Paul Gosselin (2016)
If one were in the mood for high-sounding, erudite postmodern nonsense, it would be difficult to find a better choice than Taylor's The Malaise of Modernity. This booklet is chock-full of refined, ambiguous and undefined terms such as 'modernity', 'atomistic individualism', 'values', 'subjectivism' and 'authenticity'. Perhaps Taylor expects everyone 'knows' what these terms mean to him. Perhaps Taylor may even believe that his readers are in fact all mind-readers, though perhaps that that is expecting a lot. Like many clever postmodern pettifoggers, perhaps Taylor's real objective is not to offer a logically plausible argument, but rather to launch certain concepts/memes so they can bounce around in the collective consciousness.
If key concepts in Taylor's thinking, such as 'modernity' or 'authenticity', are not clearly defined, this may not be accidental (a result of careless writing), but deliberate. But to what end you may ask? Well the answer to such a question will be inevitably speculative, but one possibility may be that floating vague concepts may be deemed useful by postmodern elites in order to create (or maintain) a 'fog of concepts' from which few educated Westerners will find any escape.
Taylor's major theme here is of course what he calls the 'malaise of modernity'. In the first chapter Taylor points out three malaises (1991: 10)
The first fear is about what we might call a loss of meaning, the fading of moral horizons. The second concerns the eclipse of ends, in face of rampant instrumental reason. And the third is about a loss of freedom.
It may be instructive to link Taylor's 'loss of meaning' to what he calls 'rampant instrumental reason'. What is he talking about? Might these in fact be repercussions of the materialistic origins myth, the theory of evolution? Are humans trapped to seek meaning, while locked in the prison cell of a materialistic cosmology, which basically states: 'You find your origin in Nothing and your ultimate destination is also Nothing'? Might this be the 'loss of meaning' Taylor is alluding to? While Taylor enjoys flaunting obscure expressions such as 'loss of meaning', atheist and evolutionary biology professor at Cornell University, William B. Provine provides us with the following blunt (and unambiguous) observations regarding the actual cause of this phenomena. Below Provine examines the cultural and ethical repercussions of the theory of evolution, the materialist mythology that has been aggressively promoted by the modern elite for more than a hundred years now in the West and which of course constitutes the cornerstone of modernity (1990: 23):
Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear and these are basically Darwin's views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That's the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either. What an unintelligible idea.
If one considers Provine's last statement about free will, it should be pointed out that this is far from an academic issue. In general, we believe ourselves free to think, choose and act according to our own will, but if in fact free will is an illusion and we truly are the puppets of our genes, then all the individual's choices, on which criminal law and the democratic system are based, are also illusory. As a result, voting in a democratic election or criminal behaviour must then be explained solely by genetic factors. Any talk about the individuals 'choices' or 'responsibilities' then becomes nonsense. The State is in fact out of line when it hands out speeding tickets as individuals can rightly claim, 'my genes made me do it!'. On the other hand, on the basis of such premises, our modern elites could be tempted to propose that all prisons be shut down and criminal behaviour forthwith be resolved solely by genetic engineering or pharmaceutical/psychological conditioning... Just imagine the economic savings...
As he gets into his discussion of modernity, Taylor sends the reader off on a wild goose-chase discussion of the 'disastrous' wars between the 'boosters' and 'knockers' of modernity. Taylor is clearly enjoying himself here. But then again, this is the perfect set-up for Taylor to come in and 'save the day' with his median way (APPLAUSE...).
