Religion as constitutional law

We have tried to shed new light on some critical points of the Euromediterranean evolution of religion. The term 'theocracy' with its supporting terms like 'creation', and its corresponding earthly rulers and administrators like kings, emperors, popes and - last, but not least village chiefs, provincial dukes and pharaohs, formed the red strings within these evolutionary processes. And, naturally, finally we must mention also their habitats, their settlements, their provinces, their empires, richly populated with the peoples or 'believers'. Four different cultures were discussed. We managed to show, that what we call religion appeared quite differently in these four cases. But, at the same time, by emphasising the constitutional and territorial component, new common conditions became evident.

In Ancient Egypt we saw physical Gods in numerous forms like chess-figures occupying certain fields. They occupy places, provinces, ultimately the empire. On the basis of this chess-game-like disposition which clearly developed from predynastic villages and in which worldly rulers, chiefs, dukes and kings, always are found very close to the physical deities, the Egyptian empire developed from its early Ancient Kingdom to the Middle and New Kingdom through roughly 2000 years. Thus, with our interest for religion we have slipped suddenly into another discipline, into the domains of constitutional law. We described the development of a theocracy based on the cultic legitimation of its god-king-rulerdom structure. We have pointed out, that this type of constitution was widespread also in the Ancient Middle East. There too it had developed similarly from predynastic or preurban villages.

In the Old Testament we discovered very similar traits with regard to the history of the Hebrew state formation. The religious element is clearly related to the foundation of a state! It supports a constitution, which consolidates itself in the later Hebrew or Jewish-lsraelite empire. Moses has synthesised the model of a very advanced civilizational constitution of that time with an 'environmental' shepherd cult, to legitimate his own constitution under the conditions of those times. The first book becomes a preliminary text, which supports the 'rural' constitution with genealogical lineages and a classificational index ('origins'). This disposition supports the Hebrew empire for nearly 500 years and remains also alive during further 500 years.

In the downfall period of the Western Roman empire however it emerges again at a powerful place. It is politically needed, to legitimate a rather recent Jewish-messianic tradition with temporal depth and thus provide it with constitutional significance. The synthesis acts as support for the declining empire. We related this 'Nicean Synthesis' (325) to the 'identity dispute'. On its basis Christianity, in the year 391, was declared state religion of the Roman empire and remained this about 80 years until the downfall of the West Roman Empire (476).

At the beginning of the Middle Ages the breakdown of western Rome freed gigantic parts of Europe from the imperial control of Rome. However, quite quickly these vast territories were again brought under military and administrative control by the Franconians.

Germanic elements and the memory of Rome as glorious imperial centre blocked for quite some time an equivalent new centralism in the Franconian empire. ' Rome' remained fixed on Rome. The popedom occupied the vacuum of power without any considerable territory. In contrast to the Franconian power it expanded its power by increasingly developing its merely pseudo territorial - absolutely spiritual - 'super imperial' constitution, which was - often quite luxuriously - self-supporting. In addition, it managed to break the power of the Franconian kings over their own church and thus to a great extent managed to have control over their territories.

We have seen, that neoplatonic thought played an important role in the outcome of the 'dispute about universalities' and that the quarrel about investiture and its success was largely based on this former dispute. Here too the constitutional aspects are evident. The Christian element was used to proselytise the popular basis and once this was territorially established, church politics shifted to the higher level of this neoplatonically absoluted theocracy of the ancient Near Eastern type and - in our case - gained control over the Franconian empire. It is not very difficult to see that this ambivalent character of Vatican politics continues into our modern times.

Important point: the eternally burning thorn bush

If one compresses this summary further, one could say: we have somehow discovered the critical point of the whole Euro-Western world view in terms of structural history. It is the critical point of its ontological values. This reveals as the 'eternally burning thorn bush' in the Old Testament. On it depends, with the developments we described, not only the Hebrew history from its beginnings until today, but also the whole Euro-Western Christian world and its metaphysically founded values.

If one assumes our hypothesis positively, the following insights may be obtained. In their supreme values, both the Jewish, like the Christian faiths, show a highly paradoxical denial of the present and its factual conditions. With large expenses, modern man binds his highest values at ancient sources about 'origins', about the 'creation of the world' to legitimate his existence and his activities. Evidently, by historically illegitimately expanding these concepts spatially into the universal, the factual meanings of the sources were fully misinterpreted! Structurally, they are not of macrocosmic nature. They originated ultimately from predynastic agrarian villages in the ancient Near East and in Egypt, in the wider sense from prehistorical developments of human settlement.

