Arktos https://arktos.com Mon, 20 May 2019 16:26:54 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 Perspectives on the Islamic Question https://arktos.com/2019/05/20/perspectives-on-the-islamic-question/ https://arktos.com/2019/05/20/perspectives-on-the-islamic-question/#view_comments Mon, 20 May 2019 16:10:22 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6587 In a recent article for Arktos Journal, Dr. Kerry Bolton described with his usual painstaking research and freedom from vulgar prejudice the connections between the agenda of the present political establishment on the one hand and the promotion of Islamophobia on the Right on the other. He went admirably far in dispelling a number of myths that have taken hold lately, both as regard Islam and the proper stance of a man of the Right thereto. For anyone who has not read Dr. Bolton’s piece, I urge them to do so in place of the present one; for what follows is little more than a largely superfluous footnote on the work that he has done, even in those few places where it might appear to diverge from it.1

The Establishment is better pictured as a continually morphing community of sometimes conflicting parties, which however can work as a single bloc and act in unison, when necessary.

Before coming to my own thoughts on how we should view Islam today, a word regarding my suppositions in this essay. I have good reasons for holding to these views, but I cannot defend them here, so I will lay them out as axioms for the present purposes. It is my supposition that there exists a network of vested political and economic interests (generally described as the ‘elites’, the ‘Establishment’, the ‘Deep State’, etc.), acting along relatively concerted lines which are divergent from, in many cases perpendicular to, the interests and desires of ‘the people’, and which therefore cannot be regarded as in any way democratic in their intentions or their functioning. At the same time, I do not believe that this network forms a unified or centralized power structure with a singular intent; there is no single group, be it ethnic or economic or supranational, which wholly controls or contains this Establishment. I believe the Establishment is rather better pictured as a continually morphing community of sometimes conflicting parties, which however can work as a single bloc and act in unison, when necessary, for the promotion of their overriding interests or the neutralization of a common threat. This network, on account of its enormous economic leverage, its influence over the ceaseless ideological engineering known as ‘advertising’, its pervasive financing or manipulation of our visible politicians, and its connections to and control over the media, is capable of influencing Western societies in any number of different ways, not least of all politically. We can visualize this as the upper stratum of the power structures that presently exist in our states – a stratum which indeed stands so far over them that it is sometimes hard to perceive it with any clarity or immediacy.

Beneath this there is another stratum, much more visible because much nearer to our view, which is populated on the one hand by generally sincere (and therefore generally peripheral) politicians, and on the other by the variety of popular opinions that are currently strong enough to make themselves felt in legislation. Because the governments of the West are nominally democratic, this popular voice can sometimes still make itself heard, and can have real impact on the outcomes of elections and referenda. (Should anyone doubt this, I invite them to furnish an explanation for the negative and even hysterical response to events like Brexit and the election of leaders such as Donald Trump.) Because this stratum of our governance can legitimately be considered ‘populist’, it bears as well the dangers and the limitations of any ‘populism’: namely, it can be moulded through incomplete or fallacious information, it is fickle over time, and it often enough votes with its heart or its stomach rather than its head or its spirit. Nonetheless, as has been seen in recent years, it tends to move in what must be considered a favourable, if insufficiently radical, direction from the perspective of the Right, especially as compared to the former stratum, which exists exclusively in detriment of any True Right.

It is clear that these two strata will sometimes be at odds. The upper stratum, when it cannot contain the currents of the lower, will attempt to direct them to its long-term advantage in every way it can; and it has proved itself unhappily effective at so doing in the course of the most recent decades.

Granted this as my referential framework, I would like to lay out certain aspects of my view of the question of Islam in Europe particularly. I state therefore the following theses:

  1. The Establishment is inherently secular and is opposed to every form of sincere worship, Islam and Christianity most decidedly included. The Establishment has no real sympathy for either of these faiths, despite its occasional pretenses to the contrary, and will do everything in its power to subvert and disenfranchise them both in the long run, because its own power and its own social and political objectives are predicated on the neutering of religion as such.
  2. Toward this end, the Establishment will willingly play such faiths off against each other in a sociological and metapolitical policy of ‘divide and conquer’. Any kind of authentic Christian-Islamic axis would represent a grave menace to this Establishment because it could potentially produce an anti-globalist front of global dimensions. (Anyone who doubts the critical points of agreement that might stand between a Muslim and a man of the Right is invited to consider the critique made of modernity by many contemporary Muslim scholars; see, e.g., the work of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad.)2 The Establishment will therefore seem to fall down now on the side of Islam, and now against it, as the case may require and its present agenda may dictate. This accounts for the degree of seeming incoherency in the current approach to Muslim immigration and the Muslim world, whereby it appears sometimes that Muslims are given a quantity of protection and political favouring that native Europeans might crave, even while at the same time the very political and economic figures who encourage this support invasions of or ‘regime change’ in certain Muslim countries, on the pretext of overthrowing tyrannical and unliberal forms of government.
    The Establishment, in its geopolitical game, has everything to gain from an anti-Islamic attitude, and nothing to lose. The Establishment, in its socio-political and domestic game, has everything to gain from a pro-Islamic attitude, and nothing to lose.
  3. The Establishment, as Dr. Bolton has so admirably shown, is therefore pleased to see the kind of reflexive anti-Islamic attitude which is increasingly prevalent on the Right, and will willingly encourage a connection between the Right and Islamophobia in the popular mindset. This grants three separate benefits to the Establishment: first, it eliminates the possibility of any kind of ideological alliance between the Right and certain healthy Islamic circles, which alliance is rather natural given the opposition to modern secular liberalism that both these groups embrace; second, it provides a useful safety valve affixed to the Right which can be employed the moment the Right gains too much in popularity (which is to say that, whenever necessary, the Right or its representatives can be censured, prosecuted and quarantined for ‘bigotry’, ‘racism’, ‘Islamophobia’, ‘fascism’, etc.); and third, it directs the popular resentment, not against our leadership or the puppeteers thereof, whereat it should rightly be aimed, but rather against a foreign, in many cases illusory, in some cases totally artificial enemy, such as ISIS, the bogeyman of a pre-planned and monolithic Arabic invasion into Europe, individual immigrants, etc.).
  4. The Establishment, in its geopolitical game, has everything to gain from an anti-Islamic attitude, and nothing to lose. The Establishment, in its socio-political and domestic game, has everything to gain from a pro-Islamic attitude, and nothing to lose. At least, in the short term; in the long term, there is the threat of an Islamic take-over in the government. Yet it is absurd to think that the Establishment has not accounted for this danger, and is not in some way calculating how to make the most of it.
  5. The Establishment is happy to see Islam diluted by the secularism of the West; Muslims who are only nominally Muslim provide a welcome stream of new labourers and consumers to its economies, permit it to maintain its delusion of ‘diversity’ (a mere cloak for the fundamental homogeneity of outlook in liberal societies), and persuade the whole of society that authentic religious faith really is an anachronistic and unnecessary ‘ideological’ accretion on human existence.
  6. The Establishment is equally promoted by the presence of manageable numbers of Islamic terrorists on European soil, because the chaos that these agents unleash permits the institution of more universal surveillance and the passing of increasingly invasive laws, not to mention the slandering of the religious impulse in general and the promotion of a ‘safe’, ‘peaceful’ and ‘tolerant’ secularism.
  7. Similarly, the Establishment is always delighted by lone-wolf attacks by members of the ostensive ‘right’, because it can use these to rebuke the true Right and to justify the ostracism, censorship, and defamation of the same.

Several other factors remain to be stated from the other side of the picture, to wit:

  1. There are good reasons to suppose that a working alliance, or at a least degree of sympathy, with certain elements of traditionalist Islam would be of enormous benefit to the Right, insofar as the men of the Right and the traditional believers of Islam are all battling the same monster, namely Modernism. In the third part of his essay, Dr. Bolton speaks at some length on this matter.3
  2. At the same time, there are about a dozen centuries of conflict standing between Islam and Christianity, or between the Middle East and Europe, which we cannot forget and must not discount. The Crusades cannot be erased from our histories, nor the very good reasons that launched them. It must not be forgotten that Islam twice attempted to conquer Europe under its special banner, and was not so very far from succeeding. Yet Islam is not European, and ample proof of this is granted by a simple thought experiment: ponder what a successful Islamic invasion would have meant for the Gothic period and its architecture and social forms; for the art of the Renaissance; for the memory of and respect for Antiquity, and for the pagan substrata which have always existed throughout Europe’s history and beneath Europe’s surface. Were Islam tomorrow to become the primary faith of Europe, what would become of the Notre-Dame, of St. Peter’s or its Sistine Chapel, of the Louvre, of the Roman ruins at the heart of Rome or the Acropolis in Greece, of centuries of European classical music and millennia of European literature? This question is yet more emphatic precisely to the degree that this hypothetical ‘European Islam’ were a true Islam, and not a false and secularized version of the same. Islam might be healthier than Christianity vis-à-vis Modernism at this historical juncture; but it is entirely fair, nay it is incumbent on us, to ask to what extent the ascension of even a very healthy Islam would represent a revival of Europe, rather than its erosion and obliteration by other means.
  3. There is a portion of Islam which truly is interested in converting or subverting all European infidels, conquering the whole of Europe for the establishment of a continent-wide caliphate and putting down all forms of opposition to the Qur’an through a military interpretation jihad. They view, and not altogether insanely, the mushrooming population growth of even nominal Muslims in Europe as a means toward one day attaining this end, at first through democratic election of Islamic or Islam-sympathetic leaders, and perhaps subsequently through violence or the threat of violence. This cannot be regarded as anything other than a threat to European political and cultural autonomy, and the larger the Muslim population in Europe becomes, the more feasible such a plan appears to be.
  4. Along the same lines it would be irresponsible and indeed blind of us not to note the degree to which a certain kind of Islam has been associated with the development of parallel communities on European territory which hardly stand for the rebirth of Europe. While this is a problem pertaining more to immigration than to Islam as such, nonetheless Islam provides the glue by which these communities are held together and transformed into a scourge against, not so much the Establishment, as peacable European citizens. Nor can it be negated that these communities, and the faith which characterizes them, have been responsible for producing an abundance of terrorist attacks which in many cases aim directly at Christian events, symbols or individuals. When church burnings and desecrations have become common events, when a priest has been beheaded in his own church on European soil during a church service, when Christians, no matter how tepid their faith may be, are no longer free to join confidently together as Christians even for comparatively innocuous modernisms like Christmas markets, and when all of this is accountable to a specific religion, we are compelled to look at that religion with great care and to ask to what extent its dogma is truly productive of such a situation.
  5. The conditions for any kind of coalition or understanding between the Right and certain Islamic schools or groups must therefore be approximately as follows: we would recognize a common enemy, and to that extent we would agree to lay aside our very real differences in light of an urgent communion of purpose. We would seek to defend authentic Islam in traditionally Islamic countries, and traditionalist Muslims would likewise agree to defend our European traditions in European territory – this, wholly despite the fact that these two traditions are finally incompatible with one another. This is an old-style confederacy such as the nations of the past were wont to form with one another, each recognizing the other’s territorial, legal and customary claims and working in respect of these toward the containment of a common foe. Insofar as our Muslim neighbours refuse to accept these terms, we cannot regard them as allies but as agents of those powers that would destroy us (either the Establishment or else a globally ambitious Islamic extremism, or else the two working in a kind of strange and totally temporary synchonicity or symbiosis).

It appears to me absolutely necessary to recognize both Islam and the octopus-like Establishment for they are: the former a rich and inherently multifaceted tradition with a variety of outlooks and positions, some fluid with our own and others viscous to it; the latter a creature which seeks power at all costs and is blithely unconcerned with ideology of any kind whatsoever, save as ideology serves the end of expanding its control. It is difficult to get one’s hands around either of these phenomena, and it is easy to fall into any number of confusions. One would like to take a firm stance one way or another on the Islamic question, but reality rejects all efforts at simplification and forces us to a subtler and more nuanced view. Likewise, one would like to ascribe to the Establishment a unitary approach to the Islamic question, but this is precisely what one cannot find anywhere one looks in the political order today. This because the Establishment will use Islam where it is useful, will suppress it where it is not, and will change its approach diametrically depending on new circumstances and the outcome of current events. It will do precisely the same thing with the Right itself, if we are not knowledgeable and intelligent enough to counter it.

We of the Right cannot fully embody this same flexibility on account of our adherence to deep principles, and if we deny those principles in order to free our hand we will traduce our very reason for fighting and abort the world we would promote long before it has ever been born. But we can be flexible in our understanding of the situation; nothing constraints us to see the world from a skewed or limited perspective. Dr. Kerry Bolton’s work is indispensable for that, and it is my sincere hope that I have modestly contributed in the same direction with this all-too-brief analysis of an immensely complicated problem.

References

1See Dr. Bolton’s article, ‘Islamophobia: Trojan Horse Amidst the Right’.

2His work includes both videos and books; one obviously relevant place to begin is with his lecture entitled ‘Riding the Tiger of Modernity’, which can be seen on YouTube.

3Francis Parker Yockey also had some very interesting ideas on the related question of how the Third World might be marshalled in the struggle against the hegemony of the United States; apart from the books that Yockey himself has written, Dr. Bolton has written a first-rate biography on him which discusses this matter, among of course a great many others. See Yockey: A Fascist Odyssey (Arktos, 2018).

