unedited - as it is common with all my texts - your help is welcomed



Let me propose to discuss a short text by Gilles Deleuze that addresses Jesus Christ and the Apocalypse. I advocate a selective misreading, a readings against the grain. I might say - switching to a photographic metaphor - that my reading is grainy. It almost surpasses the resolution of the quality of an old newspaper. I admit, none of the addressed subjects are pleasant for me but they are unfortunately dominating our political life.

Reading has become very difficult for me. I simply don't dare easily to risk that much time away with books. Reading is as painful as writing since it often pressures me into writing. With the arrival of high-speed Internet, I feel my mind has gone public, consumed by messages, by news, by these wars, by the terrifying politics of this current Bush administration. I switch nervously back and forth between the internet browser, this writing platform and e-mails. The world on the net is now vaster than the map that wrapped the land of Borges. Whatever comes to my mind can be instantly corroborated and multiplied with the help of powerful search machine on the Google empire of references. My private world more and more dissolves in conversations catatonically scattered over e-mails I misspell throughout the day. The concentrated containment of a book, if it not only looks like a book but is written as one, is provocatively challenging. It suspends me. It renders me incompatible with the rest of my activities and obligations. I am a very slow reader if the text isn't just a text, a text, a text. And as I practically miss out on the requested time frame of a book, I am also unable to write or finish my own writings. Remaining remnants of bitter-amer feelings of failure to address fully the complexity of things linger on. I walk away and move on to the next assignments, the next tasks, the next attempt, the next deadlines. Therefore, I know already upfront that I will not be satisfied with and not come close to a properly worked through essay that could represent what I would like to outline.

The text I am proposing here is written by Gilles Deleuze and is included as part of a series of essays published as "Critique et clinique" in 1993. The essay is called "Nietzsche and Paul, Lawrence and Johannes of Patmos." The text is about the question - a rather insignificant one for me - whether the Evangelical texts and the Apocalypse share the same author. Deleuze points out that D. H. Lawrence wrote his "Apocalypse" at the end of his life (1928 - 1930). Nietzsche too wrote his "Antichrist" before his collapse. Deleuze's essay was written shortly before his suicide. I don't identify with these destinies and come right to the point of interest that hopefully could show us ways to prevent killing in the name of god, in the name of representing justice, freedom and superiority in values and live styles. These three writers paint two contradicting versions of Christianity: A Christ who is "aristocratic, individual, suave, full of love, decadent and rather civilized" versus an apocalyptic version of Christianity that is "collective, popular, uncivilized, full of hatred and wild." Christ is the "most loveliest person of all decadents, a kind of Buddha who has freed us from the reign of high priests and from the idea of failure, punishment, sin, last judgment, death and all that follows death" (my own translation into English). Deleuze - in the footsteps of Spinoza, Nietzsche and Laurence - follows this "enterprise Christi" which is seen as opposed to the tyranny of high priests and its teaching of the "judgment" with its sadistic punishments and schemes of revenge. It is difficult not to see parallels to what unfolds for our televised eyes with the current "Operation Iraqi Freedom", the "War on Terror," “Homeland Security” and Bushes obsession to destroy the "Axis of Evil." The prison abuse scandals in Iraq and elsewhere, which didn't surprise me at all, can give only a contemporary illustration of the collective sadistic imaginary of punishments, last judgments and eternal truth monopolized, interpreted and defended by the empire of the most powerful regime as laid out in these texts of the Apocalypse.

The politics of Christ as a person with individual love and the political regime of Christianity as developed in the Apocalypse with its system of a supreme justice, morals and punishments are here made perfectly readable and help in the analysis of contemporary power and governance. Christianity has created a new type of hegemony, a new type of dominance, rule and power: the system of supreme justice. Nietzsche in his "Antichrist" describes Christianity as "a power that penetrates all pores, that multiplies their centers and disseminate across the universe. It is a cosmopolitan supremacy that is not open as an empire but present in all dark niches and folds of the collective soul. Finally and most importantly, (Christianity) wants the supreme hegemony, that isn't delegated by gods but is the supremacy of one god in its last instance." (Nietzsche). Power in the Apocalypse manifests as "extended politics of revenge, as extended narcissism of a collective soul." This sentence by Deleuze written over 10 years ago is for me just another accurate description of current US politics with their deadly arrogance to hammer down ultimate American justice with uranium enriched precision bombs implementing their disastrous preemptive war doctrine.

Christ as a person lived and died for individual love and not power. Laurence pointed out that Christ as a person rejected all pressures to rule over his followers. He didn't organize them, he didn't spend much time with them, he preferred to be by himself. Thus, he confused his followers, left them by themselves, and rejected their quest for collaboration and leadership. He wasn't opposing Roman power. Jesus even rejected his followers when he was offered an escape. He didn't want to be their leader. He rejected the collective soul that came to dominate Christianity later. Laurence points out that the Christian priest will replace the Jewish priest and both will then turn against Christ. "They will force Christ into the worst prosthesis: he will be made hero of the collective soul - Christianity will give him what he hated the most, a collective Ego, a collective soul - a monstrous ego."

