When Evil Comes, 4 – Conspiracies

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“Christian dogma …. is dead, at least to the modern Western mind.  It perished along with God  [cf. Nietzsche’s declaration about where we have brought ourselves in our quest for freedom from dogma and superstition].  What has emerged from behind its corpse, however—and this is of central importance—is something even more dead; something that was never alive, even in the past: nihilism, as well as an equally dangerous susceptibility to new totalizing, utopian ideas.  It was in the aftermath of God’s death that the great collective horrors of Communism and Fascism sprang forth (as both Dostoevsky and Nietzsche predicted they would.  Nietzsche, for his part, posited that individual human beings would have to invent their own values in the aftermath of God’s death.  But… we cannot invent our own values, because we cannot merely impose what we believe on our souls.  This was Carl Jung’s great discovery…”

(Italics are in the original source.)

Jordan B. Peterson.  12 Rules for Life, an Antidote to Chaos
(Random House Canada, 2018), p. 193

The COVID-19 Pandemic has quickly taken its place as a conspiracy theory. As with most conspiracy theories, some of the current rumors about Novel-Corona doubtless hold grains of truth.  In fact, some quite reputable sources are asking some very serious questions about what we’ve been told and evidence that very plausibly points to some rather unsettling origins and actions or inactions related to its rapid propogation.

History illustrates all too starkly that there really are dark and sinister people and forces working to undermine society, world order, and democracy.  Many of the current batch of these agents of evil are blatantly obvious.  Fascists, neo-fascists (China is nominally Communist but, if you compare it to Nazi Germany, it is really now a Fascist State), Islamists, Anarchists, Cut-throat Capitalists, and Communists who hate Capitalism.  Throw in the numerous haters of liberal (or any) democracy and the West who would love to bring it down so their version of Utopia might somehow emerge from the chaos and ashes.  

The haters are part of the society they hate, projecting on it and their fellows their own alienation from humanity.  They wear ideological disguises or simply wallow in sociopathy. 

Amoral, unscrupulous people and organizations always improvise in order to reap the maximum selfish profit and benefit out of any opportunity for whatever nefarious purposes they aspire to achieve.  Such behaviour sometimes inhabits a national leadership elite and will use completely immoral methods to undermine the societies of their real or perceived enemies.

Some conspirators are Capitalists without a conscience seeking a freer rein for their corporate greed and predatory practices.  Some conspirators are in positions of great political and social power and influence, both within nations and in international affairs.  They include financial super-players and mega-corporate entities in the economic and socio-political realms.

Conspirators pride themselves on being master manipulators of the gullible classes and masses, the ordinary, “unenlightened” regular people just striving to live a reasonably peaceful, productive, and happy life.  Many conspirators are fanatical ideologues (religious or other) whose agenda is a new world order according to their vision of utopia, with themselves at the helm, of course.  Before taking power, Fascists in Italy, Nazis in Germany, Bolsheviks in Russia, Maoists in China, etc, were all conspirators hiding in plain sight.

Because such people like to move and manoeuvre out of the public limelight, they leave that plane to the next level below them – the ambitious and idealistic (or just plain greedy and self-serving) cadres who seek to gain access to government and para-government agencies where power and control over public policy can be had.  Their ambition makes them vulnerable to suggestion, subtle bribery, and blatant manipulation.  Meanwhile, the masters move in the shadows, content to use money, spider-web connections, the media, and social networks to pull the strings from the shadows.  History is chalk-full of the records of all this, from Ancient Egypt to modern-day ISIS, drug cartels, and internationalized crime syndicates.

For the great unwashed mass of humanity who never see this level of power and have no or very little notion of it, save a caricature perhaps portrayed in popular literature and film, all of this sounds very much like mythology and hyper-imagination.  Do the Illuminati exist?  Is there really a Bilderberg Group?  Have these groups morphed into a new incarnation (the Davos select super-elite?) devising a scheme to impose a world government on the unwary common crowd?  According to the conspiracy watchers, the elect pull all the strings from the back rooms of the UN and its super-national agencies (e.g., WHO, IMF, UNESCO, World Bank, etc.)? 

