Gnosticism and Historicism
the only constant is change
I am never quite sure what people mean when they sneer at gnostics. Or at historicism. I get why conservatives tend to do that. It is because we are opposed to the post-Enlightenment ideologies that turn our ideology of natural rights and limited government into a ideology of lefty killing fields.
But what does Gnosticism mean? La Wik talks about various religious groups in the 1st century AD.
These various groups emphasized personal spiritual knowledge (gnosis) above the orthodox teachings, traditions, and authority of religious institutions.
But the formal religious institutions weren’t having any of that. So they buried the Gnostsics full fathom five. And they buried their writings, some of which have only recently come to light.
And what does Historicism mean? La Wik talks about
Historicism is an approach to explaining the existence of phenomena, especially social and cultural practices (including ideas and beliefs), by studying their history, that is, by studying the process by which they came about… it rejects notions of universal, fundamental and immutable interpretations.
So, in City Journal Malcom Kyeyune writes about “The New Gnostics,” including crypto and NFT fanatics. He says that the new search for meaning comes from the cultural chaos following the Great Recession and a “subsequent collapse of Western society’s model sequence for attaining professional success and social esteem (go to college, study hard, get a well-paying job, form a family).”
In other words, he is saying, the “jobs for Gentry” program broke down. Oh no!
Thus the new generation has struck out in a bunch of new directions all at once, and for old geezers like me it all looks like complete idiocy.
At least, to anyone defending an existing tradition it all looks like the end of the world. Thus, in The American Spectator Matthew Omolesky is upset that he got a mention in Kyeyune’s article as a part of the new Gnostic movement. Hey, Omolesky’s just a regular guy, and you and he should stay away from all the Krazy Kults and their ““pretenders… quacks… confidence men… and fraudsters.”
What do you do when you see a bunch of yahoos tearing down you statues? You brand them all as heretics. Of course, to the mostly peaceful statue destroyers, the defenders of the “olds” are reactionaries and oppressors and defenders of the status-quo.
My interest is somewhere in the middle. I believe that life, the universe, and everything is a mysterious process which we try to understand with immutable theories of everything until the latest theory gets buried in the rubble. On the one hand I agree with Edmund Burke who thought of society as an unwritten contract between the generations, between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are yet to be born. On the other hand I believe in the truth of the market and the price system as a social institution. But I also believe in the chaos of the market, of all kinds of nobodies trying to make a buck, and trying to invent the next smartphone or the next religion. And I believe in hierarchy, as Nature’s way of reducing violence in social groups.
But then I am a Nietzschean, believing that from time to time an Eternal God dies, and that in the aftermath you get decadence, nihilism, and the horror of eternal recurrence until the next God shines his light upon the world.
See, I want a new world, a world of light and joy to replace the hell-hole of the Age of Lefty Politics and adminstrative government and Disinformation Governance Boards and Cancel Culture.
And I believe, as a reader of history and 19th century novels, that when you get lots of Krazy Kultists on the one hand, and government tightening up with Reigns of Wokeness on the other, that is a signal that we are in the Autumn of the Lefty Ages.
Of course, I may not like what comes next. But we can all hope.