Sunday, October 31, 2010


Guillame Faye is the only person I know dealing with this level of synthesis.

Moreover, as the philosopher Raymond Ruyer, detested by the left-bank intelligentsia, foretold in his two important works, Les nuisances idéologiques and Les cents prochains siècles, once the historical digression of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has finally closed, with egalitarianism's hallucinations having descended into catastrophe, humanity will return to archaic values, that is, quite simply, to biological and human (anthropological) values: distinctive sexual roles; the transmission of ethnic and popular traditions; spirituality and sacerdotal organization; visible and supervisory social hierarchies; the worship of ancestors; initiatory rites and tests; the reconstruction of organic communities that extend from the individual family unit to the overarching national community of the people; the deindividualization of marriage to involve the community as much as the couple; the end of the confusion of eroticism and conjugality; the prestige of the warrior caste; social inequality, not implicit, which is unjust and frustrating, as in today's egalitarian utopias, but explicit and ideologically justifiable; a proportioned balance of duties and rights; a rigorous justice whose dictates are applied strictly to acts and not to individual men, which will encourage a sense of responsibility in the latter; a definition of the people and of any constituted social body as a diachronic community of shared destiny, not as a synchronic mass of individual atoms, etc.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


There exists in every age, in every society, a small, still choir of reason emanating from a few scattered thinkers ignored by the mainstream. The collective voices, when duly discovered a century or so too late, reveal what was wrong with that society and age, and how it could have been corrected if only people had listened and acted accordingly. ~ John Simon

Plato has never had success as a revolutionary and never will do so. But Plato himself will always live throughout the centuries of human history... and will be in each century the companion of the young and old who love pure thought, seeking only the light which it comprises." In other words, you can never really have a "revolution" of people oriented to the white point of wisdom discussed in yesterday's post. For one thing, it is an individual endeavor, not the sort of thing that could ever occur on a mass scale. And the left is a mass movement, which automatically condemns it to mediocrity and banality. It is led by a conformist herd of elites who imagine themselves superior, but nothing could be more foolish-- and self-contradictory -- than the idea of "mass excellence." In contrast to Plato, Karl Marx has enjoyed over a century "of astonishing success and has revolutionized the world. He has swept away millions -- those who went to the barricades and trenches in civil wars, and those who
went to the prisons, either as jailers or as prisoners."Really, can you name another philosopher who has enjoyed such a literally smashing success in such a short span of time? But you -- yes, you there -- "as a solitary human soul, a soul of depth and sobriety, what do you owe Karl Marx?"I don't know yet. Ask me next April 15th.The point is, "Plato illumines, whilst Marx sweeps away. Again, vertical man never obsesses, let alone enters the state of perpetual hysteria of leftist man. As Eliot wrote, "we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph." Nevertheless, vertical man naturally frets about the deteriorating conditions of the interior of the human world, and its seemingly unimpeded slide into barbarism, spiritual exhaustion, scientistic magic, neo-paganism, self-worship, the cult of the body, abstract materialism, and a vapid and rudderless subjectivism. ~ One Cosmos

There is a lesson here, somewhere, Pogo, son...

As I was mentioning in an earlier post, there seems to be a sort of Platonic Renaissance stirring. The Radical Orthodoxy movement, Marion & other European theologians (like von Balthazar), Schuon & the traditionalists, etc. There is a growing recognition, in other words, that a surprisingly well-weathered and attractive alternative to Darwinian competition or Heckular Sub-manism is, actually, Plato. A lot has been said against Plato, although Pieper defended him in his book. G. Parkin Grant was basically a Platonist. And a great many people feel they understand him intimately - "Oh, he's that guy that believed that Ideas were more real than People, that's nuts. The real world isn't static & timeless, it's flux & change..." Which we are shortly to have even more and more of. Isn't Eternal Change about as Static as you can possibly get? I've asked this question before, and no one has a good answer. Why in the hell won't people listen to those who know? It's an old problem. You know it's bad when a classic liberal humanist like Fabius Maximus starts pulling a Moldbug and dredging up George Bernard Shaw with his Time Machine.

Still, no one has an answer to the ghosts of the past (Why were they so much more, oh, I don't know, "cultured"?). Why do they seem & loom so large to us? At least, those of us who still have an imagination left:

For as Schuon writes, the rationalist merely "calls 'reason' his lack of imagination and knowledge, and his ignorances are for him the 'data' of reason." When the unimaginative mentality grinds away at ignorance, the result is the kind of highflown philosophistry Russell spent his life producing and defending.

Yes, tidies & bundlemen, that's B. Russell. Who (even he) admitted that Size was a terrible snobbery to base one's epistemology or spirituality upon, which is common among his worshippers. The question really boils down to whether you conceive (or, in the worst cases, can even begin to imagine) that there may be something outside of us that is "bigger" which provides an ato-mo-sphere for the "Self". No God, no self. No Christ, no body. No Spirit, no soul. That sort of thing.

But if Progress is all there is, or all we can really know for sure, then there really isn't any kind of rebuke or truth that one can speak to Power. Which was really Plato's (and Polybius') point so long ago.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Unity-in-Diversity ~ The Swiss Idea

The other choice is to pursue a pattern modeled after Switzerland’s. It has worked for centuries. Additionally, one of the world’s highest standards of living and GDP per person as well as unemployment around 3%, speak for the recipe. Four languages with their own Cantons, several religions and ways of life, and a location between great powers that had repeatedly fought each other, made the achievement anything but foreordained. Thus, we have a good example for making diversity into an asset and for allowing differences to serve as the soil in which constructive competitive conflicts thrive.

There is a lack of going back to roots here, a modern aversion to depth. Let's be denotationally correct ~ all political ideas have religious roots. But I agree with the point. Switzerland is what Europe ought to be. Perhaps the Saint who saved Switzerland had something to do with it? Elective affinities, indeed.

Those who ignore them, live on the surface...and despite their money and Crystal Cathedrals, have to go bankrupt one fine morning...

The Desolation of Science

One of my comments was an intelligent question from Nuallan, concerning the sketchy line I drew between Ockham & probabilism & modern day relativism. In order to better answer his question (which may confuse the issue more so), I'll draw another connection that is better delineated (ie., I have connected the dots). That doesn't mean I won't connect the dots for this, as well, just that I'll illustrate how things morph in Unity when people think they are segregated (notice how I use the vaguely disreputable connotation here for emphasis).

Feynman the physicist was fond of saying that "Philosophy of science is to Science as ornithology is to birds". You can immediately appreciate the emotional import of this statement. I had gotten into a prolonged, ugly, & hard-hitting argument with a modern "physicist", who wanted to maintain that modern Science has nothing to do with relativism, but was fond of quoting Feynman. I happened, HAPPENED, to stumble across this fact when reading Tom Wolfe's book on modern art (I forget the title right now, The Painted Word, I think).

Aesthetics is for artists what ornithology is for birds. Barnett

Now, tell me that culture & Science & philosophy don't share deeper connections than we realize. There are "elective affinities" (Goethe) at work here, which operate subconsciously (at the least) and I would argue transcendentally as well. Feynman pulled this quote out of the intellectual air which he breathed. He may have heard it directly, certainly it is dominant in his thought & praxis. He is an icon for many atheistic modern scientists (this interloquoter, for instance, denigrated Sir John Polkinghorne, Michael Polyani, and others, when pushed, which didn't take much). Feynman was his hero.

This is just one more example of the supposed "neutrality" in modern culture & Science. Now, here's the catch. I am NOT claiming neutrality can't exist. What I am claiming is that atheists/agnostics are RARELY capable of it. Additionally (and consequentially) they go to great lengths to hide the fact. The Weber separation of fact/value in sociology (here's another example) has had immense impact on the humanities in America.

It is pointless to object that most people don't read Weber, or know of him, therefore, no direct connection exists. It is also rather foolish. It is in the air. It is all around us. Weber dominates the university landscape in modern day America like oxygen & nitrogen dominate our atmosphere. For all practical purposes, it is heresy to suggest anything contra-Weber, and also heresy to point out this fact. Weber rules.

