- 1.How One Steps Over – Part 1
- 2.How One Steps Over – Part 2
Both contemplation and action are needed to reconstitute a true metaphysics in Modernity.
Modernity and Lawfare
Thus far we have identified what we believe to be the main strategy by which modernity seeks to erode the metaphysical foundations of European man and his civilization. This has been conducted with the aid of Monika Hamilton’s breakdown of the shattering of metaphysics. However, as was stated at the beginning, thus far an explicit definition has not been given for ‘modernity’. By now it should be clear what modernity ‘feels’ like, with allusions to its mechanical, material, and technical character. Given this, we may state that when one refers to, or invokes, modernity, one is calling attention to the soulless, material, anti-spiritual state of affairs of the current age. It is an age defined by its extreme technical and analytical lingua franca with respect to the inner workings of both man and his habitat. To be modern is simply to be a machine or a cog within a larger machine; it is to see oneself and others as such. This machine may be understood as conceptual, actual, or both. Indeed, this mechanical metaphor was brought into usage by Thomas Hobbes with his beginning statements in Leviathan, as well as by René Descartes.1 Modernity is anti-transcendent. That is, modernity discourages understandings of one’s existence which extend beyond the merely mortal and merely material. Modernity is thus the age where those who exist within it exist as cogs, as machines, and as things which must be tinkered with and altered in order that they may become part of a seamless functional device and division, much like gears in the watchmaker’s watch, or the watch itself as a finished product. This process and concluding state of existence is best described in Waldgang. Jünger observes,
The hopeless encirclement of man has been long in the preparation, through theories that strive for a logical and seamless explanation of the world and go hand in hand with technical development.2
Here Jünger identifies rationality and unified scientific explanation (‘theories’) of the world as the cause of man’s dangerous predicament. This would be that which is opposed to, or, rather, stands in opposition to, a non-rational non-materialistic explanation of the world. The ‘technical development’ which ‘goes hand in hand’ with the ‘logical and seamless explanation of the world’ are those mechanical and technical worldviews which produced the means necessary and able to fight the brutal first and second European Civil Wars in the ways they were fought, as well as all those technologies which sprang forth afterwards. Jünger claims this process begins first with a ‘rational encirclement’ of the opponent (man), then with a ‘societal encirclement’, and finally with his extermination. This three-part process is eerily similar to Hamilton’s breakdown of the shattering of metaphysics. The final sentence from section 10 of Waldgang gives us a clue as to how, and through which medium, this ‘encirclement’ and then ‘extermination’ will occur:
No more desperate fate exists than getting mixed up in a process where the law has been turned into a weapon.3
One need merely open one’s eyes and turn one’s attention to the use and abuse of European law to see the prophetic nature of this statement by Jünger. Indeed, on a daily basis one may see how European law has been inverted; rather than a system to protect Europeans it has instead become one which now attacks Europeans in their own lands in order to shove them aside to make room for those who have no cultural, historical, or ethnic ties to said laws. In modern tongue this is known as ‘lawfare’. And it is deadly. To understand its origin, we must travel back in time to 1958 and the Harvard Law Review.
In 1958 Harvard Law Review published what would later become known as the initial argument in the ‘Hart vs. Fuller’ debate.4 This was a debate which put the final nail in the coffin of law derived and created on the basis of natural theory – or Natural Law theory. It was a debate between H. L. A. Hart – a Jewish Academic who, after working for MI5 during the Second World War and tasked with rooting out Soviet spies, settled on a career as an academic legal theorist – and Lon Fuller.5 Legal positivism, to put it bluntly, is to law and cultural tradition what modernity is to metaphysics. The entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes legal positivism as an understanding that ‘existence and content of laws depends on social fact and not on its merits’.6 In other words, the moral goodness of laws are not what determines their existence, but rather ‘specific structures of governance’ determines whether laws exist. Further,
The fact that a policy would be just, wise, efficient or prudent is never sufficient reason for thinking that it is actually the law, and the fact that it is unjust, unwise, inefficient or imprudent is never sufficient reason for doubting it. … Law is a matter of what has been posited … as we might say in a more modern idiom, positivism is the view that law is a social construction. … Legal positivism’s importance, however, is not confined to the philosophy of law. It can be seen throughout social theory, particularly in the works of Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and also (though here unwittingly) among many lawyers, including the American ‘legal realists’ and most contemporary feminist scholars.
