Tag Archives: Communism

Tradition, Modernity, & Confucian Revival in China – Worsman

“Tradition, Modernity, and the Confucian Revival: An Introduction and Literature Review of New Confucian Activism” by Richard Worsman (PDF – 611 KB):

Tradition, Modernity, and the Confucian Revival – Richard Worsman

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Worsman, Richard. “Tradition, Modernity, and the Confucian Revival: An Introduction and Literature Review of New Confucian Activism.” History Honors Papers, Paper 14. Connecticut College. 2012. <http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=histhp >.

 

Notes: For further reading on the issue of tradition and modernity in China and various ideas of “modernisation without Westernisation,” see Between Tradition and Modernity: Philosophical Reflections on the Modernization of Chinese Culture by Li Zonggui (Oxford: Chartridge Books Oxford, 2015). Also, a collection of studies and perspectives on this process in various Asian countries can be found in Cultural Identity and Modernization in Asian Countries: Proceedings of Kokugakuin University Centennial Symposium (Tokyo: Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University, 1983. <http://www2.kokugakuin.ac.jp/ijcc/wp/cimac/index.html >.)

An academic study over-viewing the theory and development of the process called “modernization without westernization” in Asia can be found in “Modernization without Westernization: Comparative Observations on the Cases of Japan and China and their Relevance to the Development of the Pacific Rim” by Stuart D.B. Picken (NUCB Journal of Economics and Information Science, Vol. 48, No. 2 (2004), pp. 171-179, <http://www.nucba.ac.jp/themes/s_cic@cic@nucba/pdf/njeis482/14PICKEN.pdf > [Alt.]). On the general idea of “modernisation without Westernisation” from a Neo-Eurasianist perspective, see the article “Modernization without westernization is the first step to reject imperialism” by Antonio Grego.

 

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Foundations of Russian Nationalism – Steuckers

Foundations of Russian Nationalism

By Robert Steuckers

Translated by Greg Johnson

 

Translations: Czech, Portuguese

Throughout its history, Russia has been estranged from European dynamics. Its nationalism and national ideology are marked by a double game of attraction and revulsion towards Europe in particular and the West in general.

The famous Italian Slavist Aldo Ferrari points out that from the 10th to the 13th centuries, the Russia of Kiev was well-integrated into the medieval economic system. The Tartar invasion tore Russia away from the West. Later, when the Principality of Moscow reorganized itself and rolled back the residues of the Tartar Empire, Russia came to see itself as a new Orthodox Byzantium, different from the Catholic and Protestant West. The victory of Moscow began the Russian drive towards the Siberian vastness.

The rise of Peter the Great, the reign of Catherine the Great, and the 19th century brought a tentative rapprochement with the West.

To many observers, the Communist revolution inaugurated a new phase of autarkic isolation and de-Westernization, in spite of the Western European origin of its ideology, Marxism.

But the Westernization of the 19th century had not been unanimously accepted. At the beginning of the century, a fundamentalist, romantic, nationalist current appeared with vehemence all over Russia: against the “Occidentalists” rose the “Slavophiles.” The major cleavage between the left and the right was born in Russia, in the wake of German romanticism. It is still alive today in Moscow, where the debate is increasingly lively.

The leader of the Occidentalists in the 19th century was Piotr Chaadaev. The most outstanding figures of the “Slavophile” camp were Ivan Kireevski, Aleksei Khomiakov, and Ivan Axakov. Russian Occidentalism developed in several directions: liberal, anarchist, socialist. The Slavophiles developed an ideological current resting on two systems of values: Orthodox Christendom and peasant community. In non-propagandistic terms, that meant the autonomy of the national churches and a savage anti-individualism that regarded Western liberalism, especially the Anglo-Saxon variety, as a true abomination.

Over the decades, this division became increasingly complex. Certain leftists evolved towards a Russian particularism, an anti-capitalist, anarchist-peasant socialism. The Slavophile right mutated into “panslavism” manipulated to further Russian expansion in the Balkans (supporting the Romanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, and Greeks against the Ottomans).

Among these “panslavists” was the philosopher Nikolay Danilevsky, author of an audacious historical panorama depicting Europe as a community of old people drained of their historical energies, and the Slavs as a phalange of young people destined to govern the world. Under the direction of Russia, the Slavs must seize Constantinople, re-assume the role of Byzantium, and build an imperishable empire.

Against the Danilevsky’s program, the philosopher Konstantin Leontiev wanted an alliance between Islam and Orthodoxy against the liberal ferment of dissolution from the West. He opposed all conflict between Russians and Ottomans in the Balkans. The enemy was above all Anglo-Saxon. Leontiev’s vision still appeals to many Russians today.

Lastly, in the Diary of Writer, Dostoevsky developed similar ideas (the youthfulness of the Slavic peoples, the perversion of the liberal West) to which he added a radical anti-Catholicism. Dostoevsky came to inspire in particular the German “national-Bolsheviks” of the Weimar Republic (Niekisch, Paetel, Moeller van den Bruck, who was his translator).

Following the construction of the Trans-Siberian railroad under the energetic direction of the minister Witte, a pragmatic and autarkical ideology of “Eurasianism” emerged that aimed to put the region under Russian control, whether directed by a Tsar or a Soviet Vojd (“Chief”).

The “Eurasian” ideologists are Troubetzkoy, Savitski, and Vernadsky. For them, Russia is not an Eastern part of Europe but a continent in itself, which occupies the center of the “World Island” that the British geopolitician Halford John Mackinder called the “Heartland.” For Mackinder, the power that managed to control “Heartland” was automatically master of the planet.

Indeed, this “Heartland,” namely the area extending from Moscow to the Urals and the Urals to the Transbaikal, was inaccessible to the maritime powers like England and the United States. It could thus hold them in check.

Soviet policy, especially during the Cold War, always tried to realize Mackinder’s worst fears, i.e., to make the Russo-Siberian center of the USSR impregnable. Even in the era of nuclear power, aviation, and transcontinental missiles. This “sanctuarization” of the Soviet “Heartland” constituted the semi-official ideology of the Red Army from Stalin to Brezhnev.

The imperial neo-nationalists, the national-Communists, and the patriots opposed Gorbachev and Yeltsin because they dismantled the Eastern-European, Ukrainian, Baltic, and central-Asian glacis of this “Heartland.”

These are the premises of Russian nationalism, whose multiple currents today oscillate between a populist-Slavophile pole (“narodniki,” from “narod,” people), a panslavist pole, and an Eurasian pole. For Aldo Ferrari, today’s Russian nationalism is subdivided between four currents: (a) neo-Slavophiles, (b) eurasianists, (c) national-Communists, and (d) ethnic nationalists.

The neo-Slavophiles are primarily those who advocate the theses of Solzhenitsyn. In How to Restore Our Russia?, the writer exiled in the United States preached putting Russia on a diet: She must give up all imperial inclinations and fully recognize the right to self-determination of the peoples on her periphery. Solzhenitsyn then recommended a federation of the three great Slavic nations of the ex-USSR (Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine). To maximize the development of Siberia, he suggested a democracy based on small communities, a bit like the Swiss model. The other neo-nationalists reproach him for mutilating the imperial motherland and for propagating a ruralist utopianism, unrealizable in the hyper-modern world in which we live.

The Eurasianists are everywhere in the current Russian political arena. The philosopher to whom they refer is Lev Gumilev, a kind of Russian Spengler who analyzes the events of history according to the degree of passion that animates a people. When the people are impassioned, they create great things. When inner passion dims, the people decline and die. Such is the fate of the West.

For Gumilev, the Soviet borders are intangible but new Russia must adhere to the principle of ethnic pluralism. It is thus not a question of Russianizing the people of the periphery but of making of them definitive allies of the “imperial people.”

Gumilev, who died in June 1992, interpreted the ideas of Leontiev in a secular direction: the Russians and the Turkish-speaking peoples of Central Asia were to make common cause, setting aside their religious differences.

Today, the heritage of Gumilev is found in the columns of Elementy, the review of the Russian “New Right” of Alexandre Dugin, and Dyeïnn (which became Zavtra, after the prohibition of October 1993), the newspaper of Alexander Prokhanov, the leading national-patriotic writers and journalists. But one also finds it among certain Moslems of the “Party of Islamic Rebirth,” in particular Djemal Haydar. More curiously, two members of Yeltsin’s staff, Rahr and Tolz, were followers of Eurasianism. Their advice was hardly followed.

According to Aldo Ferrari, the national-Communists assert the continuity of the Soviet State as an historical entity and autonomous geopolitical space. But they understand that Marxism is no longer valid. Today, they advocate a “third way” in which the concept of national solidarity is cardinal. This is particularly the case of the chief of the Communist Party of the Russuan Federation, Gennady Zyuganov.

The ethnic nationalists are inspired more by the pre-1914 Russian extreme right that wished to preserve the “ethnic purity” of the people. In a certain sense, they are xenophobic and populist. They want people from the Caucasus to return to their homelands and are sometimes strident anti-Semites, in the Russian tradition.

Indeed, Russian neo-nationalism is rooted in the tradition of 19th century nationalism. In the 1960s, the neo-ruralists (Valentine Raspoutin, Vassili Belov, Soloukhine, Fiodor Abramov, etc.) came to completely reject “Western liberalism,” based on a veritable “conservative revolution”—all with the blessing of the Soviet power structure!

The literary review Nache Sovremenik was made the vehicle of this ideology: neo-Orthodox, ruralist, conservative, concerned with ethical values, ecological. Communism, they said, extirpated the “mythical consciousness” and created a “humanity of amoral monsters” completely “depraved,” ready to accept Western mirages.

Ultimately, this “conservative revolution” was quietly imposed in Russia while in the West the “masquerade” of 1968 (De Gaulle) caused the cultural catastrophe we are still suffering.

The Russian conservatives also put an end to the Communist phantasm of the “progressive interpretation of history.” The Communists, indeed, took from the Russian past whatever presaged the Revolution and rejected the rest. To the “progressivist and selective interpretation,” the conservatives opposed the “unique flow”: they simultaneously valorized all Russian historical traditions and mortally relativized the linear conception of Marxism.

Bibliography

Aldo FERRARI, «Radici e prospettive del nazionalismo russe», in Relazioni internazionali, janvier 1994.

Robert STEUCKERS (éd.), Dossier «National-communisme», in Vouloir, n°105/108, juillet-septembre 1993 (textes sur les variantes du nationalisme russe d’aujourd’hui, sur le “national-bolchévisme” russe des années 20 et 30, sur le fascisme russe, sur V. Raspoutine, sur la polé­mique parisienne de l’été 93).

Gerd KOENEN/Karla HIELSCHER, Die schwarze Front, Rowohlt, Reinbeck, 1991.

Walter LAQUEUR, Der Schoß ist fruchtbar noch. Der militante Nationalismus der russi­schen Rechten, Kindler, München, 1993.

Mikhaïl AGURSKI, La Terza Roma. Il nazionalbolscevismo in Unione Sovietico, Il Mulino, Bologne, 1989.

Alexandre SOLJENITSYNE, Comment réaménager notre Russie?, Fayard, Paris, 1990.

Alexandre DOUGUINE (DUGHIN), Continente Russia, Ed. all’insegna del Veltro, Parme, 1991. Extrait dans Vouloir n°76/79, 1991, «L’inconscient de l’Eurasie. Réflexions sur la pensée “eurasiatique” en Russie». Prix de ce numéro 50 FF (chèques à l’ordre de R. Steuckers).

Alexandre DOUGUINE, «La révolution conservatrice russe», manuscrit, texte à paraître dans Vouloir.

Konstantin LEONTIEV, Bizantinismo e Mondo Slavo, Ed. all’insegna del Veltro, Parme, 1987 (trad. d’Aldo FERRARI).

N.I. DANILEVSKY, Rußland und Europa, Otto Zeller Verlag, 1965.

Michael PAULWITZ, Gott, Zar, Muttererde: Solschenizyn und die Neo-Slawophilen im heutigen Rußland, Burschenschaft Danubia, München, 1990.

Hans KOHN, Le panslavisme. Son histoire et son idéologie, Payot, Paris, 1963.

Walter SCHUBART, Russia and Western Man, F. Ungar, New York, 1950.

Walter SCHUBART, Europa und die Seele des Ostens, G. Neske, Pfullingen, 1951.

Johan DEVRIENDT, Op zoek naar de verloren harmonie – mens, natuur, gemeenschap en spi­ritualiteit bij Valentin Raspoetin, Mémoire, Rijksuniversiteit Gent/Université d’Etat de Gand, 1992 (non publié).

Koenraad LOGGHE, «Valentin Grigorjevitsj Raspoetin en de Russische traditie», in Teksten, Kommentaren en Studies, n°71, 1993.

Alexander YANOV, The Russian New Right. Right-Wing Ideologies in the Contemporary USSR, IIS/University of California, Berkeley, 1978.

Wolfgang STRAUSS, Rußland, was nun?, Österreichische Landmannschaft/Eckart-Schriften 124, Vienne, 1993.

Pierre PASCAL, Strömungen russischen Denkens 1850-1950, Age d’Homme/Karolinger Verlag, Vienne (Autriche), 1981.

Raymond BEAZLEY, Nevill FORBES & G.A. BIRKETT, Russia from the Varangians to the Bolsheviks, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1918.

Jean LOTHE, Gleb Ivanovitch Uspenskij et le populisme russe, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1963.

Richard MOELLER, Russland. Wesen und Werden, Goldmann, Leipzig, 1939.

Viatcheslav OGRYZKO, Entretien avec Lev GOUMILEV, in Lettres Soviétiques, n°376, 1990.

Thierry MASURE, «De cultuurmorfologie van Nikolaj Danilevski», in Dietsland Europa, n°3 et n°4, 1984 (version française à paraître dans Vouloir).

Source: http://euro-synergies.hautetfort.com/archive/2010/06/14/fondements-du-nationalisme-russe.html

 

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Steuckers, Robert. “Foundations of Russian Nationalism.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 16 April 2014. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/04/foundations-of-russian-nationalism-2/ >.

 

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Curse of Victimhood & Negative Identity – Sunic

The Curse of Victimhood and Negative Identity

By Tomislav Sunic

 

Days and months of atonement keep accumulating on the European wall calendar. The days of atonement however, other than commemorating the dead, often function as a tool in boosting political legitimacy of a nation – often at the expense of another nearby nation struggling for its identity.

While the media keep reassuring us that history is crawling to an end, what we are witnessing instead is a sudden surge of new historical victimhoods, particularly among the peoples of Eastern Europe. As a rule, each individual victimhood requires a forever expanding number of its own dead within the context of unavoidable lurking fascist demons.

Expressed in the postmodern lingo of today, the modern media-made image trivializes the real death and dying into an image of a hyperreal and surreal non-event. For instance, the historical consciousness of Serbs vs. Croats, Poles vs. Germans, not to mention the victimological memories of the mutually embattled Ukrainian and Russian nationalists today, are becoming more “historical” than their previously recorded respective histories.

It seems that European nationalists do not fight any longer for their living co-ethnics, but primarily for their dead. As a result, as Efraim Zuroff correctly stated, “in post-Communist eastern Europe, [they’re] trying to play down the crimes of the Nazi cooperators and claim that the crimes of the Communists were just as bad.” (AS,” Top Nazi Hunter: Eastern Europe Rewrote the Holocaust,” by Benny Toker, Ari Yashar, January 27, 2015).

Yet Zuroff’s s remarks, however sharp, miss the wider historical context. Any day of atonement or, for that matter, any day of repentance on behalf of a victimized group, is highly conflictual, if not warmongering by its nature.

It was in the name of antifascist victimology and their real and surreal fear of the resurrection of the anticipated fascist Croatia, that local Serbs staged a bloody rebellion in Croatia in 1991. It was in the name of their own post -WWII victims, killed by the victorious Communists on the killing fields of Bleiburg in Austria in May 1945, that Croats, forty-five years thereafter, began their war of secession from the Yugoslav grip. The Ukrainians still nourish the memory of Holodomor, the Poles nurture their memories of Kaytn, the Cossacks commemorate their victims in Linz, the Russians have their numerous Kolymas, the Germans their Dresdens — locations standing not only as memorial sites, but also as symbols of just retribution in the eyes of the Other.

Crimes committed by the Communists in Eastern Europe during and after World War II were not just Allied collateral damage, or a freak, unintended accident, but a planned effort to remove millions of undesirables.

Almost by definition this raises time again the painful symbolism of Auschwitz, a locality standing not only for a specific historic and clear-cut site of large-scale dying, but also as a didactic location designated for teaching the world the meaning of worldwide tolerance. Of course, the liberation of the Auschwitz camp by the lauded Soviet troops, raises a side question regarding their previous itinerary, especially if one considers that millions of East European and ethnic German civilians were either displaced or killed by the very same Soviet troops on their way to Auschwitz in January 1945.

How genuine were the tears of European statesmen and politicians at the recent commemoration event for the Auschwitz dead will remain a matter of wide speculation and wild guesses. Suffice it to note that if one were to take a peek into the recent history of France, in 1940 the entire Communist and left-leaning intelligentsia sided with the pro-fascist Vichy regime. Of course, in the aftermath of WWII it became politically expedient for the French intellectuals to posture as ardent philo-Semites and learn hastily the antifascist vulgate.

Another case in point are modern Croat politicians, who almost without any exception, prior to 1990 were strong advocates of the unity of the Yugoslav Communist state, as well as staunch purveyors of the socialist “self-managing” economy — only to rebrand themselves shortly thereafter into either rabid nationalists or Brussels-gravitating free marketeers.

The same feigned mea culpa scenario can be observed today among the German political class which had gone a step further, as seen in the recent verbal gestures of ex-president Horst Köhler and acting president Joachim Gauck, the latter of whom stated that “there is no German identity without Auschwitz.”

One can thence surmise that without the memory of Auschwitz, EU politicians would likely be in goose-stepping unison, marching to the enchanting tunes of Giovinezza or the Horst Wessel Lied.

Some scholars seem to be well aware of the mendacious mentality of contemporary European politicians. As Shmuel Trigano notes, “while setting itself up as “new Israel,” the West recognizes in Judaism a factual, if not a juridical jurisdiction over itself.” His words signify that the West has become “Jewish “to the extent that for centuries it had kept denying the Jews their identity. It follows from this that the strange verbal construct “Judeo-Christianity” is not an elusive and dangerous oxymoron at all, but rather a symbol of self-defeating and false identity.

On the one hand, the latter day European victimologists nurture latent anti-Jewish feelings, while on the other hand, they continue formulating their ethical ukases and legal judgments almost exclusively on secularized teachings of the Hebrew sages.

