Arktos https://arktos.com Tue, 22 Jan 2019 09:02:11 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 The Decline and Fall of Western Art with Brendan Heard https://arktos.com/2019/01/22/the-decline-and-fall-of-western-art-with-brendan-heard/ https://arktos.com/2019/01/22/the-decline-and-fall-of-western-art-with-brendan-heard/#comments_reply Tue, 22 Jan 2019 09:02:11 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=5822 Arktos is joined by Brendan Heard to discuss the plight of the contemporary arts, how we came to these extremities and what can be done to combat the decline of Western Art.

]]>
https://arktos.com/2019/01/22/the-decline-and-fall-of-western-art-with-brendan-heard/feed/ 0
Stirner and the Question of Authority – Part 1 https://arktos.com/2019/01/21/stirner-and-the-question-of-authority-part-1/ https://arktos.com/2019/01/21/stirner-and-the-question-of-authority-part-1/#comments_reply Mon, 21 Jan 2019 11:55:33 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=5813 Stirner’s Critique of Authority

The German philosopher Max Stirner (1806–1856) is by no means a thinker of the right. In his main work The Ego and His Own (1844) he care-freely dismisses all institutions, ideals and divinities of both old and new times as mere ‘spooks’. Every ‘calling’ of an authority is for Stirner a fixation of the mind, which limits the pure act of the Ego, and a weakness which enslaves him and forces him to serve something which is not his own. In his time, Stirner was associated with the Left Hegelians, although he often ridiculed them in The Ego and His Own for not being as radical as they suppose, and his work is seen as a forerunner of nihilism, anarchism and postmodernism.

The first part of this essay will examine Stirner’s critique of authority in order to characterize what truly comprises a false authority; the second, more important part will try to explain where Stirner goes wrong and to characterize the absolute, spiritual authority which is at the centre of a true society. There will certainly be some liberties taken in the presentation of Stirner’s thought, but this academic transgression will be effected with the purpose of incorporating his critique into a Traditional framework, of reaching above the Egoism he prescribes and answering how one can serve, without being a slave. The final part of the essay will offer reflections on where we might then find this spiritual authority in our times.

What makes Stirner’s work respectable is his radical search for his own centre, his true being, the elusive yet absolute ‘I’ which can be found as little in a man’s origin as his destination.

The Left Hegelians interpreted Hegel’s dialectic of History as something revolutionary, moving towards the absolute realization of reason and freedom of the individual. Thus they formulated critiques against the religious and political authorities of their time, which would have their greatest impact in the development of the thought of Marx. Like the Marxist school of thought, Stirner views society as an interaction of power, as the relation between the slave and the master. But where the Marxist seeks to liberate the slave, to revolt against the ruling class and to institute a new order which will guarantee everyone’s equal rights in a society without masters, Stirner wants to make himself into his own master. Stirner does not seek freedom or empowerment from a revolution, from something outside of himself, but rather wants to act on the world through his own power. According to Stirner’s view, the only true freedom is the one I am able to create fully by myself, that which is in my actual power. The Marxist revolts against the spiritual, as he can only understand it as a claim to authority, as a tool of the ruling class to keep material mastery over the slaves; but Stirner’s revolt stems from the feeling that the spiritual alienates a man from his true being. In the spiritual, men of every class posit something outside of themselves as their origin and destination. Furthermore, this origin is thought of as their true being, and their self is more or less a deviation, whose only worth is in the degree to which it manages to be an image of the origin. Man gives up his own power in enslaving himself to his concept of an origin, whether it is the people, mankind as a whole, or God.

What makes Stirner’s work respectable is his radical search for his own centre, his true being, the elusive yet absolute ‘I’ which can be found as little in a man’s origin as his destination, as little in his convictions and ideals as in his desires and vices. Stirner wants something more absolute than a ‘calling’; he wants that which makes him completely self-sufficient, and he then want to turn this ‘I’ toward the world, through power, and to make everything in his life radiate as an affirmation of his absolute being. That this search ends in egoism is the result of Stirner’s ignorance of true spirit, namely Being. At the basis of Stirner’s critique of authority is the equation of spirit with thought, but a thought is just a single being, a part of the material world of Becoming. A thought can never capture or contain Being, but is just an expression of it, the residue of Being trying to manifest itself in the world of Becoming. Being is the true, transcendent centre of every single material manifestation in Becoming, including man, and it is thus the ‘I’ that Stirner confuses for his material Ego. We will later formulate the true authority which stems from the identification of the transcendent side of ‘I’ with Being, but for now we will only reproduce Stirner’s critique of what we can call false authority, namely the authority of a thought. This will not be a fruitless endeavour, as Stirner is not alone in confusing Being with thought. On the contrary, this confusion is the source of every dogma and every ‘-ism’, and it is as prevalent on the right as anywhere else. The authority of a thought does indeed turn man into a slave, as it forces the Being within him to run the errands of a part of Becoming. If we truly want to affirm Tradition, i.e. the dominion of Being over Becoming, we need to be radical: we need to realize that this false authority is as great an obstacle for us to overcome as are our mere individual desires. We must rid ourselves of the want, the weakness, of having a ‘meaning’ and a ‘cause’ in the world below our true selves.

Stirner begins by describing the ancient, ‘childlike’ view of the world in which history began. For the child, the world is something unknown and overwhelming, and at the centre of this world stand the parents who gave him his individual life, and who both nourish him and command him. ‘The gods of the people’ are like the parents of a pagan people, and the pagan needs to seek their favour by obeying their words and giving them gifts, but, like a child, he might also try to trick them, or play them against each other. In this sense, Stirner characterizes Paganism as a materialistic faith, a religion of things, as it is concerned with gods as powers of this world; and the pagan’s worship of the family, the people or the gods is not truly spiritual, as it simply stems from acknowledging them to be more powerful than the pagan himself. The goal of Paganism, the reason why Abraham turned his servitude to Jehovah, is the promise of many sons and rich lands, of flourishing as a power in this world: it is more a bargain than an authority.

Stirner is of course not aware of the transcendent side of Paganism, the esoteric side which has been explained by Evola and other traditionalists, nor of the spiritual authority which accompanied it. But the esoteric side has, by its nature, only been available to the higher castes, to the few of a spiritual race, the true Aryans, while the non-Aryan faith of the great masses, in all honesty, probably lies near Stirner’s view of the childlike worship of the ‘people’s gods’. For now, we shall pretend that Stirner’s view is complete, so that he can illustrate the birth of thought and the false authority that this entailed.

While the child grows, he tries to ‘get at the back of things’, to test what he can do, and soon he realizes that he has his own thought, his own power, and that he can steer himself, without or even against the parents. And so ancient man tried to get at the back of his gods, the divine powers of nature, and later, the world as a whole. This is the development Stirner sees in the rise of Greek, and later Roman, philosophy, which by their own thought searched for ‘the Good’ and a way to live in accordance with it. This ‘Good’ stood beyond the pagan gods, and when the philosophers advocated worship of the gods, or the people, or the family, it was because this worship was a good act. But ancient philosophy remained a philosophy of things, a practical philosophy, and not pure thought, as the goal was always a good life. The Stoics wanted man to be unmovable by the world, the Epicureans wanted to be satisfied with the small enjoyments of the world, and the Sceptics wanted to free us from our judgement and evaluation of the world; ancient philosophy was concerned with how to place oneself in the world, not to be outside of it, to reach the spirit beyond. But the ancients worked towards and longed for this leap out of the world, which they were not able to take themselves, and it was at this time, at the twilight of the pagan faith, that Christ appeared.

Stirner views Christ as pure thought, which of course misses the actual spiritual nature of Christ, but also ignores the main point of Christianity: that Christ was God made man, that is, a manifestation of spirit in the material as a breathing man, as living Tradition. It was probably this aspect of Christ that attracted European man, rather than any will to ‘exit’ the world. The Greek philosophers, especially Plato, could not really make the Good a part of this world. It remained a perfect idea, hovering outside of our material existence in its own, separate world. European philosophy to a large degree found a path away from thought, into the real world, by the idea of a God who breached the wall they had put between the Good and matter, entering into the flesh of a single man. We will later attempt to discuss the qualities of Paganism and Christianity thoroughly, in the question of what should be the spiritual authority of our time, but there are no doubts that the acceptance of Christ as the unity of matter and spirit was an acceptance of a true, spiritual authority, and that this rebirthed the European Tradition that was slowly dying along with its pagan gods. But for every new Christian who understood the spiritual nature of Christ, countless more only saw Christ as thought, and thus put themselves under a false authority. Under this view of Christ, thought intensified and finally set man outside of the world, as Stirner claims; we must recognize that this is the only aspect which Stirner manage to describe and criticize.

It is with the advent of Christ that Stirner dates the end of humanity’s childhood and the beginning of its youth. It is in our youth that we revolt against our parents, which is to say, the material power over and the origin of ourselves, and wholeheartedly follow the principles that begin to arise in our own head. The youth is fully occupied with thought, and at his height he may believe himself to have found the sole principle of everything in his concepts: he dismisses everything around him that does not align with his new conviction, and he believes this conviction to be the centre, origin and goal of his life. This mania for the Christian is his concept of God, and the soul that God gave him. The Christian ‘soul’ can of course be an expression of the realization that man’s core lies in Being, but as a mere concept, it places man’s ‘true being’ outside of himself. The Christian man is a creation of God, and is given life by being the vessel for a part of God, of God’s breath. Man’s nature is that he is an image of God, and everything that makes him into an individual man, his body and its desires, is a deviation from his origin, and hence represents an inescapable sin. Man alienates Being from himself, puts it in the creator, while he himself remains as an empty creation, a slave which has his worth only to the degree to which he manages to satisfy the will of his master.

The man who does not know Being, but only thought, confuses the dogma with Being, and calls it ‘the will of God’.

The dogma is a fixed idea, a classification of Becoming into the two parts ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The man who does not know Being, but only thought, confuses the dogma with Being, and calls it ‘the will of God’. He thinks that his true ‘purpose’ is to realize this idea and destroy everything that does not fit into it; he is possessed by his thought, he does not comprehend that the thought itself is just a part of Becoming, that when he serves the ‘cause’ of the idea he turns his Being into a slave of Becoming. Again, Stirner thinks spirit is this thought, and instead of the Being of man talks about his ‘Ego’; but Stirner correctly notices that the man truly possessed by thought cannot stop by alienating only himself from his Being, but must continue to alienate the whole world. Not only I, but the whole world is sinful! The world is an imperfect semblance of the perfect thought, it is something that must be left behind and shunned. Only the ‘spirit’ is true and only by being devoured by this thought can I become what I was meant to be. Only the ghostly thought is real, and the world is its faded apparition, the spook of the thought. Finally, the possessed man has put himself outside of the world of Becoming – and we might add, outside of Being as well.

But ‘God’ is not the only fixed idea, and the age of thought does not end with the end of Christian dominion. Instead, Stirner sees the modern man as the faithful successor of the Christian – or at least, we might interject, of the Christians who only knew thought. However radical and liberal the ‘humane’ moderns are in their critique of Christianity, they never defeated the divine master outside of man, but rather transformed him into a new fixed idea and abstraction, namely ‘Man’. ‘Man’ is never the actual man; he is not myself, but rather the new, abstract master every mere man must strive to realize, through ‘freedom’, ‘human rights’ and ‘morality’ – not the Christian gospel, but a dogma and a holy faith nevertheless. He who differs (for Stirner, the egoist), is an enemy, an ‘un-Man’, and there is no forgiveness for the man who actually wants to be his own.

Finally, Stirner declares his vision for the coming age of history, the age of the adult man. Adult man has outgrown the dreams and thoughts of the youth, and only has concrete interests; he looks at the world and considers what he can do, how he can realize his own will. He is self-sufficient, content with being concerned only with his actual self, and does not need to serve any ‘cause’, for he is his own. Stirner chooses not to identify his person with something outside of himself – not God, not Man, not the Nation – but only with his own, actual power. As little as a true man serves and is possessed by his desires, shall he serve and be possessed by his ideals; they are both to be his property, something of which he is the complete master and which he can use for his own will. To look outside of myself for value or ‘meaning’ is to become a slave to something I do not possess; it is only what I am a master of that is truly me: I am only my ownness.

Stirner declares that the whole world is his property. There is nothing, material nor ‘spiritual’, that I should view as off-limits, or to which I should pledge fidelity; there are only things that are not yet in my power, not yet an expression of my will. Of course, I do not have the power to actually make everything mine, and there will always be individuals and movements more powerful than me, but that which overpowers and compels me to follow it is not the same as authority. To be restricted is not the same as feeling respect. In the nakedness of power, we see in the one greater than ourselves someone we want to be, someone whose domain we want to conquer, even if we can’t now (or perhaps ever) challenge him. What characterize authority is that we yield to someone else, stronger or weaker, because of something other than our own advantage, mercy or lack of power. True authority is when this ‘something else’ is the Being which is both my true self and my commander; but false authority, the only authority Stirner knows, is when this ‘something else’ is a mere thought, something alien to my true self. It is when I feel the need of a ‘calling’ in the world of Becoming, when I believe that the ‘meaning’ of my being is to serve a ‘cause’ or to respect a ‘right’ in order to truly become, not who I am, but who I am ‘meant’ to be, that I create an authority, and make myself into a slave.

In its final form, liberalism realizes that the particular qualities of man, his identity, make him a deviation from ‘Man’, and thus incomplete, sinful.

Thus the difference between Stirner’s ownness and the moderns’ ‘freedom’ is clear; the liberal ‘freedom’ is not anything one possesses, but rather something given to one, a power and a claim to one’s property and being that someone else has resigned. And in the same manner, ‘freedom’ requires one to resign one’s own power. This mutual resignation is only made possible by the concept of a ‘right’ that both you and the other have, built on something sacred that you do not dare to touch, namely that you are both ‘Man’. Everything created in this ‘freedom’ is not the result of your power, it is not your own, but is rather a fief, given to you by the grace of the liberal state, to which you can nicely submit and for which you can work as an image of ‘Man’ .

Stirner characterizes the liberal movement by its ‘right’ to property, which is believed to free man from his feudal lords, but which in reality robs everyone, serf and lord alike, of their actual property, their actual power, by giving them a ‘right’ to their property only by their quality of being a ‘Man’. This servitude to the modern god ‘Man’ is intensified in socialism and communism, or ‘social liberalism’ as Stirner calls it, which needs to rob man of the profit of his given property. The different powers and qualities of men result in a different degree of ‘right to property’, and thus provide a new hierarchy of profit, something own which makes me differ from the abstract ‘Man’ in all of us. Finally, liberalism reaches it peak in ‘humane liberalism’, an obscure moment in Stirner’s time, but which rings as a preludium of the false authority of our own. In this final form, liberalism realizes that the particular qualities of man, his identity, make him a deviation from ‘Man’, and thus incomplete, sinful. If one is a Christian or something else, if one is a German or something else, or if one is simply an egoist, one is a forbidden own, a particular interest which hinders our journey towards the universal ‘Man’ in all of us. Thus everyone must become nothing; we are only truly ‘humane’ when we have annihilated all interests of our particularity, in the servitude of ‘Man’s rights’. Everyone must be total slaves, to the total and global ‘mankind’.

It is worth noting how visible this religion of ‘Man’ has been in the self-destruction of European power, identity and heritage, and especially in the case of orchestrating a massive, foreign immigration. First they pretended that there was a quality in this immigration we needed, but few natives benefited from or wanted this ‘enrichment’. Then they alleged it was a demand of morality, pointing to the evil of not letting them in, and letting them suffer in their own countries; but now it is the natives who suffer, and people are questioning the morality of hurting their own. Now the only cause left, which was the only cause to begin with, is that the immigrants are humans, and as ‘Man’ they have the same ‘right’ as any European to the lands of Europe; by denying them entrance, one is inhuman, ‘un-Man’. It is not the immigrants themselves or anything they can produce that is the goal of immigration; the true goal is to attack the particularity of Europe, the own of the Europeans. For by our identity, by this part of the earth that is our own, we are something else, something greater than the false god of modernity; we are not ‘Man’, but sinners, and modernity must summon the great flood to wash us away, they must let fires rain upon our cities. They fear us, because in affirming that which is ours, we are slowly killing their god.

]]>
https://arktos.com/2019/01/21/stirner-and-the-question-of-authority-part-1/feed/ 0
Sex, Gender and Nature https://arktos.com/2019/01/18/sex-gender-and-nature/ https://arktos.com/2019/01/18/sex-gender-and-nature/#view_comments Fri, 18 Jan 2019 15:58:19 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=5797 Gillette, popular producer of shaving supplies, has recently released an advertisement with a moral. Playing off of its long-standing and multivalenced motto, ‘The Best a Man Can Get’,1 Gillette opens with the question: ‘Is this the best a man can get?’ Thereafter follows a series of vignettes featuring boys bullying boys and men cat-calling, harassing or condescending to women, culminating finally in several surely satisfying denouements, in which a handful of men intervene to stand up for the rights of the various oppressed – thus becoming the heroic role models for their sons, who look on adoringly, and who in their turn will presumably form a new generation of ethical, upright, and, no doubt, clean-shaven men.

On a first and inattentive watching, it might be easy to suppose that this advertisement is nothing other than the latest expression of a millennial Western tradition, founded originally in the chivalry of Christendom, which dedicated itself to the tempering of masculinity into a highly refined and noble manliness, forging the warrior into a paragon of justice, a defender of the honour of women and a protector of the weak. It does not take long to disabuse oneself of this pleasant delusion, however, and to realize that the commercial in question is in fact nothing but a bit of feminist pandering.

While the ‘right’ is bleating about the unfairness of so palpably hostile a portrayal of masculinity, the left is busy spending its considerable intellectual capital in radically hollowing out the idea of masculinity itself.

