The Marxist Left has nowhere to go. Wherever it has gained power it has failed, and it has no new ideas. Like a demented parrot it screeches words at the world outside its intellectual cage: “Racist!”, “Sexist!”, “Xenophobe!”, “White male privilege!”, “Global warming denier!” – as if they were statements complete in themselves and nothing needed to be added. They are subjects without predicates.
For a hundred years, 1917-2017, the enemy of liberty, reason, humanity, justice, civilization itself was the Marxist Left.
From the beginning of its era of implementation – the seizing of power in Russia by Vladimir Lenin and his Bolsheviks – to its fading with a cacophony of screeches when its American president, Barack Obama, stepped down from power, the Atrocious Ideology was fomented and imposed on nations by intellectuals who knew how to argue at a dinner table or a Stammtisch, in a classroom or a newspaper column, but had no understanding whatsoever of how most people lived or to what they aspired.
From the 1920s onwards, a majority of the intellectuals in the free Western world embraced the collectivist ideology of Marx and Lenin and called for the ruin of their own house. In the Anglosphere (e.g.), the writers who enthralled the reading classes – though they esteemed themselves artists and above politics – were almost all dedicated to the destruction of their warm, comfortable, beautifully appointed, endlessly entertaining, safe nursery. And they convinced untold millions that to smash it and everything in it was the nobly ideal thing to do.
To take just one of the noble destroyers who thought they would enjoy Communism, one who attracted, and continues to attract, devoted admirers, let us consider Virginia Woolf (1882-1941). She was not merely a typical member of that class, she was the leading light of it.
A revelatory portrait of her is to be found in an essay by the great British essayist, Theodore Dalrymple.
“Virginia Woolf,” he writes, “belonged by birth not merely to the upper middle classes but to the the elite of the intellectual elite”.
He concentrates his surgical analysis on one of her books in particular, Three Guineas.
It was about how women could prevent war.
Virginia Woolf’s name is not normally associated with great affairs of state, of course. Quite the reverse. She regarded them with a fastidious disgust, as a vulgar distraction from the true business of life: attendance to the finer nuances of one’s own emotional state. Along with the other members of the Bloomsbury group – that influential and endlessly chronicled little band of British aesthetes of which she was the moving spirit – she was dedicated to the proposition that beings as sensitive as they to the music of life ought not to be bound by gross social conventions , and that it was their duty (as well as their pleasure) to act solely upon the promptings of the sympathetic vibrations of their own souls. …
Despite its concern with war, the book is not a work of political philosophy or contemporary history:
No: it is a locus classicus of self-pity and victimhood as a genre in itself. In this it was certainly ahead of its time, and it deserves to be on the syllabus of every department of women’s studies at every third-rate establishment of higher education. …
The book is important because it is a naked statement of the worldview that is unstated and implicit in all of Virginia Woolf’s novels, most of which have achieved an iconic status in the republic of letters and in the humanities departments of the English speaking world, where they have influenced countless young people. The book, therefore, is a truly seminal text. In Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf lets us know without disguise what she really thinks: and what she thinks is by turns grandiose and trivial, resentful and fatuous. The book might be better titled: How to Be Privileged and Yet Feel Extremely Aggrieved. …
Her point about war is that it is waged by men, and men suppress women; and if instead they treated women as equals, there would be no more wars.
One might think that to descend from the aesthetic to the ideological plane would be distasteful for a woman of such languorous, highly strung, thoroughbred equine beauty as she; but under the influence of a general idea, Mrs. Woolf revealed herself to be a thoroughgoing philistine of the most revolutionary and destructive type, quite prepared to bring the temple crashing down about her ears, that her grudges might be paid back. Let my ego be satisfied, though civilization fall.
The temple of learning, that is. She had in mind one of the repositories of the riches of Western civilization – a Cambridge university college. A woman’s college. (A great achievement in itself as women’s colleges were only established at Oxford and Cambridge in the 1880s – in Virginia Woolf’s lifetime). She advises that it should be burnt down with all that it contains; all the books in its library consigned to the flames. The worthlessness, in her estimation, of all that accumulation of knowledge and wisdom in print on paper, suggests that she would be happiest if the whole venerable university were to be reduced to ashes.
Dalrymple quotes her:
And let the daughters of educated men dance round the fire and heap armful upon armful of dead leaves upon the flames. And let their mothers lean from the upper windows [before, presumably, being burnt to death] and cry “Let it blaze! Let it blaze! For we have done with this education!”
Virginia Woolf was consumed with bitter, contemptuous, snobbish distaste for everything that did not appeal to her exquisitely refined aesthetic sensibility. Form, appearance, was all to her. She expressed a low shallow anti-Semitism in passages describing, with revulsion and disgust, the appearance of Jewish men. Yet she married a Jew! (They had no children. Did she, like her character Mrs. Dalloway in the novel of that name, lie alone in a narrow bed?)
Food disgusted her too. She was revolted (again) by seeing through the window of a London tea room, well-dressed women eating cakes. They were fat. They obviously had rich husbands who paid for their cakes. Nauseating! Despicable! Thin-ness and sterility were aesthetic and moral ideals to her. Instinctively, her philosophy of life was based on anorexia.
Life was too messy, the world too unbeautiful for her. It was Jewish. It was fat. It was sexual, fertile, dirty. She sought water, drowned herself in the River Ouse near her country house in East Sussex. (The reason she gave in her suicide note was that she couldn’t face another attack of recurring insanity.)
Theodore Dalrymple describes the sort of academy that Virginia Woolf would have approved of. It is one with which we are all too familiar:
Mrs. Woolf’s ideal college … would be entirely nonjudgmental, even as to intellect. … Henceforth there is to be no testing of oneself against the best, with the possibility, even the likelihood, of failure: instead one is perpetually to immerse oneself in the tepid bath of self-esteem, mutual congratulation, and benevolence toward all.
And he concludes:
Had Mrs. Woolf survived to our own time … she would at least have had the satisfaction of observing that her cast of mind – shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, self-absorbed, trivial, philistine, and ultimately brutal – had triumphed among the elites of the Western world.
It triumphs chiefly now in the universities, where the diehards of the Marxist Left linger on beyond their time with that Atrocious Ideology of theirs, stale, dull, tragic, disproven.
1.This essay displays Virginia Woolf’s distaste for capitalism, and asserts that [her being above politics] what she desired was “a communism of the soul”. And the author quotes this from Woolf’s novel A Room of One’s Own: “Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that experience of the mass is behind the single voice.” It is a notion that Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren would heartily endorse.
2. The Rage of Virginia Woolf in Our Culture, What’s Left Of It by Theodore Dalrymple, Ivan R. Dee, Chicago 2005
3. Mr. Virginia Woolf by John Gross, Commentary Dec.1. 2006: “It also seems clear that the marriage worked. Many things about it are mysterious. Did, for instance, the fact that it was sexless leave Leonard constantly frustrated, or did it in some way suit him? We are unlikely ever to learn the answer to such a question, and perhaps it is none of our business.”
