Arktos https://arktos.com Tue, 26 Mar 2019 13:42:29 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 Kierkegaard and the Leap of Tradition – Part 2 https://arktos.com/2019/03/26/kierkegaard-and-the-leap-of-tradition-part-2/ https://arktos.com/2019/03/26/kierkegaard-and-the-leap-of-tradition-part-2/#comments_reply Tue, 26 Mar 2019 13:41:02 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6283 We will now look at the woman, the man, and the great dual leap that every man must make alone to fully unite the two.

As the material individual, man is birthed from and into the realm of Earth-Woman-Becoming, but as spirit, as that part of eternity that is in all men, he stems from the realm of Sky-Man-Being. When born, man is attached to the great Mother, and this yearning and servitude of Woman will never cease unless man takes it upon himself to reach for the infinite, to become like his Father. Whether man chases after her pleasures like the aesthete, or like the merely ethical man seeks to fulfil his duties to the birth Woman gave him, he remains under her domain. In this realm, man’s love to woman takes the character of servitude, for even if he happens to be dominant in the material relationship, he only runs the errands of Woman as a power. He seeks her affirmation and the warmth of her embrace, for he thinks that it is Woman that has given him life, and by winning her, he wins life, for he gains a place in the great community of the Mother, and escapes death through his children and the continued existence of his people.

This is the infinite movement of the warrior who sails across the sea to never return, to die a beautiful death at the end of youth, washed ashore on unknown, golden banks.

But Woman does not give man life, but death. For what can be more living than the undying Being? The individual life can only be a divergence from Being, from absolute life. Woman can only take and receive, and when Being, out of his great love, chose to strike the dark depth of the female womb with the thunderbolt of life and eternity, when Being took the task upon itself to be the core of the mere man, the only thing that Woman gave him was death. Death is what makes us different from our Being, death is the essence of our birth, of Nature and of Woman herself. To a man who has seen as much as a glimpse of the clear and terrible sky, Woman will reek of damp and foul death, of incompleteness and filth, and in him grows that holy scorn of woman. The greater a view he catches of the eternal, the more ridiculous and weak does Woman seem. Her body is broken and swollen with fat, permeated by that womb which is inseparable from her, which brought death upon man, and which throws her under the cyclical yoke of nature, constantly yearning to bind a man and give birth again. But he himself is straight, linear and strong, in the image of the great Father, and his member is only attached to him, as a tool which he can choose to ignore. This man will move towards the infinite, as he yearns to become wholly as his Father, and if he has the strength and will, he will make a movement of infinite resignation. He will want to leave the whole world of matter below him, every duty, meaning and joy Woman falsely gave him, so that he can be like his great Sky Father – unmovable and eternal like the heavens, terrible like the thunderbolt, but most of all, completely self-sufficient.

This is the infinite movement of the great and wise ascetic, who cuts all attachments to the world below him, and denies Woman his life-giving seed. And it is the infinite movement of the warrior, who does not fight for the bared breast of Woman, but who sails across the sea to never return, to die a beautiful death at the end of youth, washed ashore on unknown, golden banks. Self-sufficient in their will, these men of knowledge and action yearn to conquer that lost and divine land on the other side of the horizon, yearn to return to their real home.

These distant, mythical men of greatness are the clearest expression of the yearning towards Being, but the yearning sleeps within every man, and every man has felt some shred of that unmovable self-sufficiency. For most men have the ability to wholly devote themselves to their will, even if the power and the spiritual quality of this will differ from man to man. Even in the simple interest or hobby of a profane man this self-sufficiency is found in a trivial way, for man can in these activities reach that state where all his energies and focus lie on his creative or physical act, and he does not act because it leads to anything advantageous in the material world, but because the act is sufficient and all-encompassing in itself. Most interests men have are ‘meaningless’ in the world of Woman and matter, yet men, and especially young men, can be completely content in this almost tranquil act. Woman cannot truly reach this state, and she (and men who wholly serve her) may look with scorn upon these acts of men which lead nowhere, which bring no food to feed the great womb of Woman. Yet man in this moment does not need her approval. This of course does not mean that a profane interest is an infinite movement, but only illustrates the tendency that all men have felt, but which they must turn towards real infinity before they can turn back to complete the union with Woman.

So man is born into the realm of Woman, but yearns to the realm of Man, to become the great Being that is his true core. We should note that these two realms give two different definitions of masculinity: in the realm of Woman, a man is he who wins the favour of Woman, while in the realm of Man, a man is he who is unmovable and self-sufficient like Being itself. A man who takes the path of action towards Being, the holy warrior, will probably also win the favour of Woman, even if he denies her, and thus he is masculine in both realms. But the man who seeks Being by knowledge, that is by the reflective way, will probably be greatly disfavoured by Woman and the men who serve her, seeming weak, aloof, frail, or simply ‘unmasculine’. But we must see here that something greater can never come from something lesser, and that a man only defined by Woman and Nature, even if he is ever so mighty, will be no more than the part of Woman who happens to carry the seed.

It is foolish to define the ideal of man out of Nature and Woman, as this ideal, as all ideals, can only be created from above, with its root in the eternity that is Being.

Of course there are many frail and weak men, who would be rejected by Woman, and either escape this rejection by compensating with a pseudo-spiritual life, or try to win Woman by being ‘intellectuals’. These intellectuals will sweet-talk Woman, try to woo her by their ‘knowledge’ or ‘inspiration’, and earn a place in Nature by pushing through as soon as she swoons a little for his words. If this intellectual fails, he will be more ridiculous than if he had simply lived silently as an outcast of Nature; but if he succeeds, well, then he has succeeded, and he is as great as the ‘masculine’ man. For this is the truth of Nature and Woman, that she does not have an order or ideals, but that she is chaos, the mere sum of everything that manages to be born and exist. If the weak succeed over the strong, they are what is natural, and if the wicked and ugly succeed over the noble and beautiful, they are what is natural. To define ‘masculine’ by the realm of Woman leads to an empty definition, as the ‘masculine’ is only the sum of men who manage to exist, whatever their qualities may be. And so it is with every ideal one tries to create out of Nature: it will be empty, a mere spook which does not exist, and a fixed idea of the mind. Any such ideal is just waiting for the chaos of Woman to change her favour, and crush its empty husk. These ideals are surely not spiritual, as they are founded on Nature, and they, ironically, do not capture the essence of Nature either, as she is the opposite of any order and eternal value. It is foolish to define the ideal of man out of Nature and Woman, as this ideal, as all ideals, can only be created from above, with its root in the eternity that is Being, and in order for there to be such ideals and values, there must be men who strive towards the realm of Being, regardless of whether they are in the favour of Woman or not.

But one might still want to hang on to the fact that many men who take the reflective way to Being, the ascetics and, to a lesser extent, the artists and thinkers, are indeed sickly and detached from Nature in some way, for the creation of a man who both masters the active and the reflective is certainly uncommon. The man who is detached from Nature in some way or another, will of course be forced to take the reflective way, as action requires a close understanding of the matter acted upon, but this detachment can also be a positive quality to reach Being. For the active man always runs the risk of getting attached to the act and its consequences in the material world, forgetting that it in itself is worthless, and thus losing his movement towards the eternal. But the man who is detached from Nature will always feel that he is outside of it all, rejected by Woman, yet he still lives and wills, and thus he will be pushed further and further towards that which is the true core of his life and will, namely Being. He will turn his detachment from Becoming into a strong and sincere attachment to Being. We will know by his work and his words that he is sincerely making the infinite resignation of the world, that he is not that mere charlatan who speaks of the eternal to win a place in the temporary, or that Jew who turns to Jehovah so Jehovah can strike the enemies which he could not strike himself. For by his words and works we will be struck by awe and tremble, by the sublimity of eternity which no weakling can produce, and if we truly recognize Being, we will see that he is above us and is to be followed.

We have now talked about the movement away from Woman, towards the eternal, that man must make, but sooner or later, he will reach his limit. No man can become pure Being, as he as a man is bound by Becoming. Kierkegaard says in The Concept of Anxiety (1844) that the greatest moment of the genius is when he truly faces that which he cannot overcome, and totally collapses in on himself. Here, on the highest peak he could reach in his striving to become a man, at the top of the lonely white tower he has built, he must make the dual movement, the leap of faith which reaches both upwards to the hand the Sky Father has given him as salvation (or initiation), and downwards to the world of Woman he left behind, connecting them both. He cannot stay at the top of his tower, believing that he has reached infinity, that he is the Sky Father himself, when he looks down on the world from his puny tower. Firstly because infinity is always infinitely above his finite efforts, but secondly, and most importantly, because the Sky Father himself does not reside lonely in his realm of Man.

The great Father has chosen the absurd unity with Woman, to be born as something finite and incomplete again and again, to face death and chaos, and so must man do also, if he is to be a real man. He has made the infinite resignation, and now he must take the leap of faith which wins again everything he has sacrificed, but in the name of eternity. He must walk down to the valley and make his temporary life the work of Being, and he must love woman, not the force of Woman, but an actual, concrete woman. He must let the temporary meet the infinite in the absurd love of a single woman, in the love and dominion of her who is the complete opposite of the great and immovable sky he yearned to be in his youth, for if he truly is a man, he must love her. He must give her the seed, his great power and freedom, and birth yet another a generation of death and matter, and bind and sacrifice himself for these children which just repeat the absurdity of existence in an endless cycle; for this is the will of the Sky Father, when he gave his absurd love to the great Mother.

Man must like Odysseus confront the sad ghost of Achilles, who in the end could only reach death and oblivion.

Kierkegaard never thought that he was capable of this leap, and that is why he chose to break his engagement with a girl named Regine, and live the rest of his life as a bachelor and outcast. And the sad and incomplete image of an old bachelor is exactly what awaits him who does not dare to make the final, absurd leap back to woman. This failure is the great folly of those spiritual questers, who only search to come as near Being as possible, and wish to be dissolved in its eternal life after death. But there is no such eternal life for a man, for he is not only Being but also Becoming, and he can only know the eternity of Being when he lives it in the temporary world of eternal death, just as the Sky Father chose to do, when he gave his love to the world of Woman.

To not dare or want to make the double leap, to ultimately fail one’s quest as a man, is what results in the celibate life of the monastery, but also in that peculiar fetish that may arise amongst great warriors, who could have any woman they wanted. Instead they choose to love the man they yearn to be, or make a pseudo-leap back to woman and love the effeminate young man. To equate this with the homosexuality of the mere sodomite would be ridiculous, for the sodomite exists only in the realm of Woman, but denies her to satisfy his own fetish, while the hero exists in the realm of Man above, but refuses to make the return. It is upsetting when those who exist only in the realm of Woman condemn the hero from below, by mere morality or the fact that he denies his seed to Woman. Instead one must realize that he develops this fetish because he will not take the final leap, and retake Woman in the name of eternity, a leap which the man who condemns from below can only dream of.

When man is young, he must reject everything that is the Mother and Woman, he must leave everything he calls home, to follow his own freedom and will, to sail across the sea toward his own Troy, whatever it might be. Here, at the golden banks of the noble city, is a world of only Man, of self-sufficient wrath and pointless death, of a great sacrifice of countless sons, without giving anything back to their Mother. But when man has spent his ten years in this glorious realm, he must return, make the frightening and difficult Odyssey back home. He must like Odysseus confront the sad ghost of Achilles, who in the end could only reach death and oblivion, even if he was the most powerful man at those shores, yet he must reject every promise of an escape from death in the eternal paradise of Kalypso. He must set foot again in the little place of the world that is his own, and retake that which he has left: to love woman again, not as a mere husband, but as an Olympian hero, who brings her the eternity and order she and her lands could never know by themselves. He will be the golden axis of his own part of the world, knowing that he has chosen death, just as God did that time he was born as a man. For recognizing that the world of Woman is the world of meaningless death, yet to give one’s whole life to it, is to repeat the great love of Eternity, and fulfil the great paradox of existence.

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Kierkegaard and the Leap of Tradition – Part 1 https://arktos.com/2019/03/25/kierkegaard-and-the-leap-of-tradition/ https://arktos.com/2019/03/25/kierkegaard-and-the-leap-of-tradition/#comments_reply Mon, 25 Mar 2019 14:16:44 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6278 Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian and poet, who through his life wrestled with the question of how one could become a truly religious man. Kierkegaard saw the individual as both the starting point and the end of the spiritual quest, and put both the unlimited freedom and responsibility of existence on his shoulders. Man is thrown alone into an absurd life, constituted by the contradictory co-existence of both the eternal and the temporary, and it rests on him to climb the narrow road towards faith, where the paradox is overcome. He must make a leap, a contradictory dual movement, which reaches for the eternal at the same time as it lands in his own, finite individuality, making him a manifestation of God’s will and love. Kierkegaard’s focus on the individual’s own act and choice, the absurdity of existence, and the deeply personal, psychological and poetic way in which he expressed his philosophy, has established him as the father of modern existentialism. But we must see that the dual movement which troubled him, that leap which each individual must take himself, also points backwards through time, not only too the roots of Christianity, but to Tradition itself. For what is Tradition, if not the personal act of a man, who both reaches for Being, and lands in the small part of Becoming that is his own?

Any man who believes himself to have been given truth by his birth will never reach further than the Mother who birthed him.

Kierkegaard is wholly a Christian writer, and for non-Christian men of the right, his themes can sometimes be inaccessible, uninteresting, or even pitiful. The unlimited freedom of man is coupled with his unlimited sinfulness, and if man truly takes upon himself to reach for God, he will be struck by guilt, wavering angst and melancholy, all of which permeate Kierkegaard’s writings. But nevertheless, if a man, Christian or not, knows himself to be more than a lump of matter, he will feel that he too must face the leap which troubles Kierkegaard, and this makes his writings greatly interesting for any political thought which aims for more than oblivion in the embrace of matter. This text will, after presenting Kierkegaard’s thought, look at the double leap from two new perspectives, namely that of sexuality and that of right-wing politics, both to earn greater understanding of the leap itself, and of the viewpoints deployed.

In Kierkegaard’s time, Hegel had a prestigious reputation in Denmark, and influenced both philosophers and priests, much to the dismay of Kierkegaard, who saw Hegel and idealism to be in direct contradiction to Christianity. He would develop much of his thought in opposition to Hegel, and in Philosophical Fragments (1844), he sheds light on the main differences between idealism and Christianity. In idealism, the eternal essence of the world is identified with the idea and the rational thought, and thus man carries within himself, from the moment of birth, all prerequisites for reaching the eternal. It is, as in Plato’s works, essentially a matter of recollection. In Hegel’s philosophy, eternity, that is the world spirit, realizes itself logically and dialectically through history, and when the realization is made complete (according to Hegel, by his own philosophy) man must only understand this dialectic to reach the truth. But for Kierkegaard, this ignores the fatal incompleteness of man, and posits his flawed faculty of thought as the eternal, ignoring the true eternity which rests far beyond man. Birth itself can’t give man the way to eternity; it rather divides him from it through the original sin, and it must be eternity that reaches down for man, that is, God himself must become man to show man the way. In idealism, man can at any time by his own reach the eternal, and his teacher is secondary, but in Christianity, the teacher, that is Christ, is everything, and only once man has put his complete faith in him, God in the form of a living and breathing person, can he be shown the true nature of God and eternity.

This stance Kierkegaard takes against the incompleteness of human birth, and the dependence on eternity to show itself to man, may seem to be a mere consequence of the Christian, lunar idea of salvation, not being relevant to the solar, more heroic traditions of the Indo-Europeans. But this is not true, for any man who believes himself to have been given truth by his birth will never reach further than the Mother who birthed him. For our birth as an individual, everything we possess, whether it be reason, blood or our humanity in general, is a part of Becoming, given by the great Woman, and it signifies a divergence from the eternal, indivisible and indeterminable Being that is the Sky Father and Man, and bound by our birth, it is impossible to truly become complete Being. In ourselves, we are nothing, but we become something when we are the true manifestation of this Being, that is, when it has come down to us, and we live in its spirit. Man needs a second birth from above, the initiation which Evola shows is essential in the Aryan Tradition, and only when the divine has shown itself to man, and he has shown himself to be worthy, is he raised from his material birth to the state of a real man, able to act on the behalf of Being. This initiation is solar and aristocratic, while the salvation is lunar and available to all, but we cannot be blinded by the splendour of the heroic act of initiation, as the fact still remains, that all acts are limited, and that it is eternity, the great Father, who must reach his hand down to us, and give us our second birth. In the end, no matter how brave he may be, man doesn’t grow wings and storm Valhalla, but is carried there by the Valkyrie, admitted by Odin.