It has made itself, to be sure, the centre of a growing controversy, which may or may not redound to the dividends of Gillette’s stockholders. Much of the backlash has come from men who object to the supercilious tone of the commercial, and who are (curiously enough) tired of being hectored by multinational corporations, whose board members doubtless have much graver sins on their conscience than whistling at pretty girls in the streets. Some have no doubt noticed the racial element involved – namely, that the active offenders are in all cases white men, whereas the ‘heroes’ are of a somewhat more varied ethnic gambit. A great deal of the debate has centred as well on the fact that this advertisement seems to demonize manliness, suggesting that, until now, men have been in the main the agents of a socially tolerated ‘toxic masculinity’ (horrendous ideological propagandism that practically introduces the advertisement), but that ‘something finally changed, and there will be no going back’. That ‘something’, we are given strongly to understand, is the so-called ‘Me Too’ movement and the rise of n-th wave feminism, without which, evidently, we would be mired eternally in the old patriarchal morass of abusive, violent, overweening masculinity.

The negative responses to this advertisement are useful and beneficial, but as ever, they are two steps behind the leftist intellectual avant-garde, of which this commercial is the merest and most unconscious spin-off. While the ‘right’ is bleating about the unfairness of so palpably hostile a portrayal of masculinity, the left is busy spending its considerable intellectual capital in radically hollowing out the idea of masculinity itself, by proposing that the human sexes (nota bene: not just the genders; that is old hat by now) are themselves socially constructed.2

This is insidiously reflected in the central scene of this advertisement, in which a seemingly endless line-up of normal-looking men, arms folded and standing aside their smoking barbecues, recite, as though in litany, ‘Boys will be boys’ – that time-tested piece of commonplace wisdom which has inaugurated the new generations of men into the world since as long as anyone can recall. Evidently, we are to understand that boys will not be boys – or at any rate, not necessarily; to presume that they will be is both to contribute to the engineering of a new generation of mindless, rough-and-ready brawlers and sexual predators, and to perform a basic injustice against our boys themselves, in whose bodies little girls, may, in fact, be timidly lurking. Gillette has thus given its consent to the production of a social climate in which most men will be transformed into milksops, and the remainder, quite reactively, into angry and big-bearded barbarians – neither of which alternative augurs well for the razerblade and shaving-cream business.

So much for a brief critique of a bit of witless propaganda. But in point of fact, the entire charade is but a theatre piece of modern times. Many of those who respond to this advertisement, for good or ill, are but the useful fools of the publicity industry; and Gillette itself is but the useful fool of the contemporary egalitarianism. Such sophisticated analysis, however, reflects nothing of the moral question involved: the first group wants, with full good right, its dignity; Gillette wants, with considerably less right, its battened lucre; and the third group wants, with no right at all, the slow but inexorable refashioning of society into the image of its capitalo-communistic egalitarian utopia.

With this in mind, we proceed to the little deeper layer.

Biological Sex as Social Construct

We have already noted that the pioneering wing of the left is presently hard at work attempting to discredit the idea of biological sex. The rare responses to this newest effort at the ‘deconstruction’ of traditional ideals have unsurprisingly relied on science to demonstrate their point. Though this is a necessary aspect of the counter-argument, I think it woefully inadequate, for reasons that I have discussed at length elsewhere and to which I will doubtless be returning.3 I believe that the defence of the idea of biological sex, not to speak of the defence of the idea of natural gender, must come on a wholly different plane: the philosophical and metaphysical plane, not to speak of the plane of intelligent mockery, caricature and satire. (I would gladly give all the scientific ‘proofs’ of biological sex in all the world, for a single contemporary piece of satire of the calibre of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata or Thesmophoriazusae.)

Let us begin at the surface, by attempting to understand the claim. According to it, the binary male/female scheme is arbitrary, and might as easily be something altogether different – say, a spectrum, or a tripartite scheme, or a multi-partite scheme. The presently accepted divisions are wholly artificial, rather than being in any way natural, and thus can become whatever we choose to make of them. Thus a given human being, born into what appears to be the body of a man, might decide in fact that this is but a misassignation of his true sex. Standing on this sense of himself, he will say, ‘I am not a man, even on the biological level; I am a woman.’

The leftist argument thus at once falls into the trap of all reactionism: it wishes to deny the existence or authority of something, and so it lashes out against it, thus demonstrating the very existence or authority which it would deny.

The initial problem which confronts such a one, of course, is that in his attempt to break free of an arbitrary scheme (the male/female dichotomy), he has immediately reaffirmed it. By negating the application of the category ‘man’ to himself, he has effectively asserted its existence, as well as his putative inclusion in its category. The leftist argument thus at once falls into the trap of all reactionism: it wishes to deny the existence or authority of something, and so it lashes out against it, thus demonstrating the very existence or authority which it would deny; and indeed, it is generally true that mere negation of a universally acknowledged principle or idea amounts to reification of the same.

The leftist must thus recognize that the insistence upon the freedom of this or that human being to determine his sex is only a first step in the process of deconstructing the artificial binary opposition between the sexes. He must go a step further; he must eradicate the metaphysical authority of this binary. Following his initial ‘insight’, viz. that there is nothing natural about the male/female binary, he finds he has two options: he can attempt to reconstitute a variety of possible and legitimate ‘genders’ or ‘sexes’, as substitution for the simple and simple-minded male/female binary; or he can insist on the arbitrariness and ‘constructed’ quality of gender and sex to the bitter end.

Let us walk a while with our embattled ‘liberal’ upon the second and more revolutionary path of this parlous fork in the road, to see just where his boldness must lead him.

The Relativist View

Supposing he follows this route – which we may call with good reason the ‘relativist’ interpretation of sex or gender, and which heads decidedly leftward and toward a rubbled and desolate plain – what then? He has essentially cloven the apparently clean and tidy male/female binary in half and discovered between its (imaginary) poles a whole cacophonous universe of unexpected possibilities. The first temptation is to suppose that there is a spectrum of possibilities, running from ‘pure masculinity’ on the one hand to ‘pure femininity’ on the other; our ‘liberal’ might indeed embrace such a view of things, in blithe ignorance of the fact that his arch-nemesis, Julius Evola, essentially did the same, while drawing from this identical insight diametrically opposed conclusions.4 But once again, our ‘liberal’ has here stumbled over the major hindrance to all reactionary positions: in supposing a real spectrum, he has of course supposed as well the reality of the extremes of that spectrum – of undiluted masculinity and undiluted femininity. Even as a man who, looking at a greyscale, cannot claim that the obvious existence of so many kinds of grey disproves the equally obvious existence of black or white, so our ‘liberal’ seems compelled in the end to recognize that, although he might well be correct that there are any number of ‘middle cases’ or ambiguous positions in his sex spectrum, this does not prejudice the fact that there are also pure cases containing it on both ends.

His claim must then be another, and he must take it to a wholly different level. He must acknowledge that the binary genders really do exist; but he adds to this claim supplementary conditions, to wit:

  1. They are either exceedingly rare (as black and white as compared to the infinite shades of grey) or else they are much less common than mixed cases; therefore,
  2. to use them as a standard by which to measure mixed cases is essentially unjust, and represents nothing but a bit of social fascism imposed on societies through the fiat of (generally patriarchal) ruling classes, in order to perpetuate their abusive power, wealth, etc.

His claim thus reduces to the idea that there is a whole variety of real sexes or genders, including those classically known as ‘male’ and ‘female’, and thus refutes its original relativistic premise that gender or sex is socially constructed. Gender or sex is in fact totally real; only that there are many more of them than are commonly acknowledged, which have been, if anything, socially manipulated according to the ‘prejudice’ that there are, or should be, only two. But this relatively moderate point of view is much more accessible to assault from classical conservatives.

To defend the radical relativistic view, our ‘liberal’ must therefore fall back upon quite another and much bolder claim: there are no ‘real’ sexes or genders, but only ‘constructed’ ones. Every sex or gender, be it ‘male’ or ‘female’ or anything in between, is actually a figment of the collective imagination, as it can be supposed to include any number of even contradictory traits. There are no rationally definable borders surrounding the idea of ‘man’ or ‘woman’, ‘male’ or ‘female’, neither on the biological level, nor certainly on the level of gender. These borders are arbitrarily assigned and thoroughly permeable, as can be attested, for instance, by the circumstance that we are willing to call an enormous variety of human beings ‘men’ despite the fact that they have literally nothing in common, if not certain incidental features (such as the presence of the Y-chromosome or the absence of female genitalia), which in turn prove on any rigorous analysis to be perfectly distinct and separable from any of the specific social or biological traits which are commonly associated with ‘maleness’ in our society. Hence, even to speak of ‘sex’ is to commit a philosophical error.

This is the radical leftist position, and stands at present on the cutting edge of leftist thought; given the nature of the left, which is enamoured of ‘progress’ and marches eternally in the direction indicated by its maddest theoreticians, this is therefore also the most effective critique, and the one which challenges the conventional view most directly, deeply and decisively. At present, one finds it flitting about the periphery of leftist thought like a willow-the-wisp; but rest assured that few of the members of the wider left are immune to the charms of such cunning lights. Another half decade (supposing it will take so long as that, with how rapidly things are moving!) and this idea will have become as prosaic and dull as the once-revolutionary notion of socially constructed gender. And to say it again, science, far from standing in its way, will unroll the carpet before its very feet – save as a deeper and more entrenched opposition can be made on the much more fundamental level of philosophy, morality, satire, art and metaphysics.

The first point of weakness in the radical premise is the methodology by which it is attained. The ‘liberal’, in order to demonstrate the uncertainty of the classical categories, relies on the discovery of exceptions to any definition of them which might be proposed. Whatever definition one finds of maleness, he will find a counter-example, and on the strength of that will hold the definition to be nullified. But exceptions to the rule have always been acknowledged; no society, including that of Christendom, has ever doubted, for instance, the existence of hermaphrodites. It is the status of such individuals which is the crux of the question: do they represent a deviation from the norm, or a norm all their own? It is part and parcel of modern methodology – it runs throughout all of modernity like a hidden thread, from the limit cases of calculus to the limiting procedural methods of science; from the checks and balances of republicanism to the categorical imperative of Kant – to take the exception as being constitutive of norms. Prior ages, on the other hand, took the exception, strangely enough, to be an exception. This methodological contest cannot be resolved in the present essay. It will be apparent enough, however, where we consider reason to lie in it.

Now, granting for a moment the left’s radical premise, our ‘liberal’ finds himself in the following state of affairs: he exists in a human society which has been labouring beneath a false view of sex since its founding, and which judges everything in terms of a non-existent binary. That binary is embedded deep in the language and customs of his society, to such an extent that in every attempt he makes to deny it, he finds he must make reference to it. He must then work on a variety of fronts to force the mutation of this false view into the true view: he must in the first place make intellectual or scientific or apologetic arguments in support of his thesis; he must in the second place work to change the language itself, carving out space within it for the limitless variety of possible sexes and genders. We are seeing this last movement, for instance, in the recent university regulations, and even in some cases city laws, imposing the use of artificial pronouns.5 There is, after all, nothing at all untoward about insisting upon imaginary words to refer to imaginary genders.

Whether there is anything contradictory about restricting freedom in the name of freedom, is quite another matter.

Identity or Nature?

If all genders are arbitrary social constructs, it would appear, from the point of view of logic, every bit as arbitrary to affirm the ‘liberal’s’ chaotic mishmash of essentially undefinable ‘identities’, as to affirm as the male/female binary. Since there is no natural grounding for the one or for the other, why not insist on the traditional view? The ‘liberal’, to answer this challenge, must defend the justice of his notions on the basis of the truth of his premises. Because there is demonstrably, as he claims, no such thing as sex or gender, sex or gender should be the choice of every individual human being; each human being, finding within himself, rather than a single nature he holds in common with other human beings like himself, discovers instead a wholly singular individual, perfectly idiosyncratic, and containing within himself an amorphic confusion or void, which he should have the right to name or fill as he sees fit.

All well and good; but of course, the liberal cannot stop up here. For it is clear that in a society conditioned by the millennial delusion of the male/female binary, most human beings will see fit to call themselves ‘men’ or ‘women’. This will lead in turn to the continuation of the grand illusion of the ‘normalcy’ of these genders, and will thus encourage the entire complex of social, political and legal standards constructed around that idea of normalcy; and this in turn will lead to any number of inequalities between these ‘normal’ individuals and the ‘abnormal’ individuals who refuse to be defined by this binary. Our ‘liberal’ is thus compelled to become a revolutionary – as is after all not uncommon to his ilk – and to do all in his power to uproot and eradicate the ‘norm’ by persuading, first the academic and political and media elites, and then later the common run of men, of its deficiency.

The ‘liberal’ does not want to feel rebuked by a morality, does not want to fall short of an ideal, and so invents for himself a bite-sized ideal he can swallow at a gulp, made precisely for the narrow set of his own jaws.

He therefore goes on the offensive, decking himself out, perchance, in the most flamboyant female dress he can get his hands on (for thus he makes a more obvious stand upon his rights), parading with other and equally revolutionary ‘non-gendered persons’, and writing furious screeds for any of the myriad of magazines and journals and blogs available to such left-thinking folk in defence of his ‘lifestyle choices’ – or, if he be so inclined, in intellectual support of the ideas that underpin his new existence. One way or another, he makes it his goal, not merely to live as he sees fit (which mere living is compromised in a thousand ways by the stodgy old traditional prejudices about sex and gender), but rather to transform society itself to accommodate and to encourage such choices as he has made.

He does all of this in the name of, and on the justification of, a thing he calls his ‘identity’. This ‘identity’ is something which is not externally given him (save by the very unjust and fascistic social imposition he seeks to eradicate), but is rather freely chosen by the individual on the basis of his innermost ‘feeling’ or ‘sense’ of himself. That choice must therefore possess an absolute dignity and cannot be compromised nor questioned by any outside party; it must be accepted as a fundamental right of the human being, on the premise that, since no human being is given a nature, each human being is given instead an individuality which cannot be comprehended or characterized by any external party, and which must be preserved, protected and nourished in all of its manifestations (save as these be, naturally, ideologically opposed to the kind of society that makes this delightful internal anarchy possible).

The classic view of the human being gave to each man a specific nature. This nature was rooted in his genera; it included, for instance, his sex, his gender, his ethnicity, his talents and his failings, his vices and his virtues. It was the duty of education and upbringing, entrusted to the hands of wise teachers or masters, to cultivate the particular nature of each human being with due recognition both of his situation and of his particularity. This view therefore made room both for normalcy (class, race, trade, religion etc.) and for exceptionalism (vocation, calling, talent etc.). It recognized, with a greater or lesser degree of merciful comprehension, that some persons would be born inadequate to their stations (the mentally or physically crippled, the sickly etc.) and that others would be born superior to their stations (the prodigy, the genius etc.). It was at once firm and yielding, at once rigid and flexible, and made full allowances for the broad range of human possibilities within the special sphere of human nature, limits of which it viewed as the precondition for human excellence, human wholeness, and right human growth itself.

The new view, by contrast, begins from the elimination of precisely those limitations, that sphere. In the place of nature, it hypothesizes in each man an irreducible, undefinable, inalienable ‘self’. One might call this an ‘individual nature’, but the very idea of a strictly individual nature eradicates the idea of nature as such.6 Each man is rather simply an individual – that which cannot be reduced any further, that which cannot be grouped or agglomerated into a larger organic whole, save as it itself chooses to be so grouped or agglomerated. Each individual is or should be the unrestricted agent of his own destiny, and should be perfectly free to choose what he will or will not do with his life, save as his choices infringe on the rights of others to do the same. The individual is one monad amidst a sea of monads, bumping up against their bubble-like existences and bouncing off again, until at last he has run his course and his own bubble has popped, and he dissolves again into the undifferentiated waves of becoming.

The Left as Reactionary

We are not concerned, however, with his death, so much as with his life. (In this respect, we are presently very much like him; for he, too, concerns himself exclusively with his ‘life’ and ignores utterly the haunting necessity of his death.) It should be asked, quite simply, on what basis he is to formulate his ‘identity’, given that all external aids to such have been disregarded as artificial. In an ideal society, it is inevitable that he will be ascribed any number of identities up to the time that he is able to choose one for himself. Even in the ‘ideal society’, built upon the wildest utopian daydreams of the boldest leftist visionary, one can at best imagine a kind of ‘neutral’ identity assigned willy-nilly to all children, perhaps with its particular non-committal pronouns and its particular characterless and colourless toys, activities, meals, clothing, education etc., still it is evident that the first act of any individual will not be his positive selection of his ‘gender’ or his ‘sex’ or his ‘identity’ from out of a limitless manifold; his first act will rather necessary be the purely negative act of rejecting that identity which was imposed upon him. Nature is given to man; it is a positive and positively definable aspect of his being, which encourages him in a specific direction and toward a specific ideal; ‘identity’ is merely a hollow place within the ‘individual’ which he makes ‘his own’ by throwing out whatever he happens to find already there.

The radically relativistic view of sex and gender thus makes of the human being a basically negative actor, a naysayer, whose first and most defining deed is rejection. It is the dogma of the radical ‘liberal’ that this initial movement of destruction merely paves the way for a subsequent and primary act of ‘creation’. But in the absence of all positive standards (which have been rubbled, one by one, in the vast ‘deconstructive’ project of modernity), such ‘creation’ occurs essentially in a void and without any guidance. Despite what the moderns seem to think about ‘creation’ – word which we most significantly use even to describe the scribblings of our toddlers and the third-rate tinkering of the local amateur handicraftsman – it is not the kind of thing that one can pull out of one’s hat, just so, at a whim. Everyone knows the truism that it is easier to destroy than to build; how much easier, then, to negate than to create!

