Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Feelz vs Realz

See that girl in the picture there?

That's Leni. Yeah, THAT Leni.

Check out the Supermen, will to power and all that other stuff...eh? What's happening to Leni is she that she is getting what H.L. Mencken said every democracy gets....she's getting it good and hard. What we are seeing in that picture is the crash of intuitive response to reality.  Anyone interested in the story of the picture should go here.

As Jordan Peterson mentioned in the previous post, people,by and large, vote according to their temperament but the proviso that Peterson didn't add is that people also vote as cognitive misers. i.e they think in simplistic terms and use a heuristic toolbox. The reason why politicians tend to reduce their message to simple political slogans is because it taps into this heuristic feature of the average man.  Simple slogans to complex problems are feature, and not a bug of modern mass-man democratic systems.

After the War, many people wanted to explain the German drift to Nazism as something peculiar to the Germans, but what people fail to recognise is that fascism was very chic pre WW2. It's only when the full horror of the system became apparent that it lost its cool........... except among the psychopathic. The fact of the matter is that the German drift to Fascism was a contingent phenomenon that could of happened in any other country given the circumstances.  The Germans weren't special.

Leni Riefenstahl's dalliance with Natsoc--like those of many other ordinary Germans-- is perfectly rational if we assume that despite her exceptional artistic abilities she was for all intensive purposes a political idiot. In her own words from the Wiki article;
Of course, you know, I'm really so misunderstood. I'm not political.

To me, Hitler is the greatest man who ever lived. He truly is without fault, so simple and at the same time possessed of masculine strength.(1937)
I was one of millions who thought Hitler had all the answers. We saw only the good things; we didn’t know bad things were to come
People think of this as a commitment to the Nazi ideology but the truth is the Leni then, was probably as political as Ariana Grande is now. Today, the artists sing at concerts, yesterday they made their films. I doubt if you asked Leni in 1938 for an articulation of Natsoc policy you get much more than Hitler wants to make Germany great again.

Now imagine being an average German of conservative disposition in the early 1930's,  faced with the terrible situation around you, who do you vote for? The commies? Hell no. The old conservatives, who did bugger all?  Based upon the experience of Hitler at the time, he seemed to be the best thing around.  For Leni, like millions of other German cognitive misers Hitler, had all the answers, except if you thought about it for a bit you'd realise the answers he had was about to send the country to Hell.

Wilhelm Ropke,  a proper "right wing Aryan" and one of the smartest tools in the shed, recognised immediately where all this was leading to and tried to warn his fellow Germans, but deep thinking is so "boring" to the average man that he was mocked and ignored for his efforts. People don't want to think they want simple solutions. And simple solutions, as Mencken said, are easy to grasp and nearly always wrong.  Life is complex.

Once we accept the fact that most people are cognitve misers, and once we accept that people vote with their temperament, we realise that universal suffrage shifts political decision making from rationality to emotive expression.  We stop thinking and start feeling our way through political problems. Universal suffrage is intrinsically hostile to reality calibration. i.e. the Right.

If we think of politics as a system, success in politics, and by success I mean good social policy which ensures security, prosperity and happiness, is dependent upon reality calibration.  Since Life is complex and reality calibration hard, it means that only a few people will have the capability to make the right decisions. With universal suffrage--muh demokracy--we ensure that those who are capable voices are drowned in ocean of emoting idiots.  The system, ultimately governed by the emoters, spins further and further away from reality.

As in Leni's case, reality eventually asserts itself.

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Gut People

In the last post I talked about the pseudo-Right and I wanted to expand on this theme a bit more. Rightness and Leftness are in themselves meaningless terms except in so far as they have become labels associated with a series of traits and behaviours which appeared to be opposed to each other. In fact it would be far more accurate to call the polarities conservative and liberal since the positions taken by each represent more a dispositional orientation rather than than a principled one.

Jordan Peterson elaborates on this much further in this excellent short video.

The bottom line here is that people vote according--and chose their political orientation--according to their temperament.  What this means is that people vote more with their "gut" than with their "head" and the  Feelz trump Reelz when the mob acts. The politics of the masses are limbic rather than cerebral.

The problem with this feelz based approach to reality management is that it tends towards a cognitive simplification which may be woefully inadequate to the task at hand. One of the reasons Marxism fails is because its cognitive model of the world--which even low IQ knuckleheads can grasp--does not map adequately on the reality of human nature and the means of production. But it would be a huge mistake to think that cognitive simplification is of exclusive domain of the liberal temperament, Conservatives are quite capable of "intuitively simplifying" as well. Which brings us to the psuedo-Right.

If I had to define the Pseudo-Right, I would define it as those of a conservative disposition who refuse to acknowledge reality. Reality, in this instance, is not rhetorical "reality" but objective Truth, since it makes them feel bad.

Many of the Alt-Right, for instance, are quite happy with moral degeneracy provided its ethnically pure. The problem is that even an elementary understanding of history will show that no stable or prosperous society has ever been built on moral degeneracy. It's a belief that is miscalibrated to reality. But lounging poolside in a white brothel sure feelz good.  Likewise those of a traditionalist disposition wondering why it all went to Hell in a handbasket fail to understand that many of their "traditional beliefs" were miscalibrated to reality, and had the rug pulled out from them when reality intervened. Change induces bad feelings and these feelings must be avoided. Hence no change.

One of the huge problems with Western Anthropology has been the definition of man as a "rational animal". This presupposition permeates many of legal, theological and political theories and like all of the most toxic heresies is partially true. The reality is that we are capable of rationality on some of the time and with effort. We are people of the mind, only in exception, for the rest of the time we the people of the gut, the people of intuition.

Bonus: For those of you who are interested, Jordan Peterson further elaborating on this theme.

Double Bonus: Jordan Peterson isn't a fan of the Alt-Right. (Note for the gut people. He didn't dismiss it outright, but pointed out that much of its thinking is undeveloped and simplified. In other words, they have some good points but aren't bright or calibrated to the Truth.)

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Pseudo Right

One of the reasons I harp on so much about the concept of Truth as a foundational principle of the Right is because it serves as a litmus test helping differentiate the Right from the pseudo-Right.  What I mean by the pseudo-Right are ideologies and positions which appear Right wing but actually aren't, and it's my belief that the pseudo Right is perhaps the most dangerous threat to the resurgent right  as the danger from it is subtle and not easily recognised.

Most people have an intuitive grasp of what it means to be "Right" however intuitional approaches to the subject lack a fair amount of precision, and this ambiguity of meaning leaves a lot of room for error to creep in. Furthermore, the conflation of the Right with Conservatism, just serves to make the problem worse.

Reality calibration is a prerequisite of successful action. If we define the Right as those who uphold the Truth, then the anti-Right will be those who uphold some form of error. Right politics, viewed through this definitional understanding, ceases to become an issue of Right vs Left, rather it's an issue of Right vs wrong. However, current definitions of Right and Left seemed based more on inutitional approaches rather then objective ones. This way of tackling the classification is rather wooley and leaves lots of room for error to creep in. Defining the Right as a sort of Anti-Left--makes no demands on reality calibration and does nothing to protect the Right classified ideology from holding positions which are flat out wrong.  Intuition is not infallible, and as the Master teaches, one can fall from both the right AND left side of the narrow path.

Indeed when you think of the "Right" or  "Conservatism", several intuitive concepts come to mind; the respect of tradition and place, social order and homogeneity, a preference for orthodoxy and an extremely limited tolerance for novelty, disorder and deviancy. Thinking about the right intuitively tends to result in a list of features which are associated with the concept without actually defining it. What you end up with this approach is not a definition but a laundry list of features which feel "Right," and any ideology which expresses these features is thus classified accordingly.

Here's Michael Oakeshott's famous definition of what it means to be "Conservative"

To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.
Nicely written, with a list of features, but no definitional understanding.

