‘Burn, Baby Burn’: The Futile Revolutionaries of Today

Burning civilization down may seem an odd way to rid a society of its defects.  But trial by fire characterizes the ideology behind the current wave of destruction advocated and perpetrated by the nihilists currently torching cities, defacing statues and destroying buildings, sacred and secular.

Advocacy of a nihilistic Gotterdammerung is nothing new.  The attraction of the phoenix myth is due at least partly to the alluring belief that the fires of destruction have salvific merit. In addition, detonation of civilization is a spiritual aphrodisiac far more exciting than the slog of preserving and building it. 

Fires are considered to be a message from those who believe anger demonstrated by destruction is an incendiary purgative against injustices, real or perceived.  Anger ratifies obliteration of a “system” putrefied past hope of reform.

Marvin X wrote about the purgative fires of destruction in his famous poem, “Burn, Baby Burn,” written in 1965 during the aftermath of the Watts inferno.  He saw the corruption of an unjust society as so deep and pervasive that it deserved total extermination as surely as Sodom and Gomorrah once deserved the wrath of Jehovah. 

The poet was and is not alone in his assessment of the country and the world as being beyond reform and deserving of the all-consuming fire.

The inferno that has to date wiped out large swaths of our cities is destroying much more than buildings and statues.  It is immolating Law itself. 

Law acts as a restraint blocking distorted impulses. But for the incendiaries, their impulses are pure, stemming as they do from irreproachable and victimized hearts bleeding from inequities. Anger attached to the ideal of absolute equality transcends Law.  It can and must be expressed without any restraint. The hysteria resulting from the systemic suppression of dreams and the continual deference of hope is the result of societal institutions committed to subjugation. They are so hardened into wooden absoluteness that they will yield only to protest by fire, the ultimate implement of the oppressed.  

Since the ideal society is to be without binary distinctions, Christianity should be eliminated, as that religion’s notion of a binary cosmos, including the binary of good and evil, suggests there are divine and naturally ordained restraints to human behavior and that such restraints are good for the individual and society.  

For example, the release of prisoners into the masses is not a mere display of the bonhomie of total equality. It is more the equivalent of the storming of the Bastille of Law itself, natural and divine, in order to eliminate the distinctions between good and evil altogether.  For the mob, that binary distinction has no meaning other than as a block to individual freedom.   

Another example is SCOTUS’s recent Bostock decision, which reveals just how determinedly opposed to Law and how thoroughly absorbed by our foremost institutions the current radical zeitgeist is.

The decision purports to address what is deemed unjust discrimination toward a chosen gender.  But it is actually a ratification of the notion that equality means leveling all law. 

For the fact is that to eliminate the distinctions between the sexes, making human identity as male or female a matter of choice, creates a total elimination of all categories and classifications essential to formulating and practicing law. 

Ratification of a choice so radical ensures all other distinctions among humans are swept away.  A tabula rasa of the law is the end result, a tablet on which can be writ a new ten commandments by the moving fingers of those desiring annihilation of the old forms of law. A new table of commandments is in view, one that eliminates all distinctions. What human beings as mere units are under law of the new order remains to be seen. What Law without distinctions actually means also remains to be seen. For if the fundamental binary distinction of humans as male and female is eliminated, the idea of human beings as making good or evil choices is also eliminated.  The universal “equality” established by elimination of the human binary includes elimination of the idea of criminality.  

The high court has acceded to the ideology of transhumanism, which among other things, holds that the human race can move beyond the binary of good and evil. The Nietzschean ideal is to prevail; that is, that the only law lies in human impulse, which must act unrestrained by any concepts of good and evil, thus overriding any restrictions characterizing society’s present institutions, including the State and the Church.

Essentially, as Eric Voegelin pointed out in his essays on Gnosticism and politics, we are dealing with the religion of Gnosticism in the form of gnostic transhumanism.  The end goal? “The aim of parousiastic Gnosticism is to destroy the order of being, which is experienced as defective and unjust, and through man’s creative power to replace it with a perfect and just order.”

The current destruction leveling our society is a revolt against the natural order as given, an order that is not under man’s control. Nonetheless, the attempt is being made by variants of the gnostic trans movement, which is characterized by self-immolation in the form of radical self-mutilation. Like Siegfried on the pyre of his self-extinction, humans shall be beyond being as given, transcending the gods’ order.

The material body is thought inconsequential and even as worthy of elimination.  Humans raised above all law to the status of pure, unfettered spirits like angels or gods may do as they please. But as St. Augustine wrote, humans who raise themselves to the status of angels or gods are unattached to the reality of suffering humanity. Such people have no pity and no perturbation as they enforce “equality.”  Such beings implacably eliminate whole categories of actual human beings in favor of the abstract ideal human, be he/she the perfect Aryan or the perfect communist.

Voegelin goes on to write that at the heart of the destructive fires is the desire to obliterate transcendence, to annihilate metaphysics -- to murder God. “The murder of God, then, is of the very essence of the gnostic re-creation of the order of being. The gnostic is invested in “immanentizing the eschaton;” that is, in bringing into the here and now what was formerly characterized as belonging to the perfect afterlife.