Every institution and organization is political.  Politics by its nature is full of back-room secret meetings and hidden agendas.  The wheeler-dealers manoeuvring for position, influence and control are hardly likely to raise a flag to identify themselves and openly declare their plans and intentions.  What appears in public is the tip of the iceberg, whether we are in a liberal democracy with freedom of expression and association or in an oligarchic totalitarian society such as China.

In the present case, the rumors are that this COVID thing is a clever and choreographed dress rehearsal for the next step in moving the world to accepting the necessity of a central direction for the whole planet.  After all, could we not once and for all end world poverty if we had a central authority to (re)distribute the world’s resources more equitably?  Could we not end famine if we could centrally direct the food supply so that the great surpluses in some places could readily be sent to alleviate the dire need in others?  Could we not end war if there was a central political authority to resolve international disputes?  Could we not save the planet’s ecosystem if we could centralize an authority to rein in the unconscionable rape of nature?

None of these ideas are very new, except perhaps the new awakening to the perilous climate situation.  A conscious plan for One World Government (under UN auspices as the most obvious route) is not a far reach, and the European Union has evolved as a functional working prototype for the One World Movement.  It is certainly not difficult to credit the One-World idea as an eventual goal among the leading internationalist intellectuals and plutocrats.  Some of them have even said publicly that they hope for this.

Of course, the underlying question about a One-World Cartel system is who would be at the top?  We can quite plausibly see much of the international manoeuvring as the game of positioning for that role.  Obvious rivals are China and the US, and China still has to supplant the US and bring the West into disrepute to take its place.  Thus some of the rather disturbing questions about this whole COVID outbreak and its (mis)management.  The economic and social damage done to the West has been monumental while China seems comparatively unaffected and now can portray itself as the great benefactor – a role it has already been playing in the less developed world.

Attempts to create international agencies and apply versions of the One-World ideology have been made in both ancient and modern times.  “World Empires” were one method – the Roman being the most effective and long-lasting outstanding example.  This is undoubtedly one the main reasons it fascinates so much to this day.  (See blog Archives – “The Allure of Rome”)

I would not presume to diagnose where we are on the road to instituting a One-World System of ultimate political, economic, environmental, and social control.  But there is a huge amount of history behind this gradual process.  Since the Scientific, Industrial, Economic, Intellectual, and Social Revolutions began to take hold in the latter half of the 18th Century, the “System” has been generating itself almost like a living entity evolving before our eyes.  The catalyst was the Enlightenment. 

In all probability the historical trend to one-world is not the result of a single (human, at any rate) conscious mind or even group of minds working within and through a well-knit secret elite society such as the Illuminati or the Freemasons or the T’ang, Islamist Mahdiism, or a Super-Corporate Cartel such as Davos or Bilderberg.  But perhaps such groups are taking a serious hand in the present phase of this movement.

There are undoubtedly groups operating, manipulating, conspiring, and using aspects of the system in the present exceptional circumstances to further their own agendas, among which a One-World System would be included as a means to achieve their own vision.  Some of those listed above may well be manoeuvring to help the process along, and even functioning in temporary alliances of convenience.  Regardless of the extent to which any of this corresponds to real people, organizations, and events past, present, and future, at bottom they are manifestations of something much deeper and more hidden.

The term “occult” means hidden from view.  Conspiracies of all kinds are, by their very nature, in that sense, occult.  Those who foment and participate in them want to remain hidden so that they can manipulate and move in the shadows.  Only at the end do they emerge from that realm to take the place of final power and control to triumph in the revolution they have executed.

All things occult crave hiddenness, and thus darkness.  The occult’s native language and modus operandi is conspiracy.  Its nature is to undermine, to distort, to corrupt and poison until it overthrows and destroys the thing it hates.  Conspiracy is a kind of evil engendered at the most destructive level of deceit, lying, defrauding, calumny, misinformation, and a long list of many other practices – all steeped in the “dark arts” that lead to theft, death, and destruction.

At this point some readers may think I am speaking about “Occult Arts” like Black Magic, Satanism, necromancy, séances, etc.  While these are certainly “occult” in their naive and rather superficial (but nonetheless possibly nasty) way, I am talking about the kind of occult activity that is practiced by hosts of people who would never self-identify as practitioners of the above “Occult Arts”.  I am speaking about the heart of evil that has haunted humanity since its inception – however people account for human nature, whether by direct fiat creation by a personal Deity, by the ineluctable processes of evolution with its brutal universe of survival of the fittest and natural selection, or, as many religions suggest, by the existence of a purely malevolent set of beings conspiring to destroy humanity.  Or a combination of all or some of the above.

