Arktos Journal – Arktos https://arktos.com Fri, 16 Aug 2019 13:13:53 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Freedom, Identity & the Left https://arktos.com/2019/08/16/freedom-identity-the-left/ https://arktos.com/2019/08/16/freedom-identity-the-left/#view_comments Fri, 16 Aug 2019 13:12:10 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7231 Introduction

According to modernists, we are liberated individuals with the freedom to be who we are. We are freed from the shackles of past identities and cultures; we can enjoy our individuality and create our own identity. All that is solid melts into thin air, and this fluidity allows us to express ourselves as we see fit. However, who we decide that we are must fit certain criteria.

The individuals of the left are not even expressing their real identity in the first place; they are quite genuinely in competition with one another over who can project the most fictional character.

Our ability to express our individuality is restricted; a loose term called ‘hate speech’ prevents each individual from expressing his full authenticity. What is ‘hate speech’? Hate speech is speech which hurts the feelings of another, it is a verbal attack on the identity of another individual. Once again, however, the person who is emotionally traumatized by this egregious verbal barrage must meet also meet certain criteria.

I can imagine what the reader is thinking: ‘If we have this radical freedom to express our authentic Being, if we are encouraged to be who we are, why must I pretend to be someone else to avoid possibly hurting someone’s feelings even if I do not intend to do so?’ Simply put, you cannot. Why? Because this freedom does not truly exist, and because these individuals are not even expressing their real identity in the first place; they are quite genuinely in competition with one another over who can project the most fictional character. They are play-acting, and Left-wing philosophers can be used to prove this.

§1

Jean Paul-Sartre, in his magnum opus, Being and Nothingness, describes mauvaise foi (bad faith) as follows:

Let us consider this waiter in the café. His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He comes toward the customers with a step a little too quick. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice; his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the client. Finally, there he returns, trying to imitate in his walk the inflexible stiffness of some kind of automaton while carrying his tray with the recklessness of a tight-rope-walker by putting it in a perpetually unstable, perpetually broken equilibrium which he perpetually re-establishes by a light movement of the arm and hand. … He is playing, he is amusing himself.1

We can identify when someone is pretending to be something or someone. Someone who is genuinely interested in something displays a legitimate sense of passion, but he does not over-exaggerate his interest, he is invested in that passion. On the other hand, when someone is feigning an interest, he overplays, he overacts. You can tell he is trying to project an idea that ‘I am X, I love X, my passion is X.’ But this projection is empty.

Take a teenage male who is trying to attract females. He pretends to be interested in certain musicians, television shows, neo-feminism and so-forth. Females will do the same to attract males. If you ask one of these teenagers about the particular topic of his supposed interest, he will only know the simplest (and most commonly known) aspects of the subject. A more ambitious pretender will go a little further and memorize some of the more obscure facts – desperate times calls for desperate measures.

§2

We can declare with certainty that a large portion of modern Leftists are not wholeheartedly invested in either freedom or free expression, nor do they project to the world their authentic selves. Let us first consider the physical appearance they put before us.

Dyed hair, strange attire, loud and obnoxious attitudes, shirts printed with slogans declaring the most cringe-worthy and decadent nonsense imaginable – as someone who spends an abundance of his time on a university campus, I can say with authority that these creatures are not a rare occurrence.

What motivates this disturbing projection? What part of their ‘identity’ requires these individuals to make this ghastly display? Simply put – nothing. We know that a lot of these individuals create ‘new’ sexualities, genders and so forth. But what need do they have to produce such images? Nothing rational comes to mind. There are of course motivations behind it: the desire for attention, possibly the will to agitate their apparent opponents (i.e. you and I), all masked as ‘pride’ in who they are.

As the herd of lunatics descends further and further into the competition of decadence, normal individuals will grow weary. There is only a certain amount of madness that the masses can take before they are tipped over the edge.

But pride in what, exactly? Why would someone base the entirety of his personality solely on his sexuality or ‘gender’? As the comedian Doug Stanhope put it, ‘if I know your sexuality within the first five minutes of meeting you, I hate you.’ Does anyone truly care who a stranger we have just met is attracted to? Personally, I am more concerned with his taste in literature.

Returning to Sartre’s point regarding the waiter, these individuals are merely play-acting in a competition over who can be most outrageous. Yet, as more and more of them continue down the path of ridiculous attire and obnoxious behaviour, they become more and more undifferentiated. In seeking to project their ‘individuality’, they move closer to uniformity. As they become increasingly outlandish, the remainder of the flock accelerates to keep up; they are in competition. What does this mean for us? But all of this is actually good for the Right.

§3

In every act of rebellion, the man concerned experiences not only a feeling of revulsion at the infringement of his rights but also a complete and spontaneous loyalty to certain aspects of himself. Thus he implicitly brings into play a standard of values so far from being false that he is willing to preserve them at all costs. Up to this point he has, at least, kept quiet and, in despair, has accepted a condition to which he submits even though he considers it unjust. To keep quiet is to allow yourself to believe that you have no opinions.2

As the herd of lunatics descends further and further into the competition of decadence, normal individuals will grow weary. There is only a certain amount of madness that the masses can take before they are tipped over the edge.

Capitalist ‘conservatives’ are not our allies, but we may have a use for those who adhere to an ideology we nevertheless reject.

The Left remain unaware of the negative impact of this limit-freedom which they are attempting to impose on entire societies. Their advocates in politics and the media continue to assure broader society that this ‘freedom’ is for their benefit. Their children will be free to express whatever identity is programmed into them through the spectacle, and everyone is now ‘free’ to be whomever he desires to be. But, at the same time, he is informed that his own expression of who he is and what he believes is now legally restricted.

Tweets and Facebook posts expressing an individual’s personal views can land him in jail; such a one can lose his livelihood and everything he has worked to achieve in his life. He is informed that he must remain silent regarding all things that he finds distasteful; he has no say in his children’s education. He sends his children to school to learn what they need to build their own lives; instead, these children are introduced to the narrative of victimhood; they are told that race does not exist (yet if you happen to be white then you are historically responsible for every bad thing that has happened in the past, even though you are only ten years old) – even though historically all races have engaged in those same actions. Their kids are sent to school to learn about science – they could be potential doctors one day, they could, say, cure cancer – but no, they are told that biology and psychology are fraudulent, that gender is a myth, that genitalia are not indicators of sex, since ‘women can have penises too’.

There is only so much that normal individuals will endure – especially those dwelling outside of cities – and this is precisely why the American Electoral College is being targeted. In cities, where people generally flock in the pursuit of hedonistic inclinations, people are more inclined to accept current ‘trends’, whereas people out in the country remain there because they love close-community spirit, familiar surroundings, peace and quiet, fresh air and simple existence. They are more likely to wholeheartedly reject this parasitic virus. Removing institutions like the Electoral College will eradicate the say of those whom these psychotic Leftists disdains, those who are sneeringly called ‘‘backwards’’ and ‘‘xenophobic’’. As an outsider, I urge those in America to fight not just to keep the Electoral College, but to strengthen it. It may be the last line of defence for the American people.

To close on a broader note, intended for the entirety of the West: Capitalist ‘conservatives’ are not our allies, but we may have a use for those who adhere to an ideology we nevertheless reject. In Britain the Leftist programme of indoctrination that they attempted to install in public schools was outright dismissed thanks to very vocal Muslims who were then joined by saner Brits. Since these immigrants are here, we may as well use what was once a weapon of the Left to batter them. If we can keep conservative Muslims outraged with these programmes, they may be able to help us drive such measures out of our education systems entirely. The more insane the Left becomes, the more useful immigrants may be – for the moment. We do not want them installing their own ideology into our education systems, of course, but we may be able to use them to drive out the Left-wing ideology being implemented at the moment…

References

1Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (UK: Routledge Classics, 2003), 82.

2Albert Camus, The Rebel (UK: Penguin Classics, 2000), 2.

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Some Thoughts on Electoral Politics https://arktos.com/2019/08/12/some-thoughts-on-electoral-politics/ https://arktos.com/2019/08/12/some-thoughts-on-electoral-politics/#view_comments Mon, 12 Aug 2019 15:30:16 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7218 Now that this whole ‘electoral’ business has come to an end for better or worse, we would like to express our discomfort that this spectacle has aroused in us, for reasons which it will perhaps not be useless to offer up for brief consideration.

Before anything, it has been demoralizing to see all these men – all of them without exception totally lacking in any sense of restraint or examination of conscience – hurling themselves into the fray so as to win some parliamentary seat. As regard those parties which are democratic by their own declarations, there is of course no reason to expect anything else. But with regard to a position of national opposition, which is permitted to be democratic, not in its spirit or ideals, but only in the form imposed on it by this period of interregnum (for there is no other way of characterizing the present Italian regime), the situation has been depressing. Paraphrasing an evangelical saying, we can summarize our idea as follows: ‘It is necessary that the MSI1 (or any other party, be it present or future, that is inspired by the same ideas) should have its deputies in Parliament, but woe to those who feel the ambition to become deputies.’

It is necessary that an opposition party should have its deputies in Parliament, but woe to those who feel the ambition to become deputies.

What sense is there in disdaining democracy, even while gambling everything in order to win an office that can have significance, and can be desired, only in democratic terms? And what matters the diversity of ideas – these patriotic ideas on the right instead of the left – when the style is identical, which is as much as to say, when it is clear enough that, with not a few of these candidates, the person is not in the service of ideas, but the ideas in service of the person, as an aid in the achievement of his aims? When these candidates, lacking in any scruples, should feel it necessary to throw sucker punches, using expedients of sabotage against inconvenient and dangerous ‘representatives’, as contestants in the electoralistic arena? And for how many of these candidates is it wrong to suspect that they despise the democratic system in speech, even while striving to attain those advantages that anyone who knows the generic arts of the politicaster can procure for himself?

More: to what extent do they maintain a line of true dignity and severity in that contest? We have had the chance to leaf through more than one of these propagandic pamphlet-autobiographies, written by one or another candidate of the opposition parties. ‘Prostitution’, in the rigorously etymological sense of the word, means exhibition – setting something on display toward the end of offering or selling it, as when one puts up an object in a shop’s showcase. Well, we would not know where to find a meeter expression for the style that we have seen in these aforementioned instruments of personalistic propaganda, and more than a single time. To be sure, in all of this we might be utopists: but in our opinion it is not by this way that true selections can be made, or that recognition of a man can have serious and solid foundations, rather than frivolous ones such as are fit for ‘the proud politics of the vanities’.

Some will ask what, then, ought to be done. The entire system must be changed by banning the wrong kind of ambitions. A party which corresponds to our ideal ought to be organized according to a true hierarchical structure, and should acquire ever greater prestige and strength as a movement, awaiting the decisive hour, aware that, given the present situation, both domestic and international, it is certainly not at Montecitorio2 that resolution can be achieved, in the sense that we desire.

This ideal party must be quite clear regarding the radical opposition existing between the type of the leader and that of the ‘honourable gentleman’;3 it should aim to have and to form leaders, not to produce these ‘honourable gentlemen’, and a clause of its statue should decree the incompatibility of simultaneously belonging to the supreme hierarchy of the party and of being an ‘honourable gentleman’. The ‘honourable gentlemen’ should simply be detached elements, designated by the leaders of the party as ‘observers’ and curators of the petty business connected to parliament in the period of the interregnum. This is our point of view. Nor can anyone who truly says ‘No’ to the present system stand by any other point of view.

What sense is there in disdaining democracy, even while gambling everything in order to win an office that can have significance only in democratic terms?

Returning to what we mentioned at the beginning, it would be unjust not to recognize the exception constituted by those who have accepted the electoral battle, not so much out of personal interest, but because they, after having stood aside in expectation that truly meaningful figures would set the party on the right track, and finding themselves deluded in these hopes, felt it was their duty to intervene.

We should also bear in mind what certain friends of ours have said so as to justify their candidateship: for them, it was not a question of aspiring for a parliamentary seat in and of itself, but of using this position as a means to an end with regard to the internal affairs of the party: for letting others be elected would mean letting others use the prestige they have thereby obtained to make their group or their ideological tendency prevail within the party. Perhaps this is how matters stand. But is the necessity of recurring to this ‘indirect action’, which is itself favoured by the democratic system, not perhaps a sign that things within the party ‘are not in order’?

Now that the hubbub has ended, and the disappointment of the one side and the euphoria of the other have passed, the time has come to see to what extent the premises are in place for a new phase – one which is truly, and silently, constructive.

References

1The Movimento Sociale Italiano was a party of the Right in Italy which was formed after the War primarily by the remnant figures of the fallen Fascist regime, including Giorgio Almirante, who was for many years its secretary, and who can likely be taken as a representative of the kind of dutiful individual that Evola mentions favourably toward the end of this article.

2The Palazzo Montecitorio is the seat of the Chamber of Deputies, one of the branches of the Italian Parliament, together with the Italian Senate. Montecitorio is also where joint sessions of the Chamber and the Senate take place, so in that sense can be taken as representative of the Parliament as a whole.

3‘Leader’ here is the translation of the Italian capo, which comes from the Latin word for ‘head’, and can also be rendered ‘lord’ or, more colloquially, as ‘boss’, both in the sense of employer and in the sense of the head of an organization like the Mafia. (It is used in current Italian primarily in these latter two senses.) ‘Honourable gentleman’ translates the Italian onorevole, which is used to this day in address of Parliamentarians in formal settings. Though the use of the title ‘honourable’ for parliamentarians is fairly vestigial in the United States, for instance, onorevole in Italian is used with similar frequency to the epithet ‘(right) honourable gentleman’ in the British House of Commons, and is used here in the translation in that sense.

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The Enlightenment’s Ouroboros: Descartes as the Father of Ideology – Part 5 https://arktos.com/2019/08/09/the-enlightenments-ouroboros-descartes-as-the-father-of-ideology-part-5/ https://arktos.com/2019/08/09/the-enlightenments-ouroboros-descartes-as-the-father-of-ideology-part-5/#comments_reply Fri, 09 Aug 2019 13:29:54 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7209 The Birth of Ideology

We have at last cleared the way for understanding the wider social and political consequences brought by a man who almost never wrote on the social and political at all. We have so far shown Descartes’ hidden agenda, the reasons he had for hiding it and the aims that he wished to achieve through the use of a new kind of esoteric writing which was directed more at altering the groundwork of society itself, than at concealing views which might be damaging to the same. This Enlightenment-style esotericism, which has been largely forgotten by late Modernity, makes it difficult to discern Descartes’ true project, and makes it easy for us – particularly insofar as we are persuaded by the follies of historicism – to suppose that Descartes and the other early moderns were but blindly groping across a broad new landscape in the attempt to find something solid. In point of fact, it is we who are blind, and they who saw with exquisite clarity their goals and their means. The limits of their knowledge did not lie in what they believed or in what they attempted, but rather in the consequences that their attempt would have on the world, and the Western world in particular; and the horrendous finale of these consequences can only be averted insofar as we understand what has led us to this moment, and how we might disentangle ourselves from its grasp.