Voegelin adds, “Knowledge – gnosis -- of the method of altering being is the central concern of the gnostic attitude.” Gnostic prophets, including some seated on the bench of the highest court of the land, lead the way, thus ratifying Condorcet’s idea that a directorate of intellectuals who see the future can with impunity stoke the fires now leveling civilization because it will become something wholly other than it presently is. 

But, as Voegelin notes, “…the strange, abnormal spiritual condition of gnostic thinkers” is that they ignore large chunks of reality (like the reality of human beings as male and  female) in order to create a fantasy world, a society that is governed neither by God’s will nor its own, but one placed under the governance of the gnostic thinker.

The contemporary gnostic prophet is the secularist thinker who discerns the meaning of history and can predict the future direction of history.  “All gnostic movements are involved in the project of abolishing the constitution of being with its origin in the divine transcendent being…this is a matter of so altering the structure of the world that a new, satisfying world emerges.”

If that new order emerges only by the fires of destruction, so be it.

What is the answer to the cultic anti-metaphysical irrationality of secular gnostic revolutionaries? 

It is chiefly this: The world, including the binaries built in it, remains as it is created and given to us.  It is not within the power of men and women to construct it as they think it should be constructed.  There are natural and divine laws against which no human being can prevail without destroying themselves and their civilizations.  Human shall not become as gods by murdering God.  They simply mutilate or murder themselves and others.

Ultimately, the madmen of today, as Nietzsche pointed out in his parable, would hold a requiem for God even in the churches.  “…the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: ‘What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?’ "

While it is certainly true that many churches are spiritual sepulchers where God is not found, there have been and still are those who uphold the Christian answer to the ills of society and the human condition; namely God’s redemptive plan for human beings and the cosmos.

However, spiritual renewal and growth, individual and societal, is a slow burn process.  It is full of painful and often seemingly unfulfilled effort.  But it is also a process that has been shown to be utterly transformative of humanity and society; witness the elimination of chattel slavery from the West.

At times and with heroic effort, men and women have brought societies into at least partial conformance to the great commands that are at the heart of all true reforms, beginning with the first two as summarized by Christ: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

In those commandments is found the spiritual fire that kindles righteousness and justice within society.

Graphc credit: Pixabay

--Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton theological Seminary, which awarded her the prize for excellence in systematic theology.  Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines.  She has regularly contributed to American Thinker for more than a decade. She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com.

Burning civilization down may seem an odd way to rid a society of its defects.  But trial by fire characterizes the ideology behind the current wave of destruction advocated and perpetrated by the nihilists currently torching cities, defacing statues and destroying buildings, sacred and secular.

Advocacy of a nihilistic Gotterdammerung is nothing new.  The attraction of the phoenix myth is due at least partly to the alluring belief that the fires of destruction have salvific merit. In addition, detonation of civilization is a spiritual aphrodisiac far more exciting than the slog of preserving and building it. 

Fires are considered to be a message from those who believe anger demonstrated by destruction is an incendiary purgative against injustices, real or perceived.  Anger ratifies obliteration of a “system” putrefied past hope of reform.

Marvin X wrote about the purgative fires of destruction in his famous poem, “Burn, Baby Burn,” written in 1965 during the aftermath of the Watts inferno.  He saw the corruption of an unjust society as so deep and pervasive that it deserved total extermination as surely as Sodom and Gomorrah once deserved the wrath of Jehovah. 

The poet was and is not alone in his assessment of the country and the world as being beyond reform and deserving of the all-consuming fire.

The inferno that has to date wiped out large swaths of our cities is destroying much more than buildings and statues.  It is immolating Law itself. 

Law acts as a restraint blocking distorted impulses. But for the incendiaries, their impulses are pure, stemming as they do from irreproachable and victimized hearts bleeding from inequities. Anger attached to the ideal of absolute equality transcends Law.  It can and must be expressed without any restraint. The hysteria resulting from the systemic suppression of dreams and the continual deference of hope is the result of societal institutions committed to subjugation. They are so hardened into wooden absoluteness that they will yield only to protest by fire, the ultimate implement of the oppressed.  

Since the ideal society is to be without binary distinctions, Christianity should be eliminated, as that religion’s notion of a binary cosmos, including the binary of good and evil, suggests there are divine and naturally ordained restraints to human behavior and that such restraints are good for the individual and society.  

For example, the release of prisoners into the masses is not a mere display of the bonhomie of total equality. It is more the equivalent of the storming of the Bastille of Law itself, natural and divine, in order to eliminate the distinctions between good and evil altogether.  For the mob, that binary distinction has no meaning other than as a block to individual freedom.   

Another example is SCOTUS’s recent Bostock decision, which reveals just how determinedly opposed to Law and how thoroughly absorbed by our foremost institutions the current radical zeitgeist is.

The decision purports to address what is deemed unjust discrimination toward a chosen gender.  But it is actually a ratification of the notion that equality means leveling all law. 

