Neo-Platonism vs Christianity II - RR255A2

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Neo-Platinism vs. Christianity-Delivered 2 2 72
Course: Course - Neo-Platinism vs. Christianity
Subject: Subject:Philosophy
Lesson#: 2
Length: 1:01:10
TapeCode: RR255A2
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Neo-Platinism vs. Christianity.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


Our Lord and our God, again we pause this hour to thank Thee for Thy blessings. We thank Thee, our God that Thy Word is a light unto our feet and a lamp upon our way. We praise Thee, our God, that Thou hast not kept us in darkness, but hast given us the light of Jesus Christ. And so, our God, enable us day by day by Thy grace to view all things in the light of Christ and His Word, that we may walk in this world as more than conquerors through Him that loved us. In His name we pray. Amen.

We saw last week as we began our study of the meaning of neo-platonism, and its influence on Western civilization and Christianity, that for neo-platonism, salvation is not a divine work—a divine act and miracle—but a human effort. Neo-platonism is dialectical. It believes that there are two things which are in tension, one against the other, that must somehow be kept together, even though they are in tension. These two things are spirit, or mind, and matter. On the one hand, you have spirit, mind, reason, idea, form. On the other hand, you have matter; you have the individual, which constitutes, therefore, something at odds with the world of spirit, which is basically the higher and superior world. When you say the one it good and the other is evil, you have outright Manichaeism, which has often developed. In Manichaeism, the spirit is good, and matter is totally evil. Now, neo-platonism tends towards Manichaeism, but it doesn’t fall entirely into it. It doesn’t come out and speak of them as absolutely good and evil, although it regards them more or less as good and bad. The essence of salvation for neo-platonism is that man’s spirit, reason, idea, form, or plan (and here you come to the political aspect of it) saves man from the world of body or matter or material necessity, or capitalism—because this is the world that you must be saved from. Marx and Engels spoke of it as moving from the kingdom of necessity, matter, and of capitalism to the kingdom of freedom, the kingdom of spirit mind. Matter, in other words, is at the very least for the neo-platonist a lesser thing and unimportant. It’s only the crude man who is interested in things material. This naturally means that anybody who is a capitalist, or anyone who is interested in a good home and good clothes, and a good appearance, is obviously a sensual, low character. [00:03:48]

The same is true of particularity, or individuality...[edit]

The same is true of particularity, or individuality, or individualism, because the world of spirit is the world of universal mind – Mary Baker Eddy, here. And the world of matter is the world of individuals. Now, Mary Baker Eddy went so far as to say they’re an illusion. Neo-platonism doesn’t yet take that step, and Mary Baker Eddyists did; but they’re not good. So, you see, being an individual, emphasizing the individual, is not good. You should emphasize the collective, to put it into political terms. And so, totalitarianism is the goal. And you try to destroy the individual who is crude and materialistic, in that he puts the emphasis on myself, my property, my possessions, my will. Individualism, thus, is not important. And, Sir Thomas More, in portraying his Utopia, did not feel it was important to think when he married about the individual. After all, marriage was a purely material thing, a very physical thing. Therefore, when it comes to the material, one piece of material is as good as another; one hunk of meat is as good as another. So his attitude was, the way to marry is to strip all the women and let them take their choice—the men. And of course, this is exactly what he applied with his daughter, when Sir Thomas Roper wanted to marry one of his girls, and he just had him take a look at both of them and take his pick. After all, it was the crude world of matter; and he was above that sort of thing. [00:05:54]

Of course, this goes back to the origins of Greek thought...[edit]

Of course, this goes back to the origins of Greek thought: Aristotle said that women are misbegotten males, because they are more material, more materialistic; they have less soul than men. In fact, Plato went further, and he actually questioned whether you could call women rational or reasonable creatures. Now, of course, you can see where a great strain of thought that ran through the Middle Ages, and you still have today, comes from; and where the hostility to women, as supposedly lower, originated. This is why, with this idea of women, the ascetics, as well as many modern thinkers, can think of women as somehow sensual and materialistic and flesh-oriented, seducing men to a lower way of life. And you have this opinion in Islam. Now, of course, Islam is a very masculine religion. It was invented by a man, Mohammed; polygamy was made a part of its paradise, as a dream of unlimited women for the faithful of Allah. But somehow, through all of this, they preserved the idea that men are somehow rational and spiritual creatures, and the women are coarse, sensual, and material. The capacity of men to delude themselves is really enormous. But, the idea of the inferiority of women, their inability to be rational and reasonable, goes back to neo-platonism. [00:08:06]

