'The New Science of Politics: An Introduction' by Eric Voegelin (1952)

A selection from The New Science of Politics: An Introduction by Eric Voegelin in 1952

The New Science of Politics began as a series of lectures delivered at the University of Chicago in 1951.

A number of other works appeared in the 50's and early 60's
which share many themes with this work: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote his The Phenomena of Man in 1955, Balthasar wrote A Theology of History in 1959, and Kermode wrote The Sense of an Ending in 1962.

[Work in Progress]

Note: whittle down this selection to reveal its nucleas of vision clearly.


The evolution of mankind toward the rationality of positive science was for Comte a distinctly progressive development; for Weber it was a process of disenchantment (Entzauberung) and de-divinization ( Entgottlichung) of the world.

In the work of Max Weber positivism had come to its end, and the lines on which the restoration of political science would have to move became visible. [...] The last stronghold was Weber's conviction that history moved toward a type of rationalism which relegated religion and metaphysics into the realm of the "irrational." And that was not much of a stronghold as soon as it was understood that nobody was obliged to enter it; that one simply could turn around and rediscover the rationality of metaphysics... .

Weber, as has just been set forth, still conceived history as an increase of rationalism in the positivistic sense. From the position of a science of order, however, the exclusion of the scientia prima from the realm of reason is not an increase but a decrease of rationalism. What Weber, in the wake of Comte, understood as modern rationalism would have to be reinterpreted as modern irrationalism .

Chapter 1

REPRESENTATION AND EXISTENCE (note: make sure this chapter marker is in the right place).

Human society is not merely a fact, or an event, in the external world to be studied by an observer like a natural phenomenon. Though it has externality as one of its important components, it is as a whole a little world, a cosmion [a term adopted from Adolf Stohr], illuminated with meaning from within by the human beings who continuously create and bear it as the mode and condition of their self-realization. It is illuminated through an elaborate symbolism, in various degrees of compactness and differentiation-from rite, through myth, to theory-and this symbolism illuminates it with meaning in so far as the symbols make the internal structure of such a cosmion, the relations between its members and groups of members, as well as its existence as a whole, transparent for the mystery of human existence. The self-illumination of society through symbols is an integral part of social reality, and one may even say its essential part, for through such symbolization the members of a society experience it as more than an accident or a convenience; they experience it as of their human essence. And, inversely, the symbols express the experience that man is fully man by virtue of his participation in a whole which transcends his particular existence, by virtue of his participation in the xynon, the common, as Heraclitus called it, the first Western thinker who differentiated this concept. As a consequence, every human society has an understanding of itself through a variety of symbols, sometimes highly differentiated language symbols, independent of political science; and such self-understanding precedes historically by millenniums the emergence of political science, of the episteme politike in the Aristotelian sense. Hence, when political science begins, it does not begin with a tabula rasa on which it can inscribe its concepts; it will inevitably start from the rich body of self-interpretation of a society and proceed by critical clarification of socially pre-existent symbols. When Aristotle wrote his Ethics and Politics, when he constructed his concepts of the polis, of the constitution, the citizen, the various forms of government, of justice, of happiness, etc., he did not invent these terms and endow them with arbitrary meanings; he took rather the symbols which he found in his social environment... .

When a theorist reflects on his own theoretical situation, he finds himself faced with two sets of symbols: the language symbols that are produced as an integral part of the social cosmion in the process of its self-illumination and the language symbols of political science. Both are related with each other in so far as the second set is developed out of the first one through the process that provisionally [could be] called critical clarification. 

If the theorist, for instance, describes the Marxian idea of the realm of freedom, to be established by a Communist revolution, as an immanentist hypostasis of a Christian eschatological symbol, the symbol "realm of freedom" is part of reality; it is part of a secular movement of which the Marxist movement is a subdivision, while such terms as "immanentist," "hypostasis," and "eschatology" are concepts of political science.

...when a creative minority, in Toynbee 's language, has become a dominant minority, it is in danger of being replaced by a new creative minority. The practical disregard for this problem has been an important contributive factor in our time in the serious internal upheavals of Western political societies as well as in their tremendous international repercussions. Our own foreign policy was a factor in aggravating international disorder through its sincere but naive endeavor of curing the evils of the world by spreading representative institutions in the elemental sense to areas where the existential conditions for their functioning were not given. Such provincialism, persistent in the face of its consequences, is in itself an interesting problem for the scientist. One cannot explain the odd policies of Western democratic powers leading to continuous warfare, with weaknesses of individual statesmen-- though such weaknesses are strongly in evidence. They are rather symptomatic of a massive resistance to face reality, deeply rooted in the sentiments and opinion of the broad masses of our contemporary Western societies. Only because they are symptoms of a mass phenomenon is it justified to speak of a crisis of Western civilization.

Chapter 3


Eastern religions... found themselves in the Hellenistic environment and began to express themselves in the language of Greek speculation. In fact, the Christian development in this direction was not original but followed the example of Philo Judaeus; and Philo had at his disposition already the preparatory peripatetic speculations of the first century B.c.

He carefully preserved the position of the Jews as the chosen people, but he skilfully extricated them from their metaphysical impasse by making the service of Yahve the service of the God that rules the cosmos in the peripatetic sense. [authors note: Peterson, op. cit., pp. 23 If. In De Ahrahamo 98 the Jews are described as the nation "dearest to God" and endowed with the gifts of priesthood and prophecy "on behalf of the whole race of men"; in De 1pee. leg. 167 the prayers of the Jews are representative for all mankind; in De 1pee. leg. 97 the high priest of the Jews prays and gives thanks not only for mankind but for the whole creation.] The Jews in serving this God serve him representatively for mankind.

