present troubles, if only because of the extreme moralnmodesty of paganism. As against the vast moral hopes thatnChristianity has kindled in mankind, paganism expressed annattitude of resignation and fatalism in regard to moralnmisfortune, which is reflected in all the reflective philosophies—nEpicurean as much as Stoic — of late antiquity. Nevernwas it supposed that imperfection was evanescent, or tragedynconquerable by will.nThe modern political religions express, not a recrudescencenof paganism, but a relapse into primitive Christianity,nwith the early exultant expectation of the end transformedninto moral activism, and the civilizing transformation ofnChristianity by Augustine rejected. Modern political religionsnare (in Polanyi’s invaluable expression) all manifestationsnof moral inversion — the displacement of Christiannmoral hopes from their natural context in transcendentalncommitment and their intensification in the resultant spiritualnvacuum.nM odernnpolitical faith — that of the peace movementnno less than those of Marxism and liberalism — is thenprice we pay for the Christian overrefinement of conscience,nwhen the containing vessels of transcendence and mysterynhave been shattered by secularization. Eric Voegelin has putnthis point with unsurpassed clarity in his The New Science ofnPolitics: “The characterization of modern political massnmovements as neopagan, which has a certain vogue, isnmisleading because it sacrifices the historically uniquennature of modern movements to a superficial resemblance.nModern redivinization has its origins rather in Christianitynitself, deriving from components that were suppressed asnheretical by the universal church.” Or, as the same insightnwas expressed by Bertrand de Jouvenel in his book Sovereignty:n”It is a curious thing, moreover, but true, thatnpolitical applications of the Christian idea of men grew andnmultiplied at the very time that Christian theology wasnrejected.” The modern political faiths, then, are vehicles fornChristian moral hopes, orphaned by being cast out of theirnnatural religious home, and rendered dangerous by theirnresistance to any doctrine suggesting man’s imperfectibility.nIn Marxism, moral inversion expresses itself as a coldnfury, an explosive conjunction of moral cynicism withnUtopian commitment. In the peace movement, the apocalypticnconviction of the end of the world evokes an infantilenmoral rage and a violent resistance to the dimension ofntragedy in our present predicament. For let us not supposenthat the peace people have ever dwelt on the delicacy of thenstrategic balance, or the dangers of further proliferation, innany realistic way. If they did, they would soon see thatnproliferation of nuclear technologies, though it may benretarded, cannot be halted, since it is at bottom only anside-effect of the spread of scientific knowledge. Havingngrasped this, they would be bound to conclude that thenmilitary use of nuclear power, sooner or later, is inevitable inna world of some hundred or so sovereign states, many ofnwhich are chronically unstable, some of them ruled byncriminals or madmen, and all of them existing in anHobbesian state of nature in their relations with each other.nThey would reflect that nothing in human history suggestsnthat we have the wisdom needed to use the destructivenpowers of modern technologies with restraint, and theyn/nwould see the problem of nuclear weapons as only onenaspect of the larger dilemma posed by the unleashing ofnpowerful technologies on an intractably disordered world.nThey would realize that agreements for the denuclearizationnof contested areas of the world are unlikely to be keptnwhen the conflict between contending powers over themnbecomes serious. They would even perceive that thenunilateral disarmament of all the Western powers cannotnguarantee release from the danger of nuclear holocaust,nsince we live no longer in a bipolar world, but in a pluralisticnone, in which the People’s China, or Qadaffi’s Libya, mightneasily replace the Soviet Union as our chief enemy. If theynwere able to see all this, the peace people would see the tasknof statesmanship in our times as one of almost desperatenhumility—that of staving off disaster, day by day, by findingnever new stratagems for the preservation of the fragilenbalance of terror.nPerhaps a pagan view of life could tolerate our presentnpredicament without flinching, seeing it as a historical fatenagainst which we may struggle but which we cannot hope tonavert. Perhaps also Judaism, with its millennial experience ofnpatience and fortitude, could sustain a clear acceptance ofnthe tragic possibilities of nuclear destruction, which are partnof our human condition henceforth. And perhaps a revivalnof genuine Christianity, with its emphasis upon the evanescencennot of evil but of this world itself, could engender thendetachment required for wise policy in an age of desperatenperil. It cannot be said that present auguries are hopeful fornany of these prospects. The religion of the Westernnintelligentsias remains liberal humanism — surely the mostnignoble and banal of any faith to have captured thenallegiance of a culture’s intellectual leaders. For liberalnhumanism, which is a sort of pagan this-worldliness denaturednof the pagan acceptance of fate and mortality andnanimated by a delusive vision of worid improvement, is of allnperspectives that least fitted for our circumstance of mortalndanger.nThe sense of apocalyptic mission thatninspires the peace people has its origin notnin paganism but in a mutation of Christianneschatological hope.nNor does Christian culture offer a particularly edifyingnspectacle. Where it has not been overrun by the fashionablennostrum of secular meliorism, Christianity — especially in itsnAmerican fundamentalist variants — has been captivated bynpromises of a technological solution to the danger of nuclearnholocaust. For that, surely, is the real appeal of the StrategicnDefense Initiative. I do not mean that this is an initiative thatnshould not be supported, since the hysterical response ofnSoviet publicists to every mention of it suggests its inestimablenvalue in curbing Soviet ambitions. I refer rather to thenfraudulent terms in which it has been proposed to, andnaccepted by, the American people. It should be plain thatnthe Star Wars program cannot do what its most hubristicnproponents have claimed for it — deliver America andnmankind from the specter of nuclear devastation. ThennnAPRIL 1989/17n