|Returning to Eden by Daniel Pouzzner|
Crucially, though, the Eden myth and the myths of classical utopia intertwine through history. Carl Becker, extracts of whose 1931 lectures helped introduce this treatise, offers a cogent overview (from p.126-130 of City):
The extraordinary sway which the Christian story exercised over the minds of men is easily understood. No interpretation of the life of mankind ever more exactly reflected the experience, or more effectively responded to the hopes of average men. To be aware of present trials and misfortunes, to look back with fond memories to the happier times (imagined so at least) of youth, to look forward with hope to a more serene and secure old age—what could more adequately sum up the experience of the great majority? And what was the Christian story if not an application of this familiar individual experience to the life of mankind? Mankind had its youth, its happier time in the Garden of Eden, to look back upon, its present middle period of misfortunes to endure, its future security to hope for. The average man needed no theology to understand universal experience when presented in terms so familiar; and it consoled him—it no doubt added something to his sense of personal significance—to realize that his own life, however barren and limited it might be, was but a concrete exemplification of the experience which God had decreed for all the generations of men. But better than all that—best of all—he could understand that there should sometime be an end made, a judgement pronounced upon the world of men and things, a day of reckoning in which evil men would be punished and good men rewarded: he could believe that with all his heart, with a conviction fortified by the stored-up memories of the injustices he had witnessed, the unmerited injuries he had suffered. The average man could believe all that; and in the measure that he could believe it he could hope, he could so easily convince himself, that in that last day he would be found among those judged good, among those to be admitted into that other world in which things would be forever right.
Superficially considered, considered as an account of events historically verifiable, the story was no doubt flimsy enough; and the mere increase of knowledge—knowledge of the classical world, of the early history of the church, of remote primitive and non-Christian peoples—had done much to discredit it. Since the fifteenth century, or even earlier, the Humanists, fascinated by the newly discovered past, had substituted for the Garden of Eden the golden age of classical civilization, just as the Christian theologians had in their time substituted the Garden of Eden for the golden age of Greek imagination. This was all very well as an initial method of attack: it was a good thing, and even necessary, for the Humanists to go to school to the Greeks and Romans, to learn all that they knew, even for a time to imitate them as models as yet unsurpassed: an excellent device all this was for throwing fresh light on the origins of the Christian story, and on the drab and dreary learning which, in the course of centuries, had overlaid and obscured its essential meaning. But the tenacious strength of the Christian story was independent of its historical accidents. The importance of the Christian story was that it announced with authority (whether truly or not matters little) that the life of man has significance, a universal significance transcending and including the temporal experience of the individual. This was the secret of its enduring strength, that it irradiated pessimism with hope: it liberated the mind of man from the cycles in which classical philosophy had inclosed it as in a prison, and by transferring the golden age from the past to the future substituted an optimistic for a disillusioned view of human destiny.
The eighteenth-century Philosophers might therefore rewrite the story of man's first state, relegating the Garden of Eden to the limbo of myths; they might discover a new revelation in the book of nature to displace the revelation in Holy Writ; they might demonstrate that reason, supported by the universal assent of mankind as recorded in history, was a more infallible authority than church and state—they might well do all this and yet find their task but half finished. No “return,” no “rebirth” of classical philosophy, however idealized and humanized, no worship of ancestors long since dead, or pale imitations of Greek pessimism would suffice for a society that had been so long and so well taught to look forward to another and better world to come. Without a new heaven to replace the old, a new way of salvation, of attaining perfection, the religion of humanity would appeal in vain to the common run of men.
The new heaven had to be located somewhere within the confines of the earthly life, since it was an article of philosophical faith that the end of life is life itself, the perfected temporal life of man; and in the future, since the temporal life was not yet perfected. But if the celestial heaven was to be dismantled in order to be rebuilt on earth, it seemed that the salvation of mankind must be attained, not by some outside, miraculous, catastrophic agency (God or the philosopher-king), but by man himself, by the progressive improvement made by the efforts of successive generations of men; and in this coöperative enterprise posterity had its undeniable uses: posterity would complete what the past and the present had begun. “We have admired our ancestors less,” said Chastellux, “but we have loved our contemporaries better, and have expected more of our descendents.” Thus, the Philosophers called in posterity to exorcise the double illusion of the Christian paradise and the golden age of antiquity. For the love of God they substituted love of humanity; for the vicarious atonement the perfectibility of man through his own efforts; and for the hope of immortality in another world the hope of living in the memory of future generations.
Zoroastrianism, founded (by Zoroaster, Zarathosht, tradition holds) in ca. 750 BCE, is an important ideological root of post-exilic Judaism, and therefore of all the Abrahamic religions. As discussed in the Overview, it is (along with the ancient Greek, Roman, Hindu, Norse, Celtic, Baltic, and Slavic mythologies) a descendent of the prehistoric, polytheistic Indo-European proto-religion. Its canon is the Zend Avesta — the Avesta constitutes the teaching of Zarathosht and the Zend constitutes commentary thereon. The Avesta is written in a language that is quite smiliar to that of the Rig Veda, the earliest portion of the written Hindu canon, dating to 1200-1500 BCE. The creation myth of Genesis up to 2:4 is a recapitulation of the Zoroastrian creation myth. Mary Boyce, in Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979), introduced the religion thusly: “Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed credal religions, and it has probably had more influence on mankind, directly and indirectly, than any other single faith. In its own right it was the state religion of three great Iranian empires, which flourished almost continually from the sixth century B.C. to the seventh century A.C., and dominated much of the Near and Middle East. Iran's power and wealth lent it immense prestige, and some of its leading doctrines were adopted by Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as by a host of Gnostic faiths, while in the East it had some influence on the development of northern Buddhism.” Later, she rattles off the myths originated by Zoroaster: “the first to teach the doctrines of an individual judgment, Heaven and Hell, the future resurrection of the body, the general Last Judgment, and life everlasting for the reunited soul and body.”
The Oxford English Dictionary gives an account of the term “paradise”, which originates in Zoroastrian Persia:
〚OPers. pairidaēza enclosure, park, f. pairi around + diz to mould, form; whence also Armenian pardez, late Heb. pardēs (Neh. ii. 8 the park of the Persian king, also Eccl. ii. 5); in mod.Pers. and Ar. firdaus garden, paradise.〛
note: Used in Gr. (first by Xenophon) for a (Persian) enclosed park, orchard, or pleasure ground; by the LXX for the garden of Eden, and in N.T. and Christian writers for the abode of the blessed, which is the earliest sense recorded in Eng.
1. The garden of Eden. Also called earthly (terrenal, terrene, terrestre) paradise, to distinguish it from the heavenly paradise.
2. Heaven, the abode of God and his angels and the final abode of the righteous. (Now chiefly poetic.)
3. The Muslim heaven or elysium.
4. By some theologians, the word as used in Luke xxiii. 43 is taken to denote an intermediate place or state where the departed souls of the righteous await resurrection and the last judgement. Cf. `Abraham's bosom', Luke xvi. 23.
5. A place like or compared to Paradise; a region of surpassing beauty or delight, or of supreme bliss.
Plato brought Zoroastrianism into Western philosophy. On the site of a sacred grove called the Hekademeia on the outskirts of ancient Athens, Plato founded an early center of learning that now lends its name to the entirety of institutionalized higher learning. Plato advocated the view that the physical world consists of the distorted shadows of perfectly formed ideals that reside in a parallel metaphysical world. He held that the mind could commune directly with this parallel world of ideals (and thereby learn absolute truths), but could commune with the world of distorted shadows only indirectly through the senses. This worldview has a predecessor in the dualism of Zoroastrianism, and a descendent in the grim dualism of Gnosticism (which has itself been revived by occultists in the modern era). In Plato's conception, the metaphysical world of absolute truths is illuminated in the mind by a metaphorical sun that he calls “the Form of the Good”. This illuminating force is Plato's God, and Plato cautions (in a pattern shared with other theologies) that truth and reason derive from proximity to this God, while ignorance and error derive from distance from this God (proximity to the physical world, the world of shadow). The heart of this epistemology — the premise that the mind possesses knowledge from sources other than the senses — would be roughly recapitulated two millenia later in the “transcendental idealism” of Immanuel Kant. Whereas Plato said that knowledge from the senses cannot reveal the truth because sensed objects are not true, Kant said that knowledge from the senses cannot reveal the truth about the physical object because the senses are not true, but the epistemological effect is indistinguishable, and emphatically not salutary.
Zoroastrianism is dualist in two senses. First, it is a model that pits good (personified by Ahura Mazda, agent of order and purity) against evil (personified by Anghra Mainyu, also called Ahriman, the Zoroastrian Satan, agent of chaos and destruction), the two coexisting in the same world as two essential equipotent natures of reality. In the eschaton at the end of time, Ahura Mazda vanquishes Anghra Mainyu, the Earth is cleansed with molten metal (an obvious doctrinal incoherence, since this makes Ahura Mazda the agent of universal destruction), and the dead rise to eternal, idyllic life. Second, it is a model that envisions a parallel world of supreme goodness wherein resides Ahura Mazda, and in which the good enjoy eternal bliss after death. Plato combined the two dualisms, compartmenting the good within his world of perfectly ordered ideals, and the evil within the chaotic world of matter. Plato's conception of fiery illumination as “the Form of the Good” comes directly from Zoroastrianism, in which fire and sunlight are considered symbols of Ahura Mazda, and are fixtures of prayer. It is easy to derive the dualism of Plato from the Zoroastrian doctrine, that the death of a good person is followed by an afterlife in the kingdom of Ahura Mazda, the epitome of perfectly ordered goodness.
