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The Gnostic Plague

by Hugo Salinas Price, Plata:

Eric Voegelin published a book titled “The New Science of Politics”, in 1952.

I present here some of the ideas of Voegelin, so far as I have understood them. (His is a difficult book to read). Unfortunately, Voegelin is no longer with us to correct errors in which I may have incurred. In what follows, I express what I have gathered from reading Voegelin.

The general belief which prevailed among the populations of Europe, after Constantine declared that Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire, was that the kings that governed the various nations of Europe represented a cosmic order. The worldly, temporal authority of kings proceeded from God, and that is why it was said of them that they were “kings by the Grace of God”. The ecclesiastical authority rested with the papacy, pursuant of the idea of a corpus mysticum, whereby the papacy was the head and the arms and legs representative for the kings, and all people lived under the Civitas Dei, God’s civilization on earth.

This was the general belief shared by the European nations. Of course, the kings were involved in endless wars, and they did not behave in a saintly fashion most of the time – very few of them merited sanctification by the Catholic Church, the center of the Faith shared by all Europe. Notwithstanding the behavior of their kings, that in numberless cases was not beyond reproach, the belief shared by the European nations of the Middle Ages ( from around 400 AD to around 1450 AD) was that their kings were kings by the Will of God. As an example, for centuries the kings of France received their authority from God, through a ceremony at the Cathedral of Reims, in which they were anointed with a sacred balm.

The kings of the Middle Ages gave little thought to the economic condition of their subjects. Kings took it for granted as an inevitable fact, inherent in earthly existence, that there should be a few wealthy individuals, a number of tradesmen and merchants in the towns and cities, and a multitude of hungry poor people scattered in the countryside, dressed in rags and surviving winters in their squalid huts, where infant mortality was the rule rather than the exception.

Around the years 1100 to 1200 in Northwestern Europe there began an incipient industrialization of the production of textiles which offered transitory jobs, depending on exports of cloth. The workers had been formerly the feudal subjects of land-owning lords and had counted on year-round support from their lords; but they had emigrated to the cities and sought employment in the budding cloth-making industries. From time to time, they were unemployed and suffered accordingly.

As a result of the stress of temporary unemployment, an increasing number of disorderly gatherings began to take place, made up of people rebelling against the prevailing state of society. Numerous fascinating accounts survive, of heretical priests who rose up from time to time, and who were able to gather crowds of poor people by claiming to have had a divine revelation, whose message was, generally, that those who followed the visionary leader would shortly be the heirs of all the wealth presently in the hands of kings, aristocrats, the high clergy and the rich people, and that all these hateful sinners were very shortly going to be destroyed by the redeeming wrath of God. These revolutionary uprisings were violently suppressed by kings and princes, under the authority of the Catholic Church.

These heretical leaders can be grouped under the concept of Gnostics. The term “gnostic” is derived from the Greek gnosis, which means “knowledge”, because these rabble-rousers led their followers to believe that they had some special knowledge, obtained through a personal revelation, regarding how things should be in this world. One peculiar characteristic of the preaching of these disturbers of the peace, was their frequent recourse to favoring sexual license among their adherents.

Voegelin defines the Gnostic Revolution as follows: “The Gnostic revolution has for its purpose a change in the nature of man and the establishment of a transfigured society.” (Op. Cit. page 152)

The various attempts on the part of the Gnostics to change the earthly order of things, from the natural order born of human nature itself, for a better order, as preached by the Gnostics, were defeated one by one, up to a time which we can set at approximately the year 1500.

Around the year 1500, the Gnostic Revolution was victorious in Europe.

In my opinion, this Revolution was strengthened by the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in 1452 in Strasburg. Very shortly, an event without precedent took place: thousands of men, who had never before had a Bible in their hands, were reading the Bible and thinking and talking about what they read.