4. Yet Mrs. Woolf was not wholly consistent in her distaste for food, pleasure, or even sex. She also wrote this: “I want to dance, laugh, eat pink cakes, yellow cakes, drink thin, sharp wine. Or an indecent story, now – I could relish that. The older one grows the more one likes indecency.” (From Monday and Tuesday by Virginia Woolf.) Perhaps that was an aberrant thought that occurred to her in one of her periods of madness (see Note 5).
5. Virginia Woolf wrote to her husband:
Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.
Virginia Woolf and her coterie were erudite, cultured, brilliant – but nevertheless a silly lot.
Here’s one of them recording his significant thoughts:
Leftism is so-o last century.
But it has done its destructive work.
It has driven the Western world into a state of decay.
Ed Klein gives an example of what he justly considers a sign of decadence in the US:
If you have any doubt about the deleterious effect of our culture on the direction of our country and its politics, I invite you to visit the Guggenheim Museum on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
There, on the fifth floor, you will find a long line of people in front of a sign that says “There is a two-hour wait”.
What are these people waiting two hours for?
They are waiting to enter a small rest room that contains an 18-karat solid-gold toilet.
This gold toilet is the creation of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. He has labeled his installation “America”.
Yes, in one of our country’s leading cultural institutions, people are waiting on line for two hours to urinate and defecate into “America”.
Maybe the time has not yet arrived for an American Gibbon to write a new Decline and Fall, but we are approaching the point of no return.
The failure of most pundits to recognize this reality prevented them from grasping the significance of the populist revolt that has swept across America and made Donald Trump the nominee of the Republican Party.
In Europe there is no need to look for signs of decadence. Europe is decaying so rapidly, decadence is so much the everyday condition of existence, it is taken as normal.
Here then is – not a sign but – a symptom of European decadence:
Jacob Lewis, writing for The Sun, reports:
Sex rooms, bondage dancers and 60 hour drug raves… a rare look inside the world’s most exclusive club
Berghain Club, Berlin
Covered in face tattoos and piercings, the German stares me down, running a finger across his skull-shaped rings as he decides my fate.
My heart is racing and a tiny voice inside me is screaming, “Please, please!”
Then it comes, a slow nod of the head from the man in black.
My ordeal is over. I try hard to control my trembling body as I slowly walk forward inside, to safety.
Welcome to Berghain, “the world’s best club” — where getting past legendary doorman Sven Marquardt is to survive an ordeal that has been known to make grown clubbers weep.
Doorman Sven Marquardt
Housed in a former East Berlin power station, it is as famous for its door policy as for its [public] sex and drug binges at parties that run from Friday night to Monday afternoon.
There are even special “dark rooms” downstairs where couples have very explicit sex — to a soundtrack of bullet-hard techno beats.
Meanwhile upstairs on the main dancefloor, male and female performers — naked apart from the odd slice of bondage leather — dangle in cages attached to the ceiling or gyrate on podiums.
On the top floor is the Panorama bar with its X-rated sculptures.
Florence Welch and Jake Gyllenhaal are just two of a long list of stars said to have been denied access and the chance to boggle at it all.
But those that make it in speak of an almost religious experience.
Homeland actress Claire Danes, 37, has described it as “the best place on Earth”.
And Lady Gaga chose the venue to launch her last album, arriving for the night in little more than a bra and knickers . . . and a moustache.
Lady Gaga entertains
The club’s enigmatic entry rules are the subject of endless debate among Berliners and tourists alike.
Internet forums buzz with rumours about how to win the right to pay your 16 euro entry fee. Turning up in big groups, talking in line and wearing anything but black are all reported to see you waved away.
There is even a website called Berghain Trainer that uses your camera and microphone to analyse your body language and voice as you try and get past a virtual doorman.
The 1,500-capacity club opened in 2004 in a deserted part of town and has since become an institution.
This month it was even awarded the same cultural tax status as the city’s theatres and museums.
I arrived at 12:30am on a Friday night and had barely opened the cab door out the front before I was offered drugs by one of half a dozen busy dealers.
The queue is mostly full of stony-faced, black-clad hipsters, despite Sven insisting there is no dress code or even favoured “type”.
The bearded icon, 54, who recently designed a T-shirt range for Hugo Boss, said: “I don’t mind letting in the odd lawyer in a double-breasted suit with his Gucci-Prada wife. If they make a good impression, let them in. We also take guys in masks and kilts, or Pamela Anderson blondes in run-of-the-mill high-street outfits who tag along with bearded blokes, licking the sweat off each others’ armpits. That, for me, is Berghain.”
Tom Gallagher, a 25-year-old expat from Dublin has seen for himself just how liberal the dress code can be.
He recalled: “I was there at 6am having just been rejected when I saw a bloke wearing nothing but a huge elaborate wedding turban and high heels step out of a cab. The bouncers didn’t bat an eyelid and he strolled right in.”
I only managed to get in on my second attempt. For my first try I had worn black jeans, black boots and a buttoned denim shirt.
The queue of stern, silent hopefuls moved slowly, with as many being sent packing as made it inside.
I watched as all but two friends from an eight person group of stunning girls were rejected.
The lucky two didn’t so much glance back at their former friends as they entered.
Five others were swiftly sent packing with German efficiency and then it was my turn.
Sven sat in the doorway behind a lackey who dished out his judgements, swiping us left or right like we were faces on a Tinder app.
The gatekeeper stared into my soul for ten seconds. I stared back. Then just as the underling seemed to be about to wave me in, I heard a barely audible mutter: “Nein.”
Sven had decided. His minion spoke: “I’m sorry. You can’t come in.”
Judged uncool, I walked back up the path face turning red with shame, past the waiting crowds to the hotdog stand that makes a killing selling beer to rejects. Stall-owner Alex P, 38, gave me some tips for next time.
He said: “You should look like you can party. If you have a good vibe and don’t look like a f***ed-up English tourist then it’s easy. No buttoned shirts for example.” …
My rejection just made me more determined than ever to get in. The next day I went shopping in Zara for black clothes and met three other wannabes doing the same.
Digby Burges, 30, a master’s student from Australia now living in Berlin, admitted: “I’m trying to find some dodgy black shoes. They’re really ugly but that’s what Berghain wants.”
I bought a jacket similar to what I had seen Sven wearing, as well as a black felt cap, some suspect “fashion” specs and a black T-shirt.
And this time when I rocked up to the door I had a tactic.
Ignoring the two hour-long queue stretching down the road, I set my face to stern mode and strolled right to the front, slotting in arrogantly in front of a group of friends.
My gamble paid off — people were too worried about seeming uncool in front of the bouncers to call me out.
A few minutes later I was in front of Sven again. This time I made sure to tap my feet to the sound of techno beats and look impatient.
Then came the stare, the fingering of his skull rings. And moments later I was inside. Victory!
Photography is strictly barred and once in the club, both my iPhone’s cameras were covered with stickers. Privacy is the key to Berghain’s success. And it is not hard to see why.
