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Soseki’s “Kokoro” and Japan’s Modernization – Nguyen

Kokoro (1914) by Natsume Soseki: The Question of Japanese Modernity

By Hoang Nguyen

 

Introductory Remarks: The following article is primarily a review of the novel Kokoro, considered the most important work written by the famous Japanese author Natsume Soseki (1867-1916). Soseki is highly regarded in his native Japan; his works are considered one of the nation’s cultural treasures, his books are required reading in Japanese schools, and his portrait even appears on Japan’s currency. His book Kokoro, in particular, is seen as one of the best representations of the traditional Japanese soul, and as Nguyen’s review reveals, was important in warning the Japanese people against excessive Westernisation. We should note to our readers that another, similar but more in-depth academic analysis of Kokoro was made by Koji Nakamura in his article “Soseki’s Kokoro as a Cross-Cultural Study for Exchange Students from North America and Europe” (alt.), and it will be useful to read that as well to gain a fuller understanding. However, as is evident from most studies on Soseki’s critiques of and warnings against Westernisation, Soseki’s view was limited by his time period (the Meiji era) and preceded the process of true “modernisation without Westernisation,” which manifested itself most clearly over a decade after his death (although it is clear that Westernisation had many limitations even during the Meiji period).

By the 1930’s, Japan began to reassert its ethno-cultural and religious identity and combined it with economic and scientific modernisation, and although this process was disrupted by their defeat in World War II and the ensuing troubling time period (the late 1940s up to the early 1970s), by the later 20th Century (the late 1970s and beyond) they began reasserting their cultural identity once again in a new way. Essentially, despite still facing some cultural problems today which need to be overcome, modernisation without Westernisation is mostly successful in Japan, as Nguyen notes in the beginning of her review, and as Alexander Dugin had also observed in his article “In the Country of the Rising ‘Do’.” However, even if some of Natsume Soseki’s approaches or statements are outdated, this doesn’t mean that Soseki’s literature is irrelevant today. Quite the contrary, by being so ingrained into the culture, Soseki’s works help constantly remind the Japanese to defend their ethno-cultural identity against disintegration by globalisation. Europeans would do well to learn from this. – Daniel Macek (Editor of the “New European Conservative”)

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“Perhaps you will not understand clearly why I am about to die, no more than I can fully understand why General Nogi killed himself. You and I belong to different eras, and so we think differently. There is nothing we can do to bridge the gap between us.” (Sensei from Kokoro)

Japanese Modernity has often been equated with Westernization. The significance of this equation is that it constructs an assumption that modernity is solely based on the Western values. As Japan became a modern nation, assertions were made that the process of modernization was actually the process of Westernization. However, Natsume Soseki, in his most accomplished novel Kokoro, criticized this equation by exposing the modern Japan in conflict with Western values. However, it failed to give a satisfactory alternative solution to the concept of Japanese modernity.

Modernization is by definition a technological process. Although modernity is the result of modernization, modernity necessarily includes not only technological but also social and economic factors. The definition of modernization can be derived from the results of industrial evolution and technological advances which were prevailing in Europe one time in history. However, the definition of modernity should in no way be connected to Western influence since not all countries should follow the same path of economic and social development as the West did.  Therefore, it is obvious that Japan has modernized based on the technological achievements of the West but it is still open to debate whether the modernity of Japan should be the modernity represented by Western countries. Japanese modernity is equal to Western modernity in terms of technological developments, but not necessarily so in social and economic realms.

In KokoroNatsume Soseki told a story happening at the time Japan was modernizing and mentioned a variety of Western influences which were alienating to the Japanese society, at least the society of the Meiji Era. In doing this, Soseki showed us the short-comings of the Western modernity equation, which tries to predetermine a model for the modernity of Japan without any concerns for Japanese long history of traditionsJapanese modernity is a complicated concept and reducing it to a simple Western modernity equation is an eliminating process that sets aside important social and cultural factors.

There are various factors of Western modernity that were criticized in the text. Modern education and capitalism were the two major factors that surfaced in the story. Viewed from a Western modernity viewpoint, these are the necessary factors of modernity. However, throughout the text, Soseki made it clear that trying to attach these factors to Japanese society and the Japanese spectrum of modernity will only create social alienation and miscommunication. Incorporating all these factors into the contrasts between the past and the present, the old and the new, the traditional and the non-traditional, and finally, the dead and the alive, Soseki  drew a spectacular picture of the Japanese society struggling in vain to adapt to Western modernity.

In “Kokoro,” modern education was not helpful in dealing with the reality of life. At this point in history, the Japanese school system had been westernized; therefore, studying activities, especially in higher education, followed strictly the Western model of education. Both the character “I” and Sensei were involved in intellectual activities. However, they do not find any significance value in their studies.

I opened the window of my room, which was on the second floor and, pretending that my diploma was a telescope, I surveyed as much of the world as I could see… Then I threw the diploma down on the desk… In that position, I thought back over my past and tried to imagine what my future would be. I thought about my diploma lying on the desk and, though it seemed to have some significance as a kind of symbol of the beginning of a new life, I could not help feeling that it was a meaningless scrap of paper too.

