Whatever the conceptions of Enlightenment toward God might have been, whether they pictured Him as nonexistent, or as a pale being without personality, sunk in sleep, or at least disinterested toward the fate of the individual, that period took a negative attitude toward the next world. Enlightenment was antimetaphysical and geocentrical. In the framework of such a philosophy, devoid of otherworldliness, the human beings and their existence assumed automatically a different significance. The meaning of life, human happiness, and all the other basic values were projected into this world and that change brought an enormous thirst for “justice,” earthly justice, of course, which in turn was nothing else but an initially veiled and finally open demand for absolute equality. This pagan geocentrism has changed the very content of our culture. The “happy end” of the cheap, popular novels and the films is nothing but the outcome of the supposition that the human drama finds its ultimate conclusion here on earth. The Calvinists in their materialism took a similar attitude. The more subtle Atheist, of greater experience, has contempt for the “happy end” and substitutes for it a stubborn heroical pessimism which comes pretty near to integral despair. The modern Catholic French writers like Mauriac and Bernanos avoid the happy end in relation to this life. Paul Claudel, in L’Ôtage, expresses his disbelief in earthly justice by punishing the people of good will and rewarding the villains in the last scene of this play. For the Christian the earth is essentially a “vale of tears.”

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)


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