Albert Jay Nock - Isaiah's Job (1936)

Ἀλβέρτος Τζαίυ Νόκ - Ἡ ἐργασία τοῦ Ἡσαΐου (1936)

This essay first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1936. See also Jeffrey Tucker on Nock. Albert Jay Nock (1870–1945) was an influential American libertarian author, educational theorist, and social critic. Murray Rothbard was deeply influenced by him, and so was that whole generation of free-market thinkers. See Nock's The State of the Union.

One evening last autumn, I sat long hours with a European acquaintance while he expounded a political-economic doctrine which seemed sound as a nut and in which I could find no defect. At the end, he said with great earnestness: "I have a mission to the masses. I feel that I am called to get the ear of the people. I shall devote the rest of my life to spreading my doctrine far and wide among the population. What do you think?"

An embarrassing question in any case, and doubly so under the circumstances, because my acquaintance is a very learned man, one of the three or four really first-class minds that Europe produced in his generation; and naturally I, as one of the unlearned, was inclined to regard his lightest word with reverence amounting to awe. Still, I reflected, even the greatest mind can not possibly know everything, and I was pretty sure he had not had my opportunities for observing the masses of mankind, and that therefore I probably knew them better than he did. So I mustered courage to say that he had no such mission and would do well to get the idea out of his head at once; he would find that the masses would not care two pins for his doctrine, and still less for himself, since in such circumstances the popular favourite is generally some Barabbas. I even went so far as to say (he is a Jew) that his idea seemed to show that he was not very well up on his own native literature. He smiled at my jest, and asked what I meant by it; and I referred him to the story of the prophet Isaiah.

It occurred to me then that this story is much worth recalling just now when so many wise men and soothsayers appear to be burdened with a message to the masses. Dr. Townsend has a message, Father Coughlin has one, Mr. Upton Sinclair, Mr. Lippmann, Mr. Chase and the planned economy brethren, Mr. Tugwell and the New Dealers, Mr. Smith and Liberty Leaguers – the list is endless. I can not remember a time when so many energumens were so variously proclaiming the Word to the multitude and telling them what they must do to be saved. This being so, it occurred to me, as I say, that the story of Isaiah might have something in it to steady and compose the human spirit until this tyranny of windiness is overpast. I shall paraphrase the story in our common speech, since it has to be pieced out from various sources; and inasmuch as respectable scholars have thought fit to put out a whole new version of the Bible in the American vernacular, I shall take shelter behind them, if need be, against the charge of dealing irreverently with the Sacred Scriptures.

The prophet's career began at the end of King Uzziah's reign, say about 740 B.C. This reign was uncommonly long, almost half a century, and apparently prosperous. It was one of those prosperous reigns, however – like the reign of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, or the administration of Eubulus at Athens, or of Mr. Coolidge at Washington – where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash.

In the year of Uzziah's death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. "Tell them what a worthless lot they are." He said, "Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life."

Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job – in fact, he had asked for it – but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so – if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start – was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."

(Τὸ δοκίμιο αὐτὸ τοῦ ἐκλιπόντος φίλου μας Ἀλβέρτου Νόκ,[1] πρωτο-κυκλοφόρησε ἀπὸ τὴν FEE[2] ἐδῶ καὶ πάνω ἀπὸ 30 χρόνια. Ἐξακολουθεῖ ὅμως νὰ παραμένει ἐπίκαιρο. Στὸ «Ἔργο τοῦ Ἡσαΐα» ἔχουμε τὸ καλύτερο ἀντίδοτο ἐνάντια στὴν ἐπίδραση τῆς φιλελεύθερης μαυρίλας. Ταυτόχρονα μᾶς προσφέρει καὶ ἄριστη καθοδήγηση γιὰ τὸ πῶς μπορεῖ κάποιος νὰ ἐργασθεῖ ὅσο γίνεται ἀποτελεσματικότερα ὑπὲρ τῆς ἐλευθερίας. Ὅταν «ἡ μπόχα σὲ πνίγει», ἢ ὅταν ἡ ὁρμή σου γιὰ «νὰ διορθώσεις τὸν κόσμο» σὲ συνεπαίρνει, τότε ξαναδιάβασε αὐτὸ τὸ ἄρθρο προσεκτικὰ γιὰ μία ἀκόμα φορά.)

Ἕνα βράδυ τὸ περασμένο φθινόπωρο, ἄκουγα γιὰ ὧρες κάποιο Εὐρωπαῖο γνωστό μου νὰ ἀναπτύσσει μιὰ πολιτικὸ-οἰκονομικὴ θεωρία ποὺ ἔμοιαζε νά ῾ναι στέρεα σὰν καρύδι,[3] καὶ δὲν μποροῦσα νὰ τῆς βρῶ ψεγάδι. Στὸ τέλος, μὲ μεγάλη εἰλικρίνεια προσέθεσε: «Ἔχω μιὰ ἀποστολὴ γιὰ τὶς μάζες. Ἡ αἴσθησή μου εἶναι ὅτι ἔχω κληθεῖ γιὰ νὰ μὲ ἀκούσει ὅλος ὁ κόσμος. Σ᾿ αὐτὸ θὰ ἀφιερώσω τὸ ὑπόλοιπο τῆς ζωῆς μου· στὸ νὰ ἀκούσουν ὅλοι τὴν θεωρία μου. Πῶς τὸ βλέπεις;»

Δύσκολη ὁπωσδήποτε ἡ ἐρώτηση· ἀκόμα δὲ πιὸ δύσκολη στὴ συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση γιατὶ ὁ γνωστός μου κατέχει ἐξαιρετικὰ πολλὲς γνώσεις. Μιλᾶμε γιὰ ἕνα ἀπὸ τὰ τρία ἢ τέσσερα πρώτης τάξεως μυαλὰ τῆς γενιᾶς του στὴν Εὐρώπη. Φυσικά, ἐγώ, ἕνεκα τῆς ἀγνοίας μου, ἄκουγα καὶ τὴν λεξούλα του ἀκόμα μὲ τόσο σεβασμὸ ποὺ θὰ ἔμοιαζε μὲ δέος.

Τὸν παρέπεμψα στὴν ἱστορία τοῦ προφήτου Ἡσαΐα.

Θὰ παραφράσω ἐδῶ αὐτὴ τὴν ἱστορία μὲ ἁπλὰ λόγια, γιατὶ τὴν συνθέτω μέσα ἀπὸ διάφορες πηγές.

Ἡ δράση τοῦ προφήτη ξεκίνησε πρὸς τὸ τέλος τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Ὀζία, περίπου τὸ 740 π.Χ. Φαίνεται πὼς ἡ μακρὰ αὐτὴ βασιλεία ποὺ κράτησε γιὰ σχεδὸν μισὸν αἰώνα, ἦταν περίοδος γενικῆς εὐμάρειας. Ἀλλὰ ἦταν κιόλας ἀπὸ ἐκεῖνες τὶς ἀκμάζουσες βασιλεῖες, ὅπως αὐτὴ τοῦ Μάρκου Αὐρήλιου στὴ Ρώμη, ἢ τὴ διακυβέρνηση τοῦ Εὔβουλου στὴν Ἀθήνα, ἢ αὐτὴ τοῦ Κοῦ Κούλιτζ στὴν Οὐάσινγκτον ὅπου, πρὸς τὸ τέλος, ἡ εὐμάρεια ἀρχίζει ξαφνικὰ νὰ φθίνει καὶ τὰ πάντα καταρρέουν μὲ πάταγο.

Κατὰ τὸ ἔτος τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ Ὀζία, ὁ Κύριος ἀπέστειλε τὸν προφήτη νὰ βγεῖ καὶ νὰ προειδοποιήσει τὸν λαὸ γιὰ τὴν ἐπικείμενη ὀργή. «Πές τους γιὰ τὸ πόσο ἀνάξιος λαὸς εἶναι», εἶπε ὁ Κύριος. «Δεῖξε τους τὰ στραβά τους, καὶ τὸ γιατί· καὶ ἀκόμα τὸ τί πρόκειται νὰ συμβεῖ ἂν δὲν μετανοήσουν καὶ δὲν ἐπιστρέψουν στὸν ἴσιο δρόμο. Μὴν μασᾶς τὸ λόγια σου. Πές τους τα ξεκάθαρα: αὐτὴ εἶναι ὁπωσδήποτε ἡ τελευταία τους εὐκαιρία. Φώναξέ τους το γιὰ νὰ τὸ ἀκούσουν καθαρὰ καὶ μὴν κουράζεσαι νὰ τὸ ἐπαναλαμβάνεις».

«Ὑποθέτω ὅτι θὰ ἔπρεπε μᾶλλον νὰ σοῦ πῶ», προσέθεσε ὁ Κύριος, «ὅτι αὐτὰ τὰ λόγια σου δὲν θὰ βροῦν ἀπήχηση. Ἡ ἄρχουσα τάξη καὶ οἱ διανοούμενοί της θὰ σὲ περιφρονήσουν, καὶ οἱ μάζες οὔτε κἂν θὰ σὲ ἀκούσουν. Οἱ πάντες θὰ συνεχίσουν ὁ καθένας τὸ δρόμο του μέχρι τελικῆς καταστροφῆς. Ὅσο γιὰ σένα, θὰ εἶσαι τυχερὸς ἂν μπορέσεις νὰ γλυτώσεις τὴ ζωή σου.»

Ὁ Ἡσαΐας ἀνέλαβε τὸ ἔργο του μὲ μεγάλη προθυμία. Πράγματι, ἦταν αὐτὸς ὁ ἴδιος ποὺ τὸ ζήτησε. Ἀλλὰ τώρα, ἡ προοπτικὴ τοῦ κηρύγματος παίρνει μιὰ ἀπρόσμενη στροφή. Τίθεται τὸ ἐρώτημα: Γιατί, ἂν ἔτσι ἔχουν τὰ πράγματα, ποιὸ τὸ νόημα, ἂν τὸ ὅλο ἐπιχείρημα εἶναι ἐκ προοιμίου καταδικασμένο; «Ἄ!», εἶπε ὁ Κύριος, «λοιπὸν δὲν ἔχεις μπεῖ στὸ νόημα. Ὑπάρχει ἐκεῖ καὶ κάποιο Ὑπόλειμμα[4] ποὺ ἐσὺ δὲν γνωρίζεις. Γιατὶ αὐτοὶ εἶναι ἀφανεῖς καὶ ἀνοργάνωτοι, χωρὶς δική τους φωνή, καὶ ὁ καθένας τους ἁπλῶς προσπαθεῖ νὰ τὴ βγάζει ὅπως μπορεῖ. Αὐτοὶ εἶναι ποὺ χρειάζονται ἐνθάρρυνση καὶ στήριγμα. Γιατί ὅταν ὅλα θὰ ἔχουν πάει γιὰ τὰ σκυλιά, αὐτοὶ εἶναι ἐκεῖνοι ποὺ θὰ ἐπιστρέψουν γιὰ νὰ ἀνοικοδομήσουν μιὰ νέα κοινωνία.[5] Στὸ μεταξύ, τὸ κήρυγμά σου θὰ τοὺς διαβεβαιώσει γιὰ νὰ τοὺς διατηρήσει. Τὸ ἔργο σου λοιπὸν εἶναι φροντίδα γι᾿ αὐτὸ τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα. Καὶ τώρα, ἐμπρός, ἐπὶ τὸ ἔργον».