Descartes’ work appears to take on the aspect of an ingenuous portrayal on the one hand of his method (with the Meditations), and on the other of a history of how he came to that method (the Discourses). In point of fact, the Discourse is not history so much as intentional fable, and the Meditations are meant to create a new myth to replace the old religion.1 Descartes suggests the fable-nature of the Discourse almost at once:

But regarding this Treatise simply as a history, or, if you prefer it, a fable in which, amongst certain things which may be imitated, there are possibly others also which it would not be right to follow, I hope that it will be use to some without being hurtful to any.2

This noteworthy passage is shortly followed by an explicit discussion of fable and history, in which Descartes seems to acknowledge the limitations of both and to suggest that a wise man will obey neither:

[F]ables make one imagine many events which in reality are not so, and even the most accurate of histories, if they do not exactly misrepresent or exaggerate the value of things in order to render them more worthy of being read, at least omit them in all the circumstances which are basest and least notable; and from this fact it follows that what is retained is not portrayed as it really is, and that those who regulate their conduct by examples which the derive from such a source, are liable to fall into the extravagances of the knights-errant of Romance, and form projects beyond their power of performance.

3

We cannot resist observing that the greater part of Descartes’s more naive followers have followed precisely that arc which he outlined here. Be that as it may, the more important point here is that Descartes was hardly ignorant of the fact that his remarkable ‘method’ would lead to ‘extravagances’ on the one hand and ‘projects beyond the power of performance’ on the other. He wrote with this in mind, so as to curb precisely these excesses. His true method is not meant for everyone: ‘The simple resolve to strip oneself of all opinions and beliefs formerly received is not to be regarded as an example that each man should follow’.4 He describes ‘two classes of mind’ of which ‘the world may be said to be mainly composed’: the super-sophisticated, who will lose themselves in tangles of ever subtler doubt, and the simple-minded, who would do well to cleave to some authority. Descartes’ method is for the few, and not the many. Yet he presents, in both books, a model which is clearly indicated as an example for everyone to follow, and he offers on more than one occasion the tempting suggestion that his method is capable of reducing the natural differences in human gifts to a bare minimum by producing an artificial route by which the truth can be won: the foolish as much as the clever, the learned as much as the ignorant, the gifted as much as the unfavoured, can derive benefit from its use. His method, in its explicit presentation, is thus offered to the many; the few, those who are capable of reading and thinking with care, would see his true aims and would discriminate between that which was meant in truth and that which was meant merely as a smokescreen, a cultivation of new ground precisely so that those few can use his method in liberty, and security and sincerity.

The horrendous finale of the consequences of what Descartes began can only be averted insofar as we understand what has led us to this moment, and how we might disentangle ourselves from its grasp.

The problem, which we have pointed to at least twice in the course of this essay, and which we have called the problem of the Enlightenment itself, is that the few cannot pursue this new method save as the many are made amenable to it. The sophisticated doubters must be given grounding so evidently solid that they cannot dispute it; the credulous many must be given a new religion which will permit adequate space to the few and their use of a new method. Descartes sought to achieve both of these aims through the fabrication of the notion of ‘clear and distinct ideas’, a new authority which would provide the social support for the new science. This is the great Cartesian project, which has been so successful in its efforts that we no longer even perceive that any other worldview might be possible: the new science, which presently is so integrated into our world that not one of us spends a single waking moment of our lives out of contact with it or its products, has indeed arrived at a position of absolute apotheosis.

We have to some extent extricated the true Cartesian agenda from the merely apparent one. Of what remains of his true agenda, we shall limit ourselves to restating once more that Enlightenment, liberalism and science cannot be detached the one from the others; each project overlaps considerably with its neighbours, to such an extent indeed that one is tempted to draw a strict equivalency between them all. Be that as it may, we are interested presently rather in the effect that Descartes attempted to produce on the many, and the actual consequences which followed therefrom.

We have noted how Descartes speaks throughout both of his works of building anew – building philosophy from the ground up. This metaphor is not chosen haphazardly. It is indeed intended with a double purpose. In the first place, it is meant to indicate to the assiduous and discerning reader that much of what he is doing here is merely artificial, the production of a structure intended with very definite ends in mind – a building with walls and windows and doors precisely where Descartes sees fit to arrange them. On the other hand, he also means to indicate a core tenet of modern science: only that which a man has made can be fully understood. This is the oil which the early moderns hoped would unravel the knot of ages – the continued disputations of the philosophers, the endlessness of their bickering and argumentation, the apparent insolubility of the riddle of the world. ‘[T]here is nothing imaginable so strange or so little credible that it has not been maintained by one philosopher or another’; this scandalous diversity had to be vanquished, and Descartes believed he had found the means of doing so in the mathematization of philosophy, which is identical to saying the abandonment of philosophy in the birth of modern science.5 But this modern science could not be practiced by the many, nor even accepted by them save as their native views provided room for it. Since the religious and social beliefs of Descartes’ day did not, they had to be modified.

This modification is the greater part of Descartes’ work, and it consists, as we have seen, of the substitution of artificial pieces of circular reasoning for existing religious and social beliefs or conventions. Since the capacities of the many are strictly limited, Descartes believed that they would accept only those ideas which seemed to them ‘clear and distinct’; and since their limitations prohibited them from piercing into the depths of an argument, the ‘clearest and most distinct’ of any argument would be the circular argument, the argument that twists back upon itself and thus appears to men of poor discrimination to be self-sustaining and self-evident – ‘clear and distinct’. Descartes’ malicious genius consists in his almost diabolical ability to produce such arguments, to given them all the fanfare and appearance of genuine novelties and discoveries, and to present them to a gullible public as though they were intended in all sincerity and produced in all philosophical rigor. These little rings of thought were as bait to the fish of the popular sea, and the fish, alas, most readily gobbled them one by one, replacing their old beliefs with new beliefs, even while they believed they were merely adopting better ways of defending the old. A transformation was thus effected in the popular mind, which took several centuries to reach culmination, but which was implicit from the beginning: no longer beliefs justified by the chrism of faith and the armor of tradition, but beliefs justified by the powers of unaided rationality, are henceforth to be considered the basis of all right social and political order.

At the moment this transformation attained practical predominance, was the moment of the birth of ideology in this world.

Ideology is a curious term. Like ‘philosophy,’ it can be discussed in the singular and the plural; one can speak of ideology as such, or of ideologies in the particular. Yet ideology in the singular, as opposed to philosophy, is utterly contentless. Chambers Dictionary gives its definition as ‘a body of ideas, usually political and/or economic, forming the basis of a national or sectarian policy’. To speak of philosophy in the legitimate sense already indicates certain features of the matter; it indicates a certain concern with truth, a certain will to question, a certain approach to such questions as are broached, a certain attitude and bearing in the face of human things, of social and political matters. To speak of ‘ideology’ in general indicates nothing of the kind; generically, it is grey, arid and characterless. In its special forms, on the other hand, it is diverse, variegated, and often of violently brilliant hue. In the abstract, ‘ideology’ is quite tedious; in the specific, it is capable of being even revolutionary. In a certain real sense, ideology is inherently a pluralistic concept.

Descartes attempted to produce an ideology of the Enlightenment, and was successful in this; but he wrongly believed that this ideology would remain singular.

Ideology, the original work almost totally of René Descartes, has in our day taken the place of religion. It was permitted to do so through the serpentine endeavors of the early moderns. Religion is rooted in tradition; ideology may be rooted in tradition, but may equally be emergent, spontaneous, developed here and now to overthrow and outrage tradition – as indeed was the ideology developed by Descartes himself. Ideology, lacking both the absolute uncompromising dedication to reason of philosophy as well as the anchor of any concrete religion, is mercurial and protean. Descartes attempted to produce an ideology of the Enlightenment, and was successful in this; but he believed that this ideology would remain singular, and either would establish itself as the ideology in all of Europe, or would slowly give way to a more truly scientific view as the religious drive waned and men became more inured to rationality, if not more rational themselves through the powers granted them by an inherently egalitarian method. But as subsequent history has shown, Enlightenment ideology is far from being the only one possible, and the great success of the early moderns in creating this ideology opened a kind of Pandora’s box containing ideologies of every imaginable shape and colour.

We have been afflicted with countless ‘ideologies’ ever since. So many and so prolific are they that it seems a new one emerges each time one turns one’s back on them. Moreover, each ideology wants to be king; each ideology wants to uproot and destroy every other. Ideology produces the ground for a new kind of ideological warfare between individuals, peoples and nations on the basis of the idea – one is tempted to say, on the basis of ‘clear and distinct’ ideas – and at the same time produces a new class of men, known as ‘intellectuals’, who are the caretakers and the producers of ideology, and who have been granted by this same ‘dialectic’ a remarkable degree of influence in or even over society, despite their own often excruciatingly palpable limitations of character, knowledge, ethics and wisdom. Simultaneously, ideology forms the absolute and necessary precondition for the emergence of metapolitics.6

Societies and nations have always warred with one another, openly or silently, and in a great many cases the bone of their contention has been some disagreement regarding customs or beliefs. Religion has famously played a central role here. It is therefore tempting then to see in ideology but the latest expression of the old drama of human conflict. Yet ideology differs fundamentally from past forms of belief, because it emerges from the minds of single human beings (in the Second Discourse Descartes himself establishes the importance of this) and purports to be based exclusively on reason. Its emergence as a political and social power accounts in large part for the effervescence and restlessness of modern times; we owe our modern disequilibrium and our frenetic changeability to the Enlightenment and to men like Descartes.

Given the incredible influence we have ascribed to him, it is tempting to say that Descartes and his brother figures of the Enlightenment were triumphant. But in point of fact, the forces that they unleashed have turned against themselves; the drake they attempted to master after they had freed it has taken to swallowing its own tail in the forced confinement of its cage. Descartes wished to produce an ideology conducive to science, and was successful in this; but in replacing stable traditions and long-standing religions with the seemingly clear products of the mind of single (and often quite mediocre) individuals, he also laid the groundwork for the emergence of ideologies which might run counter to science, which might loathe science and fight against it, which might attempt to undermine civilization as such and replace it with primitivism or fairy-tales based on history or on a misunderstanding or romanticization of history, or else based on the future and an exaggerated and unrealistic estimation of future possibilities, built inevitably around this or that ideological famework. Put in the terms he has yielded us, Descartes replaced history with fable; put in our own terms, he replaced tradition with ideology. The children of this momentous change include such luminaries of modern times as Marx, Lenin, Mao Zedong, the Founding Fathers of the United States, Hitler, Robespierre and a veritable host of similar individuals, both great and small. None of these men would have been possible had it not been for the work of a Descartes.

It is the terrible and sanguinary irony of Modernity his that Descartes’ writing should have gone on to produce the most terrible bloodlettings in all of human history.

In discussing his method, and likening it to building and to city planning, Descartes avers that ‘It is true that we do not find that all the houses in a town are rased to the ground for the sole reason that the town is to be rebuilt in another fashion’.7 Elsewhere, he exhorts his readers to live in a more or less conservative fashion, and at one point goes so far as to denounce the political agitators of his time, the ‘turbulent and unrestful spirits’ who ‘have always on their minds some new reform’.8 Part of this, to be sure, is but Descartes’ caution; yet we must recall that he had experienced war first hand, and had escaped to Holland for that very reason;9 he was a man in solid Hobbesian tradition who valued his own skin and knew with instinctive precision how to preserve it. It is likely that he is not speaking altogether falsely in these passages relating to war and conservatism; his own revolution was meant to be a quiet one, effected through writing and ratiocination alone. Whatever else may be said of the Enlightenment thinkers, their overriding concern with peace is one of the most visible aspects of their metapolitical work. Yet it is the terrible and sanguinary irony of Modernity itself that the writing of such men, Descartes very much included, should have gone on to produce the most terrible bloodlettings in all of human history; and if he himself was satisfied to leave the houses of his native towns stand, they were razed nonetheless, both intentionally and unintentionally, by the nether powers that he himself had unleashed upon the world – the forces of science, of rationalism, of Enlightenment, as well as the reactionary, unwholesome and unprofound ideological movements against these same things, which attempted to supplant science with reckless mysticism, rationalism with blind passion and animal instinct, and Enlightenment with totalitarianism.

We, who are the heirs of both these strands of Modernity, must turn to neither of them in our attempt to transcend an era which is fast coming to a close. Let it not be ours to tear ourselves apart in the fires of a gratuitous war; let us guard ourselves eternally from the error of participating in the chaos of our times by birthing new and superfluous ideologies. We must cultivate, no longer science, rationality, instinct or mysticism, but philosophy and religion. The time has come, and well nigh passed, when it is needful for us to breach the charmed circle of Enlightenment, of ideology itself, and to hurl ourselves hence once more into the dark that lies beyond, no longer afraid of doubt, of dispute, of disagreement, but courageously and manfully aware once more, as all ages prior our Modernity have been more clearly aware, that this life of ours is replete with paradox and riddles that are not easy of the solution – that our existence here in this weird plane is not ipso facto the more scandalous, but instead the more exhilarating and vital. And if we crave stability and shelter, as of course we as mortal men atimes well must, let it not be to the transient ramshackle refuge of some poor ideology that we turn, but rather to the faith and the fortress of our forefathers.

References

1On the Discourses as fable, see p. 5; for the difference between history and fable, pp. 6–7.

2P. 5.

3Pp. 6–7.

4P. 12.

5It is no accident that the word ‘philosophy’ is carefully avoided by Descartes in both of these books; he refers to it in the Discourse only either to speak of his own education or else to ridicule or belittle the philosophers; in the Meditations he uses the word exclusively in the title (Meditations on First Philosophy) and in the prefaces, and no where else in the body of the work. The use in the title telling: Descartes was producing a first philosophy, a new philosophy which was meant to wholly supplant the old. That new philosophy has since arrogated to itself the epithet ‘science’ and no longer refers to itself even in passing as philosophy. This is altogether in line with Descartes’ intentions. Cf. also the names of several other prominent works in the new science: Bacon’s Redargiutio Philosophiarum, Instauratio Magna, Novum Organum Scientiarum, New Atlantis; Galileo’s Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche, intorno a due nuove scienze; Huygens’ Novus cyclus harmonicus; Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Everywhere in those early days one hears the echoes of it: rejection of the old, embrace of the new. This is revolutionary language, and rightly so; for nowhere in all of history, save with the birth of philosophy itself, has such a revolution been inaugurated, as occurred in the first two centuries of Modernity.

6I have already noted in my essay on metapolitics how metapolitics is a strictly modern phenomenon, without clear analogue in pre-modern times. The present remarks can be taken as complementary and supplementary to my thoughts therein.

7P. 11.

8See the opening of the Third Discourse, particularly pp. 17–18, and his disclaimer on pp. 11–12.

9He himself discusses this at the end of the Second Discourse, p. 22.

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To Love Death https://arktos.com/2019/08/07/to-love-death/ https://arktos.com/2019/08/07/to-love-death/#view_comments Wed, 07 Aug 2019 14:19:45 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7196 As men, we are born as both spirit and matter, and to become who we are, we must know and fulfill them both. We must know that our life has sprung from the ever-flowing spring of the Sky Father above, and that we must make the breath he has given us into the unshakeable axis of our own life. But we must also know that he has chosen to tread down, that he has chosen to form a world out of the abyss of death, and that we, as his children of this world, must too choose to face this great maw below us. We must know what to do the day Death finally tears down everything we have built, when every struggle finally reaches its end, and when the flickering and insignificant spark of our lives is darkened forever.

For Death is the ultimate essence of all matter, and thus no act or manifestation of Life will be complete, unless it reaches an absolute relation with the Death it acts upon. And this absolute relation is only found in an infinite and unwavering love of Death. For it is only a violent and unrestrained love which can describe the absurdity, that the Father above has chosen to fall and fill the abyss of Death with his own Life, chosen to let his spirit live through our flesh. And if we want to be like him, we too must know how to throw our Life into the abyss of Death, as we too must love the world below us, and wish to bring it Truth and Order through our sacrifice.

