4th Political Theory (Review)

This review has in mind St Cheetos the Prophet.

The phrase that best sums up Dugin’s approach is “Negating the Logic of History.”  Dugin begins by listing the three most common (and modern) ideologies:

    1. Liberalism: the individual is the normative subject
    2. Fascism: race or nation is normative subject
    3. Communism: Class

      The second and third options failed, leaving liberalism in charge.
    4. 4th political theory: Dasein is the acting subject.

Liberalism is the broad, architectonic worldview that hinges on several assumptions (the challenging of which will entail a drone strike). Classical Liberals defined freedom as “freedom from.”  There should be no ties on an individual’s will.   It is these individuals, acting alone but taken as a whole, who form the circle of liberal action.Lacking a telos by definition, liberalism is hard-pressed to explain what we have freedom for.

Against this Dugin posits Heidegger’s Dasein as the acting subject of the 4th Political Theory. Dasein is a way to overcome the subject-object duality.  It is inzwichen, the “between.”

One valuable insight of Dugin’s is his pinpointing the bigotry of Western liberals.  All societies must accept liberalism in its current manifestation.  What if you don’t want to?  Well, if you don’t have natural resources you are probably okay.  Otherwise, look out.

Liberal ideology is necessarily evolutionary.  The concept of progress takes one from barbarism to technologism and the more refined way of life of the markets. This is what Dugin calls “The Monotonic Process:” he idea of constant growth, accumulation, steady progress by only one specific indicator (60).  In other words, in a system only one value (x) grows.  Only one thing (or a small group of things) accumulates.  Applied to either machines or biological life, this is death.  

Modern political options have all seen progress and time in a linear fashion.  Even more so, because of time there must naturally be progress.   By contrast, Dugin suggests that

T1: Time is a social phenomenon with its structures arising from social paradigms (68).

By this he wants to safeguard the idea that there can be “interruptions” and reversals in the flow of time.  History does not simply teach the march of capitalism upon earth (borrowing and adapting Hegel’s phrase).

Nevertheless, and perhaps unaware, Dugin remains close to the linear view.  He does note that time is “historical” (70) and from that draws a very important, Heideggerian conclusion:  it cannot be objective.

Why not? The acting subject, the historical observer (whom we will call “Dasein,” but this is true also of the individual in liberalism) is finite.  He doesn’t have a god’s-eye view on history. Of course, that’s not to say it can’t be real or reliable per the observer, but we don’t have the Enlightenment’s dream of a god’s-eye application of reason to reality.

Dugin then analyses how Leftist and Conservatism evolved in the 20th century.

Finally, he ends with a dense and staggering discussion on the nature of time.  Kant denied that by mere perception we have access to the thing-in-itself.  Therefore, if the being of the present is put in doubt, then all three moments (past, present, future) become ontologically unproveable. From the perspective of pure reason, the future is the phenomenon, and hence, it is (157).

Kant puts time nearer to the subject and space nearer to the object. Therefore, time is subject-ive.  It is the transcendental subject that installs time in the perception of the object.

Dugin notes, 3: Reversibility of Time

Modern political options have all seen progress and time in a linear fashion.  Even more so, because of time there must naturally be progress.   By contrast, Dugin suggests that

T1: Time is a social phenomenon with its structures arising from social paradigms (68).

By this he wants to safeguard the idea that there can be “interruptions” and reversals in the flow of time.  History does not simply teach the march of capitalism upon earth (borrowing and adapting Hegel’s phrase).

Nevertheless, and perhaps unaware, Dugin remains close to the linear view.  He does note that time is “historical” (70) and from that draws a very important, Heideggerian conclusion:  it cannot be objective.

Why not? The acting subject, the historical observer (whom we will call “Dasein,” but this is true also of the individual in liberalism) is finite.  He doesn’t have a god’s-eye view on history.

Of course, that’s not to say it can’t be real or reliable per the observer, but we don’t have the Enlightenment’s dream of a god’s-eye application of reason to reality.

