Magic and the Dark Ages

From the forward of Gary North’s 1968 edition of Marx’s Religion of Revolution
Written by R. J. Rushdoony.

Basic to the modem mentality is the belief in magic. Magic is the attempt by man to gain autonomous power, to gain control over the world of man, nature, and the supernatural. In magic, man sees himself as his own god and creator, and total power and control becomes his goal. By means of this total and autonomous power, man expects to govern reality by his 6wn prediction and planning.

This is not a bad definition of magic, but I like the more pithy definition: “Something for nothing”.

“Power from below” is sometimes useful, when dealing with the more mystical forms of magic. But most Western professionals today prefer to chase the dream of Total Planning by the power of bureaucrats, rules, projections, models, and numbers (with the occasional wall-to-wall media campaign, as per COVID), instead of officially calling on demons with chants and ceremonies.

The popularity of the Greek mentality to the men of the Renais­sance and Enlightenment has been due to the fact that the Greeks combined, it was believed, a scientific technique with a magical faith. A classic example of this Greek perspective is Archimedes, who, to illustrate the power potentially in the principle of the lever, said to Hiero II, monarch of Syracuse, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.” This remark has become famous to generations of schoolboys as illustrative of the “genius” of Greece and of the potentialities of “science.” The remark, however, is in essence magic, refined and technologically aware magic, but magic nonetheless. “Give me a place to stand!” The assumptions in this presupposition are enormous. Make me a god, and I can move the world. Give me the power to create gold, and I can buy the world. It is one thing for a man to make a lever, and to realize the human possibili­ties with this mechanism at man’s command, but it is another for man to assume unlimited potentialities as the human condition. The scientific achievements of Archimedes were real, but they were set in the context of Hellenic magic.

Scientist-as-engineer is fine.

Scientist-as-subcreator has its advantages, so long Divine Justice and Divine Law (as opposed to the will of powerful men, governments, and corporations) is upheld, and as long as the ego and the quest for power over others is tightly reigned in.

Scientist-as-definer of reality has no place in the actually-existing cosmos.

The Renaissance and Enlightenment restored magic to the world, The Christian centuries, deeply infected by neoplatonic and Aristotelian thought, were thereby also deeply imbued by magic. The Christian centuries, however, recognized the difference which separated them from antiquity, and the term Dark Ages was given to the classical, pre-Christian era. As Peter Gay points out in The Enlightenment, “Petrarch removed the label Dark Ages from classical, pre-Christian times and fastened it instead on the Christian era” (p. 74).

Our Betters truly do love to steal and lie, don’t they?

As for mass murder… not to worry, we’ll get to Karl Marx soon enough.

The modem world saw itself as the era of light, and, not surprisingly, it called itself finally ”The Enlightenment.” The move­ment redefined philosophy; it denied the validity of system-making, since man, as his own god, is beyond systems, beyond good and evil. Philosophy for the world of the Enlightenment is, as Peter Gay indicates, “the organized habit of criticism” {p. 130). This criticism is of Christianity in essence: the critique is directed against every­ thing which is hostile to the magical perspective. The critique assumes the reality of the natural world only, denies the Biblical revelation, and posits the autonomy of man.

Karl Marx applied the Enlightenment conception of philosophy with especial consistency. As Marx pointed out, in his Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of the Right, the “criticism of religion is the premise of all criticism.” This criticism is from first to last an attack on the sovereignty of God in the name of the sovereignty of man; it is an attack on revelation in the name of, not reason as such, but the concept of autonomous reason. It is an attack on Biblical religion in terms of magic and the philosophy of magic.

No wonder Darwin’s “things make themselves” nonsense was so quickly and eagerly accepted by the European intelligentsia!

(And some yummy racial flattery to bring delight to the eyes,
as the Race and Fitness
replaces God and Justice.)

The philosophy of magic has so deeply entered the modem mind that its insanities pass unnoticed. A classic example of this appears in Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). The facets of Hemingway’s personality which appear clearly in his writings are to a mild degree recognized even in A. E. Hotchner’s Papa Heming­way (1966). In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway’s concept of passionate, romantic sex is magical. For the ancients, magical sex ensured the fertility of the earth. For Hemingway magical sex moves the earth. Pilar declares, “When I was young the earth moved so that you could feel it all shift in space and were afraid it would go out from under you. It happened every night.” In several important passages, Hemingway rings the changes on this magical theme. In a passage on Robert Jordan’s sexual experience, Hemingway wrote,

For him it was a dark passage which led to nowhere, then to nowhere, then again to nowhere, heavy on the elbows in the earth to nowhere, dark, never any end to nowhere, hung on all times always to unknowing nowhere, this time and again for always to nowhere, now not to be borne once again always and to nowhere, now beyond all bearing up, up, up and into nowhere, suddenly, scaldingly, holdingly all nowhere gone and time absolutely still and they were both there, time having stopped and he felt the earth move out and away from under them.1

This passage, and others like it, should have provoked nothing but laughter from the millions- who read it. It has nothing to do with any man’s experience, and its magical sexual mysticism borders on insanity. But it was read with rapt attention, because the readers shared Hemingway’s magical view of sex.

Men surrender to the enemy in private many years, even decades, before their surrender becomes obvious in public.

Every evil that is publicly dominant today was implicitly accepted by the masses decades before.

But evil always lead to disgrace, poverty, death.

“So Satan is proven to be a liar… again. Who knew?”

But the acceptance of this insane bit of magic is not surprising. The greater magic of revolution is accepted, by Hemingway and the modem world. It is a belief that destruction can be creative, that progress is through chaos, that the principle of social power requires social suicide. The theory of revolution as the means of social progress is pure magic. Criticism of religion is carried to its ultimate meaning in the revolutionary destruction of religion and the world of Christian faith. This is the essence of “Enlightenment” faith, and it is pure magic. It is not producing Enlightenment but is rather increasing the darkness of the new Dark Ages.

And Karl Marx was a leading architect and planner of the new darkness. The two governing passions of Marx’s life were, first, a hatred of Christian society, of Biblical law and order, and, second, a magical belief in the efficacy and power of destruction. The con­tradictions in his system of economic order are impossible to recon­cile. As an economics, it has no future. As a philosophy of magic, Karl Marx’s system is impervious to attack, once its presuppositions are granted. The implications of humanism and of anti-Christianity are carried to their logical conclusion, to pure magic. The Marxist belief in the creative power of revolution now extends far beyond the frontiers of Marxism: it is a part of the humanist legacy.

To the astonishment of Our Betters, destruction does not magically bring rebirth.

The bones merely continue to rot, and the shattered ruins only continue to crack and break apart.

There must be an actual repentance – public and private – before hope, life, joy, justice, growth, and peace returns.

When Hemingway’s silly fornicators swore solemnly that “the earth moved” because of their passion, they were in a class with those who expect to move the earth forward by their revolutions. But the earth does not move for either the fornicators or the revolu­tionists. It responds, not to the magicians but only to the sovereign decree of the triune God. The absurdities of Marx and Hemingway are both amusing and serious. They cannot be met or answered by more humanism, by more magic, but only by Christian scholarship firmly grounded on the Biblical revelation.

Christian scholarship firmly grounded on damnable lies and straw-men – as per Voddie Baucham’s book, Fault Lines – is not going to cut it.

We need real scholarship, scholars with integrity.

God will accept and bless nothing less.

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