If one thinks one is complete in one’s first birth, one stays in the realm of matter, of the great Mother, and one can at most, by servitude to her, fulfil the material qualities one is given by her, only to be dissolved into her again. The ‘world spirit’ of Hegel is not eternity, but rather the Mother of rational thought, and by only reaching to fulfil this thought, one may take one’s place as a great man in the community of rational thought that she has birthed, but one will not reach eternity, and thus the thought will stand unfulfilled, as a mere ghost of Becoming. Similarly, the national man thinks that one is completed by one’s birth into a community of blood, by the Mother of the people, and that by this birth one has the path to eternity within oneself; but by thinking so, he will never reach eternity, and thus the blood will stand unfulfilled. And that the birth as a mere ‘human being’, which is the community liberals and socialists rest upon, is a folly, need not to be explained.

By claiming the need of eternity to reach down to man, Kierkegaard has struck an essential truth. We could repeat here as said many times elsewhere, that the Christian salvation carries the morality of the slave, the weakness and poison of the Jewish concept of sin etc. etc., or we could admit that the essence of the sacrifice of Christ is eternity reaching its hand down toward man, and encouraging him to grab it. The Christian salvation may be available to all, differentiating it from initiation, but it is not gained passively just because of its availability. It is after the Christian has witnessed the sacrifice of Christ that his true struggle begins; only then does it fall upon him to summon his unwavering faith, and throw himself against the world. Christ calls for him to make that dual leap, which reaches both the eternity offered, and lands in the act of his individual life; that is, Christ calls for Tradition, and the Christian must show himself worthy.

What besides love can explain why Being chose to dethrone itself and give rise to Becoming? What else could motivate Being to let his sun and rain fall and give life to the earth?

Furthermore, the absurdity that God would degrade himself in the form of a mere man, and suffer helplessly on the cross for the sake of the world, is not merely the religious wish of a slave. A young and healthy man may rightly flinch when he hears the Christian tell him that this greatest sacrifice is the love of God, but yet it truly captures the absurdity of existence in itself. For why would Being, in its absolute, eternal and perfect Nothingness, need the broken forms of Becoming? Why would it bring to existence the incomplete chaos that is the world, when it in itself is the complete order matter can only dream of? Why this struggle, why this endless cycle of birth and death, if it can never add to the glory of the absolute Being? Being has chosen to live through the temporal, it has chosen to take the form of matter, to be born from the foul womb of the great Woman, and love the same again, and that’s why we and the world exist. What besides love can explain why Being chose to dethrone itself and give rise to Becoming? What else could motivate Being to let his sun and rain fall and give life to the earth? What else could motivate him to chose to be a creator, to embrace the dead wood and clay of the great Mother, and breathe the kiss of life?

No matter what sentimental morality Christ told of, no matter what false promises he gave of the redemption of the slave, of resurrection and eternal joy in paradise, no matter what chains of sinfulness he exhorted humanity to carry, the faults of his teachings can never reach to defile his great body, where it eternally looms over humanity on the cross. For here, in the God who chose to live and die as a mere man, we do not see the Jewish wish to be repaid thousandfold in a life after death, but the absurd love eternity has given the temporal world, the paradox which is at the root of all existence. The resurrection and second coming of Christ, the promise of eternal life in paradise, is not needed, for Christ is already complete in his death. The world was not created as a test, only to let the chosen be dissolved into Being again, for why would Being wish to test itself, only to become itself again? The world is rather the great unity of Being and Becoming, created by the love of Being, and what greater affirmation of this can be given, than God choosing to die on the cross? What better image can be given, of that union of matter and spirit which is Tradition, the fulfilment of the world?

Looking past the anxious spirit of Christianity, this great love of Being is the perennial truth and absurdity which concerns Kierkegaard in his writings, and Kierkegaard knows that it is up to every man himself to fulfil this promise and take the leap of faith (or if one needs other words, the leap of will). Kierkegaard’s writings thus concern the individual and his absolute freedom, not in modernity’s sense of the arbitrary, but in the total and sublime personal responsibility for creating his own life, and realizing the will of that eternity which calls at his own core, that Being which only he can know, and the only Being he truly knows. In Stages on Life’s Way (1845) and other works, he writes of the personal stages a man must pass through in search for his absolute core. The first is the stage of the aesthete, and it can be summarized as the man who has gotten a feeling for the absolute nature of his person, but can’t reach past himself as a mere material individual. The aesthete only cares for himself, and looks upon the world as a challenge to reach as great pleasure and artistic sublimity as possible. He might be a great genius, an artist or a lover, but of course he can’t escape the creeping dread of the meaninglessness and vanity of it all. If he truly realizes this dread, he will turn to his antithesis, which is the ethical. The ethical man takes up every duty that can be expected of a man of his birth, and employ his energies to their completion. The ethical man is a man of the community, and to be ethical is simply to do what’s good for the common.

But as we discussed earlier, to simply fulfil one’s place in the common is not enough, as one does not reach above the material birth one was given by the Mother. Man will look up towards the immovable sky of Being, and feel that his true essence is that given by the Sky Father. So Kierkegaard turns to the great, personal leap of faith, from which man reaches the final and complete stage, that of the religious man, through which man once again become fully an individual, but an individual who by his holiness reaches a paradoxical state of being greater than the common.

In Fear and Trembling (1843) Kierkegaard explores this individual who is greater than the common group he is a part of – that of the religious man – by examining the story of Abraham. When Abraham chose to fulfil God’s test and sacrifice the son that God had promised him, he broke past the ethical. For in the ethical realm, Abraham had no greater common than his family, and his greatest duty was the loving and protecting duty of the father. God gives Abraham a personal test, something which alone proves himself and his faith, and it requires him to neglect his greatest duty, and sacrifice his son. But Abraham does not act as a mere individual, for the good of his empirical I; he acts through his transcendent I, through the breath God gave man, and this overrides every material form and puts him in an absolute relation with the eternal. Through his faith in God, the man Abraham become the holy man Abraham, and this quality sets him as a lightning bolt above the common which his material individual is merely a subset of. But the greatness of his act does not end there, for in his unmovable faith, he both wholly believes that God will give him Isaac as promised, and that God will take him away as promised. He does not set out to sacrifice Isaac because he knows that God will stop him, or because he knows that Isaac must die, but because his unmovable faith overrides the absurdity posed in the challenge – Abraham both loves Isaac and God fully, he both reaches towards the eternal will of God, and his temporal love and duty for his son. And thus when he raises the knife, he makes that leap which both reaches the eternal, and lands in the temporal. God gives Isaac back, not to the man Abraham, but to the holy man Abraham, and Abraham’s duty to his son has transcended the ethical, and become the religious.

The task of the ethical man is simply to be strong of will, to be able to choose the good of the common weal when it means the ruin of himself. And while this is tremendous and admirable, while it gives birth to the great tragic heroes, it by itself cannot reach eternity. For the ethical man makes a finite movement of resignation, while the realm of the infinite demands an infinite resignation. In only sacrificing himself to the common weal, man sacrifices his finite individual for something which is materially greater than him, but which nevertheless remains finite, and thus he never breaks out of the finite. In order to make the resignation infinite, man must not only forget himself, but move beyond every duty, every meaning and every joy that the finite world outside of him can give him, until he stands completely alone in front of the eternal. For there is a great joy in the ethical, the joy and comfort of being part of something greater, of performing an act which outlives one’s own life, and being lamented as a great, tragic hero – but the infinite demands the sacrifice of this great joy, as the man who has been struck by the sublime greatness of eternity can’t let himself escape into the warm embrace of the common, of the Mother who birthed him. He must himself scale the sharp edges of the mountain, out of his own, absolute freedom, and there at the top like Abraham face the terrible God.

Everything, no matter how great it is, fades into insignificance when faced with the infinite and terrible Being.

But the infinite resignation is only the start, for thereafter man must make that paradoxical double movement back, he must from the top of the mountain take a leap which both returns to his home in the valley, and reaches the infinite skies above. He must win back everything he resigned, every duty, meaning and joy, but do so with that permeating light of infinity, which gives everything below its true value. He must see to that nothing has been lost, but that everything has been gained, that he like Abraham both sacrifices and gains the world, greater than before. Kierkegaard tells of the noble knight of the infinite resignation, who has given up every love and woman in the world, in order to love a princess he may never gain – yes, who loves her with such a great sacrifice and strength, that he by loving her loves the eternal beauty in itself, that he by her is guided to the holy heavens like Dante by Beatrice. There is nothing in his love but the unending pain of the infinite resignation, but suddenly he is struck by a great faith, the great absurdity, that she will nevertheless belong to him one day. The princess becomes a woman of flesh and warmth, like all the other women he has forsaken, yet his love remains infinite, and his great struggles in the world now aim, not to resign himself, but to embrace that living shard of eternity. He has become a knight of faith.

Kierkegaard has seen these great knights of faith in the fabled past, but where are they today? He has searched, but never seen one, and he begs that one be brought before him – and there one appears, a mere burgher of Copenhagen! He does not walk with that gravity which comes with the great miseries of the knight of infinite resignation, no, he care-freely strolls the streets and parks of the city. There are no great and sublime words of poetry coming from his mouth, but only the relaxed chattering with old friends. There are no flaming declarations of faith and humility in face of the terrible God, but only the singing of ordinary psalms on Sunday. He has no great thoughts, but when he walks home in the evening, he only imagines what the wife might have cooked, and then he sits there, watching the children play and smoking his pipe. Nothing on the outside makes him differ from the ordinary burgher, but he has made that elusive double leap, he has seen eternity with his heart, without ever forgetting the scent of his home. He has completely put his faith in Christ, and now he lives in that little part of the world that is completely his own, as if it was eternity itself.

By this, Kierkegaard of course does not idealize the life of a bourgeois as the culmination of existence, but rather realizes that the essence of the religious man, of true Tradition, is not whatever position and faculties fate has happened to given him in the material world, but only his capability to know and live the eternal in the position which fate gave him. No great mind, no great heroism or great power is in itself sufficient to reach the eternal. It would be ridiculous to believe that the absolute Being needed a simple burgher, but equally ridiculous that Being needed the hero or the king, that it would need the people, history or the whole world altogether. Everything, no matter how great it is, fades into insignificance when faced with the infinite and terrible Being. It is only when man makes this double movement that he becomes anything at all, that his life becomes a true work of the eternal. By the power fated to man, this work of his own may be small or big, but by the touch of eternity, it is everything, yes, paradoxically greater than the whole material world which it rose from. A man might only be a simple burgher, but if he has made this leap, no other greatness is needed.

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The Liberal Paradigm and Its Consequences with Joaquin Flores https://arktos.com/2019/03/24/the-liberal-paradigm-and-its-consequences-with-joaquin-flores/ https://arktos.com/2019/03/24/the-liberal-paradigm-and-its-consequences-with-joaquin-flores/#comments_reply Sun, 24 Mar 2019 12:34:28 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6254 Arktos is joined by Joaquin Flores of the Center for Syncretic Studies to discuss the current liberal paradigm gripping the world, its consequences, historical causes and its accelerating breakdown, and the work that he and the Center are doing to prepare for the world to follow.

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Imperium Europa https://arktos.com/product/imperium-europa/ https://arktos.com/product/imperium-europa/#comments_reply Sun, 24 Mar 2019 12:23:41 +0000 https://arktos.com/?post_type=product&p=6243 Imperium Europa is not a book: it is a vision. A vision of a future on the brink of the present, of a Europe of Tomorrow and of Today, in which petty nationalism and brotherly conflicts have been fused into a unified European Destiny. This vision will change the course of the present hostile, incompetent and economy-obsessed EU, replacing it with political and spiritual solidarity in IMPERIUM EUROPA.

In IMPERIUM EUROPA, high technology and high tradition meet: Europe’s spirit is renewed, her lands, glory and holy places restored, and the stars themselves made her rightful heritage.

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The Counter-Enlightenment and Sozietätsphilosophie https://arktos.com/2019/03/22/the-counter-enlightenment-and-sozietatsphilosophie/ https://arktos.com/2019/03/22/the-counter-enlightenment-and-sozietatsphilosophie/#comments_reply Fri, 22 Mar 2019 14:10:13 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6238 Recently I offered an Aristotelian perspective on rational proof1 in order to contribute to the debate surrounding the efficacy of Enlightenment rationality. That essay focussed on ancient philosophers, and it is my hope now to expand upon this by examining the views of some early modern and contemporary philosophers. Specifically in this instalment, I wish to present two figures from late-18th century Germany: Johann Georg Hamann (1730–1788) and Franz von Baader (1765–1841).

These two philosophers both studied philosophy in the full bloom of Enlightenment, and both were equally dismayed with what they saw.

These two philosophers were men of their time, but only in the same sense that any person born into a particular period naturally becomes a man of his time. Both studied philosophy in the full bloom of Enlightenment, and both were equally dismayed with what they saw. There must therefore be something good which we can learn from Hamann and Baader.

Let us begin with Hamann. Like many philosophers of the time, Hamann was not trained explicitly as a philosopher, but as a theologian (a rank to which such slightly later contemporaries as Hegel and Schelling would also ascend) studying at Königsberg with Kant, who would become a lifelong friend and philosophical adversary. Hamann invented himself primarily as a philosopher of language, and indeed, it is his language which makes his works so captivating. His style is at times deliberately overblown and ridiculous, and at others, laconic and witty. The opening of his essay Philological Ideas and Doubts begins with a lengthy list of meaningless Greek onomatopoeiae such as ‘παπᾶ παπᾶ παπᾶ’ and ‘ὓ ὗ ὓ ὗ’ from which point he proceeds to declare that ‘the root and stem, the nourishing sap, and the living spirit of language, [is] above all its onomatopoeia.’2 His method is, however, quite ingenious. Although for much of his life a poor speculative theologian, Hamann’s major contribution to philosophy prefigures Wittgenstein by over a century. For Hamann, Vernunft ist Sprache: “Reason is language.” These apparently ridiculous sounds, presented quite surprisingly and out of nowhere, are in fact quotations from some of the ancient world’s greatest dramatists: παπᾶ from Sophocles’ Philoctetes, ὓ ὗ from Aristophanes’ Plutus. Thus Hamann shows us something which is in fact quite natural (if often hidden from our ‘rational sight’): that in the midst of a drama (be it fictional, or simply the drama life itself) apparently formless sounds can convey the most evocative meanings. Hamann roots rationality back to the mundane – to everyday human experience. In our own age, where language is used, or rather, is abused for the sake of perverting reason and turning what is manifest on its head, this is a most refreshing turn.

It was in language that Hamann saw the Enlightenment’s perversion of reason most acutely. Enlightenment rationalism of the likes of Kant led, according to Hamann, had a paradoxical effect: on the one hand it narrowed reason, and restricted what could be considered ‘normal’ or acceptable; on the other hand, it supplied a philosophical language which could be used to invent and justify any new and nonsensical precept, so long as the correct buzzwords were employed. He criticises

the heretics of psychology, Arianists, Mohammedans, and Socinians, who claim to have explained everything on the basis of positive power or entelechy of the soul.3

All of these groups (Arians, Muslims, and Socinians) are Unitarian in some sense, denying the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Here Hamann shows us his scepticism of philosophico-religious systems which claim to have a ‘packaged rational answer’, so to speak. For Hamann, the beauty of the Christian Trinity was in its innate contradiction: in the mystery of prayer to it and the experiences of ordinary people. As such, the philosophical cackling of those who ridiculed the ‘irrationality’ of the Trinity was foolery to him – the foolishness of a thinker who can dismiss centuries of common experience. And so in another place, he rounds his attack on the philosophers of his time for using reason to reduce once-meaningful beliefs to mere affectation:

[A]ll men’s rational arguments consist in truth and doubt about untruth, or belief in untruth and doubt about truth. … However, if the intellect believes in lies, and acquires a taste for them, doubts truths and despises simple fare, then light in us is darkness and the salt in us is no longer a seasoning – religion becomes a mere church-procession, philosophy a verbal ostentation, outmoded and meaningless opinions, obsolete and impotent rights!4

His point is that Enlightenment destroyed meaningful and truly powerful beliefs, which people held with the force of truth. Only the husk of these beliefs remained – indeed, in many European countries this remains the case to this day, such as England with its Anglican processions devoid of genuine belief – but the meaning behind them is lost, the husk becoming little more than an obsolete tradition or artefact.

There is a delightful common-sense realism to Hamann. I believe this to be reflected, if not improved upon, in Baader’s work a few decades after him; for Baader was reacting not against Kant, but against the older phenomena of empiricism, and even that protogenesis of modern Western philosophy: Cartesianism. It was when living in England from 1792 that Baader came into contact with the empiricism of David Hume – and first earned his distaste for it. On his return to Germany, he befriended Friedrich Jacobi (1743–1819), and under his influence began to write his first philosophical papers.

The crucial difference between the post-Enlightenment feminist theorist and the post-Enlightenment man of the Right is this: the former still accepts the moral consequences of Enlightenment, whilst the latter places at his moral foundation something which defies Enlightenment.

