable corruption and evil of all social and political regimes around him, as well as of all existing religious orders. The final relief consists in the soteriology of Gnosticism, whereby a key to a secret knowledge (gnosis) is revealed which will enable the escape of the true self from the evil body and the evil cosmos, to his true home outside of the Cosmos.

The modern Westerner, beginning most massively in sociopolitical terms as well as existential terms in the 19th century, usually has not pursued the classical Gnostic releasemainly because for the modern Westerner, the sense of transcendence (the Beyond as a realm outside the Cosmos to escape to) has for the most part become unavailable, notwithstanding somewhat widespread manifestations of various flavors of groping after something vaguely resembling transcendence, available from the superficially variegated metaphysical cafeteria of New Age-ish spirituality.

What has instead increasingly developed is, as Eric Voegelin analyzed it, an immanentization of transcendencethat is, instead of believing in a transcendence beyond this world to escape to, the modern Gnostic tries to make this world itself, or some part of it, into salvation.

Usually, this has taken the form of some kind of utopiawhether in the form of individual cultivation of fantasy, either through art, addictions, or insanity; or some kind of cultic commune that withdraws from society and tries to achieve perfection on earth; or most grandly of all, a major sociopolitical transformation of existing structures of existence into a final, perfectly just order. This latter form erupted in the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century, which incubated during the 19th century reactionism against it, only to burst out again in the 20th century with the Communist revolutionsthe Russian Revolution and, in its form as the Soviet Union, its ongoing project of Revolution-by-proxy around the world, most notably in the Far East and Latin America (but also including Africa and parts of the Muslim world). The Fascist movements and German Nazism of the 20th century were also part of this constellation of Gnostic-Utopian political movements.

The latter half of the 20th century saw the prevalent and mainstream repudiation of those spectacular bouts of Gnostic-Utopian political movements, with a return to the 19th century pattern of amorphously conservative reaction against them coupled with popular indulgence in alternative pseudo-spirituality, artistic and cultural fantasy, and various chemical and lifestyle addictions.

The last time the West went through this period of relative subsidence of a major outbreak of sociopolitical pathologyviz., the 19th century culture of bourgeoisie following the late 18th and early 19th century French Revolution and its Napoleonic conclusionit did not take long, but a few decades, for the grotesque head of the pathology to rear again, even worse. Now, since at least the 1970s, we have been in a similar phase, of a kind of super-bourgeosie of incredible material progress and indulgence in quintessentially and unprecedentedly middle-class values and prosperity; and once again, on the horizon, looms a massive and malignant ideology whose influence among the anti-Western Westerner has been slowly percolating: Islam.

This ancient form of Gnostic-Utopian ideology enjoys a peculiar position in our time, remarkably insulated from criticism by our dominant and mainstream culture of PC MCeven whitewashed and, in many respects, positively elevated to superiority over the West, both in its inaccurately articulated values and in its mendaciously revised history. Furthermore, it has the advantage of being non-Western, with an attractively oriental and ethnic aura about it, considerably augmented by being anti-Western in many, if not most, of the same ways in which the self-hating Westerner is anti-Western (even though paradoxically, and incoherently, Islam profoundly repudiates the liberal secular values of most of those same self-hating Westerners).

Will the 21st century unfold into the kinds of megalomaniac disturbances and violence the 20th century saw with Communism and Nazismthis time with increasing numbers of Westerners sympathetic to, and even joining sides with, the anti-Western animus inherent to the ideology of Islam?

If sufficient numbers of anti-Western Westerners come to find a release from their psychic pressure of self-hatred, such that they can transform their scream, of being trapped in a Western Cosmos with no escape, into the cry of joy of having found another reality, another world, a family, a home beyond the West, in Islamindeed, another Cosmosthen our century will have moved closer to another world war. For, that other Cosmos cannot simply be escaped to: it requires allegiance to a military supremacism dedicated to fighting, and conquering, the rest of the world. The Islamic Cosmos must destroy the Western Cosmos: that is the ultimate goal of this new trans-national family which the disaffected, diseased Westerners would join when they decide to become a Muslim.

And if, beside their numbers, many more Westerners persist in maintaining the incoherently irresponsible position of being
patriotically critical of the West while consistently sugarcoating the menace of Islam through the milder anti-Westernism of PC MC, they will end up enabling their more radical, treasonous brethrenand with this augmentation, the horrible unfolding of yet another world war will be all the more likely.

This is so because Islam by itself
—without the assistance of a considerable Fifth Column within the West consisting both of PC MC idiots and the more radical Leftists—would not stand a chance to do more than mass-murder a few more thousand of us before the West would wake up to definitively shut down Islam. With the help of that Fifth Column, however, Islam will be able to wreak considerably more horrible damage, both to our lives and our infrastructure, and the cost of winning, for us, will be in such a circumstance magnified to horrendous levels.


Rev. Donna said...

Perhaps this is another attempt to equate Gnostics with Fundamentalist Christians, who might like to bring in an Era of Fascism similar to the one described in Margaret Atwood's novel, "The Handmaid's Tale", I would certainly hope not. Gnostics tend to be non-proselytizing types, they are usually open to inquires from others about their religious beliefs or practices, but any sane self-described Gnostic would never wish to impose them on anyone else. Most have little, if any, of what could be described as religious dogma, and even among established communities there are differences of opinion and differences in application of even what could be called basic Gnostic principles. If you weren't slandering Gnostics everywhere, I doubt I would even bother replying to you, but I'm hoping you are a reasonable individual and will at least consider my rebuttal.