Since the end of the cold war, the political class all over Europe claims its own bizarre brand of antifascist victimology by resurrecting the fascist straw man, as if the invocation of the fascist demonology could exonerate it from its fascist past and possibly give it a free pass in the eyes of Jews. It appears that liberal democracies in the EU and the USA cannot function at all without regurgitating fake philo-Semitic terms of endearment on the one hand, while indulging in a false self-denial on the other.

It might be worth considering setting up an international interfaith conference where scholars of different ethnic and intellectual backgrounds could discuss both the positive and the negative sides of different victimhoods. As of now, diverse and often conflicting victimhoods are not likely to bring about genuine reconciliation among different Europe peoples, let alone solve the rapidly emerging war of victimhoods in the increasingly racially fractured and balkanized European Union. Self-serving victimhoods only exacerbate the false prejudices of the Other and lay the ground for new conflicts.

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Sunic, Tomislav. “The Curse of Victimhood and Negative Identity.” Arutz Sheva: Israel News, 30 January 2015. <http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/16392#.VMuCwGjF9e9 >.

 

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Wagner as Metapolitical Revolutionary – Bolton

Richard Wagner as Metapolitical Revolutionary

By Kerry Bolton

 

Karl Marx reserved a special place of contempt for those he termed “reactionists.” These comprised the alliance that was forming around his time among all classes of people, high-born and low, who aimed to return to a pre-capitalist society. These were the remnants of artisans, aristocrats, landowners, and pastors, who had seen the ravages of industrialism and money-ethics then unfolding. Where there had once been craft, community, village, the marketplace, and the church, there was now mass production, class war, the city, and the stock exchange.

Rather than deploring capitalism, as one might suppose, Marx regarded this as an indispensable phase in the “wheel of history,” of the historical dialectic, which would through a conflict of thesis and antitheses result in a socialist and eventually a communist society. This was the inevitable unfolding of history according to Marx, based on as struggle for primacy by economic interests: class struggle, where primitive communism, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism represented a linear progression. Hence, anything that interfered with this process was “reactionism.”[1]

Capitalism itself would go through a stage of increasing internationalisation and concentration, whereby increasing numbers of bourgeois would be dispossessed and join the ranks of the proletariat that would make a revolution to overthrow capitalism.[2] Hence, Marx sought to overthrow the traditions and ethos of pre-capitalist society, and, given that dialectics means that the new “synthesis” incorporates elements of what it has overthrown, Marxian-socialism, as “reactionist” historians such as Oswald Spengler[3] and Julius Evola[4] have pointed out, was itself an aspect of capitalism.[5]

Marx came into a revolutionary milieu comprised of varying elements but which generally took inspiration from the French Revolution of 1789, with an emphasis on the “rights of man” that provided a reformist façade for the rise of the bourgeoisie. Hence these revolutionaries of the mid-19th century regarded themselves as “democrats” fighting for equality. However, they also saw the nation-state and the sovereignty of peoples as the liberating factor from princes, kings, dynasties, and empires that were seen as placing themselves above “the people.” Hence, nationalism became the revolutionary force of the century, albeit at times intended, like Jacobinism, as a prelude to a “universal republic.”

Volk and Nation as Revolutionary Forces

The German Revolution moved in a völkisch direction, where the Volk was seen as the basis of the state, and the notion of a Volk-soul that guided the formation and development of nations became a predominant theme that came into conflict with the French bourgeois liberal-democratic ideals. J. G. Fichte had laid the foundations of a German nationalism in 1807–1808 with his Addresses to the German Nation. Although like possibly all revolutionaries or radicals of the time, beginning under the impress of the French Revolution, by the time he had delivered his addresses to the German nation, he had already rejected Jacobinism, and his views became increasingly authoritarian and influenced by the Realpolitik of Machiavelli.

Johann Gottfried Herder had previously sought to establish the concept of the Volk-soul, and of each nation being guided by a spirit. This was a metaphysical conception of race, or more accurately Volk, that preceded the biological arguments of Wagner’s friend Count Arthur de Gobineau in his seminal racial treatise, The Inequality of the Human Races, which was to impress Wagner decades later. Herder’s doctrine is evident in Wagner’s, insofar as Herder stated that the Volk is the only class, and includes both King and peasant, and that “the people” are not the same as the rabble, heralded by Jacobinism and later Marxism. Herder upheld the individuality and separation of nations, that had fortuitously been separated by both natural and cultural barriers, and that these nations manifested innate differences one from the other, including in their religious outlooks.

Wagner’s rejection of the French ideals in favour of the Germanic, as one might expect, can be traced to aesthetic sensibilities, and his stay in Paris gave him a distaste for the “exaggerations” of French music.[6] In France Wagner was acquainted with Jews whom he came to distrust and said of this period that it had promoted his consciousness as a German:

On the other hand, I felt strongly drawn to gain a closer acquaintance of German history than I had secured at school. I had Raumer’s History of the Hohenstaufen within easy reach to start upon. All the great figures in this book lived vividly before my eyes. I was particularly captivated by the personality of that gifted Emperor Frederick II, whose fortunes aroused my sympathy so keenly that I vainly sought for a fitting artistic setting for them. The fate of his son Manfred, on the other hand, provoked in me an equally well-grounded, but more easily combated, feeling of opposition. . . .

Even at this time it delighted me to find in the German mind the capacity of appreciating beyond the narrow bounds of nationality all purely human qualities, in however strange a garb they might be presented. For in this I recognised how nearly akin it is to the mind of Greece. In Frederick II, I saw this quality in full flower. A fair-haired German of ancient Swabian stock, heir to the Norman realm of Sicily and Naples, who gave the Italian language its first development, and laid a basis for the evolution of knowledge and art where hitherto ecclesiastical fanaticism and feudal brutality had alone contended for power, a monarch who gathered at his court the poets and sages of eastern lands, and surrounded himself with the living products of Arabian and Persian grace and spirit–this man I beheld betrayed by the Roman clergy to the infidel foe, yet ending his crusade, to their bitter disappointment, by a pact of peace with the Sultan, from whom he obtained a grant of privileges to Christians in Palestine such as the bloodiest victory could scarcely have secured.[7]

This seemingly universalistic ideal of “humanity” is however at the root of his suspicion of the Jews as possessing traits inimical to “humanity.” Herder, Fichte, and other founders of German Idealism, including Kant, had taken the same view, their German nationalism including a certain universalism that saw the Germans as having a messianic world mission, just as the British, Jews, and Russians[8] have all held themselves to be bearers of a world mission vis-à-vis the whole of humanity. It was in Frederick however, that Wagner “beheld the German ideal in its highest embodiment.” “If all that I regarded as essentially German had hitherto drawn me with ever-increasing force, and compelled me to its eager pursuit, I here found it suddenly presented to me in the simple outlines of a legend, based upon the old and well-known ballad of ‘Tannhauser.’”[9]

Dresden Revolt and Bakunin

Having returned to Dresden from Paris in 1842, Wagner secured a position as a conductor at the Royal Theatre, a profession that failed to enthuse him over the course of seven years. However, it was here that the arch-revolutionist of anarchism, the Russian noble, Mikhail Bakunin, despite being a fugitive, sat in the audience at the public rehearsal of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony conducted by Wagner, who wrote:

At its close he walked unhesitatingly up to me in the orchestra, and said in a loud voice, that if all the music that had ever been written were lost in the expected world-wide conflagration, we must pledge ourselves to rescue this symphony, even at the peril of our lives. Not many weeks after this performance it really seemed as though this world-wide conflagration would actually be kindled in the streets of Dresden, and that Bakunin, with whom I had meanwhile become more closely associated through strange and unusual circumstances, would undertake the office of chief stoker.[10]

Wagner had met Bakunin in 1848, while the Russian was a fugitive from the Austrian authorities, in the house of a friend, the republican leader August Röckel. Wagner described the visage of Bakunin when they first met: “Everything about him was colossal, and he was full of a primitive exuberance and strength. I never gathered that he set much store by my acquaintance. Indeed, he did not seem to care for merely intellectual men; what he demanded was men of reckless energy.”[11]

Bakunin looked to his fellow Slavs as what we might call the new barbarians, who could regenerate humanity, “because the Slavs had been less enervated by civilization.”[12] He could cite Hegelian dialectics at length and was committed to the destruction of the old order, and saw in the Russian peasant the best hope of starting a world conflagration. The destructive urge of the Russian giant bothered Wagner. Bakunin cared nothing for the French, although having started his ideological journey by reading Rousseau, like many radicals of the time, nor for the ideals of republicanism or democracy. Wagner however, feared that such forces of destruction, once unleashed, would annihilate all culture, and that nothing could arise again:

Was any one of us so mad as to fancy that he would survive the desired destruction? We ought to imagine the whole of Europe with St. Petersburg, Paris, and London transformed into a vast rubbish-heap. How could we expect the kindlers of such a fire to retain any consciousness after so vast a devastation? He used to puzzle any who professed their readiness for self-sacrifice by telling them it was not the so-called tyrants who were so obnoxious, but the smug Philistines. As a type of these he pointed to a Protestant parson, and declared that he would not believe he had really reached the full stature of a man until he saw him commit his own parsonage, with his wife and child, to the flames.[13]

Bakunin was untempered fury, Wagner a contemplative aesthete who was to dwell for decades on the course of revolution as a means to a higher state of humanity, and who was ultimately to influence the course of history more so than his Russian friend.

Bakunin deplored Wagner’s intention to write a tragedy entitled “Jesus of Nazareth,” and implored Wagner to make it a work of contempt towards a figure whom Bakunin regarded as a weakling, while Wagner saw in Jesus the figure of a Hero. Indeed, Wagner, who sought the redemption of man through the return to nature and the overthrow of the superficiality of a decaying civilization, a pantheist and a heathen who looked to ancient Greece, nonetheless placed a focus on Jesus as a revolutionary hero whose meaning was that of redemption from mammon. He was to state to the Dresden Patriotic Club in the revolutionary year of 1848 that God would guide the revolution against “this daemonic idea of Money . . . with all its loathsome retinue of open and secret usury, paper-juggling, percentage and banker’s speculations. That will be the full emancipation of the human race, that will be the fulfilment of Christ’s pure teaching.”[14]

Yet paradoxically, again Bakunin betrayed his own repressed aestheticism when he intently listened to Wagner play and sing The Flying Dutchman and applauded enthusiastically. Wagner saw in Bakunin a man conflicted with the “purest ideal of humanity” and “a savagery entirely inimical to all civilization.” Wagner’s ideal was “the artistic remodelling of human society.” However, Wagner’s fears subsided when he found that Bakunin’s plans for destruction were as utopian as Wagner’s reshaping of humanity by aesthetics, and for all the zeal, Bakunin had no real means or following.[15]

Bakunin was back with Wagner in 1849, after a brief sojourn to see if the Slavs could be incited, and it was in Dresden that both were involved in the city’s revolt against the King of Saxony. Wagner on his own account felt no great attraction to democratic politics, but assumed the role of revolutionary it seems through a dissatisfaction with life: “My feelings of partisanship were not sufficiently passionate to make me desire to take any active share in these conflicts. I was merely conscious of an impulse to give myself up recklessly to the stream of events, no matter whither it might lead.”[16]

Nonetheless, the German democratic revolution was seen by many, including Wagner, as the means of dismantling principalities for the purpose of creating a united German nation. It was where a dichotomy between the democratic and the völkisch revolutions arose, the first derived from French inspiration and Jewish intellectualism such as that of Heine, the second from the roots of Germany, and expressed by Fichte, Hegel, and Herder.

Wager had already issued a clarion call for “Revolution” in an essay by that name just prior to the May 1849 revolt in Dresden. Like Bakunin, his revolution was a call to instinct and to vitalism, antithetical to the intellectualism of Jewish socialists and democrats. It was a romanticism of revolt that sought the overthrow of states because they suppressed the instinct, the vitality of life that welled up from within the Volk soul. He saw revolution as a “supernatural force” and referred to it as “a lofty goddess.” Wagner wrote: “I [the revolution] am the ever rejuvenating, ever fashioning Life.” “Everything must be in a state of becoming.” “Life is law unto itself.”[17] Wagner’s ode to vital forces had no kinship with the theoretical dissertations of Marx.

Yet, Wagner’s appeal was also to the kings and princes. He saw the ideal of the King as being the first among the Volk, and not as a debased hereditary ruler representing a single class. Wagner’s idea of Kingship harkened to the primeval Germans who selected their kings from among the populace on the basis of their heroism. Like Herder, Wagner saw the populous as one class, the Volk, and what Wagner was really fighting against was a system that intervened between Volk and King. Wagner wrote a völkisch appeal for princes and people to unite against the East, albeit unpublished, possibly because it did not express the sentiments of certain Jewish liberal publishers: “The old fight against the East returns again today. The people’s sword must not rust / Who freedom wish for aye.”[18] He wrote in an article published in the Dresdener Anzeiger of the intrinsic value of Kingship, and posed the question as to whether all the issues debated by the democrats cannot nonetheless be met under the personage of the King?

I must own, however, that I felt bound to urge this king to assume a much more familiar attitude towards his people than the court atmosphere and the almost exclusive society of his nobles would seem to render possible. Finally, I pointed to the King of Saxony as being specially chosen by Fate to lead the way in the direction I had indicated, and to give the example to all the other German princes.[19]

What did inspire Wagner was the revolt in Vienna that had seen workers and students unite. Yet Wagner was repelled by the rhetoric and the demagoguery of the revolutionary movement, which he regarded as “shallow.” It was the abhorrence of an aesthete who is instinctively repelled by the mob and its leaders.[20] Referring to the Dresden revolutionary committee of which he was a member, Wagner wrote that the part he played “as in everything else, was dictated by artistic motives.”[21]

Wagner had made enemies of the Court petty officials who surrounded the King. The pressure mounted to deprive Wagner of his position as Conductor of the Royal Theatre in Dresden, although the King resisted those pressures, and Wagner assured himself that the King had understood him. However, he went for a short period to Vienna. Wagner returned to Dresden, more concerned with “theatrical reform” than with social reform.

At this time however, Wagner’s friend Röckel, released on bail from jail for his role in the revolutionary movement, began to publish a journal extolling the aims of the French anarchist theorist Proudhon, to which Wagner states he was completely converted. He regarded his aesthetic revolution as first requiring a cleansing revolt by the “socialists” and “communists.” In this he as always sought to eliminate mammon from life, and to place humanity on an aesthetic foundation.

Proudhon, as Röckel explained to him,[22] advocated the elimination of the role of the middleman, which again meant the elimination of the role of the Jew, whom Proudhon described as a typical mercantile race, “exploiting,” “anti-human,” and “parasitic.”[23] Indeed, many in the socialist movement, including even Jews such as Marx, saw the Jew as the eternal middleman and socialism as the means by which humanity, including the Jews themselves, could be emancipated from a money-god that had shaped the entirety of modern civilization. Marx expressed the attitude of many in the Young Germany movement in stating of the Jews in an article specifically on the matter:

What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time. An organization of society which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make the Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would be dissipated like a thin haze in the real, vital air of society. On the other hand, if the Jew recognizes that this practical nature of his is futile and works to abolish it, he extricates himself from his previous development and works for human emancipation as such and turns against the supreme practical expression of human self-estrangement. We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time, an element which through historical development—to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed—has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily begin to disintegrate. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism. This is no isolated fact. The Jew has emancipated himself in a Jewish manner, not only because he has acquired financial power, but also because, through him and also apart from him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian nations. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews.[24]

Aside from Marx himself being a huckster motivated by self-interest and the “God of money,”[25] these sentiments were the common outlook of German radicals in the milieu in which Wagner worked and were to be expressed in similar terms a decade later by Wagner in his essay Judaism in Music, for which he has become irredeemable to many Jewish, Leftist, and liberal critics.

Wagner’s friend Bakunin saw Marx and Rothschild as part of “a single profiteering sect, a people of bloodsuckers, a single gluttonous parasite . . .”[26] Bakunin, started his career as a revolutionary with the Young Hegelians in Germany, with an article published in one of their journals in 1842, entitled “Reaction in Germany.” What Bakunin advocated for his fellow Slavs was a federated Slavic republic stretching across Europe, on the ruins of the Hapsburg melting-pot. Non-Slavic minorities would live under Slavic rule.

His grandiose aim did not find favor at the Congress of Slavic Nationalities that he attended in Prague in 1848. He appealed for collaboration among German, Hungarian, and Slavic radicals. He hoped for simultaneous revolts in Bohemia, Hungary, and the German states. Paradoxically, what the chief proponent of anarchism sought was a totalitarian authority and the suppression of “all manifestations of gabbing anarchy” across the federated Slav bloc. Such were the ideals of a current of the European revolution which fermented side-by-side and fought along with Jewish intellectuals, neo-Jacobins, and bourgeois democrats, most of whom regarded for one reason or another the nation-state and/or the Volk as the means of securing freedom against dynasties and empires.

Bakunin’s internationalism was but a phase that begun with the founding of the Internationale in 1864 and ended with his disillusionment with the “masses” in 1874; his internationalist-anarchism had comprised merely ten years of his life.[27] At the time of his friendship with Wagner, as they walked about Dresden in tumult, with Prussian troops advancing, Bakunin was a Pan-Slavic anti-Semite.

On May 1, 1849 the Chamber of Deputies of Saxony was dissolved, and Röckel, having been a Deputy, now lost his legal immunity. Wagner supported Röckel in the continuation of his journal, Volksblatt, which also provided a meagre income for Röckel’s family. While Röckel escaped to Bohemia, revolution broke out in Dresden, as Wagner busily worked on Volksblatt. It was in his position as a journalist that Wagner observed the revolutionary proceedings and the loss of control of the bourgeois liberal theorists to the mob. On May 3 bells rang out from St. Anne’s church tower as a call to take up arms. On Wagner’s account, he seems to have been driven by the enthusiasm of the moment. He recounts that he looked on as though watching a drama unfold until, caught up with the zeal of the crowd, he transformed from spectator to actor:

I recollect quite clearly that from that moment I was attracted by surprise and interest in the drama, without feeling any desire to join the ranks of the combatants. However, the agitation caused by my sympathy as a mere spectator increased with every step I felt impelled to take.[28]

While the King of Saxony and his Government and officials fled, the King of Prussia ordered his troops to march on Dresden. At this time news reached Dresden that an uprising had taken place at Württemberg, with the support of the local soldiery. Wagner saw the prospect of an invasion from Prussia as an opportunity to appeal to the patriotic sentiments of the Dresden soldiers, and Volksblatt presses came out with an appeal in bold type: “Seid Ihr mit uns gegen fremde Truppen?” (Are you on our side against the foreign troops?). The appeal was ineffectual. The initial attitude of Bakunin, who emerged from his hiding place to causally wander about the barricades, smoking a cigar and deriding amateurism of the revolutionary efforts, was that the revolt was chaotic, and he saw no point in remaining to support the doomed insurrection. However a provisional government was formed, while news was coming from throughout Germany that other cities were in revolt.[29]

On May 6 the Prussian troops fired on the market square. The heroic actions of a single individual to remain, unarmed, atop the barricades while everyone fled, rallied the defenders and they thwarted the Prussian advance. This heroism was now enough for Bakunin to throw in his lot with the revolt. The revolt lasted a few weeks, before which Wagner had already left Dresden, and started making arrangements for the performance of Tannhäuser at Weimar.