A previous Massey lecturer, British literary critic George Steiner, also addressed themes related to the issue of the 'malaise of modernity' and, in contrast to Taylor, offered an attempt some serious reflection regarding the source of this malaise. In Steiner's view this demands thinking about the ideological and moral consequences of the collapse of Judeo-Christian influence in the West (1974: 2):
This desiccation, this drying-up, affecting as it did the very centre of Western moral and intellectual being, left an immense emptiness. Where there is a vacuum, new energies and surrogates arise. Unless I read the evidence wrongly, the political and philosophical history of the West during the past 150 years can be understood as a series of attempts - more or less conscious, more or less systematic, more or less violent - to fill the central emptiness left by the erosion of theology. This vacancy, this darkness in the middle, was one of 'the death of God' (remember that Nietzsche's ironic, tragic tonality in using that famous phrase is so often misunderstood). But I think we could put it more accurately: the decay of a comprehensive Christian doctrine had left in disorder, or had left blank, essential perceptions of social justice, of the meaning of human history, of the relations between mind and body, of the place of knowledge in our moral conduct.
But there's more. While propagandists of modernity of the late 19th and early 20th century confidently prophesied the coming of a progressive Western Utopia with prosperity, freedom, justice and progress for all, In Grammars of Creation, Steiner observed that the 20th century in fact produced, as far as Europe and Russia were concerned, not heaven on earth, but Hell (2001: 4-5):
When, however, allowance is made for selective nostalgia and illusion, the truth persists: for the whole of Europe and Russia, this century became a time out of hell. Historians estimate at more than seventy million the number of men, women and children done to death by warfare, starvation, deportation, political murder and disease between August 1914 and 'ethnic cleansing' in the Balkans. There have been hideous visitations of pestilence, famine and slaughter before. The collapse of humaneness in the twentieth century has specific enigmas. It arises not from riders on the distant steppe or barbarians at the gates. National Socialism, Fascism, Stalinism (though, in this latter instance, more opaquely) spring from within the context, the locale, the administrative-social instruments of the high places of civilization, of education, of scientific progress and humanizing deployment, be it Christian or Enlightened. I do not want to enter into the vexed, in some manner demeaning, debates over the uniqueness of the Shoah ('holocaust' is a noble, technical Greek designation for religious sacrifice, not a name proper for controlled insanity and the 'wind out of blackness'). But it does look as if the Nazi extermination of European Jewry is a 'singularity', not so much in respect of scale - Stalinism killed far more - but motivation. Here a category of human persons, down to infancy, were proclaimed guilty of being. Their crime was existence, was the mere claim to life.
The catastrophe which overtook European and Slavic civilization was particular in another sense. It undid previous advances. Even the ironists of the Enlightenment (Voltaire) had confidently predicted the lasting abolition of judicial torture in Europe. They had ruled inconceivable a general return to censorship, to the burning of books, let alone of heretics or dissenters. Nineteenth-century liberalism and scientific positivism regarded as self-evident the expectation that the spread of schooling, of scientific-technological knowledge and yield, of free travel and contact among communities would bring with them a steady improvement in civility, in political tolerance, in the mores of private and public business. Each of these axioms of reasoned hope has been proved false. It is not only that education has shown itself incapable of making sensibility and cognition resistant to murderous unreason. Far more disturbingly, the evidence is that refined intellectuality, artistic virtuosity and appreciation, scientific eminence will collaborate actively with totalitarian demands or, at best, remain indifferent to surrounding sadism. Resplendent concerts, exhibitions in great museums, the publication of learned books, the pursuit of academic research both scientific and humanistic, flourish within close reach of the death camps. Technocratic ingenuity will serve or remain neutral at the call of the inhuman. The icon of our age is the preservation of a grove dear to Goethe within a concentration camp.
Clearly, while Steiner, in contrast to Taylor, provides a detailed account of how modernity failed and betrayed its own promises, he nonetheless remains careful to avoid 'going too far' and explicitly link events of the 20th century such as the Holocaust, the Gulag or the Laogai to the Enlightenment. If one would like to understand why the Enlightenment did in fact produce Hell on earth, then we are left to our own devices. Steiner (and certainly not Taylor) will not go there... Yes, of course it certainly is all quite mysterious how all of this could come about... So many enigmas... History is filled with obscure events we will never understand... Enlightenment devotees are as a rule very quick to change the subject when such matters are raised and efficiently shift the blame for such events to others.