It is the revolutionary who is the true reactionary, and the conservative who is the truly active party.

The vast majority of ‘identity’ is today, and will be tomorrow, nothing but the angry denunciation of this or that extant group, imposition, norm, moral, custom, law, personage, etc. The very ‘choice of identity’ is an inescapably negative choice, a determination of what one is not or what one does not want to be, and this negation is reflected in every aspect of the present sinister transformation of society: the left knows well how to destroy, revels in the act of obliteration and demolition, but when it comes to assigning positive goals for itself or for society, baulks and becomes strangely mute. It falls back, to be sure, on any number of nice-sounding propositions, such as ‘equality’ or ‘rights’. A wider investigation of these ‘principles of the left’ lies outside the limits of the present essay, so here we can but assert that even these propositions, when analysed to their depths, reveal themselves as being equally negative. As evidence for what we cannot at present prove, we produce the whole of modern society.

The entire society-wide squabble over gender and sex, with all its distasteful manifestations – such as the Gillette commercial with which we introduced this essay – is essentially nothing other than a counter-action against traditional values. This much is widely known, but when it is treated in speech, this counter-action is not ascribed its right character. It is called revolutionary, and one is given to understand (thanks to the thoroughgoing and ever-continuing verbal legerdemain of the left) that the revolutionary ‘liberal’ stands against the reactionary conservative. This in fact turns the truth directly on its head: it is the revolutionary who is the true reactionary, and the conservative who is the truly active party. The conservative stands for what is and the being of what is, its continuation and perpetuation through time, which is the essentially active deed – the direct human reflection of the fundamental positive and active deed of creation itself, whereby God sustains the world that He has made, and prolongs its existence unto eternity. The leftist is the reactive party to this deed, who, perceiving it, moves against it and wishes to destroy it, to hobble it, to castrate it, to eliminate it, to besmirch and belittle it, to befuddle and confound it, and finally to annihilate it. The leftist moves primarily out of dislike, irritation or discomfort, when he does not move out of hatred itself; the conservative, even when he takes up the sword, moves ever out of love (though in any number of cases it might be a misplaced and wrong-headed love). In conserving, he acts; and in destroying, the leftist reacts, working to destroy as well his own underpinnings, his very preconditions, and rendering himself as helpless and impotent as an octopus floating in the infinite chambers of space.

He is spurred on in his hopeless quest, however, by resentment and envy; he wants what is given to others, but he wants it on his own terms and without any effort. That is his small and misfit idea of creation. A characteristic passage from a related article can be taken as representative:7

According to another YouTuber, Riley J. Dennis, the answer is yes. In a video she did back in February of this year, she explains biological sex is a social construct because not everyone experiences secondary sex characteristics the same way. ‘Some people with penises don’t develop much if any facial hair,’ she says, ‘while some develop beards, and the amount of facial hair that they have doesn’t make them more or less male. The same goes for people with vaginas. Some of them will develop large breasts, some will develop small breasts, but neither of those is more or less female.’

In point of fact, there are men who are less male than other men; there are women who are less female; for maleness and femaleness, just as manliness and womanliness, are human ideals. The latter are ideals toward which every one of us should aim within our capacities; the former, ideals that we realize or fall short of on account of our inborn qualities. But the ‘liberal’ does not want to feel rebuked by a morality, does not want to fall short of an ideal, and so invents for himself a bite-sized ideal he can swallow at a gulp, made precisely for the narrow set of his own jaws – a target so near to him that he could not miss it if he tried. ‘Liberalism’ is an invitation to tear down statues on the one hand and to squat on the remains on the other; it is social restlessness wed to personal complacency.

For the contemporary ‘liberal’ has at once a hopelessly small idea of man, and an impossibly grandiose vision of his potential. Man to him is at once but an animal like any other, a mere accidental mechanical combination of material bits that is thrust about on the waves of forces it does not understand and cannot control; he is produced, excreted, brought into existence as a kind of puppet at the mercy of a merciless universe. At the same time, by the leftist view, man is the producer of that science by which Fortuna can be slain, the ex nihil creator of his own ‘value systems’, a first and primary mover in his own destiny.

Neither the one thing nor the other is true, and in proposing such a grotesque and self-contradictory image of the human being, the leftist has in truth produced an anti-man, a vision of the human being turned inside out and made at once more pathetic and more godlike than he really is. For man is in truth free in such a way as the animals cannot comprehend, is the strange one of the world, capable of dancing a hair’s breadth beyond the grasp of a deadening and degrading necessity; and yet he is made only in the image of God, is not himself a god, and can access the divine light of creation only within the right limits of his special mansion. His creation, too, is in the image of divine creation, is not itself divine creation; to foist upon him the duties of a divinity is to crush him beneath a weight he was not born to bear. The leftist attempt to produce an ‘identity’ capable of filling the void produced by the deconstruction of sex and gender is a fine symbol of that awful hubris. In truth, man’s special freedom, and his special limitations, are contained within and inseparable from his nature – a nature with which he is born, and which proposes for him as much an ideal of man and woman, as of society, morality, and being.

References

1Truly a clever piece of publicity, which works on at least three different levels simultaneously: first, the merely commercial, insofar as it indicates that this razor is the finest razor on the market; second, the personal, insofar as it suggests that by purchasing this razor, a man will ‘get to be’, i.e. become, his very best; third (connected especially with various images in an older generation of Gillette commercials), the sexual, insofar as it suggests that a man who has been specially groomed by the cutting-edge shaving of Gillette razors, will get the best woman he can get. Needless to say, given this absolutely inescapable element of its older commercials, Gillette with its newest advertisement runs the risk of playing the hypocrite. We are permitted to doubt, however, whether this fact will long trouble the conscience of its producers, who are, after all, not paid their unwieldy stipends for consistency or moral fibre. Yet we cannot resist mentioning in this context that the idea of a ‘capitalistic meritocracy’ is really one of the most obnoxious gimmicks of our modern parlance.

2It already says a great deal that in looking for an article on this ‘question’, one finds that one has the embarrassment of the choice. This seems to be one of the going problems on the left, and the chatter surrounding it might be compared to the response from the ‘right’, which is limited to the odd article floating about in the netherlands of the the As for the work being done by the left, and selecting a few articles more or less arbitrarily, see for instance ‘It’s Time For People to Stop Using the Social Construct of “Biological Sex” to Defend Their Transmisogyny’, by one ‘Mey’, or ‘Sex is a Social Construction, Even if the Olympics Pretends it’s Not’, by Nathan Palmer.

3See my essay ‘The Lesser Sphere’, Arktos Journal.

4See The Bow and the Club (Arktos, 2018), Chapter Three, ‘The Third Sex’.

5New York City, for instance, is unastonishingly at the forefront of this particular bit of modernistic nonsensical injustice, and has gone so far as to implement fines against people who refuse to use the pronouns selected by their interlocutors, even if these be pronouns that literally did not exist before the turn of this latest century.

6This is one of the greatest philosophical challenges confronted by Nietzsche. Consider Beyond Good and Evil, especialy §§ 9 and 22.

7Mamone, Trav, ‘Is Biological Sex a Social Construct? It’s Complicated’, Paste Magazine, July 17, 2017. Accessed January 18, 2019.

]]>
https://arktos.com/2019/01/18/sex-gender-and-nature/feed/ 2
More than Meets the Eye: The Death and Resurrection of European Animism https://arktos.com/2019/01/16/more-than-meets-the-eye-the-death-and-resurrection-of-european-animism/ https://arktos.com/2019/01/16/more-than-meets-the-eye-the-death-and-resurrection-of-european-animism/#view_comments Wed, 16 Jan 2019 15:48:29 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=5781 Modern Confusion

Shamanism, spiritualism, energy work, rainbows and crystals, totems and spirit animals. In our modern world, these things have existed in the realm of either ‘exotic’ (non-white) cultures or have been snugly in the possession of lefty wingnuts. In the sphere of Western paganism, there has been a great deal of discussion about reconnecting to holistic living, which is in turn often connected to ‘we are all one’ ideology. The irony is that Europeans did, in fact, hold an animistic understanding of the world at one point in time. We, too, believed in an interconnectedness of life and fluidity between the spirit and mundane realms. In fact, the mortal world was not actually mundane at all. It was teeming with spiritual life-force to such an extent that one might say that Midgard, the land of mortals in the Teutonic worldview, was seen as enchanted.

Animistic polytheism rooted in ancestor veneration was virtually a universal faith for humanity. However, it was not universalist.

It is fair to say that Europeans viewed the earth and life itself in a way not dissimilar to various indigenous spiritual traditions in the world. Indeed, animistic polytheism rooted in ancestor veneration was virtually a universal faith for humanity. However, it was not universalist. Spirituality had a unique expression tailored to each ethnic group. So, while many common themes can be found throughout the world in various ethnic faiths, each ethnic faith also varies with particulars and peculiarities that are specific to the people practicing it. In recent years, the revival of animism and belief in the metaphysical that sees human beings as interconnected with each other and our environment has tended to go hand in hand with the liberal doctrine that all human beings are one. But this is anachronistic. While the various peoples of the past, that is prior to Abrahamic universalism, did hold many of the same or similar spiritual beliefs, they were cognizant of the reality of race and other ethnic differences.

In other words, two different tribal groups may well have seen the landscape teeming with spirits, viewed themselves as interacting with both the spiritual and material, and very likely believed in notions such as a cosmic web that connects all things. However, this in no way influenced people not to draw boundaries or borders, or to engage in self-defense against neighboring rivals. In fact, it was universalist Christianity, not paganism, that was often used to make people forget their differences and join together in one ideological club. There was a clear understanding that the ‘one God’ ideology was correlated with ‘one people’ under ‘one king’. This is why Christianity was adopted by pagan kings looking to consolidate their power and expand their territory. Monotheism was useful to the feudal notion of monarchy. Monotheism was a tool to create mono-culture which helped to erase the differences between conquered tribes as they were merged into larger kingdoms. Therefore, the notion that an animistic worldview is equated with modern liberal ‘one world’ nonsense is anachronistic with respect to historical pagan practice.

European Worldview Versus Abrahamism

An article by an author using the pen-name ‘Spengler’ on the Christian web-journal called First Things sheds some light on this. The article, ‘Christian, Muslim, Jew’, highlights the writings of a Jewish rabbi called Franz Rosenzweig. While Rosenzweig died in 1929, the author says that his philosophy was especially popular in the post-WWII era. Spengler describes World War II as a war between Abrahamism and ‘neopaganism’, saying that ‘after neopaganism nearly conquered Europe, Rosenzweig’s contention that Christianity requires the presence of the Jews found great resonance.’ He continues

Pagans, Rosenzweig explained, have only the fragile and ultimately futile effort to preserve their physical continuity through blood and soil. Their hope for immortality takes the form of a perpetual fight for physical existence, which one day they must lose. Rosenzweig’s sociology of religion thus offers unique insights into the origin and nature of civilizational conflict when he argues that a pagan people, ever sentient of the fragility of their existence, are always prepared to fight to the death.

Much has been said over the years about paganism continuing to live on in the hearts and minds of ethnic Europeans. Rosenzweig’s view is that the presence of Jews in the West is a sort of paternalistic role which stops Europeans from reverting to paganism, with Gnostic Christianity being a form of Christianity that merges indigenous spiritual worldview with Abrahamic scripture. Spengler says that Rosenzweig ‘began a new kind of dialogue between Judaism and Christianity when he argued that the two faiths complement each other: Christianity to propagate revelation to the world, and Judaism to “convert the inner pagan” inside each Christian.’ He later continues, ‘Rosenzweig’s most influential claim holds that the Jew “converts the inner pagan” inside the Christian, such that the living presence of the Jewish people creates a counterweight to the Gnostic impulses in Christianity.’

Christianity had a directive to remove barriers between ethnicities while paganism was synonymous with ethnic identity.

Rosenzweig’s worldview clearly saw Judaism and Christianity working together in unity against a ‘blood and soil’ worldview. Paganism is essentially ancestor worship and nature veneration, literally blood and soil. And, according to Rosenzweig, without the guiding hand of Judaism, Europeans would fall back into this belief system. Spengler explains, ‘Rosenzweig argues that pagan society cannot foster authentic human individuality but dissolves the individual into an extension of race or state.’ This explains quite well how closely paganism is tied to ethnicity, whereas Christianity, guided by Judaism, is supposed to function as a universalizing force transcending racial boundaries. He continues on:

In pagan society, where God remains unrevealed, the individual exists only as an organ of the collective of state or race. The pagan’s sense of immortality therefore depends solely on the perpetuation of his race, and his most sacred act is to sacrifice himself in war to postpone the inevitable day when his race will go down in defeat.

I would say that this Jewish rabbi’s views on paganism are accurate. And his discussion illuminates precisely why Christianity was used as the ideological tool to subdue disparate tribes into submission under an expanding empire with globalist aims. Indeed, if one begins to dig through old dictionaries for the definition of the word ‘ethnic’, what one finds is that before WWII, it had been used interchangeably with ‘heathen’ and ‘pagan’. The word ‘ethnos’ itself has origins in ancient Greek wherein it was used to describe a collective group of creatures that are alike to one another. In the earliest usage, ethnos could be used interchangeably with words like hive, pack, flocker, it was also used to describe groups of people who were alike, such as a tribe or a race. The New Testament verse Romans 10:2 supports Rabbi Rosenzweig’s point of view: ‘For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. Add to this that the word used by Saul-turned-Paul of Tarsus in the original Greek New Testament which has been translated into English as ‘pagan’ was originally ‘ethnikos’. It is quite clear that Rosenzweig was correct: Christianity had a directive to remove barriers between ethnicities while paganism was synonymous with ethnic identity. Therefore, liberal hippy-dippy pagans pushing no borders are practicing the wrong religion!

Conspicuous Origins of Wicca

But, how did this confused form of paganism begin? In light of what ‘Spengler’ said about Rosenzweig’s views of paganism, and his own assertion that World War II was ‘neopaganism nearly conquering Europe’, it is interesting to look at the birth of Wicca. Modern liberal pagans owe a debt of gratitude to Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca. It is important to note that pagan revivalist movements have popped up in virtually every century in Western history. The notion that modern pagan practice originated with the advent of Wicca is false. Further, Wicca is not a reconstructed pagan faith, but rather a contrived religion cobbled together with bits and pieces from Germanic and Celtic belief mixed together with ceremonial magic. According to his Wikipedia biography, Gardner was a freemason.

It is curious that Gardner appeared on the scene the same year that World War II came to a close. Gardner’s Wikipedia article explains: ‘moving to London in 1945, he became intent on propagating this religion, attracting media attention’. Witchcraft had been outlawed in Britain for centuries, but the Witchcraft Act was repealed under Winston Churchill’s watch only a few short years later, in 1951. Winston Churchill was also a freemason. Prior to World War II, ethnicity and paganism went hand in hand, and had done for millennia. In 1945, Gardner made his way to London ‘intent on propagating his religion’, which was a cobbled together mish-mash that confuses Teutonic and Celtic cultures, but ultimately leads practitioners away from both. While there is no smoking gun to prove a conspiracy, these are interesting coincidences to take note of.

European Animism

We can see that Europeans once had an animistic worldview just like other indigenous spiritual systems, that this was distinctly ethnic-based; but this did not equate modern liberal ‘we are one’ nonsense – at least not until 1945. So, what did we believe and why does it behoove us to look to our own ethnic folkways in the modern world? Well, a good place to start is with the original meaning of the word ‘god’. The early Judeo-Christian missionaries used cultural appropriation quite liberally when packaging their ideology to Europeans. Many words from our own indigenous lexicon were used to sell Christianity. The word ‘god’ is only one of many words taken and twisted from its original meaning. It is a Teutonic origin word, with close cognates found all across the Germanic language landscape. Etymonoline says:

From Proto-Germanic *guthan (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch god, Old High German got, German Gott, Old Norse guð, Gothic guþ) … perhaps from PIE *ghut- ‘that which is invoked’ (source also of Old Church Slavonic zovo ‘to call’, Sanskrit huta- ‘invoked’, an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- ‘to call, invoke’. The notion could be ‘divine entity summoned to a sacrifice’.

But some trace it to PIE *ghu-to- ‘poured’, from root *gheu- ‘to pour, pour a libation’ (source of Greek khein ‘to pour., also in the phrase khute gaia ‘poured earth’, referring to a burial mound. ‘Given the Greek facts, the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound.’

Originally a neuter noun in Germanic, the gender shifted to masculine after the coming of Christianity. Old English god probably was closer in sense to Latin numen.

So if the Teutonic word ‘god’ was closer to the Latin word numen, what is the meaning of numen? Per Merriam-Webster, ‘numen: a spiritual force or influence often identified with a natural object, phenomenon, or place’. Therefore, in the Germanic context, ‘god’ had an animistic meaning. We believed that our landscape and the creatures within it were imbued with spiritual forces that we called gods. And the act of honouring these gods involved pouring libations, or offerings, in propitiation. This act also appealed to these spirits to invoke their presence. We offered sacrifice so that the gods might intercede here on Midgard. It is documented that sacred springs were venerated across European language boundaries. Dr. Brian Bates discusses the enchanted landscape of Northern Europeans in his book The Real Middle Earth: Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages. He draws a distinction between the more rationalist worldview of the Romans compared to that of the Celts and Teutons. However, he does have to concede that some spiritual practices were held in common. He says,

The Romans are counterpointed elsewhere in this book as lacking some of the imaginative sensitivities of Middle-earth culture. However, they also honored wells. One well dating back to prehistoric times was rediscovered in 1876. Excavations showed that it had originally been built by the Celts and had subsequently been taken over by the occupying Romans. Displacing the indigenous Celts, or at least setting up military overlordship, they built a fort at the well right at the northern border of England, called Brocolita, now named Carrawbrough. Artefacts recovered at the well show that it was dedicated to Coventina, almost certainly a local Celtic goddess who was adopted by the Romans.