It seems appropriate here to divert from our course slightly in order to say a few words about Jacobi, given his influence upon Baader. Jacobi cannot be overlooked, given that it was arguably Jacobi’s reaction against the Enlightenment which ignited the first debates about rationality. In fact, it is not correct to call Jacobi’s thought a reaction against Enlightenment – Jacobi reacted against philosophy itself. Jacobi is, I have always thought, the first of the anti-philosophical philosophers, and his anti-philosophical system is striking. Baader follows from Jacobi in identifying the earliest signs of Enlightenment in Descartes and Spinoza, and both denounced the latter’s highly nonstandard views about God as the first signs of Enlightenment Deism (a position until relatively recently often closely associated with Atheism). For Baader and Jacobi, Deism – the belief that God is distanced from the material creation, that he does not intervene in any way – was not an Enlightened position on God, but rather a perversely self-justified excuse to disbelieve. Just as Hamann did, both these men saw deep-rooted beliefs and the collective expressions of those beliefs as the root of the truly rational.

However, whilst Jacobi was horrified by the direction of Western philosophy, and rejected completely every systematic position from Aristotle to Fichte, Baader applied this righteous reaction a little more temperately. Rather than throw out philosophy altogether and rest upon the dogmatic certainties of the Christian religion, Baader remarked that Descartes’ infamous expression of first metaphysical principles, ‘cogito ergo sum’, ‘I think, therefore I am’ set Western philosophy on the wrong course. For Baader, the correct first principle would have been ‘cogitor ergo sum’, ‘I am thought, therefore I am.’5 Here the human condition is defined by the fact that it is created, and the lot which it is given is its definition. This definition is furnished by, as Baader would call it, the Absolute, but practically speaking, this is simply 19th century philosophical jargon meaning God.

Baader’s style is similar to Hamann’s, if not even more insurmountable in its idiosyncrasies. His sentence structures are quite dauntingly convoluted; he is prone to extended analogies, metaphors, and distractions in his prose, not to mention the deliberate use of neologisms. He supplanted, for example, the traditional German term for the Christian Trinity (Trinität or Dreifaltigkeit, ‘triune’) with his own new one (Ternar, ‘triplicity’ or ‘threefold’), feeling as though the traditional terminology did not sufficiently convey the mystical significance of divine ‘threeness’. Aside from a deliberately literary, anti-lucid style (presumably in response to the proto-analytic pretensions of the empiricists whom he despised) Baader looked back to the scholastic philosophers of medieval Europe for methodological inspiration. Specifically, in them he found the seeds of his own project: a necessary desire to syncretize science, theology, and philosophy into a single, yet fluid system. He writes in one essay:

Not only should science and religion reunite, but the former, driven by a deeper necessity of a deeper alienation from the latter, should unite with religion in a deeper, therefore newer, and more profound way, just as reconciled enemies establish a deeper, more profound union.6

The term ‘science’ (Wissenschaft) was even in Baader’s time not limited to what we would now designate ‘science’. Indeed, until the completion of the professionalization of the academic communities of Europe and America in the mid-20th century, the term ‘science’ could easily apply to natural, moral and metaphysical philosophy equally. The Hegelian school made no distinction between philosophy and science – but it necessarily subordinated all else to this Enlightened variety of philosophy – which is the true meaning of Wissenschaft at this moment in time. Yet Baader’s project was not to syncretize in the way that the Hegelians did – by using the philosophical sciences to create a systematic explanation of everything; rather he envisaged the syncretic polymathy of the scholastics. The works of mystics such as Hildegard von Bingen come to mind, whose oeuvre includes everything from mystical visions to Biblical exegesis, from practical and pastoral letters to natural philosophy and medicine. These things were not dominated by each other, but complementary; to appropriate Aquinas’ own term, philosophy acted as ‘the handmaid of theology’ – a necessary servant, but centred around the basic belief in doctrines revealed by the Absolute being which humans worship as Creator. This system, which Baader calls Sozietätsphilosophie,7 ‘partnership-philosophy’ is an association of disciplines. In the Sozietätsphilosophie we see the same search for truth across various fields united by a common concern for seeking the right way to ‘live and understand’, so to speak. The link between this and the Greek philosophies we considered beforehand is therefore quite clear.

Yet there is a crucial impasse at which we have arrived – one which both casual reader and philosopher alike might in all likelihood miss. The Counter-Enlightenment has been of interest in recent years to critical theorists, feminists, queer theorists and so on. If one is to take such a (proportionally) gigantic leap as to dismiss the achievements of the Enlightenment as a mistake, and demand a widening of the bounds of reason, then of course one opens oneself up to voluminous problems. It is this apparent widening of the bounds of reason, and an emphasis upon the power of language, that has led to all kinds of outwardly laughable and anti-rational modern trends: gender fluidity comes to mind, for example. If it is basic beliefs alone which provide the basis of reason, why should we dismiss those basic beliefs which are founded upon the contemporary liberal doctrine of personal identity? It is almost as though the Counter-Enlightenment and Enlightenment have come around full circle and now met. In fact, this provides us with our answer. The Enlightenment places at its root ‘freedom’ as the basis of all morality. Now, even the Counter-Enlightenment theorists could accept the place of freedom within morality to a degree, but not as morality’s basis. The crucial difference between the post-Enlightenment feminist theorist and the post-Enlightenment man of the Right is this: the former still accepts the moral consequences of Enlightenment, whilst the latter places at his moral foundation something which defies Enlightenment, as did Hamann and Baader; that thing being either purported divine revelation – that is to say, the most perfect form of anti-rational knowledge which mankind has available – or some abstract concept of the divine which governs the boundaries of reason. It is important to remember than the syncretizing of disciplines does not amount to an acceptance of everything and nothing.

There is much more that could be said about the figures whom I have discussed, but I suspect that the crux of the matter has been made clear. Both Hamann and Baader are relatively little-known in their own right, but their thought certainly deserves a place alongside the greatest luminaries of the Enlightenment proper. It is my hope that they (and their associates) will form part of the development of new philosophical responses to the excesses of our own age with the help of those who disseminate their ideas.

In the final instalment of my series of essays on Enlightenment and rationality, which will follow this one, I hope to examine some more contemporary approaches to the problem, and bring together the loose ends which have been left from my previous discussions on the subject.

References

1 Alexander J. Illingworth, ‘A Peripatetic Perspective on Rationality’.

2 J. G. Hamann, Writings on Philosophy and Language (CUP, 2007), pp. 113–114

3 Ibid., p. 118

4 Ibid., pp. 202-203

5 The Bloomsbury Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century German Philosophers (Bloomsbury, 2016), p. 28

6 F. X. von Baader, Sämtliche Werke, vol. I (Leipzig, 1850), p. 95

7 Bloomsbury Dictionary (op. cit.), pp. 28–29

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The Liberal Mirage – Part 3 https://arktos.com/2019/03/21/the-liberal-mirage-part-3/ https://arktos.com/2019/03/21/the-liberal-mirage-part-3/#comments_reply Thu, 21 Mar 2019 15:31:51 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6233 The Spirit of Modern Democracy

The above considerations force reflection on what stance we are to take with respect to democracy as it exists here and now. The worthier proponents of modern democracy – those, that is, who perceive the real state of affairs in the present manifestation of democracy, but who are nonetheless unwilling to abandon their faith in the demos – will surely be ready with any number of suggestions for institutional remedies for the problems that we have attempted to identify. By tweaking this or that wire of the present system, by changing laws, by changing constitutions, by electing the right face in a sea of faces, one may obviate the present vices and permit the eternal virtues of democracy to shine forth.

To believe in democracy to its very depths one must perforce believe that mankind has reached an appropriate stage in its ‘evolution’, and is now finally in a position to enter into a new and fundamentally ‘utopian’ stage of human history.

In the first place, it must be recognized that any such attempt is equivalent to a concession that democracy in and of itself, far from being the ideal form of government, far even from ‘working’ in a normal way, is wont without constant structural alterations to lead to disaster or to a diseased form of government. But the simplest refutation of such ingenuity is simply this: if intelligent and authoritative men of good will are capable of engineering a worthy system whose virtue depends on its institutional integrity, then cunning and extraordinarily wealthy individuals of bad faith are certainly as capable of subverting that same system and bending its innermost tendencies to their will. If ‘law’ is merely mechanical in its function, so that a good law here makes a good law everywhere, then all it takes is a single generation of slick operators to adjust the mechanism at its weakest or most manipulable points, forcing the system to work toward a different and even contrary end.

Others yet, holding nearer to the spirit of democracy, prefer the ‘homeopathic’ remedy to our ills. Democracy, these men claim, has never yet been purely established in the world, and therein lies the true problem. They would fain seek to establish democracy democratically – that is, without the intercession of finance, representatives, or institutions. They envision democracy on a small, not to say communal, scale, and at a local level. They proceed toward precisely the same end as the communists and anarchists, choosing only to take the low rather than the high way. They take their bearings by an abundant awareness of what is dangerously superficial and redundant in the present regime; they believe that in erasing all of this, in culling the dross, in simplifying, in paring all things down to a more ‘human scale’, they might avoid a relapse into the vain monstrosity which the present verges upon. Their view relies on full recognition of the illness of our current institutions – but also on a specific interpretation of the whole past as being of a kind with this present, only not as ‘advanced’ in its abuses of power nor in the mechanisms and tools at its disposal. These men make no distinctions, that is to say, between the kingships and aristocracies of old on the one hand, and the contemporary democracies and theocracies on the other, but consider all of these regimes to be part and parcel of a single category, variations on a unique theme, outwardly diverse but inwardly servile to the same gross manifestations of ‘power-hunger’. And they make this critique, without ever rising to awareness that ‘power’, as they understand and intend it, is an exclusively modern idea, held in ovo precisely in the dawn of modernity, and as unfamiliar to past epochs as indeed the very contemporary notion of democracy itself.

Two responses are to be made to these purist defenders of democracy, whom we may, for useful shorthand, refer to as anarchists (for every pure vision of democracy, in the end, is really a vision of ‘anarchy’). The first is identical to the response that Plato, first through Glaucon and then through Socrates, made against such an idea in the Republic, after Socrates had drawn his sketch of the ‘healthy city’: ‘If you were providing for a city of pigs … on what else would you feed them than this?’1 And Socrates, tacitly acquiescing to the argument, presses on to the ‘fevered city’, which reveals itself to be the true ‘city in speech’, the truly just city. For the city of pigs, whatever else it might be, is not a city of men, a city of human virtue, and therefore cannot be just. The same can and must be said against libertarians and anarchists and anarchoids of all stripes – but that is matter which is best left to a wider cultural critique of democracy.

In the second place, however, one really must ask if these theoreticians, such as they are, do not retain in full force the fundamental weakness and illusion inherent to all democratic thought of all epochs: namely, the belief in the rule of the many – carrying this marvellous illusion, however, to an entirely different level. For present it however you will – any government ‘by, for, and of the people’ drags the demos behind it wherever it goes, and cannot have done with the failures, weaknesses, and mediocrity of that remarkable human hodgepodge. These anarchists, as indeed every democratic theoretician from the first to the last, necessarily posit at least the relative perfectibility of the human being as such, necessarily presuppose that through education and proper upbringing any given human being can be moulded or manufactured into a ‘good citizen’, meaning a citizen capable at once of caring for the well-being of the whole of the commonweal, and also of seeing with adequate clarity how to manifest that caring in his vote. They all of them suppose, that is to say, the tabula rasa of the human soul, which they can fill however they please. They are deniers to a one of the idea of any resistant and persistent human nature: they are anti-naturists par excellence.2

But returning precisely to our commoner contemporaries, let us argue the matter on their own level, for here we have already escaped the narrow limits in which fish like those still know how to swim. We limit ourselves to a mere practical observation. In the first place, we must analyse the nature of power in the ‘system’ that they propose. They are essentially taking the notion of ‘checks and balances’ or the ‘division of powers’ to its extremity, not to say to its reductio ad absurdam: rather than proposing this or that relation of institutions or branches of government as the pivot and crux of the division of powers, they rather propose to imbue each individual human community with its own power, capable of nullifying the power of any other; and more yet, within each individual community, in the deepest spirit of democracy, they propose each individual as the true and final repository of political power. In this way they spread the ‘balance of powers’ as universally as they may. About this, we can do no better than quote Tomislav Sunic’s Homo Americanus, bearing in mind that his words on American democracy in particular hold every bit as much for democracy as such:

Why do Americans opt … for a horizontal type of democratic control in which the system of checks and balances inevitably transforms itself into the system of mutual surveillance? The French anti-egalitarian and postmodern author, Claude Polin, while raising this disturbing question, also provides some cogent answers. Similarly to Tocqueville, Polin observes with concern the horizontal nature of the democratic process in America, which furnishes the framework for ‘terror of all against all’. ‘How is it possible’, he asks, ‘that one fears a king exercising his power, and why is it that one has less fear if the same power is conferred on millions of little kings?’ Surely, in a dispersed egalitarian system of power sharing, such as in Americanism and Communism, with both attempting to project their power worldwide and under the cover of global democracy, no citizen will ever dream of having absolute power. But in the atomized system of Americanism, dispersed power inevitably leads to dispersed terror in which the line between the victim and the henchman is bound to disappear.3

Yet let us set this danger for a moment aside; for the democratic soul will perhaps really see in this world a kind of ‘paradise’ or, more shockingly yet, the perfection of human justice (!). There is nonetheless a very real practical difficulty to this scheme. Supposing – and it is a devil of supposition – that sufficient numbers of ‘the people’ might be persuaded to form small communities of the utopic variety that these thinkers have in mind; supposing furthermore – no less diabolic of a supposition – that these same human beings might be of a calibre sufficient to see both to the practical and to the ethical aspects of their little democracies. Well and good! And what of the rest of humanity? Will they not continue as ever they have done? And even if, by some miracle, it be but a single sliver of the population that so continues, shall they not still have amongst them precisely the very same ‘overachieving’ power- and gold-hungry monsters who even today have brought much greater societies than ‘cities of pigs’ to heel? And how shall our little anarchist communities hold their own against the monetary and technological, perhaps even numerical, advantage represented by non-anarchical societies, when these last come for them, as they certainly sooner or later shall? And – most especially, most pressingly – how shall they resist the technological superiority which those men will be able to purchase and harness for themselves?

But of course – it is senseless to hope for anything of the kind, and our good democrats really do not hope for it. They have much more ambitious ideas; in good Hegelian or Marxian fashion, they foresee a transmutation of the entire globe, the entire human population, into a new state of ‘awareness’. Thus we come to the real but hidden root in any such idealistico-anarchical conceptions: one must believe that the present historical juncture is ripe for democracy of this kind, that this form of democracy is simply waiting to spring into reality from out of the rich chaotic undersoil of History, because its time has finally arrived. It is not at all mere accident which leads a man like Fukayama to proclaim the ‘end of history’ in liberal democracy, or which leads countless others to crave a global ‘open society’. To believe in democracy – not in this or that country or at this or that historical period, but to its very depths – one must perforce believe that mankind has reached an appropriate stage in its ‘evolution’, and is now, thanks perhaps to its modern technology, but also thanks to the long preparation of the Enlightenment, finally in a position to enter into this new and fundamentally ‘utopian’ stage of human history. One must believe, in short, in a benevolent brand of historicism, a kind of ineluctable or at the very least absolutely feasible progressive rise in the level of humanity, up to precisely the ‘end of history’ in a final and totally ecumenical anarcico-democratic reality – a homogeneous world state.

The full consideration of such an idea as this must be long, for it goes to the very heart of modernity, the very core of the modern project. We cannot venture down those winding paths here. Let it suffice, then, to mention merely a single excellent reason for taking the historico-democratico-triumphalist vision of ‘human progress’ with a steep grade of scepticism: it is precisely the latest manifestation of that most natural, and as we have seen most poisonous and intellectually dangerous, optimism which besets each and every human being within democracy as such. This final frontier of democratic theory, which in some corners now announces itself as ‘the future’ or even (impertinence of impertinences!) the last best hope for humankind, is precisely nothing other than the remotest instance of the democratic spirit at work in the realm of ideas: and for that reason it is a hundred times more likely to represent the dying breath of democracy, than its re-inspiration in some new and final form.

The Ends of Modern Democracy

Let us recapitulate. The claims which modern democracy makes as to its character bear little resemblance to its actual character. Those claims represent, as it were, a democratic or liberal ideal divorced from the modern democratic reality. This would not necessarily be a difficulty if the reality were a functional reality, if the present regime were a machine which one could safely suppose would continue working, perhaps coarsely and clunkily, for the foreseeable future; for while modern democracy is certainly not the best possible regime, it very well might be the best or the stablest regime available to us here and now. But analysis of the reality as opposed to the ideal of modern democracy reveals that modern democracy is moving steadily if not ineluctably in the direction of a transformation toto coelo. The nature of this transformation has yet to be seen: it might be the precipitation of democracy into a factional civil war or an otherwise catastrophic scenario such as was predicted by Guillaume Faye (anarchy); it might be the inner mutation of democracy into a kind of arbitrary rule of the rich and soulless few (modern oligarchy); or it might be the final breakdown of the republican regime which is the substrate of modern democracy, the last collapse of constitutional or legal rule, and the issuance therefrom of a despot or a post-constitutional ‘Caesar’ (Caesarism or tyranny).4 It would appear, that is to say, that contra the naïvely melioristic hopes of its theoreticians, modern democracy cannot be indefinitely prolonged, and that the consequences of its demise could be nasty and brutal or monstrously inhuman.5 The outcome will depend on myriad circumstances – many beyond our control, and a few wholly or partially within our control.