The Philonic speculation was taken over by Christian thinkers. The adaptation to the Christian situation in the Empire achieved its fullest development through Eusebius of Caesarea in the time of Constantine. Eusebius, like many Christian thinkers before and after him, was attracted by the coincidence of the appearance of Christ with the pacification  of the Empire through Augustus. [...] The establishment of the pax Romana was... not only of pragmatic importance for the expansion of Christianity but to Eusebius it seemed intimately connected with the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. In the pre-Roman period, he opined, neighbors did not live in real community but were engaged in continuous warfare with each other. Augustus dissolved the pluralistic polyarchy; with his monarchy peace descended on the earth, thus fulfilling the scriptural predictions of Mic. 4: 4 and Ps. 71: 7. In brief, the eschatological prophecies concerning the peace of the Lord were politicized by Eusebius when he referred them to a pax Romana which coincided historically with the manifestation of the Logos. And, finally, Eusebius considered the work that had been begun by Augustus to be fulfilled by Constantine. In his Tricennial Speech he praised Constantine because in his imperial he had imitated the divine monarchy: the one basileus on earth represents the one God, the one King in Heaven, the one Nomos and Logos.

The other brilliant idea of Eusebius, the idea of recognizing in the pax Romana the fulfilment of eschatological prophecies (an idea strongly reminiscent of Cicero's inclination to see the perfect order of the philosophers realized through Rome), fell to pieces under the pressure of a troubled age. Nevertheless, the commentary of St. Augustine on the prophecy of Ps. 45 : 10 may serve as a specific assertion of the orthodox counterposition. The text is: "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth. " St. Augustine comments: "That we see not yet accomplished; hitherto we have wars. Between the nations there are the wars for domination. And there are also wars between the sects, between Jews, Pagans, Christians and heretics, and these wars even increase; one side fighting for truth, the other side for falsehood. In no way is there fulfilled the 'ceasing of the wars to the end of the earth '; but perhaps, we hope, it will be fulfilled. "
This is the end of political theology in orthodox Christianity. The spiritual destiny of man in the Christian sense cannot be represented on earth by the power organization of a political society; it can be represented only by the church. The sphere of power is radically de-divinized; it has become temporal. The double representation of man in society through church and empire lasted through the Middle Ages.

Chapter 4


THE clash between the various types of truth in the Roman Empire ended with the victory of Christianity. The fateful result of this victory was the de-divinization of the temporal sphere of power; and it was anticipated that the specifically modern problems of representation would have something to do with a re-divinization of man and society. Both of these terms are in need of further definition, especially since the concept of modernity and with it the periodization of history depend on the meaning of re-divinization. Hence, by de-divinization shall be meant the historical process in which the culture of polytheism died from experiential atrophy, and human existence in society became reordered through the experience of man's destination, by the grace of the world-transcendent God, toward eternal life in beatific vision. By redivinization, however, shall not be meant a revival of polytheistic
culture in the Greco-Roman sense. The characterization of modern political mass movements as neopagan, which has a certain vogue, is misleading because it sacrifices the historically unique nature of modern movements to a superficial resemblance. Modern re-divinization has its origins rather in Christianity itself, deriving from components that were suppressed as heretical by the universal church. The nature of this inner-Christian tension, therefore, will have to be determined more closely.
The tension was given with the historical origin of Christianity as a Jewish messianic movement. The life of the early Christian communities was experientially not fixed but oscillated between the eschatological expectation of the Parousia [
Παρουσία, presence, arrival] that would bring the Kingdom of God and the understanding of the church as the apocalypse of Christ in history. Since the Parousia did not occur, the church actually evolved from the eschatology of the realm in history toward the eschatology of transhistorical, supernatural perfection [authors note: On the transition from eschatological to apocalyptic Christianity see Alois Dempf, Sacrum Imperium (Munich and Berlin, 1929), pp. 71 ff.]. [...] Nevertheless, the expectation of an imminent coming of the realm was stirred to white heat again and again by the suffering of the persecutions; and the most grandiose expression of eschatological pathos, the Revelation of St. John, was included in the canon in spite of misgivings about its compatibility with the idea of the church. The inclusion had fateful consequences, for with the Revelation was accepted the revolutionary annunciation of the millennium in which Christ would reign with his saints on this earth. [...] If Christianity consisted in the burning desire for deliverance from the world, if Christians lived in expectation of the end of unredeemed history, if their destiny could be fulfilled only by the realm in the sense of chapter 20 of Revelation, the church was reduced to an ephemeral community of men waiting for the
great event and hoping that it would occur in their lifetime .
On the theoretical level the problem could be solved only by the tour de force of interpretation which St. Augustine performed in the Civitas Dei. There he roundly dismissed the literal belief in the millennium as "ridiculous fables" and then boldly declared the realm of the thousand years to be the reign of Christ in his church in the present saeculum that would continue until the Last Judgment and the advent of the eternal realm in the beyond [authors note: Augustinus Civitas Dei xx. 7, 8, and 9.]

The Augustinian conception of the church, without substantial change, remained historically effective to the end of the Middle Ages. The revolutionary expectation of a Second Coming that would transfigure the structure of history on earth was ruled out as "ridiculous.'' The Logos had become flesh in Christ; the grace of redemption had been bestowed on man; there would be no divinization of society beyond the pneumatic presence of Christ in his church. [...] This left the church as the universal spiritual organization of saints and sinners who professed faith in Christ, as the representative of the civitas Dei in history, as the flash of eternity into time.

This picture must be rounded out by remembering that the idea of the temporal order was historically concretized through the Roman Empire. [...] The church as the historically concrete representation
of spiritual destiny was paralleled by the Roman Empire as the historically concrete representation of human temporality. Hence, the understanding of the medieval empire as the continuation of Rome was more than a vague historical hangover; it was part of a conception of history in which the end of Rome meant the end of the world in the eschatological sense. The conception survived in the realm of ideas for centuries while its basis of sentiments and institutions was crumbling away. The history of the world was constructed in the Augustinian tradition for the last time only by Bossuet, in his Histoire universelle, toward the end of the seventeenth century; and the first modern who dared to write a world history in direct opposition to Bossuet was Voltaire.