But we know that the sacred wells and springs were honored in Britain even prior to the arrival of the Celts. A British documentary television series called Walking Through History hosted by Tony Robinson features an episode called ‘The Path to Stonehenge’ which gives a lovely discussion with several leading anthropologists and historians about recent (as of 2013) theories regarding the purpose of Neolithic sites in Britain. Ancestor veneration features prominently in Neolithic European culture. But water veneration also appears frequently. Robinson speaks with experts who explain the role of ancestors as guardians of the living, but also that water is venerated for its life-giving force. The official website for Stonehenge echoes this interpretation. Discussing the wider ‘complex’ connecting Stonehenge to Avebury and Silbury Hill, the website says:

In late winter/early spring, the winterbourne (dry in winter) river Kennet resurfaces and floods the low lying land, The ditch surrounding Silbury Hill is filled and, again, forms the shape of the squatting Mother Goddess. Such a clever design, using the seasonal flow of the river to venerate the Provider and where, from the summit, She would be visible. The annual, fresh flow of life-giving water from the Swallowhead Spring to swell the River Kennet, would have held great significance to the populace living in and around Avebury. Swallowhead Spring, would have been seen as part of the Goddess’s living body. We see Spring, the Herald of new life, the first Age of Man and the first Season of Mother Earth. Contrast the absence of the water flowing from the earth which could signify drought, crop failure and to those reliant on those waters, death if the Provider withheld the bounty.

The Frankish Question

It is interesting that Bates discusses the Roman adoption of Celtic sacred springs, because Roman Christianity used the same tactic. Places that were seen as holy since time immemorial continued to be venerated by the populace even after nominal conversion. The historical record has preserved numerous edicts and letters of instruction from the Catholic hierarchy sometimes urging the destruction of indigenous European holy sites, the outlawing of veneration of natural objects, or sometimes instructions to appropriate these sites for Christian use. Della Hooke, in her well-researched book called Trees in Anglo-Saxon England, gives a lengthy discussion citing ample historical documentation of the Christian attack on nature veneration. She says,

Frankish [Christian] kings were anxious to wipe out the worship of springs, trees and sacred groves, and set fines in the later eighth century for those who thus made vows at such places or squandered praises on pagan gods and ordered that such trees, stones and springs where foolish lights or other observances were used or carried out should be removed or destroyed. The Council of Nantes in 895 specifically ordered the destruction of trees consecrated to ‘demons’ or local gods.

Had we never been forced to abandon the gods of our landscape we would have been better stewards of the Earth.

Interestingly, the Frankish attacks on indigenous European culture are further evidence that Rabbi Rosenzweig is accurate in his assertion regarding the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in their unity against the ethnikos, or pagans. A Jewish scholar called Arthur J. Zuckerman put intensive research into his book, A Jewish Princedom in Feudal France, 768-900, published by Columbia University Press in 1972. Apparently, there was a Jewish principality in southern France that has been generally forgotten today. This community played a role in the story of Europe versus the Moors in Spain, in the early medieval trade routes, the establishment of networks of credit and the banking system, and also in the Christianization of Northern Europeans. According to Zuckerman’s research, the Franks granted land to the Jews of Septimania on the condition that they locate a descendant of Israel’s King David to crown as their own king. A scholar from the line of David was found in Babylonia and made king of Septimania. Author Lee Levin sums up the story in his article for ‘The Jewish Magazine called ‘The Jewish Kingdom of Septimania’, wherein he explains that the Carolingian dynasty lacked a royal bloodline and so their family married in with this new ‘King Machir’. Levin says

[Machir] would give oaths of allegiance to the King of the Franks. King Charles requested that Machir marry his aunt Alda. A request from the King of the Franks was a command.

All now came clear. So this was why Pepin had required that the King of Septimania be a direct descendant of King David! The problem for Pepin, and for his son, King Charles, was that Pepin had usurped the throne of the Franks from the Merovingians, and thus there was no royal blood in their veins. This they desperately needed in order to establish the legitimacy of their dynasty. By this marriage of Alda to Machir, who was a direct lineal descendant of King David, they would not only have royal blood in the veins of their descendants, but the most royal blood possible, the blood of David himself!

But how could such a marriage take place? Alda was Catholic, and no Catholic priest would marry her to a Jew unless the Jew converted, which of course Machir absolutely could not do. On the other hand, no rabbi would marry Machir to a gentile unless she converted. An unsolvable dilemma? Apparently not, for marry they did, and had a legitimate son through whom Jewish blood now was intermingled with that of the Carolingian kings of France.

It is further explained in Zuckerman’s scholarly work that

At the time Pepin admitted Makir to the high Frank aristocracy he may well have dubbed him with a distinguished dynastic name. Theodoric suggests itself because of its frequent reappearance in later generations of the Makhiri (p. 212).

Zuckerman asserts that the ‘prevailing view that the Franks allied with the Goths defies the evidence. Pepin was allied with Caliph of Bagdad and they worked together for a “Franco-‘Abbasid domination over Spain”’ (p. 173). He continues,

After the fall of Narbonne and the amicable outcome of the negotiations the negotiations with Bagdad in 765–68, Pepin and his sons Carloman and Charles redeemed their pledge to the Jews, settled a scholar-prince in Narbonne by the name of Makhir, dubbed him Theodoric, gave him a Carolingian princess as wife, and endowed him with noble status in addition to vast allodial estates. (p. 173).

(As an aside, that the Carolingian kings would bestow the name ‘Theodoric’ upon this Davidic-line Jewish king is significant. The name contains the Germanic elements ‘theo,’ cognate to ‘deus,’ and ric/rik which means ruler).

That Pepin’s son Charlemagne granted economic privileges to Jews in his realm is well supported in the historical record. The same is noted of Charlemagne’s son, Louis the Pious. Charlemagne would go on to become famous for the horrific slaughter at Verdon, where he killed 4,500 unarmed Saxon chieftains in cold blood. Louis the Pious is thus named for his penchant for collecting all known writings on indigenous European culture and setting them alight.

These tactics would he echoed by converted Christian kings for centuries as they joined ‘Christendom’, a forerunner to the modern E.U., which granted economic privileges and trade incentives. But, dedication to and practice of our indigenous folkways lingered on amongst the populace despite the efforts of their elite overlords. Eventually, the Protestant Reformation would rightly notice that under Catholicism Europeans remained essentially pagan. And so, again, secular and religious authorities rounded up individuals suspected of engaging in their own indigenous practices and set living people on fire for this sin. That famous ‘Protestant work ethic’ coincided with the rise of the mercantile economy and the capitalist machine that has dominated the West in more recent generations. While atheism is often blamed for the loss of the sacred, industrialization occurred in Western nations that were still overwhelmingly Christian. Industrialization arguably raped and abused the natural landscape both by unethical harvesting of resources and the pollution that ensued.

Moving Forward

Today we stand upon a precipice, and must ask ourselves ‘Which way Western man?’ Many are observant enough to see that those who present history are re-writing it in front of our very eyes. We can see media misrepresenting facts such as the historical ethnic demographics in Europe. That our academic and educational institutions are literally indoctrinating students from their tender years through university is news to no one. Yet, there is a chasm of disconnect when it comes to looking critically at the recording and telling of other areas of history and the roles that elite-imposed ideological precursors to modern liberalism have played in driving us to the scenario in which we find ourselves today. The dissident right looks at the media and scoffs at the ‘lying press’, while they simultaneously allow themselves to be manipulated by it. An analytic jaunt through the history of historical paganism, the figures responsible for spreading Christianity at sword point and their other connections and activities, coupled with a closer look at 20th century history, turns the standard understanding on its head.

Shamanism, spiritualism, energy work, rainbows and crystals, totems and spirit animals belong to lefty wingnuts only so long as we eschew our own ethnic spiritual inheritance. This is a question of dire significance. For, when the fight for ethnic viability is over, immediate questions arise on the horizon. Will we defeat the globalists only to allow their goals to continue under the guise of universalism? But, more pressing will become the need to wrestle environmentalism away from the left. What good will it be to save our race if we have destroyed our own planet? While it may not be realistic to expect a mass return to animism as a religion in the immediate, it can be said that had we never been forced to abandon the gods of our landscape we would have been better stewards of the Earth.

Western man must ask himself, squarely, if he believes in blood and soil. If the answer is yes, then hope springs eternal.

Works Cited

Bates, Brian. The Real Middle Earth. Oxford: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2002.

Etymonline.com. ‘God’. n.d. 22 12 2012.

Hooke, Della. Trees in Anglo-Saxon England. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2010.

Levin, Lee. ‘The Messiah of Septimania’. 2011. The Jewish Magazine. web. 22 12 2018.

Spengler. ‘Christian, Muslim, Jew: Frank Rosenzweig and the Abrahamic Religions’. October 2007. First Things. web. 22 December 2018.

Stonehenge.co.uk. ‘Thoughts on its purpose’. n.d. Stonehenge.co.uk. web.

Walking Through History, Series 2, Episode 1. Perf. Tony Robinson. 2013. Television.

Wikipedia. ‘Gerald Gardner (Wiccan)’. n.d. web. 22 12 2018.

Zuckerman, Arthur J. A Jewish princedom in feudal France, 768-900. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972.

]]>
https://arktos.com/2019/01/16/more-than-meets-the-eye-the-death-and-resurrection-of-european-animism/feed/ 4
How One Steps Over – Part 2 https://arktos.com/2019/01/15/how-one-steps-over-part-two/ https://arktos.com/2019/01/15/how-one-steps-over-part-two/#comments_reply Tue, 15 Jan 2019 14:03:28 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=5740 Modernity and Lawfare

Thus far we have identified what we believe to be the main strategy by which modernity seeks to erode the metaphysical foundations of European man and his civilization. This has been conducted with the aid of Monika Hamilton’s breakdown of the shattering of metaphysics. However, as was stated at the beginning, thus far an explicit definition has not been given for ‘modernity’. By now it should be clear what modernity ‘feels’ like, with allusions to its mechanical, material, and technical character. Given this, we may state that when one refers to, or invokes, modernity, one is calling attention to the soulless, material, anti-spiritual state of affairs of the current age. It is an age defined by its extreme technical and analytical lingua franca with respect to the inner workings of both man and his habitat. To be modern is simply to be a machine or a cog within a larger machine; it is to see oneself and others as such. This machine may be understood as conceptual, actual, or both. Indeed, this mechanical metaphor was brought into usage by Thomas Hobbes with his beginning statements in Leviathan, as well as by René Descartes.1 Modernity is anti-transcendent. That is, modernity discourages understandings of one’s existence which extend beyond the merely mortal and merely material. Modernity is thus the age where those who exist within it exist as cogs, as machines, and as things which must be tinkered with and altered in order that they may become part of a seamless functional device and division, much like gears in the watchmaker’s watch, or the watch itself as a finished product. This process and concluding state of existence is best described in Waldgang. Jünger observes,

The hopeless encirclement of man has been long in the preparation, through theories that strive for a logical and seamless explanation of the world and go hand in hand with technical development.2

Here Jünger identifies rationality and unified scientific explanation (‘theories’) of the world as the cause of man’s dangerous predicament. This would be that which is opposed to, or, rather, stands in opposition to, a non-rational non-materialistic explanation of the world. The ‘technical development’ which ‘goes hand in hand’ with the ‘logical and seamless explanation of the world’ are those mechanical and technical worldviews which produced the means necessary and able to fight the brutal first and second European Civil Wars in the ways they were fought, as well as all those technologies which sprang forth afterwards. Jünger claims this process begins first with a ‘rational encirclement’ of the opponent (man), then with a ‘societal encirclement’, and finally with his extermination. This three-part process is eerily similar to Hamilton’s breakdown of the shattering of metaphysics. The final sentence from section 10 of Waldgang gives us a clue as to how, and through which medium, this ‘encirclement’ and then ‘extermination’ will occur:

No more desperate fate exists than getting mixed up in a process where the law has been turned into a weapon.3

One need merely open one’s eyes and turn one’s attention to the use and abuse of European law to see the prophetic nature of this statement by Jünger. Indeed, on a daily basis one may see how European law has been inverted; rather than a system to protect Europeans it has instead become one which now attacks Europeans in their own lands in order to shove them aside to make room for those who have no cultural, historical, or ethnic ties to said laws. In modern tongue this is known as ‘lawfare’. And it is deadly. To understand its origin, we must travel back in time to 1958 and the Harvard Law Review.

Rather than a system to protect Europeans, European law has instead become one which now attacks Europeans in their own lands in order to shove them aside to make room for those who have no cultural, historical, or ethnic ties to said laws.

In 1958 Harvard Law Review published what would later become known as the initial argument in the ‘Hart vs. Fuller’ debate.4 This was a debate which put the final nail in the coffin of law derived and created on the basis of natural theory – or Natural Law theory. It was a debate between H. L. A. Hart – a Jewish Academic who, after working for MI5 during the Second World War and tasked with rooting out Soviet spies, settled on a career as an academic legal theorist – and Lon Fuller.5 Legal positivism, to put it bluntly, is to law and cultural tradition what modernity is to metaphysics. The entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes legal positivism as an understanding that ‘existence and content of laws depends on social fact and not on its merits’.6 In other words, the moral goodness of laws are not what determines their existence, but rather ‘specific structures of governance’ determines whether laws exist. Further,

The fact that a policy would be just, wise, efficient or prudent is never sufficient reason for thinking that it is actually the law, and the fact that it is unjust, unwise, inefficient or imprudent is never sufficient reason for doubting it. … Law is a matter of what has been posited … as we might say in a more modern idiom, positivism is the view that law is a social construction. … Legal positivism’s importance, however, is not confined to the philosophy of law. It can be seen throughout social theory, particularly in the works of Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and also (though here unwittingly) among many lawyers, including the American ‘legal realists’ and most contemporary feminist scholars.

Positivism thus has a long history in utilitarian thought, and its roots can be found in Jeremy Bentham and John Austin’s writings on utilitarian theory and law. Hart’s paper goes through pains to make this clear in his attempt to defend legal positivism by elucidating the positions and confusions associated with positivism because of its affinity and historical lineage with utilitarian thought,

I shall present the subject as part of the history of an idea. At the close of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth the most earnest thinkers in England about legal and social problems and the architects of great reforms were the great Utilitarians.7

What the ‘great utilitarians’ were arguing for was the ‘separation of law as it is and law as it ought to be’.8 In clearer terms, they were arguing for the separation of law from our ideas about how law should reflect what we hold to be morally normative. Continuing with the metaphor, what this theory, and these men, demand is the shattering through atomization of culturally informed desirable behaviour, by unseating this culturally informed desirable behaviour from its modern form of codified rules of interaction between community members (i.e. law). To be clear, the claim being made is that what we understand today as ‘Law’ is none other than the codified and culturally inherited rules passed down to us by our ancestors – a passing down of ordered rule which came at considerable cost and bloodshed. Law, in Europe, is one of the many manifestations of our unique cultural and genetic legacy as well as a living historical organism connecting us to our past. It is this which positivism, utilitarian theories of law, and men like H. L. A. Hart are trying to, and indeed have, destroyed. Hart writes,

What both Bentham and Austin were anxious to assert were the following two simple things: first, in absence of an expressed constitutional or legal provision, it could not follow from the mere fact that a rule violated standards of morality that it was not a rule of law; and, conversely, it could not follow from the mere fact that a rule was morally desirable that it was a rule of law.9

In other words, if there does not exist some explicit document stating as much, there can be no logical or other kind of entailment that, solely on the basis that some rule violates one’s (or one’s community’s) held moral values, this violation of these moral values denies the rule its status as a rule. The opposite is also true: that just because some rule falls in line with what one, or what one’s community, holds to be morally appropriate, it cannot be considered a ‘rule of law’. In essence what the utilitarian, and by extension the positivist, project entails is the eradication of the organic link between culture and morals on the one hand and the connection to the explicitly codified governmental structures of social cohesion associated with culture and morality on the other. One might appropriately term this the bureaucratizing of society.

Ironically, in criticizing the ‘threadbare’ account of a legal system when addressing another area of utilitarian legal theory – that of command theory – Hart claims that what is not law is exactly the phenomenon we find when we look around us and observe what is occurring within the legal systems of our own countries:

Thus law is the command of the uncommanded commanders of society – the creation of the legally untrammelled will of the sovereign who is by definition above the law. It is easy to see that this account of a legal system is threadbare. One can also see why it might seem that its inadequacy is due to the omission of some essential connection with morality. … [It] is like that of a gunman saying to his victim, “Give me your money or your life.” The only difference is that in the case of a legal system the gunman says it to a large number of people who are accustomed to the racket and habitually surrender to it. Law surely is not the gunman situation writ larger, and legal order is surely not to be thus simply identified with compulsion.10

And yet, this is exactly the situation we find in our own countries today. In our societies, cities, and nations, where our national spirit has been broken and our once-unified theories of existence have been shattered, and where our law no longer allows for the citizen to rally against it under the cries of its immorality, the guns of the State are being pointed at our collective atomized heads. ‘This is the law!’ the barrister and the prosecutor say. Whether the law is moral or not has no bearing on whether it was right for you to break it. You broke the law and thus you must go to jail. This is the desperate fate Jünger alludes to, in which the law becomes a weapon against the commanded in order to maintain their obedience, under the premise that one must do what one is commanded to do, and if one does not then one must be exterminated lest he become an example for others with similar inclinations. This is ‘lawfare’. It does not appear to be mere coincidence that as modernity marches on in its vicious destruction of any and all bonds, one can look to modern structures of government and find a similar system, which at its core seeks to destroy those very things which produce the codified manifestations of morality we call ‘law’. With unified theories shattered and rendered unto their distinct and disconnected spheres, social cohesion breaks down. When social cohesion breaks down, those living within the once-ordered, now disordered communities, look to the State to arbitrate previous organically mediated disputes and previously organically evolved totems of acceptable interaction between community members. The State is all too happy to acquiesce to this request. What we call law today is really just this phenomenon of the State fulfilling the role traditionally played out by local village elders, families, and community members. One can see that as traditional culture is attacked and breaks down, the size and scope of the State’s legislative and juridical authority increases. As such, where spiritual exhaustion and a loss of linguistic tools are the consequences of the logic of modernity in man, we may confidently affirm that the modern litigious bureaucratic State is the physically manifested organism wrought forth by the consequence of the logic of modern theory over man; the Jüngerian Leviathan.