I am not saying that I am infallibly correct about these "elective affinities", in all cases, but they do exist. Ockham's work made possible the generally diffused idea that simplicity was always a virtue. Therefore, if one was pondering a complex moral issues (and they are all complex at some level), it was oftentimes simpler to say "I have a doubt" and dispense with obligation. To disagree is not inherently foolish, but I've yet to come across a better explanation for how General Ideas filter down in seemingly chaotic systems. I find it hard to believe that Ockham's theories (which included epistemological and linguistic ones, as well as philosophical) did not impact the West at a gut level which made it easier to account for moral obligation by using negative reasons. John Stuart Mill's libertarianism may have some relevance here.

I issue a standing challenge to any & all comers to explain the origin of the Feynman quote without necessitating a discussion of Barnett Newman's views, which preceded Feynman's in historical time, and obviously have a connection.

Of course, if you like modern art, then I can only hope you read T. Wolfe's book. Which reminds me, Jacques Barzun has a very interesting book in which he passingly argues that Science has indirectly contributed to this popularization of "General Ideas Which Are In The Air". As a last side note, consider this ~ in an age of consumer democratization, Ideas which triumph are often not brilliant, but simply acceptable. Or should I say, compatible? Max Weber, Feynman, Barnett and that ilk come to the fore (or hide in the shadows) not because of their originality or brilliance, but because they are "system friendly". That is, there is something about the way Americans live on the North American continent that is compatible with fact vs. value.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Second World

America is no longer "First World". & We are starting to know it.

Thank you, Progress. What, in God's name, is this "Progress"?
Well, Progress is truth, light, peace, love & justice (especially Economic).
So, who would oppose such a thing.
God only knows. Reactionaries, coteries of bankers and autocrats, congeries of racists. That sort.
How do we know these people are execrable? Surely you don't mean to suggest...?
They oppose Progress. That is enough.
Isn't this just a question of power, then? Your enemies, defined as evil.
They aren't "my" enemies. This is a natural process. No one is coordinating it. It is destiny.
Mmmmm. No one? How does one discern this natural process?
Whatever conduces to Progress, naturally.
That's a tight little circle, there.
It's a natural process. Process & Progress.
So, how would we know if this was going awry? If it was highjacked? Or off the rails?
It would not Progress.
If it does not Progress, should we wait?
No, we should act.
Who is "we"?
Those who are in favor of it.
I thought you said this was a natural process.
It is. It occurs naturally.
Oh, no. Naturally. It works all by itself.
Except when we have to make it happen.
We mainly just don't obstruct the magic.
Is it ever not magical?
I've never seen it happen.
Thank you for your time.

Message received. How about turning to someone with something to say?

"-- or perhaps not -- this is one of the central themes of Borella's The Sense of the Supernatural. He is a French Catholic esoterist, completely orthodox in his thinking, as far as I can tell. He points out that it has only been in the last two or three centuries that we have developed this strict demarcation between "nature" and supranature, which means that the point-circle is taken to be the ultimate reality, instead of the cross-circle."

Rosenstock-Huessy took this line, with his "traject" and "preject", opposing (like all good thinkers) the worldview of Descartes. Apparently, Schuon has fleshed it out. The problem is that the Western world has this hangover binge that we seem to want to continue (that being the nature of binge drinking). "Progress" is a mental stopgap word for something we can't define; it is the object of mystification & dogmatic worship of the most dangerous kind. Orwell would say that it is a word used to hide our lack of understanding. "Progress" (through quantification) is of course, what Descartes' Reason is intended to achieve. And any fool can see the circle it leads to. Any fool, but the fool living through Progress.

Much better to worship the living God, whose insanity is wiser than the cunning of "Progress".

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Radical Orthodoxy & Basileia tou Theou

Things just keep getting crazier. Something is brewing in the catacombs of the "conservative" camp, & this is just one example.

For Radical Orthodoxy, the particular Neoplatonic hierarchies of being, Being, and "beyond Being" are not decisive. What matters is the way in which Neoplatonism treats the world as a differentiated realm of beings and events knit together, not in spite of or against the discrete identities of things, but in harmonious order and toward a common purpose. This view, which Radical Orthodoxy argues is advanced and intensified by classical Christianity (especially by Augustine), operates outside the contrastive logic of identity and difference. Identity is neither a wound in the flux of difference, nor a vulnerable citadel to be defended. Dynamism and difference—"I am coming from and going toward"—constitute identity. The glue is sticky, but it never dries.
This, of course, is exactly the banner the New Pantagruel marched under. "Augustinianism" being short-hand for a perfection that is known and experienced, but incompletely, in the joy of material life under the sun. Imperfection with linking implies shadows, archetypes, a goal. In short, "NeoPlatonism". "Being" is not, after all, something we can dispense with in Christianity without loss.

This amounts to nothing less than Resurrection for cultural Christianity & the West. A declaration of war. Fix bayonets, refuse the line. Fight hand to hand if you have to. With joy. This is nothing like ordinary evangelicalism, even of the high caliber/octane John Piper variety. Stone cold Christianity. The stonewall. Rebuilding.

I am not sure about Reno's concluding note, which sounds overly tentative. At least these guys are literally killing their weight every day in hecular summanists. There is a lot to be said for going off half-cocked once in a while. If you never lose your head, it proves only that you've no head to lose (Rosenstock-Huessy). Stay tuned for more examples of this sort of thing. The Spirit is stocking up kindling in many varied places, and the wind is picking up. Look to see a huge turning radius & some surprising "revelations" about the supposedly modern world we live in, and that right soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


"Against Badiou and Zizek, who want to use Paul to defend a generic “universalism” that can become homogenization, John Caputo (St. Paul among the Philosophers (Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion)) argues that the universalism of Paul is more paradoxical, more Kierkegaardian (because Kierkegaard was Pauline): It is a “universalism of conversion to something quite concrete (grafting), not the formalism of a philosophical universal (subtraction), like the principle of causality, or a mathematical universal, like the Pythagorean theorem.”

He goes on to suggest that “it is not that all differences or distinctions are abolished, but that one difference or distinction in particular, the Jewish difference, is transformed and in being transformed proves to be transcendent, or better self-transcendent, in Christ Jesus, in whom it is able to break out of the particularity of the first form it took in the law and to trump and assimilate other differences, both its own early Jewish form and the Greek difference.”

That’s well said. I have more trouble with Caputo’s further claim that “Christ fulfills a Jewish promise, not a Greek one,” a claim based on the notion that events can only be recognized as events within a context and “the Christ-event is an event only in the context of the Jewish promise.” As central as Jewish particularity is, it doesn’t seem correct to say that “The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is not an event for the Greeks.” The gospel is to the Jew and the to Greek, and it seems that Paul argues for some form of Gentile preparation for the coming of the gospel of the Jewish Jesus."

While it is good that Leithart is stepping back some from earlier statements on "a third way" of humanity = Christianity, and while few people wrestle with the issue at any deeper level, the problem remains within modern Christianity that ethnicity/kinship is a taboo subject which Christians are ill-equipped to handle & which they attempt to efface, just as they do in real life. Pre-committed as we are in our political religion to negating ethnicity, it is hardly virtuous or necessarily Christian to presuppose that such is something to enhance. It might be more productive to consider how Supernature transforms Nature & perfects it, and what this means for ethnicity. Also, how and why might this have implications for larger categories, like "whiteness"?

Spengler (Asia Times Online) declares he has no love for the "stench of the barbarian tribes". To which I would ask, have you seen an inner city ghetto in America lately? Or a nursing home? It's still with us, it's just out of sight, out of mind...this rhetoric begs the question most at stake ~ is there anything of value we have lost during our "evolution" out of tribes? The standard American political religion answer is No, ethnicity has no value whatsoever, or if it does, only in an individual context (miscegenation to create someone of "higher" qualities with another race). (One notable exception, of course.) But isn't this intermarriage just another race? How does this solve anything? It looks a lot (suspiciously a lot) like Hegelian synthesis (which I already reject, for reasons stated elsewhere, and violently). Inbreeding and outbreeding are both qualities of humanity which are valuable; after all, it's good to limit (inbreed) to the species. And Christ came to transform & perfect. Which implies that the nations will exist at the End of Times. Which is exactly what we find in Revelation. St. James warns those who would neglect their kith & kin. As GP Grant might say, our particular good (race/tribe) is not the Ideal, but without roots in the local particular, can we ever be nourished enough to begin the ascent to the Ideal?

