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Журнальный клуб Интелрос » Credo New » №2, 2011

А.А. Tsurkan
«Twilight of the gods: a new version»

Blacks and Muslims in the House of Lords, Prince William having been an inch away from having an Egyptian step-father, the French national soccer team and the demonstrations in Paris under the slogan “The French out of Paris!”, Den-mark’s submissive apologies for the prophet cartoons, the Theo van Gohg murder and the Turkish schools in Berlin, at last the Asiatic migration into the heart of Russia and the officially registered eight million of Chinese in the Russian Far East. Etc, etc…. The descriptive line of the problem may be continued ad infinitum until the moment the problem itself becomes so out crying that it is almost impos-sible to pretend to be deaf: how much of the traditional Europe (both ethnically and culturally) is still left intact? Aren’t we within a stone’s throw from the moment it has become a curious item in the anthropological museum of “post-Europeans”?
Given paralyzing sense of political correctness the Europeans have long been taught not to even fancy such a problem might ever exist. The apocalyptical horrors of Nietzsche have been discredited for their association with the Nazi ide-ology; Spengler’s “Twilight of Europe” is too high-brow and voluminous to be known to many. And horror itself is so artificially melodramatic and cinemato-graphic that there are hardly more than a few to consider it anything more than a mere child’s spooky film.
It has long become a tradition to exclude the aspect of biological fitness in the development of any civilization out of academic research. Any academic thinker, who would risk posing the question would inevitably break out of the strictest and carefully preserved taboos of liberal society therefore facing grave consequences. This is an extremely sensitive matter largely because it boarders the forbidden land of nation and race issues. The deeply embedded fear to face the ac-cusations of racism and xenophobia compels the Western intellectuals either to avoid or to speak more than cautiously on such sensitive matters as, say, the ethnic invasion of Europe by Africans and Arabs. One of the prominent French academics in a popular hebdomadair allows himself a humble and apologetic remark: «L’intellectuel occidental aurait mit des siècles à conquerir le droit de penser en dehors et au besoin, contre les dogmes dit révélés de sa propre religion dominante pour qu’aujourd’hui on lui retire ce droit au bénéfice de la seule religion musulmane, sous peine d’être taxé de xénophobie! / … / Car en confondant pensée laïque et racisme, ils renforcent non pas les musulmans qui ne veulent que la liberté du culte ou le droit de ne pas le pratiquer du tout, mais, les islamists, qui veulent détruire la pensée libre, c’est-à-dire la base même de la civilisation occidental.» /Jean-François Revel de l’Académie française / (« Le point » No 1626, p. 29).
But nonetheless (and the history of civilization provides us here with exces-sive data) turning a blind eye to the problem of biological fitness to survive, of whether a certain pattern of civilization upgrades or downgrades an individual’s capability of reproducing oneself at a reasonable demographic pace etc., can hardly make a problem less burning.
It stands to reason to keep in mind the fact that the natural selection of the fittest both in wild nature and to a large extent human socium had a strong and last-ing stabilizing effect upon the quality of populace. Biologically one could reasona-bly argue that the high living standards of “the affluent society” entail the dramatic diminishing of human vitality and, what is still worse, the steady increase in ge-netic flaws and deviations in progressive proportions. As a result every new generation finds itself less fit to survive without the artificial background and support, the dependence on which becomes truly overwhelming.
When the risk is taken and such a consideration launched, it grows particu-larly beneficial to look back into the remote past of Europe to see crystal clear that for instance the decline and fall of the Roman Empire was caused by the three main factors: depopulation (especially of the Western provinces of the Empire in the 3-5 centuries AD), the onslaught of Christianity plus the degradation of “the Roman myth”, at last the great migration of nations. All of those were obviously intertwined but only the latter truly insurmountable. In combination they entailed an extremely volatile and troublesome situation of the 3-5 centuries AD that re-sulted in the collapse of the Greco-Roman World.
Any historical parallels may seem ill-grounded or far-fetched. But one has to admit that Hegel’s circle of dialectics should not be neglected if we are to draw any positive conclusions out of the similarities of situations.
Apart from the evident peculiarities of the current stage in the development of the European civilization which are not to be doubted, it is hardly an exaggera-tion to assume that today’s Europe  (or even the transatlantic world) is experienc-ing largely the same set of problems. Demographic downfall makes the Old Europe humiliatingly dependent upon the import of cheap lab our from the Eastern Euro-pean (Slavic) nations and aliens from the third world. Without that it seems more and more problematic to sustain economic growth and provide adequate living standards for the rapidly aging population in “the Fortress of Europe” as well as high retirement payments for pensioners.
At least partly this is one of the powerful stimuli of the somewhat hasty en-largement of the UN or the incorporation into the Old Europe of those (mainly Slavic) nations whose deeply embedded suspicion, hostility or simply dislike in re-gard to the Western Europeans the latter pretended not to notice or considered out-dated. By and large - presumptuously.