II

Apparently, then, if the Lord’s word is good for anything – I do not offer any opinion about that, – the only element in Judean society that was particularly worth bothering about was the Remnant. Isaiah seems finally to have got it through his head that this was the case; that nothing was to be expected from the masses, but that if anything substantial were ever to be done in Judea, the Remnant would have to do it. This is a very striking and suggestive idea; but before going on to explore it, we need to be quite clear about our terms. What do we mean by the masses, and what by the Remnant?

As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, labouring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass-man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.

The picture which Isaiah presents of the Judean masses is most unfavorable. In his view, the mass-man – be he high or be he lowly, rich or poor, prince or pauper – gets off very badly. He appears as not only weak-minded and weak-willed, but as by consequence knavish, arrogant, grasping, dissipated, unprincipled, unscrupulous. The mass-woman also gets off badly, as sharing all the mass-man’s untoward qualities, and contributing a few of her own in the way of vanity and laziness, extravagance and foible. The list of luxury-products that she patronized is interesting; it calls to mind the women’s page of a Sunday newspaper in 1928, or the display set forth in one of our professedly "smart" periodicals. In another place, Isaiah even recalls the affectations that we used to know by the name "flapper gait" and the "debutante slouch." It may be fair to discount Isaiah’s vivacity a little for prophetic fervour; after all, since his real job was not to convert the masses but to brace and reassure the Remnant, he probably felt that he might lay it on indiscriminately and as thick as he liked – in fact, that he was expected to do so. But even so, the Judean mass-man must have been a most objectionable individual, and the mass-woman utterly odious.

If the modern spirit, whatever that may be, is disinclined towards taking the Lord’s word at its face value (as I hear is the case), we may observe that Isaiah’s testimony to the character of the masses has strong collateral support from respectable Gentile authority. Plato lived into the administration of Eubulus, when Athens was at the peak of its jazz-and-paper era, and he speaks of the Athenian masses with all Isaiah’s fervency, even comparing them to a herd of ravenous wild beasts. Curiously, too, he applies Isaiah’s own word remnant to the worthier portion of Athenian society; "there is but a very small remnant," he says, of those who possess a saving force of intellect and force of character – too small, preciously as to Judea, to be of any avail against the ignorant and vicious preponderance of the masses.

But Isaiah was a preacher and Plato a philosopher; and we tend to regard preachers and philosophers rather as passive observers of the drama of life than as active participants. Hence in a matter of this kind their judgment might be suspected of being a little uncompromising, a little acrid, or as the French say, saugrenu. We may therefore bring forward another witness who was preeminently a man of affairs, and whose judgment can not lie under this suspicion. Marcus Aurelius was ruler of the greatest of empires, and in that capacity he not only had the Roman mass-man under observation, but he had him on his hands twenty-four hours a day for eighteen years. What he did not know about him was not worth knowing and what he thought of him is abundantly attested on almost every page of the little book of jottings which he scribbled offhand from day to day, and which he meant for no eye but his own ever to see.

This view of the masses is the one that we find prevailing at large among the ancient authorities whose writings have come down to us. In the eighteenth century, however, certain European philosophers spread the notion that the mass-man, in his natural state, is not at all the kind of person that earlier authorities made him out to be, but on the contrary, that he is a worthy object of interest. His untowardness is the effect of environment, an effect for which "society" is somehow responsible. If only his environment permitted him to live according to his lights, he would undoubtedly show himself to be quite a fellow; and the best way to secure a more favourable environment for him would be to let him arrange it for himself. The French Revolution acted powerfully as a springboard for this idea, projecting its influence in all directions throughout Europe.

On this side of the ocean a whole new continent stood ready for a large-scale experiment with this theory. It afforded every conceivable resource whereby the masses might develop a civilization made in their own likeness and after their own image. There was no force of tradition to disturb them in their preponderance, or to check them in a thoroughgoing disparagement of the Remnant. Immense natural wealth, unquestioned predominance, virtual isolation, freedom from external interference and the fear of it, and, finally, a century and a half of time – such are the advantages which the mass-man has had in bringing forth a civilization which should set the earlier preachers and philosophers at naught in their belief that nothing substantial can be expected from the masses, but only from the Remnant.

His success is unimpressive. On the evidence so far presented one must say, I think, that the mass-man’s conception of what life has to offer, and his choice of what to ask from life, seem now to be pretty well what they were in the times of Isaiah and Plato; and so too seem the catastrophic social conflicts and convulsions in which his views of life and his demands on life involve him. I do not wish to dwell on this, however, but merely to observe that the monstrously inflated importance of the masses has apparently put all thought of a possible mission to the Remnant out of the modern prophet’s head. This is obviously quite as it should be, provided that the earlier preachers and philosophers were actually wrong, and that all final hope of the human race is actually centred in the masses. If, on the other hand, it should turn out that the Lord and Isaiah and Plato and Marcus Aurelius were right in their estimate of the relative social value of the masses and the Remnant, the case is somewhat different. Moreover, since with everything in their favour the masses have so far given such an extremely discouraging account of themselves, it would seem that the question at issue between these two bodies of opinion might most profitably be reopened.

Ἀλλὰ τί ἐννοοῦμε μὲ τὴ λέξη «μάζες», καὶ τί μὲ τὴ λέξη «Ὑπόλειμμα»;

Κατὰ τὴ συνήθη σημασία της, ἡ λέξη «μάζες» ἀναφέρεται σὲ ἕνα συνονθύλευμα φτωχῶν, ἀναξιοπαθούντων, ἀνθρώπων τῆς ἐργατιᾶς, προλετάριους. Ἀλλὰ δὲν ἔχει αὐτὸ τὸ νόημα στὸν Ἡσαΐα. Ἁπλῶς ὑποδηλώνει τὴν πλειοψηφία τοῦ λαοῦ, ἢ ὅπως συνήθως λέμε, τὸν κοινὸ ἄνθρωπο. Αὐτὸς ὁ κοινὸς ἄνθρωπος οὔτε τὴν διανοητικὴ δύναμη ἔχει γιὰ νὰ καταλάβει τὶς ἀρχὲς ποὺ διακυβερνοῦν αὐτὸ ποὺ ὀνομάζουμε ἀνθρώπινη ζωή, οὔτε τὴ δύναμη χαρακτῆρος ἔχει γιὰ νὰ τὶς ἀκολουθήσει σταθερὰ καὶ ἀπαρέγκλιτα ὡς νόμους συμπεριφορᾶς. Καὶ ἐπειδὴ αὐτοὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἀπαρτίζουν τὴν μεγάλη, τὴν συντριπτικὴ πλειοψηφία τῆς ἀνθρωπότητος, μὲ μιὰ λέξη ὀνομάζονται μάζες. Ἡ γραμμὴ ποὺ διαχωρίζει αὐτὲς τὶς μάζες ἀπὸ τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα εἶναι ἀναλλοίωτα ποιοτικὴ καὶ μὴ ἐξαρτωμένη ἀπὸ τὶς ἑκάστοτε συνθῆκες. Τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα εἶναι ὅλοι ὅσοι διὰ τῆς διανοητικῆς τους δυνάμεως μποροῦν νὰ συλλάβουν τὶς ἐν λόγῳ ἀρχές, καὶ μὲ τὴ δύναμη τοῦ χαρακτήρα τους μποροῦν, τουλάχιστον σὲ κάποιο βαθμό, νὰ προσκολληθοῦν σὲ αὐτές. Στὶς μάζες ἀνήκουν αὐτοὶ ποὺ δὲν μποροῦν νὰ κάνουν οὔτε τὸ ἕνα οὔτε τὸ ἄλλο.

Ἡ εἰκόνα μὲ τὴν ὁποία ὁ Ἡσαΐας παρουσιάζει τὶς Ἰουδαϊκὲς μάζες δὲν εἶναι καθόλου κολακευτική. Κατὰ τὴν παρουσίασή του, ὁ κοινὸς ἄνθρωπος, εἴτε πρόκειται γιὰ ὑψηλὰ ἢ χαμηλὰ ἱστάμενο, γιὰ πλούσιο ἢ φτωχό, γιὰ πρίγκιπα ἢ ζητιάνο, βγαίνει σὲ χρώματα πολὺ μελανά. Ὄχι μόνο παρουσιάζεται ὡς ἐλαφρόμυαλος καὶ ἄβουλος, ἀλλά, ὡσὰν συνέπεια αὐτῶν, καὶ ψεύτης, ἀλαζόνας, ἅρπαγας, διεφθαρμένος, χωρὶς ἀρχές, ἀνέντιμος. …

Ὡς ἔχουν σήμερα τὰ πράγματα, τὸ ἔργο τοῦ Ἡσαΐα μοιάζει μὲ ζητιανιά. Ὅσοι κάτι ἔχουν νὰ ποῦν, ὅπως ὁ ἀξιότιμος Εὐρωπαῖος φίλος μου, παρουσιάζουν μαζὶ καὶ μεγάλη προθυμία νὰ τὸ προσφέρουν στὶς μάζες. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ τοὺς ἀπασχολεῖ ἰδιαίτερα τὸ πῶς τὸ μήνυμά τους θὰ γίνει ἀποδεκτό, καὶ τὸ πῶς ὁ κοινὸς ἄνθρωπος θὰ τὸ ἐγκρίνει. Ἔτσι, ἡ μεγαλύτερη φροντίδα τους εἶναι νὰ διαμορφώσουν τὴν θεωρία τους μὲ τέτοιο τρόπο ποὺ νὰ τραβάει τὴν προσοχὴ καὶ τὸ ἐνδιαφέρον τῶν μαζῶν …

Τὸ κύριο πρόβλημα μὲ αὐτὴν τὴν προσέγγιση βρίσκεται στὴν ἀντίδραση τοῦ κοινοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀπέναντι στὴν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἀποστολή. Ἐδῶ ἀπαιτεῖται τέτοια ὀπορτουνιστικὴ διεκπεραίωση τῆς ὅλης θεωρίας, ὥστε ὁ χαρακτήρας της νὰ ἀλλάζει οὐσιαστικά. Τελικὰ ὑποβιβάζεται σὲ εἰκονικὴ μόνο θεραπεία. Ἐάν, ἂς ποῦμε, εἶσαι ἱερέας, ἐπιθυμεῖς νὰ τραβήξεις ὅσο μεγαλύτερο ἐκκλησίασμα μπορεῖς, τὸ ὁποῖο σημαίνει ὅτι συγκινεῖς τὶς μάζες, καὶ τὸ ὁποῖο μὲ τὴ σειρά του σημαίνει ὅτι ἔχεις προσαρμόσει τοὺς ὅρους τοῦ μηνύματός σου στὸν τρόπο ποὺ σκέπτονται καὶ συμπεριφέρονται οἱ μάζες. Ἐὰν εἶσαι παιδαγωγός, ἂς ποῦμε ὑπεύθυνος σὲ κάποιο πανεπιστήμιο, θὰ ἤθελες νὰ ἔχεις ὅσο τὸ δυνατὸν περισσότερους φοιτητές, καὶ ὡς ἐκ τούτου θὰ περικόψεις τὶς ἀπαιτήσεις σου ἀντίστοιχα. Ἂν εἶσαι συγγραφέας, θὰ στοχεύεις σὲ πολλοὺς ἀναγνῶστες· ἂν εἶσαι ἐκδότης, σὲ πολλοὺς ἀγοραστές· ἂν εἶσαι φιλόσοφος, σὲ πολλοὺς μαθητές· ἂν εἶσαι ἀναμορφωτής, στὸ νὰ πείσεις ὅσο γίνεται πιὸ πολλούς· ἂν εἶσαι μουσικός, νὰ ἔχεις πολλοὺς ἀκροατές, κοκ. Ὅπως καὶ νὰ τὸ δοῦμε, ἀπὸ ὅλες τὶς πλευρές, κατὰ τὴν πραγμάτωση αὐτῶν τῶν διαφόρων ἐπιθυμιῶν, τὸ προφητικὸ μήνυμα ἀλλοιώνεται τόσο πολὺ ἀπὸ πράγματα ἀσήμαντα καὶ τετριμμένα, ὥστε σὲ κάθε περίπτωση τὸ ἀποτέλεσμά του καταλήγει νὰ σκληρύνει τὶς μάζες ἀκόμα περισσότερο στὶς ἁμαρτίες τους. Ἐν τῷ μεταξύ, τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα, βλέποντας ὅλη αὐτὴ τὴν ἀλλοίωση, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὶς ἐπιθυμίες ποὺ τὴν ὑπαγορεύουν, θὰ γυρίσει τὴν πλάτη σὲ αὐτὸν τὸν προφήτη καὶ θὰ κόψει κάθε σχέση μὲ αὐτὸν ἢ τὸ μήνυμά του.

Τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα δὲν θέλει παρὰ μόνο τὸ καλύτερο ποὺ ἔχεις νὰ προσφέρεις, ὅ,τι κι ἂν εἶναι αὐτό. Δῶσ᾿ του το καὶ ἀρκεῖται· δὲν χρειάζεται νὰ ἀνησυχεῖς γιὰ τίποτε ἄλλο...

Παρὰ ταῦτα, ὅπως ἤδη τὸ εἶπα, ἀπὸ μιὰ ἄποψη, πρόκειται γιὰ ἀχάριστο ἔργο … Ἕνας προφήτης γιὰ αὐτὸ τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα δὲν πρόκειται νὰ φουσκώσει τὴν τσέπη του μὲ λεφτά· οὔτε κατὰ πάσα πιθανότητα θὰ κερδίσει φήμη ἀπὸ αὐτὴ τὴ δουλειά. Ὡς πρὸς αὐτὸν τὸν δεύτερο κανόνα ἡ περίπτωση τοῦ Ἡσαΐα ἦταν ἐξαίρεση· ὑπάρχουν καὶ κάποιες ἄλλες ἀκόμα ἑξαιρέσεις, ἀλλὰ αὐτὲς δὲν εἶναι πολλές.

Ἴσως νὰ σκεφθοῦμε ὅτι ἐνῶ ἀπὸ τὴ μιὰ ἡ φροντίδα γιὰ τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα εἶναι σίγουρα ἔργο καλό, ἀπὸ τὴν ἄλλη δὲν εἶναι ἰδιαίτερα κάτι ἐνδιαφέρον ἀφοῦ κατὰ κανόνα πληρώνει τόσο λίγο. Ὡς πρὸς αὐτὸ ἔχω τὶς ἐνστάσεις μου. Γιατὶ πλὴν τῶν χρημάτων καὶ τῆς κακῶς ἐννοούμενης φήμης, ὑπάρχουν καὶ ἄλλου εἴδους ἀντισταθμιστικὰ ὀφέλη ἀπὸ μία ἐργασία· μερικὰ ἀπὸ αὐτὰ εἶναι τόσο οὐσιαστικὰ ὥστε νὰ εἶναι ἑλκυστικά. Ὑπάρχουν δουλειὲς οἱ ὁποῖες ἂν καὶ δὲν πληρώνουν καλὰ εἶναι πολὺ ἐνδιαφέρουσες, ὅπως λέγεται, γιὰ παράδειγμα, ὅτι εἶναι ἡ ἐρευνητικὴ ἐργασία στὶς ἐπιστῆμες. Ἔτσι νομίζω ὅτι εἶναι καὶ τὸ ἔργο τῆς φροντίδας γιὰ τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα. Ἀπὸ τὴ θέση μου στὴν ἐξέδρα τῶν ἐπισήμων, καὶ ἀφοῦ τὸ παρακολούθησα γιὰ πολλὰ χρόνια, τὸ βρῆκα νὰ εἶναι τόσο ἐνδιαφέρον ὅσο τὸ ὁτιδήποτε ἄλλο σ᾿ αὐτὸν τὸν κόσμο.

...

III

But without following up this suggestion, I wish only, as I said, to remark the fact that as things now stand Isaiah's job seems rather to go begging. Everyone with a message nowadays is, like my venerable European friend, eager to take it to the masses. His first, last and only thought is of mass-acceptance and mass-approval. His great care is to put his doctrine in such shape as will capture the masses' attention and interest. This attitude towards the masses is so exclusive, so devout, that one is reminded of the troglodytic monster described by Plato, and the assiduous crowd at the entrance to its cave, trying obsequiously to placate it and win its favour, trying to interpret its inarticulate noises, trying to find out what it wants, and eagerly offering it all sorts of things that they think might strike its fancy.

The main trouble with all this is its reaction upon the mission itself. It necessitates an opportunist sophistication of one's doctrine, which profoundly alters its character and reduces it to a mere placebo. If, say, you are a preacher, you wish to attract as large a congregation as you can, which means an appeal to the masses; and this, in turn, means adapting the terms of your message to the order of intellect and character that the masses exhibit. If you are an educator, say with a college on your hands, you wish to get as many students as possible, and you whittle down your requirements accordingly. If a writer, you aim at getting many readers; if a publisher, many purchasers; if a philosopher, many disciples; if a reformer, many converts; if a musician, many auditors; and so on. But as we see on all sides, in the realization of these several desires, the prophetic message is so heavily adulterated with trivialities, in every instance, that its effect on the masses is merely to harden them in their sins. Meanwhile, the Remnant, aware of this adulteration and of the desires that prompt it, turn their backs on the prophet and will have nothing to do with him or his message.

Isaiah, on the other hand, worked under no such disabilities. He preached to the masses only in the sense that he preached publicly. Anyone who liked might listen; anyone who liked might pass by. He knew that the Remnant would listen; and knowing also that nothing was to be expected of the masses under any circumstances, he made no specific appeal to them, did not accommodate his message to their measure in any way, and did not care two straws whether they heeded it or not. As a modern publisher might put it, he was not worrying about circulation or about advertising. Hence, with all such obsessions quite out of the way, he was in a position to do his level best, without fear or favour, and answerable only to his august Boss.

If a prophet were not too particular about making money out of his mission or getting a dubious sort of notoriety out of it, the foregoing considerations would lead one to say that serving the Remnant looks like a good job. An assignment that you can really put your back into, and do your best without thinking about results, is a real job; whereas serving the masses is at best only half a job, considering the inexorable conditions that the masses impose upon their servants. They ask you to give them what they want, they insist upon it, and will take nothing else; and following their whims, their irrational changes of fancy, their hot and cold fits, is a tedious business, to say nothing of the fact that what they want at any time makes very little call on one’s resources of prophesy. The Remnant, on the other hand, want only the best you have, whatever that may be. Give them that, and they are satisfied; you have nothing more to worry about. The prophet of the American masses must aim consciously at the lowest common denominator of intellect, taste and character among 120,000,000 people; and this is a distressing task. The prophet of the Remnant, on the contrary, is in the enviable position of Papa Haydn in the household of Prince Esterhazy. All Haydn had to do was keep forking out the very best music he knew how to produce, knowing it would be understood and appreciated by those for whom he produced it, and caring not a button what anyone else thought of it; and that makes a good job.

In a sense, nevertheless, as I have said, it is not a rewarding job. If you can tough the fancy of the masses, and have the sagacity to keep always one jump ahead of their vagaries and vacillations, you can get good returns in money from serving the masses, and good returns also in a mouth-to-ear type of notoriety:

Digito monstrari et dicier, Hic est!

We all know innumerable politicians, journalists, dramatists, novelists and the like, who have done extremely well by themselves in these ways. Taking care of the Remnant, on the contrary, holds little promise of any such rewards. A prophet of the Remnant will not grow purse-proud on the financial returns from his work, nor is it likely that he will get any great renown out of it. Isaiah’s case was exceptional to this second rule, and there are others, but not many.

It may be thought, then, that while taking care of the Remnant is no doubt a good job, it is not an especially interesting job because it is as a rule so poorly paid. I have my doubts about this. There are other compensations to be got out of a job besides money and notoriety, and some of them seem substantial enough to be attractive. Many jobs which do not pay well are yet profoundly interesting, as, for instance, the job of research student in the sciences is said to be; and the job of looking after the Remnant seems to me, as I have surveyed it for many years from my seat in the grandstand, to be as interesting as any that can be found in the world.

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IV

What chiefly makes it so, I think, is that in any given society the Remnant are always so largely an unknown quantity. You do not know, and will never know, more than two things about them. You can be sure of those – dead sure, as our phrase is – but you will never be able to make even a respectable guess at anything else. You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor what they are doing or will do. Two things you do know, and no more: First, that they exist; second, that they will find you. Except for these two certainties, working for the Remnant means working in impenetrable darkness; and this, I should say, is just the condition calculated most effectively to pique the interest of any prophet who is properly gifted with the imagination, insight and intellectual curiosity necessary to a successful pursuit of his trade.

The fascination and the despair of the historian, as he looks back upon Isaiah's Jewry, upon Plato's Athens, or upon Rome of the Antonines, is the hope of discovering and laying bare the "substratum of right-thinking and well-doing" which he knows must have existed somewhere in those societies because no kind of collective life can possibly go on without it. He finds tantalizing intimations of it here and there in many places, as in the Greek Anthology, in the scrapbook of Aulus Gellius, in the poems of Ausonius, and in the brief and touching tribute, Bene merenti, bestowed upon the unknown occupants of Roman tombs. But these are vague and fragmentary; they lead him nowhere in his search for some kind of measure on this substratum, but merely testify to what he already knew a priori – that the substratum did somewhere exist. Where it was, how substantial it was, what its power of self-assertion and resistance was – of all this they tell him nothing.

Similarly, when the historian of two thousand years hence, or two hundred years, looks over the available testimony to the quality of our civilization and tries to get any kind of clear, competent evidence concerning the substratum of right-thinking and well-doing which he knows must have been here, he will have a devil of a time finding it. When he has assembled all he can and has made even a minimum allowance for speciousness, vagueness, and confusion of motive, he will sadly acknowledge that his net result is simply nothing. A Remnant were here, building a substratum like coral insects; so much he knows, but he will find nothing to put him on the track of who and where and how many they were and what their work was like.

Concerning all this, too, the prophet of the present knows precisely as much and as little as the historian of the future; and that, I repeat, is what makes his job seem to me so profoundly interesting. One of the most suggestive episodes recounted in the Bible is that of a prophet's attempt – the only attempt of the kind on the record, I believe – to count up the Remnant. Elijah had fled from persecution into the desert, where the Lord presently overhauled him and asked what he was doing so far away from his job. He said that he was running away, not because he was a coward, but because all the Remnant had been killed off except himself. He had got away only by the skin of his teeth, and, he being now all the Remnant there was, if he were killed the True Faith would go flat. The Lord replied that he need not worry about that, for even without him the True Faith could probably manage to squeeze along somehow if it had to; "and as for your figures on the Remnant," He said, "I don't mind telling you that there are seven thousand of them back there in Israel whom it seems you have not heard of, but you may take My word for it that there they are."