The answer, naturally, is No. American political religion is a heresy, a Hegelian superstition and legalism, which is addicted to Idealism in the ideal, but which actually possesses immense hatred for all of the concrete realities it pretends to understand.

And Liberalism has weird connections to Fascism which I don't understand, or think anyone else does either. State control/coercion of economy, culture & religion is pretty close to "Fascist", and we are pretty close to the former, here in America, although much conformity is semi-voluntary (for now).

Blow the Horn of Roland

"The first Europeans got it right: Christ the Hero, Christ our Brother, not Christ the endpoint of evolution or the founder of a philosophy, is the source of the spiritual force that enables a man to hurl his defiant ‘no’ at Satan and all the forces of hell. The Christ story was accepted and believed by the Europeans because they had not completely forgotten the source of their being. The twilight of the gods was not the end of the gods:
Deep in the wood two of human kind were left; the fire of Surtur did not touch them; they slept, and when they wakened the world was green and beautiful again. These two fed on the dews of the morning; a woman and a man they were, Lif and Lifthrasir. They walked abroad in the world, and from them and from their children came the men and women who spread themselves over the earth.

The neo-pagans are a disgrace to the world ‘pagan.’ Our pagan ancestors bent their knees to Christ because they recognized Him; He was the God above the Gods who would fight for and with them against Satan. They had hearts to love, and then when they heard of the coming of the Christ, they had a God worthy to love. From that love came the European people.

Tricks and gimmicks from the halfway-house Christians will not restore the civilization that has been burned to ashes. Only the love, which passeth all understanding, that Christ has for His people can rekindle a fire in a civilization that has turned to ashes. The Great Heart is waiting to set our hearts on fire. The European hero of old, who we are all called to be, was not afraid to approach the living God, because he knew with the unerring instinct of love that he would not be consumed by the divine fire; he would become a man strengthened and nurtured by divine charity..."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Icons Again

“There exists the icon of the Trinity by St. Andrei Rublev; therefore God exists."

Revise this statement, however it fits, for yourself. For example, Mahler wrote his Resurrection Symphony, therefore, God exists. Or, Jeeves and Wooster existed in Wodehouse's mind, therefore, God exists. There can be a progression downward here, if we are not careful, which can become ridiculous. Ding-dongs, for instance, are not perhaps the best choice to express the goodness of God. Although perhaps they could be some imaginable instance, that instance would best remain imaginable.

We agree with our Eastern brethren that there is something uniquely different about Eastern spirituality & icons. However, the same light which is concentrated in a certain manner in icons can be discerned in non-icons as well, even Western paintings. There is, perhaps, more to dazzle the eye here, but at second glance, that is not the primary feature of this painting. The light seems to be not so much coming out of the painting in a vertical movement down to the watcher, out of seemingly frozen flatness into gradual awakening light, but to be responding in transfigured radiance up, suggesting the same eternality from the obverse side of creation. If it is not blasphemous to imagine an image appearing, miniature, in the eyes of an icon, such an image this might be, and the colors here might flow out and down in tears and light to bathe the icon in that goodness which was found during the course of the natural life.

Friday, October 15, 2010


"We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin, an asimi stamped with the profile of the Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life--they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all."
Gene Wolfe, Shadow of the Torturer

Getting close...
The complexity of Reality has to do with the Incarnation:
"History is neither necessity nor freedom, but rather their flexible integration. In fact, history results neither from impersonal necessity nor from human caprice, but rather from a dialectic of the will where free choice unfolds into necessary consequences. History does not develop as a unique and autonomous dialectic, which extends in vital dialectic the dialectic of inanimate nature, but rather as a pluralism of dialectical processes, numerous as free acts and tied to the diversity of their fleshly grounds."
Davila, again. The vertical movement down (Schuon) into matter, but what transpires after that is flesh and spirit. Neither half one, half the other, or both at once separately, or capable of separation...reality is existential, but not intellectually. It is what it is, and how it is. Art and poetics and philosophy are ALL used to grip it, or recreate it, or evoke it.

The symbol is the closest thing we have to incarnation, among us. It begins to comprehend the paradoxes at the heart of the truth of what happened & is happening.

Schuon agrees that Westerners tend not to "have a sense of the metaphysical transparency of phenomenon," and instead "insist as a matter of preference on penitential means" of religious practice. In short, they emphasize the "moral alternative, not that of contemplative participation." But as a courtesy to other spiritual types, "if these fideists have no wish to use their intelligence, at least they should not forbid others to do so" (Schuon).

OneCosmos is doing a good job of using Platonism as a means/vehicle to achieve Christian objectives. The Reason and Intellect have suffered mutilation in various ways in the West, which is now extremely anti-intellectual, even (and most especially) when it is pretending to be most intellectual. Marx, for instance, for all of his dialectic, says "the point of history is not to understand it, but to change it". This assassination of Intellect, after its worship, effectively enthrones Will in such a manner as to be beyond question. In this sense, Nietzsche & Lenin & Adam Smith all carpool to work together.

But if all are corrupt (which is to say, partial) visions/liturgies, then where is truth to be found?

Baby steps, but the insanity of God is wiser than the wisdom of men.

Yet, as a human, clearly, something which transcends either Right or Left would be desirable.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lincoln & Charity

"Whereas [the founding fathers] Jay, Hamilton, and Madison are describing the meaning and process of government in profoundly secular terms (they rarely mention Christianity), Lincoln's speeches resonate with theological themes...."
Grant N. Havers is Professor of Philosophy and Political Studies at Trinity Western University, Canada.

"Thus, it is a literal (↓↑), like an exteriorization of the interior followed by an interiorization of the exterior. And clearly, the descending or involutionary arrow must be prior in this relationship, one more reason why scientism and metaphysical Darwinism are such absurdities."

One might speculate that it is the deprivation of the vertical that creates "Science", which is the unraveling of God's Creation backward (for certain purposes?), while in other "fields" or "arts", the re-verticalization (through charity?) which restores meaning. Two qualifiers: Lincoln was willing to "sacrifice" a great deal of other people to accomplish this charity; and Ur-Spengler (the original Oswald Spengler) was no fan of "English Darwinian" evolution and the sciences which rested upon it, since it represented the victory of Aristotle over Plato.

Science (and the political theology of liberal democracy) do seem to share something in common, but it is difficult to put my finger precisely upon it. Or is this an illusion created by their contingent/material linking?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Progress, Or Come Again the Thunder

Rather than pontificate about the decay of the Empire ex cathedra ad nauseum, I have set myself the task of sketching the nature of the beast, since it is not quite dead, quite yet. My patron saint George Parkin Grant is dead, so that is my excuse. What is this Progress that we speak of? Christopher Lasch made an admirable start in exploring its roots and precise nature, in which he concluded it had (counter-intuitively) little to do with Christianity (except perhaps the postmillenial kind). He also observes that it is the degradation of the bio-sphere, our Homer's "Black-Kneed Earth", not merely into a Thing, but a Thing which is running out of room, that is undermining the psychological certitude of modern Progress. And yet, despite this - or maybe because of this! -

"What is less often remarked is that impermanence appears to assure a certain continuity in its own right when conceived as an extension of the self-correcting procedures of scientific discovery, which allow the scientific enterprise as a whole to flourish in spite of the constant revision of particular findings. A social order founded on Science, with its unnverving but exhilarating expansion of our intellectual horizons, seems to have achieved a kind of immortality undreamed of by earlier civilizations."

This is his most important remark in the Introduction of True & Only Heaven. What is more eternal than denying the eternal with the raised fist forever to the heavens? Even Goethe embraced this "truth" of titanism. Science (pure) pursues knowledge like a priestly caste, and distances itself from what the proles do with it. Can this be done indefinitely, or must Science begin to assume moral responsibilities for the knowledge it makes available? Do we want them to do so? In other words, Science has effectively written off its bad assets as part of the "shite" which exists self-evidently, and argues that less and less will exist insofar as we continue to give it our support. The triumphs go to it, and it alone. This is a version of the medieval argument concerning God and the existence of evil, or closely related to it. Does it work?

