No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the tone and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.
Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
J. Robert Oppenheimer (1945), quoting the Bhagavad Gita.
As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.
C. H. Dawson. We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. The Soviet Union is a state at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of Cold War with its neighbours.
The only way to convince oneself and the rest of humanity that the socialist system is best is to see to it that there are no other systems.
Totalitarianism probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth.
‘The nations of Europe must be guided towards a Superstate without their peoples understanding what is happening. This can be carried out in successive stages, each camouflaged as having an economic goal, but which will end up by leading them irreversibly into a federation’.
Jean Monnet (1952).
Au dessus (de cette foule innombrable) s’élève un pouvoir immense et tutélaire, qui se charge lui seul d’assurer leur joussance et de veille sur leur sort. It est absolu, détaillé, reguiler, prevoyant et doux. Il ressemblerait à la puissance paternelle, si, comme elle, it avait pour object de preparer les hommes à l’âge viril; mais il ne cherche au contraire qu’ à les fixer irrévocablement dans l’enfance.
Alexis De Tocqueville.
It is forbidden to forbid.
Paris slogan (May, 1968).
I. THE DANGEROUS YEARS (1945-1953) 8
1. THE AMERICAN JANUS 9
2. ANARCHY IN EUROPE 18
3. THE SOVIET OLD ORDER 24
4. THE SORROWS OF THE RUSSIAN CHURCH 32
5. THE CHURCH IN EASTERN EUROPE 39
6. THE YUGOSLAV WAY 46
7. AMERICA, JAPAN AND CHINA 55
8. MAOIST COMMUNISM 61
9. WESTERN DECOLONIZATION AND SOVIET IMPERIALISM 64
10. THE UNITED NATIONS 71
11. THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES 77
12. THE STATE OF ISRAEL 81
13. THE KOREAN WAR 90
14. DIVISIONS IN THE GREEK CHURCH 94
15. THE CULT OF STALIN 109
16. DNA, DARWINISM AND THE NEW AGE 112
II. THE AFFLUENT YEARS (1953-1973) 117
17. THE DECLINE OF ENGLAND 118
18. THE SEXUAL AND THERAPEUTIC REVOLUTIONS 124
19. THE EUROPEAN UNION 133
20. THE SUCCESSORS OF STALIN 139
21. ROCOR AT THE CROSSROADS 144
22. THE RISE OF PAN-ARAB NATIONALISM 157
23. THE COMMUNISTS BECOME ECUMENISTS 163
24. THE “THEOLOGY OF PEACE” 171
25. NUCLEAR WAR AND THE CUBAN CRISIS 174
26. THE KHRUSCHEV PERSECUTION 182
27. THE PASSPORTLESS MOVEMENT 187
28. THE OLD CALENDARISTS RESTORE THEIR HIERARCHIES 192
29. MAO’S WAR ON CHINA 201
30. FROM PARIS TO PRAGUE 208
31. THE LIFTING OF THE ANATHEMAS 217
32. THE FALL OF THE SERBIAN AND BULGARIAN CHURCHES 227
33. “THE HERESY OF HERESIES” 244
34. MOSCOW AND THE METROPOLIA 248
35. RUSSIAN AND GREEK COUNCILS 252
36. THE VOICE OF MOUNT ATHOS 259
37. ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN DISSIDENCE 262
38. THE VIETNAM WAR AND THE SIXTIES GENERATION 265
This book is the sixth volume in my series entitled An Essay in Universal History. The earlier volumes were: Part 1: The Age of Faith (to 1453), Part 2: The Age of Reason (1453 to 1789), Part 3: The Age of Revolution (1789 to 1861),Part 4: The Age of Empire (1861 to 1914) and Part 5: The Age of Catastrophe (1914 to 1945).
In the five earlier volumes of this series, I surveyed the history of the world from the beginning to 1945 from the point of view of Orthodox Christianity. In this work I am essentially doing the same thing for the period 1945-2000, from the end of the Second World War in 1945 to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It roughly corresponds to the period of the Cold War between Capitalism and Communism. Tony Judt, whose admirable Postwar is one of my main sources, sees the Cold War as lasting “from the collapse of postwar negotiations with the USSR in 1947 to the unification of Germany in 1990”.1 However, I have slightly extended the time-frame to include the Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Cold War was not an exclusively political, military and economic struggle between Capitalism and Communism, but also a religious struggle between the Russian revolution in its post-war forms and the Orthodox Church. However, insofar as Orthodoxy found itself opposed not only to Soviet Communism, but also to Western Capitalism – not only to the beast of the Apocalypse, but also to the Babylonian whore! – we can say that this is not a two-way, but a three-way contest, involving the true faith in opposition to two godless secular ideologies, Liberal Capitalism and Anti-Theist Communism. But Orthodoxy, although an essential part of the history of this period, especially in Eastern Europe, had very little impact on political or cultural history. This was because, first, genuine Orthodoxy was persecuted, and had to operate, for the most part, underground, and secondly, because religion as a whole declined sharply. Indeed, apart from the struggle of the superpowers, the most significant fact of this period is the collapse, in all except a few regions of the world, of the influence of religion.
