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the revolt of angels

August 5, 2012

Just discovered this literary gem from China Miéville’s list of 50 fantasy and science fiction works that socialists should read. I’m surprised I haven’t read it already considering its main themes, which include anti-authoritarianism, Gnosticism, Satan as a free-thinking, humanitarian revolutionary, and an ending evoking the likes of Leo Tolstoy (esp. his letter, “To the Working People“) and the Buddha (e.g., SN 3.15 and SN 3.23), who both advised against neglecting the evil lurking in our hearts and minds in the pursuit of challenging evil in the world since, in their view, external manifestations of evil can never truly be conquered if we don’t also seek to eradicate the seeds of evil present within ourselves. A bit dated, but still a humorous and witty piece of satire.

To some extent, I think one can even compare the spirit of Ialdabaoth (characterized by jealous, violent, quarrelsome, and greedy tendencies) in The Revolt of Angels — along with Tolstoy’s “causes of the wretchedness of [the working people’s] position” and the Buddha’s three qualities of the world that “arise for harm, stress, and discomfort” — to the deeply ingrained psychological roots underlying the Marxian concept of false consciousness (i.e., the “ideology dominating the consciousness of exploited groups and classes which at the same time justifies and perpetuates their exploitation”) in the form of fetishized greed (rational self-interest) and competition that also serve to help support the cycle of reactionary violence of people against revolutionary activity and thought, even if the ideas of all three are ultimately more conservative and idealistic than revolutionary from a historical materialist perspective.

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