Wagner’s participation in the revolt seems to have been primarily as a propagandist and he, like Bakunin, did not see much substance in it. While Bakunin was inspired by an individual act of heroism, for Wagner he had been enthused by the sight of a well formed people’s militia on the march: the forerunner of a regenerated Volk.

Wagner was regarded as one of the primary leaders of the revolt and fled to Switzerland and from there to Paris. Here again he become acquainted with the Jews as middlemen in the music world, whom he had come to distrust previously in that city. He then went back to Zurich, where he wrote the pamphlets Kunst und Revolution (Art and Revolution) and Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (The Artwork of the Future). Back in Paris, Wagner started writing for a German radical journal, for which he prepared a lengthy essay, Kunst und Klima (“Art and Climate”) and then went back to Zurich.[30]

With the support of many German aristocrats and other well-placed individuals, Wagner returned to Germany via Weimar. In 1863, after petitioning Saxony, he was amnestied and permitted to resettle in Dresden.[31]

Those who see Wagner “selling-out” his socialist principles for the sake of royal patronage fail to understand that his “socialism” was not some type of class struggle for the rule of the proletariat, but was for a unified Volk from out of which would emerge a Hero-King-Redeemer. He maintained his closeness to many princes and princesses, counts and countesses, until finally securing the patronage of King Ludwig of Bavaria.[32]

“Communism”: Gemeinsamkeit

If Wagner was in 1849 still making allusions to a universalistic creed that was existing uneasily within the German völkisch freedom movement, having in 1841 written of “love for Universal Man,”[33] the same year (1849) he was articulating a conception of art that was thoroughly völkisch. In The Art-Work of the Future Wagner explains the völkisch basis of art, and in so doing the intrinsically “socialist” character of art not as an expression of the artist’s ego, but the artist as expressing the Volk-soul.

Ultimately his ideas were pantheistic and heathen, seeing Nature as the basis of human action, and the artificial civilization that had subjugated Nature as the object for revolt: “The real Man will therefore never be forthcoming, until true Human Nature, and not the arbitrary statutes of the State, shall model and ordain his Life; while real Art will never live, until its embodiments need be subject only to the laws of Nature, and not to the despotic whims of Mode.”[34]

Part III of his essay is devoted to “The Folk and Art,” which in his essay on Revolution and Art just shortly before, is relegated to being subsidiary to the “universal man.” The Volk now assumes the central role as the “vital force.” The Volk were all those, regardless of class, who rejected ego and considered themselves part of a “commonality.”[35] The subversion of this is the desire for “luxury,” and the subordination of the state and the Volk to capital, industry and the machine.

This alienation of man from Nature, observed Wagner, leads to “fashion,” where the “modern artist” creates a “freshly fangled fashion,” or “a thing incomprehensible,” by resorting to “the customs and the garb of savage races in new-discovered lands, the primal fashions of Japan and China, from time to time usurp as ‘Mannerisms,’ in greater or in less degree, each several departments of our modern art.”[36]

It is with socialism or “communism” that Wagner repudiated the great enemy of the art of the future: the individual aliened from the Volk. What is translated into English as “communism” was rendered in German as Gemeinsamkeit,[37] meaning “commonality,” hence we can discern something quite different between Wagner’s “communism” and what is today understood as “communism.”

It was not until several decades later that Wagner seems to have concluded that race differences preclude the desirability of states in constant flux according to external circumstances and that the folk should be a stable unit rather than a phase along the evolution to “Universal Man.” Hence, with his friend Count Arthur de Gobineau, author of the seminal Inequality of the Human Races, which made race a physical rather than a metaphysical question, being a major new influence on his thinking, Wagner explained in an essay “Hero-dom and Christendom,” in his magazine Bayreuther Blätter, that racial mixing among “noble” and “ignoble” races results in the irredeemable fall of the noble. For Wagner the noblest of all races was the “white.” Now Wagner wrote that the “uniform equality” of humanity, which he had once dreamt of as evolving into “Universal Man” under the leadership of the free German, “is unimaginable in any but a horrifying picture.”[38]

In 1850 Wagner published Judaism in Music, an important treatise in understanding his revolutionary ideas. Since the distinct characteristics of an object can be most clearly understood by comparing it with another object, the character of the German Volk was most evident by comparing it with the perceived traits of the Jews in their midst. Wagner alludes to this in a later essay, when stating that one can most readily state what is “German” by comparison with what is Jewish.[39] Judaism in Music was also the treatise that marked Wagner as a seminal leader of modern German “anti-Semitism” as a forerunner of National Socialism.

As noted, Wagner’s views on Jews were fairly typical of the ideologues of German Idealism, and of anti-capitalist radicals such as Proudhon, Bakunin, and Marx, the common belief being that Jews had detached themselves from “humanity,” and that the liberation of humanity from Jewishness would also emancipate the Jews.

As Wagner explained in Judaism in Music, he is only concerned with the Jews in culture rather than in politics or religion. As far as politics goes, with reference to Herr Rothschild as being “Jew of the Kings” rather than being content as “King of the Jews,” Wagner referred to the previous “Liberalism” of himself and his fellow radicals as “a not very lucid mental sport,” that failed to understand the true character of the Volk; and likewise, for all the radicals’ declaration on emancipating the Jews in theory, their remained an instinctive revulsion in practice.

So far from needing emancipation, the Jew “rules, and will rule, so long as Money remains the power before which all our doings and our dealings lose their force.”[40] Hence, being the middleman and the moneychanger, Jewish influence in the arts turns culture into an “art-bazaar.” While Wagner could still talk of the “Universal Man,” he nonetheless also refers in 1850 to something “disagreeably foreign” about the Jew no matter to which European nationality he belongs. While speaking the language of the nation in which he dwells, he nonetheless “speaks it always as an alien.”

Wagner had just a year previously written of Volk communities as subjected to change as per external circumstances, as a natural and desirable historical development, but here writes of a community as an enduring historical bond, and not as “the work of scattered units.” This is a development from his prior anarchistic definitions of communities as pragmatic rather than enduring: “only he who has unconsciously grown up within the bond of this community, takes also any share in its creations.”[41]

The Jew however has developed as a people, “outside the pale of any such community,’ as “splintered, soilless stock” whose communal attachment is to their God Jehova. Hence, the Jewish contribution to music, vocally, has been “a creaking, squeaking, buzzing snuffle,” “an intolerably jumbled babbler.” It is modern society based on money that has emancipated the Jew and therefore brought the Jew into the arts.

By 1850 then, Wagner had largely disposed of any former universalistic ideals, in favor of a völkisch doctrine. Over the next few decades, having recognized the folly of previous types of radicalism, he had fully embraced a völkisch ideology that remained rooted wholly in his first calling as an artist. Wagner’s ideal remained the elevating of humanity, led by the Germans, to higher levels of Being, of that which defines what is human, towards man-as-artist manifesting his creativity and appreciation for creativity within the context of the Volk community. Hence, the following year he wrote of his transcendence of the current isms: “I am neither a republican, nor a democrat, nor a socialist, nor a communist, but–an artistic being; and as such, everywhere that my gaze, my desire and my will extend, an out and out revolutionary, a destroyer of the old by the creation of the new.”[42]

His aesthetic ideals did not temper his zeal for revolution, but enhanced them, writing to a friend, “the bloodiest hatred for our whole civilization, contempt for all things deriving from it, and longing for nature . . . only the most terrific and destructive revolution could make our civilized beasts ‘human’ again.”[43]

His “anarchism” was the type of the free Germanic Volk who did not tolerate tyrants and whose concept of “freedom” was that of communal, Volk freedom, and not the egotism of the individual, a type of “anarchism” nonetheless that was postulated by Bakunin and later by Kropotkin, that states that communities are organically formed by free association from instinct, and not imposed by laws. “The same Wagnerian spirit favouring in music the revolt of emotional inspiration against classical rules favours in politics the revolt of instinctive Volk against law,” writes Peter Viereck.[44] By 1865 he had repudiated the widespread revolutionary spirit of 1848, as “a Jewish importation of French rationalism,” Viereck states.[45] Wagner explained his rejection of the prior era of revolt, writing in 1876 that,

I have no hesitation about styling the subsequent revolutions in Germany entirely un-German. “Democracy” in Germany is purely a translated thing. It exists merely in the “Press;” and what this German Press is, one must find out for oneself. But untowardly enough, this translated Franco-Judaico-German Democracy could really borrow a handle, a pretext and deceptive cloak, from the misprised and maltreated spirit of the German Folk. To secure a following among the people, “Democracy” aped a German mien; and “Deutschthum,” “German spirit,” “German honesty,” “German freedom,” “German morals,” became catchwords disgusting no one more than him who had true German culture, who had to stand in sorrow and watch the singular comedy of agitators from a non-German people pleading for him without letting their client so much as get a word in edgewise. The astounding unsuccessfulness of the so loud-mouthed movement of 1848 is easily explained by the curious circumstance that the genuine German found himself; and found his name, so suddenly represented by a race of men quite alien to him.[46]

While critics claim that Wagner reneged on his former revolutionary ideas to curry favor with the aristocracy, his greatest patron being King Ludwig of Bavaria, his great English admirer, the Germanophilic English-born philosopher, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who married Wagner’s daughter Eva, said of the maestro that he remained a revolutionist from 1840 to the day of his death, on the basis that you cannot separate corrupt society from corrupt art.[47]

Wagner’s revolutionary “freedom” was the innate German instinct for freedom; not the French, nor the English nor the Jewish conceptions of humanism and liberalism, of freedom for commerce and for parliaments. That völkisch freedom could as well be served in the ancient institution of a King if that King embodied the völkisch spirit. The Wagnerian leader is a nexus with the divine and the highest embodiment of the Volk. Wagner referred to this leader who would liberate the Germans as a Volk, rather than as a class of money interests, as a “hero,” as the “folk-king” and as the legendary “Barbarossa,” the German’s King Arthur who awakens from a slumber when his people are most endangered. Wagnerians looked for the Germanic Messiah, the reborn Barbarossa as the saviour of Germany.

Even in 1848 Wagner sought a King who would embody the Volk; a King who would be “the first of the Volk” and not merely representative of a class, and he sought to elevate the King of Saxony to that position, rather than to overthrow him.[48] He was a “republican” in a very definite sense, not of wishing to overthrow the King, but of the king leading the res publica, the public–the people–the Volk–as a unitary whole. Such a “folk-king” must transcend class and selfish interests. Here we see that Wagner could have no time for the banalities of parliament or of class war. Such matters as parliaments, constitutions and parties were divisive to the völkisch organism, undermined the authority of the folk-king, and reduced the Volk to separate constituents rather than maintaining a unitary organic state.[49] However Wagner drew a distinction between King and Monarchy, because a monarchy is a hereditary class that does not arise from the Volk, and indeed we see how monarchies might disintegrate over centuries, where they are based on birth rather than achievement, and that birth-lineage often becomes degenerate and effete, perhaps with no recourse other than through revolution, which more generally throws up a rulership that is worse. Wagner looked to the primeval Germanic Kinship drawn from selection among free men, which was the rule of Herodom, the divine Hero[50] often the plot of his operas.

In his essay Art and Revolution Wagner introduced his remarks by an admission of his own muddled thinking at the time of the Dresden revolt. He sought to amalgamate the ideas of Hegel, Proudhon, and Feuerbach into a revolutionary philosophy. “From this arose a kind of impassioned tangle of ideas, which manifested itself as precipitance and indistinctness in my attempts at philosophical system.”[51]

Wagner explains what he means by his frequent references to “communism,” not wishing to be misconstrued as being a supporter of the Paris Commune, as was then frequently supposed, but as a term meaning the repudiation of “egos.” Wagner explains that by “communism” he means the collectivity of the “Volk,” “that should represent the incomparable productivity of antique brotherhood, while I looked forward to the perfect evolution of this principle as the very essence of the associate Manhood of the Future.” This Germanic conception was antithetical to the Jacobin, liberal-democratic mind of the French.[52] He regarded Germany as having a mission among the nations, by virtue of a “German spirit,” to herald a new dawn of creativity that renounced egotism and the economics that was being driven by it.[53] Quoting Thomas Carlyle[54] on the epochal impact of the French Revolution and the “spontaneous combustion” of humanity, Wagner saw this mission of the “German race” as one of creation rather than destruction and the “breaking out of universal mankind into Anarchy.”[55] In Art and Revolution Wagner addressed the question of the impact of the late 1840s European revolt on the arts, and where the artist had been in the era preceding the tumult. It was the “Hellenic race,” once overcoming its “Asiatic birthplace,” which birthed a “strong manhood of freedom,” most fully expressed in their god Apollo, who had slain the forces of Chaos, to bring forth “the fundamental laws of the Grecian race and nation.” It was in Greece, including Sparta, where art and state and war-craft were an organic entity.[56] The Athenian “spirit of community” fell to “egoism” and split itself along a thousand lines of egoistic cleavage.”[57] The degradation of the Roman world succumbed to “the healthy blood of the fresh Germanic nations,” whose blood poured into the “ebbing veins of the Roman world.” But art had sold itself to “commerce.” Mercury, the God of commerce, had become the ruler of “modern art.”

This is Art, as it now fills the entire civilised world! Its true essence is Industry; its ethical aim, the gaining of gold; its aesthetic purpose, the entertainment of those whose time hangs heavily on their hands. From the heart of our modern society, from the golden calf of wholesale Speculation, stalled at the meeting of its cross-roads, our art sucks forth its life-juice, borrows a hollow grace from the lifeless relics of the chivalric conventions of mediaeval times, and—blushing not to fleece the poor, for all its professions of Christianity—descends to the depths of the proletariat, enervating, demoralising, and dehumanising everything on which it sheds its venom.[58]

In ancient Greece, by contrast, art belonged to the entire populace; not to a single class. The contrast between Greek and modern education shows the differences between a Volk and a state of classes educated for commerce:

The Greeks sought the instruments of their art in the products of the highest associate culture: we seek ours in the deepest social barbarism. The education of the Greek, from his earliest youth, made himself the subject of his own artistic treatment and artistic enjoyment, in body as in spirit: our foolish education, fashioned for the most part to fit us merely for future industrial gain, gives us a ridiculous, and withal arrogant satisfaction with our own unfitness for art, and forces us to seek the subjects of any kind of artistic. . . .[59]

The task was not to restore the Greek or anything else from the past, but to create new art, freed from commerce:

From the dishonouring slave-yoke of universal journeymanhood, with its sickly Money-soul, we wish to soar to the free manhood of Art, with the star-rays of its World-soul; from the weary, overburdened day-labourers of Commerce, we desire to grow to fair strong men, to whom the world belongs as an eternal, inexhaustible source of the highest delights of Art.[60]

Only the “mightiest force of revolution”[61] can overthrow the money despotism and inaugurate the free “republic” where the whole populace partakes of the art that expresses its spirit. This however, was not a revolution of “the windy theories of our socialistic doctrinaires,” who sought to level and proletarianize until there is no possibility of art. The aim was not universal proletarianization, as per Karl Marx, but what Wagner called “artistic manhood, to the free dignity of Man,”[62] emancipated from the economic treadmill.

Bayreuth as the Center of the German Revolution

Wagner’s redemption of humanity, having found a patron in Ludwig of Bavaria, became centred on Bayreuth, where Wagner’s pageants could be performed and a journal published, the Bayreuther Blätter, that would articulate the political and aesthetic ideals implicit in those operas. Wagner proceeded with a metapolitical strategy decades before the Italian Communist theorist Gramsci formulated his strategy of the “long march through the institutions” and subtlety redirecting a society by first changing its culture.[63]

These ideas, together with the racial doctrines of de Gobineau, were intended to permeate German society, emanating from a cultural and meptapolitical center, Bayreuth, intended as the microcosm of a völkisch classless society. The festival house at Bayreuth was what Wagner’s son-in-law Chamberlain called in 1900 “a standard for armed warriors to rally around” in their revolt against corruption.[64]

Under the Second Reich of Bismarck, Bayreuth became a center of pilgrimage for those seeking “what Wagner’s Meistersinger chorus calls ‘the holy German art.’” The Second Reich relied on Bayreuth to give it an historical and mythic cult connecting the Golden Age of Frederick Barbarossa with that of Bismarck. Without Bayreuth the Bismarckian Reich would have been nothing more than a Prussian state edifice. Wagner Societies throughout Germany propagated the ideas emanating from Bayreuth.

Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Wagner’s son-in-law, whose racial history[65] championed the Holy Grail of Germandom, expounded mystically in Wagner’s operas, was the direct link between Wagner and the Third Reich. It seems likely that Wagner would have viewed with enthusiasm the mass parades of armed Volk, the purging of the arts, the breaking of usury, and the mantle of virtual kingship assumed by a war veteran from out of the people.

As we have seen, whether Wagner’s views are explicitly the doctrinal antecedent for National Socialism per se is questionable. His views on race and Jews were quite typical of revolutionaries of the time, including those of non-Germans such as Proudhon and Bakunin. History has been kinder to these than to Wagner because, despite their revolutionary political commitment, and Wagner’s primary commitment to the arts, it was Wagner who has been the greater influence on history, attesting to the greater influence of the metapolitical over the political.

Notes

[1] Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), pp. 46-47.

[2] Marx, The Communist Manifesto, pp. 41, 44.

[3] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971), Vol. II, pp. 402, 506.

[4] Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 2002), pp. 167-68.

[5] Cf. K. R. Bolton, “Marx Contra Marx: A Traditionalist Conservative Critique of the Communist Manifesto,” http://www.anamnesisjournal.com/issues/2-web-essays/43-kr-bolton K. R. Bolton, The Banking Swindle: Money Creation and the State (London: Black House Publishing 2013), “The Real Right’s Answer to Socialism and Capitalism,” pp. 152-74.

[6] Richard Wagner, My Life, Part I, http://www.wagneropera.net/MyLife/RW-My-Life-Part-1-1813-1842.htm

[7] Ibid.

[8] British = a civilizing mission, Jews = a domineering material mission, Russians = a metaphysical mission.

[9] Richard Wagner, My Life, Part I, op. cit.