But, whatever the origin of evil, humankind has been its own biggest destroyer, its own worst devil, its own greatest enemy.  The evil that proceeds from deliberate human choice and action (or inaction) and speech has done far more than any natural disaster or “Act of God” on record.  In that sense, as we have said throughout this series, evil always wears a personal face, and it is not God’s.  It may be Hitler’s, Stalin’s, Mao’s, Pol Pot’s, the Grand Inquisitor, or an African tyrant or Islamic terrorist at different moments, but, beneath them, and following the lead of such horror-creators, it wears the face of “regular folks” who decide to do as their told because of some benefit or reward they believe will be theirs, or perhaps because they have swallowed the Big Lie about doing it “for the greater good”.

We cannot depersonalize evil.  And, as Perterson points out in our opening quote, we can’t blame God any more.  The bankruptcy of the claim that religion (God) is the cause of almost all the really evil stuff humans have done to one another has been exposed as utterly wrong.  It is not religion, it is the moral corruption and deadness of the human heart and soul, now left with no fall-back at all without God as a convenient whipping-boy.

Even the Devil, Satan, or whatever term we use to name the evil power at work in the occult realm (remembering the root meaning of occult), is not ultimately to blame for what we do to one another.  Perhaps such a power conspires and seduces the human perpetrators, but the humans choose to execute the terrible deeds. 

The issue of God ordering some horrible things done is really a red herring.  The ‘normal’ pattern is human decision to be evil for selfish purposes born of the evil in our own hearts.  The oft-repeated accusation of an all-good God ordering genocide is usually a dodge to avoid facing the innate capacity of humankind to do great evil on its own hook. 

Whether any or all or none of the latest batch of conspiracies hatched and hatching out of the COVID-19 crisis prove to be true, we need to recognize the root of all of it, past, present, and future.  One of the oldest comments on this wretched situation is this one from the Hebrew Bible: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.  Who can fathom it?” (Yirmayahu/Jeremiah 17:9)

TO BE CONTINUED

The Third Way, 4: The Heart Vacuum

“ … our modern relativism begins by asserting that making judgments about how to live is impossible, because there is no real good, and no true virtue (as they too are relative).  Thus relativism’s closest approximation to “virtue” is “tolerance.”  Only tolerance will provide social cohesion between different groups, and save us from harming each other ….

“But it turns out that many people cannot tolerate the vacuum—the chaos—which is inherent in life, but made worse by this moral relativism; they cannot live in a world without a moral compass, without an ideal at which to aim their lives ….”

Dr. Norman Doidge, MD, “Foreword” to Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, an Antidote to Chaos, (Random House Canada, 2018), p. xx.

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.”  Blaise Pascal, Pensées.

IN the first three instalments of this series, we have deconstructed the limitations of the Progressive Way forward for humanity, based on classic Enlightenment tenets and values.  We have not denied the enormous achievements of modern science and technology in raising the much of humanity out of the worst afflictions of poverty, ignorance about basic needs in sanitation, hygiene, medical care, a liberalized market economy, and human rights.

However, Enlightenment Progressivism as an ideology has the fatal flaw of badly distorting and misunderstanding human nature by denying a whole side of it which cannot and will not submit to logic, reason, and scientific method.  As long ago as the late 1700s and early 1800s, this flaw was perceived and critiqued by individuals and groups who were later mockingly labelled as the ‘pre-Romantics’ and ‘Romantics’ (as contrasted to the materialist realists).  By the mid-19th Century, Enlightenment liberalism had reached its most perfect philosophical expression with John Stuart Mill (On Liberty).  Its proponents developed the Higher Critical approach to systematically deconstruct virtually every area of traditional learning.  Its primary initial targets were, interestingly and strategically, the Bible and orthodox Christian doctrine and theology.  After all, in the West Christianity has always been the main roadblock to the secular humanist socio-politic0-cultural revolution and the ‘great liberation’ of humankind from the shackles of ‘ignorance and superstition.’

