Building Education for the Commons
What should we make of Martin Heidegger’s expression, “Only a god can save us?” Was it some desperate realization that history and civilization have finally come to its apex and stands on the edge of apocalyptic horror and irreversible decay? To this edge we have come and now only a god can save us.
Could Heidegger have reverted back to an apocalyptic desperate stance in which everything’s so far gone that God must now save us (employing Aeschylus’ device of the Deus ex machina in his dramas)? We are here and all we can do is hopelessly fuck everything up, violence, enslavement, environmental catastrophes, capitalism, etc., only knowing all along that God will save us. The inner essence of this ‘ethic’ not only disempowers humanity, but forces a God onto the scene; God enters onto the stage of life as like a machine. But is this not a recipe for a fascistic totalitarianism? In this instance, even God cannot save himself.
When I was in the Army there was an expression that went, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” But the question that’s hidden from view in this is, “Why am I in this foxhole in the first place?”
This is why an appeal to a “God” as a means of saving us from ourselves is the materialization of class-warfare disguised in a religious dehumanizing hopelessness. It is a stance that is resigned to the world as it is.
By contrast, an immanent (this worldly) Idea that we are responsible for the evils of this world as well as the possibility of changing it, is an idea that contains within it an ethic of responsibility. The Idea here is the idea of the commons, of the creation of a world in which equality and freedom for everyone is worth fighting for. This idea refuses to be punted away from ourselves onto a God who can’t even save himself. It is this Idea that is not an appeal to some otherworldly being, but a lived materialist struggle for justice and truths in this world. In this way, only an Idea can save us now.