Notes on Postmodernism, New Age and Fascism
compiled by G. A. Morrison
As the traditional religious basis of society has weakened over the past two or three centuries, some -at first sight- unrelated, bizarre ideologies and faiths strange to secular rationalist eyes, have come into view: Recent examples: The New Age movement, the animal rights movement, and the mostly academic postmodernist movement, accompanied by the revival of a radical form of orthodox religion known as fundamentalism.
We have seen the rise and defeat of several major quasi religious movements in our century. The collapse of the spiritual force and the temporal armor of Marxism. The decay of Liberalism. The military but not spiritual defeat of Nazism. "We live in an interregnum, an interval between strong ideologies." - Lilienfeld, K.
We appear to be repeating Roman history, except that this time the process is going in reverse, from a weakening transcendent monotheism to an polytheistic immanence. This set of notes and references is intended to point out common features of the many facets of the New Consciousness, or Postmodern Consciousness movement which is beginning to overshadow secularism and traditional religion in the 20th century. The main feature of the ascendant world view is the idea of magical thought, a resacralized nature, or immanence, implying one-world politics and nihilistic ethics. By magic is meant the use of human will to control fate.
Contrary to the expectation of many sociologists of the '60s, religion has not expired in the face of modernity. The idea was that everyone would finally become enlightened secularists and religion would decline and vanish. Ironically, that in itself was a kind of millennial idea. This is secular humanism translated into political terms, essentially what Europeans would call Socialism. Secular humanism is seen to generate an insufficient level of myth-making or spirituality to sustain the human need for enchantment.
**World view determines social reality
Everyone has a conscious or unconscious world view that determines the approach to everyday life. "Every transformation of man, except perhaps that which produced neolithic culture, has rested on a new metaphysical or ideological base"-Lewis Mumford.
The only way to measure the spiritual state of an individual is to observe the outward changes in one's actual day to day life. It is an observed fact that a religious conversion can have a profound effect on one's mundane life. This is like micro-economics. A mass conversion changes the life way of a whole community. This is like macro-economics. Reasoning in reverse, what type of world view leads to a desirable type of social reality?
Religious world views and political ideas have consequences often unforeseen by their originators. If religion merely influenced one's innermost thoughts and feelings fleetingly, it would be of little consequence in the real world. However this is not the case. With Christianity, ultimate concern for salvation led to the Inquisition's torture of heretics, who were thought to threaten the destruction of believers' souls.
However if religion determines social reality, how do we explain the social reality of Japan? Japan has no religion of the monotheistic variety such as Lutheranism that we would associate with material ambition and progress. Like other defeated nations in the aftermath of war, Japan tried to fill its spiritual vacuum with material aspirations. "Japanese have the sense of social shame as acute as the western metaphysical sense of sin. Part and parcel of this self-consciousness is the Japanese compulsion to compete with oneself; a compulsion which turns every craft and skill into a marathon of self-discipline"- Alan Watts.
If we look closely at the New Religions of Japan, we find that the more "irrational" of these actually encourage their followers to live more "rational", conformist, regulated lives as employees in a highly industrial society. Could it be that Japan has a spiritual vacuum, already severe but worsened by the enforced demise of State Shinto, that can only be filled with work and material ambition?
"If one comes from a moral tradition where an electronic assembly is primarily a moral order rather than just a neutral pile of substance, it is easier to feel an ethical responsibility for doing good work on it"- Robert Pirsig
Spiritual hunger seems an essential part of human experience. Eventually the new faith, whatever it may be, will emerge and become the establishment. (or will events move too fast for any consolidation?)
Consequences of ideas: Calvin's "predestination" created an existential burden for the believer; a "sign" was required which would reveal the "elect"; namely, good works. Work as a calling was a form of asceticism, proof of election, and a force in the rise of capitalism. Luther and Calvin probably did not foresee this. - Max Weber. Empirically we have different cultures which seem linked to different value systems in subtle ways.
Any world view based on supernaturalism will have fear of ghosts and evil spirits as one of its major consequences.
Spiritual orientation can have a powerful influence on social, political and economic life. Buddhism and Hinduism lacked an ethic that endorsed rational industry and commerce. If New Age is basically derived from Hinduism, could this be one factor in the "malaise" (1970s to 1990s) of the economy?
Confucianism teaches moderation and traditionalism. Judaism, according to Max Weber, has a dualistic ethic that is unfavorable to the capitalist ethos.
**Judeo-Christianity: Decline of Classic Christianity
Perhaps after 20 centuries the spiritual force of Christianity has finally run out. It took 400 years for Christianity to conquer the Roman Empire. Today we have mass media to speed up these kinds of processes immensely.
Christianity in its classic form no longer exists except in the form of an empty shell. "We are at the point where it is no longer possible for western man to know the transcendent God as a source of life or joy".
The Judeo-Christian tradition, in the sense of its mythos being taken with deadly seriousness, has been beaten down by the successive hammer blows of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Darwin, with the most devastating yet to come: Turing's legacy, the control of heredity, mortality, and the advent of artificial super-human intelligence; unlike mere theories these will be concretely undeniable. It will generate by far the most profound spiritual crisis in history. The recent defeat (1997) of the world chess champion by a computer is but a foretaste of the humiliation to come.
Christianity is admittedly very flexible. Up to now it has adapted itself to the changing times. The New Testament has a very strong spiritual power that has preserved its influence for almost 2000 years. One of the main factors in this is that Jesus was enormously gifted in the spiritual realm. Even a nonbeliever must admit that the Gospel is a stunningly dramatic story.
"The ancient Christians were animated with a contempt for their present existence...of which the doubtful and imperfect faith of modern ages cannot give us an adequate notion" -Edward Gibbon, 1788. How many of today's Christians would be willing to be eaten by lions as the only alternative to genuflecting before a pagan idol? Probably a very small percentage. Rather like the decayed fortunes of Soviet Marxism before its collapse.
Fundamentalism is a traditional religion in a desperate state of denial. It is a last gasp, like the flareup of a candle just before extinction. Fundamentalist Christianity does not take the modern world seriously. In spite of vehement denials, many of its basic myths are insulting to women, and imply a disregard for the natural environment. The religion no longer has the spiritual or temporal power to suppress the various heretical movements such as New Age.
Religion has a very strong cultural inertia, it remains stable through all kinds of political changes. it is a kind of critical mass phenomenon.
The Social Gospel and the Death of God theology were two attempts to save Christianity by demythologizing it. Marxism is a third, and much more tragic, attempt. What place does Marxism have in the history of modern religions?
**Marxism in the context of religious history
"Marxism, certainly an attempt to supplant traditional religion, is an exception because it is materialistic and non-sacralizing, essentially a demythologized Judeo-Christianity, a secular humanism with millennial overtones. There are close analogies between the proletarian revolution and final attainment of communism on one hand, and the Christian hope for the millenarian second coming and final judgment. It offered the proletarian the opportunity to become a dignified maker of history. The title "tovarisch" or comrade, was analogous to the Christian "brother".
