What, more realistically, is this “mutation,” this “new man”? He is the rootless man, discontinuous with a past that Nihilism has destroyed, the raw material of every demagogue’s dream; the “free-thinker” and skeptic, closed only to the truth…. the “rebel,” hating all restraint and authority because he himself is his own and only god.
Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age, by Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose
Never before in history (or so it seems) has the relationship of man’s perceived liberty and his actual imprisonment been so tightly correlated. The Nihilist program, as previously noted, is a war against God in order to bring on a reign of nothingness. Therefore, first, the destruction of the Old Order must be the task. Fr. Rose describes the Old Order as “the soil, nourished by Christian Truth, in which men had their roots.” In other words, culture and tradition, and that of a specific type.
Effective war against God and His Truth requires the destruction of every element of this Old Order; it is here that the peculiarly Nihilist “virtue” of violence comes into play. Violence is no merely incidental aspect of the Nihilist Revolution, but a part of its essence.
At the time of this writing, Fr. Rose was thinking of Communism and National Socialism. But we have also seen this reality in our time in the West – violence by the state, by large corporations, and by peaceful rioters.
Fr. Rose notes Bakunin’s Revolutionary Catechism, written in 1866. It is an interesting document. I offer a couple of items from this work:
Replacing the cult of God by respect and love of humanity, we proclaim human reason as the only criterion of truth; human conscience as the basis of justice; individual and collective freedom as the only source of order in society.
One could certainly read this as a succinct description of Enlightenment ideals.
The internal reorganization of each country on the basis of the absolute freedom of individuals, of the productive associations, and of the communes. Necessity of recognizing the right of secession: every individual, every association, every commune, every region, every nation has the absolute right to self-determination, to associate or not to associate, to ally themselves with whomever they wish and repudiate their alliances without regard to so-called historic rights [rights consecrated by legal precedent] or the convenience of their neighbors.
A statement as libertarian as can be.
Of course, where Bakunin ends up is most certainly not a place respectful of property rights, for example:
The right of every man and woman, from birth to adulthood, to complete upkeep, clothes, food, shelter, care, guidance, education (public schools, primary, secondary, higher education, artistic, industrial, and scientific), all at the expense of society.
Consider…once God is “replaced,” and “human reason as the only criterion of truth,” will the non-aggression principle come to the fore, or will Bakunin’s vision dominate? Yet removing God in favor of unhindered human reason is precisely what many libertarians, objectivists, and modern enlightened thinkers believe will usher in utopia. It will certainly be a utopia, but not one conforming to the dreams of those favoring liberty.
Returning to Fr. Rose, he offers a quote from Joseph Goebbels from the last days of the war, which sounds too much like it could be ripped from today’s headlines:
Together with the monuments of culture there crumble also the last obstacles to the fulfillment of our revolutionary task. Now that everything is in ruins, we are forced to rebuild Europe.
Sounds like Build Back Better, only possible when the former is purposely destroyed – as in war. The past has been destroyed – not merely the structures, but, in Goebbels words, “everything old and outworn is gone.”
This new order will be built by men liberated from and on the ruins of the old, especially Christianity and God. The earth will be exploited and controlled for the sake of man and against God. C.S. Lewis would point out that this would not be for the sake of all men; he recognizes that it will be, instead, the power of some men over other men.
Returning again to Fr. Rose, he describes some of the apologies for these schemes as a “strange type of lucid insanity.” This is clearly the reality we are living under today. The combination of extreme industrialization and technology can only lead to tyranny – again, as we are witnessing right now, in real time.
The power of contemporary “planners” will find its natural limit, if unopposed, in a regime of total organization.
And for this, see Tim Cook of Apple and his speech to the ADL, where he offers a vision of the desired ethic: the only values that matter are 1) inclusion, and 2) don’t oppose the system – including the system of inclusion. It is a problem if you oppose yourself to this. It is unethical to be outside of this desired ethic. As Jonathan Pageau commented in response to this totalizing system, if you oppose the system, you will be the one excluded.
Fr. Rose captures this reality:
This world, from the Nihilist point of view, will be one of perfect “realism” and total “liberation”; in actual fact it will be the vastest and most efficient prison men have ever known.
Liberation in a prison – living free, in a gulag.
Citing Lenin: “there will be no way of getting away from it, there will be ‘nowhere to go.’” And this will be a world of something other than man – he will and must be transformed.
Marx and Engels would note, “the alteration of men on a mass scale is necessary.” Or in the words of Erich Kahler, “a true mutation, a transformation of human nature.” C.S. Lewis offered a picture of this new world and these new inhuman men. The result will be an inhuman world, for both the conditioners and the conditioned:
They [the conditioners] are not men at all. Stepping outside the Tao, they have stepped into the void. Nor are their subjects [the conditioned] necessarily unhappy men. They are not men at all: they are artefacts. Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man.