We all know that most of Washington's decisions are not determined by the good of its constituency, the American people, but by the interests of corporations. This was already best expressed by G.M. famous philosophy uttered in the senate in 1955: "What's good for General Motors is good for the rest of America." These business empires profiting from our corporate welfare system make sure that we all eat and shit the same, and in the metaphors of Laurence, Nietzsche, and Deleuze - that we all buy into the same collective soul, nurturing the same collective ego. "You are either with us or against us" G. W. Bush 11/6//2001. Vice President Cheney, former CEO of Halliburton, is the best personification of corporate power in America. His former company in which he still has high stakes is one of the biggest military contractor in the world and belongs to the Avant-guard in the privatization of military power making defense and security a mega-lucrative business today. The more Washington's freedom operations (OP Enduring Freedom, OP Iraqi Freedom etc.) fail the better the business of these contractors.

The devout and pious inner circle of this Bush administration practices and interprets world justice at free. Doing so, they violate the US constitution and human rights, international laws and UN resolutions. These compassionate bible-for-breakfast reading fidels symbolize the characteristic wrath of Christianity as laid out in the Apocalypse. The tragic events of 9/11 have been the epiphany for these born again holly warriors of Washington to preach new crusades not only against innocent people abroad but also against the lives and live styles of Americans in the names of Free Trade, Freedom, Democracy, War on Terror and Homeland Security. Christianization in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, faith based initiatives abroad and at home and amendments to the constitution ("to protect the holly marriage") are only a few unconcealed instruments in their religious mission to rule and judge the world in their image of god.

Deleuze underscored that Christianity didn't collaborate with the Roman Empire. Christianity demanded a complete different image of supremacy and dominance. As mentioned earlier, it imposed the supreme court system. It is a historic irony that George W. Bush was not elected president to the United States but selected to the presidency by the Supreme Court of the United States with judges placed by previous right wing administrations in which his father was involved. The apostolic ‘God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ trinity materialized also with these Texans and inspires us to wonder what the Holy Spirit is made of and what it conceals: money interests, oil interests, religious interests, corporate interests, GOP interests? But one thing is clear, the right wing agenda of George Bush works with all means possible to change the very nature of power in the United States and around the world. Mega-mergers, monopoly capitalism and massive redistribution of wealth, knowledge and work on a national and international scale will guarantee a transformation of the very nature of the United States, its satellite states and the rest of the world. Everybody today is made dependent on the US financial and economical system. US military power is exercising its might around the globe that dwarfs any previous empire. This all changes the very perception of the United States in the global imaginary. On September 12th 2001, the entire world was in chock, saddened and felt the loss of many lives and a big international symbol. Sympathies for America were felt worldwide across cultures and believe systems. America was still seen by the majority as a nation of traders and as a victim attracting compassion and the support in helping to fight terrorism. Today, three years and two unnecessary invasions later, there is only one country left that really loves us. The people around the word have now become so outraged and angry at this current administrations arrogant and self-righteous politics that any association of the ruling elite with Washington can overwhelmingly decide elections.

Unfortunately, this global Bush-hatred and Anti-Americanism has also pushed anti-Semitism to a raise and is getting nastier across the entire social and ideological spectrum. The destruction of Afghanistan, the blatant unilateralism of Washington, the war on Iraq, the inefficiency in the effort to really appease and resolve the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, and the cynical language of Bush have weekend and made less effective the important global fight against terror. We have to keep in mind that with this kind of international politics made in Washington, the pool of potential terrorists around the world has multiplied. Nearly a decade eclipsed before a second attack on the World Trade Center has finished their job. Destructive intelligence fueled by hatred and humiliation has now several generations of people and time to materialize again. The industrialization of security without changes in international politics will never succeed in the prevention of attacks. Terrorists always will have the pick and their terror strategies are superior to the designers of security professionals, the CIA, the Pentagon and Homeland Security.

Our old texts are full of similar scenarios. The gigantic Roman Empire, the Christian insurgency, the David Goliath attack, and the Nibelungen-fate of Siegfried are clear examples how overwhelming power and arrogant politics are not immune of tragic and unexpected defeat. As the Germanic saga goes, Siegfried was armored and protected by a fabulous non-penetrability that granted him near invulnerability. Yet his personal politics was then so supercilious and myopic that he was killed against all odds. Ironically, Hollywood produces near identical storyboards: When I watched “Matrix 3” on an airplane, I couldn't help but simplistically reduce the dynamics of this boring film to the confrontation of a small remaining group of "good human" insurgents fighting and winning against gigantic, overpowering "evil machines."