The diploma, a thing that represents the honor of intellectual activities, has been a symbol of education and reason. The act of “pretending my diploma was a telescope” can be interpreted as the author’s attempt at viewing the world through the knowledge he acquired from school, from the lectures and from his professors. However, that was a failed attempt since he himself admitted that “I could not help feeling that it was a meaningless scrap of paper…” He found no use in the kind of knowledge he acquired. That is why he “threw the diploma down on the desk…” Besides the author who was doubtful about the usefulness of his study, other characters in the story also expressed disbelief in the significance of modern education. Both Sensei and his wife did not know where Sensei’s diploma was even though a diploma is supposed to be important for an intellectual person like Sensei.  For Sensei, at a point of great depression in his life, he felt that “the professors who stood on the platforms seemed very far away, and their voices faint.” That was his disappointment in modern education which is far away from the reality of life. When Sensei sought to be guided in life by the knowledge he acquired from school, he found nothing but faint voices from far-away professors. Modern education based its teachings on Western thoughts; therefore, it does not speak truth to the Japanese society.

As a result, those who received modern education were lost in the gap between the Japanese world and the Western world. Sensei’s wife commented, “I see that higher education has made you adept at empty rationalization.” Ojosan spoke this sentence when she was explaining to the author about her relationship with Sensei. The author kept using his modern reasoning to analyze the relationship between Ojosan and Sensei while Ojosan seemed to insist that “empty rationalization” does not help when it comes to explaining people’s motives.

But sometimes I was inclined to regard his reserve unfavorably. I liked then to think that his reluctance to discuss such a matter was due to timidity born of the conventions of a generation ago. I thought myself more free, in this respect, and more open-minded, than either Sensei or his wife.

The author assumed that his education has made him “more free” and “more open-minded” than Sensei who had the “timidity born of the conventions of a generation ago.” This goes to show that “empty rationalization,” the kind of modern reasoning that the author studied at school, was actually at odds with the Japanese traditional way of thinking, which values human passion more than cold unbiased reason. Reason, in the Japanese way of thinking, is inferior to passion, as Sensei asserted, “I believe that words uttered in passion contain a greater living truth than do those words which express thoughts rationally conceived.” Throughout the whole story, the author kept on analyzing people’s behavior by his modern reasoning. However, as Sensei pointed out, there is something else that the author does not know. “”You have never thought seriously of the reality of death, have you?” I became silent.” Only people of the previous generation could understand “the reality of death.” Both Sensei and the author’s father reacted in a melancholic manner to the death of Meiji Emperor. The author himself could only understand the news as the death of an influential figure. For Sensei and the author’s father, death has a special meaning. Equipped with university knowledge, the author may be good at his field of study but he could never understand the people. However much he studied, he could not understand the spirit of the previous generations (Sensei, Ojosan, his father…). The author’s brother, who also had a university degree, also did not understand Sensei. He said, “That’s the trouble with egoists … They are brazen enough to think they have the right to live idly. It’s a crime not to make the best use of whatever ability one has.”

Obviously, his reasoning was fair. Nevertheless, it is not persuasive because he could not understand that people like Sensei could have a reasonable motive behind their behaviors. It is not what education can teach him. Education could not bridge the gap between different generations. That is also the gap between a traditional Japan and a Westernized Japan that modern education could never fill. Even though Japan has begun to Westernize, to begin “a new life,” the author kept wondering what identity he would absorb in that new life: “… I thought back over my past and tried to imagine what my future would be.” The author thought that with his diploma, he could be sure about his future. However, modern education did not give him the answer to his identity. What will the modern Japanese society? And what is the significance of modern education in shaping such a society and the individuals in that society? These questions remained unanswered to the author as he threw his diploma on the desk and wondered about the future of the society he was living in.

Alienation is the effect of forcing Western modernity on Japanese society. Individualism, originally not associated with modernity, has become so popular in European societies that it entered the spectrum of Western modernity. However, as Japan modernizes, it is not suitable to assume that Japan will absorb individualism the way the West did. When Sensei commented that “… loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egoistical selves,” the author “could not think of anything to say.” Members of the modern society enjoy the benefits of individualism. However, the traditional Japanese society itself upholds strong values of communal relationships and several aspects of individualism like independence and self-reliance clash with these values. Therefore, the loneliness that both Sensei and the narrator experienced is the alienation that resulted from the rapid development from the Japanese communal space to a modern individualistic society. K, who acquired many aspects of Western modernity like education and intellectual thoughts, had the same fate. K was alienated from his own society. He did not have any close friends since no one could understand his modern thoughts, which he diligently studied from Western texts. By following his study without concerning his family’s opinions, he became the representative of Western individualism. It was his individualistic tendency that drove him away from his own family and society.

Alienation was described more clearly through the miscommunications of the characters in the story. Western societies value the voice of the individual and encourage conversations in constructing a relationship. However, there are things that cannot be conveyed by words and those belong to the traditional sphere that Western ideals seemed to interfere with. Conversations seemed to only disturb the understanding between people. “It was wrong of me. I had intended to make you aware of certain truths. Instead, I have only succeeded in irritating you.”

When the Sensei tried to explain to the narrator his idea about love, he did not manage to express himself clearly. The narrator only got more confused after listening to Sensei’s explanation.“I was trying to explain my earlier remarks because I thought they had irritated you. But in trying to explain, I find that I have upset you once more.”

