Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Havers and Gottfried on Strauss

Strauss and the Straussians have succeeded in doing the opposite of German historian Ernst Nolte and, before him, Marxists credited the fascists with having produced in interwar Europe: "a counterrevolutionary imitation of the Left."  The Straussians have pulled of an equally enterprising feat by assuming a certain right-wing style without expressing a right-wing worldview.

Paul Gottfried, Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America.

While I was on holidays I had a chance to catch up with some reading and two books which I think are worth a mention are Paul Gottfried's, Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America, and Grant Havers's, Leo Strauss and Anglo-American Democracy: A Conservative Critique. Both are very good and I think it is safe to say that both try to be scrupulously fair to their subject.

For those of us trying to understand why the Right failed in the 20th Century, it's important to understand the various movements that were able to co-opt the Right and subvert it from the inside. In Europe, Fascism was an example of a superficially Right wing ideology that was built on a modernist ideology. However in America where because of cultural factors Fascism really couldn't get a grip, the pseudo Right ideology that subverted the native Right took the form of Neoconservatism.

One of the impressions I'm continually left with after reading Sam Francis and the other "Paleocons" is that while they recognised the malice of Neoconservatism, they really weren't able to pin down, philosophically, the source of its malignancy. These books help clarify the issue. Of the two, I was particularly fond of Havers' book, since I felt that Haver's approach to the subject more clearly raised the issue of what it means to be a conservative in the Anglo-American tradition.

In my opinion, it's important to know and understand Strauss since he was the main intellectual influence on the Neocon movement. As a consequence, the legacy of his ideas have also influenced the political Right in the U.S. and contemporary history through the application of U.S. economic and military power.

As both books attest, Strauss is unfairly blamed for a lot of things, and the slant that is given to his ideology more often than not reflects the intellectual weaknesses of his detractors rather than something Strauss is actually guilty of. In both books, the authors try to avoid this error and are scrupulously fair to Strauss, attributing to him only what he actually advocated. In their biographies, Strauss comes across as a highly intelligent man of conservative disposition,  but both authors recognise that his conservatism ends there.

Both authors do a good job describing the development of his ideas and for the purposes of this blog it is the ideas that matter. Strauss's big idea's can be summarised as follows:

1.  That there is an categorical incompatibility between reason and faith. Or as Strauss would say, "a conflict between Athens and Jerusalem"  This incompatibility arises from the fact that faith is not determined or validated by reason and therefore is not "reasonable", but something different to reason. Unlike modern Positivists, he does not actually denigrate religion for not being a product of reason, rather he sees Religion as belonging to a separate category  that is inspirational and socially utilitarian.

2.  Classical civilisation understood the world in this schema, as do Judaism and Islam to a certain degree.

3.  According to Strauss, Western Civilisation was the result of the tug of war between Athens (Reason) and Jerusalem(Faith).

4.  Christianity limited philosophy by subordinating it to faith.

5.  Modernism was a violent reaction to the Christian limitations of Reason--i.e. a reaction of reason being shackled to the faith.

6.  The solution to the crisis of Modernism was to go back to pre-Christian time, to Athenian Philosophy. Unlike the modern revolt of Reason which denied religion outright, Athenian reason was more "reasonable" and took consideration of Religion in its judgements.

7.  Philosophy helps us discern "timeless values" which while not being able to produce a perfect world may at least help us achieve the best possible one.

8.  The timeless nature of the ideals of philosophy makes philosophical insights applicable to everyone.

9.  The modern Anglo Liberal Democracy--particularly in its U.S. incarnation--is the best possible world. It is important to understand that best possible doesn't mean what Strauss would like or what would be a perfect world, it simply means the best possible given current contingencies.

Strauss's approach to the subject had enormous appeal, especially in Post WW2 America, where  a disunited Right, fearful of Communism, found an ideology which crossed sectarian divisions. By grounding Conservatism with the tradition of classical political rationalism, Straussian conservatism was open to anyone who would buy into it. Strauss's conservatism was very inclusive being global in its scope. Furthermore, Strauss's vigorous defence of liberal democracy--something which the Right was never particularly fond of-- came at at time when the free world was terrified by by the specter of Soviet totalitarianism. Strauss was literally, in the right place, at the right time, with the right product.

The problem with Strauss's approach, is that while it superficially appeared conservative, through the emphasis on the Greek Classics, Religion and Reason, anti-Communism, etc, it was anything but and a study of where Strauss goes wrong can serve as an important source of instruction or what it means to be Right and how to avoid the mistakes of the past.

Nevertheless, Strauss's unhappiness with the Left in the Cold War period is not tantamount to a categorical rejection of all leftist or modern thought per se. As I argue for the remainder of this chapter, Strauss and his students largely agree with the traditional leftist dismissal of Christianity as an irrational influence on the political philosophy of the West. This fundamental consensus between Strauss and the Left, which has been neglected in most of the literature on Strauss, gravely affects their understanding of Anglo-American political thought. For Strauss was compelled to read out of this tradition any signs of a serious indebtedness to Christianity. Unlike the anti-democratic Far Right which often faults Christianity for its universal morality (e.g. Charity) that made democracy possible, Strauss is ultimately critical of Christianity as a foundation of Anglo-American democracy because it is not sufficiently universalist. (that is, intelligible to all human beings): it is sheer historicism to hold up one faith as a principle foundation of the West. As a result of this hermeneutical rationale, that very tradition that Strauss and his students wish to preserve as a repository of rationally accessible "eternal principles" is reinvented as a secular liberal artifice whose main inspiration is Athens, not Jerusalem.

Grant Havers, Leo Strauss and Anglo-American Democracy: A Conservative Critique

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Comment Du Jour.


Posting's been light because of a variety of reasons, particularly Writer's Block. Still I saw a comment today over at Vox's blog which I felt was worth reposting.

The German National Socialists of the 1930s could only have emerged from the Weimar era - in other words, from a thoroughly pozzed and degenerate environment. That’s why they had so much degeneracy within their ranks, in spite of their public opposition to much of it. The Nazis were not a traditionalist movement, and they were not a Western movement. They were not pro-European, but were German chauvinists, at the expense of many other European ethnic groups. They were not pro-Christian, but were either outright pagans or embraced heretical versions of Christianity such as Alfred Rosenberg’s gnostic-Catharist ideas. Lastly, they were not truly based upon the Greco-Roman tradition and Western history, but upon a dubious, revisionist version of European history that was cooked up by the Ahnenerbe in order to be used as propaganda, a kind of Tacitus-inspired We Wuz Kangz pseudohistory which even Hitler found embarrassing, and wished that Himmler would knock it off already.

See the whole thing here.


I think that the important point to consider here is that reaction to degeneracy can sometimes happen within the spirit of degeneracy. Genocide is not the morally wholesome solution to whoredom.

The Marxist-Lenninsts regard Fascism as form of bourgeois reaction. That is their frame, it is how they like to position their argument as it emphasises the difference between the two, but I think it is far better to think of Socialism as Left Modernism and Fascism as being Right Modernism. With Left and Right being dispositional/temperamental distinctions. They might be different teams but they're both playing the same game.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Some Thoughts on Charlottesville



When Paul Gottfried coined the term Alt-Right, he saw it as an alternative form of Conservatism that would eventually replace the mainstream variety that was ineffective at dealing with society's drift to the Left. He never really envisaged it as Nazism or KKKv2.0.

As I see it, the Alt-Right was initially a tangential development of the manosphere where people who had been "red pilled" about sexuality connected online to discuss other issues which they had been "red pilled" on.  Eventually these people reached a critical mass and formed a coherent worldview about the nature of society's problems and started describing themselves as Alt-Right. I've been blogging for over ten years now and was there when it happened.  Sure there were nascent elements beforehand, but it was the Internet which enabled the interactions which allowed the critical mass to form.

At the outset the critical mass was racially aware but not racist. It was pro-Western civilisation, which it saw as a good, and pro tradition. It was anti Marxist, anti-PC and anti-sexual ambiguity.  And it was, in my opinion, making considerable headway into the mainstream culture. Those who have been following my blog for a while will know that my greatest fear for the movement was that it would be co-opted by the National Socialist elements, who would eventually drive the movement to ruin.

And I was right.

