The end of history

"And yet, by its me a repetition, the sequence of the structurally equivalent symbolisms of the Deutero-Isaianic exodus of Israel from herself into an ecumenical mankind under Yahweh with Cyrus his Messiah, the Stoic exodus from the polis into the imperial ecumene of the cosmos, the Christian exodus into a metastatic ecumene providentially prepared by the imperial ecumene, the Hegelian ecumenic reconciliation and the Marxian ecumenic revolution, destroys the finality of meaning claimed by each member of the series singly. The final answer to the meaning of history has been given not once but several times too often." -- Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, p. 277


  1. Gene, I confess to being lost. Would you mind explaining?

  2. This quote reminds me of another.

    "For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned." (Hebrews 6:4-8 ESV)

    I'm very doubtful that there is spiritual equivalence in Marx's ecumenic revolution and Israel's prerogative to bless the nations. There seem to be structural similarities however.

  3. Hey Nathan. Good to see you post on here again. I don't think that Voegelin was attempting to draw a spiritual equivalence of Marxism and Israel. What he is seeing is that there is a pattern, a similarity, in attempting to immanentize a spiritual eschatological view of 'heaven on earth' in order to flee from our experience of the 'ground of being' - God. For Voegelin, to understand history is to understand human experience - consciousness - and how the patterns of consciousness explain historical phenomena. Israel's attempt to bless the nations is seen here in this passage (or so it seems to me - I am still studying Voegelin) as an attempt to immanentize (or to 'bring down') a final eschatological state on earth. In the same way, Marxism and other movements seem to attempt to try to do the same.

    The question of whether or not Marxism is 'spiritually equivalent' to Christianity is going to be met with an affirmative 'no' on Voegelin's part, anyway: he was about as fierce a critic of any and all Progressivism, liberalism, and modernism wholesale as there ever has been. In fact, he uses Marxism as a perfect example of what happens when one tries to flee from the pneumatic experience that we have as humans: you get hell on earth wrapped in a seemingly rational package. But the desire and experience of the 'ground of being' - pneumatic experience - does not ever stop, and so one has no choice but to live religiously by attempting to find profound religious insights and meaning in the symbols and ideology of a given political construct like Marxism. This is why Marxists (and Progressives) are every bit as religious, if not more so, than Christians.

    At least, this is how things seem to me. Voegelin scholars do, in fact, have a good hold on his thought - but I need to read more second hand sources in order to grapple and understand his thought better.

  4. What does the "end of history" mean?


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