(See Part A here.)
R.G Collingwood said that the “task of 20th century philosophy is to reckon with 20th century history.”
Here at DR, the task of 21st century philosophy is to reckon with the fundamental problems of 21st society.
The fundamental problem for our society is the structure, purpose and composition of the political structure and how well it can deal effectively, efficiently and responsibly with violence.
The 20th century was a festival of cruelty, lies and mass, murderous madness – the triumph of the Minotaur.
One hundred years ago, European civilisation —Christendom — lay rotting in the fields of France — the suicide of the West.
Hideous monsters emerged from those killings fields to lay waste to nearly the entire globe. By century’s end, up to one hundred million people had been consumed in the resulting man-made carnage — the century of the Anti-Christ indeed.
What went wrong?
A different question is how the facts of 20th century history stand in relation to 20th century philosophy – moral and political philosophy.
There is much debate about this answer – see here, here and here – among neoreactionaries.
The following is my answer.
I will compare, contrast and synthesise a number of extracts from moral philosopher, Jonathan Glover’s Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century; Moldbug’s political analysis; Alasdair Macintyre’s After Virtue and Reactionary Future’s synthesis of Moldbug, Macintyre and Bertrand De Jouvenel.
History is philosophy teaching by example, and a reactionary explains the 20th century’s democratic democide and the century’s long moral meltdown as a consequence of their political theory of government: imperium in imperio.
The following extracts from Humanity are taken from the book’s first chapter: Never Such Innocence Again.
In Europe at the start of the twentieth century most people accepted the authority of morality.
At the start of the century there was optimism, coming from the Enlightenment, that the spread of a humane and scientific outlook would lead to the fading away, not only of war, but also of other forms of cruelty and barbarism.
(See this popular book — published in 1909 —whose assumptions and conclusions are of the same sort held today.)
It was an age of progress, but it was also an age when belief in God and tradition was weakening:
But the collapse of the authority of religion and decline in belief in God are reasons for it now being a problem for many who are not philosophers.
Nietzsche’s “Death of God.”
Now, let’s look at what Macintyre has to say; here is his central hypothesis regarding moral theory, history and practice:
The hypothesis which I wish to advance is that in the actual world which we inhabit the language of morality is in the same state of grave disorder as the language of natural science in the imaginary world which I described. What we possess, if this view is true, are the fragments of a conceptual scheme, parts which now lack those contexts from which their significance derived. We possess indeed simulacra of morality, we continue to use many of the key expressions. But we have—very largely, if not entirely—lost our comprehension, both theoretical and practical, or morality.
The other belief, in moral progress, has also been undermined. The problems have come from events. The twentieth-century history of large-scale cruelty and killing is only too familiar: the mutual slaughter of the First World War, the terror-famine of the Ukraine, the Gulag, Auschwitz, Dresden, the Burma Railway, Hiroshima, Vietnam, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Cambodia, Rwanda, the collapse of Yugoslavia. These names will conjure up others. Because of this history, it is (or should be) hard for thinking about ethics to carry on just as before.
But carry on we have. The belief in progress, the “arc of history bending towards justice“, is not an idle belief, it is fervently believed in by the most powerful people in the world; indeed, the former most powerful person in the world (apparently) believed it.
Obama is not an outlier here. These mystical beliefs are central to the most dominant and driven group in America: the Puritans
Obama was elected on the slogan “hope and change”; the previous eight years, however, have been one of horror and carnage — the great hope has become the great disappointment.
In the light of these expectations, the century of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein was likely to be a surprise. Volcanoes thought extinct turned out not to be.
It would not have been a surprise to Thomas Carlyle.
Here we pivot, here we stand.
Both Glover and Macintyre, as trained analytical philosophers, look at the contradiction between moral theory — Enlightenment progress — and historical fact using only concepts. Moldbug, however, supplies, between moral theory and historical fact, a theory of governance, an analysis of power, and a conception of human nature that gives us a unified explanation of what went wrong.
First, however, we have Carlyle.
Carlyle saw that the 20th century would be the century of both democracy and mass murder, Moldbug:
And while not all the crimes in tis tragedy were committed by democrats, democracy is indeed its prime and ultimate cause. It is not a coincidence that the century of murder and the century of democracy were one and the same. Perhaps the only one to predict this was – no surprise – Carlyle, in Shooting Niagara (1867):
All the Millenniums I ever heard of heretofore were to be preceded by a “chaining of the Devil for a thousand years,” — laying him up, tied neck and heels, and put beyond stirring, as the preliminary. You too have been taking preliminary steps, with more and more ardour, for a thirty years back; but they seem to be all in the opposite direction: a cutting asunder of straps and ties, wherever you might find them; pretty indiscriminate of choice in the matter: a general repeal of old regulations, fetters, and restrictions (restrictions on the Devil originally, I believe, for most part, but now fallen slack and ineffectual), which had become unpleasant to many of you, — with loud shouting from the multitude, as strap after strap was cut, “Glory, glory, another strap is gone!” […] And in fact, THE DEVIL (he, verily, if you will consider the sense of words) is likewise become an Emancipated Gentleman; lithe of limb as in Adam and Eve’s time, and scarcely a toe or finger of him tied any more. And you, my astonishing friends, you are certainly getting into a millennium, such as never was before, — hardly even in the dreams of Bedlam.