We are wont to look about us for the man who will deliver us; but we often enough spend all our time looking, and fail at the same time to deliver ourselves.

It is likely that the mutation of modern democracy, which has been at least in part desired and aimed at by a certain segment of today’s ‘elite’, would proceed relentlessly apace, if not for two separate circumstances. First, the tempo of events has been markedly increased, thus making the changes in politics and society (as for instance, globalism, militant feminism, the breakdown of genders, the erosion of all traditional or pseudo-traditional forms, etc.) more visible and stinging to those who are dispossessed thereby of their accustomed power, status, or mores. This change in pace can be attributed in the first place to a natural coalescence of the forces that modern democracy has unleashed on society (egalitarianism, capitalism, technology, etc.), and secondly to a growing hubris on the part of the ‘elite’, some of whom arrogantly believe that they have already won the day and no longer face any real opposition. They believe, that is to say, that the ‘end of history’ has come, so that all that remains is ironing out the final wrinkles in time.

The second circumstance which is capable of altering the present course of events is this: in recent years especially, mass immigration has been augmented to an unprecedented degree. This has been done from a variety of motives and by a variety of actors. Some have seen their profit in it (cheap labour, human trafficking, profiteering of government subsidies, etc.); some have approached it from a hopelessly ingenuous and idealistic bent (establishing multicultural societies so as to eliminate prejudice and ‘hate’; saving and succouring refugees and the weak; defending and fulfilling the vision of universal human rights; etc.); some have seen in it an opportunity to entrench their political influence (stacking the popular vote with left-voting immigrants; sharpening the ‘identitarian’ divides so as to force policy change; etc.); some are playing at it with a longer game in mind (deculturizing human beings so as to make them docile and economically and politically exploitable; encouraging ethnic conflicts as a pretext for the establishment of increasingly totalitarian laws and controls; pushing humanity toward conditions of rootlessness and borderlessness, in which it is better fit for the homogeneous world state, etc.). Whatever the primary causes for it, or the primary agents behind it, it has brought inevitable conflict and chaos to long-established and generally peaceable Western peoples. For this reason, it is a gross miscalculation on the part of the ‘globalist elite’, for it at once opens the eyes of the common people to the nature and radicalness of the changes their societies are undergoing, and thrusts these same common people back, if only reactively, on concerns which transcend the merely economic sphere: namely, their customs, their ethnicity, their traditions, their religion, their ways. This growing awareness is often called ‘identitarianism’, insofar as it represents the consciousness of the people that their ‘identity’ is under attack. So neutral and in the last analysis democratic and modern a term as ‘identity’, however, fails to capture the power and the potentiality, for good and for ill, of the forces that have been unleashed.

These circumstances do not cause, but certainly aggravate and open awareness of, the fundamentally contingent, transient and unstable nature of modern democracy. The discontents of the masses which are thereby fomented, their growing uncertainty, the atmosphere of doubt, scepticism, cynicism, malaise, unease, distrust, anger, resentment etc. etc. with regard to the ‘powers that be’ opens up brief windows of opportunity. Two distinct possibilities confront us at this point.

The first is the possibility of restabilizing republican rule through a kind of rehabilitation of the law, a confrontation of the clandestine powers that presently manipulate it, and a purging of the parasitic political classes which presently dominate in the halls of power. If the above critique is well-founded, it is clear that this would represent not a solution to the problem of modern democracy, but a support against its collapse. Yet even such a support in a moment like ours might be precious, insofar as it could afford us dearly needed time to order our souls and our affairs and to wage our ‘metapolitical war’, all of which serves to improve the chances that what awaits us on the other side of modern democracy might be at the very least tolerable.

The change in the popular mood which we have briefly sketched above can be exploited politically. This means having recourse, above all, to the popular vote; it means putting one’s support behind a certain kind of candidate, and attempting to encourage as many people as possible to do the same. In the second part of this essay, we have discussed two kinds of candidates on whom one might place one’s hopes: the long-standing politician of a minority party, or a newly arrived non-politician who appears from outside of the ‘system’ and attempts to take it by storm. Examples of the first include Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini; examples of the second, Ross Perot and Donald Trump.6

All said, and laying aside special cases, it seems on the balance wisest to aim for the first and not the second category of candidates. We have already offered critique of the non-politician who makes his debut as a kind of deus ex machina. Beyond this, one should consider that the minority-party politician is already to some extent versed in the movements of the ‘system’, and in general has had long years to build up a small but potentially robust cadre of allies or sympathetic persons, within the ranks of the political order or related spheres, upon whom he might depend. Finding himself propelled unexpectedly to a position of authority, he can, if fortunately endowed by circumstances and by his own skill and sense, make full use of this knowledge and these allies against the many obstacles that will be put up to stall him.

The non-politician who bursts onto the political stage through will and independent wealth, on the other hand, is liable to find the entire establishment arrayed against him, either out of envy, resentment, mistrust, or the simple despite of ‘foreign elements’. He will have to fight the opposition flung at him from all sides by his own strength alone, or with the aid of a number of hand-picked supporters or sycophants who themselves are equally unprotected. Everything will then depend on his calibre, and the least weakness on his part can easily be exploited to bring his ruin. It is a hundred times easier to paralyze such a lone figure and to disarm him, and few and far between will be the men who come to his aid in such straits. He will find himself denounced, and not altogether unreasonably, for his lack of experience and knowledge – accusations which can be brought against a minority candidate with much less credibility – and because he has never been tried in the political arena, practically every misstep he makes will be brought against him as definitive sign of his incompetence, inexperience, overweening ambition or personal instability. And as is always the case in harsh times, the jackals and vultures, perceiving a lone man struggling, unaided, bleeding from a hundred small wounds and fending off predators on all sides, will hasten to make the most of the occasion.

More and more importantly still, the minority-party politician has already proved himself in the decisive sense: he has shown, by the very hopelessness of his cause over the course of long years and his simultaneous refusal to abandon it, that he is not corruptible or not as corruptible as his peers. He has demonstrated that he ‘cares about the issues’, that he has some loyalty to his positions, and that he cannot be easily bought or intimidated.

It is therefore generally the case that the minority-party politician has circumstances more at his disposal, fewer enemies and greater opportunities, than the lone non-politician leader. His chance being the wider, he has better opportunity to take advantage of it, and we to profit of it. It is to such men as this that we should, in general, turn our gaze, and always with an eye toward the final moment.

These considerations will obviously change from country to country. It is clearly easier for a figure like this to ‘arrive’ in multi-party nations. In two-party contexts like the United States, on the other hand, the situation might somewhat differ. Never once in all of American history has a third-party candidate come near to succeeding in a presidential race, even when such a one had two presidential terms behind him. There is less reason to hope for the emergence of a valid third party now than ever on account of the demographic chaos of the country, while at the same time it has never been harder for men of great virtue to make decisive appearance in the major parties, as America enters rapidly into late-stage modern democracy. The great challenge facing the American New Right at present is a tendency toward great expectations exacerbated by an increasingly distraught social and demographic situation. The arrival of Donald Trump has done little to alleviate the latter, and much to excite the former. In failing to live up to his promises, he has incited the cynical anger of his constituency; but in arriving to office in the first place, he has led them to believe that another man like him might succeed in doing what he has left undone. He forced the doors of the palace with his blustering, obstinacy, vulgarity and wilfulness; but he has therefore made it possible for another, who has all of these traits but lacks even Trump’s traces of civic concern, to follow in his footsteps. The country is thus ripe, and for more reasons than just this, for tyranny. Thus, though I know my kinsmen too well to expect that they would ever consider heeding it, I would give them the following counsel: beware of embedding your hopes in some seeming political saviour; look rather to what is your principal virtue and birthright as Americans, your self-reliance, and do what you can to improve upon that. The future of the country lies no where else than that; here the modest road is the royal.

Stated generally, whether we find a candidate upon whom to lay our hopes or not, we all of us are cast back upon ourselves in times like these. We are wont to look about us for the man who will deliver us; but we often enough spend all our time looking, and fail at the same time to deliver ourselves. The nature of tomorrow depends on nothing more than this: the men who will act in it. If we are so concerned then for our future, let it be the state of our souls in that future which most preoccupies us, for that is the one matter we have fully within our control. And for a like reason, there has never been such a moment for men of great heart to step into the political arena.

In closing, we proffer a short message to our contemporary politicians, those who are already ‘within the system’, knowing full well that they of course will never read it.

You, who have spent your lives attempting to establish yourself in positions of power through the democratic vote, have certainly in all that time not been insensitive to the opinion that the people have formed of you. More and more you find yourselves mistrusted where you are not loathed, alienated from growing segments of what you have been pleased to call your ‘constituency’. You have at the same time forged for yourselves golden fetters, ceding your sovereignty in your office to the sway of wealthy and immoral men, perhaps even under the threat of their blackmail, until you find that you have become a species of slave to them. In your ascent to office, you have gained neither the love of the people nor the independence that could be hoped for from your position of authority. You have lost everything that your ambition craved, save the mere creature comforts of your rank, which could have been had with greater dignity and security in a thousand other ways. Supposing you are not entirely numb to the ignominy of your position, you will have asked yourselves if there is any redemption from it. I say to you that if even one of you were to shake off and break through, and escape from all this, trampling underfoot these spells and charms, proclaiming yourself liberated from the influence of blackguards and power-lusters, and dispelling their incantations by dragging them into the light of day, that already would shake the rot. You would be greeted as the champion of the people, and would lend your name to history. For what is wanted in our time above all other things is some sure sign of the old virtue.

References

1 Plato, Republic 372d.

2The only variant of such thinkers to in any way escape this damnably modern and maddeningly Enlightenment vision of the human being are those who premise their democraticalness on some notion of hierarchy among human populations. They believe, to wit, that amongst certain groups of human beings – select human ethne, that is, which are naturally characterized by a generally innate sense of ‘civic duty’, by a feeling for the whole over the individual, by sympathy for their neighbour and for the plight of others, by political uprightness and a proclivity toward honest dealings in general – democracy is possible; anywhere else, it becomes a mere wicked farce. And hardly can one deny this proposition, which has been proven to some extent by history itself. One things at once of Iceland, of Sweden (before its late globalist-induced misfortunes), of Norway. But that returns us to the question of the special nature of these very special regimes, as well as to the the cultural critique of democracy, all of which falls beyond our present purview, though in fact it really and in the last analysis contains it. – In any case, it must be said that the kind of ‘democrat’ who argues for a democracy along ethnic lines is a very rare animal, and has in the end very little in common with his ostensible, and really much more democratic, brethren. Most democrats of our own or any age fall into the category of the anti-naturists: even in antiquity the proto-‘liberals’ took up that banner. How much more so, then, their very unillustrious heirs in the contemporary world!

3Tomislav Sunic, Homo Americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age (Arktos: 2018), p. 214.

4Cf. Aristotle, Politics, Book III and esp. 1281a 11–28, 1285a 17–1285b 4 and 1281a 16–20. Cf. also Leo Strauss, ‘Restatement on Xenophon’s Hiero’, in On Tyranny (Chicago. University of Chicago Press: 2013), pp. 179–180.

5Cf. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil Book V ‘The Natural History of Morals’ §199 and Book VIII ‘Peoples and Fatherlands’ §256 and On the Genealogy of Morals, First Essay ‘“Good and Evil”, “Good and Bad”’, §§ 16–17.

6There appears to be a third possibility, namely, a newly arrived politician; but such a one, on account of his youth and his almost certain lack of means, can at best be cultivated for the future, while here and now he is unable to present himself for rule in the highest offices of the land, which must of course most concern us at so critical a historical moment.

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The Liberal Mirage – Part 2 https://arktos.com/2019/03/20/the-liberal-mirage-part-2/ https://arktos.com/2019/03/20/the-liberal-mirage-part-2/#comments_reply Wed, 20 Mar 2019 14:04:30 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6227 On the ‘Capitalist’

Most anyone who winds up at the vertices of capitalistic wealth in our day will almost necessarily display certain traits, by which characteristics alone he is able to ‘rise’ in the system to such ‘dizzying heights’ (it would be well for us to maintain a degree of scepticism about the real direction he is most likely going). Such traits include, for instance, extreme organizational capacities, quantities of energy, keen analytic and practical cleverness, an overbearing greed, a willingness to use any tools at his disposal (as for instance, ‘contacts’ of a nepotistic sort or information which might be used for blackmail, but also amphetamines or other ‘stimulants’) to arrive where he wishes to go, and a total unhesitating willingness to transgress all moral constraints, which amounts to moral numbness when it does not in fact indicate precisely a kind of Schadenfreude and ruthless delight in exerting power and causing suffering. If such men are not cruel they will commonly be numb; but because the former is more ‘positive’ a characteristic than the latter, insofar as it establishes a perverse kind of goal in the human soul, it is to be expected that the former will be more prevalent than the latter. Put plainly, one is more likely to find hot monsters in those ranks, than cold ones.

The economic game, all of capitalism itself, is but a system organized toward sifting out the human and selecting for the most mechanically inhuman of human beings, and then rewarding these grossly with the most improbable of prizes.

All of this for the simple reason that in any large-scale money-getting venture you please – and the greater the sums involved, the truer this is – there will necessarily be consequences which affect the lives of other human beings. (The economist nicely passes such results off as externalities and collateral damage – being, as he is, forever perfectly frank in moral matters.) That capitalist who hesitates at the prospect of damaging his fellow man or of bringing about the suffering of individuals he does not know – that wealth-seeker who spends time, energy, perhaps even resources, toward limiting the harm he brings to others, as much as he is able – this kind of man will naturally fall behind. He will be out-manoeuvred, out-played, over-mastered and out-earned by the ruthless soul that trembles not a moment before such scruples, but perhaps even derives pleasure in venting his power over the helpless many. The economic game, all of capitalism itself, is but a system organized toward sifting out the human and selecting for the most mechanically inhuman of human beings, and then rewarding these grossly with the most improbable of prizes. The ‘love of the people’ which inevitably characterizes great political or social ambition here takes on a dangerous and sadistic hue. Moreover, the recipients of these great advantages surely believe themselves superior for their arrival at such exclusive prerogatives – but one should never for a moment forget that anyone who sets out in life with the singular and unqualified aim of making himself rich, is activated and actuated by one of the lowest and most sordid and bestial of all human motivations, which he holds perfectly in common with packrats, beavers, and bower birds; the very fact that such a monomaniac has been so ‘successful’ is in and of itself reason to doubt his calibre.1

It would of course be neither rational nor just to claim that all wealthy men are wicked – as is the tendency, for instance, in some Marxist or crypto-Marxist circles – for of course it might be the case that certain basically decent men seek wealth from out of any number of more or less decent motives, and furthermore good men may always be born to rich families. What one must diagnose is the tendency in a class, not the status of each of its individual members. And there is reason to believe that the capitalism of the modern world is built to facilitate moral disease; for the ‘free economy’ is nothing but a hierarchy stood upon its head, dedicated to forcing to the top predominately those human beings who are quite literally monsters of greed. Put fitter to the truth: the world in which we live is often enough the adulator of the mindless gravity of power; and because the psychotically avaricious are the heaviest among us, best capable of dwelling airlessly in the lightless deeps, we mindlessly follow their suction down.

And it is often these men, in the day and the world in which we are living, who form the true ‘power behind the throne’.

Indeed, the mere politicians in the main can get nowhere without the economic blessings of wealthy sponsors. They are as puppets in the hands of much mightier masters, and all their craving after power or influence, be it good or bad, reveals itself finally for what it is: a miscalculation. The simply ambitious democratic politician is that man who has sought all his life to attain something which can only be attained elsewhere than where he seeks it. Modern democratic politics to this extent is the ideal manifestation of human vainglory.

What then will be the role of these politicians as the political serfs of the super-affluent? Or put otherwise, and more usefully to anyone who wishes to understand the true mechanisms of power in our day – what will the super-affluent seek to extract from politics?

First and most obviously, they will seek conditions such as favour their wealth-getting – laws which grant them ‘freedom’ when this ‘freedom’ promotes their investments; laws which impose ‘regulation’ where they are the beneficiaries thereof; judicial reprieves or limited sentences when they are found to have broken the law; structures, bolstered or protected through legislation, which lay the blame and the penalty for any false step somewhere else than on their shoulders, and which permit them to leap, duly equipped with ‘golden parachutes’, out of the windows of buildings they have lit aflame; etc.