Prior to my warnings, I was getting a steady growth of traffic onto my blog, with about 40k views a month, after my attacks on the Natsocs, my traffic decreased dropped to about 5K views a month on my new posts. Clearly, I had pissed a lot of people off.

What concerned me most was not the drop in my readership but the realisation that many people were quite sympathetic to the ideas of National Socialism and outright Racism and it's a measure of how bad things have become when the opposition to Left evil was a variant of Right evil. Spencer, TRS and others seem to have been given a free pass by a lot of people who should have known better, and the enthusiastic repeated references to Nazism sort of nullified their "irony". The Alt Right was being transformed into American Natsoc v2.0., all with plausible deniability. Furthermore, apart from the nationalistic component of their ideology, there really wasn't much that was "Right" about them at all. They embraced sexual degeneracy, atheism and multiculti for whites only. Victor Orban--a Christian-knew what he was dealing with, cancelling their meeting and putting Spencer in jail.

A lot of other people were concerned with the co-option and hence the formation of the Alt-lite, there still however, wasn't a clear disavowal of the Natsoc element. And I think the view among many of the normies was that the Alt-Right and Alt-Light represented two poles of a spectrum rather than two discrete positions; they were still one unified body. Spencer and his ilk seemed keen not to dispel this notion. Unfortunately, this meant that whenever the Natsocs did anything stupid the rest of non-mainstream Right took the heat as well.

Now I've got my tinfoil hat on at the moment, but all to post debacle Charlottesville  data coming through seems to suggest that there may have been some behind the scenes "management" going on to paint the non-mainstream Right in the worst possible way. Spencer, may or may not be a plant but he sure as hell acts like one. How Jason Kessler was allowed to organise the rally is simply beyond me, especially given his history, and the presence of the Nazi flags gave terrible optics which was there to be captured by a waiting media who were notified of the event well in advance. (It doesn't matter if it was a plant, good organisation would have stopped it. I would have had my guys beat him up in front of the cameras.)

The point of the whole event being, as I see it, to discredit the entire non-mainstream Right and it work. It was a disaster. And justified the Twitter and internet repressions. Expect it to continue.

Furthermore, the post debacle online "agony" seemed to me to illustrate that the Right is still not aware of both the magnitude and nature of the menace it is dealing with. The Right needs to understand that Antifa is the paramilitary arm of the liberal managerial state, it becomes easier to understand events when seen through this lens. Hence the differential treatment by the media and government apparatus.

As I see it, the whole debacle illustrates several major problems with the non-mainstream Right. They are:

1) Lack of a moral compass which allows malign elements to infiltrate the group.
2) High T, Low IQ membership which favours unthinking intuitive action.
3) A lack of an understanding of what it means to be Right.
4) A lack of an understanding of what we are up against.

Still, I regard the events as a strategic victory for the Dissident Right. And by Dissident Right I mean it as Gottfried originally envisaged it. A Right that was built upon the traditions and identity of the West minus the modernistic ideologies trying to infiltrate it. The Charlottesville debacle seems to have pushed enough people to disavow themselves from the Natsocs which makes me think that future infiltration by them will be neutralised. They are now persona non grata.

Furthermore, Trump's dog whistle to the Dissident Right, legitimising the concerns of normal, decent people while criticising the nutjobs shows that there is sympathy for the dissident Right:
All of those people -- I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.
You take a look at some of the groups and you see and you would know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases, you are not. Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop? You take a look. The night before. They were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
As I see it, the left has destroyed its greatest "asset" in its war against the Right, the Natsocs, and done for the non-mainstream Right what it should have done itself a long while ago. The scorecard at the end of the day was,  a tactical victory for the Alt-Left, strategic loss for the Alt Right, strategic victory for the Dissident Right.



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Judeo-Christian



Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw seems to have impressed a lot of people.  I thought it a good, though not exceptional speech. Still it was exception by the standards of these times in that a public leader of the West explicitly evoked  God. The Independent, in the U.K, realised its significance much to its contempt. It even impressed the National Review so much that it did a complete reversal with regards to its hostility towards him . Bill Kristol and Ben Shapiro--of formerly #NeverTrump fame--enthusiastically tweeted their support of Trump's defence of Judeo-Christian values.

Now I've had a look at the transcript of his speech and while there are definite references to God there are no references to Judeo-Christianity,  and the subtle twist in emphasis it seems to have been deliberate interpretation of his speech by the staff at the National Review. This is itself not a sign of any particular malice, since the term Judeo-Christianity is used by lots of different conservative writers but in my opinion the term is a piece of conceptual obfuscation which hampers clear thinking with regard to the cultural foundations of the West.

C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Abolition of Man, spoke about the common morality that united all civilisations that manged to achieve some level of complex enduring existence. He called this the "Tao of life" and quoted examples from a variety of temporally distributed civilisations which were remarkable for their commonality.  For example, nearly all societies have prohibitions against murder, adultery and theft. Nearly, all societies advocate care for the elderly, hospitality and kindness. His point was that despite all of the different human societies there was a common nature among them all. But the flip side of this view is that human nature, being what it is, appears to need some form of constraint for the sake of the common good if human beings are to rise above a simple stick and mud existence.  A think a lot of the current ecumenical impulse is underpinned by this recognition, it recognises the commonality in us all.

The three Abrahamic religions also share this commonality. Christianity and Islam are definitely offshoots of Judaism and can be said to have inherited some of these ideals, so in essence it would be quite right to talk about a common Judeo-Christian-Islamic ethic, and yet we never speak of the term in that way.  Islam has always been hostile to the West despite its common "tradition", and as for its love of Judaism well, that is very well documented. Despite being People of the Book, the common tradition with the Christians does not obscure the fact that there are significant differences which makes the faiths incompatible. At least with case of Islam, it appears that a common ancestry is not enough.

It's not that much different with the Jews. The New testament has quite explicit references of the persecution of the early Christians by the Jews. The point here is not to stir up any animus by this comment but to recognise that Jews of the time quite quickly recognised that the teaching of Jesus were a huge departure from the teaching of the Jewish religion, and that these ideas were incompatible. For the ancient Jews, the ethic of the Christians was not the ethic of the Jews. And for thinking Jews it still isn't.  The Christian differs from the Jew in his weltanshauung. From the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy;
Yet Strauss was not indifferent to the content of revelation and certainly not to the difference between Jewish and Christian notions of revelation. In fact, Strauss strongly criticizes what he regards as a particularly Christian view of revelation not in order to banish revelation from intellectual conversation once and for all but to suggest that modernity’s intellectual ills stem in large part from the legacy of Christian theology. Strikingly, it was on the basis of the Islamic, as opposed to the Christian, reception of classical political philosophy that Strauss turned to reconsider the meanings of philosophy, revelation, and politics. Strauss’s very attempt to move beyond modern philosophy is predicated on a distinction between the Jewish and Islamic conception of revelation on the one hand, and the Christian conception, on the other hand[ED]:

For the Christian, the sacred doctrine is revealed theology; for the Jew and the Muslim, the sacred doctrine is, at least primarily the legal interpretation of the Divine Law (talmud or fiqh). The sacred doctrine in the latter sense has, to say the least, much less in common with philosophy than the sacred doctrine in the former sense. It is ultimately for this reason that the status of philosophy was, as a matter of principle, much more precarious in Judaism and in Islam than in Christianity: in Christianity philosophy became an integral part of the officially recognized and even required training of the student of the sacred doctrine….The precarious position of philosophy in the Islamic-Jewish world guaranteed its private character and therewith its inner-freedom from supervision. The status of philosophy in the Islamic-Jewish world resembled in this respect its status in classical Greece. (PAW, pp. 18–19, 21)
Strauss problematizes the Christian view of revelation as doctrinal knowledge that must be believed. From his early to his mature writings, Strauss contends that the making of revelation into knowledge in scholastic theology ultimately led to modern philosophy’s far too over-reaching claims. As Strauss puts it rather succinctly, “On the querelle des anciens et des modernes: I do not deny, but assert, that modern philosophy has much that is essential in common with Christian medieval philosophy; but that means that the attack of the moderns is directed decisively against ancient philosophy” (CCM, p. 106). Or, as he puts it elsewhere, “modern philosophy emerged by way of transformation of, if in opposition to, Latin or Christian scholasticism” (JPCM, p. 252).
Strauss’s distinction between Judaism and Islam, on the one hand, and Christianity, on the other, is decisive for understanding his conception of the relation between Jerusalem and Athens as well as for appreciating his conception of the theologico-political problem, as a diagnosis of modernity’s philosophical, theological, and political ills. 
It is probably more correct to speak of a Judeo-Islamic ethic than an Judeo-Christian one.