However, using this laundry list approach results in some quite bizarre results.  The Politburo of the Brezhnev era, could quite rightly be classified as the "right or "conservative" faction, opposed to the progressives of the time, despite espousing an openly Marxist vision of the world. Stalin, who felt that homosexuals were degenerates would likewise using this approach be classified as of the right. On the other hand, Pope Francis, who has not changed one iota of doctrine, but is favour of some innovation, is frequently called out as a Commie on the more Traditionalist web spaces. Using Oakshott's definition,  Pius X and Leonid Brezhnev would both be classed as "Rightists" or "Conservatives."

 Clearly we have a problem.

What really becomes apparent when you look at mainstream classifications of Left and Right, is that the polarity refers less to substantiate ideological positions than it does to where the parties sit with respect to the big five personality traits. This is why National Socialism and Traditionalist Catholicism get lumped into the same group because, superficially, they posses traits which are associated with the right in the mind of the cognitive miser. Never mind the fact that they both rest on ideological substructures which are inherently hostile to each other.

The problem with the associative approach to the definition of the Right, is that anyone can qualify as Right, as long as a critical amount of associative features are present in their ideology, no matter how wrong everything else is. 1488'ers and Paleoconservatives are thus "Right wing" even though they are hostile to each other. The victim in this state of affairs is Truth itself. Nationalism, for example, which I believe rests on some pretty solid psychological and biological facts, gets smeared though guilt by association with the excesses of 1488'ers making it difficult to raise as a legitimate subject of discussion. Furthermore, some ideas of the Left, which may have some legitimacy to them are out of bounds because they are not "associated" with the Right.

If you look at this from a metahistorical approach, you can see the role of the Left is to pummel the Truth from the outside and the role of the pseudo Right is to undermine it from within, and part of the reason why we have not been able to mount a successful defence is because we cannot delineate friend from foe because we don't know what the rules of membership are.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Litmus Tests

I thought I'd return to this comment by Z man since I felt it dealt with an issue which needs to be addressed on the Right.
The defect with the Alt-Lite is the same problem the Buckley Conservatives had a generation ago. They have no antibodies to resist entryism, because they lack a timeless definition of what it means to be Alt-Lite. Western Civilization, after all, includes Karl Marx and Hitler. Nazism is just as much a part of the West as John Locke. In fact, Hitler currently casts a longer shadow than any of the men of the Enlightenment. On what grounds can the Alt-Lite reject Hitler, but embrace the slave owning Jefferson?
I feel it addresses one of the fundamental issues affecting the Right at the moment; What does the Right actually stand for? From what I can see, the only commonality that unites all the Right factions is the belief in nationalism, everything else seems to be up for grabs. Some factions are OK with homosexuality, others are not. Some seem to be happy with sexual promiscuity as long its for white people only, others are happy for a nationalistic socialism, others want nationalistic capitalism. From what I can see, in the new Alt-Right, Paganism, Atheism and Christianity can rub shoulders together with Gay socialists, as long as they embrace nationalism. Who said that the Right wasn't liberal.

While we are all united on the subject of nationalism and are united in our opposition to the Left the fact of the matter is that on many other issues some members of the Alt Right are in agreement with some of the ideas of the Left. The Natsocs seem pretty cool with sexual degeneracy and socialism, ideas which were never part of the Right stable. The fact of the matter is that there are huge points of disagreement between the different factions of the Alt-Right with nationalism cannot paper over. Unfortunately nationalism is not going to be enough and its pretty obvious that the at some point the various factions of the Alt Right are going to chew each other up over these not insubstantial differences, going to be a pretty hollow victory when in the moment of triumph we destroy it all by slashing at each other over the other points of disagreement. 

It's this blogs contention that what it means to be Right is more to be is much more than nationalism or ethnic identity. Rightness, in the end, is living in accordance with the Truth.

The concept of Truth is an important one, and why an understanding of the subject is important in any consideration of "Rightness". The other day I saw floating somewhere on the internet a comment which ran to the affect of, "If you want to offend someone on the Right tell a lie, if you want to offend someone on the Left, tell the Truth", which I though was pretty close to a practical definition of what it means to be of the Right. Solzhenitsyn, on of the unrecognized prophets of the Twentieth Century understood the significance of this and realised that the fundamental task of man was to live not by lies.

Living the in the Truth involves four fundamental principles as I can see.

The First Principle is the acceptance of the the idea that there is a Truth, in other words there is a reality.
The Second Principle is that we know reality through the empirical experience of it.
The Third Principle is that there is a duty of obedience to it.
The Fourth Principle is that there is a commitment to the free expression of it.
The Fifth Principle is that correct action can only come about through acting within the Truth.

Truth is the foundational pillar of the Right, and any ideological outgrowth which deliberate violates its commitment to it is automatically excommunicated. How the Right differs from Conservatism is that Conservatism prefers old lies to innovative Truth.

However things aren't that simple. Real world application of the these principles is predicated on their being a common understanding of the concepts of Truth, Reality, Empirical experience and moral character. Change these fundamental definitions and the nature of the principles change as well. Hence the importance of metaphysics, since it imputes the semantic content to these words.

Which brings us to religion.

Now, when I use the term religion I'm using it in its most expansive sense. At its core, a religion can be thought of a set of metaphysical propositions; statements describing the nature of being and reality, mechanisms of causation, ontology, etc. Relgions are definitional understandings. Taking this approach, Atheistic Positivism is just as much of a religion as any pagan sect. Atheism affirms the denial of any existence outside the empirically experienced. Christianity affirms the there are modes of existence which are beyond perception by normal biological means. The point here is not about the competing claims, rather,  how you understand reality is going to influence how you understand the concept of Truth and  what it means to be Right. Therefore a "Right" Atheist or Pagan is going to understand those five principles differently than a "Right" Christian.

The other thing about metaphysical systems differing Religions is that each system's metaphysical propositions end up defining what constitutes good and evil. However, the metaphysical system that is Positivism/Atheism is flawed because it cannot generate values and ends up silent on the subject. Refer to Hume's Guillotine before debating this matter further.  A Right that lays its foundation on Atheism can be as accepting of homosexuality as transgenderism  just as much as it can of genocide. This makes Right litmus tests administered from a Positivistic perspective seriously limited. A Positivistic right is going to be far more "inclusive" simply because it can't make for distinctions of moral value. Ideological systems which cross moral lines are not excluded.

For the Christian Right, Marx and Hitler are both outside the camp since they espoused principles which are wrong and have no room for them in their house. The litmus test of Christian Rightism is conformity to Christian reality.  The Test for Rightism under Christian rules is far more restrictive.

This is why any understanding of the right has to take into account metaphysical principles, i.e. religion. It is this blog's contention that this is the main issue affecting the West today. The shift from the Christian world view to the Atheist undercut the foundations of Western society and set forth a series of cultural transformations which are eating it up from the inside. The problem isn't Right and Left, the problem is Right and Wrong.  Fascism is just as much of a lie as socialism though of a different political polarity.

Solzhenitsyn spent a lot of time trying to understand where the 20th Century went wrong, especially as it pertained to Russia.
Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Comments on Zman's Iron Law of Conservatism

Recently a blogger by the name of Zman put up an interesting post, The Iron Law of Conservatism, which asserts that conservative organisations over time tend to drift Left. I felt was very good and one which I think warrants some comments. Zman writes;
The defect with the Alt-Lite is the same problem the Buckley Conservatives had a generation ago. They have no antibodies to resist entryism, because they lack a timeless definition of what it means to be Alt-Lite. Western Civilization, after all, includes Karl Marx and Hitler. Nazism is just as much a part of the West as John Locke. In fact, Hitler currently casts a longer shadow than any of the men of the Enlightenment. On what grounds can the Alt-Lite reject Hitler, but embrace the slave owning Jefferson?

The same is true of anti-racism and egalitarianism. How can these be rejected when they are inventions of the West? Of course, the Alt-Lite makes no attempt to reject these as that would get them in trouble with the Left. That’s what opens the door to, and requires them to accept, the defining feature of the dominant orthodoxy. That feature is the blank slate. As McInness goes to pains to point out, if a hotep brotha is on the Trump Train, he has a place at the table of the Alt-Lite, a cherished place.