This technique of militant deconstructivism is now almost two centuries old and has resulted in the state of affairs described by Dr. Doidge in this post’s opening quote.  We face a culture and society which has lost its bearings.  It has no moral or spiritual compass except that of relativist ideals which it confuses with virtues (but which are in fact neither ideals nor virtues in any real sense).  As Doidge says, the closest approach to a ‘virtue’ or an absolute value this ideology can reach is ‘tolerance’, but not tolerance in any virtuous sense.  Rather, in practice, it aligns much more closely to ‘indifference’ and the quest for what Francis Schaeffer calls ‘personal peace and affluence.’  In practice this means that the rest of the world can go to hell as long as it leaves me and mine alone to engage in our own version of the pursuit of happiness.

In other words, the Progressivist Emperor and his imperial courtesans cannot see (or face the fact) that they have no clothes on and their bank vault is empty.  It cannot satisfy; it cannot provide materials to build on.  As Jesus once put it, it offers a house built on sand, not on rock, and the winds and rains are coming in.

Before we leave this extended critique of the Progressive Road to begin exploring the potential ‘Second Way’ forward for humanity, I beg the reader’s indulgence if I engage in setting a few historical facts straight about the foundations of the Enlightenment itself and of its most cherished and sacred claims for achievements in such salient areas as the enshrinement of reason, logic, science, health advancements, and human rights.  As these are relatively easily verifiable historical facts, I will not tax the reader’s attention by providing extensive source citations.  I have mentioned similar things in the previous series called The Demise of Christendom (Parts 1-8).

It is time to demythologize the Enlightenment mythology about the state of affairs in the West in the thousand years or so that preceded the self-anointed ‘Enlightenment’ Era.  I repeat that I accept some of the critique made by the ‘stars’ of the late 18th Century salon scene – Rousseau, Diderot, Voltaire, D’Alembert, Hobbes, Comte, Gibbon, Lamarck, Lyell, Kelvin, Agassiz, Darwin (not Charles but his grandfather), etc.  The Church had failed in its duty and been the instrument of much suffering, oppression, persecution, and inexcusable slaughter.  It had partly betrayed the trust of the people and the commission of Christ Himself to be the light of the world and the hope and succour of the downtrodden.  In the name of ‘truth’ it had protected, it had sometimes even enforced ignorance and protected villainy.  The (institutional) churches – Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, had much to answer for before God and humanity.

But there is always an ‘other hand.’  On the other hand, because evil was done alongside the good, you cannot just write off the enormous positive, powerful, and irreplaceable work and contributions of centuries of previous scholarship and achievements made by people who held to faith in Christ and firmly said that their faith in God not only inspired them, but gave them the daring and courage to explore the unknown even against much opposition and at great personal cost.  A very long list of examples could be assembled to demonstrate this, but we will have to satisfy ourselves at this point with a very short one: Roger Bacon, Robert Grosseteste, Albertus Magnus, Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Andres Vesalius, Francis Bacon, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, William Harvey, Blaise Pascal, René Descartes, Isaac Newton, etc., etc.

Francis Schaeffer explains it this way:

“ … not all the scientists [in this list] … were individually consistent Christians.  Many of them were, but they were all living within the thought-forms brought forth by Christianity.  And in this setting man’s creative stirring had a base on which to continue and develop.  To quote Whitehead …, the Christian thought-form of the early scientists gave them “the faith in the possibility of science.”

“Living within the concept that the world was created by a reasonable God, scientists could move with confidence, expecting to be able to find out about the world by observation and experimentation.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? Volume 5, Complete Works. (Crossway Books, 1982), p. 158.

Schaeffer explains that the claim that the Renaissance recovery of the (ancient) Greek tradition “would have been in itself a sufficient stimulus for the Scientific Revolution” does not hold up.  It was “the Christian factor” which drove the Revolution forward.  Otherwise, we must ask why the ancient Greeks themselves did not generate the sustained momentum in scientific and technological advancement we find in Europe?  And why did it not “take off” in Arabia when Islam had its ‘Golden Age’ of learning?  Or in China, where so many ingenious inventions were first conceptualized but afterwards seemed to wither away?  Most of the Royal Society of London’s Charter members in the later 17th Century were “religious men” according to the great British historian of the period, George Trevelyan.