Western Christian society thus was articulated into the spiritual and temporal orders, with pope and emperor as the supreme representatives in both the existential and the transcendental sense. [...] The movement had a long social and intellectual prehistory, but the desire for a re-divinization of society produced a definite symbolism of its own only toward the end of the twelfth century. The analysis will start from the first clear and comprehensive expression of the idea in the person and work of Joachim of Flora.

Joachim broke with the Augustinian conception o f a Christian society when he applied the symbol of the Trinity to the course of history. In his speculation the history of mankind had three periods corresponding to the three persons of the Trinity. The first period of the world was the age of the Father; with the appearance of Christ began the age of the Son. But the age of the Son will not be the last one; it will be followed by a third age of the Spirit. The three ages were characterized as intelligible increases of spiritual fulfilment. The first age unfolded the life of the layman ; the second age brought the active contemplative life of the priest; the third age would bring the perfect spiritual life of the monk. [...] The leader of the first age was Abraham; the leader of the second age was Christ; and Joachim predicted that by 1260 there would appear the Dux e Babylone, the leader of the third age.
In his trinitarian eschatology Joachim created the aggregate of symbols which govern the self-interpretation of modern political society to this day.
The first of these symbols is the conception of history as a sequence of three ages, of which the third age is intelligibly the final Third Realm. As variations of this symbol are recognizable the humanistic and encyclopedist periodization of history into ancient, medieval, and modern history; Turgot's and Comte's theory of a sequence of theological, metaphysical, and scientific phases; Hegel's dialectic of the three stages of freedom and self-reflective spiritual fulfilment; the Marxian dialectic of the three stages of primitive communism, class society, and final communism; and, finally, the National Socialist symbol of the Third Realm-- though this is a special case requiring further attention.

The second symbol is that of the leader. It had its immediate effectiveness in the movement of the Franciscan spirituals who saw in St. Francis the fulfilment of Joachim ' s prophecy... .

The third symbol, sometimes blending into the second, is that of the prophet of the new age. In order to lend validity and conviction to the idea of a final Third Realm, the course of history as an intelligible, meaningful whole must be assumed accessible to human knowledge, either through a direct revelation or through speculative gnosis. Hence, the Gnostic prophet or, in the later stages of secularization, the Gnostic intellectual becomes an appurtenance of modern civilization. Joachim himself is the first instance of the species.
The fourth symbol is that of the brotherhood of autonomous persons. The third age of Joachim, by virtue of its new descent of the spirit, will transform men into members of the new realm without sacramental mediation of grace. In the third age the church will cease to exist because the charismatic gifts that are necessary for the perfect life will reach men without administration of sacraments. While Joachim himself conceived the new age concretely as an order of monks, the idea of a community of the spiritually perfect who can live together without institutional authority was formulated on principle. The idea was capable of infinite variations. It can be traced in various degrees of purity in medieval and Renaissance sects, as well as in the Puritan churches of the saints; in its secularized form it has become a formidable component in the contemporary democratic creed; and it is the dynamic core in the Marxian mysticism of the realm of freedom and the withering-away of the state.
The National Socialist Third Realm is a special case. To be sure, Hitler's millennial prophecy authentically derives from Joachitic speculation, mediated in Germany through the Anabaptist wing of the Reformation and through the Johannine Christianity of Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling . Nevertheless, the concrete application of the trinitarian schema to the first German Reich that ended in 1806, the Bismarck Reich that ended in 1918, and Das Dritte Reich of the National Socialist movement sounds flat and provincial if compared with the world-historical speculation of the German idealists, of Comte, or of Marx. [...] The Russian idea of the Third Rome is characterized by the same blend of an eschatology of the spiritual realm with its realization by a political society as the National Socialist idea of the Dritte Reich. This other branch of political re-divinization must now be considered.
Only in the West was the Augustinian conception of the church historically effective to the point that it resulted in the clear double representation of society through the spiritual and temporal powers. In the East developed the Byzantine form of Caesaropapism, in direct continuity with the position of the emperor in pagan Rome. Constantinople was the Second Rome, as it appeared in the declaration of Justinian concerning the consuetudo Romae: "By Rome, however, must be understood not only the old one but also our royal city." After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, the idea of Moscow as the successor to the Orthodox empire gained ground in Russian clerical circles. Let me quote the famous passages from a letter of Filofei of Pskov to Ivan the Great:

The church of the first Rome fell because of the godless heresy of Apollinaris. The gates of the second Rome at Constantinople were smashed by the Ishmaelites. Today the holy apostolic church of the third Rome in thy Empire shines in the glory of Christian faith throughout the world. Know you, O pious Tsar, that all empires of the orthodox Christians have converged into thine own. You are the sole autocrat of the universe, the only tsar of all Christians . . . . According to the prophetic books all Christian empires have an end and will converge into one empire, that of our gossudar, that is, into the Empire of Russia. Two Romes have fallen, but the third will last, and there will not be a fourth one.

Precisely at the time when the Western imperial articulation ultimately disintegrated, when Western society rearticulated itself into the nations [England, France and Spain] and the plurality of churches [through the Reformation], Russia entered on her career as the heir of Rome.

...the Slavophilic, anti-Western philosophy of history [of the early to mid 19th century] which enhanced the apocalypse of the Third Rome, with broad effectiveness in the intelligentsia of the middle nobility, into the messianic, eschatological mission of Russia for mankind. In Dostoevski this superimposition of messianism crystallized in the curiously ambivalent vision of an autocratic, orthodox Russia that somehow would conquer the world and in this conquest blossom out into the free society of all Christians in the true faith. It is the ambivalent vision which, in its secularized form, inspires a Russian dictatorship of the proletariat that in its conquest of the world will blossom out into the Marxian realm of freedom.