That’s the fatal flaw that was the undoing of the Buckley Right. The Alt-Lite has no affirmative argument. Instead, it is a list of things it is not and most of those things are to their Right. That firewall they are building to their Right, just as Buckley did with Kirk and with the paleocons, comes at the expense of any defensible line of demarcation between themselves and the Left. That leaves them open to entryism, corruption and subversion, which is why the leading opponents of Trump are all Buckley Conservatives.
One of the reasons I've been harping on the subject of Fascism lately is because best it illustrates the entryist problem as it pertains to right wing politics. Ask almost anyone about Fascism, and where it sits on the political spectrum,  and more likely than not they will locate it on the Right. Yet, as this blog and the objective historical record shows it was a child born of the Left, riddled with its genetics and from its outset was ready to wage war against traditional European society and its underlying foundations.

How does an movement become considered a member of the Right when the ideas of Marx are its conceptual foundations is not something that gets talked about much in Rightie circles, yet, if you think about it, it would appear to be a rather serious problem.

It's my contention that one of the reasons why the Right has been a continual losing proposition in the 20th Century is because it has failed to develop an doctrine, or litmus test, on what it means to be "Right". This failure has led to "infiltration" into the ranks by elements which are subversive and thus the Right is caught in a continual pincer grip, attacked from the over Left from the outside and the covert Left from the outside. It's hard to defeat the enemy in front of you when you're being stabbed in the back.

How we arrived at this state of affairs deserves a book length treatment, but briefly, I think a lot of this has got to do with the fact that prior to the French Revolution the world was Right wing by default. Anyone attempting to change the world had to argue for the change first with the result that Left wing tradition of justifying itself developed quite a formidable body of supporting argumentation which gave it some form of superficial intellectual coherence, Right wing ideas, on the other hand, were simply assumed by many and not much thought was given. Furthermore, the Christian religion did the lions share of Right wing defence by prohibiting by morality that which could not be rebuked by argument. With the collapse of the Christian religion, the whole "Right" defence was dealt a mortal blow.

The significance of this latter collapse shouldn't be underestimated. With the demise of Morality all that was left was intuition and tradition, with the preference for tradition, when it all comes down to it being a temperamental matter, the so call "Conservative disposition."

The problem with this "dispositional" approach to politics and culture is that things are assumed to be Right wing by virtue of them "feeling" right wing. Therefore any ideology which emphasises order, authority, patriotism and identity is assigned to the right of the political spectrum by its associated qualities with the "Right" disposition.  Fascism, Catholic Integralism, Neoconservatism and the Soviet "hardliners" are all put on the right despite totally incompatible underlying philosophical foundations.

Then there is the problem of political "framing".  Perhaps the greatest victory the Marxist-Leninists ever achieved was convincing everyone else that theirs was the only "authentic" interpretation of Marx™,  and labeling everyone who opposed them as "Reactionaries". How conservatives ever played along with this idea is beyond me--further proof that they really are the stupid party-- however the historical record shows that the rebranding of Fascism was hugely successful, allowing Nationalist Marxism, i.e.  Marxism v2.0™to be percieved as of the Right. After all, all those Nuremberg rallies feel "Right" don't they.

The successful branding of Fascism, and other ideologies as a right wing phenomena meant that membership to "Right Club" was based on the feels rather than pedigree. However the differences in their respective philosophical underpinnings meant that the members of Right Club were, in the end, incompatible. Furthermore, the pragmatic attitude of "you don't punch to what feels the Right" makes sure that the entryist problem remains entrenched.

The solution to this problem is for the Dissident Right to develop a litmus test of membership. Yes, in a sense, it is a sort of 'purity" test but it needs to be done in order to stop the movement from being subverted from the inside. I think if any other bloggers are interested, I think it would be worthwhile to make a concerted effort on this subject over the next few weeks.

The Z man proposes this as a sort of test:
The great chain of causality is Biology→Culture-→Politics-→Economics. It’s why Libertarianism, in its current form, not right wing. The Reason Magazine crowd are sure that all you have to do to fix Haiti, for example, is end the licensing of barbershops and other small businesses. And legalize weed, of course. In other words, they get things backward and end up rejecting the human condition. This is the crack in the foundation of all Left Wing movements. It’s what they share in common.
I think he's nearly there but just misses the mark. The Natsocs satisfy the above criteria and as we have shown on this blog they're clearly they're from the Left.  In fact, the more you think about it, even most of the Left can in someway be made to fit that schema of things. The Left have their notions about biology as well as the libertarians, the point is that they are wrong.

This leads us to the what is the distinguishing feature of Right wing belief is its commitment to Realism. The reason I don't believe in the blank slate approach to human nature is because it is disproved by the empirical observations of human life. The reason on I don't believe in biological Calvinism is because education does make a difference, but there are limits.

The great error of 20th C Rightism has been that it has been based on the "feels" rather than the "thinks". And any litmus test of Rightism has to go beyond the "feels" with all the "will to power", "comfort in Tradition", and other associated intellectual shit and concentrate on reality calibration. The underlying principle of Rightism is that 2+2=4 no matter how inconvenient or how bad it makes us feel. Chesterton saw where we were headed years ago and saw that in the end it will be a battle between those who asserted the Truth and those who preferred something else.
Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed.

The Litmus Test of Rightism is a belief in the Truth, any other test misses the mark.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

It's Looking Grim

An intermission from our studies on Fascism.

Samuel Francis, recognised that the fundamental weakness of the Middle American Radicals was their failure to develop a cadre of intellectuals and leaders who would be able to implement their desired changes. He recognised that the absence of such members in the movement rendered the it susceptible  to "decapitation" by the professional managerial class who who would co-opt and neutralise it.  The actions by the Trump administration over the past few days confirm this prediction.

For the life of me I cannot see how the attack by the U.S. on Syria serves any of its interests or the interests of the Syrian people. I actually believe the Donald Trump is a decent guy and I imagine he would have authorised the attack on "humanitarian grounds" but for the life of me I don't understand why he is so selective in his humanitarianism.  There are plenty of other places in the world where military action would bring real benefit to the suffering of the people--without threat of intervention with Russia--and yet the U.S. turns a blind eye.

And how does the U.S. action actually help the Syrian people? Assad by all accounts is the least worst of the combatants and there  appears to be a continual flow of refugees towards the areas he controls. There are no "moderate rebels", and the question needs to be asked, who then are the Americans supporting?

The only winners in this idiotic escapade are the Sunni/Turkish/Israeli axis who get to see Assad's success reversed and Al Quaeda triumph. It's a lose/lose situation for everyone else.

By all accounts Trump isn't a rocket scientist but it doesn't mean that he is stupid either. As President, his view of the world is shaped by his prior knowledge--which appears to be limited--and the current image of it which is presented to him by his advisors.  It's this indirect ability to affect the President's actions which confers upon them an indirect Presidential power.  I think many people from the non-mainstream Right have been dismayed by some of his advisory picks, principally those of his relations whose influence is disproportionate by the virtue of family sentiment. This dissident Right hasn't paid enough attention to this matter and it appears that their movement has been decapitated through by mechanism. The Neocons and the Israeli lobby are in charge again. When "Never Trumpers" like Bill Kristol are cheering Trump's actions you know that middle America has lost. Bannon's our last hope but it appears that he is grimly holding on and that his time is numbered.

Before anyone thinks I've gone all Natsoc think again. My position is that of John Mearsheimer's who does not equate Jewish as synonymous with the Israeli lobby . In fact one of the big problems for the Israeli lobby is getting enough Jewish people to get on board. This is quite simply the penetration of one government into another and directing its military and foreign policy.  During the Cold War the Russians were able to exert an enormous amount of influence on U.S. policy by putting "fellow travelers" into positions of advisory influence, thereby influencing foreign policy. Alger Hiss was an Episcopalian.