At that time, probably the population of Israel could not run to much more than a million or so; and a Remnant of seven thousand out of a million is a highly encouraging percentage for any prophet. With seven thousand of the boys on his side, there was no great reason for Elijah to feel lonesome; and incidentally, that would be something for the modern prophet of the Remnant to think of when he has a touch of the blues. But the main point is that if Elijah the Prophet could not make a closer guess on the number of the Remnant than he made when he missed it by seven thousand, anyone else who tackled the problem would only waste his time.

The other certainty which the prophet of the Remnant may always have is that the Remnant will find him. He may rely on that with absolute assurance. They will find him without his doing anything about it; in fact, if he tries to do anything about it, he is pretty sure to put them off. He does not need to advertise for them nor resort to any schemes of publicity to get their attention. If he is a preacher or a public speaker, for example, he may be quite indifferent to going on show at receptions, getting his picture printed in the newspapers, or furnishing autobiographical material for publication on the side of "human interest." If a writer, he need not make a point of attending any pink teas, autographing books at wholesale, nor entering into any specious freemasonry with reviewers. All this and much more of the same order lies in the regular and necessary routine laid down for the prophet of the masses; it is, and must be, part of the great general technique of getting the mass-man's ear – or as our vigorous and excellent publicist, Mr. H. L. Mencken, puts it, the technique of boob-bumping. The prophet of the Remnant is not bound to this technique. He may be quite sure that the Remnant will make their own way to him without any adventitious aids; and not only so, but if they find him employing any such aids, as I said, it is ten to one that they will smell a rat in them and will sheer off.

The certainty that the Remnant will find him, however, leaves the prophet as much in the dark as ever, as helpless as ever in the matter of putting any estimate of any kind upon the Remnant; for, as appears in the case of Elijah, he remains ignorant of who they are that have found him or where they are or how many. They did not write in and tell him about it, after the manner of those who admire the vedettes of Hollywood, nor yet do they seek him out and attach themselves to his person. They are not that kind. They take his message much as drivers take the directions on a roadside signboard – that is, with very little thought about the signboard, beyond being gratefully glad that it happened to be there, but with every thought about the directions.

This impersonal attitude of the Remnant wonderfully enhances the interest of the imaginative prophet's job. Once in a while, just about often enough to keep his intellectual curiosity in good working order, he will quite accidentally come upon some distinct reflection of his own message in an unsuspected quarter. This enables him to entertain himself in his leisure moments with agreeable speculations about the course his message may have taken in reaching that particular quarter, and about what came of it after it got there. Most interesting of all are those instances, if one could only run them down (but one may always speculate about them), where the recipient himself no longer knows where nor when nor from whom he got the message – or even where, as sometimes happens, he has forgotten that he got it anywhere and imagines that it is all a self-sprung idea of his own.

Such instances as these are probably not infrequent, for, without presuming to enroll ourselves among the Remnant, we can all no doubt remember having found ourselves suddenly under the influence of an idea, the source of which we cannot possibly identify. "It came to us afterward," as we say; that is, we are aware of it only after it has shot up full-grown in our minds, leaving us quite ignorant of how and when and by what agency it was planted there and left to germinate. It seems highly probable that the prophet's message often takes some such course with the Remnant.

If, for example, you are a writer or a speaker or a preacher, you put forth an idea which lodges in the Unbewußtsein of a casual member of the Remnant and sticks fast there. For some time it is inert; then it begins to fret and fester until presently it invades the man's conscious mind and, as one might say, corrupts it. Meanwhile, he has quite forgotten how he came by the idea in the first instance, and even perhaps thinks he has invented it; and in those circumstances, the most interesting thing of all is that you never know what the pressure of that idea will make him do.

For these reasons it appears to me that Isaiah’s job is not only good but also extremely interesting; and especially so at the present time when nobody is doing it. If I were young and had the notion of embarking in the prophetical line, I would certainly take up this branch of the business; and therefore I have no hesitation about recommending it as a career for anyone in that position. It offers an open field, with no competition; our civilization so completely neglects and disallows the Remnant that anyone going in with an eye single to their service might pretty well count on getting all the trade there is.

Even assuming that there is some social salvage to be screened out of the masses, even assuming that the testimony of history to their social value is a little too sweeping, that it depresses hopelessness a little too far, one must yet perceive, I think, that the masses have prophets enough and to spare. Even admitting that in the teeth of history that hope of the human race may not be quite exclusively centred in the Remnant, one must perceive that they have social value enough to entitle them to some measure of prophetic encouragement and consolation, and that our civilization allows them none whatever. Every prophetic voice is addressed to the masses, and to them alone; the voice of the pulpit, the voice of education, the voice of politics, of literature, drama, journalism – all these are directed towards the masses exclusively, and they marshal the masses in the way that they are going.

One might suggest, therefore, that aspiring prophetical talent may well turn to another field. Sat patriae Priamoque datum – whatever obligation of the kind may be due the masses is already monstrously overpaid. So long as the masses are taking up the tabernacle of Moloch and Chiun, their images, and following the star of their god Buncombe, they will have no lack of prophets to point the way that leadeth to the More Abundant Life; and hence a few of those who feel the prophetic afflatus might do better to apply themselves to serving the Remnant. It is a good job, an interesting job, much more interesting than serving the masses; and moreover it is the only job in our whole civilization, as far as I know, that offers a virgin field.

IV

Κατὰ τὴ γνώμη μου, τὸ στοιχεῖο ποὺ κάνει αὐτὸ τὸ ἔργο τόσο ἐνδιαφέρον εἶναι ὅτι σὲ κάθε κοινωνία τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα πάντα εἶναι σὲ μεγάλο βαθμὸ μιὰ ἄγνωστη ποσότητα. Δὲν γνωρίζεις, καὶ ποτὲ δὲν θὰ γνωρίσεις παραπάνω ἀπὸ δύο πράγματα. Γι᾿ αὐτὰ τὰ δύο μπορεῖ νὰ εἶσαι σίγουρος· ἀπόλυτα σίγουρος, ἂν θέλεις. Πέραν ὅμως ἀπὸ αὐτὰ δὲν θὰ μπορέσεις νὰ σχηματίσεις καμία ἄλλη ἀξιόπιστη εἰκασία. Δὲν γνωρίζεις, καὶ ποτὲ δὲν θὰ μπορέσεις νὰ γνωρίσεις, τὸ ποιοὶ εἶναι αὐτοὶ ποὺ ἀνήκουν στὸ Ὑπόλειμμα· οὔτε τὸ ποῦ εἶναι, οὔτε τὸ πόσοι εἶναι, οὔτε τὸ τί κάνουν ἢ τὸ τί θὰ κάνουν. Δύο μόνο πράγματα γνωρίζεις, ὄχι παραπάνω: τὸ πρῶτο εἶναι ὅτι ὑπάρχουν· τὸ δεύτερο εἶναι ὅτι αὐτοὶ θὰ σὲ ἀνακαλύψουν. Πέραν ἀπὸ αὐτὲς τὶς δύο βεβαιότητες, τὸ ἔργο γιὰ τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα ἐπιτελεῖται μέσα σὲ ἀδιαπέραστο σκοτάδι. Θὰ ἔλεγα μάλιστα, ὅτι αὐτὸ ἀκριβῶς τὸ στοιχεῖο εἶναι προορισμένο νὰ τραβήξει ἀποτελεσματικὰ τὸ ἐνδιαφέρον τοῦ κάθε προφήτη ὁ ὁποῖος ἔχει τὸ τάλαντο τῆς φαντασίας, τῆς διορατικότητος, καθὼς ἐπίσης καὶ τὴν νοητικὴ περιέργεια τὰ ὁποῖα εἶναι ἀναγκαῖα γιὰ τὴν ἐπιτυχία τοῦ ἔργου του.

Καθὼς ὁ ἱστορικὸς στρέφει τὸ βλέμμα του πίσω πρὸς τοὺς Ἑβραίους τοῦ Ἡσαΐα, πρὸς τὴν Ἀθήνα τοῦ Πλάτωνος, ἢ τὴν Ρώμη τῶν Ἀντωνίνων, ἐλπίζοντας νὰ ἀνακαλύψει καὶ νὰ παρουσιάσει τὸ «ὑπόστρωμα τῶν τὰ ἀγαθὰ σκεπτομένων καὶ τὰ ὀρθὰ πραττόντων», συναρπάζεται καὶ ἀπελπίζεται ταυτόχρονα. Γνωρίζει ὅτι σὲ αὐτὲς τὶς κοινωνίες αὐτὸ τὸ ὑπόστρωμα ὁπωσδήποτε ὑπῆρχε· καμία κοινωνικὴ-συλλογικὴ ζωὴ δὲν εἶναι δυνατὸν νὰ ὑπάρξει χωρὶς αὐτό. Κι ἔρχεται, πότε ἐδῶ καὶ πότε ἐκεῖ, σὲ μιὰ βασανιστικὴ ἐπαφὴ μαζί του: στὴν Ἑλληνικὴ Ἀνθολογία· στὰ πρόχειρα τοῦ Aulus Gellius· στὰ ποιήματα τοῦ Ausonius· στὸ σύντομο καὶ συγκινητικὸ ἐγκώμιο Bene merenti ἀποδιδόμενο στοὺς ἀγνώστους κατόχους των Ρωμαϊκῶν τάφων. Ἀλλὰ ὅλα αὐτὰ εἶναι ἀσαφῆ καὶ ἀποσπασματικά. Δὲν βοηθοῦν στὴν ἀναζήτηση κάποιου μέτρου γι᾿ αὐτὸ τὸ ὑπόστρωμα. Ἁπλῶς πιστοποιοῦν μόνο ὅ,τι εὐθὺς ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἤξερε, δηλαδὴ ὅτι κάπου κάποιο ὑπόστρωμα ὑπῆρχε. Ὅσο γιὰ τὸ ποῦ ὑπῆρχε, γιὰ τὸ πόσο οὐσιαστικὸ ἦταν, γιὰ τὴ δύναμη τῆς ἐπιβολῆς του καὶ τῆς ἀντίστασής του, περὶ ὅλων αὐτῶν τὰ εὑρήματά του δὲν τοῦ λένε τίποτα.

Παρόμοια ὅταν ἔπειτα ἀπὸ δύο χιλιάδες χρόνια, ἢ ἔπειτα ἀπὸ διακόσια χρόνια, ὁ ἱστορικὸς θὰ διερευνήσει τὶς ὑπάρχουσες μαρτυρίες ὅσον ἀφορᾶ τὴν ποιότητα τοῦ δικοῦ μας πολιτισμοῦ, καὶ προσπαθήσει νὰ ἀποκτήσει καθαρὰ καὶ ἀξιόπιστα τεκμήρια ἀναφορικὰ μὲ αὐτὸ τὸ ὑπόστρωμα τῶν ὅσων σκέφτονται ἀγαθὰ καὶ τῶν ὅσων πράττουν τὰ καλά, γιὰ τὸ ὁποῖο θὰ γνωρίζει ὅτι θὰ ἔπρεπε νὰ ὑπάρχει, θὰ ἀντιμετωπίσει ἀνυπέρβλητες δυσκολίες. Ὅταν συγκεντρώσει ὅλα αὐτὰ ποὺ μπορεῖ νὰ συγκεντρώσει, καὶ λάβει ἔστω καὶ στὸ ἐλάχιστο ὑπ᾿ ὄψει του τὴ δυνατότητα ἀληθοφάνειας, ἀσάφειας, ἢ σύγχυσης προθέσεων, τότε δυστυχῶς θὰ πρέπει νὰ παραδεχθεῖ ὅτι τὰ στοιχεῖα του δὲν ὁδηγοῦν πουθενά. Κάποιο Ὑπόλειμμα ἦταν ἐδῶ κι ἔχτιζε τὸ ὑπόστρωμά του σὰν τὰ κοράλλια. Μέχρις ἐδῶ, αὐτὸ τὸ γνωρίζει. Ἀλλὰ δὲν θὰ βρεῖ τίποτα ποὺ θὰ τοῦ ἀνοίξει τὸν δρόμο γιὰ τὸ ποιοί, τὸ ποῦ, τὸ πόσοι, ἢ τὸ μὲ τί ἔμοιαζε ἡ ἐργασία τους.