Positivism thus has a long history in utilitarian thought, and its roots can be found in Jeremy Bentham and John Austin’s writings on utilitarian theory and law. Hart’s paper goes through pains to make this clear in his attempt to defend legal positivism by elucidating the positions and confusions associated with positivism because of its affinity and historical lineage with utilitarian thought,
I shall present the subject as part of the history of an idea. At the close of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth the most earnest thinkers in England about legal and social problems and the architects of great reforms were the great Utilitarians.7
What the ‘great utilitarians’ were arguing for was the ‘separation of law as it is and law as it ought to be’.8 In clearer terms, they were arguing for the separation of law from our ideas about how law should reflect what we hold to be morally normative. Continuing with the metaphor, what this theory, and these men, demand is the shattering through atomization of culturally informed desirable behaviour, by unseating this culturally informed desirable behaviour from its modern form of codified rules of interaction between community members (i.e. law). To be clear, the claim being made is that what we understand today as ‘Law’ is none other than the codified and culturally inherited rules passed down to us by our ancestors – a passing down of ordered rule which came at considerable cost and bloodshed. Law, in Europe, is one of the many manifestations of our unique cultural and genetic legacy as well as a living historical organism connecting us to our past. It is this which positivism, utilitarian theories of law, and men like H. L. A. Hart are trying to, and indeed have, destroyed. Hart writes,
What both Bentham and Austin were anxious to assert were the following two simple things: first, in absence of an expressed constitutional or legal provision, it could not follow from the mere fact that a rule violated standards of morality that it was not a rule of law; and, conversely, it could not follow from the mere fact that a rule was morally desirable that it was a rule of law.9
In other words, if there does not exist some explicit document stating as much, there can be no logical or other kind of entailment that, solely on the basis that some rule violates one’s (or one’s community’s) held moral values, this violation of these moral values denies the rule its status as a rule. The opposite is also true: that just because some rule falls in line with what one, or what one’s community, holds to be morally appropriate, it cannot be considered a ‘rule of law’. In essence what the utilitarian, and by extension the positivist, project entails is the eradication of the organic link between culture and morals on the one hand and the connection to the explicitly codified governmental structures of social cohesion associated with culture and morality on the other. One might appropriately term this the bureaucratizing of society.
Ironically, in criticizing the ‘threadbare’ account of a legal system when addressing another area of utilitarian legal theory – that of command theory – Hart claims that what is not law is exactly the phenomenon we find when we look around us and observe what is occurring within the legal systems of our own countries:
Thus law is the command of the uncommanded commanders of society – the creation of the legally untrammelled will of the sovereign who is by definition above the law. It is easy to see that this account of a legal system is threadbare. One can also see why it might seem that its inadequacy is due to the omission of some essential connection with morality. … [It] is like that of a gunman saying to his victim, “Give me your money or your life.” The only difference is that in the case of a legal system the gunman says it to a large number of people who are accustomed to the racket and habitually surrender to it. Law surely is not the gunman situation writ larger, and legal order is surely not to be thus simply identified with compulsion.10