What's been really interesting to see is the limited nature of the response by the U.S. military on Assad which seems to suggest that there is a pushback going on. There's plenty of evidence that he was given advance warning of the attack and the targeting suggests that the Americans weren't really serious about going after him. It's almost as if the U.S. military was rebelling  didn't really want to get into a fight.

My own observations suggest that there a huge divisions forming in the U.S. government. The Army doesn't really seem to be that keen on adventures. The intelligence agencies on the other hand, seem to have been "penetrated" and are "gung ho", and God only knows what is going on with the Law enforcement agencies.  It's not a good picture. I think the U.S. is in real danger of some kind of civil war or military catastrophe.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Raiders of the Lost Nazi Art

“mainstream Modernism has been sealed off from ideological and aesthetic contamination by the Third Reich.”

One of the things that I found interesting while reading Griffin is his approach to the whole subject of Fascism. Unlike many other writers on the subject, Griffin tries to understand the subject of Fascism as the Fascists understood it themselves.  His attempt to understand it in no way condones it and its pretty apparent that Griffin finds the ideals of Fascism repugnant. Still, what I found interesting is Griffins need to defend himself from charges of fascist sympathy or the "normalisation" of it by taking this approach. What became apparent to me is that mainstream academia has preconceived notions of how to "correctly" approach the subject, lest suspicions of fascist sympathy be levied.

It appears that academia, till recently, demanded that Fascism be seen through a certain lens. Trying to understand Fascism as a product of Marxism and Modernism is a definite faux pas, while seeing Fascism as an aberrant evil outside the Modernist vision seems to be emphasised, particularly the notion that Fascism is a form of malignant resurgence of the "Right". The precise definition of the Right being ambiguous since rigorous analysis tends to throw up uncomfortable resemblances. Socialist academia's hostility to Griffin is pretty obvious because as you burrow down the rabbit hole you realise that both emerge from the same sewer of ideas. 

Getting people to interpret Fascism "correctly" solves a lot of uncomfortable problems for the Left. It emphasises the distance between them and Fascists. It allows anyone the Left considers "Right" of itself to be smeared by association with the ghastly crimes of the the Natsocs. The standard academic trope is that Nazism was an outgrowth of nationalism and the academic's response the the rise of nationalism is reflexively to look for Nazis under the bed, yet the nationalism of Wilhelm and George did not give birth to the gas chambers and concentration camps.  Obviously more research needs to be done.

Furthermore, by interpreting  the "Right" as reactionary phenomenon, i.e being a product of the Old World, with its Churches, Monarchs and social order, it invariably casts progressivism and Modernism in a good light. Most Righties are pretty dumb, and they obsess about superficiality instead of substance but it is here where rubber hits the road. The role of Leftist academia is to portray Modernism as a good and it definitely muddles the message if Nazi's are seen drinking from the same font.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating insights in Griffin's book concerns the subject of Modernism in Nazi art. For me, it was real "red pilling" with regard to Fascist culture.

I imagine that many people have seen the Monuments Men movie and know how the U.S. Army tried to save many artworks which were stolen by the Nazi's during the Second World War. But what gets little mention is the fact that the "Monuments Men" weren't just there to find lost masters, they were also tasked with the duty of finding any art which they felt glorified Nazism and to bring it back to the U.S.  Over ten thousand art works were looted confiscated by the U.S. Army, with some of it making its way to back to Germany in 1986. What's interesting about these artworks, is that firstly, they're almost impossible to get access to, and secondly, the Nazi era artworks that we have been allowed to see have fostered the notion that the "Nazi" approved art was old fashioned and traditional. However what this hidden body of work demonstrates is that Nazi art was in its own way highly modernistic.

Griffin's books mention Gregory Maertz, a professor of English at St John's university who quite inadvertently stumbled upon a lost trove of Nazi art held in the U.S. and Germany, and who now devotes some of his time in furthering academic research into the subject.
GM: In the first place, I’m trying to create a new discipline in art and cultural history by restoring to the historical record what I have dubbed the "anti-canon" of Nazi art. The main vehicle for this effort was my discovery a few years ago of the largest extant collection (nearly 10,000 pieces) of art produced during the Third Reich. Created by the United States Army in 1946-47, the collection was held in protective custody in the U.S. from 1947 to 1986. The fun part of working on this project has been the research travel and interviewing people who were involved with the creation of the collection and its subsequent controversial history. In addition to museums and archives scattered across the United States, my research has taken me to Italy, Austria, and all over Germany: to secret depots in Munich and Berlin, former hiding places for Nazi art in the Bavarian Forest near the Czech border, and obscure museum storerooms in the German provinces. I had a particularly thrilling experience in February 2002, when I was the first scholar in 50 years to see a large part of the U.S. Army’s Nazi art collection[ED]. Returned to Germany by American authorities in 1951, the 1600 works of art had been considered lost until I entered a heavily guarded facility in eastern Berlin, noted its jaw-dropping contents, and realized that I had struck gold.

How you would have imagined that the subject of Art in Nazi Germany would have been a legitimate source of research with normal access restrictions in place............. and yet it isn't. Why?

Maertz  has published a book, The Invisible Museum, which deals with this subject--which I can't find any copies of-- and what I found interesting was Maertz's difficulties in getting access to the work, even for scholarship purposes. Apparently its still a very politically sensitive topic.  Maertz wanted to hold an exhibition illustrating the similarity between Nazi, Communist and New Deal (!) art but this was judged verboten.

Maertz gives a good lecture (with .pdf) where it certainly does appear that the link between Nazism and Traditionalism was emphasised while the emphasis between modernism and Fascism downplayed. The image of Nazi art as being antimodernistic was deliberately curated

The images in this post are from the "Invisible Museum" that I've been able to find on the internet and are for fair use.
They were all freely displayed in the museums of the Third Reich.

The Thrid Reich was not some kind of traditionalist restoration project. It wanted to usher in it own version of a modern new world.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Some More Thoughts on Griffin's Modernism and Fascism

One of the themes that comes across strongly in Griffin's book is the sense of "spiritual" dysfunction in European society at the end of the 19th Century. What becomes apparent is that while there was the triumph of Positivism, which bore fruit in terms of scientific discovery and material power it came at a cost to the "inner life" of European man which was profoundly unsatisfying on a spiritual level. Durkheim called this unease Anomie.

Now Anomie is an interesting thing, some people seem perfectly fine with it, or at least accept it. On the other hand, as Griffin shows, there were many who were horrified by the mechanistic and deterministic universe that Positivism i.e. science, promised. It was these men, who while admiring the technics of Science, wanted to fill the void left by the metaphysics of it. It was these men that took part in the "revolt from Positivism" and laid the foundations of Fascist ideology.

It is Emilio Gentile who, by combining impeccable archival research with sophisticated conceptualization, makes the most authoritative pronouncements on Fascism's 'modernist' credentials, and in so doing explicitly imparts the term connotations that corroborate our primordialist perspective. He asserts that 'Fascist modernism sought to realize a new synthesis between tradition and modernity, without renouncing modernization in order to realize the nation's goals of power'. It was through the `sacralization of politics and the institutionalization of the cult of the fasces' that Fascism attempted to fulfill the key ambition of modernist nationalism, 'the construction of a lay religion for the nation'. Fascism's futural dynamic and civilizing mission emphasized by both Ventrone and Gentile is amply borne out by Pier Giorgio Zunino's comprehensive account of the matrix of Fascist ideology as inferred from the torrent of publications that poured forth from the new regime. He documents the way that for most Fascists the new state's mission to 'lead Italy out of its humiliating condition of marginalization' was linked to a much more ambitious goal, namely to 'spread the seeds of a new civilization in which the main problems inflicting contemporary society had been finally resolved'. Under Mussolini Italians were encouraged to feel they were living on the threshold of 'a new civilization whose essence as yet no-one can know', a 'third time', a 'new epoch', a 'new cycle'. Zunino insists that the countless texts, speeches, events, and rituals mass-produced under Mussolini aimed not to 'manufacture consensus', but to fill his most fervent supporters with a 'longing for tomorrow' and 'thirst for [making] history'." 
 By 1930 convinced Fascists at every level of society were now crowding onto the craggy outcrop of rock where once only Marinetti and a small artistic elite once stood enjoying the heady Nietzschean experience of standing 'on the last promontory of the centuries'. The experience of Aufbruch lauded by Expressionist poets had been democratized, the sense of an ending replaced by the heady sense of a beginning. Emilio Gentile himself draws attention to this factor when he claims that 'the principal impulse of fascism stemmed from its "movementist" and Dionysian feeling for existence, from the myth of the future, and not from a static contemplation of the past'. This futural dynamic is only apparently belied by the cult of Romanness (romanita) that came to assume such importance under the regime, for it too was 'celebrated modernistically as a myth of action for the future'. In the words of Giuseppe Bottai, the most technocratically minded of the Fascist gerarchia, the regime's fascination with Rome sprang not from erudition, not from books, not from so-called "dead history"', but above all from its capacity to inspire action in the present. Fascism meant to carry out 'not a restoration but a renovation, a revolution in the idea of Rome'.