Very wisely, the Catholic Church has never, down the centuries, been in favor of the laity reading the Sacred Scriptures, for the simple reason that each person reading the Bible can form a personal opinion about the meaning of what he reads. That is exactly what took place: around 1500, the Gnostics burst out victorious, in diverse groups that followed the teachings of the Sacred Scriptures as interpreted by their leaders, all proposing social changes, the distinctive seal of Gnosticism.
The first “best seller” in print was In Praise of Folly by Erasmus of Rotterdam, published in 1511. This humorous classic, that poked fun at some absurd practices of the Church, set all Europe laughing – and we know how destructive laughter can be. Erasmus’ intention was to have the Catholic Church begin to reform itself, but perhaps what he got was to accentuate the rift between Catholicism and the Protestants who sought reform, without obtaining it. The Pope himself was moved to laughter by Erasmus’ work, but the opposition to Reform, on the part of what we might call the “Deep State” of the Catholic Church, proved too strong for him.

The fact is that after 1452, thousands of books were available that had never before been in the hands of literate people. After Gutenberg’s first printed publication, the Bible, there followed a great number of books that were read not only by the clergy, but by all literate people.

The Gnostics are “those who know” and those who follow them are the fanatics; the word “fanatic” originates in the Greek “fainein”, which means “to appear”. Thus, fanatics are “those who have seen the truth” as set forth by the Gnostics, who say what it is. A hymn that stirred the blood-lust of fanatics of the North, during the American Civil War, has these telling words:
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on.”

The religious fanaticism fostered by the Gnostic John Calvin in the XVI Century led to the Puritan Revolution in England in the XVII Century – a Gnostic rebellion that is an excellent specimen of its type. The Protestant Puritans, fanatics dedicated to change the ways of this world, from what they are and have to be, to how they believed they should be, provides us with the purest example of Gnosticism in action; the Puritan preachers caused an uprising among a good part of the population of England, and set them against their king, Charles I.

The rebels called themselves the “Saints”, according to their interpretations of the Jewish Old Testament, and adopted names taken from the Old Testament. They were the “Saints” and the “Pure” – for which reason they were called “Puritans”. All those who were not “Saints” were, according to their lights, wicked people who deserved destruction. The Puritans succeeded in dethroning King Charles I of England, and in 1649 had him beheaded. A republic was established: the “Commonwealth”; the leader of the rebellion, Oliver Cromwell, was elected Dictator of the new State, and lived in regal style the rest of his days.
At length, the English recovered their sanity and reestablished the Crown, with Charles II, son of Charles I, as king. Cromwell’s head, mounted on a pike, was exhibited for many years in Westminster Hall, London.

133 years later, in 1793, the French Gnostics overthrew their king, Louis XVI; he and his beautiful wife Marie Antoinette were beheaded on the guillotine.

The XVIII Century saw the arrival of “The Age of Reason”; the French intellectuals had become Gnostics, but with the Gnosticism of the Modern Age, which began with them, and which derives its authority not from a supernatural revelation, but from the novelty of Science and the scientific method, which is Positivist. Positivism is the method appropriate for the investigation of physical truths or perceived regularities, based upon controlled experimentation, but it is a totally inadequate method for the study of the innate capacity of humans to choose what they wish to do, and to the related capacity of humans to initiate action, unmoved by any prior motion. Cicero (died 43 BC) took note of this, and said that each human was a primum mobile, an “unmoved mover”, which characteristic humans shared with the gods.

The intellectuals of the French Revolution were Positivists and their ideas regarding Politics and History were faulty, as based on the wrong Science: they were pseudo-scientific, and their ideas regarding the improvement of the world, from what it is and has to be, to something better, marks them as Gnostics.

The majority of the intellectuals of France were of the opinion that the keen understanding of their most eminent thinkers would surely give rise to a better world, if they would only apply their talent and make the “scientific” changes necessary to do away with the problems that had beset the French for centuries. (One example of the boundless pride of the French intellectuals, was their attempt to create artificial money: the Assignat; this simulated money gave rise to a frightful price inflation in France. Their Gnostic heirs in the XX Century have followed in their footsteps, but on a world scale.)

The French Revolution of 1789 marked the enthronement of the pseudo-scientific Gnostics as lords of this world. For this reason, those who say that the French Revolution is alive and well in 2017, are stating a fact. The world is in the hands of pseudo-scientific Gnosticism and since the XVIII Century we remain in modernity, The Age of Reason. Reason and Science are supposed to eliminate all suffering inherent in human life. It is only a question of arranging matters in the right way, according to the Gnostic thinking prevalent in the Modern Age.

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