Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Invisible Community Militant

Luther on vulnerability. From Thornhill, German Political Philosophy.

'Luther's response to Müntzer's ideas was vehemently to condemn the insurrections of the peasants and to support the princes in the violent suppression of the peasant armies. To support this, he denounced all people seeking to "enact God's scriptures on earth", and he denied that the Bible could be employed to justify any act of political resistance. If the "worldly regiment" is overthrown, he explained, this leads not to a political order founded in "God's word" but rather to "eternal destruction". It is only heathens, not Christians, he argued, who "struggle against authority", for only heathens attach such importance to worldly rule. Christians, in contrast, fight only through the cross and through suffering. Their "victory" lies not "in governing or in power ", but in "vanquishment and powerlessness".' 

This strikes me as a fundamental, if stark, description of our potential for existentialist, post-Marxist militancy: for the sort of revolt against objectivity suggested by Jaspers' thinking. Though of course in his book on Jaspers, Thornhill complexifies his relation to Luther considerably.

In my thinking I am not seeking to eternalize or to normalize despair. I am simply trying to attach some value to the misery I encounter weekly at Mind. Homelessness, indefinite hospitalization (again because of this city's housing crisis), self-hospitalization in flight from the work capability assessment process. Because the suffering of the vulnerable - the social invisibles -  is the prophecy, the future narrative, of a society that is all too visibly going down the pan. And all the Mind service users are involved with religion, ranging from King Street Buddhism to the most insular True Orthodoxy out of Guildford. Classified as a volunteer, I like to think of myself as one rung up on the rationalist ladder. I suppose I am evolving a fusion of secular Buddhism, as taught by the City Lit speech therapy department, and a Lutheran (mystery-inflected) rationalism allied to Jaspers' idea of philosophical faith.

To complexify John Lydon, 'there is no future' - for the very idea of worldly power - 'in England's dreaming'. When I first read Iain Sinclair's Radon Daughters around 1995, it came across as dark fantasy, a dream-transmission from a planet of unrealizable horror. Now, pick up the newspaper, it's there enacted. The collapse of what is called objective.

Up soon: the stammering magus, J. G. Hamann

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