From these reflections it becomes evident that while the class composed of the super-affluent in certain respects can in many ways be considered a unified class with unified interests (even as Marxism considered them), in other respects it is in fact a warring encampment of diverse and fundamentally hostile economic factions. For some laws which favour one group will work to the detriment of others, he who profits from regulations will do so only at the expense of that man who is regulated against, and the ‘businessman’ floating away from the flaming building in his golden parachute leaves any number of similar men behind him to burn in his stead. The super-affluent thus form at once a more or less unified group with identical interests (which they are capable of preserving in unison when there is need) as well as a kind of hidden society of smaller groups which struggle against each other behind the curtain of that grand theatrical performance which is charmingly named ‘democratic politics’. And because that theatrical performance is precisely their cover and their secrecy, the one interest which most consistently unifies them is in seeing to it that no ‘unauthorized’ spectator is able to step behind the scenes and to lay his eyes on the stage director or the screenwriter of the whole affair – that no man enters the higher echelons of rule, who has not first knelt at the alter of their wealth and power. Whenever a ‘foreign element’, imbued with a misguided idealism, strays into the capitalistic or democratic ‘system’, the super-wealthy are most likely to act in unison to liquidate that threat in whatever manner they may, by hook or by crook. And their creatures in the political arena will be most ready to aid them in this.

Whenever a ‘foreign element’, imbued with a misguided idealism, strays into the ‘system’, the super-wealthy are most likely to act in unison to liquidate that threat in whatever manner they may, by hook or by crook.

The collusion of our democratic politicasters with such men as these, the disturbingly widespread extent of this kind of corruption in the most powerful offices (where the low nature of the politician is likely to bend eventually to the imposing influence of the wealthy), will sooner or later stall any institutional mechanisms to control the abuses of power, by containing them in a wider system yet of supra-institutional or supra-national interests and powers. Because the super-affluent are, given the natural growth of modern capitalism, bound to become ‘international’ figures with global interests (as much to escape particular laws or taxes as to consolidate their greater realm of influence and money), they will eventually ‘transcend’ the limits of those particular political mechanisms which have been designed to restrain their influence. They will form, for example, larger and larger corporations or secret ‘societies’ until the size and scope of these corporations and ‘societies’ exceed the natural borders of any given country; at which point it is but a matter of course that such corporations and ‘societies’ will come, amoeba-like, to absorb entire governments by enveloping them. Then all particular institutional legal protections and specific power-limiting mechanisms will become but tools in the hands of men who stand beyond their reach, and who therefore can use, toward the attainment of their ends, precisely those governmental and social functions which were designed to constrict that attainment. All of this is only a question of time – which is the one ingredient lacking for the complete ubiquity of such corruption throughout the modern democratic state. The movement is so inevitable that, looking back, it almost seems that these ‘systems’ have been built for nothing else.

There is no external or higher principle which can correct this perverted course. No morality can aid in a state which posits the ‘equality of human beings’ and thus tacitly denies the existence of human excellence. No national law can constrain men who live and act internationally. No divine law can countervail this venom in the ‘secular state’ (and all democracies are necessarily ‘secular’) which essentially denies the divinity of the divine law and thus decapitates its power from the start. Modern democracy is built upon the swamp, and into the swamp it duly sinks, either all at once or slowly. The most excellent of institutional safeguards can retard, but not halt, this course. And once it has fallen in, not the combined powers of man and god can drag it out again.

One might hope for the salutary intervention of some unbiased and external power, such as the ‘Fourth Estate’ (or the ‘Fifth Estate’, depending on how one likes to count these continually proliferating powers) of the ‘free press’ – another of our great modern prides, or better say, our modern vanities. To some extent, the hope one puts in this press is not ill-founded. The problem of course returns us to the simple question of ‘economies of scale’ – for everything in democracy must return to the question of mass and matter, of ‘economy and science’, it itself being the government of mass and matter par excellence. That portion of the press which enjoys real sway, and which therefore might be able to combat the overwhelming potency of the super-affluent and their dark spheres of influence, can only be that portion of the press which we like to call ‘mainstream’. The mainstream press is characterized by the breadth of its audience; it is that portion of the press which has obtained the greatest number of ears and eyes in the widest possible public within our enormous and multifaceted societies. Several points follow from this: first, that such a press will seek in most cases to be uncontroversial; second, that such a press will tend to be theatrical, and to put up ‘stagings’, being accustomed to manipulating the emotions and the opinions of the many; and third, that such a press will be the most sympathetic to the interest in wealth. For such a press could not arrive in the mainstream without enormous quantities of financial aid, and it would not stay there without the will to improve its ‘earnings’.

These particular traits of the mainstream press make it the natural bedfellow of the corruption of a society. It will be sought out precisely by the super-affluent for its ability to reach into the personal lives of millions through our modern technology and to deceive these citizens by its chicanery and subterfuge – and so the super-affluent will have every reason to spare no expense and to cut no corners in persuading the owners and directors of the press to represent them, in as subtle and insidious a way as possible.2 It is difficult if not impossible to imagine that such a press on the whole can long remain free of that influence, and particularly not over the course of generations.

Those elements of the ‘free press’ which really remain to some extent ‘free’, it is needless to say, will never enjoy the mass appeal of the mainstream. They cannot purchase that appeal, lacking the means and the backers to do so, they cannot hope to win it by substituting ugly and difficult truths for pleasant and cheerful lies, and they have absolutely no power substantial enough to counter the herd-instinct of the mass. They will remain forever ‘alternative’, and their message will be equivalently limited.3

The press, or any other ‘Estate’ extrinsic to the power structure of modern democratic society, cannot be counted on to protect the moral mettle of that society, nor to begin to counter the enormously potent influences which goad that society toward innermost decay.

This then is the necessary end toward which many ‘representatives of democracy’ tend, their inevitable final stage. We are permitted to call this the final stage, because whatever will issue from their generalized corruption will not be ‘democratic’ in any sense of the word, no matter what meaning one applies to it. It would seem that before its final collapse and transformation into something else, modern democracy must come to mean the rule of the vainest of human beings working at the secret behest of the cruellest.

The Populist Hope

That end, fortunately, has yet to arrive. We live still in that key moment at which the soft theory and ideal of modern democracy first begins to rub against the rough exterior of its reality. There remains before the arrival of this end only a single last safeguard to the honest operation of the modern democratic regime: that is, fittingly, the vote, popular elections, and, at bottom, the popular will. The people, informing themselves of the true situation through alternative sources, or perceiving for themselves the degree to which the ostensible ‘ruling class’ is compromised and poisoned against their interests, might bring another and more directly popular set of representatives to reign in their place.

The popular will is, at best, an ephemeral arithmetical result; it is nothing but an abstraction derived from an aggregate chaos.

In the first place, one is permitted to really wonder about the feasibility of such a hope after a certain degree of decay has been reached at the highest levels of government, for at that point the very mechanisms which are in a republic supposed to select for the most knowledgeable, capable, and perhaps even virtuous statesmen for the highest echelons of rule, are co-opted by dark powers to filter for their own traits of cold asocial avarice, until these powers are so entrenched within the system that they cannot be extracted from it again; nor would even a widespread crisis of institution or of social order likely suffice at such a point to drive them out, insofar as they themselves are in a position to expect and to manipulate precisely such crises for their own gain.

Be this as it may – what of those comparatively ‘healthier’ democracies in which the corruption has not become endemic, in which there are still legitimate hopes for some kind of ‘reform’? What is the salutary role of ‘popular will’ in such cases?

But we must really pause a moment to look the beast honestly in the eye – supposing such can be done with so Argos-like a creature as the popular will. For in the first place, what we nicely wrap up in a single word as if it were a unitary and single-spirited thing, is for the most part nothing but the multiform, protean, and perfectly arbitrary addition of each individual ‘will’ (itself a complicated and often irreducible thing) to every other, toward the composition of what must certainly be a fictional whole. One can speak in innumerable cases of a unified society or regime, because one can specify precisely in what aims it is united; but there is no aim which unites the popular will save this or that accidental passion or desire, or else precisely such aims as are embodied in the society to which it pertains (but which cannot however be considered to ‘compose’ it in any meaningful sense, because it is but the redundant expression of these aims). Its aims are always determined ex post facto from the vote, which means, one never really knows what those aims are, inasmuch as they might change from one year to the next. This popular will is, at best, an ephemeral arithmetical result; more generally, the ‘popular will’ is nothing but an abstraction derived from an aggregate chaos.

Is there anything at all that can be said then about the probable nature of this abstraction?

The average individual in normal times in a democracy, so far as his ‘vote’ is concerned, is generally ‘looking out for number one’, as the Americans quaintly put it. That is to say, he votes primarily for his own interests, and only subsequently for his ‘morals’, meaning for what he believes should happen to society, even if it that might harm his interests. Now there are many things which pertain to the ‘personal interest’ of a human being, some lower and some higher, in reflection of his state ‘between beast and god’. These things include family, work, love, gain, hate, etc. But it is clear that the only portion of these interests which are widely and easily generalizable in the form of elections or democratic laws are those pertaining to his material well-being. The ‘economic’ factor of human life is that which is usually ‘expressed’ in the vote, and thus it is that the ‘economic’ factor is that which the powers-that-be must seek to keep stable, if they would retain their positions of power. For one almost never sees scandals or upsets at the poll booths when conditions are stable.

It would seem that the extant powers should have every reason to seek to maintain equilibrium. Yet this precisely is what one does not see. The paradox here can be resolved by recalling that the ‘extant powers’ do not represent a unified front, but rather a miscellaneous assemblage of various desires and interest groups, including politicians, businessmen, capitalists, industrialists, bankers, etc. Some of the great crises of the past hundred years, certainly many of the economic crises and sometimes also the political ones, have been deliberately engineered or at the least happily welcomed and abetted by any number of very powerful men, who have subsequently profited handsomely of these crises. Those crises which have come upon the extant powers unawares indicate rather the limits of the reach of those powers, and thus suggest an institutional failing in modern democracy which might, at a pivotal moment, upheave the entire regime and open the way, for good or ill, for another. It seems then that these powers, whether deliberately or unconsciously, periodically risk precipitating the very conditions for those uprising on the part of the people that they should most wish to avoid.

And in this, we find truly the ‘last best hope’ of modern democracy, its final, its first, its most essential mechanism for bringing the modern democratic regime to really yield, if not the best ‘system of government’, then at least the ‘least of all evils’: namely, that the people, perceiving the wrongs being perpetrated or planned against them, might rise up in display at last of a true and truly unified popular will which extends beyond merely monetary concerns, punishing the self-serving politicasters, enshrining once again the principle of popular sovereignty in government, establishing honest men in the highest positions of power, etc. etc.

The which today sometimes goes by the name of ‘populism’. Populism of this stamp is certainly in specific definite conditions quite possible. But to set one’s hope in this, as if it were the raw, pure essence of ‘effective democracy’ itself, is to reveal oneself in the unflattering hue of ingenuity and blindness to what modern democracy really means, apart from all the pleasant bromides that are attached to it by intellectuals and the common men alike. For naturally, the first condition of any such democratic and peaceful uprising is that the ‘people’ understand what is at stake, what should be accomplished and how to attain it. More, it supposes the existence of a number of good-willed or at least not arrantly corrupt politicians who are practically capable and effectively willing to put themselves at the service of this populism, despite the sacrifices and risks this entails for their careers, reputations or persons, in order to overthrow the ‘old guard’ and to establish the new. It supposes furthermore that such men might arrive without being compromised by powerful, extraordinarily wealthy, cunning and ubiquitous enemies. It supposes finally that the ‘people’ will be able to distinguish between such men and the political actors put up by the moneyed powers to regain or retain control.

It should go without saying that not a single one of these hypotheses can be considered from the outset much more than a grandiose wish or a feeble hope.

To begin with the outer problem first, and to work thence to the very hollow core of modern democratic practice, let us consider what must be the prerequisites of such a democratic champion. Either he must be relatively clean of compromising influences, which means he must have skilfully navigated every blockade put up by the moneyed powers against the rise of such men as him, and he must have done so by virtue of his own will and determination; or else he must come from outside of the ‘system’ altogether.

The first possibility requires a man of remarkable fortitude and virtue, such as is rare in any day and yet moreso in long-standing democracies. If ever such virtues might arise, it would be either in a man of surpassing classical virtue married almost paradoxically to surpassing Machiavellian virtù, or else in the idealistic leader of this or that minority or ‘third party’ whose fidelity has been tested in the course of long and hopeless years, and who has in all that time revealed a certain integrity of beliefs and simultaneously refused the poisoned cup of perfidy.

Such individuals as this are almost ‘by nature’ marginalized; they dwell in the fringes, and very easily grow accustomed to this fringe-life. Indeed, it is easy enough to become addicted to defeat, to the ‘desperate cause’ which, in order to maintain its allure of chivalrous purity, must ever remain desperate. There are in these ranks, alas, all-too-often, shadow-lurkers addicted to the venomous charms of ressentiment. It is not rare for such individuals to spoil everything for themselves the very moment they begin to emerge from the shade; in a very real sense, many of them do not crave victory at all. As for those who both believe in their cause and in the possibility of bringing their cause to fruition, any number of other personal defects might lie in ambush for them. Many of them are cantankerous and have forgotten how to speak civilly. Many of them have grown bitter and hateful and have lost their decency. Many of them have become inured to battle, and their tough vicissitudes have grown around them a rough and crude carapace, so that they have forgotten how to show a soft and enticing face to the masses.

But the democratic masses are wary of warriors, and they will shy from such hard looks as these in all but the direst straits. Hardly can one hope for the ascent of such a politician in normal times; only when the modern democratic regime has already entered into a period of deep decay will the people begin to turn to such extremities as are promised by a candidate of this nature. Similarly, many of these politicians have had to be so ‘uncompromising’ that they have forgotten the difference between surrender and compromise; they have suppressed or ruined in themselves those traits which are necessary for politics as such, even in exceptional conditions, and certainly in the vast majority of democratic elections and terms. In general, it may be said that such politicians as this have had long years to accumulate a wealth of acerbity and hostility toward the system, anger and enmity toward the politicians in office and perhaps even toward the electorate, impractically rigid intransigence in their views (for one ‘wins’ by purity alone, while all diplomacy represents failure and ‘weakness’), and a perspective, both about what is possible and what is desirable in government, which is distorted by unyielding idealism on the one hand and by long-incubated resentment on the other, so that even should they arrive in power they will in most cases achieve nothing, but will pass their terms bumbling about breaking things, speaking inappropriately, making awkward passes toward impossible alterations in law, and injuring their already vulnerable rapport with those key figures who might have helped them toward their ends. Thus they too often contribute to the generally poor reputation of candidates or politicians like themselves, and make it that more difficult for any better one of their ilk to arrive in the future.

We will have reason to return to these men and their ‘lost causes’, but for now we turn to the second possibility, of the outsider politician who takes the political scene by storm. This requires independent wealth on the part of the candidate in question. Either this politician was born with such money or else he acquired it. If he was born with it, he will have had to combat within himself the corrupting power that money influences in a society which worships it. Money in a society like ours is identical to power, and this gross and materialistic power is moulded, refined, or constrained by almost no mores or traditions whatsoever. A young man of rich means, particularly as he is endowed with other virtues, is beset by an almost invincible temptation to bow to the more bestial and weakest parts of his soul, and it is almost certain that such a man will be deeply handicapped by his very good fortune in one way or another, unless he has been saved by some unusual inner or outer fortuity. In the realm of art, one thinks of the figure of Bruce Wayne as an example of such a ‘saved child’. But Batman, from his very byname itself, is better fit for fiction than for reality, and once again we find that the possibilities are slender unto invisibility.

If on the other hand he has gained his wealth by his own efforts – but here, to say it again and a hundred times again, only a thoroughgoing democrat could ever expect anything high, noble, and free from a man who has dedicated his entire life to hoarding his slop. And it is just as absurd if not moreso to hope that such a man will not harbour any number of dark secrets capable of ruining or at least hobbling him the moment they fall – as fall they shall – into the wrong hands. Even if he should be free of such secrets, who would ever want to guarantee that everyone near to him, his family and friends and working associates, are so immaculate? For they, too, can be used against him. Not only he, but also everyone with whom he has regular dealings, thus must be spotless. The degree to which one hopes for any candidate like that to ‘save the day’ is the measure of how far one has been infected by the ludicrous optimism of our contemporary democratic Pollyannishness.

Money in a society like ours is identical to power, and this gross and materialistic power is moulded, refined, or constrained by almost no mores or traditions whatsoever.