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The Tarantula’s Bite https://arktos.com/2019/05/17/the-tarantulas-bite/ https://arktos.com/2019/05/17/the-tarantulas-bite/#view_comments Fri, 17 May 2019 13:25:36 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6093 Story has it that in the land of an ancient civilization far from Europe, an American expedition, bemoaning the poor competitivity of the native inhabitants who had been recruited for work, believed a suitable means could be found for spurring them on: the Americans doubled the hourly pay. Failure: following this raise, the better part of the workers came to work only half the hours of before. Since the natives held that the original reward was sufficient for the natural needs of their life, they now thought it altogether absurd that they should have to seek more for themselves than that which, on the basis of the new criterion, sufficed for the procuring of those needs.1

This is the antithesis of what we have recently begun to call Stakhanovism.2 This anecdote might act as a testing stone for two worlds, two mindsets, two civilizations, by which one of them might be judged sane and normal, and the other deviant and psychotic.

Before the advent in Europe of ‘mercantile economy’, out of which modern capitalism would rapidly develop, it was the fundamental criterion of economy that the pursuit of wealth should be excused and licit only as it served to guarantee a subsistence corresponding to one’s state.

In referring to a non-European mentality, let no one adduced any commonplaces here, regarding the inertia and the indolence of these races, as compared with the ‘active’ and ‘dynamic’ Western ones. In this, as in other spheres, such objections have no raison d’être: it suffices to detach oneself a moment from ‘modern’ civilization to perceive also in us, in the West, the same conceptions of life, the same attitude, the same esteem of lucre and of work.

Before the advent in Europe of what has officially and significantly been called ‘mercantile economy’ (significantly, because one knows in what account the traditional social hierarchy held the ‘merchant’ and the lender of money), out of which modern capitalism would rapidly develop, it was the fundamental criterion of economy that exterior goods must be subject to a certain measure, that the pursuit of wealth should be excused and licit only as it served to guarantee a subsistence corresponding to one’s state. Subsistence economy counted as the normal economy. This was also the Thomistic conception and later on even the Lutheran conception.3 It was essential that the single individual recognized that he belonged to a given group, that there existed determinate a fixed or limited framework within which he might develop his possibilities, realize his vocation, tend toward a partial, specific perfection. The same thing held in the ancient corporative ethics, wherein the values of personality and quality were emphasized, and wherein, in any case, the quantity of work was ever a function of a determinate level of natural needs. In general, the concept of progress in those times was applied to an essentially interior plane; it did not indicate leaving one’s station to seek lucre and to multiply the quantity of one’s work in order to reach an exterior economic and social position which did not belong to one.

All of these, however, were once perfectly Western viewpoints – the viewpoints of European man, when he was yet sane, not yet bitten by the tarantula, not yet thrall of the insane agitation and the hypnosis of the ‘economy’, which would conduct him into the disorder, the crises and the paroxysms of the current civilization. And today one trumpets this or that system, one seeks this or that palliative – but no one brings the question back to its origin. To recognize that even in economy the primary factors are spiritual factors, that a change of attitude, a true metanoia,4 is the only efficacious means if one would still conceive of halting the slide – this goes beyond the intellect of our technicians, who have by now gathered to proclaim in unison that ‘economy is destiny’.5

But we already know where the road shall lead us upon which man betrays himself, subverts every just hierarchy of values and of interests, concentrates himself on exteriorities, and the quest for gain, ‘production’, and economic factors in general form the predominant motive of his soul. Perhaps Sombart6 better than anyone has analyzed the entire process. It culminates fatally in those forms of high industrial capitalism in which one is condemned to run without rest, leading to an unlimited expansion of production, because every stop would signify immediately retreat, often being forced out and crushed. Whence comes that chain of economic processes which seize the great entrepreneur body and soul, shackling him more totally than the last of his laborers, even as the stream becomes almost autonomous and drags behind it thousands of beings, finally dictating laws to entire peoples and governments. Fiat productio, pereat homo – precisely as Sombart had already written.7

The which reveals, by the way, the backstage work of ‘liberation’ and of American aid in the world. We stand at the fourth of Truman’s points8 – the same Truman who, brimming over with disinterested love, wishes ‘ the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas’ of the earth: in other words: carrying to its term the new barbaric invasions, the brutalization in economic trivia even of those countries which by a happy confluence of circumstances are yet preserved from the bite of the tarantula, are yet preserved in a traditional tenor of life, are yet withheld from that economic and ‘productive’ exploitation which carries us to the bitter end of every possibility for man for nature. The system of the Americans, mutatis mutandis, persists in these commercial companies, which carry cannons along with them in order to ‘persuade’ whomever has no interest whatsoever in commerce…

Better to renounce the phantasm of an illusory betterment of the general conditions and to adopt, wherever it is necessary, a system of ‘austerity’, which does not yoke itself to the wagon of foreign interests, which does not let itself become embroiled in the global processes of a hegemony.

That ethic epitomized in the principle ‘abstine et substine9 was a Western one; so was its betrayal in a conception of life which, instead of maintaining need within natural limits toward the pursuit of that which is truly worthy of human striving, takes for its ideal instead the growth and the artificial multiplication of need itself, and also of the means to satisfy this need, with no regard for the growing slavery this must constitute first for the single individual and then for the collective, in accordance with an ineluctable law. No one should marvel that on such a basis there can be no stability, that everything must crumble and the so-called ‘social question’, already prejudged from the start by impossible premises, must intensify to the very point which is desired by communism and Bolshevism…

Moreover, things have gone so far today that any different viewpoint appears ‘anachronistic’, ‘anti-historical’. Beautiful, priceless words! But if ever one were to return to normality, it would become clear that, so far as the individual goes, there is no exterior, ‘economic’ growth worth its price; there is no growth whose seductions one must not absolutely resist, when the counterpart of letting oneself be seduced is the essential crippling of one’s liberty. No price is sufficient to recompense the loss of free space, free breath, such as permit one to find oneself and the being in oneself, and to reach what is possible for one to reach, beyond the conditioned sphere of matter and of the needs of ordinary life.

Nor do matters stand any differently for nations, especially when their resources are limited. Here ‘autarchy’ is an ethical principle, because that which has weight on the scale of values must be identical both for a single individual and for a State. Better to renounce the phantasm of an illusory betterment of the general conditions and to adopt, wherever it is necessary, a system of ‘austerity’,10 which does not yoke itself to the wagon of foreign interests, which does not let itself become embroiled in the global processes of a hegemony and an economic productivity cast into the void. For such processes, in the end, when they find nothing more to grasp on to, will turn against those same individuals who have woken them to life.

Nothing less than this becomes evident to whomever reflects on the ‘moral’ implicit in the simple anecdote recounted at the beginning of this essay. Two worlds, two mindsets, two destinies. Against the ‘tarantula’s bite’ stand all those who yet remember just activity, right effort, what is worthy of pursuit, and fidelity to themselves. Only they are the ‘realizers’, the beings who truly stand on their feet.

References

1 The source of the story is unknown. As for the title of this chapter, according to an old Italian tradition, the bite of the tarantula supposedly leads to a condition of hysteria and extreme agitation bordering, by certain accounts, on madness. Accordingly the name tarantism was given to this condition, and it was a common condition in the south of Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The tarantella dance takes its origin from this sickness, first because those who were gripped by tarantism felt a desperate need for frenetic physical activity, and later because this very need was formalized into a form of dance which was held to be therapeutic for the disease. In the present case, the furious contemporary desire to work, to be productive, to engage in commercial activity, is likened to this old malady.

2 After Alexey Stakhanov, a Russian miner who became renowned throughout Soviet Russia for his remarkable stamina. He set the world record for coal mining, reportedly mining 227 tons of coal in one day. This record was later disputed by some who believed he had been aided by the Soviet authorities themselves in order to produce propaganda for the workers, but Stakhanov’s name remains to this day crystallized in the Italian language in the term staconovista, meaning a man of tireless work ethic.

3 For the Thomistic conception, see Summa Theologica, II-II Q. 66. For example, he says in Article 2, ‘A more peaceful state is ensured to man if each one is contented with his own’. For Luther’s view, see his tract On Trade and Usury. Toward the beginning of this work he says, ‘Therefore some of the merchants, too, have been awakened, and have become aware that in their trading many a wicked trick and hurtful financial practice is in use, and it must be feared that the word of Ecclesiasticus applies here and that ‘merchants can hardly be without sin’. ’ (Translation Charles M. Jacobs.)

4 From the Ancient Greek μετάνοια, ‘changing one’s mind’ (lit. ‘beyond the mind’). This is a prominent Biblical theme, and is generally translated by the word ‘repentance’. Its original meaning, probably also among the Christians, was a change of heart, a spiritual conversion; and this is clearly the meaning it takes on in Evola’s use.

5 These were the words originally of Walter Rathenau (1867-1922), a Jewish German statesman and diplomat during the Weimer Republic. He was the signee of the Treaty of Rapallo, by which Russia and Germany renounced their territorial claims after World War I, leading to increased trade between the two. For his signature to this document, and for his intellectual ideas, which tended toward socialism, Rathenau was held to be a revolutionary in some circles, and he was assassinated in 1922 by the right-wing Organization Consul.

6 Werner Sombart (1863-1941), a German economist and sociologist. He began as a student of Marxist thought (Engels said he was the only German professor to have understood Marx) but by the end of his life had approached the National-Socialism of the Nazis. Throughout his career he was known for his intrepid consideration of the role that race plays in society. His early connections to Marxism and his later connections to Nazism have sadly blackened his memory, and, as Evola states in Chapter 25 (where he considers certain aspects of Sombart’s thought in greater depth), Sombart ‘is an author worthy of more study than we generally give him’.

7 Latin: ‘Let there be production, though man should perish’. Taken from Sombart’s Der Bourgeois (1913), yet to be translated into English.

8 From President Truman’s famous ‘Point Four Program’, as announced in his inaugural address of January 20, 1949. (The subsequent citations in this chapter are also taken from that address.) This program was purportedly a foreign policy of aiding underdeveloped countries and encouraging their growth and industrial progress. As Evola points out here, it is unlikely that the motivations behind this program were really so altruistic.

9 Latin: ‘endure and abstain’, often translated ‘bear and forebear’. It was a saying of the Greek Stoic Epictetus (c. AD 50-135). Epictetus was born a slave, and his main work, The Discourses, is formed of the statements he made to his pupis, which were transcribed and compiled by his student Arrian. Abstine et substine in many ways epitomizes the Stoic philosophy which later had such influence over Roman civilization: to tolerate the ills that come upon us and to refrain from forming attachments to things over which we have no control.

10 Evola here uses the English word ‘austerity’. Quotation marks are Evola’s.

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Disquisition on the Origins – Part 3 https://arktos.com/2019/05/15/disquisition-on-the-origins-part-3/ https://arktos.com/2019/05/15/disquisition-on-the-origins-part-3/#comments_reply Wed, 15 May 2019 12:40:05 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6580 History and the Origins

Following the course of our argument so far, we have been carried to a disquieting vista. Traditionalism and Modernism, these evident uncompromising antipodes, apparently agree on a crucial point: the present moment must be abolished. They propose diametrically contrary reasons for this conclusion, and profoundly different solutions to the problem it presents. Modernity would replace the here and now with the ‘next phase’, which ultimately culminates in a terminus to mankind itself; Traditionalism would replace the here and now with the ‘divine order’ or some echo thereof. Modernism opposes the present with an impatient ‘not yet’, Traditionalism, with a plaintive ‘no longer’. The unavoidable consequence of the one view as much as the other seems to be the necessity of more or less violent change.

Modernism opposes the present with an impatient ‘not yet’, Traditionalism, with a plaintive ‘no longer’.

This unexpected point of contact between these two great antagonists can be reformulated negatively: both Modernism and Traditionalism are necessarily anti-conservative with respect to the present moment, with respect to the whole of Modernity. They agree that the one view which is no longer possible, and perhaps no longer even palatable, is the conservative view.

How can we account for this point of community where we would least expect to find it?

Modernism conceives of the present moment as being governed by a secret law pressing mankind and human society ever upward; this is the crux of its ‘overcoming’ of the present.1 Traditionalism conceives of the present moment as being governed by a secret law pressing mankind and human society ever downward, save as they are infused or inspired by buoyant divine forces, whose reappearance will come at the end of the cycle of ages, after the Kali-yuga or the Iron Age. The Modernist views history as a trend which culminates in the ‘end of history’, a final and universal homogeneous world state, a kind of political Pangea. This world state alone would realize the ‘freedom’ of mankind, the freedom of everyman to seek what ends he will; it is the denatured theology of modernism incarnate on earth. The ‘aim of history’ by this view, as well as the right work of the individual, is governed inexorably by this ‘historical finality’. The Traditionalist meanwhile holds that the right work of the individual is to prepare for the return of the cycle from its lowest to its highest point, to prepare the rebirth of the origins after their long decadence in modern times. This will follow the collapse of the present ‘order’, the close of the present cycle in fire or ashes.

These views, apparently contrary to one another, are both open to the same fundamental philosophical objection: neither one has demonstrated, nor can demonstrate, the necessary issuance of its predicted future from out of the dark womb of ‘History’. The one has recourse to ‘historical necessity’ or to the supposedly inevitable but ultimately indemonstrable ‘march of history’, the other to what is openly acknowledged to be a myth, i.e. a story which is logically unprovable but which is supposedly bound to a divine past, and which thus contains a divine lesson or kernel of esoteric truth. Both are purportedly derived from a presumed insight into the ‘laws of history’; both acknowledge, that is to say, that there exist, at least for our fallen time, precisely such ‘laws’, and that these ‘laws’ are effective on human action and human societies. This makes for a philosophical dilemma: the particular interpretation that one makes of history depends, not on one’s analysis of history, but on one’s prior commitments to one or the other of these worldviews.

