“Revolutionary millenarians”

Interesting little tidbit about the millennialist strain found in various -isms.

h/t Andrew Stuttaford in Re: Christianity and Marxism

Nicholas, to return your serve, it’s also well worth noting the millennialist strain that runs through both Christianity and Marxism (and which is also clearly visible in some aspects of the catastrophic climate change ‘narrative’). You’ve probably already read it, but if not I’d strongly recommend Norman Cohn’s The Pursuit of The Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages on this topic.

Commenting on that book,  Cohn’s obituarist in the Guardian noted this:

[Cohn] demonstrated convincingly that the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century, chiefly Marxism and Nazism, shared a “common stock of European social mythology” with apocalyptic medieval movements such as the Flagellants and the Anabaptists. Common to both modern and medieval versions of this ideology was a belief in the end of history, culminating, after much suffering and struggle, in an earthly paradise for an elect, and the destruction of their enemies. Just as the established church, rich landowners and Jews were to be swept away by the poor of medieval Europe, so the “world Jewish conspiracy” was to make way for the Third Reich, or the Marxist proletariat succeed the bourgeoisie.

Thomas Muntzer, one of the leaders of one of these risings (the early 16th Century ‘Peasants War’ described amongst others by an approving Friedrich Engels), ended up (after a rough first ending) on East Germany’s five mark bill.

As to why the prospect of an imminent apocalypse, complete with punishment for the wicked, and the survival of a righteous  elect, should have been such good box office for so long, Richard Landes’s Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial is a thought-provoking read (FWIW, I reviewed it last year).

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