The Three Stages of Left Wing Spiritual Devolution
Jonah Goldberg has an insightful article (National Review, 4.07.08) on the politics of left wing gnosticism as it pertains to the Obama campaign, a campaign that goes to the very core of the left's spiritual pathology. The phenomenon demonstrates what happens when one abandons revealed and divinely authorized channels of religiosity for manmade ones, in a process which necessarily elevates man to god and politics to his religion. In so doing, it collapses the critical distinctions between time and eternity, natural and transnatural, freedom and constraint, and all of the other essential complementarities within which man lives -- and without which he isn't a man at all (i.e., as he was intended to be, in conformity with his spiritual archetype).
People without spiritual gnosis -- e.g., atheists, Darwinians, materialists, et al -- are necessarily exterior to the domain it discloses (for gnosis reveals the cosmic interior, precisely), and yet, proclaim this infirmity to be a kind of superiority, or ultimate health (in other words, they pretend they are more in conformity with reality than you are, even though their metaphysic can never explain how a monkey could ever know "reality").
But clearly, a person who is not seduced by the group fantasies of left wing gnosticism is in a superior position to judge them, since he remains within the realm of objective spiritual reality, whereas the radical secularist is confined to the narrow subjective fantasy of materialism (but only consciously, as we shall see, for the unconscious is always "spiritual").
In this regard, it would be interesting to know how many of Obama's supporters, like Obama himself, belong to heretical gnostic Christian churches that preach a spiritually inverted "liberation theology," as this would reinforce my view that real religion is the best defense against false ones.
At any rate, we shouldn't be surprised that the spiritual path of the left mirrors the universal stages of purification, illumination and union, only in reverse. First comes union with the new messiah.
For example, Goldberg notes that "Obama recruiters are encouraged to proselytize not by talking about 'issues' but by testifying about how they 'came to' the candidate..." In short, there must be a conversion process, a "metanoia," in which the scales suddenly fall from the little bratechumenate's eyes, i.e., the thighs tingle, he "sees" the truth, and he submits to the charismatic cult leader. (As we speak, many of these young adolts are going through a crisis of faith. This is normal for any spiritual practice, i.e., the "dark night of the troll.")
Goldberg writes that "Obama’s apostles include his wife, Michelle, who insists she is 'married to the only person in this race who has a chance at healing this nation.'" In this regard, she has testified that “We need a leader who’s going to touch our souls because, you see, our souls are broken.... The change Barack is talking about is hard, so don’t get too excited, because Barack is going to demand that you, too, be different.”
Thus, after one merges with Obama and is illuminated by the murky Truth for which he stands, ones commences with the hard work of purification, as we struggle to make ourselves worthy of the grace we have received. In other words, ask not what Obama can do for you. Ask what you can do for Obama.
Goldberg cites numerous examples to show how much of the messianic language that swirls around Obama "is more New Age than New Testament." He quotes Gary Hart, for example, who says that the Anointed One "is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians,” but is an "agent of transformation in an age of revolution,” whatever that means.
Likewise, Deepak Chopra -- who gives snake oil salesmen a bad name -- claims that Obama represents “a quantum leap in American consciousness,” while another pneumapath and career guru, Eve Konstantine, says that he “is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings.... He’s our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence.” (Product of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence? Why all the pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo? Why not just say that he is the only-begotten Son of God?)
And Oprah Winfrey suggests that Obama doesn't only "speak" truth but is the Truth who will help us “evolve to a higher plane.” Here again, why not just say that the early Christians got it all wrong, and that the real Word is finally dwelling among us?
Of course, in collectivist left wing gnosticism, God does not and cannot work through the individual. Nor does he work through the interior collective, or any kind of "higher we." Rather, he works through the instrument of that glorified labor camp known as The State, which will take control over the spontaneous order of our nation and attenuate the true interior bonds -- the higher we -- of civil society. For progressives, liberty is not the solution, it's the problem, because it tends to lead to the exercise of free will, which in turn emphasizes the sanctity of the individual. The only cure for the interior I and We is the exterior Him and his all powerful Them, the state.
The heart of Goldberg's piece involves a discussion of Voegelin's point that progressivism is a heretical political religion and therefore a form of gnosticism. This religion has "two core assumptions. First, it condemns the existing world as broken and alienating, plagued by evil forces preventing a complete and happy restoration of man’s spiritual and material life." (Which is why they are so desperate to "keep Bush alive" as the manichean explanation for why sugar candy mountain hasn't yet arrived.)
So the progressive, in his own garbled way, indeed recognizes that man is "fallen." However, "the gnostic promise, to borrow a phrase from John Edwards, is that 'it doesn’t have to be this way.'" Thus, the second assumption: as Russell Kirk observed, these religions promise "a mode of deliverance or salvation from the prison of the world for man through a secret gnosis."
By manipulating people with the right policies, we can create a "'kingdom of heaven on earth' -- not coincidentally, a phrase invoked by Bolsheviks, progressives, fascists, and every other variety of utopian collectivist. This effort to lasso the hereafter and pull it down to the here-and-now was dubbed by Voegelin 'immanentizing the eschaton'" (Goldberg).
Different demoninotions of leftism will have different secret formulas and incantations to create their utopia. For Marxists, "the secret lay in the intricacies of scientific socialism.' With just the right manipulation of material or historical forces we could -- ta-da! -- create a land where each lives according to his need....
"For the progressives, the trick was giving ourselves over to the social planners and gnostic 'ideologists of Christ'.... today, the secret is Barack Obama." Goldberg cites a creepy video "in which children testify about the dire state of the world." It then "cuts to a baby opening a copy of The Audacity of Hope, complete with a whispery spirit voice promising a 'secret.' The video concludes with one child after another announcing that the secret is -- Barack Obama."
As I mentioned above, the wave of Obama support rides on a deep structure of religious energy that is unrecognized by those most susceptible to it. In fact, as Goldberg says -- and as I have noted in the past -- "the craving to create a heaven on earth is the inevitable consequence of a godless society." Or, to paraphrase Pope Benedict, "the loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia."
The very definition of "totalitarianism" is the "existential rule of Gnostic activists": "Indeed, the story of totalitarianism is the story of men trying to replace the allegedly discredited old God with one of their own creation." So de-divinization always preceeds the "redivinization" of explicit left wing soulwashing. This is certainly how it worked for me in college. First you discredit religion, and then replace it with with a pseudo-religion that occupies the vacant spiritual territory. It took me years to undo this ironically named "higher education," which specifically forecloses the higher.
From this follows the worship of man -- not even Man as Such, the image and likeness of the Creator -- but usually a man. "Or, in Voegelin’s words, they 'build the corpus mysticum of the collectivity and bind the members to form the oneness of the body.” The result is that the productive individuals are forced to wait upon the narcissism and self-victimization of the progressive mob.