At the same time, in the absence of such commitments, the analysis of history seems to result forever in a kind of stalemate. The future is characterized by impenetrable mystery, the past by essentially ambiguous or equivocal facts, and the present by a quality of uncertainty and dependence on one’s embattled knowledge of what preceded it and what will follow it. Both Modernism and Traditionalism attempt to formulate such understanding and predictions, but how can they possibly do so to the satisfaction of a critical mind? One’s view of the past, as noted, is governed by one’s presuppositions, the very subject matter of philosophical inquiry. So far as the future goes, either man is free, and so history cannot be foreseen with any mathematical precision or any degree of surety since it depends decisively on unpredictable acts today and tomorrow, or else men are the slaves of contingency, so that nothing can ever guarantee or even forestall that tomorrow a piece of ‘bad fortune’ will not intervene and radically change his direction or destroy him altogether. Recourse to supposed ‘laws of history’, derived from history itself, are no good here, because the one thing visible on any naïve review of history is the total absence of such laws. History is not like the physical or organic worlds – evidently predisposed to a kind of intuitable regularity. There is no ordered firmament standing above the sphere of history, no cosmos in which it is evidently contained, no systems of stars which reflect in the regularity of their movements some manner of coherency and pattern; history, if it has laws, buries them deep within itself beneath a scintillating and mercurial skin, so that one must go delving Hegel-like or Spengler-like, deep into its bowels, to discover them. But then these laws are fundamentally disputable; they are the subject, not the presupposition, of philosophical inquiry. As little as history shows to us an unequivocally rising ladder of human progress, so little does it reveal a manifest cycle of downward motion or decay. History moves by fits and starts, now climbing and now descending, and reveals nothing so much to the impartial observer as the salient absence of regular motion.

This makes scientific prophecy of the future impossible: the future remains mysterious so far as rigorous science is concerned. On the other side of history, the deep past, history is bound by an equally impenetrable pre-historic shadowland. We know that this pre-history exists on account of the enigmatic traces it has left for us in the rumours and ruins of what were, to all extant evidence, mighty civilizations, quite sufficient in their extent and achievements to disprove the anthropological or scientistic assessment of pre-history as a world of primitives and savages. But at the same time we know almost nothing concrete about the beliefs or ways of life or quality of the men who peopled it. It is a city unknown, and our investigations into it always have the character of guesswork.

The existence of this past and its simultaneous inaccessibility suggests to us the the terrible reality and devastating power of telluric catastrophes, disasters capable of wiping entire civilizations, not only off the map, but out of human memory. This is inbuilt into the very idea of Traditionalism and its cyclical view of the world; but it would appear that these catastrophes can occur at any moment during the cycle, and not only at its nadir. By Traditionalist standards, at least, it appears that the Golden Age lies on the other side of just such a catastrophe. For all we know, this worldwide catastrophe brought an end to the Golden Age. One is compelled to ask if such catastrophes, which have led to the annihilation of civilizations entire, might not lead as well to the annihilation of mankind itself. Today indeed we are forced to approach this question from a fundamentally new standpoint: for today, for the first time in history, mankind itself is capable of producing precisely such a man-annihilating catastrophe. This power is not even limited to a single possibility: nuclear holocaust; the artificial production of a super-virus or super-disease which can eliminate the race; the ruination of the planet’s atmosphere through ‘manmade global warming’ or the desertification of the Earth’s surface until the Earth can no longer sustain human life; the production of an ‘artificial intelligence’ of sufficient uncontrollability and unpredictability that it might massacre the species entire; the manufacture of self-propagating ‘nanotechnology’ which might alter the physical conditions surrounding us until they become inhospitable to human life; the engineering of the human genome for so long and to such a radical extent that the races genetic profile becomes unstable or susceptible to any number of unexpected disasters – these are only the possibilities which might face us in the relatively near future on account of our current level of ‘technological progress’. We can thus derive no complacent optimism from our review of history: the ‘necessity of progress’ is called into question by the evidences of the deep past on the one hand and by the fruits of that very ‘progress’ itself on the other.

In this sense, it would appear that the Traditionalist perspective is in its way more ‘optimistic’ than the Modernist, for it seems to provide for the commencement of a new cycle, and thus at least promises the preservation of the race, if not of its present forms or achievements. At the same time, there can be no fixed surety that mankind is destined to survive the coming ‘end of the cycle’. Its survival depends, not certainly on the laws of nature, but on the will of the divine; but what do we know of the divine will, or of what the divine mind thinks of humankind and its wretched struggles? Surely the existence of individual men is not a matter of concern to the divine; this conclusion is so obvious as to become trivial, and hardly needs a work like Voltaire’s Candide to bring us to awareness of it. One has merely to consult the mortality list of the most recent earthquake to confirm as much. Nor are good men, nor even divine men, spared these disasters, so far as their earthy existence goes. What can guarantee then that the divine will ensure the survival of any man when the final catastrophe comes? Who can assure us that the gods will scoop up even some handful of worthy survivors from out of the inferno to see to their continuation? Both Modernism and Traditionalism seem to be conditioned by a secret optimism which has no clear grounding, and which would seem to be contradicted by other elements of the same views. Traditionalism has, however, this excellent reason for hope, which Modernism cannot claim: even if the end of man is to come, the divine is eternal, and divinity in man is equally so. Man, insofar as he has become a transcendent being in his person, is deathless in the decisive respect. To this extent, Traditionalism gives an empyreal guarantee of life to man or to the best men.

He this as it may, we are concerned with the question of human history and its conservation or loss; and whatever the reality of the Traditionalist promise, the earthly destruction of man means necessarily the end of that history. So far our analysis of history goes, we find nothing to guarantee its continuation; a multitude of contemporary viewpoints promise to us a bright tomorrow (e.g. the universal liberal order of freedom, equality, prosperity; the return of the Golden Age; the technological singularity which brings a new state of wonder and makes possible the physically impossible, transforming us into gods), but all of them might in fact be but a secret nightmare gilded in false array (e.g. a global dictatorship, the final Armageddon, a technocratic tyranny or the abolition of our humanity in a digital death). All these views in their popular form tend to lead to nothing so much as the deresponsibilizing of men, for they convince us to shuck our duties from our shoulders and thrust them upon the back of some fantastical tomorrow. In the meantime we bury ourselves in complacency and wretched contentment, a kind of nihilism which is so petty and pathetic that it hardly deserves so dire a name.

We can derive no complacent optimism from our review of history: the ‘necessity of progress’ is called into question by the evidences of the deep past on the one hand and by the fruits of that very ‘progress’ itself on the other.

Having arrived at such a point we are compelled to step back and take stock. The question reasserts itself: What are Modernism and Traditionalism, and where do they originate? What are their origins?

Traditionalism takes its bearings, as we have lately stated, by the unitary and esoteric truth lying behind appearances and exoteric teachings; but it takes its point of departure from the necessity of finding one’s way in fallen times. Its point of departure, that is to say, is not the esoteric (that is rather its destination); its point of departure is a rebellion against Modernism. It is late-come, tardy; even by its own estimation, it would not exist at all if we lived in a truly ‘Traditionalist’ epoch. The very titles of many of its founding works – as for instance Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World and Guénon’s Crisis of the Modern World – point to its reactionary nature. It exists in reaction to, in response to, the modern crisis. It therefore points us in two directions simultaneously: first, to analysis of the pre-modern Traditionalist line of teachers and civilizations, and second, to its great contender, the Modern World. It would not exist in the absence thereof; Modernism is the necessary, if not sufficient, condition for Traditionalism. To adequately understand Traditionalism, we must therefore understand Modernism.

Modernity takes its proximate origins from two sources: the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. The first is equivalent to the attempt to resuscitate a dormant Antiquity, primarily in the political and artistic senses. Philosophically, it represents a conscious departure from Antiquity, an overcoming of a dark ‘history’ through the diligent study of the same. The Renaissance rebirth of Antiquity thus unwittingly laid the groundwork for its subsequent murder in the Enlightenment; and for the same reason, the Renaissance has a more peripheral role in the development of Modernism than the Enlightenment; the Enlightenment is the true ‘origin’ of Modernism.

But the Enlightenment, as even these remarks demonstrate, was not born of the void. It consisted primarily in a response to, a modification of, or a rebellion against classical philosophy, and classical political philosophy in particular. Its purported reasons for this rebellion were from the very first pragmatic; classical political philosophy, as Machiavelli stated it,2 did not treat of the reality of human life, but rather of some ‘ideal’ human life which was not actual and could not be made so. This was aggravated by the irksome disproportion, noted classically by Hobbes,3 between the seemingly objective and final successes of mathematics in the new science on the one hand, and the continuing disrepair and chaos of human polities on the other. The difference between geometry and political philosophy, of course, had always been known; this was hardly a discovery of modern times. But classical philosophy had taken the difference to be produced by the nature of geometry as opposed to the nature of the human being; these natures differed, and consequently it would be meaningless to attempt to understand them via parallel philosophical approaches or methodologies. The moderns were enormously impressed, however, by the emergence of natural science, which they took to be a demonstrable improvement over classical science; and, having seen that this natural science could be extended to the whole of the physical world (what began to be known as ‘nature’ in the inclusive sense in contradistinction to the restrictive or distinctive classical idea of nature),4 believed that this science could be extended to human beings and human things as well as to number and geometrical form. For by the new view, the human being was considered ‘a part of nature’, comprehensible in light of the ‘natural laws’. One primary source of Modernism, if it is not the true source of Modernism itself, is therefore located in the question of science, as this was elaborated by Galileo, Newton, Huygens, Copernicus, Kepler, Lavoisier &co.

The question therefore opens of the character of the change which these men produced in the former natural science – that natural science of the scholastics which traced its origins back the Philosopher, to Aristotle himself, and which was transmitted to the first modern natural scientists via the reconciliation which Thomas Aquinas had effected or attempted to effect between classical philosophy and Christian theology. Why did the moderns effect a break with this tradition? In what did this break consist? To what extent is it tied to the spirit of the Renaissance, and to what extent did it represent rather an extraneous and unrelated spirit, a spirit of its own – the Modern spirit in ovo? What is the relation of this idea to the concept of History which arose in that same period, and what critique can be made of both these new ideas?

Rather than rejecting the present or the history which produced it in favour of some tenuous future or haze-bound pre-history, we make time itself the object of our work, we dwell like divers or fishermen on this sea of memory.

These questions, some of which are neglected to such an shocking extent that they are often not even perceived any longer, point us emphatically to a conclusion which is relevant to our present disquisition: Modernism arose in specific dialectic with pre-Modernism. One must therefore comprehend the ‘before’ if one is to rightly comprehend the ‘after’: the true origins of Modernism are coeval with the origins of the West itself, of the Western Tradition. It is imperative that these origins be understood.

The origins of the Western Tradition can be traced back to a remarkable extent to two men, two ‘historical moments’ which were absolutely unique and ‘creative’ with respect to all that followed: Socrates and Christ. In some ways, these men were strangely parallel in their lives: they both voluntarily chose to live lives of comparative poverty and even ‘ignominy’ with respect to the standards of their time; they were martyred by their governments on the pretext (among other things) of impiety; both were regarded as being in some way totally new or revolutionary by the milieus in which they moved, and were therefore largely greeted with strong mistrust on the part of the older generations and ecstatic devotion on the part of the younger; and neither of them, so far as we know, wrote down even a single one of their teachings, but were rather recorded in these teachings by their pupils or disciples. But here the similarities end, and a remarkable series of contrasts commences.

One was given to the shocking and, to orthodox minds, insanely arrogant claim that he was the incarnate Son of God; the other was given to the provoking and maddeningly humble claim that he knew that he knew nothing. One silenced his critics with the power of his single utterances; the other demonstrated the poverty of his critics’ views through ruthless and lengthy dialectic. One is recorded primarily as speaking to or before crowds and masses of men, and was intent on the conversion of all mankind; the other did all in his power to turn his conversations upon a single specifically chosen man or else very small select groups, spoke in dialogue even in the presence of others, and sought the cultivation of an extremely exclusive group of rare potential philosophers or philo-philosophers. One wept thrice, proclaimed the coming of God, promised redemption and the overcoming of the grave and founded hope as a virtue; the other promised, it would seem, nothing at all, and is said to have laughed in the very hour he was made to die. Finally, one of them impelled men to absolute loving obedience to the One God; the other, to absolute uncompromising investigation of the cosmos, without restriction and without special regard to supposedly divine commandments.

This is, of course, an impossibly curtailed treatment of either of these men, not to speak of both together. We present it merely to indicate the route by which a ‘return to the origins’ might bear real fruit for our study of the modern crisis. For nothing can be clearer than this: that the confrontation with Modernity demands of us a return to the origins, both the proximate (in the Renaissance and Enlightenment) and the deep (in classical and Christian Antiquity). The origins must be unearthed and grasped; the alternatives which they supplanted (as for instance: the Greek poetic tradition; the European pagan traditions; the rival cults of late Rome, such as the Mithraic; Christendom and the Gothic Age; etc.) must be drawn with due clarity, sympathy and justice, that their potential and their limitations in our modern day can be brought to light; for only through the self-knowledge that such ‘historical studies’ might furnish us can we possibly hope to confront the crisis of our times.

Such a return must be an act of reverence or of wonder. It opens the meaning of Modernity itself, and represents at the same time the revival of our Tradition; rather than rejecting the present or the history which produced it in favour of some tenuous future or haze-bound pre-history, we make time itself the object of our work, we dwell like divers or fishermen on this sea of memory, this wellspring of matchless vitality beneath us. We transform ourselves from mere cynical critics of our age into lovers of the West, philoccidentals. Thereby we revive, not only the customs, ways, styles of life contained in this superabundant and multifaceted past of the West, but its very soul, its philosophy or its faith, its eternal and unchangeable ‘Ideas’ or archetypes, which form its pith and its essence. And thereby, and thereby alone, do we open the possibility, the unique and precious chance, of a non-nihilistic response to Modernity, through the resurrection or rebirth of its truest and most fundamental origins.

