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When Logos and Pathos are Drawn into Opposition

Modernity has opened a dangerous rift in the fundamental values of the West.

Aristotle divided the means of persuasion into three categories: logos (logic and reason), ethos (ethics, morality, and credibility), and pathos (emotion). The logos has come to define Western civilization and its quest for objective truth, which has impelled human progress for the last six hundred years through the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and modernity. In contrast, for the ancient Greeks ethos was actually pre-eminent (Socrates was willing to die to avoid sophistry). Logos and ethos are inextricable: one’s worldview or moral code should be logically coherent and consistent, each syllogism sound and testable, like a mathematical proof. Furthermore, ethos is not ‘just’ an appeal to the audience’s sense of ethics or morals, but also involves the established credibility of the sources one uses in one’s argument and, of foremost importance for the ancient Greeks, of the credibility and character of the very individual making the argument. One does not establish credibility of character or of an argument through deception and sophistry; one does so through forthrightness, and in terms of argumentation, through empirical evidence, objective truths, and, where relevant, through a clear delineation of one’s logically substantiated morality.

The Left has positioned itself as ‘The Resistance’, diametrically opposed to all that Western civilization stands for and represents – from the race that built it, to the centrality of the logos and the quest for truth as its primary organizing feature. It is inevitable that when logos and pathos find themselves in opposition, as they must in the present paradigm, logos for the Left must yield, even become criminalized, for the survival of the logos means the survival Western civilization. Attempting to simply re-orient the West is not possible; one cannot just turn a building several degrees, let alone one hundred and eighty. Even if this were somehow physically possible, the foundation is set and the building would collapse. Thus, to extend the metaphor, in order for our adversaries to build on this particular site, nothing less than a complete demolition will do.

The European is the last among equals, a reversed King Arthur weighed down with the baggage of guilt for centuries of colonialism and (often fictitious) genocide.

The demolition takes many forms; superficially, what at first glance appears to be an over-emphasis on compassion, both real and (in most cases) manufactured, has become a kind of status marker – a cache of ‘moral rectitude’ which signals one’s belonging to an exclusive and superior group. This is designed to short-circuit any discussion, no matter how rational and factual, through its rejection of logos in favour of a by-definition irrational pathos. It also results in the warping of ethos, both in the sense of establishing credibility, and in the criteria for what constitutes credibility, as well as in the perversion of our code of ethics, which is (in a properly functioning society) also the exclusive province of reason. In such an environment of relentless virtue-signalling and status-marking, many well-intentioned people will be unconsciously pathologized into accepting not only false doctrines of equality, but even the moral imperative of their own dispossession. What would otherwise appear monstrous now takes on the patina of virtue: genocide ‘supported’ on each side by Critical Theory and post-liberalist doctrine.

The cultural default is one of universalism-with-an-asterisk – hence ‘post-liberalism’; for, as Viktor Orbán stated in a recent speech, ‘The liberal democracies are neither liberal nor democracies.’ Orwellian to be sure. But to quote Revilo P. Oliver:

The underlying thought is simply not that of Western man. It has nothing in common with the logic of Aristotle or Descartes, and if it is, as it appears to be, systematic, the system is that of a world in which, for aught we know to the contrary, the radius of a triangle may be equal to the cosine of its Electra complex. We feel ourselves confronted by the incomprehensible purposes of an alien race, and shuddering we wonder whether Martians or Neptunians, inwardly more weird than any imagined by H. G. Wells or Clark Ashton Smith, may not have already invaded our luckless planet.1

We do not see ourselves in this horrid modernity because it is not a product of our people; certainly, the levelling ideology of Bolshevism has been chained to our civilization like a lead weight. Beauty and objectivity have been cast aside in favour of all that is profane, idiotic and hideous. We live in a deranged anti-reality, where the state religion of egalitarianism preaches ‘equality with exemptions’, where all cultures are equal except our own, freighted as it is with Original Sin. The European is the last among equals, a reversed King Arthur weighed down with the baggage of guilt for centuries of colonialism and (often fictitious) genocide. As penance, we are told that European and European-settled nations must don sackcloth and ashes and, contrary to one line of Leftist propaganda that ‘Diversity Is Our Strength’, allow our homelands to be flooded with often-hostile aliens from cultures utterly unlike our own who impose a terrible price on us. As Douglas Murray explains:

And so the policies that had already made the native British a minority in their own capital city ineluctably sped up a change in the demographics of the entire continent. The ‘dark specialism’ of the French turned out to be the dark discovery of Europe. Promised throughout their lifetimes that the changes were temporary, that the changes were not real, or that the changes did not signify anything, Europeans discovered that in the lifespan of people now alive they would become minorities in their own countries. … What is more, it had all been done on the laughable presumption that while all cultures are equal, European cultures are less equal than others.2

The migrants, then, are not a cause but a symptom of both artificially induced guilt and Western ennui, affluence and apathy. The politicians who allowed this to happen have betrayed us, but it would seem that despite the continued resistance by the native populations to accelerated immigration, and many governments’ indiscriminate granting of asylum, many others simply gave up. They have stopped having children, they have internalized the postmodern guilt complex, and they have turned away from the foundational greatness of their civilization. They have sought satisfaction in fleeting pleasures and set their aspirations no higher than waist-level. To again quote Murray:

Today, if you walk through a gallery like Tate Modern in London the only thing more striking than the lack of technical skill is the lack of ambition. The bolder works may claim to tell us about death, suffering, cruelty or pain, but few have anything actually to say about these subjects other than pointing to the fact that they exist. Certainly they provide no answers to the problem they present.3

