Dialogue With Death from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob
I'm so preoccupied with this book on Hitler, that I don't think I can blog about anything else. The problem is, I haven't had time to reflect upon or assimilate it, so I will have to do so in real time, with you as guinea pigs. I think I last did this almost a year ago, with the book God and Gold, by Walter Russell Mead. That book was so rich with implications that I spent a couple of weeks "dialoguing" with the author.
This book is also rich with implications, although I still can't say whether I can give it a general recommendation, due to the Aurobindo factor (I also haven't quite finished it yet). Actually, there's not a single mention of Sri Aurobindo for the first 522 pages, which analyze the Nazi phenomenon from every angle, including its well documented immersion in the occult. Only in the last 140 pages or so does the author attempt to tie it all together with Sri Aurobindo's spiritual vision of the cosmos, which will not be to everyone's taste. (Oddly enough, the book ends on page 666.) ...
But let's first wrap up the last few posts about the source and end of cosmic evolution, because that itself might provide an important context for understanding "ultimate evil," which will in a sense represent "evolution gone wrong." For if evolution has an ultimate point, or destination, then anything that interferes with the process of realizing it will be more or less evil (but not absolutely everything, for if evolution were a "smooth" and linear process with no obstacles, little could be gained from it; let's just say at this juncture that there are "legitimate" or intrinsic obstacles and "illegitimate" or extrinsic ones).
To cite one obvious example, if reconciliation with the absolute principle requires that we first individuate from the group, then any political system that is hostile to individuality will be a priori evil. Thus, on that basis alone, Nazi Germany, or communist China, or any other nation that radically subordinates the individual to the group is evil, because they specifically prevent the emergence of the "many" that can be reconciled on a higher level with the One. Rather, they impose a "false oneness" from on high, or in the case of the left, enforce a radical diversity, or absolute relativity, from below. But in both cases, power ultimately trumps truth and prevents evolutionary progress, which rests on the synthesis into higher unities, both individually and collectively.
In Reason Through Revelation, Errol Harris attempts in the last chapter to reconcile Christianity with cosmic evolution in a manner that is strikingly compatible with Sri Aurobindo's vision (not to mention Teilhard's Phenomenon of Man, which was only posthumously published in 1959, a year after Harris' book). Harris writes that,"
It is therefore in and through the human mind in its moral organization and its social setting that the cosmic process fulfills itself, and the completion of its fulfillment would be the final perfection of conscious personality. The perfection of man thus merges into the perfection of God" (so to speak, God "in himself" not being subject to change). He quotes Charles Raven, who remarked that "If history is the completion of the story unfolded in its earlier stages by biology and psychology, [then] theology, whose primary data are the lives and experiences of the saints through whom God most fully reveals himself to us, should be at once the culmination of the whole."
Once again we are confronted by the idea of wholeness, which for me is the missing ontological key, without which nothing makes sense on any level. Wholeness is a thread that courses through every artery of the cosmos, unifying the above and below on the vertical axis, but also accounting for the relative totality of any given horizontal level. It is why there can be the relatively autonomous worlds of matter, life, and mind, but also why they are descended "from above." In the absence of wholeness, there is no accounting for either fact.
Harris then goes into a discussion of Jesus, whom he describes as an ideal of "human perfection which is the truth of all other ideals and the fulfillment of every other doctrine of human good. It is that upon which all moral and political theories converge. And it is an ideal of human personality, realized in a community such that every possible achievement in every field of human endeavor would be open to its members -- for what, in such a society, could serve as a bar to progress in other respects, so long as this moral achievement were assured?... This would be the commonwealth of God, and the charge upon its citizens is to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect. The final perfection of man and the perfection of God are identified" (emphases mine).
Now, this comes very close to the Raccoon ideal of "political truth" outlined on pp. 178-180 of your Coonifesto. For there it is written that the universal criteria we may apply to the goodness of a culture is in its ability to foster or impede integration and actualization. As I wrote there,
"If you apply these simple criteria, you will quickly come to the realization that for ninety-nine percent of human history, most cultures have actively stifled the expression of any unique potential, while at the same time erecting preposterous worldviews encouraging psychological fragmentation in the form of bizarre rituals, scapegoating, belief in strange gods, paranoia between the sexes, racial hatred, institutionalized violence, pointless taboos, and the abuse of children. This is why, with regard to history, my specific recommendation is the same as it would be for anyone involved in an abusive relationship: get out."
Now, not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we shall soon see that Nazism represents a perfect shadow of what we might call "Christian evolution," or the possibility of further spiritual evolution within a Christian framework. In virtually all areas, Hitler wished to invert Christianity and literally create a new religion that represented its very opposite. As John Toland wrote, "National Socialism was a religion and Hitler was its Christ."
Van Vrekhem makes a convincing case that there actually wasn't any such thing as "Nazism" in any consistently articulate sense. Much less was Nazi Germany primarily "fascist." Rather, its ultimate principle was not only the fuhrer in general, but Hitler in particular. Truly, just as Christianity is not fundamentally a religion of "ideas" but of a person, so too can it be said that Nazism was a man. Furthermore, as we shall see, he was most definitely a kind of "word made flesh," only in a very different sense than that with which we are familiar.
Nevertheless -- and this is another key point -- the Hitler phenomenon could not have occurred in the absence of a cosmic principle that allows word to become flesh. In other words, it was as if he were hijacking a legitimate channel for a very illegitimate end. But when you think about it, this is not fundamentally different than when someone uses language in order to lie. Our cosmos is built in such a way that objects and symbols may embody, encode, and transmit truth. But for that very same reason, they may encode and convey lies and ugliness. Likewise, if art is to exist, it will be capable of transmitting the celestial light from above as well as diabolical darkness from below.
It seems that in the midst of chaos, uncertainty, and rapid change, human beings will begin to long for a messiah. In some sense, the messiah answers to a need in human beings, even a built in archetypal expectation. If one studies the cultural matrix of first century Judaism, one can better understand the context in which Jesus appeared. Given the difficult situation of the Jewish people at the time, there was much general longing and expectation for a "savior from above," who would smite their enemies, restore order to the world, and bring about justice for the wronged and oppressed.
Similarly, Van Vrekhem goes into considerable detail about the utter trauma sustained by the German people in the wake of losing World War I. In contemporary America, our lives are so stable that we just can't imagine what it would be like for every pillar of stability to be obliterated. I suppose we got a taste of it in the Great Depression, which was precisely why so many nations lurched toward a fascist solution. There is no doubt that FDR rode to power on a similar messianic wave as Hitler, which is precisely what allowed him to usurp and wield presidential power in a theretofore unprecedented way. Most of what FDR did was demonstrably harmful to the economy, but the need was so deep for a "strong man from above," that the people let it slide. Again, there was a kind of perfect resonance between the messiah and the masses. (We will later discuss this in the context of Obamania, as it is a reflection of these same enduring principles.)
Now, to back up a bit, there is no doubt that man has been dealing with an ongoing existential crisis with the onset of modernity. I'm not going to press the point, partly because it's just too obvious, but the rupture between the Middle Ages and the scientific revolution was so great, that we are still dealing with its implications. It is as if there are tectonic plates in human time, more or less continuous planes that occasionally shift, causing an earthquake in history. One such quake was the "axial period," during which most of the world's revelations were downloaded from above.
Then, after the world was largely oriented around these revelations came the massive quake of the scientific revolution, with all of its implications and challenges, blessings and curses. To be continued.