Marxism as Marx proposed it was meant to be in practice similar to the Christian Middle Ages, with its societal brotherhood of the faith. The multitude would believe and "go along". There would be an elite of the totally dedicated to rule and guide them, similar to the Medieval clergy and religious orders. The fatal flaw which eventually became obvious was the total lack of an external standard or control on the elite's behavior, no extra-human criticism of excess. Anything, even mass murder, could be justified in service to the Party. This is an example of an idea with consequences unexpected by the originator. Gandhi disparaged "dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good".
When asked about the origin of Stalinism, Solzhenitsyn said "Man forgot God".
Marxism is essentially a Judeo-Christianity which has been stripped of its transcendent "vertical dimension" as Paul Tillich might put it. The legalistic and millenial aspects of Christianity are preserved in Marxism.
Friedrich Nietzsche thought that future attempts at world conquest would go under the slogans of universal brotherhood, democracy and socialism. In his day, Socialism was a very idealistic thing.
The proletariat and those elements of the middle class that are in danger of falling into the proletariat, are most likely to follow millenarian and magical thinking as a reaction to the disenchanting effects of industrial routine. When society breaks down, due to rapid technical changes, and economic dislocations, the masses are easily thrown into panic, becoming prey to totalitarian irrationalisms.
Communism, like Nazism at its height, had an certain spiritual aura of invincibility which, once punctured, led to a fatal hemorrhage.
** A Brief History of Christianity
Christianity is the only religion that stands or falls on supposed historical happenings. Judeo-Christianity depends on the idea of a definite beginning and end of world history.
When Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, only 5% of the Roman Empire was Christian, the rest were worshipers of Sol Invictus, Mithraists, classical pagans, and adherents of mystery religions, many of which were similar to Christianity. It was a confused religious situation, like today. The Roman pagans regarded Christianity as a social disease.
"Religion is the universal neurosis that spares the individual the task of creating a personal neurosis"-Freud.
Christianity, as Jacob Bronowski and Kenneth Clark suggested, emphasizes the ideas of creativity and rebirth, which propelled Western civilization forward.
There are no "miracles" in the usual sense. This is an unworthy view of God. The real miracle is that of existence itself.
"The church triumphed over ancient Gnosticism because of its superior social efficacy"- Bloom.
"You get this idea of what being a good Christian is and you become stricken with your own inadequacy."- M. Muggeridge.
Mysticism, rather than being a direct communication with God, may be a method for generating insights from ones' own unconscious mind.
"With William Blake we can "name God as Satan", i.e. to identify the transcendent Lord as the ultimate source of alienation and repression.
"The progress of civilization will lead to a permanent anesthetizing of the human spirit, until the world is filled with specialists without spirit and sensualists without heart. - Max Weber.
By the 1890s the irrationalism of Europe had reached a state of near-hysteria. This condition had occurred before: around the first century, with its decay of classical Hellenism into superstitious mystery religions, and the late Middle Ages, with its rediscovery of Greek thought and anxiety over salvation by works. These periods are now seen to be watersheds of history, after which momentous changes took place in the structure of society.
In short, the predicament is that if Christianity is demythologized, then the spark goes out of it leaving an empty shell, a wishy-washy socialism, its churches ripe for takeover by the New Age, and if not demythologized, it remains reactionary and is simply not in step with the unprecedented requirements of today's society. Indeed we observe that where the mainline churches are, New Age is strong, competing for the same clientele.
**Secularization, science, the Enlightenment and demystification of nature
"Only orthodoxy is vulnerable to relativism. Fundamentalism is a product of the modern period when people were beginning to abandon the traditional outlook and ask for an empirical description of the world. This led many religious into the fallacy that if their doctrine were to continue having the force of truth, they must be upheld as literal statements of a scientific type. This is responsible for the grotesque attempt to deny concrete evidence of the past history of life and the physical world. The result was to discredit the Christian religion entirely in the eyes of vast numbers of people.
"By identifying the new learning with heresy, you make orthodoxy synonymous with ignorance"- Erasmus.
As long as we are able to formulate testable theories about the universe, we are justified in saying the universe is "rational".
Ironically, the church, which in a sense paved the way for science, became an enemy of science. The Christian metaphysical world view supported science, and yet science (Copernicus, Darwin) conflicted with the various provincial specific aspects of the Bible. It contained the seed of its own destruction.
Today's Christians, at least the more active fundamentalist ones, tend to ignore social issues like pollution because they believe the Second Coming will take care of the mess without any human effort. If one truly believes, then it logically follows that one is rather nonchalant about pollution, famine, overpopulation and war. They are merely a new version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, ushering in the Millennium.
Secularization is merely the decay of an old religion in preparation for the new. Analogy with Rome. The result will probably be an amalgam of New Age and Christianity, if such a monster can be imagined.
The open Western society depends on the 18th cent. Enlightenment, which in turn depends on the Reformation.
Theism gave rise to science by demystifying nature by creating the idea of a single unified source of authority for the workings of the universal laws of nature.
The idea of both a good and evil principle in the universe, as one may tend to find in the relativist world, is Manichaeian. It leads to the idea that evil is not the responsibility of the individual. This was overcome by the idea of a regular, exact physical universe, since in such a universe, no evil principle could be seen at work. Thus the way for modern science was paved, even if Christians did not foresee this at the time. Manichaeians were the main competitors of Christianity for several centuries.
From the viewpoint of Judaism, Christianity, as it evolved culturally, has objectionable features of idolatry and pagan polytheism in its concept of the trinity; i.e. Christianity is basically a grafting of paganism onto Judaism.
** Transition to Postmodern Consciousness
SETI is a secular expression of the yearning for union with the absolute.
Civilizations fall when there is no consensus around a positive view of the future. "In the declining days of antiquity, the common creed of all pagans came to be a scientific pantheism, in which the infinite power of the divinity that pervaded the universe was revealed by the elements of nature."- Franz Curmont.
"Science, already oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species... for its reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world".- H.P. Lovecraft
"In declaring that the universe could have spawned beings so far advanced in evolution that they could manifest godlike powers and might even exist without physical bodies, science has brought back in perhaps more dangerous form, the "gods" and "demons" of ancient religions to haunt modern man." - Dave Hunt.
"People are more autonomous today because of the attitude that any problem has a technological solution, and the intuition that science may defeat even death itself: witness the crude cryogenic experiments with corpses which some hope will be revived.
Liberal Catholics, Episcopalians and certain other mainstream religious groups have embraced some New Age-postmodern ideas about environmentalism, feminism, the nature of God, etc.
One possible impetus for the anti-drug laws is organized religion's fear that people will have new religious revelations that do not fit the old doctrines.
What has changed since ancient times? Only our ideas about how the universe works, not so much why it exists, or why it is possible to make rational sense out of the universe in the first place. These factors should not affect the formation of a mythical outlook.
"We have a bleak shallow rationalism which offers stones instead of bread to the emotional and spiritual hungers of the world. The logical result is an insatiable hunger for anything extraordinary. If we add to this the great defeat of human reason, demonstrated daily in the newspapers, the picture that unfolds before us is one of universal spiritual distress, comparable to the beginning of the Christian era".
It is not that primitive man personifies or animates objects in the physical world; the concept of physical object has simply never occurred to him. The primitive man literally does not know an inanimate world.