[10] Ibid., Part II, http://www.wagneropera.net/MyLife/RW-My-Life-Part-2-1842-50.htm

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Cited by Paul Lawrence Rose, Wager: Race and Revolution (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), p. 52.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Wagner, “Revolution,” cited by Peter Viereck, Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2004), p. 109.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Richard Wagner, Part II, op. cit.

[20] K. R. Bolton, Artists of the Right (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012), inter alia.

[21] Richard Wagner, Part II, op. cit.

[22] Paul Lawrence Rose, p. 29.

[23] Ibid., p. 64.

[24] Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question,” February, 1844 in Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher; http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/jewish-question/

[25] K. R. Bolton, The Psychotic Left (London: Black House Publishing, 2013), pp. 70-100.

[26] Michael Bakunin, 1871, Gesammelte Werke, vol. 3 (Berlin, 1924), pp. 204-16.

[27] Max Nomad, Apostles of Revolution (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1939), “The Heretic: Michael Bakunin: Apostle of ‘Pan-Destruction’.”

[28] Richard Wagner, My Life, Part II, op. cit.

[29] Wagner, Part II, ibid.

[30] Wagner, Part II, ibid.

[31] Wagner, Part IV, http://www.wagneropera.net/MyLife/RW-My-Life-Part-4-1861-1864.htm

[32] Wagner, Part IV, ibid.

[33] Richard Wagner, “Art and Climate,” 1841, p. 264, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/wagclim.htm

[34] Richard Wagner, The Art-Work of the Future, 1849, p. 72, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/wagartfut.htm

[35] Richard Wagner, Art-Work, ibid., Chapter I, Part III.

[36] Richard Wagner, ibid., Part V, p. 88.

[37] Richard Wagner, ibid., Part V, p. 147.

[38] Richard Wagner, “Hero-dom and Christendom,” 1881, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/waghero.htm

[39] Richard Wagner, “What is German,” 1876, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/wagwiger.htm

[40] Richard Wagner, Judaism in Music, 1850, p. 82, http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/wagjuda.htm

[41] Richard Wagner, Judaism in Music, p. 85.

[42] Richard Wager, 1851, cited by Paul Lawrence Rose, op. cit., p. 177.

[43] Wagner, 1851, cited by Rose, ibid.

[44] Peter Viereck, op. cit., p. 108.

[45] Ibid., p. 109.

[46] Richard Wagner, What is German, op. cit., p. 167.

[47] Cited by Peter Viereck, ibid., p. 109.

[48] Peter Viereck, op. cit., pp. 111-112.

[49] Ibid., p. 112. Viereck calls all of this “monstrous sophistries.”

[50] Richard Wagner, Bayreuther Blatter, September 1881.

[51] Richard Wagner (1849) “Art and Revolution,” in The Art-Work of the Future, op. cit., Vol. 1, 1895, p. 26.

[52] Richard Wagner (1849) Art and Revolution, ibid, p. 29.

[53] Richard Wagner, ibid, p. 30.

[54] Thomas Carlyle, History of Frederick II of Prussia, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25808/25808-h/25808-h.htm

[55] Richard Wagner, Art and Revolution, op. cit., p. 30.

[56] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 33.

[57] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 36.

[58] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 43.

[59] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 48.

[60] Richard Wagner, ibid., p. 55.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid., p. 57.

[63] Steven Yates, “Understanding the Culture War,” http://www.lewrockwell.com/yates/yates24.html

[64] Peter Viereck, op. cit., p. 115.

[65] Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (London: John Lane Company, 1911).

 

—————-

Bolton, Kerry. “Wagner as Metapolitical Revolutionary.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 20 May 2013. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/05/wagner-bicentennial-symposiumwagner-as-metapolitical-revolutionary/ >.

 

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Otto Strasser & National Socialism – Gottfried

“Otto Strasser and National Socialism” by Paul Gottfried (PDF – 714 KB):

Otto Strasser and National Socialism

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Gottfried, Paul. “Otto Strasser and National Socialism.” Modern Age, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Spring 1969), pp. 142-151. Retrieved from:  <http://www.mmisi.org/ma/13_02/gottfried.pdf >.

 

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Dostoevsky on Socialism – Lossky

Dostoevsky on Socialism

By Nikolai Onufriyevich Lossky

Translated by Mark Hackard

 

Translator’s Note: Philosopher Nikolai Onufriyevich Lossky (1870-1965) gives us a fine analysis of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s complex views on socialism. While Dostoevsky supported just economic arrangements for workers and the peasantry, he also vehemently rejected the atheism and materialism that underpinned so many socialist ideals. Russia’s great writer was truly a prophet, right down to foreseeing famine, cannibalism and the deaths of 100 million people that would characterize twentieth-century Communism. Let it be noted that the sponsors of this “experiment” were the forces of international capital, the same liberal oligarchs who control the West to this day.

***

“I could never understand the notion,” says Dostoevsky, “that only one-tenth of people should attain higher development, and the remaining nine-tenths should serve only as a means and material to that goal while themselves remaining in darkness. I don’t want to think and live in any way but with the faith that our ninety million Russians (or however many will be born) will all someday be educated, humanized and happy.”(Diary of a Writer, 1876, Jan.) In Dostoevsky’s notebooks, the thought of these unhappy nine-tenths of humanity is repeated many times. From the years of his youth to the end of his life, he was concerned over questions of social justice, the necessity of securing every person the means for developing a spiritual life, the protection of the dignity of the human person and a defense against arbitrary rule.

In his novels, Dostoevsky speaks much of the wounds inflicted upon man’s soul by the offenses resulting from social and economic inequality. In Diary of a Writer, he write much about the cruel force of capital, about a proletariat exhausted by poverty and labor, etc. Dolinin says that “Like a true follower of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky dreams of achieving harmony on earth through love,” but he himself “stirs up class struggle in his every stroke whenever he begins to speak of the oppressed past and present, in the West and in Russia.”

The most influential movement from the nineteenth century to our day, one that has tried to enact social justice in full measure, is socialism. And Dostoevsky’s attitude to socialism will be the subject of our chapter. Dostoevsky himself was a participant in the socialist movement as a member of Petrashevsky’s Circle, and for that he was almost subject to execution and endured eight years of hard labor and exile. Inasmuch as Dostoevsky spiritually matured, within him there developed an ever-growing hatred for that type of socialism which was most widespread from the second half of the nineteenth century up to our time, a hatred namely for revolutionary atheist socialism based upon a materialist worldview morally and religiously unfounded. For Dostoevsky the highest value was the individual human person and his free spiritual development. Yet revolutionary socialism focuses all its attention upon material goods and neither values the individual person nor cares for the freedom of spiritual life.

In Dostoevsky’s reading, the spiritual makeup of the bourgeois and the materialist socialist is homogeneous: both value material goods above all else. “The present socialism,” write Dostoevsky, “in Europe and here in Russia, removes Christ everywhere and cares foremost about bread, summons science and asserts that the reason for all human calamities is one – poverty, the struggle for existence, ‘society.’” These socialists, “in my observation, in their expectation of a future arrangement of society without personal property, love money terribly in the meantime and value it even to the extreme, but namely in accordance with the idea they attach to it.” (Dostoevsky’s wonderful letter to V.A. Alekseev on the three temptations offered by the devil to Christ, June 7th, 1876, No. 550)

Beforehand there was a moral formulation of the matter: “There were Fourierists and Cabetists, arguments and debates over various quite refined things. But now the leaders of the proletariat have already done away with all this” and the struggle is governed by the slogan, “Ote-toi de là que je m’y mette” (“Get out of here, I’m taking your place”). Any means therein are counted as permissible: the ringmasters of materialist socialism say they do not consider them, the bourgeoisie, capable of becoming brothers to the people, and therefore they simply move against them with force, while brotherhood is denied outright:

‘Brotherhood will be formed from the proletariat later, and you – you are one hundred million souls condemned to extermination and nothing more. You are finished for the sake of humanity’s happiness.’ Others among the ringmasters directly say that they need no brotherhood whatsoever, that Christianity is nonsense and that the future of humanity will be designed on a scientific basis. (Diary of a Writer, 1877 Feb.)

If the moral foundations of society’s structure are rejected, then social unity will prove unachieveable. “How shall you unite men,” asks Dostoevsky, answering Gradovsky with regard to the latter’s article containing criticism of the author’s Pushkin Speech, “to reach your civil goals if you have no basis in a great and initial moral idea?” Dostoevsky at once points to this initial great idea: all moral principles, he says, “are based upon the idea of personal absolute self-perfection ahead, in the ideal, for this holds everything within, all aspirations and all cravings, and, it would be, thence derive all of our civil ideals. Just try and unite men into a civil society with the only goal of ‘saving our tummies.’ You’ll get nothing but the moral formula of Chacun pour soi et Dieu pour tous. With such a formula, no civil institution will last long.” (Diary of a Writer, 1877, Feb.) On the contrary, Dostoevsky’s short formula composes the whole essence of the Christian worldview. The Christian ideal of personal absolute self-perfection leads to the Kingdom of God, in which every member loves God more than himself and all people created by God as himself.

Behavior is right only inasmuch as it consciously or instinctively is guided by such a love, with which is closely connected love for impersonal absolute values – truth, beauty, etc. Not only personal individual relations, but also social ties, any social hierarchy, and any social subordination and command carried out in good conscience, should in finality ascend to the ideal of absolute good under God. This notion was naively but correctly expressed by Dostoevsky’s Captain Lebyadkin, who responded after listening to the arguments of the atheists: “If there is no God, then what kind of captain am I after this!” (Demons) In Russian philosophical literature, thought on the religious basis of social life is especially well developed in Vladimir Soloviev’s The Justification of the Good and in S. Frank’s book The Spiritual Foundations of Society.

Atheist socialists, having rejected the idea of unselfish moral duty and counting the drive for advantage and self-preservation as man’s only motive of behavior, at the same time demand that the citizen of the future society renounce “rights to property, family and freedom.” “Man can only be so designed through terrible violence, his placement under dreadful systems of spying and the continuous control of a most despotic power.” (Diary of a Writer, 1877, Feb.) In a society deprived of the spiritual ideal, people are such that, “give them bread, and they will become enemies to each other out of boredom.” (Letters, No. 550) “Never shall they be able to allot amongst each other,” says the Grand Inquisitor, and even the bread acquired by them will turn to stone in their hands.

Dostoevsky compares the project of building a society without a moral foundation, a society based only on science and upon imaginary scientific axioms like “the struggle for existence,” to the construction of the Tower of Babel; attempting to design something along the lines of an anthill, men will not create wealth, but rather will come to such ruin as to end in cannibalism. (1877, November) In Demons Shigalev developed the program for his anthill. “Proceeding from limitless freedom, I conclude,” he says, “with unlimited despotism.” Pyotr Verkhovensky relates that “he has every member of his [secret] society watching over the other and obligated to inform.” “All are slaves and in slavery are equal. In extreme cases, slander and murder, but mainly equality.”

Shigalev’s project seemed a caricature created through Dostoevsky’s antipathy toward atheist socialism. Now, however, we must admit that the Bolshevik Revolution enacted the Shigalev system and even very likely surpassed it. In Bolshevik socialism, spying has been reached the point that parents and children often do not trust one another. The Bolshevik despotism is more multidimensional and petty than the despotism of some African potentate; slander and murder are applied on the widest scale. There is not the slightest freedom of conscience under the Bolsheviks (for a teacher there is not even freedom of silence on religious matters), nor is there freedom of thought, freedom of print or legal guarantees defending the individual from arbitrary rule; the exploitation of workers by the state is carried out to a degree undreamed of by capitalists under the bourgeois regime.

Dostoevsky insistently repeats that revolutionary atheist socialism will lead to such devastation as to bring about anthropophagy. His prophecy was realized literally: in the USSR there were at least two periods of cannibalism, in 1920-21 as a result of famine caused by “War Communism,” and in 1933 as a result of famine caused by the rapid shift from individual agriculture to collective farms. A shocking picture of cases of cannibalism can be found in Soviet literature, such as in Vyacheslav Ivanov’s short story “Empty Arapia,” for example.

Conceiving clearly by which paths it’s likely impossible to arrive at the establishment of social justice, Dostoevsky himself neither developed a specific positive ideal of social order, nor did he adopt one from other thinkers. In 1849 during his interrogation, Dostoevsky confessed that socialist “systems,” just as Fourier’s system, did not satisfy him, but alongside this announced that he considered the ideas of socialism, under the condition of their peaceful achievement, “sacred and moral, and most importantly universal, the future law of humanity without exception.” Such a conviction Dostoevsky preserved until the end of his days. This is clearly visible from his article on the occasion of the death of George Sand in 1876. With deep emotion, Dostoevsky touchingly speaks of George Sand’s socialism, which was seeking to secure the spiritual freedom of the individual and was founded upon moral principles, “not upon the necessity of the anthill.” (1876, June) But at this time of his life, Dostoevsky required that social order definitively was based on Christ’s testament. He wrote to V.A. Alekseev in June of 1876:

Christ knew that by bread alone, one cannot bring man to life. If there will be no spiritual life, the ideal of Beauty, then man will languish and die, he will go mad and kill himself or descend into pagan fantasies. And as Christ in Himself and in His Word bore the ideal of Beauty, He then decided it better to imbue in souls the ideal of Beauty; having this at heart, all men will become brothers to one another and then, of course, working for one another, they will be wealthy. (No. 550)

Dostoevsky was by all appearances a supporter of a type of “Christian socialism,” but he says nothing specific about its economic and legal structure. He has only one mystical-economic position announced by him through the name of some kind of interlocutor of his, the “paradoxalist,” and it is a position he obviously approves. “A nation should be born and rise, in its vast majority, on the soil from which the bread and trees grow.”

In the land, in the soil, there is something sacramental. If you want humanity to be reborn for the better, almost making men from beasts, then endow them with land, and you shall achieve your aim. At the very least we have the land and the commune.

Speaking on France, the paradoxalist directly clarifies his thinking: “In my opinion, work in a factory: the workshop is also a legitimate business and will always be born alongside already cultivated land – such is its law. But let every worker know that he has somewhere a garden under the golden sun and grapevines, his own, or more likely, a communal garden, and that in this garden lives his wife, a glorious woman, not one picked up off the road.” “Let him at least know that there his children will grow with the earth, with the trees, and with the quail they catch; that they are at school, and school is in the field; and that he himself, having worked enough in his age, will arrive there to rest, and then to die.” The bases for development of such a system he located in Russia. “The Russian factory worker has still kept a connection with the countryside, and the Russian peasantry has the village commune.” (Diary of a Writer, 1876, July-August)

As is known, love for the village commune among Russian populists was tied to the dream that the habit of communal land ownership would ease the enactment of socialism for the Russian people. This dream was hardly reasonable, as land in the village commune was divided into plots cultivated by each family individually. At the present time under the Bolshevik regime, the shift from a family’s individual work over a delegated plot of land to the collective labor of the kolkhoz in communal fields is being accomplished extremely painfully.

Besides notions of each man’s connection to the land, Dostoevsky also has many considerations on a just social order, but they all concern only the moral and religious conditions for the appearance and preservation of such an order; on its actual structure he provides no information.

In the West, Dostoevsky says in his “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions,” liberty, equality and fraternity are declared as principles upon which life should be built. But where the bourgeoisie holds power, freedom is in the possession of the millionaire: he does as he wishes, and those without any millions are at their mercy. Such criticism of the bourgeois regime is expressed in various forms by Marxists and especially Bolsheviks. And Dostoevsky recognizes that in the capitalist system, freedom provided by the law to the citizen remains without the possibility of its realization among those classes of the populace who do not have the material means to enjoy it.

Dostoevsky characterizes the equality that concerns people in modern society as envious: it is comprised of the wish to degrade those spiritually superior. (Diary of a Writer, 1877, February) Instead of fraternity, Dostoevsky finds everywhere only fighting for one’s own equal value; genuine brotherhood, meanwhile, exists where the ego sacrifices itself for society, and society itself gives over all rights to the person. Such a genuine brotherhood exists foremost where internal freedom is achieved through overcoming one’s will, and there will be a noble equality free from envy for others’ spiritual gifts. In a society guided by such principles, there is no necessity to sacrifice all one’s property for the common benefit, even more so as even the renunciation of property by all the rich would be only “a drop in the sea” and would not destroy poverty.

One must do “what the heart orders.” If the heart “orders you to give away your estate, then give it away,” but there is no need for dressing up in homespun coats or adopting the “simple life” for this; “it is better to raise a peasant to your level of refinement.” “Only your resolve to do everything for the sake of active love is obligatory and important.” “We must be concerned more about light, the sciences and strengthening love. Then wealth will grow as a matter of fact, and genuine wealth.” Dostoevsky calls such a solution to the social question the Russian solution; it is based on the Christian ideal of life, and he considers the spirit of the Russian people that developed Russian Orthodoxy to be Christian in its preponderance. (Diary of a Writer, 1877, February)

Having become acquainted in Dostoevsky’s Pushkin Speech with similar thoughts of his on the conditions for resolving the social question, Professor Gradovsky penned a critical article; he said that Dostoevsky put forth a “mighty propagation of personal morality, but no hint of social ideals.” In other words, Gradovsky understood Dostoevsky as a follower of the notion that only “personal improvement in the spirit of Christian love” is needed, while forms of social order are irrelevant, for kind and loving people will fill any social form with good content.

Such a unidimensional social philosophy exists. In this sphere, there are two opposed doctrines. According to one, all of man’s shortcomings, his vices and crimes, are conditioned upon the imperfection of the social structure; it stands to perfect the social structure, and man’s behavior will become good. According to the other doctrine, quite to the contrary, correct behavior both in individual and social relations depends only upon personal morality, and forms of social order are irrelevant. Dostoevsky harshly rejected the first of these one-dimensional theories, and Gradovsky assumed that he must have been a representative of the opposite and also unidimensional doctrine. Vladimir Soloviev termed this one-sidedness “abstract subjectivism in morality.” In The Justification of the Good, he clearly and convincingly proves that subjective good is insufficient, and in addition a “collective incarnation” of good made from the perfection of the social order is necessary – and so human society would become “organized morality.” The state is never solely comprised of good people, and therefore it is necessary to organize such a social order that would promote the restraint of evil and the achievement of good.

Like Pushkin, Dostoevsky strikes us not only with the force of his artistic creation, but also with the force of his mind. Therefore it’s difficult to permit that he fell into such a crude unidimensional theory of “abstract subjectivism.” And he in fact was indignant over Gradovsky’s criticism and wrote him an answer in Diary of a Writer, in which he attempted to prove that he was free from the one-sidedness ascribed to him. Nonetheless, Dostoevsky is interpreted as a proponent of abstract subjectivism in our time, as well. We shall examine this question in detail.