Viewed in this spatio-anthropological framework, the claim to historical factuality can only be maintained by strict historistic isolation of the written sources from their anthropological backgrounds. Evidently these gradually expanded ontologies were always kept in the maximum value nucleus of societies, and this was the basic condition for their continuity. Expansion and diffusion of the concepts were always pursued in close relation with power.
The social energies, which still today flow into these supranational concepts can only be explained in assuming an archetype of settlement which guaranteed strong identification, environmentally and socially. The history of early empires and later state formations forcefully superseded this topogenetic infrastructure, using its structural conditions on larger scales due to extended space perception. But, with increasing size and abstractness of the superstructures, local identity increasingly dissolved. Mostly imposed by elites, the process of state formation increased identification on the higher level of the suprastructural system. This new suprastructural 'identity' develops into linear time, becomes 'history'. Particularly in our modern times, where the lower ontological levels may change fast, its surprising conservativism often stands fully against the established knowledge of the time.

Science as analytical method has no chance in this 'predynastic survival' of a world view polarly structured into 'heaven and earth', which - since its village origins - emphasises the primary importance of the former. The paradoxical paradigm is defended most vehemently. On the popular level, because it seemingly mediates safety and identity, on higher levels, because it supports social control. Naturally, the presented structural continuity produces 'freedom'. Fundamental questions of life, which would have to be reflected individually - at least today - are solved collectively on the suprastructural level and are dogmatically diffused through education. The above mentioned 'freedom' is invested into the structure as a whole.

On the other side, tremendous problems are created by this suprastructural continuity. Dealing with the Middle Ages, we have shown the character of interferences between 'worldly' states and the 'spiritual' power of the church. We have outlined the ambivalent character of the latter, based on the 'Nicaean synthesis'. As long as scholastic constructions of this kind are considered valid, the oriental theocracy of Rome will continue to intrude into politically evolved democratic states, essentially on the popular level of the message of the New Testament. If the surface is covered, then the oriental element comes in. Through his worldwide hierarchically structured links, the 'Pharaoh of Rome' favours or disfavours political developments of the worldly powers.

Evidently, these processes are going on below the political surface. Even for well informed politicians, the general 'scientific' classification of 'religion' covers up the constitutional and political aspects. They only show, if one considers Rome politically and constitutionally as a survival of the ancient Orient and classical Rome. Consequently, whether pro- or anticlerical in their outlooks, politicians are often not aware of the factual political impacts of the Roman theocracy.

One of the most critical chapters of Euro-Western history is the history of conversion. Over centuries, all over the world, topologically bound cults, resp. local constitutions were ruthlessly eradicated. They were then replaced by a historically evolved, highly abstracted 'higher' system of 'religion'. Worldwide, traditional populations were completely uprooted from their customary environments. The representations of their highest ontological values were devalued as 'fetish', their 'religion' called primitive. Now, with the present study, it is shown plausibly that, what was neoplatonically speculated into the macrocosmic dimensions, might have been, at its roots, the outcome of very similar conditions. One could hardly imagine a larger disgrace for the global Euro-Western superiority-complex!

The scholastic trauma of Europe

Our study tried to show that scholastics were important factor in the formation of European and Western world views. This vehement constitutional struggle of the Middle Ages between absolute spiritual and worldly powers has formed Europe much more deeply and more effectively than anything else. It is not Greek philosophy, which marks Europe. Greek thought was discovered relatively late. And it gained its dynamics only through the connection with the Middle Ages. Europe is strongly characterised by scholasticism. Until today this mediaeval struggle on the highest levels has remained the trauma of Europe. It has produced an absolutely split world view, often close to the clinical picture of schizophrenia. Renaissance, Humanism, French absolutism, the discoveries of the mechanics of the universe as well as the discovery of the manifold of cultures on earth, all these processes show some revolutionary traits including our most modern technologies. They all seem to have plotted mutually to explain on their own the deepest mysteries of 'creation' and also to control and manipulate them. On the other hand, however, the values created by this theocracy were taken over by the sciences. All the heroic demigods, the discoverers, inventors, artists, authors etc., the conquerors and glorious sovereigns, all these godlike geniuses, that characterise Western history. They resemble the Franconian kings with their desire for the Roman imperial crown and the luxurious Oriental ointments used at coronation ceremonies! With this progressive blindness, the 'spiritual sciences' (Geisteswissenchaften in German for 'humanities') as well as the 'natural sciences' and technology, risk to loose their objective views on the human realities.

In the individual disciplines too, the scholastic trauma rules. Ethnology projects the European world view - apriori split into subdisciplines and using endlessly differentiating methods - on the microcosms of traditional societies. The immanent 'superiority complex' of this view prevents objectivity. Result: projections, value schemes, the so- called 'third world'. The high culture disciplines like for instance the Asian studies too project their Eurocentrisms on the corresponding foreign cultures, which creates enormous conflicts on the long run, forcing Asian societies to manifest and measure themselves in Eurocentric standards.