Now, the Bible has no such idea...[edit]

Now, the Bible has no such idea. The Bible makes it very clear, for example, in Proverbs 31, how competent a woman is. And there, she is portrayed as someone who operates farms and industries, indulges in foreign trade, manages a sizable business empire, while her husband sits in the gate, which means (not that he’s lazy and just sitting around), but that he was a member of the town council. In other words, he’d gone into politics, and she was running the business empire and the farms, and everything. That was the Biblical idea and practice, with respect to women. The only thing the Bible says is that women are not to have dominion in the house, or to have authority within the church. It doesn’t say anything about them being inferior, or more materialistic, or more sensual, or anything like that.

Now as we have seen, the superior realm for neo-platonism is the realm of ideas, of reason, of spirit. This is the world of causality and determinism. Karl Marx said that there should be a transfer of determinism from nature, where it still exists, to mind; and that this is the evolution of history; that so far in history, the problem has been that the world of matter, the world of capitalism, the world of economics has too much determined things, when it should be mind or spirit or reason that should rule. And the progress of history is from the kingdom of necessity from this coarse, material world to the kingdom of freedom, this mental world, where mind rules, and mind imposes its determinism and its predestination on everything. Now, the realm of mind, whether it’s in Marx or in Mary Baker Eddy, or Plotinus or Plano, is not the world of individuals. As a result, the socialist paradise has no room for individuals. The individual is a particular; he is something material and limited. But mind is universal mind; and so, the goal is to suppress the individual. [00:11:03]

This is why in socialism the goal is really to obliterate...[edit]

This is why in socialism the goal is really to obliterate the individuals, to end what is called “alienation,” which is your self-consciousness as an individual; and it is actually pictured by some socialist writers as an ant hill society. You have your worker ants and so on, your soldier ants; and none of them are self-conscious and saying, “Now, why am I a worker ant,” or “why am I a soldier ant.” No, the hive or the ant hill rules all the members, thereof; and each one does his function automatically. They’re governed, you see, by an idea, supposedly. And this is the goal for society, for you to forget that you’re an individual. And if you’re too material to overcome your materialistic, your bourgeois, your capitalistic, your Christian training, then you have to be liquidated, so that the world of mind, the spirit of Geist, can rule. [00:12:17]

On top of that, universals, ideas, reason is ostensibly...[edit]

On top of that, universals, ideas, reason is ostensibly passionless; whereas, man as a materialistic physical thing is passionate. Now, the word passion comes from “pasco”—to suffer—which is very interesting. The Greek idea was that feelings meant suffering. Therefore, to eliminate or to escape from suffering, you had to eliminate the ability to feel. You had to be a stoic. And the goal of the stoic was to be able to hear that his house had burnt down, and his wife died in the fire, and his children had all been killed, and not to allow it to ruffle a hair, to go right on with a philosophical discourse, to be a completely passionless person, pure reason. Incidentally, the word “pasco” should not be confused with (the Greek word) with the Hebrew word “pasca”—Passover. They are two different words in two different languages. Now, passion means any and every form or degree of feeling. And this is why, ultimately, when you have the neo-platonic emphasis, they’ll begin by saying anger is bad; hate is bad. But ultimately, love and everything is ruled out. No feeling; pure reasoning to govern all things. [00:14:13]

Thus, man is seen in neo-platonic psychology as an...[edit]

Thus, man is seen in neo-platonic psychology as an unstable union of mind and body, of passionless and passionate elements. The psychology of Platonism thus says that when a man sins, he is driven to sin by his body, for as his mind is pure. So it’s allowing his body to gain the better of him. And, of course, this is utterly false from a Christian perspective. Man, body, and mind is a unity; and sin begins from the heart out of the unity of his being, and it affects his whole being, body and soul. Again, for neo-platonism, law is an impersonal, mechanical force. It definitely is not seen as the will of God. It’s like a machine, a clockwork; whereas freedom and the individual are passionate, lawless impulses. As a result, freedom is a problem. You may recall that some time ago, I mentioned the fact that, having spoken at a forum in San Jose, a schoolteacher came up (a public schoolteacher) afterwards, and told me that I was deluding the people in talking about freedom. Why? Because in the modern scientific world, freedom is obsolete, she said. Freedom is obsolete. And, of course, the thinking behind her statement was that the idea—the neo-platonic idea, the plan—makes freedom irrelevant. Freedom is the core sensual desire of the particular, of the materialistic individual to say “well, I want my way,” when all that should prevail is pure reason; the plan; the word, as given by the scientific god; the manifestation and incarnation of mind in society. [00:16:55]

