But Marx wasn't the first to predict an End to History either. While I can't speak for the other religious traditions in which I am less learned, the Bible speaks of an End to History in the Book of Revelation.
Yet, the Bible is not a book of modern politics. Whatever the Christian Americanists may tell you, the Founding Fathers' idea of republicanism did NOT originate in the Bible, just as Marxism did not originate there either. Yet, the Bible did influence both systems. Certain tales in the Bible resonate with both Marxism and the American Founding.
Interestingly, the idea of "Ending History" with liberal democracy traces to America's Founding era. Liberal democracy as originally articulated by America's Founders and the philosophers who influenced them was "settled" as the final form of government with a top down, God given metaphysics. Yet, the God of the Bible is not an apparent liberal democrat.
When one therefore mixes biblical revelation with Founding era democratic-republican theory, one gets results that are "interesting" to say the least. This is what the original "history enders" (most notable among them Enlightenment unitarian Christians Joseph Priestley and Richard Price) believed: Jesus would return at the success of the French Revolution to usher in a millennial republic of "liberty, equality, and fraternity." This was part and parcel of the same line of thought that argued the Bible established a "republic" as opposed to a "Kingdom" of Heaven, that the Ancient Israelites had a "republic" instead of a theocracy and that the Romans 13 really did teach revolution was permitted, indeed demanded, to secure liberal democratic ends.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Will "History" Ever End?
That's the title to a post I did today at Dispatches From the Culture Wars. I'm going to reproduce the part of it that relates to the American Founding so that we might, if we wish, discuss it here as opposed to there: