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Berdyaev Nikolai, The New Middle Ages.

Berdyaev Nikolai, The New Middle Ages. The Russian Revolution, Democracy, Socialism, Theocracy. Thoughts on the Destiny of Russia and Europe, transl. Prodromos P. Antoniadis, P .Pournaras Publ., Thessaloniki, 1987, pp. 168.

This book by the Russian religious philosopher is the second of his trilogy on the philosophy of history. The other two books of the trilogy are The Meaning of History and the Destiny of Humans in the Modern World. Religious thought and the revelatory element are prevalent in his approach. He claims that after the experiences of history of later years, although we cannot go back to the ancient Middle Age, it is possible to have a New Middle Age.

            Characteristic to the era described is anti-humanism, which is followed by atheism. The investment of liberty hopes on capitalism, nationalism and also communism and fascism, leads to the contrary, the subjugation and the illiberality of humans. From the power of the Church the world has gone to the power of the stock-market and the economy. The first essay of his book concludes with the moto: “I seek not independence from religion, but freedom within religion”.

            Without beautification of the old regime, the second essay of the book which deals with the Russian revolution, lays the claim that Bolshevikism is the most rational insanity, the mania that one can control all aspects of life, essentially a reactionary phenomenon. Analysing the particular religious and cultural reasons that lead to the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, he claims that it may well lead to a renewal of religious life, as Christianity is the religion of the crucified truth. He foresees the depletion and the self-destruction of the revolution.

            The third and last essay of the book is titled “Democracy, Socialism, Theocracy”. According to the author, democracy is relative, knows no truth, recognises only majorities, has no spiritual depth and for its purposes human personality is simply an abstract individual. In contrast, socialism seeks absolute scientific truth which stands against freedom and subjugates individuals to collectiveness. Socialism is a faith; it has a messianic nature and seeks totalitarian power over people, power over the body and the soul as well. Berdyaev supports Theocracy, but not of the traditional Medieval kind. He describes himself as a Christian socialist and in his real Theocracy, the Kingdom of God, theonomy goes hand in hand with freedom and autonomy.


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