Yesterday I was doing some reading on the religions and philosophies of the Ancient world. I came across an explanation of the Egyptian Ma’at religious / philosophical systems.
“The concept of the State was a necessary corollary in the total cosmic ideal of ancient Egyptian culture and religion. And central to the idea of the state was the divinity of the King. ‘The State was not a man made alternative to other forms of political organization. It was god-given …. it continued to form part of the universal order. In the person of the Pharaoh a super human being had taken charge of the affairs of men….’ In consequence the service of Pharaoh was a religious, not a purely secular function, and sense of duty was strengthened by faith. The ancient Egyptian’s culture was a slave culture, one of absolute servitude to the power and authority of the King…. The fiat word of Pharaoh could brook no opposition. The life of the Egyptian was in the hand of his king as in the hand of his god…. It is not strange, then, that his conception of Ma’at (right order) should be viewed more in terms of what it is not, than of what it is; that he should be more concerned with what threatened to destroy it than what justifies its nature and existence. Ma’at has been established. That is axiomatic. The wise man will live so as to not upset the rule of the right order. He will bow in submission to Ma’at. He will submit unreservedly to his god-king….
Simply put, Ma’at was an order that could not be violated with impunity.
The Burden of God — pg. 34-36
This social order philosophy was known as Ma’at. The Ma’at system, as the quote above indicates was a slave system. In the pecking order in Ancient Egypt all were the slaves of someone above them in the pecking order and Pharaoh was the Slave-master of all. (Though one might argue that Pharaoh himself was slave to a religious / philosophical social order he knew was not true.) The Pyramid thus becomes the perfect symbol of Ma’at because in the Pyramid you have the pinpoint apex of the triangle representing Pharaoh as at the top of the religious / philosophical social order and everything under the apex of the Pyramid triangle serves and supports the Pharaoh apex.
As I was reading the above quoted description suddenly my reading on the Communist show trials of the 1930’s came to mind. Here were many of the Old Bolshevists who created the Soviet Ma’at system revealing their loyalty to the religious / philosophical order confessing their guilt even though they were clearly innocent f the charges preferred against them. All they had was the Ma’at State. That was their reality. They could no more deny the Communist State then they could deny themselves. If the State said they were guilty then they must be guilty.
And though the Bolsheviks insisted they were Atheists it is clear that they viewed the State and the Party as god walking on the earth. As such, if their god, as apotheosized in Stalin, said they were to be shot for false crimes committed against the party then they would go to their execution singing songs of praises.
Nikolai Bukharin (1888-1938) was one such example of this. Even though Bukharin wrote a series of very emotional letters to Stalin protesting his innocence and professing his love for Stalin, in his final plea the Old Bolshevik who worked with Lenin to establish the Soviet Ma’at State could explain,
“For three months I refused to say anything. Then I began to testify. Why? Because while in prison I made a revaluation of my entire past. For when you ask yourself: ”If you must die, what are you dying for?” – an absolutely black vacuity suddenly rises before you with startling vividness. There was nothing to die for, if one wanted to die un-repented. And, on the contrary, everything positive that glistens in the Soviet Union acquires new dimensions in a man’s mind. This in the end disarmed me completely and led me to bend my knees before the Party and the country.”
This is nothing but Ma’at speak. All in the Party / State. Nothing outside the Party / State.
Stalin had become the new Pharaoh (God-King) and all below him would serve him as slave, even if that meant bowing to the Pharaoh’s desire for Bukharin to lie in order to support the god-king’s false accusation.
But shed no tears for Bukharin. The man sowed the wind and he merely reaped the whirlwind.