The article is largely worthless, but this is stuck out:
There have always been apparent dissenters from this tradition. Hegel, in his philosophy of history, emphasized the role of what he called “world-historical individuals” — the great examples were Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte. The 19th-century British writer Thomas Carlyle delivered a series of lectures in the 1830s in which he argued that “Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here.” Yet both Hegel and Carlyle ultimately saw the individuals they singled out as in some sense channeling or crystallizing — or at least acknowledging and reckoning with — larger, impersonal forces. Carlyle, for instance, argued that Napoleon only succeeded because of his faith “that this new enormous Democracy… is an unsuppressible Fact, which the whole world, with its old forces and institutions, cannot put down.
An equalitarian society, would, of course want to downplay the importance not only of Great Men, but of character, and individual responsibility and judgement.
Exhibit A in the great man theory is Muhammad. My metric for Greatness is he who has brought about the most consequences in recorded history. Muhammad takes the prize for this achievement. Indeed, his effects are far from over, and it is very plausible that this man, and his memes, will play a major role in either the destruction of the human race, or a nuclear holocaust.
Thomas Carlyle wrote positively on Muhammad, seeing him as a sincere rustic.
Carlyle was wrong.
Muhammad, however, was a genius. His genius lay in the fact that he understood male pychology and was able to persuade enough men to follow him. His success in war confirmed to his followers that the “finger of God” was upon him.
Muhammad’s genius was that he united the beast and the angel in man, the heroic and the criminal, piety and power, acestism, self-denial and holiness with carnality, joyful cruelty and will to power.
Muhammad achieved, in theory and practice, a unique, world-historical, synthesis of master-morality and slave morality.
This synthesis conquered half the known world.
It was finally checked by two civilisations: Christian and Chinese.
It was checked by the use of absolute force and violence.
I am not the first person to point out the similarity between Muhammad and the Corporal. The Corporal himself admired the man and his system. Chesterton also pointed out the similarities, and Nietzsche was an admirer…….
Napoleon read the Quran, understood the system, and even had his own plans for a new Koran.
Back to the article.
The claim in Foreign Policy about Napoleon is mistaken. Napoleon used democracy to further his own power. Napoleon had a particular horror of the mob, and was basically a reactionary.
An interesting book, I read two weeks ago, was Nietzsche on Napoleon.
The argument of the book was that Napoleon was the ideal type that represented Nietzsche’s political philosophy — which could be described as “Aristocratic Radicalism.” Nietzsche praised Napoleon for using deception and democracy to advance a political vision that was contrary to the principles of democracy and of the revoultion; a political order that was based on hierarchy and order, religion (for the “herd”), but also militarism, heroism, and pagan self-assertion.
Interesting, but also challenging. How should neoreactionaries answer Nietzsche’s challenge? Master and Slave morality?