Now there's a lot to unpack here, but the point I'm trying to get across is that they were attempting to "construct a new religion", a palliative to the anomie bought about the Enlightenment* led transformation of Western society. In many ways, the best way to think about fascists is that they were "romantic" socialists, providing a socialism that catered not just for the body but one which catered for the "soul". It needs to be understood that Fascism was more than a government organisation it was a pseudo religion. It gave people a purpose, a sense of belonging and justification for their acts. Perceptive readers will note that there was no mention of a return to Christianity. Italian, and German Fascism both wanted to form a new mythic religion which was specifically Christian lite. So in a sense, from the vantage point of this blog,  whether you think of Fascism as either modernist or reactionary it really doesn't matter, what matters is that it was anti Christian at its core. Hard core Nazi's specifically saw Christianity as a corruption of the "mythic" [Ed: invented by themselves] Aryan ideals and wanted it expunged. It was a competing weltanshauung to theirs. How anyone can square this claim up with European history is beyond me. But hey, intellectual consistency has never been a feature of mass movements.

Griffin extensively illustrates how modernist approaches were used to project this "new religion" onto the community. Furthermore Fascist aesthetic ideals seem to yield more to human nature than Western contemporary art does now. It's rejection of the deformed, the ugly and the repellent shouldn't be seen reactionary, rather Fascism's Dionysian dynamic was complemented by an art which reflected these values rather than challenged them. There was no doubt allowed with regard to the legitimacy of the aesthetic vision. Art was not there to dialogue with the ideal, it was to serve it.
Fascism had no problem with modernist art or technology as long as it was subordinate to these ideals and Griffin shows with numerous examples the embrace of Modernism by the Fascists.

It's a hard going book, and Griffin is sometimes excessively verbose but I think in many ways he brings across the appeal of Fascism in a way that Gregor doesn't. Fascism wasn't just a response to the social crisis of the early 20th Century it was also a response to the anomie bought about by the dechristianisation of Europe.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Roger Griffin: Modernism and Fascism

Two other books which I had to the pleasure to read and which complement Gregor's book are Roger Griffin's, Modernism and Fascism and, A Fascist Century. Once again, these should be staple texts of the Right.

Griffin made a bit of name for himself in the field in the early 90's with a book The Nature of Fascism. Modernism and Fascism is his attempt to attend to the deficiencies inherent in that book.  Griffin's unique viewpoint is that, unlike other academics, he tries to understand Fascism in the same way that Fascists understood it themselves. He is clearly no apologist for Fascism yet what's apparent in this book is just how novel this approach is in academia and the hostility he has earned as result of it.

Firstly, he defines Fascism movement as one which advocates Palingentic Ultranationalism. He has been criticised by Gregor on the grounds that the definition is not specific enough-- I agree, more on that later--but whereas Gregor gives an account of the intellectual development of Fascism illustrating how Fascism came about, Griffin focuses on why it did so.

Like Socialism, Griffin traces the origins of Fascism in cultural turmoil of the late 19th Century, when Christianity had begun to lose its hold on the cultural elites.  The culture of the late 19th Century with its materialistic capitalism and individualism slid society towards decadence. This and the pressing social problems of the times  disgusted many in society who felt that a "moral renewal" and a "cleansing of the filth", was required to alleviate the pressing social problems of the time. Two broad streams of thought emerged from the chaos, those based upon nationalism and those based upon international proletarianism. Both solutions were premised on the notion that the past was unrecoverable. God was dead and the Ten Commandments would no longer do.

Like Gregor, Griffin too, realises that Fascism was born of pressing moral problem which came about with the removal of the weltanschauung "sacred canopy" afforded to men by Christianity.  But it wasn't just the philsophical arguments that mattered, the whole progress of "modernisation" had profoundly uprooted European society so that by the late 19th Century, Capitalism and the ideals of the Enlightenment were being discredited by the experience of life.
MODERNISM: the generic term for a wide variety of countervailing palingenetic reactions to the anarchy and cultural decay allegedly resulting from the radical transformation of traditional institutions, social structures, and belief systems under the impact of Western modernization. These reactions were fostered by the growth of reflexivity and its concomitant, the progressive temporalization of history characteristic of Modernity, one consequence of which was the trend towards re-imagining the future as a permanently 'open' site for the realization of utopias within historical time. Modernism gained momentum in the second half of the nineteenth century when liberal, capitalist, and Enlightenment myths of progress lost the partial cultural hegemony they had attained during the French Revolution and early industrial revolution, with the result that the manifold changes that society was undergoing became increasingly identified by intellectual and artistic elites with decadence, so that modernity itself became a trope for degeneration (Modernity).
The important point that Griffin hammers out is that movement which became Fascism was essentially modernist, i.e. sharing many of the same philosophical foundations of Socialism.  However, where it differs from Socialism is that Fascism was more "Romantic," in that the fascists turned inwards into themselves find a  Dionysian "spirituality" which gave them the strength to live. This task was supported by numerous philosophers, artists, writers architects etc.
Marx believed that, unlike `bourgeois ideologies', socialism was not to 'draw its poetry from the past'; that is, it could do without myth and the aestheticisation of politics — though in practice it could not do without them, as all the regimes of 'actually existing socialism' have demonstrated. By contrast, fascism celebrated precisely such forces as the way to recreate a sense of reality, meaning, and subjective revolution. This can be seen in the title of Alfred Rosenberg's The Myth of the Twentieth Century, or Mussolini's declaration in his 'Naples speech' of 24 October 1922, only hours before the March on Rome, that
we have created our myth. The myth is a faith, a passion. It is not necessary for it to be a reality. It is a reality in the sense that it is a stimulus, is hope, is faith, is courage. Our myth is the nation, our myth is the greatness of the nation.
On close inspection, whether it was the myth of Aryan blood or the myth of the past glories of Rome, all fascist celebrations of the past are in fact future-oriented, and an integral part of fascists' quest to find a Third Way out of the cul-de-sac of Western history which they felt liberalism arid Marxism represented.
On close inspection, whether it was the myth of Aryan blood or the myth of the past glories of Rome, all fascist celebrations of the past are in fact future-oriented, and an integral part of fascists' quest to find a Third Way out of the cul-de-sac of Western history which they felt liberalism arid Marxism represented.
At the heart of this Third Way lies the myth of the regenerated national community (in German, Voiksgemeinschaft), whose realisation is conceived by fascists as providing a solution to several basic problems characteristic of liberal-capitalist; modern society, notably (it the troubled relationship between the 'masses' and the state; (il) the crisis of morality, identity, and authority posed by life exposed to modernisation; and (iii) the tensions between the individual's private existence and ethnicity, culture, society, nationality, and history in the civic realm.
At the heart of this Third Way lies the myth of the regenerated national community (in German, Voiksgemeinschaft), whose realisation is conceived by fascists as providing a solution to several basic problems characteristic of liberal-capitalist; modern society, notably (it the troubled relationship between the 'masses' and the state; (il) the crisis of morality, identity, and authority posed by life exposed to modernisation; and (iii) the tensions between the individual's private existence and ethnicity, culture, society, nationality, and history in the civic realm.
One of the points that Griffin successfully gets across is that Fascism was a revolt against the "mechanistic" view pushed by Marx--a view rooted in Positivist metaphysics. In many ways Fascism, and Socialism, provided an alternative spirituality--a political religion--to replace the one lost by cultural failure of Christianity. But the paradox being that it was ultimately a religion that found inspiration in the feelings generated by the self. It was a sort of malignant new age spirituality.