Σχετικὰ μὲ αὐτά, καὶ ὁ σημερινὸς προφήτης ξέρει ἀκριβῶς τόσο πολλὰ καὶ τόσο λίγα ὅσο καὶ ὁ ἱστορικὸς τοῦ μέλλοντος. Ἀλλά, ἐπιτρέψτε μου νὰ τὸ ἐπαναλάβω: γι᾿ αὐτὸν ἀκριβῶς τὸ λόγο μου παρουσιάζεται αὐτὸ τὸ ἔργο τόσο ἐνδιαφέρον. Ἕνα ἀπὸ τὰ πιὸ δηλωτικὰ ἐπεισόδια ποὺ ἐξιστοροῦνται στὴν Ἁγία Γραφὴ εἶναι ἡ προσπάθεια ἑνὸς προφήτη, ἡ μόνη πιστεύω καταγεγραμμένη, νὰ ἀριθμήσει τὸ ὑπάρχον Ὑπόλειμμα. Διωκόμενος, ὁ Ἠλίας εἶχε καταφύγει στὴν ἔρημο ὅπου τὸν πρόφτασε ὁ Κύριος καὶ τὸν ρώτησε γιὰ τὸ τί ἔκανε ἐκεῖ τόσο μακριὰ ἀπὸ τὸ ἔργο του. Ὁ Ἠλίας ἀπάντησε ὅτι ἔφευγε, ὄχι ἐπειδὴ ἦταν δειλός, ἀλλὰ διότι ὁλόκληρο τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα ἐξολοθρεύθηκε, ἐκτὸς ἀπὸ αὐτόν. Μόλις καὶ μετὰ βίας ἦταν ποὺ κατάφερε νὰ διαφύγει, καὶ τώρα, μιὰ καὶ μόνος αὐτὸς ἦταν τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα ὁλόκληρο, ἔτσι καὶ τὸν σκότωναν ἡ Ἀληθινὴ Πίστις θὰ ἑξαφανίζετο. Καὶ ὁ Κύριος τοῦ ἀπήντησε ὅτι περὶ αὐτοῦ δὲν χρειάζεται νὰ ἀνησυχεῖ διότι καὶ χωρὶς αὐτὸν ἡ Ἀληθινὴ Πίστις, ἔστω καὶ δύσκολα μᾶλλον θὰ τὰ κατάφερνε νὰ ἐπιζήσει. «Ὅσον δὲ ἀφορᾶ τοὺς ἀριθμούς σου γιὰ τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα», εἶπε ὁ Κύριος, «δὲν θὰ μὲ πείραζε νὰ σοῦ πῶ ὅτι ὑπάρχουν πίσω στὸ Ἰσραὴλ ἑπτὰ χιλιάδες, γιὰ τοὺς ὁποίους ὅπως φαίνεται δὲν ἔμαθες. Ἂς σὲ διαβεβαιώσει λοιπὸν ὁ Λόγος μου ὅτι αὐτοὶ ὑπάρχουν.»

Τὴν ἐποχὴ ἐκείνη, πιθανῶς ὁ πληθυσμὸς τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ δὲν ξεπερνοῦσε τὸ ἕνα ἑκατομμύριο, ἢ κάτι τέτοιο. Ἔτσι, ἕνα Ὑπόλειμμα ἑπτὰ χιλιάδων στὸ ἑκατομμύριο εἶναι ποσοστὸ πολὺ ἐνθαρρυντικὸ γιὰ ἕνα προφήτη. Μὲ ἑπτὰ χιλιάδες φίλους δίπλα του, ὁ Ἠλίας δὲν εἶχε λόγο νὰ αἰσθάνεται μοναξιά. Αὐτό, παρεμπιπτόντως, θὰ μποροῦσε νὰ τὸ σκέπτεται καὶ ὁ σύγχρονος προφήτης τοῦ Ὑπολείμματος ὅταν τὸν πιάνει αὐτὴ ἡ μαυρίλα. Ὅμως, αὐτὸ ποὺ ἐδῶ θέλουμε νὰ ποῦμε εἶναι ὅτι ἂν ὁ Προφήτης Ἠλίας δὲν μποροῦσε νὰ ἔχει γιὰ τὸν ἀριθμὸ τοῦ Ὑπολείμματος ἀκριβέστερη ἀντίληψη ἀπὸ αὐτὴ ποὺ εἶχε, καὶ ἔπεσε ἔξω ἑπτὰ ὁλόκληρες χιλιάδες, κάθε ἄλλος ὁ ὁποῖος θὰ προσπαθοῦσε νὰ ἀντιμετωπίσει αὐτὸ τὸ πρόβλημα σίγουρα θὰ ἔχανε τὸν χρόνο του.

Ἡ ἄλλη βεβαιότητα τὴν ὁποία ὁ προφήτης τοῦ Ὑπολείμματος μπορεῖ πάντα νὰ ἔχει εἶναι ὅτι τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα θὰ τὸν εὕρει. Πάνω σε αὐτὸ μπορεῖ νὰ στηρίζεται μὲ ἀπόλυτη βεβαιότητα. Θὰ τὸν εὕρουν χωρὶς αὐτὸς νὰ κάνει τίποτα περὶ αὐτοῦ. Μάλιστα, ἂν ὁ ἴδιος προσπαθήσει νὰ κάνει κάτι περὶ αὐτοῦ, ἂς εἶναι βέβαιος ὅτι θὰ χάσει τὸ ἐνδιαφέρον τους. Δὲν χρειάζεται οὔτε τὴ διαφήμιση οὔτε τὸ νὰ καταφύγει σὲ ἄλλα τεχνάσματα δημοσιότητος γιὰ νὰ τραβήξει τὴν προσοχή τους. Ἐάν, λ.χ., εἶναι ἱεροκήρυκας, ἢ δημόσιος ὁμιλητῆς, μπορεῖ νὰ τοῦ εἶναι τελείως ἀδιάφορες οἱ παρουσιάσεις σὲ δεξιώσεις, οἱ φωτογραφίες του στὶς ἐφημερίδες, ἡ προσφορὰ αὐτοβιογραφικοῦ ὑλικοῦ γιὰ τὶς στῆλες «ἀνθρώπινα ἐνδιαφέροντα». Ἂν εἶναι συγγραφέας δὲν χρειάζεται νὰ δώσει στίγμα μὲ τὴν παρουσία του σὲ προοδευτικὰ τσάγια, ἢ σὲ μαζικὲς ἀφιερώσεις βιβλίων, οὔτε νὰ μπλεχτεῖ σὲ κάποια νεφελώδη μασονικὴ στοὰ ἐκδοτῶν.

Αὐτά, καὶ πολλὰ ἄλλα παρόμοια, ἀνήκουν στὴν κανονικὴ καὶ ἀναγκαία καθημερινότητα τοῦ προφήτου τῶν μαζῶν. Εἶναι, καὶ πρέπει νὰ εἶναι, στοιχεῖα μιᾶς γενικῆς τεχνικῆς ποὺ σκοπὸ τῆς ἔχει ν᾿ ἁρπάξει τὴν προσοχὴ τοῦ κοινοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἢ ἀλλιῶς, ὅπως ὁ ἐνεργητικότατος καὶ ἄριστος ἐκδότης Κὸς H. L. Mencken τὸ θέτει, ἀποτελοῦν τεχνικὲς προσθετικῆς στήθους. Ὁ προφήτης τοῦ Ὑπολείμματος δὲν εἶναι δεμένος σὲ αὐτοῦ του εἴδους τὴν τεχνική. Μπορεῖ νὰ εἶναι ἀπολύτως βέβαιος ὅτι οἱ τοῦ Ὑπολείμματος θὰ βροῦν τὸ δρόμο τους πρὸς αὐτὸν χωρὶς βοηθήματα πρόσβασης. Καὶ ὄχι μόνο αὐτό· ἔτσι καὶ βροῦν ὅτι αὐτὸς χρησιμοποιεῖ κάποια τέτοια βοηθήματα, ὅπως ἤδη τὸ εἶπα, ἐννιὰ στὶς δέκα θὰ αἰσθανθοῦν ὅτι κάτι δὲν πάει καλὰ καὶ θὰ ἀπομακρυνθοῦν.

Πάντως αὐτὴ ἡ βεβαιότητα ὅτι τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα θὰ τὸν ἀνακαλύψει ἀφήνει, ὅπως καὶ πρίν, τὸν προφήτη ἀβοήθητο στὸ σκοτάδι σχετικὰ μὲ τὴν κάθε εἴδους ἐκτίμηση γιὰ τὸ Ὑπόλειμμα· ὅπως καὶ στὴν περίπτωση τοῦ Ἠλία ἐξακολουθεῖ νὰ ἔχει ἄγνοια γιὰ τὸ ποιοὶ εἶναι αὐτοὶ ποὺ τὸν βρῆκαν, ἢ τὸ ποῦ εἶναι, ἢ τὸ πόσοι εἶναι. Γιὰ ὅλα αὐτὰ δὲν στέλνουν γράμματα νὰ τὸν πληροφορήσουν ὅπως ὅσοι θαυμάζουν τὶς βεντέτες τοῦ Χόλυγουντ. Οὔτε τὸν ψάχνουν γιὰ νὰ προσκολληθοῦν στὸ πρόσωπό του. Δὲν εἶναι τέτοιου εἴδους ἄνθρωποι. Ὁ τρόπος ποὺ παίρνουν τὸ μήνυμά του μοιάζει μὲ τὸν τρόπο ποὺ οἱ ὁδηγοὶ παίρνουν κατευθύνσεις ἀπὸ τὶς πινακίδες στοὺς δρόμους, δηλαδή, μὲ πολὺ λίγη προσοχὴ γιὰ τὴν ἴδια τὴν πινακίδα. Εἶναι μὲν εὐγνώμονες καὶ χαρούμενοι ποὺ συνέβη ἡ πινακίδα νὰ βρίσκεται ἐκεῖ, ἀλλὰ ἡ σκέψη τοὺς κυρίως στρέφεται πρὸς τὴν κατεύθυνση ποὺ δίνουν οἱ ὁδηγίες.