A florilegium of Maximus

Just some of my favorite quotes from Maximus the Confessor:

“The Confessor reworks the categories of time, extension, and aeonic existence in an effort to describe an indescribable state. This moving rest presupposes a kind of extension (diastema) that is beyond time (kronos), and yet short of God’s own utter timelessness: a temporal timelessness or aeon, a moving motionlessness. On this plane the creature enjoys “eternally moving repose” as a finite being open toward the infinite, and yet also knows an “immobile eternal movement” since the end of the finite being is infinite and unattainable  Thus the final stasis is thus a ‘dialectic vibration between time and timelessness, between creature and Creator.”  (Blowers, Maximus the Confessor, Gregory of Nyssa and the Notion of Perpetual Progress)

HT to Jay Dyer on that one.  Actually, thanks to Jay on all these quotes.  Sure, I had read them before, since I’ve read almost everything Maximus has written that has been translated into English, but Jay did the hard work in getting the quotes online.

“The soul’s salvation is the consummation of faith. This consummation is the revelation of what has been believed. Revelation is the inexpressible interpénétration (τιεριχώρησις) of the believer with (or toward, προς) the object of belief and takes place according to each believer’s degree of faith. Through that interpénétration the believer finally returns to his origin. The return is the fulfillment of desire.

Fulfillment of desire is ever-active repose in the object of desire. Such repose is eternal uninterrupted enjoyment of this object. Enjoyment of this kind entails participation in supranatural divine realities. This participation consists in the participant becoming like that in which he participates. Such likeness involves, so far as this is possible, an identity with respect to energy between the participant and that in which he participates by virtue of the likeness. This identity with respect to energy constitutes the deification of the saints.”

-Cap. D. 4.19, PG 90.1312A-B = Ad Thal. 59, PG 90.608C-609B; G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware, eds., and trans., The Philokalia. The Complete Text, 5 vols. (London, 1979-), 2:239-240.

Ambiguum 7

If by wisdom and a person has come to understand that what exists was brought out of non-being into being by God, he intelligently directs the soul’s imagination to the infinite differences and variety of things as they exist by nature and turns his questing eye with understanding towards the intelligible model (logos) according to which things have been made, would he now know that the one Logos is many logoi? This is evident in the many incomparable differences among created things. For each is unmistakably unique in itself and its identity remains distinct in relation to other things. He will also know that the many logoi are the one Logos to whom all things are related and who exists in himself without confusion, the essential and individually distinctive God, the Logos of God the Father. He is the beginning and cause of all things in whom all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities–all things were created from him and through him and for him(Col. 1:15-17, Rom. 11:36). Because he held together in himself the logoi before they came to be, by his gracious will he created things visible and invisible out of non-being. By his word and his wisdom he made all things (Wisdom 9:1-2) and is making all things, universals as well as particulars, at the proper time.

For we believe that a logos of angels preceded their creation, a logos preceded the creation of each of the beings and powers that fill the upper world, a logos preceded the creation of human beings, a logos preceded the creation of everything that proceeded from God, and so on. It is not necessary to mention them all. The Logos whose excellence is incomparable, ineffable and inconceivable in himself is exalted beyond all creation and even beyond the idea of difference and distinction. This same Logos whose goodness is revealed and multiplied in all the things that have their origin in him, with the degree of beauty appropriate to each being, recapitulates all things in himself(Eph. 1:10). Through his Logos there came to be both being and continuing to be, for from him the things that were made came to be in a certain way and for a certain reason, and by continuing to be and moving, they participate in God. For all things, in that they came to be from God, participate proportionally in God. For all things, whether by intellect, by reason, by sense-perception, by vital motion, or by some habitual fitness, as the great inspired Dionysius the Areopagite taught. Consequently, each of the intellectual and rational beings, whether angels or human beings, through the very Logos according to which each were created, who is in God and is with God (John 1:1), is called and indeed is a “portion of God,” through the Logos that preexisted in God as I already argued.

If someone is moved according to the Logos, he will come to be in God, in whom the logos of his being preexists and is his beginning and case. Furthermore, if he is moved by desire and wants to attain nothing more than his own beginning, he does not move away from God. Rather, by constant straining toward God, he becomes God and is called a “portion of God” because he has become fit to participate in God…he ascends to to the Logos by whom he was created and in whom all things will ultimately be restored (apokatastasis)…The logoi of all things known by God before their creation are securely fixed in God. They are in him who is the truth of all things.

