lundi, 01 octobre 2012

Alle Staaten sollen das Recht haben, gleichwertig und gleichberechtigt die Weltpolitik zu gestalten

Alle Staaten sollen das Recht haben, gleichwertig und gleichberechtigt die Weltpolitik zu gestalten

UN-Menschenrechtsrat schafft das Mandat des Unabhängigen Experten zur Förderung einer demokratischen und gleichberechtigten Weltordnung

Interview mit Professor Dr. iur. et phil. Alfred de Zayas

Ex: http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/

zayas.jpgthk. Professor Dr. iur. et phil. Alfred de Zayas wurde am 23. März zum Unabhängigen Experten bei der Uno zur Förderung einer demokratischen und gleichberechtigten Weltordnung vom Menschenrechtsrat ernannt. Er ist der erste, der dieses neu geschaffene Mandat übernehmen durfte, um so im Bereich der Demokratisierung der Uno und der in ihr vereinten Nationalstaaten wirken zu können. Bereits in der Herbstsession des Uno-Menschenrechtsrates hat Alfred de Zayas seinen ersten Bericht vorgelegt und ist dabei auf grosse Zustimmung gestossen. Der Unabhängige Experte, der eine lange Karriere an der Uno aufweist, war, wie er selbst sagte, nicht ganz unerwartet zu diesem Amt gekommen, da er sich schon sehr lange mit der Frage der Ausgestaltung echter, das heisst direkter Demokratie, wie sie in der Schweiz existiert, beschäftigt hat. Mit seinem Mandat möchte sich Alfred de Zayas für den Frieden und die Gleichwertigkeit der Völker einsetzen. Zeit-Fragen hat Professor de Zayas an der Uno in Genf getroffen.

Zeit-Fragen: Herr Professor de Zayas, wie muss man die Aufgabe Ihres Mandats verstehen?

Prof. Dr. de Zayas: Die Aufgabe bedeutet eine Synthese von bürgerlichen, politischen, wirtschaftlichen, kulturellen und sozialen Rechten. Es ist ein versöhnliches Mandat, das auf Zusammenarbeit bzw. Solidarität abzielt. Die Staaten des Nordens, des Südens, des Ostens und des Westens sollen sich in diesem Mandat finden und darin etwas Verbindendes sehen. Es ist ein konstruktives Mandat, das auf den Zielen und Grundsätzen der Uno-Charta aufbaut. Es ist also kein Mandat, das gegen einen bestimmten Staat, gegen eine bestimmte Region, gegen eine bestimmte Philosophie oder Ideologie zielt.
Hier geht es um zweierlei: um eine Demokratisierung auf der nationalen Ebene, aber auch auf der zwischenstaatlichen, internationalen Ebene.

Was muss man sich unter einer Demokratisierung auf internationaler Ebene vorstellen?

Wir brauchen eine Weltordnung, die wirklich demokratisch ist, die sich an den Bedürfnissen der Menschen orientiert. Das bedeutet, dass alle Staaten daran beteiligt werden müssen. Bei Entscheidungen, die das Zusammenleben auf unserer Welt betreffen, müssen alle Staaten als Vertreter ihrer Völker etwas zu sagen haben. Diese Gleichberechtigung, die Gleichwertigkeit aller, ist zentral im Text der Resolution 18/6, die das Mandat begründet hat. Ich werde mich sehr genau an den Wortlaut der Resolution halten, wie ich bereits in meinem ersten Bericht gezeigt habe.

Was soll damit erreicht werden?

Die Staaten der sogenannten dritten Welt, die Staaten des Südens, möchten eine Weltordnung, die auf Gerechtigkeit basiert. Sowohl der Handel als auch die Verteilung der Ressourcen muss gerecht geschehen. Die Kluft zwischen Arm und Reich darf nicht weiter vergrössert, sondern muss verkleinert werden. Ohne dass ich bestimmte Staaten nennen muss, kann ich die Thematik erkenntnistheoretisch so behandeln, dass ich Begriffe wie Demokratie, Gerechtigkeit, Gleichwertigkeit, Gleichberechtigung, Selbstbestimmung und nationale Identität mit Leben füllen kann.

Wie ist hier Ihre Vorgehensweise?

Es finden sich bei den Vereinten Nationen enorme Quellen dazu. Ich werde mich dabei auf die Berichte von ehemaligen Rapporteuren stützen, auf Studien der Unterkommission der ehemaligen Menschenrechtskommission, des Menschenrechtsrates selbst oder auf Studien der Generalversammlung. Gewiss beabsichtige ich keine Wiederholung dessen, was bereits gemacht worden ist. Ich werde aber darauf aufbauen. Wie Sie wissen, war ich Sekretär des Menschenrechtsausschusses und Chef der Beschwerdeabteilung. Auch die Jurisprudenz des Ausschusses steht mir zur Seite.

Wie schätzen Sie den Wirkungsgrad dieses Mandats ein?

Ich bin sehr optimistisch, was das Mandat anbetrifft, weil bereits viele positive Reaktionen bei mir angekommen sind, seitdem ich ernannt und meine E-Mail-Adresse an der Uno für alle bekannt wurde, nämlich ie-internationalorder(at)ohchr.org. NGO, Intergouvernamentale Organisationen, Staaten, zivile Organisationen und einzelne Personen haben sich mit konkreten Vorschlägen bei mir gemeldet – zum Beispiel, wie sie mein Mandat verstehen, wo sie die Prioritäten sehen usw. Diese Anliegen und Vorschläge nehme ich ernst. Ich werde alles genauestens studieren. Bereits in meinem Bericht an den Menschenrechtsrat habe ich unter Absatz 11 eine Liste von Themenvorschlägen, die ich von Interessierten erhalten habe, zitiert. Ich werde diese Vorschläge natürlich bevorzugt behandeln.

Was entsteht aus all diesen Anregungen und Anfragen?

Ich werde mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit einen Bericht über den Begriff der Partizipation bzw. der Teilnahme der Menschen an der politischen Gestaltung in der Demokratie schreiben, aber über die Mitbestimmung auf der nationalen und internationalen Ebene, über Fragen der Manipulierung der öffentlichen Meinung usw. schreiben. Diese Studien werde ich dann nächstes Jahr dem Menschenrechtsrat vorlegen. Dabei geht es innerstaatlich nicht nur um das Wahlrecht, sondern auch um das Recht, politische Regeln mitzugestalten. Demokratische Wahlen alle vier Jahre sind eine gute Sache, aber man muss wirkliche Optionen haben und nicht nur pro forma stimmen. Die Bevölkerung muss auch die Gelegenheit haben, die Aussenpolitik authentisch mitzugestalten, so dass Regierungen nicht mehr gegen den Willen der Bevölkerung Aussenpolitik betreiben können.
International gesehen, sollten die UN bzw. der Sicherheitsrat insofern reformiert werden, dass mehr internationale Teilnahme bzw. Demokratie verwirklicht wird.

Im Oktober sprechen Sie vor der Generalversammlung. Worum geht es dort?

Ja, ich muss einen anderen ausführlicheren Bericht der Generalversammlung präsentieren. In diesem Bericht identifiziere ich eine Reihe von Hindernissen und versuche, gute Praktiken zu nennen und der Generalversammlung Empfehlungen zu unterbreiten. Das wird am 30. Oktober 2012 in New York – deo volente – geschehen. Ich werde sehen, welche Reaktionen die Staaten in der Generalversammlung auf meinen Bericht zeigen, was sie mir vorschlagen werden.

Wie kann man die Grundlagen des demokratischen Zusammenlebens anderen Ländern vermitteln? Ein «arabischer Frühling» oder militärische Interventionen der Nato helfen hier sicher nicht weiter.

Ich verstehe mein Mandat nicht als ein Mandat des Naming and Shaming. Mein Mandat ist, wie bereits gesagt, ein konstruktives, das helfen soll, diese Begriffe überall gleich zu verstehen. Wenn ich Demokratie sage, sollte das mehr oder weniger dasselbe sein, was auch eine Person in Nordamerika, Südamerika, Australien, Osteuropa, China, Indien oder Afrika darunter versteht. Es darf nicht sein, dass Demokratie à la carte verstanden wird, genauso wenig, wie es inakzeptabel ist, dass das Völkerrecht nach Belieben angewandt wird. Eines der Haupthindernisse für den Weltfrieden und das Erreichen einer demokratischen und gerechten «Weltordnung» ist nämlich, dass viele Staaten das Völkerrecht nicht gleichmässig anwenden, hier sagen sie ja und dort nein. Ohne bestimmte Staaten kritisieren zu wollen, möchte ich auf diese fundamentale Problematik hinweisen. Letztlich glaube ich, um ein englisches Wort zu verwenden: «The bottomline is participation.»

Das bedeutet?

Das heisst, die Bürger müssen an der Politik teilhaben und mitgestalten können, und zwar direkt. Das Modell der direkten Demokratie bietet hier enorm viel. Man muss die Möglichkeit haben, eine Gesetzgebung zu initiieren. Die Möglichkeit zur Prüfung von Gesetzen durch Referenden, aber auch die Möglichkeit, Regierungsbeamte bzw. Politiker zur Rechenschaft zu ziehen, wenn sie eine ganz andere Politik führen, als sie versprochen haben – das muss das Wesen der Demokratie sein. Die gewählten Politiker müssen belangt werden können, wenn sie das Versprechen, das sie dem Bürger gegeben haben, gebrochen und somit das Vertrauen missbraucht haben. Darum muss es eine Möglichkeit geben, diese Personen aus dem Amt zu entfernen. Bei uns in den USA gibt es dafür den Begriff des Recall oder Impeachment.
Ich werde also das Modell der direkten Demokratie genau studieren. Es geht um die Frage, wie man dieses Modell mit gewissen Abänderungen in anderen Ländern anwenden könnte. Allerdings muss man bei jedem Land seine Historie, seine Kultur, seine Tradition und seine individuellen Vorstellungen des Zusammenlebens berücksichtigen.

Welche Rolle hat für Sie dabei der Nationalstaat?

Genauso wie im antiken Griechenland mit der Polis ein Staat entstanden ist, in dem die Bürger an der Politik teilnehmen konnten, so soll es für die einzelnen Länder auch gelten. Also der Nationalstaat ist bei diesem Vorgang entscheidend. International gesehen möchten wir, dass alle Staaten das Recht haben, gleichwertig und gleichberechtigt die Welt­politik zu gestalten. Aber auch intern, also national gesehen, müssen die Bürger eines bestimmten Staates für die eigene Identität, für die eigene Kultur die für sie richtigen Gesetze annehmen und eine Politik wählen, die die Menschenrechte und die Würde von allen Bürgern gewährt.

Herr Professor de Zayas, wir wünschen Ihnen viel Erfolg bei der Ausgestaltung Ihres Mandats und danken Ihnen herzlich für das Gespräch.    •

Leser werden von Professor de Zayas herzlich gebeten, Ihre Vorstellungen an ie-internationalorder(at)ohchr.org zu verschicken.

mardi, 25 septembre 2012

Aux sources du parti conservateur

Jean-Gilles MALLIARAKIS:

Aux sources du parti conservateur

Ex: http://www.insolent.fr/

120919Comme dans bien d'autres pays, la droite en Angleterre a été amenée, plusieurs fois dans son Histoire, à devoir renaître de ses cendres. Particularité de la vie politique d'outre Manche, depuis le XVIIIe siècle ce fut le même parti, les "tories" étant devenus officiellement "parti conservateur", qui sut opérer en son sein le renouvellement nécessaire.

Cette droite avait su se maintenir face aux "whigs", organisateurs de la Glorieuse Révolution de 1688, puis de l'arrivée de la dynastie de Hanovre en 1714. Elle avait su faire face à ces adversaires "de gauche", qui dominèrent le parlement et le gouvernement tout au long du XVIIIe siècle. Et elle les a aujourd'hui encore surclassés.

Agréablement traduit, et réédité par les peines et soins des Éditions du Trident, le roman de Disraëli "Coningsby" nous en livre le secret.

Le rejet des horreurs de ce que nous appelons jacobinisme a toujours joué, à cet égard, le rôle central.

Cependant on doit mesurer d'abord, que les forces qui, en Grande Bretagne se sont opposées à la Révolution française, ne venaient pas toutes du conservatisme "officiel" et "historique".

Deux exemples l'illustrent. Leurs noms sont relativement connus, de ce côté-ci de la Manche, leur histoire l'est un peu moins.

Ainsi Edmund Burke (1729-1797) avait-il pris conscience, dès les journées d'octobre 1789, de la nature inacceptable de ce qui s'installait à Paris. Dans ses "Réflexions sur la révolution de France", publiées en 1790 (1)⇓ il dénonce avec lucidité la logique implacable des événements.

Or, il avait siégé aux Communes depuis 1765 en tant que "whig". Il avait soutenu les "insurgents" américains, etc. Il ne rompra officiellement avec son parti, dont il refuse les subsides, qu'en juin 1791. Dès lors, ce "vieux-whig" sera considéré plus tard comme le doctrinaire par excellence du conservatisme.

De même William Pitt "le Jeune", est présenté aujourd'hui, jusque sur le site officiel du 10 Downing Street, sous l'étiquette "tory". Mais celui qu'en France nous l'appelons "le second Pitt" était lui-même le fils d'un chef de gouvernement whig, William Pitt dit "l'Ancien". À son tour il devint Premier ministre sous le règne de George III, de 1782 à 1801, puis de 1804 à 1806. La mémoire républicaine l'exècre comme l'ennemi par excellence. La propagande des hommes de la Terreur désignait tous ses adversaires comme agents de "Pitt et Cobourg". (2)⇓

En fait il n'entra dans le conflit que contraint et forcé. Au départ, au cours des années 1780, cet adepte d'Adam Smith (3)⇓ poursuivait le but d'assainir les finances et de développer l'économie du pays. Quand il rompit avec la France révolutionnaire, le cabinet de Londres pensait que le conflit serait rapidement liquidé. On n'imaginait pas qu'il durerait plus de 20 ans.

Ainsi Pitt fut contraint à la guerre à partir de 1793 et la mena jusqu'à sa mort. Une partie de l'opinion anglaise, et particulièrement les "whigs" avaient applaudi aux événements de 1789. Mais c'est au lendemain de la mort du Roi que l'ensemble de l'opinion comprit que les accords resteraient impossibles avec les forces barbares qui s'étaient emparées du royaume des Lys. Dès le 24 janvier 1793, l'ambassadeur officieux (4)⇓ de la République est expulsé.

Voici donc un adversaire irréductible (5)⇓ de la Révolution française : doit-on le considérer comme un conservateur ? Le terme peut paraître encore prématuré. Et Jacques Chastenet souligne même que jamais au cours de sa carrière William Pitt ne s'est déclaré "tory". (6)⇓

Après 1815 les forces de droite s'étaient agrégées autour du vainqueur militaire de Napoléon (7)⇓ à Waterloo, Arthur de Wellesley devenu duc de Wellington. Son nom rassembleur tient lieu de programme. (8)⇓

Or, à partir des années 1830 tout change. Wellington ne reviendra plus, que d'une manière très brève, qui se traduira par un échec. Car quand, laminés en 1832 les tories tentent en 1834 un nouveau "manifeste" [Disraëli qualifie celui-ci de "Manifeste sans principes"], ils vont certes réapparaître techniquement, du seul fait de l'incompétence des whigs. Robert Peel pourra former un gouvernement minoritaire avec l'appui du roi. Mais la "Nouvelle Génération", [c'est le thème de "Coningsby"] cette "Jeune Angleterre" dont Disraëli et son ami Georges Smythe apparaîtront alors comme les figures de proue, considère, et le programme de 1834, et Robert Peele, lui-même comme dénués de principes et voués à l'échec.

Voici comment il les décrit :

"Cet homme politique éminent [Robert Peel] s’était malheureusement identifié, au début de sa carrière, avec un groupe qui, s’affublant du nom de tory, poursuivait une politique sans principes ou dont les principes s’opposaient radicalement à ceux qui guidèrent toujours les grands chefs de cet illustre et historique mouvement. Les principaux membres de cette confédération officielle ne se distinguaient par aucune des qualités propres à un homme d’État, par aucun des dons divins qui gouvernent les assemblées et mènent les conseils. Ils ne possédaient ni les qualités de l’orateur, ni les pensées profondes, ni l’aptitude aux trouvailles heureuses, ni la pénétration et la sagacité de l’esprit. Leurs vues politiques étaient pauvres et limitées. Toute leur énergie, ils la consacraient à s’efforcer d’acquérir une connaissance des affaires étrangères qui demeura pourtant inexacte et confuse ; ils étaient aussi mal documentés sur l’état réel de leur propre pays que les sauvages le sont sur la probabilité d’une éclipse." (9)⇓

[Il s'agit de la droite anglaise d'alors, qu'alliez-vous croire ?]

Jusque-là les deux partis dominants avaient représenté des factions parlementaires, elles-mêmes issues des forces sociales qui contrôlaient les sièges, en particulier ceux des "bourgs pourris. Au total 300 000 électeurs désignaient le parlement. Les Lords dominaient les Communes. Sans évoluer immédiatement vers le suffrage universel la réforme avait supprimé les circonscriptions fictives. Multipliant par trois le nombre des votants, elle allait permettre aux représentants des villes de submerger les défenseurs traditionnels de la propriété foncière et de la campagne anglaise.

Ceux-ci allient donc devoir combattre sous de nouvelles couleurs, en s'alliant avec de nouvelles forces. On peut dire qu'en grande partie Disraëli les ré-inventa. Exprimant ses idées dans des romans, ce vrai fondateur de la droite anglaise conte cette aventure dans ce "Coningsby".

Beaucoup de traits de cette société peuvent paraître désuets. On les découvre dès lors avec une pointe de nostalgie. Mais, une fois dégagé de cet aspect pittoresque et charmant, tout le reste s'en révèle furieusement actuel. Nous laissons à nos lecteurs le soin de le découvrir.

JG Malliarakis
        
Apostilles

  1. Traduites en France ses "Réflexions sur la révolution de France" sont disponibles en collection Pluriel.
  2. Cobourg : il s'agissait du prince Frédéric de Saxe-Cobourg-Saalfeld (1737-1815), général au service du Saint-Empire.
  3. Écrite dans les années 1760, son "Enquête sur la nature et les causes de la Richesse des nations" fut publiée en Angleterre en 1776.
  4. Le roi ne voulait pas reconnaître le régime institué à Paris par le coup de force républicain de septembre 1792. Mais les dirigeants révolutionnaires n'étaient en guerre, au départ, qu'avec l'Empire, "le roi de Bohème et de Hongrie". À Londres se trouvait un ambassadeur, assez maladroit, le jeune François-Bernard de Chauvelin (1766-1832) qui venait d'être nommé par le gouvernement de Louis XVI.
  5. Il la combattra en effet jusqu'à sa mort en 1806. La Paix d'Amiens de 1802 ne fut qu'un intermède (mal négocié) sous le gouvernement Addington (1801-1804) quand Pitt, partisan du droit de vote des catholiques irlandais fut contraint de donner sa démission au roi George III.
  6. cf. Jacques Chastenet "William Pitt" Fayard 1942. On lira avec plaisir de cet auteur oublié mais de qualité son "Wellington" et son "Siècle de Victoria".
  7. Le vrai vainqueur politique de Napoléon avait été lord Castlereagh, ministre des Affaires étrangères, organisateur et financier de la sixième coalition, puis personnage central du congrès de Vienne de 1814-1815.
  8. À la gloire militaire près, le parallèle avec le gaullisme ne manque pas de pertinence. "Le Duc"... "Le Général"...
  9. cf. "Coningsby ou la Nouvelle Génération" page 89. Les lecteurs de L'Insolent peuvent se le procurer, en le commandant
    - directement sur le site des Éditions du Trident
    - ou par correspondance en adressant un chèque de 29 euros aux Éditions du Trident 39 rue du Cherche Midi 75006 Paris
    - votre libraire peut le commander par fax au 01 47 63 32 04. - téléphone :06 72 87 31 59- courriel  : ed.trident @ europelibre.com

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samedi, 22 septembre 2012

Alain Soral: Political Incorrectness Ideology of Resistance

Alain Soral: Political Incorrectness Ideology of Resistance

Ex: http://openrevolt.info/

(An address pronounced in Villepreux the 2nd of November 2008)

This title implies to answer two prior questions :
1) What is Mondialism ?
2) What is political correctness ?

Let’s start with Mondialism.

Mondialism is not globalization.

Globalization is an inevitable process of material and immaterial exchange due to technological progress. We cannot go against it, and it is not desirable to do so. The rejection of globalization is not a desire of civilizationnal flashback. Not more that degrowth is a desire of recession… It is quite convenient to be able to get to Six-Fours in few hours by TGV and it is joyful to notice that a great number of active members of the Populist Party had the financial means to get there ! No ! What is at issue is Mondialism.

Mondialism is an ideological project, a sort of Laic religion that works to set up a world government through the dissolution of all the Nations of the world into a new humanity. It works to the dissolution of the Nations under the pretence of Universal Peace. The diversity of Nations and people being considered the reasons for wars that have brought bloodshed on Earth since the dawn of humanity…

This process was logically very involved after World War One through the League of Nations. It logically ebbed after the rising dangers that led to World War Two. It came back very strongly on the ruins of Nations after 1945, with NATO and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Short parenthesis : This declaration should not be confused with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which thought those rights in the concrete context of a rooted Nation : The French Nation, on behalf of a civilizationnal model, that J.C Martinez often talk about : The French Universalism. A civilisation with a planetary destiny, alternative to both the Islamic Ummah and the Anglo-Saxon Liberalism…

We then had after World War II two ideological systems, fighting against Nations and people who were considered as intrinsically bellicose : The Russian Socialism, now dead (I will not hammer at it uselessly !) and the American Liberalism, winner until today of the cold war.