The constant misunderstanding and miscommunications between the author and Sensei throughout the first two chapters of the story revealed how far people of different generations were from each other. The author belonged to the modern world while Sensei is forever associated with the past. Sensei always lived haunted by his past. Therefore, not understanding the past, the author could not figure out the meaning of Sensei’s behaviors. Western modernity, the kind of “borrowed” modernity, was not valued by Sensei:“True, my ethics may be different from those of the young men of today. But they are at least my own. I did not borrow them for the sake of convenience as a man might a dress suit.”

Western modernity was not meant forJapan. It was like a suit that Japanese people put on in order to modernize but it will never fit. Sensei valued his own ethics even though it is “different from those of young men of today.” It is that difference that forever separated the traditional, the past and the modern, the present. The title of the story is “Kokoro,” which can be translated as “feeling,” the kind of feeling that words cannot easily convey. The story, then, can be interpreted as the author’s journey to understand “kokoro,” to grasp the deepest feelings of Sensei who, to him, was a “half-hidden figure.” At the same time, it is a journey to understand the past and to figure out what is the meaning of the past to the future of his society. In the Japanese spirit, “kokoro” is a sacred realm and a key element of a communal space. Western modernity, whatever benefits it may bring, did not suffice to become the future of Japan simply because it neglects “kokoro.” Miscommunication between Sensei and the narrator was just one example of the many miscommunications between Japanese traditional spirit and Western modernity spirit.

The unsuitability of Western modernity for Japanese society was emphasized by the difference between different generations and between the past and the present.

But you must not think that K’s inability to discard his old ways and begin his life anew was due to his lack of modern concepts. You must understand that to K, his own past seemed too sacred a thing to be thrown away like an old suit of clothes. One might say that his past was his life, and to deny it would have meant that his life thus far had been without purpose… he was forced to look back and remind himself of what his past had meant. And in doing so he could not but continue along the path that he had so far followed.

The influence of the past on K was so great and so “sacred” that even though K has been immersed in modern concepts in his intellectual activities, he could not help but continue his “old ways.” This is the dilemma of Japan. Wanting to move on and to modernize,Japan has adopted Western ideas. However, the shadow of the past and the traditions are still there and Western modernity provided no means to overcome that shadow.

Perhaps you will not understand clearly why I am about to die, no more than I can fully understand why General Nogi killed himself. You and I belong to different eras, and so we think differently. There is nothing we can do to bridge the gap between us.

Both Sensei and the author were helpless in their attempts to understand each other. It is not only the gap between generations. Even though they are living in the same society, Sensei and the author each belonged to a world of his own. Sensei’s world is the Japan of Meiji emperor and General Nogi. The author’s world is the modern, individualistic and capitalistic Japan. Western modernity assumed that those two worlds can coexist peacefully at the same time within Japanese society.  However, that was a misconception. Japan can modernize technologically but it does not necessarily absorb all the social aspects of a Western modern society. Western modernity forced onto Japanese communal space only created clashes and conflicts which cannot be solved.

One example of those conflicts is the negative effect of capitalism on Japanese society.

If there is any property in your family, then I do think you should see to it that your inheritance is properly settled now… But don’t you think that, while your father is alive, you should make sure that you will receive your proper share? When a man dies suddenly, his estate causes more trouble than anything else.

Sensei saw “estate” as troublesome. And he was honest. Inheritance is a highly valued concept in Japanese society. It is through inheritance that traditions can be passed down from generation to generation, and the glory of the past, as a result, would be preserved. However, capitalism attached monetary value to inheritance, thus turning it into a troublesome thing. In a capitalistic world, money and capital are favored over relationships and humans themselves.  It was money that ruined the relationship between Sensei and his uncle. It was also money that exacerbates K’s relationship with both his foster family and his real family. K’s only connection with his foster family is the money he received for his study. When they stopped offering to sponsor his study, K’s relationship with them also ended. All the relationships that were abandoned in the story were due to material conflicts. Money and capital has grown to become so important in that modern society that people could not but give in to its power and neglect their relationships.  K had no time to worry about his family problems because he had to worry about money matters first:

Whether he should return to his original family because of the unhappy incident, or whether he should consider some way of compromise and remain with his adopted family, was a problem for the future, but what required his immediate attention was the question of how he was to pay for his education.

Moreover, money has been described by Sensei as something “evil.” Sensei expressed his contempt for money, “Give a gentleman money, and he will soon turn into a rogue.” Those people who got controlled by money became, in Sensei’s mind, “the personification of all those things in this world which make it unworthy of trust.” The goal of modernity is not, and should not be, a society where people cannot trust each other. The Japanese spirit that has always valued honor and trust will not be able to wholly accept the concept of capitalism and materialism.

Soseki tried to give an alternative to the problem by using the concept of a hybrid. In other words, he wanted the modern Japanese people to inherit the traditions and the social spirit of the past while still moving on with the technological developments introduced by the West. In this solution, He focused on the tradition of inheritance as the key to defining Japanese modernity. Inheritance was used as a means to transporting the social spirit from generation to generation. A series of inheritance were broken in the story all due to the intervention of Western modernity. Sensei lost part of his inheritance because of his capitalistic uncle. K lost his “inheritance” from the foster family because he decided to follow his individualistic dream. However, those were cases of inheritance defined by money value. The kind of inheritance that is more important in the story is the sacred inheritance of the social spirit, which helps to create the hybrid of traditional values and modern tendencies. K is the perfect example of such a social hybrid. He was born in a temple and seemed to embody the important part of Japanese social spirit, the “concentration of mind.” However, at the same time, he was interested in studying the Bible and the Koran. He also likes to talk about subjects like religion and philosophy, which were obviously full of Western thoughts. K kept on living with his “concentration of mind” while constantly updating himself with Western intellectual knowledge through modern education. He succeeded in keeping the Japanese traditional attitude and the Western modern tendencies in dealing with life. His death has a big influence on Sensei. After K’s death, Sensei became another “K.” In this case, death is a kind of sacred inheritance, as the story unfolded.