One of the other tropes that Griffin smashes is the received wisdom that the Fascists were anti-Modernist, and that by being so they were cultural brutes. While it is true, that the Germans were not as sophisticated as the Italians, the fact is that many modern artists put themselves in the service of Fascism which they quietly downplayed after the war. Philip Johnson, Mies Van der Rohe and Walter Gropius were all prepared to work for the Reich. The Fuhrer may have shut down the Bauhaus school but seem quite unconcerned with its influence in industrial and architectural design.  The fact is that while the Fascists deplored depictions of "degeneracy" in the arts, they were surprisingly tolerant of modernist modes of artistic expression. There was a huge battle in the Nazi party on the merits of German Expressionism, pushed by Goebbels, finally overturned by Hitler.

Mussolini certainly had no problems with modernist art, and actively encouraged it. Evola, for instance, originally started off with Dadaist ambitions, while Hitler seemed quite prepared to accept "non degenerate" Modernism. (.pdf)  The fact that Hitler found deformed depictions of form repulsive did not mean that he was anti-Modernist unless the appreciation and depiction of deformity is equated with Modernism. And this is not even touching on the enthusiastic embrace by the Fascists of technology and its application on all spheres of life. The idea, pushed by international socialists especially, that the Fascists were reactionary traditionalists trying to reassert themselves is quite simply false.

Of the two books, A Fascist Century is the easier one to read, and there is an interview in the end of it with Griffin which is worth the price of the book. Modernism and Fascism is a far harder read, lacks the focus of Gregor but is very impressive in the scope of its erudition and is meant as a more academic treatment of the subject. Its other problem is that it is written in academese and simplification of its language would ensure a far greater audience and easier grasp of its ideas. Still it is a book worth the effort and should be a foundational text of the Dissident Right.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gregor on Marx and Darwinism

Marx recognised early on that there was a synergy between his material interpretation of history and the Darwinian theories of evolution. It was only a matter of time that the significance of human "material" would be recognised as one of the economic determinants of production.

Gregor dwells less on the Darwinian aspect of Marxism as compared to its nationalist component but, once again, he clearly shows how a moderate Marxist "racial consciousness" developed into a rabid racial doctrine once the evolutionary struggle of Darwin was fused with the revolutionary Positivism materialism of Marx. Many of the arguments made by the Marxists were similar to the ones we see today repeated by the HBD crowd and it really is quite surprising to see the the descent into rassenkampf  being recognised by Marxism's theoreticians very early on.

By the turn of the twentieth century, it was evident that Marxism was undergoing fundamental revision. Not a few Marxists were reshaping revolutionary doctrine and policy by reinterpreting some of the basic tenets of doctrinal Marxism. Woltmann was clearly numbered among them—and while the analyses of the nature of science and truth, human thought, will, and morality were issues employed in the reshaping, it was Darwinism that was to have the most radical impact. 
By the time Dietzgen put pen to paper in the 1870's, Darwinism had already exercised influence on the European continent for more than a decade—and Marx himself had identified Darwinism as an intellectual activity sharing "affinities" with his own "historical materialism". In those circumstances, what Dietzgen did was to take some of the central propositions of Darwinism—"the struggle for survival; "survival of the fittest; and the conception of "progressive evolution"—and tailor them to fit what he took to he the Marxist inductive "science" of moral judgment.
In one place, for example, Marx identified "race" as one of the natural "physical conditions" that influences the productivity of labor. That productivity, in itself, was critical to social development. Somehow or other, it would seem, racial traits influenced the very fundamentals of human social life. Engels, in his fullest maturity, in the year before his death, did speak of "economic conditions" as the factor that ultimately shapes historical development, to quickly add, "but race is itself an economic factor." Woltmann pointed out that it was uncertain how such notions were to he understood if they did not allude to heritable racial properties.
While the prime motivation for Bauer's stork arose out of his recognition of the importance of national sentiment among Europe's proletariat, some of his intellectual strategies can be traced to that preoccupation among Marxists, at the end of the nineteenth century, to link the materialist conception of history to Darwinian notions of evolution. Years later, Karl Kautsky could still insist on their shared continuities. He reinvoked the memory of Ludwig Woltmann, and agreed with him—with reservations—in seeing Darwinism as an essential part of the "material foundation" of Marxism. Bauer was of similar persuasion. In his judgment, Darwinism was an intrinsic part of the rationale of the materialist interpretation of human history. In attempting to provide the most comprehensive scientific basis for Marxism, Marxists in general, and Bauer in particular, invoked Darwinism and advanced an account of human history that proceeded from biological, to social, evolution. 

Engels had originally tendered the claim in a variety of publications and with a variety of qualifications. Whatever their qualifications, Marxists like Dietzgen, Woltmann, and Kautsky embraced Darwinism as an essential part of Marxism as a theory of history. While acknowledging Darwinism as a material prologue to Marxism, Kautsky complained that Woltmann had pursued Darwinism into racism.  And of course, Kautsky was correct. 
Woltmann's philosophical curiosity was to propel him still further. He took his studies of Darwinism, and his allusions to the role of race in the economic history of human kind, and tied them to the moral principle that Josef Dietzgen had made the lodestar of Marxist ethics. In his final works, the highest good that shaped Woltmann's individual and collective ethics was, as it was for Dietzgen, the "general welfare of humankind" 

What distinguished Woltmann's conception of the general welfare of humankind from that of Dietzgen turned on Woltmann's conviction that the biological survival and collective integrity of Nordics constituted the agency responsible for what that general welfare might be taken to he. Woltmann could affirm, with profound conviction, that if the secular progress of which all Marxists spoke was a function of the intellectual and creative talents of a racial minority of human beings, then the security, sustenance, and fostering of that race became a moral imperative of the highest order!' Its survival and expansion was the necessary condition for the production of all the welfare benefits, material and spiritual, of which Marx had spoken—and to which Dietzgen had alluded.
By the time Woltmann published his Politische Anthropologie, his heterodox Marxism had been transformed. Darwinism dominated not only his conception of human evolution, but social evolution as well. The social dynamics we continue to identify with historical materialism remained largely inviolable, but the motive force behind technological invention Woltmann identified with heritable properties—creativity and intelligence—traits he increasingly identified with select individuals and select racial communities. By the first years of the twentieth century what emerged was a political ideology that had originally found its inspiration in classical Marxism—but which, as a consequence of systematic and sustained criticism, had been so altered that it could only be identified as a Marxist heresy. Whatever that is taken to mean, it obscures the reality that Woltmann's racism was the natural child of classical Marxism. [ED]

Woltmann was not the only Marxist who traveled that path. In 1862, decades before Woltmann's "heresy"; Moses Hess, the "communist rabbi"—the person who purportedly made a communist of Karl Marx—made very clear his racist and nationalist predilections with the publication of his Rome and Jerusalem. After having worked with Marx and Engels on some of their most important early publications, with the appearance of Rome and Jerusalem, Hess was to leave them behind. In his book, Hess made the case for Jewish psychobiological superiority, to advocate the creation of a Jewish homeland in the effort to assure Jewish survival—in order that they might continue to provide benefits for all of humanity. The Marxism of his young manhood had been transmogrified in much the same manner as had the Marxism of the young Ludwig Woltmann.
In our own time, Woltmann's intimate association with Marxism is rarely, if ever, cited—and one of the principal sources of the revolutionary racism of the twentieth century thereby obscured. It was the decay of classical Marxism that contributed racism to the mix of revolutionary ideas that were to torment our time. Neither Moses Hess nor Ludwig Woltmann can he dismissed as anomalies. As the subsequent history of revolutionary Marxism was to reveal, racist and reactive nationalist variants of Marxism were to inspire revolutions throughout the doleful history of our most recent past.