And yet, this is exactly the situation we find in our own countries today. In our societies, cities, and nations, where our national spirit has been broken and our once-unified theories of existence have been shattered, and where our law no longer allows for the citizen to rally against it under the cries of its immorality, the guns of the State are being pointed at our collective atomized heads. ‘This is the law!’ the barrister and the prosecutor say. Whether the law is moral or not has no bearing on whether it was right for you to break it. You broke the law and thus you must go to jail. This is the desperate fate Jünger alludes to, in which the law becomes a weapon against the commanded in order to maintain their obedience, under the premise that one must do what one is commanded to do, and if one does not then one must be exterminated lest he become an example for others with similar inclinations. This is ‘lawfare’. It does not appear to be mere coincidence that as modernity marches on in its vicious destruction of any and all bonds, one can look to modern structures of government and find a similar system, which at its core seeks to destroy those very things which produce the codified manifestations of morality we call ‘law’. With unified theories shattered and rendered unto their distinct and disconnected spheres, social cohesion breaks down. When social cohesion breaks down, those living within the once-ordered, now disordered communities, look to the State to arbitrate previous organically mediated disputes and previously organically evolved totems of acceptable interaction between community members. The State is all too happy to acquiesce to this request. What we call law today is really just this phenomenon of the State fulfilling the role traditionally played out by local village elders, families, and community members. One can see that as traditional culture is attacked and breaks down, the size and scope of the State’s legislative and juridical authority increases. As such, where spiritual exhaustion and a loss of linguistic tools are the consequences of the logic of modernity in man, we may confidently affirm that the modern litigious bureaucratic State is the physically manifested organism wrought forth by the consequence of the logic of modern theory over man; the Jüngerian Leviathan.
Towards a New Metaphysics
In an age in which magic, mysticism, shamanism, and the like have been banished to academic libraries, only to be studied by historians or the rare curious individual, even to suggest that there is something more than the merely mortal and material is indeed a revolutionary act in its own right. This revolutionary act does not mean, and should not be taken to include, those modern snake-oil salesman on television, in their massive modern minimalist mega-churches, or the old bastion of Catholicism in Europe. Where there is the stench of money and usury in exchange for some promised end you will only find at this stench’s root modernism veiled in a shallow cloak of feigned tradition – religion for the modern automaton. The rapid decline in genuine religious belief in the modern age is simultaneously the product of a two-front attack on modern man by modernity. On one front is the race to the bottom in regards to the average level of education, where an astute observer may recognize the success of modernity in her capricious achievement of equality, whereby all are equal in their average stupidity. The second front is the rapid advance of the technological sophistication of material consumer products, which are created by the top tier of modernity (whose mental acumen exceeds the boundaries of the degenerative efforts of modern education, despite modernity’s best attempts to see to the contrary), and which to the stupefied masses seems like genuine magic. Thus the technological sophistication of modern consumer products allied with the tyrannical system of a leveling education system create the conditions for an objectively hollow but subjectively genuine feeling of awe within the average dullard of modernity. Why turn to a genuine feeling and need for metaphysics and a transcendent feeling garnered through serious religious engagement when one need merely interact with the mystical forces of technological modernity to satisfy one’s spiritual needs? The in-born desire for that Something within us all is readily satisfied for the average man by modernity through technological ‘hocus pocus’.
