|Returning to Eden by Daniel Pouzzner|
From the book of Genesis in the Torah, we learn the fundamental facts about Eden, by declaration and by reference to what is lost or changed after Adam and Eve defied God:
|Garden of Eden, Jacopo Bassano, ca. 1570|
• God is paternalistically watching and tending, and his attention does not waver for long. Apparent throughout Genesis chapter 2, and particularly in 3:8-9: “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?”
• Moral consciousness and wisdom (“knowledge of good and evil”) is the highest crime in the eyes of God, punished with mortality, yet is tempting and succulent (so can be avoided only through obedient vigilance): 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”, 3:5-7 “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
• One must show unquestioning obedience to divine commandment: 2:16-17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree [...]”, 3:11 “And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?”, 3:17-19 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; [...]”
• Adam and Eve lived together as husband and wife, in blissful harmony, naked as jaybirds, united as one flesh, yet childless (children are depicted as a burden and a punishment). Eve owed no allegiance or obedience to Adam. 2:24-25 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”, 3:15-16 (describing the changes after the defiance) “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
• In Eden they had carefree life, fresh and sublime like new love, eternal and free of illness, with effortless natural plenty from the garden. As long as they stayed carefree, blind to the meaning of things, obediently unambitious, they could stay and keep all this. 3:17-19, 3:22-23 (describing the changes after the defiance) “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.“
• Their relationship to Eden was as preserver (2:15: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”), not as owner (1:27-28: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”)
• They were innocent of jealousy and violence. Expressed by contrast, e.g. in 4:3-8 “[...] And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. [...]”, 6:5-7 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. [...]”, 6:11-13 “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. [...]”
• God did not destroy Eden after the fall, he preserved it but barred entry, suggesting a God sufficiently mollified might readmit humanity. (3:24: “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”)
Corresponding to these, we find in utopian socialism, respectively:
• paternalistic government, providing for material needs, surveilling for compliance, and punishing for defiance
• militant moral relativism (non-judgementalism), deprecation of “discrimination” generically, and rejection of the post-Edenic Bible as nonhistorical superstition (utopians actually reject its judgementalism and buzz-harshing, not its superstition)
• a thoroughgoing refusal consciously to test or defy the underlying premises of utopianism
• open shameless sexuality and uninhibited frolicking, no one ever left alone, compulsory agreeableness and inoffensiveness (and drugs that produce these), birth control, abortion, euthanasia, egalitarianism and women's liberation, and homosexuality (which combines childless pseudosex with an implicit denial that men substantively differ from women)
• intolerance of practical industry and disdain for industrial wealth and its exemplars, lack of economic foresight and planning, claims of universal entitlement to effortless sustenance and health care, rejection of chemically assisted agriculture and genetically modified foodstuffs, elevation of love to high moral value and universal salve (and popularization of drugs that produce similar euphoria and wonder), emphasis on longevity and youthfulness, obstinate insensateness to reasoned challenge
• abolition of private property, either outright or by onerous taxation and conservation-oriented regulation of its use
• exaggerated emphasis on sharing, radical pacifism, treatment of weaponry and security technology as distasteful and forbidden alien artifacts, and an implacable hostility to the military as an institution, even when it is obviously protecting them (they consider “military intelligence” to be an oxymoron)
• humanity can be restored to paradise
Overarching all of this is the theme of victimhood. Eve was helpless to resist the serpent, and Adam was helpless to resist Eve, and they were both helpless to resist the punishing will of God. Consequently, we find that many socialists, particularly after World War Two, exalt haplessness and victimhood and embrace it as a vital part of their identity, identify with any victim and any pitiful specimen, and are hostile to those who are not pitiful, are not victims, and who refuse victimhood. This evidently resonates with the Christian tenet that “the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalms 37:11). And this may in large part explain the left's vitriol for Israel — Israel stands up for itself forcefully, and is vastly superior to its proximate adversaries militarily. It is ironic, then, that Jewish identification with the left in the United States (US Jews voted 77% to 22% for Obama in 2008) follows in large part from a conviction among Jews that the Shoah (Nazi Holocaust) so victimized the Jewish people that, provided the principle of victim supremacism endures (as Christianity demands), the Jews will henceforth and forever have an insuperable trump card in political confrontations. I.e., leftist Jews believe they can parlay their status as victim into personal political advantage, as long as leftist morality is imposed on society. Leftist Jewish Americans are also reliable, indeed usually ardent, proponents of race-based privileges for Americans of sub-Saharan African extraction (“affirmative action” racial quotas and other intrinsically racist government impositions). While this is in part a natural empathy with another group that is historically victimized and viewed as such, it is also a prong of their strategy of victim supremacism: Jews have historically been viewed as exploitive and parasitic (as a reaction to economic marginalization, they worked as usurers and such), and government imposition of race-based privileges for Blacks makes the Blacks exploitive and parasitic, promoting acquiescence to the premise that exploitation and parasitism must be tolerated, creating a sort of cover for leftist Jews who are still (as lawyers, financiers, political operators, mass media tycoons, liberal arts academics, etc.) widely viewed as exploitive and parasitic (with a large measure of truth to the view). Still, in the final analysis, by spreading victim supremacism, Jews and Blacks victimize themselves — a conclusion explored in more detail below in the chapter on egalitarianism.