Thus the Right of Tomorrow needs a Metaphysics of Death, a Doctrine of Death, and most importantly, at the deepest roots of our hearts, a great Love of Death, violent enough to make God himself proud. Our will must be as straight and firm as the iron barrel of an artillery piece, our falling bodies must be as tough and terrible as the whistling shell, and when we fall from the skies above, our joy must shine as the final rays of the sun do, when they dance along the edge of the projectile. And when we strike the depth of Death’s womb, we’ll spell the word of God with mud and blood.

Death is the ultimate essence of all matter, and thus no act or manifestation of Life will be complete, unless it reaches an absolute relation with the Death it acts upon.

In search of such a love of Death, this essay will move up through three tiers of men, through three conceptions of Death. First is the profane man, he who fears death as he is nothing more than the pleasures and comforts of his life. Above him is the heroic man, he who has such a great love of Life, that he knows how to face death in a way worthy of Life’s glory. But at the top is the divine man, he who is capable of loving Death itself, and who by his own absolute will chooses to plunge towards her depths, in order to fill her with the light and glory of his own Life.

We should also mention briefly that there is a fourth class of men, namely those who fear life or the fate that life has given them. This includes those apathetic, weak and broken men who are not fit for the struggle of life, and thus choose to turn their backs on Life, either through suicide or by slowly withering away with time. But it also includes men who have done great and heroic deeds but, when fate changed her favour, could not bring themselves to face their defeat and see things through to the end.

It should be clear that this choice of death as an escape has nothing in common with the divine love of Death. For if the great Father out of love has chosen to carry the whole world of Death and matter upon his shoulders of Life, then we who want to be his true sons should at least be able to carry whatever Fate throws at our own life. No matter what pain, humiliation or shame we might face at the hand of our enemies, and no matter how great we fail with the mission we have set out to struggle for, we must never stop striving to manifest the undying Life which is at our core. Not because we fear Death, but because Death has no power over our Life, and our Life can never be fooled to escape towards Death’s seducing embrace. If we fail and are left to the dark claws of an angry mob, they cannot hurt us, if we know that our true selves are Life itself – on the contrary, they can only open more eyes in our flesh, from which the world can see the boiling gaze of our blood, and the glaring fire of God above.

1. The Men Who Fear Death

The fear of Death goes hand in hand with a denial of Life. And we can probably to a large extent trace the fall of Europe, her Traditions and her peoples back to the fact that the European man has chosen to forget both true Life and true Death.

Firstly, by denying true Life, one begins to fear Death. For when man denies his celestial origin, he reduces himself to a bundle of matter and as such, he becomes nothing more than his fleeting sensations and pleasures. He becomes something fully temporary, which will vanish with Death, and as such, Death has full lordship over him, and his life becomes a miserable serfdom under the mercy of Death. By denying Life man becomes empty, and this emptiness will be filled with fear, and no matter how much he hides himself in the numbing embrace of pleasure and comfort, can he never escape the fear that looms above his head.

Secondly, a fear of Death leads to a denial of a true Life. For a man which must always hold firm unto his own good and preservation can never stand firm when fate graces him with one of those glorious moments, in which Life must throw its stubborn love recklessly towards Death. He cannot burn with the flames of the sun, as he fears to become ash – indeed, he can’t even understand why anyone would want to burn like that, and thus he smugly hides himself in the earth, content with letting worms slowly gnaw the wood of his body into mushy dirt.

But he is only a weak and cowardly dog, and he can never live as gloriously and violently as those dogs who hunt and bite. He thinks that he is enjoying a free and worthy life, but in reality he is only living of the scraps of others prey, of the sinews and skin which the proud hunters would not eat. Yes, he who clings to life doesn’t even experience the true beauty and pleasure of the life which he loves so dear – for he has never known the taste of fresh and flowing blood.

The fear of Death leads to a denial of a true Life.

He is scared of the other dogs and their might, and thus he does all he can to scorn, shame and ridicule them. And the day will come when they get tired of him and leave him behind, or listen to him and become like him, or simply die some day out on the hunt, leaving him alone; and that day there will be hyenas at the edge of his flowery meadow, drooling to tear apart the weak and cowardly dog. Because he denied Life, he started to fear Death, and in fear of Death, he could not live; and as he couldn’t live, he couldn’t even protect himself against his own pathetic death.

It doesn’t take much to see that Europe of today has chosen the path of the cowardly dog, and that we too will be torn to pieces by hyenas, unless we once again affirm the holy Life at our core.

2. The Men Who Love Life

In this category, we find men who know themselves to be more than mirages of matter, who know within themselves an unfaltering spark of Life, and in their affirmation of this spark will stop at no danger or threat, and as such will meet a proud and heroic death.

But this category needs a division into one higher and lower tier – those who know Life proper as spirit, and those who affirm Life bravely, but still are mistaken at what their life actually is. As such, the second is situated far below the former, but still far above the profane man.

In this lower tier we can place Nietzsche’s overman, for while Nietzsche spoke some of the greatest and noblest affirmations ever heard, of a proud and violent life of constant self-overcoming, he still identified this life with a mere will to power. He didn’t have the insight, that this fire he felt burning within himself with an ever expanding light, was the breath of divine Eternity itself, and due to that he could never reach a love of true Life, nor a complete love of fate and Death. Those inspired by Nietzsche and his love of the overhuman life, like the Futurists and the Fascists, end up in this tier too.

In the lower tier, we also find the national or animistic men, as they think that Life’s source isn’t the spirit of the Father above, but the people or the race. They love this life, fight bravely for it, and they think that by continuing the existence of the people which birthed them, regardless of which sacrifice they must make, they have reached the greatest affirmation of Life. But it doesn’t take much to see how small and vanishing the life of the people is, as the people still is something situated in time and space. The people can never reach the true and infinite Life of the Father above, and thus the affirmation of life as the existence of the people is an affirmation of life improper.

The great fault of Christianity, that which hinders it from truly loving Death, is of course its idea of resurrection and an afterlife.

But it is also an inadequate affirmation of Death. For regardless of whether they think that they live on through a mere biological heritage, or through a full-blown reincarnation in later generations of the people, they try to escape Death through their children. So even if there have been many great and heroic national man, and there probably is many in the national Right of today who would gladly meet a proud death, they still remain gravely lost and incomplete.

In the higher tier, that is, among those men who know life proper and will do anything to affirm it, yet do not know how to love Death below, but only see Death as a test for Life, we find the heroic martyrs and crusaders of Christianity.

Of course there have been many profane men who called themselves Christians, and who only wanted to escape the Death which they feared through the promise of an afterlife in paradise, but the true, heroic Christian knew that he was the child of an absolute Father above, and as such would stop at nothing in the affirmation of the eternal Life at his core. Death could not touch him, not make him waver, for he knew that his true self was not the broken matter of his body, but the will and love of spirit above – in the eyes of the Christian, it was not Life that was temporary and vanishing, but Death. And when he died mangled as a martyr, or buried in sand as a nameless crusader of the Holy Land, he knew that he had become Life eternal.

But the great fault of Christianity, that which hinders it from truly loving Death, is of course its idea of resurrection and an afterlife – the fact that it only reaches upwards, back to the Father, and not also plunges downwards, to the realm of absolute Death, repeating the love and sacrifice God had shown the world on the cross. The Christians wanted to live by the Father, and not like him. But Christ himself was both the greatest affirmer of Life above, and he who had the greatest love of Death below, for he was the Father himself, and he had chosen to die for mankind, through the flesh of a single man.

3. The Men Who Love Death

We know that the Sky Father is the absolute and perfect origin of Life, and that the world of matter and Death below can add nothing to his glory – and thus we know that his love of Death must be infinite, as he still chose to create this world of Becoming, and let his spirit grace the struggle of our flesh. And thus the greatest men are those who manage to repeat this infinite love of Death, those who want nothing more than oblivion and annihilation as a reward for their struggle, for they are the only ones who repeat and realize the Life of the Father himself.

As mentioned earlier, Christ is probably the greatest example of such a man, as he showed the world that the Father above has chosen to unconditionally love the abyss of Death below him, and that the Father gladly chose a painful and humiliating death, helpless on the cross, if that could bring Life to the world of Death.

 

If we want an Aryan example of men who loved Death, we can look at ancient Greece. For there heroes lived and died who knew themselves to be of divine origin, who knew that they may have been birthed by a mother, but that their true core nevertheless was of the Olympian peaks above. They were the spirit of the sky made into flesh, but unlike the Christians, they did not want to return to an eternal life at the side of Zeus, nor even believed that they could. They knew that all that awaited them was the cruel Death which Fate had given them as men of flesh, and that they would amount to nothing more than sad and hollow ghosts of the underworld – yet they chose to struggle, chose to love Fate like no European man has loved thereafter.

And how they lived! How beautifully they threw their strong bodies against the barricades of Troy and of many other cities – how proudly they painted the sand with their own blood, how joyously they danced into the mangling hail of bronze spears, and how calmly their empty eyes then gazed, without seeing, at their Sky Father above. And what did they want in return, for having their lives disappear under the sun like this? Nothing!

But one should also note that while the ancient Greeks knew far better how to love Death than the Christians, Zeus himself is not as a complete Father as the Christian God. For unlike him, Zeus never made an ultimate sacrifice himself, never tread down to fill the abyss of Death with his own Life, but only upheld the world as an eternal lord above. One could say that Christians had a greater potential love of Death, but that the ancient Greeks had a greater actual love of Death.

But then what about Norse Paganism, where the whole pantheon of gods will tread down in Ragnarök, and sacrifice themselves for the renewal of the world? How do they compare to Christ and Christianity? While Ragnarök has the splendor and excitement of war and glory, it lacks the same depth and gravity of Christ’s death on the cross. For while Christ was the one and absolute Father above, the Norse pantheon has no true Father, but rather many incomplete and all-too-human deities. And while Christ was an actual, breathing man who walked the earth with human feet, the pagan gods are mystic creatures who warp in and out of this world, from some ghostly fairy-world of their own. Christ’s death was the death of absolute Spirit made into absolute Flesh, while the death of Odin is the death of something that is neither spirit, nor flesh, but a ghost in-between.

But this is is not the main problem of Ragnarök; for if Odin was just an incomplete Sky Father, his sacrifice would still be one of the greatest affirmations of Death, and Norse Paganism as a faith one of the absolute greatest. But Norse paganism was severely infected by an animistic cycle, unworthy of the Sky Father, and this defiles the sacrifice of Odin and the other gods in Ragnarök. For they have successors! They fight so that their sons can take their place after the war, and merely continue their reign again, continue their race. They are not Eternity, but rather a race of magic men, situated in time – very powerful and longelived men of course, but nevertheless men. And thus they don’t know of any absolute spirit above everything, but only of the improper life of their god-like race.

One could say that the Norse gods fight and die like we men must do, when we birth sons to repeat the struggle we love – but this is not how a God dies. And as such, the Norse gods add nothing to man, as they themselves are just like man, infinitely below the true Sky Father. And thus it is a love of the life of the race, and not a divine love of Death itself, which lies at the basis of the Norse death-cult. Death in itself was not sufficient for the Norseman, and he needed a reward for Death to tempt him. And by dying bravely, he got the honour of aiding Odin in Ragnarök, and of securing not only the continued existence of the gods’ race, but also his own.

Odin does not love the cycle of Death from above, but is stuck within it – the great and unconditioned Father does no longer grace Death with his Life, but has been swallowed by the great womb of animism, degrading what could have been one of the greatest and purest loves of Death into a mere love of the life of the the race. This of course explains why Norse Paganism is so popular among those today who only know how to love the improper life of the race – among those who can not see, and absolutely not repeat, the great love that the Sky Father has given to the abyss of Death.

As a final example, we could look at Buddhism, as the Buddhists too knew of the animistic cycle that is at the centre of Norse faith, but instead of only seeking to repeat it, knew that the true man had his source outside of it, and must break out of the cycle in order to reach who he actually is. The will to be as unconditioned and unmoved as the Nothingness from which everything sprung, and the radical ease with which the Buddhist shrugs away the whole world of matter, as if it was only a filthy cape someone had put on his noble shoulders – this might make Buddhism into the greatest and purest movement towards the Absolute, and as it is unburdened by the idea of an afterlife and resurrection, far more noble than the struggle of the Christian.

But even then, Buddhism still retains the main problem of Christianity. For Buddhism, like Christianity, still only seeks to break free of the world of matter and the cycle of Death, and does not know how to return, how to lovingly and defiantly give it repetition in spite of everything. Buddha did not return to the world of matter below in order to grace the cycle of struggle with the unconditioned Origin he had found, but only to teach other men the way out of the cycle, to liberate them. But as we have postulated, man must return and love the world of Death and matter below, must chain himself – for in the end, the mere existence of our world shows us that the absolute and all-mighty Father has chosen to live through the conditioned and the impure, and thus we must choose to do so too.

We are put onto this world as struggling and mortal men, struggling and mortal peoples, and as sure as we must fight this struggle, so must we also love the struggle for what it really is.

But there have been men who combined the upwards striving purity of Buddhism with a downward struggle, in blood and mud, for a people and a divine Empire. I am thinking of the Japanese warrior caste, and how they united the calm feeling of standing unmoved above the world of matter, with the cruel passion of war, and the love of Death itself. ‘The way of the warrior is death’, it has been said in Japan; and by recklessly and lovingly throwing themselves towards Death, the Japanese warrior both awakened from all dreams of matter, and manifested the glory and beauty of Eternity in the world of struggle. And he wished for nothing else but to die like this – to fall like a cherry blossom, trampled and forgotten in the mud of the battlefield. He knew no greater love than a cruel and meaningless death

And Japan held this Tradition – of how one carelessly and passionately throw away one’s life for no discernable good – alive together with their divine Emperor all the way up until the modern age. Maybe it was not as pure as it had once been, but it was at least alive, and that makes the Japanese struggle in the Second World War unique with respect to that of their European allies. Not in terms of its war effort, military power, heroism or sacrifice (for this all of them knew), but rather for the fact that while the Nazi only loved the life of his race, and the Fascist only loved the life of the overman and his will to power, the Imperial youth of Japan still knew how one loves Death itself.

And when those Japanese boys of the war’s final days crashed their planes and bodies into the American ships, what could be heard in the roaring flames of the collision was not defeat, but the bells of heaven itself, which through the hulls of broken warships tolled the Father’s farewell, to the last men of our world, who truly knew how to love Death.

4. Conclusion

I have now given some examples of what I believe to be the greatest and most divine love of Death that mankind has known. But one could argue endlessly which of the Traditions I have presented is actually the best. And one could surely tear this essay into pieces, and examine whether I have judged these different men and Traditions fairly or not, whether I have missed or ignored some crucial fact or not, and whether I have interpreted the words and teachings authentically, or just picked what suits my own preconceptions or fixations. But I do not care for such discussions – for the point of this text was not to squabble about some silly tier list of teachings and heroes, but to paint a concrete feeling of what it means, to have a divine love of Death.

The point of my examples was not to depict the Truth as it was in the past, but to lay a basis from which we can strive to find Truth again in Tomorrow – for all Traditions mentioned here are either too foreign for us Europeans, or since long dead. We cannot look backwards and argue over tombstones and empty dreams – rather we must know how to find the Father anew, and create a life in his image, all by ourselves. And in this direction, I have proposed a divine love of Death as a first concrete and fundamental step, and the examples used in this text have only been used for this purpose.