The first act in stepping over modernity is to admit that a desire for a genuine metaphysics assumes that a genuine and objective metaphysics exists and that the magical feeling filling the void among the average man by modernity is shallow and decrepifying. Once one has overcome this mountain one may look to higher peaks with the confidence gained from ascending the peak of modernity; looking below, one sees that what first seemed genuine and awesome was in reality hollow, shallow, and not really a mountain at all. But the feeling of conquering what before seemed an indomitable mountain, though it now be understood as merely a hill, remains. Through this feeling a new desire is re-awoken in man, and he now looks for higher peaks to ascend. For those with the desire to conquer mountains and seek tranquility away from the chaotic daily life of modernity, this initial ascension will be vertiginous at first, but will provide the necessary spiritual might to undertake the climb to even greater heights. This action is of the kind expressed by Rene Daumal:
Alpinism is the art of climbing mountains by confronting the greatest dangers with the greatest prudence. Art is used here to mean the accomplishment of knowledge in action.11
The men who now seek a new being, one akin to the being of our ancestors, will feel a rush of heroism and internal superiority, a sense gathered from this kind of ‘new’ art. One peak has been climbed, and contemplation on that peak leads to a realization that it was not really a peak at all; now one seeks real mountains fit for real and genuine heroes such as those of our past. The conquering of this initial peak leads to the realization of what Julius Evola described with regard to modernity,
[In] modern civilization everything tends to suffocate the heroic sense of life. Everything is more or less mechanized, spiritually impoverished, and reduced to a prudent and regulated association of beings who are needy and have lost their self-sufficiency. … In ancient societies the peak of the hierarchy was occupied by the caste of the warrior aristocracy, whereas today, in the pacifist-humanitarian utopias (especially in the Anglo-Saxon ones), attempts are made to portray the warrior as some kind of anachronism, and as a dangerous and harmful entity that one day will be conveniently disposed of in the name of progress.12
In rekindling a desire to ascend mountains – both external and internal ones – the mountain climber of modernity has made a conscious choice to come face to face with his own mortality in more ways than one. Climbing mountains is dangerous; every step, and every hold, reveals death’s nip constantly at one’s heels. But in reawakening this heroic spirit, man has now planted his flag in the soil for modernity to see and he becomes like a demon to her. In his heroism and rejection of modernity he becomes the righteous heretic. The first step in becoming an over-goer and a man of the future – in a word, the first step toward leaving modernity behind and beneath you – is to reject shallow materialism and accept the fate of becoming a man who climbs mountains.
Critics at this point may cry out (striking as they do) that such a desire, to be radically anti-modern, would require all men to become what is known as free climbers: men who use nothing but their own body and mind. This is an attempt by agents of modernity to preempt any heresy such as the kind above by framing it in a way that works in their favour through an induction of doubt. Not everyone can be capable of free climbing for various reasons, so why should anyone seriously try? This clever linguistic sleight assumes a man of the mountain rejects technology whole-sale. This is untrue. The man ascending uses spiked shoes, ice picks, karabiners, and rope; man uses technology to aid him in seeking that Something more. The technology is an instrument over which man exerts control and dominance, not the other way around. The technical equipment used to ascend the peak does not degrade his contemplative time at the peak – though this contemplative time would be elevated should he ascend the peak without any equipment, as is fitting for a man of such heroic qualities and capability. No, these naysayers would see no man climb mountains for his spiritual well-being, rather preferring him rendered a slave to technology and modernity.
Simply climbing mountains is not enough, however. The act of climbing mountains is, in itself, revolutionary, but it obscures a more radical mentality of the future-man, whose specific desires drive him to such a revolutionary act. Mountain climbing for the sake of records or as a kind of modern bourgeois medal of accomplishment paraded before others at dinner parties is not the kind of mentality spoken of here. The mentality required is one best illustrated by Søren Kierkegaard,
So I smoked again, and then suddenly this thought flashed through my mind: You must do something, but since with your limited abilities it will be impossible to make anything easier than it has become, you must, with the same humanitarian enthusiasm as the others, take it upon yourself to make something more difficult. This notion pleased me immensely, and at the same time it flattered me to think that I would be loved and esteemed for this effort by the whole community, as well as any. For when all join together in making everything easier in every way, there remains only one possible danger, namely, that the ease becomes so great that it becomes altogether too easy; then there will be only one lack remaining, if not yet felt, when people come to miss the difficulty. Out of love for humankind, and from despair over my embarrassing situation, having accomplished nothing, and being unable to make anything easier than it had already been made, and out of a genuine interest in those who make everything easy, I conceived it as my task everywhere to create difficulties.13
Humanitarian leanings and the naïve sentiment expressed that one will be loved for creating difficulties aside, the general sentiment expressed by Kierkegaard in this quote is of a higher type not found in your average man of the masses. Even Kierkegaard’s humanitarian desires could be said, in a way, to be quite aristocratic. This desire to make difficulties, not just for one’s self – though this is of primary importance for the men of the mountain – but for others as well is the kind of radical anti-modern mentality necessary for a future metaphysics and a future consciousness. All that was traditionally quite natural – close-knit communities, strong familial ties, an iron will towards meeting one’s fate, etc. – are now difficult. Modernity has inverted the health and spiritual vigor of our ancestors’ time, making an appeal and approach to these mountains themselves radically difficult. These are difficult things which require a penchant for the difficult. Those stuck still within the modern anti-metaphysics will see this desire for the difficult as perverse and daemonic. They will be unable to comprehend it because comprehension is something they lack. But for those who still have even a flicker of their ancestral spirit left inside them, they will be attracted to men such as themselves – though they may stand on different branches of the same rooted tree – like warriors to the sound of battle. These men will form new communities and out of this will arise a new brotherhood of men of the mountains. They will be like a lighthouse for the weary pilot traversing a maelstrom of crashing waves, stinging rain, and howling wind.