The existing Mondialism is therefore twofold : At the same time a depraved ideological project from Enlightnment : A project where Universal Peace and reconciled Humanity through Kantian reason, meant to transcend scholastic obscurantism that came out of Europe’s religious War, finally turned to the obscurantism of Human Rights… Obscurantism of Human Rights… Or, banning the use of reason to criticize all the concrete wrongdoings of this totalitarian process on concrete Humanity, on behalf of blasphemy and heresy…

A Mondialism that is also, at the same time, the ineluctable slope of mercantile society : going from the free entrepreneur’s free entreprise to the Orwellian financial capitalism, where every man is from now on reduced to the role of wage-earner/consumer, enslaved to what Marxism calls : The law of concentration of Capital imposed by the falling rate of profit…

There is then, the convergence of two unifying processes : one that is ideological and thought : the Universal Human Rights, the other one that is economical and undergone : The commodification under the religion of profit. Two processes that blend today in the same project : The project of a World government under the aegis of the Anglo-Saxon Capitalism, on behalf of the ideology of abstract Human Rights…

In shorts : Therefore, Human rights are now the catechism of the dissolution of rooted people and Nations, dedicated to the generalized abstraction of global financial capitalism with a view to its complete World domination.

Domination over our wallets as well as our souls…

Political incorrectness :

This rapid presentation finished, it is quite easy to come to the second definition : What is political correctness ? And then, what is political incorrectness ? The political correctness is everything that accepts to submit, consciously or inconsciously, to the catechism of Human Rights. Political incorrectness is everything that opposes and resists to it !

Human Rightism has nothing to do anymore with the real rights of real people, attached to their local cultures and their Nations (As the passion for Olympic games or Football championship keep showing, since those contests between Nations and between Cities are the ones which are acclaimed). Nowadays, Human Rightism is the ideological armed wing of Mondialism, the smooth talk that comes with all subdues, all oppressions of movements that resist to the economico-ideological Mondialism, whether those are military, political or cultural resistances… Thereby, it is on behalf of Human Rights, leading, of course, to the right of humanitatian intervention and then to Kouchner’s responsibility to protect, that is now bombed the small Serbian Nation, because they resist to the Mondialist steamroller under American control, on behalf of their culture and history… It is on behalf of the totalitarian and bellicose Human Right ideology that is flouted the real rights of the real people everywhere on the planet. Whether the right for Serbians to remain Serbs, but also the right for Muslims to remain Muslims in Iran or Afghanistan…

But it is also on behalf of Human Rights that are dismantled social solidarities within the Nations and their people – the traditionnal social solidarities against Mondialist Capitalism – by substituting workers and middle classes’ social benefits for the social interest of “oppressed” pseudo-minorities (In reality vocal minorities…) : Gay rights, woman’s rights, youth rights, black people rights… Minorities that are just market segments serving the ideological merchant Mondialism, as the Italian ex-trotskyist and now publicist, Mister Toscani, had well illustrated in his excellent adverts “United Colors of Benetton”…

From then on, all resistance to this carving up : Refusal to see the Serbians as ennemies of humanity, whereas they only try to preserve their lifestyle, refusal to see gays as a social class, since the diversity of homosexuals cannot be reduced to a self-proclaimed gay lobby, and since the sodomy remains anyway a private leisure activity… Bref, any refusal to submit to the false pretence of those pseudo-Human Rights, which in reality consist in submitting people to the mondialist domination, is considered by the very same power as crime against humanity ! Here we are ! Sentence for “crime against humanity” that allows evicting from humanity the ones accused of it, reducing them to the level of subhumans and who, then, does not receive anymore those famous rights : The Germans and the Japanese after the war, the Palestinians today, the Iranians tomorrow, the activist and electors from the Front National for the past 30 years… Let’s now talk about the FN.

This implacable mechanic rapidly dismantled ; let’s have a closer look at France and its national movement… This national movement that i joined out of spirit of resistance to Mondialism and which was embodied those past 30 years in the FN, this united movement of national resistance, thanks to Jean Marie Le Pen’s political genius. I take this opportunity to warmly salute him… First remark, understood like this and i would say “well-understood” ! The FN is neither a right nor left-wing movement, since the right refers to the market, so to Mondialism, as much as the left refers to Internationalism, which amount to the same thing… The FN well-understood is therefore essentially a movement of resistance to Mondialism, both at the same time opposed to its right-wing liberal economy and its left-wing Human rightist ideology, the left-wing catechism being the humanist alibi of the economical proces of concentration of Capital and the process of domination by the “masters of the market”…

From this analysis we can logically deduct that if the FN, as a national opposition movement, wants to be coherent, it needs to fight both against the mercantile Mondialism and the political correctness, which is its ideology…

But, this is where i would allow myself a critique on both yesterday’s imprecisions and today’s temptations…

For many years, the FN was politically incorrect in terms of ideas (i am refering to the delightful and useful provocations of our president…) but was unfortunately economicaly way too liberal, which means that the FN was only partly disobedient… Let’s point out that National-Liberalism is an oxymoron, since liberal means “privatized” and when everything is privatized (central banks, public services, army…), the politics loses control of the Nation, even the FN ! Nowadays in the FN, the line between political correctness and Liberalism is rather reversed : Rigorous criticism of economic Mondialism, but renunciation of political incorrectness on behalf of de-demonization, which amount to the same incoherence and the same political impotence : Since submitting to the dictatorship of Human Rights and the blackmail of the crime against humanity is eventually a way to land up naked in the countryside at the hands of Mondialist ideology ! The slogan summarizing best what i want to say, slogan that is permanently thrown and on which we must not give up is the famous “never again” ! Suggesting : “Mondialism or Auschwitz”, and for the recalcitrants, the no less famous reductio ad Hitlerum ! In summary : Political incorrectness is by no means a useless game of provocations. Even if it is not always understood this way, it is the doctrine of resistance to Mondialism. Doctrine of disobedience whitout which the criticism restricted to economic Mondialism is unsufficient, powerless and even incoherent, just as political incorrectness unextended to the criticism of the liberal doctrine… Yesterday’s economic incoherence which is now outdated within the FN, thanks to Marine Le Pen excellent work !

Therefore, not only politically incorrect thoughts must not be abandoned, but at a time when the left, which used to lead the field with Marxism, has abandoned all thoughts, abandoning themselves to the obscurantism of Human Rights… At a time when no one thinks, neither left or right, since the right-wing wheeler-dealers have long ago settled for doing business… We, the nationalists, can regain control in terms of ideas as we are the only efficient critics of the system and we can become, in this desert, the thought leaders of tomorrow and embody the renewal of French genius!
Long live disobedience then!
And long live disobedient France!

Alain Soral

 

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Alain Soral has contributed the introduction to Alexander Dugin’s monumental new work The Fourth Political Theory’s English edition.  Order here and show support for our work at Open Revolt!

 

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jeudi, 20 septembre 2012

Unthinking Liberalism: A. Dugin’s The Fourth Political Theory

Unthinking Liberalism:
Alexander Dugin’s The Fourth Political Theory

by Alex KURTAGIC

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Alexander Dugin
The Fourth Political Theory, London: Arktos, 2012

Arktos recently published what we can only hope will be the first of many more English translations of Alexander Dugin’s work. Head of the sociology department in Moscow State University, and a leading Eurasianist with ties to the Russian military, this man is, today, influencing official Kremlin policy.

The Fourth Political Theory is a thoroughly refreshing monograph, combining clarity of analysis, philosophical rigor, and intellectual creativity. It is Dugin’s attempt to sort through the confusion of modern political theory and establish the foundations for a political philosophy that will decisively challenge the dominant liberal paradigm. It is not, however, a new complete political theory, but rather the beginning of a project. The name is provisional, the theory under construction. Dugin sees this not as the work of one man, but, because difficult, a collective heroic effort.

The book first sets out the historical topology of modern political theories. In Dugin’s account, liberalism, the oldest and most stable ideology, was in modernity the first political theory. Marxism, a critique of liberalism via capitalism, was the second. Fascism/National Socialism, a critique of both liberalism and Marxism, was the third. Dugin says that Fascism/National Socialism was defeated by Marxism (1945), that Marxism was defeated by liberalism (1989), leaving liberalism triumphant and therefore free to expand around the globe.

According to Dugin, the triumph of liberalism has been so definitive, in fact, that in the West it has ceased to be political, or ideological, and become a taken-for-granted practice. Westerners think in liberal terms by default, assuming that no sane, rational, educated person could think differently, accusing dissenters of being ideological, without realizing that their own assumptions have ideological origins.

The definitive triumph of liberalism has also meant that it is now so fully identified with modernity that it is difficult to separate the two, whereas control of modernity was once contested by political theory number one against political theories two and three. The advent of postmodernity, however, has marked the complete exhaustion of liberalism. It has nothing new to say, so it is reduced endlessly to recycle and reiterate itself.

Looking to identify what may be useful to salvage, Dugin proceeds to break down each of the three ideologies into its component parts. In the process of doing so, he detoxifies the two discredited critiques of liberalism, which is necessary to be able to cannibalize them. His analysis of liberalism follows Alain de Benoist. Because it is crucial, I will avail myself of de Benoist’s insights and infuse some of my own in Dugin’s explication of liberalism.

Dugin says that liberalism’s historical subject is the individual. The idea behind liberalism was to “liberate” the individual from everything that was external to him (faith, tradition, authority). Out of this springs the rest: when you get rid of the transcendent, you end up with a world that is entirely rational and material. Happiness then becomes a question of material increase. This leads to productivism and economism, which, when the individual is paramount, demands capitalism. When you get rid of the transcendent, you also eliminate hierarchy: all men become equal. If all men are equal, then what applies to one must apply to all, which means universalism. Similarly, if all men are equal, then all deserve an equal slice of the pie, so full democracy, with universal suffrage, becomes the ideal form of government. Liberalism has since developed flavors, and the idea of liberation acquires two competing meanings: “freedom from,” which in America is embodied by libertarians and the Tea Party; and “freedom to,” embodied by Democrats.

Marxism’s historical subject is class. Marxism is concerned chiefly with critiquing the inequities arising from capitalism. Otherwise, it shares with liberalism an ethos of liberation, a materialist worldview, and an egalitarian morality.

Fascism’s historical subject is the state, and National Socialism’s race. Both critique Marxism’s and liberalism’s materialist worldview and egalitarian morality. Hence, the simultaneous application of hierarchy and socialism.

With all the parts laid out on the table, Dugin then selects what he finds useful and discards the rest. Unsurprisingly, Dugin finds nothing useful in liberalism. The idea is to unthink it, after all.

Spread out across several chapters, Dugin provides a typology of the different factions in the modern political landscape—e.g., fundamental conservatism (traditionalism), Left-wing conservatism (Strasserism, National Bolshevism, Niekisch), conservative revolution (Spengler, Jünger, Schmitt, Niekisch), New Left, National Communism, etc. It is essential that readers understand these so that they may easily recognize them, because doing so will clarify much and help them avoid the errors arising from opaque, confused, contradictory, or misleading labels.

Liberal conservatism is a key category in this typology. It may sound contradictory on the surface, because in colloquial discourse mainstream politics is about the opposition of liberals vs. conservatives. Yet, and as I have repeatedly stated, when one examines their fundamentals, so-called “conservatives” (a misleading label), even palaeoconservatives (another misleading label), are all ideologically liberals, only they wish to conserve liberalism, or go a little slower, or take a few steps back. Hence, the alternative designation for this type: “status-quo conservative.”

Another key category is National Communism. This is, according to Dugin, a unique phenomenon, and enjoys a healthy life in Latin America, suggesting it will be around for some time to come. Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez are contemporary practitioners of National Communism.

Setting out the suggested foundations of a fourth political ideology takes up the rest of Dugin’s book. Besides elements salvaged from earlier critiques of liberalism, Dugin also looks at the debris that in the philosophical contest for modernity was left in the periphery. These are the ideas for which none of the ideologies of modernity have had any use. For Dugin this is essential to an outsider, counter-propositional political theory. He does not state this in as many words, but it should be obvious that if we are to unthink liberalism, then liberalism should find its nemesis unthinkable.

But the process of construction begins, of course, with ontology. Dugin refers to Heidegger’s Dasein. Working from this concept he would like the fourth political theory to conceptualize the world as a pluriverse, with different peoples who have different moralities and even different conceptions of time. In other words, in the fourth political theory the idea of a universal history would be absurd, because time is conceived differently in different cultures—nothing is ahistorical or universal; everything is bound and specific. This would imply a morality of difference, something I have proposed as counter-propositional to the liberal morality of equality. In the last consequence, for Dugin there needs to be also a peculiar ontology of the future. The parts of The Fourth Political Theory dealing with these topics are the most challenging, requiring some grounding in philosophy, but, unsurprisingly, they are also where the pioneering work is being done.

Also pioneering, and presumably more difficult still, is Dugin’s call to “attack the individual.” By this he means, obviously, destabilizing the taken-for-granted construct that comprises the minimum social unit in liberalism—the discrete social atom that acts on the basis of rational self-interest, a construct that should be distinguished from “a man” or “a woman” or “a human.” Dugin makes some suggestions, but these seem nebulous and not very persuasive at this stage. Also, this seems quite a logical necessity within the framework of this project, but Dugin’s seeds will find barren soil in the West, where the individual is almost sacrosanct and where individualism results from what is possibly an evolved bias in Northern European societies, where this trait may have been more adaptive than elsewhere. A cataclysmic event may be required to open up the way for a redefinition of what it is to be a person. Evidently the idea is that the fourth political theory conceptualizes a man not as an “individual” but as something else, presumably as part of a collectivity. This is probably a very Russian way of looking at things.

The foregoing may all seem highly abstract, and I suspect practically minded readers will not take to it. It is hard to see how the abstract theorizing will satisfy the pragmatic Anglo-Saxon, who is suspicious of philosophy generally. (Jonathan Bowden was an oddity in this regard.) Yet there are real-world implications to the theory, and in Dugin’s work the geopolitical dimension must never be kept out of sight.

For Dugin, triumphant liberalism is embodied by Americanism; the United States, through its origins as an Enlightenment project, and through its superpower status in the twentieth and twenty-first century, is the global driver of liberal practice. As such, with the defeat of Marxism, it has created, and sought to perpetuate, a unipolar world defined by American, or Atlanticist, liberal hegemony. Russia has a long anti-Western, anti-liberal tradition, and for Dugin this planetary liberal hegemony is the enemy. Dugin would like the world to be multipolar, with Atlanticism counterbalanced by Eurasianism, and maybe other “isms.” In geopolitics, the need for a fourth political theory arises from a need to keep liberalism permanently challenged, confined to its native hemisphere, and, in a word, out of Russia.

While this dimension exists, and while there may be a certain anti-Americanism in Dugin’s work, Americans should not dismiss this book out of hand, because it is not anti-America. As Michael O’Meara has pointed out in relation to Yockey’s anti-Americanism, Americanism and America, or Americans, are different things and stand often in opposition. Engaging with this kind of oppositional thinking is, then, necessary for Americans. And the reason is this: liberalism served America well for two hundred years, but ideologies have a life-cycle like everything else, and liberalism has by now become hypertrophic and hypertelic; it is, in other words, killing America and, in particular, the European-descended presence in America.

If European-descended Americans are to save themselves, and to continue having a presence in the North American continent, rather than being subsumed by liberal egalitarianism and the consequent economic bankruptcy, Hispanization, and Africanization, the American identity, so tied up with liberalism because of the philosophical bases of its founding documents, would need to be re-imagined. Though admittedly difficult, the modern American identity must be understood as one that is possible out of many. Sources for a re-imagined identity may be found in the archaic substratum permeating the parts of American heritage that preceded systematic liberalism (the early colonial period) as well as in the parts that were, at least for a time, beyond it (the frontier and the Wild West). In other words, the most mystical and also the least “civilized” parts of American history. Yet even this may be problematic, since they were products of late “Faustian” civilization. A descent into barbarism may be in the cards. Only time will tell.

For Westerners in general, Dugin’s project may well prove too radical, even at this late stage in the game—contemplating it would seem first to necessitate a decisive rupture. Unless/until that happens, conservative prescriptions calling for a return to a previous state of affairs (in the West), or a closer reading of the founding documents (in America), will remain a feature of Western dissidence. In other words, even the dissidents will remain conservative restorationists of the classical ideas of the center, or the ideas that led to the center. Truly revolutionary thinking—the re-imagining and reinvention of ourselves—will, however, ultimately come from the periphery rather than the center.

 


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/09/unthinking-liberalism/

mercredi, 19 septembre 2012

G. Faye: The Transitional Program

The Transitional Program

By Michael O'Meara

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

A propos of . . .

Guillaume Faye
Mon Programme: Un programme révolutionnaire ne vise pas à changer les règles du jeu mais à changer de jeu,
Chevaigné: Les Éditions du Lore, 2012

Following quickly on the heels of Sexe et dévoiement [3] (2011), which examined the social-sexual roots of the present European demographic crisis, Faye’s latest is a much different kind of work, addressing quite another, though not entirely unrelated problem.

Theory and Practice

When dealing with political ideas in the largest sense (i.e., as they bear on the life or death of the polis), there comes a time, he argues, when critical and analytical thought, with its commentaries and opinions, has to pass from the abstract to the concrete. The most brilliant medical diagnosis, to give an analogy, is worth little if it does not eventually lead to a curative therapy.

In this vein, his Programme represents an effort to pass from the theoretical to the practical, as it proposes certain concrete policies (political therapies) to treat the ills presently afflicting the French state – and by extension, other European states. The details of this program make little reference to the American situation, but its general principles speak to the malignancy infecting all states of the Americanosphere.

Reform and Revolution

Faye’s program is not, ostensibly, about reforming the existing state. That would only “improve” a political system, whose corruptions, vices, and totalitarian powers are increasing immune to correction. The state’s lack of authority and democratic legitimacy, combined with the entrenchment of the New Class interests controlling it, means that such a system cannot actually be changed in any significant way. Hence the claim of Faye’s subtitle: A revolutionary program (i.e., one that attacks the existing disorder at its roots) “does not aim at changing the rules of the game but at changing the game itself.” The “game” here is the existing political system, which has become an obvious catastrophe for European peoples. For every patriot, this system needs not to be changed, but to be razed and rebuilt – from the ground up and according to an entirely different paradigm.

There is, though, a certain terminological confusion in the way Faye describes his program. He realizes it is something of a pipe dream. No state or party is likely to embrace it — though, of course, this does not lessen the value of its exercise nor does it mean it will not fertilize future projects of a similar sort. We also do not know what is coming and perhaps there will be a moment of breakdown — Joseph Tainter’s “Collapse” — making possible a revolutionary transition. If “we” should ever, then, have the occasion to assume power and restructure the state: how would we go about it?

Faye’s Programme is an effort to start thinking about such an alternative in a situation where a regime-threatening crisis of one sort or another brings a “new majority” to power. He doesn’t specifically spell out what such a crisis might entail, but it is easily imaginable. In 2017, for example, if the present society-destroying problems of unemployment, deindustrialization, massive indebtedness, uncontrolled Third World immigration, etc., are not fixed, and nothing suggests that they will, an anti-system party, like the National Front, could conceivably be voted into power. (Think of what is happening in Greece today.) In such a situation a new majority might submit something like his Programme to a referendum, calling on the “people” to authorize a radical re-structurization of the political system.

I can think of at least two national revolutions that came to power in a similar institutional (legal) way: the Sinn Féin MPs of December 1918 who refused to sit at Westminster and the NSDAP coalition that got a chance to form a government in January 1933.

The Programme anticipates a less catastrophic situation than foreseen in his Convergence des castastrophes (2004) or implied in Avant-Guerre (2002). Perhaps he is suggesting that this scenario is more realistic or likely now; I’m not certain. But it is strange to see so little of his convergence theory — what Tainter calls the ever mounting costliness of complexity — in his program, especially while positing a crisis as the program’s premise.

In any case, his Programme assumes its political remediation is to be administered before the present system collapses, at a moment when a new majority gets a chance to form a government from the debris of the old. For this reason, I think it is better characterized as “transitional” (in the Trotskyist sense).

Unlike a revolutionary program that outlines a strategy for overturning the existing order and seizing state power, a transitional program addresses a crisis in terms of the existing institutional parameters, but does so in ways that reach beyond their limits and are unacceptable to the ruling powers — challenging the system’s logic and thus posing a threat to its “order.” (See Leon Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International [1938].)

The State

In The Politics, Aristotle conceives of the state almost organically: the head of a body (the polis) — the political system that rules the City and ensures order within its measured boundaries.

In his self-consciously Aristotelian approach — which favors individual liberty, responsibility, hierarchy, and ethno-cultural homogeneity — Faye’s program aims at lessening the state’s costly, inefficient administrative functions, enhancing its sovereign powers, and abandoning its appropriation of functions that properly belong to the family and society.

This entails freeing the French state from the present European Union (whose Orwellian stranglehold on continental life is objectively anti-European). He does not actually advocate withdrawing from it, but rather refusing to cooperate with it until its rules are redesigned and national sovereignty is restored. Given that France is the most politically significant of the European states and is pivotal the EU’s existence, it has the power to force a major revamping of its policies and restore the European Idea that inspired the Treaty of Rome (1958).

If achieved, this restoration of national sovereignty would give the French state the freedom to remodel its institutions — not for the sake of undermining the primacy of the state, as our libertarians would have it, but of excising its cancers and enhancing its “regalian” will to “re-establish, preserve, and develop the identity, the prosperity, the security, and the power of France and Europe.”

Faye is not a traditional French nationalist, but a Europeanist favoring continental unity (an imperial family of nations rather than a global marketplace). He believes both the French state and the EU have a liberal-socialist concept of the political, which makes them unable to distinguish between their friends and enemies — given that the individualist, universalistic, and pluralist postulates of their ideology views the world in market and moralist terms, holding that only individualistic matters of ethics and economics are primary. (In traditional, organic civilizations it is the Holy that is primary.)

A restoration of sovereignty would give the French state the freedom to restructure and rebuild itself.

Globally, he proposes measures that would control the nation’s borders, re-vitalize its national economy, improve its efficiency, reduce its costs, amputate its nomenclature, streamline its functions, and concentrate on the national interest, and not, like now, on the special interests. But there is nothing in the Programme that would mobilize the French themselves for the transition. It is strictly a top-down project that ignores what Patrick Pearse called “the sovereign people,” who are vital to the success of every revolutionary movement.

The state, in any case, is too large — which is true almost everywhere. At its top and bottom: its functions and personnel need to be greatly reduced — cabinet positions should fall to six (Defense, Justice, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Economy, and Instruction/Patrimony) and the number of state functionaries cut by at least 50 percent. Faye’s proposals would remove cumbersome, over-regulating, and counter-productive state agencies for the sake of freeing up funds for more worthwhile investments in the private economy.