For I believe this great love of Death to be the essence of the Eternal Father above, and the essence of the world he has brought into existence, and if we are to fulfill ourselves in his image, we too must try to struggle and sacrifice ourselves with the same divine love. For we are put onto this world as struggling and mortal men, struggling and mortal peoples, and as sure as we must fight this struggle, so must we also love the struggle for what it really is – namely meaningless Death. But if we could love this Death and struggle in its naked worthlessness, love it with the unconditioned intensity of Eternal Life above, we would transform our hopeless Deaths into a manifestation of God himself, and the fulfillment of ourselves as living men.

And if we not only overcome our fear of Death, but become men with an infinite love of Death itself, then what could our enemies throw against us? What could they possibly scare or stop us with? We would know that they can not reach or hurt our true selves, that they cannot touch the divine Life that burns within our chest, and we would love the fate that has brought us into battle with them, love the Death that they think they threaten us with.

Yes, we would in our struggle with them find our completion as men, and we would lovingly return tenfold every strike they aim towards our sun-kissed foreheads. And if we in great glory win our battle, we would hail it with the greatest joy – but if fate instead would throw failure and dark annihilation upon us and everyone we hold dear, then we would still hail it with the same joy. For if we truly lived Life in the love of Death, we would be complete before the battle has even started – we would only pridefully see things through, joyously plunging ourselves straight into whatever fate Death has given us, defiantly and lovingly striking her depths with the Life of God himself.

We would know how one dies in the image of God, and by doing so, we would fulfill the life that God has given us.

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The Real Nietzsche https://arktos.com/2019/08/05/the-real-nietzsche/ https://arktos.com/2019/08/05/the-real-nietzsche/#view_comments Mon, 05 Aug 2019 15:00:53 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7175 Friedrich Nietzsche is generally viewed as the absolute nihilist, the ultimate atheist, the ’Antichrist’, ’murderer’ of God, the immoral iconoclast whose ’philosophy with a hammer’ broke the idols of Judeo-Christianity: ‘God’, ‘Morality’, ‘Truth’, etc… In fact, to Nietzsche, these Christian ideals were nothing but ‘false truths’, lies and illusions whose transcendental nature led to the negation of life and consequently to nihilism, rendering the death of this god necessary and even desirable. In this sense, Nietzsche is the philosopher who dared to push nihilism to its extreme limits.

To retain from Nietzschean thought merely its nihilistic, pessimistic, destructive aspect would be to understand it only partially and to fail to grasp its creative and spiritual dimension.

However, to retain from Nietzschean thought merely its nihilistic, pessimistic, destructive aspect, even if it is a characteristic and essential – albeit incomplete – aspect of that philosophy, would be to understand it only partially and to fail to grasp its real motivation and creative and spiritual dimension which goes well beyond a mere refutation and systematic destruction of false beliefs. Indeed, Nietzsche’s spirituality, his creative – even mystical – side, has long and often been ignored, along with the fact that to him, nihilism – which was undeniably an inherent and essential part of his philosophy – was nonetheless not an end in itself (as it is – alas! – generally considered nowadays), but a transitory phase that he used in order to achieve his task of destruction of the false Judeo-Christian ideals (which he nevertheless contrasted with Christ’s original message) and his ‘transvaluation’, or revaluation, of all values.

Nietzsche’s nihilism was a necessary but transitory phase which was meant to precede his grand and veritable task of reconstruction, of creation: the Übermensch, the Superman, who embodies the advanced stage of a superior humanity which would have transcended its human, all-too-human nature, to reach a supra-human, post-human stage, in conformity with the Nietzschean vital principle of eternal becoming and self-overcoming.

This book thus aims to show how Nietzsche, who augured and lived nihilism in its profoundest depths, nonetheless ended up defeating it – after having used it as a ‘hammer’ to destroy the old law-tables – by overcoming and transcending it; that is, by turning the death of God, which is at the same time the consequence and culmination of nihilism, into an act of liberation of man… liberation from old beliefs, namely the millenarian ‘lies’ of Judeo-Christianity which have enslaved the human spirit and have prevented man’s spiritual progress and evolution.

To Nietzsche, the death of God therefore became an ‘active nihilism’, creator of new values, in other words a nihilism that had ‘defeated itself’, or ‘accomplished nihilism’. Nietzsche could thus be described as an ‘anti-nihilist nihilist’, the philosopher who had predicted, acknowledged and experienced nihilism, using it against itself in order to destroy it by transcending it, thereby turning the calamity of the death of God into a prelude to the rebirth of the divine and to man’s elevation and hence his self-overcoming.

By analysing the cause, the significance, and the consequence of the ‘death of God’ declared by Nietzsche, I will endeavour to demonstrate that nihilism, as prophesised by the German philosopher, represented to him – in the final analysis – merely a moment, a necessary dose of ‘immoralism’ to realise a total transvaluation of values. I will argue that Nietzsche’s nihilism only constituted a stage, a ‘moment’, and had a destructive role to play which would nonetheless end as soon as it was accomplished, thus paving the way for Nietzsche’s final and decisive phase, his true goal: the creation of the Superman, the man who has overcome himself, incarnation of the coming god, the immanent and accessible god, in contrast to the old, false god of Monotheism, transcendent to life, unreachable, and thus life-negating.

According to Nietzsche, the will to power is the Lebensphilosophie (the ‘philosophy of life’), the vital creative concept ‘beyond good and evil’ which, by affirming and blessing life and its law of eternal overcoming, would transcend and overcome the life-denying Christian morality, and would thereby save the world from nihilism – which is at the same time the cause and the consequence of the death of God – , thus offering lost humanity a new hope, a new promise of noontide and eternity, a new supreme goal: the Superman.

I will then expound what I have termed Nietzsche’s ‘spiritual atheism’, a brand of atheism which is unique in the fact that it does not stop at the death of God (and therefore cannot be confused with it), for Nietzsche considered that the death of God was not an end but merely the death of a god, the god of ‘monotono-theism’, as he liked to describe it.

After having perceived, recognised and celebrated the ‘death of God’, Nietzsche overcame the divine death, by refusing to sink into an absolute atheism.

I will show how, after having perceived, recognised and celebrated the ‘death of God’, Nietzsche overcame the divine death, not only by making it a great liberation for the enlightened, higher man, but also by refusing to sink into an absolute atheism which would also deny life by wresting a higher end away from it… thereby leading to a second nihilism, the nihilism of ‘egalitarian’ and ‘decadent’ modernity, the nihilism of the ‘last men’ with their dull ‘realism’ and vulgar and hedonistic virtues. I argue that, in the final analysis, Nietzsche’s spiritual atheism was merely a prelude to a spiritual rebirth, to the advent of the Superman as the incarnation of the new mode of divinity.

Thus, the death of God for Nietzsche is only a ‘moment’ in evolution and in history, and not a fatal end, given that it is only the death of a god, not the Divine. Consequently, and conversely, it is a new beginning, a new dawn for a higher, post-modern humanity (modernity incarnating, according to Nietzsche, nihilism and decadence par excellence), a higher humanity which, in its search for perfection and eternal overcoming, would reject both the religious obscurantist dogma as well as the Cartesian rationalist dogma.

Nietzsche was not the absolute nihilist and atheist materialist as he is – alas! – perceived nowadays; the death of God which he predicted and saluted was in the final analysis merely a stage, a necessary yet transitory phase in his philosophy. If he himself admitted that he was the godless (‘Gottlos’) man par excellence, he was nonetheless not an atheist in the ordinary sense of the word, but in a much deeper and more spiritual sense: he was Pagan, a Pagan Pantheist, disciple of Dionysus and Manu, venerating the ancient cult of the God-Man, of the Naturreligion – the ‘Religion of Nature’ – or what he termed ‘the Dionysian festive procession from India to Greece’. The Superman, the Nietzschean dream of ‘Noontide and Eternity,‘ thus reveals himself in Dionysus, who incarnates the redemption of the divine, Nietzsche’s ‘coming god’.

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The Enlightenment’s Ouroboros: Descartes as the Father of Ideology – Part 4 https://arktos.com/2019/08/02/the-enlightenments-ouroboros-descartes-as-the-father-of-ideology-part-4/ https://arktos.com/2019/08/02/the-enlightenments-ouroboros-descartes-as-the-father-of-ideology-part-4/#view_comments Fri, 02 Aug 2019 14:42:15 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7169 Discourse

In order to address the questions with which we left off, we turn to Descartes’ apparently autobiographical Discourse, in which he explains not only his method but his motivation for developing it, and which therefore proves a wider passage to enter them than the Meditations.

Were it not for the supposed practical superiority of modern scientific theory, the moral question of the motion of the heavens and the hierarchical order of the cosmos would easily have sufficed to suppress the heretical new doctrine.

The first curiosity regarding this work is its anonymous publication. We have seen how his private explanation for this fact (that he wanted, like the painter of a picture, to stand behind his work and listen to what was said about it) does not altogether satisfy. We recall as well that Descartes elected not to publish his magnum opus, The World, at all during his lifetime for fear of the consequences. We are compelled to ask why he did not wish his Discourse published under his own name, and if the reasons for this choice might have been parallel to those which led him to suppress his World.

Given all we have noted about Descartes and his method, he might well have feared reprisal for his impiety in the publication of this work. The Discourse was indeed published after Descartes decided not to publish the World, and he might have been testing the waters to see how his ideas would be received. His very similar Meditations was published subsequently, with his name affixed, and did not result in any great scandal, which suggests that in the time intervening he might have decided that the coast was clear. Indeed, it would not appear that the Discourse was much more obviously heterodox, and the defensive proofs of God upon which Descartes puts so much false weight are of course reprised therein. To be sure, the Discourse, as against the Meditations, does not open with a hypocritical display of piety; but if this were the only obstacle to his acknowledgement of his authorship, he could easily have provided as much.

Yet the fact remains that Descartes did not at this point elect to reveal his identity as the author of the Discourse. Had this text been but a canary in the mineshaft, surely when the bird refused to die, Descartes would have felt it safe to make his presence known? And, as the other half of the same riddle, why did he see it necessary to publish his Meditations at all?

The Discourse has several major differences to the Meditations, foremost being that it was not originally a stand-alone work, but was published as the introduction to a series of scientific writings. Its full title is highly revealing: Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences. This Discourse was followed by the texts Dioptrique, Météores and Géométrie which treated of optics, meteorology and mathematics respectively, and which claimed to apply his method to these various fields of scientific inquiry. Conspicuously lacking here is cosmology or astronomy, both of which make central appearances in The World. Indeed, their presence in that work was one of the major reasons for Descartes’ choice not to publish it during his lifetime. It was known that the astronomical question ran afoul of the Church’s teachings; this had been infamously demonstrated in its judgements on Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei, which led to the execution of the one and the imprisonment of the other. Descartes’ reticence to apply his method to astronomy or cosmology was a question of self-preservation; the conclusions that he reached through the use of his method were contrary the Church’s, and the Church had already shown itself willing and able to suppress all works to that effect. It would seem therefore that Descartes would sufficiently protect himself from accusations of heresy by avoiding that terrain which had become the landscape of the great battle of Modernity – the astronomical battleground between Christian Faith and Modern Science.

Considering Descartes’ great sensitivity to this question and his enormous fear of reprisals, two thoughts would surely have given him pause, however. The first is that modern natural science, of which he was one of the groundbreaking explorers, gave indications of being a unified whole, whose parts necessarily led clearly and inescapably one to the next. This was an essential piece of the great power of that science: it seemed to have the potential of explaining the entire world with a minimal mathematical apparatus.1 Where pre-modern natural science, which is almost identical to saying Aristotelian or Thomistic science, had required a complicated causal and explanatory accoutrements to understand the world, it appeared that modern science could do so with unprecedented efficiency and simplicity.

We forget that this was one of the major points of superiority perceived in the Copernican over the Ptolemaic system – namely, that it was seemingly able to eliminate the irregular movements of the wandering planets. Copernican theory owed its persuasiveness to its presumed simplification and thus perfection of the previous system. Even Kepler’s modification of this scheme, which (most controversially) replaced circular motion with elliptical, had the advantage of obviating the need for the weird Ptolemaic equant. This produced the necessary underpinning for Newtonian physics, which reigned undisputed practically until Einstein. All of these innovations were regarded as being technically superior to the past because they provided the possibility of perfecting astronomy through astronomy’s mathematical simplification. Were it not for this early simplification, the moral question of the motion of the heavens and the hierarchical order of the cosmos – the question which truly motivated the Church’s persecutions – would easily have sufficed to suppress the heretical new doctrine.

Modern science was built therefore on two mistakes: first, the idea that past thinkers had failed to appreciate mathematical possibilities which modern thinkers perceived for the first time (it is far more likely that Ptolemy, in his equivalent clarity of vision and his superior moral attitude, maintained his circular and geocentric model on account of its social and political implications); second, the view that modern thinkers had succeeded in producing a purer and clearer model than any past model (which has been utterly debunked by the advent of the wild, obscure and super-intricate theories of late scientific development).

The Church had to be undermined and the ground generally prepared for the open reception of modern science; hence Descartes’ almost obsessive focus on method.

Descartes laboured full beneath these errors. He perceived in the new science the possibility of producing a final explanation for the world (note again the full title of his Discourses and its referral to ‘Truth in the Sciences’) in the most elegantly simple form possible.2 This indicates the absolute interconnection of the sciences, the impossibility of separating them; to produce mathematical certainty in one quarter would therefore imply conclusions in every other. Descartes could not present a fragment of mathematico-scientific knowledge, say in optics or meteorology, without suggesting his adherence to the dangerous mathematical innovations in astronomy that the Church was attempting to rein in with so iron a hand. Hence he had recourse to secrecy to protect himself from this necessary inference from his work.

This is closely connected to the second reason he surely would have hesitated before putting his name beneath the Discourse: while the Church had not yet persecuted any of the new sciences but the astronomical, especially given the evident integral nature of all the new natural sciences, it would surely be only a matter of time before it moved against those novelties as well. Descartes was indeed hiding himself, and was moreover truly doing so to ‘see what would be said’ about his canvas: but this was not, as the metaphor implies, so as to gain new perspective on his work; it was to ascertain how dangerous the situation would be for any man openly embracing the new science, and whether the authorities would decide it worthwhile to censor the pudenda he had so boldly painted on his canvas.

The way he proceeded following the publication of the Discourse is enlightening as to what he discovered from his hiding place. The Discourse was followed by the Meditations, which presented his method methodologically, as it were, and without providing any of the concrete mathematical or scientific conclusions to flow therefrom. This in turn was followed by his Principles of Philosophy, which he had originally intended to call the Summation of Philosophy (Summa Philosophiae). As a measure of his self-confidence, not to say arrogance, he hoped that this last work would supplant the Aristotelian textbooks of his time.3 The Principles salvaged key material from The World, while leaving other portions aside. It is almost certain that this was done, not with an eye toward clarifying the material of The World, but rather toward occulting that portion of it which might lead to trouble with the Church. Thereafter followed a number of minor works, none of which touched upon the question of cosmology. The World was published posthumously, first in portion (De Homine or On Man in 1662), and what remained of it in 1664; and lest anyone doubt the legitimacy or validity of Descartes’ circumspection, let it be noted that it was only upon the publication of this material that the Pope saw fit to interdict all of Descartes’ works by placing them on the Index, which can be taken as an index indeed of what Descartes himself might have faced, had he been more candid in his writings.

