Marcian’s attempt to reject the Old Testament God was thrown out. Constantine’s regime favoured the arbitrary rule of Jehovah and an impassable gulf between dependent individuals and the Absolute as an entity outside, above and beyond the individual.
To be subject to a manmade entity reified as mind-independent reality is the polar opposite to the attainment of an autonomously creative mind. But then again, such minds would not make good slaves of a tyrannous empire, which needed instead
heteronomous minds, wholly dependent on a master to tell them what to do and think.
Submission from the flock was demanded contractually across the Empire, through the weekly repetition of the Nicene Creed by the whole community. Lords and serfs alike contracted into a strict religion of transcendence that cemented the Christian era’s rigid social demarcation for millennia.
And so the flame of Prometheus was snuffed out at Nicaea. Jesus was given the special messianic status of Jewish mythology and hailed as the Christ, or promised Messiah.
Nicaean objectification, or reification, actually emerged as the theological concept of hypostasis, which can translate literally as ‘substance’ or ‘substantive reality’.
The Trinitarian Godhead was prescribed to believers as the hypostatic union, or one god existing in three distinct hypostases.
And so began the Christian (or Messianic) era, the Jehovian terror, during which man has been enslaved to the higher reality that Jesus preached against.
And the whole panoply of Christian worship, the ritual, the liturgy, is only so much metaphor and allegory for man’s submission to hypostasis, or external reality per se.
Two millennia of Jehovianism resulted in puppethood for mankind and the suppression of Swayambhu.
Constantine’s invention of Christianity ushered in an era of super-exploitative ultra-feudalism, the beneficiary of which was a tripartite alliance of the landed nobility, Jewish traders and Venetian banking dynasties that had common cause in extracting surplus value from a producer class held in thraldom to a Zeusian priesthood.
This was the stasis of the pre-nation state era, a borderless Dark Age chaos of feuding warlords and trafficking in slaves, armaments and Oriental luxuries, fuelled by usurious loans, the repeated echoes of which can be felt in the globalised economy of today.
A 300-year resistance to this historical continuity occurred when the hypostatic realm was challenged in the great re-birth of art and creativity that was triggered by Dante’s anti-Messianic Divine Comedy. In the ecstatic attainment of his paradisal objective, Dante saw the image of man in the divine light. This was outside and beyond stasis. (Ecstacy - ec outside, stacy stasis). Swayambhu breached the interminable cycle.
A new order emerged as the Renaissance state, modelled on Dante’s De Monarchia.
Dante believed that peace was only achievable when a single monarch replaced divisive rival interest groups. Prophets of the new order’s Utopian potential included Nicholas of Cusa, Thomas More and Erasmus; and the first shoots of its emergence were seen in the France of Louis XI, the England of Henry VII and the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella. The power of the oligarchs was curtailed and the Jews expelled.
Swayambhu had breached the interminable cycle and yet, the old gods returned.
There would be a Counter-Renaissance and the old order would be reasserted as a Spinozist hypostasis.
The promethean flame, rekindled by Renaissance humanism, spluttered once more under the snuffing pall of Nicaea. ‘Christianity sprang from Judaism. It has merged again in Judaism’, observed Marx, whose mantra might have been that ‘we are all Jews now’. Indeed he wrote that ‘the Jews had emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians had become Jews. The god of the Jews had become the god of the earth’.
The condition of puppethood under Jehovah was expressed succinctly by Engels’s ‘freedom is the recognition of necessity’, a phrase that connected back to Spinoza via Hegel;1 that same Hegel who had turned thought into an externality that imposed itself upon the individual. For him, truth existed outside and beyond mankind and transcended the act of thinking or experience.
Marx did not so much turn Hegel on his head as he famously claimed, but rather assumed the materialism that Hegel had already attained.
There was always something strange in Marx’s upturning assertion. Nevertheless, for more than a century after it happened, any young radical worth his salt chose Marxism as his philosophy. Having insight into the necessity behind the events to which others were blind, permitted one to enter a ‘masonry’ of brother intellectuals, the future governors of the world.
To have history on one’s side was a thrilling source of intellectual strength, which also pandered to the arrogance of privileged minds. For many years I too succumbed to the lure of this insider knowledge.
If most individuals felt powerless before the impersonal thought of globalised capitalism, then for the Marxists, consciousness of the economic root causes of this power imbalance was felt as a privileged insight. ‘We know, but they don’t’ led to the convoluted charitable act of explaining to people the origins of their wrong-headed thinking, an act of charity that also explained to the masses how their combined wrong-headed thinking had led them in the right direction historically, whilst their individual contributions added nothing.
Otto Weininger recognised the perversity, adding a gender element to the race aspect already acknowledged by Marx.
In spite of the associative element in it, the Marxian doctrine does not lead in any way towards the State as a union of all the separate individual aims, as the higher unit combining the purposes of the lower units. Such a conception is as foreign to the Jew as it is to the woman.2
Crushing the individual did not move us in any direction, let alone to anything new. Weininger criticised modern art as 'Jewish art' and based many of his theories on Richard Wagner's The Jews and Music.
Our era is not only the most Jewish, but also the most feminine of eras’ which ‘no longer has a single great artist, a single great philosopher. It has the least originality and the biggest hunt for originality.
In Weininger’s conflation of race, religion and gender is both rage against the passive acceptance of necessity and despair at the seeming lack of any alternative.
Like Marx, Weininger believed that we were all ‘Jews’ now and, by his own inference, this meant feminine, passive, unproductive, unconscious and amoral.
In his foretelling of the transgendered world of unicultural 1 = 1 commoditised equality, Weininger recognised the stasis of our modern world that crushes diversity and creativity, whilst closing off alternatives.
If stasis applied to society means no change, then hypostasis applies to a state of mind that accepts the substance, essence, or underlying reality of society as the only accepted reality.
In Weininger’s personal revulsion at the cultural hypostasis lay too the challenge to philosophical hypostasis that Wittgenstein found illuminating. Of Weininger’s resistance to inflicted norms Wittgenstein remarked that ‘the greatness lies in that with which we disagree’.
That the hypostasis experienced by Weininger was the universalised state of modern times and not co-extensive with either Jews or women, was insightfully recognised by the individualist-anarchist Dora Marsden. Weiniger’s genius, she wrote, was to recognise the two great oppositions, personality and amorphousness; his ‘boyish misstatement’ was to locate these respectively in men, and in Jews and women.3 If ‘femaleness’ is not co-extensive with the term ‘women’, but refers to a loss of personality, then it is, she agrees, ‘the Great Denial — the thing to be overcome’ in women and men. (Dora Marsden)
The critical point recognised by Marsden here is that, in the modern ere, all individuals lost personality, selfhood and will.
1 ‘In the nature of things nothing contingent is admitted, but all things are determined by the necessity of divine nature to exist and act in a certain way.’ Spinoza, Part I, Proposition XXIX.
2 Sex and character – Otto Weininger. http://theoria.art-zoo.com/sex-and-character-otto-weininger/
3 Dora Marsden, ‘Sex and Character’, Freewoman, 2:30, 13 June, 1912, pp.61-3.
© John Dunn.