When the Avesta first arrived in Europe in the eighteenth century, it fell upon the eagerly receptive ears of Enlightenment intellectuals — men such as Immanuel Kant in Germany and Denis Diderot in France — who admired its epistemology and considered its prophet to be a model of tolerance.
Both Plato and his tutor Socrates were termed “philodorian” in their own lifetimes for their admiration of the culture of the Dorians of Sparta and Crete. In his Crito, Socrates calls their systems his “favorite models of good government”. Plato, in The Republic, codified the Dorian system in writing. He advocated the abolition of private property, and the institution of the “philosopher-king”: the subordination of society to an autocrat enlightened in the fashion Plato advocated. In Plato's view, through intimate acquaintance with sublime and timeless wisdom, such a king cannot “think much of human life”, nor “account death fearful”. He is oblivious to the physical: “He whose desires are drawn toward knowledge in every form will be absorbed in the pleasures of the soul, and will hardly feel bodily pleasure—I mean, if he be a true philosopher and not a sham one. [...] There should be no secret corner of illiberality [...]” Plato's obvious disdain for the physical, and ambivalence about death, culminated in the Gnostics' outright hostility to the physical and to life.
Stanley Kurtz explains Plato's radical egalitarianism, in the context of modern radical feminism and the ingrained social patterns that obstruct it: “Plato faced this dilemma when he drew up history's first great plan for a perfectly just society in the Republic—a society that required, among other things, androgyny. His solution: send the members of the old, imperfect city into exile, so that the new, just city could be built from scratch. Otherwise, their recalcitrant mental habits would sabotage the creation of the new order. The fact is, attempts to force a society out of its most deeply held cultural values can be every bit as tyrannical as schemes to override our biological nature.”
Plato's model of the virtuous man is summed up by the term “asceticism”. This term derives from askesis, the term used by the Greek Stoics of the first and second centuries BCE to refer to their discipline. The Stoics were overtly Platonic, citing four guiding virtues: wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. Much of Plato's formative influence on the Gnostics was by way of the Stoics.
Spartan civilization was a militant, totalitarian socialist cult, founded in Lacedæmonia on the southern tip of the Greek mainland in ca. 800BCE, and enduring as an independent power for about half a millenium. Historian Victor Davis Hanson identifies in Sparta the historical origin of totalitarianism. Sparta was a utopia founded with a view to perpetually securing the community's idyllic new homeland, banishing conflict within the community and rendering it invulnerable to attack by outsiders. At the top of Spartan society were the homoioi, ten thousand dedicated fighting men whose very name denotes equality. In Greek Society, UCSB emeritus professor Frank Frost describes this civilization, under the heading “Sparta: an Experiment in Elitist Communism”. The general aspects admired by Plato were Sparta's radical egalitarianism, abolition of economic competition, intense cooperation, social discipline and order, and the intense loyalty of the citizens to each other and to the community. Sparta's economic method was to yoke nearby nations, and it is estimated there were ten slaves (helot) for every Spartan-born person. Warfare, and collectivization to that end, was the organizing principle of the civilization: from the age of 7 to 30, each Spartan-born male was the property of the community, dedicated by compulsion to military service. As part of their brutal indoctrination, Spartan boys were not fed enough to live on, and were expected to surreptitiously steal for their meals. Another charming tradition that fell to the Spartan boys was the murderous terrorizing of the helot population.
Only Spartan-born males who had dutifully completed their military obligations were citizens. Asceticism was demanded of all Spartans, and there were no individual rights — in fact, Spartans were expected not to even think of themselves as individuals. Writing of an intellectually substantial character was essentially forbidden in Sparta, by dint of edicts forbidding the written recordation of laws and contracts, and forbidding those arts that do not serve necessity. These aspects of Sparta, among many others, made Jean-Jacques Rousseau an admirer and an emulator. He lauded Sparta's rigid intolerance of factions, as “the unique and sublime institution of the great Lycurgus” (The Social Contract, book 2, chapter 3).
Greek historian priest Mestrius Plutarch wrote of Sparta in his Parallel Lives (75ACE). He tells of its founding by Lycurgus, under the influence of the “very sober and temperate” contemporary civilization of Crete, and of the poet lawgiver Thales of Crete. Lycurgus had a distaste for practical economic effort, which in his view detracted from “high refinement and beauty” in the community of citizens. His approach to reforming Sparta was to “change the whole face of the commonwealth” — essentially, to effect socialist revolution — which he did by assembling a conspiracy of leading citizens united to that end. Lycurgus ended royal autocracy by creating a citizens' senate with power equal to the king's, which “consisted of those who were Lycurgus's chief aiders and assistants in his plans”, but in general, he with “the most and loudest acclamations was declared senator duly elected”. Ratification, by public referendum of all citizens, was required of all significant acts of state. In language to make Marx smile, Plutarch recounts Lycurgus's next measure:
After the creation of the thirty senators, his next task, and, indeed, the most hazardous he ever undertook, was the making a new division of their lands. For there was an extreme inequality amongst them, and their state was overloaded with a multitude of indigent and necessitous persons, while its whole wealth had centred upon a very few. To the end, therefore, that he might expel from the state arrogance and envy, luxury and crime, and those yet more inveterate diseases of want and superfluity, he obtained of them to renounce their properties, and to consent to a new division of the land, and that they should live all together on an equal footing; merit to be their only road to eminence, and the disgrace of evil, and credit of worthy acts, their one measure of difference between man and man.
It is well to note that the Spartan parcels, though all the same size, were still held privately, and so were well-tilled and productive, in contrast to the collectivization catastrophes of modern socialism. But, as Plutarch explains in lines to make Franklin Roosevelt smile, Lycurgus continued:
Not contented with this, he resolved to make a division of their movables too, that there might be no odious distinction or inequality left amongst them; but finding that it would be very dangerous to go about it openly, he took another course, and defeated their avarice by the following stratagem: he commanded that all gold and silver coin should be called in, and that only a sort of money made of iron should be current, a great weight and quantity of which was very little worth; so that to lay up twenty or thirty pounds there was required a pretty large closet, and, to remove it, nothing less than a yoke of oxen. With the diffusion of this money, at once a number of vices were banished from Lacedaemon; for who would rob another of such a coin? Who would unjustly detain or take by force, or accept as a bribe, a thing which it was not easy to hide, nor a credit to have, nor indeed of any use to cut in pieces? For when it was just red hot, they quenched it in vinegar, and by that means spoilt it, and made it almost incapable of being worked.
Thus fiat currency, the core institution of activist monetary policy (as promoted by John Maynard Keynes), was first enacted in Sparta. Plutarch then tells how the abolition of precious money led to the exodus from Sparta of all purveyors of luxuries, and how Lycurgus assured their departure by outlawing “all needless and superfluous arts”. Moreover, he ordained that the citizens “should all eat in common, of the same bread and same meat, and of kinds that were specified, and should not spend their lives at home”, the better to break down distinctions among them. Sparta is also renowned for the homosexual relations instituted among its young warriors. (See, e.g., Greek Homosexuality by Kenneth James Dover (Harvard 1978, 1989, 2004).) There are some who believe that homosexual relations in this pattern were instituted among the Schutzstaffel (SS) of the NSDAP. As for women and children, Lycurgus envisioned a eugenical athletic fecundity and a formative discipline that is striking in its similarity to that of the German National Socialists. In fact, Adolf Hitler expressed great admiration for Sparta, and was a student of their methods, as further evidenced by his campaign to yoke and terrorize the rest of Europe. Of their eugenics in particular, Hitler declared that “The abandonment of sick, puny and misshapen children by the Spartans was more humanitarian and, in reality, a thousand times more humane than the pitiful madness of our present time where the most sickly subjects are preserved at any price only to be followed by the breeding of a race from degenerates burdened with disease.” (Herr Hitler's worst offense here is not in what he says, but in what he doesn't say — that he and his regime would construe “degenerate” however they pleased.) Plutarch explains:
In order to [promote] the good education of their youth (which, as I said before, he thought the most important and noblest work of a lawgiver), he went so far back as to take into consideration their very conception and birth, by regulating their marriages. [...] he ordered the maidens to exercise themselves with wrestling, running, throwing, the quoit, and casting the dart, to the end that the fruit they conceived might, in strong and healthy bodies, take firmer root and find better growth, and withal that they, with this greater vigour, might be the more able to undergo the pains of child-bearing. And to the end he might take away their overgreat tenderness and fear of exposure to the air, and all acquired womanishness, he ordered that the young women should go naked in the processions, as well as the young men, and dance, too, in that condition, at certain solemn feasts, singing certain songs, whilst the young men stood around, seeing and hearing them. [...] Nor was there anything shameful in this nakedness of the young women; modesty attended them, and all wantonness was excluded. It taught them simplicity and a care for good health, and gave them some taste of higher feelings, admitted as they thus were to the field of noble action and glory. Hence it was natural for them to think and speak as Gorgo, for example, the wife of Leonidas, is said to have done, when some foreign lady, as it would seem, told her that the women of Lacedaemon were the only women in the world who could rule men; ‘With good reason,’ she said, ‘for we are the only women who bring forth men.’
