Saturday, November 24, 2007

France, secularization and history, Part 2

I concluded some random reflections on my visit to France with the following observation: that God once was recognized as the final Judge, but for many today, history is judge. We see that politicians want to make a name and a 'legacy' for themselves, and few of us would be as bold as Dante to place Justinian, Charlemagne and Charles of Anjou under the judgement of Almighty God. This suggests that Marxism, the belief in the inevitable judgement of 'History' may have officially perished with glasnost, but has triumphed in the hearts of Westerners. Here I continue with my journal notes:

"However, there is the problem of infinite regress in history. If we call Herodotus 'the father of lies', as did many of my college mates back in the day, precisely because he is the 'father of history', how confident can we be in history's judgement? How confident can we be that truth will win out in the telling of history? The United States has had to tell a certain version of its own history in order to justify the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Many commentators have pointed out the need to reckon with the history of British and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and our own 'quagmire' in Vietnam. We must forget that Saddam and Osama were both American allies, even creations.

If it turns out that history is merely opinion backed by institutional power, then surely it is not Marx but Nietzsche who has carried the day. The Ubermenschen/Supermen will determine what is or is not true, what is or is not acceptable or laudable. If there is no God who judges deeds, then we are all at the mercy of spin doctors, Madison Avenue and perhaps Freud. And I do not write this to separate Christians from atheists, but to point to the dilemma that we all face together.

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