References

1In this overview we disregard the powerful critique brought against this notion of history by men like Nietzsche and Hiedegger, who, one might say, preserved the modern sense of history, but shore it of the modern notion of progress. Both men have been implicated much more clearly in the advent of those political regimes which opposed the modern trend than in that trend itself, and this is no doubt in part due to their anti-progressivist, anti-meliorist view of history.

2See Machiavelli, The Prince, esp. Chapter XV.

3See Hobbes’ introduction to his Philosophical Rudaments Concerning Government and Society. See also Descartes, Rules for the Direction of the Mind, esp. Rules Two and Three, which would form the basis for his subsequent Meditations.

4This distinction can be briefly summarized as follows. The classical idea of nature took nature to be that which distinguishes the beings of the world from the other beings of the world; the nature of man is not the nature of dog, which in turn is not the nature of the stars or the stones. Each nature implies an end, a telos for the being in question, and these teloi cannot be interchanged. The right end of man is not the right end of a dog. ‘Nature’ for modern times, on the other hand, is rather something equivalent to the universe as such; it is the sum total of things that exist and that emerge on the basis of identifiable and mathematizable laws. But in the comprehension of these laws, the possibility arises of changing their emergent course; man can influence or alter or command the ‘natural’ order. To this extent, man stands in some mysterious way outside of ‘nature’; ‘nature’ is therefore increasingly understood in contradistinction to ‘man’ or ‘technology’ or to the artificial world that man produces. There appears to be a tension here; for man’s separation from the ‘natural world’ indicates that he cannot be comprehensively analysed in the light of its laws. Yet modern science is dedicated to nothing so much as the presupposition that the entire world, man included, can be analysed in the light of these laws. Man appears to wish to destroy his own underpinning, and the doctrine of progress suggests moreover that he is capable of doing so. Man remains the one open question in the world, the one ‘unnatural’ being. This inclines man along a path which ultimately seems to aim at his extricating himself altogether from the ‘laws of nature’ – process we have reviewed to some extent in Part II of this essay, and which appears to culminate in self-annihilation.

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Rediscovering the Rational Mind https://arktos.com/2019/05/13/rediscovering-the-rational-mind/ https://arktos.com/2019/05/13/rediscovering-the-rational-mind/#comments_reply Mon, 13 May 2019 13:20:52 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6572 Some time ago I examined two approaches to rationality: that of Aristotle and wider Greek philosophical society, and that of the Counter-Enlightenment. What underlined both of these approaches was a method of approaching the search for truth which deviates from contemporary analytic or post-Enlightenment ‘rationality’. Often, the thinkers of the past were willing to pull together ideas and approaches from a wide variety of sources – sources which today would be considered ‘external’ to philosophy. Indeed, until the late 19th century, the disciplines of philosophy, theology, mathematics and science were not clearly distinguished, and many authors in one of these areas demonstrated significant influence from experts in the others. Take Laplace, for example, the ‘French Newton’, whose work in mechanics has been highly influential on modern mathematics and physics, but whose speculations about mathematical formulae also has important ramifications for the eternal free will vs. determinism problem. Modern science has moved on from Laplace by bounds, but it seems to me that modern science is also coming to roadblock in its methodology.

Science has insulated itself against incursions by other disciplines for some time. The compartmentalization of rational disciplines has not been a healthy one.

Science has insulated itself against incursions by other disciplines for some time. Wittgenstein summed up this attitude of ‘scientism’ perfectly in the Tractatus, where he went so far as to claim that speculative philosophers and theologians could not be taken seriously in any scientific proclamation they might make, since the discourse in which such figures engage is completely separated from and incomparable to scientific discourse, in short ‘a division of [the studies of] life into strict compartments’.1 The compartmentalization of rational disciplines has not been a healthy one. Religion and traditional schools of philosophy – whatever flaws one may identify within them – at least have the confidence to be able to make claims about the truth (which may or may not stand up to scrutiny); modern science has no such capacity, nor indeed any will, to make claims to the truth. As Julius Evola astutely points out:

None of modern science has the slightest value as knowledge. … [T]he concept of ‘truth’ in the traditional sense is already alien to modern science, which concerns itself solely with hypotheses and formulae that can predict with the best approximation the course of phenomena and relate them to a certain unity. And as it is not a question of ‘truth’, but a matter less of seeing than of touching, the concept of certainty in modern science is reduced to the ‘maximum probability’.2

This, in an age where science is pushing the very boundaries of existence? where the discovery of the holographic principle seems to imply the possibility of a determined, intelligent design? where either relativity is true and the Universe is ultimately unknowable, or quantum theory is true and the laws of nature as we have traditionally understood them are subject to exceptions which science itself could not previously have imagined? In many ways, this scientific roadblock is the perfect example of how the Western philosophical tradition since Enlightenment has been doomed to fail. It seems that if science can only claim that it is probable that the laws of nature exist, or that if they do not exist, it is probable that alternative, more random laws govern material things, then the sum of knowledge that human beings have has not advanced much beyond the day that Descartes began to doubt the existence of his material body. But even Descartes could not doubt his own mind! Contemporary physicalism (which dominates the mind-body debate) would not even admit the possibility of the existence of mind as a metaphysical entity, but rather only as an extension of the body. So science leaves us with even less than philosophy: we probably exist – but we cannot rule out the possibility that we do not.

Yet, intuition is a much more powerful force for the majority of us than scepticism. Surely, the common-sense man might say, we do know that there is such a thing as truth. G. E. Moore famously declared in response to scepticism: ‘Here is a hand.’ Indeed, I know that I have a body, for here it is, and here you see it. The limitations of common-sense, and the dangers of syncretizing philosophy and science, I believe can be overcome through an understanding of the relationship of human consciousness to the ancient idea of nous.

I will first present an Aristotelian account of reason (λόγος). For Aristotle there are four human capacities for truth, plus the nous. The four capacities are: theoretical wisdom (σοφία), practical wisdom (φρόνησις), technical knowledge (τέχνη), and scientific knowledge (ἐπιστήμη). One can have theoretical wisdom without having practical wisdom – for example, one can know that the virtues are good, but also not know how to judge when the virtues ought to be used – and one can have scientific knowledge without technical knowledge – one can know that dough will become bread under conditions x and y, but not know in the slightest how to bring that about; and vice versa in each case &c. After explaining these things, Aristotle brings in nous: ‘understanding’ or ‘intellect’.

There is understanding, not a rational account, both about the universal and particular terms. In demonstrations understanding is about the unchanging terms that are universal. In premises about action understanding is about the particular term. … For these particular terms are the beginnings of the goal to be aimed at, since universals are reached from particulars. We must, therefore, have perception of these particulars, and this perception is nous (understanding).3

Nous is the part of the intellect which allows us to distinguish between universals and particulars, between theory and praxis, if you will. The aim at which the intellect is grasping is the Good, which is the life of contemplation, or the life of understanding. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle describes the sublime substance (divinity, or the philosophical Absolute) as ‘the ultimate understanding of ultimate understanding’. Aristotle assumes that the good life is one conducted in imitation of this divine principle; we have therefore encountered a problem – we cannot expect this model of rationality to be acceptable in a world which has rejected the very notion of ‘divinity’, such as our own. A supersubstantial substance seems repugnant to the ingrained scepticism of the philosophical tradition adopted by modern science, as we mentioned before. Yet without such an idea, we seem doomed to be infinitely sceptical, and distrustful of the common-sense perceptions of our intellect.

A broader philosophical community, a collective consciousness which is capable of unabashed study across multiple fields, must be established.

The greatest objection to any ‘theory’ of rationality is the objection from diversity; one could perhaps better express this with the statement that ‘one man’s rationality is another man’s folly’. Look at the variety of ‘rational’ ideas throughout history: Aristotle says it is rational to imitate divinity by mastering and using our faculties at the best time in the best way, but modernity tells us that to acknowledge divinity is folly. Bentham tells us that our own self-interests are unimportant, that rational decisions can only be made based on the calculus of pleasure vs. pain. Sidgwick claims that we are permitted a degree of self-interest so long as we recognize that it is in our self-interest to sustain both ourselves and others. There seems to be a problem here: these views cannot all be correct, at least in the absolute sense. However, let us now bring together Aristotelian common sense and the Hegelian idea of Spirit which was touched upon in the preceding articles. It seems that, in the case of moral judgment, I am, as a person, both intuitively drawn to sympathize with other people, and that I have needs of my own. It seems that I ought to satisfy my own needs and I ought to help others where I can. How am I to judge the balance?

Virtue says that helping others is good, and I must use intellectual prudence to judge how it might be good. I cannot help others if my own basic needs are not being met, and this tells me that I must attend to my own needs. If I only attend to my own needs, then I neglect virtue, and this is not in my own interests either. Virtue provides both satisfaction and utility. Hence, I can judge that I can spare some food for the hungry person, because my own basic need is met. If I gave the hungry person all the food I had, then I would be in the same situation as the hungry person, and this seems to cancel out the product of virtue. In some ways, Bentham’s ‘utility’, whilst perhaps not the motivation behind my virtuous action, is nevertheless increased by the praxis of virtue. I was only able to judge the right time and place to apply virtue on account of prudence, which told me that there must be a balance between personal interest and external interests. But whence the concept of virtue?

A religious person would say that his virtues have been revealed. But what does revelation mean? There are two kinds: supernatural and natural. Supernatural revelation is found in the Biblical-style stories which we all know, via prophets and burning bushes and so on. If I can judge that a man is a genuine prophet, then perhaps I have reason to accept his teachings. Yet, I see no genuine prophets in our own time, no miracle-workers, and no fantastic events which can prove the supernatural origin of a man’s words. Hence I have to resort to the second question: what is natural revelation? Natural revelation comes through consciousness. A collective consciousness represents a ‘group Spirit’, to use the Hegelian terminology. We can see today that group Spirits are set against one another: Right against Left, Science against Religion, and so on. Spirits or Minds which are set against one another are antagonistic Spirits, because it follows:

  • Group A makes a claim that p.
  • Group B makes a claim that not-p.
  • Therefore p = ?

There is no understanding to be found here; we are in a state of perplexity. Either one of the groups is wrong and the other right, or both are wrong. There is a temptation here to immediately apply the Hegelian dialectic to the situation, which would result in a conclusion sounding something like ‘elements of both p and not-p are true’, and this may well be a viable conclusion, but before we can reach such a judgment, we must apply the intellect. This is achieved by examining the particulars. For example, it may appear that,

  • Group B’s claim that not-p is based on a misunderstanding of A’s premises for p.
  • Therefore not-p = F
  • Hence p = T

I would like to return to our original contention that science has reached a dead-end on account of its insulation from the encroachments of other disciplines. I suspect that this division of science, philosophy and other disciplines into ‘strict compartments’ has occurred on account of misunderstandings between the experts in each field. It is assumed now, after decades of division, that the theologian hates science, that the philosopher is more concerned with wild speculations about the existence of his armchair than real practical matters, and that the scientist has something meaningful to say even though he cannot reliably say with any certainty that his theses are true. Rather than insulating ourselves from one another, then, any syncretic attempt at study will involve discussions between individuals across disciplinary fields. A broader philosophical community, a collective consciousness which is capable of unabashed study across these fields, must be established.

The intellect can reconcile theoretical and practical wisdom (philosophy) with scientific wisdom if it has prudence. We shouldn’t be worried about the implications of this. There has been a concern for some time that, for example, ethics, when scientized, becomes nothing beyond pure motivationalism – that any serious pronouncement on morality fails to extend beyond the ‘chemical’, bodily response which results in claims such as ‘Down with stealing!’ and ‘Huzzah for imprisonment of those who steal!’ Yet if we could reconcile these basic bodily reactions to moral events with a moral theology – for instance, to build a model of the average intelligently designed human who is capable of moral instinct – then our moral positions would not be weakened, but rather strengthened in the knowledge that common-sense, or biological responses to stimuli, are innately part of a divine design to orient humanity towards good ends.

This has just been a presentation of few ideas relating to a rediscovery of a truly ‘rational’ system. I will give a summary of my claims as follows,

  • Science is at an impasse. It cannot offer truth and is unable to reconcile conflicting findings.
  • This failure of science represents the failure of Enlightenment philosophy.
  • Our common-sense beliefs are accepted and corrected by intellect.
  • The virtues can be applied through prudence.
  • Intellect and prudence in the classical sense can resolve logical problems without dialectics.
  • Science, philosophy, mathematics, and theology can be reconciled by intellect.
  • This must be achieved by like-minded individuals if the Western philosophical project is to continue.

References

1Arrington & Addis (eds.), Wittgenstein and Philosophy of Religion, c. 6.3ff.

2J. Evola, Ride the Tiger (Inner Traditions, 2003), p. 129.

3Aristotle (based on T. Irwin, trans.), Nicomachean Ethics VI.11 (1143a 37–1143b 9).

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Vladimir M. Purishkevich and the Black Hundred https://arktos.com/2019/05/10/vladimir-m-purishkevich-and-the-black-hundred/ https://arktos.com/2019/05/10/vladimir-m-purishkevich-and-the-black-hundred/#comments_reply Fri, 10 May 2019 12:38:18 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6565 To understand the man, we must first turn to the city known then under its Russian name, Kishinev, now known as Chișinău, Moldova. A province of the Russian Empire in which the post-Catherinian Jewish ‘pale of settlement’ had been expanded in the 19th century, the region of Bessarabia was full of brewing ethnic tensions. Jews had established infamous crime syndicates known as Kahals, which did not endear them to either the Romanians or the Little Russians, as eastern Ukrainians were then known.

