Modernity without Restraint: The Political Religions, the New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism

Modernity without Restraint: The Political Religions, the New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism

Modernity without Restraint: The Political Religions, the New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism

Modernity without Restraint: The Political Religions, the New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism

Synopsis

Published together for the first time in one volume are three works written during different historical circumstances between 1938 and 1958; yet all share the theme that modern Western civilization has lost its spiritual foundations. Editor Henningsen (political science, U. of Hawaii-Manoa) explores the background that motivated Voegelin's theoretical analyses and the new relevance that his work has gained in recent years with the collapse of state socialism in East Germany, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union.

Excerpt

The treatise on “Political Religions” was published for the first time in Vienna in April of 1938. Since the national-socialist provisional management of the publishing house did not promote its circulation, the treatise remained almost unknown. However, it did become well enough known to find as critical a response among knowledgeable readers as my earlier writings. These criticisms reproach me for presenting my case in such an overly objective manner that it actually seemed to support those conceptions of the world and movements, in particular National Socialism, which it was intended to oppose. It lacked the decisiveness of making a judgment and condemnation, which would put beyond all doubt my own outlook.

These critics touch on the basic questions surrounding the present world situation and the individual's attitude toward it. Today there is one type of politicizing intellectual—and the critics meant here usually belong to this circle—who proclaims his deep aversion to National Socialism through strong ethical judgments. He considers it his duty to battle it with any literary means. I can do the same: Anyone able to read will recognize my deep aversion against any kind of political collectivism on the basis of the verse by Dante that precedes the treatise, and my store of educated and less-educated expressions of condemnation is impressive. There are reasons for my not spreading this aversion before a large audience in the form of politicizing outbursts. In fact, although there are many reasons supporting this attitude, I can only touch upon one essential reason here.

Political collectivism is not only a political and moral phenomenon. To me its religious elements seem much more significant.

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