As we see it, these two preliminary proposals for traversing across and above modernity are not enough. There must be a third mechanism which unifies the action and the attitude which creates an outer and inner psychophysical future-man. Radical and berserk action cannot be sustained indefinitely and even in bursts is only warranted on certain occasions. What must unify the artist producing his art through action is a contemplative spirit. This is not your Hollywood monk sitting cross-legged with his elbows resting on his knees humming incessantly like a ninny. Men such as this are mere sleepers seeking solace from modernity in a self-induced coma. These men are useless. The kind of contemplation we speak of is one where the mind seeks only the next step, the next attack, the next secure foot- or handhold. It is a kind of contemplative action leading to a climax on the peak of serenity and superiority. At the peak of the mountain, one may reach out and touch, however briefly, the realm of the gods:
The mountain is spirit in all that it involves: discipline of the nerves and body, clear-minded courage, desire for conquest, and the impulse to engage in pure action in an environment of pure forces. … [T]he earth’s peaks which reach to the sky and which are transfigured by perennial snow, were spontaneously regarded as the most apt material to express, through allegories, transcendental states of consciousness, inner spiritual realizations, and apparitions of extranormal modes of being, often portrayed figuratively as gods and supernatural beings.14
Thus we find that men who climb mountains, conceptual or actual, are men we come to admire because a man who climbs mountains is “a human being in whom the spirit becomes power and life and in whom physical discipline in turn becomes the introduction to, the symbol and almost a rite of, a spiritual discipline.”15
There is one final disposition which must be attained by men who wish to step over modernity, and it is a disposition which inspired the title of this article. It is the disposition of stepping over something. To step over something is to give it no regard as being anything more than something which must be stepped over. This is something which, once the requisite prior attitudes, physical and mental, have been attained, will come quite naturally – though it may be admitted that some may develop the desire to step over first and come to those mental and physical attitudes as a result of this desire. This attitude was once described by the late Jonathan Bowden. Whether the formulation is his, or whether he borrowed it from somewhere along his travels, is unimportant. It is the mentality which is required, along with all the others such that the leviathan and paper tiger that is modernity will finally be rendered into a cowering rat, tiny, afraid, and insignificant. For, this paper tiger exists only so long as there is no true and actual strength in Men. At the sight and the sound of the fury of real men this paper tiger that is modernity will shrink, though initially it will lash out fluffing its fur in a desperate hope that its illusion of size and strength will be enough. It will not be. For in traversing and ascending mountains men become heroes and heroes are strong in physique and sound in mind. They will see through modernity and by this act of through-sight they will come to ignore it, and they will ignore also the petulant cries of modernity’s agents. This is what it means to truly step over modernity. But it is not possible without a genuine metaphysics which requires a true and vigorous soul. All this must be committed to and acted upon in unison and simultaneously, such that the splitting of the atom of that Heideggerian being is re-unified into a genuine universal being.