Now, of course, you have this, beginning with the French...[edit]

Now, of course, you have this, beginning with the French Revolution and the revolutionary movements of modern time—the planned destruction of freedom, all in the name of man. In the French Revolution, you had the reign of terror to eliminate everyone who stood out against the mob; or, in their terms, against reason. Remember, they worshipped the goddess, Reason, the revolutionary leaders. They had public services in her honor, and everything was done in the name of reason. It’s the impartial, the objective, impersonal, passionless entity; and here are these individuals—wanted their own way. They wanted their property. They wanted to carry on old traditions that were being abolished. They were passionate. They were materialistic. They had to be eliminated. Robespierre said in justifying all the terror, and I quote, “The Revolution is the transition from the regime of crime to the regime of justice.” And in the name of justice, they actually sat down and debated: shall we destroy one-fourth, or one-half, or two-thirds of the population of France? And, of course, the whole idea in Marxism of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the same idea of reason incarnate: objective reason; liquidating everyone that represented that which was materialistic and individual. [00:18:53]

I read today of the attack upon a woman who had written...[edit]

I read today of the attack upon a woman who had written a letter in Red China to the papers. She was a devout communist. What was she longing for? She said, “Let’s all work together. Let’s reach our goals. And then maybe my husband and wife can have a little place together, a little apartment, and we can enjoy life together and our children, and I can enjoy cooking and that sort of thing.” “Oh, what a terrible materialistic goal,” the editor of the paper said. “She was thinking of herself. It should be here on this pure level of reason, impersonal, without any passion or feeling. Why, what a terrible offense; thinking about her own little apartment, her husband, her child. She was hopelessly bourgeois. [00:20:00]

Now you see, this is what neo-platonism does...[edit]

Now you see, this is what neo-platonism does; and you can see how a world saturated with a neo-platonic mentality is going to sacrifice everything material and everything personal. It’s going to sacrifice man, in other words. Its goal is the rule of reason: Plato’s philosopher kings. The men of science, the men of reason were above being attached to anything material. But, you say, Plato’s Republic had sexual communism and all the best women available for the philosopher kings: of course, but on a totally impersonal basis. Why? It was nothing, of course, to have all the women that were at all desirable there like cattle for the philosopher kings: that’s exactly what Plato called for in his Republic; but the idea of them getting attached to anyone of these women, and of wanting to settle down with any one of them, that would have been immoral. You see, if they’d just had the woman casually, and unfeelingly picked them up out of a line, and that was it, they were still living on this high level of reason and catering to the flesh to the extent that it was barely necessary to keep it from being a problem for them. But to get attached to one woman? Why, that would destroy them. Then, they would descend from this high level, and would become material, sensual in nature. They would be seduced by that woman into thinking of something besides highly rational, reasonable things. In other words, a personal relationship was the worst possible thing. A woman, if she were lovable, could chain a man down; and no claim by a woman on a man could be tolerated. [00:22:34]

This is why Alexander the Great, who was a world conqueror...[edit]

This is why Alexander the Great, who was a world conqueror and was a pupil of Aristotle, hated to eat. He avoided eating as much as possible, because it was a very unhappy concession to the fact that he had a body, and he wasn’t pure reason. For that same reason—here he was a world conqueror—he avoided sex. He had a boy, because he needed someone to succeed him, but it was very unpleasant to think about. He wanted to be pure reason, above sex and above eating. It really troubled him that he had to do either. And, of course, for the neo-platonist through the centuries, one of the most insulting things imaginable—and there are reams that they have written about this, what a horrible thing, and that’s why they can’t believe in a God—they actually have to go to the bathroom. What an insult for man. Oh, any god who could have thought of that was just unspeakable. It reminds man that he is flesh, you see, and this they will not tolerate—they will not tolerate. They want to think of themselves as pure reason. And so the goal is to be rational, passionless, devoid of feeling, and, we would say, inhuman. This is why it’s not an accident that revolutionaries, neo-platonists—all of them—are so inhuman. It’s not something, as some try to say, “Well, when these revolutions like the Russian Revolution and the Chinese Revolution settle down, it’ll be all right.” But they don’t become more human. They only become more inhuman as time goes on, because this is the logic of their position. This is what they’re trying to be—passionless. [00:25:01]

