20. ‘Justice Now’

‘In such a pathological epoch of decay, which imagines itself to be development, the word ‘madman’ does not define anything. Leaving this word at the disposal of those who wish to use it, it is much more useful to try to find out for oneself what the abnormality that so easily encompasses entire masses, including people who are undoubtedly very intelligent and talented, actually consists of’.

Leo Tikhomirov

Let’s continue talking about the worldview that can be called ‘comprehensive moralism’. This is a broad question. All European events of the last 150 years are directly related to the transformation of the ‘ethical worldview’, that is, to the struggle between Christianity and its secular variety: socialism.

Socialism is morality applied to non-moral issues. The socialist is most distrustful of strength. Strong power is as repugnant to him as a strong personality. Both must be defeated. The preference of the simple and weak over the rich and powerful is a characteristic of ethical religion and of socialism. All power must be dethroned, all advantage destroyed.

In this struggle the socialist is not merely on the side of the weak and disadvantaged — he seeks them out and nurtures them. It is not for nothing that the most important word in socialism of all kinds is ‘organisation’. It was equally loved by Class and National socialists. ‘The masses’ must be ‘organised’. Where there are sheep, there are shepherds.

The educational efforts of socialism in the Western world have produced a generation incapable of attack and defence. The spiritual balance of these people needs to be guarded relentlessly. They need a lawyer more than a confessor, because they take their inner torment not to confession but to court. In saying that these people are incapable of attack and defence, I was wrong: attack is their natural inclination. Moralists have always cared for ‘widows and orphans’, but in actual life men with the minds and souls of ‘widows and orphans’ are most inclined to attack; it is only necessary to gather and arm them.

‘Widow and orphan’ is not a social condition, but a state of mind. A person can acquire the self-perception of ‘widow and orphan’; this self-perception can be passed on to others. Its root is a sense of dependence on hostile forces (Satan, the king, the Jews, white men). The person with the ‘widow and orphan’ mindset does not believe that the world was given to him by the gods as a field, that luck and fortitude are his helpers; he knows that everything bad, dark, unsuccessful has a culprit, and that culprit is not him. [1]

The ‘Left’ is not only fighting against strength. Its programme is broader than that. socialism wants there to be no differences. Differences are a sign of pride. It should be noted that the ‘Left’ hates ‘any lofty tower, all oaks of Basan, and all ships of Tarshish’ — everything that rises above the average level — but is proud to be part of a special circle: ‘sons of light’, ‘fighters’, ‘honest and brave’. Only other people’s ‘chosenness’, not his own, is disgusting.

So, the moralist does not trust strength. Strength seeks joy, and joy is immoral in its essence. Both because it does not discern the causes and because it rejoices in spite of the suffering around it, including its own, recent or future. All the more he does not trust the state.

Hatred of the state is inevitable in people who have been brought up to abhor all power: ‘any lofty tower, all oaks of Basan, and all ships of Tarshish’. The state, however, is either a force or there is none. For one who has conscientiously learnt the lessons of ethical religion, the very existence of the state is offensive. The wise Nikolai Danilevsky said that Christian morality is good only in personal relationships; the state is always pagan. Not sharing this wisdom, the Russian intelligentsia wished and wishes its state to disappear. Of course, the state cannot disappear; it can only become less well-maintained from a more well-maintained one, which history has proved many times. Of course, as long as Christianity is whole and its inner ties are not broken, this distrust of power is bound by other spirits: the habit of obedience and loyalty to the established order.

There have been so many attempts to find in Christ a Zealot, a social revolutionary, because there is more than enough of the ‘social’ in Judaism and in nascent Christianity. The Bible is enough for a good revolution, and more than one. But the ethical worldview itself, in its biblical form, does not make a revolution. Belief in ‘light in which there is no darkness’ is safe as long as it is abstracted. As soon as a person takes it out of the world of abstractions and into the street, he turns from a Christian (read: a man of ethical worldview) into a socialist.