Toward these ends, he proposes overturning the anti-democratic role of judges, who in the name of the Constitution thwart the popular will (constitutional questions would be left to the Senate); introducing referendums that give the electorate a greater say in major policy decisions; restoring popular liberties, like the right to free speech; introducing “positive” law that judges the crime and not the criminal; abolishing the privileges of higher state functionaries (now greater than those of the 18th-century aristocracy); and eliminating the present confusion of state powers.

The Economy

In the modern world, the power (in a material sense) of a nation-state is in its economy. (The health and longevity of the nation — in the spiritual sense — is another thing, dependent on its demography, the preservation of it genetic heritage, the quality of its culture, and the culture’s transmission.)

Though conscious of the dangers posed by economism, Faye believes “prosperity” is necessary (though not sufficient) for social harmony and national defense. State and economy for him are different realms, operating according to different logics. But he rejects both the Marxist contention that the state’s political economy can do anything it wishes in the market and the liberal-conservative position that it can do nothing. Straddling the two, he advocates a political economy whose guiding principles are non-ideological and pragmatic. “What counts is what works — not what conforms to a dogma.” Sound economic practice is based on experience, not theory.

The great financial crisis of 2008, whose ravages are still evident, was not, he claims, a crisis of capitalism, but a crisis of the welfare-state — and thus a crisis of “statism” (étatisme). The crippling state debt allegedly at the root of this crisis stems, he argues, from the state’s profligate spending, its ever-growing number of functionaries, its bureaucratic mismanagement and cronyism, and its unsupportable social charges, like the Afro-Arab hordes occupying its banlieues. Left-wing talk of ultra-liberalism is delusional in economic systems as regulated as those of Europe. In living beyond its means, the state has acquired debts it cannot afford and now blames it on others.

Faye dismisses those who claim the crisis was created by a conspiracy of banksters and vampire capitalists. Targeting solely the failures of the present political system, he does not see or think it is important that there is something of a revolving door (perhaps greater in the US than France) between the state and the corporations, that the crimes of the money powers are intricately linked to state policies, and thus that the economic interests have a corrupting and distorting effect on the state.

In his anti-Marxism, Faye is wont to stress the primacy of the “superstructure,” rather than the economic “base” (which, most of the time, is probably a reliable rule of thumb). Similarly, he does not relate the current crisis to globalization, which has everywhere undermined the existing models of governance, nor does he consider the often nefarious role played by the IMF, the WTO, and the new global oligarchs.

He blames the crisis solely on the state’s incompetent and spendthrift policies, leaving blameless the money-lenders and criminals, whose bail-out caused the national debt to escalate beyond any imaginable repayment. The state may be primary to a people’s existence, but in the neo-liberal regimes of the West, it is clearly attentive, if not subordinated to the dominant economic interests. The two (state and economy) seem hardly understandable today except in relation to one another — though he wants us to believe the cause of the crisis was purely political. (In my mind, it is civilizational.)

In any case, the French state is over-administrated, “socialist” in effect; it has too many workers (almost 25 percent of the workforce); it pursues social-engineering domestically and economy-destroying free-trade policies internationally, the most self-destroying policies conceivable. Given capitalism’s quantitative logic, its globalist free-trade policies are also destroying Europe’s ability to compete with low-wage Third World economies, like China, and are thus devastating the productive capacity of its economies.

France and Europe, Faye argues, need to protect themselves from the ravages of global free trade by creating a Eurasian autarkic economic zone, from Galway to Vladivostok (what he once called “Eurosiberia,” though there’s no mention of it), and at the same time by liberalizing the domestic economy, throwing off excessive regulations and social charges for the sake of unleashing European initiative and enterprise. He calls thus for changes in the EU that focus on stimulating the European market rather than allowing it to succumb to America’s global market, which is turning the continent’s advanced economies into financialized and tertiarized economies, unable to provide decent paying jobs. The emphasis of his program is thus on national economic growth.

The present policy of budget austerity, he argues, is compounding the crisis, causing state revenues to decline and forcing the economy into depression. Growth alone will generate the wealth needed to get out of debt. To this end, the state needs to radically cut costs, but do so without imposing austerity measures. This entails not just simplifying and rationalizing public functions, but changing the paradigm. The state should not, therefore, indiscriminately reduce public expenses, but rather suppress useless, unproductive charges, while augmenting wealth-creating ones.

Basically, he wants the state to withdraw from the economy, but without abandoning its role in protecting the public and national interests. For those key sectors vital to the nation’s economy and security — energy, armaments, aerospace, and high tech — the state should exercise a certain strategic control over them, but without interfering in their management.

He also calls for a tax revolution that will unburden the middle class, while expanding the tax base. Similarly, he wants the state to encourage enterprise by relieving business of costly social charges, especially on small and middle-size enterprises that create employment; he wants the French to work more — increasing the workweek from 35 hours to 40, and decreasing annual vacations from five weeks to four; he wants a liberalization of the labor market, with a system of national preferences favoring French workers over immigrants; he wants a different system of unemployment benefits that encourages work and rationalizes job placements; he wants a cap on executive salaries and an end to golden parachutes; and he wants state subventions of public worker unions discontinued, along with their right to strike.

As a general principle, he claims the state should not grant rights it cannot afford, that those who can work should, that foreigners have no right to public services (including education), that quotas imposing artificial forms of sexual and racial equality are intolerable, and that only natives unable to work should be entitled to assistance. Social justice, he observes, is not a matter of socialist redistribution, but of a system whose pragmatic efficiencies and competitive industries are able to provide for the nation’s needs. There are, however, no proposals in his program for re-industrialization, state economic planning, or an alternative form of economy based on something other than capitalism’s incessant need to grow and consume.

Closely related to the country’s economic problems is that of the state’s failed politique familiale. The state needs to adopt measures to offset the social problems created by explosive divorce rates and non-reproducing birthrates. The aging of the population is also going to require increased medical services, which need to be expanded and improved.

As for the rising generation, he calls for a revamping of the national education system, which has become a “cretin-producing factory.” France’s Third Republic had one of the finest educational systems in the world, that of the Fifth Republic has been an utter disaster, due largely to Left-wing egalitarian policies catering to the lowest common denominator (the Barbarians at the Gates). The state, moreover, has no right to ‘educate’ youth — that is the role of the family (and, I would add, the Church). The state should instead provide schools that instruct — that convey knowledge and its methods — not inculcate the reigning Left ideologies. Discipline must also be restored; all violence and disorder in schools must be severely punished. Immigrants and non-natives ought to be excluded. Obligatory schooling should end at age 14, and a system of apprenticeship (like in Germany) should be made available to those who do not pursue academic degrees.

The universities also need to be revamped, with more rigorous forms of instruction, dress codes, tracking, and the elimination of such frivolous disciplines as psychology, sociology, communications, business, etc.

There are, though, no proposed measures in his program to strengthen the nation’s ethno-cultural identity, resist the audio-visual imperialism of America’s entertainment industry, or outlaw the NGOs funded by the CIA.

Immigration

The present soft-totalitarian ideology of the French state, like states throughout the Americanosphere, portrays immigration as an “enrichment,” though obviously it is everywhere and in all ways a disaster, threatening the nation’s ethnic fundament, its way of life, and its cultural integrity. Immigration is also code for Third World colonization and Islamization.

Against those claiming it is impossible to stem the immigrant tide, Faye contends that what is needed is a will to do so — a will to eliminate the “pull” factors (like welfare) that attract the immigrant invaders. He proposes zero immigration, the deportation of illegals, the expulsion of unemployed legal ones, the end to family regroupments, the strict policing of student and tourist visas, the abolition of exile rights, visa controls on international transportation links, the elimination of state-funded social assistance to foreigners, national preference in employment, and the replacement of jus soli by jus sanguinis.

Given that Muslims are a special threat, Faye proposes abolishing all state-supported Muslim associations, prohibiting mosque building and halal practices, imposing heavy fines on veiled women, eliminating Muslim chaplains from the military and the prison system, and implementing a general policy of restrictive legislation toward Islam. Surprisingly, he proposes no measures to break up the non-European ghettos presently sponging off French tax-payers and constituting a highly destabilizing factor within the body politic (perhaps because the above measures would prevent these ghettos from continuing to exist).

Even these relatively moderate measures, he realizes, are likely to stir up trouble, for every positive action inevitably comes with its negative effects. But unless measures aimed at stopping the “pull” factors promoting the immigrant invasion are taken, Faye warns, it may be too late for France, in which case more drastic measures will have to be taken later — and Plan B will have no pity.

The World

The state’s defense of the nation and its relationship with other states are two of its defining functions.

To those familiar with Faye’s earlier thoughts on these subjects, they will find the same general orientation — a rejection of Atlanticism, a realignment with Russia, neutrality to the US, withdrawal from the Third World, and an armed vigilance toward Islam. His stance on NATO, the US, and Russia, though, is more “moderate” than those taken in the past.

The Programme depicts the present EU as objectively anti-European, but does not call for an outright withdrawal from it. It similarly recognizes that NATO subordinates Europe to America’s destructive crusades and alliances (impinging on the basic principle of sovereignty: the right to declare war) and again does not call for a withdrawal, only a strategy to diminish its significance. And, finally, though he thinks Russia should be the axis of French policy (which is indeed her only viable geopolitical option), there is little in his program that would advance the prospects of such a realignment or re-align France against the surreptitious war of encirclement presently being waged by the US against Russia. There is also nothing on the present “unipolar-to-multipolar phase” of international politics, brought on by America’s imperial decline — as it goes about threatening war and international havoc, all the while supremely indifferent to the collapse of its own economic fundamentals. On these key policies related to France’s position in the world, he stands to the “right” of Marine Le Pen.

Faye’s program aims at restoring French sovereignty, but, as suggested, on issues relevant to its restoration, his position would greatly modify France’s submission to the anti-sovereign powers, not break with them. At the root of this apparent irresolution, I suspect, is his understanding of Islam. Faye has long designated it as Europe’s principal enemy. And there is no question that Islam, as a civilization, is objectively and threateningly anti-European, and that Muslim immigrants pose a dire threat to France’s future.

But his half-right position has taken him down a wayward path: to an alliance with Islam’s great enemy, Israel, and to an accommodation with Israel’s Guardian Angel, the United States, the world’s foremost anti-white power. For it is the American system (in arming and abetting jihadists to destabilize regimes it seeks to control) that has made Islam such a world threat and it is the American system (in the blight of its leveling commercialism and the poisonous vapors of its human rights ideology) that poses the greatest, most profound threat to European existence.

Faye’s questionable position on these issues seems, more generally, to come from ignoring the nature of the post-1945 nomos imposed by New York-Washington on defeated Europe and the rest of the non-Communist world after the Second World War. America has always had an ambivalent relationship to Europe — being both an offshoot of European Christian civilization and a Puritan (in effect, Bolshevik) opponent of it. Since the end of the last world war — when it formally threw off the Christian moral foundations of the last thousand years of European civilization by morally sanctioning “the destruction of residential areas and the mass killing of civilians as a routine method of warfare” — a new counter-civilization, an empire of liberty and chaos, has come to rule the world (even if during the 45 years of the Cold War the US encouraged the illusion that it was a bastion of Western values and Christianity). (See Desmond Fennell, The Postwestern Condition: Between Chaos and Civilization [1999]; Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth [1950/2003].)

Not just the devastated Germans and Italians, but all Europeans were subsequently integrated into the predatory empire of this counter-civilization — and subjected to its transvaluation of values (consumerism, permissiveness, abortion, the elimination of sex differences, the death of God, the end of art, anti-racism, and the “newspeak” whose inversions hold that “war is peace,” “dictatorship is democracy,” “ignorance is culture,” etc.). European elites have since become not just a comprador bourgeoisie, but home-grown exemplars of the moral and cultural void (the Thanatos principles) animating the American system. It is this system and its poisons that have made Europeans indifferent to their survival as a people and accounts for the increasing dysfunctionality of their established institutions — not the mass influx of Third World immigrants, who are a (prominent and very unpleasant) symptom, though not the source, of the reigning inversions.

Without acknowledging this, Faye can argue that America is only an adversary of Europe — a power that might exploit Europeans, but not one posing a life and death threat to their existence, like a true enemy. He forgets, accordingly, that America and America’s special friend, Britain, rather consciously destroyed historic Europe — that civilization born from the “medieval” alliance of Charlemagne and the Papacy. In the course of its anti-fascist crusade, the imperial leviathan headquartered in New York-Washington threw off the values and forms of Europe’s ancient and venerable Christian civilization for ones based on the sanctioning of mass murder.

Such premises have since inspired on-going campaigns “to abolish and demolish and derange” the world. It is this system that endangers white people today — for it wars on everything refusing to bend to its “liberal democratic” (i.e., money-driven) colonization, standardization, and demeaning of private and social life — as it breaks up traditional communities, isolates the individual within an increasingly indifferent “global world” dismissive of history, culture, and nature, rejects historically and religiously established sources of meaning, and leaves in their stead innumerable worthless consumer items and a whorl of fabricated electronic simulacra that situate all life within its hyperreal bubble. Even in an indirect or transitional way, Faye does not address this most eminent of the anti-European forces, offering no real alternative to the US/EU consumer paradise, whose present breakdown will be recuperated only by a resistance whose political vision transcends the underlying tenets of the existing one.

Conclusion

As an exercise, Faye’s Programme displays much of its author’s characteristic intelligence and creativity, and it stands as a respectable complement to the numerous interpretative and analytical works he has written on various aspects of European life over the last decade and a half — works written with verve and an imagination rich in imagery, lucidity, and urgency. As a brief programmatic redefinition of the French state system, his program is, admittedly, impressive. It is not, however, revolutionary. In some respects, it is not transitional. Above all, it does not get at the roots of the existing disorder: the satanic system that is presently destroying both Europe and the remnants of European civilization in America.

If Faye continues to speak for the rising forces of European identitarianism and populism, he will need to invent a better “game” than his program — for what seems most needed in this period of transition is a worldview premised on the overthrow of the existing nomos.

 


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/08/the-transitional-program/

samedi, 15 septembre 2012

Aleksandr Dugin: Liberalism, Communism, Fascism, and the Fourth Political Theory

Aleksandr Dugin: Liberalism, Communism, Fascism, and the Fourth Political Theory

jeudi, 12 juillet 2012

Modernità totalitaria

Modernità totalitaria

Ex: http://www.centrostudilaruna.it/

Augusto Del Noce individuò precocemente la diversità dei regimi a partito unico del Novecento, rispetto al liberalismo, nella loro natura “religiosa” e fortemente comunitaria. Vere religioni apocalittiche, ideologie fideistiche della redenzione popolare, neo-gnosticismi basati sulla realizzazione in terra del Millennio. Questa la sostanza più interna di quei movimenti, che in tempi e modi diversi lanciarono la sfida all’individualismo laico e borghese. Fascismo, nazionalsocialismo e comunismo furono uniti dalla concezione “totalitaria” della partecipazione politica: la sfera del privato andava tendenzialmente verso un progressivo restringimento, a favore della dimensione pubblica, politica appunto. E nella sua Nuova scienza della politica, Voegelin già nel 1939 accentrò il suo sguardo proprio su questo enigmatico riermergere dalle viscere dell’Europa di una sua antica vocazione: concepire l’uomo come zoòn politikòn, animale politico, che vive la dimensione dell’agorà, della assemblea politica, come la vera espressione dell’essere uomo. Un uomo votato alla vita di comunità, al legame, alla reciprocità, al solidarismo sociale, più di quanto non fosse incline al soddisfacimento dei suoi bisogni privati e personali.

 

 

Lo studio del Fascismo partendo da queste sue profonde caratteristiche sta ormai soppiantando le obsolete interpretazioni economiciste e sociologiche che avevano dominato nei decenni scorsi, inadatte a capire un fenomeno tanto variegato e composito, ma soprattutto tanto “subliminale” e agente negli immaginari della cultura popolare. In questo senso, la categoria “totalitarismo”, sotto la quale Hannah Arendt aveva a suo tempo collocato il nazismo e il comunismo, ma non il Fascismo (in virtù dell’assenza in quest’ultimo di un apparato di violenta repressione di massa), viene recuperata con altri risvolti: anche il Fascismo ebbe un suo aspetto “totalitario”, chiamò se stesso con questo termine, aspirò a una sua “totalità”, ma semplicemente volendo significare che il suo era un modello di coinvolgimento totale, una mobilitazione di tutte le energie nazionali, una generale chiamata a raccolta di tutto il popolo nel progetto di edificazione dello Stato Nuovo. Il totalitarismo fascista, insomma, non tanto come sistema repressivo e come organizzazione dello Stato di polizia, ma come sistema di aggregazione totale di tutti in tutte le sfere dell’esistenza, dal lavoro al tempo libero, dall’arte alla cultura. Il totalitarismo fascista non come arma di coercizione capillare, ma come macchina di conquista e promozione di un consenso che si voleva non passivo e inerte, ma attivo e convinto.

 

Un’analisi di questi aspetti viene ora effettuata dal libro curato da Emilio Gentile Modernità totalitaria. Il fascismo italiano (Laterza), in cui vari autori affrontano il tema da più prospettive: la religione politica, gli stili estetici, la divulgazione popolare, l’architettura, i rituali del Regime. Pur negli ondeggiamenti interpretativi, se ne ricava il quadro di un Fascismo che non solo non fu uno strumento reazionario in mano agli agenti politici oscurantisti dell’epoca, ma proprio al contrario fu l’espressione più tipica della modernità, manifestando certo anche talune disfunzioni legate alla società di massa, ma – all’opposto del liberalismo – cercando anche di temperarle costruendo un tessuto sociale solidarista che risultasse, per quanto possibile nell’era industriale e tecnologica, a misura d’uomo.

 

Diciamo subito che l’indagine svolta da Mauro Canali, uno degli autori del libro in parola, circa le tecniche repressive attuate dal Regime nei confronti degli oppositori politici, non ci convince. Si dice che anche il Fascismo eresse apparati atti alla denuncia, alla sorveglianza delle persone, alla creazione di uno stato di sospetto diffuso. Che fu dunque meno “morbido” di quanto generalmente si pensi.

 

E si citano organismi come la mitica “Ceka” (la cui esistenza nel ‘23-’24 non è neppure storicamente accertata), la staraciana “Organizzazione capillare” del ‘35-’36, il rafforzamento della Polizia di Stato, la figura effimera dei “prefetti volanti”, quella dei “fiduciari”, che insieme alle leggi “fascistissime” del ‘25-’26 avrebbero costituito altrettanti momenti di aperta oppure occulta coercizione. Vorremmo sapere se, ad esempio, la struttura di polizia degli Stati Uniti – in cui per altro la pena capitale viene attuata ancora oggi in misura non paragonabile a quella ristretta a pochissimi casi estremi durante i vent’anni di Fascismo – non sia molto più efficiente e invasiva di quanto lo sia stata quella fascista. Che, a cominciare dal suo capo Bocchini, elemento di formazione moderata e “giolittiana”, rimase fino alla fine in gran parte liberale. C’erano i “fiduciari”, che sorvegliavano sul comportamento politico della gente? Ma perchè, oggi non sorgono come funghi “comitati di vigilanza antifascista” non appena viene detta una sola parola che vada oltre il seminato? E non vengono svolte campagne di intimidazione giornalistica e televisiva nei confronti di chi, per qualche ragione, non accetta il sistema liberaldemocratico? E non si attuano politiche di pubblica denuncia e di violenta repressione nei confronti del semplice reato di opinione, su temi considerati a priori indiscutibili? E non esistono forse leggi europee che mandano in galera chi la pensa diversamente dal potere su certi temi?

 

Il totalitarismo fascista non va cercato nella tecnica di repressione, che in varia misura appartiene alla logica stessa di qualsiasi Stato che ci tenga alla propria esistenza. Vogliamo ricordare che anche di recente si è parlato di “totalitarismo” precisamente a proposito della società liberaldemocratica. Ad esempio, nel libro curato da Massimo Recalcati Forme contemporanee di totalitarismo (Bollati Boringhieri), si afferma apertamente l’esistenza del binomio «potere e terrore» che domina la società globalizzata. Una struttura di potere che dispone di tecniche di dominazione psico-fisica di straordinaria efficienza. Si scrive in proposito che la società liberaldemocratica globalizzata della nostra epoca è «caratterizzata da un orizzonte inedito che unisce una tendenza totalitaria – universalista appunto – con la polverizzzazione relativistica dell’Uno». Il dominio oligarchico liberale di fatto non ha nulla da invidiare agli strumenti repressivi di massa dei regimi “totalitari” storici, attuando anzi metodi di controllo-repressione che, più soft all’apparenza, si rivelano nei fatti di superiore tenuta. Quando si richiama l’attenzione sull’esistenza odierna di un «totalitarismo postideologico nelle società a capitalismo avanzato», sulla materializzazione disumanizzante della vita, sullo sfaldamento dei rapporti sociali a favore di quelli economici, si traccia il profilo di un totalitarismo organizzato in modo formidabile, che è in piena espansione ed entra nelle case e nel cervello degli uomini con metodi “terroristici” per lo più inavvertiti, ma di straordinaria resa pratica. Poche società – ivi comprese quelle totalitarie storiche –, una volta esaminate nei loro reali organigrammi, presentano un “modello unico”, un “pensiero unico”, un’assenza di controculture e di antagonismi politici, come la presente società liberale. La schiavizzazione psicologica al modello del profitto e l’obbligatoria sudditanza agli articoli della fede “democratica” attuano tali bombardamenti mass-mediatici e tali intimidazioni nei confronti dei comportamenti devianti, che al confronto le pratiche fasciste di isolamento dell’oppositore – si pensi al blandissimo regime del “confino di polizia” – appaiono bonari e paternalistici ammonimenti di epoche arcaiche.

