Many, many years ago, in my callow and misspent youth, I had a lapel button that said: “Don’t let them immanentize the eschaton.” This was a pretty good saying and conversation starter despite the fact, as I recall, that it was popularized by the intellectually shallow poseur William Buckley.
The saying was an over-simplified reference to the vast, erudite, and dense writings of Eric Voegelin. Reduced shamefully to the simplest terms, immanentizing the eschaton is an attempt to bring Heaven to earth by the actions of men. For Christian civilization the given universe is a divine design which includes the human soul. Immanentising the eschaton attempts to make men into gods who control history and create a perfect regime according to their ideological dreams. This is, of course, impossible. Man cannot re-create himself and basic human nature is a reality in all times and places. The attempt violates the order of the universe and indicates disorder in the minds of men and in society. In creating the future perfect world of which they dream, men reject reality in favour of an imaginary, impossible world.
This, according to Voegelin, is the characteristic condition of “modernity,” the defects of which have brought us Communism, Nazism, progressivism, the rejection of traditional wisdom, moral dissolution, and a host of other ills. The ultimate finish of an attempt to create a dream world is tyranny---the criminalization of dissent followed by the firing squad. Failure to create the “new man” does not deter the progressive, it merely causes him to double down---the inevitable end of which is force against dissidents. We are seeing that now.
Our present American society with Cultural Marxism seems to be progressing toward that end, in some ways even more damaging than Bolshevism.
The Dream World holds sway.
The evidence is overwhelming.
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews