Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0-SA.

In The Meaning of History (1936), Nikolai Berdyaev claimed that the world was entering a new medieval age. His prediction must have sounded odd as society was becoming increasingly mechanized, rationalistic, and scientific. But today, as Donald Trump officially takes his post, Berdyaev looks more right than ever.

In the same book (I’m working off of memory here, so no page numbers), Berdyaev mentions in passing the disintegration of democracy which he believes is happening and will happen. Again, he wrote in 1936. Fascism posed a threat to democracy at the time, but democracy in the US, UK, and elsewhere was surely strengthening. What, then, was Berdyaev talking about? And why does the book hit such a fresh bruise 81 years later?

I believe Berdyaev saw the inherent contradictions in the modern, mechanized outlook. He saw that the way in which scientism views humanity leads to the disintegration of personality, both individually and collectively. He saw that attempts at legislated morality (from both the Left and Right) would lead to the fragmentation of the human image.

Donald Trump embodies these troubling predictions.

I’m too sad to write anything else. Go read Berdyaev.

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