Are you afraid of the competition from "Gnostic Inspired" Churches? You needn't be. There will probably never be any hugely successful Church that is authentically Gnostic or large Communities, for that matter, as the formula for these, so well applied by other religious movements, is a simple doctrine of slogans usually combined with a very specific theologically derived "orthodoxy" that is capable of uniting large numbers of people under a doctrine they can agree with. Gnostic Churches and movements will never have this, why? Because there is too much room for not only individual diversity in the practices of those who would call themselves "Gnostics" but a complex number of considerations that the potential Gnostic must come to an understanding of by his or her own effort, study and most importantly personal experience. We have no simple "formula" for some "guaranteed" salvation or instructions to follow that will get "anyone" into the Pleroma or Heaven.

This is often why we get slammed for being 'Elitist', but is this really fair? If you are offering something that very few would actually want, and the majority of people go elsewhere, how is that elitist? Not that we wouldn't want everyone to want what we want, that would be wonderful, it's just that for us, the problem is a bit more complex and depends a great deal upon individual choices that a person makes. Those choices we would want to be available to everyone, but, of course, it is up to the individual to choose, and is never a compulsory requirement. It is a matter of personal choice and personal freedom. We could 'enforce' our views by denying these choices to others, so that those who did not comply would be prevented from inclusion. However, any church or group calling itself "Gnostic" would not do this, and any that did would be unlike any I have encountered. Our church, for instance, doesn't even have official "members" of our congregation, or a "membership" requirement. As individual Gnostics, we might have a working knowledge of what has brought the most positive spiritual experience and change into our lives, but the deeper workings of these processes will likely always be a Mystery.

Basically, most self described Gnostics perceive the dualities obvious to any observant person, such as the opposites of Good and Evil, Day and Night, Male and Female, etc that are an everyday part of our earthly existence but ultimately seek to be one with Christ and through Him, with God. One might say that the Demiurge is the "God" of all those seeking to making this Earth a paradise, or that consider it a "perfect' creation. As a self-described Gnostic-Christian, I see this world as a place that is both good and evil, at times "heavenly" or even "hellish", more often a purgatory, whatever the case may be. My experience of Jesus Christ is that He is undoubtedly Divine, and also human, but a human being like Adam was, before Eve. In other words a human being unlike most of us have ever seen, and are not able to fully understand.

As for the world, if the world is not the Devil's, the Demiurge's or the Adversary of Christ's Domain, why then does it say in the Gospels, that when He was tempted, He was offered material riches, or benefits of a worldly kind? Why, then, did He refuse them repeatedly, saying that that His Kingdom was not of this world and that His sufferings could not be alleviated by anything this world could offer Him? How much more simply could it be said? And you label Gnostics "World Haters," which few of us really are, but we also have no illusions about this world. If we are determined to follow Jesus Christ, and to find His Kingdom, which is not of this world, are we not Christian?

Rev. Donna Owen
Gnostic Priest
Ecclesia Gnostica

Erich said...

Rev. Donna,

I think we may have some difference in terminology. You wrote:

"Gnostics tend to be non-proselytizing types, they are usually open to inquires from others about their religious beliefs or practices, but any sane self-described Gnostic would never wish to impose them on anyone else."

I was mostly referring to "Gnostic" as defined by philosopher Eric Voegelin, who has used the term to describe the obsessive search for Utopia in modern times which has led to mass movements that have murdered millions -- Communism and Nazism.

Your use seems to be different, related more to the study and cultivation of esoteric streams of various religious thinkers and sects in the ancient world and medieval world, and the use of their texts and lore for inspiring modern individuals who are searching for meaning and some form of salvation outside of the traditional Western modes.

"Are you afraid of the competition from "Gnostic Inspired" Churches? You needn't be."

As long as they are sufficiently grounded in reality and an orientation of allegiance to the West and to whatever nation in the West they live in such that they are ready to defend their friends, family, neighbors and fellow citizens from the menace of Islam, then I don't mind what lifestyle they practice or beliefs they believe.

"As for the world, if the world is not the Devil's, the Demiurge's or the Adversary of Christ's Domain, why then does it say in the Gospels, that when He was tempted, He was offered material riches, or benefits of a worldly kind?"

There are definitely Gnostic tendencies in the New Testament. As Eric Voegelin said, every human has the Gnostic temptation in them. The trick is to achieve the balance, or "tension of existence", which requires faith in uncertainty, not possession of knowledge. What you describe elsewhere in your post might be in harmony with this tension, though it's hard to tell.

"you label Gnostics "World Haters," which few of us really are, but we also have no illusions about this world. If we are determined to follow Jesus Christ, and to find His Kingdom, which is not of this world..."

Well, again, the classical Gnostic, from the available studies on it (Zahner, Petrement, Voegelin -- not to mention Irenaeus, though you probably consider him biased) did seem to err on the side of a contemptus mundi, a degree of not tolerating the world strong enough that the only escape valve was to seek a way out of this "prison". Of course, Plato also had tendencies in this direction, as does orthodox Christianity -- as do, indeed all religions. But the key is not the antipathy to this world itself (an antipathy all humans have to some degree, since that's part of the Mystery), but the quality and degree of it, existentially, and whether the tension of existence is maintained, delicately, in the "cloud of uknowing" of faith -- or whether it is botched through the delusion that one has more knowledge than imperfect humans are capable of.

The Gnostic explanation for evil founders just as much as any other explanation does. There is no "answer". There is only the Question, and faith, hope and love borne in patience, suffering, and, hopefully, not a little joy.