Αὐτὴ ἡ ἀπρόσωπη στάση τοῦ Ὑπολείμματος ἐνισχύει πολὺ ὡραία τὸ ἐφευρετικὸ ἐνδιαφέρον τοῦ προφήτη. Ἀπὸ καιροῦ εἰς καιρό, ἀλλὰ ἀρκετὰ συχνὰ ὥστε νὰ διατηρεῖται ἡ νοητική του περιέργεια σὲ φόρμα, καὶ ἐντελῶς κατὰ τύχη, κάποια νέα σκέψη θὰ τοῦ περάσει ἀναφορικὰ μὲ τὸ δικό του μήνυμα σὲ κάποια ἀπρόσμενη περιοχή. Αὐτὸ τοῦ ἐπιτρέπει νὰ διασκεδάσει κατὰ τὸν ἐλεύθερο χρόνο του μὲ εὐχάριστες σκέψεις γιὰ τὸ πῶς τὸ μήνυμά του ταξίδεψε ὡς αὐτὴ τὴ συγκεκριμένη περιοχὴ καὶ γιὰ τὰ ἀποτελέσματά του ὅταν ἔφθασε ἐκεῖ. Ἡ πιὸ ἐνδιαφέρουσα ἀπὸ ὅλες αὐτὲς τὶς περιπτώσεις, ἂν κανεὶς μπορεῖ νὰ τὶς ἱεραρχήσει (πάντα ὅμως μπορεῖ νὰ σκέφτεται γι᾿ αὐτὲς) εἶναι ὅταν ὁ ἀποδέκτης δὲν γνωρίζει πλέον οὔτε τὸ ποῦ οὔτε τὸ πότε, οὔτε ἀπὸ ποιὸν ἔλαβε τὸ μήνυμα. Μερικὲς φορὲς μάλιστα συμβαίνει νὰ ξεχάσει ὅτι τὸ πῆρε ἀπὸ κάπου καὶ νὰ φαντάζεται ὅτι ἀπὸ αὐτὸν τὸν ἴδιο πρωτοξεκίνησε ἡ ἰδέα.[6]

Κατὰ πᾶσα πιθανότητα, τέτοιες περιπτώσεις δὲν εἶναι σπάνιες. Χωρὶς νὰ θέλουμε νὰ ἐγγράψουμε τοὺς ἑαυτούς μας στὸ Ὑπόλειμμα, σίγουρα μποροῦμε ὅλοι νὰ θυμηθοῦμε περιπτώσεις ὅπου ξαφνικὰ βρεθήκαμε κάτω ἀπὸ τὴν ἐπίδραση μιᾶς ἰδέας τῆς ὁποίας τὴν πηγὴ δὲν μποροῦμε μὲ κανένα τρόπο νὰ προσδιορίσουμε. Λέμε:«Ὅπως ἐκ τῶν ὑστέρων ἀντιληφθήκαμε …», δηλαδή, τὸ ἀντιληφθήκαμε μόνο ἀφοῦ ὡρίμασε πλήρως μέσα μας, χωρὶς ἐμεῖς νὰ ξέρουμε τὸ πῶς καὶ τὸ πότε, οὔτε διὰ μέσῳ ποίου ἐμφυτεύτηκε καὶ παρέμενε ἐκεῖ ἕως ὅτου δώσει καρπούς. Κατὰ πάσα πιθανότητα, καὶ τὸ μήνυμα τοῦ προφήτη ἀκολουθεῖ κάποια παρόμοια διαδρομὴ μέσα στὸ Ὑπόλειμμα.

Ἄν, γιὰ παράδειγμα, εἶσαι συγγραφέας, ἢ ὁμιλητῆς, ἢ ἱερέας, ἡ ἰδέα ποὺ ἐναποθέτεις στεγάζεται στὸ ἀσυνείδητο ἑνὸς μέλους τοῦ Ὑπολείμματος καὶ ἐκεῖ ριζώνει. Γιὰ κάποιο χρονικὸ διάστημα παραμένει ἀνενεργός· ἔπειτα ἀρχίζει νὰ ἐνεργοποιεῖται καὶ νὰ κρυφοκαίει ἕως ὅτου εἰσβάλλει στὸ συνειδητό του ἀνθρώπου τὸ ὁποῖο, θὰ μπορούσαμε νὰ ποῦμε ὅτι ἀλλοιώνει. Ἐν τῷ μεταξὺ ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἔχει ἐντελῶς ξεχάσει τὸ πῶς πρωτοῆλθε σὲ ἐπαφὴ μὲ τὴν ἰδέα· ἴσως ἀκόμα καὶ νὰ νομίζει ὅτι τὴν ἐφεῦρε αὐτὸς ὁ ἴδιος. Ὑπ᾿ αὐτὲς τὶς συνθῆκες, τὸ πιὸ ἐνδιαφέρον εἶναι ὅτι ποτὲ δὲν μπορεῖς νὰ ξέρεις τὸ τί θὰ κάνει ὑπὸ τὴν πίεση ἐκείνης τῆς ἰδέας.

ΣΥΝΤΟΜΟΣ ΚΡΙΤΙΚΟΣ ΣΧΟΛΙΑΣΜΟΣ ΑΠΟ ΤΟΝ ΜΕΤΑΦΡΑΣΤΗ

Τὸ ἄρθρο ποὺ μεταφράσαμε παρουσιάσθηκε γιὰ πρώτη φορὰ τὸ 1937, δηλαδή, πρὶν ἀπὸ τρία τέταρτά του αἰώνα. Ἦταν τότε μιὰ ἐποχὴ κρίσης, καὶ παραμένει ἐπίκαιρο γιατί καὶ σήμερα βρισκόμαστε σὲ μιὰ ἐποχὴ κρίσης, ἴσως καὶ κατὰ πολὺ βαθύτερης.

Θὰ ἤθελα νὰ ἐπικεντρώσω τὰ σχόλια μου γύρω ἀπὸ τὸ φαινόμενο τοῦ λαϊκισμοῦ. Γιατί μᾶλλον ἔτσι καλύτερα ἐπιγράφεται τὸ σημαντικότερο πρόβλημα ποὺ φαίνεται νὰ ἀντιμετωπίζει ὁ Ἀλβέρτος Νόκ. Ὁ λαϊκισμὸς εἶναι ἕνας ἐγκλωβισμός. Πῶς νὰ ἐλευθερωθεῖς, πῶς νὰ τὸν παρακάμψεις; Γιατί ὁ λαϊκισμὸς εἶναι κάτι τὸ γλιστερό. Δὲν ἀντιμετωπίζεται εὐθέως.

Κατ᾿ ἀρχάς, μέσα του ἐμπεριέχει μία οὐσιαστικὴ ἀντίφαση. Ἀπὸ τὴ μιὰ καλεῖται ὁ λαὸς νὰ ἀπελευθερωθεῖ ἀκολουθώντας ἕνα νέο τρόπο ζωῆς, σκέψης, καὶ πολιτισμοῦ. Ὁ «διαφωτιστὴς» γνωρίζει ὅτι τώρα κυριαρχεῖ τὸ κακὸ ἀλλὰ γνωρίζει μαζὶ καὶ τὸ καλό, καὶ ἐξ αὐτοῦ εἶναι ἡ κοινωνία ποὺ ἐπαγγέλλεται. Ἀπὸ τὴν ἄλλη ὑποτίθεται ὅτι ἡ ἱστορία κινεῖται ἀπὸ τοὺς δικούς της νόμους ἢ ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ ἴδιος ὁ λαὸς κρίνει μόνος του τὴν πορεία του. Πρόκειται γιὰ τεχνάσματα τοῦ διαφωτιστῆ. Ἂν ἡ ἱστορία κινεῖται ἀπὸ τοὺς δικούς της νόμους δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ ὑπάρχει καμία διαβεβαίωση ὅτι βαδίζουμε πρὸς κάτι καλύτερο. Καὶ ἂν ὁ λαὸς μπορεῖ καὶ βλέπει καὶ κρίνει τότε, 1) γιατί ἐπὶ αἰῶνες ἢ χιλιετίες δὲν κινήθηκε ἀλλιῶς, καὶ 2) σὲ τί χρειάζεται τὸν διαφωτιστή. Ἐδῶ, ἡ κολακεία θέλει νὰ παρακάμψει διάφορες δυσκολίες ποὺ ἐνυπάρχουν ἕνεκα τοῦ οὐτοπιστικοῦ χαρακτήρα τῆς θεωρίας. Γιατί ὁ διαφωτιστῆς ὑπόσχεται πάντα πολλά. Οὔτε λίγο οὔτε πολὺ ὑπόσχεται μιὰ Βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. Καὶ ἐπειδὴ αὐτὸ καὶ αἱρετικὸ εἶναι καὶ μαζὶ ἀνέφικτο, γιὰ νὰ κερδίσει, πρέπει νὰ ἐπιβάλλει τὶς θεωρίες τοῦ μᾶλλον παρὰ νὰ πείσει. Αὐτὸς εἶναι ὁ λόγος γιὰ τὸν ὁποῖο πίσω ἀπὸ τὸν λαϊκισμὸ κρύβεται ὄχι μόνο ἡ δημαγωγία ἀλλὰ ἀκόμα χειρότερα ἐλλοχεύει ὁ ὁλοκληρωτισμός. Ἂν συγκρίνουμε τὶς δύο ἐποχὲς μποροῦμε νὰ ποῦμε ὅτι τὸ 1937 ὁ ὁλοκληρωτισμὸς δὲν κρυβότανε ἐνῶ σήμερα καὶ ἰσχυρότερος εἶναι καὶ ἔχει μάθει νὰ κρύβεται καλύτερα. Τὸ 1937 δὲν ὑπῆρχε ἡ δυνατότητα διαμόρφωσης τῆς σκέψης τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὅπως εἶναι σήμερα ἐφικτὸ διὰ τῆς τηλεόρασης.

Ὁ λαϊκισμὸς κινεῖται μὲ τὴν κολακεία, τὴ ματαιοδοξία, καὶ τὴν φιλαρχία. Δι᾿ αὐτῶν καλλιεργεῖ καὶ ὅλα τὰ ἄλλα πάθη. Ἡ φιλαρχία ἐξουσιάζει τὸν διαφωτιστὴ κι αὐτὸς μὲ τὴ σειρὰ τοῦ θέλει νὰ ἐξουσιάζει τὸν λαό. Ἡ κολακεία ἐξουσιάζει τὸν λαὸ ὁ ὁποῖος ζητᾶ νὰ καταστρέψει κάθε ἀξία καὶ νὰ ἀπορρίψει κάθε ἀλήθεια. Φαντάζεται πὼς ὡς ἀπελευθερωμένος θὰ μπορέσει νὰ ζήσει καὶ ὁ ἴδιος ὅτι ἐξωτερικὰ κατακρίνει. Ἀκριβῶς ἐπειδὴ κοινὴ ρίζα ὅλων τῶν κλάδων τοῦ λαϊκισμοῦ εἶναι τὸ πάθος, γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ ἀντιμετωπιστεῖ ἀλλιῶς παρὰ μόνο μὲ πνευματικὴ θεραπεία· παρὰ μόνο μὲ τὴν Ἐκκλησία. Ἡ Ἐκκλησία εἶναι ὁ ἀκοίμητος προφήτης. Ποιὸς ἀκούει ὅμως ὅταν ἡ κοινωνικὴ ζωὴ ἔχει φθάσει στὸ ἐπίπεδο μιᾶς ἄτυπης ἀλλὰ λειτουργικότατης πίστης ψεύδους; Τότε οὔτε τὸ κάλεσμα σὲ πνευματικὴ θεραπεία μπορεῖ νὰ εἰσακουστεῖ. Γιατί διὰ μιᾶς γλιστερῆς γλώσσας ποὺ μορφώνει καὶ καθοδηγεῖ τὴ σκέψη τὸ ψεῦδος προστατεύεται πολὺ ἀποτελεσματικά. Τὸ νόημα τῶν λέξεων εἶναι ἀσαφές, συγκεχυμένο, ἡ χρήση τῆς γλώσσας ξύλινη. Τὰ ζοῦμε αὐτὰ σήμερα. Σὲ μεγάλο βαθμὸ ἡ σύγχρονη μετανεωτερικότητα εἶναι λογικὴ συνέπεια παλαιοτέρων ρευμάτων λαϊκισμοῦ.