As much as I would like to engage in optimistic energy over the future (IronMan anyone?), the best minds believe that it is too much to believe, and certainly too little to hope for.

On the contrary, we (as Christians) assert that Science is a wonderful servant, a dangerous mistress, and a false god. The problem is that the steps between these progressions or stages is slippery and unclear. The parable of Thoth (re-told by Neil Postman) comes to mind. America's problem isn't political, it's technological/political. We are a barbarian landscape laminated with the veneer of tech apparatus. Both "Left" & "Right" increasingly take this as their starting point (except for the radical fringes, which is where Red Toryism can help). As always, mein Herr Nicholas Gomez Davila says it better:

"The reactionary is, nevertheless, the fool who takes up the vanity of condemning history and the immorality of resigning himself to it. Radical progressivism and liberal progressivism elaborate partial visions. History is neither necessity nor freedom, but rather their flexible integration. History is not, in fact, a divine monstrosity. The human cloud of dust does not seem to arise as if beneath the breath of a sacred beast; the epochs do not seem to be ordered as stages in the embryogenesis of a metaphysical animal; facts are not imbricated one upon another as scales on a heavenly fish. But if history is not an abstract system that germinates beneath implacable laws, neither is it the docile fodder of human madness. The whimsical and arbitrary will of man is not its supreme ruler. Facts are not shaped, like sticky, pliable paste, between industrious fingers. In fact, history results neither from impersonal necessity nor from human caprice, but rather from a dialectic of the will where free choice unfolds into necessary consequences. History does not develop as a unique and autonomous dialectic, which extends in vital dialectic the dialectic of inanimate nature, but rather as a pluralism of dialectical processes, numerous as free acts and tied to the diversity of their fleshly grounds. If liberty is the creative act of history, if each free act produces a new history, the free creative act is cast upon the world in an irrevocable process. Liberty secretes history as a metaphysical spider secretes the geometry of its web. Liberty is, in fact, alienated from itself in the same gesture in which it is assumed, because free action possesses a coherent structure, an internal organization, a regular proliferation of sequelae. The act unfolds, opens up, and expands into necessary consequences, in a manner compatible with its intimate character and with its intelligible nature. Every act submits a piece of the world to a specific configuration."

Welcome to Nemesis, Nietzsche. I give you the Don Colacho, Catholic counter-insurgent in the war of ideas which you helped to make seem eternal. Now that Nietzsche is dead, back to business. Against Schmitt & Agamben modern polemicists are sharpening their iron.

"In chapter 4, where I analyze the idea of 'miracle,' Schmitt's metaphor for the state of exception, I ask whether these identifications are themselves remnants of earlier debates in political theology about the status of the extraordinary – god and miracle or divine agency – in the ordinary human world. [...] Schmitt and Agamben's 'state of exception,' I think it is fair to say, has captured the imagination of contemporary political theory. In this chapter, I seek to loosen its hold on our imagination by pluralizing the particular political theology on which Schmitt's account is based and from which it draws sustenance."
But what is "pluralizing the particular political theology"? What does this mean? Is this some kind of imaginary third way? It's telling that this author feels the need to address Schmitt and Agamben, who are both driven with defining authority and power in democracies. Perhaps a fool's errand, but a brave one.

In the matrix of secular liberal-democracy, encroaching across the planet with engines & apparatus of power, the "state of exception" increasingly becomes normative. And the citizenry wishes it, for they benefit from this normalizing. As Grant said, "orgasm at home, napalm abroad".

In the distance, I still hear the thunder.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Must Be Done?

In the words of Chernechevsky, What Must Be Done? In some other immortal's words, in times like these, what is the difference between treason & stupidity? If any? America is now entering (congratulations to all all and sundry!) the interregnum between decay & collapse/chaos. Everyone has contributed; this was a team effort. Republicans supported gigantic corporations who outsourced our livelihoods & decimated the environment, not to mention suborning private property and the rule of law. They are the plutocrats. The Democrats supported factionalism and minorities who were out for themselves, and not in an enlightened manner. They are the oligarchs. Both factions support(ed) the burgeoning size of our cancerous federal government.

It is clear that something must be done. It is not clear exactly what, nor by whom, nor if this is "for all the marbles". But the general outline is taking shape out of the mists.

It has been known (at least by those who cared to know) that there was always a rather fine and subtle line between liberal-democracies and tyrannies. Particularly as we witness the 20th century in retrospect, or more so, as lived. Going back and forth in contemplation, we see that Freedom itself must be a relative concept. Even when we think we are most Free, and precisely then, and exactly because we think this, we are the most unfree, or at least, are progressing the fastest towards such a state. This is the story, or will be the story, of America in the late 19oos. A story of a State which was allowed to die with a whimper, and which found no spirits worthy of her founding to echo back and sustain her in the hour of need and challenge.

Where is the gratitude of freed slaves? Of new found immigrants? Of old settlers? Where is loyalty at all? It is gone. For the most part. People want their piece of the action and their slice of the pie. It is gone at least as part of the civic life. We had assumed that Progress meant an infinite increase in standards of consumption (I won't say "living") for all. The earth's ecology will no longer support this idea. And the extension of such to all has eroded the hopes of the white middle class in their own country, which they have (arguably) sustained and built (and destroyed).

So now we are back into the stream of history, the Wheel of Fate, the "course of human events", out of which we had perilously and laboriously and luckily raised ourselves. We are now off holiday from history. Soon, will come the return of the Gods and the punishment of Nemesis.

"You don’t hear the word usurpation in Congress for the same reason you don’t hear the word fornication in Las Vegas. When a vice becomes popular and profitable, it loses its proper name."

The only hope is to embrace what opportunity to rebuild that we find, as things fold in upon themselves. This current state of emergency (Notstand/justitium) is nothing new, it is the logical outcome of a century of liberal-democracy, its "fruit" (if you will). In the halcyon days of the 19th century, it was easy to believe that the extension of the franchise & the unleashing of economic "miracles" & the de-censoring of Enlightenment agit-prop was responsible for all the good one saw around one's self, or hoped to see. It was easy, in short, to think that the growing technology & wealth, as exhibited in the Great Exhibitions which shook Victorian England and Puritanical France and which colored the world of Sherlock Holmes with the tint of gaslight, that this was an infinite world which could be steam-punked across the face of the planet, and which would itself herald an even greater miracle, perhaps a city-world like Coruscant.

This is increasingly bizarre & hopeless. All but the most radical realize that the forces tearing apart society are so strong now that it is impossible, and that they garner strength from the very vision which is proposed, namely that of a universal despotism in which the globe would become Hamlet's prison, Panopticon.

Far away, come the sounds of Thunder. The lightning strikes the earth. The Wheel of Fate turns. Hubris & Nemesis are coming together.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Tea Party Should Dissolve

I've liked Mark Lilla ever since he noted that UofBerkley now has a Center for the Study of Comparative Right Wing Thought. This essay is important, because it highlights what the Red Tory agenda has also critiqued: Americans have accepted radical principles of individualism (a little different than "individuation") economically through the Right and morally/socially through the Left. The conflux of these two currents is what is destroying our States, although it's also more complicated than that. But this is a good place to begin.

I can't help, meanwhile, but think that our education "System" is responsible for some of the carnage.

"and sitting right across from me--there was sort of a coffee table
with settees on either side in the lobby--I saw the god Prometheus himself. You
can imagine--well, what a strange mixture of awe, and pleasure, and . . .
confirmation, in a way. And--believe me, when you see a god you know it--I said,
"Sir, sir, how good to see you here . . ." and he said, "Yes, well, I have come
from a long long way away today, on a very special mission. I have noticed you
sitting here and I can tell from your demeanor, and from your--wardrobe, that
you are probably in the mind business, and I wonder if you could answer a
question for me. I'd like to know about that gift I gave you and all of your
friends--you remember a long time ago I gave you a certain gift, and I spent a
long time paying for that, but now that I'm free to wander I thought I'd check
up and see what you're doing."