The kind of social hybrid that K represented was passed down to Sensei when K died, and at the end of the story, it was passed down to the narrator when Sensei committed suicide. Such was Soseki’s approach to the problem of Japanese modernity. However, it was not a perfect solution. K’s reason for studying the Bible is because “one should read a book so highly valued by others.” This explanation somehow hinted that Japan is adopting Western modernity just because this model has been accepted as universal in the Western world. By making this statement, K lost his own identity. Moreover, when he was struck by the Western platonic love for Ojosan, K could not keep his traditional “concentration of mind” anymore and eventually committed suicide. This clash between Western modernity and Japanese traditions has remained unsolved and there was no answer to it other than death.

The novel Kokoro criticized Western modernity by depicting modern education and capitalism in a negative tone. It also showed us the social alienation resulted from the act of forcing a Western model of modernity onto Japanese society. The story itself was filled with darkness and helplessness, which appropriately reflects the atmosphere of a society gradually losing its own identity. The answer given was death, and only hopeless death could end the tension brought about by the clash between Western and Japanese values.

 

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Nguyen, Hoang. “Kokoro (1914) by Natsume Soseki: The Question of Japanese Modernity.” East Asian Pop Culture, 27 March 2012. <http://easdiary.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/kokoro-by-natsume-soseki-the-question-of-japanese-modernity/ >.

 

Notes on Further Reading: A great deal of Natsume Soseki’s works – mostly novels – have been translated into English (and numerous other languages). His most significant works are I Am A Cat, Botchan, Kusamakura/The Three-Cornered World, Sanshiro, Sorekara/And Then, The Gate, and Kokoro.

For those interested in reading and studying other Japanese literature (which is also useful for the study of Japan’s culture, history, and religious attitudes), we recommend the following two anthologies which were edited by Donald Keene: Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1955), and Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day (New York: Grove Press, 1956).

Concerning important modern classic Japanese authors (other than Natsume Soseki) whose works have been translated, we can note the following for readers who are interested: Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Kyoka Izumi, Osamu Dazai, Junichiro Tanizaki, Eiji Yoshikawa, Edogawa Rampo, Yukio Mishima, Yasunari Kawabata, Fumiko Enchi, Yasushi Inoue, Shuhei Fujisawa, and Hisashi Inoue.

 

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Ethical Theories of Nishitani, Watsuji, & Berdyaev – Sevilla

“Ethics of Emptiness East and West: Examining Nishitani, Watsuji, and Berdyaev” by Anton Luis Sevilla (PDF – 604 KB):

Ethics of Nishitani, Watsuji, and Berdyaev – Sevilla

“The Communality of Creativity and the Creativity of Communality: A Comparison of the Ethics of Nikolai Berdyaev and Watsuji Tetsuro” by Anton Luis Sevilla (PDF – 308 KB):

Comparison of Berdyaev’s and Watsuji’s Ethics – Sevilla

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Sevilla, Anton Luis. “Ethics of Emptiness East and West: Examining Nishitani, Watsuji, and Berdyaev.” In Questioning Oriental Aesthetics and Thinking: Conflicting Visions of “Asia” Under the Colonial Empires, edited by Shigemi Inaga. Kyoto: International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 2010. Retrieved from: <http://publications.nichibun.ac.jp/region/d/NSH/series/kosh/2011-03-31/s001/s026/pdf/article.pdf >.

Sevilla, Anton Luis. “The Communality of Creativity and the Creativity of Communality: A Comparison of the Ethics of Nikolai Berdyaev and Watsuji Tetsuro.” Kritika Kultura, No. 15 (2010), pp. 226-253. Retrieved from: <http://philpapers.org/archive/SEVTCO-2.pdf >.

 

Notes on other resources: See also the article about the debate on Kitaro Nishida’s philosophical positions, a Japanese philosopher who was a significant influence on Tetsuro Watsuji and Keiji Nishitani: “The Nishida Enigma: ‘The Principle of the New World Order’” by Yoko Arisaka. However, we should note to our audience that Arisaka’s article deals mostly with Nishida’s political and cultural philosophy, and only briefly mentions his philosophy in the fields of religion, ontology, science, and ethics. Likewise, Sevilla’s articles above mostly deal with the ethical philosophies and (to a lesser extent) religious philosophies of Watsuji and Nishitani, but neglect the philosophy of culture and climate which Watsuji is well-known for.

More information on all of these thinkers can be found in various books and journals, including for example at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (see Kyoto School, Nishida, Watsuji). Another good reference for external resources on Japanese philosophers is the Japanese Philosophy Blog (see categories of Kyoto School, Nishida, Watsuji) and Nichibunken (see publications search). However, we should warn our readers that the majority of academic resources on these philosophers in English contain anti-Right-wing or anti-Conservative bias and commentaries (especially the Stanford Encyclopedia), and thus must be compared and balanced with alternative explanations for a better understanding. A more neutral, although somewhat limited, discussion of Watsuji’s political (and ethical-social) philosophy can be found in “Watsuji Tetsuro’s Contributions to Political Philosophy” by Kazuhiko Okuda (Paper delivered to the XVIIth World Congress of International Political Science Association (IPSA), Seoul, Korea, August 17·21, 1997. Originally published online at: <http://nirr.lib.niigata-u.ac.jp/bitstream/10623/31224/1/2011_2_iuj1_019.pdf >. ).