From the exposition of Joachitic symbols, from the cursory survey of their later variants, and from their blending with the political apocalypse of the Third Rome, it will have become clear that the new eschatology decisively affects the structure of modern politics. [...] Up to this point, however, the symbolism has been accepted on the level of self-interpretation and described as a historical phenomenon. It must now be submitted to critical analysis of its principal aspects... .
The Joachitic eschatology is, by its subject matter, a speculation on the meaning of history. In order to define its special character, it must be set off against the Christian philosophy of history that was traditional at the time, that is, against Augustinian speculation. Into the traditional speculation had entered the Jewish-Christian idea of an end of history in the sense of an intelligible state of perfection. History no longer moved in cycles, as it did with Plato and Aristotle, but acquired direction and destination. Beyond Jewish messianism in the strict sense the specifically Christian conception of history had advanced toward the understanding of the end as a transcendental fulfilment. In his elaboration of this theoretical insight St. Augustine distinguished between a profane sphere of history which culminates in the appearance of Christ and the establishment of the church. He, furthermore, imbedded sacred history in a transcendental history of the civitas Dei which includes the events in the angelic sphere as well as the transcendental eternal sabbath. Only transcendental history, including the earthly pilgrimage of the church, has direction toward its eschatological fulfilment. Profane history, on the other hand has no such direction; it is a waiting for the end; its present mode of being is that of a saeculum sensescens, of an age that grows old.
By the time of Joachim, Western civilization was growing strongly; and an age that began to feel its muscles would not easily bear the Augustinian defeatism with regard to the mundane sphere of existence. The Joachitic speculation was an attempt to endow the immanent course of history with a meaning that was not provided in the Augustinian conception. And for this purpose Joachim used what he had at hand, that is, the meaning of transcendental history. In this first Western attempt at an immanentization of meaning the connection with Christianity was not lost. The new age of Joachim would bring an increase of fulfilment within history, but the increase would not be due to an immanent eruption; it would come through a new transcendental irruption of the spirit. The idea of a radically immanent fulfilment grew rather slowly, in a long process that roughly may be called "from humanism to enlightenment"; only in the eighteenh century, with the idea of progress, had the increase of meaning in history become a completely intramundane phenomenon, without transcendental irruptions. This second phase of immaentization shall be called "secularization."
From the Joachitic immanentization a theoretical problem arises which occurs neither in classic antiquty nor in orthodox Christianity, that is, the problem of an eidos [Greek, 'form', c.f. Plato] of history. In Hellenic speculation, to be sure, we also have a problem of essence in politics; the polis has an eidos both for Plato and for Aristotle. But the actualization of this essence is governed by the rhythm of growth and decay, and the rhythmical embodiment and disembodiment of essence in political reality is the mystery of existence; it is not an additional eidos. The soteriological truth of Christianity, then, breaks with the rhythm of existence; beyond temporal successes and reverses lies the supernatural destiny of man, the perfection through grace in the beyond. Man and mankind now have fulfilment, but it lies beyond nature. Again there is no eidos of history, because the eschatological supernature is not a nature in the philosophical, immanent sense. The problem of an eidos in history, therefore, arises only when Christian transcendental fulfilment becomes immanentized. Such an immanentist hypostasis of the eschaton, however, is a theoretical fallacy. Things are not things, nor do they have essences, by arbitrary declaration. The course of history as a whole is no object of experience; history has no eidos, because the course of history extends into the unknown future. The meaning of history, thus, is an illusion; and this illusionary eidos is created by treating a symbol of faith as if it were a proposition concerning an object of immanent experience.

The attempt at constructing an eidos of history will lead into the fallacious immanentization of the Christian escahaton. The understanding of the attempt as fallacious, however, raises baffling questions with regard to the type of man who will indulge in it. The fallacy looks rather elemental. Obviously one cannot explain seven centuries of intellectual history by stupidity and dishonesty. A drive must rather be assumed in the souls of these men which blinded them to the fallacy.

The attention must rather concentrate on what the thinkers achieved by their fallacious constructions. On this point there is no doubt. They achieved a certainty about the meaning of history, and about their own place in it, which otherwise they would not have had. Certainties, now, are in demand for the purpose of overcoming uncertainties with their accompaniment of anxiety; and the next question then would be: What specific uncertainty was so disturbing that it had to be overcome by the dubious means of fallacious immanentization? One does not have to look far afield for an answer. Uncertainty is the very essence of Christianity. The feeling of security in a 'world full of gods' is lost with the gods themselves; when the world is de-divinized, communication with the world-transcendent God is reduced to the tenuous bond of faith, in the sense of Heb. 11: 1, as the substance of things hoped for and the proof of things unseen. Ontologically, the substance of things hoped for is nowhere to be found but in faith itself; and, epistemologically, there is no proof for things unseen but again this very faith. The bond is tenuous, indeed, and it may snap easily. The life of the soul in openness toward God, the waiting, the periods of aridity and dulness, guilt and despondency, contrition and repentance, forsakenness and hope against hope, the silent stirrings of love and grace, trembling on the verge of a certainty which if gained is loss- the very lightness of this fabric may prove too heavy a burden for men who lust for massively possessive experience. The danger of a breakdown of faith to a socially relevant degree, now, will increase in the measure in which Christianity is a worldly success, that is, it will grow when Chrsitianity penetrates a civilizational area thoroughly, supported by institutional pressure, and when, at the same time, it undergoes an internal process of spiritualization, of a more complete realization of its essence. The more people are drawn or pressured into the Christian orbit, the greater will be the number among them who do not have the spiritual stamina for the heroic adventure of the soul that is Christianity... . [This process] characterized the high Middle Ages.

Under the civilizational conditions of the twelfth century it was impossible to fall back into Greco-Roman polytheism, because it had disappeared as the living culture of a society; and the stunted remnants could hardly be revived, because they had lost their spell precisely for men who had tasted of Christianity.

The attempt at immanentizing the meaning of existence is fundamentally an attempt at bringing our knowledge of transcendence into a firmer grip than the cognitio fidei, the cognition of faith, will afford; and Gnostic experiences offer this firmer grip in so far as they are an expansion of the soul to the point where [the world-transcendental] God is drawn into the existence of man.