"Our "education" is, therefore, dying. That is not a prophetic
utterance, but only another way of describing it as secular. All institutions
are dying. The time will come, if we can survive as a species, when no one will
remember, or care, what we did in schools or even whether we had such things.
Who, a thousand years from now, will know or care what energy and wealth we
spent in moving from the self-contained classroom into the open classroom and
back? How many would now remember Socrates, had he held off questioning his
listeners until he could generate some findings about their comprehension
levels, and their cognitive styles, learning disabilities, and occupational
aptitudes? Our very science, which we love, and our soft pseudo-science, which
we worship, will pass away or be changed beyond anything we can imagine, if not
in a thousand years, then two. Or ten. It doesn't matter. Only what souls have
spoken to souls will endure as long as humanity lives. Unless, of course, our
schools and their brand of "education" should triumph utterly..."

I shall forever owe Dr. Michael Bauman of Hillsdale College for introducing me to Richard Mitchell.

Political questions, are in the end, questions about justice, but not merely justice. They are questions of truth, beauty & goodness, of "Soul" (or whatever else you want to call it). Which is why I can't share Lilla's skepticism that "we don't know the causes of what is happening to us". Well, maybe not. But we could. But that would be to obviate many of those causes in the first place.

We don't understand, because the System is designed to operate that way. Maybe not intentionally. But constructively, it is "so designed". What we need is not more "therapeutics" of the kind which Phillip Rieff called our attention to, but a counter-culture that is Real. It is perhaps ominous that modern day America is more and more reminiscent, not of Rome, but of Alexandria: the place where the burning of libraries, political & religious wars, and ancient skepticisms co-inhabited a budding "scientific" landscape alongside the decaying elements of multiple conquests, races, and nations. Fabius Maximus understands some of this, although he wouldn't phrase it this way, quoting instead W.S.:

"The West’s victory in the Cold War was, however, the first to
be achieved explicitly by the economy in its own name. Perhaps it is for this
reason that the economy received a new nom de guerre: globalization… The growth in the economy’s power and
prestige after 1990 was not confined to its functional efficiency but came to
touch areas of society previously monopolized by religion and nationalism. if
people looked toward anything in the hope of salvation or in fear of damnation,
it was increasingly the economy. having lost faith in God, the nation, and
utopian politics, they credited the economy with the power to both create
paradise on earth and to destroy life as they knew it. In the West, the threat
of collective extinction attached no longer to war — which had in any case
become a long-distance media event — but rather to the economy, with its doubt
threat of devastating the environment and wiping out jobs..."

God may be dead, and the economy doesn't feel so good itself, but Bernard Levy's hair is "perfect". I am a Socialist in the sense that the "rich shouldn't have everything, and the poor nothing". This is Ignacio's position in The Cypresses Believe in God. And that is why I am a "Red Tory". However, nothing can account for (or should not account for!) the stunning decline in religious experience and philosophical centering that has occured across major swathes of the West.
The "Let Them Eat Credit" Line worked for a while.

"Heightened partisanship in Washington and declining trust in
government have many causes (and the latter slide predates the Great
Divergence). But surely the growing income chasm between the poor and middle
class and the rich, between the Sort of Rich and the Rich, and even between the
Rich and the Stinking Rich, make it especially difficult to reestablish any
spirit of e pluribus unum. Republicans and Democrats compete to show which party
more fervently opposes the elite, with each side battling to define what "elite"
means. In a more equal society, the elite would still be resented. But I doubt
that opposing it would be an organizing principle of politics to the same extent
that it is today..."

One of the problems is that nothing in America can really unite people other than money. I would argue that it is not the "riches" involved which produces the inequality, but the manner in which the riches are made. Owning a franchise isn't the same as taking care of the family farm. Franchises benefit enormously from the Law, in a sense that family farms often don't. Those who are on the positive equation side of licensing & property & franchise monopolies are going to want to keep it that way. In a fully secular society, nothing could properly hold them back. The end result (naturally) is to reduce EVERYONE to slavery/poverty, because eventually, the biggest fish begin to get so big they have to start eating Big Fish, instead of loads of little ones. In the late Roman Empire (to end the post and come full circle) 5 individuals owned all of Tunisia.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Now it's necessary to defend Tolkien from Fascism/Racism. This is because the "net of the term" is so broad as to virtually encompass anyone from Charlemagne, through the Falange & Franco, to Pinochet, and beyond, into the hinterlands of Hitler. This spectrum is supposedly notable primarily as being "Right Wing", with the far left being "soft" Fascist, or pre-proto-Fascist, and the far right of the Right being pure Darkness.

"But the primary concern for a free society is not which kinds of people should have their freedom smashed. The real concern is liberty for all. The capacity of the state to divide peaceful people into groups and set them
against one another is its capacity to oppress. When anyone is victimized by the
state, all who believe in and love the universal values of freedom, as well as
the finer principles on which America was founded, have a moral obligation to
oppose it..." (Elizabeth Wright)

Here is a progressive definition of the F-word:
"Fascism is a libidinal orientation to politics characterized by modulations of pride and rage. Pride in the national character, and in the greatness of the Leader. Rage at the ethnic or racial outsiders (Jews) who make our society impure and disrupt its natural balance. Pride in "traditional" mores, stern upholding of traditional gender role and traditionalist sexual behavior, combined with disgust and violent repression of deviations (homos). A high valuation on outward strength, military power, aggressive foreign policy postures. Our society could accurately be described as totalitarian insofar as the market economy is socially "totalized", influencing, and indeed literally determining, every social possibility and every behavior. But, much as I know how you'll hate to hear this, the only contemporary faction that could accurately be described as fascist are angry ideological conservatives."

While this may have a point, I suppose that my rejoinder would be that most "conservatives" are entirely neo-liberal, progressive, or "Leftist" in their character or association. Again, as GP Grant notes, the Machine that powers the Empire also allows us to have societal chaos at home: "Orgasms at home, Napalm abroad". Hitler's associations and roots had Leftist overtones and influences. The question of whether he was truly a "man of the Right" is a complicated one. Mencius Moldbug thinks that he obviously was, but that he had to dress himself up as a Leftist in order to gain power. This, in its favor, would explain the Nazi "programme" or party points, which look very similar to that proposed by the Democrats of the 21st century for America, including welfare, education, and the no-gun policy.

"The Nazis were not leftists; they appropriated leftist iconography as a mass aesthetic, won over those of conservative racialist attitudes by villifying the Jews, and preserved the haute bourgeoisie wholly intact by inviting them into the corporatist-state. Naziism's two most salient features: culturally conservative race-hatred, and industrialist oligarchism, had absolutely no relation to any leftism historical or contemporary..."