Within minutes of arriving I find myself in the “dark rooms” where naked bodies romp in the shadows.
Mirrors and reflective surfaces are also banned in the club. This is presumably to save party-goers from the sobering horror of catching their reflection halfway through a 36-hour drink, drug and sex marathon.
Some clubbers have been known to spend 60 hours straight here, despite beats so hard that I feel like my ears are going to bleed, even though I’m no dance music novice.
Len Faki, resident DJ at the club since it opened, said: “What I value the most is the freedom and diversity it offers. It’s an open minded space that gives everyone the chance to be themselves, to express themselves without judgement.”
Alan Smith, a 33-year-old musician and British expat, said: ‘I think it’s really good that’s there’s a place where people can do whatever they want to do and not be judged. It’s very free. What I love about it is that there’s a real sense of freedom and sexual emancipation. These people are not wanting your approval, they’re just there to do whatever the f*** they want and have a good time.”
As I left the party, I saw the fresh-faced shoppers I’d met in Zara excitedly waiting in line in their new kit.
They called me later to let me know they never made it past Sven.
Thousands straining to be weird enough to be admitted to orgies.
Orgies have happened, do happen, will always happen.
When do they become a sign of decadence?
When a society becomes proud of them.
Today we have posted in our Pages section essay number 17, The Orgiasts (Two), in the series by Jillian Becker titled The Darkness of This World (Part 3).
Here it is in full.
The Orgiasts (Two)
Hermann Nitsch (1938 – ): Hell’s bells and buckets of blood
Hermann Nitsch, one of the founders of the Action Art movement in Austria, publicly performed rituals with animal carcasses and their viscera, and naked human bodies deluged with blood, to the accompaniment of cacophonous music.
He also performed his rituals at private “festivals “ in the courtyard of his home, a baroque castle standing secluded near the Austrian-Czech border. His wife, a Jungian psychoanalyst, had bought it to provide the perfect venue for Hermann’s “Orgy Mystery Theater”. There, Nitsch intended his performances to rouse audiences to such excitement that an orgy would spontaneously erupt.
I witnessed a performance in an art gallery (where I was introduced to Nitsch as “the international press”, having credentials from a British newspaper), and was invited to the castle a few days later.
In preparation for his Action, the flayed and eviscerated carcasses of sheep, goats, oxen and pigs were hung by the stumps of their hind legs from rails and hooks, each against a backdrop of a stretched white sheet, their heads dangling, open-jawed, a few feet from the ground. (In a theater or gallery there would be up to three; but at the castle, ten or more.) Their viscera were heaped near their heads on a plastic sheet covering the ground.
The action began with Nitsch’s assistants bearing in a naked, blindfolded youth (in public these participants were more often boys, but sometimes girls took part too), lying supine on a white stretcher or a wooden cross, and setting him down with his face directly beneath the gaping mouth of a skinned beast beside the viscera.
Recorded music – mostly organ and brass – started plangent and reverberating but not loud. Then Nitsch entered, and strode purposefully towards the carcass in black rubber boots: a thick-set man of medium height with tonsured black hair, dressed all in black but for yellow rubber gloves. At the same time his assistants brought plastic buckets, blue, yellow, black and red, and set them down near the naked body. Nitsch took up a bucket and ladled red wine into the open rear of the dead beast so that it trickled down through its mouth on to the face below. The trickle was followed by a splash, and another, and another, until Nitsch flung the ladle aside and – the music growing louder – sent all that was left gushing through the carcass. He seized another bucket, and poured all it contained through the carcass on to the body. The next bucket that he emptied in the same way was full of blood. Bucket after bucket was brought and emptied, faster and faster. A bucket of wine alternated with a bucket of blood. The downpour became a deluge, now the shining wine, now the viscous blood. The music grew very loud. Whistles and rattles, pipes and drums were distributed to members of the audience so they could swell the noise. Many of the watchers began to stamp, clap, shout as the spirit moved them. Nitsch heaved up the buckets in a kind of frenzy, and flung their contents randomly at the carcass, the backdrop sheet, and the boy below. Bits of raw flesh were now in the blood. The music rose to a deafening pitch, and could be felt rumbling underfoot. The naked body was so drenched that not an inch of white flesh showed through the red. A slippery pool formed on the ground, with the bits of flesh floating in the mess, and as Nitsch continued to swing the buckets, gouts and gobs spattered the spectators. Some of them slithered in the pool of blood and wine. At last Nitsch gathered the slimy viscera in his arms, and reaching up, struggled to stuff them into the stiff cadaver, poking, punching, wrestling with them as they bulged out of his grasp. Some long pieces of intestines tore away and fell over his face while he struggled on blindly. He slipped and fell, letting go the guts to flop where they may. The recorded music stopped abruptly. The whistles and rattles, pipes and drums, clapping and stamping subsided. When Nitsch rose and gestured to his assistants, the blood-dyed, gore-smeared body was taken up and borne away. In the sudden silence, the spectators contemplated for a moment the bloodstained white sheet and the dripping carcass, and then another naked white blindfolded youth was carried in and set down beneath the next beast, the music started again, and the ritual was repeated.
Originally Nitsch slaughtered the animals himself as part of his Action, but the Authorities had objected that his method was cruel. They permitted him to carry on with his performances, but only if he bought dead beasts from licensed wholesale butchers. At the castle, the rites would go on for hours, sometimes through the greater part of a day or night. The spectator-participants would be intoxicated with drugs and wine – some of it from the castle’s own vineyard. (Nitsch told me that he himself preferred wine to the drugs his acolytes brought to the castle – the cannabis, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and hallucinogens – because he found that drugs “discouraged eroticism”.) They would be further entranced by the corybantic music. Their nostrils would be filled with the raw fetor of blood and guts, augmented by both incense and its counter-smell of animal excreta sprayed from cans. They were expected to be participants in the rite “like any congregation at a religious ceremony”, Nitsch explained to me. “But participating more intimately than co-worshipers. More even than communicants. Like the members of ecstatic cults, they should achieve a kind of trance – which is a proof of therapeutic response.” The ceremonies would be brought to a climax with “copulation, all kinds of sex, including sado-masochistic interactions”. (But, he assured me, my presence at the castle as “the international press” precluded an orgy.)
His performances, he said, were “catharsis-therapy, comparable to psychoanalysis”. He gave me a book, a very thick volume, in which he describes dozens of his actual and imaginary Actions. An example: “Hundreds of Popes, crucified, having a poem read to them while the Emperor Nero, 40 castrated boys, and 3,200 pigs help make up the orchestration.”
And this also is in the book: “Classical psychoanalysis is replaced by sensations which disinhibit and intoxicate: actions with raw meat, damp body-heated guts, bloody excreta, blood warm from slaughter, tepid water, the pleasure of splashing, squirting, pouring, sullying is heightened to intense joy by tearing raw flesh, stamping into guts. The shredded abreactions-god drops into the association-field. The dramatic burrows its way into the excitement of cruelty. Chaos, orgiastic drunkenness, breaks upon us. The intensity of the experience allows a mysticism of aggression and cruelty to develop.”