Answering Gradovsky, Dostoevsky clearly says that religious and moral ideas, along with the improvement tied to them, serve as a point of departure in the search for a corresponding organization of society: due to these ideals, men will begin to search for “how they should organize themselves to preserve the jewel of great value they received, not losing anything from it, and find such a civil formula of common living that would help them advance to all the world the moral treasure they’ve obtained in all its glory.”

If the spiritual ideal of any nation begins to “shake and weaken,” alongside it “the entire civic rule” collapses. (1880, August) Not only that, even with the existence of well-organized social forms, morally unsuitable men contrive in certain cases to find the means to bypass the law and distort the spirit of social forms, from which, of course, it does not follow that these forms have no meaning. Dostoevsky therefore resolves to say that personal improvement is “not only the beginning of everything,” “but the continuation of everything and its outcome.” (Ibid) However tempting it may be to interpret these words in the spirit of abstract subjectivism, we must remember that they were written in the response to Gradovsky, where Dostoevsky removes himself from the professor’s reproach over one-sidedness, and by these words he only wants to express the notion that “social and civic ideals” are connected “organically to moral ideals,” and that it is impossible to divide them into “two halves” isolated from one another. (Ibid)

Consequently, Dostoevsky did not deny the necessity of a certain ideal of just social organization. Without a doubt, he had such an ideal or was searching for it. In which direction? By all appearances and as in his youth, in the direction of socialism, though neither revolutionary nor atheist, but Christian. As has been said, he hoped like the populists that a perfected order would evolve from the Russian village commune. He considered it necessary that every worker, and especially his wife and children, keep their ties to the land and have a garden, whether personal or communal. Especially valuing freedom, he was confident that the social ideals developed by Russia and deriving from “Christ and individual self-perfection” would be “more liberal” than those of Europe. (Ibid)

Dostoevsky also considers possible the preservation of property rights, and apparently even land and production rights, in the future order. It will be said, of course, “What kind of socialism is this?” In answering, we will remind the reader that there exist attempts to develop the ideal of a socialist order in which the right of personal property to the means of production would be preserved, though subjected to legal restrictions, due to which the economy would serve not the goal of personal enrichment, but the needs of society and the state. We shall point, for an example, to the work of Professor S. Gessen, “The Problem of Legal Socialism.” (Contemporary Notes, 1924-1928) One hardly has to keep the word socialism for signifying such a complex social order that combines valuable, practicable dimensions of the socialist ideal with valuable dimensions of individual management. However, we will not argue over words. It is only important that the creative efforts of many states such as the United States and Great Britain are directed toward the development of such a complex social order.

Looking at how difficult this process of developing a new system is and what kind of special knowledge, both theoretical and practical, it demands, we fully understand why Dostoevsky has no defined teaching on it. As a religious thinker and moralist, he confidently spoke of the religious and moral bases of a just order, but as a man of extraordinary intellect, he understood perfectly well that to elaborate a concrete doctrine on a new economic system and its legal forms was a matter for politico-economic specialists and practical social agents. Besides that, the actualization of these problems was premature in his time. Only fifty years after his death, due to the extreme primacy of technology, the rationalization of production, and the ever-decreasing number of workers needed for physical labor, the development of a new economic system became urgently necessary.

We examined Dostoevsky’s most important literary creations and became acquainted with his thoughts on central questions of worldview. Everywhere with him, we found as the basis Christ and His two commandments that compose the essence of Christianity – love for God more than for oneself and love for one’s neighbor as oneself. Therefore, we can call his worldview authentically Christian.

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Lossky, Nikolai Onufriyevich. “Dostoevsky on Socialism [Parts I and II].” The Soul of the East, 30 May & 7 June 2014. <http://souloftheeast.org/2014/05/30/dostoevsky-on-socialism-pt-i/ >; <http://souloftheeast.org/2014/05/30/dostoevsky-on-socialism-pt-i/ >.

 

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Berdyaev & Modern Anti-Modernism – Bertonneau

Nicolas Berdyaev and Modern Anti-Modernism

By Thomas F. Bertonneau

 

A paradox of modernity is that, from its beginnings in Eighteenth Century rationalism, it has been accompanied by a veritable polyphony of dissent. The advocates of rationalism – and of progress – have inveterately denounced this heterogeneous arousal of dissident judgment under the sweeping term reaction; but that term, reaction or reactionism, applies much more appropriately to the Enlightenment itself than it does to the critique of the Enlightenment, or to the critique of the Enlightenment’s swift self-transfiguration into Revolution.

Already in the early Nineteenth Century various strands of Romanticism partook in the gathering critique of rallying progress. The development of a poet like William Wordsworth from a youthful admirer of the Jacobins to a Tory, whose ballad-like poems celebrate tradition against the encroachments of method, offers a case in point; and Wordsworth’s French contemporary Alfred de Vigny despised the Revolution as a recrudescence of primitive violence springing from hatred of all dignity and form. Deeply rooted custom is not necessarily arbitrary. On the contrary, tradition implies wisdom beyond the reductively rational for which method, political or technical, is a paltry and counterproductive substitute. Community likewise differs from and comes prior to the state, which in comparison to the community is abstract and even alienating. While it is true that there was a decidedly leftwing Romanticism – Percy Shelley in England and the “Junges Deutschland” poets in the German principalities – largely the movement was, in its context, traditionalist, sometimes stridently so.

The same could be said for the mid-Nineteenth Century developments of Romanticism. Charles Baudelaire was not a liberal and neither was his Danish contemporary Søren Kierkegaard. Friedrich Nietzsche early associated the modern world with superficiality and mediocrity; later, modernity appeared to him as active nihilism.

The Western European response to the burgeoning rationalization and politicization of life had echoes in the East. Alexander Pushkin took repeatedly as his theme the chaos, psychological and moral, that results from the modern abolition of custom and form; the same could be said of Mikhail Lermontov, whose medium was prose, and whose archetypal anti-heroes, most notably Pechorin in A Hero of our Time (1840), body forth the symptoms of modern anomie. Pechorin has no place in the rational, bureaucratic Russia of his time, but he also lacks the resources of traditional form and custom: Pechorin becomes demonic; he can believe in nothing outside himself, while that very self remains unformed, immature, and incapable of supporting an existence of the disposition, mens sana in corpore sano. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s demonic men all resemble Pechorin, being the orphaned offspring of a stricken world. When Russia “received” Nietzsche in the 1890s, the rich Slavic soil was well prepared. None received the Götzendämmerung-message so eagerly as Nicolas Berdyaev (1874 – 1948). As Lesley Chamberlain writes in Motherland (2007), Berdyaev was “the Russian Christian answer to Nietzsche,” who “believed in the spiritual benefits of culturally nourished imagination.”

I. In Chamberlain’s seemingly positive judgment, Berdyaev “was terribly necessary in Russia,” a crisis-wracked nation fated to live out its version of the Western crisis in an exaggerated, parodic, and tragic form. Chamberlain reminds her readers that Berdyaev “fought Communism in Russia as a moral evil much as Nietzsche battled against herd mentality and cultural leveling in the West.” Berdyaev also paid the price for his outspokenness, when Lenin exiled him in 1922 along with a boatload of philosophers and intellectuals. Chamberlain concludes, however, that, despite Berdyaev’s insight that, “knowledge and ethics have to be created for the good of mankind,” and despite his insistent critique of pragmatism and utilitarianism, he should “be stripped of an unconvincing attempt to rank himself alongside Plato and [Immanuel] Kant.” Chamberlain charges Berdyaev with “vagueness” and “extreme reluctance to be pinned down.” She borrows Berdyaev’s own qualified term “mystical anarchist” to describe the philosopher tout court, linking him, beyond Nietzsche, with Angelus Silesius and Jakob Boehme, and implying a kind of nebulous religiosity. Not incidentally, Berdyaev himself acknowledged the Boehme and Silesius connections and frequently justified them. Chamberlain’s remarks communicate with a second-hand idea of Berdyaev as prolix and unsystematic writer in whose rambling books self-opinion ran too high.

As for Berdyaev in Berdyaev’s eyes, the autobiographical Self-Knowledge (opus posthumous, 1950) declares him stylistically an aphorist. The truth lies somewhere between the modern, skeptical writer’s casual pejoratives and Berdyaev’s own sometimes wishful self-estimate. Aphorisms appear in his work, but they take their place in a species of prose that never exactly hurries to put a period. Blame in these matters lies more with modern impatience than with Berdyaev’s manner of exposition. With Berdyaev, patience pays off.

Chamberlain rightly recommends Self-Knowledge, which she refers to under its British title of Dream and Reality, as the best introduction to Berdyaev. In Self-Knowledge, Berdyaev writes of his intellectual Pilgrim’s Progress and he confesses his intellectual debts. In the chapter that Berdyaev devotes to his tentative Marxism and his subsequent deliberate break with revolutionary circles, he acknowledges his relation both to the Romantics, Russian and otherwise, and their successors. “What does romanticism really mean,” Berdyaev asks. He answers, “If it is the opposite of classicism I must undoubtedly style myself a romantic.” Dissociating himself strongly from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Berdyaev nevertheless considers that “romanticism stands for everything that is human” insofar as it constitutes an intuitive critique of imperious rationality, dogmatic method, and abstract system. On the other hand, Berdyaev does not want anyone to mistake his own Romanticism for “high-pitched and spectacular emotionalism,” or “self-indulgence in the imaginary depths of life,” which is how he evaluates the author of the Confessions.

Being a Romantic means for Berdyaev that one takes a transcendental perspective. “I proceeded from Kant in my conception of the theory of knowledge,” Berdyaev writes; yet Berdyaev is also a Platonist, who thinks that, with respect to the noumenon or “thing-in-itself,” “Plato is right whilst Kant is wrong”: Direct knowledge of the “thing-in-itself” is possible, according to Self-Knowledge.

Berdyaev adds another twist when he avers that, “Kant is a profoundly Christian thinker, more so than Thomas Aquinas,” presumably more so than Plato despite the assimilation of Plato in Patristic writers like Justin Martyr and Augustine. Above all, however, and because Berdyaev has “put Freedom, rather than Being, at the basis of [his] philosophy,” he regards himself as a Christian philosopher, or more particularly as a Christian Existentialist. In an aphorism: “The mystery of the world abides in freedom: God desired freedom and freedom gave rise to tragedy in the world.” It is the case, according to Berdyaev, that, “freedom alone should be recognized as possessing a sacred quality, whilst all other things to which a sacred character has been assigned by men since history began ought to be made null and void.” It follows that Berdyaev, in his role as philosopher, sees himself “as pre-eminently a liberator,” Christianity itself “Having called upon my allegiance as emancipation.” Berdyaev even ventures a paradox, writing that, “a Russian bishop once said of me that I was ‘the captive of freedom.’” Remarking Berdyaev’s dedication to his singular principle, one easily sees how, at first, he could embroil himself with Marxists and revolutionaries and how, inevitably, he would revolt against them and reorient himself spiritually and intellectually.

In sum, if a summary were possible, Berdyaev stands in a Romantic tradition and in a contemporary relation to a species of Existentialism stemming from Kierkegaard, with further antecedents in Plato and Augustine, and his thinking is strongly yet qualifiedly flavored by Nietzsche’s critique of modernity.

Like Plato and to some extent like Kant, like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and even like Marx, Berdyaev thought that philosophy might exercise its emancipating power through the revelatory clarification of ideas, by a gesture that amounts to epistemological shock therapy. Like Plato with his opposition of opinion to truth and like Marx with his assignment of truth to the cognizance of a particular social class, Berdyaev begins his philosophical analysis by discerning types of awareness. “I came to assume,” he writes, “a ‘primary’ and a ‘secondary’ form of knowledge and, correspondingly, a ‘primary’ and a ‘secondary’ consciousness, from which knowledge springs.” Whereas the “primary consciousness” relates to the existing subject, with the individual, and with an accessible world in which the individual participates, the “secondary consciousness” relates to “the process of objectification, whereby reality is seen as broken up into the realms of subject and object.” In Berdyaev’s later work another term, “estrangement” (ostrananie), comes into usage in connection with the term “objectification.”

As the narrowly scientific or experimental view of the world extends its sway, as it insists on treating everything as though it were an object, people, in imitating and internalizing the false conviction, experience alienation from the world. The assumption that people are cut off from the world sure enough mucks up their relation to that world so that they experience a feeling of isolation and forlornness. For Berdyaev, “the objective world is the product of estrangement: it is the fallen world, disintegrated and enslaved.” Berdyaev uses what, even for conservatives today, is an aggressively religious vocabulary.

Life in revolutionary circles heightened Berdyaev’s own sense of estrangement. In Self-Knowledge, Berdyaev remarks how “the revolutionary intelligentsia seemed to live all the time under the shadow of military discipline… But I preferred to fight on my own, and would not agree to accept military orders or organized group-morality.” Although exiled by the Czarist regime to Siberia along with others adjudged guilty of insurrectionism, Berdyaev could not identify with the radicals. What he calls “their asceticism, their narrowness, their moral rigorism and their stuffy political religiosity” repelled him. He concluded that, “every political revolution is doomed and becomes stupefied by its own surfeit,” and that, ‘the subject of true revolution must be man, rather than the masses or the body politic.” Indeed, in the passage, Berdyaev amends his own vocabulary, prescinding from the categorical man to the unique instance of the person: “Only a personalistic revolution can properly be called a ‘revolution.’” In a similar formulation he writes, “I understood that ‘spirit’ signifies freedom and revolution, while ‘matter’ spells necessity and reaction, and spreads reaction in the minds and hearts of the revolutionaries themselves.”

Berdyaev foresaw as early as 1917 that the Bolshevik revolution would demand the humiliating “sacrifice” of all individual prerogatives and every speck of actual political or any other kind of freedom.

II. While piling up names perhaps discommodes the reader, it seems not impertinent to mention how harmoniously Berdyaev’s thinking chimes with that of others who began to make themselves known in traditionalist-conservative circles the West in the 1920s, in the aftermath of the 1914-1918 War and the Wilsonian, “progressive” agenda for reconstructing the world. Berdyaev records his perception, at that time, of a shattered cosmos. So too in The Waste Land, published in the year when Berdyaev arrived, a refugee, in Berlin, T. S. Eliot portrayed a frgmented world and an atomized, estranged humanity, living anxiously in want of the spiritual nourishment, the redemption, that only the inherited forms of tradition, now obliterated, might have supplied. So too Oswald Spengler in The Decline of the West (1919 & 1922) and René Guénon in The Crisis of the Modern Age (1927) wrote of the dominion of technique, which reductively understands everything on the model of billiard-ball mechanics and under the sign of pure quantity. In Skepticism and Animal Faith (1923), George Santayana, a former teacher of Eliot, defended the value of custom and faith in the conduct of life.

Berdyaev belonged to that prophetic moment. Looking back on his career in June 1940 – when, as he wrote, “whole worlds are crashing in ruin, and other worlds, unknown and predictable, are coming into being” – he questioned “whether this fallen and stricken world, which paralyses and crushes man by its inexorable necessities, can be possessed of true, original reality,” or “whether man is not driven by the very nature of things to look for a reality that transcends this world.”

Berdyaev inclined to answer yes to his own question. His career consisted of four decades of contemplation, in preparation for writing, for the purpose of filling in the details of his answer. In Self-Knowledge, on which the labor seems to have been long, he tells of his recognition that for him the religious impulse would be fulfilled in Russian Orthodoxy, while yet he suspected, rather as Kierkegaard had, that Christendom, Orthodox or otherwise, had “become a sociological phenomenon,” and as such dispirited and denatured. Nor does he spare the clerisy from criticism: Priests being men, they are fallible; some are even obnoxious, and bishops are intolerable bores. For Berdyaev: “God is freedom” and “God never operates through necessity, but always through freedom; and he never forces recognition of himself.” That is an observation more apt in our time even than in the 1940s. “It is a grave fatal error,” Berdyaev writes, “to ask for and rely on safety devices and infallible criteria in our religious life, since this life involves all the boundless possibilities, risks and insecurities of freedom.” In Self-Knowledge, Berdyaev also conveniently nominates five of his books that best complete his intention to explain himself: The Meaning of the Creative Act (1914), The Destiny of Man (1937), Solitude and Society (1934), Spirit and Reality (1946), and Slavery and Freedom (1939).

The Meaning of the Creative Act was Berdyaev’s second book, written during the declension of his revolutionary period, partly in Italy, where he traveled with his companion Lydia just before the outbreak of the war. Berdyaev devotes a chapter of Self-Knowledge to summarizing this ambitious authorial sally and to critiquing it for attempting too much. In Berdyaev’s improvisatory, non-systematic, worked-out-over-a-lifetime philosophy, creativity maintains an indissoluble bond with freedom. Creativity, not limited to the obvious forms of artistic creativity but best exemplified by them, works by spontaneous volition. The creator chooses to create. He chooses to work in reference to the plastic canons of esthetic law; so while creation is not a spasm, it is also not a mechanical act. In the retrospective discussion of The Meaning of the Creative Act in Self-Knowledge, creativity finds a place in the tension between Romanticism, with which Berdyaev qualifiedly identifies, and Classicism, for which he lacks sympathy.

The “gift of creativity” having its source “from God,” man exercises that gift “by virtue of his freedom, and in his capacity of creator”; never is man as creator a “mere passive object in the hands of God.” Creativity maintains relation also to “redemption and salvation,” and not only because it is a type of Imitatio Dei. According to Berdyaev, the “fallacy of classicism,” recognizable as the fallacy of the Enlightenment and its utopian offshoots, consists in the mania for “perfection in the finite, within this contingent and fallen world of ours.”

For the Romantic, by contrast, “the creative act… is eschatological,” pointing to that which lies beyond finitude. The sagacious mortal creator, knowing that flaws and incompleteness will mar his creation, reconciles himself to this knowledge. Berdyaev developed his “eschatological” view of existence, in which a transcendental orientation conditions the sense of life and informs the principled indictment of objectification, in one of his last books, The Beginning and the End (1947; English edition, 1952).

Berdyaev sometimes called himself a “Personalist” and his philosophy, insofar as it cohered, “Personalism.” A creator, artist or otherwise, must first of all become a person. A person, moreover, defines himself at first by negation, through specifying his difference from the cue-seeking masses; and that differentiation is itself a witting, creative act. In The Beginning and the End, Berdyaev writes, “He who is most individualized comes tumbling down into the conditions of socialization at its maximum,” entering the realm of “coercive objectiveness.” Berdyaev assumes always a fallen world. Because society belongs to the world, society too is fallen. Modern man especially “lives in a disintegrated world” where an artificial and enslaving “collectivism” or “sociomorphism” has imposed itself in default of a vanished “true community,” which oriented itself to “the Kingdom of God.” For the self-aware person, solitude beckons urgently. Solitude, “a late product of advanced culture,” operates in the modern context as monastic asceticism did in the medieval context.