The Irrational means letting your emotions and instincts have primary control over actions and beliefs, the primacy of instincts and emotions over thought. Let thought be a servant to your emotions and desires (Hitler's message to his followers). Irrationalism is also the belief that the universe cannot be "understood" even approximately, that empiricism is useless. (Anti-evolution agitation), that the universe cannot be systematized in theory or doctrine.
All these movements (in introduction) have as common factor the decay of rationality into romanticism and nihilism, a product of the rejection of transcendence and a re-enchantment of Nature, and resurgence of magical thought patterns. This could be taken as most economical definition of the New Age movement, to include not obviously religious phenomena like deconstruction and "political correctness": which come under the heading of Postmodernism.
Generalizations may be dangerous, but without them little can be said. What is the real difference between J-C and paganism? J-C emphasizes transcendence, avoiding "idolatry" toward parts of the physical world, while paganism embraces it, inviting a magical approach to the world. A child is convinced that a monster lurks under the bed when the light is turned out. An adult experiences a (hypnopompic) hallucination while in the borderline waking state. The built-up rational outlook, however, resulting from years of inculcation from cultural surroundings, which took many centuries to create, confer a certain immunity to the fear of such "evil spirits", and enable one to shrug off such experiences as natural mental phenomena. With the rise of the postmodern New Age, that cultural environment is weakening.
** New Age: a general description
"Equality suggests to the Americans the idea of the infinite perfectibility of man".- Tocqueville.
"The New Age movement is the strongest social force in the nation today - Carl A. Raschke, religion professor.
We have today an emerging force known as the New Age movement. The term New Age has been used by the occult community for over a century. New Age is very pervasive, amorphous and difficult to pin down, therefore one must look for common characteristics of the various practices. New Age is like the elephant as perceived by the blind men. Fundamentalists see it differently than secular humanists. Even different New Agers give different definitions. In many ways it is amorphous, yet to be shaped.
Close attention has been paid to New Age by Christian fundamentalists, who are discredited in the eyes of the mainstream. Fundamentalists have been "crying wolf" for so long in so many areas that now no one is paying attention to them when they are actually onto something. New Age is a complete rejection of the J-C tradition and bedrock American values. It represents re-enchantment of Nature, monism, pantheism, anti-transcendence. "The old gods are stirring from their slumber and reaffirming their hold on our imagination."
Vedanta is the basis of New Age thought.
Panentheism: a New Age formulation in which God is both external and part of the physical universe.
It appears that the New Age is attempting answer Paul Tillich's question: How can we bring religious awe, the sense of the sacred, back into human life?
The rational question "Is it so?" has been replaced by the main axiom of New Age: "If it feels good it must be true". New Age meets psychological needs. The New Agers do have a legitimate complaint: that old religions are not in step with today's requirements.
New Age has admittedly performed the valuable service of bringing to light and popularizing certain medical ideas and techniques such as acupuncture, which otherwise might have been ignored for a much longer time.
New Age is an eclectic blend of the belief systems of the ancient world; Vedanta, neo-paganism, New Thought, Theosophy, the Romantic movement of the 1960s counter-culture.
Theosophy introduced compatible ideas from the East: Reincarnation, karma, spiritual masters.
There is Elite New Age and there is Popular New Age. The elite goes for C.G. Jung, deconstruction, radical environmentalism and women's spirituality. The masses go for Shirley MacLaine, crystal healing, 12 step, and UFOs. On the surface there seems little connection, but the underlying metaphysics is the same.
Neopaganism is another name for the New Age, although it may be a somewhat narrower term: Groups such as womens' and mens' spirituality. Sword and Sorcery science fiction is modern pagan myth making in action. Channeled entities resemble the warriors and princesses, and space brothers of Sword & Sorcery science fiction and fantasy. Today's science fiction is essentially a generator of myths on a large scale.
New Age can be viewed as a set of abortive Neo Pagan movements, attempting to fill the spiritual vacuum left by the weakened Judeo-Christian religions, whose myths no longer speak to most people today.
Animism and polytheism are natural tendencies of the human mind. So we might say that the hegemony of the three western monotheistic religions is almost unnatural.
"Pantheism is the permanent natural bent of the human mind. It is the attitude into which the mind automatically falls when left to itself"- C.S.Lewis. The imaginary companions of many children can be compared to the familiar spirits of shamanism. In a rational environment the child will be socialized away from these "visions". In a primitive society, the hallucinations and imaginings will be encouraged.
Eastern religions are filtered through the American culture as they are adopted. McLuhan's global village is one New Age vision of the future.
The real distinction between New Age and orthodox monotheism is that New Age is based on magical thinking. I.e. the individual will is able to control fate. Immanence implies that the individual is divine, therefore can control fate. New Age is an attempt at re-enchantment, a liberation of the repressed irrational part of man. Magic comes from the tradition which is outside of the consciousness of historical time.
Secularism, thought to be the final destination of the modern world, is now seen as merely a bridge to New Age.
"The magical heritage casts a threatening and possibly permanent shadow over all of man's other creations, and could suddenly overwhelm civilized cultures."- D.L. O'Keefe.
The New Age is a reemergence of Gnosticism, a new Hellenistic age. Historically, receiving Gnosis, the individual is awakened and knows that he is divine. [at first] disenfranchised upper class Jewish intellectuals were the most common converts to Gnosticism. Later it became Hellenized. Gnosticism is individualistic. They believed that the soul of each individual has a spark of the divine. Inner illumination, spiritual elitism, libertinism, asceticism, and anti-institutionalism were typical of Gnosticism.
The Transcendentalists Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, Alcott, etc, believed that the divine exists in all persons. They favored intuition over reason. Is intuition nothing more than a reasoning too complex to be explained simply, or is it the release of deep irrational animal instincts?
N.A. has penetrated publishing, the mass media, the staid corporate world, even the Pentagon. Corporate culture, as is well known, often has cultlike features, and many companies require employees to attend New Age seminars to heighten efficiency and productivity. Employees are encouraged to think of themselves as merged with the company as One. Some have experienced severe psychological reactions.
NA is spreading into business management practice. At the Stanford business graduate school, the syllabus includes Tarot, meditation, chanting, dreamwork, and discussion of the "New Age Capitalist". Werner Erhard, the founder of est, abandoned his family, yet gets contracts from NASA for giving his est seminars. A Claremont graduate school professor's symposium discussed "out-of-body experiences", ESP, spirit survival after death, reincarnation. One professor said: "This conference could not have been held ten years ago".
NA is as much political as religious. The "hundredth monkey phenomenon", a central myth of the New Age, leads us in the direction of manipulation by totalitarian forces, a world dominated by the persuasive and the powerful. Once the "critical mass" is reached, the whole world is supposed to convert to the new world view or paradigm. From that point on, curiosity, doubt, criticism become subversive of the New Order. We become a herd. "Linear, left brain, Western science" is the putdown used by the NA-Postmoderns.
So far the movement is eclectic, anti-authoritarian, decentralized, anarchistic and diverse, without a strong leader. "New Age can simply be individuals thinking globally and acting locally". That could change quickly. An obstacle to NA: To use computer terminology, Christianity has an "installed base" 2000 years old.
Is fatalism a consequence of a monistic world view? New Agers are trying to formulate a metaphysical basis for their positive view of the world; a way to make social action and personal fulfillment compatible with mysticism.