A line of gradual transformation connects medieval with contemporary gnosticism. And the transformation is so gradual, indeed, that it would be difficult to decide whether contemporary phenomena should be classified as Christian because they are intelligibly an outgrowth of Christian heresies of the Middle Ages or whether medievel phenomena should be classified as anti-Christian because they are intelligibly the origin of modern anti-Christianism. The best course will be to drop such questions and to recognize the essence of modernity as the growth of gnosticism.
Gnosis was an accompaniment of Christianity from its very beginnings; its traces are to be found in St. Paul and St. John [authors note: On gnosis in early Christianity see Rudolf Bultmann, Das Urchristentum im Rahmen der antilun Religionen (Zurich, 1949]. [...] Scientism has remained to this day one of the strongest Gnostic movements in Western society; and the immanentist pride in science is so strong that even the special sciences have each left a distinguishable sediment in the variants of salvation through physics, economics, sociology, biology, and psychology.

On the one hand, as you know, there begins in the eighteenth century a continuous stream of literature on the decline of Western civilization ; and, whatever misgivings one may entertain on this or that special argument, one cannot deny that the theorists of decline on the whole have a case. On the other hand, the same period is characterized, if by anything, by an exuberantly expansive vitality in the sciences, in technology, in the material control of environment, in the increase of population, of the standard of living, of health and comfort, of mass education, of social consciousness and responsibility; and again, whatever misgivings one may entertain with regard to this or that item on the list, one cannot deny that the progressivists have a case, too. This conflict of interpretations leaves in its wake the adumbrated thorny question, that is, the question how a civilization can advance and decline at the same time. A consideration of this question suggests itself, because it seems possible that the analysis of modem gnosticism will furnish at least a partial solution of the problem.
Gnostic speculation overcame the uncertainty of faith by receding from transcendence and endowing man and his intramundane range of action with the meaning of eschatological fulfilment. In the measure in which this immanentization progressed experientially, civilizational activity became a mystical work of self-salvation. The spiritual strength of the soul which in Christianity was devoted to the sanctification of life could now be diverted into the... creation of the terrestrial paradise. [...] And how can this miracle be achieved, this miracle of self-salvation, and how this redemption by extending grace to yourself? The great historical answer was given by the successive types of Gnostic action that have made modern civilization what it is. [...] Gnosticism... most effectively released human forces for the building of a civilization because on their fervent application to intramundane activity was put the premium of salvation. The historical result was stupendous. The resources of man that came to light under such pressure were in themselves a revelation, and their application to civilizational work produced the truly magnificent spectacle of Western progressive society. However fatuous the surface arguments may be, the widespread belief that modern civilization is Civilization in a pre-eminent sense
is experientially justified; the endowment with the meaning of salvation has made the rise of the West, indeed, an apocalypse of civilization.
On this apocalyptic spectacle, however, falls a shadow; for the brilliant expansion is accompanied by a danger that grows apace with progress.

The founder of positivism institutionalized the premium on civilizational contributions in so far as he guaranteed immortality through preservation of the contributor and his deeds in the memory of mankind. There were provided honorific degrees of such immortality, and the highest honor would be the reception of the meritorious contributor into the calendar of positivistic saints. But what should in this order of things become of men who would rather follow God than the new Augustus Comte? Such miscreants who were not inclined to make their social contributions according to Comtean standards would simply be committed to the hell of social oblivion. The idea deserves attention. Here is a Gnostic paraclete setting himself up as the world-immanent Last Judgment of mankind, deciding on immortality or annihilation for every human being. The material civilization of the West, to be sure, is still advancing; but on this rising plane of civilization the progressive symbolism of contributions, commemoration, and oblivion draws the contours of those "holes of oblivion " into which the divine redeemers of the Gnostic empires drop their victims with a bullet in the neck.

The death of the spirit is the price of progress. Nietzsche revealed this mystery of the Western apocalypse when he announced that God was dead and that He had been murdered [authors note: For the most comprehensive exposition of the idea in Nietzsche's work see Karl Jaspers, Nieroche: Einflihrung in doJ VerutindniJ uinu Philo1ophurem (Berlin and Leipzig, 1936)]. This Gnostic murder is constantly committed by the men who sacrifice God to civilization. The more fervently all human energies are thrown into the great enterprise of salvation through world-immanent action, the farther the human beings who engage in this enterprise move away from the life of the spirit. And since the life of the spirit is the source of order in man and society, the very success of a Gnostic civilization is the cause of its decline.
A civilization can, indeed, advance and decline at the same time-but not forever.

Chapter 5


The analysis of Gnostic experiences has resulted in a concept of modernity that seems to be at variance with the conventional meaning of the term. [...] If... modernity is defined as the growth of gnosticism, beginning perhaps as early as the ninth century, it becomes a process within Western society extending deeply into its medieval period.

The conception of a modern age succeeding the Middle Ages is itself one of the symbols created by the Gnostic movement. It belongs in the class of the Third Realm symbols. Ever since, in the fifteenth century, Biondo treated the millennium from the fall of Rome in 410 to the year 1410 as a closed age of the past, the symbol of a new, modern age has been used by the successive waves of humanistic, Protestant, and enlightened intellectuals for expressing their consciousness of being the representatives of a new truth. [...] ...a clear epoch in Western history is marked by the Reformation, understood as the successful invasion of Western institutions by Gnostic movements. The movements which hitherto existed in a socially marginal position-- tolerated, suppressed, or underground-- erupted in the Reformation with unexpected strength on a broad front, with the result of splitting the universal church and embarking on their gradual conquest of the political institutions in the national states.