What better prediction could there have been for Lenin or Hitler or Mao? The old orders are cut away; a new glistening vista is expected, but the devil, free of any bondage, runs rampant – the triumph of the Minotaur.
Here are two extracts from Carlyle’s Latter-Day Pamphlets, written in 1850:
For universal Democracy, whatever we may think of it, has declared itself as an inevitable fact of the days in which we live; and he who has any chance to instruct, or lead, in his days, must begin by admitting that: new street-barricades, and new anarchies, still more scandalous if still less sanguinary, must return and again return, till governing persons everywhere know and admit that. Democracy, it may be said everywhere, is here:— for sixty years now, ever since the grand or First French Revolution, that fact has been terribly announced to all the world; in message after message, some of them very terrible indeed; and now at last all the world ought really to believe it. That the world does believe it; that even Kings now as good as believe it, and know, or with just terror surmise, that they are but temporary phantasm Play-actors, and that Democracy is the grand, alarming, imminent and indisputable Reality: this, among the scandalous phases we witnessed in the last two years, is a phasis full of hope: a sign that we are advancing closer and closer to the very Problem itself, which it will behoove us to solve…
What is Democracy; this huge inevitable Product of the Destinies, which is everywhere the portion of our Europe in these latter days? There lies the question for us. Whence comes it, this universal big black Democracy; whither tends it; what is the meaning of it? A meaning it must have, or it would not be here. If we can find the right meaning of it, we may, wisely submitting or wisely resisting and controlling, still hope to live in the midst of it; if we cannot find the right meaning, if we find only the wrong or no meaning in it, to live will not be possible!
Or perhaps Democracy, which we announce as now come, will itself manage it? Democracy, once modelled into suffrages, furnished with ballot-boxes and such like, will itself accomplish the salutary universal change from Delusive to Real, and make a new blessed world of us by and by? — To the great mass of men, I am aware, the matter presents itself quite on this hopeful side. Democracy they consider to be a kind of “Government.” The old model, formed long since, and brought to perfection in England now two hundred years ago, has proclaimed itself to all Nations as the new healing for every woe: “Set up a Parliament,” the Nations everywhere say, when the old King is detected to be a Sham–King, and hunted out or not; “set up a Parliament; let us have suffrages, universal suffrages; and all either at once or by due degrees will be right, and a real Millennium come!” Such is their way of construing the matter.
Such, alas, is by no means my way of construing the matter; if it were, I should have had the happiness of remaining silent, and been without call to speak here. It is because the contrary historically speaking, I believe there was no Nation that could subsist upon Democracy.
To Carlyle, the people he was addressing expected a “hopeful”, “new millennium” to the “great mass of men.”
And what happened? Looking backward, what does a liberal philosophy professor have to say?
Here is Glover again:
Much of twentieth-century history has been a very unpleasant surprise. Technology has made a difference. The decisions of a few people can mean horror and death for hundreds of thousands, even millions, of other people.
These events shock us not only by their scale. They also contrast with the expectations, at least in Europe, with which the twentieth century began. One hundred years of largely unbroken European peace between the defeat of Napoleon and the First World made it plausible to think that the human race was growing out of its warlike past.
…… The main problem in human affairs is violence…..Especially organized violence.…. organized violence killed a couple of hundred million people in the last century….
Now, we are approaching the heart of darkness.
What produced Napoleon?
What produced the Revolution?
What did the People want?
What is democracy?
People (demos) power (kratos).
And what did the People do when they had that Power?
They unleashed the “Terror.”
Here is De Jouvenel on the French Revolution and democracy:
But, by opening the prospect of Power to all the ambitious talents, this arrangement makes the extension of Power much easier. Under the ancien regime, society’s moving spirits, who had, as they knew, no chance of a share of Power, were quick to denounce its smallest encroachment. Now, on the other hand, when everyone is potentially a minister, no one is concerned to cut down an office to which he aspires one day himself, or to put sand in a machine which he means to use himself when his turn comes. Hence it is that there is in the political circles of a modern society a wide complicity in the extension of Power.
Because power is unsecure, people will fight for it. Thus, the struggle for power, merely enlarges its domain; which, in turn, means that more and more people will seek power – even if only defensively. However, those who seek power for offensive reasons understand that power – the centralising power – can be used to crush any and all opposition. Democracy then is a Thucydidean trap.
This Power [said Marx] with its vast bureaucratic and military organization and its complicated and artificial mechanism, this frightful parasite which enmeshes as in a net the body of French society and obstructs all its pores, started at the time of absolute monarchy, when the feudal system, in whose overthrow it helped, was in decline. . . . The effect of overthrows of Power has been merely to improve the government machine, not to smash it. The political parties which in turn fought for Power conceived of the seizure of this vast edifice as the spoils of victory.
A parasite, like all living creatures, has a reproduction cycle. For a meme, or a memeplex, one needs to get into the mind of people – what better way than to invest the organs of information: universities and the press?
Indeed, as Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn notes, the French Revolution and Napoleon’s rule was the precursor to the 20th century.
Glover writes that, after the defeat of Napoleon, there was nearly one-hundred years of unbroken peace in Europe; a peace which ended in the First World War.
What type of government exited prior to the Revolution, after the defeat of Napoleon, and up until the end of the First World War?
Monarchies of various kinds.
Democracies of various kinds.
