An interesting discussion between atheist/agnostic James Lindsay, who has become an expert critic of all things woke, and Beth Stuckey, a Christian Calvinist YouTuber, is here.
Lindsay spends a good deal of time looking at the roots of Marxism (and showing how they inform current controversies), agreeing with Stuckey that they are diametrically opposed to the Christian worldview. How he explains being of that opinion and remaining a non-Christian is discussed later, and I won’t go into it here.
One aspect that was new to me is the strong ideal of a return to Eden, in early Marx, which is carried through in the writing of the darling of the New Left student revolutionaries of the 1960s, Herbert Marcuse. “We have to get ourselves back to the Garden” was an explicit part of his ideology, it seems.
Yet Lindsay points out how fundamentally different from the Genesis story of the Fall and redemption this ideal is. The Christian believer comes to Christ as an individual, by faith, and is by that conversion rendered a new creation, in the world but not of it, and spiritually speaking content in the hope of eschatological redemption, which is indeed (in part) a kind of return to Eden, the protected place of union with God. But note that this is achieved only by God’s grace – it is Christ who achieves our return to the garden, not us.
But to the Marxist, the return to Eden is, necessarily, brought about by our own, collective, transformation of society, and thereby of human nature. It is achieved en masse or not at all, and that explains why under Soviet or Chinese or Korean Communism, all counter-revolutionary elements must be eradicated, and why under the post-modern critical theories, objectors must be cancelled as those preventing the New Age, or the Great Reset; Year Zero or Net Zero.
Furthermore, the malevolent force that ejected us from the Garden was not, under Marxism, the devil, but a controlling God (the ubiquitous Promethean fallacy I described at length in God’s Good Earth). In Lindsay’s words, Marxism is an essentially Gnostic heresy, in which the awakened few take a “second bite from the tree of knowledge” and may then see clearly to lead the rest of society, usually kicking and screaming, to the new future. Historically that future has meant mass misery, and under wokeness it’s looking to end the same way, only quicker
As Lindsay described his “back to the garden” understanding of Marxism, and so of Cultural Marxism, in the discussion, that line reminded me of Joni Mitchell’s words in the song Woodstock, which I actually heard her sing the following year at the Isle of Wight in a tearful performance interrupted by one of the children of light making a rambling political speech.
We are stardust (billion year old carbon)
We are golden (caught in the devil’s bargain)
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.
At the time, a young Christian, I was a little encouraged by her biblical allusion, if not by her poor understanding of grace. But in the light of the Marcuse quote, it seems the right interpretation is much more in line with the revolutionary ideals of 1968, courtesy of Marcuse. These have now become the core of phenomena from the cancellation of J. K. Rowling to the totalitarian utopianism of the whole bevy of WEF Young Global Leaders, including national leaders Angela Merkel, Emanuel Macron, Jacinda Ardern, Sebastian Kurz, and Pierre Trudeau. Funny how the most authoritarian politicians are products of Klaus Schwab’s “stakeholder capitalism” and “Building Back Better.”
If the whole world has to come into line to usher in the Age of Aquarius (“You will own nothing and you will be happy”), then any individual or class that stands in the way is part of God’s evil cherubic blockade of Eden, and needs to be taken out of the way.
This, of course, explains the absurd tirade of abuse from a hiding Trudeau about the Canadian truckers – it’s not that he believes they are mistaken or acting illegally, but that they are fascists, racists, transphobes, mysogynists, homophobes, Islamophobes and all those other terms that have come to mean that the recipients are probably really nice people you’d agree with.
But it also seems to illuminate the role of Joni Mitchell, together with Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Gifted and Black, in calling for Joe Rogan to be banned from Spotify for misinformation that very few people can actually describe (it was actually, originally, telling truths about COVID before it became a more generic accusation of racist transphobia).
Joni has distanced herself, historically, from the whole Woodstock thing, even though she wrote the anthem. According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia
Mitchell has said that the parents of baby-boomers were unhappy, and “out of it came this liberated, spoiled, selfish generation into the costume ball of free love, free sex, free music, free, free, free, free we’re so free. And Woodstock was the culmination of it.” But “I was not a part of that,” she explained in an interview. “I was not a part of the anti-war movement, either. I played in Fort Bragg. I went the Bob Hope route [i.e., touring to entertain military personnel] because I had uncles who died in the war, and I thought it was a shame to blame the boys who were drafted.”
On the face of it this seems a disavowal of Marcuse’s preaching of eroticism and self-gratification as a major pillar of the revolution. But the attempted silencing of Rogan is straight from Marcuse’s “repressive tolerance,” whereby tolerance is only applied to things progressive, and anything else is repressed mercilessly.
In retrospect this was so in the Woodstock generation too. The only time I heard a radical refer to “freedom of speech” was at the same Isle of Wight Festival, in an attempt to silence an evangelist who’d been given five minutes to address the crowd on Sunday morning. A long-haired guy clad only in bright green underpants (I swear!) stood up on the hillside a quarter of a mile from the stage shouting, “What about freedom of speech?”
I can only suppose that, however much Joni Mitchell has separated herself from the Woodstock ideology, a significant part of it has stuck to her anyway, as it has to so many of the boomers who now run our affairs through increasingly blatant lies and coercion, born of their spiritual father.
Still, the original song is still a thing of beauty, so let’s link to it even if it’s only to ask regarding the lyrics, to quote another of her early songs, “When you gonna realise they’re only pretty lies?”