[... The married Spartan man] was equally careful to banish empty and womanish jealousy. For this object, excluding all licentious disorders, he made it, nevertheless, honourable for men to give the use of their wives to those whom they should think fit, that so they might have children by them; ridiculing those in whose opinion such favours are so unfit for participation as to fight and shed blood and go to war about it. Lycurgus allowed a man who was advanced in years and had a young wife to recommend some virtuous and approved young man, that she might have a child by him, who might inherit the good qualities of the father, and be a son to himself. On the other side, an honest man who had love for a married woman upon account of her modesty and the well-favouredness of her children, might, without formality, beg her company of her husband, that he might raise, as it were, from this plot of good ground, worthy and well-allied children for himself. And indeed, Lycurgus was of a persuasion that children were not so much the property of their parents as of the whole commonwealth, and, therefore, would not have his citizens begot by the first-comers, but by the best men that could be found; the laws of other nations seemed to him very absurd and inconsistent, where people would be so solicitous for their dogs and horses as to exert interest and to pay money to procure fine breeding, and yet kept their wives shut up [...]
Nor was it in the power of the father to dispose of the child as he thought fit; he was obliged to carry it before certain triers at a place called Lesche; these were some of the elders of the tribe to which the child belonged; their business it was carefully to view the infant, and, if they found it stout and well made, they gave order for its rearing, and allotted to it one of the nine thousand shares of land above mentioned for its maintenance, but, if they found it puny and ill-shaped, ordered it to be taken to what was called the Apothetae, a sort of chasm under Taygetus; as thinking it neither for the good of the child itself, nor for the public interest, that it should be brought up, if it did not, from the very outset, appear made to be healthy and vigorous. [...]
The coincidence of the Spartan lifestyle with key precepts of Edenism is made plain in this passage:
Their discipline continued still after they were full-grown men. No one was allowed to live after his own fancy; but the city was a sort of camp, in which every man had his share of provisions and business set out, and looked upon himself not so much born to serve his own ends as the interest of his country. Therefore if they were commanded nothing else, they went to see the boys perform their exercises, to teach them something useful or to learn it themselves of those who knew better. And indeed one of the greatest and highest blessings Lycurgus procured his people was the abundance of leisure which proceeded from his forbidding to them the exercise of any mean and mechanical trade. Of the money-making that depends on troublesome going about and seeing people and doing business, they had no need at all in a state where wealth obtained no honour or respect. The Helots tilled their ground for them, and paid them yearly in kind the appointed quantity, without any trouble of theirs. To this purpose there goes a story of a Lacedaemonian who, happening to be at Athens when the courts were sitting, was told of a citizen that had been fined for living an idle life, and was being escorted home in much distress of mind by his condoling friends; the Lacedaemonian was much surprised at it and desired his friend to show him the man who was condemned for living like a freeman. So much beneath them did they esteem the frivolous devotion of time and attention to the mechanical arts and to moneymaking.
It need not be said that upon the prohibition of gold and silver, all lawsuits immediately ceased, for there was now neither avarice nor poverty amongst them, but equality, where every one's wants were supplied, and independence, because those wants were so small. [...] To conclude, he bred up his citizens in such a way that they neither would nor could live by themselves; they were to make themselves one with the public good, and, clustering like bees around their commander, be by their zeal and public spirit carried all but out of themselves, and devoted wholly to their country. [...]
As for foreign people and new ideas, Lycurgus was of one mind with Pol Pot:
He filled Lacedaemon all through with proofs and examples of good conduct; with the constant sight of which from their youth up the people would hardly fail to be gradually formed and advanced in virtue. And this was the reason why he forbade them to travel abroad, and go about acquainting themselves with foreign rules of morality, the habits of ill-educated people, and different views of government. Withal he banished from Lacedaemon all strangers who would not give a very good reason for their coming thither; not because he was afraid lest they should inform themselves of and imitate his manner of government (as Thucydides says), or learn anything to their good; but rather lest they should introduce something contrary to good manners. With strange people, strange words must be admitted; these novelties produce novelties in thought; and on these follow views and feelings whose discordant character destroys the harmony of the state. He was as careful to save his city from the infection of foreign bad habits, as men usually are to prevent the introduction of a pestilence.
Legend holds that Lycurgus, having established his regime to his satisfaction, travelled to Delphi to receive oracular sanctification, whereupon he starved himself to death in order to bind the Spartan nation to their promise to stay strictly true to his edicts until his return. Indeed, in the Spartan ethic, death was systematically exalted: death in battle always sanctified the fallen, but living through a battle would be viewed in itself as a sin if many kinsmen had perished.
Socrates and Plato were not the only important figures of history who admired and drew inspiration from Lycurgus's Sparta. As mentioned above, Adolf Hitler did, to obvious effect. But the luminaries of the French Revolution did as well, and it is to them that the story now turns.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was among the first to recognizably articulate socialism (though see Socinianism, below), and most clearly and obviously evoked the Eden motif. Like many thinkers of his day, he accepted the account of Genesis literally and implicitly, as when he called himself (albeit tongue in cheek) a “direct descendent” of “King Adam” — “it cannot be denied that Adam was sovereign of the world, just as Robinson was of his island, as long as he was its only inhabitant, and what was most agreeable about this empire was that the monarch, secure on his throne, had nothing to fear from rebellions, wars, or conspirators.” (On Social Contract, book 1, chapter 2 “On the First Societies”)
Because he is a sort of patron saint of the French Revolution, Rousseau is thought of as a Frenchman, but in fact he grew up in Geneva Switzerland. His unfortunate childhood surely accounts for the direction his thoughts took him, and — particularly by comparison with other prominent socialists and the regimes they construct — this suggests that the destruction or corruption of the nuclear family, and of civil community in general, is vital to socialism. Rousseau's mother died a week after his birth in 1712, and his father abandoned him at the age of 10, evading arrest for a petty crime. For the following six years he was raised by an aunt and uncle, and after years of itinerancy, he arrived in Paris at the age of 30. As an adult, Jean-Jacques was often a lecherous adulterer. He relegated his own five children to an orphanage as soon as each was weaned, and spent the last years of his life avoiding the company of other people.
The philosophy Rousseau developed and advocated conspicuously conflicted with this unhappy personal narrative — or rather, has the form of a rhetorical counterpoint. In the Western world, rigidly obligated faceless public institutions (e.g., infant day care, public schooling, the dole, Social Security, and Medicare) have largely replaced traditional and natural reliance on caring friends and family (or, of course, one's self). This institutionalization follows Rousseau's predictable preferences. The Wikipedia entry for Rousseau, largely derived from the Lucidcafé entry, summarizes his thinking:
Rousseau contended that man was good by nature, a “noble savage” when in the state of nature (the state of all the “other animals”, and the condition humankind was in before the creation of civilization and society), but is corrupted by society. He viewed society as artificial and held that the development of society, especially the growth of social interdependence, has been inimical to the well-being of human beings.
Rousseau's essay, “Discourse on the Arts and Sciences” (1750), which won the prize offered by the Academy of Dijon, argued that the advancement of art and science had not been beneficial to humankind. He proposed that the progress of knowledge had made governments more powerful and had crushed individual liberty. He concluded that material progress had actually undermined the possibility of sincere friendship, replacing it with jealousy, fear and suspicion.
His subsequent Discourse on Inequality, tracked the progress and degeneration of mankind from a primitive state of nature to modern society. He suggested that the earliest human beings were isolated semi-apes who were differentiated from animals by their capacity for free will and their perfectibility. He also argued that these primitive humans were possessed of a basic drive to care for themselves and a natural disposition to compassion or pity. As humans were forced to associate together more closely, by the pressure of population growth, they underwent a psychological transformation and came to value the good opinion of others as an essential component of their own well being. Rousseau associated this new self-awareness with a golden age of human flourishing. However, the development of agriculture and metallurgy, private property and the division of labour led to increased interdependence and inequality. The resulting state of conflict led Rousseau to suggest that the first state was invented as a kind of social contract made at the suggestion of the rich and powerful. This original contract was deeply flawed as the wealthiest and most powerful members of society tricked the general population, and so cemented inequality as a permanent feature of human society.
Building on his earlier work, such as the Discourse on Inequality Rousseau claimed that the state of nature eventually degenerates into a brutish condition without law or morality, at which point the human race must adopt institutions of law or perish. In the degenerate phase of the state of nature, man is prone to be in frequent competition with his fellow men whilst at the same time becoming increasingly dependent on them. This double pressure threatens both his survival and his freedom. According to Rousseau, by joining together through the social contract and abandoning their claims of natural right, individuals can both preserve themselves and remain free. This is because submission to the authority of the general will of the people as a whole guarantees individuals against being subordinated to the wills of others and also ensures that they obey themselves because they are, collectively, the authors of the law.
Later, especially under the criticism of Voltaire, Rousseau took nature to mean the spontaneity of the process by which man builds his personality and his world. Nature thus signifies interiority, integrity, spiritual freedom, as opposed to that imprisonment and enslavement which society imposes in the name of civilization.
Hence, to go back to nature means to restore to man the forces of this natural process, to place him outside every oppressing bond of society and the prejudices of civilization. It is this idea that made his thought particularly imporant in Romanticism, though Rousseau himself is generally regarded as a figure of The Enlightenment.
Rousseau's “noble savage” (the term is not his) is a diametric break with Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), who in chapter 13 of Leviathan (1651) described life in the state of nature as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (it was Hobbes, of course, who came closer to the mark — even Rousseau recognizes the genius of his observations, while understandably dismissing his atrocious prescription). Rousseau's allegation that the social contract relies on the abandonment of natural rights is a diametric break with John Locke (1632-1704). In particular, Rousseau's meditations on equality, culminating in his deprecation of the natural right of estate that is so central to Locke's vision (and to sound economics), means that Rousseau owes his philosophy to Locke more by contrast than by harmony. Thus, Rousseau created a new branch of Enlightenment thinking — and a poisonous one at that. Rousseau's deprecation of agriculture is cartoonish and wrong: the chief result of agriculture was to bestow free time which people have used ever since in creative, contemplative, and competitive enterprise.