‘Purishkevich’, finds one biographical essay about him, ‘was the grandson of a Moldavian cemetery priest who worked his way up through the Church hierarchy to become a member of the Kishinev consistory and an hereditary noble. The priest’s son, Mitrofan, became a member of the Bessarabian provincial zemstvo and married a wealthy Polish aristocrat, securing for the Purishkevich family a large land inheritance. With a Polish‐Moldavian ancestry, therefore, Vladimir Purishkevich actually lacked any native Russian blood’.1

The Black Hundred was ostensibly formed to crush the revolutions of 1905–1907, but in reality to destroy the liberal reforms of Count Sergei Witte and the Kadets.

This suggests descent from one of the Polish-registered Cossacks of the 17th century, who embroiled the principality of Moldavia in what are (in Polish historiography) commonly termed the Moldavian Magnate wars; Bessarabia borders Ukraine, and does not share a Church or a border with Poland proper. Many Moldavians had Cossack (and therefore, in contemporary Imperial terms, Little Russian) ancestry stemming from the Moldavian Magnate Wars, traditionally identified in Moldavia as ‘Polish’ due to their registry in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s army.2 Accordingly, Purishkevich took the Russian Orthodox argument on the Ukraine question quite seriously.

During his pre-WWI career, Purishkevich was a close associate of Pavel Krushevan. The latter was a fellow Russified Moldavian from Chișinău and a journalist who first edited and published The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Unlike Purishkevich, whose anti-Semitism was non-violent, Krushevan has been blamed for instigating a 1903 pogrom.3

Whereas some of Purishkevich’s associates endorsed violence against the Russian Empire’s Jews, observes one hostile historian, ‘Purishkevich merely wanted to resettle them in the Kolyma region’.4 While well-read, Krushevan lacked Purishkevich’s formal education. (Purishkevich had earned a doctorate.) Despite their differences, these two men were close political allies with much in common.

Purishkevich and Krushevan both came from wealthy landowning families, but their insecurity about their non-Slavic blood led them to reject contemporary classism in favor of a populist variety of Russian nationalism. These landowners, who ‘belonged to Moldavian noble families in Bessarabia’, comments one historian, ‘not only embraced the values and traditions of their Russian counterparts but exaggerated their credentials as “true Russians”. While the old nobility generally contented itself with defending its social and economic interests, these fringe members seemed impelled to prove themselves as super-patriots.’5

In 1900, Purishkevich went to St. Petersburg and met the pediatrician Dr. Alexander Dubrovin. These two men, like Dostoevsky, argued that Russian monarchism was too reactionary, at least in terms of socio-economic questions. They also shared anti-Semitism, although Dr. Dubrovin’s was more extreme. In one summarization of their belief in the grim prospects of the autocracy: ‘The Jewish revolutionaries wanted to undermine and overthrow the existing order so as to facilitate the installation of the rule of the Jewish capitalists’.6

Purishkevich’s role in organizing the original Black Hundred (Union of the Russian People) movement is disputed. Evidently he was a more cunning and charismatic man than Dubrovin, and served as the latter’s propagandist. This movement was ostensibly formed to crush the revolutions of 1905–1907, but in reality to destroy the liberal reforms of Count Sergei Witte and the Kadets. Purishkevich published threatening editorials and left the violence to Dubrovin during the period of the original movement.

In December of 1907, Purishkevich, according to one account,

tired of Dubrovin’s autocratic ruling style and left the organization in December 1907. On 11 March 1908 he established a rival rightist group, the Russian National Union of the Archangel Michael (Russkii narodnyi soiuz imeni Mikhaila Arkhangela). The organization’s programme subscribed to the same position as the Union of the Russian People on all political and social issues except for Russian National Union’s explicit recognition of the Duma’s power to veto the Tsar’s legislative proposals. Nevertheless, exhibiting a kind of cognitive dissonance common to rightists who accepted the reformed Duma, the Russian National Union’s programme continued to describe the autocracy as ‘unlimited’. Out of ideological necessity, rightists insisted on maintaining the fiction that the new order was not ‘constitutional’ and did not restrict the tsar’s absolute power.7

By all accounts, Purishkevich was a spellbinding orator and a dangerous disrupter of the Duma. His theory of joining a parliamentary system just to undermine it was novel at the time, and would later be articulated by Dr. Joseph Goebbels. He had also disagreed with Dubrovin’s principled opposition to joining the Duma on the grounds that such stubbornness made it harder to recruit workers by pushing for a shorter workday.

During this time, Purishkevich appears to have usurped most of the Black Hundred movement from Dubrovin and attracted some of the working class. How did he do this? That is a bit of a mystery.

Purishkevich was a spellbinding orator and a dangerous disrupter of the Duma. His theory of joining a parliamentary system just to undermine it would later be articulated by Dr. Joseph Goebbels.

According to one source, Purishkevich ‘was referred to by his Soviet biographer as a “fascist” who had set an authentic style for a movement that would blossom forth in Europe a decade later’.8 He also organized ‘yellow shirts’, probably to fight the influence of Galicio-Ukrainian culture in Odessa.9 Dubrovin was based in Russia proper, while Purishkevich was based in the southwestern core of the Russian Empire, where the hated pale of settlement was located.

Accounts of Purishkevich’s recruitment of working class Ukrainians most likely explain the destination of the exaggerated amount of bribe money he took from a political rival, Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin. Although the amount of money has been described as ‘millions’ by a highly unfavorable source10, a more rigorous one explains that ‘Purishkevich typically received a 15,000-rouble annual subsidy, which was regularly supplemented by additional funds for specific projects and publications. From the birth of the Russian National Union in 1907 through to 1912, Purishkevich received the enormous sum of 171,354 in state subsidies’. This money, however, did not stop him from criticizing Stolypin.11

Purishkevich was a critic of capitalism, despite his wealthy origins, arguing for a more worker-friendly autocracy. He blamed modern capitalism for spreading subversive ideas. The following description is otherwise more or less accurate:

Purishkevich’s fear of revolution was also at the core of his antisemitism. He eschewed the demagoguery of racialist rightists like Markov, who denounced Jews as a ‘criminal race’, and he rarely embraced Christian religious themes in his antisemitic arguments. As a noble and large landowner himself, he also shied away from the popular attacks on Jews as rich, greedy capitalists and, unlike Dubrovin, he did not call for the Jews’ expulsion from Russia or for their wholesale liquidation. Rather, Purishkevich’s hostility to the Jews stemmed from his belief that Jews, as a people, constituted the vanguard of the revolutionary movement. For him, with no loyalty to the Russian state or to the tsar, Jews stood at the forefront of every party, movement, or group that he believed was seeking to undermine the regime: the Kadets, socialists, the intelligentsia, the press and councils of university professors were all purportedly under the control of revolutionary Jews. For Purishkevich, the revolution and the Jews were inextricably bound together: to fight one necessitated a fight against the other.12

This source portrays him as driven by a reactionary fear of social change. Yet a closer look at Purishkevich’s relationship with the left reveals a more complex picture. Purishkevich’s own analysis has been summarized thus:

The main difference between the liberals and the radicals was that the liberals pursued their objectives more cleverly. They were more cautious, intelligent, and politically educated, V.M. Purishkevich observed, and they could subvert the political system through legal channels without anyone realizing what was occurring. Before the elections to the Second Duma, Purishkevich extravagantly declared that in those localities where there were no rightist candidates running for election, the voters might better cast their votes for leftist candidates than for liberals.13

‘Extravagant’ or not, this sentiment was sincere, as it would still be voiced by Purishkevich over a decade later, after the Bolsheviks had taken over Russia. Fighting left-wing revolutionary cells was Purishkevich’s profession; fighting liberals was his passion. For the original Black Hundred movement, crushing the former had been the easy part, achieved in tandem with other, more moderate rightist movements. Their real achievement was in stopping the Kadets and in destroying Count Witte’s career as Russia’s finance minister. Insofar as Purishkevich and his comrades bear some indirect responsibility for the doomed autocracy dying in violence by the far left rather than passing away gently into a liberalized oblivion, this achievement is perfectly consistent with his principles. He would not have it any other way.

References

1Jack Langer, ‘Fighting the Future: The Doomed Anti-Revolutionary Crusade of Vladimir Purishkevich’ Revolutionary Russia Vol.19, 2006, Issue 1.

2For information about the Cossacks in early modern Moldavia, see Amory Stern, Michael the Brave, the Ottoman Wars, and Count Dracula (San Diego, 2019).

3Steven Zipperstein’s Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History (2018) contains much information on Krushevan and the origin of The Protocols, but virtually none on Purishkevich.

4Walter Laqueur, Black Hundred: The Rise of the Extreme Right in Russia (New York, 1993) p. 24.

5Don C. Rawson, Russian Rightists and the Revolution of 1905, (New York, 1995) pp. 62–63.

6Laqueur, Black Hundred, p. 26.

7Langer, ‘Fighting the Future’.

8William Korey, Russian Antisemitism, Pamyat, and the Demonology of Zionism (Routledge 199) p. 2.

9Ibid.

10Laqueur, Black Hundred, p. 23.

11Langer, ‘Fighting the Future’.

12Ibid.

13Rawson, Russian Rightists, p. 68.

Further Reading

V.M. Purishkevich, The Murder of Rasputin (Purishkevich’s posthumously published account – though whether it is an authentic diary or more of a memoir is disputed – of his role in the 1916 assassination of Rasputin).

Andrew Kalpaschnikoff, A Prisoner of Trotsky’s (An account by a man who had been imprisoned by the Bolsheviks with Purishkevich. The author recounts how Purishkevich’s resolve won a menacing Felix Dzerzhinsky’s respect).

Michael Kellogg, The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Émigrés and the Making of National Socialism 1917-1945 (Contains valuable information about Purishkevich’s activities after his 1918 release from prison until his death of typhus in 1920. During this mature period of Purishkevich’s career, he reverted to his pre-WWI Germanophilia, assisting a network of his protégés in getting The Protocols translated into German and helping former enemy General Ludendorff engineer the Kapp Putsch of 1920).

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Update: View from the Right https://arktos.com/2019/05/09/update-view-from-the-right/ https://arktos.com/2019/05/09/update-view-from-the-right/#comments_reply Thu, 09 May 2019 10:12:00 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6537 We are proud to announce that, with this week’s publication of View from the Right, Volume III: Controversies and Viewpoints, Arktos has achieved its ambition of producing the first full English translation of all three volumes of Alain de Benoist’s monumental review of the thinkers, events and ideas of our time.

We extend our sincerest gratitude to everyone who has made possible the English-language publication of this groundbreaking work of the French New Right, and most especially those who contributed to our Kickstarter campaign. Your indispensable support brings these essential writings to all Anglophones at a historical moment when they are more needed than ever.

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Disquisition on the Origins – Part 2 https://arktos.com/2019/05/08/disquisition-on-the-origins-part-2/ https://arktos.com/2019/05/08/disquisition-on-the-origins-part-2/#comments_reply Wed, 08 May 2019 12:46:24 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6530 Modernity and the Origins

Go back; examine the infant even in the arms of his mother; see the external world reflected for the first time in the still-obscure mirror of his intelligence; contemplate the first examples that strike his eye; listen to the first words that awaken the sleeping powers of his thoughts; finally, attend the first struggles that he has to sustain; and only then will you understand where the prejudices, habits, and passions that are going to dominate his life come from. The man is so to speak a whole in the swaddling clothes of his cradle.

Something analogous takes place in nations.

— Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), Volume One, Part One, Chapter 2

[T]his human labor was spent in vain owing to one unexpected event which occurred at the moment of my appearance on God’s earth, and which was … that at that moment, through the hole made in the windowpane by our crazy lame goat, there poured the vibrations of sound which arose in the neighbor’s house from an Edison phonograph, and the midwife had in her mouth a lozenge saturated with cocaine of the German make, and moreover not ‘Ersatz’, and was sucking this lozenge to these sounds without the proper enjoyment.

— G. I. Gurdjieff, Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson (Penguin Compass, 1999), First Book, Chapter 1, ‘The Arousing of Thought’

Modernity, in good historicist mode, takes its point of departure from a kind of Hegelian ‘antithesis’: the negation of the authenticity of any and all traditions. To put this for a moment into Traditionalist terms, Modernity denies either the divinity of the origins (e.g., the origins are purely material and lifeless), or the accessibility of that divinity (e.g., the divine origins are lost in the mists of time and cannot be recovered), or the bearing of these origins on the political and social forms of mankind (e.g., some god may have been responsible for the first conditions of all subsequent material development – for instance, the so-called ‘Big Bang’, to use our corrupted modern tongue – but these first conditions carry no moral or political imperative). That is to say, Modernity is either atheistic, agnostic or deist. The practical political and social consequences of all of these standpoints, however, are the same: Modernity regards the origins, insofar as they can be known, as being of lower dignity than what follows the origins; History, if it is not identical to Progress, is open to Progress.

Modernity is either atheistic, agnostic or deist. The practical political and social consequences of all of these standpoints are the same.

The modern view of the origins thus contradicts the Traditionalist view, not only in the quality or standing which it refuses to concede to the origins, but more importantly yet in its very understanding of the idea ‘origin’ itself. Traditionalism viewed the origins as a divine principle or a divine revelation or even a divine social or political order which continues to be accessible (if with difficulty) and which continues to give life, validity, authenticity to all civilizations or men that consciously take their bearings by them. To Traditionalism, the origins are as a mountain spring which might flow downward and nourish even low-lying peoples and nations. By contrast, Modernity equates the origins de facto with the material conditions, the physical starting point of a thing, which not only can be, but must be, superseded: the origins are but the ‘building blocks’ from which higher forms might be subsequently constructed.

