Thought Control In The Name Of Mother Earth - Part 2

This is the second part of a three-part essay.

By 1948, the time was ripe for a second world enemy to be proclaimed at large since the French Revolution. Ruling class oppression was the first, but now the ravages of two world wars, economic crises in the intervening years, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s provided the necessary fuel to ignite new fears of ecological and social collapse. On the first page of his introduction, Osborn writes that, "towards the end of the Second World War," it occurred to him that another and far older planetary war had been taking place, a "silent war, eventually the most deadly war," which was responsible for more human misery "than any that has resulted from armed conflict" and "contains potentialities of ultimate disaster" beyond even the reach of "atomic power." Our Plundered Planet would have made a fitting subtitle for The Communist Manifesto, for in both works war is another word for the course of human events, in Marx by his fixation on class warfare through the ages and in Osborn through the "silent war" that "The Plunderer" began waging thousands of years ago against the earth. Even Marx's view of capitalism as the ultimate predatory force in history finds a corresponding echo in Our Plundered Planet, with "the story" of America's relationship to the land in the nineteenth century representing "the most violent and destructive of any written in the long history of civilization."

Published in the same year as Osborn's best seller, William Vogt's The Road to Survival also found a wide audience for its attack on the "European and American economic system"; but where Osborn darkly speaks of "vast industrial systems" superimposing "new environments ... like crusts, on the face of the earth," Vogt pulls out all the stops and demonizes "the parasite of European industrial development," which buried "its proboscis deep into new lands," thus making the Europeans who arrived in North America "one of the most destructive groups of human beings that have ever raped the earth."

An instructive point of comparison appears fifty years into the industrial revolution in the second stanza of William Blake's "Jerusalem" (c. 1804): "And was Jerusalem builded here / Among these dark Satanic mills?" Blake's demonic factories are evil incarnate, yet there is nothing accusatory about the poem, for they appear in a redemptive setting of spiritual wonder ("And did the Countenance Divine / Shine forth upon our clouded hills?"), and the work ends with the poet's promise not to "cease from mental fight / Till we have built Jerusalem / In England's green and pleasant land." Blake's lyrical poem was set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916 and became a kind of national anthem, whereas Vogt's fear-inducing image of Europe's "proboscis" sucking up "new lands" might almost have been crafted in view of Hieronymous Bosch's weirdly grotesque and unnerving creatures of hell.

It is Vogt's image of Europeans, however, that is particularly vicious, because it insidiously suggests that the continent which still lay in ruins deserved its recent wartime fate. Indeed, Vogt intends his words to convey precisely this suggestion, which follows from his earlier remark that, over the course of the nineteenth century and the twentieth to date, Europeans ravaged the planet "with the seemingly caculated inexorability of a Panzer division," as though the victims of Hitler were the last in a long line of ecocidal Nazis, while "The handwriting on the wall of five continents" was now telling mankind that "the Day of Judgment is at hand."

Eco-theology also plays a part in Osborn's book, in which he speaks as though he were the Dostoevsky of environmentalism as he reflects on nature's abuse at the hands of man, who has "disregarded the words of the gentle Nazarene" and "destroyed a large part of his inheritance" as prophecied in the Sermon on the Mount: "'Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.'" There is even an echo of Dostoevsky's Christian faith in redemption through suffering, in which the destroyer's only "hope for the future" lies in remorseful "recognition of his failures in the past."

In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky's Father Zossima makes this very connection between love of nature and remorse for one's sins, but he does so in view of his own life, as the Gospels themselves center on the life of an individual. Osborn, on the other hand, reads "the words of the gentle Nazarene" as an environmentalist message, which is intellectually incoherent and makes a hash of Christ's prophecy several times over. In his version of the sermon, "the "meek" become mankind, which not only cancels Christ's blessing on the humble and poor but also erases "the meek" themselves, since man remains "The Plunderer" that he always was. Literally speaking, it is Osborn himself who has "disregarded the words of the gentle Nazarene" by subverting their meaning and turning them upside down. This inversion appears at the very beginning of the passage, in which we discover that it is "The Plunderer," the very figure who "has already destroyed a large part of his inheritance," who has simultaneously inherited the earth. In Osborn's words, "Part of the saying of Jesus ... has been fulfilled" now that "humanity, in great and growing numbers, is crowded upon most of the habitable areas of the earth," as though Christ's prophecy, in "part," had to do with overpopulation.