“The ultimate purpose of the artist,” Nitsch said, “is self-liberation. He needs to break through to the essential, strongly felt experience of existence. Calls to bliss are mixed with the pain of overcoming. That is why it is a form of therapy.”
In many chambers of his castle, crosses were displayed, upside-down or draped in used menstrual bandages. There were monstrances and censers. Blood-stained priestly vestments were hung in rows along a wall. In a long shed, rows of meathooks dangled from overhead rails. And there was a once-consecrated chapel, painted white and gold, with wooden pews carved and polished, and an altar. On the ceiling were frescoes of chubby cherubs with rosy flesh among diaphanous white veils and whipped-cream clouds, holding Christian symbols. Blasphemous rites, Nitsch said, were celebrated there.
Yet Nitsch vigorously denied that Catholicism had anything worth mentioning to do with his work for self-liberation. “My art is Dionysian”, he said. “There is both creation and destruction in our existence. All flows together in the River of Life. So in one festival I must represent all aspects of existence. My work contains cruelty but the opposite of cruelty too. People come here to eat, drink, wander in my garden, my orchard, my vineyards, and enjoy it all. That is important. But the shock of the performances is important. Cathartic, like the old Greek tragedies.”
Nitsch himself seemed a generous and even gentle person, not cruel. He denied that to stage performances with carcasses, guts, and blood-drenched people, was to feed an appetite for the sight of suffering. “On the contrary,” he said, “it channels such desires into art actions which might otherwise require sadistic expression in real life. Here the Opfers [the ‘victims” or “sacrificies” – the German word has both meanings) are all volunteers and none of them is ever hurt.” Not even psychologically? None had said so. “They understood that this too was part of the Heraclitean river of Life containing all things good and evil.”
1. I was commissioned by the Sunday Times Magazine to write about a festival of Performance Art held in Vienna from the 21st to the 30th April, 1978. A Magnum photographer was sent with me. My story was duly printed, with photographs. The cover of the magazine displayed one of the pictures of a Nitsch ritual. Two days before it was to be distributed with the newspaper, the editor became anxious about the pictures. He submitted the whole issue to the editor-in-chief, who apparently said: “You cannot put a picture of all that blood on the Sunday morning breakfast tables of the nation.” So the whole thing was spiked.
2. Nitsch’s performances were indeed modeled on the rituals of the cult of Dionysos, the Greek god of wine. In those rituals, bulls and goats were sacrificed, both beasts being held sacred to him. Celebrants became intensely inebriated and danced wildly to the loud music of pipes, drums and cymbals, until the “god entered into them”, a mystic condition for which the Greek word was Enthusiasm. With the god inside them they were freed from all restrictions of law and reason and, transcending even the supposed limits set by nature, would tear an animal or human being apart with their bare hands and feast on the raw flesh. Bands of drunken men and woman (but in The Bacchae by Euripides, only bands of women called the Maenads), ran and danced, naked or partially clad in the skins of fawns, and smeared with the blood of the animal or human prey, night-long, in wild places, leaping over earth and grass and stone, and indulging every erotic desire. The name for this sacrament was an “orgion” – an orgy. An appendix to these essays will describe the cult, and its reformed version in the cult of Orpheus; and how the Orphic Mysteries contributed to the dogma and rites of both Christianity and Christian Gnosticism.
3. The (3rd century?) Greek biographer, Diogenes Laërtius, in his Lives of Eminent Philosophers, summarizes the philosophy of Heraclitus (535-475 BCE) thus: “All things come into being by conflict of opposites, and the sum of things flows like a stream.” And: “Of the opposites, that which tends to birth or creation is called war and strife, and that which tends to destruction by fire is called concord and peace.” An echo of these ideas is sounded in the “dialectical idealism” of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), one of the most culpable philosophers in the flowing stream of European – especially German – thought, right up to the thinkers of the New Left.
Today we have posted essay number 16, The Orgiasts (One), in the series by Jillian Becker titled The Darkness of This World (Part 3). (Find it under Pages in our margin.)
Here is part of it.
The Orgiasts (One)
Peter Weibel (1944- ): Riot as Art
Otto Mühl (1925-2013): Crime as Art
When the tumult and the shouting of the “sixty-eighters” died down in Western Europe, and the terrorists were dealt with by the law courts, and the shallow ideas of the New Left had crystallized into an orthodoxy as “political correctness”, the shocking of the bourgeois – the chief impetus of the movement – was carried on for years in “Action Art”.
In Austria, which claimed to be its home, the political dimension of Action Art (Aktionismus) was inspired by the satirical “happenings” which anarchist groups performed as part of the sixty-eight fun-revolutionary protests.
Though at first the movement was just as dedicated to the defiance and denigration of the civil authorities as the student protests, Austrian Aktionismus actually came to be sponsored for a time by the state. By the late 1970s, exhibitions of Action Art were funded by the government, and even opened ceremoniously by ministers of culture. The artists were celebrities: acclaimed by the media, honored in the universities, given awards and generous grants. Many Austrians were proud of them.
But at the start, when the artists first performed their obscene acts, and painfully assaulted their audiences, they were arrested. Even then they were not held for long. There was an outcry from the progressive intelligentsia: “This is ART. Couldn’t the official barbarians understand that?” The official barbarians hung their heads in shame. This was an age when almost anything was allowed to ART. Criminal violence it may be, but it may not count as crime when it was ART.
In the summer of 1968, a group of Austrian Actionists toured Germany – Munich, Essen, Cologne – with a repertoire of performances in support of the student rebellion. They appeared in sports-halls and amphitheaters “before audiences of 2,000 and more”. They built a water cannon “with extra strong pressure” to turn on to the audience. One of them, Peter Weibel, explained to me (some years later):”The idea of the gathering was rebelling for Vietnam, and the audience had come to demonstrate that they were in solidarity with the Vietnamese who were suffering from American aggression. We believed that solidarity only counts if you are suffering too. But there the audience was, just sitting and not suffering at all. They were there to protest for Vietnam, but they were eating, drinking, doing nothing but waiting to be entertained, exhibiting the typical schizophrenic condition of this society. So we turned water on them.”
The audience did not accept the assault passively, not even for the sake of Art or Vietnam. They threw bottles back at the artists, and then the artists whipped them.
“But first I hurt myself. I worked with fire. Before turning the water on them or whipping them I burnt my own arm. I put chemicals on my skin and set fire to it. This was to show that I earned the right to make them suffer by suffering myself. It was saying to them, ‘Look, I’m in pain so I have the right to be taken seriously.’ In Cologne I had to go to hospital afterwards, and there they didn’t believe me that this was an art action. They called the police and the police thought I had been experimenting with explosives. But my intention was to make rituals. No masochism was intended. While I was burning I was smiling all the time, to say, ‘Look, you can trust me, I won’t lose my nerve.’ ”
He had to work hard on his whipping technique because, he said, “I used a very long whip and I couldn’t make it move fast enough at first, and people in the audience used to catch hold of it and pull me towards them, or jerk it out of my hands, until I learnt how to do it properly so that I cut their faces before they could do anything. The end was always a riot. The police came to stop it, we were arrested, and then we were fined. But that was part of the Action. ‘WAR, ART, RIOT’ the show was called. It was a campaign. Like a military campaign, only with Art.”