We are speechless before the sublime teaching about the Logos, for he cannot be expressed in words or conceived in thought. Although he is beyond being and nothing can participate in him in any way, nor is he any of the totality of things that can be known in relation to other things, nevertheless we affirm that the one Logos is many logoi and the many logoi are One. Because the One goes forth in goodness into individual being, creating and preserving them, the One is many. Moreover, the many are directed toward the One and are providentially guided in that direction. It is as though they were drawn to an all-powerful center that had built into it the beginnings of the lines that go out from it and that gathers them all together. In this way the many are one. Therefore we are called a portion of God because the logoi of our being pre-existed in God. Further, we are said to have slipped down from above because we do not move in accordance with the Logos (who pre-existed in God) through whom we came to be….

In such a person the apostolic word is fulfilled: In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). For whoever does not violate the logosof his own existence that pre-existed in God is in God through diligence; and he movesin God according to the logos of his well-being that pre-existed in God when he lives virtuously; and he lives in God according to the logosof his eternal being that pre-existed in God. On the one hand, insofar as he is already irrevocably one with himself in his dispositions, he is free of unruly passions. But in the future age when graced with divinization, he will affectionately love and cleave to the logoi already mentioned that pre-existed in God, or rather, he will love God himself, in whom the logoi of beautiful things are securely grounded. In this way he becomes a “portion of God,” insofar as he exists through the logos of his being which is in God and insofar as he is good through the logos of his well-being which is in God; and insofar as he is God through the logos of his eternal being which is in God, he prizes the logoiand acts according to them. Through them he places himself wholly in God alone, wholly imprinting and forming God alone in himself, so that by grace he himself is God and is called God. By his gracious condescension God became man and is called man for the sake of man and by exchanging his condition for ours revealed the power that elevates man to God through his love for God and brings God down to man because of his love for man. By this blessed inversion, man is made God by divinization and God is made man by hominization. For the Word of God and God wills always and in all things to accomplish the mystery of his embodiment.

…The mystery hidden from the ages (Col 1:26) and from the nations is now revealed through the true and perfect incarnation of the Son and God. For he united our nature to himself in a single hypostasis, without division and without confusion, and joined us to himself as a kind of first fruits. This holy flesh with its intellectual and rational soul came from us and is ours. He deemed us worthy to be one and the same with himself according to his humanity. For we were predestined before the ages (cf Eph 1:11-12) to be in him as members of his body. He adapted us to himself and knitted us together in the Spirit as a soul to a body and brought us to the measure of spiritual maturity derived from his fullness. For this we were created; this was God’s good purpose for us before the ages. But this renewal did not come about through the normal course of things, it was only realized when a wholly new way of being human appeared. God had made us like himself and allowed us to participate in the very things that are most characteristic of his goodness. Before the ages he had intended that man’s end was to live in him, and to reach this blessed end he bestowed on us the good gift of our natural powers. But by misusing our natural powers we willingly rejected the way God had provided and we became estranged from God. For this reason another way was introduced, more marvelous and more befitting of God than the first, and as different from the former as what is above nature is different from what is according to nature. And this, as we all believe, is the mystery of the mystical sojourn of God with men. For if, says the divine apostle, the first covenant had been blameless, there would have been no occasion for a second (Heb 8:7). It is clear to all that the mystery accomplished in Christ at the end of the age (Heb 9:26) shows indisputably that the sin of our forefather Adam at the beginning of the age has run its course.

(in Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken, trs., On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, pp 58, 59, 70-71).

The Case for the Psalms (Wright)

In many ways this might be Wright’s best work ever. I had always suspected something like his thesis when I read the Psalms (more on that below) but I couldn’t articulate it. The psalms give us a musical ontology. Wright says the Psalms transform the reader (better yet, the chanter and singer) because they place him or her at the intersection of Space, Time, and Matter–the very place where Jesus of Nazareth is.

The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential

People who pray the psalms will be learning to live in God’s time, space, and “matter” (the stuff we are made of) as well as our own (Wright 27). The psalms resonate with Jesus because he was the one who stood at the intersection of God’s time/space/matter and ours (30).

The threshold of God’s Time:

The ebb and flow in the Psalms teach us an eschatological balance. The theme of time helps us with those instances where we are called to sing of the enthronement of Yahweh’s king (44). And we shouldn’t shrink back from the royalist overtones in our democratic age, for we are called to be his vice-regents.

