“Putting Out the Lights”: A Scrap from the Ashes

The Protestant Reformation looms large in neo-reactionary thought.  This is because it saw the birth of the Spirit of Jacobinism, and because Neo-reaction is, on my understanding, reaction against this Spirit.  Unlike the Paleo-reactionaries of long ago, today’s Neo-reactionaries are, however, embarrassed by the absence of legitimate authorities to defend.  The Spirit of Jacobinism has now carried all before it, and one cannot really stand up for Throne and Altar after Lenin has taken the Crown and Danton has taken the Crozier.

This is why neo-reactionary thinkers spend so much time poking through the ashes, trying to understand what happened; and it is why our project is, at bottom, an exercise in historical demonology.

Well, as a contribution to this historical demonology, I give you here a suggestive scrap that I salvaged from the ashes.  It is the story of something that happened on the banks of the River Thames, one winter evening in 1648.  I found it in Clement Walker’s Anarchia Anglicana [Anarchy in England], a book published one year later.   In it we witness the Nativity of Jacobinism, which is as much as to say the foundation of the “Kingdom of the Saints” in which we today reside.

(I have added the title and modernized some punctuation and spelling.)


Putting Out the Lights

“About the beginning of Lent last, Master Faucet, Minister of Walton upon the Thames, in Surrey, preached in his parish church after dinner. When he came down out of his pulpit, it was twilight, and into the church came six soldiers, one of them with a lantern in his hand and a candle burning in it.  In the other hand he had four candles, not lighted.

He with the lantern called to the parishioners to stay a little, for he had a message to them from God, and offered to go up into the pulpit.  But the parishioners would not let him.  Then he would have delivered his errand in the church, but there they would not hear him.  So, he went forth into the churchyard, the people following him, where he related to them that he had a vision, and received a command from God to deliver his will unto them—which he was to deliver, and they to receive, upon pain of damnation.

It consisted of 5 Lights:

  1. That the Sabbath was abolished as unnecessary, Jewish, and merely ceremonial. ‘And here (quoth he) I should put out my first Light, but the wind is so high I cannot light it.’
  2. Tithes are abolished as Jewish and ceremonial, a great burden to the Saints of God, and a discouragement of industry and tillage. ‘And here I should put out my second Light,’ etc., as aforesaid, which was the burden of his song.
  3. Ministers are abolished as antichristian, and of no longer use now Christ himself descends into the hearts of his saints, and his Spirt enlightens them with revelations, and inspirations. ‘And here I should have put out my third Light,’ etc.
  4. Magistrates are abolished as useless, ‘now that Christ himself is in purity of Spirit come amongst us, and hath erected the Kingdom of the Saints upon earth. Besides, they are tyrants and oppressors of the Liberty of the Saints, and tie them to laws and ordinances, mere human inventions. And here I should have put,’ etc.
  5. Then putting his hand into his pocket, and pulling out a little Bible, he shewed it open to the people, saying, ‘Here is a book you have in great veneration, consisting of two parts, the Old and New Testament. I must tell you, it is abolished. It contains beggarly rudiments, milk for babes. But now Christ is in glory amongst us, and imparts a fuller measure of his Spirit to his Saints then this can afford, and therefore I am commanded to burn it before your faces.’  So, taking the candle out of his lantern, he set fire of the leaves. And then putting out the Candle, cried, ‘and here my fifth Light is extinguished’.”

The End


Something descended into the hearts these “Saints,” and thereupon gave them “revelations and inspirations.”  What that something was is a question for historical demonology.

10 thoughts on ““Putting Out the Lights”: A Scrap from the Ashes

  1. Pingback: “Putting Out the Lights”: A Scrap from the Ashes | @the_arv

  2. The Second-Century Gnostics also hated the Old Testament and would have abolished it. The things that Celsus says about Christians in The True Doctrine are in every case in parallel with, and anticipatory of, what the contemporary Left says about anything not itself. When you began using the adjective “woke” a few months ago, I had no idea of its origin or usage. And it baffled me. I get it now: Lefties believe themselves to have awakened, so that their convictions are “woke” while everyone else’s are phantasmal, retrograde — and evil. But “woke” is what all Gnostics have called themselves since the Second Century. Put “woke” together with the the S-J-W idea that the “woke” are the ninety-nine percent, or at any rate the vanguard of the ninety-nine per cent, and that if they can only get rid of the recalcitrant one per cent, utopia will appear: Put those things together, I say, and you have, precisely, the contemporary chapter of Jacobinism. “We are the enlightened,” the enlightened say to themselves; “and the wicked one per cent can hang from the gibbet.” The Left might be a suicide cult, but it is also a homicide cult; that is to say, it is a resurgence of thuggery and human sacrifice.

