Gone, but missed

Michael Löwy: Redemption and Utopia. Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe. A Study in Elective Affinity Verso Books. United States

Redemption and Utopia Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe A Study in Elective Affinity
Forfatter: Michael Löwy
Forlag: Verso Books (USA)
Redemption and Utopia tells the story of European thinkers influenced by Jewish Kabbalah, Anarchism and Marxism – a type of thinker who no longer exists. 


With the book Alchemy and Mysticism by Alexander Roob I have for many years been able to interfere with reading about alchemy, Jewish Kabbalah and mystism of every imaginable and unthinkable kind. Something similar can be done with the present book, though it is mostly about a number of thinkers from the 18. and 19. century. For dreamers and utopians, where did you go?

Egalitarian, libertarian socialism, anti-authoritarian spirit of rebellion and permanent change of human spiritual powers were their ideals.

Outsider Tradition. Redemption and Utopia. Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe tells of a number of inspired and inspirational thinkers who were all influenced by Jewish Kabbalah, Anarchism and Marxism. They are described as a "lost generation," and not surprisingly many of them ended up taking their own lives. "They were a generation of dreamers and utopians," writes author Michael Löwy: "They devoted themselves to a radically different world, to God's kingdom on earth, to a kingdom of spirit, a kingdom of freedom, a kingdom of peace. Egalitarian, libertarian socialism, anti-authoritarian rebellion and permanent change of human spiritual forces were their ideals. ”

Outside of the dull but progress-friendly social-democratic mindset, there is thus a wide semantic field of different thought traditions – yes, a conglomerate of different inspirational philosophical expressions.

Redemption and Utopia leads us into the immensely rich Jewish thought tradition in Central Europe in the period after the First World War. We meet a generation of intellectuals, all of whom were representatives of an outsider tradition, and who stood for many different schools of thought within Judaism. They were thinkers within a tradition that accumulated a rare sense of meaning, thinkers who were inspired by Jewish Messianic and Kiliastic (The Doctrine of the Millennium, ed.). In particular, this reader appreciates meeting Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin in this light.

They fought. I remember my strong first encounter with Kafka in adolescence, and not least in the book Conversations with Kafka by Gustav Janusch, where you get Kafka's personality so close that you almost burn. Among other things, Janusch asks: "Why were the poets not welcomed in Plato's tat? And Kafka replies: "Poets are politically dangerous to the State because they want to transform it. The state, with all its faithful servants, wants only one thing, and that is to maintain the existing. "

Tuscholsky, Toller, Wolfstein, Kafka, Benjamin – all were influenced by Jewish messianism. Some were Marxists, others were anarchists – and all fought a fierce battle against themselves, against the idea of ​​state-centralized power, and against the times in which they lived. modernity, doomed to fail in the face of progress.

Election relationship. Löwy asks: "Isn't it time to break the positivist tradition and begin to take advantage of the spiritual and cultural heritage that is deeper and richer in meaning and much closer to our actual social reality? Why not use the deep semantic field of myths, literature and even esoteric traditions to enrich the language of our social sciences? Didn't borrow the Max Weber concept mixing from Christian theology? ”

The author manages to excellently include countless quantities and variants of the term choice kinship. He includes alchemy and sociology, economics and religion in the term, and explains that by "electoral kinship" one can understand a dialectical family relationship that develops between different social disciplines – sociological, economic, and religious. Options relationship originates from the hippocratic formulation "Equally drawn to equality", and of course it belonged to the alchemical processes of the Middle Ages. But the term is Goethe's, and stems from the novel of the same name. "Relationship," the author explains, "is the force that causes separate substances to form a unit, a kind of wedding or chemical marriage, which arises out of love rather than hate." You can also think of Christian Rosenkreutz's alchemical wedding.

Election marriage is thus a special bond between souls, a bond that is not hereditary, but which is based on longing and love based on conscious choices. The term can also describe the relationship between different religious traditions and how they are interrelated, or describe the change a person can feel when filled with wordless, all-encompassing godliness. And it can be applied to socio-cultural conditions and modern economic reality, as Max Weber did it Protestant ethics and the spirit of capitalism.

On the whole, electoral marriage is such a rich concept that one can put almost anything into it. But the author avoids that trap: On the contrary, the author manages to link it to new concepts in a meaningful way.

Time to break with positivism and begin to take advantage of the spiritual and cultural legacy that is much closer to our actual social reality.

The angel of history. Walter Benjamin is central to the present book. He wrote in About the concept of history, as a comment on the picture New angel by Paul Klee: "It shows an angel who seems to be removing himself from something it is staring at. The eyes are wide open, the mouth open and the wings stretched out. This is how the angel of history must look. It has turned its face to the past. There vi watching a variety of events, watching the material moisture meter shows you the a single catastrophe that incessantly throws ruin upon ruin at its feet […] But a storm blows from Paradise, it has taken hold of its wings and is so strong that the angel can no longer fold them. This storm drives it incessantly into the future it has turned its back on, while the pile of wrecks in front of it grows into the sky. It is this storm that we call progress. "

Walter Benjamin did not believe in the value of progress. But he believed that the doors of eternity could open any second.

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