 

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Progressivism as a Surrogate Community – Chen

Progressivism as a Surrogate Community in the United States

By Clare Y. Chen

 

Handle wrote up a great post on how progressivism psychologically serves the human desire for society and community.

I won’t get into summarising it, but I wrote a somewhat lengthy comment that I think merits some further expansion.

Coincidentally, I was thinking about something very similar earlier today. Those individuals who are the most atomised, rootless, and without intimate [face-to-face] social networks are also the most easy to Cathedralise.*

Rightists used to think that leftism was all about an overbearing, banal, and uniform solidarity in the masses, but we didn’t pay enough attention to the fact that the prerequisite was the destruction of fraternal, familial, and ethno-religious bonds. And what better place for that than the great ‘propositional nation’ of America?

You’re young, and you’ve got the whole world out there. Away from home, and on an unfamiliar campus around people in a similar position, where you have no connection to anything. Without existing friendships, it’ll be hard to develop any sense of security that you can really speak your mind and do as you wish.

Break a progressive taboo? No one will stand up for you. The fear of ostracisation and blacklisting would crush an ordinary person. You can atone for your crimes by grovelling before your masters in the Cathedral, begging them for a chance for redemption. But, it’s easier to submit and pay tribute without having the Mongols sack your city first, isn’t it?

Look at what happened to Pax Dickinson. What would an ordinary denizen have done? He would have prostrated himself before the pantheon of progressive deities–feminism, multiculturalism, et al.–repeatedly offering apologies and chanting the prog mantra.

What is especially awful about that affair with Dickinson is the fact that the odious Anil Dash openly wanted to blacklist the former. It’s not enough to shamelessly campaign for his expulsion from his company. No, all things associated with him must be tainted and buried alive. The message is clear to all.

Now, consider the fact that these trends of atomisation are growing worse, and at alarming rates. We haven’t hit rock-bottom yet. More and more children are growing up in broken homes, and have little to no connection with any religious institutions, which are being co-opted and mercifully killed off by the Cathedral anyway.

The Leftist Singularity isn’t even close.

Now, that’s a sobering thought. Progressivism is a murderer who adopts the orphans of his victims and brainwashes them to do his bidding. Call it Stockholm Syndrome, or whatever, it’s all the same.

We neoreactionaries have our work cut out for us. It’s not just an uphill battle, it’s up a hill that also happens to lie where two tectonic plates meet. That’s not to say that it’s wholly hopeless, though. Enough people will reject and defy progressivism, with enough support. You are absolutely correct when you say that community is essential. Let’s continue building one.

Let’s focus on my metaphor that “Progressivism is a murderer who adopts the orphans of his victims and raises them to do his bidding.” Now, Handle points out that ancient states sometimes did this as an easy way of subjugating conquered populations.

It was a common tactic in the brutal ancient world for conquering forces to slay the men and enslave the women and children. Sending them to reeducation camps and giving a decent career path in the Grand Inquisitor’s Grand Bureaucracy is a much more subtle and effective system of control.

Progressivism competes with traditional loyalties–in the old days, we had our various religious, ethno-cultural, and fraternal associations, whether at church, town, or job. There was always a group that someone could relate with.

It’s different now. Religion has become completely irrelevant today. 72% of Millennials identify as the vapid and meaningless label “spiritual but not religious”. Most are actively hostile to the idea of organised religion. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but important factors include America’s Protestant way of looking at religion and the extensive degree to which remaining churches have become co-opted by the Cathedral (cf. “churchianity”).

And, of course, as America is a “propositional nation”, the general trends of ethnocentrism don’t really apply for whites. Apart from some regional cultural festivals that might attract slight curiosity, American whites overwhelmingly have no connection to the Old World. The few sporadic ties shown are more akin to Plastic Paddies than anything authentic. (In any case, American whites almost always consider themselves Americans first, rather than Germans, English, etc.) Even with subconscious identies as whites, American whites have been so bombarbed by propaganda that to dare show any of that is to invite smears of white supremacism, racism, bigotry, et al. ad nauseam.

Plenty has been said on how PC speech and behavioural codes have taken place in workplaces, so I won’t rehash that. Your master isn’t your manager, it’s human resources. Suffice to say that any place where you spend one-third of your weekday, but still must hide your heretical un-PC self behind a façade, will certainly contribute to a sense of social isolation.

The idea of America as an egalitarian, propositional nation is inherently progressive. As all these traditional communal ties have been obliterated as a result of just how ingrained progressivism is in the social fabric of America, there’s initially a vacuum–and nature abhors a vacuum. This is precisely the void that progressivism itself fills.

From birth to death, a person is surrounded by the influences of the Cathedral. A seemingly innocuous children’s show is far from it. Children are in [mostly public] schools for at least 12 or 13 years, and college for generally 4 or more. (If you’re reading this blog, it’s probably not necessary to expound on the awfulness of public schools and the universities.) These all either openly preach progressive ideology, or at least integrate it into its messages, whether through mockery of tradition or through pushing absurd sanctimonious messages. (For example, what the hell is this?)

