from Reflections on Violence
At the beginning of the nineteenth century there was a symphony of moaning and groaning that greatly contributed to making pessimism odious. Poets, who really were not always greatly to be pitied, claimed to be victims of human malevolence, of fatality or, better still, the stupidity of a world which did not succeed in amusing them. The immense successes gained by material civilization produced the belief that happiness would be created by itself, for everyone, in the near future. The partisans of natural right are not irreversible adversaries of civil strife or especially of tumultuous demonstrations. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, the revolutionary persecutions revived this myth of the Satanic struggle which provided Joseph de Maistre with eloquent words; this revival largely explains the religious renaissance that occurred at that time. Religions constitute a particularly grave scandal for the intellectualist, for he can neither regard them as being without historical importance nor explain them.