In Rousseau's “social contract”, a person ostensibly secures himself and his freedom by utterly ceding his rights to his collected fellow countrymen. This is patently absurd on its face, and doesn't make any more sense under closer scrutiny. It is a desperate ploy of a broken man. However, it was and remains the linchpin of political socialism, and the breaking of men was and remains a central mechanism for the realization of socialism.
Here, from Rousseau's Political Writings, “Discourse on Inequality”, p.11-20, are some choice passages offering further testimony to his Edenic mindset:
[...] by considering him [man], in a word, as he must have come from the hands of nature, I see an animal less strong than some, less agile than others, but, on the whole, the most advantageously constituted of all; I see him eating his fill under an oak tree, quenching his thirst at the first stream, making his bed at the foot of the same tree which furnished his meal, with all his needs satisfied.
Left to its natural fertility and covered with immense forests that the axe has never mutilated, the earth offers at every step stores of food and shelter to animals of every species. [...]
As the savage man's body is the only instrument he knows, he puts it to various uses for which our bodies, through lack of exercise, are unfit, and it is our industry which deprives us of the strength and agility that necessity obliges him to acquire. [...] Give civilized man the time to assemble all these tools [axe, sling, ladder, horse] around him, and he will undoubtedly overcome the savage man with ease, but if you want to see an even more unequal contest, pit them against each other naked and unarmed, and you will soon see the advantage of having all one's strength constantly at one's disposal, of always being prepared for every event, and of always carrying one's whole self, so to speak, with one.
[...] The extreme inequality in the manner of living, the excessive idleness of some, the excessive labor of others [...] this is the deadly proof that most of our ailments are of our own making, and that we could have avoided nearly all of them by preserving the simple, uniform, and solitary manner of living which was prescribed for us by nature. If nature destined us to be healthy, I venture to affirm that the state of reflection is contrary to nature and that the man who meditates is a depraved animal. When we think of the good constitution of savages, at least of those whom we have not ruined with our strong liquors, when we realize that they rarely experience any illnesses other than wounds and old age, we are very inclined to believe that the history of human illnesses could easily be written by following that of civil societies. [...]
[...] the first person who made himself clothes or lodging thereby gave himself things that were hardly necessary, since he had done without them until then, and since it is difficult to see why he could not have endured as a grown man the kind of life he had endured from his infancy.
[...] things can be desired or feared only on the basis of ideas that we can form about them or through the simple impulsion of nature, and savage man, bereft of every sort of enlightenment, experiences only passions of this last kind; his desires do not exceed his physical needs. The only goods he knows in the universe are food, a female, and sleep; the only evils he fears are pain and hunger; I say pain, and not death, for an animal will never know what it is to die, and knowledge of death and its terrors is one of the first acquisitions that man made in leaving the animal state.
[...] in this primitive state, having neither houses nor huts nor property of any kind, each person took shelter at random, and often for only one night; males and females united fortuitously, according to chance encounters, opportunity, and desire, without any great need for the power of speech to express what they had to say to each other; they parted from each other with the same ease. [...]
On p.16-17, in Note IX, he further idealizes the noble savage and decries modern thought, industry, and economy — in both cases, through grossly distorted caricature:
Men are wicked—sad and continual experience dispenses with the need for proof; however, I believe I have demonstrated that man is naturally good. What, then, can have depraved him to this extent, if not the changes that have arisen in his constitution, the progress he has made, and the knowledge that he has acquired? Let people admire human society as much as they wish; it will be no less true that society necessarily brings men to hate each other in the degree that their interests conflict, to render to each other apparent services, and, in fact, to do every imaginable harm to each other. What can be thought of dealings in which the reason of each private individual dictates maxims to him that are directly contrary to those which public reason preaches to the society as a whole, and in which each profits from the misfortune of others? [...] Therefore, let us penetrate beyond our frivolous demonstrations of good will to what goes on in the depth of human hearts, and let us reflect upon what the state of things must be where all men are forced to cherish and destroy each other at the same time, and where they are born enemies by duty and swindlers by interest. If someone answers to me that society is constituted in such a way that each man gains by serving others, I shall reply that this would be very well if he did not gain still more by harming them. There is no profit, however legitimate, that is not surpassed by one that can be made illegally, and the wrong done to one's neighbor is always more lucrative than the good turns. It is, therefore, no longer a quest of anything other than finding ways of being assured of acting with impunity, and it is to this end that the powerful use all their strength and the weak all their guile.
Once he has eaten, savage man is at peace with all nature and the friend of all his fellows. What if a dispute sometimes arises over his meal? HJe never comes to blows without first having compared the difficulty of winning with that of finding his subsistence elsewhere; and since pride is not involved in the quarrel, it ends with a few blows of the fist; the victor eats, the vanquished goes off to seek his fortune, and all is peaceful. [...]
Rousseau exhibited obvious Edenism with a variety of pronouncements: “Let us return to nature.”, “Whoever blushes confesses guilt, true innocence never feels shame.”, “Do not judge, and you will never be mistaken.”, “Although modesty is natural to man, it is not natural to children. Modesty only begins with the knowledge of evil.”, and “It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living.” In Discourse on Inequality (1755), he articulated his (specious) rationale for deprecating private property: “The first man who, having fenced off a plot of land, thought of saying, ‘This is mine’ and found people simple enough to believe him was the real founder of civil society. How many crimes, wars, murders, how many miseries and horrors might the human race had been spared by the one who, upon pulling up the stakes or filling in the ditch, had shouted to his fellow men: ‘Beware of listening to this imposter; you are lost if you forget the fruits of the earth belong to all and that the earth belongs to no one.’” In fact, well-kept fences make for well-behaved neighbors. Rousseau could no more repeal the laws of economics than repeal gravity.
Rousseau advocated direct democracy, to the emphatic exclusion of republican government (in which the representation of popular will is chiefly through intermediaries, and is bound by constitutional restraints). Nonetheless, he held that “the goal of government should be to secure freedom, equality, and justice for all within the state, regardless of the will of the majority” (also from the Wikipedia entry). On first blush this is admirable, but his persistent emphasis on the implacable imposition of equality presages the horrors of socialism to come — its fatal jamming of square pegs into round holes. As for education, “He minimizes the importance of book-learning, and recommends that a child's emotions should be educated before his reason.” For those acquainted with the academic establishment of the late twentieth and early 21st century, this is all too familiar.
As its moderate members departed, and particularly under the influence and leadership of Rousseau disciple Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794), it evolved into an intimidating organization whose purpose was to impose the radical program of Rousseau using thuggery and a national hierarchy of affiliated associations. This program featured the comprehensive overthrow of the established institutions of society and of those who embodied them, most obviously of the monarchic government and royal patronage (though the radicalization of the Jacobin Club didn't culminate until after the dethronement of King Louis XVI in 1789). But their movement went further. For example, they abolished the traditional calendar and measurement systems and instituted decimal systems. The Système Internationale d'Unites, commonly called “the metric system” or “SI”, is the surviving representative. The seventeenth century French scientists who invented the system believed they were reforming measurement with non-arbitrary units but, ironically, by adopting a base 10 structure in place of the mostly base 2 structure of the legacy system, they actually embedded structural anthropocentrism where little or none had been before. In any case, the vision of the Jacobins was to remake the very meaning and nature of human life, a radical utopian vision which has persisted through the whole history of socialism.
Ironically, yet predictably, the form of this utopia was transparently anti-intellectual. Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (1743-1794), the father of modern chemistry, was tried, convicted, and guillotined, in a single day, despite being a key developer of SI measurement and a liberal monetary and tax reformer, for giving offense to the Jacobins by dint of a history of association with the ancien régime. The president of the tribunal famously declared in the hearing that «La République n'a pas de besoin de savants.» (“The Republic needs no wise men.”). Indeed, wisdom would have decisively preempted the terrible Republic of Robespierre. Eleven weeks later, Robespierre himself followed Lavoisier to the guillotine, ending the Terror. The subsequent Directorate exonerated Lavoisier, telling his widow that he had been falsely convicted.
The Enlightenment largely underlies both the French and American revolutions, but the forms of those revolutions were evidently quite different, with the French more concerned with its destructive and idealistic aspects (as exemplified by Robespierre and Jean-Paul Marat), and the American with its constructive and naturalistic aspects (as exemplified by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams). Both revolutions purported to derive from and practice the rational, methodical, systematic philosophy of the Enlightenment, but only in America did the revolutionaries retain an active interest in empirical grounding. The French detachment allowed the Edenic wishful thinking of Rousseau to dominate. This was a profound distinction with dramatic consequences at the time, and its importance has not greatly diminished with time. The misdirected energy of the French revolution was quickly exhausted, its direction utterly lost, and in 1799 France came under another monarch, Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821). On his deathbed, Bonaparte admitted “They wanted another Washington”, but alas, France had no Washington (or perhaps he had been guillotined in the Terror). Washington famously refused the offer of his officers that he become King of America: “Believe me, Colonel Nicola, no occurrence in the course of this war has given me greater pain than this revelation of such sentiments among the officers of my army, which I must view with abhorrence and reprehend with severity. [...] I advise you and your collaborators to put these thoughts from your mind.”.