I was very interested when I was doing the work on...[edit]

I was very interested when I was doing the work on The One and The Many—of course, there was so much of this throughout, as I read some of these philosophers, but it was off the subject—but I do think I recorded the experience of Walter Kaufmann, professor of philosophy at Princeton, who is one of the most widely recognized scholars, as far as Hegel is concerned. I don’t know whether any of you have ever read Hegel’s Phenomenology, but it’s about as deadly, dull, stupid, insipid a book as you could find to read. Kaufmann read it in 1942, after his wedding, in a honeymoon spirit. Well, of course, Hegel is pure neo-platonist. It says something about Kaufmann, you see, that this to him was the bliss, rather than his wife: a book about pure reason, about mind being above matter; the book that was, in fact, the fountainhead of Marxism. But, of course, if you are an intellectual like Kaufmann, whose goal is to be pure reason, to be passionless, you’re going to find your joy in Hegel’s Phenomenology, rather than the girl you just married—and God have pity on her. This is why in these intellectuals, the concern will not be a personal concern with the poor man, but with the idea of poverty. There will not be any personal concern for the Negro or the Indian, or the Hindu; but it’s with the idea of man. It’s always the idea of man; it’s never the reality. They don’t want to get involved with reality. They want to be up here on the level of pure reason, pushing buttons and bringing about vast changes. They will not allow themselves to get involved in thinking about the individual. So, the sufferings of the individual do not bother them. In the name of alleviating man’s condition, they will murder man readily. As George Bernard Shaw said, “If they won’t be convinced, we will liquidate them in a kindly manner.” The goal is to be in the realm of spirit. [00:28:28]

Now, of course, this same trend in the church has been...[edit]

Now, of course, this same trend in the church has been very pronounced—very pronounced. Outside the church, the realm of the spirit—the emphasis—is on reason and on the scientific plan. Within the church, it has tended to be on reason, in the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church; but in Protestantism, it has tended to be on spirit, on being spiritual, as against being material. And so, it has led to what I term pious gush. Now, in churches it’s easy to spot who the spiritual people are. They are the ones who at prayer meeting will go on and on and on, and hog the whole meeting with a long-winded prayer, which is all pious gush. And the same people aren’t worth anything when it comes to the practicalities of life. They will be women who will go on and on at prayer meetings. In fact, they’ll shop around at a number of prayer meetings, where they indulge in long prayers to prove how spiritual they are; but try to catch them doing the ironing at home, or cooking for their husband, or making sure he has a clean shirt to wear—a that’s another matter. They’re above such mundane things, you see. They’re trying to be spiritual, with pious gush. In other words, it’s not faith and obedience that matter with them, but this spiritual gush, being spiritual. Of course, they forget that Satan is pure spirit. That doesn’t make him good. And spirit can be just as evil as anything else; that spirit and matter, alike, are fallen outside of Christ, but both can be redeemed in Christ. [00:30:46]

And this is why, because of this neo-platonism, the...[edit]

And this is why, because of this neo-platonism, the church today more than ever is being involved in pious gush, which is leading into what: neo-platonism, pure and simple, in the form of charismatic gifts. How are you going to prove you’re a Christian? You’re going to speak in tongues, or you’re going to develop all kinds of spiritual gifts; and this is the Jesus Movement. It’s the cultivation of spiritual gifts—so-called spiritual gifts—not to do the will of our Father in heaven; no relation between this pious gush and these spiritual gifts to the Holy Spirit of scripture. Remember, one of the names for the Holy Spirit, as well as for as for our Lord, is parakletos—the advocate, the lawyer. How often do people think of the Holy Spirit as the lawyer? But the scripture tells us He is; and he rebukes us like a lawyer. He ticks us off in our conscience when we sin. And, as our lawyer, He pleads with us—for us—and prays within us, with groanings which cannot be uttered, marshaling like a lawyer our appeal before God. But, you see, you never hear of that fact about the Holy Spirit in modern thinking, because it’s become a pagan doctrine, not a biblical one; because the goal of man, you see, is to be an idea, a word, a logos, and to be freed from the world of matter. [00:32:55]