Art theory remained largely fixed on the 'postmedieaval myth of the profanised world creator', a devastating fossil, which reduces art on a market and covers up the essential importance of art as a cognitive system. This retarded structure is particularly of catastrophical dimensions in its influence on architecture and urbanism. Its pseudotheologically founded and absolutely subjective aesthetics projected on the narrow art-artist scheme may support whatever lunatic architectural imagination. The cultural factor is ignored. In addition also, and most important: the whole scientific complex of history, archaeology and prehistory is widely fixed on historism (Dilthey!). Particularly archaeology and history are strongly blocking the systematic buildup of an urgently needed 'anthropological' view of history and prehistory.

Finally, the esteemed European philosophy too might lose a large part of its cherished instruments borrowed from scholastic theology. The idealistic line becomes highly questionable. Hegel's system looses its support. Presocratic thought unveils as a transitional field between early Greece and ancient Near Eastern theocracies. Plato may lose his exalted position. In compensation, new views on Asian and generally prescientific traditional thought will gain in importance. In other words, philosophy can only continue meaningfully on an anthropological base. Only if it manages to transmit statements which are valid also for 'Third World' conditions, it will be allowed to speak of man.

But, let us return to our initial topic 'religion'. The present study may also provide some very clear answers regarding the often heard question, why Christianity, in its nucleus a very humane and politically anti imperial, even revolutionary 'religion', at the same time appears with this whole historistic and doctrinaire pomp centralised in a theocratic metropolis. Post-Roman Rome, the nuclear point of a globally-centralized pseudo territorial empire ('urbi et orbi'!), which perceives worldwide democracies above all from their own Roman division into 'dioceses' and the 'spiritual' regents ruling in them, as is shown by the recent 'investitures' of bishops forced on several democratic states in Europe. < 24> All this says: unquestionably the Christian doctrine, since the 'Nicaean synthesis', is highly ambivalent in its strategy, is consequently also - and essentially - a basis for politics on the top level and with clear goals: to globally expand the supra-imperial empire of the 'Nicaean Synthesis'. < 25> Thus, in front of our eyes, a global empire of thousands of years - still in the making.

However, the main accent of our conclusions lies in the present relevance. We are speaking about the frightening processes of the recent medieavalisations, to which the whole world was exposed in the last decenniae. Worldwide they came up, all these new and unexpected historistic fundamentalisms. 2000 year old histories start to have control over our modern high-tech world. There are again crusade-like religious wars with their beastly slaughterings! A fundamentalistically programmed society breaks in into our daily Iives. The universities, recently, were widely degraded to vocational schools. The humanities were (d)evaluated in recent programs. And on the streets: human misery is again normal. The 'New Poverty'. God punished them! The market too has developed into some sort of 'God's word'. New - very ancient - priorities were set up. Many threads run, directly or indirectly, to Rome. < 26> Finally, the increasingly frightening exploitation of all democratic medias urgently calls for a balance, for a humanist reaction. This is, what justifies the wider circle of a modern, anthropological view of religion.

In fact, it is very important today to recognise such circumstances. The evident discrepancy between the factual conditions of our world views (which we tried to outline) and the enormous speculations involved, provide completely inadequate optics to many peoples. The metaphysical formulae, which are hidden in these theocratic world views, promising progress and material wealth, conceal to millions of humans on this globe the view on the humane reality. It somehow comes close to a global insanity - at the same time - to promote, support and control the capacity of the present industrial production with a medieaval-scholastic construct. Maybe we would have to ask ourselves very urgently, where - in this world - our factual human responsibility really lies.


If - at the end of the 20th century - there could be a hope for the beginning of the third millennium, then perhaps the following: that European man, and all those, who take over his 'spiritual'-tools, might become conscious of the humanistically problematic character of this Eurocentric value system. And, that they might free themselves from these pressures and find the way to their own humane humanity, their own humane culture.

If there is a way, leading to the fulfilment of this hope, this could only be a new anthropology, < 27> a new theory of man, which overcomes the misleading historisms in our 'advanced' world views. It would have to be a theory of culture which does not simply differentiate and evaluate differences of cultures, but which discovers basically the same in all cultures. Maybe, today, a new type of metaphysics should urgently be developed. Not one which - postulating its own apriori-superiority - devaluates other cultures. But one, which recognises the 'true omnipotence' of natural processes into which cultural developments are implanted, embedded. It would have to teach man rather to integrate himself into these processes, instead of attempting their control.

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