An overview of this chronology will teach us much about Descartes’ true method. He saw with acute clarity that it was impossible to stand forth and deliver on the new sciences; the world, as he perceived it, was not ready to receive them, and the major foe and obstacle to their advent was as ever the Catholic Church. That Church had to be undermined (this was, as we have seen, the work of the Meditations), and the ground generally prepared for the open reception of modern science; hence his almost obsessive focus on method, on ‘metaphysical’ questions rather than on natural scientific questions, and his continual work in geometry and algebra, or ‘pure mathematics’, which was the one still safe haven for the development of certain foundations for science. This is why he penned his Meditations, why he sent them to the Sorbonne, why he sought the theological authority of the Schools to support his endeavors and why he had recourse in that work to such patently flimsy expressions of piety. Descartes retracted from the study of science and dedicated himself to work on the social and metapolitical underpinnings of science; without this work on his part, modern science would never have emerged in Europe. Or at the least, it would have done so far later.

Descartes’ name has come down to us as that of a philosopher; it would be better to consider him a scientist, but a scientist who had run clean up against the problem of the Enlightenment, which we have identified in the first part of this essay, and which we can now proclaim is identical to the problem of modern science itself. Science, if its method is to function, requires a number of preconditions which were far from being met at the time of the emergence of the first scientists. Science requires in the first place ‘freedom’ for the pursuit of its research; put more correctly, it requires the guarantee that no boundaries will be placed around the use of its method, and no restrictions around the conclusions at which it arrives therethrough. But that research and those conclusions are bound to conflict at any number of points with the received wisdom, as embodied in custom, academy and religion. In Descartes’ time, the major points of friction were with the popular view of the world (particularly as this was reflected in law), the intellectual tradition of his time (Scholasticism, founded on Aristotelianism), and above all the Church, upon which these other two traditions, in their practical aspect, decisively depended (though they themselves were often unaware of the fact at the time). The last two in particular, philosophy and religion, had in Descartes’ day been conflated into a single form: through Thomas Aquinas, philosophy had been made pious. The extraordinary and unprecedented result of this development, which in turn almost alone produced the militantly secular character of Modernity, was that, following Aquinas, the Aristotelian basis of pre-modern natural science could not be disputed without striking against the authority of the Church.

We must appreciate the novelty of Descartes’ situation – indeed, the novelty of the situation for all the early modern scientists and scientific philosophers – if we are to comprehend the origins of the Enlightenment. ‘Tradition’ is always unphilosophical, and the philosopher must always exist in some way over and above ‘tradition’. That was as true in Descartes’ day as it ever had been before him. All philosophers of all times have had to face this problem, and have done so in a variety of ways, including the use of esoteric writing and irony, withdrawal from society, encloistering themselves in private gardens, etc. These solutions, though imperfect and less than ideal, fully sufficed the philosopher’s primary needs; the incommensurability between tradition and philosophy was restrictive but not prohibitive to the philosopher, and thus could be regarded as a regrettable but totally incidental and superable obstacle to his progress. But to the scientist, this incommensurability becomes essential and insuperable.

There are three major reasons for this. First, the scientist, as opposed to the philosopher, achieves his results through geometry or mathematics, and so in the publication of his thought can hide neither his reasoning nor his conclusions. In prior times, philosophers were wont to veil their more controversial or dangerous knowledge behind layers of allegory, irony or esoteric writing. The scientist cannot do so, for mathematics is not only necessarily clarion in its reasoning and evident in its conclusions, but must be so if it is to retain any power at all. Put in ancient terms, in modern science, the problem of the universally public nature of all human writing, which Plato addressed in the Phaedrus, returns en force and in a way which is internally insoluble. An esoteric modern science is impossible, and so the solution to this problem has to be sought exoterically.

The scientist might, of course, simply restrain himself to private correspondences with other scientists (Descartes, for example, had an ongoing correspondence with Christiaan Huygens). But this is dissatisfying for many reasons, and inadequate for several more. In the first place, particularly prior to the appearance of modern communication technology (which, being the fruit of modern science, could not be its condition), it would have been hard to find many such correspondents, particularly if each was cautious about revealing his studies for fear of persecution by the authorities. Moreover, it would be extremely difficult to propagate knowledge in this way from generation to generation, since in the absence of published books and wide readerships, it would be very easy for misfortunes to lead to the loss of key figures or key works or key ideas, thus thrusting the entire enterprise back generations. This leads us to the second special problem of the modern scientist: he requires a public scientific community to confirm or critique his results, and the wider that community is, and the more transparent its workings, the better. Man, as Descartes well knew, is fallible.4 Any individual man can be confused even about the most basic geometrical principles; how much moreso then high-level and highly complex proofs deriving therefrom? The international community of scholars was a necessary prerequisite to the birth of modern science, but it could not arise save as these scholars were safeguarded in their open publication of their findings.5

Finally, Descartes, as all the early scientists, knew that science had an unprecedented potential to alleviate the suffering of mankind;6 but this could only be achieved if science was liberated from arbitrary moral and religious control. As Bacon indicated rather than stated, science, to achieve its most glorious results, required a New Atlantis. The effects of science, the benevolent productions of science, the ingenious inventions of science, cannot emerge save as science itself is given free reign both over its research and over the publication of the same. Science requires the open society; modern science and Enlightenment are two faces of one and the same historical and philosophical project. The two phenomena are strictly speaking indivisible the one from the other.

Modern science and Enlightenment are two faces of one and the same historical and philosophical project.

Modern science, which is the polestar of Descartes’ writing, to the extent that all of his work is bent on producing these conditions for its emergence, was understood by Descartes from the first in opposition to traditional philosophy. Descartes is extraordinarily dismissive of that philosophy, and never ceases to slight it, perhaps nowhere so wickedly as in his sly summation of philosophy: it ‘teaches us to speak with an appearance of truth on all things, and causes us to be admired by the less learned’.7 Ever since the days of Socrates, this had been considered the definition, not of the philosopher but of the sophist, who was distinguished from the philosopher by precisely these traits.8 Descartes reduces philosophy to sophism. His reasons for doing so appear in the section subsequent to what has just been cited; here, he produces his judgement on ‘Philosophy’ after assuring us that he will ‘not say anything about it’, going on to state that

it has been cultivated for many centuries by the best minds that have ever lived, and … nevertheless, no single thing is to be found in it which is not the subject of dispute, and in consequence which is not dubious.9

As has been noted, this disputability of philosophy was considered a great scandal by the early modern philosophers and scientists. One reason for this change in their opinion with respect to that of previous philosophers was that they were exceedingly impressed by the successes of early modern science in extending the domain of geometry (which until late Modernity was always regarded as being an uncontroversial field) to the physical world. This opened the question of the extent to which that science might be extended further still, to encompasse the moral, the political, the social, the human – the whole of ‘the World’. While this was regarded as a possibility by some early moderns, others took it almost as a dogma. We are tempted to say that Descartes belonged to this latter camp; the least that can be said of him is that he was fully conscious of this potential of science. This is identical to saying: the world may be mathematical through and through. If the world is mathematical through and through, there is no God. That Descartes attempted to establish the new science by producing the precise social and political conditions necessary to its emergence, in and of itself demonstrates, so far as the present author is concerned, his thoroughgoing atheism.10

But we recognize that this is a controversial point which would require a much longer demonstration to adequately establish, and we are content to leave the matter at the more modest proposition that Descartes favored science to the detriment of any force that might have attempted to suppress it, and this most emphatically included the Church and the State, as the two were understood in his time. It will certainly have been noted by all of Descartes’ more careful readers that, in his presentation of those studies that most enticed him in his school days, the first that he mentions is not philosophy, nor of course theology, nor even mathematics, but rhetoric, which gives man power to persuade other men through the skillful arrangement of thoughts’ so as to render them ‘clear and intelligible’.11

The implications of this remarkable paragraph will be lost on no one who has carefully followed the reasoning of the present essay so far. This kind of approach, brilliant in its way and of far-reaching and finally terrible consequences in the subsequent development of Modernity, led Descartes to establish in the minds of his contemporaries certain salutary myths, as we might call them, designed to replace and implode the antiquated religious beliefs which Descartes knew stood between the new scientists and the practice of their novel method. As we shall see in the final part of this essay, in his remarkable, indeed shocking success at producing this new mythology, Descartes (along with certain other early Modern thinkers) did indeed open the doors to science – and with it, to the continual spiral of disintegration and corruption along whose downward path Modernity has been careening ever since.

References

1This theoretical principle, known commonly as Occam’s Razor, is one of the common themes of modern science, and is found throughout. See Newton, ‘Author’s Preface’ to The Principia (in which it is also well worth considering Newton’s claim that geometry is founded on mechanics, and the question of how this might produce from the philosophical demand to maximal simplicity, the scientific demand to maximal reduction); also Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil §36. But cf. Bacon, The New Organon, §§ XLV–XLVI.

2Descartes speaks openly about this view of science in the Preface to the Principles of Philosophy.

3See The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Volume 1 p. 177. It is worth noting as well that the title The World does not much accord with the humble posture that Descartes likes to take in his written work.

4Cf. for example pp. 4–5 and 58.

5Descartes was clearly aware of the necessity of such a community. Consider his Preface to his Principles. In §5 he identifies four ‘levels of wisdom’: the first two levels include self-evident principles and sensory evidence; the third, what we learn from conversation and the fourth what we learn from reading the right kind of books. While his method was meant to add a fifth level, it is obvious from the hierarchical nature of his presentation that this fifth level could not be divorced from, indeed depended inherently on, the prior levels: the method cannot rightly function without the society of scholars.

6See for instance p. 6; also §§1–4 of his Preface to his Principles.

7P. 6.

8The other principal characteristic of the Sophist – namely, that he took money to educate others into ‘wisdom’ – was more scandalous to the run of the Greeks and more famous to posterity, but it was in truth secondary to the traits here noted.

9Pp. 7–8.

10So far as the disputes of the pre-modern philosophers are concerned, and the way this was believed to reflect on the inadequacies of pre-modern philosophy, see as well Bacon, The New Organon, §LXXVI and Hobbes, De Cive, ‘Preface and Dedication’.

11Taken with only slight syntactical changes from p. 7.

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The Two Conceptions of Divinity https://arktos.com/2019/07/31/the-two-conceptions-of-divinity/ https://arktos.com/2019/07/31/the-two-conceptions-of-divinity/#view_comments Wed, 31 Jul 2019 13:14:04 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7163 For whomever seeks to form an idea of divinity and of its relation with the real world, two paths appear, one of which we might call the deductive, and the other inductive. Those who take the first path – as every believer habitually does – depart from a certain a priori concept of divinity, which conforms to their faith, and upon the basis of which they attempt to explain the created world. Along the second path, or the inductive path, on the other hand, after forming for oneself a realistic and comprehensive idea of the world, one is hard pressed to represent to oneself what god might have been its creator or author.

Evil can be observed in the world and in existence; destructive processes and dark forces act in it, and so one must ask oneself how all of this can be reconciled with such an idea of God.

Along the first path, difficulties of some significance arise when one assumes the idea of a personal God with singularly positive, luminous, and, so to speak, ‘moral’ characteristics. Indeed, evil can be observed in the world and in existence; destructive processes and dark forces act in it, and so one must ask oneself how all of this can be reconciled with such an idea of God. This conciliation is the problem of a branch of theology known as ‘theodicy’: in the framework of Christianity, we can state that this problem has never been resolved in a satisfying way.

Already beginning from the first centuries of Christianity, the difficulties here were brought into relief in a rather crude way by Marcion, in the form of a dilemma. On the one hand, Marcion considers the world according to its above-mentioned dark and problematic aspects; on the other hand, he posits a God who is supposed to be wise, good and omnipotent. In light of this, Marcion reasons as follows: if the world is what it is (and is not the ‘best of all possible worlds’, as the theodicy of Leibniz attempted to demonstrated), God might be good, but not omnipotent and wise; or else he will be omnipotent, but not good and wise; or else he will be wise, bot not omnipotent and good. Marcion believed that he had found a way of coping with this difficulty by admitting, in a certain sense, two divinities: the first is the ‘Demiurge’, an inferior creator god who is responsible for being, for creation, such as it is; the other is the Higher God, the transcendent, truly luminous god.

For Marcione, the first God was the god of the Old Testament (who in truth does not always reveal sympathetic traits); the second, the God of love and grace, the god revealed by the New Testament.

To join these two theses together, Marcion spared no pains in revealing those aspects of reality and of existence which, in his opinion, do not indicate the supreme wisdom of a god; his work was not wanting even in a a piquant note when he says that all one must do is consider the ‘ridiculous gymnastics’ (sic) necessary for procreation, if one is to be convinced that creation is not the work of a truly wise god. (Perhaps, had he known them, Marcion would have adopted the words of that famous Greek orator who asked the gods, and in particular Zeus, why, having decided that men must reproduce, he had dreamed up nothing better than woman for the task).

But there is another way of redimensioning the concept of divinity, by commencing from the reality of the world. In one of the essays contained in the volume recently published in Italian translation by Edizioni Mediterranee and entitled Mefistofele e l’androgino,1 the historian of religion, Mircea Eliade, indicates the recurrence, in various civilizations, what we might call a two-faced conception of divinity, such as might correspond to a coincidentia oppositorum:2 a God who contains opposites in himself, who is luminous and who is tenebrous, creative and destructive, good and evil – and therefore, if you please, as much God in the strict traditional sense as anti-God, the devil, Mephistopheles or, as it is sometimes referred to, the ‘other half’.

This conception differs from the view proper to the ancient dualistic Persian religion (the Iranic religion called Mazdeism), which held fast at the opposition of two originating principles (the God of light against Ahriman), which are assumed to be coexistent but in a state of continual tension and struggle. With the aforementioned conception, on the other hand, one goes beyond this cosmic opposition; one imagines a unity which subsumes this unity and which transcends it. Such a conception, which is certainly disconcerting for the many, frequently has a place in the world of the Mysteries and initiation, but here it held to be the last esoteric mystery, which was not to be revealed to the profane. It is also reflected, moreover, in the views of the mystic English poet William Blake, who spoke of the ‘marriage of heaven and hell’.

It is evident that, commencing from such an idea of divinity and of the Supreme Principle, the problem of explaining the world and existence in all its antitheses disperses; nor is there need to postulate, with Marcion, a subordinate deity, who is singly responsible for creation, and who was, so to speak, not particularly good at his job. But perhaps the most balanced view is presented to us by the so called Trimurti of Hinduism.

Following this well-known view, we should consider three aspects of the Supreme Principle, personified by as many Gods: the creative aspect (Brahmin), the aspect which conserves existence and order (Vishnu), and the destructive aspect (‘black’, Shiva). With this triad, it is possible to attempt a global interpretation of the universe and of life,with nothing left out.

In this context, it is perhaps possible to trace the way in which the Idea of Satan emerged in the sphere of the Christian faith. It has been characteristic of Christianity to attribute to divinity only the positive, luminous, ‘moral’ qualities. Given this polarization, everything which has a different character and which, according to the aforementioned metaphysical and transcendent conception of divinity, was absorbed into a higher, impenetrable unity, had to assume the traits of a principle exclusively negative in and of itself – not merely the ‘other half’ – in the person precisely of the devil, of Satan, Lucifer or such like. One returns thereby to the ancient dualistic view, only now in a moralizing tone.

To attempt to explain the possibility of the existence of the devil in the cosmic economy of the divine, some have sought to transform him into an instrument of the divine itself.