In historic Christianity, as we have said, dreams of ‘justice’ were counterbalanced by conservative components, and partly postponed to a future life. As Christianity has decayed, the thirst for ‘justice’ has been released more and more, prompting peoples to demand more and more meaningless things, and to demand them today.

I mentioned above the ‘forces of expectation’ that build up in the ‘reservoir of the ethical’ over a long period of time until they cause a storm in it. In calm times, the reservoir of the ethical itself is calm. It is cooled by the thought of justice triumphing sometime ‘later’. In times of turmoil, a storm rises in it. Justice is wanted today, now. Of course, it is not getting more, quite the opposite. A world that believes in ‘justice later’ is usually better than a world that demands it now.

An ethical worldview is stable only up to a certain limit. Excessive moralising efforts are rejected. A generation of unbelievers comes along, rejects the faith of their fathers with fury, and with the same fury develops a new morality to worship it again. The ethical outlook tends to deepen gradually and, if I may say so, to devouring of previous generations by subsequent ones. People brought up by the Church in an unquestionably ethical spirit begin to hate the Church; those brought up in the same spirit by the revolution begin to hate the revolution (and by an understandable but no less strange misunderstanding compare themselves with its great opponents, who did not revolt against the ‘new order’ being fed up with revolutionary morality, but opposed it out of loyalty to the Old World, which was broader than morality). [2]

So socialism is the force that demands ‘justice now’. The point of socialism is to remove peoples from modernity and forcibly bring them into the ‘future’. By the way, Chekhov’s heroes sighing about ‘a sky in diamonds’ are typical leftist dreamers: only the future is worthy and moral for them, the present is not worthy of attention. There is no need to talk about the past: there is nothing of value there. In other words, socialism is the doctrine of how to live without the past, with only the future. This is the reason for its charm. The future is a tradable commodity… It is not surprising that both socialisms (the Class and the National ones) addressed their sermons first of all to the young. [3]

Sergei Bulgakov in his essay ‘Apocalypticism and socialism’ says that the roots of the philosophy of progress proposed by Marxism can be traced back to the ancient apocalypses with their belief that the world is heading towards the greatest tension of forces between Good and Evil and, through their final and decisive clash, towards a new, unprecedented state. In its latest version, this view has given rise to a belief in the justice of history.

The accomplished is taken to be the only possible and, moreover, reasonably and inevitably derived from the past. This is not so. One possibility out of many is ‘accomplished’, and in a rather random way. There is no special meaning in this particular possibility, except that it has managed to slip from the world of assumptions into the world of things. It is not ‘conditioned’ by anything; it is simply capable of being embodied under present conditions. ‘Actual is crazy enough and could be quite different. Belief in the reasonableness, purposefulness of development is characteristic of both ‘leftist’ thinking and ‘prophetic’ thinking. Both see a Design in the world, only in one case it is a design capable of self-incarnation, and in the second case it is not.

From the belief that everything newly appearing is more moral, higher, more justified than the old, follows the preference always and in everything for novelty. To be old is immoral. Of course, this belief is not directly connected with the belief in rational progressive development, but the connection of ideas is unmistakable. ‘If every novelty in the world turns out to be better than the old, should we not hasten the course of history to get the best sooner and more surely?’ Hence the belief in the moral superiority of the future over the past.

In the late 1920s Vladislav Khodasevich said:

‘Every “bearer of the future”, whoever he may be, is surrounded by a certain halo for us, and we consider it our duty to listen to his inexperienced word with special attention. The question of whether he does not bring to the wake of the unpleasant modernity (most importantly, we know that it is unpleasant, but we still “listen to its mighty voice!’) — whether he does not bring something completely worthless — such a question is not even raised. We are ready to cherish all the ‘sprouts’ without even asking ourselves: what if the tares do sprout?”

The future, however, can be in any way lower than the present, and the present can be lower than the past.