Genesis tells us, in terms that are garbled and possibly unintended, that Adam and Eve were not the first people, or at the time of their creation, the only people. Rather, they were God's chosen people, made to grace his chosen place, Eden. In the tale as told in the Torah, God first peopled the world in 1:26-28. In the original Hebrew, the man thus created is called “adam”, but in the King James translation he is called simply “man”, probably to avoid the reader's inevitable confusion if the creation of Adam as such were described twice in rapid succession. Chapter 2 (after 2:4a) is concerned not with the world, but only with Eden, for which God creates and wherein he places “Adam”, in 2:5-7. But in the original, the man thus created is the same “adam” as in 1:27, and in an additional source of confusion, this man is formed from adamah, dust of the ground. Modern scholars have determined that the account of the first chapter, until 2:4, is attributable to the P, or priestly, author, writing in 1000-925BCE. The second chapter, starting with 2:4b — the Torah's telling of the Eden fable — is attributed to the J author, who calls God “Jehovah Elohim”, writing in 1150-1000BCE. The use of the term adam is effectively a generic reference to divinely created people, so that the creations of 1:27 and 2:7 are separate creations of distinct men. In Hebrew, adam is simply the word for man.
Whatever the original intent, the two tellings side by side suggest a world in which there were many people in faraway places — southern Africa and the Far East for example — who took no part in the Biblical lives and times that spring from Eden. Such peoples had in fact either never arrived in the Afrasian cradle, or had left it eons earlier. Of course, like a great many nations, the Jews traditionally consider themselves a distinct “chosen people”. Isaiah 51:3 promises a restored Eden not in the world at large, but only to “Zion”. When God exiles Cain (Genesis 4:14-16), then the only surviving child of Adam and Eve, Cain worries he will be struck down by strangers, and God in answer dispenses divine protection. Cain, moreover, immediately has the company of a wife (4:17). Racism, ethnocentrism, and genocide, do not conflict with the Eden motif, and historically they have often accompanied socialist programs — as with Marx and Engels, Lenin and Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot, to name a few. The Eden myth of the Torah recognizes a neglected other, and implicitly tolerates exclusion of that other as inferior — indeed, affirmatively suggests such an exclusion. Nonetheless, the myth does not demand such an exclusion. After the world learned of the exterminatory horrors of Hitler's regime, moderate socialists have tended to envision inclusion of all the world's races in their Eden, at least nominally. But since racist hearts continue to beat inside them, they have zealously promulgated “multiculturalism”. This maintains a clear separation between insiders and outsiders, so it is a place holder for ethnic persecution. Since WW2, socialists of all stripes, including those who adamantly refuse to have themselves labelled “socialist”, have vigorously denied that the National Socialists of Germany were socialists at all. This is a variation on the theme of Holocaust denial, in that it was socialism — by its nature — that motivated the campaign to exterminate the European Jews and Gypsies (Roma). By denying this, socialists facilitate future holocausts, targeting other ethnicities (one plausible scenario targets Arabs or Muslims in Europe).
Beyond the common psychodynamics of religion, and the appetite for Abrahamic faith discussed above, the psychological appeal of the Eden myth (particularly institutionalized as socialism) — the reasons it was first constructed, and the reasons it has endured and proliferated — is principally threefold.
1. Expressed most generally, human nature — the common theme of mental direction — is to seek advantage, defined chiefly by phylogeny and acculturation (by the endowments of Darwinian evolution and the evolving culture, respectively). The economy of Eden is perceived by many people as advantageous to them, relative to their current and prospective real conditions, because in it they receive many of the things they want, while avoiding both the labor normally required to get them and the troubling consequences that normally accompany them. Those who choose vocations of impracticality, particularly arts and letters, will have pronounced sympathies for this rationale.