What I find particularly abhorrent about this is that the periods where a person’s identity is most pliable and uncertain is where progressivism most strongly targets them. It offers them a universal place of belonging, approval, and likemindedness, albeit with certain caveats. These young adults are transplanted to a land isolated from everyone they knew beforehand, all alone.

Who’s going to compete for their loyalties? Their home churches? Certainly not. Progressivism has slain their caretakers and nurturers in the night, and tells them that they were abandoned. Join us, says the Cathedral. We’ll provide for you, should you become one of us.

It’s a bit of a truism that people prefer feeling good to knowing the truth. Therefore, we shouldn’t be the least bit surprised that the atomised and rootless young adults of modernity flock to the gates of the Cathedral, like moths drawn to a flame.

Or, considering how progressivism shapes, subsumes, and uses these individuals, like grey goo.

Now, in what ways can the neoreaction fight this trend? There are tactics that might help, such as attacking the sanctity of going to college, attacking popular culture, or providing alternative sources of information. And then there are, in my opinion, unrealistic goals, such as halting the growth of bastardy, change via political processes, or revival of ethno-religious identities.

Long-term, maybe the neoreaction can work itself into the social fabric of the West. That takes time, and it’s certainly no cakewalk. Without having achieved that first, perhaps the most lucrative source of short-term strength could be a generation of lost wanderers looking for shelter.

There will inevitably be visceral responses–after all, progressivism has become the core identity of many in Generation Y. (For example, anyone who labels themself an “activist” or “advocate” for something.) Expect overwhelming hostility from anyone whose identity is being attacked. So, stand firm and chip away at those foundations! Erode the base enough, and the decrepit structure collapses in on itself.

Expose progressivism as a murderer, and bring its dirty deeds and lies to light. Show its hostages that progressivism killed its parents. Offer your hand, and say, “your progenitors may have been killed off by the very master you now serve, but there’s a chance of honouring their memories and reforging their ways.”

I won’t entertain the thought that there’s some day of reckoning when all of them get over their Stockholm syndrome and reject the deceptive comfort of the Cathedral together, as that’s silly. But for every individual persuaded to discard the pretty lies, the effort and result means everything to them.

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Added Notes:

* The term “The Cathedral” is used by certain Right-wing writers, especially those belonging to the general group called “Neoreaction.” The term was first used by the internet writer Mencius Moldbug, and can be defined as “the self-organizing consensus of Progressives and Progressive ideology represented by the universities, the media, and the civil service” (quoted from More Right).

 

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Chen, Clare Y. “Progressivism as a surrogate community.” Throne, Altar, and Rock ‘n’ Roll, 20 September 2013. <htts://thronealtarandrocknroll.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/progressivism-as-a-surrogate-community/ >.

 

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The State – Sombart

The State

By Werner Sombart

 

It is obviously established in God’s plan of the world that the destiny of mankind is to be realized within the sphere of political associations.

The political association is that in which a majority of persons seeks to defend and vindicate its existence in its totality against another majority. It rests, as Carl Schmitt has aptly expressed it, upon the friend-enemy relationship. It represents the pro-con principle in society, just as the family realizes the pro-with principle. As the family is adjusted from within, the political association is adjusted from without. If the political association owes its existence to a majority of elements which disjoin mankind, the family owes its existence to a majority of the groups. Without ‘the others’ there could be no political association.

The tasks in which the ideas of the political association are manifested are as follows: (1) The external maintenance of the association in its unity and composition for the struggle against other political associations; (2) the development of those inclinations, capacities, and virtues which constitute the public, and in this sense, the political person; (3) the perfection and cultivation of peculiar values for the association in respect of body, soul, and spirit. The idea of the political association presupposes, as a historically-constructed principle, the value of group-wise separation of values and their realization. The higher spiritual values, in particular, are only brought out in particular groups, that is, in the political associations, which then become the bearers of all cultural development.

In them humanity is unfolded according to its differences, but in them the individuals are also drawn together in harmonious structures. So that both humanity and the individual nature realize their consummation in these intermediate forms which then in their development and in their struggle against one another become the real makers of what we call history.

We designate the general, comprehensive political association by a new word – ‘state’. But the thing is very old; the state, as we are to understand it here, is as old as mankind. All theories which give the state an ‘origin’ and which assume a pre-state condition are false.

In my manner of speaking [1], the state is an ideal (having ideas) association (together with family and religious association), by which I mean to say that the meaning of the state lies in the realm of the transcendental, that its purport cannot be significantly explained from an empirical, that is, ‘rational’ standpoint or from the viewpoint of an interest. That an individualistic-rational explanation of the state is excluded, the following considerations will show:

1. The ‘origin’ of ideal associations is irrational. First, in general, because they do not originate, as real associations do, but are always already in existence. Even if we regard the Puritan emigrants in America as founding a ‘new’ state, they did it as members of an existing association – England. But even then, if one would here speak of the ‘origin’ of a state, it would still not be in the sense of a rationally established association, resulting from the free decision of persons of age, since the newly established state , according to its very nature, always includes individuals who were not asked, but forced to become members: children, insane, the dead.