Deleuze and Laurence detect elements of modernity in the Apocalypse. "The Apocalypse is not the concentration camp, (Antichrist) it is the big military, police and civil security of the new state (the celestial Jerusalem)." /parenthesis by Deleuze/ Modernity doesn't consist in the waiting for the announced catastrophes but manifests itself in the "programmed auto-glorification, the glory construction of the New Jerusalem, the mad installment of the ultimate juridical and moral hegemony." The paragraph continues with more references that can be easily understood as anti-Semitic: "An architectonic terror of the new Jerusalem, with its defense walls... " I always feel uneasy to read or hear "Israel" or "Jerusalem" as a systems with negative connotations without giving specific actors or specific facts. In this case here, it is quite peculiar since Deleuze died long before Israel started to construct a new security wall that is causing many new problems, is condemned by the International Court in The Hague and will most likely not have the wanted effects. I reject any anti-Semitic or Anti-American generalizations. What I find interesting is seeing analogies to existing systems of power-politics that operate along the here described anatomies of government. So I see parallels in the administration of G. W. Bush with its disastrous consequences in and outside the USA and some of these ancient narratives. It is no surprise that this still sitting president is using on his campaign trail apocalyptic visions and fears in order to intimidate and pressure his constituency to vote for him.

Christ invented a religion of love. Christianity as projected in the Apocalypse and as historical and factual entity is a region of hegemony, dominance, and power. The "transformation of love into an enterprise of revenge, the evangelical Christ into an apocalyptic Christ" in the author Johannes - the question here is whether they are identical - invites Deleuze to mediate also about love next to the complementary distinction of the individual soul versus the collective soul. Even thought Deleuze and Laurence organize many of their arguments about this distinction they do acknowledge not only the dialectical relationship between the two but also criticize the image of Christ as a person standing in for an individual soul. They characterize his way of love as "terrible." He was giving passion but was not taking any. He didn't want to accept any expectations of his followers. He had something "suicidal" about himself. He didn't accept Magdalena who wanted to give him everything. Deleuze points out that Laurence sees in this individual rejection of emanating love, this giving without taking, a similar aporie, a similar conflicting non-conclusion to the one that is found in those, who take everything without giving anything. From there, the text approaches the "Christ, the aristocrat, artist of the individual soul, wanting to give it away" with the Christ of the collective soul: "Paul, in order to close the link, a kind of an aristocrat approaching the people, a kind of Lenin who wants to provide the collective soul an organization - he will create an 'oligarchy of martyrs' and will provide Christ with goals and the apocalypse with means. Wasn't all this necessary in order to put in place the system of supreme justice? Individual suicide and mass suicide combined with self-glorification on sides. Death, death is the only single court."

It is quite amazing how this text is filled with vocabulary that sounds familiar today. The majority of Arabic speakers sympathetic to suicide bombers use the Arabic word martyrs. Suicide bombers are called on FOX NEWS CHANNEL homicide bomber. Here already we can get understand how speaking a certain language, using certain words, and the adherence to a certain religion and culture have become politically sensitive and charged. In today’s America and in many parts of Europe speaking or learning to speak Arabic makes you look suspicious. Oligarchs – or can we jokingly say “oil-igarchs”, from Saudi Arabia, via Russia to Texas – are trying to run the world anywhere on this globe. Return to the text I end this essay with one peculiar aspect that too reverberates. Laurence sees the very aim of the Apocalypse in the attempt to severe us from the world and from ourselves. Self-alienation has become the norm during the last four years in the United States. Bush’s aggressive and bellicose isolationism estranged the United States on the international stage to a degree that vital US interests are now further threatened. The American people are today more divided and “severed from themselves” then almost never before. The GOP’s right wing agenda combined with its dramatic class warfare against the poor has divided the nation on almost all levels. America is not anymore the same country it was four years ago. Wes can only wish that this bible reading president will soon come in contact with this Deleuze-text. He might have the same déjà-vu experience I had when accidentally caming across this text.
And for the time being, we have to live the terror of this current paranoid (homeland) security politics that already is wonderfullly layed out in the Apocalypse. There, evens the evangelical powers of angels are transformed into police powers and "police women." (Laurence)

Rainer Ganahl, July, August 2004

I myself am not religious at all. I am oinly interested in the history, the psychology, the sociology and the politics of religion. The political business with god is powerful and partially addressed in my article "Paranoia, Homeland Security, Terrorism, God and Karl Marx" (published in "Rainer Ganahl, Please, write down …" Paris 2003 and online written in December of 2002.

For illustrating this paper, I'd like to suggest two films:
This important documentary chronicles the development of George W. Bush into a born-again Christian. It can be viewed on line and is accompanied by a web site that corroborates facts and offers transcripts as well as a synopsis of Bush’s history-making religious transformation. 'I believe that God wants me to be president.' (Bush) "This waste pool of scary but historical material can be accessed with a click. Bush kicks the US constitution with his feed ignoring the division between state and Church. It is remarkable to see how Bush-son helped winning the presidency for Bush-father thanks to his engagement with Christian conservatives. Right now, he is trying to reengage the Christian right a third time to assure the Bush family the presidency.

If I don't have to see it on an airplane, I will most likely not see this film. I don't want to spend any money on a religious film that increases profits and a new market with religious themes in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the commercial success of this film already is changing Hollywood's traditional hesitance for religious subjects. Since it is so widely distributed and discussed, I suggest to watch the film with these questions addressed: What kind of a Christ are we offered here on the screen? What is his personal politics and what is the politics of the people around him. His he constructed as apocalyptic or evangelical, as a person of (twisted) love or as one dedicated to creating a Christian Empire?