Sunday, May 30, 2010

Materialism and Nihilism

Materialism always ends in atheism, nihilism and genocide. It’s a house built on sand, to use a Biblical phrase, or one made of straw, if you want to go the children’s-story route, but either way, it will always collapse, taking a lot of innocent people along with it.

The two men who saw those connections most clearly in the 19th Century were Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. Both, not at all surprisingly to me and a lot of other people, predicted the horrors of the 20th Century -- and possibly beyond ("The story I have to tell," wrote Nietzsche, "is the history of the next two centuries").

When Nietzsche wrote his most famous saying – “God is dead” – he didn’t mean there had been a cardiac arrest in the clouds. He meant the educated people of his time had replaced their belief in religion with the belief in science, i.e. materialism.

When Dostoevsky, in “The Brothers Karamazov,” wrote, “If there is no God, then everything is permitted,” he was saying the same thing Nietzsche did. These beliefs are held not only by the educated, but also percolate down to the masses, not necessarily as conscious articulated beliefs, but as the Zeitgeist – the Spirit of the Times.

Both of these men predicted the horrors of Nazism and Communism, both officially atheistic and materialist philosophies. Why did these things happen? While not the only reason, although it may be the main one, when Man ceases to believe in anything beyond himself, he is left with nothing to worship except himself.

The Russian writer Dmitri Merejkowski (1865–1941), believed all religions could be divided into two basic ones: in the first, Man sacrifices Man to Man. In the second, God sacrifices Himself to Man. Right now, I’m only concerned with the first.

With materialistic and atheistic philosophies, Man, left with nothing to worship but his self, will always sacrifice other men to himself. Again, why? Because when he worships himself as a god, those who disagree with his beliefs have to be devils.

And being devils, they have to be eradicated. The word for this is “scapegoating” and it has been noticed for thousands of years. The scapegoating of people, which leads to genocidal human sacrifice, is unwittingly encouraged by materialists and atheists.

Materialism is the belief that man is nothing but an animal. There’s the rub. If Man believes he is nothing but an animal, he cannot handle this, and so turns himself into a god and worships himself. It gives him community and meaning and importance, things no one can live without.

"If the doctrines...of the lack of any cardinal distinction between man and animal, doctrines I consider true but deadly," wrote Nietzsche, "are hurled into the people for another generation...then nobody should be surprised when...brotherhoods with the aim of the robbery and exploitation of the non–brothers...will appear in the arena of the future."

Not surprisingly, scientists who are atheists and materialists tend to be leftists (and Nazism and Communism are leftist). The irony is lost on them. Leftism is the belief we can be one big happy family, as long as the rationalists (which is what many scientists by definition are) plan and run society.

Aldous Huxley predicted these things in “Brave New World”: a rationally-planned society, essentially a proto-Borg world. A nihilistic society in which people cover up their emptiness and lack of meaning and purpose through the use of drugs – “soma.’

Currently Tom Wolfe is the most accurate at predicting trends in society, especially in his novel, “I am Charlotte Simmons,” in which he juxtaposes the materialistic science of the clueless faculty with the drug-and-sex-soused lifestyle of the students. Wolfe never comes out and says it, but he’s clearly suggesting the first leads inexorably to the second. Materialism and atheism leads to nihilism, he’s telling us.

Artists, Ezra Pound told us, are the antennae of the race, and the purpose of art is to wake people up. Both Dostoevsky and Nietzsche were artists, and unfortunately woke only up only a handful of people, none of whom had any effect. The same applies to Huxley and Wolfe.
But as for Mass Man, the sheeple, they will, as always, suffer from their blindness to reality. The fix is in for those asleep, always has been and always will be. The human comedy never runs out of material, and it has never let me down.

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