Hmmm, is disturbing (however) to contemplate the possibility that even the Nazis were obliged to dress up "Red" in order to get what they wanted...this places Leftism (and its specific offspring, liberal-democracy) in an entirely new light. This would seem to imply that at least a) It was eminently possible to pull off in this specific manner & certainly not a touch & go matter. Which is suggestive on a number of fronts...This would seem to hold true unless one believes Hitler "barely" pulled it off, which would then call into question most of the anti-national, anti-Church arguments most favored by those who take this position. In short, such contemplation infinitely complicates the question. Is it possible that such a dragon barely managed to trick the masses by making them think of him as a Red Dragon? If Hitler was well on his way to industrial/societal victory thanks to the Right, why would he need to masquerade in Red drag? In the above quote, the writer minimizes (to my mind) the importance of the "mass aesthetic" that operates in the Leftist mode? Isn't this exactly the "religion-by-the-back-door" theme which Khuenhelt-Ledhin so thoroughly explores? "Decayed altars are inhabited by demons," noted Ernst Juenger. The Leftists truly believe it is possible to excise religion from the soul of man, without harming the soul, and some think it can be done non-traumatically (we might characterize these last as the typical Western liberals). The New Pantagruel had this to say about the lack of Telos which characterizes Rawlsian Liberal-Democracies:
For Santayana, a healthy spiritual life was possible in this world only by
looking to the “beauty and perfection that this world suggests, approaches, and
misses.” The singular disease of Modernity is to forget this; which is to say
that modern man idealizes a priori. He carries with him not so much a distorted
view of reality; but a disdain for it. Thus, the pursuit of an ideal devolves
into idealism. For Santayana, though modern man may believe himself to be an
idealist, he is actually “a materialist in morals; he esteems things, and
esteems himself, for mechanical uses and energies.” Idealizing a priori
inculcates an over-calculation of one’s ability to effect change in the world;
to confront Power and wrestle it into submission, rather than the other way
around. In contrast, the Pantagruelist is able to joyfully engage in earthly
reality, insisting on seeing both the divine reflection and the demonic shadow.
Drawing from Augustine’s view of this age as a saeculum senescens (an age that
will pass away), the Pantagruelist is content with the uncertainties of faith
for knowledge of the Beyond. This, in turn, frees him to love the people and
places he finds himself surrounded by; to see things for what they are: a
suggested yet missed perfection. We moderns though, inflicted as we are with the
disease of Liberalism, cannot suffer the Augustinian humility regarding the
prospects of this age with grace. We chafe mightily against such restraint. We
desire above all to endow this age with the fulfillment that Christianity has
traditionally insisted lies over the horizon. Ironically, the harder we have
worked at remaking this world into a suitable future home for humanity, the
stronger is our sense of disenchantment, isolation, and homelessness in the
present. This is because, as Eric Voegelin put it, Liberalism “destroys the
oldest wisdom of mankind concerning the rhythm of growth and decay which is the
fate of all things under the sun.”
And here is John Crowe Ransom:
'Our vast industrial machine, with its laboratory centers of experimentation, and its far-flung organs of mass production is like a Prussianized state which is organized strictly for war and can never consent to peace. Or, returning to the original figure, our progressivists are the latest
version of those pioneers who conquered the wilderness, except that they are pioneering on principle, and from force of habit, and without any recollection of what pioneering was for.'
Clearly, the modern industrial state has overtones of "eternal war in Africa" & massive discipline through regimented organization, this time against the enemy Nature. So what does "Fascism" mean? Is it applicable to either Right or Left, or both? Or neither? Does Fascism pertain to anything? Do we need a new word? And who is this "we" we talk about?
Christopher Hitchens, in dialogue that reminds me of the old story about the death of Julian the Apostate, insists that secular regimes only go wrong if they fall prey to the dark side of thinking they have authority from on high:
"Lilla's most brilliant point concerns the awful pitfalls of what he does not call "liberation theology." Leaving this stupid and oxymoronic term to one side, and calling it by its true name of "liberal theology" instead, he reminds us that the eager reformist Jews and Protestants
of 19th-century Germany mutated into the cheerleaders of Kaiser Wilhelm's Reich, which they identified—as had
Max Weber—with history incarnate. Lilla might have added, for an ecumenical touch, that Kaiser Wilhelm, in launching the calamitous World War I, was also the ally and patron of the great jihad proclaimed by his Ottoman Turkish subordinates. So, could we hear a little less from the apologists of religion about how "secular" regimes can be just as bad as theocratic ones? Of course they can—if they indulge in acts of faith and see themselves as possessing supernatural authority."
But don't all states have power and authority at (after) a certain level? And don't all states indulge in magical thinking? America most of all? Wouldn't the cure be proper authority and the discernment of what real acts of real faith are needed? In otherwords, isn't the danger that mankind incessantly finds himself in only curable by finding a way farther in? Hitler, in this view of things, is so evil, not because he is diametrically opposite from what he should have been (merely), but because he represents a primal perversion of a primal good. He would not be a lightning rod if his "ideal state" did not in fact represent the possibility of something that is good. I think this is the most frightening thought to the liberal mind, and the explanation for why they attempt to bury Hitler in darkness as if to even invoke his name is to invite his presence. This explains the obsession with the term "fascist" & also the desire to avoid rigorously defining/determing/agreeing upon the term. It is an epithet to be hurled at your enemy, even as one averts one's eyes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Defense of Literary Meanness

In the October 14 issue of TNR, Leon Wieseltier gives a curmudgeonly defense of publishing negative reviews, specifically of the negative review of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom published in the same issue.

It’s bracing: “A shabby treatment of a consequential subject or a significant form is a corruption, and it is the mark of a reviewer’s depth of conviction, and of her knowledge, to treat it as such, to fight it. An opinion about a book is an opinion about the world. Anger at the false and the fake – as long as the labor of persuasion is done: a curse is not an act of criticism – is an admirable anger, because it is the heat of a cause, and our causes are the spurs of our culture. No culture, no literature, ever advanced by niceness.”

Literature is “a proposal, or an infinity of proposals, for an emendation, or a transformation, of consciousness. It commends ideals of thinking, and even ideals of living; and no such instructions should be exempt from strenuous and unsentimental judgment, from the foul tempers of thoughtful people, or else nothing will weigh anything and we will be only compilations of the trends of our times.”

He is not complimentary to contemporary literary culture:

Readers today receive guidance from “a literary and literary-critical world that is amiable, bland, clubby, pious, careerist, relentlessly cheerful, desperate for numbers, suavely relativizing, and awash in worthless praise. A universe of invitations and congratulations, of pals and candidate-pals appreciating and mythologizing each other. Books are generally assessed only internally, for what ‘works’ and what does not ‘work,’ with synopsis usurping analysis, politely against the background of the author’s literary or personal history, and almost never for the sake of a larger concept, a transcending idea, to which the review, if not the book, should owe its life. Reviews without inner necessity extol books without inner necessity. . . . It is not the responsibility of the critic to lift the spirits of the writer or publisher.”

Bracing as this is, I’m put in mind of Ken Myers’ recent review of Steven D. Smith’s work on law. Smith argues (as I have summarized in a recent post) that our bland public discourse is not accidental, but precisely what our Rawlsian liberal polity called for. Weightlessness is what we want, what our politics and culture are designed to produce. Wieseltier is right to be upset at the thinness of literature and criticism; he should examine what role the magazine that employs him has played in creating what he condemns.

Peter Leithart

All of this reminds me of The Underground Grammarian, who examined the ways in which language was used as a tool of anti-thought and political control. Secular liberal democracy....insofar as it is chaotic and useless, is doomed. Insofar as it "works", it tends to become Fascistic/Totalitarian. It is therefore something that is irrelevant to the informed citizen's future.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meditations on Fascism

More on Fascism.

"I knew no more about Spanish politics and history than most of my fellow-countrymen, that is to say, not much. I had read (in translation) much (but not all) of Don Quixote, and seen reproductions of the great paintings of Velázquez and Goya. I knew that Philip II had married an English reigning Queen -- Mary -- and on her death claimed the throne of England, but had been defeated when in 1588 he sent the great Armada to invade England and enforce his claim. I knew that the Duke of Wellington had fought a long, hard campaign against Napoleonic armies in Portugal and Spain and that guerrilla (which was to become my military specialty in World War II) was a Spanish word. But I had no real understanding of the complicated situation that had produced the military revolt of July 1936. What I did know was that Franco had the full support of Hitler and Mussolini. In fact, that support had been decisive at the beginning of the war. The military coup had failed in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain's principal cities. Franco's best troops, the Foreign Legion and the Regulares, the Moorish mercenaries recruited to fight against their own people, were cooped up in Morocco, since the Spanish Navy had declared for the Republic. Planes and pilots from the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force, in the first military airlift in history, had flown some 8,000 troops across to Sevilla, Franco's base for the advance on Madrid"

This from one of the most educated Americans of his time...but then again, Americans have made a career from being oblivious to the oldest cultures of the world, particularly if they are antique European ones that are part of old Christendom's body. After all, what else do you need to know than that Franco "had the full support" of Hitler? This phrase reeks of American politics and political posturing. Franco, in fact, irritated Hitler so much that he once stated he would rather have his teeth pulled than another conference with Generalissimo. As for the Tercio, the Rif War was probably even more outside Knox's expertise...Knox conveniently forgets to mention the Soviet advisors operating upon the other side of the line...advisors who came with "materialle". To Knox, he knew what he needed to know. Which wasn't much.