the Revelation of St. John, while burning with eschatological expectation of the realm that will deliver the saints from the oppression of this world, does not put the establishment of the realm into the hands of a Puritan army. The Gnostic revolutionary, however, interprets the coming of the realm as an event that requires h i s military co-operation. In chapter 20 of Revelation an angel comes down from heaven and throws Satan into the bottomless pit for a thousand years; in the Puritan Revolution the Gnostics arrogate this angelic function to themselves. A few passages from a pamphlet of 1641, entitled A Glimpse of Sion 's Glory, will convey this peculiar mood of the Gnostic revolution.
The author of the pamphlet is animated by eschatological expectations . 9 The fall of Babylon is at hand ; the new Jerusalem will come soon. "Babylon's falling is Sion's raising. Babylon' s destruction is Jerusalem's salvation." While God is the ultimate cause of the imminent happy change, men should indulge in some meritorious action, too, in order to hasten the coming." Blessed is he that dasheth the brats of Babylon against the stones. Blessed is he that hath any hand in pulling down Babylon." And who are the men who will hasten the corning of Zion by dashing the brats of Babylon against the stone? They are "the common people." "God intends to make use of the common people in the great work of proclaiming the kingdom of his Son." The common people have a privileged status in advancing the Kingdom of Christ. For the voice of Christ "comes first from the multitude, the common people. The voice is heard from them first, before it is heard from any others. God uses the common people and the multitude to proclaim that the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." Christ did not come to the upper classes; he came to the poor. The noble , the wise, and the rich, and especially the prelacy, are possessed by the spirit of Antichrist; and, hence, the voice of Christ ''is like to begin from those that are the multitude, that are so contemptible," from "the vulgar multitude." In the past "the people of God have been, and are, a despised people." The Saints are called factious, schismatics and Puritans, seditious and disturbers of the state. This stigma, however, shall be taken from them ; and the rulers will become convinced in their hearts that" the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that is, the Saints of God gathered in a church, are the best commonwealth ' s men." And this conviction of the rulers will be fortified by drastic changes in social relations. The author quotes Isa. 49:23: "Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee, and lick up the dust of thy feet." The Saints, on the other hand, will be glorified in the new realm; they "shall be all clothed in white linen, which is the righteousness of the Saints."

With regard to legal institutions, the beauty and glory of the realm will quite probably make legal compulsion unnecessary. "It is questionable whether there shall be need of ordinances, at least in that way that now there is... . The presence of Christ shall be there and supply all kind of ordinances." With regard to economic conditions there shall be abundance and prosperity. The whole world is purchased by Christ for the Saints; and it will be delivered. "All is yours, says the Apostle, the whole world"; and most candidly the author supplies the motive for his conviction: "You see that the Saints have little now in this world; now they are the poorest and meanest of all; but then . . . the world shall be theirs . . . . Not only heaven shall be your kingdom, but this world bodily."

The Saint is a Gnostic who will not leave the transfiguration of the world to the grace of God beyond history but will do the work of God himself, right here and now, in history. 

At the time of the Queries [Certain Queries Prmntid by Many ChriJti,m People (1649), pp. 241-47.], in 1649, the revolution was well under way; it had reached a stage corresponding to the stage of the Russian Revolution at which Lenin wrote about the "next tasks." [...] In brief: the shape of things to come looks very much like what later Gnostics call the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The petitioners ask persuasively: "Consider whether it be not a far greater honour for parliaments, magistrates, etc., to rule as Christ's officers and the churches' representatives than as officers of a worldly kingdom and representatives of a mere natural and worldly people?'' [...] The only righteous course will be the one that results in "suppressing the enemies of godliness for ever."

The Saints... will have to combine ''against the Antichristian powers of the world''; and the Antichristian powers in their turn will "combine against them universally.'' The two worlds which are supposed to follow each other chronologically will, thus, become in historical reality two universal armed camps engaged in a death struggle against each other.

The Gnostic revolution has for its purpose a change in the nature of man and the establishment of a transfigured society. Since this program cannot be carried out in historical reality, Gnostic revolutionaries must inevitably institutionalize their partial or total success in the existential struggle by a compromise with reality; and whatever emerges from this compromise-- it will not be the transfigured world envisaged by Gnostic symbolism.

note: continue from the reference to Hobbes to the end of the chapter

Chapter 6


Hobbes had discerned the lack of a theologia civilis as the source of difficulties that plagued the state of England in the Puritan crisis. The various groups engaged in the civil war were so heaven-bent on having the public order represent the right variety of transcendent truth that the existential order of society was in danger of floundering in the melee [editors note: see also Lock's Letter on Toleration].

Christianity had left in its wake the vacuum of a de-divinized natural sphere of political existence. In the concrete situation of the late Roman Empire and the early Western political foundations, this vacuum did not become a major source of troubles as long as... the church was the predominant civilizing factor in the evolution of Western society, so that Christianity in fact could function as a civil theology. As soon, however, as a certain point of civilizational saturation was reached, when centers of lay culture formed at the courts and in the cities, when competent lay personnel increased in royal administrations and city governments, it became abundantly clear that the problems of a society in historical existence were not exhausted by waiting for the end of the world. The rise of gnosticism at this critical juncture now appears in a new light as the incipient formation of a Western civil theology. The immanentization of the Christian eschaton made it possible to endow society in its natural existence with a meaning which Christianity denied to it. And the totalitarianism of our time must be understood as journey's end of the Gnostic search for a civil theology.