As for Vogt's "Day of Judgment," Revelation is a mystical vision of Christ's second coming, in keeping with Christ's reply to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world." Vogt's apocalypse, on the other hand, concerns nothing but this world and, like all environmentalist warnings of planetary doom, is a scientistic form of prophecy. Hence my earlier characterization of this movement as an irreligious religion.

In Blue Planet in Green Shackles (2008), the Czech president Václav Klaus cites a number of Czech critics of environmentalism who likewise regard it as a secular religion, among them Ivan Brezina, "a biologist by academic training," who calls it "ecologism" to distinguish it from "scientific ecology" and critiques it at length in "Ecologism as a Green Religion" (2004). Klaus also cites a passage from "An Inconvenient Demagogy" (2006) by Michal Petřík, who notes that there is nothing of real science in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, which not only "includes all the errors it could possibly include" but "completely omits" any justification for the methods by which the film maximizes "negative forecasts and coming catastrophes." With the doomsday clock running out, there "comes a politician who is the only savior averting the catastrophe and saving all humankind." It is a classic echo of Soviet-style agitprop, as in a World War II Soviet film that an American veteran who had served in our Lend-Lease program to Russia once described to me, in which a dying soldier looks up at a nighttime sky and sees Stalin's face in a full moon looking down at him.

Petřík's following observation is particularly astute:

Even Gore's own son turned out to be useful for the movie because it was after his injury that Gore discovered what is important in the world. In the same way, we learn of the author's sister who - due to lifelong smoking - died of lung cancer. The movie thus did not lack a sudden revelation and conversion that we know from religious rituals.

The calamities in Gore's family life thus magnified the central fear that is propagated in all repetitions of the doomsday motif: "the collapse of our civilization" (Vogt), "the twilight of our civilization" (Osborn), "it is the 11th hour" (Gore), "In the 1970s the world will undergo famine" (the Ehrlichs), and the all-inclusive "Something must be done soon" (Thomas Malone) and Nelson's "we cannot afford to delay."

Related incantations include a feverish intolerance of modern science and industry (except for "eco-friendly" technologies) and an unchecked idealization of the natural world. This fantasy picture of "a predefined optimal state of the world"i is accompanied by corresponding outcries against man's rapacious war upon an all-suffering earth, feminized by Klages as "the planet that bore and nursed him." It is a primal image of violation and recapitulates the murder and incest motifs in Oedipus the King in a particularly disturbing way, since Klages transforms their human agents into abstractions and deploys them with a concentrated force that is common to all ideologies that traffic in "myths and monsters." As we recall, Sophocles's protagonist unwittingly kills his father and marries his mother, unnatural acts that set in motion a plague that breaks out years later in his city of Thebes. In "Man and Earth," these events are abstracted into a single concept that combines two outrages in one on a planetary scale of destruction, in which the universal "mother" becomes the ravaged victim of her son's "matricidal spirit." Hence "the rape of nature," as he elsewhere writes.ii

Environmentalism as an ideology thus takes its place in today's politics of victimhood, although it has the unique feature of absorbing all groups of the allegedly oppressed into itself. Since "the rape of nature" is a concept without any limits other than those of Klages's "man and earth," no political interest groups that exploit what Eric Gans calls "victimary rhetoric"iii can hold a candle to the victimized mother of life. After Klages, she appears in The Rape of the Earth: A World Survey of Soil Erosion (1939) and can now be found online in seemingly countless works under such titles as "The Rape of the Earth and the Human Ego," "The Rape of the Land," "The Rape of the Planet," Rape of the Wild, Rape of the Fair Country, and "The Rape of Planet Earth," whose definitive form is "the rape of mother earth" in eco-feminist speak.

