The Iron Cage

The aforementioned “common thread” runs through all but is seen by either few or none. Hence, true reality is veiled by its appearance. And whatever is visible to the naked eye is enveloped by what Max Weber called the “cage” or the “Iron Cage” of ‘rationality.’ To the modern mind, there is nothing that cannot be contained within the ‘cage’ of rationality or the “Iron Cage” which Weber highlighted. Everything must fall within its grip. As René Guénon wrote:

“It seems that nothing exists for modern men beyond what can be seen and touched; or at least, even if they admit theoretically that something more may exist, they immediately declare it not merely unknown but unknowable, which absolves them from having to think about it.” 

Hence, the idea that an invisible “common thread” could run through everything and then into a “terrestrial pole” which in turn anchors everything into a “celestial pole” is downright bonkers, and this idea essentially slips out of the grip of the “Iron Cage.” Moreover, without such an arrangement, the prevailing chaos and disorder would be without bounds. It is this particular arrangement which will keep everything together until there is an anthropomorphic arrangement on the surface which brings everyone out of the current chaos and disorder. 

As certain scholars have argued, everything that is Western is essentially Eastern, and this has been the case ever since the migration of the Pythagoreans during antiquity. “The sun will rise from the East.” And as Martin Lings noted, there were once long periods of spirituality in human history, and the modern period happens to be a condensed and short one. But most likely, there will be a return to a prolonged period of spirituality after this condensed and short modern period. 

And for those seeking an escape from the condensed and short period of spirituality which has been eclipsed by modernity and the ‘spiritual crisis’ or the ‘crisis of modernity’ which coincides with the modern period, there is an ‘upward esoteric path’ that is essentially superior to a ‘downward exoteric path’ to which many have resorted. It is the ‘upward esoteric path’ which ultimately saves the individual from “that debilitating secularism which has led at once to the destruction of the inner man and the desecration of the natural environment.”

The only real alternative to the ‘upward esoteric path’ for most people is futility and helplessness in the face of a novel reality defined by advancements and evolutions in globalization and technology. As Pankaj Mishra wrote:

“In place of society or nature, the individual confronts a new indecipherable whole: the globe, in which multiple spaces and times bewilderingly overlap. Enmeshed in its various dense networks, including an electronic web mediating his relationship with reality, the individual can act satisfactorily neither upon himself nor upon the world, and is reminded frequently and humiliatingly of his limited everyday consciousness and meagre individual power.” 

Hence, on the surface, nothing could possibly transcend the aforementioned “Iron Cage.” And as Augusto Del Noce argued, throughout human history, there has been a conflict between a “moral structure” which assumes a “metaphysical” and “transcendent” and “supernatural” foundation on one hand, and a “libertine” structure which denies any metaphysical, transcendent, or supernatural foundation to our reality on the other hand. And in recent times, this conflict has only intensified, to the extent that whatever remains of our moral structure is on the verge of decimation and extinction at the hands of the libertine structure of modernity. But when taken to the brink of decimation and extinction, this moral structure and its metaphysical, transcendent, and supernatural foundation can also undergo a revival and resurrection, even if the “Iron Cage” imposes confines and limitations to its revival and resurrection in a visible sense and appearance-wise.

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