Supposing, however, he arrives, our ‘democratic white knight’, by navigating all the menaces to his virtue and his position, both external and internal – well, how shall he make himself known? He can either play the political game – against his opponents, who will likely be by nature and long practice a hundred times his superior at such shameless showmanship – or he can scorn that game in favour of brute honesty, smashing through the sham. But the bitter pill of honesty will be tasted alongside his opponents’ honeyed mendacities, and so everything will depend then on the degree to which the populace has grown cynical or can be forced to perceive hard truths by virtue of hard times. That is rare enough a proposition; it grows rarer yet, for the simple psychological fact that if our glimmering politician restrains himself to the negative arguments in favour of his vision, he cannot furnish his potential voters any positive reason to vote for him, but if he focuses on the positive vision, he cannot convince them of its practical plausibility. For if they are cynical, they will not vote for him on the basis of negative arguments alone, for these will do nothing but rankle and remind them of all the reasons they should trust no one, including him; if they are cynical, they are as unlikely to believe any positive vision he might provide. He must then arrive at that precise historical juncture between the usual blindly cheerful ingenuity of the prosperous democracy, and the brutal and callous cynicism of the failing democracy. That is a narrow window for a figure to slip through who, as we have seen, in any number of ways must be ‘larger than life’.

As if all this were not enough, we see furthermore that our hero must be brutally honest and simultaneously profoundly inspiring. He must add to all his other improbable qualities a golden tongue as well; he must be a rhetor of the first rank. Or else he must be favoured by an utterly unlikely fortune beyond his power to engineer, such as – an unexpected crisis in the ruling structure, the chance opposition of a particularly unappealing or incompetent opponent, the imminent threat of some catastrophe, some accident or event which hurls him to pre-eminence in the public eye, or some other totally unpredictable and uncontrollable happenstance.

Enough: it is clear that such a condition might arise only in the most wildly improbable of conditions. But supposing, once more, that all of this comes about – what then? What shall the people make of their chance?

Well, in the first place, shall they necessarily recognize it for what it is? Shall they see their hero as being ‘one of them’ sufficiently to put their trust in him? (For it is the necessary and natural condition of all democratic politics that the people vote their own.) Unlikely – particularly as he, being a man of virtue, cannot help but demonstrate those rare qualities which brought him to his chance in the first place. But supposing he knows how to play the demagogue – and, what is a thousand times rarer, knows how to play the demagogue without being or becoming a demagogue, as for instance Caesar or Napoleon were able to do – well enough. Though this be yet another incredible virtue to stud into his already rare crown, let us enrich him as we may, in order to see this hypothetical through to the end.

How then will he communicate the true issues of the day to his potential constituency? But surely he cannot; for especially as he is candidate for office in a modern state, replete with all the infinite complexities of such a state, ‘the people’ – which means necessarily the composite of Everyman, who is in the majority of cases a simple working man – will have neither the time nor the capacity to understand the world as he understands it. Then he must appeal to them via proxies, convincing them with simplified and half-deceptive appeals to their passions, milking their support through their material interests for his wider vision, which in some cases must necessarily contradict precisely those interests in order to benefit the whole. He must put to practice precisely the same techniques used by his opponents – only he is ‘fooling the people for their own good’. Everything will depend then on his ability to manipulate the people into voting for him with greater success than his wholly unscrupulous opponent, who is almost certain to be practised in such grand deceits. And he must subject himself to these lowly means without himself being corrupted by them.

But by now it ought to be clear that we are discussing, not at all the likely candidate of a common democratic election, but a soul of heroic excellence in a time of unique crisis surrounded by extraordinary historical circumstances – which perforce means, in almost every real-world situation in actual democracies, a fairytale.

We have in all of this neglected to consider the fundamental question of faction, the existence of various conflicting groups within the democratic state which are characterized primarily by differences of view as to the final aims or the working means of whole society; nonetheless, this question cannot help but further complicate what is already a deeply complicated situation. Factions in the past revolved primarily around religion and economic class; in modern multicultural societies, they revolve primarily around ethnic disputes. The abusive politicos of contemporary democracies have seen with a lucid clarity how they are favoured by the compounding of these ethnic disputes, and have done all in their power to encourage and incite them under the guise of ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘identitarianism’. This mighty electoral force, which might issue in terrible consequences unforeseen or underestimated by those who are presently operating it, is further advanced in some Western nations than in others, but in all of it them threatens to alter the make-up of our societies to such an extent that democratic politics can never again be bent to favour the native sons and daughters of the land. For this reason, ‘populism’ has often coincided with ‘nationalism’ in our day.

This last circumstance, wholly unique to our historical juncture, opens up unexpected possibilities in the otherwise bleak scene we have so far been constrained to paint. We will return to discuss these in the final part of this essay.

References

1Consider Plato, Laws Book V, 727e–728a, 729a and 743a. Cf. also Matthew 19:16–24 and John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government, Chapter V, §§ 47–49.

2Consider, for instance, Berlusconi’s historic control of the press in Italy, George Soros’ so-called ‘Free Press’ and his enormous donations to any number of media outlets, and the increasing control wielded by ‘big tech’ companies like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. over the exchange of information and news.

3For further reflections on the nature of ‘media bias’, see my essay, ‘On Media Neutrality’.

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The Liberal Mirage – Part 1 https://arktos.com/2019/03/19/the-liberal-mirage-part-1/ https://arktos.com/2019/03/19/the-liberal-mirage-part-1/#view_comments Tue, 19 Mar 2019 14:02:03 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6217 It would seem that even the most zealous advocate of democracy today finds himself in the awkward position of having to justify a regime which until only recently he was able in excellent good conscience to take utterly for granted. Whether such an advocate belongs to the progressive camp or to that of the classical liberals – whether he is, so to speak, on the ‘left’ or the ‘right’ of democratic advocacy – today he has almost certainly, at the very least, become aware of the increasingly frequent announcements of a ‘crisis in democracy’; and whatever he might think about the nature of that crisis, he, too, must in some way respond to it. Democracy is, for the first time since the close of the World Wars, felt to be really at danger in an immediate sense – threatened, not by any outward enemy, but rather by tendencies, discontents and developments within it.

Interestingly enough, the rise in populism, which in any other day would have been hailed as a prime example of ‘democracy at work’, has today formed the catalyst for this growing sense of the unease with democracy. Populism, and in particular the recent phenomenon of a ‘populism of the right’, has brought a great many individuals from both sides of the ‘political spectrum’ to revisit the question of democracy and to attempt to understand why it is not ‘working’ in our day as democratic theory proposes it should. The appearance of such consciousness is especially noteworthy in the United States, that home of modern democracy par excellence; before Trump’s accession to the presidency, it would have been unthinkable to encounter an article critical of democratic institutions in any of the major American newspapers; one’s very professing of doubts regarding any primary aspect of democracy would have been regarded with amazement not to say revulsion. Now it is a fairly rare occurrence to see headlines expressing precisely such doubts springing up even and especially in those ‘media outlets’ which regard themselves, justly or unjustly, as the defenders of democracy – though it goes without saying that almost all of their authors take the stance, which we will subsequently consider, that democracy is simply, as every other possible ‘system of government’, in need of a number ‘fixes’ to keep certain of its ‘systemic flaws’ under hand; but that despite this, despite the fact that democracy must, as it were, be saved from itself, it is nonetheless the best form of government available to us.

The present work proposes a radical thesis: modern democracy does not exist.

Whatever one might believe about this proposition, the increasingly acute crisis of democracy, emergence of which comes as a surprise only to those individuals who have been utterly blinded to its true nature by the dogmas of the day, forces us to a reconsideration of democratic rule as such; it forces us to reopen the ‘question of democracy’ in a way that would have been dangerous seventy years ago, irresponsible fifty, and unpopular thirty. This last point especially bears careful consideration: we stand at a historical moment in which the people itself, the very demos which is supposed to be the centre of gravity in any democracy, has come to look askance at that form of government which literally bears its name. One sometimes even hears on the lips of this same ‘demos’ heretic suspicions that democracy might not at all be a workable or feasible form of government in the end, that it might not be the best form of government after all…

This, more strongly than anything, indicates that democracy might truly be approaching its inevitable twilight, and that a deep and in many ways brazenly honest appraisal of the modern democratic regime is thus warranted and indeed urgently required.

Given this as our premise, it is no longer permitted to patronize the nice ingenuity of certain academic theoreticians on this score. The progressivist ‘liberals’ view the situation somewhat as follows: liberalism, which is to say the modern form of government, has since the close of World War II and until the very recent past followed a continually upward arc, has risen to success after success in its movement toward the final goal of a universal and homogeneous state, which alone will guarantee the realm of human freedom.1 These successes, despite a number of small and inevitable setbacks (including above all Soviet Communism), encompass ever more entrenched liberal institutions, views and laws in countries which are already democratic on the one hand, and on the other the establishment of increasingly liberal regimes in those countries which are not. But in late years this progress has been co-opted by a number of forces, the primary of which are so-called ‘neo-liberalism’ on the one hand, and ‘right-wing populism’ on the other. Neo-liberalism bears the same or a similar relation to liberalism as neo-conservatism does to conservatism; it represents an insidious mutation of liberalism toward ends which liberalism itself never would have espoused, such as: the enriching of the wealthy at the expense of the poor; the manipulation of democratic institutions by economically motivated ‘interest groups’ or ‘lobbies’; the subjugation of poor nations to a new kind of ‘capitalistic imperialism’; the abuse of institutional safeguards by men who stand outside of them; the wanton destruction of the ‘environment’ for the purposes of profit alone; and, most centrally, the rise of a new super-affluent ‘elite’ which increasingly tampers with the workings of individual democratic states from its international or cosmopolitan offices.

It is furthermore understood by many of these academics that the ‘populism’ that so troubles them is somehow in the thrall of the ‘neo-liberalism’ that so bewilders them; they are fully capable, for instance, of ascribing the rise of a Trump or a Salvini or an Orbán to secret multinational-corporate powers. This represents the point at which their otherwise capable analysis veers into error if not paranoia. Most of these academicians, particularly in the United States, fail to perceive that at least vis-à-vis the new super-affluent ‘elite’, both the true ‘left’ and the New Right are fighting the same forces. Their primary error, which blinds them to the true situation, is in believing the present state of affairs to spring from some theoretical foundation other than that which they have provided. They believe that neo-liberalism really has nothing to do with liberalism, but comes from some secondary and hidden root.

The best cure that can be offered them in their delusion is identical to that comprehension we would offer ourselves: we must come to an adequate understanding of how the ‘corruption’ of modern democracy might be nothing other than the natural outcome of the very principles of the same.

Modern Democracy

Speaking politically, in our day nothing in all of the West stands nearly so near to us as democracy. Leaving aside immigrants and those who lived beneath the last stages of Soviet Communism in the Eastern European countries, no one today in the West has ever known anything but democracy; democracy is to all practical purposes the unique political form, the sole morally acceptable society, of which we are aware. The alternatives to democracy are simply not alternatives; and those who aim for them, it is immediately suspected, are surely either in some fundamental way deluded or else infirm of mind. To put the matter into contemporary terms, they are either ‘bigots’ or else they suffer from ‘psychological troubles’. It is understood – it is rarely so much as called into question – that democracy is either the ideal form of human society, desirable in itself, or else the practically best form. By this latter understanding, which one might call the pragmatic theory of democracy, no form of government can be taken as ideal, insofar as all are flawed and more or less susceptible to corruption, but democracy is the ‘least of all evils’, the lesser devil of the human political pandemonium. As Churchill so famously put it, ‘democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms which have been tried from time to time.’

Only as we are able to look our situation in the face, can we possibly hope to withstand the pressure of coming times, or prepare ourselves for what might come after them.

But be one’s stance what it may, no matter what one’s reasons might be for defending democracy, it is taken for granted that one ought to defend it; to wish for or to strive for any other kind of government today, is to indulge in a species of heresy against the dogmas of Modernism. All licit critiques of the present system amount to suggestions for its perfection or its correction, never for its substitution.

It is to be presumed then that we are all of us more or less informed as to the principles of this most desirable system – else we should not know its points of superiority over all other possible regimes. Such understanding can derive only from a profound and comprehensive analysis of democracy as a regime, together with a thorough comparative analysis of democracy with respect to the other possible regimes. It is most suggestive that such analysis can be found almost exclusively in antiquity, in the work of the classic philosophers – the same philosophers who to a one rejected democracy as one of the worst of all possible regimes.

Some time ago it was still possible to find competent critics of contemporary democracy, as Alexis de Tocqueville and Joseph de Maistre and the young Thomas Mann. In contemporary times, meanwhile, one looks in vain for such a study from any mainstream academic, scholar or philosopher (supposing there are any such remaining in our lowly day). The decisive change would seem to have been brought about by the disaster of World War II and the Cold War, which delegitimized all non-democratic forms (by associating all alternative regimes with the taint of an amoral totalitarianism founded on the principles of propaganda and terrorism) and on the other hand suggested to thinking men that the democratic form of government is the best that can be had here and now. Men have been made afraid, for both good and bad reasons, of speaking or thinking well of non-democratic regimes. This historical question cannot be fully addressed lacking a competent and objective critique of ‘totalitarianism’ broadly understood, and the specific forms it took in the first half of the twentieth century in particular – a critique, that is to say, which is capable at once of understanding the differences and the commonalities of the specifically modern non-democratic regimes. But such a critique would have to resist the temptation of demonizing those forms so as to keep faith with our contemporary ideology on the one hand, and the corresponding temptation of glorifying those forms in order to spite the same on the other. It would have to be, that is to say, a critique which neither flatters the present rulers nor seeks as its primary aim to reactively vilify them. We may hope for such a critique, but it would be prudent to refrain from hoping too much.

Returning to the present, there is no doubt that there have been, in late years, dedicated analyses of democratic forms, but they have almost none of them been really super partes in the fundamental sense; they almost always take as their point of departure the presumed superiority of one special form of democratic regime or another. They depart on a note of advocacy and triumphalism, and this presupposition vectors all their subsequent investigations. One can to some extent exclude certain anarchists and communists from this critique – though it would remain to be seen to what extent they offer something other than the mere extremification of the democratic principle. There have also been as of late competent works from the point of view of Traditionalism and the New Right which have better taken democracy to task, and even sought to re-evaluate certain ‘outdated’ historical forms. One thinks of course of Julius Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World, but also the more contemporary work of Alain de Benoist and Tomislav Sunic. The present work, it is needless to say, is to be located squarely in that latter tradition; it is anything but an apologia on behalf of democracy. It proposes on the contrary a radical thesis: modern democracy does not exist.

This of course appears prima facie absurd, insofar as we speak daily of ‘our democracy’ and in countless ways reference it and presuppose it, even in commonplace events like ‘voting’ or ‘watching the news’ or ‘protesting’ or ‘writing to our senators’, etc. Let us then be more specific.

It is surely true that a regime exists and has existed which goes by the name ‘democracy’, and which arises in its own distinctive forms, with articulable qualities, in various epochs of our history. It is equally true that contemporary regimes take this epithet upon themselves almost exclusively, and refuse to be known by any other moniker. These contemporary regimes appear in many ways derivative of the older democratic regime; they are a special case of the older regime. As such, they, too, have their special characteristics, which either derive from democracy as it was originally understood, or which stand alone as special and specially modern developments of the same.

Yet upon careful review, it appears that one of the most distinctive of those latter qualities is the enormous distance really standing between the beliefs of the citizens of modern democracy as to its modes of rule and its mechanisms of power, and its true modes of rule and mechanisms of power. Modern democracy is not at all what it is taken to be by most of those who live beneath its sway. It does indeed exist – but it does not exist as it is thought to exist. Most of what is commonly believed about it is contradicted by its reality, and is thus revealed either as a lie or a delusion. To that extent, modern democracy, the regime of the contemporary era, is nothing better than a figment. Its figmentary quality generally remains hidden from all viewers, but comes to the fore when its true nature comes into outward conflict with its believed nature.

The foremost example of this in our day has already been indicated: I mean the blatant contradiction standing at the heart of the principle of populism. Populism, which is clearly nothing but an expression of democracy as it is believed to be, strikes hard against democracy as it is; the people attempt to express their will, but their will stands against the will of the plutocratic ‘elites’ who manipulate the democratic order for their own ends. The ‘elites’ must then attempt to neutralize the will of the people through equally ‘democratic’ mechanisms, so as not to reveal the sham for what it is. They thereby preserve at once their interests and their legitimacy. But the more they engage in this kind of suppression, the more they bottle up the desires and resentments of the people, who increasingly feel that they are being had, or else who increasingly become frustrated with the gap standing between their attempts to change matters electorally and the palpable immovability of the ‘system’. Sooner or later, unless way is found of dampening those desires and resentments, the ‘people’ will seek the nearest outlet and will begin to foment chaos if not rebellion in society, at which point the true fragility of the ‘democratic system’ will become apparent. The most striking recent example of this phenomenon is to be found in the gilets jaunes in France, which have spread to several other areas, and the increasingly frequent clashes between various conservative or ‘right-wing’ groups and the so-called Antifa throughout the United States and Europe. These are but previews, however, of what very well might come from this central dynamic in the development of modern democracy.

