In 1909, at the beginning of what was to be defined as “the short century”, the Italian Futurists said “We stand on the far promontory of centuries!”
Today simultaneity, another futuristic concept, has reached around the world and, in particular, all people in every social class.
What is simultaneous influences all our myths, behaviors and values – it is not just a mere economic or financial transaction.
In fact, the World Wide Web connects, almost instantly, huge masses of poor and rich people, as well as elites.
Hence, in such a context, which is completely new to the psychological, cultural and anthropological experience of large masses of people, it is perhaps useful to rethink the cultural and religious distinctive factors of the world we have known and of the world we will contribute to build.
It is a fact that Europe is no longer at the center of global cultural routes.
Its underlying idea – its foundation myth – has now become the ”idea of technology”, the continuous and repetitive transformation of the universe into a civilization of téchne in which, according to the German philosopher Heidegger, man is ever more surrounded by powers he created that do not follow his will but, on the contrary, adapt man to the will of technology.
Hence technology as Goethe’s Faust, almost a daemon freed from the matter that, although contributing to better learn how and what nature is, does not change or elevate the nature of man, who always remains what the Enlightenment doctors defined homme plante and homme machine.
It is the universe of the ordinary man, without roots, who sets himself up as center of the universe with his “material needs”.
The plant-man, the machine-man and finally the mass-man, the One Self becoming the Many Selves, the current forms of oligarchic democracy we know all too well, before having experienced the Self of the Many totalitarianisms.
Life not as destiny, but the human biological survival – strengthened, extended and made dynamic – as a demonstration of the téchne autonomous power.
At geopolitical level, the issue radically changed with the translatio imperii occurred at the end of World War II, when Great Britain assigned its British Empire to the United States with a view to repaying the high debts incurred due to the very long conflict.
Nevertheless, apart from their poor neo-positivistic cultural fabric, the United States had no conceptual framework to manage and provide meaning and symbols to the great economic growth which took place in the “Thirty Glorious Years” (1943-1973), dominated by a system of fixed exchange rates between the major world (Western) currencies.
Hence the sequence of the Cold War culture, focusing on the “free world” myth as against the Soviet and Communist authoritarianism, a surely tough regime which, however, did not qualify itself only with its anti-democratic credentials or with the rejection of “free trade”, at least on the internal market.
Communism was a materialistic religion of the future, a futurism in which the “Marxist science” (the last discovery of the scientist myth of capital) allowed the leap forward to the final stage of development of the bourgeois, the full realization of his material needs.
A global division between East and West in which both sides underlined productivity, technology, the myth of man devoted to the accumulation of ever more complex material goods suitable for leading an easy, cheerful and free life – free from the past and from its heavy legacy of wisdom and knowledge, which could not be wiped out.
Later, after the complex political and cultural evolution of the Soviet (and Chinese) world, the materialistic West has acquired some of the traits that the British economist and philosopher, John Stuart Mill, precisely defined as “Chinese” or hyper-massified, while the East has regained not only its geoeconomic dominance, but also the idea of its own past and identity – the identity which is lost when you are conquered, as is the case with Europe, after having spread your own cultural pattern everywhere.
Also Nietzsche, in his “Posthumous Fragments” of 1887, spoke about the future Spirit as the “soothing balm” which would be poured onto the “Chinese guys” – all alike – of the great mass production.
Today, in terms of knowledge and wisdom (and not of trivial “culture”), the development of cultural and religious balances is crucial also in relation to material values.
According to the CCP, Confucius – really hated by Mao Zedong (who was a Taoist) – was one of the “four old wise men” and, according to the Red Guards loyal to the Great Helmsman, he was also the ideologue of feudalism.
Today, however, Confucius is the philosophical model of China’s “harmonious society” and of its social stability, much loved by the Party, while many contemporary Chinese philosophers readapt Confucianism, which also René Guénon considered to be “Tao’s esotericism”, a universal philosophy which also applied to non-Chinese people.
Hence, while Europe’s Idea is still linked to the repetition of the Enlightenment fake miracle, a theory of the “liberation” from traditions, wisdom and separation between the Idea and téchne – as we can see in the tragic responses provided to the jihad – Asia and China, in particular, are retracing not only the steps of technology, but also the steps of their tradition.
It is precisely that tradition that Europe wants to wipe out, still considering itself as the place of Everything, of the Material Everything while, in the whole Eurasian context and in many Mediterranean areas, there is the evident revival of philosophies and ancient ways of life, as well as the simulacra of the Gods that the Western materialistic myth had dismissed as “false and deceitful”.
While capitalism is changing as perhaps never in the past, thus becoming a world mass phenomenon, we witness the end of the materialistic, positivistic, atheistic and anti-traditional ideology which largely generated it.
It is a paradox.
Currently – and this can also be seen in the organization of the new companies – capitalism is a symbol, a cultural model and a social network, as well as the object and the subject of the local Tradition.
Many contemporary anthropologists remind us of the fact that in the Silk Road there is the return of the pre- and supra-Islamic identities which characterized the shamanic traditions in the same way as, in Ataturk’s old Turkey, the Sunni Islam overlapped with the syncretic and occult philosophy of the various Sufi brotherhoods in which the Quran is “infinite” and it is extended with the link between Tradition and personal mystical illumination.