Towards a New Metaphysics

In an age in which magic, mysticism, shamanism, and the like have been banished to academic libraries, only to be studied by historians or the rare curious individual, even to suggest that there is something more than the merely mortal and material is indeed a revolutionary act in its own right. This revolutionary act does not mean, and should not be taken to include, those modern snake-oil salesman on television, in their massive modern minimalist mega-churches, or the old bastion of Catholicism in Europe. Where there is the stench of money and usury in exchange for some promised end you will only find at this stench’s root modernism veiled in a shallow cloak of feigned tradition – religion for the modern automaton. The rapid decline in genuine religious belief in the modern age is simultaneously the product of a two-front attack on modern man by modernity. On one front is the race to the bottom in regards to the average level of education, where an astute observer may recognize the success of modernity in her capricious achievement of equality, whereby all are equal in their average stupidity. The second front is the rapid advance of the technological sophistication of material consumer products, which are created by the top tier of modernity (whose mental acumen exceeds the boundaries of the degenerative efforts of modern education, despite modernity’s best attempts to see to the contrary), and which to the stupefied masses seems like genuine magic. Thus the technological sophistication of modern consumer products allied with the tyrannical system of a leveling education system create the conditions for an objectively hollow but subjectively genuine feeling of awe within the average dullard of modernity. Why turn to a genuine feeling and need for metaphysics and a transcendent feeling garnered through serious religious engagement when one need merely interact with the mystical forces of technological modernity to satisfy one’s spiritual needs? The in-born desire for that Something within us all is readily satisfied for the average man by modernity through technological ‘hocus pocus’.

Where there is the stench of money and usury in exchange for some promised end you will only find at this stench’s root modernism veiled in a shallow cloak of feigned tradition.

The first act in stepping over modernity is to admit that a desire for a genuine metaphysics assumes that a genuine and objective metaphysics exists and that the magical feeling filling the void among the average man by modernity is shallow and decrepifying. Once one has overcome this mountain one may look to higher peaks with the confidence gained from ascending the peak of modernity; looking below, one sees that what first seemed genuine and awesome was in reality hollow, shallow, and not really a mountain at all. But the feeling of conquering what before seemed an indomitable mountain, though it now be understood as merely a hill, remains. Through this feeling a new desire is re-awoken in man, and he now looks for higher peaks to ascend. For those with the desire to conquer mountains and seek tranquility away from the chaotic daily life of modernity, this initial ascension will be vertiginous at first, but will provide the necessary spiritual might to undertake the climb to even greater heights. This action is of the kind expressed by Rene Daumal:

Alpinism is the art of climbing mountains by confronting the greatest dangers with the greatest prudence. Art is used here to mean the accomplishment of knowledge in action.11

The men who now seek a new being, one akin to the being of our ancestors, will feel a rush of heroism and internal superiority, a sense gathered from this kind of ‘new’ art. One peak has been climbed, and contemplation on that peak leads to a realization that it was not really a peak at all; now one seeks real mountains fit for real and genuine heroes such as those of our past. The conquering of this initial peak leads to the realization of what Julius Evola described with regard to modernity,

[In] modern civilization everything tends to suffocate the heroic sense of life. Everything is more or less mechanized, spiritually impoverished, and reduced to a prudent and regulated association of beings who are needy and have lost their self-sufficiency. … In ancient societies the peak of the hierarchy was occupied by the caste of the warrior aristocracy, whereas today, in the pacifist-humanitarian utopias (especially in the Anglo-Saxon ones), attempts are made to portray the warrior as some kind of anachronism, and as a dangerous and harmful entity that one day will be conveniently disposed of in the name of progress.12

In rekindling a desire to ascend mountains – both external and internal ones – the mountain climber of modernity has made a conscious choice to come face to face with his own mortality in more ways than one. Climbing mountains is dangerous; every step, and every hold, reveals death’s nip constantly at one’s heels. But in reawakening this heroic spirit, man has now planted his flag in the soil for modernity to see and he becomes like a demon to her. In his heroism and rejection of modernity he becomes the righteous heretic. The first step in becoming an over-goer and a man of the future – in a word, the first step toward leaving modernity behind and beneath you – is to reject shallow materialism and accept the fate of becoming a man who climbs mountains.

Critics at this point may cry out (striking as they do) that such a desire, to be radically anti-modern, would require all men to become what is known as free climbers: men who use nothing but their own body and mind. This is an attempt by agents of modernity to preempt any heresy such as the kind above by framing it in a way that works in their favour through an induction of doubt. Not everyone can be capable of free climbing for various reasons, so why should anyone seriously try? This clever linguistic sleight assumes a man of the mountain rejects technology whole-sale. This is untrue. The man ascending uses spiked shoes, ice picks, karabiners, and rope; man uses technology to aid him in seeking that Something more. The technology is an instrument over which man exerts control and dominance, not the other way around. The technical equipment used to ascend the peak does not degrade his contemplative time at the peak – though this contemplative time would be elevated should he ascend the peak without any equipment, as is fitting for a man of such heroic qualities and capability. No, these naysayers would see no man climb mountains for his spiritual well-being, rather preferring him rendered a slave to technology and modernity.

Simply climbing mountains is not enough, however. The act of climbing mountains is, in itself, revolutionary, but it obscures a more radical mentality of the future-man, whose specific desires drive him to such a revolutionary act. Mountain climbing for the sake of records or as a kind of modern bourgeois medal of accomplishment paraded before others at dinner parties is not the kind of mentality spoken of here. The mentality required is one best illustrated by Søren Kierkegaard,

So I smoked again, and then suddenly this thought flashed through my mind: You must do something, but since with your limited abilities it will be impossible to make anything easier than it has become, you must, with the same humanitarian enthusiasm as the others, take it upon yourself to make something more difficult. This notion pleased me immensely, and at the same time it flattered me to think that I would be loved and esteemed for this effort by the whole community, as well as any. For when all join together in making everything easier in every way, there remains only one possible danger, namely, that the ease becomes so great that it becomes altogether too easy; then there will be only one lack remaining, if not yet felt, when people come to miss the difficulty. Out of love for humankind, and from despair over my embarrassing situation, having accomplished nothing, and being unable to make anything easier than it had already been made, and out of a genuine interest in those who make everything easy, I conceived it as my task everywhere to create difficulties.13

Humanitarian leanings and the naïve sentiment expressed that one will be loved for creating difficulties aside, the general sentiment expressed by Kierkegaard in this quote is of a higher type not found in your average man of the masses. Even Kierkegaard’s humanitarian desires could be said, in a way, to be quite aristocratic. This desire to make difficulties, not just for one’s self – though this is of primary importance for the men of the mountain – but for others as well is the kind of radical anti-modern mentality necessary for a future metaphysics and a future consciousness. All that was traditionally quite natural – close-knit communities, strong familial ties, an iron will towards meeting one’s fate, etc. – are now difficult. Modernity has inverted the health and spiritual vigor of our ancestors’ time, making an appeal and approach to these mountains themselves radically difficult. These are difficult things which require a penchant for the difficult. Those stuck still within the modern anti-metaphysics will see this desire for the difficult as perverse and daemonic. They will be unable to comprehend it because comprehension is something they lack. But for those who still have even a flicker of their ancestral spirit left inside them, they will be attracted to men such as themselves – though they may stand on different branches of the same rooted tree – like warriors to the sound of battle. These men will form new communities and out of this will arise a new brotherhood of men of the mountains. They will be like a lighthouse for the weary pilot traversing a maelstrom of crashing waves, stinging rain, and howling wind.

As we see it, these two preliminary proposals for traversing across and above modernity are not enough. There must be a third mechanism which unifies the action and the attitude which creates an outer and inner psychophysical future-man. Radical and berserk action cannot be sustained indefinitely and even in bursts is only warranted on certain occasions. What must unify the artist producing his art through action is a contemplative spirit. This is not your Hollywood monk sitting cross-legged with his elbows resting on his knees humming incessantly like a ninny. Men such as this are mere sleepers seeking solace from modernity in a self-induced coma. These men are useless. The kind of contemplation we speak of is one where the mind seeks only the next step, the next attack, the next secure foot- or handhold. It is a kind of contemplative action leading to a climax on the peak of serenity and superiority. At the peak of the mountain, one may reach out and touch, however briefly, the realm of the gods:

The mountain is spirit in all that it involves: discipline of the nerves and body, clear-minded courage, desire for conquest, and the impulse to engage in pure action in an environment of pure forces. … [T]he earth’s peaks which reach to the sky and which are transfigured by perennial snow, were spontaneously regarded as the most apt material to express, through allegories, transcendental states of consciousness, inner spiritual realizations, and apparitions of extranormal modes of being, often portrayed figuratively as gods and supernatural beings.14

Thus we find that men who climb mountains, conceptual or actual, are men we come to admire because a man who climbs mountains is “a human being in whom the spirit becomes power and life and in whom physical discipline in turn becomes the introduction to, the symbol and almost a rite of, a spiritual discipline.”15

There is one final disposition which must be attained by men who wish to step over modernity, and it is a disposition which inspired the title of this article. It is the disposition of stepping over something. To step over something is to give it no regard as being anything more than something which must be stepped over. This is something which, once the requisite prior attitudes, physical and mental, have been attained, will come quite naturally – though it may be admitted that some may develop the desire to step over first and come to those mental and physical attitudes as a result of this desire. This attitude was once described by the late Jonathan Bowden. Whether the formulation is his, or whether he borrowed it from somewhere along his travels, is unimportant. It is the mentality which is required, along with all the others such that the leviathan and paper tiger that is modernity will finally be rendered into a cowering rat, tiny, afraid, and insignificant. For, this paper tiger exists only so long as there is no true and actual strength in Men. At the sight and the sound of the fury of real men this paper tiger that is modernity will shrink, though initially it will lash out fluffing its fur in a desperate hope that its illusion of size and strength will be enough. It will not be. For in traversing and ascending mountains men become heroes and heroes are strong in physique and sound in mind. They will see through modernity and by this act of through-sight they will come to ignore it, and they will ignore also the petulant cries of modernity’s agents. This is what it means to truly step over modernity. But it is not possible without a genuine metaphysics which requires a true and vigorous soul. All this must be committed to and acted upon in unison and simultaneously, such that the splitting of the atom of that Heideggerian being is re-unified into a genuine universal being.

Europe must become a bastion for men who wish to climb mountains and step over modernity – whether this climb and stepping over be that of the Nietzschean jester or that of the man who steps over a puddle.

What has been presented here has been simply a preliminary attempt at providing some sound and actual advice for those dissident not-yet-heroes of the anti-modern resistance. This resistance is intellectually heavy, but physically it is lacking. There is a substantive lopsidedness in the intellectual/physical superiority of this anti-modern movement. Some of this, certainly comes out of the fear of engaging in actual physical resistance to modernity, where those with this cowardice seek the easy path of intellectualism and the playground of the ivory tower. Though the fear is genuine the path of action is not. As has been discussed above one need not take direct action against the modern leviathan itself to bring it to its knees. Indeed, an action such as this, where one strikes one’s enemy where they are strongest, would be a serious miscalculation and wasted effort. Men must strike where modernity is weakest and that is where she has reduced her efforts when it comes to metaphysics, genuine being, and consciousness. These ramparts of hers have been left unguarded, for she thinks there is no longer a threat – and in some ways she is right. If what characterizes modernity and civilizations is a desire to build walls to thwart the mountain raiders, then we must observe that while the walls of decadent modernity still exist, the raiders do not. We must become those cultured raiders living on the steppes outside of modern society – both in a metaphorical and actual sense – where inhabitants within the walls of modern society fear even to whisper our names. It is not enough to simply deprive modern society of our financial capital. Modern society must first and foremost be left without our industrial capital – of which our inner essence is the source, and which she depends on above all else. It becomes clear that the very thing modernity seeks to destroy in us all – our spirit – is the thing which drives us towards great deeds and civilizational accomplishments while also being that thing which props up the modern system.

But conferences today on the anti-modern right consist largely of shallow calls for some vague and nebulous resistance, or often devolve into panels of complaining whiners whereby the panels adopt the victimhood status so typical of modernity, all while crying that they are superior beings, members of superior peoples; and in this crying they beg of modernity to not overrun their cities.

This criticism is harsh but it is necessary, and it is not done from a desire to undermine. Europe must become a bastion for men who wish to climb mountains and step over modernity – whether this climb and stepping over be that of the Nietzschean jester or that of the man who steps over a puddle. It is only then that modernity will cease to be a thing of the present. By stepping over modernity and coming together with like-minded men, the new brotherhood we create will bring what Hamilton described as a theoretical no man’s land back into the foreground of the future. The language and symbols necessary for such a discussion and being will thus be cultivated through the actions of men who seek transcendent heights nearer to the gods than modernity could ever grant, since modernity despises even the thought of the idea of gods. In so doing, we will create a parallel community and being, which will rival and eventually overcome modernity, ushering it onto the shelves of history where only those wishing to study it as a warning to future generations will give it a second thought.

References

1Descartes, René, and Thomas Steele Hall. Treatise of Man. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003.

2Jünger, Ernst. The Forest Passage (Waldgang). Candor: Telos Press, 2013.

3Ibid.

4Hart, H. L. A. ‘Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals’. Harvard Law Review 71, no. 4 (1958): 593. doi:10.2307/1338225.

5Ironic; Hart was tasked with rooting out Soviet. His nearest colleague at Bletchly park was found to be a Soviet spy and he (Hart) was married to a card-carrying communist responsible for family policy in the British government.

6Green, Leslie, ‘Legal Positivism’, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

7Ibid., ‘Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals’, p. 594.

8Ibid., pp. 595.

9Ibid., pp. 599.

10Ibid., pp. 603.

11Daumal, René, Carol Cosman, Kathleen Ferrick Rosenblatt, and Véra Daumal. Mount Analogue: A Tale of Non-Euclidean and Symbolically Authentic Mountaineering Adventures. New York, NY: Overlook Press, 2010, pp. 105-108.

12Evola, Julius. Meditations on the Peaks: Mountain Climbing as Metaphor for the Spiritual Quest. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1998.

13Kierkegaard, Søren, Alastair Hannay, and Søren Kierkegaard. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Crumbs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

14Ibid., Meditations on the Peaks: Mountain Climbing as Metaphor for the Spiritual Quest.

15Ibid.

]]>
https://arktos.com/2019/01/15/how-one-steps-over-part-two/feed/ 0
How One Steps Over – Part 1 https://arktos.com/2019/01/14/how-one-steps-over-part-one/ https://arktos.com/2019/01/14/how-one-steps-over-part-one/#view_comments Mon, 14 Jan 2019 12:16:08 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=5729 Much has been said regarding diagnoses of the cultural and political malaise afflicting the West. Astute observers of this disease typically single out a few general themes, thereby identifying the ways in which this sickness nurtures and digs itself ever deeper into our social and institutional psyche. Often, the problems afflicting the modern European are described along the lines of (i) a lacking of, and outright denial of the need for, legitimate metaphysics; (ii) an unwavering belief in radical individualism; (iii) a restless pursuit of material distractions as a way to avoid the question of being; and (iv) the staunch belief in equality across all conceptual boundaries. Indeed, this last facet of the malaise embeds a dynamic psychosis into the social and cultural currents of modernity. But the elephant in the room is what is to be done to fix this problem?

This article will attempt to give some preliminary proposals addressing this question. For there seems to be a considerable paucity of content concerning this matter and any group which seeks to move beyond mere reaction and diagnosis must be ready to state what it wants and how it aims to attain its ends. All spectra of the Right are still too feeble and too afraid to make clear what they want and how they aim to get it. By stepping over modernity we shall also step over that fear, conquering it as we do.

Modernity Sans Metaphysica

This word – ‘modernity’ – will be used, at least initially, without any specific appeal to a definition. This is done intentionally. One will walk through modernity, and along the way, acquire a feel for what it is before its conceptual definition is clearly stated.

Those who lack a metaphysics lack the words and symbols to represent to themselves both how the world is and how they are with respects to this ‘is-ness’ of the world.

What does it mean to be ‘without’ a metaphysics? At a primal level this is to be without consciousness. Metaphysics, or rather the study of metaphysics, pertains to the structure of reality and the investigation of the structure of reality. Where its sister ‘school’ of ontology is the ‘science’ – or study – of the characteristics of essence (being), metaphysics is the study of those things which structure being. In other words, where ontology investigates what being is metaphysics investigates how being is. It thus becomes clear that to diagnose an age as lacking a fundamental metaphysics reveals that one is diagnosing the inhabitants of such an age with a kind of blindness. That is, those who lack a metaphysics lack the words and symbols to represent to themselves both how the world is and how they are with respects to this ‘is-ness’ of the world. In common parlance, this is to say that modern man as man lacks both an understanding of the structure reality, as well as an understanding of his place within this structure. The question as to why it is the case that man exists in such a state of blindness is a complicated one. In order to understand how one exists without a metaphysics, we must first understand how modernity has created its own ‘pseudo-metaphysics’ as a way to destroy genuine metaphysics.