2. The range of problems, the peculiar kind of achievements of our association, transcend every conceivable sphere of individual interest and, therefore, do not admit of being established in its entirety by any particular interest. First of all, it is not a question of circumscribed tasks, which would be the case in every rational association, but one of endless relations. The aims lie beyond individual interests: what concern to the individual is the preservation of the species or the continuance and growth of the nation, if it implies nothing but a continuous struggle? Why should one participate in the creation of works whose completion he himself will not live to see? Why should one, as an individual, trouble oneself about the welfare of others and not only about the welfare of one’s kind, whose interests one may have occasion to promote from some utilitarian consideration, but also concern oneself with the welfare of the dead, the minors, the unborn?

3. The position of the members of a political association in relation to the organization is fundamentally different from any other relation anywhere: in all other cases the position of a member constitutes a claim; in the ideal association, it is a sacrifice, and, in fact, a sacrifice unto death. But the sacrifice necessarily presupposes a super-individual something – call it an idea – for which man sacrifices himself. It is senseless to have one individual sacrifice himself for another; the mother for the child, the warrior for the civilian. The idea may be abstract: liberty, faith, science (here too, it must be anchored in the transcendental, that is, it must be a real idea, so that the sacrifice may not appear frivolous). Or it may be a concrete idea, as it is represented in an association. Then, by that very fact, this association is characterized as having ideas, that is, its meaning points beyond this world.

I do not hesitate to call this conception of the state a genuine, German conception, and I regard the opinion, now so frequently held, that the idea of the state as represented here is foreign to German nature, as false. It certainly was first very clearly proclaimed by Germans in conscious contrast with the individualistic-rational conception of the state which came from the West.

I am thinking of the time at the end of the Eighteenth Century, when Herr von Schlözer, in his Allgemeinen Staatsrecht, could write: ‘The state is a device, men made it for their welfare, as they devised, among other things, fire-insurance.’ At that time there arose, among the romantics, the first opponents of this subaltern state-conception, who, for the first time, with strong emphasis, opposed it with another conception, namely, the German.

Thus Adam Müller permits himself to be heard as follows: ‘The state is not merely a manufactory, a homestead, an insurance association, or a mercantile society; it is the intimate union of all the physical and spiritual needs, all the physical and spiritual wealth, all the inward and outward life of a nation to a great, energetic and infinitely mobile and animated whole.’

The thoughtful statesman, Baron vom Stein, accepts this conception in almost the same words when he writes in his Memoir of November 25, 1822: The state is ‘no agricultural or factory association, but its purpose is religio-moral, spiritual, and corporative development; through its organization it should form not only an artistic and industrious, but also an energetic, courageous, moral, and spiritual people.’

To permit still another romanticist to speak in this connection, I will quote Novalis to show with what depth and clarity he expressed the German idea of the state in poetic glorification, denying all that the apostles of happiness, on the other hand, had philosophized into the state in their attempt to make it an insurance company: ‘All culture springs from the relations of men to the state . . . Man has attempted to make the state a cushion for indolence, whereas the state should be just the opposite. It is an armature of all activities; its purpose is to make man absolutely strong and not absolutely weak, to make him not the laziest but the most active being. The state does not relieve man of trouble, but rather increases his troubles infinitely; of course, not without also infinitely increasing his strength.’

This is the conception of the state which Fichte, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Schleiermacher, and Hegel, each incorporated in a special philosophic system and which then, gradually, under the influence of liberalistic development, grew pale. Prussian ‘Conservatives’ and German ‘Socialists’ only, remained loyal to it. I call to mind in this connection men such as Lorenz von Stein, Rodbertus, and by no means least, Ferdinand Lassalle, who in the time of the bleakest Manchester period, under the spell of his teacher, Fichte, represented the idea of the state in eloquent words, when he explained: ‘The state is this unity of individuals in a moral whole, a unity which increases a millionfold the power of all individuals who are included within this union . . . The purpose of the state is, therefore, to bring the human being to a positive development and a progressive development; in other words, to bring human determination, that is, the culture of which the human race is capable, into actual being.’

‘However wide a gulf separates you and me from one another, my lords!’ – thus he apostrophized his judges at the conclusion of his famous defense before the Supreme Court – ‘opposed to this dissolution of everything moral, we stand hand in hand! The ancient vestal fire of all civilization, the State, I will defend with you against those modern barbarians’ (of the Manchester school).

To be sure, all this is true only if we regard the state not as an ‘organization,’ an ‘apparatus,’ or anything else that is formal, which is all too often the case (this perversion of the facts was precisely the trick by the aid of which liberalistic thought wished to devalue the inconvenient idea of the state), but see what it really is – a union of living persons. What it really and truly is, then, will be clear when we realize that there are three views (aspects), that is, that it appears to us, on closer examination, in a three-fold form, namely: (1) as a unity-nation-polis, (2) as an entirety-commonwealth-politeia, (3) as a multiplicity-association-koinonia.

This three-fold substantiality corresponds to a three-fold collectivity of the state: to (1) population, to (2) society, to (3) the personal orbit.

The German Reich is such a political grand-union or state at the present time. And this German Reich, and this only, is also the field of German Socialism. The idea of Socialism, as I have already said, is most closely connected with the idea of the state. And it would imply a complete departure from this idea to remove its activities to the interstate or superstate field. Since Socialism is a social order, it must confine its activities within the area of the state, that is, within the orbit in which the order is consistently placed. The concepts of Socialism and the state, therefore, necessarily belong together; Socialism is possible only within the boundaries of the state, but a unified, properly organized, strong state is also possible only on the basis of Socialism.

