Commentary on Between Two Ages by Zbigniew Brzezinski
(From Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, 1971, Viking Press, New York)
Brzezinski identifies two categories on the “left” who are unhappy with communism. One group is the “New Left” who are concerned with the communist neglect of the individual and freedom (whatever they mean by “freedom”). The other group – economists, scientists and “the new managers” – is concerned about efficiency and see institutions and dogmas as getting in the way of social change (p. 81).
He says Communist officials took “refuge in state nationalism” so they became reliant on “emotional factors” which Marxism is supposed to rise above (p. 84).
He has an interesting discussion on Vatican II, the relevance of churches in general, and how there was actually a dialogue between Christians and Communists.
He mentions the “ferment” in Christianity, how there are more individual expressions of religion and a growing interest in mysticism and ecstasy.
He quotes Jacques Ellul (Technological Society, p. 423), who concludes that
“it is far from accidental that ecstatic phenomena have developed to the greatest degree in the most technicized societies.”
He expects these phenomena to increase. To Ellul,
“this indicates nothing less than the subjection of mankind’s new religious life to technique…
“Ecstasy is subject to the world of technique and is its servant. Technique, on the most significant level, integrates the anarchic and antisocial impulses of the human being into society. These impulses take their influence and receive their diffusion strictly by virtue of the technical means brought into play. The ecstatic phenomena of the human psyche, which without technical means would have remained completely without effect, are deployed throughout the world” (p. 91, footnote).
The word “technique” used by Ellul (see definition) doesn’t necessarily imply technology in the sense of electronics or chemicals etc. but it does refer to a collection of methods that are scientifically effective.
It would be worth taking a close look at the quoted section in Technological Society to understand this quote properly, but Ellul seems to make a serious allegation that there has been outside (government?) interference in religion in order to manipulate people.
Actually, Brzezinski on the same page again mentions Teilhard de Chardin as an example of the modern interest in mysticism and efforts to combine science with religion. He doesn’t comment further about Ellul’s statement other than to say that Ellul is emphasizing a relationship between science and religion.
Ellul’s statement may relate to recent research at GnosticMedia.com about establishment interference in religious states of mind. See here (about Gordon Wasson) and here (about Aldous Huxley and others).
Continuing, Brzezinski refers to the “crisis of institutionalized beliefs” as “the last stage in the progressive secularization of life; that is, in the detachment of one’s social existence from a framework of belief” (p. 92).
He also mentions the 1968 “anti-intellectual and anti-Semitic purge in communist Poland” which drove some communist intellectuals to the United States, where they found employment in institutions that studied communism (fn. p. 92).