As for fatherhood, the only references that I can recall are in the form of attacks against the patriarchal god of the Hebrews, who "created man in his own image ... male and female" and gave them "dominion ... over all the earth," thus handing a creation that was not his to begin with (Klages is emphatic on this point) to a species that was consequently not his either. For Klages, it is a pernicious fiction that sanctifies mankind's violation of "mother earth," although it is always "man" in the masculine sense who is raping "the planet that bore and nursed him." Osborn sets the stage for a similar view of "The Plunderer" through one telling reference to the planetary mother, whose invisible portrait corresponds to the tender image of motherhood that appears in the opening lines of his book: "Yesterday morning more than 175,000 mothers looked down upon the vague uncomprehending eyes of their newborn babes... . These are the children of the earth."

In "A Letter on Ethics" (1918),iv Klages provides a critique of Genesis that reads like an advanced introduction to environmentalism as "a metaphysical ideology."v As he interprets the "Mosaic creation myth," the idea that the universe and life itself could be created by divine command ("Let there be light," etc.) is not only absurd but also an offense to the inherent "vitality" of life, which knows nothing of commands, let alone religious or ethical decrees. Every "vital process or condition of nature" is born of itself, and "no command can ever have the power to create one single object, not even the rain-drop that beats upon my window-pane." The earth for Klages is instinct with life, which "categorical imperatives" can neither create nor protect. All we can do is nurture the life-force through "a positive, caring attitude," which can only be provided by "Vital soul-guidance," such as one finds in "a landscape, a poem, or a thing of beauty."

Enhancing one's inner life is an experience, however one feeds it, but for Klages "soul-guidance" represents above all the educative power of the mother principle. Hence his prime image of motherhood as "the soul's guide," whose "eternal icon ... is embodied in the mother with the beloved child." The outlines of this world picture would later be filled in by eco-feminism and deep ecology, for whom "The earth as mother is a universal theme. According to Ninian Smart, 'there are "powerful connections with the idea of the supreme Female, with the earth as being our Mother, with fertility, with maternal love, with falling in love,'" all of which are manifestations of the "great creatrix of the world."vi

Speaking of "Man and Earth," Peter Staudenmaeir remarks that Klages "anticipated just about all the themes of the contemporary ecology movement."vii His observation is a testament not only to the scope of the work but also to the conciseness of its prose, so much so that single passages would later become the subjects of entire books, among which Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, a work that seems to flow directly from Klages's commentary on bird life early in his essay. Her title itself is foreshadowed when he remarks on the extensive loss of birds' nests in a suburb of Munich and goes on to say, "More ominously, the countryside has become eerily silent, throbbing no longer as it once did every dew-laden morning in the joyous melody of Eichendorff’s 'countless larks.'" That Klages exploits his apparent love of nature in order to attack the "matricidal spirit" is clear from his later statement that man's "boundless lust for plunder will not rest until the last bird falls."

The "last bird," however, will not be alone, for the entire "primordial song of the landscape" is falling away: "The Indians are over and done with; the Australian aborigines are finished; the noblest Polynesian are at their last gasp," and so on across the globe. It is Our Plundered Planet two world wars before Osborn, one of whose imagined "prophets" had already appeared in "Man and Earth." Speaking in oracular terms of the nature myths among the ancient Greeks and Germans, Klages describes them as the last rays of man's harmony with "Forest and spring, boulder and grotto," whose interpretation through myth "was a way of scattering blooms around the tree of an inner life, which shelters a deeper knowledge than all of science: the knowledge of the world-weaving power of all-embracing love. Only when this love has been renewed in mankind will the wounds inflicted by the matricidal spirit be healed."

Thus concludes his penulimate paragraph. What follows is a clarion call for a new religion of salvation. Klages declares that he still believes "in miracles" and that "a coming generation may indeed see the birth of a new world." He aligns himself with "those unforgettable dreamers ... whom we conventionally call the 'Romantics'" and ends with Eichendorff 's own final words from his novel Foreboding and the Present (1812), which read like scenes from an earth-centered Book of Revelation:

Our age seems to me to resemble an ever-expanding, uncertain twilight. Light and shadow battle still ... and the wider world below remains abandoned to its hollow expectations... . out of the collapse of the world, will emerge once more an unprecedented contest between the old and the new, and the passions of today that slink about in disguise, will find that their masks are now disparaged... . But miracles will at last take place ... and a new, yet somehow very ancient, sun will radiate its light through the scenes of horror. The thunder will still roll, but only upon the peaks of distant mountains; and then the white dove will soar aloft in the clear blue skies; and the earth itself will shine with a brighter light from the heavens above.  