Becker explains (in City, p.139) why France followed the more radically idealistic path:
It was more especially in France, where social discontent was most acute, that the doctrine of progress, of perfectibility, became an essential article of faith in the new religion of humanity. Fontanelle had thought of progress in terms of the gradual increase in knowledge and correct reasoning. It did not occur to him, or to many of his contemporaries, to look forward to any radical regeneration of morals or of social institutions. To play with the idea of utopia, as described by Plato or Thomas More or Bacon, was an engaging pastime no doubt; to project it, as something to be practically realized, into the future history of France, would have seemed to him scarcely less an illusion than the naïve dream of perfection in the Garden of Eden. Yet this is just what, under the pressure of social discontents, came to pass: the utopian dream of perfection, that necessary compensation for the limitations and frustrations of the present state, having been long identified with the golden age or the Garden of Eden or life eternal in the Heavenly City of God, and then by the sophisticated transferred to remote or imagined lands (the moon or Atlantis or Nowhere, Tahiti or Pennsylvania or Peking), was at last projected into the life of man on earth and identified with the desired and hoped-for regeneration of society.
Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), in the last decade of his life, laid the groundwork for a revival of socialism in France along lines rather more modest than those of the Revolution. He was not without his own revolutionary sentiment, however: Saint-Simon became a staunch advocate for radical welfarism, declaring “The whole of society ought to strive towards the amelioration of the moral and physical existence of the poorest class; society ought to organize itself in the way best adapted for attaining this end.” This was a conclusion he reached by reducing Christianity to what he concluded (not entirely without reason) was its essence. When revolution came to France again, in July 1830, Saint-Simon's followers issued a proclamation demanding the abolition of private property and inheritance (a redundancy, presumably for emphasis), and the enfranchisement of women. Yet their adherence to the developing tenets of socialist radicalism had limits: they were meritocratic and most supported traditional marriage. In general, however, Saint-Simon's movement was short on organization and specifics, and simply set a tone that led inexorably to modern French socialism.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) was the father of anarcho-syndicalism, that flavor of utopian socialism with which prolific anti-American intellectual Noam Chomsky associates himself. The world Proudhon envisioned has no place for the monolithic nanny state of Saint-Simon, yet in their philosophies there is still more overlap than conflict. Proudhon is known for declaring that “Property is theft” (in What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right of Government). Anarcho-syndicalism is one of the more obviously Edenic visions of socialism. It envisions a cosmology of eternal workers' communes wherein the means of production is collectively held and put to sustained productive use, with ongoing trade among the various communes, entirely absent any overarching government. It is propositions such as these that remind one that “utopia” etymologically means nowhere.
America had its own Francophile representative of the Enlightenment, in the person of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). Jefferson enthused over the French republican revolution, ignoring its increasingly obvious defects. He was a consummate classical intellectual, and in fact headed the American Philosophical Society for years. Jefferson was not a socialist — no convinced socialist would ever declare that “there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents”, as he did to John Adams in 1813. Yet he adopted and articulated so many of Edenism's vital tenets that he became a conduit, embedding embryonic socialism in the American nation at its birth, helping to provoke an identity crisis that lingers to this day. Some of this can be seen in Alexis de Tocqueville's conclusion, in Democracy in America (1835), that “Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.” — though clearly this attitude is in part organic. Jefferson was notably opposed, both politically and ideologically, to his more economically practical colleagues John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. Regarding Hamilton, Ron Chernow writes in his Hamilton biography that “For Jefferson and his followers, wedded to their vision of an agrarian Eden, Hamilton was the American Mephistopheles, the proponent of such devilish contrivances as banks, factories, and stock exchanges.” Regarding the illustrious John Marshall, the Hamilton admirer appointed by Adams to be chief justice of the Supreme Court, Jefferson said he is “the Federalist serpent in the democratic Eden of our administration.” (cited by Milton Lomask, and by Chernow in Hamilton at p.648). While Jefferson was not a socialist, he was very much part of the utopian school of Enlightenment thought.
Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, made an act of the Continental Congress on 1776-Jul-4, is one of the foremost embodiments of Enlightenment thinking. On many points, it plainly evokes Rousseau.
The document declares that circumstance demands that the colonists destroy the old social order (“dissolve the Political Bands”) and realize individual independence and equality (“separate and equal Station”). In the ratified version, it is “Nature's God” that grants this independence and equality, but this was actually compromise language reached only after much wrangling. Jefferson was a convinced and dedicated deist, and he initially attributed these entitlements only to “the Laws of Nature” — language which, in any case, remains in the ratified version. The theme of equality is so central to Jefferson's mindset that he quickly revisits it, declaring without reason or evidence (and, in fact, quite contrary to reason and evidence) that “all Men are created equal”. Aware of the paucity of evidence for this assertion, he argues explicitly from collective authority, saying “WE hold these Truths to be self-evident”. He goes on to invoke “Liberty”, without definition or qualification, as an individual right. In invoking liberty and equality as natural rights, Jefferson aligns himself with Rousseau's own conception of fundamental rights. His quaint proposition that “the Pursuit of Happiness” is an individual right of similar rank, and that the people have the right “to institute new Government [...] most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”, follows from John Locke (himself an antecedent of many Enlightenment thinkers, including Rousseau), but presages the hedonic Utilitarianism of Bentham. Locke actually promoted a right to private property (as an institution, and including entrepreneurship and privacy in one's general affairs), not a right to the pursuit of happiness, so that Jefferson's alteration is important. The abolition of private property and elevation of collectivistic hedonism would soon become central operating principles of socialism.
Jefferson's complaints about the King's behavior (e.g., protesting his “imposing Taxes on us without our Consent” and ”declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever”) add up to a complaint that the King was treating the colonists as slaves. Yet Jefferson records that he owned 187 slaves (many of whom he named for the intellectuals of classical antiquity). This sort of raging hypocrisy and self-contradiction is on the scale common among socialists, and regretably the case among several other Founders from the southern colonies.
In Hamilton (p.314), Chernow is merciless in his indictment of Jefferson:
[...] His French sojourn radicalized Jefferson and left him with a heightened suspicion of the damage that could be done by any aristrocratic or monarchical sympathies in America—suspicions that were to crystalize around the figure of Alexander Hamilton.
All the while, Jefferson clung to a vision of France as America's fraternal ally. “Nothing should be spared on our part to attach this country to us,” he wrote to Madison. While scorning French political arrangements, Jefferson adored his life in that decadent society. He relished Paris—the people, wine, women, music, literature, and architecture. And the more rabidly antiaristocratic he became, the more he was habituated to aristocratic pleasures. Jefferson fancied himself a mere child of nature, a simple, unaffected man, rather than what he really was: a grandee, a gourmet, a hedonist, and a clever, ambitious politician. Even as he deplored the inequities of French society, he occupied the stately Hotel de Langeac on the Champs Elysées, constructed for a mistress of one of Louis XV's ministers. Jefferson decorated the mansion with choice neoclassical furniture bought from stylish vendors. The philosopher in powdered hair employed a coachman, a footman, a valet—seven or eight domestics in all, a household staff so complete that it included a frotteur whose job consisted solely of buffing the floors to a high gleam. Jefferson's colossal shopping sprees in Paris—he bought two thousand books and sixty-three paintings—betrayed a cavalier disregard for his crushing debts as well as the slaves whose labor serviced them. While Jefferson's Parisian life seems to contradict his politics, he was embraced by a group of Enlightenment aristocrats who exhibited the same exquisite contradictions.
Later (p.432) Chernow describes in greater detail the Jeffersonian attitude toward revolutionary France:
[...] When 1,400 political prisoners were slaughtered in the so-called September Massacres, an intoxicated Robespierre pronounced it “the most beautiful revolution that has ever honored humanity.” “Let the blood of traitors flow,” agreed Marat. “That is the only way to save the country.”
For a long time, Jeffersonians had dismissed these reports of atrocities as rank propaganda. Moved by the soul-stirring rhetoric of the French Revolution, they affected the title of “Jacobin” and saluted one another as “citizen” or “citizeness,” in solidarity with their French comrades. After France declared itself a republic on September 20, 1792, American sympathizers feted the news with toasts, cannonades, and jubilation. When Jefferson replied to William Short's letter [reporting the revolutionary massacres], he noted that the French Revolution had heartened American republicans and undercut Hamiltonian “monocrats.” He regretted the lives lost in Paris, he said, then offered this chilling apologia: “The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest. . . . [R]ather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated.” For Jefferson, it was not just French or American freedom at stake but that of the entire Western world. To his mind, such a universal goal excused the bloodthirsty means.
Jefferson had two quaint social ideals that can't be rationally reconciled with each other (or indeed, with themselves). On the one hand, he envisioned America as a nation of self-sufficient farmers, not one of mechanized industry and commerce (and associated innovation and market freedom). On the other, he envisioned a universal education apparatus, run for the poor at public expense (therefore, by the government), assuring that all Americans would be schooled as he had been — in the classics, for example — and thereby be made competent voters. In 1806, he proposed public education as an amendment to the federal constitution, and when that came to naught, he made a similar proposal in Virginia, furthermore supporting a provision that would deny citizenship to the illiterate. (The only part of his proposals that came to fruition in his lifetime was the founding of the University of Virginia.) It's not clear what use a full time farmer has for Virgil and Locke, or why a person schooled in the classics would be satisfied tilling fields for the rest of his life, but there it is. Jefferson's call and rationale for public education is almost identical to Rousseau's, whose main allegation on this matter was that by education man can be made noble and society be made harmonious.
In 1825, Frances Wright, an ardent abolitionist heiress Scottswoman, told Jefferson of her plan to establish an egalitarian biracial commune. Jefferson wrote back to her, “That which you propose is well worthy of trial. It has succeeded with certain portions of our white brethren, under the care of a Rapp and an Owen; and why may it not succeed with the man of color?” The “Owen” of whom Jefferson wrote is Robert Owen, the man for whose movement the term “socialism” was coined, and whom I treat in much greater depth below. Jefferson greatly exaggerates the success of Owen's communes. And as Jefferson biographer Fawn Brodie writes, “Jefferson did not live long enough to learn of the failure of the black and white community Frances Wright set up in Nashoba, Tennessee, the first interracial community in America which truly experimented with equality. It would fail financially, as all such experiments failed in the nineteenth century, and would suffer even more from stories that filtered out of Nashoba about miscegenation and free love.” There's nothing wrong with miscegenation of course, but equality in fact (as distinguished from equal treatment under law) is a pernicious and impossible objective, and the economic failure of autonomous communes is universal, intrinsic, and inevitable.