Θὰ πεῖ κανεὶς ὅτι ὁ λαϊκισμὸς δὲν εὐδοκιμεῖ σὲ μία δίκαιη κοινωνία. Ἡ ἀδικία λοιπὸν εἶναι τὸ αἴτιο τοῦ λαϊκισμοῦ. Ἄρα, εἶναι πολὺ εὔκολο νὰ ἀκούσει κανεὶς τὰ περὶ κοινωνικῆς δικαιοσύνης καὶ νὰ ξεχάσει ὅτι γιὰ τὸν πτωτικὸ ἄνθρωπο ἡ τέλεια δικαιοσύνη εἶναι ἀνέφικτη. Πολλὰ ξεχνιοῦνται ὅταν τὰ πάθη ἔρχονται νὰ μολύνουν τὰ νοήματα. Μήπως εἶναι οἱ ἀξίες ποῦ φταῖνε γιὰ τὴν ἀδικία; Πῶς θὰ μπορούσαμε ποτὲ νὰ φθάσουμε στὴ δικαιοσύνη διὰ τῆς διάβρωσης τῶν ἀξιῶν; Κι ὅμως, ὅλα αὐτὰ ὑποστηρίζονται ἀπὸ πληθώρα ἀκαδημαϊκῶν δασκάλων, καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ, ἐν συνεχεία, διὰ τῶν ΜΜΕ, κατεβαίνουν καὶ στὴν ὑπόλοιπη κοινωνία.

Σκιαγράφησα τὸ πλαίσιο μέσα στὸ ὁποῖο νομίζω ὅτι ὁ Νὸκ ξανασκέφτηκε καὶ ξαναδιάβασε τὸν Ἡσαΐα. Τὸ ἄρθρο τοῦ δείχνει ὅτι ἡ ἱστορία τοῦ μεγάλου προφήτη τὸν ἐνθάρρυνε καὶ τὸν ἐνέπνευσε. Μετέχει στὶς ἀγωνίες του καὶ στὶς θλίψεις του. Μέχρις ἑνὸς σημείου ὅμως τὰ πάει καλά. Ἂς ξεκινήσουμε ἐν τούτοις πρῶτα μὲ τὰ θετικά.

Τὸ ξεκίνημα τοῦ Νὸκ μοιάζει Ἁγιοπατερικό. Γιατί γιὰ τὸ κάθε τί, μικρὸ ἢ μεγάλο, σημεῖο ἀναφορᾶς τῶν Πνευματικῶν ἀνθρώπων τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας εἶναι πάντοτε ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ τὸ πῶς ὁ οὐρανὸς ἀποκαλύπτεται στὴ γῆ. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ στρέφονται καὶ ζητοῦν ἀπαντήσεις στὴν Ἁγία Γραφή. Ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ περιμένουν καθοδήγηση.

Μὲ παρόμοιο θὰ λέγαμε τρόπο καὶ ὁ Νὸκ δὲν ἀντιμετωπίζει εὐθέως τὸν εὐρυμαθῆ συνομιλητή του. Στρέφεται πρὸς τὴν Ἁγία Γραφὴ γιὰ νὰ ἀντλήσει ἀπὸ τὸν Ἡσαΐα. Καὶ ἐκεῖ βρίσκει μιὰ γενικὴ ἀρχή: σὲ κάθε δεδομένη στιγμή, σὲ κάθε λαό, ἡ ἀλήθεια, δὲν γίνεται ἀποδεκτὴ ἀπὸ ὅλους. Δὲν εἶναι εὔκολο νὰ ἀφήσει ὁ ἄνθρωπος τὸν δρόμο τὸ δικό του γιὰ νὰ ἀκολουθήσει κάποιον ἄλλο, ἔστω καὶ ἂν αὐτὸς ὁ ἄλλος εἶναι ὁ δρόμο τῆς ἀλήθειας. Κι ὅταν, ὅπως σὲ περιόδους παρακμῆς τὸ φαινόμενο διογκώνεται, γίνεται ἕνας μεγάλος πειρασμὸς γιὰ τὸν διανοούμενο, τὸν συγγραφέα, τὸν ἱεροκήρυκα, τὸν δάσκαλο, τὸν πολιτικό, ὅπως καὶ γιὰ κάθε ἄλλο δημόσιο πρόσωπο. Σὲ ὥριμη πλέον ἡλικία ὁ Ἀλβέρτος Νὸκ δικαιώνει διὰ τοῦ Ἡσαΐα τὶς ἐπιλογές του.

Ὅσον ὅμως ἀφορᾶ τὸ γιατί ὁ ἄνθρωπος δὲν ἀκούει τὴν ἀλήθεια, ὁ συγγραφέας μᾶς πέφτει καὶ ὁ ἴδιος στὴν παγίδα τοῦ ρασιοναλισμοῦ ὁ ὁποῖος ὑπῆρξε οὐσιαστικὸς γιὰ τὴ σταδιακὴ παρακμὴ τοῦ Χριστιανικοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν μετάπτωση στὸν λαϊκισμό. Σχηματικὰ μποροῦμε ἐν συντομία νὰ ποῦμε τὰ ἑξῆς. Ξεκινώντας ἀπὸ τὸν Μεσαίωνα, ὁ παπισμός, ὡς διεθνὴς πολιτικὸ-θρησκευτικὸς θεσμός, ἐπεχείρησε νὰ παίξει ἕνα ρόλο παρόμοιο μὲ αὐτὸν ποὺ παίζει ὁ Ὁ.Η.Ε. σήμερα. Ἀλλὰ οἱ λύσεις ποὺ ἐπρόκειτο νὰ προσφέρει στὴν διευθέτηση τῶν διαφορῶν ἔπρεπε νὰ εἶναι κατανοητὲς καὶ νὰ ἱκανοποιοῦν ὅσο γίνεται τοὺς ἄρχοντες τοῦ κόσμου τούτου. Ὁ παπισμὸς λοιπὸν ἔπρεπε νὰ δίνει λύσεις ποὺ νὰ εἶναι καὶ συμβατὲς μὲ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἀλλὰ καὶ κατανοητὲς διὰ τῆς ἀναφορᾶς τους σὲ ἕνα διεθνὲς νομοκανονικὸ σύστημα. Γιὰ τὴν σύνταξη αὐτοῦ του νομοκανονικοῦ συστήματος ὁ ρασιοναλισμὸς ἦταν ἐντελῶς ἀναγκαῖος καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ ὁποῖοι θὰ ἐπιτελοῦσαν τὸ ἔργο ἔπρεπε νὰ ἔχουν ἐξαίρετες διανοητικὲς ἱκανότητες. Ἀπὸ ἐδῶ ξεκινᾶ ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς διάκρισης τὴν ὁποία ἐπικαλεῖται ὁ Νόκ, μεταξὺ δηλαδὴ ἀνθρώπων μὲ ἰσχυρὲς διανοητικὲς δυνάμεις ποὺ νὰ μποροῦν νὰ καταλαβαίνουν τὶς ἀρχές, καὶ τοὺς ὑπόλοιπους ἀνθρώπους οἱ ὁποῖοι ἀπαρτίζουν τὶς μάζες.

Ἀργότερα, οἱ τεχνικές του ρασιοναλισμοῦ μπῆκαν καὶ σὲ ἄλλες χρήσεις. Οἱ ἄρχοντες τοῦ κόσμου τούτου κατάλαβαν ὅτι μποροῦν καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι νὰ κατασκευάσουν ἕνα κόσμο ὁ ὁποῖος δὲν θὰ χρειάζεται τὸν πάπα. Στὸ ἑπόμενο στάδιο, κάποιοι «ἔξυπνοι» διαφωτισταὶ κατάλαβαν ὅτι μποροῦν νὰ ἀλλάξουν τὶς ἀρχὲς γιὰ νὰ καθοδηγήσουν τὶς μάζες ὅπου αὐτοὶ θέλουν. Τὸ κύριο σημεῖο ἀναφορᾶς ἐδῶ εἶναι ἡ ἐπιστήμη, καὶ μὲ τὴν βοήθεια τῆς ἐκλαϊκευμένης ἐπιστήμης φθάνουμε στὸν λαϊκισμό. Αὐτὸ δηλαδὴ ποὺ πάντα κρύβεται στὸν ρασιοναλισμὸ εἶναι ὅτι οἱ ἀρχὲς ἀπὸ τὶς ὁποῖες ξεκινᾶμε εἶναι λίγο πολὺ αὐθαίρετες.

Ἔκανα αὐτὴ τὴν τηλεγραφικὴ ἱστορικὴ ἀναδρομὴ γιατί θεωρῶ ἐντελῶς ἐσφαλμένη τὴν διάκριση ποὺ κάνει ὁ Νὸκ μεταξὺ Ὑπολείμματος καὶ μαζῶν, ἐπὶ τῇ βάση τοῦ μεγέθους τῶν διανοητικῶν ἱκανοτήτων. Δὲν βλέπω τί ἄλλο ἀπὸ τὸν ρασιοναλισμὸ θὰ μποροῦσε νὰ διαβρώσει ἀκόμα καὶ τὶς πιὸ ὀφθαλμοφανεῖς ἠθικὲς ἀρχές. Ὄχι, εἶναι ἀλήθεια ὅτι ὁ ρασιοναλισμὸς δὲν τέθηκε σὲ αὐτὴ τὴν χρήση κατ᾿ ἀνάγκη· τελικὰ ὅμως ἔτσι λειτούργησαν τὰ πράγματα.

Ἡ σωστὴ διάκριση δὲν ἀναφέρεται στὶς διανοητικὲς δυνάμεις τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀλλὰ στὴν προαίρεσή του: στὸ ναί, ἢ τὸ ὄχι ποὺ θὰ πεῖ ὁ ἄνθρωπος στὸν Θεὸ ὅπως αὐτὸ ἐκπηγάζει βαθιὰ μέσα ἀπὸ τὴν καρδιά του. Ἀναφέρεται στὴ διάθεση τοῦ ἀνθρώπου νὰ ἑνωθεῖ ἢ νὰ ἀποκοπεῖ ὀντολογικὰ ἀπὸ τὸν Θεό· ἀντίστοιχα, νὰ ἀποκοπεῖ ἢ νὰ ἑνωθεῖ μὲ τὰ ἐγκόσμια. Ὅταν ἐπιλέξει νὰ ἀποκοπεῖ ἀπὸ τὸν Θεό, τότε πράγματι μένει μόνος μὲ τὶς δικές του φυσικὲς δυνάμεις, τὶς δικές του διανοητικὲς ἱκανότητες, τὴ δική του δύναμη βούλησης, τὶς δικές του ἐπιθυμίες. Προφανῶς, σὲ αὐτὸ τὸ ἐπίπεδο εἶναι ποὺ ὁ Νὸκ ξεχωρίζει τὸ «Ὑπόλειμμα» ἀπὸ τὸν κοινὸ ἄνθρωπο. Μόνο ποὺ αὐτὸ δὲν λέγεται Ὑπόλειμμα στὴ γλώσσα τοῦ Ἡσαΐα. Ὁ ἄνθρωπος τοῦ Ὑπολείμματος εἶναι ἑνωμένος μὲ τὸν Θεό, γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ δὲν εἶναι μόνος, δὲν σκέφτεται μόνος, οὔτε βούλεται μόνος, οὔτε ἐπιθυμεῖ μόνος. Τὸ Ἅγιο Πνεῦμα δρᾶ κατ᾿ εὐθείαν στὴν καρδιά του, καὶ δι᾿ αὐτῆς τῆς ἐνέργειας εἶναι ποὺ ὁ ἄνθρωπος γνωρίζει καὶ πληροφορεῖται. Τὸ τί καταλαβαίνει μὲ τὴν διάνοιά του ἔρχεται μᾶλλον σὲ δεύτερη μοίρα.