Regarding the 'loss of meaning' due to 'atomism' (materialism?), Taylor takes a step that moderns, as a rule, resolutely reject, that is opening the door to pre-modern views and values. Taylor alludes to this on page 103 when he talks about 'retrieving some of the richer moral background from which instrumental reason took its rise'. Now when Taylor mentions the 'richer moral background from which instrumental reason took its rise' might he be coyly alluding to the Judaeo-Christian belief system and it's moral framework? Hopefully his readers won't figure this out... But this was in fact the context in which the Enlightenment/Modernity arose. But is it realistic to attempt to accommodate Judeo-Christian morals within modernity? As Province clearly points out, if modernity suggests anything, it is that reality itself is blankly indifferent to any kind of moral order, and especially the moral order proposed by monotheistic religions. There is thus very good reason to believe that Taylor's suggestion to retrieve some of the richer pre-modern moral background is actually bogus and will go nowhere.
In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche, ridiculed the modern elite's self-deceptive urge to maintain the illusion of personal moral norms. Nietzsche voiced biting comments on this matter, comments that demand sober thought regarding the difficult exercise of attaining intellectual and moral coherence (1895: ix. 5):
G. Eliot. They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality. That is an English consistency; we do not wish to hold it against little moralistic females à la Eliot. In England one must rehabilitate oneself after every little emancipation from theology by showing in a veritably awe-inspiring manner what a moral fanatic one is. That is the penance they pay there. We others hold otherwise. When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one's hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is the truth it stands or falls with faith in God. When the English actually believe that they know 'intuitively' what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem.
Taylor, as do most postmoderns, falls precisely into the trap described by Nietzsche. Taylor, it appears, is not fond of moral nihilism, but does not provide any clear escape from its clutches. Today of course Nietzsche's comments have been forgotten as everyone needs to cloak him/herself in 'morality' and claim to fight for 'Good'. Marketing, marketing...
Seeing that Taylor's title is the Malaise of Modernity, why not let into our conversation someone who decidedly provoked a true malaise among modern elites? I am talking about Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, better known as the marquis de Sade (1740-1814). As a pre-Darwinian materialist, de Sade rejected both the gods and the supernatural. This of course immediately raises a question: where do humans then turn to for moral standards? Sade proposed a very simple and easy to understand solution to this dilemma; imitate nature. And being a practically minded person, here is how he worked out the implications of his moral system in regard to relationships between men and women. (Sade 1795/1972: 112, my comments in brackets)
'If it is undisputed that we [men] have received from nature the right to express our [sexual] desires indifferently to all women, it equally true that we have the right to require them to submit to our desires, not on an exclusive basis [Sade is thinking of marriage for life here], I should be contradicting myself, but on a temporary basis. It is undeniable that we have the right to establish laws requiring her [the woman] to submit to the passion of he who desires her. Violence is one of the implications of this right and we are entitled to use it legally. But why not !? Nature itself has proven that we have this right in that it has endowed us with superior strength with which we may submit them to our desires.'*
Now here is the question for moderns or postmoderns: Do you agree with the Marquis de Sade who claims that since Nature (the material world) is the only moral reference point we have left and because Nature has (generally) made men stronger than women, then logically this means that men are justified in doing absolutely ANYTHING they want with/to women? If you share de Sade's materialistic cosmology and agree with his view of women, then no one should fault you for being logically inconsistent with your worldview. While I personally reject Sade's materialism, as well as his view of male/female relationships, I do agree he is at least being consistent within his worldview on this matter. However should a modern or postmodern disagree with de Sade's view of male/female relationships, then before going any further they have to justify their disagreement that is, provide a clear indication of the BASIS for their disagreement. Seeing moderns and postmoderns reject an absolute moral framework, then whether they like it or not, ethically they are going to bed with the Marquis...