For the fact is that to eliminate the distinctions between the sexes, making human identity as male or female a matter of choice, creates a total elimination of all categories and classifications essential to formulating and practicing law. 

Ratification of a choice so radical ensures all other distinctions among humans are swept away.  A tabula rasa of the law is the end result, a tablet on which can be writ a new ten commandments by the moving fingers of those desiring annihilation of the old forms of law. A new table of commandments is in view, one that eliminates all distinctions. What human beings as mere units are under law of the new order remains to be seen. What Law without distinctions actually means also remains to be seen. For if the fundamental binary distinction of humans as male and female is eliminated, the idea of human beings as making good or evil choices is also eliminated.  The universal “equality” established by elimination of the human binary includes elimination of the idea of criminality.  

The high court has acceded to the ideology of transhumanism, which among other things, holds that the human race can move beyond the binary of good and evil. The Nietzschean ideal is to prevail; that is, that the only law lies in human impulse, which must act unrestrained by any concepts of good and evil, thus overriding any restrictions characterizing society’s present institutions, including the State and the Church.

Essentially, as Eric Voegelin pointed out in his essays on Gnosticism and politics, we are dealing with the religion of Gnosticism in the form of gnostic transhumanism.  The end goal? “The aim of parousiastic Gnosticism is to destroy the order of being, which is experienced as defective and unjust, and through man’s creative power to replace it with a perfect and just order.”

The current destruction leveling our society is a revolt against the natural order as given, an order that is not under man’s control. Nonetheless, the attempt is being made by variants of the gnostic trans movement, which is characterized by self-immolation in the form of radical self-mutilation. Like Siegfried on the pyre of his self-extinction, humans shall be beyond being as given, transcending the gods’ order.

The material body is thought inconsequential and even as worthy of elimination.  Humans raised above all law to the status of pure, unfettered spirits like angels or gods may do as they please. But as St. Augustine wrote, humans who raise themselves to the status of angels or gods are unattached to the reality of suffering humanity. Such people have no pity and no perturbation as they enforce “equality.”  Such beings implacably eliminate whole categories of actual human beings in favor of the abstract ideal human, be he/she the perfect Aryan or the perfect communist.

Voegelin goes on to write that at the heart of the destructive fires is the desire to obliterate transcendence, to annihilate metaphysics -- to murder God. “The murder of God, then, is of the very essence of the gnostic re-creation of the order of being. The gnostic is invested in “immanentizing the eschaton;” that is, in bringing into the here and now what was formerly characterized as belonging to the perfect afterlife.

Voegelin adds, “Knowledge – gnosis -- of the method of altering being is the central concern of the gnostic attitude.” Gnostic prophets, including some seated on the bench of the highest court of the land, lead the way, thus ratifying Condorcet’s idea that a directorate of intellectuals who see the future can with impunity stoke the fires now leveling civilization because it will become something wholly other than it presently is. 

But, as Voegelin notes, “…the strange, abnormal spiritual condition of gnostic thinkers” is that they ignore large chunks of reality (like the reality of human beings as male and  female) in order to create a fantasy world, a society that is governed neither by God’s will nor its own, but one placed under the governance of the gnostic thinker.

The contemporary gnostic prophet is the secularist thinker who discerns the meaning of history and can predict the future direction of history.  “All gnostic movements are involved in the project of abolishing the constitution of being with its origin in the divine transcendent being…this is a matter of so altering the structure of the world that a new, satisfying world emerges.”

If that new order emerges only by the fires of destruction, so be it.

What is the answer to the cultic anti-metaphysical irrationality of secular gnostic revolutionaries? 

It is chiefly this: The world, including the binaries built in it, remains as it is created and given to us.  It is not within the power of men and women to construct it as they think it should be constructed.  There are natural and divine laws against which no human being can prevail without destroying themselves and their civilizations.  Human shall not become as gods by murdering God.  They simply mutilate or murder themselves and others.

Ultimately, the madmen of today, as Nietzsche pointed out in his parable, would hold a requiem for God even in the churches.  “…the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: ‘What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?’ "

While it is certainly true that many churches are spiritual sepulchers where God is not found, there have been and still are those who uphold the Christian answer to the ills of society and the human condition; namely God’s redemptive plan for human beings and the cosmos.

However, spiritual renewal and growth, individual and societal, is a slow burn process.  It is full of painful and often seemingly unfulfilled effort.  But it is also a process that has been shown to be utterly transformative of humanity and society; witness the elimination of chattel slavery from the West.

At times and with heroic effort, men and women have brought societies into at least partial conformance to the great commands that are at the heart of all true reforms, beginning with the first two as summarized by Christ: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

In those commandments is found the spiritual fire that kindles righteousness and justice within society.

Graphc credit: Pixabay

--Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton theological Seminary, which awarded her the prize for excellence in systematic theology.  Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines.  She has regularly contributed to American Thinker for more than a decade. She may be reached at fvoshell@yahoo.com.