Only as we are able to look our situation in the face, can we possibly hope to withstand the pressure of coming times, or prepare ourselves for what might come after them.

Let us begin then, as is fit, with the forest which surrounds us: let us begin with the conventional understanding of the government beneath which we live. Democracy in this or any time is the rule of the many, be this many understood as a unified people or an atomized mass. In our own day this basic conception of democracy is elaborated together with parallel conceptions of laws or institutions, but it is clear that the political kernel at the bottom of all democracies everywhere is and must be some concept of popular will. There can be legitimate or illegitimate restraints on this will; all legitimate restraints are such benefit ‘the people’; all illegitimate such as curb or frustrate the people’s will in order to benefit that of some ulterior power.

We have thus already uncovered the first theoretical tension standing within modern democratic regime. For what is the nature of these legitimate restraints on the popular will? An example of this would be, for instance, the constitution of a nation that established the fundamental law of the land, which no determination of the people, no matter how unanimous, should be permitted to overthrow or ignore; or else the verdict of a court case, which no mob should be allowed to circumvent. The justification of all such restraints from a democratic point of view is certainly that a structure of over-arching law is necessary for the right functioning of democratic institutions – and few democrats, no matter how thoroughgoing they might be, would dispute this. Yet this is tantamount to admitting a fundamental defect of democracy qua democracy, so endemic to it that it makes the pure realization of democracy equivalent to the clear and present endangerment of the same. Democracy evidently cannot be permitted to exist as democracy, but must be tempered by as many non-democratic means. And this should already make us wonder – is democracy really so desirable as it is made out to be in the contemporary epoch?2

But let that be as it may. Let us for the moment accept the regime here offered up by the defender of modern democracy, which might be called limited or representative democracy, and proceed whither it might lead us.

There are two essential pieces which must be analysed in any study of representative democracy: the democratic popular will, which is the basis of its legitimacy, and the representatives of that will, which are the agents of its realization. Both of these powers are constrained within the boundaries premised by the law, which exists (as is generally claimed nowadays and as we presently will allow) toward the perfection of the democratic principle.

With this in mind, we shall commence our investigation with an analysis of the representatives of indirect democracy.

On the Modern Democratic ‘Politician’

Much is made of the ‘civic sense’ which might lead a citizen to become a politician. It is presumed – one really has to presume here, if one is to be a sensible proponent of democracy – that democratic leaders in the main are actuated by genuine feeling for the commonweal. Anyone must acknowledge, of course – it is even in its way the central motif of the very republican form of government which we are here considering – that some among the politicians will be actuated by rank ambitions, selfish interest, or even deeply asocial motivations; one cannot neglect the presence in the political arena of social climbers or tyrannically inclined souls. The famous institutional strength of republican government arises here: it contains, through ‘checks and balances’, precisely these excesses of human weakness or spiritedness. Nonetheless it is clear that institutional safeguards have limits to their efficacy within the individual citizens of a state. Not the most wisely arrayed institutions can long survive if they are manned exclusively of the worst kind of human beings; not the most sophisticated checks and balances will long have power if the better part of the men beneath them are corrupted. Kant’s notorious boast that he could build a just society even for a race of devils, only supposing they were clever, is ingenuous in the extreme;3 quite the contrary is true. Such devils should have to be all of them thoroughly mediocre in mind and spirit – and that is little enough to be hoped from the true nature of the infernal regions.

Even should the politicians contain within themselves genuine will to improve their society or their state, there is an absolute boundary set upon those good intentions by the nature, desires, intentions of their patrons.

The disproof of Kant’s happy (and wholly Enlightenment) idea can be articulated as follows. All institutional and legal remedies to the problem of human corruption will fail unless the individuals who dwell beneath them either desire to obey these remedies, or are forced to obey them. From a nation of devils one can surely not hope for the desire; one must expect from the outset that they will do whatever they can to co-opt the institutions and laws which bind them. Then they must be made to obey these institutions and laws quite against their will, or else these laws must channel their will into directions which are favourable to the right functioning of democracies. But lacking the basic reverence of law without which any democracy is as boneless as a jellyfish, it is only a matter of time before these devils will find the way of bursting their institutional caging by ‘transcending’ it, either through subtle malice or through open alliances with like-minded devils, or through the slow unification of the ruling classes contra the ruled. Since the ‘rules of the game’ do not favour them, they will, to quote precisely such a devil, become ‘particularly interested in changes in the rules of the game’.

The last best hope for binding such devils is then to produce a system which mimics as much as is possible the laws of nature itself; a system, that is to say, in which these ‘institutions’ simply cannot be gotten around, because they either permeate or perfectly encapsulate society. One wants, that is to say, either a technocracy, or else a single world government. (I have elsewhere noted the logical necessity of a final goal of single world government for the ‘success’ of Enlightenment schema.)4 Lacking these conditions (and perhaps precisely given these conditions, as is suggested in the aforementioned essay) no self-respecting devil will be constrained by mere institutions to behave as if he were anything other than what he is.

Given all of this, it is accurate to say that limited democracy is premised on awareness of human vice, folly, and meanness; but it is premised much more deeply on the belief that the rulers, owing to the difficulty of their arrival in the vertices of power, will generally be malleable by publicly minded moral standards, or else that they can be forced to act according to such standards through their dependence on the power vested in the people. The fact that the people as ‘constituency’ has the power of the vote, and can hold this like a guillotine over the necks of its politicians (together with various institutional mechanisms like checks and balances, the division of powers, and the free press), will persuade even the least savoury of those politicians to bend his selfish instincts for the most part precisely toward the perpetuation of democratic forms and the good of the people. Institutions, and not the people who fill them, are therefore the fundamental political fact. Kant, in the same section of the essay cited above, went so far as to turn the truth directly on her head by claiming that ‘A good constitution is not to be expected from morality, but, conversely, a good moral condition of a people is to be expected only under a good constitution’.

Such is the necessary presumption of modern democratic politics. Let us see if it bears water.

Laying aside for a moment a society which has newly become a democracy – in which, one can suppose, an older morality and an older sense of duty still hold sway with the majority of the upper classes, and will to some extent govern their aims and ambitions – what will be the motivation of any man who seeks out a high office in a mature modern democracy? In general, what sort of character can one reasonably expect from one’s politicians, here and now? It is clear enough that only three passions might be strong enough to propel a man to seek by his own initiative the burden of public governance: ambition (meaning the desire to attain as universal a fame or power as possible), greed, and idealism (taken here in the restricted sense of the desire to better one’s society or to do good by one’s people).

We may lay aside greed at present, as it can to some extent be subsumed under ambition, and also because it can be with greater ease regulated institutionally, since it moves in the medium of money, a regulable material medium.5 The remaining two qualities, idealism and ambition, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. On the contrary, we may state generally that idealism without ambition is insufficient spur to enter political life. In the first place, idealists are often loath to soil their fingers in the sometimes sordid business of state, and so many of them tend to keep clear of public office, save as they are goaded on by some other passion. Moreover, there are countless clashes in any political activity between practice and ideal, and the ideal must sometimes cede, for example, in compromises with the popular will, with other powers or politicians, or with the limits of reality and actual conditions themselves. One must have the will to navigate these labyrinths and the realistic pragmatism to squeeze what good one can from them. That is more to be expected from an ambitious man than an idealistic one. The candid soul of the pure idealist is liable to many things in this world; but the dirty rough-and-tumble arena of democratic politics is not the native environment for such a delicate soul.

On the other hand, ambition is perfectly able to exist in the absence of idealism. That politician who, in order to get to the top, is willing to throw any and every moral precept overboard and to betray even those human beings nearest to him, is a possibility in any day and time. Ambition, we may say, is more politically self-reliant than idealism; it is at once the necessary and sufficient condition of the democratic politician.

The very structure of the establishment forces our politicians to seek the support of men whose names we do not know, whose faces are invisible, and whose agendas are opaque.

That is not all. Both the purely ambitious and the mostly idealistic alike will see clear and unambiguous benefit in appearing as completely idealistic as possible, for the people will interpret raw ambition, and but seldom altogether erroneously, as the sign of a mercenary and meretricious attitude, which is easily corruptible and all too likely to sell out the people for an increase or entrenchment of power. Every politician will then strive to appear more interested in the public welfare and the public mandate than he in fact is; every politician will be a kind of actor. Some will be better actors than others; but the poorer actors will be weeded out at the lower levels by the natural mechanism of the vote, for the higher they ascend in the ranks of power, the less they will be able to convince ever larger segments of the public of their authenticity. This is true in any time and any clime, but today it is absolutely inescapable on account of the ubiquity of video.

Before the advent of the television, a prospective politician had the better part of his contact with his constituency through word of mouth and writing; for he could not go to every town in the nation, nor look every voter in the eye. Speechifying before comparatively small crowds was the closest he could come to pure demagoguery in those days, and so the size of a given nation was to some extent a counterbalance to the worst tendencies of the politicasters, as indeed the writers and readers of the Federalist Papers well know.6 Even in pre-modern democracies, it was not uncommon to associate democracy with a degree of histrionics; and since it was commonplace even then for a politician to rise to power from the comparatively local levels of government in relatively unpopulated areas up to the more federal, or national, the point of departure of most political careers certainly gave a strong push to the thespians of the nation. This effect, however, was somewhat dampened at the higher levels, at which skill at navigating complicated political relationships and persuading on a one-to-one basis were more important than the ability to widely manipulate the minds of the voters. More: because these politicians generally began at a more local level, one could also count to some extent on the mere acquaintance that the locals had with any given politician to counterbalance the worst forms of ambition; the personal knowledge of the politician’s character which was the inevitable result of having grown up with that politician or seen him grow up permitted a kind of local-level selection.

These saving graces of the large republic have been utterly abolished by the advent of universal technology, which has led to the most unhappy result that each politician now has the insidious power of ‘speaking directly to every citizen’; this cannot help but reduce every politician to the role of a performer standing perpetually in the limelight.7 One recalls the American presidential race between Nixon and Kennedy, which featured the first televised debate. Nixon, whose personal nemesis might even be said to have been his honourable if not noble lack of the demagogic instinct, refused make-up and insisted on appearing as he was; Kennedy had no such scruples. Though radio listeners largely felt that Nixon had won, the television viewers overwhelmingly gave the day to Kennedy. He won the game of democracy, which is essentially the game not of substance, but of appearance; and it is precisely to the perfection of appearances that our ‘technology’ in all its forms most fundamentally applies itself.

Such was the character of the medium at its dawn; and watching old footage of all such events, one cannot help but feel that those participating were but children compared with the masters of today. It would be unforgivable naïveté to suppose that our politicos have not been hard at work in ‘improving’ their exploitation of television, video, and internet toward the manipulation of the masses. Even the most virtuous of them must hone these skills if they are to survive and ascend in the jungle life of contemporary politics. And thus the mechanism by which politicians are gradually sifted out for certain of their qualities cannot help now but lead to the selection first and foremost of the slyly deceptive, if not of outright liars. In precisely the contrary mechanism which preserved republics in an older time, this unwholesome process of selection is stronger, the larger the nation is; for the larger the nation, the more likely it is that the citizens will know their politicians primarily or even exclusively through the media of television, internet, news, etc.

We have said that ambition must be the predominant passion to incite politicians to their politicking; it is likely then that men of a more or less corruptible ambition will be more common to democratic government than will politicians of a generally idealistic bent. But let us for a moment once more grant our democracies the benefit of the doubt; let us suppose that these two groups are more or less equally represented. It would appear that there are then two unofficial factions constituting the rank of the ruling class today: the corrupt or corruptible political climbers on the one hand, and the relatively civic-minded or socially conscientious on the other. And this would in its way be a hopeful or at least not hopeless scenario. But let us dig the little deeper before we rest at even so qualified an optimism.

Ambition can be craving for the admiration of the people (as in the desire for fame or for a vulgar kind of glory) or it can be craving for influence and control (as in the desire for power and pleasure). The first is a species of monstrous vanity, and it is especially prevalent in democracies, whose defining vice may even be said to be vanity. Both the one and the other are connected necessarily to a love of the people8 and a passion for money – in the first case, for the envy that money incites, in the second, for the utility of money in expanding one’s ‘domain’. Both kinds of ambitious men have need of money toward the end of propelling themselves toward the highest positions they can reach. But to dedicate oneself to the political life is simultaneously to limit one’s time and means to amass a personal fortune. One needs money, as much as can be got, but one is not in any position to get it by one’s own acts and light; for fundamentally, one seeks something else, and has been blinded by a kind of monomania into believing that what one desires is to be had through political avenues alone.

This is an error: lasting and universal fame (insofar as this is not a contradiction in terms in democratic times especially) is much better won in, for example, the cinema or the so-called ‘entertainment industry’, and power, as we shall see, is necessarily clandestine in this day and age. This error reveals on the part of the fame-craving politician either a fundamental and troubling lack of perspicacity, or else a lack of ability in the true arena of power, or else an extraordinarily petty vainglory. The true state of affairs is revealed immediately by the fact that these politicians, in order to nourish their presumed gains, must turn to the wealthy to do so; for they have need of money which they themselves generally have not the time and perhaps not even the capacity to secure. They must turn, that is to say, from the political domain to the economic domain, and they must transform themselves into the creatures of super-affluent patrons. Thus, even should they contain within themselves genuine will to ‘do good by the people’ or to improve their society or their state, there is an absolute boundary set upon those good intentions by the nature, desires, intentions etc. of their patrons.

In past and undemocratic eras, great wealth and great political power tended to coincide in the rulers. Contrary what we tend to believe from our fundamentally skewed and vulgar point of view, wealth in past times was infused with its dignity and power by its connection to noble blood, rather than being given power intrinsically and for itself, as is the case today. He who ‘made money’ – the merchant, the burgher, the vendor, to say nothing of the usurer and moneylender – was held in contempt or at least in aloof indifference by the ruling orders, and could not hope to buy power through a lucre which was conceived of as essentially ill-gotten (for in nobler epochs all riches stamped with the mark of avarice or work were held to be ill-gotten). Be he ever so much wealthier than this or that nobleman, yet his rank and influence remained limited to his station. The noble classes meanwhile were constrained from seeking wealth themselves by an invincible aristocratic scorn for the low business of wealth-getting. The dynamic during the decay and corruption of such a society is portrayed excellently by Tomaso de Lampedusa in The Leopard; for our purposes, it suffices to say that the monster avarice in past ages was bound with golden chains.

In such a society, the influence of money and of the money-seeking was essentially restricted to a minimum, as much as this influence can be restricted, given the velleities and the weaknesses of the human heart. The political class, the ruling class, far from seeking patronage, were themselves patrons: patrons of artists, of scientists, of promising but poor youths. Power was as it were perfectly visible, perfectly ‘transparent’, as we are wont to say, in the sense of being for the most part patently and unambiguously invested in certain universally known personages. This was indeed so common that it became the immediate object of rumour when it seemed that the visible rulers were being unduly influenced by some ‘power behind the throne’. The existence and degree of such influences could almost even be taken as an index of the extent to which the ruling powers had grown weak and unstable.9

In our day, not so. Democracy is essentially tied to capitalism – the latter being nothing more than democracy in the field of ‘economics’ – and capitalism, despite the rhetoric which is often spent on obscure and poorly defined notions of ‘meritocracy’, works toward the economic favouring of a certain kind of man. This kind of man, who may at the apex be described as the super-affluent, is none other than the patron of our contemporary politicians. But it is needless to say that the super-affluent, as opposed to our politicians, have absolutely no need to stand in the limelight. On the contrary, they are generally aided by a degree of anonymity; they, like the solifugid, thrive in the shade. The very structure of the establishment, both psychologically and practically, forces our politicians to seek the support of men whose names we do not know, whose faces are invisible, and whose agendas are opaque, standing as they do behind the evidently broader figures of our more public figures. We often do not even have the benefit of being able to guess at their identities – for often enough we literally do not suspect their existence, and have access even to their international meetings through hearsay and guesswork.10 The power they exert over the ruling class, the influence which they enjoy, is like that exerted by some dark star upon the planet.

And because the influence of such men is likely to strongly effect if not utterly determine the balance of power between the ambitious and the idealistic politicians in a democracy, it would behoove us then to attempt to develop some idea of what kind of man, what kind of domain, these must be.

References

1I have written about this ideal elsewhere: see my ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’.