Klages's glowing reference to the German romantics directs the reader to the background of his essay in "the völkisch movement" in nineteenth-century Germany, which, according to Staudenmaier, "united ethnocentric populism with nature mysticism" and had as its underlying "temptation ... a pathological response to modernity." Klages identified with this movement and its later expressions and described the "ultimate formulas" of "our philosophy" as "incantations that have all of the power of magic at their disposal."viii Staudenmaeir notes that, "In 1980, 'Man and Earth' was republished as an esteemed and seminal treatise to accompany the birth of the German Greens."

Shortly before the "miracles" that conclude "Man and Earth," we come to the heart of the essay, in which Klages seeks with the virulence of an intellectual hatred to build a biometaphysics of the natural world on the ruins of Christianity, the one religion that stands in the way of his own:

Only within that world were the inventions accumulated; only within that world was that quantifying, "exact" scientific methodology brought to perfection; and, finally, only within that world, that Christian world which is perpetually engaged in the most ruthless imperialism imaginable, could one find those men who have sought to conquer all of the non-Christian races, just as they have sought to conquer the whole of nature... . Capitalism, along with its pathfinder, science, is in point of fact the fulfillment of Christianity ...

In the long history of man's separation from nature, according to Klages, Christianity represents the triumph of reason and will over "the powers of love and the soul." It is the last and most decisive masculine "thrust" in a series of soul-killing blows, which began the moment when man first became conscious of his alienation from his primal mother. For Klages, this is the real meaning of "expulsion from 'paradise,'" in which man suddenly "finds himself on the outside, seeing now with the cold, clear gaze of the stranger, and knowing that he has lost his previous accord with plants and animals, with oceans and clouds, with rocks, winds, and stars." Until that rupture, man led a soulful, dreamlike existence, but now his waking life begins, his "accord" gradually disintegrates, and he evolves into the monster that Osborn calls "The Plunderer." Originating in "distant beginnings," this process has now reached its "final stage," and, at every step of the way, man's "enmity against the world" has been "provoked by a force" that "is precisely as old as—'world history!'"

As Horatio says in response to Hamlet's first lines after his encounter with his father's ghost, "These are but wild and whirling words, my lord." And wilder yet is Klages's desacralization of Christ the redeemer, which is the central article of Christian faith: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." In Klages's perverse reading of biblical scripture, however, Christianity represents the ultimate justification of force:

On the surface, of course, Christianity seems always to be preaching sermons in praise of "love," but when we take a closer look at this "love," we discover that in reality this persuasive word functions as a gilded surface which masks the underlying reality of a categorical command: "You must"; and this unconditional command applies solely to man, who has now come to consider himself as divine, as a god standing in opposition to the whole of nature. Christianity may mouth such phrases as "the welfare of mankind," or "humanity," but what the voice inside these formulas is really saying is that no other living being has the slightest intrinsic value or purpose, except in so far as it can be forced to serve the purposes of man... . for the devout Christian, only man has a right to live.

So much for Dostoevsky's Father Zossima, who was presumably not a "devout Christian" when he exhorted his disciples to

Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything... . My brother asked the birds to forgive him; that sounds senseless, but it is right; for all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth.

To hear Klages on Christianity, one would have to suppose that the Virgin Mary could not embody the principle of "soul-guidance," even though her "eternal icon" has been represented for over fifteen hundred years as "the mother with the beloved child." Indeed, not even Christ himself could have believed his very own words: "Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

Klages's willful blindness toward Christian thought is of a piece with his sinister view of man, which is even more extreme than Lovelock's assertion that man's increasing numbers are "disabling the planet like a disease." For Klages, however, the crisis is not in the numbers but in man himself, whose "world-alienated spirit" has driven him with ever-increasing tempo since his estrangement from nature began. Elsewhere he writes that what we call human history "merely describes the progress of a terminal disease."ix Approaching its final stages, man will be "reduced to the status of a mere creature of will" and "must, in a blind rage, set his hand against his own mother, the earth. In the end, all of life, along with man himself, will be swallowed up by nothingness."x

As in the portrayal of the Spanish Inquisition in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum," whose hooded monks seem to "outrun ... the limits of the limitless" as they carry the narrator down to his cell, there is a heart of darkness at the center of the "nothingness" to which the "matricidal spirit" leads. Klages identifies it through an imageless image that similarly recalls Poe's "blackness of darkness," and he does so with telling aim at the end of his three long paragraphs on Christianity.

