Anatoly Belyakov: Ok, good. But let’s try a reverse operation. We just imagined the ancient Greeks as modern political consultants and PR people, watched their meetings and envisioned how their problem solving would look now. Let’s imagine now that the ancient Greeks had appeared in Kremlin today to solve a similar problem. And the way I see it, the similar problem exists.
Oleg Matveychev: Sure, let’s do it. Let’s suggest that Putin is Lycurgus who assigns to the political consultants the same task: create a concept, a sketch for the entire world. For the entire world! How to unite all the gods, give Russia a world-wide ideology, create an order that would work for everybody? For Hindus and Arabs, Americans and Japanese, Latinos and Africans with their different religions and languages, divergent political views…
The first alternative is the act according to Greek matrix. So, collect all gods, and begin to build an hierarchy. So, for example, the chief god is Christ, and Mohammed would be his brother or, the key figure would be Yahweh and his brother would be Allah and so on. There are plenty of similar ideas. For instance, all religions of the world, including most primitive, were packed in one concept or, to be more exact, in one worldwide historical idea, moving from primitive forms to more developed ones by Hegel. He packaged them beautifully, all religions were all neatly folded into one. However, not only 7 billion people would be unable to understand the work, but barely 70 people on earth could finish reading it. The ones who could are all professors of history of philosophy of some (not all) faculties of philosophy and there are about 40 of them on the world. All religions in one there, and so what? There were later pop attempts. For example, Sun Myung Moon took all religions and also folded them into one and it so happens that Moon himself is the last prophet. There is also Baha’u’llah, who also synthesised all religions in one.
Why doesn’t it work? Why would such an interesting ideology not work and why is our task is more complicated than it was for Lycurgus’ advisors? Because, relatively speaking, for Muslims “there is no god other than Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger”, and there are no compromises possible. And in Christianity it’s the same, no believers would renounce Christ as the personified revived God, as the Saviour. So compromise is impossible.
Besides, within each religion, other religions have already been incorporated, and not only as heresy or the devil’s creation. For example, in Islam Christ is the prophet Isa, and on the contrary, in Judaism and Christianity, Muslims are the Hagarenes, children of Hagari, Abraham’s illegitimate wife. Christians do not deny Judaism, and the Old Testament is the forerunner of the New Testament, while Muslims also recognise prophets from the Old Testament. Abrahamiс religions consider Buddhists to be “mad before the God with all their wisdom”, while Buddhists, on the contrary, consider all Abrahamic prophets sacred Buddhas or Bodhisattvas.
A.B. By the way – not just Abrahamic prophets – The Buryat pantheon, for example, includes as goddesses, White Tares, the two Russian empresses who acknowledged Buddhism as a faith in Russia — Catherine the Great and Elizabeth I. And just after the October revolution, the Buryat Buddhists recognised… Lenin as the reincarnation of Buddha.
O.M. Yes, I’ve heard of it also. But why am I talking about this? The matter is that the Greeks had different gods, but it was possible to take and to create a metanarrative, a meta-history to compile everything into one story. In our situation, it is religions that collide rather than gods. In our situation, meta narratives collide! Each religion includes another one, while simultaneously denying it. It is also impossible to invent a meta-meta narration! More exactly, it’s possible, and everyone would accept it, but only if the actual God showed up and explained everything and there would have been a new story and a new history that would include all religions and they all would have been explained. However, no prophet, no poet, no philosopher can do this. This needs to be an EVENT of the advent of God in power and glory. Not even like the first coming of Christ who did not come as a king, but as a Holy Lamb. In power and glory – so there would be no doubts in his divinity, so all would tremble, especially non-believers. The last advent of the Last God.
One has to understand here that no political consultants can think anything up here. And even if they could, how would they create a worldwide historical spectacle of the last coming, so the heavens would split and miracles happened, so all countries and people fell to their knees. I don’t know how much money directing this show could cost and what technical means it would take and what country could afford it.