After the First World War, Germany became a democracy, and what happened?
They elected Adolf Hitler.
And what did Hitler do?
He unleashed the “Terror.”
Is it conceivable, as Winston Churchill thought, that without democracy and with monarchy, Hitler would never have been possible? Here is Churchill:
Reflecting in 1945 on what had led to the rise of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill wrote: “This war would never have come unless, under American and modernizing pressure, we had driven the Hapsburgs out of Austria and Hungary and the Hohenzollerns out of Germany.
By making these vacuums,” he went on, “we gave the opening for the Hitlerite monster to crawl out of its sewer on to the vacant thrones.
Unsecure power indeed.
America, as with Germany, brought democracy to Iraq, what happened?
The people – a mixture of ex-military soldiers and officers, Iraqi natives, and foreign Muslims – created a revolutionary Islamic State
And what did this Islamic State do?
They unleashed the “Terror”.
Once is happenstance (the French Revolution); twice is a coincidence (Hitler’s Revolution); but the third is enemy action (The Islamic Revolution).
….democracy is obviously the cause of democide – because the Age of Democracy is also the Age of Democide.
Glover is trying to answer the question of what went wrong in 20th century and to prevent it happening again from the perspective of philosophical ethics; his answers are insufficient and his solutions are impotent. It is impotent because it has no theory of government.
The fundamental problem of modern history is to understand the great massacres of the 20th century. To at least the first approximation, any general theory of modern history must be a theory of democide.
I’ve expressed this before, but let me state it more bluntly: the cause of democide is democracy. The democides of the 20th century – plus one important adumbration, the War of Secession, the first modern total war – can only be understood as a consequence of the victory of democracy. And therefore of the defeat of the Concert of Europe and the Holy Alliance.
MacIntyre, focusing on his patch of moral disorder in our theory and practice calls for a unified philosophical history to explain what went wrong:
The form of the narrative, the division into stages, presuppose standards of achievement and failure, of order and disorder. It is what Hegel called philosophical history and what Collingwood took all successful historical writing to be. So that if we are to look for resources to investigate the hypothesis about morality which I have suggested, however bizarre and improbable it may appear to you now, we shall have to ask whether we can find in the type of philosophy and history propounded by writers such as Hegel and Collingwood—very different from each other as they are, of course—resources which we cannot find in analytical or phenomenological philosophy.
(Notice that MacIntyre, like Glover, evokes Collingwood.)
Philosophical history indeed.
That philosophical history, as Reactionary Future correctly points out, can come from Menicus Moldbug’s theory of government and Bertrand De Jouvenel’s theory of power:
MacIntyre paints a very vivid picture tracing this tradition as it transformed into secular liberalism, and the great missing piece in his genealogy is an explanation of how it occurred, which is something he is evidently aware of with his call in After Virtue for a unified history of the modern period. I am convinced that De Jouvenal’s analysis of the role of power and the social structures and currents it promoted provides this missing piece….
Moldbug’s theory of history is married to his theory of government:
In order to get to the reactionary theory of history, we need a reactionary theory of government.
Here is Moldbug answer to both Glover and MacIntyre, his philosophical history:
Now let’s look – from this reactionary perspective – at what actually did happen.
First, in America and Europe from the late 18th through the middle of the 19th century, we see a series of violent changes in power, in which states were overthrown and territories captured by disorganized mobs of their own residents, sometimes in cahoots with the army. These were called revolutions. They were almost entirely destructive phenomena, with no major point to recommend them. There is no revolution in this period which had benign results. The French revolutions of 1789 and 1830, for example, can be blamed entirely on irresolute monarchs without the courage, dexterity or both to use the military against the mob.
Moreover, even when states did not capitulate totally to revolutionary mobs, they often surrendered partially, as for example in the Reform Bill of 1832. This led to a progressive acceleration of democracy, and its inevitable accomplice, paramilitary violence. The US, for example, in the height of its democratic period from 1828 to 1932, was almost never without violent elections or political gangs. Democratic government before the civil-service era was also corrupt on an almost indescribable scale.
Democracy, and democratic ideologies and religions, had become power cults which attracted and selected for the ambitious and unscrupulous. Numerous corrupt systems which could command voting blocs sprung up, from urban ward-heeler machines to yellow-journalist newspapers. Deceiving the voting population was job one for these political engineers, and public opinion on all political subjects – government, law, economics, and war – began to diverge significantly from reality.
This situation culminated in the first great total war of the democratic era, the War of Secession between Union and Confederacy. The proximate cause of the War of Secession was the anti-slavery campaign, a political-religious nationalist movement in the North that harangued the South with apocalyptic rhetoric, supported paramilitary terrorist attacks on it, extracted vast quantities of tax through an almost punitive tariff, unilaterally and informally rewrote the Constitution to strengthen its own power and hold the South captive, and in general did everything it could to stoke Southern paranoia. But the latter was hardly lacking, as the South had developed its own bizarre nationalist movement, a romantic cult which glorified a hereditary caste system and threatened to invade the entire Western hemisphere, Yankeeland excluded – and only because it was bad land for sugarcane, tobacco or cotton. Neither of these competing nationalisms was conceivable in the 19th century, and both are most parsimoniously ascribed to the effect of 80 years of democracy on the mass mind.