 

Il totalitarismo fascista fu altra cosa. Fu la volontà di creare una nuova civiltà non di vertice ed oligarchica, ma col sostegno attivo e convinto tanto delle avanguardie politiche e culturali, quanto di masse fortemente organizzate e politicizzate. Si può parlare, in proposito, di un popolo italiano soltanto dopo la “nazionalizzazione” effettuata dal Fascismo. Il quale, bene o male, prese masse relegate nell’indigenza, nell’ignoranza secolare, nell’abbandono sociale e culturale, le strappò al loro miserabile isolamento, le acculturò, le vestì, le fece viaggiare per l’Italia, le mise a contatto con realtà sino ad allora ignorate – partecipazione a eventi comuni di ogni tipo, vacanze, sussidi materiali, protezione del lavoro, diritti sociali, garanzie sanitarie… – dando loro un orgoglio, fecendole sentire protagoniste, elevandole alla fine addirittura al rango di “stirpe dominatrice”. E imprimendo la forte sensazione di partecipare attivamente a eventi di portata mondiale e di poter decidere sul proprio destino… Questo è il totalitarismo fascista. Attraverso il Partito e le sue numerose organizzazioni, di una plebe semimedievale – come ormai riconosce la storiografia – si riuscì a fare in qualche anno, e per la prima volta nella storia d’Italia, un popolo moderno, messo a contatto con tutti gli aspetti della modernità e della tecnica, dai treni popolari alla radio, dall’auto “Balilla” al cinema.

 

Ecco dunque che il totalitarismo fascista appare di una specie tutta sua. Lungi dall’essere uno Stato di polizia, il Regime non fece che allargare alla totalità del popolo i suoi miti fondanti, le sue liturgie politiche, il suo messaggio di civiltà, il suo italianismo, la sua vena sociale: tutte cose che rimasero inalterate, ed anzi potenziate, rispetto a quando erano appannaggio del primo Fascismo minoritario, quello movimentista e squadrista. Giustamente scrive Emily Braun, collaboratrice del libro sopra segnalato, che il Fascismo fornì nel campo artistico l’esempio tipico della sua specie particolare di totalitarismo. Non vi fu mai un’arte “di Stato”. Quanti si occuparono di politica delle arti (nomi di straordinaria importanza a livello europeo: Marinetti, Sironi, la Sarfatti, Soffici, Bottai…) capirono «che l’estetica non poteva essere né imposta né standardizzata… il fascismo italiano utilizzava forme d’arte modernista, il che implica l’arte di avanguardia». Ma non ci fu un potere arcigno che obbligasse a seguire un cliché preconfezionato. Lo stile “mussoliniano” e imperiale si impose per impulso non del vertice politico, ma degli stessi protagonisti, «poiché gli artisti di regime più affermati erano fascisti convinti».

 

Queste cose oggi possono finalmente esser dette apertamente, senza timore di quella vecchia censura storiografica, che è stata per decenni l’esatto corrispettivo delle censure del tempo fascista. Le quali ultime, tuttavia, operarono in un clima di perenne tensione ideologica, di crisi mondiali, di catastrofi economiche, di guerre e rivoluzioni, e non di pacifica “democrazia”. Se dunque vi fu un totalitarismo fascista, esso è da inserire, come scrive Emilio Gentile, nel quadro dell’«eclettismo dello spirito» propugnato da Mussolini, che andava oltre l’ideologia, veicolando una visione del mondo totale.

 

* * *

 

Tratto da Linea del 27 marzo 2009.

 

The Fourth Political Theory

 
Het boek wordt voorgesteld op 28 juli 2012 in Stockholm (voor Europa) en in Brazilië (voor het Amerikaanse continent).
 
 
Table of Contents:

A Note from the Editor
Foreword by Alain Soral
Introduction: To Be or Not to Be?

1. The Birth of the Concept
2. Dasein as an Actor
3. The Critique of Monotonic Processes
4. The Reversibility of Time
5. Global Transition and its Enemies
6. Conservatism and Postmodernity
7. ‘Civilisation’ as an Ideological Concept
8. The Transformation of the Left in the Twenty-first Century
9. Liberalism and Its Metamorphoses
10. The Ontology of the Future
11. The New Political Anthropology
12. Fourth Political Practice
13. Gender in the Fourth Political Theory
14. Against the Postmodern World
Appendix I: Political Post-Anthropology
Appendix II: The Metaphysics of Chaos

mercredi, 11 juillet 2012

Fascism, Anti-Fascism, and the Welfare State

Fascism, Anti-Fascism, and the Welfare State

Paul Gottfried

lundi, 09 juillet 2012

Augustin Cochin on the French Revolution

aaaacochin.jpg

From Salon to Guillotine
Augustin Cochin on the French Revolution

By F. Roger Devlin

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Augustin Cochin
Organizing the Revolution: Selections From Augustin Cochin [2]
Translated by Nancy Derr Polin with a Preface by Claude Polin
Rockford, Ill.: Chronicles Press, 2007

The Rockford Institute’s publication of Organizing the Revolution marks the first appearance in our language of an historian whose insights apply not only to the French Revolution but to much of modern politics as well.

Augustin Cochin (1876–1916) was born into a family that had distinguished itself for three generations in the antiliberal “Social Catholicism” movement. He studied at the Ecole des Chartes and began to specialize in the study of the Revolution in 1903. Drafted in 1914 and wounded four times, he continued his researches during periods of convalescence. But he always requested to be returned to the front, where he was killed on July 8, 1916 at the age of thirty-nine.

Cochin was a philosophical historian in an era peculiarly unable to appreciate that rare talent. He was trained in the supposedly “scientific” methods of research formalized in his day under the influence of positivism, and was in fact an irreproachably patient and thorough investigator of primary archives. Yet he never succumbed to the prevailing notion that facts and documents would tell their own story in the absence of a human historian’s empathy and imagination. He always bore in mind that the goal of historical research was a distinctive type of understanding.

Both his archival and his interpretive labors were dedicated to elucidating the development of Jacobinism, in which he (rightly) saw the central, defining feature of the French Revolution. François Furet wrote: “his approach to the problem of Jacobinism is so original that it has been either not understood or buried, or both.”[1]

Most of his work appeared only posthumously. His one finished book is a detailed study of the first phase of the Revolution as it played out in Brittany: it was published in 1925 by his collaborator Charles Charpentier. He had also prepared (with Charpentier) a complete collection of the decrees of the revolutionary government (August 23, 1793–July 27, 1794). His mother arranged for the publication of two volumes of theoretical writings: The Philosophical Societies and Modern Democracy (1921), a collection of lectures and articles; and The Revolution and Free Thought (1924), an unfinished work of interpretation. These met with reviews ranging from the hostile to the uncomprehending to the dismissive.

“Revisionist” historian François Furet led a revival of interest in Cochin during the late 1970s, making him the subject of a long and appreciative chapter in his important study Interpreting the French Revolution and putting him on a par with Tocqueville. Cochin’s two volumes of theoretical writings were reprinted shortly thereafter by Copernic, a French publisher associated with GRECE and the “nouvelle droit.”

The book under review consists of selections in English from these volumes. The editor and translator may be said to have succeeded in their announced aim: “to present his unfinished writings in a clear and coherent form.”

Between the death of the pioneering antirevolutionary historian Hippolyte Taine in 1893 and the rise of “revisionism” in the 1960s, study of the French Revolution was dominated by a series of Jacobin sympathizers: Aulard, Mathiez, Lefevre, Soboul. During the years Cochin was producing his work, much public attention was directed to polemical exchanges between Aulard, a devotee of Danton, and his former student Mathiez, who had become a disciple of Robespierre. Both men remained largely oblivious to the vast ocean of assumptions they shared.

Cochin published a critique of Aulard and his methods in 1909; an abridged version of this piece is included in the volume under review. Aulard’s principal theme was that the revolutionary government had been driven to act as it did by circumstance:

This argument [writes Cochin] tends to prove that the ideas and sentiments of the men of ’93 had nothing abnormal in themselves, and if their deeds shock us it is because we forget their perils, the circumstances; [and that] any man with common sense and a heart would have acted as they did in their place. Aulard allows this apology to include even the very last acts of the Terror. Thus we see that the Prussian invasion caused the massacre of the priests of the Abbey, the victories of la Rochejacquelein [in the Vendée uprising] caused the Girondins to be guillotined, [etc.]. In short, to read Aulard, the Revolutionary government appears a mere makeshift rudder in a storm, “a wartime expedient.” (p. 49)

Aulard had been strongly influenced by positivism, and believed that the most accurate historiography would result from staying as close as possible to documents of the period; he is said to have conducted more extensive archival research than any previous historian of the Revolution. But Cochin questioned whether such a return to the sources would necessarily produce truer history:

Mr. Aulard’s sources—minutes of meetings, official reports, newspapers, patriotic pamphlets—are written by patriots [i.e., revolutionaries], and mostly for the public. He was to find the argument of defense highlighted throughout these documents. In his hands he had a ready-made history of the Revolution, presenting—beside each of the acts of “the people,” from the September massacres to the law of Prairial—a ready-made explanation. And it is this history he has written. (p. 65)

aaaaacochinmeccannicca.gifIn fact, says Cochin, justification in terms of “public safety” or “self- defense” is an intrinsic characteristic of democratic governance, and quite independent of circumstance:

When the acts of a popular power attain a certain degree of arbitrariness and become oppressive, they are always presented as acts of self-defense and public safety. Public safety is the necessary fiction in democracy, as divine right is under an authoritarian regime. [The argument for defense] appeared with democracy itself. As early as July 28, 1789 [i.e., two weeks after the storming of the Bastille] one of the leaders of the party of freedom proposed to establish a search committee, later called “general safety,” that would be able to violate the privacy of letters and lock people up without hearing their defense. (pp. 62–63)

(Americans of the “War on Terror” era, take note.)

But in fact, says Cochin, the appeal to defense is nearly everywhere a post facto rationalization rather than a real motive:

Why were the priests persecuted at Auch? Because they were plotting, claims the “public voice.” Why were they not persecuted in Chartes? Because they behaved well there.

How often can we not turn this argument around?

Why did the people in Auch (the Jacobins, who controlled publicity) say the priests were plotting? Because the people (the Jacobins) were persecuting them. Why did no one say so in Chartes? Because they were left alone there.

In 1794 put a true Jacobin in Caen, and a moderate in Arras, and you could be sure by the next day that the aristocracy of Caen, peaceable up till then, would have “raised their haughty heads,” and in Arras they would go home. (p. 67)

In other words, Aulard’s “objective” method of staying close to contemporary documents does not scrape off a superfluous layer of interpretation and put us directly in touch with raw fact—it merely takes the self-understanding of the revolutionaries at face value, surely the most naïve style of interpretation imaginable. Cochin concludes his critique of Aulard with a backhanded compliment, calling him “a master of Jacobin orthodoxy. With him we are sure we have the ‘patriotic’ version. And for this reason his work will no doubt remain useful and consulted” (p. 74). Cochin could not have foreseen that the reading public would be subjected to another half century of the same thing, fitted out with ever more “original documentary research” and flavored with ever increasing doses of Marxism.

But rather than attending further to these methodological squabbles, let us consider how Cochin can help us understand the French Revolution and the “progressive” politics it continues to inspire.

It has always been easy for critics to rehearse the Revolution’s atrocities: the prison massacres, the suppression of the Vendée, the Law of Suspects, noyades and guillotines. The greatest atrocities of the 1790s from a strictly humanitarian point of view, however, occurred in Poland, and some of these were actually counter-revolutionary reprisals. The perennial fascination of the French Revolution lies not so much in the extent of its cruelties and injustices, which the Caligulas and Genghis Khans of history may occasionally have equaled, but in the sense that revolutionary tyranny was something different in kind, something uncanny and unprecedented. Tocqueville wrote of

something special about the sickness of the French Revolution which I sense without being able to describe. My spirit flags from the effort to gain a clear picture of this object and to find the means of describing it fairly. Independently of everything that is comprehensible in the French Revolution there is something that remains inexplicable.

Part of the weird quality of the Revolution was that it claimed, unlike Genghis and his ilk, to be massacring in the name of liberty, equality, and fraternity. But a deeper mystery which has fascinated even its enemies is the contrast between its vast size and force and the negligible ability of its apparent “leaders” to unleash or control it: the men do not measure up to the events. For Joseph de Maistre the explanation could only be the direct working of Divine Providence; none but the Almighty could have brought about so great a cataclysm by means of such contemptible characters. For Augustin Barruel it was proof of a vast, hidden conspiracy (his ideas have a good claim to constitute the world’s original “conspiracy theory”). Taine invoked a “Jacobin psychology” compounded of abstraction, fanaticism, and opportunism.

Cochin found all these notions of his antirevolutionary predecessors unsatisfying. Though Catholic by religion and family background, he quite properly never appeals to Divine Providence in his scholarly work to explain events (p. 71). He also saw that the revolutionaries were too fanatical and disciplined to be mere conspirators bent on plunder (pp. 56–58; 121–122; 154). Nor is an appeal to the psychology of the individual Jacobin useful as an explanation of the Revolution: this psychology is itself precisely what the historian must try to explain (pp. 60–61).

Cochin viewed Jacobinism not primarily as an ideology but as a form of society with its own inherent rules and constraints independent of the desires and intentions of its members. This central intuition—the importance of attending to the social formation in which revolutionary ideology and practice were elaborated as much as to ideology, events, or leaders themselves—distinguishes his work from all previous writing on the Revolution and was the guiding principle of his archival research. He even saw himself as a sociologist, and had an interest in Durkheim unusual for someone of his Catholic traditionalist background.

The term he employs for the type of association he is interested in is société de pensée, literally “thought-society,” but commonly translated “philosophical society.” He defines it as “an association founded without any other object than to elicit through discussion, to set by vote, to spread by correspondence—in a word, merely to express—the common opinion of its members. It is the organ of [public] opinion reduced to its function as an organ” (p. 139).

It is no trivial circumstance when such societies proliferate through the length and breadth of a large kingdom. Speaking generally, men are either born into associations (e.g., families, villages, nations) or form them in order to accomplish practical ends (e.g., trade unions, schools, armies). Why were associations of mere opinion thriving so luxuriously in France on the eve of the Revolution? Cochin does not really attempt to explain the origin of the phenomenon he analyzes, but a brief historical review may at least clarify for my readers the setting in which these unusual societies emerged.

About the middle of the seventeenth century, during the minority of Louis XIV, the French nobility staged a clumsy and disorganized revolt in an attempt to reverse the long decline of their political fortunes. At one point, the ten year old King had to flee for his life. When he came of age, Louis put a high priority upon ensuring that such a thing could never happen again. The means he chose was to buy the nobility off. They were relieved of the obligations traditionally connected with their ancestral estates and encouraged to reside in Versailles under his watchful eye; yet they retained full exemption from the ruinous taxation that he inflicted upon the rest of the kingdom. This succeeded in heading off further revolt, but also established a permanent, sizeable class of persons with a great deal of wealth, no social function, and nothing much to do with themselves.

The salon became the central institution of French life. Men and women of leisure met for gossip, dalliance, witty badinage, personal (not political) intrigue, and discussion of the latest books and plays and the events of the day. Refinement of taste and the social graces reached an unusual pitch. It was this cultivated leisure class which provided both setting and audience for the literary works of the grand siècle.

The common social currency of the age was talk: outside Jewish yeshivas, the world had probably never beheld a society with a higher ratio of talk to action. A small deed, such as Montgolfier’s ascent in a hot air balloon, could provide matter for three years of self-contented chatter in the salons.

Versailles was the epicenter of this world; Paris imitated Versailles; larger provincial cities imitated Paris. Eventually there was no town left in the realm without persons ambitious of imitating the manners of the Court and devoted to cultivating and discussing whatever had passed out of fashion in the capital two years earlier. Families of the rising middle class, as soon as they had means to enjoy a bit of leisure, aspired to become a part of salon society.

Toward the middle of the eighteenth century a shift in both subject matter and tone came over this world of elegant discourse. The traditional saloniste gave way to the philosophe, an armchair statesman who, despite his lack of real responsibilities, focused on public affairs and took himself and his talk with extreme seriousness. In Cochin’s words: “mockery replaced gaiety, and politics pleasure; the game became a career, the festivity a ceremony, the clique the Republic of Letters” (p. 38). Excluding men of leisure from participation in public life, as Louis XIV and his successors had done, failed to extinguish ambition from their hearts. Perhaps in part by way of compensation, the philosophes gradually

created an ideal republic alongside and in the image of the real one, with its own constitution, its magistrates, its common people, its honors and its battles. There they studied the same problems—political, economic, etc.—and there they discussed agriculture, art, ethics, law, etc. There they debated the issues of the day and judged the officeholders. In short, this little State was the exact image of the larger one with only one difference—it was not real. Its citizens had neither direct interest nor responsible involvement in the affairs they discussed. Their decrees were only wishes, their battles conversations, their studies games. It was the city of thought. That was its essential characteristic, the one both initiates and outsiders forgot first, because it went without saying. (pp. 123–24)

Part of the point of a philosophical society was this very seclusion from reality. Men from various walks of life—clergymen, officers, bankers—could forget their daily concerns and normal social identities to converse as equals in an imaginary world of “free thought”: free, that is, from attachments, obligations, responsibilities, and any possibility of failure.

In the years leading up to the Revolution, countless such organizations vied for followers and influence: Amis Réunis, Philalèthes, Chevaliers Bienfaisants, Amis de la Verité, several species of Freemasons, academies, literary and patriotic societies, schools, cultural associations and even agricultural societies—all barely dissimulating the same utopian political spirit (“philosophy”) behind official pretenses of knowledge, charity, or pleasure. They “were all more or less connected to one another and associated with those in Paris. Constant debates, elections, delegations, correspondence, and intrigue took place in their midst, and a veritable public life developed through them” (p. 124).

Because of the speculative character of the whole enterprise, the philosophes’ ideas could not be verified through action. Consequently, the societies developed criteria of their own, independent of the standards of validity that applied in the world outside:

Whereas in the real world the arbiter of any notion is practical testing and its goal what it actually achieves, in this world the arbiter is the opinion of others and its aim their approval. That is real which others see, that true which they say, that good of which they approve. Thus the natural order is reversed: opinion here is the cause and not, as in real life, the effect. (p. 39)

Many matters of deepest concern to ordinary men naturally got left out of discussion: “You know how difficult it is in mere conversation to mention faith or feeling,” remarks Cochin (p. 40; cf. p. 145). The long chains of reasoning at once complex and systematic which mark genuine philosophy—and are produced by the stubborn and usually solitary labors of exceptional men—also have no chance of success in a society of philosophes (p. 143). Instead, a premium gets placed on what can be easily expressed and communicated, which produces a lowest-common-denominator effect (p. 141).

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The philosophes made a virtue of viewing the world surrounding them objectively and disinterestedly. Cochin finds an important clue to this mentality in a stock character of eighteenth-century literature: the “ingenuous man.” Montesquieu invented him as a vehicle for satire in the Persian Letters: an emissary from the King of Persia sending witty letters home describing the queer customs of Frenchmen. The idea caught on and eventually became a new ideal for every enlightened mind to aspire to. Cochin calls it “philosophical savagery”:

Imagine an eighteenth-century Frenchman who possesses all the material attainments of the civilization of his time—cultivation, education, knowledge, and taste—but without any of the real well-springs, the instincts and beliefs that have created and breathed life into all this, that have given their reason for these customs and their use for these resources. Drop him into this world of which he possesses everything except the essential, the spirit, and he will see and know everything but understand nothing. Everything shocks him. Everything appears illogical and ridiculous to him. It is even by this incomprehension that intelligence is measured among savages. (p. 43; cf. p. 148)

In other words, the eighteenth-century philosophes were the original “deracinated intellectuals.” They rejected as “superstitions” and “prejudices” the core beliefs and practices of the surrounding society, the end result of a long process of refining and testing by men through countless generations of practical endeavor. In effect, they created in France what a contributor to this journal has termed a “culture of critique”—an intellectual milieu marked by hostility to the life of the nation in which its participants were living. (It would be difficult, however, to argue a significant sociobiological basis in the French version.)

This gradual withdrawal from the real world is what historians refer to as the development of the Enlightenment. Cochin calls it an “automatic purging” or “fermentation.” It is not a rational progression like the stages in an argument, however much the philosophes may have spoken of their devotion to “Reason”; it is a mechanical process which consists of “eliminating the real world in the mind instead of reducing the unintelligible in the object” (p. 42). Each stage produces a more rarified doctrine and human type, just as each elevation on a mountain slope produces its own kind of vegetation. The end result is the world’s original “herd of independent minds,” a phenomenon which would have horrified even men such as Montesquieu and Voltaire who had characterized the first societies.

It is interesting to note that, like our own multiculturalists, many of the philosophes attempted to compensate for their estrangement from the living traditions of French civilization by a fascination with foreign laws and customs. Cochin aptly compares civilization to a living plant which slowly grows “in the bedrock of experience under the rays of faith,” and likens this sort of philosophe to a child mindlessly plucking the blossoms from every plant he comes across in order to decorate his own sandbox (pp. 43–44).

Accompanying the natural “fermentation” of enlightened doctrine, a process of selection also occurs in the membership of the societies. Certain men are simply more suited to the sort of empty talking that goes on there:

young men because of their age; men of law, letters or discourse because of their profession; the skeptics because of their convictions; the vain because of their temperament; the superficial because of their [poor] education. These people take to it and profit by it, for it leads to a career that the world here below does not offer them, a world in which their deficiencies become strengths. On the other hand, true, sincere minds with a penchant for the concrete, for efficacy rather than opinion, find themselves disoriented and gradually drift away. (pp. 40–41)

In a word, the glib drive out the wise.

The societies gradually acquired an openly partisan character: whoever agreed with their views, however stupid, was considered “enlightened.” By 1776, d’Alembert acknowledged this frankly, writing to Frederick the Great: “We are doing what we can to fill the vacant positions in the Académie française in the manner of the banquet of the master of the household in the Gospel: with the crippled and lame men of literature” (p. 35). Mediocrities such as Mably, Helvétius, d’Holbach, Condorcet, and Raynal, whose works Cochin calls “deserts of insipid prose” were accounted ornaments of their age. The philosophical societies functioned like hired clappers making a success of a bad play (p. 46).