So, for all the similarities between socialism and Christianity, there is a big difference between the two. Christianity fostered patience, putting ‘justice’ on hold. socialism encourages impatience, and so appeals to the youth, always discontented and wanting change. If Church Christianity is all ‘about the elders’, socialism is all about the young; here it overlaps with early Christianity, which attracted women, young people, and slaves…

Speaking of which, the predilection of the Christian world for the image of the ‘elder’ is curious… A true cult of maturity! The exact opposite of the cult of youth and strength in the old Greek religion. In the conscientiously ordered world of the Christian model, youth is only tolerated, as a temporary defect. It is no accident that socialism flirting with youth has been such a success. The present ingratiation of tastes and fashions to the adolescent is the payment for the long-term neglect of youth in the Christian era. Children have taken the place of elders.

In general it must be said that we (the peoples of the once Christian world) are not yet developing new spiritual abilities, but are paying the bills of the previous era. Our days are not days of new creative development. Life feels that the formative pressure of the old power (Christianity) has gone, and produces in abundance what was previously suppressed. This applies to the cult of youth and to the relations of the sexes in the first place. There is no intelligence and creativity behind these instinctive movements, unfortunately.

We are not experiencing the ‘twilight of humanism’, understood as self-worship — as Semion Frank thought, for example. And even more so, we are not talking about the victory of ‘world evil’. We are witnessing the decay of Christianity. Everything shaky, unstable, everything that was based on fruitful violence against the individual is failing… We are experiencing the decline of the moralising understanding of the divine; of that sacred to which the ‘holy’ (i. e. the idea of moral impeccability) has been mixed.

There are many prophets of a ‘new worldview’ which they believe should replace Christianity. These prophets make an object of worship out of any opinion they approve of, and reject as heresy any opinion they cannot share. Even when they invoke reason, they are fuelled by moral indignation. These ‘anti-Christians’ are essentially men of the old ethical coinage, men of the One Truth. Hardly a truly new worldview will come from them. Only a new philosophy of life can change the old worldview.

The real opposite of the ethical worldview, the worldview of the One Truth, is called ‘paganism’, however vague that word may be. Pagan religion presupposes a certain peace. Man is in communion with the gods not because he has ‘rose up against the spirits of evil under heaven’ or experienced a shock. His gods are part of the world, just like the earth, or the sky, or we ourselves. They cannot be suddenly ‘believed in’, man does not ‘come to’ them, they are not jealous. In ‘paganism’ we are at home and are not going anywhere. ‘Paganism’ seeks a quiet man, and what is more, it does not upset his soul-life with demands which it is impossible, while remaining human, to fulfil; it does not catch him up in the hour of inner discord, desiring ‘repentance’, that is, brokenness and submission. His gods are not moral, nor do they offer the One Truth. They encourage intelligence, courage, clarity of thought, proportionality of intention — all development ‘onward and upward’, but not holiness. The meaning of life in its understanding is to transform the portion of chaos entrusted to us by the gods, beginning with our own souls, into order…

This is where we should begin.

[1] And here we come to the devil — that great Christian invention… The devil is a way of dealing with the irrational in man. We give the irrational a name and put it out there. That’s what people have always done. Let’s say ‘Natural Selection’ is no more real than ‘the devil’, simply believing in it is not as important to the individual.

[2] Of course, it should be said and emphasised that Christianity, as long as it is a religion, is broader than morality. As soon as the boundaries of religion and morality in Christianity coincide — wait for the arrival of the godless generation.

[3] One socialism was devoured by another. Without any wish to justify national socialism, it must be said that its nerve was also morality, and its field was the struggle against ‘world evil’. It is ridiculous to believe that national socialism preached immorality. On the contrary, it (just like class socialism) was constantly fancying itself in front of the mirror of morality. The whole pathos of the German ‘new order’ was to counteract the corrupting influences — of the Jews, of the Anglo-Saxons, of the Bolsheviks. No one and to no one offered the loss of the human image as a goal — it came as an inevitable consequence of the struggle against the ‘world evil’. We Russians should not forget this.

Timofey Sherudilo.
From the book Twilight Time.

Back to Twilight Time

Views: 59