In Band IV von Toynbees „Gang der Weltgeschichte“ schreibt der Universalhistoriker über „The Religion of Humanity“:
In all the instances of idolization which we have examined in this chapter so far, the idol on to which the adulation of an ephemeral self has been projected has been fashioned out of some fraction of Mankind: a camarilla or a community or a race. We have still to consider the case in which the self is idolized in the shape of Humanity at large with a capital “H’.
This idolatrous worship of Leviathan has been advocated in all seriousness by one of our modern Western philosophers, Auguste Comte (vivebat A.D. 1798-1857).
’The whole of Positive conceptions [is condensed in] the one single idea of an immense and eternal Being, Humanity…. Around this real Great Being, the prime mover of each existence, individual or collective, our affections centre by as spontaneous an impulse as do our thoughts and our actions….The growing struggle of Humanity against the sum of the necessities under which it exists offers the heart no less than the intellect a better object of contemplation than the necessarily capricious omnipotence of its theological predecessor….Humanity definitely substitutes Herself for God, without ever forgetting his provisional services. . . . We adore Her not as the older god, to compliment Her, but in order to serve Her better by bettering ourselves.’
Comte dreamed of embodying his ‚Religion of Humanity’ in the institution of a universal church; but this dream has not yet come true ‘in real life’. Though the atheist French philosopher did his best to animate a lay-figure by dressing it out in garments—at once venerable and familiar—which he ostentatiously plucked from the living body of the Catholic Church, he has not gained the advantage that he expected from his cold-bloodedly pedantic resort to the strategy of Archaism; and in our day, when nearly a hundred years have passed since the floruit of the Positivist Prophet, Positivism nowhere survives as a church with a corporate life and a regular order of public worship, except in England, where it has merely added one more to an already long muster-roll of insular sects, and in Brazil. It is true that a far wider, as well as more rapid, success has been achieved in our time by a younger and grimmer worship of Humanity which is part and parcel of the creed of Communism. The Communist dogmatically and fanatically rules out a belief in the existence of God which the Positivist merely discards as superfluous. Yet while there is no doubt at all about the sincerity of the Communist’s rejection of the worship of anything superhuman or divine, there is a distinct and increasing doubt about the constancy of his allegiance to an all-embracing Humanity. At any rate in the Soviet Union, where Communism is to-day the established idéologie d’état, there has been showing itself, under the Stalinian régime, a strongly pronounced tendency to withdraw allegiance from Humanity at large in order to concentrate it upon that fraction of the living generation of Mankind that is at present penned within the frontiers of the U.S.S.R. In other words, Soviet Communism seems at this moment to be changing under our eyes from a worship of Humanity into the worship of a tribal divinity of the type of Athene Polias or the Lion of Saint Mark* or Kathleen na Hoolihan or Britannia. And this change suggests that Russian Communism, like British Positivism, may be destined to contract to the dimensions of a parochial sect instead of realizing the dream of its founder by growing into a universal church.
Do these apparently unpromising prospects of both Russian Communism and British Positivism portend in their turn a setback to the worship of the Self in the shape of Humanity at large ? This does not necessarily follow; for, while Comte’s dream may not yet have been translated into reality, it is nevertheless still in the air.
‚Il existe, par-dessus les classes et les nations, une volontéde l’espèce de se rendre maitresse des choses et, quand un etre humain s’envole en quelques heures d’un bout de la terre à l’autre, c’est toute la race humaine qui frémit d’orgueil et s’adore comme distincte parmi la creation. . . .
On peut penser parfois qu’un tel mouvement s’affirmera de plus en plus et que c’est de cette voie que s’éteindront les guerres interhumaines; on arrivera ainsi à une „fraternité universelle“, mais qui, loin d’être l’abolition de l’esprit de nation avec ses appétits et ses orgueils, en sera au contraire la forme supreme, la nation s’appelant l’Homme et l’ennemi s’appelant Dieu.’
When a worship of the Self is thus projected on to a human hive or columbarium that has room in it for every human being—’dead, living, and unborn—and leaves none but God out in the cold, does the Self cease to be ephemeral and the worship cease to be idolatrous ? This question will be answered in the affirmative not only by Communists and Positivists but also by the more numerous adherents of a vaguer, yet perhaps just on that account more representative, school of humanist thinkers and humanitarian men of action whose outlook has become the dominant Weltanschauung of our Western Society in its Modern Age.
Is this answer the last word? The self-worshipper who has given expression to his heart’s desire by substituting an image of Humanity for the presence of a Living God in his panorama of the Universe can no doubt proclaim
‚I am monarch of all I survey;
My right there is none to dispute.‘
But is there no bitterness in the boast which Cowper has placed in the mouth of Alexander Selkirk? Is not this monarch a castaway? And must he not pay for his undisputed dominion by living in a spiritual solitude which is an abomination of desolation?
‚Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible Man … because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, bat became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.‘
Carl Schmitt hätte gesagt: wer Menschheit sagt, will betrügen. Der Christ Toynbee sagt dagegen nichts anderes als: wer die Menschheit anbetet, kann nicht Gott anbeten. Für Auguste Comte, den Urheber einer „Menschheitsreligion“ war der große Gegenspieler der Menschheit – Gott selbst. Um „universale Brüderlichkeit“ zu fördern, und die Nation abzuschaffen, bedarf es genau dessen: la nation s’appelant l’Homme et l’ennemi s’appelant Dieu.
Auf das Freund-Feind-Schema Schmitts bezogen: um eine Gemeinschaft zu erzeugen, benötigt man einen gemeinsamen Feind. Ab einer bestimmten Stufe bedarf es jedoch eines irgendwie gearteten „extraterrestrischen“ Gegners bzw. nach Comte einer Feindschaft gegen eine „forme supreme“. Menschheitsgemeinschaft lässt sich also nur durch Feindschaft gegen Gott selbst formen.
*Hier würde ich natürlich aus guten Gründen widersprechen. Diese Deutung ist stark von der angelsächsischen Venedig-Deutung der damaligen Zeit geprägt. Der Markuskult ist ein Identitätszeichen einer christlichen Gemeinschaft und mitnichten das Symbol einer „tribal divinity“.