For Jefferson, religious freedom was chiefly a matter of freedom from religion — or at least, from established religion. It was he who coined the phrase “wall of separation between Church and State”. In 1786, when Virginia passed his Bill for Religious Freedom, it became the first state to expressly disestablish religion. Several years later, Jefferson was befriended by Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), an English clergyman and scientist who greatly admired the French Revolution, and who in 1796 founded the first Unitarian church in Philadelphia. Notwithstanding his deism — in fact, largely consistent with it — Jefferson declared Unitarianism congenial to his own sensibilities, and credited Priestley with winning him to it.
|Fausto Paulo Sozzini|
Unitarianism was a direct descendent of Socinianism, a proto-socialist, anti-Trinitarian Christian movement of sixteenth century Europe, named for its Italian founders Lelio and Fausto Sozzini, and now most closely associated with Poland. The Wikipedia entry summarizes: “The Polish Brethren advocated the separation of church and state and taught the equality and brotherhood of all people; they opposed social privileges based on religious affiliation, and their adherents refused military service (they were known for carrying wooden swords instead of real almost obligatory szablas) and declined political office. They did not believe in private property, were against capital punishment, and did not believe in the Catholic doctrines of Hell or the Trinity.” In 1658 the Brethren were expelled from Poland, most moving to the Netherlands where their influence contributed to the dawn of the Enlightenment. Priestley was well-versed in the original works of the Brethren, including those of Fausto Paolo Sozzini (“Faustus Socinus”), and it was through him that Socinianism reached Jefferson and James Madison directly. In point of fact, the two Sozzinis, Lelio Francesco Maria Sozini (“Laelius”) (1525-1562) and nephew Fausto Paolo Sozzini (1539-1604), were positively peripatetic. Both born in Siena Italy, the elder travelled widely, conceived the skepticism that characterizes Socinianism (particularly, anti-Trinitarianism), and died young. The younger Sozzini adopted, developed, and espoused the elder's views, moving throughout his life, to Florence, Basel, Transylvania, Krakow, and finally to Luslawice Poland (where he died in 1604), sometimes following opportunity, other times fleeing persecution. Superficially, at least, it appears that the Sozzinis were among the root originators of modern socialism, preceding Rousseau by over a century and a half.
Priestley was embarrassingly optimistic, and his eschatology was Enlightenment millenarism. In An Essay on the First Principles of Government; and on the Nature of Political, Civil, and Religious Liberty (1771) (quoted by Becker in City, p.144-5) he wrote: “[In a state of society] it requires but a few years to comprehend the whole preceding progress of any one art or science; and the rest of a man's life, in which his faculties are the most perfect, may be given to the extension of it. If, by this means, one art or science should grow too large for an easy comprehension, . . . a commodious subdivision will be made. Thus all knowledge will be subdivided and extended; and knowledge, as Lord Bacon observes, being power, the human powers will, in fact, be enlarged; nature, including both its materials, and its laws, will be more at our command; men will make their situation in this world abundantly more easy and comfortable; they will probably prolong their existence in it, and will grow daily more happy, each in himself, and more able (and, I believe, more disposed) to communicate happiness to others. Thus, whatever was the beginning of this world, the end will be glorious and paradisiacal, beyond what our imagi[n]ations can now conceive. Extravagant as some may suppose these views to be, I think I could show them to be fairly suggested by the true theory of human nature, and to arise from the natural course of human affairs.”
In the modern era, particularly in North America, most Unitarian meeting houses have dropped any pretense of traditional Christian adherence. Sermons and studies in Buddhism are commonplace, and a transition to New Age (hypersyncretic occult socialism) is underway.
|G W F Hegel|
Hegel built his philosophy around his principle of the “World Spirit”. Though Kant is considered to be his chief antecedent, the occult doctrine of Kabbalah is a much clearer and more direct antecedent, particularly as it was articulated by Isaac Luria (see the Occult Edenism chapter below for details of kabbalah). Hegel's cosmology holds that there is a collective, quasi-occultic will of which individual humans are no more than organs, or cells, and in which the state (government) inherently supersedes the individual because the former is immortal and nation-spanning and so (he maintained) of greater importance to the realization of Spirit than the latter can possibly be. In his view, individuals are buffeted by abstract principles that are more real than the individuals themselves, and those driving principles together are the Spirit. Only when the individuals come to fully embody and exemplify the principles, do they stop being buffeted about helplessly. The trick, then, is to identify the principles, and what a trick this is indeed. Hegel didn't maintain that these principles were ascertainable scientifically, that they were like the laws of nature (and it's pity that he didn't, as that would have made a certain amount of sense). On the contrary, Hegel's Spirit is something he left wide open, describing its essence as “Freedom”, a term that is empty without qualification (Friedrich Engels later summarized Hegel's Freedom as “the recognition of your necessity”).
People thus naturally fight over the definition of Spirit, lay claim to it, and fly it as a flag of war. It is a thinly disguised theology, in which people are to try to understand God, so that they can act obediently (particularly, as obedient soldiers), thereby avoiding his wrath and collecting his rewards (Hegel promised ideal Freedom). But it could be any God, so that religious wars among people with conflicting conceptions of God, are the natural result. Hegel moreover maintained that the injustices, misfortunes, and atrocities of history, are necessary to history (which he views as simply the story of his relentless, dialectic-driven march culminating in the substantiation of Spirit as Freedom) and are therefore good. He thus espoused a radical ethical neutrality, robbing men of the grounds to judge and the courage to act from conscious conviction, maintaining that all things are permitted, because anything that happens, thereby becomes part of history, thereby becoming necessary to the relentless advance to Freedom. Hegel's philosophy can thus be used as a justification and propellant for any conceivable regime or movement, no matter how absurd or atrocious, while simultaneously undermining any attempt to evaluate and treat it rationally. Naturally, Hegel's philosophy culminated in the catastrophic socialist regimes of Russia and Germany, which naturally went to war with each other.
Because of his radical ethical neutrality, and because he advocated the view that people are fundamentally amoral, motivated at root by the desire to command the respect and obedience of other people, Hegel is often cited as an originator of the modern doctrines of moral and cultural relativism. His anticipated Freedom, however, constituted an eschatology of absolute certainty. This is his ballyhooed “end of history”, in which his World Spirit is fully embodied on the material plane. This eschatology was later embraced enthusiastically by Karl Marx, who promised that history would end in permanent communism — Marx's jabber for the reconstituted Eden. In Hegel we find, in close proximity, a fundamentalistic and ill-defined conception of freedom reminiscent of Jacobinism and suggestive of libertarianism, and a conception of government as deified, monolithic, and apical. However, Hegel's style of writing and lecturing is so opaque, so ruggedly vague and wandering, that one must often guess at what he really means, if indeed he really means anything in particular at all. This is suspiciously like the writing style of the modern occultists (see below, in the Occult Edenism chapter). It is no wonder that John Stewart Mill once declared that “conversancy with Hegel tends to deprave one's intellect.”
It bears noting at this point that even David Hume (1711-1776), a pillar of the Enlightenment, was shockingly detached from reality (though he was not a socialist). With thinking only one step removed from Kant's, though obviously diametric in one sense to Hegel's, he declared that causal relationship is illusory, a phenomenon of mind rather than of reality. This is actually a form of dualism, because while he admits that thoughts follow one from another, one causing the next, he denies that causation is physical. He therefore denies that mind is physical. But to return to the main point of his philosophy, such as it is: to deny the physicalness of causality is to be utterly mad. In fact, the thought disorder schizophrenia features dysfunction in the machinery of mind associated with the perception of causality. Hume was practicing a sort of prodigal deconstructionism, inherently depriving the world of all sense. Yet this philosophy was labelled “realism” because of its dogged epistemological dedication to that which is apparently obvious, to the exclusion of all else. It was in this tradition of bizarre detachment and deconstruction that Kant and Hegel proceeded, and we are now to call this “Enlightenment”.
The heretical continental Freemasonry of Adam Weishaupt (1748-1811),
I will give you the idea I have formed from only an hour's reading of Barruel's quotations from him, which you may be sure are not the most favorable. Wishaupt seems to be an enthusiastic Philanthropist. He is among those (as you know the excellent Price and Priestley also are) who believe in the indefinite perfectibility of man. He thinks he may in time be rendered so perfect that he will be able to govern himself in every circumstance so as to injure none, to do all the good he can, to leave government no occasion to exercise their powers over him, & of course to render political government useless. This you know is Godwin's doctrine, and this is what Robinson, Barruel & Morse had called a conspiracy against all government. Wishaupt believes that to promote this perfection of the human character was the object of Jesus Christ. That his intention was simply to reinstate natural religion, & by diffusing the light of his morality, to teach us to govern ourselves. His precepts are the love of god & love of our neighbor. And by teaching innocence of conduct, he expected to place men in their natural state of liberty & equality. He says, no one ever laid a surer foundation for liberty than our grand master, Jesus of Nazareth. He believes the Free masons were originally possessed of the true principles & objects of Christianity, & have still preserved some of them by tradition, but much disfigured. The means he proposes to effect this improvement of human nature are `to enlighten men, to correct their morals & inspire them with benevolence. Secure of our success, sais he, we abstain from violent commotions. To have foreseen the happiness of posterity & to have prepared it by irreproachable means, suffices for our felicity. The tranquility of our consciences is not troubled by the reproach of aiming at the ruin or overthrow of states or thrones.'
