A Book Review
Just as Prometheus rebelled against the immortal and powerful gods of the Olympic pantheon, so too Jason Reza Jorjani proposes that we rebel against the super-powerful big-technocratic elites of our day, lest they develop an unprecedented and, as yet, unimaginable level of control over humanity. Otherwise, we could face a situation where all mankind is trapped in a technologically-capped sort of neo-feudalism. However, this feudalism would, of course, lack the virtue-oriented cultural frameworks which influenced feudalisms past.
Two decades ago, most would have considered all this far-fetched. The cautionary tales of 1984 and A Brave New World have become relevant to everyday life and the exponential growth of technology towards the so-called “singularity” is fast-approaching on the horizon. We must come to terms with the concerns of Jorjani, lest we be overwhelmed – those concerns being that exponential and runaway technological development may soon (before 2050) become immeasurable and incomprehensible to the unaided human mind, leading to the end of humanity, history and reality as we know it.
Prometheus, of course, stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity, to his creatures whom he made of clay – thence the cultural big bang of human civilisation. Likewise, the potential technologies that are wielded by the technocrats and which keep so-called conspiracy theorists awake at night are the very tools Jorjani wants liberated and accessible to anyone with the stomach for them; that means everything from the parapsychological abilities (which still form the basis of governmental experiments) to the weather altering technology of the HAARP program in the U.S., and even other equally dangerous and paradigm-shattering technologies, such as secret space-program tech and miniature drones designed for untraceable assassination.
Whether you share Jorjani’s views regarding the existence of such technologies or not, the sincerity of his research warrants one look beyond what technology may or may not be currently wielded by technocrats. The ultimate point of Prometheism is theological, political – an attempt to subvert the dominant powers of globalism, as did the trickster, Prometheus.
Prometheus is creative, the creator of humanity, no less; he is the forethinker, as his name etymologically suggests, but he isn’t just selfishly prescient, he is an enlightener. In this sense, Prometheus is the first freedom fighter. Given his own prescience, he established our human minds as distinct from other creatures, granting us the ability for abstraction and planning for the future. In this way, Prometheus is a liberator, an example to spur us on in a revolutionary war against fatalism or even against Zeus (the father of gods), who would have had us as mere servile beasts without free will. At this point, our Christian heritage prompts the question of whether Jorjani’s Prometheus is most akin to Christ or Lucifer. For Jorjani, it is distinctly the reverse – they are kinds of Prometheus.
For me especially, the question of whether Prometheism follows the traditions of the Church or that of the luciferian gnosticism of Western esotericism is of tremendous importance. Elsewhere, I have written for Arktos, the publisher of Prometheism, about these two major currents of Western thought which have competed for politico-theological manifestation in what we now call Western civilisation. Here is a truncated version: Christian thought encourages greater responsibility of the individual, whose liberty comes from a growth in virtue – the mastery of oneself, the cultivation of and elevation to a godly manner of life; Western gnosticism, however, is deterministic in its view of man, hoping that those elite sons of fortune, destined to lead man in technological growth will eventually progress us all to the point of escaping the clutches of nature and history – then, mankind will be free. On which side of the fence is Jorjani?
Certainly those with a superficial knowledge of theology will recognise the similarity between the satanic serpent in the Garden of Eden, encouraging the eating of the forbidden fruit in order to grant a knowledge of good and evil – Prometheus, likewise, delivers secret knowledge to man contrary to the jealous will of Zeus to keep man in ignorance. Moreover, Prometheus is the teacher of man in every art and technology, rather like the fallen angels of Lucifer in some schools of Christian tradition. The fire which Prometheus delivered would be a means to might for us mortals, according to Aeschylus; and, taking a more literal understanding of this, a comparison can be made with the fallen angels’ creation of the mighty men of ancient renown – the Nephilim (Genesis 6). Prometheus’ desire, in Jorjani’s reading, is to subversively spur on human creativity and to make of them a new race of gods to rival the Olympic pantheon.
However, if anything, the similarities with Christ are greater and even undermine the comparisons of Prometheus with Lucifer. Prometheus was not only a loving creator of mankind, but he is a martyr figure, sacrificing himself for the enlightenment of his children, his created brethren. In understanding the nature of the fire which Prometheus gave us, the similarity becomes brighter; the enlightenment which Prometheus secured for us was our free will, to avoid becoming mere beasts.