Monika Hamilton has written an excellent two-part article discussing in great and colorful detail this subject.1 The focus of her analysis addresses the core reasons of why, and how, those hostile to modern dogma have thus far been ill-equipped in the pursuit of their critique. She writes,

modernity’s main revolutionary act – that of reconceptualizing metaphysics – remains hidden, for the explanatory language necessary to describe it [exists] entirely in a theoretical no-man’s-land.

What Hamilton denotes as ‘spiritual exhaustion’ is both the thing which modern re-conceptualized metaphysics lacks the language to address as well as that thing which modernity induces in those who’ve fallen victim to it.

Of primary importance here is the consequence that the lack of linguistic tools, and that the existence of this relative spiritual exhaustion, has for inquiries into the effects of modernity on consciousness; this is not discussed in Hamilton’s article. This ‘lack of linguistic tools’ and ‘spiritual exhaustion’ may be termed ‘the consequences of the logic of modernity’. Why this consequence of the logic of modernity is important will be addressed shortly. As such, given that non-material criticisms lie outside the boundaries of the modern academic purview, the only institutionally accepted perspective from which one may criticize modernity is, by design, a modern one. All criticism of modernity follows the logic of modernity in its material and mechanistic nature. The consequence of this logic is thus that any criticism of modernity will necessarily not be critical of modernity in itself as a paradigm and worldview, but will rather be critical of the degree to which the paradigm fails to successfully address problems which exist within the paradigm. Often, too, these problems manifest as a result of the paradigm, not having exist before, and are used as examples in a sleight of hand where critics of these problems point to them as latent pre-paradigm forces failing or actively resisting the new paradigm, rather than recognizing them as the result of the paradigm itself. The solution then becomes, paradoxically, more modern fixes to modern problems, which merely perpetuate the disease while simultaneously providing further life support to it in the form of implicit reinforcement via invocation of modern terminology and techniques as criticisms and solutions to modern problems.

This is akin to throwing gasoline on a fire because one’s understanding of reality, molded by a modernistic ‘metaphysics’, has convinced one that since water and gasoline look and feel somewhat similar they both have equivalent capacity to do the task at hand; worse yet, after one has thrown the gasoline, it is akin to completely ignoring the fact that one’s act has actually and predictably made things worse. This isn’t because one is physically and perceptually incapable of seeing the effects of pouring gasoline on a fire (i.e. one is not physically blind), but because one has been conditioned to think that there’s something wrong with the fire which makes it incapable of being extinguished by gasoline (i.e. one is metaphysically blind). So, now one must investigate from within the paradigm’s perspective how to make fire capable of being put out by gasoline, while at the same time ignoring the fact that the thing one thought was sufficient for putting out the fire wasn’t in the slightest, and placing the fault for this not on the gasoline, but on the fire, for being such that it is. It is simultaneously an attack on, and blindness to, the inner nature of things both animate and inanimate. This contradictory nature is not ironic, nor is it an accident.

Modernity’s effect on consciousness has essentially been to convince people that the only solutions to modern problems can come from within the boundaries of a modern point of view, a view which is material and mechanistic. This is essentially the hubris of modern thought. Instead of modern theory offering a new way forward, which recognizes at once the need for a spiritual essence whose ontology exists prior to existence and that the model of modernity is strangely skillful at producing extreme technical proficiency, modern theory takes a reactionary, and starkly dichotomous position: it forces one to choose a robust transcendent understanding of being or a technically and scientifically excellent existential material framework. Modernity is thus reactionary, and, at its core essentially destructive.

Consciousness and spiritual exhaustion, then, are inextricably linked, as is the effect modernity has on them. Though Hamilton’s investigation into metaphysics (or lack thereof) in modernity deals specifically with the relative absence of effective criticisms against modernity (and why there should be such an absence), it provides a good resource for understanding what a robust notion of metaphysics might generally be, by describing what an individual’s being in modernity is not. It also offers a discussion of what the essence might ‘feel’ like of an individual who had a robust notion of a coherent metaphysics. This is important because if we want to move into the future and reconstruct ourselves such that we might attain something approaching a neo-classical metaphysics, one which ‘[encapsulates] the value of human character by its inner disposition to lead a virtuous and proper life’, then we need to know what is being sought in order to pursue the question of how to rebuild it.2

The three-fold process Hamilton describes as to how metaphysics was shattered by modernity provides a good template for reconstructing a more robust system of understanding one’s place in life with respect to existence and death:

[M]etaphysical fragmentation follows a three-fold process: in the tradition of radical empiricism and the hegemony of materialistic thought, metaphysical qualities are first exteriorized and fragmented into kaleidoscopic disciplines of matter. Once the fragmentation occurs, they are ‘disenchanted’, i.e. divested of their original meaning and purpose in order to be subsequently formed into mechanistic counterparts likened to a technological metaphor. Any metaphysical gradation, e.g. in the form of one discipline’s superiority over another, has either been inverted, as in the example of ethics and technology, or entirely equalized.

In other words, (i) metaphysical qualities are brought to the outside and dissected into distinct fields of study, thereby disconnecting a unified theory from its constituent parts in the same way that modern medicine has disconnected holistic chemical behaviors in medicinal plants by isolating one chemical component and replicating it en masse for medical consumption; (ii) any description which has supra-material definitions is reducted and turned material; to take linguistic inspiration from Quine – little Zeus’ creating light within light bulbs becomes the movement of electrons along a conductive material; (iii) all notions of vertically oriented degrees of worth with regards to values have been overturned either through their inversion or through their equalization.3 In keeping with the belief that there are no hierarchies, values have been aligned horizontally instead of vertically, wherever there is nothing to invert. If there is something to invert, it is inverted. Hamilton mentions ‘ethics and technology’ as an example of this inversion process. By this she means that technology is given primacy as that which is to be pursued above all else while the ethical implications and consequences of such a primacy are relegated to ‘interesting’ discussions in academic settings but the content (and conclusions) of which has no bearing on the overall status of technology qua technology. Modernity becomes a ‘pseudo-metaphysics’ by creating the rose-tinted glasses through which one is taught to view existence, essence, and structure. These rose-tinted glasses encourage – indeed, sometimes demand – that students of modernity ‘see’ the metaphysics of existence, essence, and structure as discursive, disjointed, and disconnected. It is a metaphysics which manifests itself fundamentally as anti-metaphysics.

Tempting as it may be to look at the fragmentation process of modernity and conclude that our solution is simply to walk it backwards, putting the pieces back together simply isn’t possible.

Tempting as it may be to look at the fragmentation process of modernity and conclude that our solution is simply to walk it backwards, putting the pieces back together simply isn’t possible. At least not from the outset. Something else must be done first. It is at this point where an understanding of the ‘unity of transcendental universal. described by Heidegger in Being and Time seems to break down.4 The triumph of modernity with regards to metaphysics and the unity which being possessed, as Heidegger believed it did, would appear to have been overturned by the destruction wrought by modernity on metaphysics. What we have witnessed amounts to none other than the metaphysical splitting of the atom of being.

However, Heidegger and the influential 20th century German theologian Rudolf Otto present us with a glimpse at what a unified transcendental would, much more than look like, but feel like.5 These, paired with Hamilton’s notion of what metaphysics isn’t, and how it was broken up, ignite the spark of a reconstructive hope. We know that whatever our metaphysics will look and feel like in the future, at the very least, its constitutive parts must be interlocked and unified. Contemplation will occur, not out of a desire to be distracted, but out of a desire to not be distracted – contra the Nietzschean denizens of the Hinterworld. One will feel one’s being because one necessarily feels invigorated and lacks the quality of weariness so typical of modernity. Central to this is what Junger described as ‘access to those time-transcending powers that can never be reduced to pure movement.’6 This time-transcendent power is the axle around which all else revolves. It gives stability and strength, creating a centripetal inward gravitational pull of all one’s collective essence, both the material and immaterial.

A problem underlies all this, however. The very nature of modernity attempts to anticipate this reconstruction of being and crush it – what Jonathan Bowden referred to in his discussion on Heidegger and Death’s Ontology regarding a very specific kind of existentialism.7 It is a kind of existentialism which places existence first and stipulates there can be no questions asked whose answers appeal to that which lies outside of existence; that which lies outside of, and prior to, material existence and examination. Of course, those who set such boundaries – those who would rig the game before the very idea of the game could be conjured forth – also tend to hold a view of the origins and evolution of man which, upon further pressure, reveals an inner dissonance between their emphasis on analytical linguistic boundaries as effective instruments for attaining truth and their upholding the primacy of Darwinian existence over and above Socratic essence. The men who hold these views, which after further examination produce in them a terrible feeling upon hearing an uncomfortable question have been forced to open their eyes where before they would otherwise

shut their eyes to that which is quite unique in the religious experience, even in its most primitive manifestations. But it is rather a matter for astonishment than for admiration! For if there be any single domain of human experience that presents us with something unmistakably specific and unique, peculiar to itself, assuredly it is that of the religious life.8

Religion, and the aspect of life with which it deals, confounds the man who looks at life from a wholly irreligious standpoint. If it is the case that the area of life which exists as the subject and focus of religion does not exist, then how does the irreligious man make sense of the fact that all of humanity has been fundamentally in error since the beginning of his existence as a conscious being? How does the irreligious man explain the function, utility, or virtue of an evolutionary adaptation which – supposing its subject area does not actually exist – can only be described as an evolutionary adaption providing a true advantage based on a false belief? The discomfort arises from the choice these clever constructors of illegitimate boundaries must make. Either they must acquiesce their affinity for a life devoted to truth or they must accept that which they seek to make invisible through their dubious and clever boundaries in fact does exist! Those who choose the former are to be run out of the room with a hot fire poker while those who choose the latter are to be congratulated for their integrity and the high degree of their character.9 In asking these questions one deconstructs and destabilizes the deconstructors while preparing the foundations of a new reconstruction.

This problem of the special kind of existentialism which has married itself to modern theory so as to preempt thinking hostile and neutralizing of modern theory merely needs be stated for what it is. It is a ‘paper tiger’ – a ‘glass cannon’ – deconstructionist view of existence; powerful until it itself is deconstructed. Such is why it takes the form and has the effect it does; it is an existentialist view which seeks to preempt certain kinds of thinking because it understands its absolute powerlessness in the face of such kinds of thinking.

In attempting to reconstruct some basic foundational notion for what a neoclassical revival of metaphysics would ‘feel’ like we can appeal to the concept of the ‘noumenal’ given in Rudolf Otto’s Das Heilige. He says,

‘Nouminous’ feeling is, then, just this unique apprehension of a Something, whose character may at first seem to have little connection with our ordinary moral terms, but which later ‘becomes charged’ with the highest and deepest moral significance. …[The] ‘Nouminous’ and ‘Numen’ will, then, be words which bear no moral import, but which stand for the specific non-rational religious apprehension and its object, at all its levels, from the first dim stirrings where religion can hardly yet be said to exist to the most exalted forms of spiritual experience.10

Thus, from a modern perspective we can understand faith as blind obedience. And from the ultra-rational modern standpoint for which it has been criticized by hostile skeptics, communists, and atheists this would be an accurate indictment. But from a religious anti-modern perspective, faith is understood as knowledge which comes from the noumenal, or what we would call noumenal ‘knowledge’. Such is the state in which consciousness feels ‘that Something’ that transcends the mere physical and tangible into the extra-physical and the supra-tangible. A realm of existence only accessible through consciousness: through spirit. A metaphysics of the future would hearken to this understanding of a religious anti-modern faith. For those who seek respite from the ‘spiritual exhaustion’ endemic to modernity this hearkening would be the bed with which they make first for themselves, and then, for others too.

What modern theory did in its fragmentation of metaphysics was to strip modern man of this feeling of faith, because this feeling drives men towards transcendent ways of living antithetical to, and uncontrollable by, modern theory.

What modern theory did in its fragmentation of metaphysics was to strip modern man of this feeling because this feeling drives men towards transcendent ways of living antithetical to, and uncontrollable by, modern theory. However, like those living graves of Christianity which Nietzsche remarked, even though the feeling is gone the hole it leaves is still there, waiting to be filled with something else. A man born into an existence dominated by modern theory is given a multitude of substitutes with which to fill this hole. It is through the primal urge he feels to make full this void that he is turned into a slave. Barely cognizant of his situation, or that he is a living thing, his servitude is used for others’ benefit; an other who allows him enough consciousness to know when something comes along and confronts him with his enslavement; the discomfort this causes precipitates a savage reaction further catalyzing similar responses among nearby being-less husks, inducing into them a mass psychosis of mob violence. The enslaved protect the system and those who keep them in metaphysical chains by becoming half-dead cattle stampeding across any who would induce discomfort.

The first measure, then, towards a path of stepping over modernity is to understand the artificial boundaries which have been constructed in order to preempt the kind of thinking which breaks modern man from his metaphysical chains. These boundaries are ones which say there is nothing but the material, the mechanical, and that which can be tested empirically. But what could one point to as a sufficient example of that which balks at all three of these categories? The answer is simple enough: the state and feeling of consciousness. One cannot grab a hold of consciousness the way one grabs a handful of soil. One cannot simply construct consciousness. One cannot empirically test consciousness. That is, one may test whether someone has the quality of ‘being conscious’ but consciousness itself is elusive in the face of empirical measurements. This transgression against modern theory, then, facilitates a move back towards a state of being where the language necessary to engage with the kind of metaphysics that existed prior to the modern fragmentation of metaphysics is once again accessible. This is not enough, however. A further move must be made in the embrace of an understanding of the feeling of metaphysics which is synonymous with an understanding of the feeling of Rudolf Otto’s noumenal. For those who possess these two things this prescription would seem at the same time obvious and trivial. For those whose epistemic horizon extends only so far as that which their eyes may see, their nose may smell, and their fingers may touch this is a wholly radical and revolutionary instruction. Indeed, many will feel it stirring within themselves, just as those who witnessed the revolution in Europe in the 18th century – and they will fight it, not realizing they fight against their own freedom and future.

The metaphysical state of nature has not changed since the point in human history when Europeans view the world in ways which included not just themselves, but the Gods too. That we must grant this belief in Gods and in transcendent planes of existence from a physically evolutionary point of view did provide an evolutionary advantage over those without it, or those who possessed it to a lesser degree, is undeniable. So we must ask if anything has changed, and, if so, what? Unsurprisingly, the answer is ‘Yes’. It has not been nature which has changed to any significant degree in the laws within which it operates, nor have our physical bodies been radically altered since we could have been said to become conscious. What has changed, however, has been our understanding of nature, reality, and our understanding of our place within them both. We may ask further whether this change has been for our boon or our misery? From modern theory’s perspective, one would answer this with a resounding ‘Yes!’ Yes, this change has been for our boon. But this would be a lie. It has been a boon for modern theory, certainly, but not for us. This is one of the tricks modern theory plays on us; to conceive of that which is a boon for her as really a boon for us, all the while suppressing our ability to ask whether this has really been a boon for us. But from a perspective which accounts for the health of our spirit – of our consciousness – the answer has been a resounding ‘No!’ Now, why is this? Consciousness is that thing to which we can give a general name to but which, upon poking and pushing, pokes and pushes back, refusing to yield her secret structure. It is that ‘Something’ which Otto termed ‘noumenal’. But modern theory rejects these things – these feelings – which manifest themselves in such a way as atavistic superstition. Thus modern theory, much to her own benefit, banishes consciousness itself to that ‘theoretical no-man’s land’ that Hamilton describes in her own article. It should surprise no one suspicious of modern theory then to look upon the state of the common man and behold, not a wondrous thinking creature with a robust sense of self and purpose, but a machine in man’s clothing.

The substitutes modernity provides for the machine-man are shallow and short-lived. This is partly by design, for such a design nurtures the production in the imbiber of a psychotic frenzy, after repeated consumption further deteriorating the consumer’s control over his own appetitive desires – mainly so as to fill this void left by modernity’s destruction of genuine metaphysics. But even the most debased man of modernity, upon looking on one who has moved beyond modernity and created a new metaphysics of being, will recognize the objective superiority of this man and will hearken to him. It is these men which modernity seeks out above all others, either to corrupt or destroy them. These are men who have stepped over modernity and who exist as a new kind of explorer, venturing into the murky waters of the future, forging new paths of existence and new histories. They make technology and material existence the handmaiden of man, and not man the handmaiden of technology and material existence.

References

1Hamilton, Monika. ‘Monika Hamilton: Philosophia Mortis – Part 1’, Arktos Journal. October 11, 2018. Accessed October 26, 2018.

2Ibid.

3W.V.O. Quine, ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’, The Philosophical Review 60 (1951): 20–43.

‘Modern empiricism has been conditioned in large part by two dogmas. One is a belief in some fundamental cleavage between truths which are analytic, or grounded in meanings independently of matters of fact and truths which are synthetic, or grounded in fact. The other dogma is reductionism: the belief that each meaningful statement is equivalent to some logical construct upon terms which refer to immediate experience. Both dogmas, I shall argue, are ill founded. One effect of abandoning them is, as we shall see, a blurring of the supposed boundary between speculative metaphysics and natural science. Another effect is a shift toward pragmatism.’

4Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. New York: HarperPerennial/Modern Thought, 2008.

5Otto’s ‘noumenal’ is discussed shortly.

6Jünger, Ernst. The Forest Passage (Waldgang). Candor: Telos Press, 2013.