The War of Secession was a war of mass destruction in which all previously known laws of war were violated, generally by the North with its revived Puritan cult of righteousness. It killed half a million men and brought happiness to none but the killers – not even the slaves, whose liberation was a sham but whose destitution was certainly not. As such it prefigured the even more destructive wars of the following century. It also destroyed the American tradition of limited government, setting the scene for the megastate to come.
Probably the most destructive result of the 19th-century democratic movement was the rise of militant nationalism, which beleaguered aristocratic elites found all too effective in deflecting the sympathies of the increasingly violent mob. Contrary to the promises of democrats, the first tastes of socialist plunder only whetted the mob’s appetite for more. Democratic factions divided according to their preferred food for this great beast: money or blood.
This jingoist tendency, also inconceivable in the 18th century, eventually culminated in the war which destroyed European civilization, the Great War. The first outbreak of the Great War, which lasted from 1914 to 1918 killed millions of young men and left Russia in the hands of a barbaric neo-Jacobin military death cult. The same cult later devastated Spain, where order was fortunately restored under a nationalist movement that was at least neither socialist nor expansionist. Finally, the ultimate synthesis of nationalism and socialism, fascism, restarted the Great War, which became a worldwide conflict between the militarist and socialist traditions. At the end of the Great War in 1945, memory of the belle epoque had dwindled to near extinction, and there was no significant political force which supported the restoration of the classical liberal era.
The US had succumbed to a socialist revolution under false electoral premises in 1932. This was primarily the result of a financial panic, which was caused by unscrupulous dilution of the currency in the boom of the 1920s, through the new Federal Reserve System. After the first phase of the Great War, the gold standard, which was never entirely stable under the Anglo-American fractional-reserve system, had been restored in a broken form (the “gold-exchange standard”) which was more tolerant of dilution through state-guaranteed maturity-mismatched lending, but not tolerant enough. The collapse of this system allowed inflationist economists to claim that capitalism itself had failed, not unlike the famous orphan who requested clemency for the murder of his parents. This brought on a socialist revolution, the New Deal, in which the Federal government and the Progressive civil-service machine claimed unlimited legislative power to deal with the emergency it had created for itself.
It has never relinquished this power, nor can it ever be expected to. It has never restored a metallic currency, nor can it ever be expected to. Its civil service and judiciary are entirely insulated from democracy. Its legislative body, which remains bicameral for reasons now only historical, has an incumbent reelection rate in the high 90s. Its two political parties, which are no longer meaningful organizations and are now mere labels, are identical on all substantive domestic policy issues. Most of their efforts are put into fighting proxy wars against each other, often involving American soldiers, on distant parts of the globe which have no relevance at all to domestic security. The Federal government consumes 30% of GNP, and the US borrows 6% of GNP from abroad every year just to stay afloat. Crime is rampant, with many parts of many major cities effectively uninhabitable by any civilized person, and a substantial criminal class. Some cities, such as Detroit, have been entirely cleansed of their white population and in some places are even reverting to prairie (but very dangerous prairie). Former residents of the cities, whose old Irish, Italian and Jewish quarters no longer exist, have fled to more defensible quarters in hideous strip-mall suburbs. Encouraged by both parties, which jockey for their votes, uneducated peasants from Latin America are flooding in unknown numbers across its uncontrolled borders. Fortunately, so far this new generation of immigrants has seen little of the joys of the criminal lifestyle, but this seems to change quickly for their children. In short, the US is rapidly becoming a Third World country, not unlike present-day Brazil. The only mercy is that its respite from democracy has lasted.
After the Great War, the socialist powers fell out, as gangs often do. The first split was the US-Soviet split, in which the latter turned out to be more interested in territory and power than in a position as a US satellite. In the resulting Cold War, these two powers dismembered the remnants of European law and order in the Third World, in the worst scramble for colonial supremacy the world had yet seen. Any pretext of bringing good government to uncivilized peoples was forgotten, and any nationalist thug, preferably as socialist as possible, was a satisfactory client for either side. Most of the non-European world, including even formerly civilized countries such as China, reverted to the rule of national-socialist warlords who competed for American and Soviet favor. Some, such as Yugoslavia and China, split from both factions and courted the aid of both. Perhaps a hundred million people around the world were murdered in this “liberation,” which is still revered as such worldwide. The supposedly “independent” countries of the Third World are still dependent on aid from the US and its European satellites. There is one independent Third World country in the world – Somaliland.
Meanwhile, competing branches of the US government still engage in Third World proxy wars, in which the Defense Department and its political allies and satellites (the Republican Party, the arms and energy industry, Israel) face off against the State Department and its allies and satellites (the Democratic Party, the NGOs and universities, Europe, Palestine). The true nature of these conflicts, which would end instantly if the US was under unitary leadership, or even if both American factions could agree to cut off all “aid” to all their foreign satellites, is admitted by no one. It is considered entirely normal that the US often arms, and always talks with, both sides of these bizarre, incurable pseudo-wars.