Naturally, the concept of the ‘devil’ includes something more as well. On the one hand, the devil is the wicked, the tempter. To attempt to explain the possibility of the existence of such a being in the cosmic economy of the divine, in its proper plane, some have sought to transform him into an instrument of the divine itself. Thus Goethe spoke of a force which ever wants the evil, but which in the end, despite itself, produces the good. This however does not exclude the possibility that, leaving aside the ‘happy ending’,3 the desire for evil characterizes the Christian Satan or Lucifer, according to his aspect of ‘contester’, opposer, the rebel par excellence, the rebel by profession and vocation – indeed, to such an extent that one can almost make of him the illustrious patron saint of all those frantic, if capricious and quite profane, tendencies which are today the fashion.

Precisely this aspect comes into relief in the delightful novel La révolte des Anges by Anatole France. The angels, fallen head-first and routed with Lucifer, descend to earth, where they proceed to reorganize in order to attempt their vindication, employing everything that both science and magic have to offer them. Everything is so well arranged that there seem to be no doubts about the favourable result of the venture. Save that Lucifer, the eve before the great day, has a dream: he dreams victory, dreams that the old God has been dethroned, that he himself has taken the empty place. But in feeling himself become the omnipotent God of Light, without rivals, Lucifer is overcome by such a sense of boredom that, upon awakening, he immediately countermands his orders and sends everything to the dogs. He prefers to remain the eternal rebel.

References

1This title was translated into English as Mephistopheles and the Androgyne: Studies in Religious Myth and Symbol (Sheed and Ward, 1965). So far as the editor can work out, it is presently out of print.

2Latin: ‘coincidence of opposites’, meaning the simultaneous presence in one and the same thing of contrary or contradictory traits, aspects, qualities, elements etc.

3In the Italian, Evola has ‘happy end’ in English.

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The Conquest of Europe Is Underway https://arktos.com/2019/07/30/the-conquest-of-europe-is-underway/ https://arktos.com/2019/07/30/the-conquest-of-europe-is-underway/#comments_reply Tue, 30 Jul 2019 14:30:26 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7159 In Germany, because of the state’s laxity (or rather the complicit will of the disastrous Angela Merkel), more than a million1 self-declared refugees have been welcomed since 2015.

This is nothing more than the exponential acceleration of a movement that began more than thirty years ago. What started in drips has now become an open tap.

By the end of 2016, there were almost two million migrants across our continent. Just think of all the problems that this poses and that are simply ignored by the authorities. How surreal! This, however, is nothing more than the exponential acceleration of a movement that began more than thirty years ago. What started in drips has now become an open tap. With Greece already submerged, the European Union seems impotent and its elites are plagued by a masochistic logic of self-destruction.

‘We have not seen anything yet in terms of migrational expansion’, says Serge Michaïlov, a researcher at Iris (Le Figaro, 01/02/2016). The nightmare has just begun…

A Premeditated Invasion Movement

They have come from everywhere, taking advantage of the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars — from Afghanistan to sub-Saharan and Eastern Africa through all of North Africa. It is no longer regular immigration occurring in continuous spurts but an actual invasion movement. This process may well be the beginning of a demographic flooding that shall cause the demise of our European peoples and civilisation, as part of the ethnocidal project of authorities that govern Europe in a manner that is detrimental to its inhabitants. The death and disappearance of white people is a goal which, for different reasons, brings several agents together: a certain part of Europe’s ruling class (especially the Left, but not exclusively, as seen in the case of Ms. Merkel); the majority of the anti-racist leftist intelligentsia (comprised of degenerate whites and impudent Jews); some US political and economic circles who long to be rid of their European competitor; and, of course, Islam itself, along with its various governmental and religious authorities.

Mark my words: this historical phenomenon is much more important and much more serious than the two world wars of 1914–1918 and 1939–1945 and Soviet Communism (1917–1991). This invasion shall, indeed, have far more devastating consequences.

They Come, Millions at a Time

In 2015, 1.25 million migrants arrived in Europe, 270,000 of whom were minors. According to the IOM (International Office for Migration), the Aegean islands of Lesbos and Keos alone experience 3,000 arrivals a day. They are taken in, fed, and helped at the expense of the EU, i.e. at our expense; they are, in fact, treated better than our impoverished local populations and the unemployed! This is plain and simple foreign preference… In Greece, which serves as a ‘waiting room’ for alleged refugees before they are allowed to settle amongst us, 70,000 of them were expected at the end of March and their progress impeded, with 50,000 housing locations chosen to provide them with temporary accommodation. During the summer, with mild weather prevailing, the arrivals exploded. Since the beginning of January 2016, more than 350,000 migrants have already arrived in Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia. Historically, this human tidal wave exceeds anything that Europe has ever experienced.

Using barbed wire fences or legislations to seal their borders shut, Central European and Balkan states are attempting to protect the continent against the invasion. Despite these measures, the Balkan route still witnessed more than one million migrants in 2015.

Favourite destinations are Germany, France, and Western and Northern Europe. 2.7 million Syrians and Iraqis (and others taking advantage of the windfall) are currently on hold in Turkey; not to mention the ‘Italian road’ that begins in Libya and passes through the Mediterranean. In Sweden, the country that has experienced the fastest demographic flooding in all of Europe, 35,000 unaccompanied migrant children — representing a total of 20% of the migrants that had arrived — were sheltered in 2015, all at the expense of the local community.

Since 1st January, 2016, 133,000 migrants have arrived in Greece from Turkey, with 470,000 others, most of whom were young men, having come in 2015 through Lesbos. Their aim is to join their already established communities on the other side of Europe. Taking advantage of our weakness, these ‘migrants’, who have no reason to be here at all yet are confident of their rights, turn out to be demanding and aggressive (as witnessed in Calais), never doubting the fact that they shall remain unpunished, evade deportation and enjoy the assistance of both ‘humanitarian’ associations and the state itself. Such is the invader’s logic, an invader that would be foolish not to take the trouble of pretending to be a victim… One must really be an idiot or a raving lunatic not to give in to concern in the face of these immigrational figures.

A Europe Disconcerted in the Face of the Islamic Conqueror

Using barbed wire fences or legislations to seal their borders shut, Central European and Balkan states — Macedonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Slovenia, Serbia, and Slovakia — are attempting to protect the continent against the invasion. Despite these measures, the Balkan route still witnessed the transition of more than one million migrants in 2015.

In Slovakia, the outgoing Prime Minister, Robert Fico, had his mandate renewed after a campaign focused on his refusal to welcome a single Muslim refugee. And this reflects precisely what we are dealing with here — an invasion of our world at the hands of Islam, to call a spade a spade. This fact should please Tarik Ramadan, the Muslim ideologist preaching the conquest of Europe, whose authority was recently undermined by the rape charges filed against him by numerous women.

By resisting the invasion, the above-mentioned states contravene the Schengen Treaty and disobey the injunctions of EU officials. For Nicolas Bay, the then secretary general of the Front national2 (whose correct title is now Rassemblement national, having undergone a dramatic change of name, as we can all see): ‘What these unelected commissioners reproach the — democratically elected — governments of Poland and Hungary for is actually their decision not to comply with their injunctions on “the welcoming of migrants” and other similarly suicidal impulses’ (in Valeurs actuelles,3 3rd–9th March, 2016; as stated in the opinion column entitled ‘When the Union Strives to Prevent European Nations from Protecting Themselves’). The fact that the institutions in Brussels choose to negate our European civilisation, as well as its values, traditions and future, is not only due to the EU as such, as Mr Bay understands it, but results, above all, from the European governments themselves.

This issue is thus well worth pondering.

The Worst Scenario Is Unfortunately a Probable One

The lucid (and courageous) Muslim intellectuals are a minority. The appeased and reformed Islam that they wish for is a distant dream invalidated by the very reality we observe. The most extraordinary paradox is the betrayal that certain European elites are guilty of, elites that act as both the accomplices and the organisers of mass immigration and Islamisation alike. They oppose those lucid Muslim-Arab minorities and turn their backs on the common good. It is the very same configuration as the one that characterised the 1940–1944 period, namely Collaboration; or, more to the point, the FLN’s French ‘suitcase carriers’4 during the Algerian war.

The strength of this invasive movement lies in its reliance on the pity aroused by the system’s media for those ‘refugees’ — and especially the boat people that end up drowning — in the minds of our versatile and emotional public. These millions of Muslim migrants that come from open-air waste bins such as the Middle East, Afghanistan, North Africa and Black Africa and arrive in Europe, adding to the Muslim masses already present, will of course import their problems and chaos along with their persons, with Islam at the very centre of this future flare-up. It is this probable development that Ivan Rioufol mentions in his book entitled La guerre civile qui vient5 (Pierre Guillaume de Roux Editions).

We must therefore prepare for the worst (or perhaps the best, depending on the opinion): a racial war in Europe, in the West, and above all in France.

References

1 AN: This is not a figure of speech — the number is truly one million.

2 TN: The former ‘National Front’, which was recently renamed Rassemblement National, i.e. ‘National Rally’.

3 TN: Valeurs actuelles or ‘Current Values’ is a French conservative weekly news magazine published in Paris.

4 TN: The ‘suitcase carriers’ were a network of leftist activists who chose to transport documents including brochures and newspapers to the French territory, or alternatively to Belgium, Switzerland and Germany. Although some of them did transport arms, the majority carried documents or even money that was raised in France by FLN activists.

5 TN: La guerre civile qui vient or ‘The Coming Civil War’ was published in cooperation with Sandra Musy, the book’s editor and illustrator.

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The Enlightenment’s Ouroboros: Descartes as the Father of Ideology – Part 3 https://arktos.com/2019/07/26/the-enlightenments-ouroboros-descartes-as-the-father-of-ideology-part-3/ https://arktos.com/2019/07/26/the-enlightenments-ouroboros-descartes-as-the-father-of-ideology-part-3/#comments_reply Fri, 26 Jul 2019 14:35:50 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7155 Descartes’ Doubt

Following the two prefaces, the Meditations opens with the formulation of Descartes’ famous ‘Doubt’, which word is of such central importance to him that he even sees fit to capitalizes it. Descartes’ doubt has been taken by almost all of his readers as being proposed in full sincerity as a new philosophical method. Hordes of second-rate thinkers have delighted in pointing out the shortcomings in it and the errors Descartes makes in his presentation of his logic,1 scores more in suggesting that he did not take his method far enough, and helpfully showing the way toward yet further devastations. In this way, a seductive invitation to a most insidious doubt, through Descartes, has made its indelible mark on Modernity, even while his method has been almost universally considered either unsatisfactory or unconsummated. Descartes thus finds himself in the curious position of having built a large portion of the modern tower on the back of two narrow little books which everyone seems to believe inadequate for the foundation of such a grand edifice.

Descartes built a large portion of the modern tower on the back of two narrow little books which everyone seems to believe inadequate for the foundation of such a grand edifice.

To us, this is nothing more than proof of Descartes’ extraordinary and serpentine effectiveness. He is the first cunning modern. We claim (which is nothing new) that the famous Cartesian doubt, as well as its ostensible resolution in the ‘proofs’ of self, of God, of the soul, is beset from the first with intractable problems; we claim furthermore that Descartes himself was distinctly aware of these problems. Many have believed that the existence of so many and such incisive difficulties must attest to Descartes’ incompetence as a thinker; we would happily submit to this opinion, were it not for the fact that there are clear indications in the Meditations itself that Descartes was well aware of the difficulties plaguing his proposed ideas, but chose not to explicate them. It is worth listing some of these difficulties, along with Descartes’ indications of the same.

Descartes appears to incite his readers to a novel, radical and global form of doubt, the doubt of everything that can be doubted. Yet Descartes both narrates his own development of this doubt and encourages his readers to follow it through the medium of language, explaining step by step the process of his thought. But a total and radical doubt of human custom must before anything else call into question language itself; a man who truly went about abolishing all human opinions would be forced to start with the words upon which those opinions are so universally founded. Language grounds both Cartesian doubt and the Cartesian escape from doubt; yet language itself is never called into question by Cartesian doubt.

Now, it is not only clear that language can be called into question, but that it must be called into question by any serious philosophy. It is our modern pretence that this fundamental point was first acknowledged by the linguistic philosophers, and therefore rather late in the ‘evolution’ of philosophy. But not even to go so far as reminding our short-memoried modernity that this problem was clearly known at least as far back as Plato,2 we restrict ourselves to noting that Descartes himself knew of the problem of language: ‘words often impede me and I am almost deceived by the terms of ordinary language’.3 He makes this noteworthy confession about the comparatively clear word wax; if the word ‘wax’ is open to doubt, how is the word ‘doubt’ itself at all in any way clearer, not to speak of the other concepts Descartes so freely bandies about, like ‘perfection’ and ‘thought’? Moreover, he likens knowing an ancient language to travelling, because it permits one to know foreign customs;4 language is wrapped up in the merely customary and cannot be easily abstracted from it. It may be indeed that language and custom are indissolubly integrated. But the customary is quite different than the truth.

It therefore seems that any attempt at radical doubt must first of all do away with the very lexicon by which one might articulate such doubt; radical doubt would in the first place eliminate one’s possibility to express one’s method, thus leading to a state of total intellectual paralysis, from which nothing whatsoever, and certainly not ‘certainty’ of any kind, could ever emerge.

It would appear that Descartes resolves this problem with another of his infamous philosophical innovations: rather than relying on language, he appears to make recourse to ‘ideas’, and most especially what he terms ‘clear and distinct ideas’, a phrase which he repeats with great insistency throughout his work. This notion of ‘clear and distinct’ is notoriously unclear and indistinct, and has occasioned no end of critique and attempts to comprehend what Descartes might be on about. We need go no further than Descartes himself, however, to bring some of these problems to light.

In the first place, ‘clear and distinct ideas’ are always ‘clear and distinct’ to a specific thinker; they are, to use an equally vague modern term, ‘subjective’. Different thinkers may possess ‘subjective certainty’ regarding contradictory ideas; Descartes, who was well aware of the chaos and confusion reigning in philosophy, recognizes this fact.5 Moreover, as Descartes himself notes, a man might be mad; he emphatically admits this possibility at once, as quickly dismissing it by baldly stating that such men as ‘imagine they have an earthenware head or are nothing but pumpkins or are made of glass’ ‘are mad, and I would not be any less insane were I to follow examples so extravagant.’6 Yet this obviously does not prove that Descartes is not insane, or that his own ideas are truly less extravagant than those of the pumpkin man with an earthenware head. Descartes is engaging here in a bit of evidently faulty, almost circular reasoning: if he believed mad things, he should be simply mad, and should in that case believe mad things sane; but he believes sane things, so he is not mad.

Furthermore, Descartes premises his doubt on the proposition that he might be dreaming; his experience, that is to say, might be an illusory or deceptive experience, produced by who knows what causes and revealing in themselves nothing true or solid. All men have had the experience of seeing things ‘clearly and distinctly’ in dreams which proved themselves absurd upon waking; what if the same thing holds for our thought here and now? Descartes never disproves this possibility; he off-handedly dismisses it at the end of his Meditations as though it were patently false, on grounds which are evidently dubious and which fly in the face of all the careful scepticism of his previous presentation.

Practically everything that Descartes argues hinges on the power of his impression that his ideas are ‘clear and distinct’; but, as he acknowledges, ‘the act of thought by which we believe a thing is different from that by which we know that we believe it’ and ‘the one often exists without the other’;7 as is but a basic principle of philosophy, it is entirely possible to believe a thing, even vehemently, without knowing why one believes it, which appears to be precisely the gaping hole covered up by the notion of ‘clear and distinct ideas’. Was Descartes really oblivious to this fact? Yet Descartes knows that the senses can deceive, and that men can be wrong even ‘the simplest matters of geometry’, which geometrical matters Descartes also holds to be the, or among the, clearest and most distinct of all ideas;8 how then can a man ever trust his mere impression of ‘clear and distinct ideas’ more generally?