7Organon. ‘Jonathan Bowden: Heidegger and Death’s Ontology’. Filmed 6th New Right Meeting London England, [August 2015].

8Otto, Rudolf. Das Heilige. Pantianos Classics, 1923.

9Edmonds, David, and John Eidinow. Wittgensteins Poker: The Story of a Ten-minute Argument between Two Great Philosophers. New York: Ecco, 2002.

10Ibid., Das Heilige.

]]>
https://arktos.com/2019/01/14/how-one-steps-over-part-one/feed/ 1
The Uniqueness of Western Law with Richard Storey https://arktos.com/2019/01/12/the-uniqueness-of-western-law-with-richard-storey/ https://arktos.com/2019/01/12/the-uniqueness-of-western-law-with-richard-storey/#comments_reply Sat, 12 Jan 2019 11:34:43 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=5722 Richard Storey joins Arktos to talk about his new book, The Uniqueness of Western Law: A Reactionary Manifesto, and about his own, and equally unique, theory of holistic libertarianism.

]]>
https://arktos.com/2019/01/12/the-uniqueness-of-western-law-with-richard-storey/feed/ 0
On the Despotism of Democracy https://arktos.com/2019/01/11/on_the_despotism_of_democracy/ https://arktos.com/2019/01/11/on_the_despotism_of_democracy/#view_comments Fri, 11 Jan 2019 14:50:50 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=5692

Thus, after taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces one to act but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.

I have always believed that this sort of regulated, mild, and peaceful servitude, whose picture I have just painted, could be combined better than one imagines with some of the external forms of freedom, and that it would not by impossible for it to be established in the very shadow of the sovereignty of the people.1

I would be curious to know what reaction a modern reader coming to these words for the first time might experience – whether they might elicit unease or dread or confusion in the soul, or rather a kind of slightly perplexed complacency, or perhaps even a kind of pleasant and vague agreement, as if to say, ‘Yes, this is true, such a state of affairs really would be regrettable!’ It may well be that these words are a testing stone for the contemporary soul.

The passage in question, which never fails to send a cold shudder through my heart, and the more each time I return to it after long absence, comes from one of the most intelligent and prescient minds of modern times. I have always considered it a mark of shame on my country that the greatest book, the deepest and most incisive thoughts, ever written regarding America, were penned by a foreigner; and it is an amusing twist on that shame that they should have sprung in particular from the mind of a Frenchman.

It is precisely the danger of a despotism arising within democracy as its special modern outgrowth that Tocqueville would awaken us to.

The writer is Alexis de Tocqueville, and the words are excerpted from his monumental work Democracy in America. They occur nigh the end, in a chapter entitled ‘What kind of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear’. Not only this chapter, but the book in full should be read by anyone of our day who is genuinely interested in comprehending the nature of contemporary democracies, and who is not blind, or wishes at least to open his eyes, to the greatest limitations of contemporary democracy, and those malign forms which unhappily may be its consequence. The chapter here cited would be difficult to adequately understand in and of itself, without the light of the whole book to cast it into proper relief. This is the moreso true, as many today, blinded by the special and especially widespread form of propaganda that surrounds us, will at first consider the very idea of ‘democratic despotism’ to be an oxymoron. Yet it is precisely the danger of a despotism arising within democracy as its special modern outgrowth that Tocqueville would awaken us to.

Tocqueville’s vision of despotism in a democratic state takes at least two forms. One, the more classic of the two, is very similar to that kind of despotism which is reviled and feared as much in our day as in the past. It is in a word a kind of classic tyranny into which democracies may atimes stray. We can infer moreover the horrifying form that this tyranny might take when combined with a technology which permits it, as past tyrannies never dreamed, to regulate all aspects of human life. We have called that specter Totalitarianism, a concept which is in need of much deeper critique than it has received,2 and we live yet near enough to it that the memory of its many horrors may yet protect us from it, to some extent. Having suffered the long illness of it, if only by proxy in our war with the Soviet, we are to some extent inoculated against it, so long as it does not arise in a new and more virulent strain. It is at least true that the awareness of this menace has been deeply enough lodged in our spirits, that there is no shortage even of public awareness of it, some of it even exaggerated and false. This last is to be glimpsed each time someone rises up in hyperbole and calls, in true democratic fashion, some peccant public figure a ‘Hitler’ or a ‘fascist’.

But there is another and, as it were, more insidious possibility which Tocqueville identifies, and it is to this we should most emphatically turn our attentions: the possibility of a specifically democratic despotism, which replaces the bayonet with the cold shoulder, and the forcible oppression of dissidents with the infinitely more effective response of – utter silence.

In America the majority draws a formidable circle around thought. Inside those limits, the writer is free; but unhappiness awaits him if he dares to leave them. It is not that he has to fear an auto-da-fé, but he is the butt of mortifications of all kinds and of persecutions every day. A political career is closed to him; he has offended the only power that has the capacity to open it up. Everything is refused him, even glory. Before publishing his opinions, he believed he had partisans; it seems to him that he no longer has any now that he as uncovered himself to all; for those who blame him express themselves openly, and those who think like him, without having his courage, keep silent and move away. He yields, he finally bends under the effort of each day and returns to silence as if he felt remorse for having spoken the truth.

Chains and executioners are the coarse instruments that tyranny formerly employed; but in our day civilization has perfected even despotism itself, which seemed, indeed, to have nothing more to learn.

I wonder if this description of life in America in the time before the Civil War will not seem chillingly familiar to some of us? Certainly, it must cast into a new light the various campaigns of defamation and deplatforming which are brought against us, and which are often enough painted as though they had been the inventions of this morning. We are at war with a much older beast than we sometimes seem to think.

Naturally, one may well believe – and hardly will one be mistaken! – that the situation which Tocqueville so masterly sketches is after all not so bad a fate, as compared to that which awaits one in truer tyrannies. For in tyrannies, one may not speak without feeling the lash, and perhaps one will lose one’s very freedom for the liberty one has afforded to one’s tongue, or pay for one’s words with one’s life. The terror of this is under no circumstances to be belittled. Yet those of us who are not blind to the beauties of the soul nor numb to its finest products, would do well to listen on a time the longer to what Tocqueville would teach us:

Under the absolute government of one alone, despotism struck the body crudely, so as to reach the soul; and the soul, escaping from those blows, rose gloriously above it; but in democratic republics, tyranny does not proceed in this way; it leave the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says to it: You shall think as I do or you shall die; he says: You are free not to think as I do; your life, your goods, everything remains to you; but from this day on, you are a stranger among us. You shall keep your privileges in the city, but they will become useless to you; for if you crave the vote of your fellow citizens, they will not grant it to you, and if you demand only their esteem, they will still pretend to refuse it to you. You shall remain among men, but you shall lose your rights of humanity. When you approach those like you, they shall flee you as being impure; and those who believe in your innocence, even they shall abandon you, for one would flee them in their turn. Go in peace, I leave you your life, but I leave it to you worse than death.

That is chilling, and I will not be alone in feeling the bracing touch of it. As for its consequences:

If America has not yet had great writers, we ought not to seek the reasons for this elsewhere: no literary genius exists without freedom of mind, and there is no freedom of mind in America.

Fortunately, our nation is not without great writers. But it is to this day without wide appreciation of the few it has produced, and their particular histories (its greatest writers have consistently been misunderstood, unacknowledged, and spurred into voluntary exile) do not much console. Those of us, at least, who do not satisfy ourselves with Norman Mailer and Sinclair Lewis – nay, nor even Steinbeck or Poe – must we not admit that, although the Tocqueville’s statement here is not literal, it is, nonetheless, alarmingly generally accurate?

The terror of ‘mild despotism’ should be lost on no one who has love of greatness in his heart. Tocqueville himself was such a lover, and was well aware of the distressing qualities of democratic or mild despotism, also known today as ‘soft totalitarianism’, though he himself considered it preferable to that more classic form of tyranny which might issue from democracies. One has of course to agree with him – given the political situation of two hundred years ago. Indeed, apart from its inherent ills, Tocqueville seemed to consider the greatest ill of mild despotism, its proclivity to degenerate into pure despotism.

The advent of technology in our day has altered the quality of the democratic despotism that Tocqueville feared in a single fundamental respect: it has made it in principle perpetual.

But despite the fact that the judgements laid forth by Tocqueville, though they are nearing their two-hundredth anniversary, stand almost unqualifiably valid also in our own day, so thorough, trenchant, and ingenious were they at their birth, there have been in the intervening centuries only two events which compel a revisitation of Tocqueville’s conclusions regarding democratic politics and mores: one, an event of ‘history’, the other, of philosophy; one to challenge certain aspects of Tocqueville’s diagnosis of the illnesses to which democracies are prone; the other to widen the scope of his prescriptions.

The first event is nothing more nor less than the great technological revolution, possibility of which was foreseen by the greatest minds of past generations, but consequences of which are becoming visible only now for the first time in history. Tocqueville’s analysis must therefore be emended, for the advent of technology in our day has altered the quality of the democratic despotism that Tocqueville feared in a single fundamental respect: it has made it in principle perpetual. As Leo Strauss so forcefully put it at the close of his response to Alexandre Kojève in their exchange on one of Xenophon’s dialogues,3

Thanks to the conquest of nature and to the complete unabashed substitution of suspicion and terror for law, the Universal and Final Tyrant has at his disposal practically unlimited means for ferreting out, and for extinguishing, the most modest efforts in the direction of thought.

What we speak of here is the perfect conflation of despotism and democracy, the unification of the two apparently contrary principles into a single horrifyingly sinister synthesis.

To appreciate the gravity of this possibility, one can surely do worse than to read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, in which a most convincing portrait of such a world is drawn with a sure hand, by a man who was no stranger to the hard sciences and the ways in which they might be made to conform to tyranny.4 This is not Huxley’s deepest nor most penetrating treatment of the question of science’s effect on human life – for that, one must turn to Point, Counter Point – but it is certainly that work of fiction which so far as I know most clearly demonstrates the kind of despotism which we of today ought most to fear. Thanks to the conquest of nature and to the increasing and increasingly unabashed substitution of public opinion for law, the total debasement of the human spirit could radically be effected, not just for the next decades or for our historical epoch, but for centuries to come, if not for the remainder of human existence, by means of practices and institutions which might result in irreversible damage to our humanity.

We live, I am not afraid of saying, quite blithely unaware of the possibility of this kind of nightmare. We have been inculcated by our contemporary ‘philosophy’ and by the experience and outcome of long and terrible wars to believe that democracy and despotism inhabit two mutually exclusive and perfectly separate political spheres. We presuppose this simple dichotomy, believing tacitly that although one form might lead or give way to the other, the first leaves off exactly where the second begins. Were the cleanliness of these divisions really guaranteed, I would be considerably more sanguine about our prospects, and might rest content at holding my tongue on certain questions. I might even be a qualified ‘friend of democracy’. But this must be impossible to anyone who perceives with sufficient an immediacy that danger against which Tocqueville warns us.

Now, Tocqueville himself was a somewhat unwilling prophet of democracy. He regarded its coming, not without regret at the world that was departing; he viewed it as an inevitability that must be accepted by equanimous souls, a dispensation of fate itself and an inescapable result of the great plan of God. He consoled himself for the splendour and human greatness which would be lost to the world through it, by reflecting on the increase in humaneness and the reduction of unhappiness and pain the coming democratic revolution would, if managed well, entail. His faith in God, and his consequent faith in mankind, was his specific against the vision of ‘universal uniformity’ which ‘saddened and chilled’ him. There is a very dire question as to whether or not we may any longer permit ourselves such consolations. For the ‘plan of God’, whatever it might be, includes also the element of human free will; then when the time for war arises, we must be ready to take up arms, rather than sitting quietly on our belief in Providence or in the final aims of the higher powers. If we look the matter squarely in the face we must surely face also the dread of it, particularly when we look think a moment in an untimely way, when we gaze beyond, and consider somberly the vilest possibilities that even now technology has made possible for a future and last humanity, compared with that more splendid vision of an unrealized human greatness, that we even now cherish in our hearts.

Tocqueville, we may say, learned to come to terms with democracy, and everywhere expresses his belief that aristocracy is no longer possible, that it cannot return to mankind in any guise whatsoever. His aim was therefore in teaching how the weaknesses of democracy might be strengthened, the dangers of democracy averted, and the strengths of democracy reinforced. In this he was master, and we would do well to make ourselves his intelligent pupils – to apply his teachings where they are still relevant, to supplement them where they are deficient, and to replace them in those few areas that they no longer seem adequate.

One of, if not the greatest of all, dangers to human greatness is to be found in the enervation which might seize promising individuals, when they find themselves utterly isolated in the democratic crowd, shunned without being punished and spurned without being oppressed, encircled in a suffocating sphere of opprobrium – a perfect prison of invisible walls, which bears the name of solitude above its impassable door. It is a rare and superhuman strength which can persist even so long as a few years in radical ideas, without even a shred of sympathy or agreement from one’s fellows: imagine, then, the strength that would be demanded of an entire life like this. One who is divided from all others by his own rarity is doomed to the worst kind of oubliette, such as not even the wicked genius of the torturers of the past might have invented.

In drawing attention to the dangers inherent in even the most popular of our modern technologies (such as, for instance, our dubiously named ‘communication technology’) I risk saying things which are not likely to be very popular. I am willing in any case to press the matter quite far indeed, by expressing my belief that our technology today poses problems to far outweigh its advantages, and that we ought to be much more prudent in its use, its development, and its promulgation than I know we will be. It is, so far as I am concerned, the most troubling development in all of modernity, and the one most likely to do irreparable harm to our future. I think it suffices to note that our technology is the only invention ever to come of human hands capable of destroying the entirety of the race. And the ways in which it might do so are hardly limited to nuclear holocaust or the artificial production of a superdisease (though it goes without saying that these, too, are very real possibilities).

It will be responded, to be sure, that if it is capable of such evil it is capable of as much good. I do not deny this; I only doubt that it suffices as a counterargument. For precisely if this is true, then the decisive question is not the power of technology itself, but the virtue and responsibility of the hand that wields it. We have granted this power to no one individual, but to the entirety of humanity. Only the most doctrinaire liberal will claim that ‘humanity’ as such is responsible enough to bear such a power: and often enough, it is precisely the most doctrinaire liberal that contradicts his own belief, in his terror at the damage to our ‘environment’ that popular technology is even now wreaking. Today, technology has been given the power to inflict unquantifiable destruction, and that this power has been given willy-nilly to the most short-sighted and greediest human beings among us, who are even encouraged in their vices by an untrammelled economic ‘liberty’ and a general furor for the latest bit of technological ‘progress’. This not to speak of the special dogma of our day, according to which we are all on the upward road, and the future must be greater than that past! On what grounds, then, are we permitted to suppose that the good of the results will even nearly approach the ill?

If a new Dark Age really is come upon us, as is suggested by many signs, we can hope for nothing more than that, this time, those of us who are wakeful both to past and to future, will know to prepare for its coming as no one in the last Dark Age could have known.

The destruction that this unbridled technological development could bring need not be physical. The Bomb is not the only threat that technology has birthed. Perhaps it is no longer even the greatest. But if this is so, and if what I have said so far is correct, then technology is the mightiest weapon that has ever been offered to the hands of humanity’s greatest enemy – an enemy which does not, alas, become the less terrible for being so very benign in its intentions. I am speaking of that very personal inertia and meekness which Tocqueville identifies as the greatest threat in democracies, as that which will lead them to that mild despotism we have already discussed.5

A final passage of Tocqueville is worth citing, for the terrible degree to which it describes our present plight precisely:

I want to imagine with what new features despotism could be produced in the world: I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and regular pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel then; he exists only in himself and for himself alone, and if a family still remains for him, one can at least say that he no longer has a native country.

Above these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principle affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

So it is that every day it renders the employment of free will less useful and more rare; it confines the action of the will in a smaller space and little by little steals the very use of it from each citizen. Equality has prepared men for all these things; it has disposed them to tolerate them and often even to regard them as a benefit.

We may ask ourselves – no, it is our pressing duty to ask ourselves, with all due ruthlessness – just how far this portrait is our own, and to what extent our much-vaunted technology has become the principle power that the ‘tutelary power’ today holds over our heads – its greatest and most precious tool in the cowing of our souls. My own position, I think, has been suggested clearly enough.

But if it is true – as I believe it is – that technology is a potent weapon in the hands of a dangerous and largely unintelligent ruler, it is only good strategy to take that weapon, and turn it against its master.

Tocqueville notes in many places the importance of association in any effort to counteract democracy’s worst tendencies. In Tocqueville’s day, of course, the possibilities of association were for clear reasons limited. Restrictions on means of travel and those eternal barriers to communication (distance and time), set up natural borders to association. To mention no other difficulties, it would not have been a simple matter for a radical American of fifty years ago (radical either toward the left or toward the right, as my reader prefers) to find the company of others like him, particularly if he did not reside in one of the great cities of the country. Even his chances to associate would be few and far between.

Today, thanks to the internet, these distances have been all but nullified. This is a situation ripe with perils all its own, some of which we are only now just beginning to glimpse in dim outline. But it has this to its favour, and this is no small advantage: the internet has made real diversity of opinions possible, in a way it was perhaps not in even the recent past, by providing individuals possessed of utterly eccentric ideas to find their peers, the which often dwell in distant places or even in other countries. The solitude of the idiosyncratic today is less prevalent than ever before, and in consequence ideas that are not favoured by the majority, ideas that are even regarded as obnoxious and pernicious, may yet root and grow, reinforced by nourishment of distant aquifers. To anyone who does not believe that the truth is the unique preserve of one or even both of our popular political parties, this cannot help but appear as a hopeful sign. It has often been noted the degree to which this has played into the advent of populist leaders and parties in our day; and whatever may be said against them, it is clear they at least buy us much-needed time to be about our deeper work. If, as price for this, we must accept the exponential increase as well of ignorant, vulgar, and superficial opinions, that is in the end may well be an acceptable price to pay.