Constrast this with the chivalric and martial spirit operating on the Nationalist side:

"During the Spanish Civil War, Colonel José Moscardó Ituarte held the building against overwhelming Spanish Republican forces in the Siege of the Alcázar. The incident became a central piece of Spanish Nationalist lore, especially the story of Moscardó's son Luis. The Republicans took 16-year old Luis hostage, and demanded that the Alcázar be surrendered or they would kill him. Luis told his father, "Surrender or they will shoot me." His father replied, "Then commend your soul to God, shout 'Viva Cristo Rey' and die like a hero."[1] Moscardó refused to surrender. Contemporary reports indicated that the republicans then executed Moscardó's son. Other historians have reported that Luis was not in fact shot until a month later "in reprisal for an air raid".[2] The dramatic story also camouflages the fact that the fate of a number of male hostages, mainly from the Guardia Civil, taken into the Alcázar at the beginning of the siege is unclear. Some sources say the men "were never heard of again".[3]"

Bernard Knox is, in fact, oblivious to the insensitivity of forming part of an International Army which volunteered to come & conquer Spain. Now, granted, he was fighting for a universalist ideal, but it seems strange for a liberal to overlook this fact when discussing (or romanticizing) about War and their own past participation in it. Imagine what that would look like today, in America, as an experiment....

Contrast this with the martyrial attitude and religious spirit that existed in the "Fascist" ranks of Spain. One place to examine what it means to be Fascist is the Spanish Civil War, given that the operating definition of that term seems to have been formed (among the intelligentsia) in that theatre. To be Fascist, ultimately, was to be opposed to the progress of the Republic and the international "world community". Who wouldn't want Abraham Lincoln Brigades to come and help save them from their own Nationalists?

If nothing else, I know that the Spanish Civil War was more complex than this. (And you can, as well. Read Jose Maria Gironella, if nothing else). Therefore (ergo, if the dataset is more complex than admitted) so is the term "Fascist". To Bernard Knox (GRHS!) there was no such thing as a "premature anti-Fascist", because, as we would do well to remember, Progress never sleeps nor slumbers. It is impossible to jump the gun here, and prudentials have no consideration. What do the Proverbs mean anyway? Wisdom? Knowledge? No. There is only Progress. And those who resist are "Fascists". Liberals have no other word for those they hate as "Fascists" because there simply isn't substitute for the word "evil". You don't say "bad" or "not-good". You can say, partly-evil, or mostly-evil, as in mostly-Fascist or semi-Fascist. But you cannot get rid of the term, because it is a primary signifier. What would you replace it with? And what gradations would you admit from its elementary vileness? Any government that is authoritarian + Right Wing = Fascist.

This is how the term "means" to me.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

drákôn pyrròs mégas

The Dragon can appear either as a serpent (when ruling by subtlety and disguise) or as the Dragon himself, when his power is rampant. Lately, he is underground. This is far more effective than openly showing his fangs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wendell Berry

I've been meaning to do a review of Wendell Berry.

As I dig deeper into my Christian patrimony which I have inherited (and have yet to make utterly, entirely my own, though the heart which has once loved, never forgets), I keep coming up against certain contours that endure. In addition to a skepticism over Aquinas (due to his intellectualization of Christian faith) and all other systematic thinkers (including Calvin), I often find myself drawn towards Southern Agrarianism. No modern thinker embodies this tradition better than Berry.

I also have an affinity for Eastern Orthodoxy, which likely stems from their large measure of freedom from "white guilt", a leftover Puritan hangup that has been secularized until it largely means attacking one's political opponents and loving one's non-neighbors so that they don't come kill you and take all you have. Puritan theology emphasized sin so heavily that it was inevitable that this took a toll on the Western ego. In Orthodox theology, sin is emphasized, but not at the expense of free will or the good impulses of man. Although they join with us in praying that ALL elements of our nature would die and be resurrected (good & bad, in different forms and ways), they insist with Saint John Cassian that man's freewill and original nature is still "good". Man is fallen in his integration with himself and his assimilation with God, but this doesn't make him a "pile of dung" in every respect, except when held up against the immediate presence of God in an arrogant way. Orthodox Christians still have ethnic/national churches, and aren't ashamed of being "Serbian" or "sons of Japeth". In fact, they count it a means of grace, which indeed it is.

In our modern hyper-Protestant world of unitarian/universalist secularism (degraded DNA from rationalistic Puritans), both white nature and natural Nature (green Nature) are subjects of manipulation, contempt & control. Creation is not "good" until it has been landscaped and divided into suburbs, preferably integrated and multicultural ones. There is no such thing as a "happy union" of Luck, Nature & pious Man living on the land. Thus, there can be no "American" identity. Identity is what we make it, which is largely a matter of channeling or co-ordinating the ferment of the rainbowed Masses with the lever-pulling of politically correct bureaucrats. These Satanic operators of the "dark Satanic mills" (the machine of Science & Empire) make sure that both man and Nature are plasticized and rendered inert to the operations of CenterCom, which emanates from charismatic elites able to surf the rising Chaos. Thus, the "heartland" shrinks every year under the hammer and the anvil.

Wendell Berry is opposed to all of this, although he wouldn't put it in such a way (he says it even better):
"Despite its protests to the contrary, modern Christianity has become willy-nilly the religion of the state and the economic status quo. Because it has been so exclusively dedicated to incanting anemic souls into heaven, it has, by a kind of ignorance, been made the tool of much earthly villainy. It has, for the most part, stood silently by, while a predatory economy has ravaged the world, destroyed its natural beauty and health, divided and plundered its human communities and households. It has flown the flag and chanted the slogans of empire. It has assumed with the economists that "economic forces" automatically work for good, and has assumed with the industrialists and militarists that technology determines history. It has assumed with almost everybody that "progress" is good, that it is good to be modern and up with the times. It has admired Caesar and comforted him in his depredations and defaults. But in its de facto alliance with Caesar, Christianity connives directly in the murder of Creation. For, in these days, Caesar is no longer a mere destroyer of armies, cities, and nations. He is a contradictor of the fundamental miracle of life. A part of the normal practice of his power is his willingness to destroy the world. He prays, he says, and churches everywhere compliantly pray with him. But he is praying to a God whose works he is prepared at any moment to destroy. What could be more wicked than that, or more mad?"

What has Christ to do with the dark Satanic mills?

"Perfection/imperfection aren't complementary, either. Rather, imperfection is again a deprivation, a declension from the Absolute, as the celestial rays proceed from the vertical cosmic center to the periphery, which, as Schuon has written, "tends" toward a nothing that can never actually be realized. But the hardcore leftist feels a sort of frisson in riding the winds of the ray of creation all the way into the darkness of nihilism. The thrill of the fall, so to speak."

Schuon channeled via OneCosmos.

Incidentally, lately I've been contemplating the relationship between NeoPlatonism and Christianity. This is partly because Radical Orthodoxy has re-opened an old debate over Platonism, partly because theologians like Clark Pinnock (The Openness of God/I'm too good for classical Christianity) and others are busy running around complaining about the "static-ness" of Western Christianity (and advocating Loving God Through Eternal Change), and partly because Saint Paul himself endorses or rejects cultural forms/philosophies in Scripture. Being a Southron by birth, genetics, Fate & choice, NeoPlatonism is dangerous territory. We tend to think in terms of concrete materiality & personalities, and NeoPlatonism is a little, shall we say, over-refined?

One thing all the literature agrees upon is that Christianity irrevocably changed Platonism when it insisted upon creation ex nihilo. Things, however, often mingle and change each other in both directions. Hegel, for instance, managed to mingle classical mores with Christianity, and end up with neither.

However, even though Credenda Agenda itself went on the offensive against NeoPlatonism, and you can read a seriously informed response here. Now, whenever someone really gets up in arms against something, I get interested, and am generally either "all on board" or begin looking for holes.

Neo-Platonism, as far as I can tell, represented a Western version of an esoteric Eastern doctrine, and as such, is a counter balance to the discrete, material, juridical, and dialectical thought-forms that most "Western" thought tends to adopt without even knowing it. Westerners are always "hung up" over some distinction which they can't counter-balance. Over time, this leads to bad things. Liberals, for instance, are so obsessed with individuality, that they have effectively replicated themselves in weaker form over and over and ended up denying the very thing they wished to save. "We had to destroy the village in order to save it".

