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Christianity, the trinity and the master/slave paradigm
    #8793628 - 08/19/08 01:51 AM (10 years, 3 months ago)

This is an excerpt from a book I'm reading called "The Revolution of Everyday Life" by Raoul Vaneigem, a radical French theorist from the 60's.

"At the high point of the crisis brought on by the end of classical philosophy and of the ancient world, Christianity's genuis lay in the fact that it subordinated the recasting of a mythic system to one fundamental principle: the doctrine of the Trinity. What does this dogma of the Three in One, which causes so much ink and blood to flow, really mean?
Man belongs to God in his soul, to the temporal authority in his body, and to himself in his spirit. His salvation depends on his soul, his liberty on his spirit, his earthly existence on his body. The soul envelops the body and the spirit, and without the soul these things are nothing. If we look more closely at this scheme, we find an analogy for the union of the master and slave under the principle of man envisaged as a divine creature. The slave is the body, the labour power appropriated by the lord; the master is the spirit, which governs the body and invests it with a small part of its higher essence. The slave sacrifices himself in body to the power of the master, while the master sacrafices himself in spirit to the community of his slaves (eg, the king 'serving' his people, de Gaulle 'serving' France, the Pope washing the feet of the poor). The slave abdicates his earthly life in exchange for the feeling of being free, that is, for the spirit of the master to come down to into him. Consciousness mystified is mythic consciousness. the master makes a notional gift of his master's power to all he governs. By drenching the alienation of bodies in the subtler alienation of the spirit, he economises on the amount of violence needed to maintain slavery. The slave identifies in spirit, or at least he may, with the master to whom he gives up his life force. But whom can the master identify with? Not with his slaves qua possessions, qua bodies, certainly: rather, with his slaves qua emanation of the spirit of mastery itself, of the master supreme. Since the individual master must sacrafice himself on the spiritual plane, he has to find someone or something within the coherent mythic system to make this sacrafice to: this need is met by a notion of mastery-in-itself of which he partakes and to which he submits. The historically contingent class of masters had thus to create a God to bow down to spiritually and with whom to identify. God validated both the master's mythic sacrifice to the public good and the slave's  real sacrifice to the master's private and privative power. God is the principle of al submission, the night which makes all crimes lawful. The only illegal crime is the refusal to accept a master. God is a harmony of lies, an ideal form uniting the slave's voluntary sacrifice (Christ), the consenting sacrifice of the master (the Father; the slave is the master's son), and the indissoluble link between them (the Holy Ghost). The same model underlies the ideal picture of man as a divine, while and mythic creature: a body subordinated to a guiding spirit working for the greater glory of the soul-- the soul being the all-embracing synthesis."

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General Interest >> Philosophy, Sociology & Psychology

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