The other areas mentioned above – advancements in health and human rights, for example, could just as readily be shown to have been pioneered, engineered, and driven to conclusion by “religious people.”  Once more, we must restrain ourselves from making this post even longer than it already is.  We could look to who founded all the earliest and now most prestigious universities, who founded the hospitals and first common schools, the orphanages and homes for the destitute.  But I will confine my example to but one illustration – the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in the 19th Century. 

Other than vague pronouncements about some of the brutality and inhumanity of slavery and its horrible accompanying trade by a few of the philosophes, we find little by way of Enlightenment contribution.  While it is true that the French Revolutionary Republic abolished slavery in French territory for a short time in the 1790s, it was reimposed later by the Directorate. 

The slave trade resulted in the death of perhaps 2 million Africans over 2½ centuries during Trans-Atlantic transport aboard villainously wretched slave ships, but the Enlightenment ‘stars’ are conspicuously silent and notably AWOL in action, even after the facts began to be really understood and screamed for action.  How did it happen, then? 

It began with a tiny minority in Britain and Pennsylvania – the Quakers.  By themselves they could do little.  But they could and did set an example by freeing their own slaves and refusing to participate in the trade.  They wrote and published about the evils of this business.  At that time, slavery and the slave trade were truly a multinational big business which underwrote a huge percentage of the colonial, commodity, and mercantile economy in the British and other Empires. 

In the late 1780s, a prominent English MP decided to make it his lifework to eradicate the perfidious trade and, eventually, the institution of slavery itself within the British Empire.  His name was William Wilberforce and his motivation was the rock-like conviction that Christ himself had called him to do this.  We will not lengthen the tale.  Wilberforce and the group of MPs who gradually rallied to support his cause eventually changed the mind of the British people and Parliament itself.  Some of Britain’s major Enlightenment liberals actually opposed the cause for a while!  The slave trade was abolished in 1807, and slavery itself in the Empire in 1833 as Wilberforce was on his death bed.

Christianity and the Bible are not opposed to reason and logic.  In the prophet Isaiah, God invites, “Come, let us reason together,” but we are reminded that we do not have the intellectual capacity to outthink God, or to fully understand either what He thinks or how He thinks.  That is because He is God and we are not.  To presume we can understand Him and His works fully, let alone judge what He has created and how and why, is to place ourselves higher than God Himself.

And that, we may say, is the real issue.  The Enlightenment declares the full independence and autonomy of mankind – “we have no [further] need of that hypothesis”, to quote Stephen Hawking once more.  It is the Post-Christian West’s declaration of independence and rebellion, if you like.  We look around and see a Creation full of death, senseless and ceaseless suffering, pain, injustice, and what appears to be uncaused disaster and destruction with terrible effects on innocent living things.  We are told that if God is good and omnipotent, He could and should have made it without such horrors built into it.  If He did not choose to but could have, He cannot truly be good.  If He could not create it any way but as it is, He must not be omnipotent.  If He is not omnipotent, He cannot be God.  If He is not perfectly good, He cannot be God.  We do not see a perfect, totally fair, benign, painless Creation; therefore, God is either not good or not omnipotent.  Either way, the Being we call God must not exist.

On the surface, this appears to be an airtight argument.  A person wanting to posit God must either reply something like: 1. “We cannot judge God or understand Him or His ways, and therefore He does not need to explain Himself to us.  We just have to believe that, in the end, it will be resolved for the best by Him in His own good time.  Then we will fully understand His reasons and purposes.  In the meantime, we must persevere in living as He has said we should, even in the face of all the misery that exists around us and in our own lives.” (Or: ‘Just take it on faith!’)  OR.  2. “We admit that there is terrible evil and suffering in the Cosmos.  But God did not make it to be that way.  As the Creator, He must take responsibility for the way it has turned out.  If He really exists, we should reasonably expect Him to do whatever it takes to set it right, even though, as creatures, we cannot compel Him to do anything or reasonably accuse Him of not doing as we think He should.”  (The reader may have a better formulation of this classic theological and philosophical dilemma.) 

These two formulations will provide the jumping off points for our discussion of the Second and Third Ways of conceiving and approaching humanity’s journey towards a better future.