NIHILISM The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age by Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose
The Nihilist rebellion and antitheism responsible for the "death of God" give rise to the idea that is to inaugurate the "new age": the transformation of man himself into a god. "Dead are all the gods," says Nietzsche's Zarathustra: "now do we desire the superman to live." The "murder" of God is a deed too great to leave men unchanged: "Shall we not ourselves have to become gods, merely to seem worthy of it?" In Kirillov, the Superman is the "Mangod," for in his logic, "if there is no God, then I am God." It is this idea of the "Superman" that underlies and inspires the conception of the "transformation of man," alike in the Realism of Marx and in the Vitalism of numerous occultists and artists. The various conceptions of the "new man" are, as it were, a series of preliminary sketches of the Superman. For just as nothingness, the god of Nihilism, is but an emptiness and expectancy looking to fulfillment in the revelation of some "new god," so too the "new man," whom Nihilism has deshaped, reduced, and left without character, without faith, without orientation--this "new man," whether viewed as "positive" or "negative," has become "mobile" and "flexible," "open" and "receptive," he is passive material awaiting some new discovery or revelation or command that is to remold him finally into his definitive shape. Finally, the corollary of the Nihilist annihilation of authority and order is the conception--adumbrated in all the myths of a "new order"--of an entirely new species of order, an order which its most ardent defenders do not hesitate to call "Anarchy." The Nihilist State, in the Marxist myth, is to "wither away," leaving a world-order that is to be unique in human history, and which it would be no exaggeration to call the "millennium." A "new age" ruled by "Anarchy" and populated by "Supermen": this is the Revolutionary dream that has stirred men into performing the incredible drama of modern history. It is an "apocalyptic" dream, and they are quite correct who see in it a strange inversion of the Christian hope in the Kingdom of Heaven. But that is no excuse for the "sympathy" so often accorded at least the more "sincere" and "noble" Revolutionaries and Nihilists; this is one of the pitfalls we found it necessary to warn against at the very beginning of this chapter. In a world thinly balanced on the edge of chaos, where all truth and nobility seem to have vanished, the temptation is great among the well-meaning but naive to seek out certain of the undoubtedly striking figures who have populated the modern intellectual landscape, and--in ignorance of genuine standards of truth and spirituality--to magnify them into spiritual "giants" who have spoken a word which, though "unorthodox," is at least "challenging." But the realities of this world and of the next are too rigorous to permit such vagueness and liberalism. Good intentions too easily go astray, genius and nobility are too often perverted; and the corruption of the best produces, not the second best, but the worst. One must grant genius and fervor, and even a certain nobility to a Marx, a Proudhon, a Nietzsche; but theirs is the nobility of Lucifer, the first among the angels who, wishing to be even more than he was, fell from that exalted position into the abyss. Their vision, in which some would see a profounder kind of Christianity, is the vision of the Reign of Antichrist, the Satanic imitation and inversion of the Kingdom of God. All Nihilists, but preeminently those of the greatest genius and the broadest vision, are the prophets of Satan; refusing to use their talents in the humble service of God, "They have waged war against God with His own gifts."