In solitude the individual person overthrows “sociomorphism” and rediscovers the grace of his freedom. The “Personalist” will therefore also be an aristocrat, a label that Berdyaev never rejected, but that indeed he applied unapologetically to himself even though critics held it against him.

In The Meaning of the Creative Act, before the worst of the cataclysms that impinged on his life, Berdyaev had written concerning the Renaissance of the Quattrocento that, “in it Christianity encountered paganism, and this encounter deeply wounded the spirit of man.” The earlier Renaissance of the Trecento was, by contrast, “all tinged with Christian color,” as in Giotto and the religious painters and the philosopher-mystic Joachim di Fiora. For Berdyaev, that early Renaissance was not only Christian, but by virtue of its Christianity, “Romantic”: It bodied forth in plastic and in thought the Christian-Transcendental impulse – the infinity-seeking impulse – that the Gothic Middle Ages derived from the Gospel. The sudden welling-up of antique motifs therefore suggests to Berdyaev a catastrophic diremption. Indeed, he sees the Quattrocento as the beginning of modernity precisely in the sense that it is the beginning of a whole series of cultural fault lines, which thereafter proliferate and widen in the fractured substrate of Western life. The Pagan, for Berdyaev, is much more of this world, of finitude and limitation, than the Christian. The Christian would overcome nature through spirit; the Pagan would accord itself with nature.

In a fascinating analysis of Sandro Botticelli, Berdyaev remarks how his Venuses ascend towards heaven while his Madonnas descend to the Earth, an irresolvable contradiction: “In the whole life work of Botticelli there is a sort of fatal failure.” If the viewer cannot but approach Botticelli’s canvasses “without a strange inner trepidation,” that is because Botticelli’s is an art of trepidation, in which the “canonical” takes fright before the spirit’s soaring impulse, preventing that impulse from fulfilling itself. Rationality strangles creativeness in its crib.

III. Implicit in Chamberlain’s characterization of Berdyaev is the sameness of his books, a characterization that the books themselves swiftly belie. The Beginning and the End is abstract, avoiding specific references; The Meaning of the Creative Act is replete with specific references. Self-Knowledge, although reticent, is personal; The End of Our Time (1924; 1933) and The Meaning of History are historically specific, immersed in the actual. While Berdyaev’s themes persistently recur in book after book, his total range of knowledge, interest, and reference might easily humble his readers. His range approaches Spengler’s range of knowledge, interest, and reference. Like Spengler, Berdyaev never earned a degree; he kept failing his examinations and eventually abandoned the attempt to pass them. He nevertheless knew more than his professors, as The Meaning of the Creative Act showed just before the outbreak of the Great War. Berdyaev was a philosophy faculty, a literature faculty, and an art-history faculty bodied forth in one perpetually self-educating and slightly eccentric person. In his appreciation of the French Symbolist School in poetry, for example, he anticipates the vindication of those artists in the best of their post-World War Two exegetes, such as Anna Balakian and Robert Greer Cohn. When Berdyaev makes a late-in-life appearance (posthumous, in fact) in Jean Wahl’s Short History of Existentialism (1949) as a respondent to Wahl’s lecture, he ventures a sharp assessment of the formidable figure of Martin Heidegger, whose philosophical ancestry in Kierkegaard Wahl had proposed.

Berdyaev denies that Heidegger stems from the Dane. As for Heidegger, he aimed at a “rational ontology,” whereas Berdyaev praises Kierkegaard because “he did not wish to create an ontology or a metaphysics.”

Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and the Symbolists – it is dizzying. Berdyaev’s name remains bound up with Russia, however, with the agony of the Revolution, and with the betrayal of freedom in the Soviet Union under the Communist Party. Berdyaev’s discussion of these matters has naturally attracted most of the attention that commentators have directed to him over the years. Although Berdyaev ended up a victim of Bolshevism (not as abjectly as some did, of course), yet in his exile he refrained from contributing to overt public condemnation of the Soviet Union and, while criticizing the Communists, argued that the Party, almost despite itself, represented the Russian and affiliated peoples. Yet Berdyaev devotes much of The End of Our Time (three out of five chapters) to the USSR, and comments unsparingly. Berdyaev sees the Marxist regime not as an isolated phenomenon but rather as one instance of the staggering cultural and spiritual corruption of the West in the aftermath of the Renaissance and the Reformation.

In The End of Our Time, Berdyaev writes: “The Renaissance came to nothing, the Reformation came to nothing, the Enlightenment came to nothing; so did the Revolution inspired by the Enlightenment. And thus too will Socialism come to nothing.” Again, “Bolshevism is rationalized lunacy, a mania for the definitive regulation of life, resting on the elemental irrationality of the people.” This last phrase should be considered in connection with Berdyaev’s skeptical judgment of Heidegger. A “rational ontology” is for Berdyaev necessarily a “rationalized lunacy”; a “rational ontology” is a betrayal of freedom. Consistent with the idea that the Will to Power is pathological and demonic is Berdyaev’s assessment of revolutionary egalitarianism: “When societies begin to hanker after equality any kind of renaissance and harvest of creation is at an end. For the principle of equality is the principle of envy, envy of the being of another and bitterness at the inability to affirm one’s own.” What Berdyaev writes about the Bolsheviks applies with equal validity to any ideological faction then or now because each one is nothing less than “an envious denial of the being of another.”

What Berdyaev calls envy Nietzsche called ressentiment; and ressentiment, or envy, is ultimately, for Berdyaev, a satanic principle. The notion that revolution springs from the “Satanism” of envy unalloyed, a type of cosmic resentment, a world-hatred founded in the subject’s outrage that, in the issue of creation, the deity never consulted him: This notion permeates Berdyaev’s comments on Bolshevism and Communism in Russia in The End of Our Time. The revolutionary regime behaves, in Berdyaev’s coinage, in “the muzhiko-military style”; the regime, “brutal and ferocious in its methods, has declared war on all quality in favour of quantity,” a fact that assimilates it to trends in industrial capitalism in the West. No less than industrial-capitalist society, Soviet society sets itself implacably against “all fine culture.” Soviet – or let us say, Communist – society is the paradoxical triumph of bourgeois philistinism.

The pre-Bolshevik elites of Russia are, in this, for Berdyaev, as blameworthy as the Bolsheviks for the Revolution; the elites were weak and out of touch equally with the people and with Truth, by which Berdyaev always means first and foremost the Truth of the Gospel. “Bolshevism corresponds to the moral condition of us Russians and displays outwardly our inward crisis, our loss of faith, our religion in danger, the hideous weakening of our moral life.”

The Russian Revolution represents for Berdyaev, as the French Revolution represented for Joseph de Maistre, something “visited on the people for their sins.” This implies not, however, that the Revolution lies beyond moral judgment. On the contrary, all responsible people, especially all responsible followers of the Gospel, must judge it. How much of Alexander Solzhenitsyn is prefigured in Berdyaev? A great deal. Berdyaev, acknowledging the prophetic power of literature, writes: “The Russian revolution has turned out just as Dostoyevsky foresaw.” Dostoyevsky went to the heart of the matter in The Devils: “He understood that Socialism in Russia was a religious matter, a question of atheism, and that the real concern of the pre-revolutionary intellectuals was not politics but the salvation of mankind without the help of God.”

So too Communism: This godless cult mirrors religion atheistically, and with Manichaean ferocity. Communism, fundamentally a doctrine of covetousness, as befits a pure materialism, “is warfare against the spirit,” and therefore against the freedom that corresponds to spirit. In Communism, “envy, that black passion, has become the determining force in the world.”

Berdyaev nevertheless disdains strident counter-revolutionary rhetoric. With de Maistre, he urges only “a peaceful and bloodless, even a gentle counter-revolution.” He hopes that the post-revolutionary society will emphasize spirit over matter and, while restoring property, will not make it life’s grand fetish. (This did not happen.)

The final chapter of The End of Our Time bears the title, “The ‘General Line’ of Soviet Philosophy.” Berdyaev added it to the book for a revised edition in 1933. The comments that Berdyaev makes on “Soviet Philosophy” are trenchant, coolly observed, and – once again – broadly applicable to all ideological discourse, whether of 1930 or the 2011. “Soviet philosophy is a theology,” Berdyaev writes; “it has its revelation, its holy books, its ecclesiastical authority, its official teachers [and] it supposes the existence of one orthodoxy and innumerable heresies.” The central thesis of the Marxist-Leninist “revelation” is the famous dialectic of materialism, which Berdyaev, in his brilliant analysis, shows to be unable to define itself; but the orthodoxy is less important in the discourse of “Soviet philosophy” than are the deviations from it: “Marx-Leninism has been transformed into a scholasticism sui generis, and the defense of orthodoxy, of eternal truth in its integrity, and the distinguishing of heresies has attained a degree of refinement difficult for the uninitiated to imagine.”

IV. An earlier estimate might be revised. Berdyaev is not merely a writer whose case calls for patience and who rewards patience modestly. He is a compelling writer, a Nietzschean whose critique of Nietzsche is sharper than a blade, an anti-Communist who is equally scathing in his critique of the capitalistic-industrial order, and a Christian who is capable of asserting that moral norms are tyrannical. (He means, of course, the “sociomorphic” norms; and he is arguing an ethics of Gospel-centered social non-conformism.) The Destiny of Man and Slavery and Freedom, his two most ambitious works, as challenging as they are, belong under the generalization. The Destiny of Man is Berdyaev’s ethics, but it is also his meta-ethics, his critique of historical and reigning ethical theories. An example of Berdyaev on Nietzsche will give some of the flavor of Berdyaev’s modus operandi in criticism. “Suppose I say that good is not good… that it is evil,” as Nietzsche asserted in The Genealogy of Morals and elsewhere; “that will mean that I make a valuation of the ‘good,’ and distinguish it from something which I oppose to it.” But this gesture now entails that, “I distinguish between the higher and the lower.” Thus: “Nietzsche was a moralist, though he denied it.” Yet Berdyaev stands with Nietzsche in the conviction that, “true morality is not the social morality of the herd.”

In The Destiny of Man, Berdyaev distinguishes between three hierarchical levels of ethics. Beginning with the lowest, these are “the ethics of law,” “the ethics of redemption,” and “the ethics of creativeness.” Law, which distinguishes sin from righteousness, results, Berdyaev argues, from “the Fall”; good and evil come into existence with “the Fall.” Law is necessarily “sociomorphic,” coercive, and in its dudgeon tyrannical. Law encourages mere individualism, that is, the responsibility of the individual to observe the law at all times; but law hinders personality, a higher value than individuality. Law expresses the collective mentality of the aggregate, the Nietzschean “herd.” Law is not unjustified; it is merely morally limited, as the Crucifixion, perfectly legal, showed. Redemption, in existential terms, manifests itself at first as the individual’s recognition in law of a makeshift at the lowest level and as his insight that personality, which partakes in grace, finds no nourishment there.

In striving for redemption, however, the individual easily distorts the grace to which his struggle responds; he then becomes a Puritan, like Henrik Ibsen’s priest-fanatic in Brand, or like convinced Communists and multiculturalists. As Berdyaev remarks, Jesus kept company, not with the perfecti, but with taxmen, tavern-keepers, harlots, and thieves.

The applicability of Berdyaev’s line of thinking to the contemporary liberal utopia will be evident in an aphoristic construction like this one: “Absolute perfection, absolute order and rationality may prove to be an evil, a greater evil than the imperfect, unorganized, irrational life which admits a certain freedom of evil.” Creativeness, in contrast both to law and redemption, admits of imperfection; it also always traffics in freedom. Creativeness often expresses itself in love, and love must contradict itself whenever it admits of coercion. The codification of polities partakes originally in creativeness, which is why the codifiers find their place in myth, but when once the code has fossilized and become an end rather than a means, it has ceased to be creative. Tragically, however, all human creation invariably falls back into this world. Failure is this worldly; and this world is a fallen world. The very failure of enterprise tempts men to employ coercion.

Slavery and Freedom likewise develops Berdyaev’s tragic optimism and his notion that clarification in eschatology is necessary for clarification in ethics. Personality remains, for Berdyaev, the highest value; personality, which has its source outside the dominion of objectivity and causality, never becomes integrated in any natural or social hierarchy. “God is always freedom,” writes Berdyaev; and “God acts, not upon the world order as though justifying the suffering of personality, but in the conflict, in the struggle of personality, in the conflict of freedom against that world order.” In the utopian idea of “world harmony,” as well as in the parallel theological idea that pain and humiliation belong to God’s plan, Berdyaev sees a character “false and enslaving.” Whether as atheistic collectivism or as theocracy, the vindication of force and suffering through reference to Being or Unity strikes Berdyaev as, itself, irremediably evil.

Berdyaev also anticipates the tyranny implicit in the “green” or environmentalist utopia. “Cosmicism,” as Berdyaev calls this type of idolatrous “pandemonism,” so fervently “exalts the idea of organism and the organic” that in its insistence “man becomes a mere organ” of nature and “the freedoms of man… are abolished.”

Every doctrine, environmentalism no less than socialism, has society as its context and tends more or less strongly to seek the total ordering of society under its precepts. Doctrines or ideologies belong with “sociomorphism,” that demand of the collectivity that everything personal should subordinate itself. Berdyaev quotes with agreement Alexander Hertzen’s assertion that “the subjection of personality to society… is an extension of the practice of human sacrifice.” The cases of Socrates and Jesus supply the prime historical examples of the Hertzen-observation but the dramatic scenarios of Ibsen must also have occurred to Berdyaev in this regard. Dr. Stockman in Enemy of the People comes to mind, as does pathetic little Hedvig in The Wild Duck, the victim of Gregers Werle’s beautiful vision for the Ekdal family. In the analysis in Slavery and Freedom, the West has been moving in the direction of totalitarianism since the Sixteenth Century at least, just as it has been moving ever further into the de-spiritualized state of “objectivization.” As applied science seeks sovereignty over nature, the realm of objects, politics seeks sovereignty over humanity; the state thus makes relentless war on personality.

Berdyaev offers no political program or scheme – that would contradict his elevation of personality to the highest value. But Berdyaev does make consistent statements that converge with the minimalist formula for a polity, such as that promulgated by America’s Founding Fathers. The calling of the personality is to exercise itself in creative acts, by which it fulfills itself, or, as the Preamble to the Constitution puts it, pursues happiness. The wisdom of the Constitution and of Berdyaev is the same: A man must be free to pursue what he can imagine, but once any external agency presumes to guarantee to him the possession of what he pursues, he has sold his birthright. He is enslaved. It is true that Berdyaev regarded America with suspicion. On the other hand he admired England, on whose common law tradition the American minimalist formula for a polity arose. The politically centripetal America of the 1930s that Berdyaev disliked had already, itself, betrayed its own minimalist foundation.

Berdyaev remains today one of the most radical of Twentieth Century philosophers. He must offend liberal and libertarian, militant atheist and Christian literalist alike. For all that Berdyaev shares with Nietzsche, he will offend those, and they are many, who have turned Nietzsche into one of the idols of the Götzendämmerung. Veteran anti-Communists and Cold Warriors will meanwhile undoubtedly take exception to Berdyaev’s occasional ameliorative attitude to the Soviet Union, which peremptorily exiled him in 1922. The offended parties should, however, strive to reconcile themselves with the man’s Christian Existentialism, or Christian Anarchism, the latter of which might be a better description of his attitude. I was struck, in reading Berdyaev’s exposition of personality and freedom as the true vocations of man, by its echoes in Geert Wilders’ summary of his defense before the faceless judges who, at last, on Wilders’ second trial, acquitted him: “We must live in the truth… Truth and freedom are inextricably connected. We must speak the truth because otherwise we shall lose our freedom.”

Who knows whether Wilders has any consciousness of so recondite a figure as Nicolas Berdyaev? Why should he? Nevertheless, Wilders’ words resonate with the radical, uncompromising paean to conscience and freedom that is the work of Nicolas Berdyaev.

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Bertonneau, Thomas F. “Nicolas Berdyaev And Modern Anti-Modernism.” The Brussels Journal, 12 August 2011. <http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/4768 >.

 

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Evola’s Political Endeavors – Hansen

Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors by H.T. Hansen (PDF – 574 KB):

Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors

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Hansen, H.T. “Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors.” Introduction to Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, pp. 1-104. Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2002.

Note: On Evola’s theories, see also: “Against Nihilism: Julius Evola’s ‘Traditionalist’ Critique of Modernity” by Thomas F. Bertonneau, “Julius Evola on Race” by Tomislav Sunic, “Tradition?” by Alain de Benoist, “A True Empire: Form and Presuppositions of a United Europe” by Julius Evola, “The Defining Element of the Conservative Revolution” by Julius Evola, and various other articles by or about Evola.

 

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Jünger: Figure of the Worker Between Gods & Titans – Benoist

Ernst Jünger: The Figure of the Worker Between the Gods & the Titans

By Alain de Benoist

Translated by Greg Johnson

 

Armin Mohler, author of the classic Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1933, wrote regarding Ernst Jünger’s The Worker (Der Arbeiter) and the first edition of The Adventurous Heart: “To this day, my hand cannot take up these works without trembling.” Elsewhere, describing The Worker as an “erratic bloc” in the midst of Jünger’s works, he states: “The Worker is more than philosophy, it is a work of poetry.”[1] The word is apt, above all if we admit that that all true poetry is foundational, that it simultaneously captures the world and unveils the divine.

A “metallic” book—one is tempted to use the expression “storm of steel” to describe it—The Worker indeed possesses a genuinely metaphysical quality that takes it well beyond the historical and especially political context in which it was born. Not only has its publication marked an important day in the history of ideas, but it provides a theme of reflection that runs like a hidden thread throughout Jünger’s long life.

I.

Ernst Jünger was born on March 28th, 1895 in Heidelberg.[2] Jünger went to school in Hannover and Schwarzenberg, in the Erzgebirge, then in Brunswick and finally in Hannover again, as well as the Scharnhorst Realschule in Wunstorf. In 1911 he joined the Wunstdorf section of the Wandervogel.[3] That same year published his first poem, “Unser Leben,” in their local journal. In 1913 at the age of 16, he left home. His escapade ended in Verdun, where he joined the French Foreign Legion. A few months later, after a brief sojourn in Algeria, where his training began at Siddi bel Abbes, his father was able to persuade him to return to Germany. He resumed his studies at the Hannover Guild Institute, where he became familiar with the works of Nietzsche.