Lucifer, or “the god of this world”, as Christ identifies him, tricked mankind into eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. This didn’t empower man at all, but introduced him to ideas about abusing himself, his fellow man and the natural world, and otherwise acting contrary to the ideals we can perceive by our nature – our social and sufficiently rational nature. Note, these are all behaviours which Jorjani explicitly wants to outlaw and sees as contrary to Prometheism. Significantly, it is Christ who rebels against the god of this world and the spiritual wickedness in high places vying for control. Christ came to free our will from the chains of sin – the various appetites and addictions which become our masters and cloud our judgment. Christ is the light of the world, shining in the darkness, revealing our shortcomings to us. I could fill this page and more with the metaphors and similes of the one come to free and enlighten our will. The comparison of Christ with Prometheus, in the sense of being victorious over Zeus, is far from original to me – consider the famous painting, The Triumph Of Christianity Over Paganism by Gustave Doré.
Therefore, when we juxtapose Prometheus with either Lucifer rebelling against God and being thrust down to Hades, or as Christ bringing his rebellion against the god of this world, we find that only one of the two seeks to recreate man as conforming to the image of God, i.e. mirroring God, with a free will. The “ultra-humanism” which Jorjani’s political theology advocates requires a sound understanding therefore of what man is and what God is, lest that theology become frustrated.
Why not Christ?
For full disclosure, I am a reactionary Catholic and I am also very fond of Jason Reza Jorjani, whose work I have quoted and with whom I have had friendly correspondence. He does not share my view of Christ, to the extent that he is not fond of Goethe’s Faust and the Spenglerian coining of the psychopathic European spirit as “Faustian” – note, Faust repents and goes to heaven, thus baptising the restlessly persistent soul of our Indo-European heritage. Given the history of Jorjani’s people, as an Iranian man with more than a little bitterness left in his mouth about anything remotely Semitic about my religion, his attitude is entirely understandable. I, nevertheless, have as much time and patience for Jorjani as the story of Faust could encourage; I sincerely hope this would be reciprocated by many on the right who believe Christianity is anything but a continuation of the Hellenistic and Roman heritage of Europe, and that they would read my own book, also published by Arktos, to clarify the matter. Still, the question must stand: If traditional Christianity ticks Jorjani’s boxes, presenting a viable framework for preventing the technocratic enslavement of man by an unworthy elite, why not embrace or at least ally with it?
After all, Jorjani proposes a Heideggerian view of technology which explicitly refuses to view man as somehow separate from nature, as mortal foes who must conquer the other or be conquered. He almost embraces the poesis and idealist creativity to man’s techne. However, when it comes to the metaphysical and philosophical grounding to any of this, Jorjani’s Prometheism sounds strikingly similar to Jordan Peterson’s hollow, classical liberal, modernist rehashing of Christianity. Like Peterson, Jorjani’s philosophical views are liberal in their politics and pragmatic in their epistemology. For example, let us consider Jorjani’s view of goodness, beauty and truth. You know, those immeasurable and divine qualia which we all seem to acknowledge in our daily behaviour, despite their having no basis in the scientific method.
– Truth is what works, apparently. Like Peterson, Jorjani is an empiricist, yet what empirical or scientific methods can you use to determine if that statement is itself true?
– What of beauty? Jorjani writes, ‘The inspirational power of beauty is an expression of the evolutionary force.’ Is this statement true? More importantly, however, what is beauty? To paraphrase, it is apparently the perceived limitations resonating within oneself in the face of harmonic proportionality. Is that statement true? And what grounds are actually informing those forms which Jorjani deems “harmonically proportional” (i.e. beautiful, for the lay reader).
– Is there an objective good? In Jorjani’s Promethean libertarianism, if there is a common good, it is whatever enhances individual creativity. Evil is whatever thwarts that. Similarly to Peterson and most other forms of liberalism, Jorjani wants the state to step aside from individual creativity and experimentation. Just like most liberals (including Peterson), however, Jorjani also deals with “oughts” when it comes to what he privately beliefs is good and bad; for example, ‘Aesthetic experience should be an encounter with an expression of ascendant life…with a view to kindling personal genius’ (emphasis mine). But, why is this good? What is good?
Again, my own writing has brought a sword against libertarianism for ignoring the civilisational necessity of a shared mythos and cultural framework, of shared definitions, particularly regarding justice. But, Jorjani has circumvented all that by simply making the creed of modern liberalism a religion. Something can be supposed good because, in a somewhat Nietzschean postmodern style, the competing power structure of Prometheus insists so (not unlike the divine command theory of Islam, which Jorjani claims to oppose). To put it more simply, modern liberalism proposes a polity in which there are no public or common beliefs, except the creed itself that there are no public or common beliefs – leading to cultural and, now, ethnic pluralism. Jorjani, however, proposes this creed and the same sort of modern, Hobbesian, mediatorial state to impose it…in honour of Prometheus.