There’s an interesting statement by a pagan poet, a...[edit]

There’s an interesting statement by a pagan poet, a Roman poet, Claudian, 396 A.D. This is not from a poem. It’s in a prose study of his, in which he deals with the problem of evil. Now, Claudian is a man who was very highly thought of by Edward Gibbon, who wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; and Claudian was dealing with the problem of evil, and he said, and I quote, “My mind has often wavered between two opinions: have the gods a care for the world or is there no ruler therein and do mortal things drift as dubious chance dictates? For when I investigated the laws and the ordinances of heaven and observed the sea’s appointed limits, the year’s fixed cycle and the alternation of light and darkness, then I thought everything was ordained according to the direction of a God who had bidden the stars move by fixed laws, plants grow at different seasons, the changing moon fulfill her circle with borrowed light and the sun shine by his own, who spread the shore before the waves and balanced the world in the center of the firmament. But when I saw the impenetrable mist that surrounds human affairs, the wicked happy and long prosperous and the good discomforted, then in turn my belief in God was weakened and failed, and even against mine own will I embraced the tenet of that other philosophy which teaches that atoms drift in purposeless motion and that new forms throughout the vast void are shaped by chance and not design—that philosophy which believes in God in an ambiguous sense, or hold that there be no gods, or that they are careless of our doings.” [00:35:10]

Now, this is a very interesting statement, because...[edit]

Now, this is a very interesting statement, because he says, “When I look into the world,”—as a neo-platonist, he felt he should see necessity in the world of ideas, rather than the world of nature—he said, “in the world of nature I see some law, something that points to God; but not in the world of men. Everything doesn’t seem to move as by a plan, and the people that don’t hop to and dovetail; and everything doesn’t work out perfectly.” Of course, you see, he will not accept the fact of sin, of a fall. Now, a scholar of a few years or a couple of generations ago, Pickman—Edward Motley Pickman—commented on this dilemma of Claudian, and he said, “This passage reveals the weakness of Stoicism; for it apparently argued the existence of a Providence from the fact that there was justice on earth. Consequently it tacitly admitted the corollary that if there were no justice on earth, there could be no Providence.” Well, that’s a very astute observation. You see, what the neo-platonist does is to say that the ideal man is the only real man: man as an idea; man as abstract reason; man as necessity, determined, moving in terms of a plan; man as I would make him and, therefore, God should make him the same way, you see: creating God in their own image. I would have all men like an ant hill, or a bee hive; and any reasonable God would do the same as I do. So they make man into an inhuman abstraction; and if they can’t find him, there is no God. In other words, Claudian was looking for God in terms of his own rules of evidence; and God had to be what Claudian was looking for. Now, I can eliminate all the people in the world and say they don’t exist, if I set up rules for their existence and say they have to be what I say, or they’re not human. After all, didn’t Plato virtually eliminate women from the human race? He came within a hair’s breadth of it. He said it was really an open question; but one-half of the human race is not human? Very simple, you see. He had a definition of what constituted humanity; and then he had a definition of women, which really, practically put them out—very simple. [00:38:32]

Now, if no God meets Claudian’s definition and specification...[edit]

Now, if no God meets Claudian’s definition and specification, then there is no God and there’s no Providence, and you proclaim the death of God, as some thinkers then did. Then, the next step is that man says, “Well, since God isn’t around, or is asleep, or dead, and won’t do this thing, I have to do it,” you see. “I’ve said what God must be. He must have a perfect plan for man, in which everybody is in his place and does what he should, and abstract reason rules everything. And God is dead. But there must be a god; and I am the best candidate, aren’t I. I’m an intellectual. Therefore, I have the plan, and I am God. It’s that simple—it’s that simple.” And this is exactly what existentialism is saying: man must be the God, and provide the Providence and the Word. This, Marx said, is the duty of philosophy.