2 Now, this objection to ‘pure democracy’ is really the motive force of what might be called the classic Enlightenment form of government, which – if its prime theoreticians, practitioners, and founders are to be taken at their word – was never supposed to be democracy, but rather republic, meaning that regime by which the basic flaw of democracy (its tendency to dissolve through the factional or demagogic use or misuse of the popular will) should be tempered, constrained, and controlled through institutional obstructions to the unrestricted will of the demos. That is to say – to the degree to which republican government presently rules our societies, pure democracy does not. It might be responded that we are in truth living under ‘indirect’ or ‘constitutional’ democracies, which are nothing other than the institutional perfection of democracy. Indeed, to prove the basic democratic justice of such institutions, one might even bring forth that fantastic modern tall-tale known as the ‘social compact’, which is nothing other than a complicated sophistication on every natural origin of human society – a theory invented toward the tendentious end of justifying an Enlightenment scheme of government, when that scheme was still tender in its revolutionary infancy. But even supposing that this ‘social compact’ is something other than a heady liberal illusion, it can do nothing to belie the basic problem: democracy is supposed to be perfected by means of ‘indirect’ democracy, which represents nothing but a limitation of the basic democratic principle. Against all of this one must surely rejoin that the ‘institutional perfection’ of any given regime surely cannot come through contradiction of that regime’s defining characteristic – that one treats here, not of perfecting democracy, so much as domesticating it. And as any beast tamer will tell, the domestication of wild animals always means also their denaturing. It would seem then that insofar as one agrees with the basic Enlightenment or classical liberal premise, one must stand, as indeed the better part of that premise’s purveyors stood, against unbridled democracy, and for republicanism and the rule of law that it represented.

4See John Bruce Leonard, ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’.

5As we shall see, however, even all of this is not quite so clear as it appears. Moreover, there are efforts even now underway to change the very character of money in our societies, transforming it from a material medium to a fluid digital one. This epoch-making change would revolutionize the forces we discuss in the present essay, and, there is good reason to fear, none for the better. It suffices to mention but a single major considerations: it would abolish the possibility of the ‘shadow economy’, which would bring an unprecedented degree of bureaucratic control into all human transactions, even of the smallest sort, causing unpredictable but necessarily deep ramifications in all sectors of human life.

6 See, for instance, Federalist Nos. 9 and 10, ‘The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection’.

7Given the advent of the internet, this situation could be aggravated yet further in the near future by the possibility of universal direct voting on specific legislation or governmental proposals – a situation which was thought to be impossible in prior times (see Federalist No. 10, for example), and which was thought to be one of the primary limiting factors on the possibility and desirability of democracy.

8See Plato’s Gorgias, 481d and 513c, and Xenophon’s Hiero, 8, §7–8; cf. 3, §8–9 and 10, §1.

9 Consider for instance the great to-do made of Rasputin in the latter days of Tsarist Russia, or the remarkable reputation that Talleyrand was able to cultivate for himself around the Revolutionary Period in France.

10Consider the meetings of the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission, to name only two of the primary. It is no accident that the last published a document entitled ‘The Crisis of Democracy’ already in 1975, which advocated remedies to what they termed an ‘excess of democracy’.

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Forming Dissident Communities with Connor Alexander https://arktos.com/2019/03/18/forming-dissident-communities-with-connor-alexander/ https://arktos.com/2019/03/18/forming-dissident-communities-with-connor-alexander/#comments_reply Mon, 18 Mar 2019 14:46:10 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6207 Are autonomous dissident communities a plausible solution to the crisis of Modernity? The Arktos crew is joined by Connor Alexander to discuss the difficulties and potential involved in the formation of such communities, in a discussion which brings us to confront some of the primary challenges confronting the dissident Right itself.

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Ethnicity, Nationalism & the Pan-Slavic Movement https://arktos.com/2019/03/18/ethnicity-nationalism-the-pan-slavic-movement/ https://arktos.com/2019/03/18/ethnicity-nationalism-the-pan-slavic-movement/#view_comments Mon, 18 Mar 2019 09:40:45 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6200 When nineteenth and twentieth century nationalism is discussed, a picture is often painted which has been cherry-picked and grossly distorted. Public schools and mainstream media across the now multicultural West teach us from childhood on that one nation emerged on the scene with a raging racial megalomania. We are told that a few key players possessed some sort of magnetic power, for they were somehow able to hypnotize millions of people and magically set them on some sort of crazed frenzy of maniacal madness. If we peer behind the curtain, however, we can see that pan-ethnicism was the true trend of the day. In fact, it is difficult to find any ethnic group in Europe that was not operating with the best interest of their own ethnic group in mind.

Historically, all humans were consciously aware of the uniqueness of their groups, that which made their group special and unique as compared to others.

It should be shocking to anyone who has a cursory understanding of world history that this even bears affirming, but race and ethnicity are not figments of our imagination, they are biological realities. There is more to ethnicity than race alone. Language and other elements of culture separate one ethnic group from another. Indeed, modern genetics confirm what is clearly visible to any naked eye – that there are many ethnic groups found among Europeans. Phenotypic variation (facial features and other physical characteristics) varies by geographical origin on the European continent. The same is true for human beings on all continents. Historically, all humans were consciously aware of the uniqueness of their groups, that which made their group special and unique as compared to others.

With the overturning of the old traditional order during the Age of Enlightenment, revolutionaries began doing away with European royalty one royal family at a time. This, coupled with industrialization which made traditional livelihoods redundant and urbanization the new ‘normal’, it is no wonder that people looked around themselves to search for the familiar. The political Nationalist Era correlates with the cultural Romantic Movement which was a collective celebration of ethno-cultural roots. Amidst political upheaval, some ethnic groups sought to unify small independent states into larger nations for their own protection against larger neighbours. There is an unfortunate tendency to view the events that would unfold in the twentieth century out of context, ignoring the very recent unifications of Germany and Italy. But, it is still more of an injustice that other pan-ethnic movements of the same era are completely left out of the story altogether.

The Slavic situation, which in many ways parallels the German one, has been wholly overlooked in the Western interpretation of history. While pan-Germanism has been described as maniacal expansionism, there has been a corresponding failure to recognize that pan-Slavicism predated pan-Germanism. Indeed, in many ways pan-Germanism seems to have arisen as a direct response to the political and territorial aims of pan-Slavicism. Historians consider the 17th century priest, Juraj Križanić (born circa 1617 AD), as the first pan-Slavicist. He was a Croat by birth, but is most well-known for his desire to unite all the disparate Slavs into one entity under Russia. His own region in south-eastern Europe faced constant threat from ongoing invasions by the Turkish Muslims. To the West, Protestantism was catching on in German-speaking states. Križanić urged a unification between the Catholic and Orthodox Slavic factions to create one super-state in defence of competing regional factions. When a group of people find themselves under direct threat, it is natural for them to seek alliances with their kinsmen and to forge bonds based on shared ethnic heritage and cultural values in order to ensure their survival and longevity.

The pan-Slavic dream did not die with Jurag Križanić. Indeed, the song continued to be sung and the drumbeat only grew louder as time moved on. In 1848, almost one hundred years before World War II, Count Valerian Krasinski, a Polish aristocrat living in exile for having participated in a failed Polish uprising against Austria-Hungary, penned his book Panslavism and Germanism. Krasinski’s passion for his homeland and kinsfolk resonates through the pages. He says that, at the time of his writing, ‘the whole of Europe is agitated’ due to the political situation on the continent (p. 1). How familiar that sounds to us today. He goes on to speak of the dream of a Poland restored to self-autonomous rule.

The desire for ethnic preservation and protection of ethnic Germans was equally felt among Slavs, Italians, Celts, and others throughout Europe.

One important element of Krasinksi’s tone is that despite the fact he writes in exile, his nation ruled by foreign forces, he speaks with a burning optimism that his dream will become a reality. He counters the notion that an independent Poland exists only in the realm of ‘Utopia’ (fantasy), and insists that the momentum for Polish independence is now more powerful than ever. His words are inspiring to ethnic Europeans facing attacks on our culture today whether or not we claim Polish heritage ourselves. He says (abridged):

We Poles, thank God, have never despaired of ultimately attaining that object, although we had no other means to rely upon than the sacredness of our cause and Divine Justice; for the sympathies of [other] nations, however strongly expressed had always proved nothing but empty sound. This faith remained unshaken under the most adverse circumstances. … It is true that all our efforts to emancipate our country, from a foreign yoke, had hitherto been unsuccessful. … They have proved however to the world that Poland was not dead; and that the Polish giant, prostrate under the oppression of the spoliating powers, who had vainly imagined to have assassinated him was, like Enceladus under Mount Etna, emitting flames and causing earthquakes. …

We do not entertain a doubt that Poland will soon be restored to a national existence, but it is impossible to foresee in what form and under what circumstances this now unavoidable event will be accomplished; whether it will resume its station amongst the independent countries of Europe, or become an important part of a great Slavonic state! Whether her future destiny shall be to form a barrier between Russia and the rest of Europe, or a vanguard of the united Slavonians against that same Europe! (P. 2–4)

It is interesting to compare the Polish Krasinski’s ideas a full two centuries after the Croatian Križanić’s. Both saw their nations nestled between larger intimidating factions whose actions on the geopolitical stage rendered their nations vulnerable. Both saw a unity of the Slavonic peoples as a vehicle for survival against competing ethnic groups. It is also interesting that two centuries later, Russia was seen as a potential friend or potential menace to other Slavs. Krasinski sees Polish survival as being possible under two scenarios: with Poland as a sovereign nation and a bulwark against Russia, or with Poland in a pan-Slavic union with Russia. How could Krasinksi have foreseen that a few decades later their neighbour to the West would see herself as the bulwark between Russia and the rest of Europe? More sobering, though, is the reality that Poland did indeed become one of many nations absorbed into a ‘great Slavonic state’, the United Soviet Socialist Republic, when the German bulwark against Bolshevism failed to hold the line against Marxist aggression. What Krasinski’s discussion does make clear, however, is just how complex the situation on the ground was in Central Europe at the time he was writing. Nothing arises out of a vacuum. Thus, the conditions described by Krasinski in 1848 are relevant to the events that would unfold in the following century.

It turns out that 1848 was a momentous year for pan-Slavicism, and Krasinski was not alone in his activism. The Slavic Congress was held in Prague that year, and it housed meetings for representatives in all regions of Slavonic-speaking Europe. For perspective, the unification of Germany occurred in 1871. The unification of Italy had begun earlier in the century, but was also completed in 1871. We can see that the post-war depiction of a Germany with a maniacal obsession with ethnicity is unfair when one looks at the concurrent ethno-national movements preceding and occurring concurrently with Germany’s own drive for unification of the German-speaking peoples. The desire for ethnic preservation and protection of ethnic Germans was equally felt among Slavs, Italians, Celts, and others throughout Europe. The International Celtic Congress held their first conference in 1901. And let’s not forget the World Jewish Congress, founded in 1936.

While modern Westerners are lulled into a feeling of complacency as we become minorities in our own homelands, anyone who takes the time to look carefully at how we got here can see plainly that the ethnic component in our own identities has been surgically removed. While they tell us that ethnicity is imaginary and protecting one’s own kind is racist, they blatantly lie about the unfolding of history. That natural drive to secure homelands and protect one’s own people asserted by Germany was, in fact, the Zeitgeist of the day for many European groups at that time.

Unfortunately, Slavic ethnic nationalism was co-opted by the Bolshevik movement. Interestingly, the Soviet movement is described as ‘antifascist’ in an article called ‘The Prospects of “Pan-Slavism”’ by George C. Guins, published in 1950. Antifa (Antifascist Action) was a political organization founded to promote Bolshevism in the West in the 1930s. Again, nothing arises out of a vacuum. Antifa is still active and making headlines today as they violently oppose any ethnic Europeans who dare to raise their head and speak out for national protectionism. What we are dealing with today is directly related to political happenings decades or even centuries ago, but we have been purposefully blinded to this.

Today, it is important for ethnic Europeans to recognize the plight that we all face and not let old rivalries cause bad blood between various European ethnic groups. However, we do have to look at those events in order to understand the events of the past. While we can consider former conflicts as the squabbling of sibling rivalry, we cannot look fairly at history and understand how it influences the present if we fail to look at it at all. Taking a critical position of nationalism, an American sociologist named Herbert Adolphus Miller said in his ‘Nationalism in Bohemia and Poland’, published in The North American Review in 1914:

No one can foretell the future political organization of Europe. Traditions, alliances, and antipathies will continue to exert an influence more or less in harmony with the past. There are, however, certain elemental states of mind whose development made the war upon which Europe has entered almost inevitable and which will continue to assert themselves until a political organization in harmony with their demands is accomplished. This war has been called a conflict of races – Pan-Germanism versus Pan-Slavism. The fundamental cause of the antagonism between these two peoples is neither racial nor economic; it is psychological. We call it Nationalism.

Nationalism is the struggle of a group to preserve its own individuality. It is even more elemental than religion itself, and, as in the case of the early Christian church, its growth to gigantic proportions has been fostered by the blind stupidity of rulers who could not see that the way to make it grow was to try to crush it. It is akin to patriotism, but draws its lines according to the group consciousness for a common language and traditions, or the feeling of unity of blood through some common ancestor. It does not correspond to national boundaries, but rather to historic or even imaginary boundaries. It is sentimental rather than rational. In fine, it is the revolt of a people conscious of its unity against control by influences trying to annihilate this consciousness. (P. 879)

Leave it to an American academic to simultaneously recognize that nationalism is ‘the struggle of a group to preserve its own individuality… against control by influences trying to annihilate this consciousness’, whilst condemning this desire as psychologically irrational. Removed from the action on the ground and separated from their own ethnic roots, most Americans simply could not wrap their heads around what Central Europeans were experiencing. Great Britain, an island with no immediate territorial threat to the borders of their nation, had only the economic standpoint to consider. Indeed, by 1959, barely a decade after World War II resulted in an Allied-supported Bolshevik victory, The Polish Review published an article asserting that ‘One of the most important of the nineteenth century intra-Slav gatherings, the one in Prague May 1948, has been overlooked and completely forgotten’ (Kimball and Zakrzewski, p. 91). Why has it been forgotten? Could it be that the same forces that hurl the words ‘white supremacy’ at anyone with white skin who dares to defend his ethno-culture are behind the transformation of Europe into the new U.S.S.R. and America into the racially ambiguous world capital of materialism?

Even among those who understand that unrestricted immigration has gone too far, most are afraid to stand up to it on ethnic grounds.

At the time of this writing, the past few weeks have seen the so called ‘Yellow Vest Uprising’ spread from France to elsewhere in Europe. As I was writing this piece, I was sent a video discussing a small group of Canadians donning yellow vests and taking to the streets to protest the signing of the UN immigration pact. In both France and Canada, alternative media and private citizens are asserting that the yellow vest protests are directly related to mass immigration, while the mainstream media reports only their economic motivations. Yet, even among those who understand that unrestricted immigration has gone too far, most are afraid to stand up to it on ethnic grounds.

It is time to remember that we ethnic Europeans are a legitimate ethnic group with the same right to protect our homelands as any other ethnic group in the world. In fact, ethnic Europeans are sub-divided into many unique ethnicities – all of which are in danger of being lost forever if ethnic integrity is not maintained in our own sovereign nations. I urge every person who reads these lines to echo the words of Count Valerian Krasinski as he confidently asserted that the cause of his Polish brethren was sacred and that Divine Justice was on their side. His voice calls out from the pages and through time: ‘Poland is not dead!’

And I say to you that as long as there is breath in our bodies, the West lives! That American sociologist, Miller, was correct when he ascribed nationalist political rumblings to psychological factors, but not in the way he thought. There is a psychological war being waged to lobotomize ethnic Europeans and switch off our natural inclination to ‘preserve our own individuality against control by influences trying to annihilate this consciousness’. So we have no choice but to awaken the sleeping giant that resides in each and every one of us. We must speak. We must not be passive as our own kind are funnelled toward the horrors we see unfolding in South Africa today. The contrived genocide of our own people is in progress as we speak. And, only we have the power to stop it. But I echo Krasinski’s plea to his countrymen over a century ago when he urged his readers never to entertain any doubt that their nation would be restored to sovereignty. It took about a century and a half for his dream to come true, but today Poland is standing as a bulwark against the European Union’s Soviet-esque designs. Let all of us ethnic Europeans stand with her, shoulder to shoulder, and assert our divine right to protect and preserve our homelands.

Works Cited

Guins, George C. ‘The Prospects of “Pan-Slavism”’. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology 9.4 (1950): 439–444.

Krasinski, Valerian. Panslavism and Germanism (1848). London: Thomas Cautly Newby, 1848.

Miller, Herbert Adolphus. ‘Nationalism in Bohemia and Poland’. The North American Review 200.709 (1914): 879–886.

Petrovich, Michael B. ‘Juraj Krizanic: A Precursor of Pan-Slavism (CA. 1618–83)’. The American Slavic and East European Review 6.3/4 (1947): 75–92.

—. ‘The Slavic Idea of Juraj Križanić’. The American Slavic and East European Review 6.3/4 (1947): 75–92.

Zakrzewski, Stanley Buchholz Kimball and Jakub. ‘The Poles at the All-Slavic Conference of 1848’. The Polish Review 4.1/2 (1959): 91–106.

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