The Negative Mysticism of the Left
Here we go, chapter 8, The Twisted Cross. It begins with the following statement by Hitler:
Man is becoming God -- that is the simple fact. Man is God in the making.... Those who see in National Socialism nothing more than a political movement know scarcely anything of it. It is even more than a religion: it is the will to create mankind anew.
Now, the first thing that occurs to me is Athanasius' quip -- echoed by many Christian fathers -- that "God became man so that man might become God." However, the two obviously mean it in very different ways. Interesting that they are using the same words to say opposite things. For the Christian way is based upon profound humility, in keeping with the kenotic God who emptied and debased himself in order to glorify himself and man, whereas "nazi divinization" would be based upon promethean man absurdly elevating himself beyond his station.
One is naturally also reminded of Sri Aurobindo, especially since this is his 137th birthday. He too believed that man was a "God in the making," but what a difference! Let's meditate on some lines from his epically epic, free-verse visionary poem, Savitri:
A Nature that denied the eternal Truth...
Hoped to abolish God and reign alone...
Engendering a brute principle of life
Evil and pain begot a monstrous soul....
A shadow substance into emptiness came,
Dim forms were born in the unthinking Void
And eddies met and made an adverse Space
In whose black folds Being imagined Hell....
Accustomed to the unnatural dark, they saw
Unreality made real and conscious Night.
A violent, fierce and formidable world,
An ancient womb of huge calamitous dreams,
Coiled like a larva in the obscurity....
It was the gate of a false Infinite,
An eternity of disastrous absolutes
An immense negation of spiritual things
Etc. It goes on in that vein for a dozen or so pages. To call it "poem" is a bit misleading, at least in the contemporary sense of the word. However, in ancient times, poets were thought to be "seers" who made direct contact with the spiritual world. In Aurobindo's case, he is simply piling vision upon vision in describing what he sees. You might say that he is attempting to disclose the deep structure of the cosmic spiritual forces that oppose the Divine.
Anyway, back to Berman. He says that beneath National Socialism was "an ecstatic phenomenon, the return of the repressed pagan (mystical/heretical) tendencies that had been buried by official Christendom for centuries." Thus, it was "a secular version of the [spiritual] ascent phenomenon." In short, it is (↑) in the absence of O.
Berman correctly points out that nazism was not an intellectual phenomenon guided primarily by ideas, since "ideas, in and of themselves, are not capable of unleashing energy. To do that, something else must be present." As we know, conservatism is about ideas, whereas liberalism is about feelings. Like fascism, it is "not a coherent system, but a leap from despair to utopia." Obama is just the most recent incarnation. He has merely plucked a mask from the ancient gallery, as Jim Morrison would say.
Missing from mere intellectual ideas is the factor of "psychological salvation." By definition, a genuine conservative would never seek salvation in politics (I'm excluding illiberal paleoconservatives such as Pat Buchanan, who are a different story), whereas a secular leftist never stops trying.
Berman describes fascism as a "gnostic phenomenon" or "redemption psychology." People are not intellectually convicted by fascist ideas. Rather, it is "because of their immediate existential situation -- a situation of cosmic meaningless and futility, followed by the emergence of a form of secular, or political, salvation."
We know that magic formed a major part of the Nazi program, in the form of "lighting effects, public rituals, symbolic imagery, and Hitler's own spellbinding oratory." These actually threw people into "a light (sometimes not-so-light) trance" powerful enough to set their corpulent thighs atingle. Hitler didn't yet know about MSNBC hosts, but nevertheless "recognized, instinctively, a religious need on the part of the masses and he responded with a gnostic political program" involving ecstasy, ascent, salvation and redemption.
Berman describes people who underwent "Damascus-like" experiences in their conversion to fascism. It is safe to say that few were convinced by its shifting and contradictory ideas. It was much more visceral than that. He cites research based upon hundreds of autobiographical accounts, documenting that in about 60% of cases, there was "a lost self that was finally saved by stumbling upon National Socialism or hearing a Hitler speech." These people spoke "in terms of a dramatic moment, or a moment of illumination, that moved them from aimlessness to self-organization and self-discovery."
Now, for a radical secularist, demons and hostile forces no longer exist. Therefore, a substitute must be found in order to make the religion "complete." Enter the Jews and the magic of "ritual slaughtering" in order to redeem the earth and secure ultimate salvation. No properly Christian person could believe such nonsense, and Jung was the first to recognize that "Christianity was alien to German religious thought, and that the true god of the Germans was the Teutonic deity of Wotan."
Interestingly, Aurobindo also recognized this in a poem called Children of Wotan, in which he writes of "the hammer of a new creation,"
A seed of blood on the soil, a flower of blood in the skies
We march to make of earth a hell and call it heaven....
We march, lit by Truth's death-pyre, to the world's satanic age.
To be continued....
You should not think of it as a fight for certain nations against others... It is a struggle for an ideal that has to establish itself on earth in the life of humanity, for a Truth that has yet to realize itself fully and against a darkness and falsehood that are trying to overwhelm the earth and mankind....
It is the forces behind the battle that have to be seen and not this or that superficial circumstance... It is a struggle for the liberty of mankind to develop, for conditions in which men have freedom and room to think and act according to the light in them, and to grow in the Truth, grow in the Spirit.
There cannot be the slightest doubt that if one side wins, there will be an end of all such freedom and hope of light and truth, and the [spiritual] work that has to be done will be subjected to conditions which would make it humanly impossible; there will be a reign of falsehood and darkness, a cruel oppression and degradation for most of the human race such as people in this country do not dream of and cannot yet realize. --Sri Aurobindo