Confronting the political heresy
Thomas Hobbes, the political philosopher, had an indestructible belief in his own powers of reason.
For him, as noted by one biographer, reason – especially his own reason – was capable of overcoming any conundrum that faced humanity.
Such self-confidence is evident in his statement: “Either I alone am mad, or I alone am not mad. No third option can be maintained, unless (as perchance may seem to some) we are all mad.”
Of course, Hobbes is better known for his statement in his work titled “Leviathan” in which he declared “the life of man (is) solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.
Mankind, perhaps because of too little resort to the powers of reason, was always in a state of contestation for space, resources, women and just about anything else imaginable.
Because of that competition for dominance, we are in a wretched state.
Monsignor Umberto Benigni – later to become a Cardinal at the time that Fascism was rising in Italy – was to put the wretched state of man even more starkly some 300 years later.
He said: “History is one long, desperate retching, and the only thing humanity is fit for is Inquisition.”
Such a dim view of humanity is quite inconsistent with another more edifying, in fact deifying, view taken by other leading thinkers who have had much influence on this “long, desperate retching” that we call the history of mankind.
America’s founding fathers, like many of the men who walked the Earth before them, believed that man was spiraling up to God-hood; that man could become like God – in fact that man was God. Anyone who has seen or read about the fresco of George Washington in the Capitol rotunda will appreciate this. That painting is called the Apotheosis of George Washington and it was done by an Italian master mason called Constantino Brumidi.
Apotheosis is a Greek word that refers to man becoming God through his works and reason.
It is a Gnostic belief that dates back to the Garden of Eden when the Serpent told Eve that eating the fruit would make her and her beau like God.
It is a belief that can then be traced through to the construction of the Tower of Babel, the pyramids and other structures like Great Zimbabwe.
In the Apotheosis of George Washington, America’s first President is depicted ascending to the heavens and being welcomed by God-like figures as he too becomes one of them.
There is much symbolism in that fresco and there simply is not enough room here to dissect that painting.
Suffice to say, that belief in apotheosis has many salient but monumental influences on how America views itself and its relationship with the rest of the world. Elements of this superiority complex are what informed the ideological justification behind slavery and colonialism, and still continue to inform the politics of neo-colonial control, aid-over-fair trade, and the condescending belief by Westerners that Africa can never do anything good for itself.
Back in 2004 at the United Nations General Assembly, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe said, “We are now being coerced to accept and believe that a new political-cum-religious doctrine has arisen, namely that ‘There is but one political god, George W Bush, and Tony Blair is his prophet’.”
I don’t know if President Mugabe adopted this play on a well-known Islamic veneration within the context of apotheosis or his keen sense of justice had been brutally violated by the manner in which the US was waging totally unjustifiable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That was some nine years ago.
Today America and Britain’s leaders appear not have learnt any better and are eagerly beating the drums of war so that they can go and murder what are obviously to them inconsequential Syrians.
It is a war very far away from us here in Africa from a physical proximity point of view.
But from the perspective of a continent that has borne the brunt of the machinations of these man-gods, it is a war many of us are keenly aware of on a daily basis.
Hobbes was right: the life of man is “poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. Further, Monsignor Benigni was spot on in that all that mankind is fit for is Inquisition.
We are engulfed in madness because some men who think they are gods believe they alone hold the power over life and death. The oppressed peoples of the world need to come together to confront this political heresy that declares America is god and Britain is its only prophet.
Our survival as a sane species depends on this.