    There is a poster, vaguely anti-Trump (but what isn’t nowadays), that most of my departmental colleagues scotch-taped to their office doors back at the beginning of the semester. It is crudely lettered, pretending “to welcome” — well — “everyone.” It offers a list of “everyone”: The usual alphabet soup is welcome; the “Muslima” (note the feminine form) is welcome; the “disabled” are welcome; the rainbow of colors is welcome; Hindus are welcome; but the names Jew and Christian are conspicuously, and I would guess deliberately, absent. The poster, which practically cries its own tears of offended righteousness, poses as (yes, yes, yes — wait for it) inclusive! But it is quite the opposite. It is expulsory in its DNA. It has another word for its expulsory inclusiveness. It is “intersectional.” The Oedipus myth tells us what happens at the intersection. One self-righteous bastard kills the other self-righteous bastard.

  3. The metaphor of waking from dreams is too natural for it to be the exclusive property of any one group, but the Right tends to make it sound like coming out from under hypnosis, or waking up after a bender (eg. the whole “red pill” meme). Waking up on the Right is always sobering, and very often depressing. Waking up on the left is intoxicating and exhilarating because one is suddenly persuaded that mankind has all sorts of unrealized possibilities. But then, as you say, this quickly turns to rage against the people who have hidden these possibilities and still stand in the way of their realization. As far as I can see, to be Woke is to have been inducted into Voegelin’s second reality.

  4. Pingback: “Putting Out the Lights”: A Scrap from the Ashes | Reaction Times

  5. I think the unrealized possibilities felt after waking up for the left are the energies released from shattering forms where they have been safely conserved. Unfortunately for them these released energies are soon dissipated and you are left with the destroyed forms and no energy. It’s like the explosion of a bomb which might seem very exhilarating at first but then….

    • You and I are of similar age, and so we both saw this play out in the cultural revolution that started in the 1960s. At least I did. There seemed at first to be a sort of joyous vitality in the whole movement, but by the time I was old enough to join in, it had turned distinctly sour. Flower power had become a fetid swamp of drug addiction, sexual perversion, and really creepy weirdness. It was impressive when the dam burst, but then one began to notice that farms were being swept away, and in the end there was just a sea of mud.

    • Thanks for the link. It seems he was, like most men, a little befuddled by the fog of war. But at some level he grasped the Puritan tendency, which was ultimately to anarchy. Although the Puritans themselves were often strict, they had no way to stop the slide into Quakerism, Unitarianism, and post-Christian spiritualism.

      • Walker’s story was, of course, an exaggeration meant for a purpose. Cromwell’s government was more tolerant of religious individualism than those that went before or came after him. Quakers, Muggletonians, Ranters (if there ever were any) even Fifth Monarchy men flourished for a time. But James Naylor’s trial and punishment shows there were limits even then. To be a “Puritan” was similar to being a “Communist” in that both were not current states but aspirations attainable only under strict conditions. The Restoration brought back orthopraxy and demands for conformity that in some regards are still not relaxed.

      • All of these titles have fuzzy boundaries–so fuzzy that one can define these groups out of existence. That’s my take on the Ranter question. Obviously much that was written against them was intended to make them into bogymen, but there were certainly men in England who had the general behaviors and beliefs attributed to Ranters. Quaker and Puritan were much the same. Likewise your example of Communist. I know several people who I think one could fairly describe as communists, but who would themselves indignantly reject the name.

        My interest in Walker’s story is its reflection of “third age” thinking, which Voegelin taught me to see as fundamental to Modernity. His “Kingdom of the Saints” in unmediated communion with the Godhead is to my mind the origin of today’s liberal clerisy. There are also details in the story that make it likely that the story is true, and not just a “hairy man story” invented to scare the faithful. The named location, obviously, but also the fact that the solder’s plan with the candles didn’t work. If the story were invented, the storyteller would not have denied himself the dramatic effect of snuffing each candle out.


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