Missing Axioms XI – The Afterglow West
Christianity is the adoption of martyrdom as an ideal, instantiating a system of value oriented towards the ideal of Christ. All ethical valuation then revolves around the maximisation of Christ-like behaviour. Objectively, Christ lived a short life. However, in regards to the ethical system he inspired within the Western canon he is the man who has lived the longest. The West is still psychologically convulsing from the results of his martyrdom. Through the civilisations of Christendom humanity feels swayed to proclaim explicit orientations towards sacrifice or to offer what implicit space they have as an earthly charitable offering to others. This often takes the a de-instrumentalised form, regardless of outcomes primordially Christian values such as altruism are often seen as ‘good’ in themselves regardless of the earthly outcome. Many such instances of pathological altruism often have no tangible (or even negative) effect on long-term metrics of improvement1. Anecdotally, I have witnessed a common phenomenon among higher-status ‘secular’ people of the Afterglow West whereby Christian values, such as altruism, are seen as merely self-evident properties of rational agents. We in fact know that these are hangovers of Christian precepts, given that they clearly only linger in post-Christian societies. Meta-ethically we know that a circular altruism for altruism’s sake will slowly fade in the Afterglow West and that some belief in external judgement and punishment is required for such things to have any sticking power.
Christianity sacrifices all implicit space to an explicit belief in the metaphysical hereafter:
“Be he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exhalted.”2
I want to sidestep the Nietzschean critique of Christianity as merely a morality of the slavish, it seems to me that almost all things that can be said about Nietzsche’s polemics have been neutered and exhausted by academics. Alternatively, I want to draw specific attention of the pathological sacrifice of implicit space in the competition of Christendom to become the one that suffers the most. For the blessed are not merely the “poor”, “mourners”, “meek” and “merciful” but also the “persecuted for righteousness’ sake”, the impression is given that it isn’t merely the “righteousness” which makes them “blessed” but also the fact that they suffer through “persecution”. The Christian “pure in heart” comes not of the goodness of the heart but that implicit suffering was shouldered with explicit faith (this is the previously mentioned belief in external judgement and punishment). They who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” are told they shall be filled3, there is no cost to this promise in a world devoid of convicted belief, this is why Christianity appears to us in earthly modernity as profoundly hungry.
Christianity was impotent to defend any of it’s ethical absolutes by the time liberation movements and the sexual revolution came about. The irreducible deontological commitment to the lover found in Christian marriage was quickly dispensed with under the critique that monolithically it presented cascading justification to categories of patriarchal ownership. A relation where the helpless feminine is bound like a cattle to her patriarchal herdsman. This singular refutation integrated nicely with secular equity ethics which informs it’s history through the villains of pop-culture, however particularly in regards to the Christian ethical system the identity of the patriarch is mistaken. Doctrinally speaking he first commitment is to god, fellow man (‘neighbour’) comes second4. This is relevant to the ethics of marriage as the duty of divine cuckoldry is contained within the gospels, Joseph being an ideal of the husband at mercy of the whims of where God decides to sow his seed:
“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.”5
It doesn’t take a theologian to realise why there are no Muslim, Hindu, Shinto or Atheist apologetics. Christianity has taken apology and self-denial and made it a categorical necessity. This leaves, ironically considering the primacy of Christian charity, no ability to denigrate from without for competing systems. I think this observation goes some way to explaining the flourishing of inclusive nervousness in the leftover branches of Christianity holding out in the Afterglow West. What I mean by this is the conversational reluctance to speak of ultimately important things doing so has mutated from the prime interest of any long-term civilisation wishing to project itself into the future and is now seen as nothing more than impolite, especially with regards to questions of traditionally religious belief. This philosophical death drive appears most dominant in the limp-wristed ‘politeness’ of the Anglican tradition and has an exception in the form of bombastic Evangelical Americana. The meek Christian of the 21st century lives among the flaming ruins of the Afterglow West, clinging to Christian hope, never quite seeming to grasp how close to complete darkness they are.
“[…] Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.”6
We are now so irreversibly far from Christ in the Afterglow West that “the light of this world” will soon be setting. Believing Christian holdouts have no chance in reversing a process that Christendom itself has put in motion. The very fact that to be a martyr in earthly things is to be emulated has left them devoid both of will and means to even conceptualise their earthly enemies as enemies, let alone fight them.
Socrates “prophetic ability”7 was as a omen of the Christian prophet to come. Christ, like Socrates, upon his death was elevated to prophet. The Western canon has a subterranean ideal of the authentic man who dies for his convictions through the collision of implicit values (action) and explicit values (communication/doctrine). The Afterglow West doesn’t necessarily need revival of a Christian nature to project itself into the future but certainly values which can utilise this primordial Western notion of authenticity. Currently, imposter nihilism rules the roost in the decaying cathedrals of the Afterglow West leaving circular meta-ethics which will soon be engulfed by values more absolute and confident once the “light of the world” finally completely fades from memory.
- This is to say by some measurable metric, despite the meta-ethical questions invoked by this statement I am leaving the source of the meta-ethical judgement open-ended as it doesn’t touch the logic of instrumentality.
- Matthew 23:11-12, King James Version
- Matthew 5:3-10
- Matthew 22:37-40
- Matthew 1:19
- John 11:9-10
- Plato. (2010) The Last Days of Socrates (trans C. Rowe), Penguin, Apology 40a, p.60