Out of Revolution - Analysis


The central 'thesis' of Out of Revolution (also laid out in Die europaeischen Revolutionen, which adopts a different order and provides a more detailed theoretical casting of the material) was that the second millennium had created a planetary consciousness, though not yet a planetary peace. That consciousness had been formed from the great convulsions that occurred in Europe in what he terms the 'total revolutions.' Unlike rebellions or regime overthrows, 'total revolutions' are driven by a desire to achieve the longed for 'kingdom of heaven' - they are forms of the 'last judgment', in which one age is condemned and a new one erected to deliver the promise of the second coming. From Gregory VII's desire to revolutionize the Church—what Rosenstock-Huessy calls the Papal Revolution, and what is more commonly referred to as the investiture conflict—to Marx and Lenin's attempt to unify the workers of the world, Europe and then the World have been swept up by forces which were first unleashed in the struggles to end the unbearable injustices of the past and create the promised kingdom. Rosenstock-Huessy analyses the major contributions/ legacies of what he calls the 'secular revolutions'—the Russian, the French, the English and the German (the Reformation)—and the 'ecclesiastical' revolutions—a more complex array of forces which involves a detailed analysis of the Holy Roman Empire as he works his way, inter alia, through the investiture conflict, the war between Guelfs and Ghibbelines, the Italian warring states, the Italian Renaissance, the survival of the Austria-Hungarian empire, industrialisation and the founding of America and its subsequent revolution.

At the heart of this bifurcation into secular and ecclesiastical revolutions is a major and recurring idea in Rosenstock-Huessy's work: that the Great War (and after its outbreak he included the Second World War) is a Marriage of War and Revolution. That is, he saw that the great revolutions had created a 'circulatory spirit' forming the collective aspirations that had driven the European nations and their colonies to fight for one final peace which would lead to what he called a 'metanomical society,' a society in which there could exist a concordance of discordances, a peace in which differences could be not only be tolerated, but provide fecund tensions, as the fruits of all this struggle could be harvested. The European Union, for all its flaws, provides the kind of institutional resolution, which Out of Revolution was seeking.

For Rosenstock-Huessy, the millennium of revolution had been the outgrowth of the millennium in which the Church had been formed to create fellowship and love of the neighbor. The explosions of the revolutions were the angry acts of those who could no longer bear institutions they found hateful and divisive and contrary to the very commandments that had formed the Christian nations of Europe. For Rosenstock-Huessy, that the French and Russians would then turn upon Christianity itself was part of the demand of the 'Holy Spirit,' that love must ever find new forms. He held—or rather had faith—that the next millennium would be one in which Christianity would become incognito and the promised Johannine Age and its age of universal fellowship be realized.

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