The Marquis confronts us with a thorny problem. When it comes to the issue of morality, the annoying matter of coherence cannot be avoided: Is the moral discourse X coherent with cosmology Y, on which it is supposedly based? A belief system's internal logic always ends up taking precedence over wishful thinking, ideological rhetoric and propaganda. In his essay The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis incisively describes the implications of the attempt to retain a 'moral self-image' while nonetheless refusing any moral absolute (which Lewis calls the Tao), a moral absolute which would have authority over both the individual as well as over society and it's elite (1943/1978: 44):
We have been trying, like Lear, to have it both ways: to lay down our human prerogative and yet at the same time to retain it. It is impossible. Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own 'natural' impulses. Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.
The political implications of what Lewis says here are sobering and recall other, rather dark and cynical, comments about the West (ruled by an elite rejcting all moral absolutes) made by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World Revisited (1958/2007: 393-394):
Under the relentless thrust of accelerating overpopulation and increasing overorganization, and by means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old forms elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the rest will remain. The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism. All the traditional names, all the hallowed slogans will remain exactly what they were in the good old days. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial but democracy and freedom in a strictly Pickwickian sense. Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit.
Unfortunately, it appears Huxley was a little too prescient on this matter...
So what is modernity and what is its malaise?
Seeing Taylor does not appear overly concerned to define his terms we'll have to help him out a bit. The term 'malaise' may call to mind disease or illness, but dictionaries generally point to something more vague, more psychological, with terms such as 'uneasiness', 'unease' or 'discomfort'. This is a rather revealing choice of words as it exposes the fact that Taylor considers the 'problem' with modernity not to be anything fundamental (or else he would have chosen a more forceful term such as 'decay' or 'decline' or 'downfall') but rather as little more than a matter of perception. Logically then, in Taylor's view there is nothing fundamentally WRONG with 'modernity'. No need to get excited of course... Keep Calm and Carry On...
So what about the concept of 'modernity'? To provide a basic definition of this term requires a compressed overview of the worldviews that have shaped and influenced the West.
A fundamental matter that all belief systems or worldviews must face from the very beginning is the simple, but critical question: Where is Truth? Since religions and worldviews are many and varied, they handle this question in different and contrasting ways. Regarding Truth, many religions will point to the sayings of divine oracles or to a sacred text such as the Torah, the Bible or the Koran. That said, there are a few ideologies or philosophies that may respond there is no such thing as Truth. This perspective of course ultimately leaves the individual on his own, with no absolute reference points outside himself.
Now while the West has traditionally been considered a 'Christian civilisation' this is only superficially true. In terms of religion, the West has always been somewhat schizophrenic. While of course Christianity has had a deep impact in the West, the pagan, Greco-Roman worldview has even older cultural roots and has, for centuries, competed for the heart and mind of this civilisation and has long been viewed as an alternative for those seeking escape from the Judeo-Christian worldview. It is no surprise then that one early attempt to develop a coherent and attractive alternative to Christianity was the Renaissance.
The term Renaissance is in fact a French word meaning 'rebirth', But this inevitably leads to the question, the 'rebirth' of what? While the Renaissance is often understood primarily as a cultural and artistic movement inspired by Greco-Roman culture, on an other level it was also a reaction to the Judeo-Christian belief system as well as the attempt to erect a coherent belief system on the basis of Greco-Roman philosophy. As a belief system then, the Renaissance's answer to the question, Where is Truth?, was to point to Greek philosophy. But history shows this attempt ultimately failed as the rise of science in the West gradually eroded and overturned the monumental prestige enjoyed for more than a millennia by philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The fall from grace of Greco-Roman philosophy inevitably created a huge epistemological vacuum.
