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Long Read of the Week: “The Anti-Christ now rules us all” by Paul Kingsnorth

Throughout history, the poets, the prophets and mystics have usually done a better job of predicting the future than pundits, politicians or scientists. Generally the reward for their perspicacity is to be ignored or laughed at, but luckily they are usually far enough from the centre not to notice or care.

The French mystic and thinker René Guénon, who was doing his best work nearly a century back, was one of them. In his two books (The Crisis of the Modern World and The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times), Guénon laid out his notion that the modern world had deteriorated into a realm of pure materialism as a result of what he called the “Western deviation” from eternal truth. He called this the “reign of quantity”, and predicted its future collapse. But Guénon was not simply talking economics or politics. What was going on, he said, was something akin to a spiritual war, and as a Sufi Muslim he wasn’t shy about naming its antagonist. To this age, he wrote, “the word ‘Satanic’ can indeed be properly applied”.

Presenting disorder as order and truth as lies — this, wrote Guénon, was the way that Satan rolled. The “more or less direct agents of the Adversary”, he explained, using the Biblical name for what Europeans would later come to call the Devil, always aimed to invert reality. Right is wrong, black is white, up is down, there is no truth, do what thou wilt: this has always been the Adversary’s line, and today it is prominent in all quarters.

The heterodox Catholic philosopher Ivan Illich, who died in 2002, also believed we were living in the time of Anti-Christ, but for different reasons. For Illich, any claims that we lived in a “secular age” were nonsense. The modern West was still Christian, he said, but it had disastrously attempted to codify the spontaneous expressions of love which Christ had shown to be God’s desire for humanity within systems and institutions. First the Church, and then the supposedly “secular” liberal states which had succeeded it, had attempted to transmute Christian love into obligation and enforce it by law, thus twisting it into a new form of oppression. His biographer David Cayley explained in a recent essay that Illich’s work “emphatically rejects the idea that ours is a post-Christian era. ‘On the contrary’, he says, ‘I believe this to be the most obviously Christian epoch, which might be quite close to the end of the world.’”

A decade or so before Illich was writing, the Jewish Beat poet Allen Ginsberg was also attending to the dark spiritual undercurrent of the age. He had a different interpretation of its source — or perhaps he was just using a different name. In Howl, he identified the forward march of industrial modernity — and especially the hypocrisy and brutality of the American empire — with the pagan god Moloch, who demanded human sacrifice from his devotees:

Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! …

Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!

Ginsberg, it seemed, could also sense that the spirit of his age was not under human control, either out in the world or in his own soul and mind. Usually this is easier to talk about in poetry or fiction, for the age doesn’t look kindly on anything which can’t be quantified. It can deal with Ginsberg, but it doesn’t want to talk about Moloch. It can just about cope with Christ if he has been brought down to our level — made into an activist or a defender of culture or a “cosmic” manifestation of the self — but it has nothing to say about Anti-Christ, who blows the whole story sky-high. As for St Paul’s famous notion that the world is subject not only to nature but to “principalities and powers” which wish us ill: this kind of talk was supposed to have been wrecked on the shores of the Enlightenment, never to be seen again.

But the powers and principalities didn’t die in the shipwreck of the old world, they just took on new forms. Today we can, in fact, still talk about these strange, underlying forces as long as we use the correct language. Take, for example, the Silicon Valley philosopher Kevin Kelly’s pet notion that technology has its own mind and its own purpose: that through the web of what he calls “the technium”, something is using us to create itself. Kelly sees technology growing into something self-aware and independent of its human creators, as he explained in his book What Technology Wants: “It may have once been as simple as an old computer program, merely parroting what we told it, but now it is more like a very complex organism that often follows its own urges.”

Other breathless Silicon Valley mavens, from Mark Zuckerberg with his Metaverse to Ray Kurzweil with his Singularity, regularly talk in the same register about where the technium is taking us. Our job, they seem to imply, is simply to service it as it rolls forward under its own steam, remaking everything in its own image, rebuilding the world, turning us, if we are lucky, into little gods.

They never consider where this story has been heard before. They never confront, or seem to even comprehend, what Illich or Guénon or even Ginsberg would have known, and which many a saint would confirm if they could hear the technium’s new story: that “AI”, on the right lips, can sound like just another way of saying “Anti-Christ”.

Maybe it’s just me, but the ongoing and rapid inversion of so much we have previously taken for granted increasingly seems to be happening independently of human action. It is as if something else has become manifest in some way we can’t quite put our finger on, and has stimulated the craziness of the times. Perhaps it has become self-aware, like Skynet; perhaps it is approaching its Singularity. Perhaps it has always been there, watching, and is now seizing its moment. Or perhaps it is simply beginning to spin out of control, as our systems and technologies become so complex that we can no longer steer them in our chosen direction. Either way, this force seems to be, in some inexplicable way, independent of us, and yet acting within us too.