From this, we learn that Weishaupt was apparently a communist (in the Marxian sense of faith in a future stateless society of perfectly harmonious members), and that Jefferson was definitely a communist sympathizer. The “Priestley” Jefferson refers to is Joseph Priestley, mentioned above as the man Jefferson credited with converting him to Unitarianism. The systematic modification of human nature is of course a fixture of socialism, and attempts to do so would culminate calamitously in the twentieth century (see below, regarding Germany, Russia, China, North Korea, and Cambodia).
Weishaupt founded his movement on May 1st 1776, a date which has long been celebrated by labor movements and socialist governments as International Workers Day. The date is attributed to the 1886-May-1 Haymarket Riot in Chicago wherein organized labor demanded an 8 hour workday, but May Day has no official recognition in the US. In the US, Labor Day is the first Monday of September, and the first of May is Loyalty Day, a legal holiday.
Instructively, the US and Great Britain are the only industrialized countries that have yet to convert comprehensively to the metric system instituted by the Jacobins (though for practical reasons, the English units were redefined in terms of the Jacobin units, in the US in 1893 and again in 1959). The US in particular is and always has been relatively inhospitable soil for socialism and its overt institutions, and it excites the hostility of socialists more than does any other country.
|May Day parade, Moscow, USSR, 1982|
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) offered a framework for the systematic alteration of human behavior, to the end of making existence as blissful as possible. Bentham asserted that the soul, and hence all behavior, can be accounted for completely by reference to pleasure and pain, a dialectic vaguely reminiscent of Hegel. In Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Bentham asserts his theory of hedonic tyranny: “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do.
The decisive blow to Bentham's philosophy, is the reality that pleasure and pain are not determinants of cognition and behavior, but only influences. Will stands distinct as an articulate phenomenon of mind, and perseverence consists of the continuation of will and its associated behaviors despite concomitant pain. Perseverence is only possible because of the expectation of future goal fulfillment (fulfillment that may even occur after death, either actually or only in the individual's mind), so it is by systematically dashing expectations that a person's will can be broken. This method for realizing the promise of Bentham's calculus is de rigueur among socialists, largely underlying the oppressive regulations and progressive taxes imposed by their governments. Bentham made clear to the socialists that such a breaking was imperative for their purposes: “In every human breast [...] self-regarding interest is predominant over social interest; each person's own individual interest over the interests of all other persons taken together.” (About this too, Bentham was profoundly mistaken.) Bentham's kinship with the socialists goes further. He had a radical deconstructionist view of society, in which the meaning of its constituent individuals is fundamentally divorced from social relationships, and hence from their roles in society. Such a stance should evoke thoughts of feral children, castaways on deserted islands, and artists without audiences, but this absurd philosophy follows naturally from Rousseau and Kant, with their isolated noble savages and solipsistic universes (respectively). That socialists would benefit from a pathologically asocial ontology is perhaps surprising, but in fact socialism is predicated on the atomization of society (civilization), failing which, Eden is not reconstituted.
It was in his The book of the new moral world, published serially from 1836 to 1844, that Owen articulated his philosophy, and the English term “socialism” first came into common use in his Association, to refer to that philosophy. Owen also formed a business partnership with Jeremy Bentham, on the basis of mutually sympathetic philosophies.
The most significant additions of Marx and Engels were economic, financial, and banking institutions, which — if reports of their having been bankrolled by the Rothschild banking dynasty are accurate — should not surprise. Specifically, they recommended “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax” and “Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly”, which the same banking clique finally had enacted in the US, with minor alteration, some 65 years later. For good measure, they recommended “Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels” to deter evasion of their program and “Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state” as a mechanism of political and economic control. Marx and Engels probably found socialism attractive chiefly because they and their benefactors viewed it as a promising vehicle for amassing, wielding, and retaining power over society. Their prescriptions do not read like the works of true believers.
Two centuries after Hume, another so-called realist, Fabian socialist Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), purported to rebel against Kant and Hegel, and became quite famous and influential in the process. Russell genuinely rejected Hegel's quasi-occultic super-causality, but overshot the mark rather widely. Russell is called a “realist” because, like Hume, he maintained that reality inheres only in that which is apparently obvious. But Russell extended Hume's stance on causality to a complete denial of its existence (and, arguably, disproved his thesis by the very act of proposing it). But by dismissing causality completely, rather than simply relegating it to the mind, Russell was in a position to abandon Hume's implicit dualism. This, he did — substituting “neutral monism”, which he conceived in superstitious, even Gnostic, terms. Thus, while Russell superficially escaped Hegel and Kant, what he had actually managed was to extend Kant's ethereal solipsism to all of reality, which — through his rejection of causality — he had made as disjointed as a dream. For Russell, this stance may have been more than sophistry: his eldest son and two of his granddaughters were tragically stricken with schizophrenia, a disease with a substantial hereditary aspect (and which is, as noted above, associated with precisely this sort of disjointedness).
That apparent opposites such as Hegel's super-causality and Russell's radical rejection of causality are in fact symbiotic parts of the same movement, is suggested by Russell's association with Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947). The two collaborated to write Principia Mathematica (1910-1913), a three volume treatise that sought to show that all facts are logically provable, by articulating much of number theory using the edifice of symbolic logic as a starting point. (This prospect was permanently dashed by the work of Kurt Gödel, specifically by his 1931 incompleteness theorems.) Whitehead's apparent opposition to Russell is articulated in his “process philosophy”, which held that the persistency of objects is an illusion — that, rather than persisting singularly, objects are in reality chains of experience, each experience causing the next. Whitehead termed this principle “organic realism” because it proposes that reality inheres exclusively in structured relationships (and those relationships are constituted by experiences). When this strange principle is applied to the mind (and consciousness), the result is the model proposed by Marvin Minsky, termed “Society of Mind”. This model holds that there is no unitary consciousness, but instead, a collection of processes in the mind that sustain the illusion of consciousness through transient activation and relationships. Here, the kinship of Russell's noncausality with Whitehead's omnicausality becomes more clear: Minsky's conception, inspired by Whitehead, suggests that consciousness cannot have robust causal continuity. The neurophysiological reality lends itself neither to Minsky's description, nor to a classical unitary description: consciousness is a unitary but dynamically constituted process, within certain well-defined persistent organs in the brain, and exhibits causal continuity and noncausal disjointedness in varying proportions and distributions.
In any case, Russell's rejection of causality was perhaps symptomatic of his general disaffection with reality. He once suggested one might “take up the line of the gnostics—a line which I often thought was a plausible one—that as a matter of fact this world that we know was made by the devil at a moment when God was not looking. There is a good deal to be said for that and I am not concerned to refute it.” His biographer reports that in his century of living Russell never learned how to boil an egg, so great was his detachment from the practical. The spectacles of twentieth century warfare drove Russell's disaffection to the surface in rather unattractive ways, as when he said in correspondence,
Like Rousseau, Russell was orphaned at a young age — of just three years, in his case. He was opposed to inheritance, and moreover, he bequeathed most of his own inheritance to his university. He was a serial adulterer, and preached that monagamy was unnatural. One of his famous utterances is “Marriage is for women the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.” He was apparently quite intent on spreading his own cognitive dissonance and misery, and made a lengthy career of it. He was to some degree aware of this, as when he said “I want actually to change people's thoughts. Power over people's minds is the main personal desire of my life; and this sort of power is not acquired by saying popular things.”
In “The Impact of Science on Society” (1951), Russell echoed Rousseau and anticipated environmentalism: “Agriculture was a technical advance. The way it was used should be an awful warning to our age. It introduced slavery and serfdom, human sacrifice, absolute monarchy and large wars. Both industry and agriculture, to a continually increasing degree, are carried on in ways that waste the world's capital of material resources.” He prefaces this with a view that tempers Rousseau's noble savage, while arguably still clinging to it: “In the earliest human communities, before agriculture, subsistence was precarious, and death from starvation must have been frequent. At that stage, man had the same mixture of misery and carefree enjoyment as still makes up the lives of other animals.” In any case, as noted above regarding Rousseau, this view of agriculture is wrong. It is chiefly because of agriculture that people have the free time to be creative, and this is the most important consequence of agriculture.
Hume and Russell, by denying causality, had in fact made judgement perfectly impossible for those who accepted their strange stance. Without causal attribution, there can be no judgement, so there can be no differentiating of right from wrong, consistent with the Eden motif (though perhaps only coincidentally so). Both Hume and Russell took the stance that reason must yield to ethics when the two conflict — but this is a conflict that arises only in philosophies that are unreasonable. Russell believed that ethics are defined democratically or oligarchically (by civil discourse), so that it was his position that will trumps reason. Having already foreclosed on the possibility of judgement, this is a natural conclusion.In The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism (1920), p.8-10, Russell wrote:
By far the most important aspect of the Russian Revolution is as an attempt to realize Socialism. I believe that Socialism is necessary to the world, and believe that the heroism of Russia has fired men's hopes in a way which was essential to the realization of Socialism in the future. Regarded as a splendid attempt, without which ultimate success would have been very improbable, Bolshevism deserves the gratitude and admiration of all the progressive part of mankind.
But the method by which Moscow aims at establishing Socialism is a pioneer method, rough and dangerous, too heroic to count the cost of the opposition it arouses. I do not believe that by this method a stable or desirable form of Socialism can be established. [...]