So, artificially this can not be created, I can not really picture it happening. However, the script can be written and played with. Then we have to wait for the eventual coming of the Last God. — Heidegger wrote about this. Heidegger also did not think that the second coming would be like thunder in a clear sky, just as the first advent of Christ – it would be rather inconspicuous, not in power and glory, but rather in subtle hints that the Last God will send. Maybe it will be so. There is one problem. Everything that God wanted to say to people about ideology, he already said, second coming is not for giving people new truth, but for judging… But this is another topic.
Now, let’s consider another possibility. Not a step up, which is a meta-step and contains other religions, but a step down, going through rejecting all religions and gods. Here we have different types of atheism. It is explained through class consciousness like Marx, or through psychoanalysis, like Freud, or through the will to power, like Nietzsche, and through dozens of other methods. The essence is the same – “I hate all gods”, they are all inventions, and were invented with some pragmatic interest in mind – either economical, psychological or political one.
A.B. Antiquity experts call it Euhemerism, named after the philosopher Euhemerus, who argued that faith in the gods comes from the cult of the great people of the past. For example, by idea attributed to Euhemerus, Zeus was an ancient king of Crete and became famous as a mighty warrior, and his tomb was even still there at Knossos. Later the citizens of Crete made him a deity due to some practical interest.
By the way, there is also a whole tradition of interpreting, from an euhemerism position, the Trojan epic, which allowed explaining its numerous mismatches and conflicts. And it is in the spirit of this tradition that Snorri Sturluson, in his “Younger Edda”, compares the clan of Odin, the Icelandic “father of the gods”, to Priam, the “supreme conung” of Troy — a famous city built exactly in the centre of the Earth…
О.М. This euhemerism reached its peak in Voltair’s works. Remember? Christianity is intertwined mesh of the dirtiest lies, created by the lowest men. I am citing almost literally. As known, Voltaire’s atheism pursued very particular political goals. And this pragmatism and not it’s sources and arguments, unites with “popular”, spontaneous atheism of Russian revolution times.
For example, the Red Army soldier comes to a kishlak(a village) in Central Asia. He asks the villager “who do you believe in — Allah? Then you are a fool, I too at one time was a fool and believed in Christ, but I now understand that the gods were invented by my landowner and your bai to exploit us. So, grab the rifle and let’s go together to fight them.” So on the common ground of rejection they fraternized and built Soviet states.
But this only works to a certain limit and I will tell you why. This situation of enlightenment and especially of our post-modern situation. “No meta-narrators!” said Lyotard, this is a post-modern situation, when all religions are rejected and therefore all divine and sacred stories are also.
But here’s where the trouble lies – the postmodernism itself is also a metanarrative, no matter how you slice it and the main thing is that atheism is already written in all the religions. In all religions atheism is evil – for Muslims, Christians, Jews and atheism will never be accepted by any of them. Even though it tries to reconcile everything on a base of zero, it won’t happen, as all traditional religions consider all atheists – either old ones or the new, postmodernist, globalist ones – as a work of the devil. The religions consider atheism in contest of their own history. The more there will be attempts of “zero approach”, presentation of all religions as expression of class interests, or psychological problems, or simply “language games” as per Wittgenstein., the more fundamentalists will revolt against this “zero approach”. More postmodernism – more terrorism. Žižek particularly likes to emphasize this.
Therefore, if we are looking for a worldwide unifying concept and are sitting at a conference, the path of metanarrative, religion that includes all others is closed for us. Nobody will agree with that and the path of rejecting all religions is closed also – no one will agree with that either. And the more you impose rejection, the more terrorists and fighters for the faith there will be. be. The modern terrorist fights on two fronts. He fights against other religions and universal concepts, and against globalism and atheism as such.
Abraham had it easy – when there were many smaller local gods, gods of sun, moon, fire and woods, he took it all and transcended and said “There is invisible God’. He does not look like anything existing, he created the Universe. Romans and Greeks had it easy – they made up their pantheon from various local gods. However, the Romans and Jews was a war of two meta-ideologies, each of those claiming the whole world and nothing less. And during Middle Ages? Same war between Christians and Muslims, collisions of two universals. Not a collision of two local concepts, but a collision of two global ones. When one world collides with another, completely foreign one.
A.B. Ok, so what do we have today? Today is postmodern.