Sociologists, philosophers and demographers point to the negative birth (death) rates everywhere from Britain eastward which fact is ascribed to the effect of consumerism on “affluent society”. But here the logical question arises i.e. how casual and temporal these sad effects are and may the steady increase in ethnic di-versity of Europe eventually end in the complete loss of its ethnic, cultural and mental identity? 
The gloomy predictions of  Nietzsche and Spengler may appear less unreal-istic should we consider consumerism as a manifestation of one of the most sub-stantial characteristics of European culture over the last 4000 years, namely its per-fectionism, and probe into its origins hidden in the remote and half legendary past of Crete-Mycenaean Greece. Perhaps in that case it would become more clear why the Europeans have created the type of civilization which makes them less biologi-cally fit to survive facing the unprecedented burst of vitality in the Third World. 
The basic pattern of European mind and culture appears to be consisting of the two key elements which are the ideal and its imitation in the sphere of the im-manent. The former, metaphysical by nature, may be understood and expressed differently in different epochs: Cosmos as eternal harmony of the celestial and the mundane with its projection upon socium /polis=civitas or the Empire/ in Antiq-uity; civitas Dei and civitas terrenae in the medieval times; the Utopian - styled perfect\communist\liberal\affluent\society in modern and contemporary Europe.
Irrespective of the type of ideal its juxtaposition (if not opposition) to imita-tion implicitly (or explicitly in the Middle Ages) contains the sharp axiological di-vision between the superior (ideal) and a priori inferior (imitation) levels of being with the latter supposed to approach at the closest possible range the former.
The outline of this pattern may be found within the Greek mythological complex or to be exact as early as its Olympic stage. The model of reality then ela-borated was based upon the striking opposition of the Urano-chtonic nature, i.e. the celestial (embodied in the Olympic Gods) that implied the element of light, beauty, measure and harmony of Cosmos and the mundane, identified with the dark, cha-otic, evil, amorphous potency that is to be curbed and transformed by the forces of light.
Since the Greek conceptual knowledge originated from the mythological tradition to such an extent that it enabled Hegel to define Greek philosophy as “ra-tional theology” there could hardly be any wonder why the similar pattern albeit in a slightly modified form may be found in extenso in Plato’s juxtaposition of what is called “true being” (or the realm of ideas\forms) and “chora” whose combination is the immanent reality of becoming. Or for that matter Aristotel’s dialectics of form/actuality and material substance/potency. Of course, Antiquity was “the syn-thesis of the ideal and the real in the real” (A. Losev). Therefore the gap between the metaphysical and physical aspects of being was not that dramatically wide. Those two aspects were very closely linked and differed hierarchically rather than substantially which to a certain extent impeded the debasing of the mundane /natural/bodily in its organized aesthetic form, making nature an integral part of Cosmos and the subject of artistic endeavour.
Still the shift of preferences from the natural (bodily, biological) to the su-pernatural (metaphysical) that occurred within the Greek Olympic mythology af-terwards turned out to be part and parcel of the cultural process that triggered the ever-growing disbalance between the transcendent and the immanent, the ideal and its imitation in favour of the former whose more than strongly pronounced traces may be found in abundance at the later stage in the spiritual development of the Greco-Roman world i.e. in the Neoplatonism and the Roman Stoicism.
But the climax of the process was undoubtedly reached with the Me-diolanum edict of Emperor Constantine the First and the triumphant onslaught of Christianity.
Since E. Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” there are incessant debates in academic circles on whether it was Christianity to blame for the collapse of the Greco-Roman World and Europe’s “Dark Ages” of barbarism. Of course the use of the term “Christianity” here is purely conventional since there is presumably quite a large gap between the initial message of the Christ and its fossilized (or institutionalized) versions both in the West and in the East. The Chr-ist Himself, be He with us in flesh and blood now, would most probably surprised  at how rampant religious hypocrisy, so severely castigated by Him, has become, say, in the Russian Orthodox Church which is more now, as once in the Tsars’ times, “the Ministry for the salvation of Russian souls” within Putin’s administra-tion. Having in mind the above mentioned legacy of pagan culture one could fairly conclude that Christianity in its most rigorous form and principal opposition of ci-vitas Dei and civitas terrenae  with its unquestionable and uncompromising prefer-ence of the transcendent and the merciless castigation of the earthly seems to have been almost inevitable.
Hence within the Christian spiritual complex the opposition between the two levels of reality was the strongest. Nature and the natural/biological at large (hu-man sexuality in particular) are condemned and treated with much suspicion as the source of evil and corruption. The terrible sense of inborn guilt, absolutely detri-mental to any type of creativity, was stubbornly grafted onto the European mind. With regard to all this it is hardly strange that the two periods in European history when the arts and creative activities in general were at their peak, i.e. “the Greek wonder” of the VIII-V centuries BC and the Renaissance were not marked by the haunting sense of guilt but rather the unprecedentedly intense feeling of emancipa-tion and unbound liberty.