But although I do not believe that Socialism can be realized immediately by the spread of Bolshevism, I do believe that, if Bolshevism falls, it will have contributed a legend and a heroic attempt without which ultimate success might never have come. A fundamental economic reconstruction, bringing with it very far-reaching changes in ways of thinking and feeling, in philosophy and art and private relations, seems absolutely necessary if industrialism is to become the servant of man instead of his master. In all this, I am at one with the Bolsheviks; politically, I criticize them only when their methods seem to involve a departure from their own ideals.
By 1945, Russell's distaste for the methods of the Soviets (and of Stalin in particular) had escalated so greatly that he urged America to launch a unilateral and preemptive nuclear attack on it. He did so in the tradition of Margaret Sanger's appalled reaction to Ernst Rudin's horrors, and with a view to the establishment of a socialist world government hewn to his preferred design. He continued his lobbying campaign for a unilateral strike for another five years. But starting in autumn 1953, he entered a period of denial of and dissociation from his anti-Soviet view, that in its form had the appearance of actual psychopathology. It is as though someone — perhaps Albert Einstein? — had sat him down and given him a talking-to, reactivating his radical pacifism. In the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955-Jul-9, Russell and Einstein make an Edenist pitch to a wide audience:
[...] The general public, and even many men in positions of authority, have not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. [...]
Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war? People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.
The abolition of war will demand distasteful limitations of national sovereignty. [...]
We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death. [...]
This came from the same Russell who muttered confidentially to his friends “I hate the planet and the human race” and the like, and who a few years earlier had campaigned for a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union, and from the same Albert Einstein who urged Franklin Roosevelt to hastily direct the development of nuclear weapons in the first place. Skepticism as to the wisdom of their prescriptions is warranted. In another tantrum of imprudence, Einstein described Buddhism as the “religion of the future”, “natural and spiritual and a meaningful unity”, concluding “If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.” The Occult Edenism chapter below opens by showing what an ill wind Buddhism represents.
In the twilight of his life, Russell turned his zealous ire against America, supporting Che Guevara's campaign for a global revolution against “US imperialism”. It was this Russell that protégé Noam Chomsky chose to emulate — with characteristic billowing bombast, he now calls the liberation of Iraq from the Ba'ath Socialist thugs, a “supreme crime”. Following Russell's example, early in his career Chomsky turned in scholarly performances that were considered brilliant (and have since been picked over and largely mooted), and went on to decades of often baffling and self-contradictory marginal politico-ethical ranting.
In the twentieth century, the main story line of socialism changes from the conceivers to the promoters and practitioners. By the start of the twentieth century, industrial and banking dynasties such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Morgans, and Carnegies, were aligning themselves with socialism. Due in part to their maneuverings, the early twentieth century brought the first post-Jacobin socialist governments. See, in particular, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution (Arlington House, 1974) and Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler (Arlington House, 1976), both by London-born academic Antony C. Sutton (1925-2002).
In Russia (1917-1991), the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (“Lenin”, 1870-1924) and Josef Vissarionvitch Dshugashvili (“Stalin”, 1879-1953) enacted socialism on a scale not equalled before or since. In Germany (1933-1945), the Worker's Party led by Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) and his gaggle of misfits erected a short-lived government that combined aggressive socialism with perverted derivatives of Nordic and Indic mythology and a large helping of occult nonsense. This yielded frenetic murder and mayhem — 35 million war dead in the European theater, and 15-20 million victims of Nazi genocide and murder. In Italy, Marxist syndicalist Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (1883-1945) established a Fascist regime and ruled as dictator from 1922 to 1943, under the mantra “Everything in the state, nothing against the state, nothing outside the state.”. Mussolini and Hitler of course formed an alliance in WW2, and both of their regimes systematically harassed and terrorized communists, who were their sectarian rivals. The German regime stayed closer to traditional socialism, in fact and (obviously) in name. In the final analysis, the main difference between the radical socialists and the fascists was not what they did or how they did it, but what they said (how they promoted and justified their actions).
Socialism took root in Asia two or three decades after it did in Europe. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (1948-), founded by Kim Il Sung (1912-1994) on ostensible principles of independence and self-sufficiency, has a gulag system that operates to this day. Starvation is an economic fixture there, and the country survives only because South Korea, China, and the US, among others, donate food, fuel, and medicine to them. In the People's Republic of China (1949-), Mao Tse-Tung (1893-1976) founded the communist party that has a political monopoly to this day, though it no longer has an economic monopoly and indeed is no longer meaningfully communist at all (aside from gradeschool pro forma indoctrination). 15-20 million died in Mao's labor camps. Mao's “Great Leap Forward” (1958-1960) produced 20-40 million corpses, most by starvation. In Mao's “Cultural Revolution” (1965-1968), many more starved to death, and hundreds of thousands of intellectuals and elderly people were murdered outright. In Cambodia (1975-1979), Maoist Saloth Sar (“Pol Pot”, 1925-1998) and the Khmer Rouge totally evacuated dwellers of the capital city to the countryside, and in a five year rampage, gruesomely murdered almost a quarter of the population, including men, women, children, anyone from abroad, anyone who spoke a foreign language, and anyone who wore eyeglasses or a wristwatch.
In the US, a far less militant and fundamentalistic strain of socialism was gradually emplaced under the leadership of people such as Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) and Edward Mandell House (1858-1938), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), and Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973). In 1921 the Council on Foreign Relations was founded by Wilson and House (his aide), Elihu Root (president of the internationalist, vaguely socialist Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for its first 15 years, 1910-1925), and New Republic cofounder Walter Lippman. Lippman had helped Wilson draft his Fourteen Points; the second and third of Wilson's Points promise free international trade, the fourth promises universal disarmament, and the last seeks to establish the League of Nations (the forerunner of the United Nations Organization). The Council was conceived as a vehicle for the promulgation of just these sorts of principles — US-style (moderate) globalist socialism and top-down economics, and general management of the affairs of all men, by a few men from above. The Council has never been exclusively socialist, and few of its members have been receptive to radical socialism. In fact, Lippman is now seen as a proto-neoconservative. House described himself as a “Marxist socialist”, but was an incrementalist, not a revolutionary. In 1945, the Council moved into its current digs at 68th and Park in Manhattan, which had been donated by a Standard Oil heiress and refurbished by a bevy of benefactors led by John D. Rockefeller Jr.
After World War Two, all the countries of western Europe, and the British commonwealth countries, adopted welfare state socialism through gradual emplacement, exceeding US socialism by degree rather than by kind. In Britain and Australia, the Fabian Society was a major catalyst for the transformation. The Society's early membership included George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, and Bertrand Russell, and its current membership includes Tony Blair. It is essentially the ideological heart of the British Labor party. Fabian socialism is incrementalist, and is clearly the sort of program that is followed by that part of the mainstream Western establishment that is socialist. The Wikipedia entry explains “The group, which favoured gradual rather than revolutionary change, was named in honour of the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator (nicknamed ‘the Delayer’), who advocated tactics involving harassment and attrition rather than head-on battles against the Carthaginian army under the renowned general Hannibal Barca.” The socialism of India traces its lineage directly to the Fabian Society, by its influence on Jawaharlal Nehru.
In Latin America, the old guard of socialism is Fidel Castro (1926-), and the new guard is Hugo Chavez (1954-), and really they're the same guard, owing more to the Bolsheviks than to House's Council.
The “Declaration by the United Nations” of 1942-Jan-1, so named by Franklin Roosevelt, bound together the USSR with the English-speaking countries of the world (and with many other countries besides, some via governments in exile), in a pact of mutual defense and allegiance against the Axis powers.
|J D Rockefeller Jr.|
The UN is financed by dues borne disproportionately by rich countries, and metes out aid only to poor countries, and then, only as long as they remain poor. The G7 industrialized countries pay 70.1% of UN dues. The US and Japan alone pay 41.2% of dues. The nine most populous countries in the world, excluding the US, pay 5.7% of UN dues, for 52.8% of the world's population. The ten largest countries in the world by land area, excluding the US, pay 10.7% of UN dues, for 43.0% of the world's land area. The ten countries with the largest proven oil reserves pay 4.3% of UN dues, for 83.6% of the world's proven oil reserves. (raw data) It is industry (a modified proportion of gross national product) that is taxed — the actual act of production — not material wealth, not productive capacity, and certainly not need or use of UN services.
The UN General Assembly continues this theme of distorted representation: each country has one vote, so that the vote of the United States (3.7 million square miles, 293 million people, $10.99 trillion GDP) carries the same weight as, e.g., that of Haiti (10,714 square miles, 7.7 million people, $12.3 billion GDP). The Assembly's structure is such that nations that repeatedly bifurcate (the way Yugoslavia did, for example) become more heavily representated, relative to those with national cohesion — that is, troubled, strive-riven, improverished regions come to dominate the voting landscape. Only the Security Council provides exception to this pattern of redistribution of wealth and power from the rich and nationally healthy to the poor and nationally ill, but even then, not in any systematized or consistent fashion.
In March 2005, the UN renewed calls for the governments of the world's productive nations to tax their populations (by expunging external debt and recurrently seizing .7% of GDP) to fund gifts to the governments of the world's unproductive nations, promising continued terrorism if the gifts are insufficient. On its face, this is an attempt at extortion, but it is silly and incredible, because the gifts the UN insists on are more likely to equip terrorists than to placate them, and are more likely to reinforce and perpetuate corruption and poverty (driving more people to terrorism) than to relieve it. In fact, these programs are chiefly attacks on the nations they purport to aid, as detailed above in the Herding People, Culling the Herd chapter (though it's exceedingly unlikely that Kofi Annan views them this way).
|John Ronald Reuel Tolkien|
|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