New Age is a shift from Authority to individual spiritual discovery. NA exalts change and evolution.
New Age is a continuation of the counterculture of the 1960s. T. Roszak compared Ginsburg's poetry to "oracular outpourings of rhapsodic prophets...and beyond them to the shamanism of the stone age".
To New Age, consciousness is the primary substance in the universe. In astronaut Edgar Mitchell's ideas: There is matter and spirit in the universe, and consciousness is the bridge.
New Age ethics: since every person, animal and thing is of equal worth, everyone's point of view is equally valid, regardless of how it affects others.
We will see an increasingly lenient criminal court system under New Age influence, because the individual is blended with everything else and ceases to have primary importance. NA believes that victims will be reincarnated anyway, so why worry. Elvis and Lennon are reincarnated, so are the victims of street violence, so we really need not care, according to NA metaphysics.
To a New Ager, we ourselves construct reality. If this is the case then there can be no external criteria for quality, truth, or objectivity.
**New Age and the Churches
Why did Christianity eclipse Paganism? Christianity had better social services. New Age in some ways emulates this; it has, for example, come up with the hospice movement. During the rise of Christianity, the philosophical elite ridiculed paganism, weakening it among the masses, since the masses respected the philosophers. Christianity is on the defensive, perhaps now in the position that paganism was formerly.
Christianity regards man as irretrievably fallen, independent of lifestyle. New Age regards the fall as remediable through raising the consciousness to become a god. Occultism is "rejected knowledge".
Fundamentalists and NAers have in common the idea of an apocalyptic end of the present age. New Age is still mainly "underground", not tightly organized. Jesus is considered one of the New Age spiritual masters.
In liberal Protestant circles, meditation, yoga, "A Course in Miracles", human potential training and "Process Theology" have converted many churches into New Age outposts.
When Christianity was new, it took over the holidays and practices of the superseded religions. Christmas falls on the date of a Roman pagan festival. New Age may eventually do this. Christmas has already drifted into a secular realm, the transition stage. Church also adopted from paganism the architecture, vestments, deification of humans, veneration of relics, the Virgin Birth. New Age seems to be gradually taking over the mainstream churches from the inside. UC Santa Barbara estimates 12 million active New Agers, 30 million avidly interested. New Age Journal increased circulation 9-fold in the 1980s. as an index of the New Age, 24% of the people believe in reincarnation. Is it possible that a nominal Christianity could go New Age without realising it?
Matthew Fox's Catholic "Creation Spirituality" is essentially New Age. Fox has been "disciplined" by the Vatican for his views, but this has only served to make them more attractive. The Dominicans have now (3/93) expelled Fox from the order.
New Age's relation to the consumer culture and narcissism. This encourages passivity, losing hold of active participation in molding ones' world. Totalitarianism involves exactly this type of loss of autonomy.
Existentialism was a style of philosophy intended to give meaning to meaninglessness, illustrating the human organism's insistence on breaking through and finding meaning in existence, whatever it takes.
The Superman, another essential of the totalitarian mindset: Nietzsche's Superman can be understood as an aspect of postmodernism: the common man is to hold the hero, the leader, the guru, the Fuhrer, in awe as being possessed of capabilities beyond his own. Nihilism is merely the means by which the Superman induces the common man to denigrate himself, then destroy himself to make way for the Superman.
Today Narcissism takes the form of Postmodernism, a desperately nostalgic attempt by baby boomers to magically return to the security of childhood. Reruns of "Leave it to Beaver" are elevated to the status of pagan idols.
"Since his death, Elvis Presley has become the center of a pagan religious cult. Like the flying saucer, he is an archetype, a god, a super celebrity. His life story is eerily similar to that of the Greek god Dionysus, who was son of a mighty river (Mississippi), and of the Sun (Sun records), made magnificent music, and whose appearance drove his female followers into such a frenzy that they attempted to tear him to pieces. Elvis is the Jungian archetype of the eternal adolescent; the high liver, the narcissist, the seeker of excitement.
New Age is closely linked with the consumer culture; with the narcissistic flitting from one fad to another. When life is a struggle for survival, no one is bored or lonely.
How to recognize a New Ager: "A combination of radical subjectivity combined with ferocious superficiality" - Jay Rosen.
New Agers are aware that their egos are not as strong as that of the guru's. None of the fads put the believer in touch with power and fame; New Age and advertising reinforce each other, they both generate anxieties. N.A. is structured like a pyramid with the rich and famous at the top, the believers at the bottom.
"Misunderstood attempts to save America's dream of worldly progress by magical and supernatural means include: Scientology, Silva Mind Control, Est, and fundamentalists who believe Jesus will supply financial needs right now". -Marvin Harris. Today religion has been reduced to a consumer item in a spiritual supermarket, much as it was in late Rome.
Cults arise when religions fail, when the religious establishment begins to break up. The decline of the family is not a passing fad, it goes back to the industrial revolution.
**New Age, science and technology
The idea of material progress is alien to the Eastern occult religions. Is it irrevocably so? The New Agers are attempting to graft the Western idea of progress onto the Eastern ideas. Whether they succeed will determine if NA will overcome its opponents. The idea of spiritual progress (in the west) goes back at least through the Middle Ages.
The Tao is a force that one can use for good or evil. Compare with Star Wars.
As Pirsig implied, if a belief is not science based, it just won't fly. For those who reject divine revelation, survival can appear to be the only discernable value operating in nature. This is what Nietzsche meant when he said that "God is dead".
The New Age is fundamentally anti-science but for the most part pro-technology. It is nourished by fads like video games.
What is the reaction when skeptics debunk the New Age? If the New Agers have no respect for the debunkers, then the criticism has little effect. New Age will in effect say "Rationalists are responsible for the state of today's world, thus you have nothing to say to us".
Eastern religions include ideas such as the eternal recurrence that are more consistent than Western religions with 20th century discoveries in science. Ironically however, the philosophical basis of the scientific method itself is not consistent with the monism, fatalism and quiescence of the East. If God is the universe, then the universe cannot be rationally understood.
New Age accepts evolution, but regards it as a spiritual development, a purposeful increase in consciousness, directed by God-in-Nature, along the lines of Teilhard de Chardin's theology.
Quantum physics with its probabilities may have weakened, at least in the mass mind if not the scientific mind, this world-picture of a rigidly law-obedient Nature.
If new myths are to be born they must be credible; today that means technological in flavor. Paradoxically they can be anti-scientific and at the same time technological. The archetypes of the UFO and Elvis worship fit this requirement perfectly. Myth is a stronger force than rationality.
To say that the inner consciousness is changing may be speculation, but the antirational movement is real and probably measurable, e.g. in terms of student test scores.
New Agers use the term "paradigm shift". Today's mythos is no longer the scientific method (the tree) but on its fruits, "high tech" and comfortable lifestyle. However, the fruit will not last without the tree. Technology becomes magical. New Age is "romancing the past": the unrelenting pressure to conform, the fear of evil spirits.
A curious dichotomy exists between the individuality of NA and its main myth of critical mass, mass paradigm shift, mass acceptance of the new paradigm, tuning into a mass mind.
**The UFO movement and Science Fiction religion
UFO enthusiasts are mostly New Agers. The saucer is a Jungian archetype, a symbol of a god, which appears during times of stress in a society.