More specifically, Yahweh also called Israel to care for the world (Genesis 12:3). But given Israel’s failure, God narrows his focus to the House of David. Therefore, the intersection of God’s time with our time–and always with the Davidic King in the foreground–comes into focus in Psalm 89.

Where God Dwells

The “Temple” is where God’s space and our space intersect. If the world’s Creator lives in Jerusalem, then it stands to reason (Ps. 2) that he will rule from Jerusalem.

“The temple turns out to be an advance foretaste of Yahweh’s claim on the whole of creation…It is a sign that the creator God is desiring…to recreate the world from within” (91).
1. The temple is a heaven-and-earth reality, a microcosm of creation.
2. Psalm 24: Yahweh takes up residence in his temple.
3. Temple and Torah are connected and both point ahead to God’s new place.
4. Temple Psalms and Pneumatology: the new Temple is indwelt by the Spirit.
5. Covenant renewal generates fresh idea of sacred space.

All the trees of the forest sing for joy

Western modernity sees matter as lifeless matter. The Psalms, however, see creation throbbing with the potential glory of God. God’s glory either already fills the whole earth or it will fill the earth (124).

This ties in with Covenant and Kingship: the true King will bring justice and peace to the earth, which will renew creation (Psalm 72).

Wisdom and Creation

Psalm 104:19-24 combines themes from Genesis 1 and Proverbs 8. Paul picks up this Wisdom-Creation tradition and places it in Jesus (Colossians 1:15-20, 2.2-3).

Summary of Theme

Time: the past of creation, the future of Judgment, and the present of celebration are drawn together.
Space: what was promised for the Temple is now promised for the whole world.
Matter: we are standing at the fault line of the original material of creation and the glory-filled material of the new creation (144).

Conclusion and Nota Bene:

The book is simply magnificent. I honestly can’t think of a single flaw.

Nota Bene

Wright says at one time in his life when he was witnessing to Gaia-worshiping pantheists, he felt an oppressive darkness and Yahweh gave him deliverance by bringing Psalm 97 (which happened to be the next Psalm in the prayerbook reading) to mind, “Yahweh is King. Let the Earth rejoice!” p. 175

Vladimir’s Irenaen Moment

One of the most interesting–and underdeveloped–aspects of Patristic thought is St Irenaeus’s “Recapitulation” view. On its broadest level it is simply Ephesians 1:10–Christ sums up all things in heaven and earth in himself.  But what does that really mean?  How far can you take it?

Maybe far.

Irenaeus uses it as the key to at least four events in Scripture: God’s covenant with Adam, Noah, Moses, and the final covenant that renews man and recapitulates everything in itself, that which by the Gospel raises men and wings them for the celestial kingdom (3.11.8).

The structure of anakephalaiosis is this:  events repeat one another;the story involves not just progress, but restoration.  Certain signal events are contained within later events which recontextualize familiar motifs. The repetition of these motifs helps us understand liturgy and history.

(1) Recapitulation causes positive events or structures to come about.

How is this relevant to Vladimir of Russia? Upon conversion (and I will accept the Chronicle as more or less accurate) Vladimir put away his concubines.  Contrast this with Solomon, who gained concubines.  Before conversion Vladimir had drunken orgies.  After conversion there was still alcohol, but he now invited beggars to feast with him.

Some more meditations on recapitulation.

If Christ sums up all things in himself, and time is a created entity, and hence a thing, then time itself is affected/effected.

(2) The structure of time–at least in theory and according to Ephesians 1–is fundamentally altered.

What does it mean to say “time is altered?”  An easy answer is the Platonic one:

(2*) Time participates in eternity.

There is something true about this but not quite adequate. For Plato, time would have participated in eternity regardless of Christ.  That’s been the problem with Plato.  Perhaps Hans Boersma answers this:

(2′) sacramental time is when past, present, and future coincide (124). Chronological time thus opens up to eschatological time.  Thus, “eschatological realities are able to enter into time.”

This is good so far, but the emphasis in Ephesians (and Irenaeus) is on Christ’s person, not the sacraments.  We can revise the statement:

(2**) The exalted Jesus is where past, present, and future coincide.

Jesus opens our reality to the eschatological reality.   Therefore,

(3) We meet the eschaton in Jesus.

Works Cited

Boersma, Hans.  Heavenly Tapestry

Irenaeus.  Against Heresies