What has been presented here has been simply a preliminary attempt at providing some sound and actual advice for those dissident not-yet-heroes of the anti-modern resistance. This resistance is intellectually heavy, but physically it is lacking. There is a substantive lopsidedness in the intellectual/physical superiority of this anti-modern movement. Some of this, certainly comes out of the fear of engaging in actual physical resistance to modernity, where those with this cowardice seek the easy path of intellectualism and the playground of the ivory tower. Though the fear is genuine the path of action is not. As has been discussed above one need not take direct action against the modern leviathan itself to bring it to its knees. Indeed, an action such as this, where one strikes one’s enemy where they are strongest, would be a serious miscalculation and wasted effort. Men must strike where modernity is weakest and that is where she has reduced her efforts when it comes to metaphysics, genuine being, and consciousness. These ramparts of hers have been left unguarded, for she thinks there is no longer a threat – and in some ways she is right. If what characterizes modernity and civilizations is a desire to build walls to thwart the mountain raiders, then we must observe that while the walls of decadent modernity still exist, the raiders do not. We must become those cultured raiders living on the steppes outside of modern society – both in a metaphorical and actual sense – where inhabitants within the walls of modern society fear even to whisper our names. It is not enough to simply deprive modern society of our financial capital. Modern society must first and foremost be left without our industrial capital – of which our inner essence is the source, and which she depends on above all else. It becomes clear that the very thing modernity seeks to destroy in us all – our spirit – is the thing which drives us towards great deeds and civilizational accomplishments while also being that thing which props up the modern system.
But conferences today on the anti-modern right consist largely of shallow calls for some vague and nebulous resistance, or often devolve into panels of complaining whiners whereby the panels adopt the victimhood status so typical of modernity, all while crying that they are superior beings, members of superior peoples; and in this crying they beg of modernity to not overrun their cities.
This criticism is harsh but it is necessary, and it is not done from a desire to undermine. Europe must become a bastion for men who wish to climb mountains and step over modernity – whether this climb and stepping over be that of the Nietzschean jester or that of the man who steps over a puddle. It is only then that modernity will cease to be a thing of the present. By stepping over modernity and coming together with like-minded men, the new brotherhood we create will bring what Hamilton described as a theoretical no man’s land back into the foreground of the future. The language and symbols necessary for such a discussion and being will thus be cultivated through the actions of men who seek transcendent heights nearer to the gods than modernity could ever grant, since modernity despises even the thought of the idea of gods. In so doing, we will create a parallel community and being, which will rival and eventually overcome modernity, ushering it onto the shelves of history where only those wishing to study it as a warning to future generations will give it a second thought.
1Descartes, René, and Thomas Steele Hall. Treatise of Man. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003.
2Jünger, Ernst. The Forest Passage (Waldgang). Candor: Telos Press, 2013.
4Hart, H. L. A. ‘Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals’. Harvard Law Review 71, no. 4 (1958): 593. doi:10.2307/1338225.
5Ironic; Hart was tasked with rooting out Soviet. His nearest colleague at Bletchly park was found to be a Soviet spy and he (Hart) was married to a card-carrying communist responsible for family policy in the British government.
7Ibid., ‘Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals’, p. 594.
8Ibid., pp. 595.
9Ibid., pp. 599.
10Ibid., pp. 603.
11Daumal, René, Carol Cosman, Kathleen Ferrick Rosenblatt, and Véra Daumal. Mount Analogue: A Tale of Non-Euclidean and Symbolically Authentic Mountaineering Adventures. New York, NY: Overlook Press, 2010, pp. 105-108.
12Evola, Julius. Meditations on the Peaks: Mountain Climbing as Metaphor for the Spiritual Quest. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1998.
13Kierkegaard, Søren, Alastair Hannay, and Søren Kierkegaard. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Crumbs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
14Ibid., Meditations on the Peaks: Mountain Climbing as Metaphor for the Spiritual Quest.