The UFO movement "exposes the inadequacy" of the government, science, and the military. This symbol has silently undermined the credibility of our leading institutions, leaving them open to New Age attack.
As for new myths, what could be more natural, in an age of scientific marvels, than Von Daniken's Ancient Astronaut theory, stories of space gods arriving in flying saucers, symbols of transcendent technology?
C. G. Jung pointed out that the astrological transition from the age of Pisces (fish symbol) to Aquarius has deep symbolic significance for the unconscious mind, regardless of whether or not one believes in astrology, and in so doing he predicted something akin to the New Age movement.
Since it is probable that extraterrestrial life exists somewhere else in the universe, New Agers have taken this idea and transformed it into a myth of superhuman sky gods who will save humanity from its shortcomings, even from self-destruction. This is an example of a myth which has at least a tenuous level of support from science, unlike the Christian myths and those of most other religions.
D. Curran says that all of the ufo "messages" follow the J-C tradition. However, the inclusion of Christ among the "Space Brothers" suggests that he has been transformed into a pagan god. Both New Agers and Christians are into the UFO movement.
The important thing to see is that the UFO is at least ostensibly science based, however tenuously. We in everyday life do not realize how deeply this myth has taken hold in our society. TV constantly bombards us with images of UFOs and UFOnauts. Even a beer commercial shows little ETs enjoying the product.
The myths will be the same old ones dressed up in modern technological garb, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, coming under the general heading of "Science fiction religion" - Martin Gardner. It will force the development of new myths to facilitate the union of man and machine, a combination of the Space Brother and a computer.
**Radical environmentalism and animal rights
Environmentalism has become a national religion. In the New Age one finds not only the idea of conservation of the natural environment but the actual worship of Nature as a "god". New Agers say that animals, man, and vegetable have no fundamental difference.
What is the Animal Rights movement if not a nihilistic exponent of postmodernism and New Age? Only this theory can explain this group's extreme militance and willingness to resort to violence against their fellow humans.
The Anti-Vivisection League of the late 19th and early 20 cent, forerunner of the animal rights movement, was closely connected with the Theosophical movement led by Blavatsky and Besant. In the 1890s, theosophist Anna Kingsford, who believed she was the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary, attempted to use occult powers and witchcraft to kill scientists involved in animal research. When Animal Rights kills or maims a human in defense of animals, this is equivalent to a sacrifice to the earth goddess. Animals are considered the equals of humans, our "brothers and sisters".
A non-New Age way of deriving something similar to animal rights is Albert Schweitzer's "reverence for life" theory. This, like the New Age theory, has no hierarchies of legitimacy for different forms of life, and this is where the problem begins. In principle one cannot say, for example, that a bacterial infection should be destroyed with antibiotics to save a human's life.
**Postmodern academic theory. Elite Postmodern Consciousness
Where are the New Age elite? They are running the universities. Who are they? Mostly former Movement radicals, precisely the group in which New Age took hold. One 60s radical said "Hinduism will destroy civilization" This could be one explanation for the Western "malaise".
Logic and rationality are not the same thing. The Scholastics of the Middle Ages were mystical romantics par excellence. Yet they were experts in the subtlest forms of logic, a seeming contradiction. Logic is only a technique for connecting two or more ideas together. A classicist or rationalist pays attention to the validity of assumptions. The romantic looks at logic as magic and does not. They both can use impeccable logic. The romantic gets wrong conclusions, blames logic or "science", and shuffles off disillusioned into religion, the occult or the astrology business. When rationalists gets wrong conclusions, they go back to the beginning and closely examines premises.
In our universities the Postmodern-New Age complex reaches its highest state of sophistication. Deconstruction is the academic counterpart of New Age religion.
"centricism", or belief in hierarchies of all kinds, is one of the main bogeys of the intellectual wing of NA.
The academic postmodern view is that reality is nothing but a social construction. Compare with NA and Mussolini quote.
Before continuing, a short discussion of Nietzsche, who is probably the central philosopher of postmodernism.
"For Nietzsche the concept of Nihilism is the hammer by which the philosopher may lead ordinary men to end their existence".
"Nietzsche is the last great metaphysician of the West, since with a grounding like Nihilism and the explosion of the Will to Power, we come now to a radical turning point in world history. We do not know what will come next, but there is nowhere to go. One cannot get more nihilistic than Nietzsche." -Martin Heidegger. Nietzsche has had 100 years to soak into the western consciousness, now his venom is taking full effect.
Was Nietzsche life-affirming (Kaufmann), or does he represent the death wish of Western Civilization (Warner)? This is the core of the controversy surrounding this philosopher since the 19th century. Nietzsche was fully a man of his own time but did not realize it. He is the essence of the romantic, Dionysian urge to destruction which came to fruition in the 20th century.
Nietzsche is like Janus, with his bright side and his dark side. However the consequence of taking him seriously, of accepting that God is dead, of releasing the forces of Dionysus, is mass destruction.
The Church has not faced the Death of God head on.
Nihilism defined: the nothingness of consciousness when consciousness becomes the foundation of everything".- H. Miller. Nihilism is the assertion that there is no rational grounds for belief in ethical and religious values or philosophical truth. (associated with Nietzsche). Nihilism is often accompanied by extreme expressions of "will to freedom" followed by extreme expressions of "will to power", because to exercise unlimited freedom requires unlimited power. Nihilism "is the process by which living things are transformed into dead things". It begins with value denial and ends in mass destruction. It is the longing for non-entity. "All belief is false." "Everything deserves to perish". Accordingly the nihilist takes action to destroy. Nietzsche knew that ordinary men could not stand the "truth" of his ideas, just as Jeremiah could not stand the sight of God face on.
The devastation of the American Black ghettos is a present example of Nietzsche's grim doctrine of Nihilism in action, even if the residents have never heard his name. Gang members, and others, have lost all remnant of respect for themselves and the lives of their fellows, in a tragic confrontation between two cultures, embracing one while desiring the rewards of another.
There is another side to Nietzsche's coin, the theory of the Superman, or superior man who has absolute mastery over his emotions and human nature. The ideas of Nihilism and Superman appear on the surface to contradict each other, since Superman implies a hierarchy of quality. But look at the question from a different perspective: Nihilism is not a mere idea; it is a lethal weapon, an instrument of destruction of one human by another, one class by another. One must ask, who benefits from New Class postmodernism? The sole beneficiaries are the NC itself. The New Class academic considers himself a Superman, willing the destruction of the inferior Old Class, and his instrument of destruction (by which the ordinary man is led to destroy himself) is Nihilism.
"The ideal man of [Hinduism] is clearly a Superman: a yogi with absolute mastery over his own nature". In science fiction we quite often see the idea of the superman. The ordinary man must destroy himself and his fellows to make way for the superman". Connection between Nietzsche's theory of Superman and the New Age idea of the human becoming a god.
Nietzsche's doctrine of eternal recurrence, taken from Eastern thought, destroys the foundation of morality because it is fatalistic.
**Back to Deconstruction
The purpose of a critic is to give the reader a quality estimate of a text. On the other hand, deconstruction's purpose is to break down hierarchical notions of reality.