Western elites seeking a way out of the Judeo-Christian belief system slowly realized they'd bet on the wrong horse so to speak and had to look elsewhere for a solution, that is for a prestigious body of knowledge that could provide the basis for their worldview. This led to what we now call the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers accepted that Greek philosophy had to be dropped. Their response to the question: Where is Truth? was to set up science as their sacred text (or ultimate form of human knowledge). This enabled Enlightenment thinkers to exploit the great prestige of science in the West in order to develop a belief system and civilisation on the basis (apparently) of reason and science. This provided the foundation for the Enlightenment and what Taylor refers to as 'modernity'. For moderns, science then became the ultimate form of knowledge or, put less ambiguously, TRUTH. While early Enlightenment (or modern) thinkers, such as Descartes, Benjamin Franklin or Voltaire, were typically deists, within a short time Enlightenment thinking matured into a purely materialistic worldview. Clearly the deists' God was superfluous and could easily be dispensed with. Deism was thus only the initial, immature, phase of the Enlightenment. Over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, Deism was left behind and the purely materialistic worldview became dominant among Western elites. By the mid-twentieth century it had taken over most Western social institutions, such as the legal system, science, education and even the arts. Individuals such as David Hume, Diderot, Jeremy Bentham, Ayn Rand, Bertrand Russell and, more recently, Richard Dawkins or Stephen Hawking are typical examples of modern thinkers.
But this bleak, rational, materialistic worldview left many dissatisfied. This of course taps into the 'malaise' and 'loss of meaning' Taylor refers to. One such (perhaps implicit) expression of dissatisfaction was T.S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land (1922) which graphically addressed the meaninglessness and emptiness of life within a purely materialistic worldview. In the same vein, more recently, songs by progressive rock bands such as Lucky Man (1970 - Emerson, Lake and Palmer) or Dust in the Wind (1977 - Kansas) also comes to mind.
Gradually we come to postmodern thinkers who, like the moderns, reject Christianity, but also reject the Enlightenment view that Truth may be found solely in science, that is in a purely materialistic outlook on life. For postmoderns the claim that Truth may be found solely in science is a prime example of 'Western arrogance' and worthy of contempt as much as the Christian answer (Bible=Truth). In the postmodern view, all cultures have their 'truth' (and their science). One result of the postmoderns rejection of the Science=Truth equation is that the supernatural (and the occult) are no longer viewed as 'superstition', but as legitimate matters of interest.
Now what about the question: Where is Truth? How do postmoderns deal with that? Well typically postmoderns reject the concept entirely. Boiled down to its essence, their position leads to the conclusion that, beyond the individual, there is no 'Truth'. The oft-repeated mantra, 'Everyone has their own truth' is of course a nutshell version of postmodernism. But this immediately begs the question whether a 'Truth' that is relevant only to one individual is of any use to anyone, even to the individual in question? Might it be more honest/less hypocritical to simply state: 'There is no such thing as Truth'? End of discussion... While Taylor is careful not to make his own choice of worldviews explicit, it seems rather inevitable that he is a postmodern. In contrast to moderns, who primarily promoted utopias centring on the collective/society, since the mid-twentieth century postmoderns have resolutely dropped these forms of salvation for others centring on the individual. 'Self-fulfilment', 'Be all you can be' and 'wellness' are characteristic postmodern mantras. As a booster of 'authenticity' Taylor neatly fits the bill as a postmodern.
Postmoderns are well aware of human's instinct to maintain a 'moral' or 'good' self-image. Within the postmodern worldview, this reflex still holds, despite the logical implications of this worldview, that is the annihilation of all morality. As a result, postmoderns exploit this urge and substitute moral absolutes with politically-correct nonsense. Thus, while abortion goes unchecked (with State and media complicity), people are urged to feel compassion for the killing of baby seals, for old-growth trees or spotted owls and feel concern regarding the environment or climate change. Those who resist such moral manipulation are skilfully targeted by guilt-mongers (or by postmodern Inquisitors intent on shutting up the heretics). While postmoderns such as Taylor generally reject moral nihilism, they hypocritically conceal the fact that they have no basis for establishing morality beyond the individual's subjective feelings. Confronted with a flesh and blood Hitler or Staline, all they can say is: "I don't like what you're doing". An appeal to universal, objective morality is simply out of the question, as this would immediately raise the question of the Source of this moral order. As a result, peripheral moral matters now take centre stage. The masses are kept busy with moral nonsense while the postmodern elite freely goes about its business, culturally, ideologically and ethically terra-forming the West.