Let that sink in for a moment.

And remember, this was written by the most influential man in NeoConservatism.

Strauss correctly recognises that Christianity and Judaism have totally different understandings of the relationship of revelation to Truth and Reason which are ultimately incompatible. And lest anyone think that this is some form of Christian bigotry, Jewish scholars reject the notion as well.
It is, indeed, this sense of intrinsic meaninglessness which is quite possibly a significant aspect of what has come to be regarded as the Judeo-Christian tradition. Despite the intensity and seriousness with which Jews and Christians engaged in murderous polemics from the first century until the late 19th century (and even today the thesis has been argued by the French historian, Jules Isaac, that Nazi anti-Semitism was a secular radicalization of the anti-Jewish impulses of historic Christianity), the debate was always qualified by the commonly held conviction that the manner in which a man composed his relationship to God was central and primary to his existence; that this relationship was constitutive, and therefore ontological, in character; and finally that it was a relationship which could only be regarded with absolute, albeit often dreary, seriousness...... Jews regarded Christians as at best second-best, and at worst as execrable idolaters; Christians regarded Jews as at best worthy of conversion and at worst as deicides and antichrists..
Cohen is absolutely right. Our relationship with God--or lack of it--and our understanding of the Truth are constitutive of our characters. The distinctive Jewish character is a product of the distinctive Jewish understanding of God, as it is of the Christians. So the talk of a Judeo-Christianity does the double disservice of rejecting both the distinctive Jewish and Christian characters. They are quite simple two different things. I suppose the point I'm trying to get across is the the idea of Judeo-Christian is conceptually muddled and mutually exclusive, and the idea of claiming it as a basis of European civilisation is false.

The fact of the matter is that until recently, European civilisation was a Christian civilisation and it was this feature which imparted upon it Europe's unique character. Furthermore, the Christian concepts of revelation, truth and philosophy--rejected by the Jewish and Islamic understanding-- through a long period of troubled gestation, laid the foundations of the European power and culture. Judaism was quite simply peripheral to all of this.

That's not to say the Jewish people did not contribute to European civilisation, but they did so as European Jews, marinated, unthinkingly, in European culture. As a thought experiment, ask yourself, how great has Jewish achievement been outside of European culture? Has Judaism raised a culture, independent of Europe able to compete with it? Or even with the long tradition of Jews living in Islamic cultures, have they ever achieved the prominence there that they have in Europe? In a strange way, despite all the prosecutions, European culture provided a milieu, unlike no other, where Jews could achieve quite staggering prominence. Their super-acheivement being conditional upon inhabiting a European "space", inhabiting European institutions and benefiting from the uniquely European understanding of the Truth.

So how did we get saddled with such a conceptually muddled term. Well it appears that the idea primarily originated from Liberal Christians, who were appalled at the treatment that Jews we being subjected to in Nazi Europe, and wanted to show some solidarity with them. They wanted to create a broad Church, by emphasising the commonality between the two groups.  But the idea took a life upon its own after the war, with the full horror of the German concentration camps was bought to the attention of the world. There was also a sense of among many in the West of a need to redeem themselves for the indifference they showed to the Jews prior to the War.  Indeed, so popular was the idea that the Jewish religious became concerned that Judaism would be "diluted" among  Christianity, and a push back to the idea began. However there was one complicating factor, Israel.
Many Jews tended to agree with Cohen that the "Judeo-Christian tradition" was a "myth," but they argued against him that it was a useful myth, or what Plato would have called "a noble lie." The poet Edward Kaplan responded pensively: "even the myth, so-called, of the Judeo-Christian tradition is...a powerful and expedient religious posture, valid for most people here and now, and bearing witness to a...relationship with very real meaningfulnesses." The response of Rabbi Jacob Chinitz was more pragmatic: "But what lies in store for...the Zionist venture?... The State of Israel makes sense to a world brought up on the Bible, but not to a secular, humanist world... There is, therefore, a political stake, to put it bluntly, in the retention of the concept of the Judeo-Christian tradition, even though, admittedly, it does not stand theological analysis."" In effect Chinitz was saying: As a rabbi I reject the notion of a "Judeo-Christian tradition," but as a Zionist I affirm it. As a Jewish theologian, Chinitz had no use for the notion of a "Judeo-Christian tradition," since it obscured the distinctiveness of the Jewish religion. However, as a supporter of Israel, he recognized its "political" usefulness: the reestablishment of Jewish independence in the Land of Israel was, in a real sense, a return to the Bible - and this return could be best appreciated by those who know the Bible and believe in it. Christians who perceive the modern State of Israel as part of their own biblical tradition could be expected to have sympathy for the Zionist cause.
My point here is not to question the support of Israel or to engage in some kind of anti-Semitic polemic, rather the point which I'm trying to emphasise here is that there is no rigorous conceptual basis for the notion of a specific Judeo-Christian tradition.

Why is this important?

It is this blogs contention that the decline of the West was as a consequence of the rejection of the specifically Christian understanding of the nature of things. Any attempt at restoration will fail unless this foundation is re-established. (This is much harder to achieve than people think). Any attempt to establish a West on any other foundation be that Positivism, Paganism or "Judeo Christianity" will produce a society that will not resemble the previous European world. What died around 1918 was European Christian civilisation, and what has attempted to replaced it, are variations of the Modernist European one. Part of the difficulty in restoring the West has come about from a lack of understand just what exactly the West is. The concept of Judeo-Christianity is simply another attempt to muddle our understanding of it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Don't be degenerate

I was browsing /pol this evening when I came up post which linked to the video below.



I reckon it's one of the best depictions of what life was like in "affluent" Berlin during the Weimar years.  The Berlin celebrated in movies such as Cabaret. It's very good.

Berlin was a cesspit of degeneracy and vice power primarily by the demand of rich and middle class patrons who had their services supplied by the poor, who chose this option due to their desperate poverty.  Anyone wanting to get a measure of the moral squalor of Germany during those years should look at the magazine Simplicissimus which would make comment of the social problems of Germany at that time through the medium of art. Long term sufferers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the work of Otto Dix and George Grosz, men whom I wouldn't of shared political affinity with but men who were nonetheless disgusted at the moral abyss which Germany had fallen into after the First World War.  Their work is profoundly disturbing, disgusting and degenerate until you realise that that was what they were trying deliberately get across in their work. Berlin, especially was a morally destitute city.



It's easy to see how the moral revulsion generated by the antics of Berlin would engender a lot of sympathy for a man like Hitler.  Purging the filth, regardless of the details, becomes very appealing. 

However, I think the important point to remember here is that the solution to Left wing degeneracy is not Right Wing Degeneracy.  The Left may be all for permissiveness and degeneracy but the evil Right can push very hard in the opposite direction, and regard life too cheaply and push moral purity with the venom of a zealot.  I think that if a man wants to do God's work, he's got to do it within the framework of God's laws.

Just saying.

Berlin got bombed by the Allies pretty badly during the Second World War. Hamburg--another cesspit of vice vying for pre-eminence with Berlin--was firestormed, in an operation rather eerily called Operation Gomorrah. Thinking about the comments of Jordan Peterson on the subject of Hurricane Katrina, I couldn't but help to think that Bomber Command was the hand of God. 

Just saying.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Feelz vs Realz



See that girl in the picture there?

That's Leni. Yeah, THAT Leni.

Check out the Supermen, will to power and all that other stuff...eh? What's happening to Leni is she that she is getting what H.L. Mencken said every democracy gets....she's getting it good and hard. What we are seeing in that picture is the crash of intuitive response to reality.  Anyone interested in the story of the picture should go here.

As Jordan Peterson mentioned in the previous post, people,by and large, vote according to their temperament but the proviso that Peterson didn't add is that people also vote as cognitive misers. i.e they think in simplistic terms and use a heuristic toolbox. The reason why politicians tend to reduce their message to simple political slogans is because it taps into this heuristic feature of the average man.  Simple slogans to complex problems are feature, and not a bug of modern mass-man democratic systems.