Critics of "Ecologism" have commented on the streak of misanthropy that runs through its literature; but Klages was a highly educated German of the type that Erich Heller discusses at length in The Disinherited Mind, and his studies in antiquity included the gnostic sects of the middle east, to which our own Herman Melville refers in Moby-Dick when Ishmael thinks of "the ancient Ophites" as he ponders Ahab's lunatic state of mind. Common to these groups was the belief that the physical universe was the prison-house of the soul, hence that the Creator, "be he Zeus or Yahweh or one of the other ancient father gods,"xi was evil and that salvation could only be gained through the knowledge (Greek gnosis) that exists beyond all the realms of matter. Its source was often ascribed to Sophia, the eternal divine wisdom (Ahab calls her his "sweet mother"), whose revelation could be apprehended by the elect through magical invocations of her messengers and the uttering of mystic words and sounds, thereby undoing the curse of creation.

Klages follows the structure of this same cosmology but reverses its meaning by replacing the wisdom of Sophia with a murderous power that invaded the universe and drove a wedge into man's original condition by "'de-souling' the body and disembodying the soul."xii He calls this power "spirit," or the anti-soul, which he defines as "thinking consciousness"xiii:

During the millennial development of spirit, Christianity was only the final, crucial thrust. Therefore spirit, which emerged from a condition of powerless knowledge ... now penetrates the will, and in murderous deeds, which have constituted, without interruption, the history of nations ever since, has revealed a truth that had heretofore seemed to be merely a notion: that a power from outside our cosmos had broken into the sphere of life.xiv

Since "the sphere of life" contains every "vital process or condition of nature," it is not limited to the earth but includes "the grander modes of interconnected cosmic life" throughout the universe. Hence the cosmic threat of human intelligence, whose piercing "searchlight" has "the ability to murder life" by turning all forms of its "vital unity" into "a mere thing, a quantifiable object for our thought that is henceforth only mechanically related to other objects."xv Through the study of aerodynamics, the air itself has been turned into an object of thought, to the point where the invention of the airplane extends the world-hatred of man "even to the revolutions of the starry heavens, because he is now possessed by a power that resembles a vampire, which introduces into the 'music of the spheres' sounds of an ear-shattering dissonance."xvi

In The Decline of the West (1922-26), the German philosopher-historian Oswald Spengler specifically identifies soul-life with the earth-rootedness of the high cultures and "soulless" intellect with their ensuing "world-city" civilizations. Unlike Klages, however, he embraces both on their own terms and finds real "joy" in studying "the depths and refinement of mathematical and physical theories ... the fine mind-begotten forms of a fast steamer, a steel structure, a precision-lathe," and "the subtlety and elegance of many chemical and optical processes." By contrast, what Klages condemns as "thinking consciousness" is nothing more than a projection of his own intellectual hatreds, which include Judaism, Christianity, science, industry, and the whole panorama of modern man, to which he responds with furious contempt. Melville knew the type. As Ishmael says of Ahab's fixation, "The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them ..." For Klages, these agencies are incarnated in the "matricidal spirit" of the planetary stranger, whose "decisive thrust" was the "insane masquerade" of the Christian afterlife and Christianity's paralyzing "dread of the vengeful Jew-God," whom Klages also refers to as "Jahweh-Moloch" and "the all-devouring nothingness."xvii