2. The likely principal origin of the myth is wistful memory of childhood, with its carefree playfulness and parental attention, protection, and plenty. People are phylogenetically predisposed to see purpose and judgement in what befalls them, and hence to see punishment in their ejection from the family of their youth. That ejection is usually an ordeal, leaving a lasting impression. The predisposition to associate circumstance with intention, and intention with people, caused the cultures of antiquity, including those of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and pre-monotheistic Hebrews, to develop pantheons of personified gods. The one God of Judaism depicted in Genesis (and through the Old Testament) is not just personified, but decidedly paternal. Possibly, the harsh ejection that is birth also animates the motif, though this is a maternal motif entering through syncretism and ideological atavism.
3. Contributing vital additional themes to the myth is the wistful memory of the overwhelming bliss and perfect harmony of new romantic love (and of the eagerness, particularly of the male, to please and impress). This initial stage is normally followed by a return to emotional sobriety and reasoned prosaic consciousness, and for the young and inexperienced, the transition is often confusing and harsh. Contention and effortful toil are the predictable cohorts of that sobriety, following the Edenic leitmotif.
The psychology undergirding Edenism is the same as that undergirding faith in heaven, but with the addition of impatience.
The myth also recalls a time before natural climate change transformed northern Africa and the Middle East into desert (see, for example, Richard Meehan's summary Climate, Culture, and Catastrophe in the Ancient World). The predisposition to see judgement in what befalls them led people to believe that the desiccation and inundation of their nascent littoral civilizations was a moral condemnation.
As mentioned above in the Overview, the Old Testament explicitly articulates the vision of a reconstituted earthly Eden. Isaiah 11:6-9 (eighth century BCE) declares “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb [...]”, and 51:3 (sixth century BCE) declares “For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”. Psalms 37:11 (written in the sixth century BCE, but attributed by oral tradition to King David, ca. 1000BCE) proclaims that “the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace”.
The Hebrew and Christian bibles are replete with exhortations to and promises of peace, plenty, ease, and communitarian unity:
Psalms (sixth century BCE, attributed by oral tradition to King David, ca. 1000BCE), 29:11 “the LORD will bless his people with peace”, 34:14 “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it”, 37:11 “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace”, 37:37 “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace”, and 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”.
Proverbs (eighth century BCE, partially attributed by oral tradition to King Soloman, son of David), 3:17 “Her [wisdom's] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”, 16:7 “When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him”, 17:14 “The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with”, 23:4 “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.”, 28:20 “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”
Ecclesiastes (ca. 250BCE), 5:9 “Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.”, 5:12-13 “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.”.
Isaiah (eighth century BCE), 2:2-4 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that [...] he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”, 9:6-7 “For unto us a child is born [...] and his name shall be called [...] The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end [...]”, 11:6-9 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb [...] They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea”, 25:4, “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.”, 25:6-9 “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees [...] And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people [...] He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces [...] this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”, 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”, 55:1-2 “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”, 57:19 “I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.”
Leviticus chapter 25 (sixth century BCE) describes a tradition named Jubilee, held every fiftieth year, in which most societal debts and obligations (identified by a complex and inconsistent formula) are nullified, and most properties previously forfeited for default of debt revert to the former debtors' possession (25:10). Work in the fields is forbidden for the entire year (25:11), as is most ordinary commerce (25:14). Universal liberty is proclaimed (25:10), and social harmony is commanded (25:17). Private property in land is made ephemeral (25:23 “And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity”) by the rationale that all land is God's. Indentureship (slavery) is provided for, but made temporary, by the rationale that all are slaves of God (“25:55 For unto Me the children of Israel are servants”). Interest on charitable loans, and profit on provisions, is forbidden (25:36-27). God promises the Israelites they'll be fed, in Edenic terms: 25:19 “And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat until ye have enough, and dwell therein in safety.”
More process oriented aspects of the Eden motif are articulated in the New Testament. The Gospel of Matthew (60-85CE, 19:20-24) tells it thus: “The young man saith unto him, All these things [the ten commandments] have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark (65-80CE, 10:20-25) and Luke (80-130CE, 18:21-25) tell the same lesson, with scarcely a jot altered.
In the New Testament, the promise of peace is rather less clear, as exemplified in Matthew. 5:9 reads “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”, but 10:33-36 is overtly divisive: “But whosoever shall deny me [Jesus as Christ] before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” This, too, is process oriented: it promises disastrous dissension for those families that do not convert en masse. The Gospel of John (ca. 100CE) reinforces the message that peace is to be had through obedience to Jesus. In 16:33, it reads “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”.
The Epistle of James (50-200CE), in 2:15-17, reinforces the message of Matthew 19:20-24: “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
|Returning to Eden|
Table of Contents
|1. Preface and Overview|
2. Ancient Roots
3. Biblical Chapter and Verse
4. The Eden Motif
5. Cargo Cultism
6. Herding People, Culling the Herd
8. Keeping Eden Green
9. Progenitors of Edenism
10. Occult Edenism