The First World War broke out on August 1st, 1914. Jünger volunteered on the first day. Assigned to the 73rd regiment of fusiliers, he received his marching orders on October 6th. On December 27th, he left for the front in Champagne. He fought at Dorfes-les-Epargnes, at Douchy, at Moncy. He became squad leader in August 1915, sub-lieutenant in November, and from April 1916 underwent officer training at Croisilles. Two months later, he took part in the engagements on the Somme, where he was twice wounded. Upon his return to the front in November, with the rank of lieutenant, he was wounded again near Saint-Pierre-Vaast. On December 16th he received the Iron Cross First Class. In February 1917, he became Stosstruppfuehrer (leader of an assault battalion). This is when the war bogged down while the human costs became terrifyingly immense. The French prepared Nivelle’s bloody and useless offensive on the Chemin des Dames. At the head of his men, Jünger fought hand to hand in the trenches. Endless battles, new wounds: in July on the front in Flanders, and also in December. Jünger was decorated with the Knight’s Cross of the Oder of the Hohenzollerns. During the offense of March 1918, he again led assault troops. He was wounded. In August, another wound, this time near Cambrai. He ended the war in a military hospital, having been wounded fourteen times! That earned him the Cross Pour le merite, the highest award in the German army. Only twelve subaltern officers of the ground forces, one the future Marshal Rommel, received this decoration during the whole First World War.

“One lived for the Idea alone.”

Between 1918 and 1923, in the barracks at Hannover, Jünger began to write his first books, inspired by his experiences at the front. In Storms of Steel (In Stahlgewittern), first published in 1919 by the author and in a new edition in 1922, was an immediate success. There followed Battle as Inner Experience (Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis) (1922), Copse 125: A Chronicle from the Trench Warfare of 1918 (Das Wäldchen 125) (1924), and Fire and Blood (Feur und Blut) (1925). Very quickly, Jünger was recognized as one of the most brilliant writers of his generation, even though, as Henri Plard points out in “The Career of Ernst Jünger, 1920–1929,” in Germanic Studies, April–June 1978), he first became known primarily as a specialist in military problems thanks to articles on modern warfare published in Militär-Wochenblatt.

But Jünger did not feel at home in a peacetime army. It no longer offered adventure of the Freikorps. In 1923 he left the Reichswehr and entered Leipzig University to study biology, zoology, and philosophy. On August 3rd, 1925 he married the 19 year old Gretha von Jeinsen. She gave him two children: Ernst in 1926 and Alexander in 1934.

At same time, his political ideas matured thanks to the veritable cauldron of agitation among the factions of German public opinion: the disastrous Treaty of Versailles, which the Weimar Republic had accepted without batting an eye at any of its clauses, was everywhere felt to be an unbearable Diktat. In the space of a few months Jünger had become one of the principal representatives of the national-revolutionary movement, an important part of the Conservative Revolution which extended to the “left” with the National Bolshevik movement rallying primarily around Ernst Niekisch.

Jünger’s political writings appeared during the central period of the Republic (the “Stresemann era”), a provisional period of respite and apparent calm which ended in 1929. He would later say: “One lived for the Idea alone.”[4]

Initially, his ideas were expressed in journals. In September 1925, a former Freikorps leader, Helmut Franke, who has just published a book entitled Staat im Staate (Berlin: Stahlhelm, 1924), launched the journal Die Standarte which set out to “contribute towards a spiritual deepening of the thought of the Front.” Jünger was on the editorial board, along with another representative of “soldatic nationalism,” the writer Franz Schauwecker, born in 1890. Initially published as a supplement of the weekly magazine Der Stahlhelm, the organ of the association of war veterans also called Stahlhelm,[5] directed by Wilhelm Kleinau, Die Standarte had a considerable circulation: approximately 170,000 readers. Between September 1925 and March 1926, Jünger published nineteen articles there. Helmut Franke signed his contributions with the pseudonym “Gracchus.” The whole anti-revolutionary young right published there: Werner Beumelburg, Franz Schauwecker, Hans Henning von Grote, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz, Goetz Otto Stoffregen, etc.

In Die Standarte Jünger immediately adopted a quite radical tone, very different from that of most Stahlhelm members. In an article published in October 1925, he criticized the theory of the “stab in the back” (Dolchstoss), which was accepted by almost all nationalists, namely that the German army was not defeated at the front but by a “stab in the back” at home. Jünger also emphasized that certain revolutionaries of the far left had fought with distinction in the war.[6] Remarks of this kind caused a violent uproar. Quickly, the leaders of Stahlhelm moved to distance themselves from the young writer who had agitated their side.

In March 1926 Die Standarte was closed. But it was revived a month later under the abridged name Standarte with Jünger, Schauwecker, Kleinau, and Franke as co-editors. At this time, the ties with Stahlhelm were not entirely severed: the old soldiers continued to indirectly finance Standarte. Jünger and his friends reaffirmed their revolutionary calling. On June 3rd, 1926, Jünger published an appeal to all former front soldiers to unite for the creation of a “nationalist workers’ republic,” a call that found no echo.[7]

In August, at the urging of Otto Hörsing, co-founder of the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot Gold, the Social Democrats’ security force, the government, using the pretext of an article about Walther Rathenau, banned Standarte for five months. Because of this, Franz Seldte the leader of Stahlhelm “decommissioned” its chief editor, Helmut Franke. In solidarity, Jünger quit, and in November the two, along with Wilhelm Weiss, became the editors of another journal, Arminius. (Standarte, under different editorship, continued until 1929.)

En 1927, Jünger left Leipzig for Berlin, where he formed close ties with former Freikorps members and with the young “bündisch” movement. The latter, oscillating between military discipline and a very firm esprit de corps, tried to reconcile the adventurous romanticism of the Wandervogel with a more hierarchical, communitarian mode of organization. In particular, Jünger was closely connected to Wer­ner Lass, born in Berlin in 1902, who in 1924 had been the founder, with the old leader of the Rossbach Freikorps unit, of the Schilljugend (a youth movement named for major Schill, who was killed during the struggle for liberation against Napoleon’s occupation). In 1927, Lass left Rossbach and lauched Frei­schar Schill, a bündisch group of which Jünger rapidly became the mentor (Schirmherr). From October 1927 to March 1928, Lass and Jünger collaborated to publish the journal Der Vormarsch, created in June 1927 by another famous Freikorps leader, captain Ehrhardt.

“Losing the War to Win the Nation”

During this time Jünger had a number of literary and philosophical influences. During the war, the experience of the front enabled him to resolve the triple influence of such late 19th century French writers as Huysmans and Léon Bloy, of a kind of expressionism that still shows up clearly in Battle as Inner Experience and especially in the first version of The Adventurous Heart, and of a kind of Baudelairian dandyism clearly present in Sturm, an early novel recently published.[8]

Armin Mohler likens the young Jünger to the Barrès of Roman de l’Energie nationale: for the author of the Battle as Inner Experience, as for that of Scenes et doctrines du nationalisme, nationalism, a substitute religion, a mode of enlarging and strengthening the soul, results above all from a deliberate choice, the decisionist aspect of this orientation rising from the collapse of standards after the outbreak of the First World War.

The influence of Spengler and Nietzsche is also evident. In 1929, in an interview given to an English journalist, Jünger defined himself as a “disciple of Nietzsche,” stressing that Nietzsche was the first to challenge the fiction of an abstract universal man, “sundering” this fiction into two concrete, diametrically opposed types: the strong and the weak. In 1922 Jünger passionately read the first volume of The Decline of the West, then the second volume as soon as it was released in December of the same year, when he wrote Sturm.

However, as we shall see, Jünger was no passive disciple. He was far from following Nietzsche and Spengler in the totality of their positions. The decline of the west in his eyes was not an inescapable fate; there were other alternatives than simply acquiescing to the reign of “Caesars.” In the same way, if Jünger adopts Nietzsche’s questioning, it was first and foremost to bring it to an end.

Ultimately, the war represented the strongest influence. Jünger initially drew the lesson of agonism from it. The war must cause passion, but not hatred: the soldier on the other side of the trenches is not an incarnation of evil, but a simple figure of momentary adversity. It is because there is no absolute enemy (Feind), but only an adversary (Gegner), that “combat is always something holy.” Another lesson is that life is nourished by death and vice-versa: “The most precious knowledge that one acquired from the school of the war,” Jünger would write, “is that life, in its most secret heart, is indestructible” (Das Reich, I, October 1, 1930, 3).

Granted, the war had been lost. But in virtue of the principle of the equivalence of contraries, this defeat also demanded a positive analysis. First, defeat or victory is not the most important issue of the war. Fundamentally activistic, the national revolutionist ideology professes a certain contempt of goals. One does not fight to attain victory, one fights to make war. Moreover, Jünger claimed, “the war is less a war between nations, than a war between different kinds of men. In all the nations that took part in that war, there are both victors and vanquished” (Battle as Inner Experience).

Better yet, defeat can become the ferment of a victory. It represents the very condition of this victory. As the epigraph of his book Aufbruch der Nation (Berlin: Frundsberg, 1930), Franz Schauwecker used this stunning phrase: “It was necessary for us to lose the war to win the nation.” Perhaps remembering the words of Léon Bloy, “All that happens is worthy,” Jünger also says: “Germany was vanquished, but this defeat was salutary because it contributed to the destruction of the old Germany. . . . It was necessary to lose the war to win the nation.”

Defeated by the allied coalition, Germany will be able to return to herself and change in a revolutionary way. The defeat must be accepted as a means of transmutation: in a quasi-alchemical way, the experience of the front must be “transmuted” in a new experience of the life of the nation. Such is the base of “soldatic nationalism.”

It was in the war, Jünger continues, that German youth acquired “the assurance that the old paths no longer lead anywhere, and that it is necessary to blaze new ones.” An irreversible rupture (Umbruch), the war abolished all old values. Any reactionary attitude, any desire to retrogress, became impossible. The energy that had been unleashed in a specific fight of and for the fatherland, can from now on serve the fatherland in another form. The war, in other words, furnished the model for the peace. In The Worker, one reads: “The battle front and the Labor front are identical” (p. 109).

The central idea is that the war, superficially meaningless though it may appear, actually has a deep meaning. This cannot be grasped by rational investigation but only by feeling (ahnen). The positive interpretation that Jünger gives war is not, contrary to what is too often asserted, primarily dependent on the exaltation of “warrior values.” It proceeded from a political concern to find a purpose for which the sacrifice of the dead soldiers could no longer be considered “useless.”

From 1926 onwards, Jünger called tirelessly for the formation of an united front of nationalist groups and movements. At the same time, he sought—without notable success—to change them. For Jünger too, nationalism must be alchemically “transmuted.” It must be freed of any sentimental attachment to the old right and become revolutionary. It must take note of the decline of the bourgeois world apparent in the novels of Thomas Mann (Die Buddenbrooks) or Alfred Kubin (Die andere Seite).

From this point of view, what is essential is the fight against liberalism. In Arminius and Der Vormarsch, Jünger attacks the liberal order symbolized by the literati, the humanistic intellectuals who support an “anemic” society, the cynical internationalists whom Spengler sees as the true authors of the November Revolution and who claimed that the millions who perished in the Great War died for nothing.

But at the same time, he stigmatizes the “bourgeois tradition” invoked by the nationalists and the members of the Stahlhelm, these “petit bourgeois (Spiessbürger) who, because of the war, slipped into a lion’s skin” (Der Vormarsch, December 1927). Tirelessly, he took on the Wilhelmine spirit, the worship of the past, the taste of the pan-Germanists for “museology” (musealer Betrieb). In March 1926, he coined the term “neonationalism,” which he opposed to the “grandfather nationalism” (Altvaternationalismus).

Jünger defended Germany, but for him the nation is much more than a country. It is an idea: Germany is everywhere that this idea inflames the spirit. In April 1927, in Arminius Jünger takes an implicitly nominalist position: he states that he no longer believes in any general truths, any universal morals, any notion of “mankind” as a collective being everywhere sharing the the same conscience and the same rights. “We believe,” he says, “in the value of the particular” (Wir glauben an den Wert des Besonde­ren).

At a time when the traditional right preached individualism against collectivism, when the völkisch groups were enthralled with the return to the earth and the mystique of “nature,” Jünger exalted technology and condemned the individual. Born from bourgeois rationality, he explains, in Arminius, all-powerful technology has now turned against those who engendered it. The more technological the world becomes, the more the individual disappears; neonationalism must be the first to learn this lesson. Moreover, it is in the great cities “that the nation will be won”: for the national-revolutionists, “the city is a front.”

Around Jünger a “Berlin group” soon formed, where representatives of various currents of the Conservative Revolution met: Franz Schauwecker and Helmut Franke; the writer Ernst von Solomon; the Nietzschean anti-Christian Friedrich Hielscher, editor of Das Reich; the neoconservatives August Winnig (whom Jünger first met in the autumn of 1927 via the philosopher Alfred Baeumler) and Albrecht Erich Günther, co-editor with Wilhelm Stapel of Deutsches Volkstum; the national-Bolsheviks Ernst Niekisch and Karl O. Paetel; and of course Friedrich Georg Jünger, Ernst Jünger’s younger brother, who was also a recognized theorist.

Friedrich Georg Jünger, whose own development is of great importance to that of his elder brother, was born in Hanover on September 1, 1898. His career closely paralleled his brother’s. He too volunteered for the Great War; in 1916 he saw combat on the Somme and became the leader of his squad. In 1917 he was seriously wounded on the front in Flanders and spent several months in military hospitals. He returned to Hanover at the end of the hostilities, and after a brief period as a lieutenant in the Reichswehr, in 1920 he decided to study law, defending his doctoral dissertation in 1924.

From 1926 on, he regularly contributed articles to the journals in which his brother collaborated: Die Standarte, Arminius, Der Vormarsch, etc., and published in the collection Der Aufmarsch, edited by Ernst Jünger, a short essay entitled “Aufmarsch des Nationalismus” (Der Aufmarsch, Foreword by Ernst Jünger, Berlin, 1926; 2nd ed., Berlin: Vormarsch, 1928). He was influenced by Nietzsche, Sorel, Klages, Stefan George, and Rilke, whom he frequently quoted and to whom he dedicated a volume of his own poetry. The first study published on him, Franz Josef Schöningh, “Friedrich Georg Jünger und der preussische Stil,” in Hochland, February 1935, 476–77, connects him to the “Prussian style.”

In April 1928, Ernst Jünger entrusted the editorship of Der Vormarsch to his friend Friedrich Hielscher. Hielscher edited Der Vormarsch for a few months, after which the journal, published by Fritz Söhlmann, came under the control of the Jungdeutscher Orden (Jungdo) and took a completely different direction. On Hielscher, to whom he was very attached (and whom he called “Bodo” or “Bogo” in its notebooks), Jünger once said that he presented a curious “mixture of rationalism and naïveté.”

Born on May 31st, 1902 in Guben, after the Great War he joined the Freikorps, then he became involved in the bündisch movement, in particular the Freischar Schill of Werner Lass. In 1928, he published a doctoral thesis, Die Selbstherrlichkeit [Self-glory] (Berlin: Vormarsch, 1928), in which he sought to define the foundations of a German right based on Nietzsche, Spengler, and Max Weber. Moreover, he was, along with his friend Gerhard von Tevenar, passionate about “European social-regionalism” and sought to coordinate the actions of regionalist and separatist movements to create a “Europe of the fatherlands” on a federal model. Also influenced by the thought of Eriugena, Meister Eckart, Luther, Shakespeare, and Goethe, he wrote a “political theology of the Empire” entitled Das Reich (Berlin: Das Reich, 1931) and founded a small neopagan church that sometimes brought him closer to the völkisch movement.

Under the Third Reich, Hielscher played a directing role in the research services of the Ahnenerbe, while he and his students maintained close contact with the “inner emigration.” The Hitlerian regime reproached him in particular for “philosemitism” (cf. Das Reich, p. 332), ordering his arrest in September 1944. Thrown in prison, Hielscher escaped death only because of the intervention of Wolfram Sievers. After the war Hielscher published his autobiography Funfzig Jahre unter Deutschen [Fifty Years under Germans] (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1954), but the majority of its writings (the “liturgy” of his neopagan church, a verse version of the Nibelungenlied, etc.) remain unpublished. On its role in resistance against Hitler, see Rolf Kluth, “Die Widerstandgruppe Hielscher” [“The Hielscher Resistance Group”], Puis, December 7, 1980, 22–27.

A few months later, in January 1930, Jünger became co-editor with Werner Lass of Die Kommenden [The Coming], the weekly newspaper founded five years before by the writer Wilhelm Kotzde, who then had a great influence over the bündisch youth movement, particularly the tendency that had evolved toward National Bolshevism, with Hans Ebeling and especially Karl O. Paetel, who simultaneously collaborated on Die Kommenden, as well as Die sozialistische Nation [The Socialistic Nation] and Antifaschistische Briefe [Anti-Fascist Letters].

Regarded as one of the principal representatives, with Ernst Niekisch, of German National Bolshevism, Karl O. Paetel was born in Berlin on November 23rd, 1906. Bündisch, then national revolutionary, he adopted National Bolshevism about 1930. From 1928 to 1930 he edited the monthly magazine Das junge Volk [The Young People]. From 1931 to 1933 he published the journal Die sozialistische Nation.

Imprisoned several times after Hitler’s rise to power, in 1935 Paetel went to Prague, then Scandinavia. In 1939, he was stripped of his German nationality and condemned to death in absentia. Interned in French concentration camps between January and June 1940, he escaped, reached Portugal, and finally settled in New York in January 1941.

In the United States, he publishes from 1946 on the newspaper Deutsche Blatter [German Pages]. The same year, with Carl Zuckmayer and Dorothy Thompson, published a collection of documents on the “inner emigration”: Deutsche innere Emigration. Dokumente und Beitrage. Anti­nationalsozialistische Zeugnisse aus Deutschland [German Inner Emigration. Documents and Contributions. Anti-National Socialist Testimonies from Germany] (New York: Friedrich Krause, 1946).

He also devoted several essays to Jünger: Ernst Jünger. Die Wandlung eines deutschen Dichters und Patrio­ten [Ernst Jünger: The Transformation of a German Poet and Patriot] (New York: Friedrich Krause, 1946); Ernst Jünger. Weg und Wirkung. Eine Einfuhrung [Ernst Jünger: Way and Influence. An Introduction] (Stutt­gart, 1949); Ernst Jünger. Eine Bibliographie [Ernst Jünger: A Bibliography] (Stuttgart: Lutz and Meyer, 1953); Ernst Jünger in Selbst­zeugnissen und Bilddokumenten [Ernst Jünger in his Own Words and Pictures] (Reinbek near Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1962).