Lately, the old Third World national-socialist movement has managed to refit itself with an Islamic facade, and destroyed a couple of very large buildings in New York, killing thousands of people. No effective effort against the perpetrators has been mounted, probably because any successful American military effort brings political prestige to the American right and threatens to reignite the old era of nationalist jingoism, a threat which terrifies the American left – and for good reason. So many individuals involved with the attack live and continue their efforts in a country which is not at war with the US, nor vice versa. Most Americans consider this entirely normal. The concept of war itself has been under attack for the last fifty years, in favor of an entirely new legal model which is derived from domestic criminal justice, and which seems designed to make it as difficult as possible for civilized forces to defeat uncivilized ones, a theory which certainly fits the short-term political needs of its proponents. The resulting concept of “asymmetric warfare” is also generally accepted, with only a little grumbling, as a necessary burden that must be shouldered by our great and moral nation.
Other than this, everything is fine. Technology is moving along pretty well. Moore’s Law continues to zoom along. We have fast computers and fancy mobile phones and other things that no one in the 18th century could dream of. If they could see our political system, however, I’m afraid they’d understand it all too well.
Frankly, any system of thought that can convincingly present this history as a case of progress is capable of anything.
So much for democracy, but what about modernity? What about modern morality?
Let’s consider Churchill’s judgement once more. Note he refers not just to democracy, but to “modernizing pressure” as a cause of the Nazi movement.
There is a difference between science, technology and industry and between morality, culture, and commerce. One, we can distinguish as modern, the other as “Western” or “American”, and by American we mean Northern Protestant, Puritan- Progressive American.
Further note, that we see an interesting pattern: “modernity” produces revolution and terror; then, in their wake, they bring forth reaction and tyranny against such “modernising” or “Americanising” factors. How similar really are ISIS and the Nazis, except for both ending in IS?
ISIS rejects “modernity” far more stringently and consistently than the Nazis:
The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.
Sayid Qutub, the Islamist philosopher, who helped found the Muslim Brotherhood, and who inspired Osama Bin Laden (Qutub’s brother taught the young Bin laden), despised American culture as crass, commercial, overly sexual and Godless. Qutub formed this judgement living in Greenly Colorado in the fifties!
The Nazis movement despised the libertinism and dissolution of Weimar, and Materialist modernity – and they soon put an end to it once they acquired power.
The progressive’s multi-cultural, tolerant, hedonistic playground will ultimately face the same fate as Weimer, because Muslims — whether conservative, Islamist or Jihadist — will not have it.
“Carlsbad 1819” had done great work in compiling and commenting on actual Nazi propagandists and theorists. Try to imagine the following being said by someone from ISIS.
Why don’t we start with Rudolf Jung? He’s the guy who inspired Hitler to rename the DAP to the NSDAP. In fact, the immediate predecessor of the NSDAP originated as a regional party among Germans in Bohemia.
The same land that had Hussites throwing the Prague city council out of the window, and 200 years later, throwing regents of the Holy Roman Emperor out of the window, helping spark the Thirty Years’ War. In short: Around Czechs, never relax – especially if in proximity to windows. Jung’s 1921 book Der nationale Sozialismus is about this Bohemian National Socialism.
The moral renewal of our people and the development of their religious life in a German spirit. This is one of the most important demands of the national-socialist movement. It is connected with the demand of the preceding section about the struggle against any foreign influence, but above all the overpowering power of the Jewish merchant spirit. Those who, in national socialism, merely see the program of a political party, ask what such things are to be found in it. Others again hold tunes for worshipers of Wodan and the like. We have already pointed out that National Socialism represents a Weltanschauung, and indeed the German Weltanschauung. The idea of renewal lives unquestionably in our people.
We see him [the German] more or less clearly striving for expression in various forms and associations. Turnvereinen [gym clubs] and Wandervögel, for example, strive for physical rejuvenation and in connection with their mental and spiritual renewal.
Home clubs [Heimatvereinen, i.e. patriotic clubs cultivating local identities], adjustments for the maintenance of abstinence and the various youth clubs are also to be mentioned in this context. In any case, at the highest stage are those who aspire to a rebirth of religious life, which was in full bloom in our people at the time of the mystics [likely referring to volkisch mystics like Guido von List and Paul de Lagarde].The idea of renewal is directed precisely against materialism, and is thus the immediate enemy of the Bolsheviks.
If you read Sayid Qutub – the Islamist theorist par excellence – you will see many of the same themes echoed.
Here is Gottfried Feder on “leadership” and National Socialism:
Now we turn briefly to the questions of the external state form. A final decision on this question is in no way urgent. It can in general be solved only after a quite basic purging of our internal political conditions. The only possible way to this internal political purging seems to us to be exclusively through a dictatorship which with total determination cuts off and burns the sources of decomposition and disease in our national body.
The demands that we place on such a leader are extraordinarily high; a passionate love for his people, an unbending will, a virtual somnambulistic certainty in all his decisions must distinguish him. That his intellectual capacities must rise above the average is self-evident, but knowledge and capacities in the different fields are not the decisive factor. Knowledge and learning can be realised by others – How many men there are of high knowledge, great clarity of thought, of great intuition, the finest artistic talent – but if the last thing is lacking in them, the passionate will, the unswerving impulse, based on the deepest moral seriousness, then they will never stride forward at the head of nations, as trailblazers and leaders, to new heights. We think of religious geniuses like Christ and Luther, Savonarola and Mohammed, statesmen like Bismarck and Cromwell, generals like Friedrich the Great and Yorck, etc. The dictator must be completely free of all unnecessary restrictions and hesitations, for him there cannot be any inevitabilities, for it must be he who makes history and he seizes with a daring determined hand when his his hour strikes, he embodies the longing of the nation, and therefore he never errs and is borne by the fanatic love of those to whom his deed brings liberation.