In this context, nothing says obsession, permanence, and thought-meme more than insisting ad nauseam that all of Western Christianity is obsessed with Plato and needs to adopt an "Eternal Change is Good, Just Love God" intellectual posture. Is anything more permanent than Eternal Change? Is anything more constraining to an individual than a world in which he/she is reduced to being a disembodied "atom", with no "intermediary" institutions (R. Nisbet) between himself and the infinitely progressive-State? Is anything more despotic than the feel-good sorcery-State that doesn't rule, but merely "moulds and controls", down to the last atom of society?

The answers to these questions are obvious when they are asked, at least obvious to those who believe some Life should exist forever outside the purview of the State. Europe, the home of Christianity's union with both classical culture & the Teutonic tribes, once was a bulwark or guardian against both disembodied Christianity (such as Peter Rollins seems to advocate) as well as infinite States. Time and time again, within "culture" and its own soul, the Church of Europe found the resources to reject the likes of Hobbes, Machiavelli, or the Cynics of Rome (St. Paul credit for this one).

NeoPlatonism may represent a means to an end which is worth keeping, perhaps a form which can assist/aid the thought of Western man in his effort to "feel (back) after God, if happily he might find Him". The nihilistic winter of mechanized global super-states will get rather cold. It seems a shame to throw out Father's old coat. Perhaps we might borrow a page from Sartor Resartus and re-tailor the thing.

We will need all the help we can get. If nothing else, Platonism is the hope that we are not doomed to immersement in matter, left without intimations of the Good or intimations of deprival.

From the great Don Colacho:

"Individualism is not the antithesis of totalitarianism but a condition of it.
Totalitarianism and hierarchy, on the other hand, are terminal positions of contrary movements."

Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 321

A Poem for the Moderns

"I am God. There is not God. And thus I compete with Him.
The life is this, that I also wish, and thus I come not hither.
I write because I like, I like what I write, and I find more fools to battle.
They that would rage, against me in spaces, together we'd meet in the middle.
I muck in the dirt, I find new worth, the old and the specter of time,
And under the dirt, is the greatest of worth - the death and the life of the father.
He fought and he won, then birthed him new sons, by putting his seed in the mother.
We are impressed, and lest we regress, so strive we forward together.
Our science's decree, also climatology, is the age of peace we've ushered,
No more children may come, but evolution has run, holding hands evolve we no longer.
Humanists all, for history's fault, is to have us strike at each other.
And when we address, problems in Congress, then make we war no longer.
The world today is a much better place, a much better place I tell you.
Then when we were then, in those myth-filled places when the old gods ruled over.
With His wicked decrees, His mind-bending fees, His lies and myths ruled together.
So walk we no more on old Eden's floor, until out of Silicon and Steel we rend her."

Joel Dietz

Friday, October 1, 2010

Soft Totalitarianism

For some time, I have thought this myself-
"Most of ‘apocalyptic’ literature, warning us of the dangers of totalitarianism, such as Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984, and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, warn us of a fascist government (Orwell’s Animal Farm of course warns us of socialist totalitarianism). But whether the authors warn us of a communist or fascist dictatorship, they all perceive totalitarian societies as based on non-subtle (overt?), masculine force. They all have failed to envision a totalitarian society that was subtle, seductive, and feminine. The most successful totalitarian government in history has been the United States. Using feminine coercion rather than masculine, the U.S. has accomplished much more than Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or any other 2-bit dictator ever hoped to accomplish.

In Fahrenheit 451, my favorite of the apocalyptic novels, Bradbury correctly notes that a totalitarian government must, if it is to maintain itself, kill history. There must be no historical consciousness; there must only be the reigning government, which has always been, and always will be, world without end. In Bradbury’s novel, the government kills history by burning all books from the past."

Just yesterday, I read in my nursing book that "results of progress may cause old ways of thinking to not apply anymore". The question here is not, what is ideology doing in a nursing book, but what kind of ideology has succeeded in making itself its own rationale? If Progress makes everything "not work anymore", then OBVIOUSLY we need more Progress. My boss the other day opined that America would not "go down the drain" but that we just needed more "creativity". I am sure everything will be fine.

Here is a liberal definition of fascism:
"Robert O. Paxton, a professor emeritus at Columbia University, defines fascism in his book The Anatomy of Fascism as: "A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

But this definition fits La Raza quite as well as the smeared Tea Party. It also fits the NAACP.

Chris Hedges
nails it. Liberal policies have CREATED a pre-fascist, as well as a proto-fascist, polity in America:
“It is time for us to stop talking about right and left,” McKinney told me. “The old political paradigm that serves the interests of the people who put us in this predicament will not be the paradigm that gets us out of this. I am a child of the South. Janet Napolitano tells me I need to be afraid of people who are labeled white supremacists but I was raised around white supremacists. I am not afraid of white supremacists. I am concerned about my own government. The Patriot Act did not come from the white supremacists, it came from the White House and Congress. Citizens United did not come from white supremacists, it came from the Supreme Court. Our problem is a problem of governance. I am willing to reach across traditional barriers that have been skillfully constructed by people who benefit from the way the system is organized.”

This is perfectly correct. And in fact, the relationship between Liberalism and Communism is far more complicated than this (given that National Socialism and International Socialism can be related as well):
"Moreover, this social mismatch has been entirely rectified. What the bohemians of Greenwich Village believed in 1923, everyone in America (and the world) believes now. The beliefs of an ordinary Calvin Coolidge voter would strike the ordinary John McCain voter as outlandish, ridiculous, insane, and often downright evil. America has no surviving
intellectual tradition besides progressivism - which is no more than a synonym for communism. (My own grandparents, lifelong CPUSA members, used "progressive" as a codeword all their lives.) Communism is as American as apple pie, and America today is a completely communist country. As Garet Garett put it 70 years ago, the revolution was."

As Moldbug notes, the relationship between Liberalism & Communism is, well, "complicated".

It is not only complicated by Empire and Imperial politics, as well as such things as the results of the Civil War, it is complicated by religion & class divisions, as well as the money market situations (in which some Americans have a very vested interest, and are getting richer than anyone in history).

What seems fairly clear is that "Fascism" is a definition that everyone agrees is "bad", but almost no one agrees upon. This of course doesn't mean that general contours aren't there, or that some counters/markers can be identified with some safety. However, once a definition is agreed upon, MANY different polities or groups can fit the label. American business, for instance, is largely operative at the behest or at the service of government. Wall Street and Beltway have a CLOSE relationship. Is this not "corporate fascism"?

Another complicating factor is American transcendence over ethnic/cultural norms. When a race with a homogeneous culture constitutes a base, it can potentially "go" fascist (as Serbia did with Milosevic, who was "socialist"), but it is also a potential barrier or bar to Imperial/Global Fascism on the scale displayed in the post Berlin Wall era. Putin-era Russia, therefore, is both proto-fascist on an internal level, but is a barrier to global fascism in the external sphere. And proto-fascist formal polities can often prevent a "pre-fascist" mentality from blossoming among the "volk", a situation which we can only envy in America, where liberal over-kill and looting of the state for the benefit of the elites and a "new people" have effectively created a "learned fascism" among heartland peoples. Franco, for instance, managed to have the forms of fascism, without the power thereof, and in so doing kept Spain from radicalism of the Right or Left.

It's complicated. Basically, what we have in America is a situation of control flowing from the bureaucratic elites downward, channeled into the ferment of the progressive masses. These masses are directed by forms of political correctness into the proper channels, and the religion of democracy guides the rituals and forms in the upper crust, while providing the "bread and circus" faith from below in the masses. The engines of Science & Empire function to keep the brew fermenting, but more and more raw material (read "colored people") are being thrown into the crush. They, too, will be assimilated, and the product thereof may be a mixed race/culture with all of the worst characteristics of the donors. Like decaying DNA, our polity seems to suffer a degrading with each generation, both intellectually and morally. And in our case, the original blueprints are up for questioning as well. Were the Founding Fathers really wise to create a "proposition" nation? If so, have we done well in the battle to keep it?

Our current America is a giant corporation, with the CEO as president. The dollar is stock. And the shareholders are squabbling ferociously. Arguably, this is a pre-fascistic situation, with proto-fascistic forms already in place to guide us. To what & where?

Anyone for "Red Tory" tea?

Conservatives worth their salt should concentrate on creating the alternative base (whatever it costs, whatever it entails) that will preserve the country in the coming Winter.