In that same momentous summer, one of the founders of the Action Art movement, Otto Mühl, along with other Actionists, put on a performance in the auditorium of the University of Vienna titled ART AND REVOLUTION. They announced that it was for the victims of the Vietnam war. Mühl described it to me as “pissing, shitting, beating, and masturbating while singing hymns”. He and the other artists were arrested and imprisoned.
By the later 1970s, Mühl had stopped giving public performances, preferring to concentrate on “self-expression psychoanalysis and therapy through sexual activity and all other natural functions”. His theories on psychotherapy, he said, were “derived from those of Wilhelm Reich – and also of course from Sigmund Freud, our Viennese Urvater of psychoanalysis.”
Otto Mühl had founded two communes: one in Vienna, and one on a farm, Friedrichshof, in the Burgenland near the border with Hungary (which was then, and for another two decades, under an oppressive Communist regime obedient to the Kremlin). He named the country commune “The European Center of the Action-Analysis (AA) Organization of Conscious Life-Praxis”. Followers of his movement formed “branches” in Berlin, Hamburg, Kiel, Bremen, Oslo, Geneva, and Paris. At the start of his campaign Mühl visualized a “world commune organization, a global society made up of communes”, all of them following the pattern set at Friedrichshof, for the better health and happiness of mankind. In 1976, membership of his organization peaked at a little over 500.
Central to Mühl’s “praxis” was Selbstdarstellung, or “SD”, meaning self-expression, carried out in groups under a Self-Expression Leader whose aim was “to exorcise the small-family person” – der Kleinfamilienmensch – from the communard-patient. The process, Mühl maintained, was “Action Analytical Art”. His Selbstdarsteller had to become a performance artist. Before an audience of fellow communard-patients, he/she “wanders through childhood and corrects the damage that was done” to him/her. “The audience will be deeply moved when the patient recreates the scenes of his childhood damage, lets himself fall into a birth-experience and demonstrates the meaning of health as a new-born baby. From the re-enacted birth-experience – often accompanied by an enactment of ‘the killing of Mummy and Daddy’ – the final self emerges in the Selbstdarstellung, which is also called ‘dissolving the genital armoring’.” Beyond that, he’d explain, “lies not only cure but true liberation”; that is to say, an ability to experience “psychophysical orgasm” by which the patient/artist is liberated to enjoy “full sexual and social freedom”. The person has “found his/her identity in orgasm”.
What actually happened in the performance ending with a rebirth? What was Otto Mühl’s work as an artist-therapist? Simply sexual activity in public. “Free sexuality is an integral part of commune-society. The exclusive two-person relationship is a sickness of the small-family person” Mühl told me. (He also, in an unguarded moment, confided to me that he was “surprised to find that many of the male patient-artists developed impotence in the course of the treatment”.)
Although the achievement of personal liberation from authority was one of the chief aims of the therapy, the commune had strict rules. Both men and women, for instance, had to have their heads shorn of all hair and to dress in uniform trousers with a flap in front “to facilitate work” – namely, copulation-masturbation-therapy. The enterprise was dedicated to the defiance and destruction of “authoritarianism”, and the method was regulated in a sternly authoritarian manner.
It was a life-style of enforced asceticism, combined with extreme libertinism. All bodily functions were on display; the bathrooms and toilets had no doors. No member was allowed privacy, or money, or any personal property. “The commune rejects commercial and profit thinking.” On joining, a member made over all his property and wealth to the organization, including real estate and income from any source, even student grants. Members were discouraged from making contact with their “small family” (more commonly called, in English, the “nuclear family”) or anyone in the outside world, because “society predetermines their emotional misery, as if the world were ruled by an evil spirit”.
The communal life itself, according to Mühl, was “an art form”. So was every performance of “direct art actions”, which consisted of persons – often, if not always, drugged – performing sexual activities before the rest of the assembled group, “with objects, animals, excreta” and fellow communards of either sex and every imaginable erotic desire. Photographs of the actions were taken, collected, edited, and published in professionally printed and bound volumes.
Children were admitted to the Mühl communes with their mothers. Some were born in them. “Children”, Mühl said, “grow up in the commune without sexual repression, so they will be healthy and socially well adjusted. The sexual activity of the parent is not concealed because nobody is made to feel that it’s forbidden.”
But adjusted to what society? …
The practice of any conventional form of art was discouraged (though Mühl himself painted in a private studio standing apart from the main buildings of the commune). “It is enough that the commune life is itself an art-form,” he said.
And so, in his theory, was death: “killing people is an element of art to come.”
“to make art – you do not need a piano – detergent and jam and urine will do – art may slip into every material and out of every hole – everybody can do art if he can find the pepper – boycott the pigs controlling the mass media – do not buy newspapers or tv-sets or cinema tickets – blast the opera houses – from now on all there is will be presented directly, coitus, torture, medical operations, destruction of people and animals and other objects is the only theater worth seeing – the rest is nonsense! – the inner life will be reduced to bodily acts – religious and political pigs can only be stopped by brutal use of all means – pornography [contrary to other statements] is a suitable means for curing society of genital-panic – the elements of art to me are eating, drinking, shitting and pissing, fucking and killing people. – these are the hot irons of our times – murder as art.” …
In the picture above, an IS member unsheathes his sword as he prepares to behead an ancient Babylonian statue. His sheath is the Koran and the sword is covered with verses from the Koran. The caption states: “With this sword is civilization and humanity slaughtered.”
We quote Raymond Ibrahim, above and below:
The Daily Mail reports:
Islamic State thugs have destroyed a collection of priceless statues and sculptures in Iraq dating back thousands of years.
Extremists used sledgehammers and power drills to smash ancient artwork as they rampaged through a museum in the northern city of Mosul.
Video footage shows a group of bearded men in the Nineveh Museum using tools to wreck 3,000-year-old statues after pushing them over.
Extremists used sledgehammers and power drills to smash ancient artifacts at a museum in the northern city of Mosul
Militant uses a power tool to destroy a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity at the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq. The statue dates back to the 9th century B.C.
A man shown in the video said the items were being destroyed because they promoted idolatry.
“The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics, and his companions did the same when they conquered countries after him,” the unidentified man said.
The articles destroyed appeared to come from an antiquities museum in the northern city of Mosul, which was overrun by Islamic State last June, a former employee at the museum told Reuters.
The extremist group has destroyed a number of shrines – including Muslim holy sites – in a bid to eliminate what it views as heresy.
Militants are also believed to have sold ancient artwork on the black market in order to finance their bloody campaign across the region.ISIS destroy artifacts with sledgehammers at Mosul museum
Yesterday it was revealed how terrorists had blown up the Mosul Public Library, sending 10,000 books and more than 700 rare manuscripts up in flames.