After the War, many people wanted to explain the German drift to Nazism as something peculiar to the Germans, but what people fail to recognise is that fascism was very chic pre WW2. It's only when the full horror of the system became apparent that it lost its cool........... except among the psychopathic. The fact of the matter is that the German drift to Fascism was a contingent phenomenon that could of happened in any other country given the circumstances.  The Germans weren't special.

Leni Riefenstahl's dalliance with Natsoc--like those of many other ordinary Germans-- is perfectly rational if we assume that despite her exceptional artistic abilities she was for all intensive purposes a political idiot. In her own words from the Wiki article;
Of course, you know, I'm really so misunderstood. I'm not political.

To me, Hitler is the greatest man who ever lived. He truly is without fault, so simple and at the same time possessed of masculine strength.(1937)
I was one of millions who thought Hitler had all the answers. We saw only the good things; we didn’t know bad things were to come
People think of this as a commitment to the Nazi ideology but the truth is the Leni then, was probably as political as Ariana Grande is now. Today, the artists sing at concerts, yesterday they made their films. I doubt if you asked Leni in 1938 for an articulation of Natsoc policy you get much more than Hitler wants to make Germany great again.

Now imagine being an average German of conservative disposition in the early 1930's,  faced with the terrible situation around you, who do you vote for? The commies? Hell no. The old conservatives, who did bugger all?  Based upon the experience of Hitler at the time, he seemed to be the best thing around.  For Leni, like millions of other German cognitive misers Hitler, had all the answers, except if you thought about it for a bit you'd realise the answers he had was about to send the country to Hell.

Wilhelm Ropke,  a proper "right wing Aryan" and one of the smartest tools in the shed, recognised immediately where all this was leading to and tried to warn his fellow Germans, but deep thinking is so "boring" to the average man that he was mocked and ignored for his efforts. People don't want to think they want simple solutions. And simple solutions, as Mencken said, are easy to grasp and nearly always wrong.  Life is complex.

Once we accept the fact that most people are cognitve misers, and once we accept that people vote with their temperament, we realise that universal suffrage shifts political decision making from rationality to emotive expression.  We stop thinking and start feeling our way through political problems. Universal suffrage is intrinsically hostile to reality calibration. i.e. the Right.

If we think of politics as a system, success in politics, and by success I mean good social policy which ensures security, prosperity and happiness, is dependent upon reality calibration.  Since Life is complex and reality calibration hard, it means that only a few people will have the capability to make the right decisions. With universal suffrage--muh demokracy--we ensure that those who are capable voices are drowned in ocean of emoting idiots.  The system, ultimately governed by the emoters, spins further and further away from reality.

As in Leni's case, reality eventually asserts itself.




Friday, June 09, 2017

The Gut People

In the last post I talked about the pseudo-Right and I wanted to expand on this theme a bit more. Rightness and Leftness are in themselves meaningless terms except in so far as they have become labels associated with a series of traits and behaviours which appeared to be opposed to each other. In fact it would be far more accurate to call the polarities conservative and liberal since the positions taken by each represent more a dispositional orientation rather than than a principled one.

Jordan Peterson elaborates on this much further in this excellent short video.





The bottom line here is that people vote according--and chose their political orientation--according to their temperament.  What this means is that people vote more with their "gut" than with their "head" and the  Feelz trump Reelz when the mob acts. The politics of the masses are limbic rather than cerebral.

The problem with this feelz based approach to reality management is that it tends towards a cognitive simplification which may be woefully inadequate to the task at hand. One of the reasons Marxism fails is because its cognitive model of the world--which even low IQ knuckleheads can grasp--does not map adequately on the reality of human nature and the means of production. But it would be a huge mistake to think that cognitive simplification is of exclusive domain of the liberal temperament, Conservatives are quite capable of "intuitively simplifying" as well. Which brings us to the psuedo-Right.

If I had to define the Pseudo-Right, I would define it as those of a conservative disposition who refuse to acknowledge reality. Reality, in this instance, is not rhetorical "reality" but objective Truth, since it makes them feel bad.

Many of the Alt-Right, for instance, are quite happy with moral degeneracy provided its ethnically pure. The problem is that even an elementary understanding of history will show that no stable or prosperous society has ever been built on moral degeneracy. It's a belief that is miscalibrated to reality. But lounging poolside in a white brothel sure feelz good.  Likewise those of a traditionalist disposition wondering why it all went to Hell in a handbasket fail to understand that many of their "traditional beliefs" were miscalibrated to reality, and had the rug pulled out from them when reality intervened. Change induces bad feelings and these feelings must be avoided. Hence no change.

One of the huge problems with Western Anthropology has been the definition of man as a "rational animal". This presupposition permeates many of legal, theological and political theories and like all of the most toxic heresies is partially true. The reality is that we are capable of rationality on some of the time and with effort. We are people of the mind, only in exception, for the rest of the time we the people of the gut, the people of intuition.

Bonus: For those of you who are interested, Jordan Peterson further elaborating on this theme.

Double Bonus: Jordan Peterson isn't a fan of the Alt-Right. (Note for the gut people. He didn't dismiss it outright, but pointed out that much of its thinking is undeveloped and simplified. In other words, they have some good points but aren't bright or calibrated to the Truth.)




Sunday, June 04, 2017

Pseudo Right



One of the reasons I harp on so much about the concept of Truth as a foundational principle of the Right is because it serves as a litmus test helping differentiate the Right from the pseudo-Right.  What I mean by the pseudo-Right are ideologies and positions which appear Right wing but actually aren't, and it's my belief that the pseudo Right is perhaps the most dangerous threat to the resurgent right  as the danger from it is subtle and not easily recognised.

Most people have an intuitive grasp of what it means to be "Right" however intuitional approaches to the subject lack a fair amount of precision, and this ambiguity of meaning leaves a lot of room for error to creep in. Furthermore, the conflation of the Right with Conservatism, just serves to make the problem worse.

Reality calibration is a prerequisite of successful action. If we define the Right as those who uphold the Truth, then the anti-Right will be those who uphold some form of error. Right politics, viewed through this definitional understanding, ceases to become an issue of Right vs Left, rather it's an issue of Right vs wrong. However, current definitions of Right and Left seemed based more on inutitional approaches rather then objective ones. This way of tackling the classification is rather wooley and leaves lots of room for error to creep in. Defining the Right as a sort of Anti-Left--makes no demands on reality calibration and does nothing to protect the Right classified ideology from holding positions which are flat out wrong.  Intuition is not infallible, and as the Master teaches, one can fall from both the right AND left side of the narrow path.

Indeed when you think of the "Right" or  "Conservatism", several intuitive concepts come to mind; the respect of tradition and place, social order and homogeneity, a preference for orthodoxy and an extremely limited tolerance for novelty, disorder and deviancy. Thinking about the right intuitively tends to result in a list of features which are associated with the concept without actually defining it. What you end up with this approach is not a definition but a laundry list of features which feel "Right," and any ideology which expresses these features is thus classified accordingly.

Here's Michael Oakeshott's famous definition of what it means to be "Conservative"

To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.
Nicely written, with a list of features, but no definitional understanding.

However, using this laundry list approach results in some quite bizarre results.  The Politburo of the Brezhnev era, could quite rightly be classified as the "right or "conservative" faction, opposed to the progressives of the time, despite espousing an openly Marxist vision of the world. Stalin, who felt that homosexuals were degenerates would likewise using this approach be classified as of the right. On the other hand, Pope Francis, who has not changed one iota of doctrine, but is favour of some innovation, is frequently called out as a Commie on the more Traditionalist web spaces. Using Oakshott's definition,  Pius X and Leonid Brezhnev would both be classed as "Rightists" or "Conservatives."

 Clearly we have a problem.

What really becomes apparent when you look at mainstream classifications of Left and Right, is that the polarity refers less to substantiate ideological positions than it does to where the parties sit with respect to the big five personality traits. This is why National Socialism and Traditionalist Catholicism get lumped into the same group because, superficially, they posses traits which are associated with the right in the mind of the cognitive miser. Never mind the fact that they both rest on ideological substructures which are inherently hostile to each other.