Let’s give this force a name: a less provocative name, for now, than Moloch or Anti-Christ. Let’s keep it simple. Let’s just call this force Progress. Then, à la Kevin Kelly, let’s ask ourselves a simple question: what does Progress want? . . . . .

READ THE WHOLE THING AT The Anti-Christ now rules us all – UnHerd

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  • ghostsniper August 13, 2022, 9:32 AM

    And the men who hold high places must be the ones who start
    To mold a new reality closer to the heart
    The blacksmith and the artist reflect it in their art
    They forge their creativity closer to the heart
    Philosophers and ploughmen, each must know his part
    To sow a new mentality closer to the heart
    You can be the captain and I will draw the chart
    Sailing into destiny closer to the heart

    • Greg August 13, 2022, 12:59 PM

      Listened to this earlier today. My younger son introduced this band to me. Glad he did.

  • Mike Austin August 13, 2022, 9:56 AM

    Anyone who has read—and more importantly, has understood—the Bible has no difficulty at all comprehending this “modern” world of ours. In fact, it is not “modern” at all. The evil that men do has been done since our expulsion from the Garden. Truly “there is nothing new under the sun”. All the Zuckerbergs and Gates and Schwabs think they bring humanity to the threshold of a New Age, when the reality is that they harken back to the world before the Flood. They consider themselves Noahs, when in fact they are Nimrods. They preach about a new Heaven where “you will own nothing and be happy”, but such lies have been told to every slave in every nation for 6000 years. They are not shepherds of a new Enlightenment, but avatars from Hell.

    A man once told me that if he were imprisoned for 20 years in the deepest and darkest dungeon, with only the Bible to keep him company, that once he emerged he would be able to tell you in a few minutes everything that had happened on earth while he was confined. And so it is.

    One can debate until Jesus returns about the Anti-Christ: when he will arise, where he will arise, and who he will be. But he will come as assuredly as death will come.

    Scripture speaks not just of the Anti-Christ, but of many anti-Christs, all of whom presage the appearance of the final one. There are many such today, prowling the world like ravenous lions. Best keep out of their way. Best remove yourself from their portents and wonders. Best to ignore their entreaties. Best to alienate yourself from those who cannot or will not see the signs of the times.

    When Christ returns every man on earth will fall to his knees, some from joy, most from terror. Which side will you be on? Choose wisely. Choose now.

  • Denny August 13, 2022, 11:38 AM

    “let’s ask ourselves a simple question: what does Progress want? . . . . .”

    Their Progress is for you to do whenever and whatever the Hell they desire you to do.
    It includes the power of summary execution or to escort you to a gulag
    of their choice, indefinitely, for your labor and “reeducation”.

    The things we are seeing in our own government this moment with the phony Trump raid
    is just a prelude to that power of lawless, “whatever the Hell they desire”.

  • Gagdad Bob August 13, 2022, 11:46 AM

    “The modern world will not be punished. It is the punishment.” –Dávila

  • KCK August 13, 2022, 11:53 AM

    Savonarola is getting an earful from Satan in that Orvieto painting by my favorite Late Gothic artist, Cimabue. (Che-Ma-Boo-eE) knew the world was vertical and the air filled with the Spirit of God. He did, however, get his commission from Papal authorities, and in the events of the day, Rev. Savonarola met his demise while trying to be the Ron Paul or Alex Jones of his day. History makes him the butt, and in that way he may be not unlike Rasputin, the carnal prophet of Christ. Or, was he? History is a bad judge of character.

    No doubt, Pres. Trump will be the butt of history if America passes into a Marxist state, and then into a millennium of darkness. Or, if we preserve out freedom, he’ll be George Washington the Second.

    Yes. We are indeed in God’s hands, now. Is the internet the Anti Christ? That’s a good plot line. My mind is open. I know GooGull is the next thing to Satan himself. Didn’t some cheeky AI at Facebook shit on the ZuckMan just last week? Just open that fucking Pandora’s Box, you ignorant tech assholes. Go ahead. Do it.

    Cue the late scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, with Nazi faces melting in a phantasmic storm.

    • Mike Austin August 13, 2022, 2:19 PM

      Savonarola has been on my bad side since he went all rage-boy on Botticelli. He got what he deserved—not just being hanged but being burned as well. The Florentines took no chances. There is scarcely any difference between such a fanatical and disturbed madman and Jim Jones and modern televangelists. They are birds of a feather, cut from the same cloth, and demand the same fate.

      • Casey Klahn August 13, 2022, 6:13 PM

        His agent was also burned at the stake. Once you call for a revival, and fail in the matter, you may be quickly eviscerated by history.

