Deculturation Downward:
from the Apocalyptic Thinkers to
British Analysis

[The] great apocalyptic thinkers of the nineteenth century—I have just mentioned them, men like Hegel, Comte, or Marx—still base their apocalyptic view of history on a very thorough knowledge of historical materials—they are themselves very good historians— while today the apocalyptic position that resulted is usually taken over, but not taken over with all the historical knowledge that went into its formation.

Therefore we have a peculiar epigonal apocalypse in the twentieth century that, for instance, results in an attitude of what today [1967] in Russia is called Soviet Communism, a special sort of communism that is not identical with Marxism. Genuine Marxists oppose this kind of communism. There is an internal revolt going on, from the Marxists against the Communists, who are the epigonal type from whom the bureaucrats are recruited. The intellectuals would go back to Hegel and Marx because they are where the origins, the existential origins of this apocalyptic, are to be found. Thus, in that manner you have a peculiar epigonal dogmatism that does not even retain the older historical knowledge that was still present in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s. That's all gone.

In this way you therefore have a peculiar deculturation process, resulting in relegating to a realm of practical ignorance such areas of reality as are symbolized by myth, by philosophy, by revelation symbols, and by mysticism. These are the four major symbolizations of original experiences, and together with the original experiences, they are mostly removed from present intellectual discourse.

When I say that, I am thinking of quite concrete things. For instance, in the Anglo-American area of philosophy the dominant philosophical movement is still, you might say, British analysis; and without being in any way critical of British analysis, if you confine your knowledge to British analysis you have eliminated all the areas of reality symbolized by myth, philosophy, revelation, and mysticism. Practically everything that's important in life is removed if you confine yourself to that type of logical analysis, which is quite solid in itself.

I am a great adherent in that respect of British analysis, but it is confined to a type of logic that takes its model from the act of sense perception. And all these other areas are not areas of sense perception; as such, they are entirely different.

CW VOL 33,
The Drama of Humanity
and Other Miscellaneous Papers, 1939-1985
The Drama of Humanity,
pp 179-180.