Leading members of Mosul society reportedly tried to stop the fanatics destroying the building, but failed.
The director of the library, Ghanim al-Ta’an, said that the extremists used homemade bombs in the attack, which took place on Sunday.
He told Middle Eastern website Geran: “ISIS militants bombed the Mosul Public Library. They used improvised explosive devices.”
Presumed destroyed are the Central Library’s collection of Iraqi newspapers dating to the early 20th century, maps and books from the Ottoman Empire and book collections contributed by around 100 of Mosul’s establishment families.
Large segments of the priceless winged-bull Assyrian protective deity are hurled to the ground as militants smash it to pieces
Isis first invaded the Central Library in January. Residents say the extremists smashed the locks that had protected the biggest repository of learning in the northern Iraq town, and loaded around 2,000 books – including children’s stories, poetry, philosophy and tomes on sports, health, culture and science – into six pickup trucks. They left only Islamic texts.
“These books promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah. So they will be burned,” a bearded militant in traditional Afghani two-piece clothing told residents, according to one man living nearby who spoke to The Associated Press.
The enlightened West is doing nothing to stop them.
“Our evening is over us; our night whelms, whelms and will end us.”
– Gerard Manley Hopkins: Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves. ( He was a Jesuit. But even so, a very good poet.)
We would vote Obama the worst president ever. Even worse than Jimmy Carter.
Bill Whittle makes a case that must annoy Democrats – that Obama is “Bush Lite”.
… and the flame-thrower, and the mortar shell, and the bulldozer, and the wrecking-ball …
Islam is one of the most ruinous forces in history. Giulio Meotti wrote this short account of its barbarous destruction of the world’s heritage of past civilizations.
(Note: Wherever Meotti uses the word “Islamists” we would use the word “Muslims” or “jihadis”. We do not believe there is a variety of Islam that needs a different name.)
Around the year 645 A.D., Omar Ibn Al Khattab, the second caliph and a successor of Muhammad, set fire to the library of Alexandria. …
The world lost several centuries of knowledge and thought due to that Islamic fire.
Today another caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has issued a fatwa against the World Heritage Sites of the Middle East. The much vaunted Middle Eastern richness is shrinking to a cultural desert …
For over five thousand years, many civilizations have left their mark in Mesopotamia: Assyrians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Arameans, Jews and Romans. Their ancient buried cities, palaces and temples are scattered throughout what is now northern Iraq and eastern Syria. Now most of the archaeological wealth is under the control of the Islamic State. Two days ago, Isis leveled the “green church” of Tikrit, the symbol of Assyrian Christianity in the seventh century.
Among the most important sites now under the control of Islam are four ancient cities – Nineveh, Kalhu, Dur Sharrukin and Ashur – which, at different times, were the capitals of the powerful Assyrian empire. The greatest damage has been wreaked by Islam on the Palace of Kalhu, from which the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II reigned in the ninth century B.C.
They have destroyed some of the “ziggurats”, the impressive temples that rise into the sky. The non-Islamic tradition of Mosul no longer exists. The Islamists have destroyed thirty historic sites, including the shrines of the biblical prophets [well, anyway, biblical characters – ed] Seth, Daniel and Jonah.
In Syria, the Islamic terrorists have demolished relics as part of their “purge of paganism”, destroying Assyrian statues. In a video, they unashamedly claim the duty of the mujahideen is to “remove the appearance of evil”.
Harta, the archeological site … is in IS hands and risks destruction.
The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo had just recently reopened to the public after nine years of renovations, when last January a bomb destroyed it. It contained masterpieces of the Umayyad, Abbassid, and Ottoman periods. During the uprisings that led to the removal of President Mohammed Morsi, in August 2013, the Mallawi Museum of Minia was almost totally destroyed.
In Cairo, meanwhile, the manuscripts of the Cairo Institute went up in smoke, including the legacy of the Napoleonic expedition of 1798 in the land of the Pyramids. Nothing was saved from the great work “Description de l’Egypte”, curated by two hundred scholars led by the curator of the Louvre, Vivant Denon.
Presumably that was the original manuscript. There must surely be copies elsewhere. But still it is a loss to be deplored.
The head of the Association for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Hagag Ibrahim, said that the Institute has been subjected to a second “Tatar invasion”, comparing it to the Mongols who in 1258 burned the library of Baghdad, whose waters turned black from ashes of thousands of precious manuscripts. …
In Libya, the “treasures of Benghazi”, coins, jewelry, and small statues of antiquity have been lost since the revolution of May 2011. …
The great library of Al Saeh in Tripoli, Lebanon, was recently given over to the flames by the Islamists.
A year ago, in Mali, hundreds of manuscripts of the Ahmed Baba Centre in Timbuktu were burned due to the irrational fury of the mujahideen. This was a body of work that ranges from the ninth century to this day … in many languages, such as Arabic, Sonrai*, Bambanà [?] and Hebrew.
They destroyed the door that leads into the sanctuary of the mosque of Sidi Yahya. According to legend, the entrance to the monument had to remain closed for ever, and its opening would cause the end of the world. “See – there is no end of the world,” proclaimed [the Muslims] in front of a stunned crowd shocked by [what was to them] the sacrilege.
In Israel, Palestinian Islamists have destroyed the Tomb of Joseph, while the artifacts from the ancient Temples of Solomon and Herod in Jerusalem are scooped out piece by piece from the levels below the Temple Mount to make it seem that the presence of mosques on the Mount is the first example of construction on the site.
The Izz ad-Din al Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, recently leveled – with bulldozers – the ancient Mediterranean port of Anthedon, three thousand years of mosaic floors and columns of the Roman, Byzantine destroyed. To do what on the site? Construct a terrorist training camp.
In India, the temple of Ram at Ayodhya was destroyed to become the Babri Masjid mosque.
The great [statues of] Buddha in Afghanistan were leveled by the Taliban of Mullah Omar following a fatwa. …
In the Swat Valley, in Pakistan, the Taliban recently destroyed Buddhist statues in Jahanabad …
The Islamic State has just destroyed the ancient Armenian Church of Der Zor, (re)consecrated as a memorial of the Armenian Genocide.** …
Nothing has changed. The Islamists plan to make a tabula rasa out of entire civilizations.
*From Wiki: The Songhai (also Songhay or Sonrai) are west Africans who speak Songhai languages, the lingua franca of the Songhai Empire which dominated the western Sahel in the 15th and 16th century.
** This genocide of the (Christian) Armenians was launched by the (Muslim) Ottoman Turks in 1915.
Abraham Poincheval is an artist.
His is the art of living inside a small hole, a metal cylinder, a bear’s carcass, or the French Alps for a week or more.
This is from the Washington Post:
As you read this, Poincheval is inhabiting a bear. A hollowed-out, sterilized bear carcass, to be exact. He’s been there since yesterday [April 2, 2014], and he won’t leave until April 13. That means he’ll eat, sleep, drink and — yes — “go to the bathroom” inside the bear.