We must make an immediate qualification here. By “the influence of religion” we do not mean numbers of believers in the organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Even if reliable statistics were to demonstrate that the absolute or relative numbers of believers in these religions had declined, this would only be confirming a trend that had been evident for centuries, especially in the developed world. The more significant fact was that most men now, even if professing to belong to one of the organized religions, in fact believed at the same time and primarily in a very specific form of materialist anti-religion that has been called scientism.2 Scientism is, in the first place, the belief that empirical science is the only reliable path to truth, and secondly, the belief that the model of the universe and man’s place in it that most scientists adhere to is unquestionably true – the idea, namely, that the world and everything in it has evolved by chance from a tiny mass of superheated dust to produce all the beings, animal, vegetable and mineral, that we see around us without the addition or intervention of any purely spiritual, immaterial power.
The only conventional religion to make a significant impact on world politics while rejecting scientism has been Islam. However, Islamic fundamentalism became important only in the later part of our period. Before that, we see the combined assault on traditional religion provided by the militant atheism of the Soviet Union and other communist countries, on the one hand, and the more subtle assault provided by the human rights philosophy of the western countries and the ecumenical movement, on the other. Of course, the Capitalist West is usually portrayed as having been protective of religion whereas the Communist East persecuted it. And this was true to a degree, as was witnessed by the flood of Christian, and later Jewish refugees, from East to West. Nevertheless, as we shall see, in its persistent and subtle undermining of the foundations of religious belief, the West turned out to be no less revolutionary in relation to religion than the East, especially as persecution slackened in the East and the sexual revolution kicked in in the West.
This sixth volume is subtitled “The Age of Mammon” because while Mammon, the power of money, has always been important in world history - it is, after all, “the root of all kinds of evil”, as St. Paul says - it was only in the period covered by this book that it became the decisive factor in life. It did so in several ways. First, the outcome of the Cold War came to be determined, under God, not so much by the relative numbers of soldiers on the two sides, nor by the relative strength of the will to win on the one side by comparison with the other, nor even by the superior attractiveness of Capitalism as an ideology, but by technology – and the backwardness in technology compared to the West that finally compelled the Soviet leaders to throw in the towel was determined by the greater financial resources and economic productiveness of the western Capitalist world.3 Secondly, political ideologies came more and more to be dominated by the theme of the redistribution of money from the rich to the poor: one of the main factors distinguishing Communism from Socialism and the western-style welfare state was their attitude to how, and how radically, money should be redistributed. And thirdly, the vast increase in general prosperity in this period – beginning in the West and spreading outwards - decisively influenced in a negative way men’s attitudes to the world around them and God above them…
In view of this greatly increased secularization and economization of life in the second half of the twentieth century, it may seem paradoxical that I continue to devote as much space as in earlier volumes to religion in general and to what I consider to be the true religion, Orthodox Christianity, in particular. After all, it may be objected, the situation has changed radically since the Age of Faith (volume 1), when men were religious and religious questions and disputes were at the centre of life. In the Age of Reason (volume 2), this was still the case, even if secularist tendencies were gaining in strength. But by the Ages of Revolution and Empire (volumes 3 and 4) secular religions such as nationalism, socialism and romanticism were already more important to most men than any of the traditional religions, at any rate in the West. However, by the Ages of Catastrophe and Mammon (volumes 5 and 6), we have entered what has justly been called a “post-Christian” age, when most people have not even heard of, let alone taken any interest in, the religious issues discussed in this book.
However, a universal history from an Orthodox Christian point of view must centre its attention first and foremost on the workings of Divine Providence as the key to the understanding of history – and God does not cease to work in and through history just because most people do not believe in Him. And that means both trying to discern how His justice and mercy are working in the great revolutions and wars that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and examining the upheavals in that far smaller segment of mankind that constitutes God’s instrument of salvation on earth, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Even if the True Church contracts to a tiny dot, as it did in the twentieth century, and appears to be on the edge of extinction, it still remains the only engine of true renewal available for all the tribes of men. Moreover, tiny and apparently insignificant though it may be, it is the key to the understanding of the vast events taking place around it. For everything is for the sake of the Church and for the salvation of men through the Church. That is why an accurate description of what happens in the Church is not just important, but the most important task of an Orthodox Christian history of the world. Indeed, so transcendently important is it that, according to the Holy Fathers, God will bring the world to an end when there is no longer anybody left who is worthy to enter His Church.
The approach of this work is therefore unashamedly eschatological… There are many material signs that the world is approaching its end: the demographic explosion, the development of ever-more dangerous means of mass destruction, the possibility envisaged by some futurologists that man himself is changing himself from Homo Sapiens into another species, Homo Deus.4 But the surest sign remains the spiritual one: that man is losing faith in the One True God. For, as Christ said: “When the Son of Man comes [again], will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18.8). What He will find on the earth when He comes is the Antichrist, which is why my last chapter is devoted to developments leading to the birth of the Antichrist in the most recent history… This book is written in the conviction that we are nearing the end of history, but that we can still prolong it for ourselves and our descendants by endeavouring to learn its lessons, of which the most important is that history has a Lord and God, without Whose will, as the Russian proverb goes, a man cannot even cross a field…
As in all the volumes of this series, I have a multitude of intellectual debts. Most of them are listed in the footnotes. But for my outlook on history I am indebted first of all to the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Fathers of the Church, who taught me, in the words of St. Athanasius the Great, that in the writing of history, as in every other endeavor, “we should follow, not the times, but God”.
October 28 / November 10, 2016.