Meet Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
Liberals seem to think that if only they are more liberal, then Jihadists will love them.
The opposite is the case: the more liberal, the more they will want to kill.
Consider the Bali bombing, the Bataclan theatre attack, or the Pulse nightclub attack, or Istanbul’s nightclub attack. In four countries, Muslim and non-Muslim, the most peace-loving, the most tolerant, easy-going, socially liberal and sexually promiscuous people were marked for slaughter. Indeed, in the Bataclan theatre, the men and women were tortured with knifes — they mutilated their victims genitalia. If you read Lawrence Wright’s Looming Tower about Qutub, you will learn that Qutub hated the American “dance halls” with its easy going sexuality.
So, the men and women who attend Burning Man, will have to burn the Muslim world to the ground, lest “Burning Man” becomes actual rather than allegorical.
Now we begin to see the gravity of 21st century — one correctly foreseen by Samuel Huntington – a war, in large part, over sexual morality.
The constantly progressing moral project covers all aspects of society as Glover notes:
There is more to our recent moral history than the ethical debates and the man-made horrors discussed here. A more generous conception would also include changes in the family, in the way children are treated, and in the relations between men and women. Among much else, it would also include attitudes to poverty, religious changes, the impact of science on our thinking about how to live, attitudes to sex and to death, the relations between different cultures.
Needless to say, the progressives in America and Europe will have one set of answers, and the Muslims will have another. The Muslims will say their answers come from God; what will progressives say, however?
At root, what the conflict involves between the West and Islam is a vision of moral order. Muslims worry about “contagion” and “infection.” Who can blame them, when things like this are produced by Western progressives.
The Islamists correctly identify the threat to their values, their culture and their identity, as Mark Citadel notes here, and as Christopher Coker talks about here.
Muslims see the drunkenness, the illegitimacy, and the drugs but above all they see the Godlessness: the infidelity. They wish to avoid this for themselves, their families and societies.
Now, read what MacIntyre, reflecting on the conceptual structure of such moral changes, not just over the last century, but the last half millennium:
If a catastrophe sufficient to throw the language and practice of morality into grave disorder had occurred, surely we should all know about it. It would indeed be one of the central facts of our history. Yet our history lies open to view, so it will be said, and no record of any such catastrophe survives.
For the catastrophe will have to have been of such a kind that it was not and has not been—except perhaps by a very few—recognized as a catastrophe.
Catastrophe is progress.
MacIntyre wonders why academic history has not recognised such a thing:
History by now in our culture means academic history, and academic history is less than two centuries old. Suppose it were the case that the catastrophe of which my hypothesis speaks had occurred before, or largely before, the founding of academic history, so that the moral and other evaluative presuppositions of academic history derived from the forms of the disorder which it brought about. Suppose, that is, that the standpoint of academic history is such that from its value-neutral viewpoint moral disorder must remain largely invisible. All that the historian—and what is true of the historian is characteristically true also of the social scientist—will be allowed to perceive by the canons and categories of his discipline will be one morality succeeding another: seventeenth-century Puritanism, eighteenth-century hedonism, the Victorian work-ethic and so on, but the very language of order and disorder will not be available to him. If this were to be so, it would at least explain why what I take to be the real world and its fate has remained unrecognized by the academic curriculum. For the forms of the academic curriculum would turn out to be among the symptoms of the of the disaster whose occurrence the curriculum does not acknowledge.
Here we are, after a century of horror, and continuing horror and social decay, and MacIntyre has to beg his reader not to consider his hypothesis of moral disorder ridiculous. MacIntyre’s intended readers were going to be mostly secular, liberal academic philosophers, however.
MacIntyre’s claim, however, that the academic curriculum is a symptom of the disaster is half-right: it is both symptom and cause. The ideologies and the ideologists that the modern university produces is one of the fundamental problems of our civilisation. The curriculum does not recognise catastrophe because it is the instigator of it: all around the world.
For the last one-hundred years, what institution has had more influence on the moral theory and practice of America, England and Europe? Is it A: Wall Street? B: the Vatican? C: Harvard University?
One of my tutors in philosophy, who was a Catholic, once told me that a certain IRA leader who attended Church every Sunday would have a lot to answer for come the day of judgement. His judgement of the IRA was clear. At Martin McGuinness’s funeral, former President, Bill Clinton, gave a short eulogy. McGuiness is widely acknowledged to have been a leader in the IRA: a terrorist organisation that killed innocent civilians, police and army. Bill Clinton, however, was tutored at university by a man called Carroll Quigley, who is Nrx’s favourite historian
Here is why.