New Age and PC both attempt to destroy the western "paradigm" of transcendence, together with all of its hierarchies. PC is where the underlying relations of NA to Fascism are most clearly exposed.
There is a tendency for the critics of decon to either dismiss it as a harmless toy, or to regard it as a threat to civilization.
Academics would never invent a theory which threatens the very foundation of their profession, unless they were unable to see the final consequences of that theory.
Deconstruction allows its practitioners to feel superior to the common sense traditional reader who believes in the "official" reading that the deconstructionists see through.
The triumph of unreason in American higher education: "Publish or perish" has led to a frenzied search for "originality" especially in the humanities. The bottom of the topics barrel is being scraped with the utmost vigor. Since only so many ways of approaching the "classics" exist, academics in the humanities are faced with a dilemma: they can either come up with new and ever more outrageous theories about the classics, or discard -and disparage- the classics and move into the study of totally new fields, such as popular culture, of which there is an inexhaustible and ever-renewable supply, sacrificing quality altogether. The choice is really between originality and quality, the former becoming the default choice. The deep motivation stems from everyones' inner urge to be excellent. When this urge is thwarted by the fact of mediocrity, frustration causes the individual to deny excellence. If this cannot take effect then one denies the existence of excellence altogether. It reminds one of what Arthur C. Clarke wrote, about recycling, that "we never need run out of resources, but we can all too easily run out of brains"
Decon provides no grounds on which to praise or condemn anything, so how can it resist totalitarianism? As for encouraging social action, deconstruction destroys the motivation for this by denying the value, even the existence of the human being. This has been codified into the theory of Deconstruction.
Post-structuralists have attempted to eliminate the separation between physical reality and texts.
Literary criticism theories are different from scientific theories. A later scientific theory is expected to be superior to the previous one in its testability and accuracy of prediction. This does not seem to be the case with theories of literary interpretation.
Logocentrism is the desire for a "center". The privilege of speech over writing is a feature of logocentrism. By extension the deconstructionists denounce all such hierarchies, which consequently is denial of criteria for quality.
To be fair to Derrida we must admit that he denounces the improper application of his theories. This is something like a hypothetical image of Marx denouncing totalitarian communism.
"Derrida's theory, though creative, is a yawning abyss of indeterminacy, which threatens it with chaos".
The main thrust of the deconstructionist position is that if a text can be interpreted in any way desired, then no text can be of higher quality than any other text. Therefore all texts are of zero quality. Or, "if everybody is somebody then nobody is anybody" (radical egalitarianism). The imposition of quality standards appears to the mediocre as tyranny. Newton's work on motion and gravity, for example, is branded as "phallocentric" and a "rape manual". The radical feminist academic Sandra Harding who made this assertion actually won a foundation award, implying that these opinions are not considered bizarre in some quarters. Note that New Age science writer Fritjof Capra takes the "down with Newton" tack. PC appears political on the surface, but is deep down, a profoundly religious phenomenon.
Nihilism fits with Marxism in the sense that it feeds on "ressentiment" of inferiors towards their superiors. Deconstruction is a response to the continuing failure of Marxist revolution, just as Christianity developed new doctrines adapted to the failure of Jesus to reappear over the centuries. Marxism is the only ideology with a built-in justification of the profession of "intellectual". Marx said that the intellectual elite must lead, and guide, the proletariat before and after it seizes power, serving as a sort of Medieval clergy to the worker-laymen. "Althusserian Marxism serves to confirm intellectuals in their professional status, while setting them violently and sometimes consolingly, at odds with the governing humanistic ideologies of their institutions." -Terry Eagleton.
"Deconstruction's real target is western metaphysics. Deconstruction may seem atheistic, but its real target is hermeneutics itself, and western dualism, hierarchies of "domination", and in fact hierarchies of all kinds. It fits with the Hegelian - New Age idea of everything being part of the One. It is a refinement of the Nietzschean doctrine that God is dead. Deconstruction is the hermeneutic of the Death of God. Derrida equates all of western thought to metaphysics and the central idea of the Fall of man (the "fall" from pastoral "innocence" into industrialism, from oral tradition to writing, from sexual innocence to experience.)
Christianity regards man as irretrievably fallen, independent of lifestyle. New Age regards the fall as remediable through raising the consciousness to become a god.
With Blake we can dare to identify God with Satan, and the transcendent Lord as the ultimate source of alienation and repression.
"Heidegger's nihilist project of destroying western metaphysics (divine transcendence) was an immediate precursor of Derrida's deconstruction. (Heidegger, incidentally, supported Hitler outright in 1933-34 but later disagreed with Nazism on certain issues).
"There are two ways of looking at man: essentialist, relating man to the rest of the universe, and existentialist, looking at man in his predicament in time and space, and sees the conflict between what exists in time and space and what is given essentially. This is the conflict between the essential goodness of man and man's fall into the condition of existential estrangement." - Tillich.
Deconstruction is "destined" to "free" us from "totalitarianism in all its forms", states Derrida. Yet, deconstructionists have so often been in the vanguard of tyranny's apologists.
At first it appeared PC was just leftover Marxism, what Lenin called infantile leftism, from the 60s antiwar movement. Then came some curious phenomena, such as the deconstructionists' vehement defense of one of their founding colleagues, the late Yale prof. Paul De Man, who was recently exposed as a World War II Nazi collaborator. I concluded there must be a much more comprehensive ideology at work here than that, a Weltanschauung, one that could nourish both extreme left and extreme right stances. When "Marxists" start defending Nazis, something definitely rummy is going on, like Sherlock Holmes' dog that did nothing in the night time.
Since the exposure of the late Yale professor Paul de Man as a Nazi collaborator during the war, the PC'ers have gone through paroxisms of tortured logic attempting to defend him, in the process exposing themselves as condoning the worst atrocities. Far more interesting than this is the reaction of his colleagues. "Historical events are `texts' masquerading in the guise of wars and revolutions". -de Man. De Man, according to his academic defenders, did not even write the offending essays. They were written by ideology speaking through him, reminiscent of an "entity" speaking through a New Age channeller!
Knapp and Michaels argue that theory is an attempt to escape practice, a name for all the ways that people have tried to stand outside of practice and govern it from without. No one can reach a position outside of practice. The theoretical enterprise should come to an end because of its veiled politics and its "will to power" over the text. Deconstruction could of course be used to deconstruct itself. But of course that would put a lot of academics out of business, and that is unthinkable.
Deconstruction is convenient for New Age because under it the Bible becomes a text like all others, to be interpreted in terms of the political ideologies of the authors.
Adherents of "political correctness" (PC) closely linked with postmodern academicism, attempt to render the words 'best' and 'worst' meaningless, and so, annihilate human perception of quality, allowing their own mediocrity to flourish.
PC buzzwords are Multiculturalism and Diversity, derived from the one-world philosophy of the New Age. At bottom it is a religious phenomenon, just as the manifestation of fundamentalism is the anti-abortion movement. "There is an anti-intellectual undercurrent today that is allowing misinformation to seep into multicultural education." Eugenie Scott, Skeptical Enquirer. "The Portland Baseline Essays" are popular in inner city schools: Afrocentric Egyptian myths of "transphysical science" beyond western science, Melanin superiority ideas, Egyptians were black, used psychic powers to build the pyramids, discovered evolution long before Darwin.
