The High of Monotheism - A Detox (Part III)
Splitting Hairs to Splitting Atoms
The problem, which is still largely ignored to this day, is that in order to achieve this kind of "equality" - that "human" equality that today rings either hypocritical or hollow (and rightfully so) - the initial meaning, with which Monotheism came to be, had to be eliminated.
Pride had to "fall."
Of course, therein lay a rub: how to perform a wholesale, conceptual elimination of something that had invented such conceptual, wholesale eliminations in the first place (without ending up back where you started)?
Enter the genius of the Christian priest; from Paul, through Augustine, to Martin Luther. You kill the Killer, kill God. Replace (Judaic) Law with (Christian) Love, chosenness with humility, cut God down to 'Man' size. Pride comes before the fall just like the "Old" testament comes before the "New (and improved!) Testament." And voila: instead of a chosen people and surrounding Gentiles, egalitarian 'souls' were born. These kernels of what today we call "the subject" - a term already betraying the humiliation at its origin - now carried, or purloined, that old Judaic responsibility that had it out in the open, as "Letter", as "Law", as exteriority.
The 'spiritual' maneuver that Christianity effected within the Monotheist framework of justification - as Nietzsche tried to tell us way back when - was a direct (and by now long-forgotten) attack on Judaism's unreconcilable chosenness. Its genius of self-differentiation conveniently became the worst Sin, the Devil's Sin (yes, they invented the Devil too, those literal bastards). "Pride", they called it. And they attacked it - along with the responsibility attached to its hip - with Guilt.
What used to keep the prospects of murder and annihilation at bay, at I mentioned before, was the absolute resistance of Judaism to generalization and assimilation: reading the Torah echoed the (undeniably traumatic) role of being God's sole witness, forever, with no direct way of effecting any kind of salvation or end. This logic of shattering to various autonomous pieces, this divinely sanctioned "separationism" - diasporic dispersal of Rabbinical courts that would persist as fragments (that never cohere) within a multiplicity of Gentile contexts and nations (in Christian Europe they called it "The Jewish Problem") - was turned on itself. The priest, as Nietzsche says, reverses the direction of (Judaic) ressentiment.
Explosion became implosion; the logic of annihilation was primed, soon to be unleashed upon everything and everyone.
N.B. The Atomic Bomb was only a symptom - the drive was already there, for centuries upon centuries. Prior to the possibility of the total annihilation of "the world", came the desire to "save" it. This is not a "human condition" kind of problem. Sustenance and waste are necessities of life, but only Monotheism's "spiritual" machinations could produce sustaining systems whose total frameworks -- like mass-production and militant industrialization (sorry, let's call it by its whiter name, "development") -- produce that special "waste"; that unprecedented death-substance we call, for good reason, toxic. (P.S. Did you know that the first Atomic test site was named Trinity?)
Christian "justice" diluted Monotheist murderousness - or thought it did (enter: "hypocrisy") - through incarnating it in the all-too-human frailty of "the flesh"; a potential released as soon as God incarnates Himself in (a) 'Man'. Biblical Judaism didn't believe in 'souls' as a homogenous ethical category for everyone, because Monotheism produced a tough ethics that was never supposed to be for everyone; indeed, it only existed on the basis of this separation or exclusion.
The 'Subject', as an ethical category, is wholly a Christian invention, a Pauline maneuver, and is repeated like a mantra to this day by philosophers who believe themselves speaking universally. Or worse, 'scientifically.' (Just look at what they still call "Rat(ional) Choice" and "Game Theory." They love those subjective little soul-carriers; they made careers out of them).
A creature of God, this humble finite being finds itself guilty by virtue of existence alone. 'Original Sin' - they called it in Christian theology. No pride necessary, or even relevant any longer. Everyone was equally born, and hence everyone was equally guilty.
I see this maneuver as opening the path for circumventing the Judaic fail-safe against its holy hatred's more global, mass-murdering potential. For, as "all" are "equal" in the "eyes of God" - that is, equally guilty and in need of Salvation - the frailty of the flesh becomes always already assumed, always already "forgiven".
What's the difference? The difference is that now goodness is pushed inwards, tpwards purity of intentions, as some invisible daimon that no one can know and verify. "Only God can see your soul."
The Catholic Church held this "push" at bay as long as it could, with its Dogma and institutional hierarchies; but Paul's reconciling and evangelizing drive - cohering a single Dogma (for "all") and spreading it (to "all") - had doomed it from the go. This logic of "all" found its entropy, as befitting a movement based on negating Judaic chosenness and "separationism," in the 'equality' of humility: the "letter" was now accused of killing, while the "spirit" negated it (or "sublated" it or whatever), to be deemed pure and life-giving (wtf).
This kind of anti-Judaic attack effectively threw the ethical baby with the bathwater of Pride; it was just waiting for another kind of Pauline maneuver to fully unleash. "Humanism" - sharing a distinctly anti-Catholic impetus with the Protestantism attached to its hip - literally re-formed Catholicism. But long before this, a 'Man' overtook God by incarnating Him. 'Secularism' follows this pattern, and religiously so; as another name for a Pauline anti-Catholic sentiment, accusing the Church precisely with having failed the test of 'humility.' "How dare you speak for God!?" through Dogma and institutional power (deploying the, now subtextual, implication: you're no better than the Jews, with their self-assertion and visible, obstinate character. Paul's maneuver was based on this "cut out the middle man" logic, and Martin Luther's "priesthood of all believers" merely carried the logic to its conclusion.
The logic was antisemitic, however, all along.
