First posted Sunday, 1 April 2012 at 20:53
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Christianity - 'Platonism for the people'.
The Enlightenment was significant in that, amongst the many cultural changes, it was the tacitly accepted lifting of the religious prohibition on usury that had the most important impact. It was from this point that western economies were set on a path towards the ultimate conversion of all things into commodities.
Society was not so much desacralised, but rather converted to an absolute end that was, still is, economic success as an end in itself.
For individuals locked into the fully commodified society, there has been an inversion of the relationship between subject and object. Capitalism subordinates subject to object, that is man to commodity, money, machine etc.
Reversing this arrangement will require something that neither moral vision in the sense of that offered by religion, nor revolutionary Marxism have been able to offer. That something is the iconoclastic power of human will.
Marxism cannot allow man to escape his fate and become the creator of his own history. Religion, on the other hand, serves as an opiate when man encounters God as something external and apart, rather than as an internalised phenomenon. It is an opiate as ideology rather than an act or rather, as Nietzsche said of Christianity, ‘a Platonism for the people’.
Marxism, empiricism, materialism, Platonistic Christianity, all leave mankind in a stultifying and passive state – wide open to manipulation and abuse.
It is the will to act that is needed if man is to escape his predetermined role as slave to the economic ends of a profane world. This will is not to be found in the desacralised materialist prison of the Enlightenment aftermath and its curiously labelled humanism. The source of opposition must be external and, ultimately, spiritual.