After having launched a new newspaper, Deutsche Gegenwart [Geman Present] (1947–1948), Paetel returned to Germany in 1949 and continued to publish a great number of works. Decorated in 1968 with the Bundesverdienstkreuz [Federal Service Cross], he died on May 4th, 1975. His personal papers are today in part in the archives of the Jugendbewegung (Burg Ludwigstein, Witzenhausen) and in part in the “Karl O. Paetel Collection” of the State University of New York, Albany. On Paetel, see his history of National Bolshevism: Versuchung oder Chance? Zur Geschichte of the deutschen Nationalbolschewismus [Temptation or Chance? Toward a History of German National Bolshevism] (Göttingen: Musterschmid, 1965) and his posthumous autobiography, published by Wolfgang D. Elfe and John M. Spalek: Reise ohne Urzeit. Autobiography [Journey without Beginning: Autobiography] (London: World of Books and Worms: Georg Heintz, 1982).

Jünger also collaborated on the journal Widerstand [Resistance] founded and edited by Niekisch since July 1926. The two men met in the autumn of 1927, and a true friendship is quickly rose between them. Jünger wrote: “If one wants to put the program that Niekisch developed in Widerstand in terms of stark alternatives, it would be something like this: against the bourgeois for the worker, against the western world for the east.” Indeed, National Bolshevism, which has multiple tendencies and varieties, joins the idea of class struggle to a communitarian, if not collectivist, idea of the nation. “Collectivization,” affirms Niekisch, “is the social form that the organic will must adopt if it is to affirm itself vis-à-vis the fatal effects of technology” (“Menschenfressende Technik” [“Man-Eating Technology”] in Widerstand, 4, 1931). According to Niekisch, in the final analysis, the national movement and the communist movement have the same adversary, as the fight against the occupation of the Ruhr appeared to demonstrate, and this is why the two “proletarian nations” of Germany and Russia must strive for an understanding. “The liberal democratic parliamentarian flees from decision,” declared Niekisch. “He does not want to fight, but to talk. . . . The Communist wants a decision. . . . In his roughness, there is something of the hardness of the military camp; in him there is more Prussian hardness than he knows, even more than in a Prussian bourgeois” (“Entscheidung” [“Decision”], Widerstand, Berlin, 1930, p. 134). These ideas influenced a considerable portion of the national revolutionary movement. Jünger himself, as seen by Louis Dupeux, was “fascinated by the problems of Bolshevism”—but was never a National Bolshevik in the strict sense.

In July of 1931, Werner Lass and Jünger withdrew from Die Kommenden. In September, Lass founded the journal Der Umsturz [Overthrow], which he made the organ of the Freischar Schill and which, until its disappearance in February 1933, openly promoted National Bolshevism. But Jünger was in a very different frame of mind. In the space of a few years, using a whole series of journals as so many walls for sticking up posters—it was, as he would write, a milk train, “that one gets on and gets off along the way”—he traversed the whole field of his properly political evolution. The watchwords he had formulated did not have the success that he hoped for; his calls for unity were not heard. For some time, Jünger felt estranged from all political currents. He had no more sympathy for the rising National Socialism than for the traditional national leagues. All the national movements, he explained in an article of Suddeutsche Monatshefte [South German Monthly] (September 1930, 843–45), be they traditionalist, legitimist, economist, reactionary, or National Socialist, draw their inspiration from the past, and, in this respect, are “liberal” and “bourgeois.” Divided between the neoconservatives and the National Bolsheviks, the national revolutionary groups no longer commanded respect. In fact, Jünger no longer believed in the possibility of collective action. (In the first version of The Adventurous Heart, Jünger wrote: “Today one can no longer make collective efforts for Germany” [p. 153]). As Niekisch was to emphasize in his autobiography (Erinerrungen eines deutschen Revolutionärs [Memories of a German Revolutionary] [Cologne: Wissenschaft u. Politik, 1974, vol. I, p. 191), Jünger intended to trace a more personal and interior way of dealing with the current situation. “Jünger, this perfect Prussian officer who subjects himself to the hardest discipline,” wrote Marcel Decombis, “would never again be able to fit in a collectivity” (Ernst Jünger [Sapwood-Montaigne, 1943]). His brother, who had abandoned his legal career in 1928, evolved in the same direction. He wrote on Greek poetry, the American novel, Kant, Dostoyevsky. The two brothers undertook a series of voyages: Sicily (1929), the Balearic Islands (1931), Dalmatia (1932), the Aegean Sea.

Ernst and Friedrich Georg Jünger continued, certainly, to publish some articles, particularly in Widerstand. (In total, Ernst Jünger published eleven articles in Standarte, twenty-eight in Arminius, twelve in Der Vormarsch, and eighteen in Widerstand. Like his brother, he collaborated on Widerstand until its prohibition, in December 1934.) But the properly journalistic period of their engagement was over. Between 1929 and 1932, Ernst Jünger concentrated all his efforts on new books, starting with the first version of Das abenteuerliche Herz (The Adventurous Heart, 1929), then the essay “Die totale Mobilmachung” (“Total Mobilization,” 1931), and finally Der Arbeiter. Herrschaft und Gestalt (The Worker: Domination and Figure), published in 1932 in Hamburg by the Hanseatische Ver­lagsanstalt of Benno Ziegler and reprinted many times before 1945.

Notes

  1. Preface to Marcel Decombis, Ernst Jünger et la “Konservative Revolution” (GRECE, 1975), 8.
  2. The son of Ernst Georg Jünger (1868–1943), a chemist and assistant to research chemist Viktor Meyer. He had one sister and five brothers, two of whom died very young.
  3. In 1901, a right-wing student named Karl Fischer organized the students at the gymnasium of Steglitz, near Berlin, into a movement of young protesters with idealistic and romantic tendencies, to whom he gave the name “Wandervogel” (“birds of passage”). This movement, subsequently divided into many currents, gave birth to the Jugendbewegung (Youth Movement) and became widely known. In October 1913, the same year Jünger joined, the Youth Movement organized (alongside the commemoration of the hundredth birthday of the “Battle of the Nations” near Leipzig) a great meeting at Hohen Meissner, close to Kassel. There several thousand young “Wandervogel” discussed the problems of the movement, which was pacifist, nationalist, and populist in orientation. On the eve of the First World War, the Jugendbewegung counted approximately 25,000 members. After 1918, the movement could not regain its old cohesion, but its influence remained undeniable. On the Wandervogel, cf. epecially Hans Bliiher, Wandervogel. Geschichte einer Jugendbewegung, 2 vol. (Berlin-Tempelhof: Bernhard Weise, 1912–1913); Fr. W. Foerster, Jugendseele, Jugendbewegung, Jugendziel (München-Leipzig: Rotapfel, 1923); Theo Herrle, Die deutsche Jugendbewegung in ihren kulturellen Zusammenhängen (Gotha-Stuttgart: Friedrich Andreas Perthes, 1924); Heinrich Ahrens, Die deutsche Wandervogelbewegung von den Anfängen bis zum Weltkrieg (Hamburg: Hansischer Gildenverlag, 1939); Werner Kindt, ed., Grundschrif­ten der deutschen Jugendbewegung (Dusseldorf-Köln: Eugen Diederichs, 1963); Bernhard Schnei­der, Daten zur Geschichte der Jugendbewegung (Bad Godesberg: Voggenreiter, 1965); Walter Laqueur, Die deutsche Jugendbewegung. Eine historische Studie (Köln: Wissenschaft und Politik, 1978); Otto Neuloh and Wilhelm Zilius, Die Wandervogel. Eine empirisch-soziologische Untersuchung der frühen deutschen Jugendbewegung (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1982).
  4. Journal, vol. 2, April 20th, 1943.
  5. The Stalhelm association had been founded at the end of 1918 by Franz Seldte, born in Magdeburg in 1882, in reaction to the November revolution. His orientation to the right was intensified the moment the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June of 1919. After the assassinnation of Walther Rathenau, in 1922, Stahl­helm was dissolved in Prussia but the ban was lifted the following year. In 1925, it had around 260,000 members. In 1933, Seldte was named Minister of Labor in Hitler’s first cabinet. The National Socialist regime went on to force Stahlhelm’s integration into the Natio­nalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkampferbund (NSDFB). Theodor Duesterberg, Seldte’s assistant since 1924, who had immediately abandoned his functions, was arrested and imprisoned in June 1934. In 1935, the “liquidation” of Stahlhelm was complete. Cf. on this subject: Wilhelm Kleinau, Sol­daten der Nation. Die geschichtliche Sendung des Stahlhelm (Berlin: Stahlhelm, 1933); Franz Seldte, ed., Der NSDFB (Stahlhelm). Geschichte, Wesen und Aufgabe des Frontsoldatenbundes (Berlin: Frei­heitsverlag, 1935); Theodor Duesterberg, Der Stahlhelm und Hitler (Wolfenbüttel-Hannover: Wolfenbütteler Verlags­anstalt, 1949); and Volker R. Berghahn, Der Stahlhelm-Bund der Frontsol­daten (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1966).
  6. Ernst Jünger, “Die Revolution,” Die Standarte, 1, October 18, 1925.
  7. Cf. Louis Dupeux, Strategie communiste et dynamique conservatrice. Essai sur les difjerents sens de l’expression «national-bolchevisme» en Allemagne, sous la Republique de Weimar, 1919–1933 (Honore Champion, 1976), p. 313.
  8. Cf. Henri Plard, “Une oeuvre retrouvée d’Ernst Jünger: Sturm (1923),” Etudes germaniques, October-December 1968, 600–615.

 

Source: Alain de Benoist, “Ernst Jünger: La Figure du Travailleur entre les Dieux et les Titans,” Nouvelle Ecole No. 40 (Autumn 1983): 1161.

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De Benoist, Alain. “Ernst Jünger: The Figure of The Worker Between the Gods & the Titans.” Originally published in three parts at Counter-Currents Publishing. Part 1: 6 April 2011. Part 2: 13 April 2011. Part 3: 26 July 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/04/ernst-junger-the-figure-of-the-worker-part-1/ >; < http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/04/ernst-junger-figure-of-the-worker-part-2/ >; < http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/07/ernst-junger-the-figure-of-the-worker-between-the-gods-the-titans-part-3/ >.

 

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Necessity of Fourth Political Theory – Savin

Necessity of the Fourth Political Theory

By Leonid Savin

 

The present world financial crisis marks the conclusion of the damage done by the liberal ideology which, having appeared during the epoch of the Western Enlightenment, has for decades dominated most of the planet.

Disturbing voices and criticism started during the end of the last century, with the rise of such phenomena as globalisation and one-worldism. This criticism sounded not only from outside opponents – conservatives, Marxists and indigenous peoples- but started within the camp of the Western community. Researchers noticed that the modern shock of globalisation is a consequence of universal liberalism, which opposes any manifestation of distinctions. The ultimate program of liberalism is the annihilation of any distinctions. Hence, liberalism undermines not only cultural phenomena, but also the social organism itself. The logic of contemporary Western liberalism is that of the universal market devoid of any culture other than the production and consumption process.[1]

Historical experience has proved that the Western liberal world has tried to forcibly impose its will upon all others. According to this idea, all public systems of the Earth are variants of the Western – liberal – system[2] and their distinctive features should disappear before the approach of the conclusion of this world epoch.[3].

Jean Baudrillard also states that this is not a clash of civilisations, but an almost innate resistance between one universal homogeneous culture and those who resist this globalisation.[4].

Universal Ideologies

Apart from liberalism two more ideologies are known for having tried to achieve world supremacy: Namely Communism (i.e. Marxism in its various aspects) and Fascism/National Socialism. As Alexander Gelyevich Dugin fairly notices, Fascism has arisen after the two ideologies and has disappeared before them. After the disintegration of the USSR the Marxism that was born in the 19th Century has been definitely discredited as well. Liberalism based mainly on individualism and an atomistic society, human rights and the State-leviathan described by Hobbes emerged because of bellum omnium contra omnes [5] and has long held on.

Here it is necessary to analyse the relation of the aforesaid ideologies in the contexts of the temporary times and loci from which they emerged.

We know that Marxism was a somewhat futuristic idea – Marxism prophesied the future victory of Communism at a time that nonetheless remained uncertain. In this regard it is a messianic doctrine, seeing the inevitability of its victory that would usher the culmination and end of the historical process. But Marx was a false prophet and the victory never eventuated.

National Socialism and Fascism on the contrary, tried to recreate the abundance of a mythic Golden Age, but with a modernist form[6]. Fascism and National Socialism were attempts to usher in a new time cycle, laying the basis for a new Civilisation in the aftermath of what was seen as a cultural decline and death of the Western Civilisation (thus most likely the idea of the Thousand-year Reich). This was abortive too.

Liberalism (like Marxism) proclaimed the end of history, most cogently described by Francis Fukuyama (the End of history and the last man)[7]. Such an end, nonetheless, never took place; and we have instead a nomadic-like “information society” composed of atomised egoist individuals,[8] that consume avidly the fruits of techno-culture. Moreover, tremendous economic collapses take place worldwide; violent conflicts occur (many local revolts, but also long-term wars on an international scale); and so disappointment dominates our world rather than the universal utopia promised in the name of “progress.”[9]

Fourth Political Theory and the Context of Time

How should the experts of the new fourth political theory frame their analyses in the context of historical time epochs? It should be the union with eternity about which conservative-revolutionary theorist Arthur Moeller van der Brück espoused in his book Das Dritte Reich.

If humans consider themselves and the people to which they belong not as momentary, temporal entities but in an ‘eternity perspective’, then they will be freed from the disastrous consequences of the liberal approach to human life, whereby human beings are considered from a strictly temporal viewpoint. If A. Moeller van der Brück’s premise is achieved, we shall have a new political theory the fruits of which will be simultaneously both conservative and bearing the new values that our world desperately needs.

From such an historical perspective, it is possible to understand the links between the emergence of an ideology within a particular historical epoch; or what has been called the zeitgeist or “spirit of the age.”

Fascism and National Socialism saw the foundations of history in the state (Fascism) or race (Hitlerian National socialism). For Marxism it was the working class and economic relations between classes. Liberalism on the other hand, sees history in terms of the atomised individual detached from a complex of cultural heritage and inter-social contact and communication. However, nobody considered as the subject of history the People as Being, with all the richness of intercultural links, traditions, ethnic features and worldview.

If we consider various alternatives, even nominally ‘socialist’ countries have adopted liberal mechanisms and patterns that exposed regions with a traditional way of life to accelerated transformation, deterioration and outright obliteration. The destruction of the peasantry, religion and family bonds by Marxism were manifestations of this disruption of traditional organic societies, whether in Maoist China or the USSR under Lenin and Trotsky.

This fundamental opposition to tradition embodied in both liberalism and Marxism can be understood by the method of historical analysis considered above: Marxism and liberalism both emerged from the same zeitgeist in the instance of these doctrines, from the spirit of money.[10]

Alternatives to Liberalism

Several attempts to create alternatives to neo-Liberalism are now visible – the Lebanese socialism of Jamaheria, the political Shiism in Iran where the main state goal is the acceleration of the arrival of the Mahdi and the revision of socialism in Latin America (reforms in Bolivia are especially indicative). These anti-Liberal responses, nonetheless, are limited within the borders of the relevant, single statehood.

Ancient Greece is the source of all three theories of political philosophy. It is important to understand that at the beginning of philosophical thought the Greeks considered the primary question of Being. However they risked obfuscation by the nuances of the most complicated relation between being and thinking, between pure being (Seyn) and its expression in existence (Seiende), between the human being (Dasein) and being in itself (Sein).[11]

Hence, the renunciation of (neo)Liberalism, and the revision of old categories and, perhaps, of the whole of Western Philosophy are necessary. We should develop a new political ideology that, according to Alain de Benoist, will be the New (Fourth) Nomos of the Earth. The French philosopher is right in remarking that the positive reconsideration of collective identity is necessary; for our foe is not “the other”, but an ideology which destroys all identities[12].

It is noteworthy that three waves of globalisation have been the corollaries of the aforementioned three political theories (Marxism, Fascism, and Liberalism). As a result, we need after it a new political theory, which would generate the Fourth Wave: the re-establishment of (every) People with its eternal values. And of course, after the necessary philosophical consideration, political action must proceed.

 

Notes

[1] Gustav Massiah, « Quelle response a la mondialisation » , in Après-demain (4-5-1996), p.199.

[2] For example, the insistence that all states and peoples should adopt the Westminster English parliamentary system as a universal model regardless of ancient traditions, social structures and hierarchies.

[3] « Les droits de l´homme et le nouvel occidentalisme » in L’Homme et la société (numéro spécial [1987], p.9

[4] Jean Baudrillard, Power Inferno, Paris: Galilée, 2002. Also see for example Jean Baudrillard, “The Violence of the Global” (< http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=385&gt;).

[5] In English: War of everybody against every body.

[6] Hence the criticism of National Socialism and Fascism by Right-Traditionalists such as Julius Evola. See K R Bolton, Thinkers of the Right (Luton, 2003), p. 173..

[7] Francis Fukuyama The End of History and the Last Man , Penguin Books, 1992.

[8] G Pascal Zachary, The Global Me, NSW, Australia: Allen and Unwin, 2000.

[9] Clive Hamilton, Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough, NSW, Australia: Allen and Unwin, 2005.

[10] This is the meaning of Spengler’s statement that, “Herein lies the secret of why all radical (i.e. poor) parties necessarily become the tools of the money-powers, the Equites, the Bourse. Theoretically their enemy is capital, but practically they attack, not the Bourse, but Tradition on behalf of the Bourse. This is as true today as it was for the Gracchuan age, and in all countries…” Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, (London : George Allen & Unwin , 1971), Vol. 2, p. 464.

[11] See Martin Heidegger on these terms.

[12] – Ален де Бенуа (Alain de Benoist), Против Либерализма (Against Liberalism), Saint-Petersburg : Амфора, 2009, pp.14 -15.

 

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Savin, Leonid. “Necessity of the Fourth Political Theory.” Ab Aeterno, No. 3 (June 2013), pp. 48-50. Republished online at the Russian “Conservative Research Center”: <http://konservatizm.org/konservatizm/theory/290810000649.xhtml >.

Notes: Leonid Savin is the Chief Editor of “Geopolitics” at the Department of Sociology and International Relations Faculty of Sociology, Moscow State University, Russia. Savin is aslo the Editor-in-Chief of the “Geopolitics of postmodernism” internet media (www.geopolitica.ru) and is the Chief of Staff at the International Social Movement “Eurasia Movement”, which maintains a website at <http://www.evrazia.info >.

Note on further reading: For a brief discussion of Dugin’s theories and also a listing of major translated works by him, see Natella Speranskaya’s interview with Dugin: <https://neweuropeanconservative.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/civilization-as-political-concept-dugin/ >. On the idea of the “Fourth Political Theory”, see also Olivia Pistun’s review of Dugin’s book on the subject: <https://neweuropeanconservative.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/review-of-dugins-4th-political-theory-pistun/ >.

 

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