Roderick Seidenberg, a contemporary socialist, has said, and I quote (this is in his book, the Anatomy of the Future), “Rooted in what is conceived to be a fundamental antithesis between instinct and intelligence, the entire span of history may be regarded as a transitional era in a profound metamorphosis during which mankind has been subject to the deep travail of changing from the once dominant influence of the instincts to that of our rational proclivities. Under the triumphant sway of science and the universal impact of our machine technology, we are approaching, it would seem, a climatic turning point in this metamorphosis.” In other words, mankind has been ruled by instincts, living like animals; but now, we are developing under the leadership of science, reason, and the technology of reason, so that man can now make his own plan, be his own God. Of course, it’s a handful of men, but they will all be elevated, if this handful can run the show, if the world can be ruled by pure reason in the form of the planners, in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, or the philosopher kings, or call it any name you will. Not all men are wise enough, you see, to be reason incarnate. So, they will be ants in an ant hill society, ruled by reason or true necessity. And these philosopher kings—who are above material things, who despise the world of matter and feel that any man who is unduly concerned about things of the body and things of matter, things of individuality and property and the like, is base and low, and an impediment to the future and must be eliminated—these men are going to liberate mankind by eliminating the wrong kind, and making all men conform to their image. [00:42:28]

St. Paul spoke very plainly of the evil of this dream of a spiritual man. He knew the evils of neo-platonism, and he said in I Timothy 4:1-3: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” This was neo-platonism in its day. In its every form, it stands condemned; and St. Paul said of those who to any degree practiced it, “such depart from the faith.”

Let us pray. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we thank Thee that Thy Word is truth, and Thou hast given us a standard by which we may judge all things, and by Thy grace avoid that which is evil, choose that which is good, and prosper according to Thy Word. Bless us in Jesus Christ and to His glory. In His name we pray. Amen.

Are there any questions now on our lesson, first of all? Yes? [00:44:24]

[Questioner] Does the neo-platonist think that if they...[edit]

[Questioner] Does the neo-platonist think that if they can become pure reason and escape the body gain eternal life?

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes. They hope ultimately now with science to accomplish precisely that. They do want to gain eternal life, and they feel they’ve got to put up with the body; but ultimately … I cited that Kenneth {sounds like] Furer, this astrophysicist, and his idea that ultimately they would lick the problem of a body: they’d get rid of it and live as pure spirit, which is their dream.

Yes?

[Questioner] When you read that scripture, it had something to say about meat there; and now, being a vegetarian have anything to do with {unclear}?

[Rushdoony] Yes. The vegetarians strongly have a neo-platonist influence, or a Hindu influence; and Hinduism had a strong influence on neo-platonism.

Yes?

[Question] Not to have communion in church and not to have communion in the home, {unclear} inferior status for women; and further, the fact that woman was created {unclear} man {unclear} scriptural {unclear}?

[Rushdoony] No. What the scripture says is she is subordinate, not inferior, you see; and there is a difference. More than once, I’ve been subordinate to men I was not in any sense inferior to; and there’s a world of difference—there’s a world of difference between being subordinate and being inferior. The Bible never infers that women are in any sense inferior, only subordinate; and the distinction is very, very important.

Yes? [00:46:37]

[Questioner] I don’t really understand ...[edit]

[Questioner] I don’t really understand … once, you mentioned cultivating spiritual gifts. What about the people that have {unclear} witnessed to possess and be blessed with the indwelling spirit {unclear}? How do you classify their possession of that?

[Rushdoony] The gifts of the Spirit that are commended in scripture are not the kind of the neo-platonist. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are, of course, to obey the will of God. And those who claim to have any gifts of the spirit apart from God and His work don’t have biblical gifts of the spirit. Theirs are neo-platonic gifts.

[Questioner] Of course, we know of many people who are agnostic or atheist who suddenly, for some reason or another, can suddenly {unclear} speak that have possessed {unclear}. Now, what happens in their case when they’re {unclear} and they become {unclear}?

[Rushdoony] All right. Now, of course, you have reference to speaking in tongues –

[Questioner] No, not necessarily. No, oh no, no, no. The first indication I got of this was a book I read many years ago Harold Begbie’s Twice Born Men.

[Rushdoony] Well, he was speaking about conversion there.

