110. The marrying maiden
Thanks to the influence of Eric Voegelin, the word “Gnostic” has come to be synonymous with “evil” for many on the right—it is held to be the root of the left. Yet for another section of the right, primarily online, the terms “red pill” and “blue pill”, borrowed from the Gnostic movie The Matrix (1999), have become the standard vocabulary for describing the illusory world created by the progressive managerial state and its education-media complex.
Gnosticism is the doctrine that the world of matter is a prison created by a demiurge, a false God. The real God has been imprisoned and this explains why our world is terrible, despite God being good; thus, Gnosticism solves the problem of evil. Gnostics hold that liberation comes about through knowledge, not faith or deeds—the root of the word is “knowledge”, to gno. The ways suggested to acquire this knowledge vary, but often include acts of extreme renunciation or indulgence.
Gnosticism also claims that breaking social rules constitutes a path to salvation; further, if the person commonly thought of as God is, in reality, the evil demiurge it follows that what is commonly considered good behaviour is bad and vice versa. Prometheus, stealing fire from the gods and getting punished for it by having his liver (the organ of prophecy) pecked out, is the example to follow: we shall become as gods. This is a mystical way and, so Voegelin maintained, Gnostic political movements seek to induce mass mystical experiences, events that disrupt ordered society.
Voegelin, restating de Maistre, holds that the problems of modernity stem from the subversion of the Catholic Church, particularly the doctrine of final causes gifted to her by Aristotle. For Voegelin, the scientific revolution is a Gnostic revolution; its children in human affairs are Marxism, National Socialism, and progressivism.
My introductory textbook on moral philosophy at university started with a chapter about final causes. It said, “Think about the hand, the hand can do many things—make a pot, hold a hand, stab someone with a knife, and so on—there is no final purpose to the hand.” This lesson was intended to clear the student’s head of the doctrine of final causes; for, by extension, as the book went on to say, there is no natural use for a penis or a womb; and so sodomy and abortion are not wrong.
This view is required for science. When the scientist looks at the bird in the sky he does not ask: “What is the final cause that makes it fly?” The scientist observes without making any presumptions. Applied to human life, this view can make our lives meaningless: there is no final cause to man and therefore no natural law or virtue. The Catholic solution—the Taliban solution—is to suppress science and Gnostic thought. The knowledge we have, even of medicine, is profane and men were not meant to know—you’ll end up getting your liver pecked out.
For Voegelin, ideology is the punishment for Gnosticism. National Socialist Germany was Promethean: during the 1936 Olympics the regime inaugurated a relay race from Greece to Germany; the fire of Prometheus was stolen again, an act of mythological completion. Similarly, Karl Marx made use of Gnostic occultism in his models of capital flow, each following cycles of 333, 666, 999—and he hymned to Prometheus in his youth. Today, the progressive regimes seek to transcend the material world with the technology of transsexualism; even their opponents, the neoreactionaries, hope to use science to overcome the left.
Yet the truths of science are truths, and Voegelin would have us deny these; he would have us lie, itself the major characteristic of the profane. Gnosticism’s particular negative contribution has been the Manichean heresy: the strictly dualist worldview of division between “good” and “bad” people, with the bad being condemned to destruction: hence, “proletarians” and “capitalists”; “Aryans” and “Jews”; and, today, “educated people” and “racists”—the world is actually more adjectival, more a matter of degree.