This material starting point has causal consequences for all that follows, and can to that extent be regarded as formative. The original ‘atoms’, for instance, according to the laws of their structure, attraction and repulsion compose molecules which in turn produce complex structures; the ‘amino acids’ of ‘DNA’ likewise, in their innumerable lawful combinations, machine-like produce a startling variety of organic forms; the earliest and simplest forms of life have evolved by force of environmental pressures into all subsequent and higher forms. But none of these ‘original elements’ can be considered legislative in the higher sense; they give at most the physical impetus and the physical limitations to what follows, but never the morality or the goal.

This differing view of the origins is owed in large part to the fact that Modernity from its earliest days has presented itself in contrast to pre-Modernity, to Catholicism and to classical philosophy, in holding to an anti-teleological interpretation of the universe, which is the sine qua non, among other things, of its science. While there is no necessary connection between anti-teleology and atheism,1 Modernity has embraced or tended to embrace an explicitly or tacitly atheistic anti-teleology. In Modernity, the idea of ‘progress’ would appear to be uncoupled on the one hand from divine law, and on the other hand from the idea of an ‘end’.

This last appears to make for a manifest contradiction, however; for how could progress exist without an end? Does not the idea of progress imply necessarily an end state toward which all things coalesce and advance?

Then we return: what is the modern conception of the origins?

We have said that the modern idea of the ‘origins’ was taken by its earliest philosophers to be strictly material. Many of its original thinkers, Descartes and Hobbes foremost among them, established this as the foundation for their thought regarding man; for they could build nothing save upon the bedrock of ‘facts and figures’, and could allow no exception to that rule even in the human soul. But this view of the origins implies necessarily that man, the latest product of those material processes, is himself nothing but a kind of complex or sophisticated machine. If man is matter and nothing besides, it should not matter whither he goes or what he does. There can be no means of ascribing ‘right and wrong’, even in the relative sense, to his choices or productions or deeds; there can be no means of measuring his progress or his decline. Yet the birth of this viewpoint itself implies progress: the modern mechanistic and anti-teleological view must be taken as superior to prior views; Modernity is at the very least to this extent better than all that has come before. But this very superiority implies, nay demands, a standard of improvement, and in turn an end by which such improvement can be measured. This end would seem in some way connected to human life or human existence, and would appear to suggest a telos for the human being, if not for the world. But the idea of a telos for man or world was a crucial element of pre-modern, not modern, philosophy.

The analogy which guided these early modern philosophers and led them to conceive of man as a kind of machine, points us emphatically to the same problem: Every machine which exists or can be imagined is built for a purpose, so as to attain certain rigidly defined ends. Any material assemblage, as man or animal, which is imbued with motion, is at the same time not imbued with a perfectly arbitrary motion; all ‘organic’ or ‘living’ forms have their special ways and their special aims. The early moderns recognized this difficulty in their view, and grappled with it in a variety of ways which it is not our business to consider here. We are excused in our neglect of their solutions by the fact that ‘historical progress’ once more intervened to save them from their embarrassment; the ‘history of philosophy’ overstepped the hurtle altogether in the person of a certain nineteenth-century Englishman who dedicated surprising quantities of time to the examination of the least-known wildlife of apparently insignificant portions of the globe. From these seemingly modest investigations, a theory was born which would offer a solution to the enormous difficulty into which Modernism had strayed.

Charles Darwin effected a total revolution here, the importance of which cannot be overstated. Nonetheless, we must avoid the commonplace error of reifying the significance of a theory which was, in the end, primarily of relative importance: The ‘Darwinian’ revolution, both in its content and in its effect, cannot be understood in separation from its modern context. The theory of evolution would never have had such impact, nor even have attracted a fraction of the notoriety and fascination which it attained, if the groundwork had not already been laid in the very standpoint of non-teleological atheism; Darwinism came into its own, not by dint of its scientific merit, as is often believed, but because it filled an aching inadequacy in the philosophy of Modernity itself; it suggested a way of comprehending the strangeness of life, and indeed of human life, wholly within the framework of a materialistic and non-teleological theory of the universe.2

In short, it permitted an understanding of life as material development over time, and proposed the emergence of life, if not from mindless and lifeless matter, then certainly from the lowest vital forms. Life is thus an ascension, a constant rising, which is however purely mechanistic and material; the origins are thus lowly, are constantly overcome by the subsequent phases of development. The proximate origin of man and his civilizations is, not some god, but ape and the proto-society of apes; not the heroes or the gods, but monkeys are his progenitors, and not spirit but ‘survival’ is his source.

The true revolution effected by Darwinism was not so much a ‘scientific’ revolution as a revolution in value. We might term it the vitalistic revolution, which for the first time established life qua life as the standard of human life in particular. But according to Darwinism, the origins of life itself are absolutely undignified; life is movement away from these origins, continual movement since its lowly advent. From simplicity to complexity, from the mindless to the thinking, from the absolutely base to the relatively high – that is the path of evolution. What comes after is mechanistically inclined to be ‘greater’ than what came before. The standard of life imposes the idea of progress.

Yet at the same time and for this very reason the origins, undignified though they be, cannot simply be neglected or disregarded. The measure of progress between one stage of life and any other implies a common standard or a common goal; else again one treats merely of alteration, the transition from one neutral state to another neutral state. Without a common standard to judge relative rank, man cannot be regarded as superior to monkey, only different from it; just as monkey cannot be regarded superior to amoeba. But there is an evident difference between the comparison between two organic beings on the one hand, and the comparison between the organic and the inorganic on the other. In the former case, comparison is clearly warranted; not so in the latter. The movement from the ‘inorganic’ to the ‘organic’ cannot be regarded as progress so much as cosmic accident, because the inorganic is strictly indifferent to the organic, and totally heterogeneous to it. There is no ‘shared value’ between them, because the inorganic has and can have no values; the idea of value is predicated on life. The advent of the organic is the advent of the evaluative itself; hence ‘progress’ is made only through life, only as a consequence of life. Whatever is beneficial to or promotional of life is ‘good’; only to the extent that it is beneficial to life can progress be regarded as a ‘good’. That which destroys or harms one’s species is never ‘good’; that which abets it or transforms it into a more successful species, is. Vitalism is inherently utilitarian.

What life seeks, what life wants, what promotes life – such is the vitalistic standard. Analysis of life itself thus becomes central to modern philosophy. But by evolutionary theory, life is seen as a system structured toward its own reproduction. All of this appears to be teleological, and seems to contain an implicit telos, and thus to undermine the very solution it proposed to the modernist dilemma. Yet this telos is always only contingently valid: the ‘telos’ of life does not hold good for non-life. The ‘telos’ emerges somehow with life itself, and is implicated in the very mechanisms which produce life. The idea of ‘telos’ is thus reworked by modern standards; the ‘telos’ is no longer that which moves a thing toward a given end by a non-material and in a sense supertemporal causality, as Aristotle for instance understood the final cause, but rather it is another way of speaking of those forces which propel the living creature from behind, as it were. It is but another word given to effective causality, but in an organic context. Put otherwise, it is not an end as a final cause, but an ‘end’ as a condition which effectively causes desire, will, appetite, etc., and which then is inadequately interpreted as a final cause by the subjective experience of living beings; not the object of desire presses an animal to move toward this the thing it wants, but rather the animal’s instincts, genome, DNA, which produces at the same time the sense of ‘desire’ and the feeling of ‘will’. The ‘telos’ is not a telos at all, but only the illusion of a telos.

There is a restlessness, born in the West, but more pronounced in modern times than ever, which makes bourgeois complacency finally impossible.

This kind of logic is integrally associated with the modern substitution of rights for duties, which is not only analogous to but even quite possibly derived from the distinction between first conditions and telos. The conflicting views of the origins taken by modern and pre-modern thought explain their differing views of human societies. Modern thought holds the ‘end’ of humanity as being that which all men, or the vast majority of men, can attain, as living creatures; the ancients viewed the true ends of human life as being fully attainable only by a few whole or virtuous or excellent men. The ancients could thus give philosophical definition to the end of humanity, while the moderns cannot: that end which can be applied to all men proves strangely labile, because this idea of ‘end’ is mechanistically integrated into the idea of ‘life’, which itself is seen to be malleable, changeable, in the constant throes of ‘evolution’. This radically reframes the problem of human ends, and adds a layer of interpretive complexity to the question: for even when Modernity and pre-Modernity use the same words, they mean them in basically different senses.

A prime example of this is seen in the key concept of happiness. Happiness was regarded by no less a thinker than Aristotle as the summum bonum of society; happiness is also regarded as a legitimate goal of human beings today. But today it is considered an arbitrary or a subjective goal; no definition can be given of happiness save that which respects this amorphousness. It is the lot of each human being to determine what is his happiness and how he may best attain it. It is an end, but not a natural end, not an end fit for the nature of the human being as such, because that ‘nature’ itself is fluid or fickle; it is no nature at all. The true anti-teleology of Modernity reveals itself as a rejection, not of the ‘end’ per se, but of the natural end. Ends are thrust back on the ‘free choice’ or the seemingly free choice of the individual, which is a mere function of his biology.

This leads in turn and of necessity to a crescendo in the chaos of society, to the confusion and formlessness of modern mores and laws. Society, as ‘life’ itself, is constantly seeking to ‘overcome’ itself, to ‘improve’ itself, or even simply to ‘morph’; it allows itself no rest, admits in itself no ‘being’, hence no virtue, no excellence. Modernity begins from an apparent embrace of pacifism, petty materialism, vulgar economism: it appears to want nothing more than the comfortable life, conditions of generalized economic and medical well-being. But this modest and low-lying goal continually slips its grip, and it almost seems as though there were an element within Modernity itself which thwarts and outrages this goal at every turn. There is a restlessness, born in the West, but more pronounced in modern times than ever, which makes this bourgeois complacency finally impossible – not surely for the general run of men, but for those men who are either the best of the moderns or the most ambitious of the moderns or the greediest of them. These men see to it that the modern project is constantly second-guessed, set off its tracks, turned aside or called into question. And it will be by their force that the modern project itself will finally collapse, for good or for bad.

But what else can one expect? This is the consequence of the momentous abandonment of eternity which lies at the origin of the modern project: either nihilism as annihilation, or nihilism as the flame which greedily and ceaselessly licks at whatever is.

In this way, Modernity opens itself to the great vitalistic critique which formed the pith of much of nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophy. For life does not consist in the quest for ‘well-being’ and creature comforts; it is no friend to peace, plenty, and harmony, as is constantly asserted by the protestations of modern society and the pleasant delusions it feebly attempts to enforce. The ‘standard of life’, the only standard left open to Modernity, continually mocks and scorns Modernity. For life, by the very understanding that Modernity itself has proposed of it, exists in a constant state of warfare, willfulness, striving, struggling, goal-setting and goal-overleaping; it is a constant overcoming of what is past, what is inert or outmoded; it is a constant destruction or putting under of the sick and the moribund; it is a constant shedding of the dead or the dying. Nietzsche is the vitalistic philosopher, the greatest philosopher to ever look into the wellsprings and abysses of life, and to comprehend its essence with the intent of establishing it as the standard for human existence. The entirety of the Second Essay of his Genealogy (to take only his most concentrated treatment of the question) bears witness to what he discovered. He called life a Will to Power; but the Will to Power is absolutely incompatible with a stolid bourgeois liberalism and a tranquil democratic order. For this reason, among others, the vitalistic critique of Modernity flowed into the rise of Fascism and Nazism in the last century, as a major tributary to a torrent.

This makes for a great point of contention and trouble in Modernity. ‘Life’ as a standard undermines the sense and goals of Modernity. Put generally, ‘life as the standard’ implies total contempt for origins, a constant will, tacit when it is not manifest, to escape or obliterate them. But Modernism itself is a kind of ‘origin’ of all modern thought: life exists in contempt of the very philosophy which proclaimed it to be the standard; the standard of life seems to contradict itself, to abolish itself.

This grave difficulty can be formulated from the other side, as well, by considering that which ‘life as the standard’ seems to neglect or omit. The Modernist interpretation of the origins – origins as material conditions for all that follows – is inadequate to explaining life, and human life in particular. As far as this last goes, the Modernist idea of origins is hard-pressed to explain the gods, how the idea of the gods originated and attained such power over human life; it is hard-pressed to explain the ‘truth’ – what the truth is, how it might be useful to life, and how to comprehend the evident difficulty that truth is in many cases hostile to life, even devastating to it, so that truth appears inexplicably to be a kind of anti-life sought zealously by a certain form of life; and it is hard-pressed to explain beauty – how to give a vitalistic explanation for all cases of the aesthetic experience, including those which subsume art, wilderness, ‘natural’ objects like sunsets or diamonds or the flowers of poisonous plants, and even things which are painful and horrible in existence. Nietzsche once more went as far as one can go in attempting the vitalistic explanation for all of this;3 but there is something visibly tendentious, something troublingly scientistic, something almost grasping and over-subtle in his attempts, as if they were all explanations ex post facto, wrung from the thinning fabric of argument to quench the thirst of a parched theory.