The basic, unstated logic here is as follows: what is clear and distinct to me is therefore clear and distinct in and of itself, and it is clear and distinct in and of itself because it is clear and distinct to me. This is the second instance of blatantly circular reasoning we have encountered issuing from Descartes’ proposed ‘method’; it will certainly not be the last. More, it flies in the face of an evident aspect of the human condition, which is so fundamental to it that it almost forms the ‘methodological’ basis of philosophy itself: namely, that a man reasoning alone may not only be mistaken, but may even thoroughly persuade himself that he has attained the truth. Solitary philosophy always begs the question of whether the philosopher is not a madman; the philosopher, that man who stands higher above human beings than any other kind of human being, more than any other kind of man requires friends in order to philosophize.9 Descartes knows this; he notes the inadequacy of solitary human thought and the frailty of human reasoning so frequently that no one can say he was ignorant of the problem. He even seems to call upon the Doctors of Sorbonne and upon his very readers to confirm or disprove his ideas – the same ideas he has repeatedly claimed are ‘clear and distinct’ to a degree equivalent to or exceeding geometrical proofs. One might aver that these passages were the product of a false humility, mere rhetorical flourishes. But in this case, one must provide some explanation for how Descartes himself believed he had reconciled the problem of friendship with the problem of personal belief. And this cannot come through ‘clear and distinct ideas’.

The problems for ‘clear and distinct ideas’ do not end here. Descartes, in order to cement his radical doubt, proposes the hypothesis of an evil genius who is dead-set on deceiving us. What would stop such an evil genius from implanting in our souls a false sense of certainty with respect to anything he chooses? Recall that in one of the two ‘defences of God’ that Descartes gives in his introductory letter to the Sorbonne, Descartes suggests that the faith by which we believe in God is valid because it is implanted in us by God; this is strictly parallel to the possibility that an evil genius has implanted false beliefs into us which convince us of false things. It is only far into his reasonings that Descartes will ‘disprove’ this possibility through the ‘proof’ of a benevolent God; but as we shall see, this is in fact the most egregious and evident of manifestly circular arguments which Descartes proposes over the course of his presentation of his ‘method’.

Finally, Cartesian radical doubt purports to call into question all things; Descartes presents himself as having been chock full of questionable notions, and so proposes a kind of suspension of belief, a ‘knowing nothing’ almost even in the Socratic sense, as an attempt to rectify this absolute state of uncertainty, by calling everything into question. One can be forgiven for assuming that this state of deep aporia persisted in his soul until he came upon the epiphany of his cogito ergo sum. And yet, from the very first, Descartes makes it clear that he excludes mathematics, ‘Geometry’, from this doubt; he explicitly differentiates between geometry and philosophy, and assigns his method to the latter, not the former.10 That geometry contains certainty is never doubted; it does not fall within the ‘sphere of the things which may be doubted’, to use the words from the subtitle of his First Meditation.11 Cartesian doubt is not universal and radical; his doubt falls on everything which is doubtable, and from the first that excludes the geometrical. While he is clear on this score, he does not dwell on it, and even hastens past it with such speed that most commentators have totally overlooked it. We suggest this was intentional: rhetorically, his work strongly suggests that the first certainty he allows is that of his own existence, for he means to reground philosophy on mathematics, but to do so in a way that is not evident to any of his readers save the most careful.

Descartes’ supposedly ‘radical doubt’ is in fact nothing but a rhetorical preparation for a mathematical understanding of the world.

The geometrical model is indicated once more at the beginning of the Second Meditation with reference to the ‘fixed point’ of Archimedes; Descartes is seeking a geometrical fixed point upon which to centralize philosophy, he is reducing philosophy to geometry. This is made clear yet again in his example of the wax, in which he finally eliminates the problems introduced by a shaft-shifting wax by reducing it to a question of extension. All of this flies in the face of his evident doubt regarding bodily things – the things of ‘extension’ par excellence; in point of fact, Descartes supposes bodily things as the most evident things, the least dubious things, and regrounds everything – including the ‘soul’ – on this basis. Descartes’ supposedly ‘radical doubt’ is in fact nothing but a rhetorical preparation for a mathematical understanding of the world; Descartes, even while posturing shamelessly as a defensor dei, is in truth and in his hidden intention a advocatus diaboli and defensor scientiae modernae. For, as Descartes understands with a clarity which our latter-day Modernity seems no longer to comprehend, the two positions are mutually exclusive: either modern science or God.

Modern science has historically been challenged on two fronts: first by mores, and second by religion, both of which it thoroughly contemns in our own day, and is permitted to contemn thanks to the work that was done by men like Descartes. Descartes’ doubt utterly abolishes custom and mores (here, his method really can be regarded as proposing a thorough and radical doubt), and prepares the second for a refoundation on sham certainty containing hidden principles which are conducive to scientific research and corrosive to faith, piety and religion. All of this is effected through the presupposed idea of ‘clear and distinct ideas’, which, as we have seen, is itself a rhetorical, not a methodological device in Descartes’ presentation.

The New Foundation

Descartes insists throughout his works on the metaphor of building; he is tearing down the old house of the old philosophers, built on ‘mud and sand’, and putting in its place a new building founded on something solider – upon a new foundation which he himself, via his method, will provide.

We have seen how the ‘total doubt’ of Descartes is really not so total at all, but is aimed rather at those portions of philosophy which Descartes (and not only Descartes) found to be uncertain or unsettled in his time. His intention was to geometricize these and to render them certain; he is the first mathematical thinker in the modern mould. In a carefully delimited portion of human thought, he claims to destroy everything unstable, to see if anything can resist his onslaught. From the first he admits that there may not remain anything certain after everything has been razed; he is presenting his method as experimental in the best modern scientific sense.

All of this indicates a certain prioritizing of what might be regarded as the modern scientific approach over the older pre-modern philosophical approach. We will have more to say on this as we proceed, but it is important to bear it in mind, for Descartes’ project – nay, the entirety of Modernity itself – cannot be understood without reference to it.

The first and easily most famous of the ‘certainties’ which Descartes ‘discovers’ through the use of his ‘method’ is his cogito ergo sum, phrased in the Meditations as ‘I am, I exist, is necessarily true each time that I pronounce it, or that I mentally conceive it’.12 This proposed reduction of the human being to a thinking essence has echoed throughout the chambers of all of Modernity, and it is no wonder; it is a marvellous sleight of hand, by which a dozen doubtful propositions are ingeniously merged in three persuasive little words. Many of Descartes’ readers even today but swallow this proposition as if it really were precisely what Descartes seems to claim: the first and most fundamental ‘clear and distinct idea’ which we moderns stumble across through the rubble we have made of the ages.

Yet there have not been wanting devastating critiques of this facile little proposition.13 What is common to at least most of these critiques is that they take for granted two propositions:

  1. Descartes was unaware of the problems with his cogito ergo sum;
  2. The disproof of this cogito ergo sum therefore proves that Descartes simply did not go far enough: it incites us to a still more radical and more penetrating doubt – which is to say, we must somehow attempt to finish Descartes’ unfinished project.

If the first of these propositions is in error, so would seem to be the second; for in that case it becomes apparent that Descartes’ project is not at all what he claims it is, and that his true project really is somehow culminated precisely in his cogito ergo sum, of whose weaknesses he was well aware.

Let us ask three elementary questions which follow from the proposition ‘I think, therefore I am.’ First: what am ‘I’? Descartes’ response: a thinking being. Second: what is a ‘thinking being’? Descartes’ response: a being which produces thought. Third: what is ‘thought’? Descartes’ response: that which is produced by a thinking being, that which I produce. I, a thinking being, exist because I produces thought; thought exists because it is produced by me, an existent being, a thinking being. The logic here is once again evidently and patently circular.

More, it presupposes that ‘thought’ itself is somehow a ‘clear and distinct idea’. Consider what was said above regarding language; Descartes knew that the little word ‘thought’ was itself far from being clear and distinct, as is immediately revealed by his careful analysis of this word.14 Descartes was also far from unaware of the most fundamental difficulty with his cogito ergo sum: namely, that ‘I’, when ‘I’ am understood as merely the sum of my conscious experience in this moment, do not think at all. To use Descartes’ own words: thought ‘is placed in me’; thoughts ‘come to me’; ‘thoughts … of themselves spring up in my mind’; ‘external objects … imprint’ on the brain ‘various ideas by the intervention of the senses’; ‘these ideas presented themselves to me without my consent being requisite’, and ‘the mind … [receives] impressions … only from the brain’.15

These are far from isolated passages; both books we are considering are full to the brim with them. The questions of the being and origin of thought, which are deliberately obscured by the cogito ergo sum, are, far from being a matter about which Descartes gave too little meditation, in a way the very central aim of his entire project: the culmination of that project comes in the latter part of the Sixth Meditation, when Descartes once more calls the senses into review and rehabilitates them from his ‘doubt’, grounding them thoroughly on mathematics alone. None of this depends logically on the cogito ergo sum, which in point of fact is, in the absence of any number of supporting and prior presuppositions, utterly meaningless, as Descartes well knew. By concealing rather than revealing the complexity of the process of thinking, this tiny Trojan horse permits Descartes to sneak into his discourse the presuppositions requisite to producing a scientific grounding for philosophy.

The god of Descartes takes as its entire purpose to undergird the idea of a ‘thinking being’, the human being as a rational essence.

So much for cogito ergo sum: this is what passes for a ‘clear and distinct’ idea on the pen of this great modern rhetor and sneak-thief. The second ‘clear and distinct’ idea which proceeds from his ‘method’ is the existence of God, and once more, one finds in Descartes’ readers and critics the same complacency and ingenuity which marks their consideration of his cogito ergo sum. Indeed, the craftiness of the second idea is all the greater; it is at once armour, camouflage, temptation and acid. The religious, though they might perceive its flaws, will in the main hardly be keen to expose these, since they find in them a kind of unexpected advocatus dei in the person of the ‘father of modern philosophy’, and are quite willing to let pious dogs lie. For the secular, and especially for atheists, there is something so outrageously false in these proofs of God that they are enticed to immediately deconstruct them and show the dozen points at which they are threadbare and inadequate – thus handily finishing the job which Descartes began. In this way, the faithful are persuaded to leave Descartes untouched and even to defend him, while the faithless are incited by his calls to rationality to follow his indications and to abolish the proofs of God altogether. Descartes thus indicates the downward path without treading it, and implants into all future philosophy a movement toward godlessness. Let us see how he accomplishes so much with so little.

There are in point of fact two distinct proofs of God contained within the Meditations. These same proofs are repeated in his Principles of Philosophy, but there are most significantly inverted. We cannot dwell on the reasons for this, which have to do with the nature and intentions of these works. For now, we restrict ourselves to the Meditations.

The first proof of God, which we might call the proof from perfection, is new to Descartes, though it follows the pattern established by St. Anselm’s ontological proof; the second proof of God is almost wholly a restatement of Anselm’s. Yet Descartes, as we have noted above, refers to the second proof as ‘new’, while he gives no such epithet to the first. This is mysterious; we must give an account for it.

The proof from perfection could be reduced to the following: we contain within ourselves an idea of perfection which could not have come from us as imperfect beings; it must then have come from a perfect being, which we shall call God. God implanted the idea of perfection in us; that is the proof that he exists. Let us recall that in the introductory letter to this work, Descartes indicates the ‘reasoning in a Circle’ of the pious. We have shown that this reasoning in point of fact includes two different, and presumably inadequate, supports for God: the first, that God places faith in man, by which faith man believes in God; the second, that one must believe in God because Scripture enjoins us to such belief, and that one must believe in Scripture because God has produced it. The first of these arguments is strictly parallel to Descartes’ first ‘proof’ of God: namely, that God places a certain idea in us which leads us to believe in him. This entitles us to look with some suspicion upon the proof, which is nothing but a complex restatement of an argument Descartes has already dismissed. Descartes himself furnishes us the means of deconstructing this proof: it may be that God, rather than being an omnipotent and beneficent being, is in fact an ‘evil genius’ devoted to deceiving us. How can we be certain, then, that the subjective ‘idea’ of perfection which we find in our minds has any relevance at all to reality? How be sure it is not merely a great snare and lie which has been placed in us toward the fulfilment of the purposes of some deceitful devil? Put in the terms native to Cartesian doubt: what is there at all ‘clear and distinct’ in the idea of perfection, particularly as conceived of by a being which cannot comprehend it, an imperfect being?

In truth, Descartes does not even claim to resolve this until the second proof of God, the ontological proof. The argument for that proof is as follows: it is impossible to imagine a perfect God lacking in existence, which is itself a ‘perfection’; therefore, God must exist. Descartes, who had been trained in the Schools, would have been of course entirely aware that this is nothing but a restatement of Anselm’s proof, and he would also have been aware of the disproofs which were made of Anselm’s logic by the schoolmen themselves, culminating in that of no lesser a figure than St. Thomas Aquinas. His ‘new proof’ of God is in fact a thoroughly old proof of God, and one that had quite run the gauntlet by the time Descartes arrived on the scene. Whatever one might think of the Anselmic proof, it is patently ridiculous of Descartes to present that same proof in different words and to claim that he has thereby given ‘veritable demonstration’ in a manner that will ‘be evident to everyone’, as he puts it in his introductory letter.

This alone entitles us to dismiss Descartes’ proof – but not his curious insistence on it. Given that Descartes was aware of all of this, as we do not hesitate to claim he must have been, what is his true purpose here?

The two proofs of God are divided by a full Fourth Meditation and a number of reflections in the Fifth Meditation. The Fourth Meditation – ‘Of the True and the False’ – comes into play interestingly late in the game; for a full three Meditations before it, Descartes had merely presupposed both the meaning of truth and falsity, as well as his ability to perceive these matters ‘clearly and distinctly’, and went so far as to use these presuppositions to prove God Himself; the proof of God relies on the epistemological and intellectual status of ‘clear and distinct’ ideas, which Descartes does not prove until halfway through his Meditations. And indeed, in the Fourth Meditation, Descartes affirms that the ‘clear and distinct’, if it is to be reliable, must have God as its basis:

[E]very clear and distinct conception is without doubt something, and hence cannot derive its origin from what is nought, but must of necessity have God as its author – God, I say, who being supremely perfect, cannot be the cause of any error; and consequently we must conclude that such a conception [or such a judgement] is true.16

We know that God exists through clear and distinct ideas; we know that we can rely on clear and distinct ideas because God produces them. Where have we seen this logic before? But it is formally identical the same as the ‘reasoning in a Circle’ that Descartes mentions and dismisses in the introductory letter. He has produced nothing new; he has merely sophistically rephrased a short and admittedly inadequate argument into a very long and seemingly sophisticated one, masking its evident circularity and decking it out in new and tempting array.

Both of the inadequate proofs of God from the introductory letter are restated in the body of the text as if they were indisputable demonstrations; why would Descartes do such a thing? Having seen how the inadequate proofs and Descartes’ own proofs are similar, we must understand now how they differ.