What is the real difference between the far left and the far right? It is a religious difference. The lead-in is nihilism and secular despair in both cases. The political "spectrum" is not a line but a circle on which the Far Left and far Right meet. The left embraced "materialist" Marxism, which is essentially Christianity which has been stripped of its transcendent component. Here there is no possibility of criticism from the vertical dimension (Tillich) or from anywhere within the ideology itself. The far right goes for either a literal Christianity which has weak transcendence, or Nazi Nature religion, again rejecting the transcendent in favor of worshiping man as part of nature. The common factor is lack of transcendence leading to nihilism.
Gerald Graff has shown that fascist literature consistently maintains that "all ideologies are merely fictions" as Mussolini put it. "If all rules are arbitrary, then might must make right. Nothing else can.
Deconstruction is consistent with academicism. It does not threaten the academic "text-processing mill". "Deconstruction intends to subvert the academy but ends up confirming it instead".- Fischer.
If PC were merely a Marxist left over from the '60s movement, it would be of little concern, as Marxism has self-destructed everywhere outside academe. However, if the more pervasive Postmodern- New Age is behind PC, the movement is a much more serious thing. It explains why PC endures while Marxist fervor has extinguished like a damp squib everywhere else.
** National Socialism and the religion of Nature.
In the mid 30s a study was done of German psychology using interviews. A consistent finding was that Germans at that time felt threatened by the outside world, viewed the world apocalyptically, fearful of vague shadowy conspiracies, and ready, at least subconsciously, to take extreme measures. Omens are important in pagan, pantheist, and panentheist belief systems.
Frustration produces the apocalyptic view and the urge to mass destruction. The central idea of the occult is one of total liberation from all human restraints, from loneliness, and ultimately matter itself.
Cultural hysteria is characterized as: attention seeking behavior, display of variable emotions, behavioral provocations with self-recognition of intent, suggestibility, "idee fixe", fantasizing for solutions, a deep sense of moral injustice.
C. G. Jung wrote that the Germans were possessed by, or chose to be possessed by, the spirit of Wotan, the one eyed hunter-god of violence, rage and chaos. He meant of course that the subconscious operates in terms of Myth rather than rational thought; myth being a way of expressing the consciously unexpressible.
Jung's idea of the collective or racial unconscious. The utility of this approach is illustrated by the fact that Jung, in his 1936 essay "Wotan", not only analyzed the Nazi mind; he predicted the future catastrophe. Jung pointed out in 1933 that the Nazis were returning to the worship of Wotan under another name. "Jung was a proto-New Ager. His theory of the collective unconscious and archetypal images is a public, more scientifically acceptable version of his private occult beliefs about gods and demons of the astral plane.
"There is an inner subconscious world view and outer conscious world view. If these are out of harmony with each other, watch for sudden shifts in the inner when the outer becomes strong enough. In ordinary circumstances they are in harmony. In unsettled times such as our own, the new "paradigm" saturates the conscious mind, then diffuses into the subconscious. The subconscious is much less tolerant of confusion, will suddenly make the switch, then return and overwhelm the conscious mind. If myth is intentionally invented it must be "approved" by the collective unconscious.
Hitler said that to understand National Socialism one must know the Germanic mythological operas of Wagner. A revealing quote from Hitler: "We are now at the end of the Age of Reason. The Intellect has...become a disease of life. A new age of magical interpretation of the world is coming in terms of will and not intelligence...there are ascending grades on the way to the achievement of higher levels of consciousness...there is no such thing as truth, either in the moral or the scientific sense..." - Rauschning
"...Hitler attained higher levels of consciousness by means of drugs, and made a penetrating study of medieval occultism and ritual magic." Ravenscroft, T.
The Nazi religion of Nature is an example of the outbreak of the savage primitive archetype from the unconscious into the consciousness.
Robert Waite emphasized Romanticism as constituting a major background for National Socialism. Alfred Rosenberg said that "National Socialism is an attitude". Nazism never claimed to be a rational system of thought. The Nazi racial theories were only a small segment of the vast deluge of pseudoscience that engulfed Germany between the wars. The Nazis, with their antirational attitude, prized illiteracy, as being more in keeping with the proper attitude of a barbarian.
Many occult groups share an obsession with Aryanism. A large body of opinion within Hinduism is exemplified by Swami Svatantrananda: "Whatever you may say against him, Hitler was a Mahatma, almost like an avatar...he was the visual incarnation of Aryan polity". "There is no room for the unfit in the enlightened world". -Maharishi Yogi
"The Nordic Neo-Paganism of men like Heinrich Himmler was a harbinger of National Socialism's ultimate goal: the destruction of western civilization's fundamental values. Himmler attempted to revive pagan gods and rituals of Germany's pre-Christian past. In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the texts studied by Alfred Rosenberg while formulating his Nazi mythology, karma demands that one carry out one's duty in a detached way and to disregard the consequences. This detachment or disengagement is taken as equivalent to self-sacrifice.
"Christianity split the Germanic barbarian into an upper and a lower half, and enabled him, by repressing the dark side, to domesticate the brighter half and fit it for civilization. But the lower darker half still awaits redemption and a second spell of domestication. Until then it will remain associated with the vestiges of the prehistoric age, with the collective unconscious, which is subject to a peculiar and ever-increasing activation. As the Christian view of the world loses its authority, the more menacing will the "blond beast" be heard prowling about in its underground prison, ready at any moment to burst out with devastating consequences." -C. G. Jung, 1918
Giant rock concerts of the 1960s such as Woodstock have been compared to the Nazi Nuremberg rallies. Totalitarianism means losing oneself in the mass, and blending ones' soul into that of the masses; reminiscent of being united with the One.
"The Nazis were convinced that they had succeeded in fusing the realms of nature and spirit, that the product of this fusion would be the natural Aryan man, and that the process of reinforming a decadent bourgeois world with a new nature-mythos required the elimination (sacrifice) of those whose existence was an insult to the laws of life." The swastika was a symbol of the Sun and of life. "Agrarian reaction and pastoral nostalgia play an important role in modern ideology". Neo-paganism celebrates life. Before the entrance to Auschwitz, in full view of the victims as they were unloaded from the cattle cars, was a large, luxuriant tree, symbol of life and nature. Nazis were one-worlders in the sense that they believed in world dictatorship with Germany at the head.
Human sacrifice was widespread in pagan religions. The recently unearthed peat bog men of ancient Britain, probably undesirables of their tribe, were sacrificed to the Earth Goddess, according to the Roman historian Tacitus. The impulse to sacrifice to appease the gods is a powerful and universal human tendency. It was of course transformed into the somewhat less lethal Catholic mass but breaks out to this day in times of stress, in witch hunts, pogroms, and Holocausts. Nationalism at the Nazi level is a form of pagan idolatry. The defeat of Hitler, seen in perspective, was merely a temporary setback for Neo-Paganism's postmodern program.
For Hindus, God is both good and evil, for he is the All. For the followers of the Hindu goddess Kali (Thuggee), murdering passersby was a form of worship.
New Age emphasizes a blending into the One, which suggests the individual blending into the masses, the essence of totalitarianism. The Nazis blended into a mass for the purpose of destruction. So far New Age has no single leader. It is the early stage of what could eventually be a fascist revival.