If one is looking for a closely-argued, rational discussion of Taylor's purported subject, the 'malaise of modernity', I suggest the reader would find much more to sink their teeth in while reading C.S. Lewis' compact and incisive 1943 essay, The Abolition of Man. That said, when on a rare occasion I do feel the urge for high-sounding nonsense I find I am much better served by something like Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Wilde certainly is more entertaining than Taylor and perhaps just as instructive. Oddly enough, in The Malaise of Modernity Taylor does appear to have taken to heart one piece of Wilde's advice: 'In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.'
CAMUS, Albert (1951/1978) The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt. (trans. Anthony Bower). Knopf New York, NY. xii - 306 p.
DOSTOYEVSKY, Fyodor (1879/1933) The Brothers Karamazov. (Constance Garnett ) Modern Library New York 822 p.
GOSSELIN, Paul (1979) Myths of Origin and the Theory of Evolution. Samizdat
GOSSELIN, Paul (1986) A Cybernetic Approach to the Definition of Religion. Samizdat
GOSSELIN, Paul (2012) Flight From the Absolute: Cynical Observations on the Postmodern West. Volume I. Samizdat ix - 412 pages
GOSSELIN, Paul (2013) Flight From the Absolute: Cynical Observations on the Postmodern West. Volume II. Samizdat xiii - 566 pages
HUXLEY, Aldous (1958/2007) Brave New World Revisited. Vintage Canada xvi - 407 p.
LEWIS, C. S. (1943/1978) The Abolition of Man: Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools. Collins Glasgow 63 p. (Canadian public domain Ebook version)
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NIETZSCHE, Friedrich (1895) Die Götzen-Dämmerung - Twilight of the Idols. (Translation by Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale)
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SADE, Donatien Alphonse François [Marquis de]; & Blanchot, Maurice (1795/1972) Français, encore un effort si vous voulez être républicains. (extrait de La Philosophie dans le boudoir') précédé de L'inconvenance majeure. Jean-Jacques Pauvert Paris (collection Libertés nouvelles; 23) 163 p. (has been translated, Philosophy in the Bedroom)
STEINER, George (1974) Nostalgia for the Absolute. (CBC Massey Lectures) C.B.C. Publications Toronto 61 p.
STEINER, George (2001) Grammars of Creation. Yale University Press New Haven 347p.
TAYLOR, Charles (1991) On the Malaise of Modernity. (CBC Massey Lectures) House of Anansi Press Concord Ontario 135 p.
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 - This recalls a quote from Blaise Pascal's Pensées:
 - A concept also rejected by Nietzsche in The Twilight of the Idols, The Four Great Errors: The Error of Free Will.
 - Or the subjects of some other form of determinism, such as hormonal, neural or molecular.
 - As well as serious thinking about the ideologico-religious system that displaced it. Of course one should not expect any such thing from postmodern pettifoggers...
 - Christian theology, of course.
 - Quite possibly Steiner is echoing here thoughts expressed years before by French novelist François Mauriac in the foreword to Elie Wiesel's novel Night (1958/2006: xvii-xviii):
... nothing I had witnessed during that dark period had marked me as deeply as the image of cattle cars filled with Jewish children at the Austerlitz train station... ... At that time we knew nothing about the Nazis' extermination methods. And who could have imagined such things! But these lambs torn from their mothers, that was an outrage far beyond anything we would have thought possible. I believe that on that day, I first became aware of the mystery of the iniquity whose exposure marked the end of an era and the beginning of another. The dream conceived by Western man in the Eighteenth-century, whose dawn he thought he had glimpsed in 1789, and which until August 2, 1914, had become stronger with the advent of the Enlightenment and scientific discoveries that dream finally vanished for me before those trainloads of small children.