These three problems, of course, hold only for man alone among all living things. The Modernist is thus constrained to wonder if man does not represent a change in level with respect to the animal kingdom, in many ways even more startling than the transition from single-cellular to multi-cellular, from asexual to sexual, from aquatic to terrestrial, from plant to animal, from inorganic to organic. But this change in level, unlike the others, is sensibly inexplicable in terms of matter and inorganic forces save as one utterly disregards that which one would explain. The scientistic attempt to understand consciousness, for instance, forever ends up relegating it to the ghostly world of ‘epiphenomena’; freedom of the will, even the will itself, is reduced to a subjective illusion which has no true complement in the ‘real’ world of physiology; desires, artistic endeavours, religious beliefs, contemplation, justice, the virtues and practically everything which is distinctly human, is all understood as a throng of mere words and illusions set upon an obscure underworld of chemical necessity. The scientistic attempt to grasp the difference between man and animal ends with the denial of the same; to allow for a difference in kind here is inadmissable from the scientific point of view, for the very simple reason that everything which truly constitutes human life scorns rigorous measurement or mathematical reduction. This same thing happens with science’s consideration of life as such, as indeed we have intimated above; only that here the error is not so evident, because that part of life which science suppresses in its mathematical monomania is not so immediately accessible to our introspection. But from the simplest forms of life to the most complex, from the microbe to man, science collapses all superior forms into inferior elements, and cannot do otherwise.

The standard of life, which was meant to save us from self-destruction, goads us on to the same.

This appears to undermine the ‘vitalistic standard’, if not to excise it entirely; and it is indeed no wonder that Modernity now and again drunkenly lurches toward nihilism as a consequence. Modernity seems constantly to be shambling along the ragged edge of the abyss; and ‘life’ is that single tentative thread which still holds it upon the surface and now and again tugs it back the hair’s breadth necessary to stop it from plummeting hence. Yet the downward turn is inevitable; it is contained in secret form even in the modern conception of life itself.

Assuming ‘life’ as the standard, one is compelled to adopt the notion of ‘progress’ which it contains, in the constant movement upward from the less complex to the more complex. By this standard, all that which came before has been effectively abolished or pressed aside or pressed under by what came after. The bursting asunder of all limitations is the watchword of this standard, and novelty is its refrain. The origins are equivalent to the material conditions – but these conditions are identical to that which is and must be continually overcome. The standard of life is characterized by a secret detestation of its own origins, a secret hatred for its own roots.

This can be seen most clearly in our modern technology, which is the fruit of this vast subterranean philosophy of ‘overcoming’; technology is a massive attempt to first ameliorate and finally eliminate the needs of life. It strives first to ministrate to life, to see to its wants and its requirements; but its final goal, make no mistake, is to deracinate the same. It wishes nothing more than to transform life into super-life, to force the next step in ‘development’ of the organic, to produce an evolution which transcends evolution itself. Not merely the eradication of disease, famine, and old age, but the eradication of health, hunger, death. Man himself must be made a thing beyond ‘life and death’: that is the pith of the ‘Singularity’, that is the end toward which all of these ‘transhumanists’ are ever tending. Modern technology, the fruit of modern science which itself is the child of modern philosophy, wants nothing more than to obliterate the conditions by which life is constrained, to split asunder the ‘origins’ which have imprisoned it. It is destructive of all things, including itself.

Thus the standard of life, which was meant to save us from self-destruction, goads us on to the same. We sup of it as a constant anti-venom against the poison of our times; but it itself is toxic, and sooner or later will numb our limbs and deaden our minds. We consume it as arsenic against our syphilis, but as the disease strengthens so must we increase the dose, and it is only a matter of years before the cure becomes the disease. But who in those days will be left to object? Who will not have fallen so far beneath the Modernist spell that he can still perceive the end result of all this? This path which we have outlined has but one destination: Modernism, even in its most desperate attempts to bury or bribe the unqualified nihilism which has always been its implicit core, cannot escape its fate. It wills the great nothingness.

References

1Consider, for instance, Nietzsche, whose Will to Power is inherently teleological: Beyond Good and Evil, §§13 and 36. But cf. §37; it is an open question to what extent it is possible to maintain a metaphysical teleology without final reference to some god.

2Curiously, it appears to be the so-called ‘new atheists’ who have seen this fact with greatest clarity. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, for instance, were both strongly insistent upon this point. For a brief rendition of this, stated in all the remarkable eloquence with which he was gifted, see Christopher Hitchens in debate with William Lane Craig, at this point in his presentation.

3For his particular consideration of these questions, see e.g. Genealogy of Morals, Second Essay, §§19–21 on the question of the gods; ‘On the Uses and abuses of History’ and the whole Third Essay of the Genealogy on the question of truth; and The Birth of Tragedy and Genealogy, Third Essay, §6 on the question of beauty.

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View from the Right, Volume III: Controversies and Viewpoints https://arktos.com/product/view-from-the-right-vol3-controversies-and-viewpoints-hardback/ https://arktos.com/product/view-from-the-right-vol3-controversies-and-viewpoints-hardback/#comments_reply Tue, 07 May 2019 11:43:26 +0000 https://arktos.com/?post_type=product&p=6516 In this third and culminating volume of his magisterial View from the Right, founder of the French New Right Alain de Benoist concludes his remarkable ‘Critical Anthology of Contemporary Ideas’.

Volume III: Controversies and Viewpoints brings de Benoist’s encyclopaedic knowledge to bear on a startlingly wide range of figures and ideas, in a series of essays which are united by a singular power of level-headed discernment.

The topics treated include matters as diverse as the validity or falsity of parapsychology, capitalism versus communism and East versus West, touching on periods and places as different as Imperial Japan, Confucian China and Hitler’s Germany, and addressing, through careful consideration of the internal conflicts of contemporary France, pressing questions regarding ethnicity and citizenship, nationhood and union, power and politics, spirituality and secularism. The survey that results from this symphony of perspectives is as panoramic as it is rich, stimulating new ideas at every turn and building up finally to the great political and geopolitical challenges of our time.

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View from the Right, Volume III: Controversies and Viewpoints https://arktos.com/product/view-from-the-right-vol3-controversies-and-viewpoints/ https://arktos.com/product/view-from-the-right-vol3-controversies-and-viewpoints/#comments_reply Tue, 07 May 2019 11:42:20 +0000 https://arktos.com/?post_type=product&p=6514 In this third and culminating volume of his magisterial View from the Right, founder of the French New Right Alain de Benoist concludes his remarkable ‘Critical Anthology of Contemporary Ideas’.

Volume III: Controversies and Viewpoints brings de Benoist’s encyclopaedic knowledge to bear on a startlingly wide range of figures and ideas, in a series of essays which are united by a singular power of level-headed discernment.

The topics treated include matters as diverse as the validity or falsity of parapsychology, capitalism versus communism and East versus West, touching on periods and places as different as Imperial Japan, Confucian China and Hitler’s Germany, and addressing, through careful consideration of the internal conflicts of contemporary France, pressing questions regarding ethnicity and citizenship, nationhood and union, power and politics, spirituality and secularism. The survey that results from this symphony of perspectives is as panoramic as it is rich, stimulating new ideas at every turn and building up finally to the great political and geopolitical challenges of our time.

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The Multidimensional Decline of the West and the Struggle Against It https://arktos.com/2019/05/06/the-multidimensional-decline-of-the-west-and-the-struggle-against-it/ https://arktos.com/2019/05/06/the-multidimensional-decline-of-the-west-and-the-struggle-against-it/#view_comments Mon, 06 May 2019 13:16:33 +0000 https://arktos.com/?p=6499 A Call for the Broadening of Perspective in the Dissident Right

1. The Many Sides of the Decline of the West

Walking through the streets of any Western society with open eyes in the present day, one cannot deny an inner feeling that something is not quite right, that things are not developing in a way that can be described as improvement.

The following inseparably intertwined points come to mind:

  1. Declining birthrates, the complete social acceptance of abortion;
  2. The migration of non-white, non-European migrant into Europe;
  3. The expansion of (Sunni) Islam and the implosion of traditional churches in spirit and in numbers (in Western Europe);
  4. The loss of social capital, trust and cohesion;
  5. Hyper-individualism;
  6. The metapolitical victory of the neo-liberal school of thought in the economical sphere;
  7. Increasing social inequality;
  8. The victory of materialism in almost every worldview;
  9. The decline of the educational system and its ability to prepare young people (flat-earth conspiracy, genderism, anti-vaccination, the cessation of great natural scientific explanations of the world after the rise of quantum theory, and much more);
  10. Increasing environmental problems (climate change, deforestation, plastic waste in the seas);
  11. Increasing surveillance by governments and social media; and
  12. The rise of non-European powers (e.g. China and India) and possible domination by them.

Simply to complete this list in a thorough way would take more than a week, and perhaps even then it would not be completed.

As a consequence of this process of awakening within a world that might not be in ruins yet, but which shows every day new and growing cracks in and on its foundations, one cannot escape the question of what has brought about the development of this situation.

Although this perspective is not new in the slightest, it is worth recalling those authors who described it already decades ago. Two names which immediately leap to mind are of course Oswald Spengler (The Decline of the West) and Julius Evola (Revolt Against the Modern World). However, reading their works has a very sobering effect for those seeking a cure to the aforementioned points and developments.

Very briefly, Spengler can be summarized as proposing that our European culture is succumbing to the fate of all previous cultures and civilizations, following a life-cycle equivalent to that of a plant, with inescapable death in the end, against which nothing can be done.

Evola on the other hand places his hope in his cyclical worldview of the four ages, according to which our present age, the iron age of materialism (or Kali Yoga in Vedic/spiritual terms) will be followed by a new golden age. But Evola, following his dissatisfaction with the end of the second world war, came to the conclusion that there is no possible successful ‘revolt against the modern world’ but only the way of ‘riding the tiger’, meaning that the best we can hope for is to prevent our souls from falling into corruption as we wait for better days to come. Nevertheless, reading his smaller late works it has to be mentioned that a glimpse of hope always shines through the letters.

2. Against Pessimism

So should the dissident right just lie down and accept the fate of Western civilization, hoping for better days, or choose the way of Yukio Mishima in the face of his defeat, when he could no longer bear the pain of present reality in Japan?1

None of these paths can be an option to any member of the dissident right.

There are some who will fight against the decline no matter what. These aristocrats of the soul however are far too few to stop the ongoing development, let alone revert it, considering all the forces standing against them.

There are some, of course, who will fight against the decline no matter what, be it out out of moral courage or spiritual conviction. These aristocrats of the soul however are far too few to stop the ongoing development, let alone revert it, considering all the forces standing against them (liberal/left-leaning thought in all educational institutions, capitalist morality and its lobbyists, 95% of all politicians, intelligence services and so on).

In this situation nothing is more important than to hope for those who want to bring a change to all of this. So again the question arises of how to attain a new positive perspective in theory and in practice. From where can we derive our hope?

2.1 The Growing Consciousness of Crisis

 

2.1.1 The Unconscious Awareness of Crisis and the Existing Ideals in the World of Pop-Culture

The dissident right (in all its variations) is the only group that is fighting the ongoing replacement of the indigenous European peoples. What this movement in its exhausting struggle against the inner and external enemies of Europe often happens to miss is the multidimensionality of the decline of those very peoples.

The dissident right can be compared to the Inuit, with their existence solely revolving around the living conditions in the ice of the North Pole, and thereby becoming over-specialized in their physiology2 and techniques to survive in these living conditions and therefore losing the ability to adapt to any form of change or to develop their culture further. Likewise, the dissident right in its ongoing and indispensable struggle against migration and for European identity, is in the same danger of losing its perspective on the broader picture and its adaptability to other challenges and possibilities within it.3

To understand this, it is necessary to take a moment to imagine the future in a world in which the great replacement has been stopped or even been reverted but all the other developments have continued. For those people who might not have the time for this, a short excursion can be made into the world of pop culture and its different dystopias:

  1. Children of Men (demographic decline)
  2. Soylent green (overpopulation)
  3. Idiocracy (dysgenic development by the conditions of modernity)
  4. Dredd (overpopulation, massification, drugs, the the upholding of order at the cost of the rule of law)
  5. Black Mirror (technology killing the human soul)
  6. Fight Club (not a dystopia but still worth mentioning consumerism and the de-masculation of men by modern society)

These films or TV-series would not have been produced if there were no money in them. And there would not have been any money in them if the broader public did not relate or identify with the topics they treat. The neutralization of the critique in these works which is effected by their commercialization is just a nice by-product. On the other hand there is a need for traditional values, heroism and also futurism, which in many people can be considered a yearning or at least a distraction from modern living conditions, that is used by the media-industrial complex for financial gain.

Examples for this are:

  1. The Lord of the Rings
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. Star Wars (the author feels compelled to mention here that he is more on the side of the Imperium, but only because of their great uniforms)
  4. Star Trek
  5. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy
  6. The cult surrounding the persona of Elon Musk

Whether it is sublime confrontation with the fears of its consumers, especially in sci-fi dystopias and the horror genre, or the attempt to escape from them to a sci-fi utopia or fantasy world, the impression of a growing discontent with modernity beyond the dissident right in those consuming these works cannot be ignored in this perspective.

If we accept the reality of the aforementioned fears, their connection to existing challenges within the real world and to ideals in the minds of the people represented, then this insight into pop-culture offers two positive perspectives against pessimism and possible stagnation for the dissident right. These perspectives include a tactical one for dealing with the outside world in terms of communication, and a theoretical one for the theory within the dissident right.

2.1.2 The Tactical Perspective

If the dissident right were able to tackle or trigger these different sorts of unrest or yearnings for alternatives in a relatable way within the subconsciousness of their fellow citizens, especially those who are not interested or involved in politics in any way, then this would be a huge step in breaking out of the often (self-)imposed exile of the (meta-)political discourse and the discrimination by which the dissident right is now confined.

If the dissident right can uncover the underlying themes and the issues existing in the real world and transform it into accessible culture, it would not only be performing an intellectual exercise, but also a new way of communicating.