He talks nonsense.
Poincheval, according to the exhibition’s press release, has long had a “need to become one with such an animal.” During a previous performance, which involved him living in the French Alps, he “repeatedly encountered animal carcasses.” That got the French artist’s wheels turning. What would it be like to live inside one?
His thoughts on the matter got pretty deep.
“The transcendence between man and bear endures since the dawn of time,” the press release says. “A profound symbolism has existed since the prehistory, a symbolism that is still gripping the Western world’s imagination today.”
Transcendence cannot be between two things. For one to transcend the other he or it must go beyond it or him.
And neither man nor bear have existed since “the dawn of time”.
And there cannot have been any symbolism “since the prehistory” [presumably of mankind] as only human beings can create symbols. But what symbolism does he mean? What is being symbolized? However did he discover that the symbolism of whatever it may be is gripping the Western world’s imagination? (It’s not gripping ours.)
Poincheval wanted to make imagination into reality.
Meaning presumably that he wanted to make real something that he imagined.
Though such a feat — especially when it involves residing inside a giant bear carcass for a fortnight — isn’t necessarily an easy task. It takes patience. It takes calculation. It takes a very comfortable pillow.
The piece [of performance art], which he’s filming with two cameras, is being held at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Hunting and Wildlife Museum).
“Thought as being the intermediary between the world of men and the world of animals, for a long time the bear was believed to be man’s ancestor,” [his] press release tells people … “Becoming [a] bear and the wearing of [its] skin is to bring about a liberating choice between human nature and animal nature. … Right from the start, this communion between Abraham Poincheval and the bear will inevitably bring him to a state of profound meditation.”
Will it? Inevitably?
A boon for the Western world’s imagination.
The State Department has spent millions of taxpayers’ dollars acquiring Art. That is to say, paying for objects that its resident or consultant aesthetes swear are works of Art, worth every penny.
The acquisitions were apparently a priority for Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. If you would see her monument, tour US embassies and look about you.
Fashionable Art doesn’t come cheap. So there was no money left to pay for such a humdrum thing as effective protection of the US diplomatic and CIA missions in Benghazi. Denied the security they needed, four Americans, including the ambassador, were killed there by savage jihadis. Well – Hillary might say – there has to be human sacrifice on the altar of Art, it makes all the difference, and if you don’t understand that, you are a philistine bourgeois.
Look on the bright side. The Art is displayed in many a US embassy. Americans can be proud.
In London, there’s a granite wall built by Sean Scully that cost $1million. We couldn’t find a picture of it, but it’s like this one displayed in an art gallery.
Daniel Greenfield illustrates an article on the subject – which inspired this post – with these pictures of works by Cy Twombly. The top one is at the embassy in Rome.
From his text:
Beijing [embassy] contains $23 million worth of art. Bern has $1.2 million and Luxembourg has $2.2 million.
And here is the grave of Ambassador Stevens, murdered at Benghazi. We don’t know how much it cost, or who paid for it.
Post Script: Here is some wall art that really has meaning. The wall is part of the US mission in Benghazi. The paint is blood. A hand put it there the night of the attack. It might have been the hand of Ambassador Stevens himself – or of one of his brutal killers. One does not have to read Arabic to know who signed in for the event on the other wall.
(Hat-tip: our reader and commenter donl)
Continuing our series on contemporary Gnosticism, here is the fourth essay under the title The Darkness of This World. (For the first three put Our Gnostic Age in the search slot.)
The Darkness of This World
Our Gnostic Age
In its defiance of religious and cultural norms, most New Age doctrine and practice (briefly described in the last essay) is comparatively mild. Far more savage messages have come from thousands of pop songs and rap “flows” since the 1960s. Cruelty and religious images are a large if not predominant part of their stock-in-trade. Themes of rape, murder, massacre, torture, Satan, devils, demons, sado-masochism, ultimate doom, universal destruction by nuclear bombs or climate apocalypse, terrorism, suicide, death, are common, hugely popular – and therefore enormously lucrative. Here are words from a rock song called Demons. It was sung by a group named Rigor Mortis – typically connoting something dreaded, in this case death: “We come bursting through your bodies, rape your helpless soul …we force you to kill your brother, eat his blood and brain, shredding flesh and sucking bone till everyone’s insane, we are pestilent and contaminate, the world Demonic legions prevail.”
Such songs could be, and sometimes are, interpreted as instructions to do evil. But then, almost any song could be – and was. Charles Manson, mass murderer and cult-leader of a mass-murdering group, declared himself profoundly stirred by a Beatles song called Helter-Skelter, into whose quite innocuous words about sliding down a fairground slide, he read a coded message about the coming of a final conflict between the black and white races. 
But songs, however gruesome, and even if sometimes inspiring real cruelty and murder, are not the source of the moral rot in twenty-first century Western culture. Nor are the video games that require the killing off of humanoids in such profusion that they’re often blown away as copiously as brown leaves in a gale. Such popular indulgence in Halloween-like fantasy are analogous not to the old Gnostic cults themselves, but to imitations of their rites as pictured and misunderstood by less educated outsiders. The deliberate “sinning” of the Gnostics, with orgies and drugs, was performed for several reasons or excuses: to “use up sin” – ie. commit as much sin as possible in order to hasten the end of the world, on the assumption that there was a fixed amount of sin pre-ordained by the evil Creator, and when all of it had been committed his creation would be done for; or on the grounds that it wasn’t sin at all, only named so by the evil creator, and by defying him they were acting for the good; or on the grounds that true Gnostics – the “Spirituals”, or “Masters”, or “Perfects” – were incapable of sinning and so were free to do anything they liked. Those who were fascinated by the cults but excluded from them – being despised by the Gnostics as “hylics”, “animal men”, creatures irredeemably belonging to the earth – caught rumor of the rites and misunderstood them to be ways of worshiping the Devil.  The performance of “Satanic” rituals such as the Black Mass may very well have begun in imitation of Gnostic rites as imagined by “hylics” who hoped they would summon up the Devil to grant them occult powers. The Devil was supposed to be able and willing to sell such powers to any buyer willing to pay the price of his or her “immortal soul”. Sometimes the drug-intoxicated, orgiastic rites included human sacrifice. To the Christian churches such beliefs and rituals were not only heresy, they were blasphemy; and through the Middle Ages, when such blaspheming heretics were sniffed out by the moralists of almost any Christian denomination, they were punished with torture and fire; burnt at the stake as witches and “black” magicians. It’s certain, however, that they did far less harm, hurt and killed far fewer victims, than did the churches themselves.
No. The power to effect evil on a vast scale lies not with the many but with the few; not with the uneducated but with the educated; not with adolescent entertainers but with intellectual elites. Evil as, or for, a “higher good” becomes a force that deforms civilization only when it issues from the top of the tower. They affect the way teachers teach, students learn, and governments govern. They are professors, philosophers, priests, psychologists, writers, critics, film-makers, rogue scientists, politicians. They are the revolutionaries with a long reach. They could be called the legislative branch of the new orthodoxy. They write the laws of “political correctness”.