I must admit that I was completely blown away by the knowledge of Moses Hess. It's perhaps one of history's most tragic irony's--in more ways than one--that the "grandfather" of the doctrine that would lead to ovens of Auschwitz was Jewish.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Gregor on Marxist Notions of Nationalism

One of the best chapters in Gregor's book is the Marxist treatment of the subject of nationalism. It alone is worth the price of the book. What becomes apparent following the death of Marx and Engels is that, with regard to the nationalism, Marxist intellectuals split into two main schools, those who embrace nationalism and those who don't. What becomes apparent in reading the book is that those who embraced nationalism seemed to grant human nature fare more legitimacy than the "internationalists". Indeed the Leninst faction of Marxism was not really concerned with the feelings of the proletarians since the vanguard movement that Lenin was leading knew better than the proletarians what was true proletarianism. It was a movement led by an "elite" group of proletarians in contrast to Fascism which sought its legitimacy in the political will of the proles. As Mussolini said when putting down Marxist-Lenninism, "Fascism is the socialism of proletarian nations."

In the course of his exposition, Stalin undertook to do something not undertaken by Lenin. Stalin offered a lexical definition of what he understood a "nation" to be. He told his audience that "a nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture." He went on to argue with considerable confidence that should "a single one" of those properties be missing, "the nation ceases to be a nation. He conceived nations as transient, having a beginning and ending sometime in history. More than that, Stalin conceived the nation, an historical artifact, as belonging to a definite epoch—that of emerging capitalism. 
Prior to the Great War, both Lenin and Stalin made very clear their total rejection of nationalism as a political vehicle for the mobilization of revolutionary masses in the service of socialism. Neither ever completely abandoned that conviction. Within the conceptual notions of Marxism-Leninism, nationalism could never serve "proletarian" purpose. At its very best, and under whatever guise, nationalism served only bourgeois interests. Lenin did approve the invocation of nationalism, however, in order to mobilize masses for revolution in the regions peripheral to the advanced industrial nations—only because such revolutions impaired the survival capacity of international capitalism......

..In the years leading to the First World War, both Lenin and Stalin were insistent in rejecting nationalism as part of Marxism-Leninism's revolutionary strategy because both saw the local nationalisms of the many ethnic groups that made up the Russia of their time depleting the collective energies of the international proletariat. Both sought a unified, centralized association of workers, loyal to their class, rather than to any "abstract" national, interests.
Lenin maintained that once industrial capitalism had "matured"—that is to say, when it gave evidence of being "ripe" for socialist revolution—any manifestation of regional national sentiment was intrinsically counterrevolutionary. That was because Marxism knew of no nationalism appropriate to the needs of the international proletariat. Nationalism was intrinsically divisive at a time when the international revolution required a unified revolutionary class. The responsibility of Marxist revolutionaries was to "break down national barriers, obliterate national distinctions, and to assimilate nations"— following the secular trends of industrial capitalism itself—trends that were seen as "transforming capitalism into socialism." Those realities, Lenin insisted, left ultimately only two alternative "world outlooks" available to revolutionary leaders: reactionary "bourgeois nationalism" as opposed to progressive "proletarian internationalism:"  There could be no third altrnative. [ED]
The treatment of nationalism, reflected in the work of both Stalin and Lenin, was to perceive it as something to be thwarted. In principle, nationalism was not to he recommended under any circumstances. Socialism's primary task was identified as "regrouping the proletariat of all countries into a living revolutionary force [having] only one conception of its tasks and interests"—abjuring national sentiment and rejecting any association with political nationalism. The "immediate mission" of socialist agitation was understood to he "the spiritual liberation of the proletariat from the tutelage of the bourgeoisie, which expresses itself through the influence of nationalist ideology.""

 Nationalism, in all its formulations and expressions, was seen as nothing more than a bourgeois snare and subterfuge, a cover for antiprolitarian machinations. Through some occult process, the bourgeoisie managed to instill national sentiments in the proletariat. Such unreal sentiments could only work against the interests of the working class. 
[Otto] Bauer's account differed from the "orthodoxy" common among German theoreticians in that he recognized that whatever bourgeois motives there may have been behind the emergence of national consciousness, in order for it to become a political reality, there must have been a susceptibility among workers and peasants. The bourgeoisie could hardly impose a sense of nationality on a population; there had to have been a ready receptivity that could account for its acceptance and persistence. Nationalism most have found a ready response among people quite independent of the specific content supplied by transient economic circumstances. It seems reasonably clear that Bauer found the standard Marxist explanation for the rise and significance of national sentiment simplistic. His work is dedicated to advancing an explanation with greater inherent plausibility 

Bauer saw national sentiment rooted in the Darwinian history' of human-kind. Like Dietzgen, Kautsky, and Woltmann, as well as many of the lesser Marxist intellectuals of the period, Bauer sought to trace the continuities between Darwin's convictions concerning human descent and Marxism as a conception of historical development. He sought to link national sentiment to the evolutionary history of humanity. He sought a credible explanation of why the mass of workers and peasants would become possessed so readily of a sense of national identity. Whatever the influence exercised by the bourgeoisie, it could not alone account for the broad-based national passion exhibited by members of the working class. 
By the beginnings of the twentieth century, Bauer concluded elements of national sentiment had become so intrinsic to the psychology of the proletariat, that one could hardly expect them to be surrendered for a "naive cosmopolitanism" that entertained no distinctions whatever between communities. He insisted that there was every evidence that the internationalization of the industrial means of production did not mean the disappearance of a sense of national differences.. For the members of many communities, in fact, the realization that they were perceived "backward;' economically and culturally retrograde, by those nations industrially sophisticated, prompted a response among them that could only be characterized as reactive nationalism. As a consequence, Bauer anticipated that nationalism might well become a significant political force to be reckoned with even in those nations that lacked an industrial base or an effective bourgeoisie. 
The importance of Bauer's variant of Marxism can be measured by the venom with which it was attacked by Lenin and Stalin in the years that were to follow. Both charged Bauer's interpretation with major responsibility in socialism's subsequent failure to meet the challenge of the Great War. In an uncritical sense, they were right. On the occasion of the war, the working masses of Europe chose to identify with their several nations—employing arguments that shared a significant similarity with those advanced by Bauer. In fact, some of Bauer's central convictions were to serve as a bridge between nineteenth-century Marxism and the Fascism of the twentieth.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Gregor on Marxist/Fascist Morality

I thought I would pull a few quotes from Gregor's book just to show how important morality and metaphysics were for the early Marxist theoreticians.  Left Marxists and Right Marxists may have differed on many questions but in the end they were all socialists.

It will he surprising to some—though certainly not everyone—that among the first issues engaged by the revolutionary thinkers at the turn of the twentieth century were those having to do with choice and determinism, with morality and ethics, with nationalism, with leadership, with the mobilization of masses, and how revolution was to be understood in the broad expanse of history. They are questions that continue to shape the revolutionary thought of our time.
Morals and ethics lie at the core of revolutionary commitment. As such, moral and immoral behavior, sustained or abjured by appropriate ethical assessment, becomes critical to any revolutionary enterprise. That enterprise is inextricably associated with the advocacy of, or resistance to, violence. At some stage in the process it becomes necessary to systematically address ethical and moral questions. At the very least, the proponents of revolution must justify to themselves or others their endorsement of real or potential violence. As early as his first efforts at revolutionary analysis, Karl Marx extended what could only be characterized as a slack interpretation of morals and ethics—as well as a singular account of human conceptual life in general. In The Communist Manifesto  of 1848, he simply dismissed the notion that there were "eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc.;" or that any such ideas should independently influence the course of human conduct. He argued, instead, that such ideas, other than eternal, were relative, a function of the time, place, and circumstances in which they find expression—and whatever influence they exercise, as we shall see, was to be understood to be the derivative result of objective factors that, taken together, he identified as time-specific "modes of production?'
Those were the convictions that shaped Marx's view that it would soon be the case that the "mass" of contemporary revolutionaries, the proletariat, would no longer entertain archaic notions about religion and the whole attendant "learned" nonsense about a transcendent morality emanating from the "realm of God", Marx informed the revolutionaries of his time that the morality of the proletariat would represent the "interests" of the emerging productive forces—the productive forces of the future—and as such would represent the only defensible morality for rational actors.
For all the efforts made to distinguish Marxism from fascism in any of its real or fancied forms, there is a lingering suspicion that the two ideological systems arc somehow related. The similarities were noted even before Italian Fascism had reached political maturity. Many Marxists were there at the birth of Fascism. However strenuously resisted by some, the relationship was recognized in totalitarianism. During the tenure of the regime, it was acknowledged by some of Fascism's major theoreticians. And after the passing of Leninist communism, its relationship to fascism, in general, was acknowledged by many of its erstwhile practitioners.