So what then could be the source or cause of this 'mystery of iniquity'? Why should its source or cause be 'veiled'? Perhaps if certain taboos are discarded a rational explanation can be contemplated. What if one goes back in time and reassesses the ideologico-religious roots of European civilization? What if when the Enlightenment severed its link to the Judeo-Christian cosmology it did not just get rid of the troublesome meddler (God), but, as a result, also got rid of the basis for man's special value, individual beings created in God's image, the imago dei? What if once this link was broken, (previously) 'unthinkable' horrors and nightmares then became possible, appearing as actual reality? Perhaps on such matters, Dostoyevsky (or Solzhenitsyn) would have bluntly responded: Enough nonsense about 'mysteries'! Take your blinkers off! If God is dead, then anything is permitted, anything is possible! Try to get that into your thick skulls!
 - This occurred in fact at the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany.
 - Which of course explains the very convenient 'Hitler was a good Christian' meme. Enlightenment devotees, consummate hypocrites that they are, clearly enjoy pointing out Christian responsibility for the Crusades or the Inquisition, but when their own worldview is involved, resolutely refuse any such discussion. Serious moral introspection about the implications of their own worldview is clearly out of the question. The French philosopher Albert Camus, for example, knew the 'Hitler was a good Christian' meme was nonsense and made this comment regarding Hitler's rhetorical exploitation of the God concept (1951: 178):
As for Hitler, his professed religion unhesitatingly juxtaposed the God-Providence and Valhalla. Actually his god was an argument at the end of a political meeting and a manner of reaching an impressive climax at the end of speeches.
Hitler's Table Talks of course put the final nail in the coffin of the 'Hitler was a good Christian' meme, but then again it appears they have been discredited, or so we are told... In any case, generally speaking the 'Hitler was a good Christian' meme is for the most part used by individuals who wouldn't recognize a 'good Christian' if they saw one... But all is fair in love and propaganda I've been told...
 - And the Enlightenment/Modernity was also shaped by the fact that it was fundamentally a reaction to, not to Buddhism, Islam or ancient Roman polytheism, but to the Judeo-Christian belief system.
 - In the Brothers Karamazov, Russian novelist Dostoyevsky aptly put it: 'If God does not exist, anything goes.' Since the Enlightenment, Western elites have been actively removing the Judeo-Christian God (and his Law) as the basis of this civilisation. The 21st century postmodern West is now getting a much clearer picture of what Dostoyevsky meant by 'anything goes'...
 - As an anecdote, one should not be surprised to learn that for a long time de Sade's writings were 'forgotten' (unpublished for over a century) which is very likely due, not to the violent eroticism his writing contain, but to the fact that he was viewed as an ideological liability, that is as an 'uncomfortably consistent' modern thinker who too clearly exposed the implications of the moral vacuum created by the Enlightenment. That said, later, when Judeo-Christian influence had been sufficiently eroded in the West and the mind-set of the masses had been properly prepared, publishing de Sade was no longer such a matter of concern.
 - Sparked in part by the discovery of the ruins of Pompeii.
 - It is no coincidence that in Enlightenment propaganda, the words 'reason' and 'science' are of course always capitalized: Reason, Science...
 - In explaining the origin of life (or the basis for morals) God is viewed as the necessary First Cause.
 - In our view 'modernity' is basically the ideologico-religious system produced by the Enlightenment (with it's numerous and varied off-shoots). While some of these were strictly philosophical belief systems (of interest only to armchair intellectuals), the Enlightenment also birthed many social ideologies focussing on specific political orders. Among the many children of the Enlightenment we find fascism, Nazism, Eugenics, Robber Baron Capitalism and Communism. But of course because these ideologico-religious systems brought disrepute on their parent, they are now considered 'bastard children' who, so we are told, 'misapplied' the 'sound principles' they had been bequeathed. Now of course, they have been disowned by their modern relatives. That the masses might connect the dots must be avoided at all costs... One must be aware that Enlightenment thinkers were groping to set up a complete worldview that could compete with Christianity and they were well aware that origins was a critical issue and as a result early on invested much energy in attacking the book of Genesis. But for the most part Enlightenment thinkers were VERY sly and while spreading their propaganda denied wanting to set up a RELIGION and thus resorted to promoting their views as 'objective science' (protecting them from 'needless' criticism and comparison).