The problem with the associative approach to the definition of the Right, is that anyone can qualify as Right, as long as a critical amount of associative features are present in their ideology, no matter how wrong everything else is. 1488'ers and Paleoconservatives are thus "Right wing" even though they are hostile to each other. The victim in this state of affairs is Truth itself. Nationalism, for example, which I believe rests on some pretty solid psychological and biological facts, gets smeared though guilt by association with the excesses of 1488'ers making it difficult to raise as a legitimate subject of discussion. Furthermore, some ideas of the Left, which may have some legitimacy to them are out of bounds because they are not "associated" with the Right.

If you look at this from a metahistorical approach, you can see the role of the Left is to pummel the Truth from the outside and the role of the pseudo Right is to undermine it from within, and part of the reason why we have not been able to mount a successful defence is because we cannot delineate friend from foe because we don't know what the rules of membership are.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Litmus Tests

I thought I'd return to this comment by Z man since I felt it dealt with an issue which needs to be addressed on the Right.
The defect with the Alt-Lite is the same problem the Buckley Conservatives had a generation ago. They have no antibodies to resist entryism, because they lack a timeless definition of what it means to be Alt-Lite. Western Civilization, after all, includes Karl Marx and Hitler. Nazism is just as much a part of the West as John Locke. In fact, Hitler currently casts a longer shadow than any of the men of the Enlightenment. On what grounds can the Alt-Lite reject Hitler, but embrace the slave owning Jefferson?
I feel it addresses one of the fundamental issues affecting the Right at the moment; What does the Right actually stand for? From what I can see, the only commonality that unites all the Right factions is the belief in nationalism, everything else seems to be up for grabs. Some factions are OK with homosexuality, others are not. Some seem to be happy with sexual promiscuity as long its for white people only, others are happy for a nationalistic socialism, others want nationalistic capitalism. From what I can see, in the new Alt-Right, Paganism, Atheism and Christianity can rub shoulders together with Gay socialists, as long as they embrace nationalism. Who said that the Right wasn't liberal.

While we are all united on the subject of nationalism and are united in our opposition to the Left the fact of the matter is that on many other issues some members of the Alt Right are in agreement with some of the ideas of the Left. The Natsocs seem pretty cool with sexual degeneracy and socialism, ideas which were never part of the Right stable. The fact of the matter is that there are huge points of disagreement between the different factions of the Alt-Right with nationalism cannot paper over. Unfortunately nationalism is not going to be enough and its pretty obvious that the at some point the various factions of the Alt Right are going to chew each other up over these not insubstantial differences, going to be a pretty hollow victory when in the moment of triumph we destroy it all by slashing at each other over the other points of disagreement. 

It's this blogs contention that what it means to be Right is more to be is much more than nationalism or ethnic identity. Rightness, in the end, is living in accordance with the Truth.

The concept of Truth is an important one, and why an understanding of the subject is important in any consideration of "Rightness". The other day I saw floating somewhere on the internet a comment which ran to the affect of, "If you want to offend someone on the Right tell a lie, if you want to offend someone on the Left, tell the Truth", which I though was pretty close to a practical definition of what it means to be of the Right. Solzhenitsyn, on of the unrecognized prophets of the Twentieth Century understood the significance of this and realised that the fundamental task of man was to live not by lies.

Living the in the Truth involves four fundamental principles as I can see.

The First Principle is the acceptance of the the idea that there is a Truth, in other words there is a reality.
The Second Principle is that we know reality through the empirical experience of it.
The Third Principle is that there is a duty of obedience to it.
The Fourth Principle is that there is a commitment to the free expression of it.
The Fifth Principle is that correct action can only come about through acting within the Truth.

Truth is the foundational pillar of the Right, and any ideological outgrowth which deliberate violates its commitment to it is automatically excommunicated. How the Right differs from Conservatism is that Conservatism prefers old lies to innovative Truth.

However things aren't that simple. Real world application of the these principles is predicated on their being a common understanding of the concepts of Truth, Reality, Empirical experience and moral character. Change these fundamental definitions and the nature of the principles change as well. Hence the importance of metaphysics, since it imputes the semantic content to these words.

Which brings us to religion.

Now, when I use the term religion I'm using it in its most expansive sense. At its core, a religion can be thought of a set of metaphysical propositions; statements describing the nature of being and reality, mechanisms of causation, ontology, etc. Relgions are definitional understandings. Taking this approach, Atheistic Positivism is just as much of a religion as any pagan sect. Atheism affirms the denial of any existence outside the empirically experienced. Christianity affirms the there are modes of existence which are beyond perception by normal biological means. The point here is not about the competing claims, rather,  how you understand reality is going to influence how you understand the concept of Truth and  what it means to be Right. Therefore a "Right" Atheist or Pagan is going to understand those five principles differently than a "Right" Christian.

The other thing about metaphysical systems differing Religions is that each system's metaphysical propositions end up defining what constitutes good and evil. However, the metaphysical system that is Positivism/Atheism is flawed because it cannot generate values and ends up silent on the subject. Refer to Hume's Guillotine before debating this matter further.  A Right that lays its foundation on Atheism can be as accepting of homosexuality as transgenderism  just as much as it can of genocide. This makes Right litmus tests administered from a Positivistic perspective seriously limited. A Positivistic right is going to be far more "inclusive" simply because it can't make for distinctions of moral value. Ideological systems which cross moral lines are not excluded.

For the Christian Right, Marx and Hitler are both outside the camp since they espoused principles which are wrong and have no room for them in their house. The litmus test of Christian Rightism is conformity to Christian reality.  The Test for Rightism under Christian rules is far more restrictive.

This is why any understanding of the right has to take into account metaphysical principles, i.e. religion. It is this blog's contention that this is the main issue affecting the West today. The shift from the Christian world view to the Atheist undercut the foundations of Western society and set forth a series of cultural transformations which are eating it up from the inside. The problem isn't Right and Left, the problem is Right and Wrong.  Fascism is just as much of a lie as socialism though of a different political polarity.

Solzhenitsyn spent a lot of time trying to understand where the 20th Century went wrong, especially as it pertained to Russia.
Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened. 
 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Comments on Zman's Iron Law of Conservatism

Recently a blogger by the name of Zman put up an interesting post, The Iron Law of Conservatism, which asserts that conservative organisations over time tend to drift Left. I felt was very good and one which I think warrants some comments. Zman writes;
The defect with the Alt-Lite is the same problem the Buckley Conservatives had a generation ago. They have no antibodies to resist entryism, because they lack a timeless definition of what it means to be Alt-Lite. Western Civilization, after all, includes Karl Marx and Hitler. Nazism is just as much a part of the West as John Locke. In fact, Hitler currently casts a longer shadow than any of the men of the Enlightenment. On what grounds can the Alt-Lite reject Hitler, but embrace the slave owning Jefferson?

The same is true of anti-racism and egalitarianism. How can these be rejected when they are inventions of the West? Of course, the Alt-Lite makes no attempt to reject these as that would get them in trouble with the Left. That’s what opens the door to, and requires them to accept, the defining feature of the dominant orthodoxy. That feature is the blank slate. As McInness goes to pains to point out, if a hotep brotha is on the Trump Train, he has a place at the table of the Alt-Lite, a cherished place.

That’s the fatal flaw that was the undoing of the Buckley Right. The Alt-Lite has no affirmative argument. Instead, it is a list of things it is not and most of those things are to their Right. That firewall they are building to their Right, just as Buckley did with Kirk and with the paleocons, comes at the expense of any defensible line of demarcation between themselves and the Left. That leaves them open to entryism, corruption and subversion, which is why the leading opponents of Trump are all Buckley Conservatives.
One of the reasons I've been harping on the subject of Fascism lately is because best it illustrates the entryist problem as it pertains to right wing politics. Ask almost anyone about Fascism, and where it sits on the political spectrum,  and more likely than not they will locate it on the Right. Yet, as this blog and the objective historical record shows it was a child born of the Left, riddled with its genetics and from its outset was ready to wage war against traditional European society and its underlying foundations.

How does an movement become considered a member of the Right when the ideas of Marx are its conceptual foundations is not something that gets talked about much in Rightie circles, yet, if you think about it, it would appear to be a rather serious problem.

It's my contention that one of the reasons why the Right has been a continual losing proposition in the 20th Century is because it has failed to develop an doctrine, or litmus test, on what it means to be "Right". This failure has led to "infiltration" into the ranks by elements which are subversive and thus the Right is caught in a continual pincer grip, attacked from the over Left from the outside and the covert Left from the outside. It's hard to defeat the enemy in front of you when you're being stabbed in the back.