The proofs of God that have come down to us from Christendom all had as their singular aim the demonstration of that portion of God’s Being which could be demonstrated. The Christian apologists who proposed them were in no way deceived as to the necessary limitations of their proofs: they believed they could show the existence of God through reason, and in some cases even certain of His properties, but not His the commandments or revelations or mysteries. The former pertained to the legitimate field of philosophy; the latter, to the sphere of faith or religion alone. The latter sphere encompassed the former, determining both its limitations and its right transcendental ends; philosophy was the handmaiden to theology. The aim of these apologists was not to supplant theology through rigorous logical demonstrations, but to bolster theology by defanging a pre-Christian reason which seemed to tend naturally toward disbelief and skepsis. All that they did was done ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

The Church had to be abolished – that is the true and concealed purpose of Descartes’ effectively devastating doubt..

Apart from his implicitly dismissive mention in the introductory letter, Descartes nowhere mentions Holy Scripture in the Meditations. The word ‘revelation’ never passes his pen; the Gospels are not once cited, the Holy Bible never so much as referenced, the name Jesus not so much as alluded to. This is not an accidental feature of his work. The god that he purports to have proved is a god of special character; it is a god whose entire purpose is to undergird the idea of a ‘thinking being’, the human being as a rational essence. Descartes does not prove, and does not want to prove, the Christian God; he wants to supplant that God with a deist deity which has been totally shorn of his moral, social, legislative and revelatory dimension, and which has been reduced to a mere cosmic scaffolding for ‘Geometry’. Note once more how the former dimension has been subjected without reclamation to the ravages of Descartes’ doubt, while the latter has been totally exempted from the same. The only moral dimension of the Cartesian god is his honesty; he cannot lie, cannot deceive, because this would contradict his ‘perfection’. That Descartes does not regard this as serving as a model for the comportment of man is, I think, adequately demonstrated by what we have shown regarding Descartes’ true Method.

The final ‘demonstation’ which Descartes claims to submit in his Meditations is the ‘real and true division between soul and body’. We will not dedicate the same time to analyzing this final proof as we have the other ‘demonstrations’, but it suffices to note that if one were to replace the word ‘mind’ with the word ‘brain’ in the entirety of the Sixth Meditation, philosophically nothing would be lost; Descartes altogether reduces the mind to the brain. In the French edition, the word ‘soul’ (l’âme)in the Sixth and final Meditation – which is to say, in the Meditation dedicated to speaking of the soul – is used only three times; the first time, in an almost parenthetical remark following the particle ‘inasmuch as’ (en tant que), which obviously makes no commitment regarding the existence or nonexistence of the soul; in the other two instances, in the formulation ‘mind or soul’, which suggests that the two are indistinguishable or that Descartes has not yet settled on which of them to prefer.17 His subsequent and total silence on the soul quite clearly shows us the nature of his preference. The question then is what the division is between mind and body. The only division that Descartes allows is that the rational faculty permits us to analyze the input of the senses and to distinguish between truth and falsehood, which in turn is reduced entirely to the question of physical dimension, extension, and body – which is to say, to geometry.18 And even here, the mind is but the product of the input of the (bodily) senses on the brain. In the wake of Descartes’ destructive course, there is no human soul left standing – and certainly not in any sense that at a Christian would recognize.

We are in now a position to better understand Descartes’ project. The Meditations are structured as follows:

  1. Meditation 1: Introduction of radical doubt;
  2. Meditation 2: Proof of the self;
  3. Meditation 3: First proof of god;
  4. Meditation 4: Discussion of error and falsity;
  5. Meditation 5: Reduction of matter to geometry, second proof of god;
  6. Meditation 6: Discussion of senses and their relation to corporeal objects and the body.

Leaving aside the First Meditation, we find a kind of thrice-layered sphere, or better say two concentric circles about a point. The first and out circle, which includes the Second and Sixth Meditation, relates to self or mind; the middle circle, which includes the Third and the second half of the Fifth, to god; the centre or core, which includes the Fourth Meditation, to the question of error and falsity and corporeal objects. The middle layer is imbued with a principle of self-destruction and self-disintegration; it is meant to be annihilated, leaving only the outer circle most suggestively encompassing the center.

Descartes’ Meditations and Discourses are both divided into six parts. Descartes suggests that the six Meditations were written over the course of six days. I would propose that Descartes did this in deliberate reminiscence of the account of Genesis: God created the world in six days, Descartes means in some sense to recreate it in the same period of time. In the account of Genesis, God’s eternal existence necessarily precedes that of the creature man; in Descartes’ Meditations, the existence of man, of the thinking being, precedes the ‘creation’, and even the second ‘creation’ or ‘recreation’, of god: Descartes has eliminated human contingency. In the Cartesian Genesis, the world and the existence of man have no need of a deity; god is first marginalized, and then in principle abolished altogether as being superfluous to the explanation of that world and that man. The Cartesian world is a world governed wholly by geometry, a world which can be rationalized, mathematized, and comprehended through science alone. Man, a geometrical being produced by a geometrical world, can understand both the world and himself through the use of science. He cannot do so, however, if he is obstructed in this task by the existence of meddlesome moralities and, most importantly, by the existence of a conventional religion which takes it as an article of faith that man and the world are fundamentally more than mere geometry, are imbued with a moralistico-spiritual principle that directs man toward a transcendent sphere which is not contained by or determined by mere geometry – a dimension of essentially greater dignity than mathematics, a mansion far wider than science could possibly contain. All of this, and the Church above all, has to be abolished that is the true and concealed purpose of Descartes’ effectively devastating doubt.

But these things could not be abolished explicitly, outright and in open warfare, nor could even be challenged in those terms, for the simple reason that to even attempt as much would, in Descartes’ time especially, have led to persecutions by both the civil and religious authorities. Descartes was keenly aware of this; several years before the publication of the Meditations, he had decided not to publish his The World (or Treatise on the Light), which is surely his magnum opus,19 because in the same period Galileo made, and failed, his famous confrontation with the Church authorities. It would wait almost half a century to see the light of publication, and this long after Descartes had passed on. The scientific view of the world, of which Descartes was one of the principal fathers, could not emerge in the world save as the way was first prepared for it. Descartes recognized this with greater clarity than any modern scientist before him and perhaps any scientist since: both mores and religion had to be reformed in a manner conducive to the emergence and practise of science before science itself could properly exist.

Three questions remain to be answered in the final part of this essay, to wit: Why did the early scientists believe that traditional science, which is to say philosophy, had failed? What is the necessary and stringent connection between their scientific view of the world with modern philosophy – or, put otherwise, in what way are science and Enlightenment integrally related? And finally with what did Descartes hope to replace the scientifically adverse mores and religion of his time?

The answer to these questions will grant us a more penetrating view of all the fundamental features of the Enlightenment, the foundational epoch of the Modern Era.

References

1And not only second-rate thinkers; cf. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, §.

2See Plato, Seventh Letter, 342e–343a and 344c.

3P. 77. On page 99, he indicates that one and the same word can be given multiple different meanings; how then to resolve, through ‘clear and distinct ideas’ alone, which of these is correct? Cf. also 17, on the discrepancy between speaking and acting.

4P. 6. Note that this knowledge of languages and its ability to connect us to past customs is not merely on account of the fact that it permits us to read old books: in the passage in question, Descartes emphatically distinguishes between knowing a language on the one hand, and reading its books on the other, going so far as to suggest that the former is more important than the latter; ‘I had already given sufficient time to the study of languages and likewise even to the reading of the literature of the ancients’, emphasis mine. Original French: et même aussi à la lecture des livres anciens.

5Pp. 57–58.

6P. 67.

7P. 17.

8P. 23 and 7.

9Recall that Socrates was always in the marketplace. It is worth mentioning here that Heraclitus, the most solitary of perhaps any philosopher to date, ended his life in what was to all appearances total insanity, feeding on grass like a ruminant until he perished of this diet.

10Pp. 56–57.

11For his exclusion of geometry from doubt, see 69.

12P. 72. The much more famous cogito ergo sum is the formulation of the Latin text of the Discourses.

13Rather than attempt a critique of a phrase which it has been the sport of every generation since Descartes to attempt to break into pieces, I will simply furnish at once the best and briefest of these critiques of which I am aware: Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Book I, §16.

14See e.g. pp. 73, 79 and esp. 81–82.

15Pp. 24, 23, 72, 37, 110, 118.

16P. 100; the bracketed phrase ‘or such a judgement’ is from the French version.

17Further evidence for this reduction is supplied once more by Descartes’ idiosyncratic and meaningful use of capital letters. In the French edition, l’Ame, the soul, is capitalized on two occasions only; once, in his pious introductory letter, and then again in the Second Meditation (p. 73) in which he seeks to comprehend what ‘attributes of the soul’ really are in him. He mentions the following possible attributes: 1.) nutrition, 2.) walking (i.e. mobility), 3.) sensation, 4.) thinking. He dismisses all of these but thinking, thus pointing once more to his identification of the soul with the mind. He neglects to mention emotion, passion, desire or imagination; the former three are tacitly altogether disregarded from his work; the latter is immediately employed in the continuation of the same Meditation, thus suggesting that imagination is a mere function of thinking. This forms the very foundation of modern rationalism itself.

18As the classic instance of this which Descartes himself mentions: a stick emerging from the water appears bent. That it is not in fact bent can only be ascertained by subjecting it to measurement, to geometry. Cf. Heraclitus, Fragment 3.

19The only other work which competes for this title is his 1644 Principles of Philosophy, which itself was a reworking of carefully selected material from The World.

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The Nation Is the Bride of Eternity https://arktos.com/2019/07/24/the-nation-is-the-bride-of-eternity/ https://arktos.com/2019/07/24/the-nation-is-the-bride-of-eternity/#comments_reply Wed, 24 Jul 2019 14:12:36 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=7147 If there is one overarching movement which can describe the Right of today, it is the movement towards the people and its identity, towards the blood and soil of the great Mother that is the Nation. The Right is steadily moving towards the realization that we are not abstract and interchangeable individuals, but inseparable from the concrete blood and body we were born into. Towards the realization that our identities, societies and cultures are not a floating construction of ideas or loosely defined “values” which change with progress, and which can be adopted and claimed by anyone outside of our own realm, but a firmly rooted tree which cannot be separated from the Nation, nor from the struggle of its people. And lastly the realization that we are put onto this limited earth as a mortal and hungry people among many others, and as sure as we all must proudly affirm ourselves and realize our own mission, so are we and our peoples destined to a never-ending struggle, and a cruel death at the end of our days.

The Right is steadily moving towards the realization that we are not abstract and interchangeable individuals, but inseparable from the concrete blood and body we were born into.

And this movement towards the Nation is understandable, for the tree that is Old Europe, the Order and Truth that was our great Christian Empire, has withered away, has become nothing but a grey trunk, cracked by the drought of modernity, and as such it has lost both its branches and its roots. And the soil in which it once grew, the soil of our European Nations, now lies bared under its pale skeleton. The Right of today has understood that this now naked soil, this great Mother of ours, needs a strong and healthy protector, lest it should fall to the ravage of other, hungering peoples; and the Right knows what a great disgrace and shame it would be for us, if we forsook our destined struggle as men, and let others plant their seed in she who is ours. Thus the Right has grown tired of conserving, of watering that tree which is already dead, and instead seek to cleanse our lands, both of those who threaten to destroy it, and of the dry firewood which can no longer grow, so that we can plant the seed of a new tree, of a Europe of Tomorrow.

And while this movement towards the Nation is both needed and true, it is nevertheless incomplete and broken – for while it reaffirms our birth by our Mother, it lacks that seed which truly gave us our life, and which is the only source of all order and value, namely the one and only Eternity, the great Father above.

This Father and spirit is the transcendent source of everything, the Eternal that chose to love the Temporal, the Being that chose to manifest itself through the Becoming, and the Complete which has chosen to grace the Incomplete, and as sure as he is the centre of existence, so must his spirit become the centre of us as men, and the unmovable axis which upholds our Nations. For he is the glorious sun who shines above all Nations, and just as no tree can grow unless it is capable to reach towards the rays of the sun, so no people can become that which it is meant to be, if it does not yearn and strive to reach and manifest the Truth of the Father.

Thus we of the Right must not be satisfied with only digging downwards, with only rooting ourselves in the womb of the Nation, for as men we are also destined to reach upwards, to soar the skies: we must complete a dual movement, which both rediscovers that celestial and absolute Truth which the foul fog of modernity has hidden from our eyes, and returns to manifest it in the struggle of our peoples. We must not be satisfied with only affirming the Nation and her existence, for we must fill her with essence; we must want to make her into a great and beautiful manifestation of Eternity itself, and to do that we cannot be satisfied with being mere National men, but must be as close to Holy men as we can be.

We need to become men who are daring and unwavering enough to travel the narrow and lonely path towards the heavens, all by ourselves – men who can pierce all storming and thundering clouds with the spear of the soul, and reveal the burning face of Truth beyond. For beyond the fog rests Eternity among his infinite blues, as unmoved, untouchable and pure as he has always been. It is up to us whether we will allow him to stay forgotten, or yearn to reach him once again; whether we will choose to stumble in the blind darkness of the womb, or struggle to be born again, to let the golden rays of the sun kiss our naked foreheads, and reveal to us the path of our destined struggle.

But to be instead only a National man is to tell our great Mother that she is complete by herself – to tell her that she is independent and self-sufficient, that she is the source and goal of all our life and struggle, and that she is the one who creates all values and beauty in life. And by doing so, we will misguide and betray her, for we will hide from her the man she is destined to love and serve, the great Father whose children she must carry, the spirit and order that will fill her breast with warmth and meaning. The National man surely has good intentions, wanting to honor and make prosper the dear Mother Nation that birthed him, but in reality he is robbing her of her true duty and joy as a woman – for it is only the great and eternal Father which can give her womb the flaming seed of Life and Truth. And if we only have the Nation, and she is without the Father, we too will be as hollow, barren and sad as an old and dried up womb which never knew the seed.

Thus we of the Right must not be satisfied with only digging downwards, with only rooting ourselves in the womb of the Nation, for as men we are also destined to reach upwards, to soar the skies.

We must remind her of what she has forgotten, of the great and redeeming love from above, and of her true destiny as the bride of Eternity itself. And by doing so, we will be reborn as the children we were always meant to be, as men of both the Father and her, of both Heaven and Earth, as the loved link between the Eternal and the Temporal. And our struggle will be heightened into a short and vanishing, yet eternally beautiful, artwork of Truth.

And only when we have done this, will we grow into the tree of Europe Tomorrow. And I know with certainty, as evidenced by the zealous and joyous will to power and will to sacrifice that is budding within the breast of us men of the Right, that this tree will grow as no other tree has ever grown. I know that if we only reveal the Father again, if we only see and accept his light, there will be nothing on Earth that can stand between us and our glory. I know that our peoples will grow into mighty and noble oaks, dressing our dear Mother in the green of summer, and I know that we will bask in the warmth of Eternity, dancing in the lustrous crown of leaves, reflecting the rays of the sun in every movement of life.

And the inevitable day that autumn comes, the day when fate once again forces us unto our knees, to strike its sword into our tired necks, I know that we will not let ourselves become a withered tree, cracked and humiliated under the yoke of darkness; that we will not compromise and beg in order to live another day, but that we will fall proudly with the wind, glowing with Nature’s brightest reds and yellows. I know that we will fall like the sun himself, when night comes and he chooses to tread down to his woman below, and that our blood will gush and flow like the flaming kiss of sunset. And in the wake of our twilight, I know that there will be sons to once again shoulder the eternally recurrent struggle, and sow the seed of a new tree of their Tomorrow.

This will be the beauty of our unending struggle and our inevitable death, if we once again let the breath of Heaven fill our empty hearts – if we once again turn our Nations into the bride of Eternity.

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