[Questioner] Right, right.

[Rushdoony] Well, conversion is not neo-platonism. That is regeneration. That’s a different thing.

Yes?

[Questioner] I was wondering about the Roosevelts, Franklin and Eleanor. Now, they had a lot of differences, you know, even different {unclear}, but where did neo-platonism take part in their thinking. They were certainly {unclear}.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Both of them, of course, had the idea that the answer to things was a brain trust, you see; and the brain trust was to provide this passionless ideal. I read today a very interesting statement by Benjamin Anderson, an economist, who was in the New Deal, how during the war one of the top men in Washington was discussing with him the Nazis. And he said, “They have the right idea. They’ve got everything organized. The only trouble is they don’t have a conscience.” In other words, he wanted the same thing here in this country, but the difference was we have a conscience. We would do it with intelligent, enlightened reason; whereas, there, they have racist ideas, which get emotions mixed up with their dictatorship, you see. There really was not too much difference between FDR and Hitler. They were both national socialists. It was just a question of who went further in applying theirs. [00:49:57]

I was very interested today, also, in some reading...[edit]

I was very interested today, also, in some reading I did to find out that Hitler—and this is a well-authenticated statement— said that the idea of race was a myth, and that nationalities were obsolete. Here he was a national socialist taking a racist stand. So he was doing it purely for pragmatic purposes. And, of course, the reason is obvious: in Mein Kampf, he has some things to say against the Jews, but against scientists, intellectuals, capitalists, communists—just everybody. So, when the chips were down, he needed the scientists, so he forgot about hating them. And he needed the capitalists; so he forgot about hating them. And he was making a peace treaty with Stalin, working for that for years, and he had the Nazi-Soviet Pact; so he didn’t say much about them until after the Pact broke up. So, who was he going to make into the internal enemy so he could get the people worked up? Well, the only one left was the Jew. He didn’t have any personal feelings against them; and he was ready to admit that the idea of race was a scientific myth. In fact, you see, he would go further in that direction than we would. We wouldn’t deny that there are differences in races; but he said scientifically, it’s a myth. So, it was pure pragmatism. And you see, this is what reason becomes: calculating what will go over, what do we need; not a commitment, because commitment is a passionate thing. So the idea of Hitler as a ranting character is nonsense. He was a cold, calculating person, who was rationally saying, “What can I use?”—and using it. [00:52:08]

Yes?

[Questioner] In a conversation this week, some of Skinner’s works were brought up. Do you {unclear} this at all?

[Rushdoony] Yes, I have Skinner’s book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity and, of course, here is precisely the kind of thing we’re talking about. The world can’t afford freedom and dignity for the individual. The individual doesn’t matter—only society does, and it should be ruled by pure reason, by the scientific elite, like himself. And the rest of us? Well, the electrodes should be put in our heads, so that somebody at a master switchboard can control all of us. Now, this man is extremely powerful and influential, and the government is pouring all kinds of money into research conducted along those lines. On top of that, if you go to any big corporation, you’ll be given a test before you’re hired, and it’s a Skinner test, although his name might not always be on it.

[Questioner] What happened to the home test? They {unclear}.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, increasingly in the big –

[Questioner] {unclear}

[Rushdoony] Yes. Increasingly, the big corporations, it’s Skinner’s test.

Yes?

[Questioner] Is John Owen’s book on the work of the Holy Spirit, a – good …

[Rushdoony] It is a sound one, yes.

[Questioner] Is it sound?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Questioner] Because that’s the {unclear} Is there another book that you would consider better?

[Rushdoony] Kuyper wrote a fairly important one. The great work on the Holy Spirit still has to be written.

Yes?

[Questioner] {unclear}

[Rushdoony] Yes. Kuyper and, uh, uh, Owen have probably done as well as anyone ever has. They’re both classics.

Yes?

[Questioner] Does Pink have one on that?

[Rushdoony] I don’t know if Pink’s worked on that. Yes, Pink is usually pretty good, quite good.

[Questioner] Is that Abraham Kuyper?

[Rushdoony] Abraham Kuyper, yes.