The "war" of man against nature has never been expressed in more radical terms than here. So deeply is "the prohibition of questions" embedded in Klages's view of the world that the very awakening of thought is depicted as a hostile act against man's original condition of "powerless knowledge." This is the moment, according to him, when man became alienated from nature's "indispensable harmony" and his own "dreamy" existence in "accord with plants and animals, with oceans and clouds, with rocks, winds, and stars." Speaking in the language of what he calls "magical philosophy," Klages offers no time-period for the rupture, only that it occurred in "distant beginnings" and gradually began to destroy the primal harmony, as in the loss of ancient folkways and their grounding in cosmic myths and legends, which for Klages corresponds to the cutting down of the original Alpine forests as they appear "in myth and saga" and the extermination of the animals of the "ancient Germanic lands," which now exist only in "our fairy tales." Hence, it is pointless to search through history for the epoch-making moment of the separation, since the awareness of time belongs to a different order of existence than man's original state of dreamlike "accord" with nature, which was so exquisitely self-contained that it could only have been "broken into" by an alien force. Given the simultaneous origin of "world history" and the appearance of this force, the question is therefore not only meaningless but also reflects the hostile character of the primal penetration, when reason and will tore into "the sphere of life."

As in all expessions of what Voegelin calls "the gnostic attitude," Klages thus seals off his view of the world from the basic terms of the human condition, in this case man's awareness of time, which he has never shared with other forms of organic life, let alone "with oceans and clouds, with rocks, winds, and stars." In reality, his belief that "the wounds inflicted by the matricidal spirit" can be healed by man's renewed "accord" with the universe is no more than a theoretical "wish-picture,"xviii like those of "progressivism, positivism, Marxism," and the other mass movements that Voegelin critiques. As he observes, "all derived from intellectuals and small groups," each with its own "formula for self and world salvation" and its own method of suppressing the questioning faculty for the sake of "a fantasy satisfaction."

If we include the German antecedents of "Man and Earth," only "ecologism" has had the staying power of Marxism-socialism and generated a similar volume of propaganda, which it now augments with the help of the United Nations as a global echo chamber. Its force multipliers include the United Nations Environment Programme, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the World Commission on Environment and Development, and the commission's approval in 2000 of "The Earth Charter," which calls on the world to choose between forming "a global partnership to care for the Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life."

No form of officialese is more fantastical than bureaucratic prophecy, in which key words and phrases are invested with a seemingly mystical power to define and alter reality, much like the magical words of the ancient gnostic sects but without any sense of communion with another world. One of the most detailed accounts of this process can be found in Hope Abandoned (1974) by Nadezhda Mandelstam, who concluded that words can easily be turned into "an empty formula" at the expense of thought and life itself, such as those to which she was subjected throughout her adult life under the Soviet state.xix It is a curious fact that such formulas can even be transformed into new triggering signals, as Marx and Lenin's "scientific socialism," for example, has now become the environmentalist's "consensus of scientists" and the "workers' state" the ideal "balance of nature."


i Klaus, 6.


ii In entry 6 of the Klages collection, he describes "Man and Earth" as an "analysis of the rape of nature by humanity in the present day."


iii Eric Gans, Signs of Paradox (1996), in Thomas F. Bertonneau, "Post-Imperium: The Rhetoric of Liberation and the Return of Sacrifice in the Work of V. S. Naipaul," Anthropoetics: The Journal of Generative Anthropology (Fall 2002 / Winter 2003).


iv Klages, entry 516.


v Klaus, 3.


vi Bill Phillips, "The Rape of Mother Earth in Seventeenth Century English Poetry: An Ecofeminist Interpretation," Atlantis (June 2004).


vii Peter Staudenmaier, "Fascist Ecology: The 'Green Wing' of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents (1995).


viii Klages, entry 204.


ix Klages, entry 506.


x Klages, "Man and Earth."


xi Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics and Gnosticism (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1968), 10-11.


xii Klages, entry 10.


xiii Klages, "Consciousness and Life."


xiv Klages, "Man and Earth."


xv Klages, "Consciousness and Life."


xvi Klages, "Man and Earth."


xvii Klages, entries 43-45. His intellect becomes positively unhinged on the subject of Judaism, both ancient and modern. The term "antisemitism" only touches the surface of his venomous attacks.


xviii See Oswald Spengler, The Hour of Decision (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934), 7-8: "Reality is no longer to be borne. The wish-picture of the future is set in place of facts ... from the children's Land of Do-Nothing to the World Peace and Workers' Paradise of the grown-ups."


xix Official doctrine and state brutality went hand in hand. Nadezhda and her husband, the poet Osip Mandelstam, came under the all-seeing eye of Stalin himself and were sent into exile in Voronezh. He subsequently died in a transit camp in 1938 on his way to the Gulag.