On the other hand, all who did not belong to the “philosophical” party were subjected to a “dry terror”:

Prior to the bloody Terror of ’93, in the Republic of Letters there was, from 1765 to 1780, a dry terror of which the Encyclopedia was the Committee of Public Safety and d’Alembert was the Robespierre. It mowed down reputations as the other chopped off heads: its guillotine was defamation, “infamy” as it was then called: The term, originating with Voltaire [écrasez l’infâme!], was used in the provincial societies with legal precision. “To brand with infamy” was a well-defined operation consisting of investigation, discussion, judgment, and finally execution, which meant the public sentence of “contempt.” (p. 36; cf. p. 123)

Having said something of the thought and behavioral tendencies of the philosophes, let us turn to the manner in which their societies were constituted—which, as we have noted, Cochin considered the essential point. We shall find that they possess in effect two constitutions. One is the original and ostensible arrangement, which our author characterizes as “the democratic principle itself, in its principle and purity” (p. 137). But another pattern of governance gradually takes shape within them, hidden from most of the members themselves. This second, unacknowledged constitution is what allows the societies to operate effectively, even as it contradicts the original “democratic” ideal.

The ostensible form of the philosophical society is direct democracy. All members are free and equal; no one is forced to yield to anyone else; no one speaks on behalf of anyone else; everyone’s will is accomplished. Rousseau developed the principles of such a society in his Social Contract. He was less concerned with the glaringly obvious practical difficulties of such an arrangement than with the question of legitimacy. He did not ask: “How could perfect democracy function and endure in the real word?” but rather: “What must a society whose aim is the common good do to be founded lawfully?”

Accordingly, Rousseau spoke dismissively of the representative institutions of Britain, so admired by Montesquieu and Voltaire. The British, he said, are free only when casting their ballots; during the entire time between elections there are as enslaved as the subjects of the Great Turk. Sovereignty by its very nature cannot be delegated, he declared; the People, to whom it rightfully belongs, must exercise it both directly and continuously. From this notion of a free and egalitarian society acting in concert emerges a new conception of law not as a fixed principle but as the general will of the members at a given moment.

Rousseau explicitly states that the general will does not mean the will of the majority as determined by vote; voting he speaks of slightingly as an “empirical means.” The general will must be unanimous. If the merely “empirical” wills of men are in conflict, then the general will—their “true” will—must lie hidden somewhere. Where is it to be found? Who will determine what it is, and how?

At this critical point in the argument, where explicitness and clarity are most indispensable, Rousseau turns coy and vague: the general will is “in conformity with principles”; it “only exists virtually in the conscience or imagination of ‘free men,’ ‘patriots.’” Cochin calls this “the idea of a legitimate people—very similar to that of a legitimate prince. For the regime’s doctrinaires, the people is an ideal being” (p. 158).

There is a strand of thought about the French Revolution that might be called the “Ideas-Have-Consequences School.” It casts Rousseau in the role of a mastermind who elaborated all the ideas that less important men such as Robespierre merely carried out. Such is not Cochin’s position. In his view, the analogies between the speculations of the Social Contract and Revolutionary practice arise not from one having caused or inspired the other, but from both being based upon the philosophical societies.

Rousseau’s model, in other words, was neither Rome nor Sparta nor Geneva nor any phantom of his own “idyllic imagination”—he was describing, in a somewhat idealized form, the philosophical societies of his day. He treated these recent and unusual social formations as the archetype of all legitimate human association (cf. pp. 127, 155). As such a description—but not as a blueprint for the Terror—the Social Contract may be profitably read by students of the Revolution.

Indeed, if we look closely at the nature and purpose of a philosophical society, some of Rousseau’s most extravagant assertions become intelligible and even plausible. Consider unanimity, for example. The society is, let us recall, “an association founded to elicit through discussion [and] set by vote the common opinion of its members.” In other words, rather than coming together because they agree upon anything, the philosophes come together precisely in order to reach agreement, to resolve upon some common opinion. The society values union itself more highly than any objective principle of union. Hence, they might reasonably think of themselves as an organization free of disagreement.

Due to its unreal character, furthermore, a philosophical society is not torn by conflicts of interest. It demands no sacrifice—nor even effort—from its members. So they can all afford to be entirely “public spirited.” Corruption—the misuse of a public trust for private ends—is a constant danger in any real polity. But since the society’s speculations are not of this world, each philosophe is an “Incorruptible”:

One takes no personal interest in theory. So long as there is an ideal to define rather than a task to accomplish, personal interest, selfishness, is out of the question. [This accounts for] the democrats’ surprising faith in the virtue of mankind. Any philosophical society is a society of virtuous, generous people subordinating political motives to the general good. We have turned our back on the real world. But ignoring the world does not mean conquering it. (p. 155)

(This pattern of thinking explains why leftists even today are wont to contrast their own “idealism” with the “selfish” activities of businessmen guided by the profit motive.)

We have already mentioned that the more glib or assiduous attendees of a philosophical society naturally begin exercising an informal ascendancy over other members: in the course of time, this evolves into a standing but unacknowledged system of oligarchic governance:

Out of one hundred registered members, fewer than five are active, and these are the masters of the society. [This group] is composed of the most enthusiastic and least scrupulous members. They are the ones who choose the new members, appoint the board of directors, make the motions, guide the voting. Every time the society meets, these people have met in the morning, contacted their friends, established their plan, given their orders, stirred up the unenthusiastic, brought pressure to bear upon the reticent. They have subdued the board, removed the troublemakers, set the agenda and the date. Of course, discussion is free, but the risk in this freedom minimal and the “sovereign’s” opposition little to be feared. The “general will” is free—like a locomotive on its tracks. (pp. 172–73)

 Cochin draws here upon James Bryce’s American Commonwealth and Moisey Ostrogorski’s Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties. Bryce and Ostrogorski studied the workings of Anglo-American political machines such as New York’s Tammany Hall and Joseph Chamberlain’s Birmingham Caucus. Cochin considered such organizations (plausibly, from what I can tell) to be authentic descendants of the French philosophical and revolutionary societies. He thought it possible, with due circumspection, to apply insights gained from studying these later political machines to previously misunderstand aspects of the Revolution.

One book with which Cochin seems unfortunately not to have been familiar is Robert Michels’ Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy, published in French translation only in 1914. But he anticipated rather fully Michels’ “iron law of oligarchy,” writing, for example, that “every egalitarian society fatally finds itself, after a certain amount of time, in the hands of a few men; this is just the way things are” (p. 174). Cochin was working independently toward conclusions notably similar to those of Michels and Gaetano Mosca, the pioneering Italian political sociologists whom James Burnham called “the Machiavellians.” The significance of his work extends far beyond that of its immediate subject, the French Revolution.

The essential operation of a democratic political machine consists of just two steps, continually repeated: the preliminary decision and the establishment of conformity.

First, the ringleaders at the center decide upon some measure. They prompt the next innermost circles, whose members pass the message along until it reaches the machine’s operatives in the outermost local societies made up of poorly informed people. All this takes place unofficially and in secrecy (p. 179).

Then the local operatives ingenuously “make a motion” in their societies, which is really the ringleaders’ proposal without a word changed. The motion passes—principally through the passivity (Cochin writes “inertia”) of the average member. The local society’s resolution, which is now binding upon all its members, is with great fanfare transmitted back towards the center.

The central society is deluged with identical “resolutions” from dozens of local societies simultaneously. It hastens to endorse and ratify these as “the will of the nation.” The original measure now becomes binding upon everyone, though the majority of members have no idea what has taken place. Although really a kind of political ventriloquism by the ringleaders, the public opinion thus orchestrated “reveals a continuity, cohesion and vigor that stuns the enemies of Jacobinism” (p. 180).

In his study of the beginnings of the Revolution in Brittany, Cochin found sudden reversals of popular opinion which the likes of Monsieur Aulard would have taken at face value, but which become intelligible once viewed in the light of the democratic mechanism:

On All Saints’ Day, 1789, a pamphlet naïvely declared that not a single inhabitant imagined doing away with the privileged orders and obtaining individual suffrage, but by Christmas hundreds of the common people’s petitions were clamoring for individual suffrage or death. What was the origin of this sudden discovery that people had been living in shame and slavery for the past thousand years? Why was there this imperious, immediate need for a reform which could not wait a minute longer?

Such abrupt reversals are sufficient in themselves to detect the operation of a machine. (p. 179)

The basic democratic two-step is supplemented with a bevy of techniques for confusing the mass of voters, discouraging them from organizing opposition, and increasing their passivity and pliability: these techniques include constant voting about everything—trivial as well as important; voting late at night, by surprise, or in multiple polling places; extending the suffrage to everyone: foreigners, women, criminals; and voting by acclamation to submerge independent voices (pp. 182–83). If all else fails, troublemakers can be purged from the society by ballot:

This regime is partial to people with all sorts of defects, failures, malcontents, the dregs of humanity, anyone who cares for nothing and finds his place nowhere. There must not be religious people among the voters, for faith makes one conscious and independent. [The ideal citizen lacks] any feeling that might oppose the machine’s suggestions; hence also the preference for foreigners, the haste in naturalizing them. (pp. 186–87)

(I bite my lip not to get lost in the contemporary applications.)

The extraordinary point of Cochin’s account is that none of these basic techniques were pioneered by the revolutionaries themselves; they had all been developed in the philosophical societies before the Revolution began. The Freemasons, for example, had a term for their style of internal governance: the “Royal Art.” “Study the social crisis from which the Grand Lodge [of Paris Freemasons] was born between 1773 and 1780,” says Cochin, “and you will find the whole mechanism of a Revolutionary purge” (p. 61).

Secrecy is essential to the functioning of this system; the ordinary members remain “free,” meaning they do not consciously obey any authority, but order and unity are maintained by a combination of secret manipulation and passivity. Cochin relates “with what energy the Grand Lodge refused to register its Bulletin with the National Library” (p. 176). And, of course, the Freemasons and similar organizations made great ado over refusing to divulge the precise nature of their activities to outsiders, with initiates binding themselves by terrifying oaths to guard the sacred trust committed to them. Much of these societies’ appeal lay precisely in the natural pleasure men feel at being “in” on a secret of any sort.

In order to clarify Cochin’s ideas, it might be useful to contrast them at this point with those of the Abbé Barruel, especially as they have been confounded by superficial or dishonest leftist commentators (“No need to read that reactionary Cochin! He only rehashes Barruel’s conspiracy thesis”).

Father Barruel was a French Jesuit living in exile in London when he published his Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism in 1797. He inferred from the notorious secretiveness of the Freemasons and similar groups that they must have been plotting for many years the horrors revealed to common sight after 1789—conspiring to abolish monarchy, religion, social hierarchy, and property in order to hold sway over the ruins of Christendom.

Cochin was undoubtedly thinking of Barruel and his followers when he laments that

thus far, in the lives of these societies, people have only sought the melodrama—rites, mystery, disguises, plots—which means they have strayed into a labyrinth of obscure anecdotes, to the detriment of the true history, which is very clear. Indeed the interest in the phenomenon in question is not in the Masonic bric-a-brac, but in the fact that in the bosom of the nation the Masons instituted a small state governed by its own rules. (p. 137)

For our author, let us recall, a société de pensée such as the Masonic order has inherent constraints independent of the desires or intentions of the members. Secrecy—of the ringleaders in relation to the common members, and of the membership to outsiders—is one of these necessary aspects of its functioning, not a way of concealing criminal intentions. In other words, the Masons were not consciously “plotting” the Terror of ’93 years in advance; the Terror was, however, an unintended but natural outcome of the attempt to apply a version of the Mason’s “Royal Art” to the government of an entire nation.

Moreover, writes Cochin, the peculiar fanaticism and force of the Revolution cannot be explained by a conspiracy theory. Authors like Barruel would reduce the Revolution to “a vast looting operation”:

But how can this enthusiasm, this profusion of noble words, these bursts of generosity or fits of rage be only lies and play-acting? Could the Revolutionary party be reduced to an enormous plot in which each person would only be thinking [and] acting for himself while accepting an iron discipline? Personal interest has neither such perseverance nor such abnegation. Throughout history there have been schemers and egoists, but there have only been revolutionaries for the past one hundred fifty years. (pp. 121–22)

And finally, let us note, Cochin included academic and literary Societies, cultural associations, and schools as sociétés de pensée. Many of these organizations did not even make the outward fuss over secrecy and initiation that the Masons did.

 

By his own admission, Cochin has nothing to tell us about the causes of the Revolution’s outbreak:

I am not saying that in the movement of 1789 there were not real causes—[e.g.,] a bad fiscal regime that exacted very little, but in the most irritating and unfair manner—I am just saying these real causes are not my subject. Moreover, though they may have contributed to the Revolution of 1789, they did not contribute to the Revolutions of August 10 [1792, abolition of the monarchy] or May 31 [1793, purge of the Girondins]. (p. 125)

With these words, he turns his back upon the entire Marxist “class struggle” approach to understanding the Revolution, which was the fundamental presupposition of much twentieth-century research.

The true beginning of the Revolution on Cochin’s account was the announcement in August 1788 that the Estates General would be convoked for May 1789, for this was the occasion when the men of the societies first sprang into action to direct a real political undertaking. With his collaborator in archival work, Charpentier, he conducted extensive research into this early stage of the Revolution in Brittany and Burgundy, trying to explain not why it took place but how it developed. This material is omitted from the present volume of translations; I shall cite instead from Furet’s summary and discussion in Interpreting the French Revolution:

In Burgundy in the autumn of 1788, political activity was exclusively engineered by a small group of men in Dijon who drafted a “patriotic” platform calling for the doubling of the Third Estate, voting by head, and the exclusion of ennobled commoners and seigneurial dues collectors from the assemblies of the Third Estate. Their next step was the systematic takeover of the town’s corporate bodies. First came the avocats’ corporation where the group’s cronies were most numerous; then the example of that group was used to win over other wavering or apathetic groups: the lower echelons of the magistrature, the physicians, the trade guilds. Finally the town hall capitulated, thanks to one of the aldermen and pressure from a group of “zealous citizens.” In the end, the platform appeared as the freely expressed will of the Third Estate of Dijon. Promoted by the usurped authority of the Dijon town council, it then reached the other towns of the province.[2]

. . . where the same comedy was acted out, only with less trouble since the platform now apparently enjoyed the endorsement of the provincial capital. Cochin calls this the “snowballing method” (p. 84).

An opposition did form in early December: a group of nineteen noblemen which grew to fifty. But the remarkable fact is that the opponents of the egalitarian platform made no use of the traditional institutions or assemblies of the nobility; these were simply forgotten or viewed as irrelevant. Instead, the nobles patterned their procedures on those of the rival group: they thought and acted as the “right wing” of the revolutionary party itself. Both groups submitted in advance to arbitration by democratic legitimacy. The episode, therefore, marked not a parting of the ways between the supporters of the old regime and adherents of the new one, but the first of the revolutionary purges. Playing by its enemies’ rules, the opposition was defeated by mid-December.[3]

In Brittany an analogous split occurred in September and October rather than December. The traditional corporate bodies and the philosophical societies involved had different names. The final purge of the nobles was not carried out until January 1789. The storyline, however, was essentially the same. [4]  La Révolution n’a pas de patrie (p. 131).

The regulations for elections to the Estates General were finally announced on January 24, 1789. As we shall see, they provided the perfect field of action for the societies’ machinations.

The Estates General of France originated in the fourteenth century, and were summoned by the King rather than elected. The first two estates consisted of the most important ecclesiastical and lay lords of the realm, respectively. The third estate consisted not of the “commoners,” as usually thought, but of the citizens of certain privileged towns which enjoyed a direct relation with the King through a royal charter (i.e., they were not under the authority of any feudal lord). The selection of notables from this estate may have involved election, although based upon a very restricted franchise.

In the Estates General of those days, the King was addressing

the nation with its established order and framework, with its various hierarchies, its natural subdivisions, its current leaders, whatever the nature or origin of their authority. The king acknowledged in the nation an active, positive role that our democracies would not think of granting to the electoral masses. This nation was capable of initiative. Representatives with a general mandate—professional politicians serving as necessary intermediaries between the King and the nation—were unheard of. (pp. 97–98)

Cochin opposes to this older “French conception” the “English and parliamentary conception of a people of electors”:

A people made up of electors is no longer capable of initiative; at most, it is capable of assent. It can choose between two or three platforms, two or three candidates, but it can no longer draft proposals or appoint men. Professional politicians must present the people with proposals and men. This is the role of parties, indispensable in such a regime. (p. 98)

In 1789, the deputies were elected to the States General on a nearly universal franchise, but—in accordance with the older French tradition—parties and formal candidacies were forbidden: “a candidate would have been called a schemer, and a party a cabal” (p. 99).

The result was that the “electors were placed not in a situation of freedom, but in a void”:

The effect was marvelous: imagine several hundred peasants, unknown to each other, some having traveled twenty or thirty leagues, confined in the nave of a church, and requested to draft a paper on the reform of the realm within the week, and to appoint twenty or thirty deputies. There were ludicrous incidents: at Nantes, for example, where the peasants demanded the names of the assembly’s members be printed. Most could not have cited ten of them, and they had to appoint twenty-five deputies.

Now, what actually happened? Everywhere the job was accomplished with ease. The lists of grievances were drafted and the deputies appointed as if by enchantment. This was because alongside the real people who could not respond there was another people who spoke and appointed for them. (p. 100)

These were, of course, the men of the societies. They exploited the natural confusion and ignorance of the electorate to the hilt to obtain delegates according to their wishes. “From the start, the societies ran the electoral assemblies, scheming and meddling on the pretext of excluding traitors that they were the only ones to designate” (p. 153).

“Excluding”—that is the key word:

The society was not in a position to have its men nominated directly [parties being forbidden], so it had only one choice: have all the other candidates excluded. The people, it was said, had born enemies that they must not take as their defenders. These were the men who lost by the people’s enfranchisement, i.e., the privileged men first, but also the ones who worked for them: officers of justice, tax collectors, officials of any sort. (p. 104)

This raised an outcry, for it would have eliminated nearly everyone competent to represent the Third Estate. In fact, the strict application of the principle would have excluded most members of the societies themselves. But pretexts were found for excepting them from the exclusion: the member’s “patriotism” and “virtue” was vouched for by the societies, which “could afford to do this without being accused of partiality, for no one on the outside would have the desire, or even the means, to protest” (p. 104)—the effect of mass inertia, once again.

Having established the “social mechanism” of the revolution, Cochin did not do any detailed research on the events of the following four years (May 1789–June 1793), full of interest as these are for the narrative historian. Purge succeeded purge: Monarchiens, Feuillants, Girondins. Yet none of the actors seemed to grasp what was going on:

Was there a single revolutionary team that did not attempt to halt this force, after using it against the preceding team, and that did not at that very moment find itself “purged” automatically? It was always the same naïve amazement when the tidal wave reached them: “But it’s with me that the good Revolution stops! The people, that’s me! Freedom here, anarchy beyond!” (p. 57)

During this period, a series of elective assemblies crowned the official representative government of France: first the Constituent Assembly, then the Legislative Assembly, and finally the Convention. Hovering about them and partly overlapping with their membership were various private and exclusive clubs, a continuation of the pre-Revolutionary philosophical societies. Through a gradual process of gaining the affiliation of provincial societies, killing off rivals in the capital, and purging itself and its daughters, one of these revolutionary clubs acquired by June 1793 an unrivalled dominance. Modestly formed in 1789 as the Breton Circle, later renamed the Friends of the Constitution, it finally established its headquarters in a disused Jacobin Convent and became known as the Jacobin Club:

Opposite the Convention, the representative regime of popular sovereignty, thus arises the amorphous regime of the sovereign people, acting and governing on its own. “The sovereign is directly in the popular societies,” say the Jacobins. This is where the sovereign people reside, speak, and act. The people in the street will only be solicited for the hard jobs and the executions.

[The popular societies] functioned continuously, ceaselessly watching and correcting the legal authorities. Later they added surveillance committees to each assembly. The Jacobins thoroughly lectured, browbeat, and purged the Convention in the name of the sovereign people, until it finally adjourned the Convention’s power. (p. 153)

Incredibly, to the very end of the Terror, the Jacobins had no legal standing; they remained officially a private club. “The Jacobin Society at the height of its power in the spring of 1794, when it was directing the Convention and governing France, had only one fear: that it would be ‘incorporated’—that it would be ‘acknowledged’ to have authority” (p. 176). There is nothing the strict democrat fears more than the responsibility associated with public authority.

The Jacobins were proud that they did not represent anyone. Their principle was direct democracy, and their operative assumption was that they were “the people.” “I am not the people’s defender,” said Robespierre; “I am a member of the people; I have never been anything else” (p. 57; cf. p. 154). He expressed bafflement when he found himself, like any powerful man, besieged by petitioners.

Of course, such “direct democracy” involves a social fiction obvious to outsiders. To the adherent “the word people means the ‘hard core’ minority, freedom means the minority’s tyranny, equality its privileges, and truth its opinion,” explains our author; “it is even in this reversal of the meaning of words that the adherent’s initiation consists” (p. 138).

But by the summer of 1793 and for the following twelve months, the Jacobins had the power to make it stick. Indeed, theirs was the most stable government France had during the entire revolutionary decade. It amounted to a second Revolution, as momentous as that of 1789. The purge of the Girondins (May 31–June 2) cleared the way for it, but the key act which constituted the new regime, in Cochin’s view, was the levée en masse of August 23, 1793:

[This decree] made all French citizens, body and soul, subject to standing requisition. This was the essential act of which the Terror’s laws would merely be the development, and the revolutionary government the means. Serfs under the King in ’89, legally emancipated in ’91, the people become the masters in ’93. In governing themselves, they do away with the public freedoms that were merely guarantees for them to use against those who governed them. Hence the right to vote is suspended, since the people reign; the right to defend oneself, since the people judge; the freedom of the press, since the people write; and the freedom of expression, since the people speak. (p. 77)

An absurd series of unenforceable economic decrees began pouring out of Paris—price ceilings, requisitions, and so forth. But then, mirabile dictu, it turned out that the decrees needed no enforcement by the center:

Every violation of these laws not only benefits the guilty party but burdens the innocent one. When a price ceiling is poorly applied in one district and products are sold more expensively, provisions pour in from neighboring districts, where shortages increase accordingly. It is the same for general requisitions, censuses, distributions: fraud in one place increases the burden for another. The nature of things makes every citizen the natural enemy and overseer of his neighbor. All these laws have the same characteristic: binding the citizens materially to one another, the laws divide them morally.

