Paradise Lost and Found
The form is quite simple, but people insert different content into it. With this scheme, one can see, for example, that Marxism (and progressivism more generally) is simply a Christian heresy. Nonetheless, it is clearly Christian. It's certainly not pagan or Buddhist or Hindu or Islamic.
And although the form is simple, any number of variations can occur. Just off the top of my head I can think of a big one that might be symbolized: P1 --> T --> P1. In this absurcular situation, there is a push for "progress" back into the state of infantile omnipotence and entitlement. But enough about the Democratic party.
Other variations include the P1 --> T <-- P2 (see below), P1 <-- T (the solution of most primitive, ahistorical, and pre-Judeo-Christian cultures which idealize the past and regard time as purely dissipative and corrosive), and plain old T, which would be the existential/scientistic variant, somehow devoid of both immanence and transcendence; it ultimately reduces to ø.
You could say that the P1 --> T --> P2 journey reflects psychological development, in particular, the vicissitudes of attachment, separation, and individuation. We begin life merged with the m-other, and only gradually separate from this edenic state in order to find out "who we are," as we encounter the vagaries of the wider world.
This wider world is fraught with peril, just like a dark and stormy night and other cliches. Again, there is being and there is existence, and the world is associated with the latter. As Voegelin writes, there has never been a time that man hasn't been aware of the perils of existence, at least prior to the 1960s, since which time we have seen a concerted effort to deny the problems of existence, partly because we have been so successful in mitigating them.
To back up a bit, the list of evils in this world "has been familiar since antiquity," and includes "poverty, sickness, death, the necessity for work, and sexual problems," to which we might add war and governance, i.e., the tyranny of the state. These are not things we would have chosen if given our druthers, but there they are and there they shall remain.
Except for the political gnostic. It hardly takes a genius to imagine a world without these things, but it is a characteristic of the gnostic to "draw up a comparatively lucid picture of the desirable condition" while being "concerned only vaguely with the means of bringing it about." This desirable condition has never existed, and never will exist, existence being what it is.
Well, it has existed, but only back in P1. One of the reasons we have children and love having children is that they remind us of P1, and allow us to relive it, so to speak. Indeed, our primary job as parents -- certainly prior to the age of seven or so -- is to protect P1 from impingement from the world, or in other words, to protect our child's innocence of same (in-nocens implying the pre-lapsarian state of being without knowledge of good and evil).
For Voegelin, man always lives in this ambiguous area between paradises, so to speak. Note that we can deny P2, but this will by no means eliminate it. If man were truly to eradicate all notions of P2, he would sink beneath himself and revert to animalism. Others pretend to deny it while trying to force it, which is another characteristic of the gnostic: there's no such thing as paradise, and we're gonna create it right here on earth!
Man always lives in the light -- or shadow -- of this "third realm," which "is in fact a ruling symbol in the self-understanding of modern society." Nor should we any longer be surprised at the regular appearance of political pests who attempt to bring P2 "into existence by revolutionary action." (Think OWS.)
As there is a new world associated with P2, so too is there a new man to go along with it. These are the übermenschenables, the very ones we've been waiting for.
This is a variant of the messiah principle (we are not using this in a Christian context, but more an anthropological one), and the messiah appears in different guises, depending upon the needs of the day. In the past, he was generally associated with war and conquest, but nowadays we tend to think of him as The Man With All the Answers.
For example, Voegelin writes of "a German and Italian literature in which Hitler and Mussolini are at times glorified as the leaders foretold by Dante." In any event, "the process by which the superman is created is closely related to the movement of the spirit," whereby mystics "drew into themselves the substance of God and transformed themselves into the 'godded man,' the divinized man."
This pattern becomes pneumapathological when applied to politics; it might be symbolized P1 --> T <-- P2. Through it, O is "brought back from [the] beyond into the human soul.... the divine substance is reincorporated in man, and man becomes superman."
Again, there are different types of superman, including the progressivist superman, the positivist superman, and the "Dionysian superman of Nietzsche," which is more fun than the first two, at least as long as it lasts.
Voegelin detects a new variety of superman in western history, the secular intellectual "who knows the formula for salvation from the misfortunes of the world and can predict how world history will take its course in the future." The weather hysterics would fall into this category.
Of course, predicting stuff is hard, especially the future. Thus, forget about Obama's old four-year plan. Let's focus on the new one. P2 is just around the corner.
But here's something the political gnostic doesn't know: "in truth the hereafter is far nearer than the future," for the Eternal is "found at the heart of all temporal development," and is precisely that "which gives it life and direction" (de Lubac). This is the only progress that always and truly is.