What then is the problem with the rise of the modern liberal state, built upon the Western gnostic view of man and society? Jorjani pictures a world in which elites rule unabated by the state, in which the ethos is simply ‘geared toward the progressive enhancement of capacities for creative expression.’ Look around you! The Elon Musks of the world are achieving increasing and merging control with states to produce progressive, hyper-individualistic polities in which the creative technocratic entrepreneurs rule for the sake of nothing but the ‘creative expression’ of those individuals. Perhaps these aren’t exactly the technocrats Jorjani has in mind; perhaps the purple-haired 72nd gendered lesbian who’s developing a new strain of super skunk isn’t how Jorjani sees true Prometheism playing out. Yet, all of the above are just exercising their will to power and Jorjani is doctrinally bound to not intervene.
Two examples summarise the instability of Jorjani’s system: He presents his own distaste for modern art, brutalist architecture etc. as cliche or attempts at mere novelty. Yet, many far better educated and more involved in the arts would strongly disagree. In the free-speech system he proposes, he must convince them they are wrong. On the other hand, Jorjani dislikes any narrowing of thought by collectivist tyrannies, China being his chief example. But, what of the creative efforts witnessed in the Soviet Union – in art, in engineering and technology etc.? Contrariwise, what of the degenerating of these fields which has occurred under the liberal societies of the West, which he prefers? We come full circle.
Without any grounds on which to determine that either limitations imposed by authority or degenerative public acts by individuals are evil, how does one curb the entropic nature of fallen man? Jorjani’s libertarian religion suffers from the same instabilities as all other forms of modern liberalism which reject the classical definitions of man and liberty upheld by Christianity.
Much to his credit, Jorjani perceives that the big-technocrats, who are currently and immeasurably accumulating wealth and power in exponentially fewer hands, are not “Promethean” enough – that is, he would inject them with some sort of ethos to combat certain selfish, short-sighted, opportunistic behaviours, wrought by a modern capitalist mindset. Note Jorjani’s fear that unworthy elites will travel to Mars and beyond in luxury, while serfs left behind might be even more intrepid, innovative and open to experience than the technocrats – what a waste! Thus, when Jorjani describes Prometheism as the maximisation of creativity, we can see his desire to see technology in the hands of as many people as possible, just as the sacred fire was shared with mankind. But, once again, traditional Christianity is way ahead of Jorjani. Developing upon the classical Greek and Roman definition of property, the Church has continually taught that the accumulation of wealth and capital, especially land, is as dangerous to the common good as the accumulation of political power. The Church has an extremely well-developed and engaging solution to the dangers to which Jorjani is rightly directing our attention. Prometheism does not; neither does it have the potential for the radical, worldwide cultural change required to halt the current rise of global technocratic neo-feudalism.
So, I repeat, why not Christ?
This may come across as a scathing critique of Jorjani’s work. I can only promise that I like Jorjani and his work. I put a lot of thought into the above review because I am called to a sober circumspection of all things and to strive for the truth, but the reason I wrote it at all was because I want to see the right grow in understanding. Without question, Christianity is inescapably central to the right in the West; we have to acknowledge this. I do my very best to help others overcome whatever scruples they have about doing so.
In Jorjani’s case, I think it boils down to a fear that the Chinese will use gene-editing and re-engineering of the germline, IVF etc. to outclass an already moribund Western civilisation with super-soldiers and super-geniuses, and he fears that Christianity would prevent the use of similar technologies. In fact, IVF is notably dysgenic and introduces high mutational loads into offspring and populations; it isn’t an organic, sustainable solution to the production of fitter, happier and healthier populations. This is why the Chinese government seem to prefer the sort of eugenics that the Church has always encouraged – prudent courting and the matching of suitors; not to mention, the Chinese government’s encouragement of familial care for elderly parents and other such traditional policies. Furthermore, they have continued to publicly note the runaway explosion of Christianity throughout the country. Why should all this not be music to our ears?
Jorjani, like Jordan Peterson, must decide which side of the fence he will come down on – traditional Christianity or Western gnosticism; there is no third way. He wants us to perpetually grow to be more human than human; as a friend, I would simply inform him, there’s an app for that.