The end of our time

This book is the philosophical fruit of Nikolai Berdyaev’s first-hand experience of, and reflections on, the crisis of European civilization in the aftermath of the Great War and the Russian Revolution. Berdyaev tells us that the modern age, with its failed Humanism, is being replaced by a new epoch: “the new middle ages,” an epoch of darkness, an epoch of the universal night of history. Berdyaev asserts that this night is a good thing: in this darkness, which is a return to the mysterious life of the spirit, the destruction inflicted by the previous period of “light” will be healed: “Night is not less wonderful than day; it is equally the work of God; it is lit by the splendor of the stars and it reveals tous things that the day does not know. Night is closer than day to the mystery of all beginning” (pp. 70-71, present volume).

“The whole economic system of Capitalism is an offshoot of a devouring and overwhelming lust, of a kind that can hold sway only in a society that has deliberately renounced the Christian asceticism and turned away from Heaven to give itself over exclusively to earthly gratifications. … It is the result of a secularization of economic life, and by it the hierarchical subordination of the material to the spiritual is inverted. The autonomy of economics has ended in their dominating the whole life of human societies: the worship of Mammon has become the determining force of the age. And the worst of it is that this undisguised “mammonism” is regarded as a very good thing, an attainment to the knowledge of truth and a release from illusions. Economic materialism formulates this to perfection when it brands the whole spiritual life of man as a deception and a dream.

“Socialism leads to the same type of authoritarian state as Theocracy. … One must choose: either Socialism or liberty of spirit, the liberty of man’s conscience. … Socialism uses a “sacred” authority and establishes a “sacred” society in which there is no place for the “lay,” for the free, for choice, for the unrestrained activity of human forces.”


The End of Our Time (1919)

“Morally, it is wrong to suppose the source of evil is outside oneself, that one is a vessel of holiness running over with virtue. Such a disposition is the best soil for a hateful and cruel fanaticism. It is as wrong to impute every wickedness to Jews, Freemansons, “intellectuals,” as it is to blame all crimes on the bourgeoisie, the nobility, and the powers that were. No; the root of evil is in me as well, and I must take my share of the responsibility and the blame. That was true before the revolution and it is true still.”


The End of Our Time (1919)
Semantron Press, 2009

Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev [Никола́й Алекса́ндрович Бердя́ев] (18 March 1874 {O.S. 6 March} – 24 March 1948) was a Russian Christian universalist mystic and Christian anarchist political philosopher.

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