Note:

[1] I have developed my theory of association in an article, “Grundformen des menschlichen Zusammenlebens,” in Handwörterbuch der Sociologie, 1931.

 

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Excerpt from: Sombart, Werner. A New Social Philosophy. Translated by Karl F. Geiser. New York: Greenwood Press, 1969. Text retrieved from: <http://www.hyperion-journal.net/the-state.html >.

 

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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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Study of Sombart – Varsanyi

A Study of Werner Sombart’s Writings by Nicholas A. Varsanyi (PDF – 8.4 MB):

A Study of Werner Sombart’s Writings

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Varsanyi, Nicholas A. A Study of Werner Sombart’s Writings. Ph.D. Thesis, Montreal, McGill University, 1963. File originally retrieved from: <http://digitool.library.mcgill.ca/R/?func=dbin-jump-full&object_id=115298&local_base=GEN01-MCG02 >.

 

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Germany’s Third Empire – Moeller van den Bruck

Germany’s Third Empire by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck (PDF – 873 KB):

Germany’s Third Empire

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Moeller van den Bruck, Arthur. Germany’s Third Empire. London: George Allen And Unwin, 1934.

Notes: The print version of this book was translated by Emily O. Lorimer and went through three editions: The first edition was published by George Allen And Unwin (London, 1934), the second edition was published by Howard Fertig (New York, 1971), and the third edition was published by Arktos (London, 2012), including a new foreword and added bibliography by Alain de Benoist.

The online text of this book as used for this PDF file was retrieved from the Australian nationalist website: <http://home.alphalink.com.au/~radnat/moeller/index.html >; It has also been presented at the official Eurasia Movement website: <http://evrazia.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=2068 >.

For an overview of Arthur Moeller van den Bruck’s life and ideas, see Lucian Tudor’s essay on him: <https://neweuropeanconservative.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/arthur-moeller-van-den-bruck-tudor/ >.

 

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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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Kameradschaftsbund: History of Czech-German relationship – Novotný

“Kameradschaftsbund: Contribution to the history of Czech-German relationship” by Lukáš Novotný (PDF – 2.3 MB & 2.4 MB):

Kameradschaftsbund – Contribution to the history of Czech-German relationship (Part 1)

Kameradschaftsbund – Contribution to the history of Czech-German relationship (Part 2)

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NOVOTNÝ, Lukáš: “Kameradschaftsbund. Contribution to the history of Czech-German relationship (Part one).” In: Prague Papers on the History of International Relations, Prague – Vienna, Institute of World History, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Charles University Prague [Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy v Praze] – Institute of World European History, Faculty of Historical and Cultural Sciences, University of Vienna, 2008, s. 291–309. ISBN 978-80-7308-254-3. <http://usd.ff.cuni.cz/?q=system/files/novotny%20kamerad.pdf >.

NOVOTNÝ, Lukáš: “Kameradschaftsbund. A Contribution to the History of the Czech-German Relationship (Part two).” In: Prague Papers on the History of International Relations, Prague – Vienna, Institute of World History, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Charles University Prague [Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy v Praze] – Institute of World European History, Faculty of Historical and Cultural Sciences, University of Vienna, 2009, s. 387–405. ISSN 1803-7356. ISBN 978-80-7308-296-3. <http://usd.ff.cuni.cz/?q=system/files/novotny%20kamarad.pdf >.

Note: See also “Othmar Spann: A Catholic Radical Traditionalist” by Lucian Tudor: <https://neweuropeanconservative.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/othmar-spann-tudor/ >.

 

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European Son – Interview with Benoist

“European Son: An Interview with Alain de Benoist” (PDF – 191 KB):

European Son: An Interview with Alain de Benoist

Additional document with portions of the original interview containing critical commentaries on Christianity and the Human Sciences which were cut out from the official interview in The Occidental Quarterly (PDF – 314 KB):

Interview with Alain de Benoist on the Human Sciences and Christianity by Bryan Sylvain

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Citation for the official The Occidental Quarterly interview: De Benoist, Alain. “European Son: An Interview with Alain de Benoist.” Interview by Brian Sylvian. The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 3 (Fall 2005), pp. 7-27. <https://www.toqonline.com/archives/v5n3/53-bs-debenoist.pdf >.

Citations for the original sources of the “Interview with Alain de Benoist on the Human Sciences and Christianity by Bryan Sylvain”: De Benoist, Alain. “Interview on Christianity, Part 1.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 28 January 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/01/interview-on-christianity-part-1/ >; “Interview on Christianity, Part 2.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 29 January 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/01/interview-on-christianity-part-2/ >; “Interview on the Human Sciences, Part 1.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 9 February 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/02/interview-on-the-human-sciences-part-1/ >; “Benoist on Eugenics & Intelligence: Interview on the Human Sciences, Part 2.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 11 February 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/02/benoist-on-eugenics-and-intelligence-interview-on-the-human-sciences-part-2/ >; “Benoist on J. Philippe Rushton: Interview on the Human Sciences, Part 3.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 14 February 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/02/interview-on-the-human-sciences-part-3/ >; “Benoist on Feminism, IQ, & the Wealth of Nations: Interview on the Human Sciences, Part 4.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 14 February 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/02/benoist-on-feminism-iq-the-wealth-of-nations-interview-on-the-human-sciences-part-4/ >.

 

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