Now public force to uphold the law becomes superfluous. This is because every district, panic-stricken by famine, organizes its own raids on its neighbors in order to enforce the laws on provisions; the government has nothing to do but adopt a laissez-faire attitude. By March 1794 the Committee of Public Safety even starts to have one district’s grain inventoried by another.

This peculiar power, pitting one village against another, one district against another, maintained through universal division the unity that the old order founded on the union of everyone: universal hatred has its equilibrium as love has its harmony. (pp. 230–32; cf. p. 91)

 The societies were, indeed, never more numerous, nor better attended, than during this period. People sought refuge in them as the only places they could be free from arbitrary arrest or requisitioning (p. 80; cf. p. 227). But the true believers were made uneasy rather than pleased by this development. On February 5, 1794, Robespierre gave his notorious speech on Virtue, declaring: “Virtue is in the minority on earth.” In effect, he was acknowledging that “the people” were really only a tiny fraction of the nation. During the months that ensued:

there was no talk in the Societies but of purges and exclusions. Then it was that the mother society, imitated as usual by most of her offspring, refused the affiliation of societies founded since May 31. Jacobin nobility became exclusive; Jacobin piety went from external mission to internal effort on itself. At that time it was agreed that a society of many members could not be a zealous society. The agents from Tournan sent to purge the club of Ozouer-la-Ferrière made no other reproach: the club members were too numerous for the club to be pure. (p. 56)

Couthon wrote from Lyon requesting “40 good, wise, honest republicans, a colony of patriots in this foreign land where patriots are in such an appalling minority.” Similar supplications came from Marseilles, Grenoble, Besançon; from Troy, where there were less than twenty patriots; and from Strasbourg, where there were said to be fewer than four—contending against 6,000 aristocrats!

The majority of men, remaining outside the charmed circle of revolutionary virtue, were:

“monsters,” “ferocious beasts seeking to devour the human race.” “Strike without mercy, citizen,” the president of the Jacobins tells a young soldier, “at anything that is related to the monarchy. Don’t lay down your gun until all our enemies are dead—this is humanitarian advice.” “It is less a question of punishing them than of annihilating them,” says Couthon. “None must be deported; [they] must be destroyed,” says Collot. General Turreau in the Vendée gave the order “to bayonet men, women, and children and burn and set fire to everything.” (p. 100)

Mass shootings and drownings continued for months, especially in places such as the Vendée which had previously revolted. Foreigners sometimes had to be used: “Carrier had Germans do the drowning. They were not disturbed by the moral bonds that would have stopped a fellow countryman” (p. 187).

Why did this revolutionary regime come to an end? Cochin does not tell us; he limits himself to the banal observation that “being unnatural, it could not last” (p. 230). His death in 1916 saved him from having to consider the counterexample of Soviet Russia. Taking the Jacobins consciously as a model, Lenin created a conspiratorial party which seized power and carried out deliberately the sorts of measures Cochin ascribes to the impersonal workings of the “social mechanism.” Collective responsibility, mutual surveillance and denunciation, the playing off of nationalities against one another—all were studiously imitated by the Bolsheviks. For the people of Russia, the Terror lasted at least thirty-five years, until the death of Stalin.

Cochin’s analysis raises difficult questions of moral judgment, which he does not try to evade. If revolutionary massacres were really the consequence of a “social mechanism,” can their perpetrators be judged by the standards which apply in ordinary criminal cases? Cochin seems to think not:

“I had orders,” Fouquier kept replying to each new accusation. “I was the ax,” said another; “does one punish an ax?” Poor, frightened devils, they quibbled, haggled, denounced their brothers; and when finally cornered and overwhelmed, they murmured “But I was not the only one! Why me?” That was the helpless cry of the unmasked Jacobin, and he was quite right, for a member of the societies was never the only one: over him hovered the collective force. With the new regime men vanish, and there opens in morality itself the era of unconscious forces and human mechanics. (p. 58)

Under the social regime, man’s moral capacities get “socialized” in the same way as his thought, action, and property. “Those who know the machine know there exist mitigating circumstances, unknown to ordinary life, and the popular curse that weighed on the last Jacobins’ old age may be as unfair as the enthusiasm that had acclaimed their elders,” he says (p. 210), and correctly points out that many of the former Terrorists became harmless civil servants under the Empire.

It will certainly be an unpalatable conclusion for many readers. I cannot help recalling in this connection the popular outrage which greeted Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem back in the 1960s, with its similar observations.

But if considering the social alienation of moral conscience permits the revolutionaries to appear less evil than some of the acts they performed, it also leaves them more contemptible. “We are far from narratives like Plutarch’s,” Cochin observes (p. 58); “Shakespeare would have found nothing to inspire him, despite the dramatic appearance of the situations” (p. 211).

Not one [of the Jacobins] had the courage to look [their judges] in the eye and say “Well, yes, I robbed, I tortured and I killed lawlessly, recklessly, mercilessly for an idea I consider right. I regret nothing; I take nothing back; I deny nothing. Do as you like with me.” Not one spoke thus—because not one possessed the positive side of fanaticism: faith. (p. 113)

Cochin’s interpretive labors deserve the attention of a wider audience than specialists in the history of the French Revolution. The possible application of his analysis to subsequent groups and events is great indeed, although the possibility of their misapplication is perhaps just as great. The most important case is surely Russia. Richard Pipes has noted, making explicit reference to Cochin, that Russian radicalism arose in a political and social situation similar in important respects to France of the ancien régime. On the other hand, the Russian case was no mere product of social “mechanics.” The Russian radicals consciously modeled themselves on their French predecessors. Pipes even shows how the Russian revolutionaries relied too heavily on the French example to teach them how a revolution is “supposed to” develop, blinding themselves to the situation around them. In any case, although Marxism officially considered the French Revolution a “bourgeois” prelude to the final “proletarian” revolution, Russian radicals did acknowledge that there was little in which the Jacobins had not anticipated them. Lenin considered Robespierre a Bolshevik avant la lettre.

The rise of the “Academic Left” is another phenomenon worth comparing to the “development of the enlightenment” in the French salons. The sheltered environment of our oversubsidized university system is a marvelous incubator for the same sort of utopian radicalism and cheap moral posturing.

Or consider the feminist “Consciousness Raising” sessions of the 1970’s. Women’s “personal constructs” (dissatisfaction with their husbands, feelings of being treated unfairly, etc.) were said to be “validated by the group,” i.e., came to be considered true when they met with agreement from other members, however outlandish they might sound to outsiders. “It is when a group’s ideas are strongly at variance with those in the wider society,” writes one enthusiast, “that group validation of constructs is likely to be most important.”[5] Cochin explained with reference to the sociétés de pensée exactly the sort of thing going on here.

Any serious attempt to extend and apply Cochin’s ideas will, however, have to face squarely one matter on which his own statements are confused or even contradictory.

Cochin sometimes speaks as if all the ideas of the Enlightenment follow from the mere form of the société de pensée, and hence should be found wherever they are found. He writes, for example, “Free thought is the same in Paris as in Peking, in 1750 as in 1914” (p. 127). Now, this is already questionable. It would be more plausible to say that the various competing doctrines of radicalism share a family resemblance, especially if one concentrates on their negative aspects such as the rejection of traditional “prejudices.”

But in other passages Cochin allows that sociétés de pensée are compatible with entirely different kinds of content. In one place (p. 62) he even speaks of “the royalist societies of 1815” as coming under his definition! Stendhal offers a memorable fictional portrayal of such a group in Le rouge et le noir, part II, chs. xxi–xxiii; Cochin himself refers to the Mémoires of Aimée de Coigny, and may have had the Waterside Conspiracy in mind. It would not be at all surprising if such groups imitated some of the practices of their enemies.

But what are we to say when Cochin cites the example of the Company of the Blessed Sacrament? This organization was active in France between the 1630s and 1660s, long before the “Age of Enlightenment.” It had collectivist tendencies, such as the practice of “fraternal correction,” which it justified in terms of Christian humility: the need to combat individual pride and amour-propre. It also exhibited a moderate degree of egalitarianism; within the Company, social rank was effaced, and one Prince of the Blood participated as an ordinary member. Secrecy was said to be the “soul of the Company.” One of its activities was the policing of behavior through a network of informants, low-cut evening dresses and the sale of meat during lent being among its special targets. Some fifty provincial branches accepted the direction of the Paris headquarters. The Company operated independently of the King, and opponents referred to it as the cabale des devots. Louis XIV naturally became suspicious of such an organization, and officially ordered it shut down in 1666.

Was this expression of counter-reformational Catholic piety a société de pensée? Were its members “God’s Jacobins,” or its campaign against immodest dress a “holy terror”? Cochin does not finally tell us. A clear typology of sociétés de pensée would seem to be necessary before his analysis of the philosophes could be extended with any confidence. But the more historical studies advance, the more difficult this task will likely become. Such is the nature of man, and of history.

Notes

[1] François Furet, Interpreting the French Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 173.

[2] Furet, 184.

[3] Furet, 185.

[4] Furet, 186–90.

[5] http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/01psa.html [3]

Source: TOQ, vol. 8, no. 2 (Summer 2008)

 


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mercredi, 04 juillet 2012

Introduction to Aristotle’s Politics

Introduction to Aristotle’s Politics
Part 1: The Aim & Elements of Politics

Posted By Greg Johnson

Part 1 of 2

Author’s Note:

The following introduction to Aristotle’s Politics focuses on the issues of freedom and popular government. It is a reworking of a more “academic” text penned in 2001.

250px-Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575.jpg

1. The Necessity of Politics

Aristotle is famous for holding that man is by nature a political animal. But what does this mean? Aristotle explains that,

even when human beings are not in need of each other’s help, they have no less desire to live together, though it is also true that the common advantage draws them into union insofar as noble living is something they each partake of. So this above all is the end, whether for everyone in common or for each singly (Politics 3.6, 1278b19–22).[1]

Here Aristotle contrasts two different needs of the human soul that give rise to different forms of community, one pre-political and the other political.

The first need is material. On this account, men form communities to secure the necessities of life. Because few are capable of fulfilling all their needs alone, material self-interest forces them to co-operate, each developing his particular talents and trading his products with others. The classical example of such a community is the “city of pigs” in the second book of Plato’s Republic.

The second need is spiritual. Even in the absence of material need, human beings will form communities because only through community can man satisfy his spiritual need to live nobly, i.e., to achieve eudaimonia, happiness or well-being, which Aristotle defines as a life of unimpeded virtuous activity.

Aristotle holds that the forms of association which arise from material needs are pre-political. These include the family, the master-slave relationship, the village, the market, and alliances for mutual defense. With the exception of the master-slave relationship, the pre-political realm could be organized on purely libertarian, capitalist principles. Individual rights and private property could allow individuals to associate and disassociate freely by means of persuasion and trade, according to their own determination of their interests.

But in Politics 3.9, Aristotle denies that the realm of material needs, whether organized on libertarian or non-libertarian lines, could ever fully satisfy man’s spiritual need for happiness: “It is not the case . . . that people come together for the sake of life alone, but rather for the sake of living well” (1280a31), and “the political community must be set down as existing for the sake of noble deeds and not merely for living together” (1281a2). Aristotle’s clearest repudiation of any minimalistic form of liberalism is the following passage:

Nor do people come together for the sake of an alliance to prevent themselves from being wronged by anyone, nor again for purposes of mutual exchange and mutual utility. Otherwise the Etruscans and Carthaginians and all those who have treaties with each other would be citizens of one city. . . . [But they are not] concerned about what each other’s character should be, not even with the aim of preventing anyone subject to the agreements from becoming unjust or acquiring a single depraved habit. They are concerned only that they should not do any wrong to each other. But all those who are concerned about a good state of law concentrate their attention on political virtue and vice, from which it is manifest that the city truly and not verbally so called must make virtue its care. (1280a34–b7)

Aristotle does not disdain mutual exchange and mutual protection. But he thinks that the state must do more. It must concern itself with the character of the citizen; it must encourage virtue and discourage vice.

But why does Aristotle think that the pursuit of virtue is political at all, much less the defining characteristic of the political? Why does he reject the liberal principle that whether and how men pursue virtue is an ineluctably private choice? The ultimate anthropological foundation of Aristotelian political science is man’s neoteny. Many animals can fend for themselves as soon as they are born. But man is born radically immature and incapable of living on his own. We need many years of care and education. Nature does not give us the ability to survive, much less flourish. But she gives us the ability to acquire the ability. Skills are acquired abilities to live. Virtue is the acquired ability to live well. The best way to acquire virtue is not through trial and error, but through education, which allows us to benefit from the trials and avoid the errors of others. Fortune permitting, if we act virtuously, we will live well.

Liberals often claim that freedom of choice is a necessary condition of virtue. We can receive no moral credit for a virtue which is not freely chosen but is instead forced upon us. Aristotle, however, holds that force is a necessary condition of virtue. Aristotle may have defined man as the rational animal, but unlike the Sophists of his day he did not think that rational persuasion is sufficient to instill virtue:

. . . if reasoned words were sufficient by themselves to make us decent, they would, to follow a remark of Theognis, justly carry off many and great rewards, and the thing to do would be to provide them. But, as it is, words seem to have the strength to incite and urge on those of the young who are generous and to get a well-bred character and one truly in love with the noble to be possessed by virtue; but they appear incapable of inciting the many toward becoming gentlemen. For the many naturally obey the rule of fear, not of shame, and shun what is base not because it is ugly but because it is punished. Living by passion as they do, they pursue their own pleasures and whatever will bring these pleasures about . . . ; but of the noble and truly pleasant they do not even have the notion, since they have never tasted it. How could reasoned words reform such people? For it is not possible, or nor easy, to replace by reason what has long since become fixed in the character. (Nicomachean Ethics, 10.9, 1179b4–18)

The defect of reason can, however, be corrected by force: “Reason and teaching by no means prevail in everyone’s case; instead, there is need that the hearer’s soul, like earth about to nourish the seed, be worked over in its habits beforehand so as to enjoy and hate in a noble way. . . . Passion, as a general rule, does not seem to yield to reason but to force” (Nicomachean Ethics, 10.9, 1179b23–25). The behavioral substratum of virtue is habit, and habits can be inculcated by force. Aristotle describes law as “reasoned speech that proceeds from prudence and intellect” but yet “has force behind it” (Nicomachean Ethics, 10.9, 1180a18). Therefore, the compulsion of the appropriate laws is a great aid in acquiring virtue.

At this point, however, one might object that Aristotle has established only a case for parental, not political, force in moral education. Aristotle admits that only in Sparta and a few other cities is there public education in morals, while “In most cities these matters are neglected, and each lives as he wishes, giving sacred law, in Cyclops’ fashion, to his wife and children” (Nicomachean Ethics, 10.9, 1180a24–27). Aristotle grants that an education adapted to an individual is better than an education given to a group (Nicomachean Ethics, 10.9, 1180b7). But this is an argument against the collective reception of education, not the collective provision. He then argues that such an education is best left to experts, not parents. Just as parents have professional doctors care for their childrens’ bodies, they should have professional educators care for their souls (Nicomachean Ethics, 10.9, 1180b14–23). But this does not establish that the professionals should be employees of the state.

Two additional arguments for public education are found in Politics 8.1:

[1] Since the whole city has one end, it is manifest that everyone must also have one and the same education and that taking care of this education must be a common matter. It must not be private in the way that it is now, when everyone takes care of their own children privately and teaches them whatever private learning they think best. Of common things, the training must be common. [2] At the same time, no citizen should even think he belongs to himself but instead that each belongs to the city, for each is part of the city. The care of each part, however, naturally looks to the care of the whole, and to this extent praise might be due to the Spartans, for they devote the most serious attention to their children and do so in common. (Politics, 8.1 [5.1], 1337a21–32)

The second argument is both weak and question-begging. Although it may be useful for citizens to “think” that they belong to the city, not themselves, Aristotle offers no reason to think that this is true. Furthermore, the citizens would not think so unless they received precisely the collective education that needs to be established. The first argument, however, is quite strong. If the single, overriding aim of political life is the happiness of the citizens, and if this aim is best attained by public education, then no regime can be legitimate if it fails to provide public education.[2]

Another argument for public moral education can be constructed from the overall argument of the Politics. Since public education is more widely distributed than private education, other things being equal, the populace will become more virtuous on the whole. As we shall see, it is widespread virtue that makes popular government possible. Popular government is, moreover, one of the bulwarks of popular liberty. Compulsory public education in virtue, therefore, is a bulwark of liberty.

2. Politics and Freedom

Aristotle’s emphasis on compulsory moral education puts him in the “positive” libertarian camp. For Aristotle, a free man is not merely any man who lives in a free society. A free man possesses certain traits of character which allow him to govern himself responsibly and attain happiness. These traits are, however, the product of a long process of compulsory tutelage. But such compulsion can be justified only by the production of a free and happy individual, and its scope is therefore limited by this goal. Since Aristotle ultimately accepted the Socratic principle that all men desire happiness, education merely compels us to do what we really want. It frees us from our own ignorance, folly, and irrationality and frees us for our own self-actualization. This may be the rationale for Aristotle’s claim that, “the law’s laying down of what is decent is not oppressive” (Nicomachean Ethics, 10.9, 1180a24). Since Aristotle thinks that freedom from the internal compulsion of the passions is more important than freedom from the external compulsion of force, and that force can quell the passions and establish virtue’s empire over them, Aristotle as much as Rousseau believes that we can be forced to be free.

But throughout the Politics, Aristotle shows that he is concerned to protect “negative” liberty as well. In Politics 2.2–5, Aristotle ingeniously defends private families, private property, and private enterprise from Plato’s communistic proposals in the Republic, thereby preserving the freedom of large spheres of human activity.

Aristotle’s concern with privacy is evident in his criticism of a proposal of Hippodamus of Miletus which would encourage spies and informers (2.8, 1268b22).

Aristotle is concerned to create a regime in which the rich do not enslave the poor and the poor do not plunder the rich (3.10, 1281a13–27).

Second Amendment enthusiasts will be gratified at Aristotle’s emphasis on the importance of a wide distribution of arms in maintaining the freedom of the populace (2.8, 1268a16-24; 3.17, 1288a12–14; 4.3 [6.3], 1289b27–40; 4.13 [6.13], 1297a12–27; 7.11 [4.11], 1330b17–20).

War and empire are great enemies of liberty, so isolationists and peace lovers will be gratified by Aristotle’s critique of warlike regimes and praise of peace. The good life requires peace and leisure. War is not an end in itself, but merely a means to ensure peace (7.14 [4.14], 1334a2–10; 2.9, 1271a41–b9).

The best regime is not oriented outward, toward dominating other peoples, but inward, towards the happiness of its own. The best regime is an earthly analogue of the Prime Mover. It is self-sufficient and turned inward upon itself (7.3 [4.3], 1325a14–31). Granted, Aristotle may not think that negative liberty is the whole of the good life, but it is an important component which needs to be safeguarded.[3]

3. The Elements of Politics and the Mixed Regime

Since the aim of political association is the good life, the best political regime is the one that best delivers the good life. Delivering the good life can be broken down into two components: production and distribution. There are two basic kinds of goods: the goods of the body and the goods of the soul.[4] Both sorts of goods can be produced and distributed privately and publicly, but Aristotle treats the production and distribution of bodily goods as primarily private whereas he treats the production and distribution of spiritual goods as primarily public. The primary goods of the soul are moral and intellectual virtue, which are best produced by public education, and honor, the public recognition of virtue, talent, and service rendered to the city.[5] The principle of distributive justice is defined as proportionate equality: equally worthy people should be equally happy and unequally worthy people should be unequally happy, commensurate with their unequal worth (Nicomachean Ethics, 5.6–7). The best regime, in short, combines happiness and justice.

But how is the best regime to be organized? Aristotle builds his account from at least three sets of elements.

First, in Politics 3.6–7, Aristotle observes that sovereignty can rest either with men or with laws. If with men, then it can rest in one man, few men, or many men. (Aristotle treats it as self-evident that it cannot rest in all men.) The rulers can exercise political power for two different ends: for the common good and for special interests. One pursues the common good by promoting the happiness of all according to justice. Special interests can be broken down into individual or factional interests. A ruler can be blamed for pursuing such goods only if he does so without regard to justice, i.e., without a just concern for the happiness of all. When a single man rules for the common good, we have kingship. When he rules for his own good, we have tyranny. When the few rule for the common good, we have aristocracy. When they rule for their factional interest, we have oligarchy. When the many rule for the common good, we have polity. When they rule for their factional interest, we have democracy. These six regimes can exist in pure forms, or they can be mixed together.

Second, Aristotle treats social classes as elemental political distinctions. In Politics 3.8 he refines his definitions of oligarchy and democracy, claiming that oligarchy is actually the rule by the rich, whether they are few or many, and democracy is rule by the poor, whether they are few or many. Similarly, in Politics 4.11 (6.1) Aristotle also defines polity as rule by the middle class. In Politics 4.4 (6.4), Aristotle argues that the social classes are irreducible political distinctions. One can be a rich, poor, or middle class juror, legislator, or office-holder. One can be a rich, poor, or middle class farmer or merchant. But one cannot be both rich and poor at the same time (1291b2–13). Class distinctions cannot be eliminated; therefore, they have to be recognized and respected, their disadvantages meliorated and their advantages harnessed for the common good.

Third, in Politics 4.14 (6.14), Aristotle divides the activities of rulership into three different functions: legislative, judicial, and executive.[6]

Because rulership can be functionally divided, it is possible to create a mixed regime by assigning different functions to different parts of the populace. One could, for instance, mix monarchy and elite rule by assigning supreme executive office to a single man and the legislative and judicial functions to the few. Or one could divide the legislative function into different houses, assigning one to the few and another to the many. Aristotle suggests giving the few the power to legislate and the many the power to veto legislation. He suggests that officers be elected by the many, but nominated from the few. The few should make expenditures, but the many should audit them (2.12, 1274a15–21; 3.11, 1281b21–33; 4.14 [6.14], 1298b26–40).

In Politics 3.10, Aristotle argues that some sort of mixed regime is preferable, since no pure regime is satisfactory: “A difficulty arises as to what should be the controlling part of the city, for it is really either the multitude or the rich or the decent or the best one of all or a tyrant? But all of them appear unsatisfactory” (1281a11–13). Democracy is bad because the poor unjustly plunder the substance of the rich; oligarchy is bad because the rich oppress and exploit the poor; tyranny is bad because the tyrant does injustice to everyone (1281a13–28). Kingship and aristocracy are unsatisfactory because they leave the many without honors and are schools for snobbery and high-handedness (1281a28–33; 4.11 [6.11], 1295b13ff). A pure polity might be unsatisfactory because it lacks a trained leadership caste and is therefore liable to make poor decisions (3.11, 1281b21–33).