How we arrived at this state of affairs deserves a book length treatment, but briefly, I think a lot of this has got to do with the fact that prior to the French Revolution the world was Right wing by default. Anyone attempting to change the world had to argue for the change first with the result that Left wing tradition of justifying itself developed quite a formidable body of supporting argumentation which gave it some form of superficial intellectual coherence, Right wing ideas, on the other hand, were simply assumed by many and not much thought was given. Furthermore, the Christian religion did the lions share of Right wing defence by prohibiting by morality that which could not be rebuked by argument. With the collapse of the Christian religion, the whole "Right" defence was dealt a mortal blow.

The significance of this latter collapse shouldn't be underestimated. With the demise of Morality all that was left was intuition and tradition, with the preference for tradition, when it all comes down to it being a temperamental matter, the so call "Conservative disposition."

The problem with this "dispositional" approach to politics and culture is that things are assumed to be Right wing by virtue of them "feeling" right wing. Therefore any ideology which emphasises order, authority, patriotism and identity is assigned to the right of the political spectrum by its associated qualities with the "Right" disposition.  Fascism, Catholic Integralism, Neoconservatism and the Soviet "hardliners" are all put on the right despite totally incompatible underlying philosophical foundations.

Then there is the problem of political "framing".  Perhaps the greatest victory the Marxist-Leninists ever achieved was convincing everyone else that theirs was the only "authentic" interpretation of Marx™,  and labeling everyone who opposed them as "Reactionaries". How conservatives ever played along with this idea is beyond me--further proof that they really are the stupid party-- however the historical record shows that the rebranding of Fascism was hugely successful, allowing Nationalist Marxism, i.e.  Marxism v2.0™to be percieved as of the Right. After all, all those Nuremberg rallies feel "Right" don't they.

The successful branding of Fascism, and other ideologies as a right wing phenomena meant that membership to "Right Club" was based on the feels rather than pedigree. However the differences in their respective philosophical underpinnings meant that the members of Right Club were, in the end, incompatible. Furthermore, the pragmatic attitude of "you don't punch to what feels the Right" makes sure that the entryist problem remains entrenched.

The solution to this problem is for the Dissident Right to develop a litmus test of membership. Yes, in a sense, it is a sort of 'purity" test but it needs to be done in order to stop the movement from being subverted from the inside. I think if any other bloggers are interested, I think it would be worthwhile to make a concerted effort on this subject over the next few weeks.

The Z man proposes this as a sort of test:
The great chain of causality is Biology→Culture-→Politics-→Economics. It’s why Libertarianism, in its current form, not right wing. The Reason Magazine crowd are sure that all you have to do to fix Haiti, for example, is end the licensing of barbershops and other small businesses. And legalize weed, of course. In other words, they get things backward and end up rejecting the human condition. This is the crack in the foundation of all Left Wing movements. It’s what they share in common.
I think he's nearly there but just misses the mark. The Natsocs satisfy the above criteria and as we have shown on this blog they're clearly they're from the Left.  In fact, the more you think about it, even most of the Left can in someway be made to fit that schema of things. The Left have their notions about biology as well as the libertarians, the point is that they are wrong.

This leads us to the what is the distinguishing feature of Right wing belief is its commitment to Realism. The reason I don't believe in the blank slate approach to human nature is because it is disproved by the empirical observations of human life. The reason on I don't believe in biological Calvinism is because education does make a difference, but there are limits.

The great error of 20th C Rightism has been that it has been based on the "feels" rather than the "thinks". And any litmus test of Rightism has to go beyond the "feels" with all the "will to power", "comfort in Tradition", and other associated intellectual shit and concentrate on reality calibration. The underlying principle of Rightism is that 2+2=4 no matter how inconvenient or how bad it makes us feel. Chesterton saw where we were headed years ago and saw that in the end it will be a battle between those who asserted the Truth and those who preferred something else.
Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed.

The Litmus Test of Rightism is a belief in the Truth, any other test misses the mark.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

It's Looking Grim




An intermission from our studies on Fascism.

Samuel Francis, recognised that the fundamental weakness of the Middle American Radicals was their failure to develop a cadre of intellectuals and leaders who would be able to implement their desired changes. He recognised that the absence of such members in the movement rendered the it susceptible  to "decapitation" by the professional managerial class who who would co-opt and neutralise it.  The actions by the Trump administration over the past few days confirm this prediction.

For the life of me I cannot see how the attack by the U.S. on Syria serves any of its interests or the interests of the Syrian people. I actually believe the Donald Trump is a decent guy and I imagine he would have authorised the attack on "humanitarian grounds" but for the life of me I don't understand why he is so selective in his humanitarianism.  There are plenty of other places in the world where military action would bring real benefit to the suffering of the people--without threat of intervention with Russia--and yet the U.S. turns a blind eye.

And how does the U.S. action actually help the Syrian people? Assad by all accounts is the least worst of the combatants and there  appears to be a continual flow of refugees towards the areas he controls. There are no "moderate rebels", and the question needs to be asked, who then are the Americans supporting?

The only winners in this idiotic escapade are the Sunni/Turkish/Israeli axis who get to see Assad's success reversed and Al Quaeda triumph. It's a lose/lose situation for everyone else.

By all accounts Trump isn't a rocket scientist but it doesn't mean that he is stupid either. As President, his view of the world is shaped by his prior knowledge--which appears to be limited--and the current image of it which is presented to him by his advisors.  It's this indirect ability to affect the President's actions which confers upon them an indirect Presidential power.  I think many people from the non-mainstream Right have been dismayed by some of his advisory picks, principally those of his relations whose influence is disproportionate by the virtue of family sentiment. This dissident Right hasn't paid enough attention to this matter and it appears that their movement has been decapitated through by mechanism. The Neocons and the Israeli lobby are in charge again. When "Never Trumpers" like Bill Kristol are cheering Trump's actions you know that middle America has lost. Bannon's our last hope but it appears that he is grimly holding on and that his time is numbered.

Before anyone thinks I've gone all Natsoc think again. My position is that of John Mearsheimer's who does not equate Jewish as synonymous with the Israeli lobby . In fact one of the big problems for the Israeli lobby is getting enough Jewish people to get on board. This is quite simply the penetration of one government into another and directing its military and foreign policy.  During the Cold War the Russians were able to exert an enormous amount of influence on U.S. policy by putting "fellow travelers" into positions of advisory influence, thereby influencing foreign policy. Alger Hiss was an Episcopalian.

What's been really interesting to see is the limited nature of the response by the U.S. military on Assad which seems to suggest that there is a pushback going on. There's plenty of evidence that he was given advance warning of the attack and the targeting suggests that the Americans weren't really serious about going after him. It's almost as if the U.S. military was rebelling  didn't really want to get into a fight.

My own observations suggest that there a huge divisions forming in the U.S. government. The Army doesn't really seem to be that keen on adventures. The intelligence agencies on the other hand, seem to have been "penetrated" and are "gung ho", and God only knows what is going on with the Law enforcement agencies.  It's not a good picture. I think the U.S. is in real danger of some kind of civil war or military catastrophe.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Raiders of the Lost Nazi Art


“mainstream Modernism has been sealed off from ideological and aesthetic contamination by the Third Reich.”

One of the things that I found interesting while reading Griffin is his approach to the whole subject of Fascism. Unlike many other writers on the subject, Griffin tries to understand the subject of Fascism as the Fascists understood it themselves.  His attempt to understand it in no way condones it and its pretty apparent that Griffin finds the ideals of Fascism repugnant. Still, what I found interesting is Griffins need to defend himself from charges of fascist sympathy or the "normalisation" of it by taking this approach. What became apparent to me is that mainstream academia has preconceived notions of how to "correctly" approach the subject, lest suspicions of fascist sympathy be levied.

It appears that academia, till recently, demanded that Fascism be seen through a certain lens. Trying to understand Fascism as a product of Marxism and Modernism is a definite faux pas, while seeing Fascism as an aberrant evil outside the Modernist vision seems to be emphasised, particularly the notion that Fascism is a form of malignant resurgence of the "Right". The precise definition of the Right being ambiguous since rigorous analysis tends to throw up uncomfortable resemblances. Socialist academia's hostility to Griffin is pretty obvious because as you burrow down the rabbit hole you realise that both emerge from the same sewer of ideas. 