Ὁ ἴδιος ὁ προφήτης συχνὰ δὲν καταλαβαίνει αὐτὸ ποὺ ἐν πνεύματι λέει. Ἐπιπρόσθετα, τὸ Πνεῦμα ἀκολουθεῖ τοὺς λόγους τοῦ προφήτη σὲ κάθε ἀγαθὴ καρδιά. Ἀρκεῖ ἐδῶ νὰ θυμηθοῦμε τὴν παραβολὴ τοῦ σπορέως. Ἡ ἀγαθὴ γῆ εἶναι ἡ καρδιὰ μὲ τὴν καλὴ προαίρεση. Διαφορετικὰ ὁ ἄνθρωπος θὰ πρέπει πρῶτα νὰ καταλάβει μὲ τὴ διάνοιά του, μὲ τὸ λογικό του, πράγματα ποὺ ἐν πολλοῖς ὑπερβαίνουν τὶς δυνάμεις του.

Κατὰ τὴν Ἁγία Γραφή, ὁ Θεὸς ἀποκαλύπτεται σὲ ὅλους. Ἀλλὰ δὲν ἔχουν ὅλοι οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὴ δυνατότητα νὰ ἀντιληφθοῦν τὴν ἀποκάλυψη τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἡ δυνατότητα αὐτὴ ἐνεργοποιεῖται μόνο διὰ τῆς θετικῆς προαιρέσεως. Δὲν εἶναι οἱ διανοητικὲς ἱκανότητες ποὺ φταῖνε. Δὲν ἔχουν περισσότερη λογικὴ αὐτοὶ ποὺ δὲν πιστεύουν ἀπὸ αὐτοὺς ποὺ πιστεύουν. Τώρα, ἀκριβῶς ἐπειδὴ ὁ Θεὸς γνωρίζει τὴν προαίρεση τοῦ κάθε ἀνθρώπου, γνωρίζει ἐκ τῶν προτέρων καὶ τὸ ποιὸς θὰ τὸν ἀκούσει καὶ ποιὸς ὄχι. Ὅπως, ἂς ποῦμε, ἕνας ἐπιστήμονας ποὺ ξέρει ἐκ τῶν προτέρων ποιοὶ μποροῦν νὰ καταλάβουν μιὰ ἐργασία ποὺ δημοσιεύει, καὶ ἄρα, ποιοὶ πραγματικὰ μποροῦν νὰ ὠφεληθοῦν ἀπὸ αὐτή. Αὐτὸς εἶναι ὁ λόγος γιὰ τὸν ὁποῖο ὁ Θεὸς προειδοποιεῖ τὸν Ἡσαΐα ὅτι ἡ μεγάλη πλειοψηφία τῶν Ἑβραίων δὲν θὰ δώσει προσοχὴ στὸ μήνυμά του. Δὲν θὰ δώσει προσοχὴ διότι δὲν πληροφορεῖται πραγματικὰ τίποτα ἀπὸ αὐτὸ στὴν καρδιά.

Δὲν μποροῦμε ἐδῶ νὰ ἀφήσουμε ἀσχολίαστο τὸ γεγονὸς ὅτι ἔμμεσα ὁ Νὸκ θεωρεῖ τὸν ἑαυτό του προφήτη! Ἀλλὰ ποιανοῦ Θεοῦ; Τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ του; Τῆς ἱστορικῆς παράδοσης; Τῆς ἐπιστήμης; Τῆς φύσης; Δὲν ἀμφιβάλλω γιὰ τὸ ὅτι συνειδητὰ δὲν θέλει νὰ εἶναι λαϊκιστής. Πιστεύω στὴν ἀληθινὴ ἀγωνία του γιὰ τὴν φθορὰ τῶν ἀξιῶν. Παρὰ ταῦτα δὲν ξεπερνάει τὸ κοσμικὸ ἐπίπεδο καὶ μιλάει ὡς ἕνας καλός, εἰλικρινής, καλλιεργημένος, καὶ εὐφυὴς ἄνθρωπος. Σύμφωνα ὅμως μὲ αὐτὰ ποὺ εἶπα παραπάνω, ἂν καὶ δὲν εἶναι καὶ δὲν θέλει νὰ εἶναι λαϊκιστής, ἀνήκει στὴ μεγάλη ἁλυσίδα τῆς διανόησης, ἡ ὁποία τελικὰ ἐκ τῶν πραγμάτων καταλήγει στὸν λαϊκισμό.

Ἀκόμα χειρότερα, ὅταν ὁ συγγραφέας ἀποδίδει στὸν προφήτη ἐφευρετικότητα, περιέργεια, δικές του σκέψεις, τυχαιότητα, πράγματα δηλαδὴ ποὺ ἰσχύουν γιὰ τὸν κάθε σκεπτόμενο ἄνθρωπο, ὑποβιβάζει τὸν Ἡσαΐα σὲ κοσμικὸ διανοούμενο μὲ μεγάλη ὀξυδέρκεια καὶ εὐγενεῖς προθέσεις.

Ἐν κατακλείδι, τὸ θετικὸ ποὺ νομίζω ὅτι μποροῦμε νὰ ἀποκομίσουμε ἀπὸ αὐτὸ τὸ ἄρθρο ἀφορᾶ τὴ στάση τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τῶν γραμμάτων ἀπέναντι στὰ διάφορα προϊόντα της ἐργασίας του. Τὸ θετικὸ μήνυμα εἶναι νὰ μὴν ἀνησυχεῖ καθόλου γιὰ τὴν ἀπήχηση τοῦ ἔργου του στὸν κόσμο. Τὸ νὰ μὴν ἐνδιαφέρεται γιὰ τὸ πῶς θὰ τὸ προωθήσει, καὶ θὰ τὸ διαφημίσει, μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ἑαυτό του. Ἂς καταθέσει λοιπὸν ὁ κάθε ἄνθρωπος τῶν γραμμάτων κάπου τὸ ἔργο του, καὶ ἂν τοῦ τὸ ζητήσουν καὶ ἀλλοῦ, ἂς τὸ καταθέσει καὶ ἐκεῖ ξανά. Γιατί ἂν πράγματι ὑπάρχει κάτι καλό, τότε αὐτοὶ ποὺ θὰ ὠφεληθοῦν πραγματικὰ θὰ καθοδηγηθοῦν γιὰ νὰ τὸ εὕρουν.

Τέλος, θὰ συμφωνήσω μὲ τὸν Νὸκ ὅτι καὶ οἱ μὴ Χριστιανικὲς κοινωνίες διατηροῦνται ἀπὸ ἕνα «Ὑπόλειμμα» ἀγαθὰ σκεπτομένων καὶ τὰ ὀρθὰ πραττόντων ἀνθρώπων, κατὰ τὶς ἐπιταγὲς τοῦ Φυσικοῦ Δικαίου. Ὁπωσδήποτε ὅμως ἐδῶ, αὐτὴ ἡ λειτουργία γίνεται σὲ ἕνα ἄλλο ἐπίπεδο. Ὁ κάθε ἄνθρωπος εἶναι εἰκόνα τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἄρα, ἡ ὁποιασδήποτε μορφῆς φωτεινὴ μαρτυρία αὐτῆς τῆς εἰκόνας ἀποτελεῖ συνεκτικὴ δύναμη ποὺ κρατᾶ σὲ ἑνότητα μιὰ κοινωνία. Δὲν μπορεῖ ὅμως ὁ Χριστιανὸς νὰ ἐγκαταλείψει τὸν χριστιανισμὸ γιὰ νὰ ἐπιστρέψει στὸ φυσικὸ δίκαιο καὶ νὰ περιμένει ὅτι κάτι καλὸ θὰ βγεῖ ἀπὸ αὐτό. Αὐτὸ δηλαδὴ ποὺ ἔγινε στὴν Εὐρώπη ἀπὸ τὴν Ἀναγέννηση καὶ μετά.

Μετάφραση, Κριτικὸς σχολιασμός: Εὐάγγελος Γερονικόλας

[1] Albert Jay Nock (1870-1945). Συγγραφέας πολλῶν ἄρθρων καὶ βιβλίων σὲ θέματα πολιτικῆς φιλοσοφίας μὲ ἰδιαίτερη προσοχὴ στὶς σχέσεις μεταξὺ κυβέρνησης καὶ ἐλευθερίας τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

[2] FEE: Foundation for Economic Education (Ἵδρυμα Οἰκονομικῆς Ἐκπαίδευσης). Τὸ ἄρθρο διενεμήθη ἀπὸ τὸ FEE τὸν Ἰούλιο τοῦ 1962. Ἡμερομηνία ἀνάρτησης αὐτοῦ του ἄρθρου στὸ διαδίκτυο ἀπὸ τὴν AAPS: Ἰούνιος 1995. Εἶναι παρμένο ἀπὸ τὸ 13 κεφάλαιο τοῦ βιβλίου τοῦ συγγραφέα μὲ τίτλο Free Speech and Plain Language (Ἐλευθερία Λόγου καὶ Καθαρὰ Λόγια). Προδημοσιεύτηκε τὸ 1937.

[3] Ἡ λέξη nut, καρύδι, στὴν καθομιλουμένη χρησιμοποιεῖται καὶ γιὰ νὰ ἐκφράσει αὐτὸ ποὺ ἐμεῖς θὰ λέγαμε «κάλος» (π.χ., he is a nut). Ἄρα, τὸ κείμενο ὑποδηλώνει ὅτι μαζὶ μὲ τὴ λογικὴ στερεότητα τῆς θεωρίας ὑπῆρχε καὶ ἡ αἴσθηση μιᾶς παράλογης ἀκαμψίας. Τὸ νόημα θὰ ἀπεδίδετο στὰ Ἑλληνικὰ ἀκριβέστερα ἂν μεταφράζαμε: «θεωρία ποὺ φαινότανε στέρεα σὰν κούφιο καρύδι».

[4] Τὸ λεῖμμα στὴ γλώσσα τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα. Χρησιμοποιεῖται ἐπίσης καὶ ἡ λέξη σπέρμα, ὅπως στὸ πρῶτο κεφάλαιο τοῦ Ἡσαΐα: Καὶ εἰ μὴ Κύριος Σαβαὼθ ἐγκατέλιπεν ἡμῖν σπέρμα, ὡς Σόδομα ἂν ἐγενήθημεν καὶ ὡς Γόμορρα ἂν ὠμοιώθημεν. (Καὶ ἂν ὁ Κύριος Σαβαὼθ δὲν μᾶς ἐπέτρεπε νὰ ἀφήσουμε σπέρμα, θά ῾χαμε γίνει σὰν τὰ Σόδομα, καὶ μὲ τὰ Γόμορρα θά ῾χαμε μοιάσει).

[5] Ἐξ οὗ καὶ ἡ κατανόηση τῆς λειτουργίας αὐτοῦ του Ὑπολείμματος ὡς δράση σπέρματος.

[6] Βέβαια, ἂς παρατηρήσουμε ἀμέσως, ὅτι καὶ ἡ σύγχρονη βιομηχανία πλύσης ἐγκεφάλου στηρίζεται στὸ νὰ νομίζουν αὐτοὶ στοὺς ὁποίους ἔβαλλαν τὶς ὅποιες ἰδέες ὅτι οἱ ἰδέες αὐτὲς εἶναι δικές τους.