4. Checks and Balances, Political Rule, and the Rule of Law

Aristotle’s mixed regime is the origin of the idea of the separation of powers and “checks and balances.” It goes hand in hand with a very modern political realism. Aristotle claims that, “all regimes that look to the common advantage turn out, according to what is simply just, to be correct ones, while those that look only to the advantage of their rulers are mistaken and are all deviations from the correct regime. For they are despotic, but the city is a community of the free” (3.6, 1279a17–21).

It is odd, then, that in Politics 4.8–9 (6.8–9) Aristotle describes the best regime as a mixture of two defective regimes, oligarchy and democracy–not of two correct regimes, aristocracy and polity. But perhaps Aristotle entertained the possibility of composing a regime that tends to the common good out of classes which pursue their own factional interests.

Perhaps Aristotle thought that the “intention” to pursue the common good can repose not in the minds of individual men, but in the institutional logic of the regime itself. This would be an enormous advantage, for it would bring about the common good without having to rely entirely upon men of virtue and good will, who are in far shorter supply than men who pursue their own individual and factional advantages.

Related to the mixed regime with its checks and balances is the notion of “political rule.” Political rule consists of ruling and being ruled in turn:

. . . there is a sort of rule exercised over those who are similar in birth and free. This rule we call political rule, and the ruler must learn it by being ruled, just as one learns to be a cavalry commander by serving under a cavalry commander . . . Hence is was nobly said that one cannot rule well without having been ruled. And while virtue in these two cases is different, the good citizen must learn and be able both to be ruled and to rule. This is in fact the virtue of the citizen, to know rule over the free from both sides. (3.4, 1277b7–15; cf. 1.13, 1259b31–34 and 2.2, 1261a32–b3)

Aristotle makes it clear that political rule can exist only where the populace consists of men who are free, i.e., sufficiently virtuous that they can rule themselves. They must also be economically middle-class, well-armed, and warlike. They must, in short, be the sort of men who can participate responsibly in government, who want to participate, and who cannot safely be excluded. A populace that is slavish, vice-ridden, poor, and unarmed can easily be disenfranchised and exploited. If power were entirely in the hands of a free populace, the regime would be a pure polity, and political rule would exist entirely between equals. If, however, a free populace were to take part in a mixed regime, then political rule would exist between different parts of the regime. The many and the few would divide power and functions between them. Not only would members of each class take turns performing the different functions allotted to them, the classes themselves would rule over others in one respect and be ruled in another. In these circumstances, then, checks and balances are merely one form of political rule.

In Politics 3.16, Aristotle connects political rule to the rule of law:

What is just is that people exercise rule no more than they are subject to it and that therefore they rule by turns. But this is already law, for the arrangement is law. Therefore, it is preferable that law rule rather than any one of the citizens. And even if, to pursue the same argument, it were better that there be some persons exercising rule, their appointment should be as guardians and servants of the laws. For though there must be some offices, that there should be this one person exercising rule is, they say, not just, at least when all are similar. (1287a15–22)

Aristotle’s point is simple. If two men govern by turns, then sovereignty does not ultimately repose in either of them, but in the rule that they govern by turns. The same can be said of checks and balances. If the few spend money and the many audit the accounts, then neither group is sovereign, the laws are. If sovereignty reposes in laws, not men, the common good is safe. As Aristotle points out, “anyone who bids the laws to rule seems to bid god and intellect alone to rule, but anyone who bids a human being to rule adds on also the wild beast. For desire is such a beast and spiritedness perverts rulers even when they are the best of men. Hence law is intellect without appetite” (1287a23–31). The greatest enemy of the common good is private interest. The laws, however, have no private interests. Thus if our laws are conducive to the common good, we need not depend entirely on the virtue and public-spiritedness of men.

Aristotle would, however, hasten to add that no regime can do without these characteristics entirely, for the laws cannot apply themselves. They must be applied by men, and their application will seldom be better than the men who apply them. Furthermore, even though a regime may function without entirely virtuous citizens, no legitimate regime can be indifferent to the virtue of the citizens, for the whole purpose of political association is to instill the virtues necessary for happiness.

Notes

1. All quotes from Aristotle are from The Politics of Aristotle, trans. and ed. Peter L. Phillips Simpson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997). Simpson’s edition has two unique features. First, The Politics is introduced by a translation of Nicomachean Ethics 10.9. Second, Simpson moves books 7 and 8 of The Politics, positioning them between the traditional books 3 and 4. I retain the traditional ordering, indicating Simpson’s renumbering parenthetically. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from The Politics. Quotes from the Nicomachean Ethics will be indicated as such.

2. A useful commentary on these and other Aristotelian arguments for public education is Randall R. Curren, Aristotle on the Necessity of Public Education (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000).

3. For a fuller discussion of the value Aristotle puts on liberty, see Roderick T. Long, “Aristotle’s Conception of Freedom,” The Review of Metaphysics 49, no. 4 (June 1996), pp. 787–802.

4. One could add a third category of instrumental goods, but these goods are instrumental to the intrinsic goods of the body, the soul, or both, and thus could be classified under those headings.

5. As for the highest good of the soul, which is attained by philosophy, Aristotle’s flight from Athens near the end of his life shows that he recognized that different political orders can be more or less open to free thought, but I suspect that he was realist enough (and Platonist enough) to recognize that even the best cities are unlikely to positively cultivate true freedom to philosophize. I would wager that Aristotle would be both surprised at the freedom of thought in the United States and receptive to Tocquevillian complaints about the American tendency toward conformism that makes such freedom unthreatening to the reigning climate of opinion. A cynic might argue that if Americans actually made use of their freedom of thought, it would be quickly taken away.

6. On the complexities of the executive role in the Politics, see Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), chs. 2–3.

Introduction to Aristotle’s Politics
Part 2: In Defense of Popular Government

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Part 2 of 2

5. The Good Man and the Good Citizen

Having now surveyed Aristotle’s thoughts on the elements and proper aim of politics, we can now examine his arguments for popular government. When I use the phrase “popular government,” it should be borne in mind that Aristotle does not advocate a pure polity, but a mixed regime with a popular element.

Aristotle’s first case for bringing the many into government can be discerned in Politics 3.4. Aristotle’s question is whether the virtues of the good man and the good citizen are the same. They are not the same, insofar as the virtue of the good citizen is defined relative to the regime, and there are many different regimes, while the virtue of the good man is defined relative to human nature, which is one. One can therefore be a good citizen but not a good man, and a good man but not a good citizen. History is replete with examples of regimes which punish men for their virtues and reward them for their vices. Aristotle does, however, allow that the good man and the good citizen can be one in a regime in which the virtues required of a good citizen do not differ from the virtues of a good man.

The chief virtue of a good man is prudence. But prudence is not required of a citizen insofar as he is ruled. Only obedience is required. Prudence is, however, required of a citizen insofar as he rules. Since the best regime best encourages happiness by best cultivating virtue, a regime which allows the many to govern along with the few is better than a regime which excludes them. By including the many in ruling, a popular regime encourages the widest cultivation of prudence and gives the greatest opportunity for its exercise. The best way to bring the many into the regime is what Aristotle calls political rule: ruling and being ruled in turn, as prescribed by law.

Political rule not only teaches the virtue of prudence to the many, it teaches the virtue of being ruled to the few, who must give way in turn to the many. Since the few aspire to rule but not be ruled, Aristotle argues that they cannot rule without first having been ruled: “the ruler must learn [political rule] by being ruled, just as one learns to be a cavalry commander by serving under a cavalry commander . . . Hence is was nobly said that one cannot rule well without having been ruled. And while virtue in these two cases is different, the good citizen must learn and be able both to be ruled and to rule. This is, in fact, the virtue of a citizen, to know rule over the free from both sides. Indeed, the good man too possesses both” (3.4, 1277b7–16).

Aristotle names justice as a virtue which is learned both in ruling and being ruled. Those born to wealth and power are liable to arrogance and the love of command. By subjecting them to the rule of others, including their social inferiors, they learn to respect their freedom and justly appraise their worth.

6. Potlucks, Chimeras, Juries

Aristotle’s next case for bringing the many into the regime is found in Politics 3.11.[1] Aristotle seeks to rebut the aristocratic argument against popular participation, namely that the best political decisions are wise ones, but wisdom is found only among the few, not the many. Popular participation, therefore, would inevitably dilute the quality of the political decision-makers, increasing the number of foolish decisions. Aristotle accepts the premise that the wise should rule, but he argues that there are circumstances in which the few and the many together are wiser than the few on their own. The aristocratic principle, therefore, demands the participation of the many:

. . . the many, each of whom is not a serious man, nevertheless could, when they have come together, be better than those few best–not, indeed, individually but as a whole, just as meals furnished collectively are better than meals furnished at one person’s expense. For each of them, though many, could have a part of virtue and prudence, and just as they could, when joined together in a multitude, become one human being with many feet, hands, and senses, so also could they become one in character and thought. That is why the many are better judges of the works of music and the poets, for one of them judges one part and another another and all of them the whole. (1281a42–b10)

At first glance, this argument seems preposterous. History and everyday life are filled with examples of wise individuals opposing foolish collectives. But Aristotle does not claim that the many are always wiser than the few, simply that they can be under certain conditions (1281b15).

The analogy of the potluck supper is instructive (cf. 3.15, 1286a28–30).[2] A potluck supper can be better than one provided by a single person if it offers a greater number and variety of dishes and diffuses costs and labor. But potluck suppers are not always superior–that is the “luck” in it. Potlucks are often imbalanced. On one occasion, there may be too many desserts and no salads. On another, three people may bring chicken and no one brings beef or pork. The best potluck, therefore, is a centrally orchestrated one which mobilizes the resources of many different contributors but ensures a balanced and wholesome meal.

Likewise, the best way to include the many in political decision-making is to orchestrate their participation, giving them a delimited role that maximizes their virtues and minimizes their vices. This cannot be accomplished in a purely popular regime, particularly a lawless one, but it can be accomplished in a mixed regime in which the participation of the populace is circumscribed by law and checked by the interests of other elements of the population.

Aristotle’s second analogy–which likens the intellectual and moral unity of the many to a man with many feet, hands, and sense organs, i.e., a freak of nature–does not exactly assuage doubters. But his point is valid. While even the best of men may lack a particular virtue, it is unlikely that it will be entirely absent from a large throng. Therefore, the many are potentially as virtuous or even more virtuous than the few if their scattered virtues can be gathered together and put to work. But history records many examples of groups acting less morally than any member on his own. Thus the potential moral superiority of the many is unlikely to emerge in a lawless democracy. But it could emerge in a lawful mixed regime, which actively encourages and employs the virtues of the many while checking their vices. This process can be illustrated by adapting an analogy that Aristotle offers to illustrate another point: A painting of a man can be more beautiful than any real man, for the painter can pick out the best features of individual men and combine them into a beautiful whole (3.11, 1281b10–11).

Aristotle illustrates the potential superiority of collective judgment with another questionable assertion, that “the many are better judges of the works of music and the poets, for one of them judges one part and another another and all of them the whole.” Again, this seems preposterous. Good taste, like wisdom, is not widely distributed and is cultivated by the few, not the many. Far more people buy “rap” recordings than classical ones. But Aristotle is not claiming that the many are better judges in all cases. Aristotle is likely referring to Greek dramatic competitions. These competitions were juried by the audience, not a small number of connoisseurs.

A jury trial or competition is a genuine collective decision-making process in which each juror is morally enjoined to pay close attention the matter at hand and to render an objective judgment.[3] Although each juror has his own partial impression, when jurors deliberate they can add their partial impressions together to arrive at a more complete and adequate account. To the extent that a jury decision must approach unanimity, the jurors will be motivated to examine the issue from all sides and persuade one another to move toward a rationally motivated consensus. A jury decision can, therefore, be more rational, well-informed, and objective than an individual one.[4] The market, by contrast, is not a collective decision-making process. It does not require a consumer to compare his preferences to those of others, to persuade others of their validity or defend them from criticism, or to arrive at any sort of consensus. Instead, the market merely registers the collective effects of individual decisions.[5]

7. Freedom and Stability

Another argument for popular government in Politics 3.11 (1281b21–33) is that it is more stable. Aristotle grants the Aristocratic principle that it is not safe for the populace to share in “the greatest offices” because, “on account of their injustice and unwisdom, they would do wrong in some things and go wrong in others.” But then he goes on to argue that it would not be safe to exclude the many from rule altogether, since a city “that has many in it who lack honor and are poor must of necessity be full of enemies,” which would be a source of instability. Instability is, however, inconsistent with the proper aim of politics, for the good life requires peace. The solution is a mixed regime which ensures peace and stability by allowing the many to participate in government, but not to occupy the highest offices. In Politics 2.9, Aristotle praises the Spartan Ephorate for holding the regime together, “since, as the populace share in the greatest office, it keeps them quiet. . . . For if any regime is going to survive, all the parts of the city must want it both to exist and to remain as it is” (1270b17–22; cf. Aristotle’s discussion of the Carthaginians in 2.9, 1272b29–32; see also 4.13 [6.13], 1297b6).

In Politics 2.12, Aristotle offers another reason for including the populace in government. Solon gave the populace, “the power that was most necessary (electing to office and auditing the accounts), since without it they would have been enslaved and hostile” (1274a4–6). Here Aristotle makes it clear that he values liberty, and he values popular government because it protects the liberty of the many.

8. Expert Knowledge

In Politics 3.11 Aristotle rebuts the argument that the many should not be involved in politics because they are amateurs, and decisions in politics, as in medicine and other fields, should be left to experts. In response to this, Aristotle repeats his argument that the many, taken together, may be better judges than a few experts. He then adds that there are some arts in which the products can be appreciated by people who do not possess the art: “Appreciating a house, for example, does not just belong to the builder; the one who uses it, namely the household manager, will pass an even better judgment on it. Likewise, the pilot judges the rudder better than the carpenter and the dinner guest judges the feast better than the chef” (1282a19–22). If the art of statesmanship is like these, then the best judge of the quality of a statesman is not the few political experts, but the many political laymen who are ruled by him. The judgment of the populace should not, therefore, be disdained.

9. Resistance to Corruption

In Politics 3.15 Aristotle argues that popular regimes are more resistant to corruption. Even in a regime in which law ultimately rules, there are particular circumstances which the laws do not anticipate. Where the law cannot decide, men must do so. But this creates an opportunity for corruption. Aristotle argues that such decisions are better made by large bodies deliberating in public: “What is many is more incorruptible: the multitude, like a greater quantity of water, is harder to ruin than a few. A single person’s judgment must necessarily be corrupted when he is overcome by anger or some other such passion, but getting everyone in the other case to become angry and go wrong at the same time takes a lot of doing. Let the multitude in question, however, be the free who are acting in no way against law, except where law is necessarily deficient” (1286a33–38). Aristotle’s argument that the many may collectively possess fewer vices than the few is merely a mirror image of his earlier collective virtue argument. Here, as elsewhere, Aristotle defends popular government only under delimited circumstances. The populace must be free, not slavish, and they must decide only when the laws cannot.

10. Delegation and Diffusion of Power

Politics 3.16 is devoted to arguments against total kingship. One of these arguments can be turned into a case for popular government. Aristotle claims that total kingship is unsustainable: “It is not easy for one person to oversee many things, so there will need to be many officials appointed in subordination to him. Consequently, what is the difference between having them there right from the start and having one man in this way appoint them? . . . if a man who is serious is justly ruler because he is better, then two good men are better than one” (1287b8–12, cf. 1287b25–29).

Since total kingship is unworkable, kings must necessarily appoint superior men as “peers” to help them. But if total kingship must create an aristocracy, then why not have aristocracy from the start?

This argument could, however, be pushed further to make a case for popular government. An aristocracy cannot effectively rule the people without the active participation of some and the passive acquiescence of the rest. As we have seen above, Aristotle argues that the best way to bring this about is popular government. But if aristocracy must eventually bring the populace into the regime, then why not include them from the very beginning?

11. When Regimes Fail

In Politics 4.2 (6.2), Aristotle returns to his list of pure regime types. The three just regimes are kingship, aristocracy, and polity; the three unjust ones are tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy. Aristotle proceeds to rank the three just regimes in terms of the kinds of virtues they require. Thus Aristotle identifies kingship and aristocracy as the best regimes because they are both founded on “fully equipped virtue” (1289a31). Of the two, kingship is the very best, for it depends upon a virtue so superlative that it is possessed by only one man. Aristocracy is less exalted because it presupposes somewhat more broadly distributed and therefore less exalted virtue. Polity depends upon even more widespread and modest virtue. Furthermore, the populace, unlike kings and aristocrats, lacks the full complement of material equipment necessary to fully exercise such virtues as magnificence.

By this ranking, polity is not the best regime, but the least of the good ones. But Aristotle then offers a new, politically realistic standard for ranking the just regimes which reverses their order. Kingship may be the best regime from a morally idealistic perspective, but when it degenerates it turns into tyranny, which is the worst regime. Aristocracy may be the second best regime from a morally idealistic perspective, but when it degenerates it turns into oligarchy, which is the second worst regime. Polity may be the third choice of the moral idealist, but when it degenerates, it merely becomes democracy, which is the best of a bad lot.

Since degeneration is inevitable, the political realist ranks regimes not only in terms of their best performances, but also in terms of their worst. By this standard, polity is the best of the good regimes and kingship the worst. Kingship is best under ideal conditions, polity under real conditions. Kingship is a sleek Jaguar, polity a dowdy Volvo. On the road, the Jaguar is clearly better. But when they go in the ditch, the Volvo shows itself to be the better car overall.

12. The Middle Class Regime

Aristotle displays the same political realism in his praise of the middle class regime in Politics 4.11 (6.11): “If we judge neither by a virtue that is beyond the reach of private individuals, nor by an education requiring a nature and equipment dependent on chance, nor again a regime that is as one would pray for, but by a way of life that most can share in common together and by a regime that most cities can participate in . . . ,” then a large, politically enfranchised middle class has much to recommend it: “In the case of political community . . . the one that is based on those in the middle is best, and . . . cities capable of being well governed are those sorts where the middle is large . . .” (1295b35–36).

Since the middle class is the wealthier stratum of the common people, Aristotle’s arguments for middle class government are ipso facto arguments for popular government. Aristotle makes it clear from the beginning, however, that he is not talking about a purely popular regime, but a mixed one compounded out of a middle class populace and those elements of aristocracy which are not out of the reach of most cities (1295a30–34).

Aristotle’s first argument for the middle regime seems a sophistry: “If it was nobly said in the Ethics that the happy way of life is unimpeded life in accordance with virtue and that virtue is a mean, then necessarily the middle way of life, the life of a mean that everyone can attain, must be best. The same definitions must hold also for the virtue and vice of city and regime, since the regime is a certain way of life of a city” (1295a35–40).

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle makes it clear that the fact that virtue can be understood as a mean between two vices, one of excess and the other of defect, does not imply either that virtue is merely an arithmetic mean (Nicomachean Ethics, 2.2, 1106a26–b8), or that virtue is to be regarded as mediocrity, not as superlative (Nicomachean Ethics, 2.2, 1107a9–27). Here, however, Aristotle describes the mean not as a superlative, but as a mediocrity “that everyone can attain.” This conclusion follows only if we presuppose that the morally idealistic doctrine of the Ethics has been modified into a moral realism analogous to the political realism of Politics 4.2.

Aristotle then claims that in a regime the mean lies in the middle class: “In all cities there are in fact three parts: those who are exceedingly well-off, those who are exceedingly needy, and the third who are in the middle of these two. So, since it is agreed that the mean and middle is best, then it is manifest that a middling possession also of the goods of fortune must be best of all” (1295b1–3). Aristotle is, however, equivocating. He begins by defining the middle class as an arithmetic mean between the rich and the poor. He concludes that the middle class is a moral mean. But he does not establish that the arithmetic mean corresponds with the moral.

Aristotle does, however, go on to offer reasons for thinking that the social mean corresponds to the moral mean. But the middle class is not necessarily more virtuous because its members have been properly educated, but because their social position and class interests lead them to act as if they had been.

First, Aristotle argues that “the middle most easily obeys reason.” Those who are “excessively beautiful or strong or well-born or wealthy” find it hard to follow reason, because they tend to be “insolent and rather wicked in great things.” By contrast, those who are poor and “extremely wretched and weak, and have an exceeding lack of honor” tend to become “villains and too much involved in petty wickedness.” The middle class is, however, too humble to breed insolence and too well-off to breed villainy. Since most injustices arise from insolence and villainy, a regime with a strong middle class will be more likely to be just.

Second, Aristotle argues that the middle class is best suited to ruling and being ruled in turn. Those who enjoy, “an excess of good fortune (strength, wealth, friends, and other things of the sort)” love to rule and dislike being ruled. Both of these attitudes are harmful to the city, yet they naturally arise among the wealthy. From an early age, the wealthy are instilled with a “love of ruing and desire to rule, both of which are harmful to cities” (1295b12), and, “because of the luxury they live in, being ruled is not something they get used to, even at school” (1295b13–17). By contrast, poverty breeds vice, servility, and small-mindedness. Thus the poor are easy to push around, and if they do gain power they are incapable of exercising it virtuously. Therefore, without a middle class, “a city of slaves and masters arises, not a city of the free, and the first are full of envy while the second are full of contempt.” Such a city must be “at the furthest remove from friendship and political community” (1295b21–24). The presence of a strong middle class, however, binds the city into a whole, limiting the tendency of the rich to tyranny and the poor to slavishness, creating a “city of the free.”

Third, Aristotle argues that middle class citizens enjoy the safest and most stable lives, imbuing the regime as a whole with these characteristics. Those in the middle are, among all the citizens, the most likely to survive in times of upheaval, when the poor starve and the rich become targets. They are sufficiently content with their lot not to envy the possessions of the rich. Yet they are not so wealthy that the poor envy them. They neither plot against the rich nor are plotted against by the poor.