Getting people to interpret Fascism "correctly" solves a lot of uncomfortable problems for the Left. It emphasises the distance between them and Fascists. It allows anyone the Left considers "Right" of itself to be smeared by association with the ghastly crimes of the the Natsocs. The standard academic trope is that Nazism was an outgrowth of nationalism and the academic's response the the rise of nationalism is reflexively to look for Nazis under the bed, yet the nationalism of Wilhelm and George did not give birth to the gas chambers and concentration camps.  Obviously more research needs to be done.

Furthermore, by interpreting  the "Right" as reactionary phenomenon, i.e being a product of the Old World, with its Churches, Monarchs and social order, it invariably casts progressivism and Modernism in a good light. Most Righties are pretty dumb, and they obsess about superficiality instead of substance but it is here where rubber hits the road. The role of Leftist academia is to portray Modernism as a good and it definitely muddles the message if Nazi's are seen drinking from the same font.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating insights in Griffin's book concerns the subject of Modernism in Nazi art. For me, it was real "red pilling" with regard to Fascist culture.

I imagine that many people have seen the Monuments Men movie and know how the U.S. Army tried to save many artworks which were stolen by the Nazi's during the Second World War. But what gets little mention is the fact that the "Monuments Men" weren't just there to find lost masters, they were also tasked with the duty of finding any art which they felt glorified Nazism and to bring it back to the U.S.  Over ten thousand art works were looted confiscated by the U.S. Army, with some of it making its way to back to Germany in 1986. What's interesting about these artworks, is that firstly, they're almost impossible to get access to, and secondly, the Nazi era artworks that we have been allowed to see have fostered the notion that the "Nazi" approved art was old fashioned and traditional. However what this hidden body of work demonstrates is that Nazi art was in its own way highly modernistic.

Griffin's books mention Gregory Maertz, a professor of English at St John's university who quite inadvertently stumbled upon a lost trove of Nazi art held in the U.S. and Germany, and who now devotes some of his time in furthering academic research into the subject.
GM: In the first place, I’m trying to create a new discipline in art and cultural history by restoring to the historical record what I have dubbed the "anti-canon" of Nazi art. The main vehicle for this effort was my discovery a few years ago of the largest extant collection (nearly 10,000 pieces) of art produced during the Third Reich. Created by the United States Army in 1946-47, the collection was held in protective custody in the U.S. from 1947 to 1986. The fun part of working on this project has been the research travel and interviewing people who were involved with the creation of the collection and its subsequent controversial history. In addition to museums and archives scattered across the United States, my research has taken me to Italy, Austria, and all over Germany: to secret depots in Munich and Berlin, former hiding places for Nazi art in the Bavarian Forest near the Czech border, and obscure museum storerooms in the German provinces. I had a particularly thrilling experience in February 2002, when I was the first scholar in 50 years to see a large part of the U.S. Army’s Nazi art collection[ED]. Returned to Germany by American authorities in 1951, the 1600 works of art had been considered lost until I entered a heavily guarded facility in eastern Berlin, noted its jaw-dropping contents, and realized that I had struck gold.

How you would have imagined that the subject of Art in Nazi Germany would have been a legitimate source of research with normal access restrictions in place............. and yet it isn't. Why?

Maertz  has published a book, The Invisible Museum, which deals with this subject--which I can't find any copies of-- and what I found interesting was Maertz's difficulties in getting access to the work, even for scholarship purposes. Apparently its still a very politically sensitive topic.  Maertz wanted to hold an exhibition illustrating the similarity between Nazi, Communist and New Deal (!) art but this was judged verboten.

Maertz gives a good lecture (with .pdf) where it certainly does appear that the link between Nazism and Traditionalism was emphasised while the emphasis between modernism and Fascism downplayed. The image of Nazi art as being antimodernistic was deliberately curated

The images in this post are from the "Invisible Museum" that I've been able to find on the internet and are for fair use.
They were all freely displayed in the museums of the Third Reich.




The Thrid Reich was not some kind of traditionalist restoration project. It wanted to usher in it own version of a modern new world.














Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Some More Thoughts on Griffin's Modernism and Fascism

One of the themes that comes across strongly in Griffin's book is the sense of "spiritual" dysfunction in European society at the end of the 19th Century. What becomes apparent is that while there was the triumph of Positivism, which bore fruit in terms of scientific discovery and material power it came at a cost to the "inner life" of European man which was profoundly unsatisfying on a spiritual level. Durkheim called this unease Anomie.

Now Anomie is an interesting thing, some people seem perfectly fine with it, or at least accept it. On the other hand, as Griffin shows, there were many who were horrified by the mechanistic and deterministic universe that Positivism i.e. science, promised. It was these men, who while admiring the technics of Science, wanted to fill the void left by the metaphysics of it. It was these men that took part in the "revolt from Positivism" and laid the foundations of Fascist ideology.

It is Emilio Gentile who, by combining impeccable archival research with sophisticated conceptualization, makes the most authoritative pronouncements on Fascism's 'modernist' credentials, and in so doing explicitly imparts the term connotations that corroborate our primordialist perspective. He asserts that 'Fascist modernism sought to realize a new synthesis between tradition and modernity, without renouncing modernization in order to realize the nation's goals of power'. It was through the `sacralization of politics and the institutionalization of the cult of the fasces' that Fascism attempted to fulfill the key ambition of modernist nationalism, 'the construction of a lay religion for the nation'. Fascism's futural dynamic and civilizing mission emphasized by both Ventrone and Gentile is amply borne out by Pier Giorgio Zunino's comprehensive account of the matrix of Fascist ideology as inferred from the torrent of publications that poured forth from the new regime. He documents the way that for most Fascists the new state's mission to 'lead Italy out of its humiliating condition of marginalization' was linked to a much more ambitious goal, namely to 'spread the seeds of a new civilization in which the main problems inflicting contemporary society had been finally resolved'. Under Mussolini Italians were encouraged to feel they were living on the threshold of 'a new civilization whose essence as yet no-one can know', a 'third time', a 'new epoch', a 'new cycle'. Zunino insists that the countless texts, speeches, events, and rituals mass-produced under Mussolini aimed not to 'manufacture consensus', but to fill his most fervent supporters with a 'longing for tomorrow' and 'thirst for [making] history'." 
 By 1930 convinced Fascists at every level of society were now crowding onto the craggy outcrop of rock where once only Marinetti and a small artistic elite once stood enjoying the heady Nietzschean experience of standing 'on the last promontory of the centuries'. The experience of Aufbruch lauded by Expressionist poets had been democratized, the sense of an ending replaced by the heady sense of a beginning. Emilio Gentile himself draws attention to this factor when he claims that 'the principal impulse of fascism stemmed from its "movementist" and Dionysian feeling for existence, from the myth of the future, and not from a static contemplation of the past'. This futural dynamic is only apparently belied by the cult of Romanness (romanita) that came to assume such importance under the regime, for it too was 'celebrated modernistically as a myth of action for the future'. In the words of Giuseppe Bottai, the most technocratically minded of the Fascist gerarchia, the regime's fascination with Rome sprang not from erudition, not from books, not from so-called "dead history"', but above all from its capacity to inspire action in the present. Fascism meant to carry out 'not a restoration but a renovation, a revolution in the idea of Rome'.

Now there's a lot to unpack here, but the point I'm trying to get across is that they were attempting to "construct a new religion", a palliative to the anomie bought about the Enlightenment* led transformation of Western society. In many ways, the best way to think about fascists is that they were "romantic" socialists, providing a socialism that catered not just for the body but one which catered for the "soul". It needs to be understood that Fascism was more than a government organisation it was a pseudo religion. It gave people a purpose, a sense of belonging and justification for their acts. Perceptive readers will note that there was no mention of a return to Christianity. Italian, and German Fascism both wanted to form a new mythic religion which was specifically Christian lite. So in a sense, from the vantage point of this blog,  whether you think of Fascism as either modernist or reactionary it really doesn't matter, what matters is that it was anti Christian at its core. Hard core Nazi's specifically saw Christianity as a corruption of the "mythic" [Ed: invented by themselves] Aryan ideals and wanted it expunged. It was a competing weltanshauung to theirs. How anyone can square this claim up with European history is beyond me. But hey, intellectual consistency has never been a feature of mass movements.