Modern gnosticism has by far not spent its drive. On the contrary, in the variant of Marxism it is expanding its area of influence prodigiously in Asia, while other variants of gnosticism, such as progressivism, positivism, and scientism, are penetrating into other areas under the- title of "Westernization" and development of backward countries. And one may say that in Western society itself the drive is not spent but that our own "Westernization" is still on the increase. In the face of this world-wide expansion it is necessary to state the obvious: that human nature does not change . The closure of the soul in modern gnosticism can repress the truth of the soul, as well as the experiences which manifest themselves in philosophy and Christianity, but it cannot remove the soul and its transcendence from the structure of reality.
Hence the question imposes itself: How long can such a repression last? And what will happen when prolonged and severe repression will lead to an explosion? It is legitimate to ask such questions concerning the dynamics of the future because they spring from a methodically correct application of theory to an empirically observed component of contemporary civilization. It would not be legitimate, however, to indulge in speculations about the form which the explosion will assume, beyond the reasonable assumption that the reaction against gnosticism will be as world wide as its expansion. The number of complicating factors is so large that predictions seem futile. Even for our own Western society one can hardly do more than point to the fact that gnosticism, in spite of its noisy ascendancy, does by far not have the field for itself; that the classic and Christian tradition of Western society is rather alive; that the building-up of spiritual and intellectual resistance against gnosticism in all its variants is a notable factor in our society... . [...] Only on one point at least a reasonable surmise is possible, that is, on the date of the explosion. The date in objective time, of course, is quite unpredictable; but gnosticism contains a self-defeating factor, and this factor makes it at least probable that the date is less distant than one would assume under the impression of Gnostic power of the moment.This self-defeating factor is the second danger of gnosticism as a civil theology.

The first danger was the destruction of the truth of the soul. The second danger is intimately connected with the first one. The truth of gnosticism is vitiated, as you will remember, by the fallacious immanentization of the Christian eschaton. This fallacy is not simply a theoretical mistake concerning the meaning of the eschaton, committed by this or that thinker, perhaps an affair of the schools . On the basis of this fallacy, Gnostic thinkers, leaders, and their followers interpret a concrete society and its order as an eschaton ; and, in so far as they apply their fallacious construction to concrete social problems, they misrepresent the structure of immanent reality. The eschatological interpretation of history results in a false picture of reality; and errors with regard to the structure of reality have practical consequences when the false conception is made the basis of political action . Specifically, the Gnostic fallacy destroys the oldest wisdom of mankind concerning the rhythm of growth and decay which is the fate of all things under the sun. The Kohelet says:

To every thing there is a season ,
And a rime t o every purpose under heaven:
A rime to be born and a time to die.

And then, reflecting on the finiteness of human knowledge, the Kohelet continues to say that the mind of man cannot fathom "the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end." [Eccles. 3: 1-2 and 3: 11] What comes into being will have an end, and the mystery of this stream of being is impenetrable. These are the two great principles governing existence . The Gnostic speculation on the eidos of history, however, not only ignores these principles but perverts them into their opposite. The idea of the final realm assumes a society that will come into being but have no end, and the mystery of the stream is solved through the speculative knowledge of its goal. Gnosticism, thus, has produced something like the counterprinciples to the principles of existence ; and, in so far as these principles determine an image of reality for the masses of the faithful, it has created a dream world which itself is a social force of the first importance in motivating attitudes and actions of Gnostic masses and their representatives.

The phenomenon of a dream world, based on definite principles, requires some explanation. It could hardly be possible as a historical mass phenomenon unless it were rooted in a fundamental experiential drive . Gnosticism as a counterexistential dream world can perhaps be made intelligible as the extreme expression of an experience which is universally human, that is, of a horror of existence and a desire to escape from it. Specifically, the problem can be stated in the following terms: A society, when i t exists, will interpret its order as part of the transcendent order of being . This self-interpretation of society as a mirror of cosmic order, however, is part of social reality itself. The ordered society, together with its self-understanding, remains a wave in the stream of being; the Aeschylean polis with its ordering Dike is an island in a sea of demonic disorder, precariously maintaining itself in existence. [...] The fortuna secunda et adversa is the smiling. and terrible goddess who rules over this realm of existence. This hazard of existence without right or reason is a demonic horror; it is hard to bear even for the stronghearted; and it is hardly bearable for tender souls who cannot live without believing they deserve to live. It is a reasonable assumption, therefore, that in every society there is present, in varying degrees of intenseness, the inclination to extend the meaning of its order to the fact of its existence. Especially, when a society has a long and glorious history, its existence will be taken for granted as part of the order of things. It has become unimaginable that the society could simply cease to exist; and when a great symbolic blow falls, as, for instance, when Rome was conquered in 410, a groan went through the orbis terrarum that now the end of the world had come.

With radical immanentization the dream world has blended into the real world terminologically; the obsession of replacing the world of reality by the transfigured dream world has become the obsession of the one world in which the dreamers adopt the vocabulary of reality, while changing its meaning, as if the dream were reality.

In the Gnostic dream world... nonrecognition of reality is the first principle. As a consequence, types of action which in the real world would be considered as morally insane because of the real effects which they have will be considered moral in the dream world because they intended an entirely different effect. The gap between intended and real effect will be imputed not to the Gnostic immorality of ignoring the structure of reality but to the immorality of some other person or society that does not behave as it should behave according to the dream conception of cause and effect. The interpretation of moral insanity as morality, and of the virtues of sophia and prudentia as immorality, is a confusion difficult to unravel. And the task is not facilitated by the readiness of the dreamers to stigmatize the attempt at critical clarification as an immoral enterprise.

The identification of dream and reality as a matter of principle has practical results which may appear strange but can hardly be considered surprising. The critical exploration of cause and effect in history is prohibited; and consequently the rational co-ordination of means and ends in politics is impossible. Gnostic societies and their leaders will recognize dangers to their existence when they develop, but such dangers will not be met by appropriate actions in the world of reality. They will rather be met by magic operations in the dream world, such as disapproval, moral condemnation, declarations of intention, resolutions, appeals to the opinion of mankind, branding of enemies as aggressors, outlawing of war, propaganda for world peace and world government, etc. The intellectual and moral corruption which expresses itself in the aggregate of such magic operations may pervade a society with the weird, ghostly atmosphere of a lunatic asylum, as we experience it in our time in the Western crisis.