The executive branch whose members are responsible for disseminating the toxic ideas, are the powers that appoint the teachers at the universities; publish books and newspapers; choose the plays and the works of art that are to be presented to the public. They are the givers of grants and awards, the producers of films, the social-engineering bureaucrats.
A counter-culture with a mood of sustained rebellion has become dominant in the early twenty-first century in the West not as an imp daring to do mischievous things to provoke an old-fogey establishment, but as a loud, bullying, relentless thug. It rules in the academies and the press; it permits and cheers on the jolly viciousness of popular culture. And it has come to political power throughout the Western world. It is no longer an amusing adversarial movement confined to a demi-monde of the young, the envious and the frustrated; it is now the culture itself. It camps on the public square, wallowing in its own detritus. It stinks. It threatens. It crows triumphantly on its own dung-heap. It gloats over its crimes. It riots in the streets of the cities, smashing the windows of stores, setting fire to banks regardless of whether there are people in them. It burns cars. It shrilly demands much in exchange for nothing. And it legislates, and it taxes, and it makes war on small nations for no better reason than sentiment.
It prevails. And it seems to have come upon the prosperous, brilliant, powerful West quite recently. It has called itself the Red Army of this or that; or Anarchists against Capitalism; or a movement for Hope and Change; or the Occupy Wall Street Movement… It entered the Parliaments of Europe late in the last century, and now it is in the White House of America. But actually it grew slowly through the last three centuries.
It began in Europe, it spread from Europe, and in Europe it became malignant. It began as a reaction to the Enlightenment, that marvelous long morning when the sun of Reason rose to its zenith in the eighteenth century, and the Age of Science gathered pace. Technology, the daughter of Science, gave birth – first in England – to contraptions, contrivances, devices and engines that spun wheels and let off steam and smoke, appalling those blessed or cursed with sensitive souls. Religion blanched. The power of the Churches drained away. Christianity itself declined, but with its fading came a nostalgia for its mystery, for its visions of dim glories, and even for its guilt and its terror.
Jillian Becker October 31, 2013
1. In August 1969, Charles Manson sent Susan Atkins with two other women and Charles “Tex” Watson to a house in Beverly Hills to kill the actress Sharon Tate and anyone else they found there. Atkins states in her autobiography Child of Satan, Child of God, that as they approached the house, “I was deeply aware of Evil. I was Evil.” She and her companions brutally murdered Sharon Tate and four other people with knives and a gun. “Tex” Watson said to one of the victims (according to Atkins), “I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s business.” Atkins wrote: “I was to learn later that this was the home of the beautiful Miss Tate and [her husband Roman] Polanski, who was out of the country at the time. … Polanksi had produced the controversial Rosemary’s Baby, a film about a woman who bore a child by Satan.” Shortly before meeting Manson, she records, she had refused to participate in a ritual of Satan-worship conducted by Anton LaVey – occultist and musician, founder of the Church of Satan, author of The Satanic Bible, father of a son named Satan LaVey – because she believed in God. When she joined the Manson “family”, she thought that Manson “might be God himself; if not, he was close to him.” Her life with the Manson “family” was full off drugs and orgies which made her feel that she was “one with everyone”. “What Charlie taught us,” she said, “was love”. She bore a child which she insisted was not Manson’s, and named him Ze Zo Ze Cee Zadfrack “for no other reason than that at the torn and twisted time it seemed like a good name”. (So it must be a coincidence, though an intriguing one, that the magic formula for gaining direct access to the highest heaven of the Gnostics, according toThe Book of Ieû is: aaa ooo zezophazazzzaieozaza eee iii zaieozoakoe ooo uuu thoezaozaez eee zzeeezaozakozakeude tuxuaalethukh. – Gnosticism: An Anthology by Robert M. Grant, Collins, London, 1961.)
2. A misinterpretation of Gnostic ritual as devil-worship probably accounts for some of the testimony given at the trial in France, in 1310, of the Knights Templar, a military branch of the Cistercian order specially founded “to protect pilgrims visiting the Holy Land”. King Philip IV, known as Philip the Beautiful, feared their power and coveted their wealth. They were the international bankers of the age, as well as a considerable military force and an efficiently organized intelligence network. They owned vast estates in France. Their reputation as heroes of the Crusades, as warriors and carers of the sick and wounded, made them glorious in the eyes of the common people. Philip was determined to bring them down, to confiscate their lands and treasure, to extirpate them from his own realms and destroy the order wherever his power or influence could reach. The means he chose was to accuse them of heresy. On the night of October 12, 1307, every Templar in France, along with his servants and dependants, was arrested and imprisoned by order of the King. Two and half years later the trial began. Witnesses told of secret meetings behind locked doors, through whose keyholes they had seen and heard abominable rites. Almost all said that the Knights had denied Christ, spat upon the Cross, and declared that it was right only to believe in “the Highest God”. Some reported that they had seen them pay reverence to idols and the devil. Some Knights, being broken by torture and unable to face the terrible punishment that awaited heretics, themselves “confessed” to performing such rituals. Though their legal defense was cleverly devised and persuasively presented, the verdict was a foregone conclusion. The last officers of the order were burnt at the stake on March 19, 1314. Some historians maintain that all the accusations were false and the order was free of any taint of heresy, and no direct evidence has ever been found to prove the case one way or the other. But the more credible testimony of the witnesses strongly suggests that what they glimpsed and heard through keyholes was a Gnostic rite as had been practiced by the Cathars in the Languedoc region of southern France, of whom the last few were then being hunted down and burnt to death by the Inquisition. But beside the possibly true witness accounts, tales were told of devil-worship, including the ritual kissing of the Devil’s behind, which were probably the stock-in-trade of common gossip in those heresy-obsessed ages of Catholic tyranny.
3. One example of sentiment at work in international affairs to brutal result arose out of the United Nation resolution known as “R2P” – The Responsibility to Protect. It requires the strong and wealthy nations of the West to be guardians of vulnerable populations in any foreign state. It was invoked as a reason for French, British and American intervention in Libya in 2011, to overthrow the dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Since then, to the time of this writing, there has been no effective government in Libya. Rival Muslim terrorist groups control their fiefdoms, ruling arbitrarily and ferociously by a mixture of sharia law and vicious whim. The population is a lot worse off than it was under Gaddafi. An earlier example was the interference in the 1990s by the West – chiefly America – in the Balkans. The socialist governments of Western Europe and the Democratic government of the United States believed it was right according to leftist principles to make war only where the interests of their own countries were in no way served by it. The American and NATO soldiers who died saving Kosovar and Bosnian Muslims from alleged Catholic or Orthodox Christian oppression (so positively assisting Muslim terrorist groups in Kosovo), gave their lives not for their country, or freedom, but for the need of their leaders to feel good about themselves. The idea that it is the height of morality to sacrifice oneself (or one’s country’s soldiers) for others, particularly if the others are perceived as underdogs, derives directly and exclusively from Christianity.