Griffin extensively illustrates how modernist approaches were used to project this "new religion" onto the community. Furthermore Fascist aesthetic ideals seem to yield more to human nature than Western contemporary art does now. It's rejection of the deformed, the ugly and the repellent shouldn't be seen reactionary, rather Fascism's Dionysian dynamic was complemented by an art which reflected these values rather than challenged them. There was no doubt allowed with regard to the legitimacy of the aesthetic vision. Art was not there to dialogue with the ideal, it was to serve it.
Fascism had no problem with modernist art or technology as long as it was subordinate to these ideals and Griffin shows with numerous examples the embrace of Modernism by the Fascists.

It's a hard going book, and Griffin is sometimes excessively verbose but I think in many ways he brings across the appeal of Fascism in a way that Gregor doesn't. Fascism wasn't just a response to the social crisis of the early 20th Century it was also a response to the anomie bought about by the dechristianisation of Europe.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Roger Griffin: Modernism and Fascism


Two other books which I had to the pleasure to read and which complement Gregor's book are Roger Griffin's, Modernism and Fascism and, A Fascist Century. Once again, these should be staple texts of the Right.

Griffin made a bit of name for himself in the field in the early 90's with a book The Nature of Fascism. Modernism and Fascism is his attempt to attend to the deficiencies inherent in that book.  Griffin's unique viewpoint is that, unlike other academics, he tries to understand Fascism in the same way that Fascists understood it themselves. He is clearly no apologist for Fascism yet what's apparent in this book is just how novel this approach is in academia and the hostility he has earned as result of it.

Firstly, he defines Fascism movement as one which advocates Palingentic Ultranationalism. He has been criticised by Gregor on the grounds that the definition is not specific enough-- I agree, more on that later--but whereas Gregor gives an account of the intellectual development of Fascism illustrating how Fascism came about, Griffin focuses on why it did so.

Like Socialism, Griffin traces the origins of Fascism in cultural turmoil of the late 19th Century, when Christianity had begun to lose its hold on the cultural elites.  The culture of the late 19th Century with its materialistic capitalism and individualism slid society towards decadence. This and the pressing social problems of the times  disgusted many in society who felt that a "moral renewal" and a "cleansing of the filth", was required to alleviate the pressing social problems of the time. Two broad streams of thought emerged from the chaos, those based upon nationalism and those based upon international proletarianism. Both solutions were premised on the notion that the past was unrecoverable. God was dead and the Ten Commandments would no longer do.

Like Gregor, Griffin too, realises that Fascism was born of pressing moral problem which came about with the removal of the weltanschauung "sacred canopy" afforded to men by Christianity.  But it wasn't just the philsophical arguments that mattered, the whole progress of "modernisation" had profoundly uprooted European society so that by the late 19th Century, Capitalism and the ideals of the Enlightenment were being discredited by the experience of life.
MODERNISM: the generic term for a wide variety of countervailing palingenetic reactions to the anarchy and cultural decay allegedly resulting from the radical transformation of traditional institutions, social structures, and belief systems under the impact of Western modernization. These reactions were fostered by the growth of reflexivity and its concomitant, the progressive temporalization of history characteristic of Modernity, one consequence of which was the trend towards re-imagining the future as a permanently 'open' site for the realization of utopias within historical time. Modernism gained momentum in the second half of the nineteenth century when liberal, capitalist, and Enlightenment myths of progress lost the partial cultural hegemony they had attained during the French Revolution and early industrial revolution, with the result that the manifold changes that society was undergoing became increasingly identified by intellectual and artistic elites with decadence, so that modernity itself became a trope for degeneration (Modernity).
The important point that Griffin hammers out is that movement which became Fascism was essentially modernist, i.e. sharing many of the same philosophical foundations of Socialism.  However, where it differs from Socialism is that Fascism was more "Romantic," in that the fascists turned inwards into themselves find a  Dionysian "spirituality" which gave them the strength to live. This task was supported by numerous philosophers, artists, writers architects etc.
Marx believed that, unlike `bourgeois ideologies', socialism was not to 'draw its poetry from the past'; that is, it could do without myth and the aestheticisation of politics — though in practice it could not do without them, as all the regimes of 'actually existing socialism' have demonstrated. By contrast, fascism celebrated precisely such forces as the way to recreate a sense of reality, meaning, and subjective revolution. This can be seen in the title of Alfred Rosenberg's The Myth of the Twentieth Century, or Mussolini's declaration in his 'Naples speech' of 24 October 1922, only hours before the March on Rome, that
we have created our myth. The myth is a faith, a passion. It is not necessary for it to be a reality. It is a reality in the sense that it is a stimulus, is hope, is faith, is courage. Our myth is the nation, our myth is the greatness of the nation.
On close inspection, whether it was the myth of Aryan blood or the myth of the past glories of Rome, all fascist celebrations of the past are in fact future-oriented, and an integral part of fascists' quest to find a Third Way out of the cul-de-sac of Western history which they felt liberalism arid Marxism represented.
On close inspection, whether it was the myth of Aryan blood or the myth of the past glories of Rome, all fascist celebrations of the past are in fact future-oriented, and an integral part of fascists' quest to find a Third Way out of the cul-de-sac of Western history which they felt liberalism arid Marxism represented.
At the heart of this Third Way lies the myth of the regenerated national community (in German, Voiksgemeinschaft), whose realisation is conceived by fascists as providing a solution to several basic problems characteristic of liberal-capitalist; modern society, notably (it the troubled relationship between the 'masses' and the state; (il) the crisis of morality, identity, and authority posed by life exposed to modernisation; and (iii) the tensions between the individual's private existence and ethnicity, culture, society, nationality, and history in the civic realm.
At the heart of this Third Way lies the myth of the regenerated national community (in German, Voiksgemeinschaft), whose realisation is conceived by fascists as providing a solution to several basic problems characteristic of liberal-capitalist; modern society, notably (it the troubled relationship between the 'masses' and the state; (il) the crisis of morality, identity, and authority posed by life exposed to modernisation; and (iii) the tensions between the individual's private existence and ethnicity, culture, society, nationality, and history in the civic realm.
One of the points that Griffin successfully gets across is that Fascism was a revolt against the "mechanistic" view pushed by Marx--a view rooted in Positivist metaphysics. In many ways Fascism, and Socialism, provided an alternative spirituality--a political religion--to replace the one lost by cultural failure of Christianity. But the paradox being that it was ultimately a religion that found inspiration in the feelings generated by the self. It was a sort of malignant new age spirituality.

One of the other tropes that Griffin smashes is the received wisdom that the Fascists were anti-Modernist, and that by being so they were cultural brutes. While it is true, that the Germans were not as sophisticated as the Italians, the fact is that many modern artists put themselves in the service of Fascism which they quietly downplayed after the war. Philip Johnson, Mies Van der Rohe and Walter Gropius were all prepared to work for the Reich. The Fuhrer may have shut down the Bauhaus school but seem quite unconcerned with its influence in industrial and architectural design.  The fact is that while the Fascists deplored depictions of "degeneracy" in the arts, they were surprisingly tolerant of modernist modes of artistic expression. There was a huge battle in the Nazi party on the merits of German Expressionism, pushed by Goebbels, finally overturned by Hitler.

Mussolini certainly had no problems with modernist art, and actively encouraged it. Evola, for instance, originally started off with Dadaist ambitions, while Hitler seemed quite prepared to accept "non degenerate" Modernism. (.pdf)  The fact that Hitler found deformed depictions of form repulsive did not mean that he was anti-Modernist unless the appreciation and depiction of deformity is equated with Modernism. And this is not even touching on the enthusiastic embrace by the Fascists of technology and its application on all spheres of life. The idea, pushed by international socialists especially, that the Fascists were reactionary traditionalists trying to reassert themselves is quite simply false.

Of the two books, A Fascist Century is the easier one to read, and there is an interview in the end of it with Griffin which is worth the price of the book. Modernism and Fascism is a far harder read, lacks the focus of Gregor but is very impressive in the scope of its erudition and is meant as a more academic treatment of the subject. Its other problem is that it is written in academese and simplification of its language would ensure a far greater audience and easier grasp of its ideas. Still it is a book worth the effort and should be a foundational text of the Dissident Right.