This is the disaster. It produced, in a Monotheist context (this bears repeating), an unstable compound, like weapons-grade Uranium. Consolidating the multitude of Judaic fission(s) - which, to recall, is an active force that seeks to preserve its separation (i.e. "the Sin of Pride") - reversed the explosive self-disseminating exteriority of Judaism, turning it inwards.
Hence, an implosion; splitting (internal) atoms instead of (external) hairs.
The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the syringe is mightier than the pen.
Hypocrite Lecteur: Persecuting the 'Inner Jew'
When guilt replaces responsibility, where there can no longer be an external Letter of Law (to forever bounce off of and reinterpret ad-infinitum, in small, separated groups that were proud to disagree and decohere), God's stone tablets could finally be melted to an essence, and injected into every 'soul' on the planet. Baptized in holy water, warmed by Passion, the priest had the perfect compound to inject monotheism's pure murder everywhere.
High on guilt, the believer can't see the Law anymore, or, better yet, believes to have transcended it, comprehended its deeper meaning.
Hence the effect of nihilistic hollowing-out of all possible values. Since it vanquished the written ones, which are external and immutable, it can a fortiori best those internal to a community or tradition. To take for example the Jewish Law/Ethics I mentioned earlier: Judaism's unprecedented protection of orphans and strangers now suddenly becomes insufficient, suspect. I hear the pangs of guilt now: what if I protected them just for my own self-interest or self-pleasure? How to be sure? I better dig deeper inside myself. How deep? Infinitely. Until I get to the atoms of my beings.
And then split them. Nietzsche called this vivisection of the 'conscience.'
This poison goes as deep within myself as God (used to be) high above me.
That is also why spirit goes so well with "spirits"; intentions dissolve very well in alcohol. Judaic Law, however, doesn't (see Part II).
Conscience and intentions also dissolve well in ignorance and/or stupidity. Or did you think it was an accident that any antisemitic movement born in a Christian context was/is also profoundly anti-intellectual (this kind of hatred goes back to the figure of the 'Pharisee' in the Christian Gospel). Hence our ethics having devolved to "plausible deniability" (try that one with the Jewish God and see what happens)...
That is how any ethical value was and is consistently mined hollow. Its criteria are all too human. This is a true, radical nihilism - the direct product of Paul's anti-Judaism. The ancient skeptics, who lived in a non-Monotheist context and world, did not know a Monotheist God, and, even if they'd heard of one, would have left Him alone. Neither scaring themselves of His infinite height, nor reversing it to "get high" themselves. Their "nihilism" was so naïve in comparison. They didn't have as many reasons to hate life and themselves as much, you see.
The Torah God didn't give a shit about things like conscience and intentions, secret or otherwise. That is precisely the accusation that Christianity drove, like a wooden stake, into the heart of Judaism (which is also, sadly, its own heart as well); the moral accusation of 'hypocrisy.' Following the Law with the "wrong reasons" - and oh boy did Christian morality invent so many of those - was deemed, by the Pauline maneuver, as sinful in itself. And since then, with no "letter" to refer to as an external source of absolute authority (even if its meaning is endlessly debated) - the toxins of self-accusation began flowing in the psyche, corrupting thought and language.
And, yes, also corrupting empathy; which could still have persisted beyond the Law, precisely because it didn't have to.
Paul broke the Jewish levees; and unleashed global violence, and "love," on an unprecedented scale. We mustn't forget the good intentions of ressentiment, nor treat them as wholly "evil." But neither should we see them as they see themselves -- as if sharing in the Monotheist God's absolution, his ab-solute (detached and untouchable) status.
Because Christian guilt keeps carrying - now mostly in ignorance/"good faith" - the same murderous logic to this day.
This is the genius of Paul: he preaches a humble violence, the violence of a quintessential 'victim': based on their 'self' sacrifice, of all the hostility they had to redirect inward, the good Christians finally get to that breaking (or should I say fission) point. It got so bad that this logic allows even sinning to be a redeeming act, as a kind of self-sacrifice by someone "willing to damn their soul so that others wouldn't have to, and could thus get to Heaven"... Is it any surprise that the most fervent of Saint Paul's followers fantasize of this moment as "rapture"? That Christians are so attracted by death, that they so long for it, as a release from this "vale of tears"?
N.B. Monotheist eschatology was not the first fantasy about the 'end of the world' - the Norse myth of Ragnarök is an example of a Pagan eschatology - but it was the first non-cyclical, linear eschatology; the first 'THE end of the world.' One line, one direction; which is why the gap, the Judaic suspension of the God-World relation (which Levinas termed 'separation') was so crucial.
The problem here consists in something (anti-Catholic/Academic) philosophers have long been loath to admit into ethical considerations; it is a metaphysical problem.
Nietzsche tried to warn us of this as well.
There is Nothing other than 'God' for Monotheism, especially when it grows "theological". Where the Monotheist finds no God, they find Nothing (and where there is no longer an external "letter" this is a much easier sell. There really is nothing).
This is not just a semantic quibble. Read about the concept of 'Terra Nullius', the "empty land" up for grabs, a concept used as a justification, used by Christians, for plundering so many native lands (and native people), and you will understand the predicament, the pernicious form of violence, that attends the spreading any such "good news".
It is not hypocrisy. It's more like a pathological dissociation.
This is to be expected from the geopolitical deployment of theological concepts such as 'love' and 'equality,' as both have a reactively negative basis in 'Humility.'
The latter, as a negation of Pride (not all values of 'humility' are necessarily so, but the Christian one is) will always circle the drain of its own impossibility as a value, for every value must, by definition, have a claim to some distinction. The charge of 'hypocrisy' is just another way of keeping the humble guilty; that is, accusing the believer of harboring "an inner Jew".
(...and there's a Conclusion)