Wednesday 1 June 2022

From 'The Anti-Christ now rules us all' by Paul Kingsnorth, in the latest edition of Unherd

'But the rise of science did not lead to the end of religion, however much Richard Dawkins might like it to be so. Instead — as noted by Illich — religion responded to the challenge by becoming immanent itself. Western Christianity progressively abandoned its commitment to transcendence and was “resolved into philosophy”, allowing itself to be brought down to Earth, into the realm of social activism, politics and ideas. “The conversion of a large part of the religious world to the idea of modernity”, said Del Noce, “accelerated the process of disintegration” that the modern revolution had unleashed.

'What Progress wants is the death of God.

'But Man cannot live by immanence alone. Religion meets a human need, and when it is gone, or corrupted, the hole it leaves will have to be filled by something else. What will that be? Del Noce’s answer is: revolution. Modernity, he suggests, could be defined as a permanent, ongoing revolution.

'The desire to build Utopia on the bones of the old world has been the consuming fire of Western thought for 300 years. Jacobins, Bolsheviks, communists, socialists, Fascists, Nazis, neoliberals and many more have all attempted to scour the ground clean and start again, and we are not done yet. “The revolutionary attitude of creative violence”, writes Del Noce, “has replaced the ascetic attitude of seeking liberation from the world”. If once society’s refuseniks imitated St Anthony, now they copy Che Guevara. All that is solid melts into air: this, in the words of its most consequential revolutionary mind, is the best description of the age of immanence that we have ever had.

'What Progress wants is permanent revolution.

'The two world wars of the 20th century — which Del Noce prefers to view as a single European conflict, lasting from 1914 until 1945 — spread this revolution against transcendence and tradition all around the world. After 1945, America, unchallenged monarch of the reign of quantity, took on the global responsibility for waging “the Enlightenment’s war against their own past”. Del Noce agreed with another prophet, Simone Weil, that “the Americanisation of Europe would lead to the Americanisation of the whole world” — and so it has proven. But Europe, by pursuing the path of pure immanence, had in any case already doomed itself, by turning on itself the weapons it had long used on others and hollowing out its own historic culture in the name of Progress: “Colonisation can be achieved by only one method: by uprooting a people from its traditions. Europeans have a long history of extensively practising this method (and this was Europe’s greatest historical fault). Now — oh, wonder! — in order to feign regret they are applying the same.”'

 The full essay is here.

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