One positive example for utilization of pop-culture can be seen in the use of the lamba symbol by the identitarian movement in Europe. Its adaption was brilliant, as it connected to the ancient roots of European civilization in Greek history and symbolized the patriotic heroic struggle of the people who wore it on their shields. It is also fairly recognizable thanks to the the film 300, and most importantly it did not alienate people, as it carried no historical ballast.

But pop-culture does not limit itself to offering us new symbols and new archetypes to relate to and to identify with. It also shows a way of explaining things to people who are not interested in politics. Let us take Game of Thrones,4 for example, with its never-ending battles between various royal families and fractions (leaving aside here its nudity and questionable sexual morals, which is one the the show’s reasons for success).

The interesting thing here is that in comparison to almost every other fictitious universe there is no real good or evil side, but only characters who are relatable and obnoxious in varying degrees, and a completely open ending for most of the show for any of those characters.

It should not be too hard to teach people about Carl Schmitt’s ‘concept of the political’,5 his theory of the enemy or the idea of global multipolarity starting from Westeros (the continent where most of the plot of Game of Thrones takes place) by drawing parallels to the plot, without boring people or even using his name.

If the dissident right can uncover the underlying themes and the issues existing in the real world, it would not only be performing an intellectual exercise, but also a new way of communicating; it could thereby also become more relatable and more successful in getting ideas onto the field of the metapolitical struggle, at the same time offering new recruitment tools without having to revert to old symbols and slogans.

Furthermore, by understanding what people care about without having to waste money on expensive surveys, more fields open for the (meta-)political struggle against the decline of the West by looking to the entertainment/media landscape. An example of this is the drug issue, which is not only one of the great crises the USA faces today, but is also an issue that people fear will not be solved in the future (consider e.g. DREDD). Admittedly this insight could also come without the study of pop-culture, but nevertheless pop-culture can be used to gain a deeper psychological understanding for it.

More harm has been done by the US pharmaceutical industry to rural America by the uncontrolled distribution of opioids6 (e.g. Oxycodone) and ephedrine7 (the main component for methamphetamine production) than any Mexican drug cartel could have ever done – not to mention that any Mexican drug cartel would have been punished for even a fragment of the damage. So why has there not been any activist action from the right against these companies (e.g. a sit-in blockade on one of their headquarters or a person on its roof calling them out) or against the politicians who receive donations from them (taking into account the failed war on drugs, which is not a war on drugs so much as a war on drug consumers)?

Another aspect largely neglected by the dissident right is that of the environment, oversight which relegates the people whose main concern is its preservation to left-leaning, and more precisely to the green parties8 in Europe or the Democratic Party int the US,9 therefore channelling the fear for land, earth and sea into the support of open-borders and uncontrolled migration which these very parties push for.

It should be one of the main issues of the dissident right to preserve the lands, forests, shores and mountains that formed the European peoples far more than any religion ever could.

An interruption to the continued flow of money to Saudi-Arabia by switching from fossil fuels to renewable energies should not only by done for the environment’s sake, but for geopolitical reasons as well.

Furthermore, an interruption to the continued flow of money to Saudi-Arabia by switching from fossil fuels to renewable energies should not only by done for the environment’s sake, but for geopolitical reasons as well, since this indirect withdrawal of financial support for Islamism would be a bigger blow to the spread of Islam(-ism) than any drone strike.

If the dissident right is not able to diversify its portfolio in a variety of solutions to the urgent problems that most people care about, beyond migration and its various aspects (culture, public safety, jobs), people will naturally look to the problems that are the most urgent in their minds, and therefore will choose other groups or parties to support. There is no reason not to target the issues these people care about, and there are many good reasons to do so.

2.2 Theory Against Pessimism

The second aspect we might bring against pessimism within the dissident right is a theoretical one. We cannot accept the future that Spengler and Evola predict for Western civilization. It is unacceptable to allow that nothing can be done from a theoretical perspective. The present theoretical weakness of the left might be a chance for the right to offer a better alternative, especially in academics, where on the one hand the success of a figure like Jordan Peterson and on the other hand the increasing repression of dissident ideas show an increasing softening of the left-liberal cultural hegemony. Especially in the natural sciences as well as in engineering there is large hidden treasure of possibly recruitable people, particularly if the left persists in its present course.

To understand this, a hypothetical could be entertained, which is obviously only an exaggeration of the ways of thinking current in gender studies.10 It is not unrealistic to imagine a demand raised by future activists that everybody has to accept everybody’s personal (felt) ideas about numbers, not unlike the ending of Orwell’s 1984,11 in which Winston is made to believe the Party’s claim that 2 + 2 = 5. The difference would be that here not one authority (i.e. the Party in 1984) forces its reality on everyone, but that in the future a sort of subjectivist-gender mathematics might rise in which everybody has to accept everybody else’s calculations if he does not not want to risk punishment for hurting other people’s personal feelings/felt numbers. It is clear that many intellectuals would, in such a scenario, feel the same amazed frustration that the intellectuals of the dissident right now feel with regard to essentially identical trends in the social field.

But counting on the frustration of intellectuals with ongoing trends is not enough.

We have to work toward a new theoretical perspective for our civilization and its cultures that goes hand-in-hand with a vision of the future for the broader public to relate to and to put its hope in. The task here is basically to mirror the successes of the Frankfurt School12 of thought in 1968, as well as the decades following, with thought from the right. The first step is to accept that history is not inevitable. Ironically, it suffices to look to Karl Marx13 for demonstration of this. His understanding of capitalist dynamics is even today one of the foundations of every economic theory. Nevertheless his prophecy of the workers’ paradise was never fulfilled. In fact his prognosis for the future has been disproved in reality over and over again.

We might mention the issue of the rise of post-Soviet Russia14 after the implosion of the Soviet Union, as well the resilience of the Visegrad states against the degeneracy of Western Europe15, as just a glimmer of hope for the USA and Western Europe, though this issue is too large to be incorporated into this essay.

That could be a start for tackling Spengler’s pessimism and Evola’s faith in destiny. As right as they are in their description of the problems and processes, we have learned that history can undertake sudden (positive) changes; the response to their pessimism, has to come from the late Dominique Venner:

The world does not yield to a system, but to a will. Do not seek a system, seek the will.16

Furthermore the dissident right has to broaden its theoretical view of the world and take a deep and critical look at the works of Arnold J. Toynbee17, to learn how other civilizations managed their challenges or failed at them. These challenges were as various as the issues facing the West today, and the need is to learn from other people’s lessons, their defeats and cultural suicides.

However this initial approach to Toynbee or similar thinkers can only be a first step, as it offers a perspective of countering present challenges, but does not show us what to strive for in the future. A positive vision is needed, since the fall of Communism more than ever, as the present unipolar liberal hegemony is nothing more than the denial of all higher ideals or models for the future – the blind belief that every problem can be solved either by the market or individualism, possibly combined with social democratic pacification.

The field that Alexander Dugin opened in his Fourth Political Theory,18 his rediscovery of the Heideggerian idea of Dasein (being there in the world), has to be filled with new possibilities with the same inner strength to mobilize people as communism had in the first have of the 20th century.

A possible example of this is the late Guillaume Faye’s idea of Archeofuturism,19 that is to say the fusion of traditional values with the affirmation and further development of technology, or in terms of philosophy, so to speak, the reconciliation of Julius Evola with Marinetti.

However the hope that a ‘convergence of crises’20 will lead to a rebirth of European civilization with a two-tier society of agrarian villages on the level of the 13th century on the one hand and a highly technologically developed upper class on the other, as developed in Faye’s work Archeofuturism, does not hold any potential for the present day, as this vision does not appeal to people, nor is it a vision which could presently be implementable by force.

Nevertheless the basic idea of the the reconciliation of both worlds (Traditionalism and Futurism) holds great potential for the future of Europe – not just in spiritual terms, which I shall write of elsewhere, but also out of necessity.

If European countries and peoples were to unite behind their collective challenges by choosing common projects, following and reaffirming their Faustian nature, then they would achieve a new possibility for a Renaissance or a survival of their very own civilization, or at the very least a postponement of its demise.

These inseparable questions with their obvious spiritual nature are:

  • The full understanding of the functionality of the human genome;
  • The achievement of the unified field theory;
  • An understanding of how the universe came to be (what happened before the so-called “big-bang”); and
  • A full understanding of the human brain with the ability to simulate it in IT.

One might argue that technology and natural science has already done enough damage, which is true, but if Europe doesn’t stay ahead in the natural sciences science one might wonder what happens if it falls behind other civilazations on in this field combined with the already demographic catastrophe.

It is the opinion of the author that science and technology have to become the way to solve or at least to attenuate the ongoing crisis, especially as there is no spiritual renewal in the foreseeable future insight.

The following list of challenges with the technological/futurist projects targeting Western civilization forms a starting point for discussion (taking into consideration that not every trend of modernity can be stopped or reverted, but one has to live through the night to see the dawn) :

  • Demographic decline => automatization
  • Energy and climate change => nuclear fusion and other new and existing green technologies
  • Numerical inferiority in military terms => autonomous fighting systems
  • Intellectual decline => Artificial Intelligence
  • Biological decline => deeper and broader study of (epi-)genetics
  • The loss of all transcendental meaning => the exploration and conquest of space/a deeper understand of physics

However these futurist points which with their inner Faustian calling, just as the Manhattan Project in WWII and the conquest of space during the Cold War, could not have been achieved without enthusiastic public support.

Firstly it is obvious that if large parts of Europe can be convinced of the necessity of these and other projects and their benefits, it will occur to them that these projects can only be accomplished by working together across national lines and therefore burying the danger of the re-emergence of petty nationalistic quarrels, as last seen between Greece and Germany in the Euro-crisis.

It is the opinion of the author that science and technology have to become the way to solve or at least to attenuate the ongoing crisis, especially as there is no spiritual renewal in the foreseeable future insight.

And secondly, the insight that these goals can only be achieved by functional societies underpinned by traditional values and strong social cohesion should come naturally from projects like these, as we know that the Manhattan Project and the Moon Landing were achieved by the United states in times of strong social cohesion and cultural homogeneity, combined with the arising of the right people at the right times. That these challenges could not have been faced through gender diversity or multiculturalism is obvious.

This sub-strain of archeofuturist, yet realistic adaption of Guillaume Faye’s idea might be given the name of Fausto-technological-identitarianism – but that is open for discussion, as is indeed the further theoretical development of archeofuturism itself, and and the ways of bringing it to life.

3. Acceptance of Other Groups in Their Struggle Against the Flaws of Modernity

But let’s return for a moment to the present day from these kingdoms of make-believe.

If the dissident right recognizes the fact the the decline of the West is multidimensional one, we have to accept the fact that many other groups are also presently fighting against its consequences, and that some of these groups will oppose the dissident right.

From this point of view, these groups fighting against the decline can be put into two categories: those who are neutral towards the dissident right (the yellow vests, Demo für alle in Germany21 [Demonstration for Everyone, basically the only organized group that is fighting degeneracy in family and sexuality], etc.) and those who are hostile towards us (Greenpeace, ATTAC, labour unions and so on).

Many of these hostile groups are even losing sight of their original objectives, and focus on fighting patriotic groups, thus causing great unrest among their ordinary members (who themselves often fear for their jobs and living conditions when they see these things endangered by mass migration from the Third World).

Nevertheless these hostile groups are not the enemy, even if they try to sabotage the dissident right. if we look at every group and activist without assuming they are evil by nature, or even that they are completely blindfolded by their ideology, the question of one’s own animosity towards them on the one hand and potential common ground on the other side arises. For example:

  • Is a labour unionist fighting against the transfer of his job, or against the technology exported by his company to China, really our sworn enemy, or he fighting as much for his people as we are, but on another field?
  • Is a left-wing activist fighting against the exploitation of natural resources and the peoples of the the less-developed parts of the world really our sworn enemy, or is he just fighting another aspect of modernity, even as the dissident right fights migration?
  • Is the struggle against climate change of a Greenpeace activist, who fears the permanent flooding of, say, the Pacific islands (not to mention similarly worrisome changes in Europe itself), really our enemy, or does he, every bit as much as us, want people to stay where they and their ancestors were born?

Naturally, many more examples could be gathered here.

One can not always choose one’s ally in one’s struggles. However one can choose to try to transform enemies into friends, or at least into neutral non-combatants. If the dissident right can convey the message that we are in a common struggle against a common enemy (modernity as a whole in its present state), and no longer foes within the outdated left-right spectrum, the possibilities that arise on the horizon for a genuine change and for a new Renaissance of Europe become unimaginable. An example here could be the export of certain traits of liberalism to Africa as well as into migrant communities in Europe to defuse present demographic threats. Why not export the pill, condoms, feminism and literacy there? What could any genuine feminist-leftist activist or liberal have against it ?

4. Closing Remarks

No call for defeatism, for the spiritual exile, or for a withdrawal into the castle of one’s own ideologies is be acceptable in the present day. The old saying that the world is still turning has never been more apt. By broadening the insight into the many aspects of the decline of the West and its causes, the dissident right can find new strategies, new topics, new visions for the future and new friends in its efforts. The present situation is too urgent to be pettily and arbitrarily narrow-minded.

Because “where danger is, salvation is growing”, as Hölderlin22 once said – and the search for salvation has just begun.

References

3 This point is an adaption from Arnold J. Toynbee’s thoughts on the Inuit.

16 Venner, Dominique, For a Positive Critique.

18 Dugin, Alexander, The Fourth Political Theory.

19 Faye, Guillaume, Archeofuturism.

20 Faye, Guillaume, Convergence of Catastrophes.

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