06 April 2009

'What comes next?' vs 'What comes after?'

'What comes next?' is the slogan of evolution; 'What comes after?' is the slogan of revolution. Passive resistance is the poor man's revolutionary program. Passive resistance is directed at uncoupling from the incumbent order so that the resisters can prepare for the kingdom to come.

Messianism is the ultimate program of passive resistance. It emphasizes the bankruptcy of the incumbent power-holders while it ushers the chosen, the elect, the born again, the enlightened into a way of life that is insulated from the insults of the degeneracy and the debasement of the incumbent power order, and, at the same time, it prepares the elect for the new world order that will come after the collapse of the incumbent order is accomplished.

Both 'What comes next?' and 'What comes after?' can conceal the issues of power and power-wielding. The early Church organized as a revolutionary force to insulate from the then-present corruption, and to prepare for the kingdom come, the olam haboh. At the time the Church became an institution of the incumbent powers (with Constantine, let us say) it had not yet prepared for the kingdom come in a concrete and realistic way. It had defined the preparatory work as laying the ground for an other-worldly existence, not for holding power in this world. The Church therefore defined its power-wielding role as merely preparing the secular rulers for their other-worldly existence, and, not about how the mundane rulers should do their mundane work. In the process, the Church became as degenerate as the incumbent rulers.

True messianism is both about insulating from the debasement of the incumbent powers and their culture as well as about preparing in the present moment for the take-over of that power after the apocalypse. That means developing the skills of power-wielding, and of developing the institutional and procedural basis for running the society once power comes to the righteous.

Sustainable power that is not vulnerable to the temptations of fear and danger or righteous, puritanical fervor but that stewards the fertile ground on which an orderly society must settle and live -- that is the true challenge of the new world order.

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