Some writers have made the identification of New Age as renascent Nazism. While admitting that it is oversimplified, we can still assert the caveat that New Age cultivates an antirational climate in which movements like Nazism can more easily thrive. The innermost metaphysical position of the New Age, the worship of an immanent, divine Nature, is similar to the Nazi position. In other words, Nazism was a manifestation of Neopaganism in a particular historical context.
Nazism was the culmination of 19th century Romanticism; a proto-New Age movement, a modern millenarian revolution. Most New Agers are, of course, blissfully unaware of these ideas. Awakening these kinds of myths in the subconscious could, when combined with a political and economic crisis, induce something like Nazism to arise. Education is not a defense; Germany was the best-read country in the world in the 1930s.
"The only religious forces resisting Hitler were Judeo-Christian. Hitler was not strong enough to directly confront Christianity. The Eastern religions did not resist Hitler, because they admired his mediumistic powers. Islam did not resist, because it admires temporal power.
Concerning the Nazi idea of blood as the all-important carrier of Aryan superiority: "Primitive men generally look upon blood as being life itself. They see blood flow and the body die, and therefore assume that life flows out of the body in a literal sense. Closely allied to this is the belief that the soul or spirit of the being is in his blood, and that when the blood escapes the soul does too." -Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, Funk & Wagnall
Himmler saw Auschwitz as a place of sacrifice. The SS men saw themselves as giving up their innocence, their peace of mind so that future generations of Germans would benefit. To them, the atrocities were considered more of an ordeal for the torturers than for their victims. The SS was motivated by the idea of sacrifice in a fanatical utopian cause which suspended normal judgment, and conveniently found sadists among their members to do the actual work of execution, while averting their own gaze. There was a feeling that the last days were at hand, that the subhuman Jew, Satan in disguise, had to be prevented, by all means, from taking over the world", explaining why the Nazis gave higher priority to killing the Jews than to their own war effort.
** Conclusion. "What rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" - W. B. Yeats
All of the foregoing movements are aspects of the same phenomenon: the shift from transcendence to immanence, from rationality to magic. One conclusion is that New Age religion and the Postmodernism are intimately related.
If the divine is present in the individual soul it must be found in the institutions as well. For people will not readily achieve salvation without a saving society.
Two facts of modernity: the relentless crushing of traditional beliefs about the special place of humans in the universe, combined with the ever worsening environmental catastrophe and imploding ecosystem, will ensure the New Age's waxing power. The process of decay and replacement of the JC tradition is far advanced.
What is required in a new religion? It is likely that the new age religion will gradually blend with the old religions in some ways, while introducing monism in place of dualism. Historically this happened over centuries, but today we have instant communications. A myth of the future must involve man being absorbed by a superior being (AI). Perhaps we must create a new mythology ab initio, or from old fragments. Or can we adapt the old myths to a new ethical priciple such as Quality maximization.
What allows some religions to catch on and become "establishment", while others die quickly? Successful ones are able to work out their internal inconsistencies in the framework of the needs of the society of their time, and serve the needs of their society. A myth must be capable of being taken seriously by a large segment of the society if they are to succeed.
"The [Roman] Colosseum was the center of an effective Empire-wide system of anaesthesia. Over the generations it corrupted, then drained away those impulses making for change, unrest, and ambition in society. It substituted ritualized mass fantasy for the realities of politics and religion, self aggrandizement and war". Eventually the Empire became more concerned with watching the arena than with repelling the barbarians. Even many early Christians, warned by their fellows to avoid the Games, attended and became quickly addicted to the sight of blood. The games did not end until half a century after the Empire became officially Christian.
As eco-catastrophe overtakes the planet, and technology increasingly provokes human insecurity, pressure to sacrifice to the earth goddess will increase sharply, possibly leading to massacre on a grand scale.
"What begins in mysticism ends in politics" - a French poet. The 21st century may begin with another round of political, but at bottom religious wars, culminating in horrors even beyond our present comprehension; Western Civilization and those who adhere to it must be sacrificed to the Earth Goddess, as were the bog men of Wales.
The New Age movement does have a legitimate complaint; that the old religions do not meet today's needs. On the other hand, a society that gives up the privilege of critical thinking is prime fodder for the next totalitarian cult that comes along. "As long as people believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities" -Voltaire.
BIBLIOGRAPHY and some additional references:
Adler, M., Drawing Down the Moon Aron, R., Treason of the Intellectuals Bloom, H. The American Religion Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind Campbell, J.,Creative Mythology Bourke, V., History of Ethics, Doubleday, 1968. Capra, F., The Tao of Physics, Random House, 1977. Clouser, R., The Myth of Religious Neutrality Curren, D., In Advance of the Landing Deloria, God is Red Drury, N., The Occult Experience Ellwood, Religions and Spiritual Groups in Modern America Ferguson, M., The Aquarian Conspiracy, Tarcher, 1980. Fischer, M., Does Deconstruction make any difference? Gibbon, E., The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Grossinger, R.,Waiting for the Martian Express Marty, Greenspahn, Pushing the Faith Groothuis, D., Unmasking the New Age Hexham, Understanding Cults and New Religions Hodges, D., Sandino's Communism Hunt, McMahon, America: The Sorcerer's New Apprentice Jung, C. G., Wotan (1936 essay) in Collected Works. Jung, C, G., Flying Saucers: Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky1957 Kerr , Crow, The Occult in America Levin, The Opening of Vision Logan, K.,Paganism and the Occult Macoby, H., The Sacred Executioner, Thames & Hudson, 1982. Mandelbaum, M., Phenomenology of Moral Experience, Free Press, 1955. Manes, C., Green Rage, Little, Brown, 1990. Markus, Christianity in the Roman Empire Melton, J. G.., et al , New Age Encyclopedia Miller, E.A Crash Course in the New Age Movement Moody, R., Elvis after Life Paulson, J. N., Cult of Personality,http://firstdial.com/~dimension/ Paulson, J. N., Fascist Tendencies in Our Society,http://firstdial.com/~dimension/ Pearson, J., Arena: The Story of the Colosseum Pirsig, R., Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Bantam, 1974. Pirsig, R., Lila, Bantam, 1990. Pois, R. A., National Socialism and the Religion of Nature Prigogine, I., Order Out of Chaos, Bantam 1984. Rauschning, H., The Voice of Destruction (quoted in Sklar) Rauschning, H., The Revolution of Nihilism Ravenscroft, T., The Spear of Destiny Rhodes, J. M., The Hitler Movement: A Modern Millenarian Revolution Selden, R., Contemporary Literary Theory Shiel, Greek Thought and the Rise of Christianity "Skeptical Enquirer" Summer 1989. Sklar, D., Gods And Beasts: The Nazis and the Occult, Thomas Crowell, 1977. Steiner, Martin Heidegger Sykes, C., The Hollow Men Tillich, P., A History of Christian Thought Simon & Schuster, 1968. Tillich, P., The Future of Religions Tillich, P., The Essential Tillich, MacMillan, 1987. Warner, S. J., The Urge to Mass Destruction Grune & Stratton, 1957. Webb, The Flight from Reason
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