        I can’t say if Savonarola was good or bad. If he did burn books and shit on artists, well that’s bad in my eyes. But, I wasn’t there, either. Leonardo cozied up to the French, but he passed the grade historically.

        My opinions on this began forming when I stood in front of the very fresco we’re talking about, and saw how an artist who I know in my soul was inspired by God, and yet he painted that political tripe. He did manage some truth in the fresco, though.

        Two sides to every story. I trust the painting in Orvieto, but I read it with open eyes. BTW, the opposite wall has the final judgement.

        • Mike Austin August 14, 2022, 8:48 AM

          The painting above shows the Devil whispering into the ear of Anti-Christ. It is part of a larger painting by Luca Signorelli (1445 – 1523), “The Preaching of the Anti-Christ”. Cimabue (1240 – 1302) lived 200 years before Savonarola (1452 – 1498).

          • Casey Klahn August 14, 2022, 2:09 PM

            Groundbreaking 1290
            Completed 1591

            The cathedral at Orvieto had a long construction time. I believe I was told when there that Cimabue was commissioned to begin the frescos, but there is scant evidence of all of Cimabue’s works. I assume the cathedral staff were giving me some inside dope. True it is ascribed to Signorelli and helpers.

            Be advised the guy who is depicted as the anti-christ is Savonarola, according to some. Very political “sacred” art.

            Fun fact. When the pope christened the cathedral, he claimed that on Judgement Day, the cathedral would ascend to heaven wholly intact, so perfect was it.

            It indeed gleams high upon this “hanging city,” and is a world treasure that reminds me that the Catholics have wealth beyond measure.

            • Mike Austin August 16, 2022, 12:59 PM

              Girolamo Savonarola (1452 – 1498) was a contemporary of Luca Signorelli (1441 – 1523). There were tens of thousands of Italians who knew Savonarola and who had listened to his preaching. They most certainly knew what he looked like.


              And how similar is that with the person to whom the Devil is whispering? Signorelli titled his work “The Preaching of the Antichrist” and not “The Preaching of Savonarola”. No one alive at that time thought that the figure being embraced by Satan was Savonarola.

              • Casey Klahn August 16, 2022, 3:40 PM

                My timeline holds intact. Also, the guy standing with Savonarola in the wings is considered to be Cimabue. Of course, Cimabue did not paint Savonarola in the fresco, but one simply cannot say that “no one alive believed…” One cannot make any absolute statements about the past, much less what people did not believe. haha. I did get my wires crossed because when I left Orvieto I though it was Cimabue who’d pleased the Pope. Now, I can see he was innocent of at least that sin of politicizing the painting.

                I went there and got the word directly from the staff. I don’t know how you can contradict that.

                Someday I will be wrong, but not today.

    • pbird August 17, 2022, 3:33 PM

      Yes, I always say to God “you got me now!” So far so good.

  • Build the Fire Proof Ark August 13, 2022, 12:49 PM

    Captain Howdy would be stupid not to take advantage of peak stupidity.
    His useful idiot minions think that they are in control but the will of God is what goes on in this world.

  • Joe Krill August 13, 2022, 4:32 PM

    The author summed up what progress wants when he said, “What Progress wants is the death of God.”
    Without God you have nothing. We are Borg. We are the Collective. We are——–

  • jiminalaska August 14, 2022, 2:38 PM

    Rationally I’m an agnostic (Agnostic = damnedifIknow.), rationally that’s the only supportable position. Any other position is a matter if faith and hence, irrational.

    But the world isn’t always and only rational.

    Neither am I.

  • Sarah Hoyt August 14, 2022, 3:42 PM

    Do consider this is nonsense. Not only nonsense, but old, tired, and largely wrongheaded nonsense.

    No, seriously.

    Technology isn’t the devil, though some idiots try to make it into the golden calf. Modernity is not the devil. It allows the common man a dignity kings and queens of the past lacked.

    Having grown up one step up from the 19th century (a small step) in lifestyle, there is no great virtue in outhouses, chamberpots and water that must be boiled to be drunk. And dirt doesn’t make you into a saint.

    Oh, yeah, and even then we had “philosophers” claiming that the fact we could take a bath a week was of a devil and made us too proud of our flesh. Or something. By gum, women weren’t dying of infection after childbirth! Some people survived past sixty! We were too proud, and going the way of Satan. Bah.

    And everyone who goes insane about an excess of individualism can take a hike. There is no sanctity in collectivism. You have to know yourself individually before you can give yourself up to any kind of purpose, saintly or not, and you have to be able to choose to DO so. Or it all means nothing. Most of the people moaning about the pursuit of individual happiness would like us to pursue COLLECTIVE happiness THEIR way, be it in the monastery or in the Collective. They can all go ring another doorbell.