Gnostic politics is self-defeating in the sense that measures which are intended to establish peace increase the disturbances that will lead to war. The mechanics of this self-defeat has just been set forth in the description of magic operations in the dream world. If an incipient disturbance of the balance is not met by appropriate political action in the world of reality, if instead it is met with magic incantations, it may grow to such proportions that war becomes inevitable. [...] The prehistory of the second World War raises the serious question whether the Gnostic dream has not corroded Western society so deeply that rational politics has become impossible, and war is the only instrument left for adjusting disturbances in the balance of existential forces.

The conduct of the war and its aftermath unfortunately are apt to confirm this fear rather than to assuage it. [...] ...policies were pursued as a matter of principle, on the basis of Gnostic dream assumptions about the nature of man, about a mysterious evolution of mankind toward peace and world order, about the possibility of establishing an international order in the abstract without relation to the structure of the field of existential forces, about armies being the cause of war and not the forces and constellations which build them and set them into motion, etc. The enumerated series of actions, as well as the dream assumptions on which they are based, seem to show that the contact with reality is at least badly damaged and that the pathological substitution of the dream world is fairly effective.

It is again the dream obsession that makes it impossible for the representatives of Gnostic societies to formulate policies which take into account the structure of reality. There can be no peace, because the dream cannot be translated into reality and reality has not yet broken the dream. No one, of course, can predict what nightmares of violence it will take to break the dream, and still less so what Western society will look like au bout de la nuit.

Gnostic politics, thus, is self- defeating in so far as its disregard for the structure of reality leads to continuous warfare. This system of chain wars can end only in one of two ways. Either it will result in horrible physical destructions and concomitant revolutionary changes of social order beyond reasonable guesses; or, with the natural change of generations, it will lead to the abandoning of Gnostic dreaming before the worst has happened. In this sense should be understood the earlier suggestion that the end of the Gnostic dream is perhaps closer at hand than one ordinarily would assume.

Against the Gnostics who did not want society to exist unless its order represented a specific type of truth, Hobbes insisted that any order would do if it secured the existence of society. In order to make this conception valid, he had to create his new idea of man. Human nature would have to find fulfilment in existence itself; a purpose of man beyond existence would have to be denied. Hobbes countered the Gnostic immanentization of the eschaton which endangered existence by a radical immanence of existence which denied the eschaton.

Hobbes... is faced with the problem of constructing an order of society out of isolated individuals who are not oriented toward a common purpose but only motivated by their individual passions.
The details of the construction are well known. It will be sufficient to recall the main points. Human happiness is for Hobbes a continuous progress of desire from one object to another. The object of man' s desire "is not to enjoy once only, and for one instant of time ; but to assure for ever, the way of his future desire ."--8----- "So that in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death . " -------9-- A multitude of men is not a community but an open field of power drives in competition with each other. The original drive for power, therefore, is aggravated by diffidence of the competitor and by the lust of glorying in successfully outstripping the other man . -----10------- "This race we must suppose to have no other goal, no other garland, but being foremost . " And in this race " continually to be outgone is misery. Continually to outgo the next is felicity. And to forsake the course, is to die. "-----11------- Passion aggravated by comparison is pride. --------12----- And this pride may assume various forms of which the most important for the analysis of politics was to Hobbes the pride in having divine inspirations, or generally to be in possession of undoubted truth . Such pride in excess is madness.------13-------- "If some man in Bedlam should entertain you with sober discourse ; and you desire in taking leave, to know what he were, that you might another time requite his civility; and he should tell you, he were God the Father; I think you need expect no extravagant action for argument of his madness."-------14------ If this madness becomes violent and the possessors of the inspiration try to impose
it on others, the result in society will be " the seditious roaring of a troubled nation."

Since Hobbes does not recognize sources of order in the soul, inspiration can be exorcised only by a passion that is even stronger than the pride to be a paraclete, and that is the fear of death. Death is the greatest evil ; and if life cannot be ordered through orientation of the soul toward a summum bonum, order will have to be motivated by fear of the summum malum . 16 Out of mutual fear is born the willingness to submit to government by contract. When the contracting parties agree to have a government, they "confer all their power and strength upon one man, or assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will ." 17

The single human persons cease to exist and merge into the one person represented by the sovereign . ''This is the generation of that great Leviathan, or rather, to speak more reverently, of that mortal god, to which we owe under the immortal God, our peace and defence." The covenanting men agree" to submit their wills, every one to his will, and their judgments to his judgment.'' The fusion of wills is ' 'a real unity of them all''; for the mortal god "hath the use of so much power and strength conferred upon him, that by terror thereof, he is enabled to form the wills of them all, to peace at home, and mutual aid against their enemies abroad.''19
The style of the construction is magnificent. If human nature is assumed to be nothing but passionate existence, devoid of ordering resources of the soul, the horror of annihilation will, indeed, be the overriding passion that compels submission to order. If pride cannot bow to Dike, or be redeemed through grace, it must be broken by the Leviathan who "is king of all the children of pride."20 If the souls cannot participate in the Logos, then the sovereign who strikes terror into the souls will be "the essence of the commonwealth."21 The "King of the Proud" must break the amor sui that cannot be relieved by the amor Dei. 22

...the English psychology of pleasure-pain, associationism and self-interest, the German enrichments through the psychology of the unconscious of the Romantics and the psychology of Nietzsche, may be recalled in order to suggest the pervasiveness of the phenomenon . A specifically "modern" psychology developed as the empirical psychology of "modern" man, that is, of the man who was intellectually and spiritually disoriented and hence motivated primarily by his passions.

"Modem" psychology, in this sense, is an incomplete psychology in so far as it deals only with a certain pneumopathological type of man.

Since the disoriented type, because of its empirical frequency, was understood as the "normal" type, a philosophical anthropology developed in which the disease was interpreted as the "nature of man."

Its significance [the Leviathan] is hardly understood today because the symbol is smothered under the jargon of absolutism. [...] The Leviathan cannot be identified with the historical form of absolute monarchy; the royalist contemporaries understood that quite well, and their distrust of Hobbes was amply justified.

The symbol of the Leviathan was developed by an English thinker in response to the Puritan danger.

see from here up to p. 172