McGuiness described himself as a “democratic socialist”. Here is what Quigley has to say about American right wing “paranoia” in the 1950’s; especially “paranoia” concerning the university educated “liberal, socialist elite” of the Ivies:
The radical Right version of these events as written up by John T. Flynn, Freda Utley, and others, was even more remote from the truth than were Budenz’s or Bentley’s versions, although it had a tremendous impact on American opinion and American relations with other countries in the years 1947-1955. This radical Right fairy tale, which is now an accepted folk myth in many groups in America, pictured the recent history of the United States, in regard to domestic reform and in foreign affairs, as a well-organized plot by extreme Left-wing elements, operating from the White House itself and controlling all the chief avenues of publicity in the United States, to destroy the American way of life, based on private enterprise, laissez faire, and isolationism, in behalf of alien ideologies of Russian Socialism and British cosmopolitanism (or internationalism). This plot, if we are to believe the myth, worked through such avenues of publicity as The New York Times and the Harold Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post, the Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s Magazine and had at its core the wild-eyed and bushy-haired theoreticians of Socialist Harvard and the London School of Economics. It was determined to bring the United States into World War II on the side of England (Roosevelt’s first love) and Soviet Russia (his second love) in order to destroy every finer element of American life and, as part of this consciously planned scheme, invited Japan to attack Pearl Harbor, and destroyed Chiang Kai-shek, all the while undermining America’s real strength by excessive spending and unbalanced budgets.
This myth, like all fables, does in fact have a modicum of truth. There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the radical Right believes the communists act. In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other groups and frequently does so. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960’s, to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments. I have objected, both in the past and recently, to a few of its policies….but in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known.
One should really read the entire chapter American Confusions from Tragedy and Hope because it explains so much of what has went wrong and why.
And that is what we are trying to do here: understand reality; understand what went wrong.
Actually, my daughter’s preschool is literally in a ruin – that is, a (nicely renovated) space which used to be part of a Catholic church. (The preschool is the former convent. The rest of the church remains a ruin proper.) Where are the people who used to pray in this church? They fled. Why? Because they were afraid for their physical safety.
I know, I know. It’s gauche to even bring this kind of stuff up. It’s not part of our consensus reality. It’s not part of our consensus history. When it comes to actual history, however, the global decline of security in the second half of the 20th century is (I assert) the salient phenomenon of our era.
None of this is part of “consensus reality” however, because the oligarchy does not wish to know about the decline, decay, destruction and death all around us. Indeed, a recent Steve Sailer piece states that the reality of “white death” – that more poor whites are dying from despair and drugs than any other group – was not part of “consensus reality” until recently. Even Donald Trump did not know about the “drug epidemic” until he was running for President.
Decline and decay is all around us, but we don’t notice it. We don’t notice it because the concepts – the language – that would allow us to perceive it and understand it and resist it has been systematically stripped away over decades by people trained in ivy league universities who then go on to dominate every major political organ, except for the military.
Moldbug’s reactionary history, which, following Reactionary Future’s judgment, is the answer to MacIntyre’s need for a philosophical history.
However, MacIntyre ultimately goes further – without necessarily saying it – that it was the Protestant Reformation that unleashed the fires of anarchy and destruction. Luther provided the intellectual justification for those seeking to weaken and usurp power – that is the essence of Protestantism and Progressivism: elites using ideologies and proxies to benefit themselves, weaken their enemies and expand and secure their own power. In theory, a different ideology, promoted by a different group of people could have done the job in more or less the same way as in Restorationist Turkey. Here is Moldbug’s answer on why Protestant-Puritan-Progressivism-Universalism triumphed:
And this, in my opinion, is why we have Universalism. We have Universalism because it is adaptive in a democratic sovcorp. Similarly, Universalism (and its ancestors) create democracy, in much the same way that they create “peace processes.” The whole thing is an artifact of sovereign corporate governance gone horribly awry.
In short, the adaptive function of Universalism is to glorify and expand the modern democratic sovcorp. Of course, it has no purpose in any moral or metaphysical sense. It just exists.
Universalism is the latest, greatest incarnation of Bertrand de Jouvenel‘s Minotaur.
Carlyle, a Protestant apostate understood the importance of Luther’s rebellion – it was the first act of “progress”, which I covered here. As for Glover, meanwhile, the Enlightenment hope of Humanity over Human Nature has, judging by the facts of history, failed. The theory of human nature that underpinned much (though not all) of the Enlightenment was a thin and false one. In a later part, we examine this in more philosophical detail
All political systems are essentially oligarchies. All oligarchies require a political formula. History (“fiction agreed upon”) will be part of whatever formula is used; academic historians therefore play an important role in the service of power. Why then, would you expect them to write about our civilizational catastrophe? To do so would threaten the formula, and to threaten the formula is to threaten the power elite.
The keepers of the formula is what Moldbug calls the Cathedral.
The Cathedral is part of what Moldbug calls “The Modern Structure.”
The Modern Structure consists of four sub-structures: The Polygon and the Cathedral; the caste structure and the ideological structure.
The Polygon is the civil service (permanent government), the judiciary, the banks and financial system, the big corporates, and the intelligence agencies, and finally the political parties. If we had to name all these people in one word we could call them the Mangers.
The Cathedral’s purpose is to serve as the policy-makers (university and foundations), educators (schools) and propagandists (the press and Hollywood) of the Modern Structure. If we had to call these people in one word, we could call them Priests. (A good alternative would be teachers.)
They all belong to the same class/caste. Moldbug calls them Brahmins.
Brahmins are the ruling elite. They are best educated, the most beautiful, and the most fashionable group of people in the country. Becoming a Brahmin is a social position open to all people; however, it requires talent, hard work and luck. Entry requirements are university attendance, usually in liberal arts; then a vocation (not a career) in science, art, charity or idealistic politics. Brahmins prize intelligence, but they also prize “doing good works” and making the world better.
