Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Closing the Gate of Hell

Carl Schmidt's most important contribution to political thinking was to understand how theological concepts, crucial for the construction of medieval society, translated into the modern world as secular ideologies. Schmidt called this 'political theology' and it undergirds, in its semi-Christian form, most political thinking of today. For example, any notion of "sovereignty" derives from the theological category which described God's authority and right over His creation.

One of Schmidt's categories was the medieval notion of the 'katachon'. This is the Greek word for the figure who restrained the spirit of Anti-Christ that St. Paul described in 1 Thessalonians. Medieval thinkers labeled certain people as 'katachon' in their bid to protect Europe. Certain kings were heralded as such when they turned back Muslim Arab or Turkish armies from invading Europe. Schmidt, as a heterodox Catholic, saw this as part of the role of the sovereign in European politics. Despite his ambivalence about the Nazis, Schmidt saw Hitler as a 'katachon' to hold back the apocalypse of Bolshevism, waiting to usher in anarchic chaos.

I think Schmidt's conceptualization of the 'katachon' is still important for understanding modern politics. Namely, I'm considering the presidential race this year. Donald Trump is a vicious and wicked man, but his openly stupid and rabid comments are not much worse, perhaps less subtle, than the establishment we already possess. Trump is not a pending doom as much a symptom of our own wanton and destructive life styles. He just possesses the crude honesty that offends our sensibilities. He is the American Way without a mask of pussy-footing and double-talk.

But, my point is that he is not much worse, for the health of Mankind, than what we have. But Hillary Clinton has positioned herself, even as blatantly corrupt and power-hungry as she is, as a kind of savior figure. Unlike Barack Obama, she does not herald herself as a kind of messianic figure, the one to usher in a new age of prosperity. Instead, she has angled herself as a 'katachon', and this strategy will either make or break her this election cycle.

Hillary as the 'katachon' means that she hopes to get elected as the guardian angel who will prevent the demon Trump from seizing the throne and ushering in doomsday. The American political landscape has taken on dark and disturbing dimensions through this apocalyptic rhetoric. Hillary claims to hold back the tides of darkness oozing out of the right-wing, a kind of last resort, the only knight left to fight the dragon. It's all myth and fairy-tale, but this might get her into the White House.

It's strange to see such theological, even biblical, concepts being implicitly deployed despite, so-called, avowed secularism pushed by "liberals". This is further proof that Americana, that nationalistic ideology, is just a heretical, blasphemous, form of Christianity. Corruptio Optimi Pessima.

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