Tuesday, February 23, 2016

From Tolstoy On Anarchy and Our Own Antichrist

To use violence is impossible; it would only cause reaction. To join the ranks of the Government is also impossible — one would only become its instrument. One course therefore remains — to fight the Government by means of thought, speech, actions, life, neither yielding to Government nor joining its ranks and thereby increasing its power.

This alone is needed, will certainly be successful.

And this is the will of God, the teaching of Christ. There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one: the regeneration of the inner man.

How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.

Leo Tolstoy

I would endorse what Tolstoy said, taking into account that he didn't ever live under a democracy.  He lived under a particularly oppressive dictatorship with defacto, in many cases legal slavery.  If by "democracy" you mean what many do when they use the word, government by the INFORMED consent of The People, without distinction by gender, race, nationality, religion, economic class, etc. on the basis of equality, then no one else had ever lived under it at that point and it's arguable that except in the rarest of cases, no one does today.   Political anarchy is an absurd fantasy which, in real life, would lead to thuggish, crime boss rule as they stepped in to fill the vacuum left by the absence of civil authority.  Christian anarchy, as imagined by Tolstoy, Dorothy Day and many others is an entirely different thing.   As with the unfortunate consequences of using the word "democracy" to denote the modern conception of egalitarian government of, by and for The People, it is unfortunate that the ideas of such saints is called the same thing that the atheist anarchists advocated be achieved by brutal violence which would result in even worse oppression than they opposed.

Twenty years ago I would have breezily assumed that such a government could happen without the religious content that leads to an effective majority believing that the moral obligations leading to egalitarian democracy being the only moral form of government.  Today I am as certain that without that basis democracy in that sense of the word is never going to happen.  And in its absence politics devolves into what we see in the United States and downward into far worse.

The debasement of Christianity of the sort which the American media represents as the real, right way to be Christian, right-wing, Republican, fundamentalist and the wings of both the evangelical movement and Catholicism is on full display in the people who those who follow such "christianity" are voting for.  Ted Cruz, in Iowa, a man whose pubic career is a negation of the Gospel of Jesus in every particular, a man who could make a convincing candidate for acting the role of the anti-Christ out of  the Book of Revelation and Donald Trump who could be declared the whore master of Babylon, a man who has gloried in his use of women to the extent that he declared if he wasn't her father he'd probably be dating his own daughter.  A man who grew rich off of the gambling industry and who is all about screwing unto others as he'd never have them screw unto him.

It is a real problem for real Christians, the extent to which the religion has been debased by the media and political-legal system, the millionaire and now billionaire Republican prostitution of the name and title of Jesus.   It has led to unprecedented discrediting of those who try to follow the teachings of Jesus and the prophets and if that association isn't broken that will only get worse.  And with the actual belief in those teachings will go the only foundation with which egalitarian government will happen.  As the atheist, Marxist Jurgen Habermas said, we don't have anything else with which to feed it today, and the atheists have had centuries in which to come up with that equivalent.  It's because you can't find it in the investigation of the material universe BECAUSE IT ISN'T THERE TO BE FOUND.  It also hasn't been located in other religious traditions though I think there is more of a likelihood of finding it there than in an atheist secularism which would have to abandon materialism and the naive faith in the possibility of natural selection producing them when natural selection is, as Haeckel noted, with Darwin's knowledge and without objection, anti-democratic when applied politically.

*  Haeckel said so explicitly and unmistakably in his ironically named book, Freedom in Science and Teaching, a book which Charles Darwin told Haeckel he had read and which he agreed with, entirely.

Besides, Darwinism, the theory of natural selection—which Virchow aimed at in his denunciation, much more especially than at transformation, the theory of descent—which is often confounded with it—Darwinism, I say, is anything rather than socialist! If this English hypothesis is to be compared to any definite political tendency—as is, no doubt, possible—that tendency can only be aristocratic, certainly not democratic, and least of all socialist. The theory of selection teaches that in human life, as in animal and plant[93] life everywhere, and at all times, only a small and chosen minority can exist and flourish, while the enormous majority starve and perish miserably and more or less prematurely. The germs of every species of animal and plant and the young individuals which spring from them are innumerable, while the number of those fortunate individuals which develop to maturity and actually reach their hardly-won life's goal is out of all proportion trifling. The cruel and merciless struggle for existence which rages throughout all living nature, and in the course of nature must rage, this unceasing and inexorable competition of all living creatures, is an incontestable fact; only the picked minority of the qualified "fittest" is in a position to resist it successfully, while the great majority of the competitors must necessarily perish miserably. We may profoundly lament this tragical state of things, but we can neither controvert it nor alter it. "Many are called but few are chosen." The selection, the picking out of these "chosen ones," is inevitably connected with the arrest and destruction of the remaining majority. Another English naturalist, therefore, designates the kernel of Darwinism very frankly as the "survival of the fittest," as the "victory of the best." At any rate, this principle of selection is nothing less than democratic, on the contrary, it is aristocratic in the strictest sense of the word. If, therefore,[94] Darwinism, logically carried out, has, according to Virchow, "an uncommonly suspicious aspect," this can only be found in the idea that it offers a helping hand to the efforts of the aristocrats. But how the socialism of the day can find any encouragement in these efforts, and how the horrors of the Paris Commune can be traced to them, is to me, I must frankly confess, absolutely incomprehensible.

  Thomas Huxley, Darwin's closest scientific associate wrote the introduction to the English translation during Darwin's lifetime. None of them objected to that rather troubling conclusion.  Anyone who tries to find the foundation of democracy in it either doesn't understand what natural selection means or their conception of democracy is more in line with that of George W. Bush, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump than what any real liberal would mean when they said the word.

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