The Brahmins rule America, as they do in Europe. The problem is that, in a democracy you need votes, and Brahmins are a distinct minority. The natural enemy of the Brahmin is the Visaya caste: religious, country, middle-to-working class, family and career orientated.
So, using a practice that the ancient Chinese would recognise as “use barbarians to control barbarians” Brahmins patronise, import and rile up other castes in order to degrade, defeat, and destroy the Visaya. The other castes are Dalits (the criminal class, of various ethnic groups); and Helots (imported foreign workers).
Why is Europe importing Muslims? Why is America importing millions of Mexicans?
Now you know.
Now you know why London is cleansed of nearly all its white working and middle class.
War and politics exist on a continuum, and politics in the Modern Structure assumes the following form:
High and Low
There is a lot of linguistic delicacy surrounding the BDH-OV conflict. As in any political contest, each side can succeed only by crushing the other – capturing its institutions and converting its followers. But keeping this conflict and its predecessors within the bounds of democratic politics, and preventing any degeneration into actual combat, has been a central concern of American intellectuals for the last 200 years. Obviously they haven’t always succeeded, which makes the concern all the more intense.
Therefore, we tend to think in terms of euphemisms that conceal the total and existential nature of this nasty and pointless struggle, which I despise with every particle in my body. One of the main reasons I started this blog is that I don’t see how the BDH-OV conflict can end until a lot more people are willing to speak frankly about what’s actually going on. Wringing our hands in a vain expression of “unity” will not do the job – especially because some of the most interesting tropes of the conflict are issues on which, in my opinion, both sides are profoundly detached from reality.
In my opinion this euphemistic approach to what pretends to be a conflict of ideas and ideals, but is in fact an ordinary and rather tawdry case of communal violence, is inseparable from the disaster of democracy. As Clausewitz observed, war and politics are a continuum. Representative democracy is a limited civil war in which the armies show up, get counted, but don’t actually fight. The BDH and OV factions refrain – mostly – from inciting or participating in outright warfare, for one reason: it is not in either’s interest. If this ever changes, they’ll be at each others’ throats like Hutus and Tutsis.
MacIntyre, writing theory years ago in After Virtue agrees with Moldbug:
What this brings out is that modern politics cannot be a matter of genuine moral consensus. And it is not. Modern politics is civil war carried on by other means, and Bakke was an engagement whose antecedents were at Gettysburg and Shiloh. The truth on this matter was set out by Adam Ferguson: ‘We are not to expect that the laws of any country are to be framed as so many lessons of morality. . . . Laws, whether civil or political, are expedients of policy to adjust the pretensions of parties, and to secure the peace of society.
So there it is. That’s the political reality.
Real political power is in the hands of the managers who work in the Polygon (civil service, judiciary, banks and political party bigwigs). The purpose of the Polygon, just like with political party machines, is to resist democracy.
The purpose of the Cathedral is to educate the Brahmins, miseducate everyone else, and manufacture consent and distract people.
If the Modern Structure is an oligarchy, opposed to democracy, why does the endless culture war continue? Why does the Modern Structure import Muslims for example? Why the poor governance, and irresponsibility?
Because power in the Modern Structure is unsecure.
At the back of the Brahmin mind is the fear, however irrational, that one day fascism will come to America. So, they take action to prevent this from happening. So that is why the left must do everything it can to undermine every institution, every structure of anything that stands in its way, like this with John Podesta.
However, their actions, taken to secure their power, is causing a reaction — Trump and Brexit.
The situation is classic a Hobbesian trap, brought about by classic unintended consequences.
Needless to say, Podesta is not Jewish, and the Modern Structure is not a Jewish creation, and would have existed without them. Nevertheless, Jews are the most talented, creative, and aggressive of the Brahmins.
If it must be pointed out, then it must be pointed out: Jews did not build Harvard, or America; Edward Bellamy was not Jewish, nor was Croly or Emerson or August Comte; Cromwell, Calvin and Luther were not Jewish.
Saul of Tarsus was Jewish and so was Jesus, so while the values that built Christianity came from Judaism, it was not intentional but a product of memetic evolution in a context of unsecure Roman power that allowed Christianity to triumph.
The triumph of Christianity represented the triumph of Idealism over Realism; Mind over Matter; God over Nature and Slaves over Masters.
The real neoreactionary, like with Moldbug, sees reality as it is:
My hypothesis, which any brave commenter is welcome to take a whack at, is that whether or not religion is the ultimate cause, the proximate cause of mayhem is generally Idealism. That is, when there is a problem with religion, in general the way the problem happens is that religion leads to Idealism, and Idealism leads to mayhem.
But since Idealism is perfectly capable of existing without religion – since, for example, most of your recent mayhem has been the result of nontheistic Idealist movements such as National Socialism and Marxist-Leninism – perhaps Messrs. Dawkins, Hitchens, etc, with all due respect, are chasing the tail and ignoring the dog.
In fact, if the type of Idealism that is caused by religion is actually milder and less murderous than the nontheistic variants – a hypothesis that’s not at all improbable, considering modern history – attenuating religion may actually promote mayhem.
Idealism to the masses is true and good; to the philosophers false and to the powerful useful.
The most perverse Idealism today is not Christianity but Idealism about Humanity.
As Jonathan Glover notes, the Enlightenment was premised on an optimistic or Utopian belief in Man.
It was false, in the next part we will see why.