The transcendent nature of the ideal in Christianity could not but entail deep-ly perverse perception of the bodily as ontologically inferior to the spiritual which must be upgraded to a more refined level of perfection. It created the dramatic du-alistic split of human singularity and dealt quite a severe blow on the very authenticity of a human being (L. Trilling).
The process of “upgrading” human nature presupposes the imposition of cer-tain (and mostly harsh) limitations on a man which can not but diminish his au-thenticity and increase the extent of the artificial both in himself and “the second nature” (or cultural environment) that he creates. Aspiring to the transcendent ideal of civitas Dei an individual inevitably undergoes a plenty of violent experiments and in his turn feels more and more ready to subject reality at large to no less vio-lent transformations in order to make it more advanced to the ultimate destination – “new heaven and new earth”. As a matter of fact it would have been impossible had the bodily/natural/biological been not treated in Christianity as a sort of semi-product of God’s creation. Its suppression resulted in a new type of neurotic cul-tures (Freud). By and large it had as a mighty compensation the dramatic outburst of spirituality in Europe both in the form of philosophical speculation and the fine arts.
 But the suppressed instincts can not be entirely sublimed and endlessly sup-planted. Perhaps the Crusades, the wars of the 18-19th centuries and the two world wars should at least be considered as a direct compensating consequence of the type of oppressive morality that spread throughout Europe with Christianity? And Nietsche should have been listened to more carefully?  
Anyway, in comparison with the toll collected by Christianity as a histori-cally preconditioned spiritual and social phenomenon the cruelty of the Roman Caesars seems to have been just a child’s play. The western European type of Christianity was the extremely complex synthesis of the early and rigorous apostolic doctrine and the Roman myth. The latter with its two key paradigms (Roma Aeterna and Aureum Saeculum) was based upon the sharp opposition of civitas and the barbaric periphery, artificiality and nature. The Empire itself, synonymous to orbis terrarum was considered to be the most possible projection of the cosmic harmony and order upon the sphere of the immanent. The barbaric outskirts of the ever expanding civilization were supposed to be absorbed and cultivated in accordance with the idea of perfection that lay in the very core of the Roman myth as it was defined by Vergil:
“Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento;
  hae tibi erunt artes, pacisque imponere morem
  parcere subjectis et debellare
  superbos”. (Aeneis, VI, 851-853)
Christianity, superimposed upon it, strengthened the opposition of barbarism and civilization giving it in addition the strong sense of exceptionality of those be-longing to the Church and not associated with anything earthly.
Therefore the old drive to perfection that acquired the linear direction was given momentum making the Europeans less and less authentic. The paradox is that even the decline of Christianity in the epoch of the Renaissance and the Mod-ernity which might be fairly considered as the reaction of the natural (authentic) to its unprecedented suppression in the Middle Ages did not result in the change of the basic cultural paradigm of Europe. The ideal of “civitas Dei” was not removed outright but rather modified and transferred into the sphere of the immanent. The Utopian tradition of Sir T. More and T. Companella as well as the Utopia itself stemmed from that transfer triggering the development of the progressist type of culture aimed at acquiring maximum comfort and prosperity with the two major albeit opposite offsprings: Marx’s communism and contemporary “affluent soci-ety”. 
Within the latter comfort becomes obsession and steadily undermines the vi-tality of Europeans. It turns out to be particularly apparent should the above-mentioned characteristics be compared with the Eastern model of culture. Al-though it would require detailed analysis even a sliding glance could be sufficient to notice the principal difference there which lies in its lesser perfectionism and more authenticity. Against the backdrop of the Eastern mythological complex, be that as diverse as it is nowadays, there could hardly be found that strong associa-tion of evil and the bodily/natural as it is the case with Europe. More than that, perhaps it will not be a dramatic exaggeration to assert that even the normality of evil was acknowledged there. And of course the lack of metaphysical transensus warranted the sovereign axiological status of the immanent as it is, without any upgrading. All these makes the Easterners more biologically fit to survive even in the harshest possible conditions of their staggering economies.
So what conclusions could be drawn out of the proposed look into the prob-lem? Sad ones one has to admit. The tragic paradox of Europe as a civilization is that it will hardly be able to survive in the current capacity if its perfectionalism and metaphysical idealism are not to be relinquished in favour of a more sober, more natural and less compromising approach to aliens. But the problem is that those two qualities of the European mind constitute its very core, its uniqueness, the suicidal elegance of Europe and its liberal mythology which is so highly appre-ciated by non-Europeans as the true European tradition. The repudiation of it would inevitably mean something unthinkable and unworthy i.e. the salvation of the Old World by eliminating its very soul – Plato and Aristotle, Dante and Shake-speare, Bach and Dostoevsky. The best of the Romans facing the similar dilemma chose to die…
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