Our time is almost over, but there’s something that I have here that Dag Bazare gave me that I can’t keep until next week. I want to read it now. It’s a little long, but I think you’ll find it worthwhile, and it is all too true. [00:54:40]

“Not long ago, I was sitting in a big city office building...[edit]

“Not long ago, I was sitting in a big city office building, and a man came in with a stepladder. He set it up in the middle of the room, climbed up to the ceiling, and removed a round glass globe from the electric lamp. Then, he unscrewed a burnt-out bulb, replaced it with a good one, put the glass globe back, and descended. ‘Wish you’d tell me,’ I said, ‘why you didn’t clean that filthy globe while you had it off?’ He looked up at the globe, shrugged, said, ‘Another department,’ and went away. It seems that almost anybody might be able to manage a big city office building, if you’d give him enough departments.

”It made me think of Thaddeus Spinney, who was the first man I ever knew about who departmentalized so efficiently. Thaddy had a little waterpower mill up on Molechunkemunk Stream, and mostly, he made knitting yarn from wool he bought from Maine farmers. There was some sort of traditional pretense that he also made bed blankets, but his ancient loom was pretty well worn out. When the shuttle flew through the side of the building into the millpond one morning, Thaddy got leery of it and phased out his blanket department. But his yarn business was good, and for many years, he made out fine.

“His remote situation, on the tag end of the RFD route up from West Bucknam, kept the world from beating a path to his door, because nobody could find him, but it gave him a business advantage few big city fellers would think about. The cheapest way to mail anything was always on an RFD route, and Mr. Spinney worked both ends against the middle. He was careful to point this out to all farmers who sold him wool, and not only did the farmers like to save a penny, but there was something amusing about piling big burlap bags of sheep fleeces all over the mail carrier’s buggy and being obliged to pay only 22 cents. If you carried the wool to your own post office to mail it, it would cost a good deal more. Then, Mr. Spinney always paid two-three cents a pound more than the season’s quoted price. This also pleased the farmers when he recovered his generosity quickly by the postage he saved once he, in turn, mailed his finished yarns on the RFD.

“All his business, which was considerable, had been stimulated by small, inexpensive advertisements in the country weekly papers and the ladies’ magazine. His message in the weeklies was, ‘Highest prices for wool, mail RFD and receive payment immediately.’ In the ladies’ periodicals, he would say, ‘Finest quality knitting yarns, lowest prices, send for sample.’ The advertisement is what caused him, long before it became a common business practice, to departmentalize. He “keyed” his advertising, putting a different “Dept.” on each ad. Thus, if he received a bag of wool addressed to Dept. K-2, he knew the Sangerville Republican Leader was doing him a good job, and if he got an order for yarn addressed to Dept. 14, he knew he had not wasted the money he spent with The New England Homestead. Since Mr. Spinney, himself, was each and all in the operation of his mill, from picking dri-ki from the penstock, to wrapping the parcels, he had to devise some way to let his right hand know what all his other hands were doing. So he built a long rack of pigeon holes over a bench, and each hole was a department. He was using about 400 weekly newspapers, and something like 75 magazines, so he made the rack with a 500 pigeon hole capacity. The idea of a one-man operation with 500 separate departments should appeal to present-day managers of city buildings.

“All was not to be serene, however. After a few years, the post office department observed the heavy volume of mail on RFD 1 out of West Bucknam—all of it, of course, generated by the Spinney Mill. Somewhere in the District of Columbia the statistics were evaluated, and Mr. Spinney shortly was aghast at the news his RFD route was to be abolished, and a separate post office established for Molechunkemunk Stream Township. To him, this meant only disaster. Department by department, he could see his prosperity declining. But thinking to save something from this mischance, he applied for the postmastership, and since he was the only inhabitant of the community he was soon appointed and went down to West Bucknam to be sworn in. The deep despair that heavied his heart on the way down was elevated to sugar plums, however, when he was briefed on the duties and benefits of his new position, and he suddenly realized all was not lost.

“Fourth-class postmasters did not receive a salary. Instead, they were paid 125 percent of their cancellations. Thus, every time Mr. Spinney bought a dollar’s worth of stamps from himself, Uncle Sam paid him a $1.25. After that, Mr. Spinney always mailed his parcels of knitting yarns first-class, registered, insured, return receipt requested, special delivery. Every customer could see that he spared no expense in rendering service of the finest kind. With a business running to nearly 500 departments, Mr. Spinney kept happy.” [01:00:49]