Maimonides, Averroes, someone like that said that all religions are true, because they’re just different aspects of the one underlying Reality. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, pick your prophet — it’s all the same message, tailored to the specific historical / cultural traditions of his listeners. I’m too tired this morning to go spelunking in my Big Book of Heresies, but I’m pretty sure most Gnostic sects believed something like this, too (except, of course, the Gnostics argued that the so-called prophets deliberately confused the Truth, which only they, the Gnostics, knew. Like Vogelin said, the Gnostics were the SJWs of their day).
Speaking of Gnostics, it’s obvious that Marxists believe the same thing (which is why Vogelin accused them of trying to immanentize the eschaton). For Marxists, “Capital” is the hypostasis on which all politics and culture are built…
…as fun as it is to throw silly Greek words around, I trust y’all see what I’m getting at. Marx had this elaborate hierarchy of pre-capitalist forms of production. The Middle Ages, for example, was a period of “primitive capital accumulation,” and the nerdier Marxists used to amuse themselves by writing massive Teutonic tomes about stuff like “hydraulic despotism.” It all boils down to anthropomorphizing “Capital” — turning it into a real, thinking entity that bends men to its will. Whether it’s the English feudal aristocracy enclosing the land, mighty Pharaoh controlling the water system, or the Scramble for Africa, it was just “Capital,” using the social, political, and cultural arrangements of the day to accomplish its mysterious ends.
Just because dorks like Karl Marx and Valentinus believed it dosen’t mean there’s not something to it, though. There really is an underlying concept that drives all political behavior: Physical security. It’s not a living, breathing entity, like the Gnostics’ pleroma or Marx’s “Capital,” but it’s omnipresent in political societies.
All men consent to be governed, in an absolute sense. Yes, quite often the choice is between “obeying the chief” and “the chief’s goons pounding you to paste with sharp rocks,” but it is a choice. In fact, when it comes right down to it, that’s the choice we all make every time we obey the government:
Is our current physical security worth the pain of obedience, or is it not?
The only differences between caveman days and the Current Year are scale and speed. The NKVD can deprive you of a lot more liberties, a lot more efficiently, than Mighty Pharaoh could. Mighty Pharaoh was a literal god on earth. He didn’t leave the fellaheen alone in their daily lives because he respected their autonomy (the very notion of personal autonomy was a few thousand years in the future when Mighty Pharaoh ruled). He didn’t monitor his subjects’ daily lives because he lacked the technology. That’s it. Put an Alexa in every mud hut along the Nile, and I promise you, Mighty Pharaoh would spend his days fucking with his slaves just on general principles.
But since he lacked this technology, Mighty Pharaoh had to confine himself to great matters of state. Here, too, physical security was key. You knew when Pharaoh blew it, because you’d be on the business end of a barbarian sword, spending your last few seconds of life watching your city burn and your wife and children being led off into slavery. If you somehow survived the sack, you obey your new barbarian masters for the same reason you obeyed Mighty Pharaoh.
Unfortunately for us, speed and scale have considerably broadened our notion of physical security. We know what kind of actions Mighty Pharaoh took in a plague. Given the technological limitations of his time, he could do no other. We modern folks, on the other hand….
… well, look around. We’ve decided, as a culture, that “physical security” now extends to “never getting the sniffles.” And we have, or soon will have, the technology to make that kind of monitoring a reality. The mud huts along the Nile didn’t have two-way Alexas installed; the McMansions along the Mississippi soon will. The state of the art of government really does allow for 24/7 individual surveillance. If we don’t want the sniffles, this is the only way to do it.
Democracy, Mencken said, is the theory that The People know what they want, and they deserve to get it, good and hard. Well… this, apparently, is what We the People want. We’re so terrified of the possibility of getting the sniffles that we’re going into voluntary lockdown. All I can say is: Y’all wanted this. I’ll be in the reeducation camp soon enough, but don’t say nobody tried to warn you.