    Ginsberg can, pardon my French, bite me. The American Empire my little sore toes. The “empire” of America is by and large an invention of the communists. Sure, America got a little centralized. As did everything in the 20th century. It was the result of mass production technology, now rapidly reversing and becoming more individualized again.

    Does he want to talk about the British Empire, the French Empire, or the Spanish Empire? What about the vast iron empire of the USSR? THE INCAN Empire? Or does he think those were all sweek and kind and full of the milk of human kindness and joy? Platitudes about banks and sexlessness do not sense make, much less philosophy, and we’ve enshrined a lot of bellyachers whose biggest complaint was “I’m not revered for my massive intellect. People who MAKE things are paid better.” Rome had their like, and they all, collectively, remain worms. Not particularly interesting worms at that.

    Does evil go up and down the world, looking to harvest souls? Same as it ever was.

    Is there, right now, in the culture, an influence so evil that it might as well be considered the devil? Or if you prefer, lizard beings?


    But do consider too that at this point, as Richard Fernandez pointed out in his “Night of the Demon” article, 4 (?) years ago, something else has woken and is fighting back. Call it the principle of Good. Or G-d if you’re a believer.

    Hence the air is full of electricity, and the feeling we’re at the edge of a right “free for all.”

    That is not the end of the world. Heck, it might be the beginning.

    • Casey Klahn August 14, 2022, 11:41 PM

      Individualism. Thank Martin Luther for that idea. He was the first champion of such, and is my vote for the man of the millennium that just ended.

      Your comments on empire are square on; American empire/ as if. Total fabrication because whose the emperor, then? Nixon? Obama? Pssshhhhit.

      But, you aren’t at least a little worried about AI? Not from a theological stand point; try from a science fiction stand point.

      Lastly, if an AI did emerge, what if it said: there is a God? Your world view would rip apart. Just saying. But, cheers – I’m not a troll. I just enjoy asking questions.

      • jiminalaska August 15, 2022, 10:52 AM

        The empire ain’t no fabrication, it’s there.

        No matter if you call it American, New World Order, Davos,military/industrial complex, it’s there when someone, some group, can freeze a country’s as well as individual’s bank accounts, stop shipments and trade, lockdown folks world wide, jab or gulag choices, etc. some hand, visible or invisible, controlling most if not all. It’s hard to convince folks the Emperor has no clothes if you don’t allow that there’s an empire.

        • Casey Klahn August 17, 2022, 5:44 AM

          Jim, your point is well taken. My quibble is that it’s not American in description, and there is no emperor. You must come up with another descriptor. A wordsmith somewhere must have done this, or is working on it.

          Deep State tries to describe it, but that is the American Borge. You are talking about something in either Western or world civilization occurring now that has secret leadership and powers.

          Jim, I’m certain (I’d put money on this) that you know the world well enough to know something large cannot operate without leadership, and this would be one man. I’d give all my teeth to know who that one man is.

          All this time we thought James Bond plot lines were fiction.

          I guess I circled around; no emperor then must be an emperor. Need more coffee. What I mean is there is no American emperor. But, somewhere out in the shadows a motherfucker is directing this shit show, and you’ve aptly named the acts along the way. The shipping lockup is a great example.

    • pbird August 17, 2022, 3:37 PM

      I do like your take on it.
      The Bible itself is terrifyingly individualistic.

  • Rob Muir August 14, 2022, 6:45 PM

    This whole situation was well described by Lewis in “That Hideous Strength”. May the curse of Babel be laid on those powers who align themselves against our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    • KCK August 15, 2022, 5:27 AM

      A favorite and it might be time to reread the Space Trilogy.

  • andre August 14, 2022, 8:40 PM

    Paul wrote in Ephesians 2 that the prince of the power of the air works in the children of disobedience. And he wrote in ephesians 6 that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers.

    John the Apostle wrote that antichrist, the spirit, was already here. You couldn’t have that spirit without first having the spirit of the true Jesus Christ. Any spirit that denies that Jesus came in the flesh as the sacrifice for our sins, therefore validating the sinfulness of man and the need of a Savior, is antichrist.
    The technocrats and elites are in a perfect position to wire us up in a system that controls minds, wills and emotions. It is their counterfeit of the Spirit of God, Who speaks all truth. We know in the end they will not win, but Satan is going to do a mighty end run. Even as he is cast out of heaven in Revelation 12 and 13, then the person of the Antichrist rises up. He is defeated, but wants to take down the whole world to perdition with him. Hence anyone who takes the mark of the beast can no longer be saved, in fact those who receive it, their names do not appear in the book of life.

    • KCK August 15, 2022, 5:31 AM

      I agree that there is a past, present, and a future perfect in the Book of Revelation. Some ask who the Antichrist is, and you have indicated what he is.