 - Think Harry Potter...
 - And just to put my own cards on the table, the author of this article is a follower of Christ, one who emphatically rejects both the modern and postmodern worldviews along with the commonly promoted materialistic origins myth, the theory of evolution.
 - Though admittedly, Taylor does reject some forms of authenticity, one is left wondering why some forms of authenticity are deemed illegitimate and others not. Since postmodern 'authentic self-expression' admits no absolute moral boundaries (the goal-posts are always moving...), then something like the Burning-Man Festival can provide a glimpse into what can happen to the West...
Utopia is Burning: Burning Man Festival. 2016 Truth Xchange
 - In Soviet times the word, AgitProp, an acronym for the words agitation and propaganda, was coined. This basically meant sending agents to overturn other worldviews and promote Soviet ideology amongst all classes of society. Although the Soviet era is a thing of the past we are now confronted by a parallel phenomenon in the environmental discourse, which is constantly bombarding us in education and media. A new acronym is thus required: EnviroProp. And if our ancestors feared black cats or bad omens, nowadays we see enviro-agitators busy promoting their own carpet-bag full of environmental superstitions and sermonizing us about all those things that we shouldn't do anymore or about the sacrifices we need to do 'for the environment'. But following the logic of EnviroProp, man ends up in a situation where one cannot move, breathe or fart without such behaviour being deemed 'harmful to the environment'. Canadian journalist Rex Murphy exposes to view the putty-like nature of this hypocritical ideology (2014).
I agree with Murphy's point that when we move away from the micro-issues (such as spotted owls or 'baby' seals or blue whales or...) and look at the big picture, it becomes clear that EnviroProp's real target is man, and that human species is the Enemy. Perhaps the pawns on the battlefield doing the protests truly do 'believe in' the cause of 'protecting the environment' or about the owls, whales, seals, trees, etc., but, despite their posturing, it is very unlikely the higher-ups in this movement (the ones that actually decide what the NEXT BIG THING will be) really care about such matters at all...
But Murphy misses one point about EnviroProp in that it is deeply hypocritical as it steals a principle from the book of Genesis in the Bible, the concept that man must be the steward of, and bear responsibility for, the environment (rather than use the word 'Creation'). So EnviroProp's devilishly efficient weapon is guilt-mongering. And despite the West being a largely post-Christian culture, there nonetheless remain a few vestigial cultural artefacts drawn from the Judeo-Christian worldview and the concept of man as steward of Creation/Nature is one of these. This is the reason talk about man's responsibility to/for the environment strikes a nerve in the West. This enables the EnviroProp guilt-mongers to constantly harp about how we should feel guilty for doing this or that (or guilty for NOT doing this or that). And once people feel guilt, then they can be herded in the right direction and manipulated to do certain things or sacrifice certain things that they normally wouldn't...
On the one hand Genesis (1: 26-27) tells us that Man is the steward of Creation, which implies responsibility for the management of Creation, but it also tells us that Man is made in God's image (imago dei), which involves a status ABOVE the rest of Creation. So in Genesis Man, in his proper place, is certainly NOT the Enemy, as made out by EnviroProp. EnviroProp clearly looking to destroy man's particular status in Creation, the imago dei, as this might lead people to asking themselves WHERE does this status com from? But then one must follow the logic, if you destroy man as imago dei, then clearly you destroy any responsibility for Nature/Creation/the environment. The two concepts are clearly linked in Genesis.
When we previously quoted Provine saying 'there is no ultimate foundation 'for ethics (within the materialistic/darwinian cosmos) logically this covers any and all moral duty to Creation/the environment. Logically, under the modern cosmology then man has NO moral responsibility to the environment. None at all... Now perhaps you may wonder, if the EnviroProp higher-ups don't really care at all about spotted owls or 'baby' seals or blue whales or whatever, WHY are they doing this? Good question. Perhaps somebody should ask them...
Rex Murphy (2014) Has the environmental movement ever seen a collapse it didn't want to be on the brink of? (National Post - 6/12/2014)