I leave off, after these dark thoughts, with a more hopeful vision of the future, as found in the closing of yet another monumental book, this time a work of cultural history. From Dawn to Decadence was accomplished at the exceptional age of ninety-three by one of our greatest intellectuals, the late Jacques Barzun. This book is also eminently worth reading for any lover of European culture. I cite here but choice fragments of Barzun’s closing prophecies, as imagined from some day in the year 2300. The quotation marks are Barzun’s.6

‘Some writers have called our time the end of the European age. True in one sense, it is misleading in another: it overlooks the Europeanization of the globe. … The shape and coloring of the next era is beyond anyone’s power to define; if it were guessable, it would not be new. But on the character of the interval between us and the real tomorrow, speculation is possible. …

‘The population was divided roughly into two groups; they did not like the word classes. The first, less numerous, was made up of the men and women who possessed the virtually inborn ability to handle the products of techne and master the methods of physical science, especially mathematics – it was to them what Latin had been to the medieval clergy. This modern elite had the geometrical mind that singled them out for the life of research and engineering. …

‘It was from this class – no, group – that the governors and heads of institutions were recruited. The parallel with the Middle Ages is plain – clerics in one case, cybernists in the other. The latter took pride in the fact that in ancient Greek cybernetes means helmsman, governor. It validated their position as rulers over the masses, which by then could neither read nor count. But these less capable citizens were by no means barbarians, yet any schooling would have been wasted on them; that has been proved in the late 20C. …

‘As for peace and war, the former was the distinguishing mark of the West from the rest of the world. The numerous regions of the occident and America formed a loose confederation obeying rules from Brussels and Washington in concert; they were prosperous, law-abiding, overwhelming in offensive weaponry, and they had decided to let outside peoples and their factions eliminate one another until exhaustion introduced peacableness into their plans.

‘After a time, estimated at little over a century, the western mind was set upon by a blight: it was Boredom. The attack was so severe that the over-entertained people, led by a handful of restless men and women from the upper orders, demanded Reform and finally imposed in the usual way, by repeating one idea. These radicals had begun to study the old neglected literary and photographic texts and maintained that they were the record of a fuller life. They urged looking with a fresh eye at the monuments still standing about; they reopened the collections of works or art that had long seemed so uniformly dull that nobody went near them. They distinguished styles and the different ages of their emergence – in short, they found a past and used it to create a new present. Fortunately, they were bad imitators (except for a few pedants), and their twisted view of their sources laid the foundation of our nascent – or perhaps one should say, renascent – culture. It has resurrected enthusiasm in the young and talented, who keep exclaiming what a joy it is to be alive.’

Barring the advent of a technocratic totalitarianism such as we have intimated above, the gravest future we might imagine is a gradual descent into a new European Dark Age, in which the inimitable cultural patrimony of Europe is once more threatened with extinction by the twin dangers of stagnant forgetfulness and violent and barbaric animosity. If such a future really is come upon us, as is suggested by many signs, we can hope for nothing more than that, this time, those of us who are wakeful both to past and to future, will know to prepare for its coming as no one in the last Dark Age could have known. We are in a position – we who will not sleep though our neighbours drowse and slumber, we who will not despair though hope becomes dim to our eyes, we who will learn again how to build for the centuries, perchance even the millennia, as much as lies in our small power – we are in a position today to prepare for this contingency as never before, and to ready ourselves before the necessity of bearing this torch across the bleak times ahead of us.

There are households in the very land wherein I dwell, which have kept alive the embers of their hearths for as long as any human memory or any human tradition can recall. We must bear fixedly before us their modest example.

References

1All quotations from Democracy in America in what follows are taken from the Harvey C. Mansfield translation of Tocqueville. See Tocqueville, Alexis de, Democracy in America (Chicago and London. University of Chicago Press: 2000).

2A few notes in the right direction: in the first place, it should be observed that this concept arose in democratic times as a means of joining together Nazism, Fascism, and Communism all into a single category. The fingerprints on the idea are thus unmistakably ‘democratic’; it is clearly a concept formulated by the winners of World War II and the Cold War in order to justify their victory on an intellectual and moral level. Yet it is clear that Nazism and Fascism were already two very distinct phenomena – not to speak of the much more salient differences between these forms and Communism! – and it would be well, both for our intellectual conscience but also for the formulation of the principles of the Deep Right itself, to understand these differences with a degree of rigour. Only then would it be possible to correctly diagnose their similarities as well, which is to say, the extent to which they all employed propaganda, scenery and celebrations, parades, and technological control in order to maintain their reign. This point of similarity, which is essentially modern and which is essentially common to all these forms, could then be understood as the specifically ‘totalitarian’ element of these regimes, and could be understood, and evaluated, in its own right. But until we have done the initial work of analysis, this final work of synthesis is not only premature but also doomed to end in confusions and confoundment.

3See Strauss, Leo. On Tyranny, Revised and Enlarged (Ithaca. Cornell Paperbacks, Cornell University Press: 1963), ‘Restatement on Xenophon’s Hiero’.

41984 will also come to mind; but I believe that the specific danger it warned against was extinguished with the fall of the Soviet Union, and could, moreover, have only come to fruition in the world through a most remarkable series of global accidents. In particular, the notion of three superstates engaged in a perennial and unwinnable war seems to me unbelievable. Much more credible would have been a single world government, in unambiguous possession of the entire globe, which, using its tyrannical and unchallenged power, might fabricate wars wholesale, pitting its citizens against one another in a great theatrical display unheard of in the history of the world. For, barring the advent of a technological superstate à la Brave New World, Orwell’s point does stand: a society without enemies cannot long continue.

5 I direct the enterprising reader, who would more intimately understand the thought here presented, to the following chapters of Democracy in America: Volume I, Part 2, Chapter 7 and Volume II, Part 4, Chapters 6-7; cf. Volume II, Part 2, Chapters 20.

6 Barzun, Jacques, From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present. 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (New York. Perennial: 2000).

]]>
https://arktos.com/2019/01/11/on_the_despotism_of_democracy/feed/ 6
The Uniqueness of Western Law https://arktos.com/product/the-uniqueness-of-western-law/ https://arktos.com/product/the-uniqueness-of-western-law/#comments_reply Thu, 10 Jan 2019 14:12:23 +0000 https://arktos.com/?post_type=product&p=5676 A Reactionary Manifesto

Defending an original interpretation of libertarian theory, Richard Storey, taking his bearings from the work of groundbreaking thinkers like Ricardo Duchesne and Hans-Hermann Hoppe, builds on his opening premise that libertarianism is ‘only a theory of law’, to show precisely what this deceptively simply formulation really contains. Unfolding the ramifications of libertarian thought — on everything from nationalism, statism and multiculturalism to our understanding of the history and politics of the West, from democracy and terrorism to womanhood and fatherhood — Storey’s work offers challenges to the defenders and critics of libertarianism alike, and above all, opens new territory for consideration of the great challenges confronting the West at this historical moment.

All too many libertarians misconstrue the philosophy they are explaining. Not Richard Storey. He correctly states that libertarianism is solely a theory of just law. This chapter alone is worth the entire cost of admission. As a contrarian myself, I take my hat off to this author for his fearlessness and bravery. — Walter E. Block, Ph.D., Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics, Loyola University New Orleans

Interregnum: Interview with Richard Storey (video)

]]>
https://arktos.com/product/the-uniqueness-of-western-law/feed/ 0
Rejecting the False God of Democracy https://arktos.com/2019/01/09/rejecting-the-false-god-of-democracy/ https://arktos.com/2019/01/09/rejecting-the-false-god-of-democracy/#view_comments Wed, 09 Jan 2019 18:15:34 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=5647 Despite the commentariat’s deep concern that American public figures from Huey Long to Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump ‘imperil our democracy’, few can articulate why, exactly, this is the case, and even fewer can precisely define what they mean by democracy. In the first place, in the United States, we do not have a democracy to imperil. We have a republic, with a Constitution that, according to John Adams, was intended for a moral and virtuous people, and a homogeneous one at that. In the Federalist Papers No. Two, John Jay argues that it is the relative homogeneity and common ancestry of the American people that allows for the success of the kind of hybridized republic Jay and his compatriots espoused, and which was ultimately implemented in the form of the newly ratified Constitution which took effect in March, 1789. Per Jay:

It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that object.1

Transformative immigration threatens the integrity of the republic because there can be no common consensus in a tribal landscape.

Transformative immigration threatens the integrity of the republic because there can be no common consensus in a tribal landscape, just as a decline in morals and virtue, both civic and personal, creates an environment of self-gratifying individualism. Democracy in both cases caters to peoples’ worst impulses. Not coincidentally, the degradation of the integrity of the Republic has coincided with the extension of the franchise from a limited group of men of character and private property ownership – which for the era was a decent barometer of an individual’s actual investment in the nation’s future and fortunes, as well as his own (relative) intransience – to in some cases literally everyone, even non-Americans and the deceased. These are hardly the conditions of ideal governance, for as Polybius wrote in his Histories:

There are two things fundamental to every state in virtue of which its powers and constitution become desirable or objectionable. These are customs and laws. Of these the desirable are those which make men’s private lives holy and pure, and the public character of the state civilized and just.2

Following the at minimum century-long impoverishment of the Occident through moral degradation, civilizational ennui, two suicidal world wars, an infatuation with destructive and de-humanizing ideologies such as communism and unbridled capitalism, and transformative mass Third World immigration, the United States and many of its kin in the West are scarcely countries anymore, let alone nations. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy first differentiates between a nation and a state – ‘whereas a nation often consists of an ethnic or cultural community, a state is a political entity with a high degree of sovereignty’ – before elaborating that nationalism

centrally encompasses two phenomena… (1) the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their identity as members of that nation and (2) the actions that the members of a nation take in seeking to achieve (or sustain) some form of political sovereignty.3

The word ‘nation’ is derived from the Latin natio, which translates as ‘native place’, birth, people, race, and class. It implies a natural aristocracy of its own people. Montserrat Guibernau defines the nation as ‘A human group conscious of forming a community, sharing a common culture, attached to a clearly demarcated territory, having a common past and a common project for the future and claiming the right to rule itself’.4 The nation, then, is not just a parcel of land but a reflection of and testament to its people. Only in such conditions can a true democracy form. For Polybius:

It is not enough to constitute a democracy that the whole crowd of citizens should have the right to do whatever they wish or propose. But where reverence to the gods, succour of parents, respect to elders, obedience to laws, are traditional and habitual, in such communities, if the will of the majority prevail, we may speak of the form of government as a democracy.5

Democracy as it is presently construed and democracy as it was intended are very different indeed. Not only must a people be truly one people (from the Greek δῆμος, ‘the people’ with the suffix -kratia from κράτος, ‘power, rule’), but even in the much-vaunted Athenian democracy, only around one-tenth of the population was eligible to vote. Only adult male citizens could hold official positions, serve on juries, or participate in the Assembly. Women, foreigners, and slaves were categorically excluded. Regarding women, I find the following quote from Kate O’Beirne’s piece, ‘The Political-Knowledge Gender Gap’, to be particularly insightful as to why the ancients mightn’t have felt it prudent to extend women the franchise:

Three-quarters of women score well below the male average on tests measuring knowledge of national politics. This particular gender gap is at least fifty years old, and it exists between men and women of equal education and income levels. Women’s lack of knowledge is in part due to their lack of interest in politics. According to the National Opinion Research Center, 53 percent of college-educated men under the age of 30 read a newspaper daily, compared to only 34 per cent of their female counterparts. And the gap opens at an early age. A national survey of schoolchildren found that boys are significantly more knowledgeable about politics than girls, even after controlling for background and curriculum. Quite simply, it may not be in women’s nature to care very much about politics.6

Further, for the Athenians, the idea of a Corinthian or Spartan voting participating in Athenian democracy let alone someone from another culture entirely – was patently absurd. Yet today in the United States and many other Western nations, one need not be a citizen (or even alive, evidently) to cast a ballot on the nation’s future trajectory. To ‘elect a new people’, as Bertolt Brecht sardonically wrote in his poem, ‘The Solution’, is fundamentally anti-democratic, and thus illiberal, so far as classical liberalism goes. So when the Left uses the trope that ‘[Blank] is a threat to our democracy’, it is engaging in sophistry, firstly because in the American context we are meant to be a constitutional republic, and secondly, because their construction of ‘democracy’ betrays the very essence of true democracy.

For the Athenians, the idea of a Corinthian or Spartan voting participating in Athenian democracy was patently absurd. Yet today in the United States and many other Western nations, one need not be a citizen (or even alive, evidently) to cast a ballot on the nation’s future trajectory.

One of the major themes in Book Six of Polybius’s Histories is that for each of the three legitimate forms of government (as derived from Plato) that he outlines, there is a corresponding pathological or ‘anti-’ version. The pathological and corrupted version of a kingship is a tyranny; of an aristocracy, an oligarchy; of a democracy, an ochlocracy, or mob rule. He views the corruption of each as inevitable, showing an acute understanding of both human nature and the nature of history. For each system, the inevitable breakdown occurs, followed by a reformation and transition to another form of government. He states:

So then we enumerate six forms of government, – the three commonly spoken of which I have just mentioned, and three more allied forms, I mean despotism, oligarchy and mob-rule. The first of these arises without artificial aid and in the natural order of events. Next to this, and produced from it by the aid of art and adjustment, comes kingship; which degenerating into the evil form allied to it, by which I mean tyranny, both are once more destroyed and aristocracy produced. Again the latter being in the course of nature perverted to oligarchy, and the people passionately avenging the unjust acts of their rulers, democracy comes into existence; which again by its violence and contempt of law becomes sheer mob-rule.7

In the context presented, we can consider the aristocracy to be a republic fashioned on the kind in Rome or perhaps the early United States. The reader will certainly be familiar with the trope, ‘[Insert hysterical talking point here] is a threat to our democracy!’ As time has progressed, the United States moved from its aristocratic roots (again, aristocratic here in the context that Polybius uses it) to an oligarchy, which Revilo P. Oliver believes fully manifested itself beginning with the Franklin Delano Roosevelt presidency. The oligarchy would of course be the various extraordinarily wealthy and cosmopolitan groups that supplanted the old Anglo-Saxon stock, the original founders and builders of the United States, and that had begun to exert their wildly disproportional influence, which has not diminished with time. The ‘turn’ to democracy began before FDR with the direct election of Senators and the continual expansion of voting rights, but history shows that these transitions in government often overlap. In grappling with the push for open borders, voting rights for illegal aliens, and conditions closely fitting Sam Francis’ definition of ‘anarcho-tyranny’, we are presently witnessing the onset of mob rule, albeit one still tenuously directed from ‘the top’. Polybius continues:

No clearer proof of the truth of what I say could be obtained than by a careful observation of the natural origin, genesis, and decadence of these several forms of government. For it is only by seeing distinctly how each of them is produced that a distinct view can also be obtained of its growth, zenith, and decadence, and the time, circumstance, and place in which each of these may be expected to recur. This method I have assumed to be especially applicable to the Roman constitution, because its origin and growth have from the first followed natural causes.8

Building on the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, Polybius’s concept of anacyclosis – that each of the three aforementioned benign forms of government inevitably becomes corrupted due to its inherent weakness and instability and eventually deteriorates into its malignant version – is contrasted with Roman Republicanism, which is meant to be more durable since it contains elements of all three. As evidenced above, however, this does not mean republics are indestructible nor incorruptible. This idea of the life cycle of societies and civilizations has been explored by a number of historians and philosophers in the modern world, no one more compellingly than Oswald Spengler in The Decline of the West (1918, 1922).

Spengler, interestingly, separated our modern Western culture (Faustian) from that of classical antiquity (Apollonian). Certainly by the fifth century Apollonian civilization in the western half of the Mediterranean was dead; the Byzantine Empire, however, flourished for another thousand years, and as one silver lining to its fall in 1453, many scholars and archivists fled west, contributing to a re-awakening Apennine Peninsula through an infusion of ancient texts that had been thought lost. This conjoining of energies manifested itself in the Renaissance, which launched the Western world to its centuries of unprecedented greatness. Those energies appear exhausted now, and the question is what comes next?

References

1The Federalist Papers, Number Two.

2Polybius, Histories, Book VI, ‘The Rotation of Polities’.

3Source can be found here.

4Montserrat Guibernau, Nationalisms: the Nation-State and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century. Polity Press, 1996, p. 47.

5Polybius, Histories, Book VI, ‘The Rotation of Polities’.

6See Kate O’Bierne, ‘The Political Knowledge Gender Gap’, in National Review.

7Aristotle’s classification is kingship, aristocracy, πολιτεία, democracy, oligarchy, tyranny (Pol. 4, 2). This was derived from Plato (Pol. 302, c) who arranges the six (besides the ideal polity) in pairs, kingship, tyranny – aristocracy, oligarchy – democracy, good and bad. Plato has no distinct name, except δημοκρατία παράνομος, for the bad democracy which Polybius calls ὀχλοκρατία (ochlocracy)’, mob-rule’. Polybius’s arrangement is this: Kingship (arising from a natural despotism or monarchy) degenerates into Tyranny. Aristocracy degenerates into Oligarchy. Democracy degenerates into Mob-rule. See Polybious, Histories, (Evelyn S. Shuckburgh, translator). London, New York. Macmillan: 1889. Reprint Bloomington 1962. This work can also be read online here.

8Ibid.

]]>
https://arktos.com/2019/01/09/rejecting-the-false-god-of-democracy/feed/ 1