The only ‘solution’ has been to seek oblivion through hedonism, to ‘escape’ the harshness and tragedy of life through material comforts and superficialities. Better not to interrogate the essence of existence – the act of which imbued the forebears of Western civilization with the Faustian spirit that now leaves Modern Man, as Douglas Murray describes him, splayed out and badly injured, like Icarus surviving the fall. Paradoxically, for an ideology that luxuriates in temporal pleasures, indeed, has gone so far as to sanctify the profane, the body is decidedly not a temple. For William Gayley Simpson:

On our bodies is built our whole superstructure of character, intellect, spirit, and culture: when that goes, everything goes with it. … I cannot believe that you can get great wisdom and enduring culture, or even plain healthy judgement about the values of life, from a people as shot through with disease as we are.4

Simpson means ‘diseased’ in both a literal and figurative sense. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, previously eradicated and obscure exotic diseases are cropping up across the West’s major metropolises; and drug overdoses, alcoholism, obesity-related complications, and other deaths-by-despair, claim millions of Occidental lives each year.

This is a civilizational crisis, and one whose genesis, intellectually and spiritually extends well before the First World War, itself a grisly eruption of Western Man’s suicidal and nihilistic impulses. Nietzsche first presaged the death of God in The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra in the 1880s; the disillusionment of the failed Revolutions of 1848 may serve an even earlier starting point; and Kierkegaard augured the day when the ease of existence in the form of technological advancements and the like would prove corrosive as early as 1846: ‘You must do something, but inasmuch as with your limited capacities it will be impossible to make anything easier than it has become, you must … undertake to make something harder.’ When one ceases to struggle, when one can be ensconced in a simulacrum of reality that is not reality itself; however, one also ceases to be subject to the ramifications of faulty premises with real-world consequences. Just as one’s body grows soft, so do one’s intellectual and logical faculties. Excessive comfort is as corrosive as anything yet encountered by man. It robs us of our very agency and makes us, in the ultimate irony, obsolete, for we are too irrational and flawed to match the speed and computational power of artificial intelligence, too weak and lazy to do the work of machines, and too stunted and numbed to be fully human. This is a living death too terrible to contemplate.

The (post)modern malaise and ennui presaged by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, respectively, had to have been present in their time, or else they would not have been able to perceive it. When, precisely, Western Man fell ill will remain an open question, but perhaps it was the French Revolution and its proto-Bolshevist blood-letting in the name of ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité that represented the first violent convulsion in the name of ‘equality’. Whereas the American Revolution marked the high point of Enlightenment thought and the institutionalization of self-government, the French Revolution provided us with the first glimpse into the communistic killing fields of the future.

Excessive comfort makes us obsolete, for we are too irrational and flawed to match the speed and computational power of artificial intelligence, too weak and lazy to do the work of machines, and too stunted and numbed to be fully human.

This Bolshevist spirit, which we would call Leftism or Cultural Marxism today, necessitates purity but only in terms of ideological purity; that is the only arena not subjected to corruption, pollution, and ‘de-construction.’ Leftism is logically self-negating in its fluid morass of relativism, selling utopian visions while trafficking purely in the temporal; but for an ideology that ignores logic, fixed binaries (including right and wrong as we understand them) and human nature itself, this is to be expected. In one of the Left’s strangest paradoxes (were one to appraise the ideology rationally), the most extreme narcissism and self-gratification is celebrated while at the same time the focus remains on the collective. The collective, however, is strictly defined by adherence to the ruling class’ ideology. Racial identity and group affiliation are encouraged for non-whites, so long as they espouse the proper set of beliefs, but it is absolutely forbidden for all whites unless they are ‘speaking on behalf of’ whites in order to denigrate or disempower said group.

With no guardian function to purge deleterious persons and concepts, and no discernable in-group identity, whites find themselves adrift in a sea of anti-white animus – much of it genocidal – and excessive, nihilistic hedonism. Is it any wonder that ugliness is such a fixture of our daily lives now? As William Gayley Simpson wrote:

Nietzsche assigned [significance] to physical beauty as an index of desirability in a mate and of health and well-constitutedness in a people. Their sense of the beautiful and of the ugly was a deposit of their ‘most fundamental self-preservation values.5

Whites, taken as a whole, have no values of self-preservation; there is only veneration of the mass of humanity, quantity over quality. Quantity and excess may take the form of the increasingly grotesque corpulent bodies we see waddling down the high street, or it may be the lifting up of the mass of humanity over and above those who are capable, beautiful, or otherwise of significant value to their people. For Simpson,

[w]e have allowed our religious superstition and our sentimental humanitarianism almost completely to frustrate the operation of natural selection. Blinded by the fact that human life is of very unequal worth, we actually sacrifice the more valuable to the less valuable. In our folly, we burden the sound and the capable among us with the support of a colossal load of human wreckage. … The cost of carrying all this load is prodigious, and it is growing. If we do not soon reverse the present process the land will at last be possessed by those unable even to take care of themselves. We are following the path of national and racial suicide.6

References

1Revilo P. Oliver, America’s Decline, Sussex: Historical Review Press, 2006 (re-print).

2Douglas Murray, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

3Ibid.

4William Gayley Simpson, Which Way Western Man?, National Vanguard (2nd Edition), 2003.

5Ibid.

6Ibid.

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