Another Fin de Siecle

In the late 1800s, all the old certainties collapsed under the twin blows of Darwinism and Industrialism.  Darwin showed we were nothing but monkeys, and the “social Darwinists” — using that term very very loosely — showed that our institutions evolved, too.  E.B. Tylor and Emile Durkheim proved that religions evolve like people do, and our deepest so-called truths are just… wait for it… “social constructions,” to be valued only for their social utility, not their truth-value (which is, of course, actually negative).  Ernst Mach, perhaps the most representative intellectual of the age, said that science itself had its origin in evolutionary biology.  To top it all off, advances in industrial technique rendered large segments of the population superfluous — Eloi, the food for Morlocks.  To say it was an age of deep spiritual unease is juuuuust a bit of an understatement.

Is it any wonder that the Gilded Age / Belle Epoque was also the heydey of spiritualism, theosophy, psychical research?  Whatever spergs like T.H. Huxley might have believed, the vast majority of humanity isn’t going to trade in its holy books for algebra texts, no matter how strong the “proof.”  If the old transcendental beliefs are conclusively disproven, we’ll invent some new ones… or double down on the old ones (every social reform movement in the Gilded Age — and they were legion — was, without exception, stuffed to the rafters with Evangelicals).

Hence the modern Left devolving into a homicidal mystery cult.

By 1890, say, not even the most ignorant, benighted peasant could possibly still believe in the Biblical account of creation.  In the same way, by 2019, no halfway educated person can possibly believe in the Left’s version of Creationism, the one that goes “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”  Race is real, IQ is real, both are heritable and strongly correlated with each other, and all of it is wrapped up in behavior that is also heritable and highly correlated with race.  And if that means Science’s self-proclaimed BFFs suddenly decrying Science itself as rayciss, well, there’s precedent.

Here’s a list of the presidents of the Society for Psychical Research.  You’d have to be a period specialist to recognize a lot of those names, but no one here, I’d venture to say, regards the likes of Henry James, Arthur Balfour, Henri Bergson, and F.C.S. Schiller as fringe weirdos (see also the Metaphysical Society, of which T.H. Huxley, of all people, was a member, along with Gladstone and Walter Bagehot).  Though they’d never be so gauche as to say it this way, we can rest assured that all these men Fucking Loved Science.   Indeed, that was the whole point of the SPR — the difference between Henry James and Madame Blavatsky was that James wanted to slap a camera and stopwatch on her when she was in one of her mystical trances, to prove that they were real.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Left suddenly rediscovering its hippie roots… or its theosophical roots — you think this Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez idiot doesn’t believe, in her heart of hearts, in something very much like melanism?  As a culture, we already assign unique spiritual insight to Blacks (a form of worship I saw commenters at Z Mans dubbing “Dinduism,” complete with caste system).  Why not go all-in on “race essence”?  We forget this — because we were trained long and hard to forget it — but the Thule Society was pretty much straight-up theosophy, a movement that claimed Thomas Edison, Alfred Russel Wallace, and Gandhi as supporters.  Most of the work in the human sciences is already de facto heresy; watch for it to become de jure too.

And if you really want a black pill, remember how the Belle Epoque ended….

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One thought on “Another Fin de Siecle

  1. MBlanc46

    Well, we’re a bit past the end of the century. But close enough, I suppose. Perhaps 100–150 years ago you could make a claim that all the evidence wasn’t in on the paranormal. They didn’t have the means to do the experiments. Now we do. The book—outside the National Enquirer, anyway—is closed on spirits. We looked for them. They’re not there. Equalism is a horse of a slightly different color. Statements about behaviors are always probabilistic. They’ve got at least another century to quibble about the statistics. We’ll all be in the gulag well before then.

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