Also the West had its mystical phase in the 1970s and 1980s, but it was a wisdom of the Heart which aimed at physical wellbeing, as usual.
And to think that the great industrial capitalism was born precisely from the esotericism and occultism of the Frankist Jews, namely passionate Eastern and Western theosophists who founded, for example, the Commercial Bank, or from real magicians such as Walther Rathenau.
It is worth recalling that both in the USSR and in the United States perestroika and glasnost were publicized and developed by a branch of the International Theosophical Society.
The remaining Western Tradition is occult and syncretistic and it covers itself with the poor mantle of vulgar materialism, while the Eastern one is equally divided between the Initiates and the Laymen but, still today, it connects the Unspeakable and the common speech and storytelling with little threads.
“You Westerners would dope yourselves also with mineral water”, as a very poor Imam said to an Italian soldier on a military mission there.
Indeed the West is the place where practice and matter imitate the Spirit.
The jihad, however, is the breaking point not only at military and political level, but also at cultural one.
Well before 2014, the Islamic State’s ideology was born in the 1970s, with the so-called Sawha movement, namely the merger of Salafism, namely the myth of Islam’s origins, with the typical ideas of revolutionary Islamism, often secularized by Western (and materialistic) ideologies.
This leads to takfirism, namely the possibility of excommunicating other Muslims without Imamate’s mediation.
Therefore it is a complex hybridization between various Islamic ideologies and traditions: Wahhabism, born also from a literalist radicalization of the Hanbali legal and interpretative tradition and from the Muslim Brotherhood.
At social and economic level, the massification of Islamic populations – subjected to a rapid ideology of modernization after the end of the protectionist and populist regimes of the 1970s and 1980s – ended the phase of the authoritarian Welfare State.
The Westernist liberalizations also generated huge masses of old and new poor, while the liberalization of trade and local raw materials led to a future shock which has not yet developed all its effects in the Arab world.
The Italian economist and sociologist, Vilfredo Pareto, used to say that “Socialism is a form of protectionism”, but without protecting their raw materials – with the aggravating circumstance of the Welfare forced liberalizations, the Third World countries cannot move forward.
Either they wage war against the West, with the jihad, or they self-destroy in a new non-national Islamic indistinct mass, without traditions other than those of some phony preachers.
Hence the void of secular and traditional nationalism, which no longer pays salaries, has turned into the full of jihad, of the violent and criminal Islam “international” against those who, in its opinion, caused the crisis, namely the Westerners.
At the cultural and geo-religious level, the Silk Road is turning into a ring of regional Islams where the hybridization between the Quran and the local traditions is often encouraged and, in any case, not prohibited by the authority.
In China, Confucianism filled the ideological void caused by the crisis of Marxism-Leninism as propaganda, immediately before globalization while, luckily, the State accounting rules continue to be the traditional ones.
In Russia, the crisis of Marxism – a crisis of its materialism rather than of its predictive ability – has brought again to light what had never disappeared.
I am referring to the esotericism of the Third Rome, of Eurasia expanding the Tradition of its Mediterranean and Atlantic peninsula to the Center of the World, the Heartland where, in the early twentieth century, the theosophists and their evil offspring, namely the Nazis, as well as the Initiates of the international Freemasonry, went in search of Occult Wisdom.
The geo-religious myth is always at the origin of strategic choices, not the other way round: today’s Russia embodies the hopes for world stabilization and growth through the domination of the Middle Kingdom, along with China, while Islam – regardless of its being “sword jihad”, “permanent jihad” or “cultural jihad” – is taking the place of the great global revolutionary obsessions which have characterized the last two centuries.
The Sunni jihad is targeted against us Westerners, against the Islamic governments cooperating with us and against the Shiites.
The Shiite insurgency, often with interesting cultural and wisdom novelties emerging in the new centers of the uprising, is an attempt to conquer the Islamic region between Central Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Middle East.
A hybridization eastward, whereas previously the Shia Tradition had mixed with the Western wisdom Traditions, from early Christianity to neo-Platonism even up to the remaining Greek mysteries.
It is the other face of the global Sunni insurgency – either jihadist or not – which wants to gather all the new “wretched of the earth” and convert them to Qaran, with a view to employing them in the struggle against the First World, namely the West, and then against the new first World, namely growing Central Asia, which is undergoing a cultural and religious evolution.
The Shia tradition may be different.
Judaism, in its new globalist evolution – focused on Israel and its new internal cultural and religious debate – will bring both the culture and tradition of the New Asia to the West, which is not only téchne, and then transform the Islamist universe, by dividing it in two: a culture of dialogue and wisdom compared to the Tradition of the Books and the subsequent fight against an ever less mass jihad.
With Pope Francis, the first Bishop of Rome belonging to the Society of Jesus, Catholicism will organize its Tradition around the non-Asian peoples marginalized by globalization.
However, considering that the Tradition is invisible to those who should break with it, it will remain the axis of most cultural and even economic evolution of our world.
GIANCARLO ELIA VALORI
Honorable de l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France