Nikole writes:What to highlight in this month of terrible natural disasters, ridiculous political tweets and taunts and threats, terrorism? Times were just as fraught in 2004 when William wrote: "...the Western self-praising and gluttonous Puritanism and the God-dedicated Islam, both currently engaged in a deadly embrace..." Enlightenment/Empathy -- when?
By William Markiewicz
A strange phenomenon, Democracy, was born in Athens. Why is this phenomenon so out of tune with the rest of the universal order? It's as hard to answer as the question: why was humanity born so out of tune with the rest of the world? 'Irrational' Democracy, like 'irrational' Empathy, is a strange creation, as strange as life itself. Life as apotheosis of the universe, humanity as apotheosis of life, democracy and empathy as apotheosis of humanity? Who knows; anyway a beautiful mystery. The Roman era was a first step out of democracy and empathy, marking the return to the primitive power struggle later named Darwinism. After the fall of Rome came the Dark Ages, dark from the point of view of everything democracy/empathy represents. Later on in Europe, precisely in Italy and France, there grew a strange flower of return to Athenian ideals: the Renaissance (Rebirth) followed by the Enlightenment. It wasn't political in the beginning, but politics had to catch up. So, the notion of freedom, sometimes distorted yet vigorous, remained to leave a mark on mass movements. How is it that now, precisely in the name of democracy, the Enlightenment is in unprecedented danger? Surprisingly, it may be for demographic reasons:
Let's not forget that Democracy, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were born in Greece, Italy and France, neighboring countries in the heart of Europe. The "heretical", still secular, offspring (Communism, Fascism) were also born in Europe. The non secular philosophies we confront now were born outside Europe: in the West, religious Puritanism found its home in Britain ("nearby" Europe), and in the East, Islam, born in the desert, is marked demographically, climatically, etc. by its own spiritual forces. Socially, though not politically, Islam is very democratic (repression of women is political), while the Puritanical notion of privilege and justice remains a matter of interpretation by the powerholder. Catholicism knew how to coexist with the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Orthodox Christianity remained politically under Turkish dominance so could not develop its own philosophical credo. The Anglo-Saxon world, represented mainly by the U.S., inheritor of Puritanism with its explosion of unprecedented power, refuses to accept the philosophical dominance of the European Enlightenment. Therefore, using Enlightenment phraseology like "democracy and freedom," it destroys, throughout the world, precisely what those words represent. Regarding Islam, totally wrapped in religious dogma, the notion of freedom really signifies disobedience to God. So, the Western self-praising and gluttonous Puritanism and the God-dedicated Islam, both currently engaged in a deadly embrace, totally reject the European jewel of Enlightenment /Empathy as a ridiculous and useless toy. Enlightenment hopefully will rise again - but when?Back to the index of the Vagabond