The difficulty that many have had with all that is the consequence of political science folk wisdom that has made fascism the unqualified opposite of any term of Marxism. So fixed has that notion become in the study of comparative politics that the suggestion of any affinities between the two is generally dismissed. And yet, some contemporary comparativists recognize that there was an unmistakable "essential ideological kindredncss" shared by fascism and Leninism. It was equally clear that at "certain pivotal ideational junctures, les extremes se touchent. (extremes come together)". It is important to try to understand how that could be possible. In answering that, one has a foothold on how one might explain the concept "totalitarianism”—that has fascism and the variants of Marxism as its referents. Attempting to begin to explain the relationship is part of the story of revolutionary thought at the turn of the twentieth century.
Italian Fascism was not Hitler's National Socialism, and it was not Lenin's Bolshevism—but all three shared some sort of affinity, however minimal. For the purpose of the present exposition, the relationship between Mussolini's Fascism and Lenin's Bolshevism is of central concern. It speaks to the ideological relationship shared by Italian Fascism and one or another variant of Marxism, and helps us understand why relevant similarities regularly resurface in any study dealing with modern revolutionary political systems. It is a story that covers almost half a century of European radical thought—and involves some of the major intellectuals of the first quarter of the twentieth century.

While it is only a thread in the complex tapestry of revolution in our time, it is an important and interesting concern. It deals with revolutionary morality and the ethical system that sustains it. It addresses the issue of how the revolutionary theorists at the beginning of our time attempted to understand human choice and political decisions. It deals with revolution and its motives, and violence and its uses.

In the course of time; all these concerns were addressed by self-selected Marxist revolutionaries at the end of the nineteenth century; some of whom were to become the leaders of revolutionary movements in the twentieth. History was to subsequently identify some as "Marxists" and others as "fascists." Those with whom we shall concern ourselves were all Marxists of one or another persuasion. The most interesting, for our purposes, were to ultimately be identified as "Mussoliniani;' intellectual leaders of Italian Fascism.

The reactor core of any political movement are the ideas that motivate it, but these ideas are themselves supported by a metaphysical structure which in turn shapes their nature. Old Europe starts dying when it rejects its Christian heritage and embraces the materialism of the Positivists. Those of the Alt-Right who are positivists/materialists are simply the Left dressed in right wing garb.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Marxism, Fascism and Totalitarianism

In retrospect, what becomes evident is the fact that by the last years of the nineteenth century, there was little that might count as a single and definitive "orthodox Marxism." So rich in ambiguity and discontinuities was it that by that time at least four principal variants of Marxism could be identified: that of Bernstein and Woltmann in Germany,. the critical deconstnictionism of Benedetto Croce in Italy, and the ethical reformism of Sorel in France.
Blogging has been light recently because I've been trying to catch up with some reading. One of the books I had a chance to read was  A. James Gregor's, Marxism, Fascism and Totalitarianism.

Firstly, let me say that this is a superb book and should be required reading by anyone on the Dissident Right.  Quite simply it should be a foundational text. It's that good. Gregor is a professor of Political Science at Berkeley* and is one the worlds foremost experts on Fascism, particularly Italian Fascism and Marxism.  The book is not particularly long--400 pages--it is clearly written, conceptually precise and Gregor's habit of repeating the main points at the beginnings of chapters a great way of reinforcing the main ideas he is trying to get across. For people who are time poor, it's an excellent and clearly written overview on the subject of Marxist doctrinal development.

One of the things that depresses me endlessly is the right's "tolerance" of Fascism. While many think it extreme, they see it as an ally against the Left and criticise those who "punch to the Right".  The problem is that the Fascists were never of the Right in the first place, and their embrace of nationalism is simply a mechanism to bring socialism to fruition.

In the Socialist world of the 19th Century, Marx and Engels functioned as almost defacto dual papacy defining Socialist doctrine. Socialists who differed on doctrinal points would appeal to the two for guidance given that many of Marx's concepts were vague and not fully though out. Furthermore practical experience with implementing the revolution came up against real world difficulties which had to be worked out. With their death, this guidance was gone and Socialists, much like Christians interpreting the Bible, began to fissure with regard proper interpretation of the Master.

The big issues upon which the Marxists differed were on the subject of free will, the issue of "class", leadership of the proletariat and nationalism.

Marx was a strict materialist/Positivist at that human morality and action was simply the expression of current material and economic conditions.  Marx also held Darwinism in high esteem and it didn't take too long for his followers to fuse the two and introduce race as an "economic determinant", with certain races being better economic determinants than others. The go to guy was Ludwig Woltmann, who was very influential in German Socialism and intellectually prepared to the ground for the Natsocs. (Note, Socialists really play down the role of Woltmann)

The second interpreters were those who could not accept the strict determinism of Marx and gave man more "free will" in the direction of history. Chief among this school of thought was that of George Sorel who saw decadence in the bourgeois and virtue among the "workers" and in the work ethic.  Sorel's noble worker would rise up against the bourgeois and bring socialist society into fruition. Sorel emphasised the dignity of work

But the problem with workers is that they were more loyal to their country than to class and with the advent of the First World War many socialists saw that the appeal to country motivated the masses towards revolution rather than an appeal to class. Italian socialists who admired the martial virtues of Sorel's workers realised that the best way to bring about social revolution was to marry it to the cause of Nationalism, this was the approach of Mussolini and it is here where Fascism is born.

Lenin, on the other hand, rejected any form of Nationalism as a bourgeois distraction, designed to stymie the revolution, and insisted upon a Russian flavoured internationalism which would unite the working classes.  In fact, anyone who Lenin, who thought himself the only true interpreter of Marx, defined anyone who disagreed with his view as bourgeois reactionary. I sometimes wonder if Lenin was a Puritan from New England. Stalin continued the tradition.

The important theme that comes out of Gregor's work is that just as Protestantism and Catholicism are rival interpretations of Christianity, so are Fascism and Leninism rival interpretations of Marxism.

Gregor clearly lays the doctrinal development of each of the strands of Marxism. What's also quite impressive is the role of Italian thinkers in the development of the nationalistic interpretations of Marxism. The Italians thinkers were quite conceptually advanced in their understanding of Nationalism and offered a more "humane" version of Fascism than its Nordic cousin.  Compared to the Italian thinkers, the Germans were rubes.  It's quite interesting that Italian Nationalistic Marxism i.e. Fascism  was racially "lite" and there were quite a few Jewish Fascists among the Blackshirts.

The horrors of German National Socialism are clearly attributable to its Socialist origins which ,when hybridised with materialistic Darwinism and Ariosophy,  produced the killing machine which destroyed much of Europe and itself. Nazism was a HBD version of Socialism cloaked in Nationalism.

As Gregor shows, the only thing "Right" about Fascism is the nationalism it uses to cloak its ultimate vision of implementing a socialist society.

It's an outstanding book.

(*The Irony of the recent protests against Trump at Berkeley would not have been lost on Gregor)