Fourth, a large middle class stabilizes a regime, particularly if the middle is “stronger than both extremes or, otherwise, than either one of them. For the middle will tip the balance when added to either side and prevent the emergence of an excess at the opposite extremes” (1295b36–40). Without a large and powerful middle class, “either ultimate rule of the populace arises or unmixed oligarchy does, or, because of excess on both sides, tyranny” (1296a3; cf. 6.12, 1297a6ff).

Fifth is the related point that regimes with large middle classes are relatively free of faction and therefore more concerned with the common good. This is because a large middle class makes it harder to separate everyone out into two groups (1296a7–10).

Finally, Aristotle claims that one sign of the superiority of middle class regimes is that the best legislators come from the middle class. As examples, he cites Solon, Lycurgus, and Charondas (1296a18–21).

Conclusion: Aristotle’s Polity and Our Own

If the proper aim of government is to promote the happiness of the citizen, Aristotle marshals an impressive array of arguments for giving the people, specifically the middle class, a role in government. These arguments can be grouped under five headings: virtue, rational decision-making, freedom, stability, and resistance to corruption.

Popular government both presupposes and encourages widespread virtue among the citizens, and virtue is a necessary condition of happiness. Middle class citizens are particularly likely to follow practical reason and act justly, for they are corrupted neither by wealth nor by poverty. Popular participation can improve political decision-making by mobilizing scattered information and experience, and more informed decisions are more likely to promote happiness. In particular, popular government channels the experiences of those who are actually governed back into the decision-making process.

Popular participation preserves the freedom of the people, who would otherwise be exploited if they had no say in government. By preserving the freedom of the people, popular participation unifies the regime, promoting peace and stability which in turn are conducive to the pursuit of happiness. This is particularly the case with middle class regimes, for the middle class prevents excessive and destabilizing separation and between the extremes of wealth and poverty.

Popular governments are also more resistant to corruption. It is harder to use bribery or trickery to corrupt decisions made by many people deliberating together in public than by one person or a few deciding in private. This means that popular regimes are more likely to promote the common good instead of allowing the state to become a tool for the pursuit of one special interest at the expense of another. Furthermore, if a popular regime does become corrupt, it is most likely to become a democracy, which is the least unjust of the bad regimes and the easiest to reform.

All these are good arguments for giving the people a role in government. But not just any people. And not just any role.

First, Aristotle presupposes a small city-state. He did not think that any regime could pursue the common good if it became too large. This is particularly true of a popular regime, for the larger the populace, the less room any particular citizen has for meaningful participation.

Second, he presupposes a populace which is racially and culturally homogeneous. A more diverse population is subject to faction and strife. It will either break up into distinct communities or it will have to be held together by violence and governed by an elite. A more diverse population also erodes a society’s moral consensus, making moral education even more difficult.

Third, political participation will be limited to middle-class and wealthy property-owning males, specifically men who derive their income from the ownership of productive land, not merchants and craftsmen.

Fourth, Aristotle circumscribes the role of the populace by assigning it specific legal roles, such as the election of officers and the auditing of accounts–roles which are checked and balanced by the legal roles of the aristocratic element, such as occupying leadership positions.

If Aristotle is right about the conditions of popular government, then he would probably take a dim view of its prospects in America.

First and foremost, Aristotle would deplore America’s lack of concern with moral education. Aristotle’s disagreement would go beyond the obvious fact that the American founders did not make moral education the central concern of the state. America has neglected to cultivate even the minimal moral virtues required to maintain a liberal regime, virtues such as independence, personal responsibility, and basic civility.

Second, Aristotle would predict that multiculturalism and non-white immigration will destroy the cultural preconditions of popular government.

Third, Aristotle would reject America’s ever-widening franchise–particularly the extension of the vote to women, non-property owners, and cultural aliens–as a sure prescription for lowering the quality of public decision-making in the voting booth and jury room.

Fourth, Aristotle would be alarmed by the continuing erosion of the American working and middle classes by competition from foreign workers both inside and outside America’s borders. He would deplore America’s transformation from an agrarian to an industrial-mercantile civilization and support autarky rather than free trade and economic globalization.

Fifth, Aristotle would be alarmed by ongoing attempts to disarm the populace.

Sixth, he would condemn America’s imperialistic and warlike policies toward other nations.

Finally, Aristotle would likely observe that since genuine popular government is difficult with hundreds of thousands of citizens it will be impossible with hundreds of millions.

In short, if Aristotle were alive today, he would find himself to the right of Patrick J. Buchanan, decrying America’s decline from a republic to an empire. Aristotle challenges us to show whether and how liberty and popular government are compatible with feminism, multiculturalism, and globalized capitalism.

To conclude, however, on a more positive note: Although Aristotle gives reasons to think that the future of popular government in America is unpromising, he also gives reasons for optimism about the long-term prospects of popular government in general, for his defense of popular government is based on a realistic assessment of human nature, not only in its striving for perfection, but also in its propensity for failure.

Notes

1. For useful discussions of the arguments of Politics 3.11, see Mary P. Nichols, Citizens and Statesmen: A Study of Aristotle’s Politics (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1992), 66–71, and Peter L. Phillips Simpson, A Philosophical Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 166-71.

2. On the potluck supper analogy, see Arlene W. Saxonhouse, Fear of Diversity: The Birth of Political Science in Ancient Greek Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 222–24.

3. I wish to thank M. L. C. for suggesting the model of a jury trial.

4 . For a beautiful description of the deliberative process of a jury, see John C. Calhoun, A Disquisition on Government, in Union and Liberty: The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun, ed. Ross M. Lence (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1992), 49–50.

5. Friedrich A. Hayek’s classic essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” in his Individualism and Economic Order (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), argues that the market is superior to central planning because it better mobilizes widely scattered information. The market is, of course, larger than any possible jury and thus will always command more information. However, if one were to compare a market and a jury of the same size, the jury would clearly be a more rational decision-making process, for the market registers decisions based on perspectives which are in principle entirely solipsistic, whereas the jury requires a genuine dialogue which challenges all participants to transcend their partial and subjective perspectives and work toward a rational consensus which is more objective than any individual decision because it more adequately accounts for the phenomena in question than could any individual decision. It is this crucial disanalogy that seems to vitiate attempts to justify the market in terms of Gadamerian, Popperian, or Habermasian models and communicative rationality. For the best statement of this sort of approach, see G. B. Madison, The Political Economy of Civil Society and Human Rights (New York: Routledge, 1998), esp. chs. 3–5.

 


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dimanche, 24 juin 2012

Les « élites » et « l'écroulement d'un monde », selon Frédéric Lordon

 

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Les « élites » et « l'écroulement d'un monde », selon Frédéric Lordon

Ex: http://verslarevolution.hautetfort.com/

« (...) la catastrophe étant sans doute le mode historique le plus efficace de destruction des systèmes de domination, l’accumulation des erreurs des "élites" actuelles, incapables de voir que leurs "rationalités" de court terme soutiennent une gigantesque irrationalité de long terme, est cela même qui nous permet d’espérer voir ce système s’écrouler dans son ensemble.

Il est vrai que l’hypothèse de l’hybris, comprise comme principe d’illimitation, n’est pas dénuée de valeur explicative. (...) Car c’est bien l’abattement des dispositifs institutionnels de contention des puissances qui pousse irrésistiblement les puissances à propulser leur élan et reprendre leur marche pour pousser l’avantage aussi loin que possible. Et il y a bien quelque chose comme une ivresse de l’avancée pour faire perdre toute mesure et réinstaurer le primat du "malpropre" et du "borné" dans la "rationalité" des dominants.

Ainsi, un capitaliste ayant une vue sur le long terme n’aurait pas eu de mal à identifier l’État-providence comme le coût finalement relativement modéré de la stabilisation sociale et de la consolidation de l’adhésion au capitalisme, soit un élément institutionnel utile à la préservation de la domination capitaliste – à ne surtout pas bazarder ! Évidemment, sitôt qu’ils ont senti faiblir le rapport de force historique, qui au lendemain de la seconde guerre mondiale leur avait imposé la Sécurité sociale – ce qui pouvait pourtant leur arriver de mieux et contribuer à leur garantir trente années de croissance ininterrompue –, les capitalistes se sont empressés de reprendre tout ce qu’ils avaient dû concéder. (...)

Il faudrait pourtant s’interroger sur les mécanismes qui, dans l’esprit des dominants, convertissent des énoncés d’abord grossièrement taillés d’après leurs intérêts particuliers en objets d’adhésion sincère, endossés sur le mode la parfaite généralité. Et peut-être faudrait-il à cette fin relire la proposition 12 de la partie III de l’Éthique de Spinoza selon laquelle "l’esprit s’efforce d’imaginer ce qui augmente la puissance d’agir de son corps", qu’on retraduirait plus explicitement en "nous aimons à penser ce qui nous réjouit (ce qui nous convient, ce qui est adéquat à notre position dans le monde, etc.)".

Nul doute qu’il y a une joie intellectuelle particulière du capitaliste à penser d’après la théorie néoclassique que la réduction du chômage passe par la flexibilisation du marché du travail. Comme il y en a une du financier à croire à la même théorie néoclassique, selon laquelle le libre développement de l’innovation financière est favorable à la croissance. Le durcissement en énoncés à validité tout à fait générale d’idées d’abord manifestement formées au voisinage immédiat des intérêts particuliers les plus grossiers trouve sans doute dans cette tendance de l’esprit son plus puissant renfort.

C’est pourquoi la distinction des cyniques et des imbéciles est de plus en plus difficile à faire, les premiers mutant presque fatalement pour prendre la forme des seconds. À bien y regarder, on ne trouve guère d’individus aussi "nets" – il faudrait dire aussi intègres – que le Patrick Le Lay de TF1 qui, peu décidé à s’embarrasser des doctrines ineptes et faussement démocratiques de la "télévision populaire", déclarait sans ambages n’avoir d’autre objectif que de vendre aux annonceurs du temps de cerveau disponible ; rude franchise dont je me demande s’il ne faut pas lui en savoir gré : au moins, on sait qui on a en face de soi, et c’est une forme de clarté loin d’être sans mérite.

Pour le reste, il y a des résistances doctrinales faciles à comprendre : la finance, par exemple, ne désarmera jamais. Elle dira et fera tout ce qu’elle peut pour faire dérailler les moindres tentatives de re-réglementation. Elle y arrive fort bien d’ailleurs ! Il n’est que de voir l’effrayante indigence des velléités régulatrices pour s’en convaincre, comme l’atteste le fait que, depuis 2009, si peu a été fait que la crise des dettes souveraines menace à nouveau de s’achever en un effondrement total de la finance internationale. Pour le coup, rien n’est plus simple à comprendre : un système de domination ne rendra jamais les armes de lui-même et cherchera tous les moyens de sa perpétuation.

On conçoit aisément que les hommes de la finance n’aient pas d’autre objectif que de relancer pour un tour supplémentaire le système qui leur permet d’empocher les faramineux profits de la bulle et d’abandonner les coûts de la crise au corps social tout entier, forcé, par puissance publique interposée, de venir au secours des institutions financières, sauf à périr lui-même de l’écroulement bancaire. Il faut simplement se mettre à leur place ! Qui, en leur position, consentirait à renoncer ?

Il faudrait même dire davantage : c’est une forme de vie que ces hommes défendent, une forme de vie où entrent aussi bien la perspective de gains monétaires hors norme que l’ivresse d’opérer à l’échelle de la planète, de mouvementer des masses colossales de capitaux, pour ne rien dire des à-côtés les plus caricaturaux, mais bien réels, du mode de vie de l’ "homme des marchés" : filles, bagnoles, dope. Tous ces gens n’abandonneront pas comme ça ce monde merveilleux qui est le leur, il faudra activement le leur faire lâcher.

C’est en fait à propos de l’État que le mystère s’épaissit vraiment. Préposé à la socialisation des pertes bancaires et au serpillage des coûts de la récession, littéralement pris en otage par la finance dont il est condamné à rattraper les risques systémiques, n’est-il pas celui qui aurait le plus immédiatement intérêt à fermer pour de bon le foutoir des marchés ?

Il semble que poser la question ainsi soit y répondre, mais logiquement seulement, c’est-à-dire en méconnaissant sociologiquement la forme d’État colonisé qui est le propre du bloc hégémonique néolibéral : les représentants de la finance y sont comme chez eux. L’interpénétration, jusqu’à la confusion complète, des élites politiques, administratives, financières, parfois médiatiques, a atteint un degré tel que la circulation de tous ces gens d’une sphère à l’autre, d’une position à l’autre, homogénéise complètement, à quelques différences secondes près, la vision du monde partagée par ce bloc indistinct.

La fusion oligarchique – et il faudrait presque comprendre le mot en son sens russe – a conduit à la dé-différenciation des compartiments du champ du pouvoir et à la disparition des effets de régulation qui venaient de la rencontre, parfois de la confrontation, de grammaires hétérogènes ou antagonistes. Ainsi par exemple a-t-on vu, aidé sans doute par un mécanisme d’attrition démographique, la disparition de l’habitus de l’homme d’État tel qu’il a pris sa forme accomplie au lendemain de la seconde guerre mondiale, l’expression "homme d’État" n’étant pas à comprendre au sens usuel du "grand homme" mais de ces individus porteurs des logiques propres de la puissance publique, de sa grammaire d’action et de ses intérêts spécifiques.

Hauts fonctionnaires ou grands commis, jadis hommes d’État parce que dévoués aux logiques de l’État, et déterminés à les faire valoir contre les logiques hétérogènes – celles par exemple du capital ou de la finance –, ils sont une espèce en voie de disparition, et ceux qui aujourd’hui "entrent dans la carrière" n’ont pas d’autre horizon intellectuel que la réplication servile (et absurde) des méthodes du privé (d’où par exemple les monstruosités du type "RGPP", la Révision générale des politiques publiques), ni d’autre horizon personnel que le pantouflage qui leur permettra de s’intégrer avec délice à la caste des élites indifférenciées de la mondialisation.

Les dirigeants nommés à la tête de ce qui reste d’entreprises publiques n’ont ainsi rien de plus pressé que de faire sauter le statut de ces entreprises, conduire la privatisation, pour aller enfin rejoindre leurs petits camarades et s’ébattre à leur tour dans le grand bain des marchés mondiaux, de la finance, des fusions-acquisitions – et "accessoirement" des bonus et des stock-options.

Voilà le drame de l’époque : c’est qu’au niveau de ces gens qu’on continue à appeler – on se demande pourquoi tant leur bilan historique est accablant – des "élites", il n’y a plus nulle part aucune force de rappel intellectuelle susceptible de monter un contre-discours. Et le désastre est complet quand les médias eux-mêmes ont été, et depuis si longtemps, emportés par le glissement de terrain néolibéral ; le plus extravagant tenant à la reconduction des éditorialistes, chroniqueurs, experts à demi vendus et toute cette clique qui se présente comme les précepteurs éclairés d’un peuple nativement obtus et "éclairable" par vocation.

On aurait pu imaginer que le cataclysme de l’automne 2008 et l’effondrement à grand spectacle de la finance conduirait à une non moins grande lessive de tous ces locuteurs émergeant en guenilles des ruines fumantes, mais rien du tout ! Pas un n’a bougé !

Alain Duhamel continue de pontifier dans Libération ; le même journal, luttant désespérément pour faire oublier ses décennies libérales, n’en continue pas moins de confier l’une de ses plus décisives rubriques, la rubrique européenne, à Jean Quatremer qui a méthodiquement conchié tous ceux qui dénonçaient les tares, maintenant visibles de tous, de la construction néolibérale de l’Europe. Sur France Inter, Bernard Guetta franchit matinée après matinée tous les records de l’incohérence – il faudrait le reconduire à ses dires d’il y a cinq ans à peine, je ne parle même pas de ceux de 2005, fameuse année du traité constitutionnel européen… L’émission hebdomadaire d’économie de France Culture oscille entre l’hilarant et l’affligeant en persistant à tendre le micro à des gens qui ont été les plus fervents soutiens doctrinaux du monde en train de s’écrouler, parmi lesquels Nicolas Baverez par exemple, sans doute le plus drôle de tous, qui s’est empressé de sermonner les gouvernements européens et de les enjoindre à la plus extrême rigueur avant de s’apercevoir que c’était une ânerie de plus. Et tous ces gens plastronnent dans la plus parfaite impunité, sans jamais que leurs employeurs ne leur retirent ni une chronique ni un micro, ni même ne leur demandent de s’expliquer ou de rendre compte de leurs discours passés.

Voilà le monde dans lequel nous vivons, monde de l’auto-blanchiment collectif des faillis. (...)

Dans ce paysage où tout est verrouillé, où la capture "élitaire" a annihilé toute force de rappel, je finis par me dire qu’il n’y a plus que deux solutions de remise en mouvement : une détérioration continue de la situation sociale, qui conduirait au franchissement des "seuils" pour une partie majoritaire du corps social, c’est-à-dire à une fusion des colères sectorielles et à un mouvement collectif incontrôlable, potentiellement insurrectionnel ; ou bien un effondrement "critique" du système sous le fardeau de ses propres contradictions – évidemment à partir de la question des dettes publiques – et d’un enchaînement menant d’une série de défauts souverains à un collapsus bancaire – mais cette fois autre chose que la bluette "Lehman"…

Disons clairement que la deuxième hypothèse est infiniment plus probable que la première… quoiqu’elle aurait peut-être, en retour, la propriété de la déclencher dans la foulée. Dans tous les cas, il faudra sacrément attacher sa ceinture. (...)

À constater le degré de verrouillage d’institutions politiques devenues absolument autistes et interdisant maintenant tout processus de transformation sociale à froid, je me dis aussi parfois que la question ultra taboue de la violence en politique va peut-être bien devoir de nouveau être pensée, fût-ce pour rappeler aux gouvernants cette évidence connue de tous les stratèges militaires qu’un ennemi n’est jamais si prêt à tout que lorsqu’il a été réduit dans une impasse et privé de toute issue.

Or il apparaît d’une part que les gouvernements, entièrement asservis à la notation financière et dévoués à la satisfaction des investisseurs, sont en train de devenir tendanciellement les ennemis de leurs peuples, et d’autre part que si, à force d’avoir méthodiquement fermé toutes les solutions de délibération démocratique, il ne reste plus que la solution insurrectionnelle, il ne faudra pas s’étonner que la population, un jour portée au-delà de ses points d’exaspération, décide de l’emprunter – précisément parce que ce sera la seule. »

Frédéric Lordon (décembre 2011)

samedi, 23 juin 2012

La communauté ou le cauchemar du Système

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La communauté ou le cauchemar du Système

Ex: http://verslarevolution.hautetfort.com/

« L’atomisation sociétale, l’anomie sociale, la guerre de tous contre tous et l’extrême individualisation égoïsto-nombriliste des existences contemporaines ne sont pas des "dommages collatéraux" de la  société capitalisto-marchande, les  symptômes de maux superficiels qui pourraient être guéris par des "ajustements" du système, ce sont tout au contraire le substrat, la matière première et le carburant du monde libéral.

L’oligarchie financiaro-mercantile ne peut en effet régner que sur un conglomérat d’individus séparés, isolés, concurrents les uns des autres en tous domaines (emploi, sexualité, sentimentalité, consommation, représentations symboliques…) et n’ayant pas d’autre horizon que la poursuite de leurs intérêts particuliers et la satisfaction de leurs désirs matériels. C’est pour cela que la bourgeoisie financière, avec l’appui actif et empressé des idiots utiles de la gauche "libérale/ libertaire",  n’a jamais eu de cesse que de faire disparaître toutes les entités collectives et les corps intermédiaires qui séparaient encore l’individu du Marché (corporations, syndicats, églises, familles, nations…).

Car le cauchemar du système de l’individu-roi, déraciné et interchangeable, défini uniquement par sa capacité de consommation, porte un nom, celui de "communauté".

La communauté est un groupement humain rassemblant des individus qui veulent être acteurs et non spectateurs de leur existence, qui ont compris qu’il n’y a ni espoir ni avenir dans la "délégation" du politique à des "élites" expertocratiques qui ne servent jamais que leurs propres intérêts de classe.

A l’opposé du "héros solitaire", notamment vanté par la littérature commerciale et les représentations cinématographiques hollywoodiennes,  qui s’oppose au monde au nom de son exceptionnelle singularité, le membre d’une communauté sait que ce n’est que par l’action collective, l’union des qualités et des talents, la collaboration des caractères et des volontés que l’on peut trouver des issues à l’impasse contemporaine et bâtir des alternatives concrètes et durables au suicide général qu’est la mondialisation libérale.

 

La communauté n’est ni un ghetto ni un refuge, c’est un camp de base, fortifié sur ses fondations mais ouvert sur le monde, un point de ralliement et d’organisation aujourd’hui indispensable à toute perspective de résistance et de reconquête. La communauté c’est l’interdépendance au service d’un projet commun.

Si la communauté se nourrit de la proximité ethnico-culturelle, fruit de la lignée et de l’enracinement historique,  elle ne se limite nullement à elle  puisque ce qui en fait à la fois la force, la spécificité et le dynamisme est le fait d’incarner des valeurs élevées et exigeantes mais dans lesquelles, potentiellement, tout homme libre, fier et aimant peut se reconnaître.

Ainsi si la communauté offre une nécessaire image d’homogénéité, c’est une homogénéité "plurielle" c’est-à-dire qui associe la diversité des individus, des parcours, des origines et des caractères à un socle moral et politique commun et des objectifs partagés. C’est donc avant tout une homogénéité d’esprit, de vues, d’aspirations et d’espoirs.

Le Larzac plus l’Ordre

Le système se moque des contestations qui ne sont que sonores ou visuelles, des agitations vociférantes, des slogans et des palabres. Il les recycle même avec une déconcertante facilité, les transformant bien souvent en nouvelles micro-niches commerciales nourrissant généreusement le supermarché global. Tant que ses prétendus adversaires continuent à suivre ses programmes télé, à fréquenter ses centres commerciaux et ses agences de voyages, à intégrer ses codes esthétiques et son imaginaire et à apporter leur écot à l’organisation bancaire (épargne, emprunts, assurances-vie…), ils peuvent bien pondre tous les manifestes, tous les fanzines, tous les pamphlets qu’ils souhaitent, ils peuvent même organiser trois fois par an tous les saccages anti G20 ou G8 qu’ils désirent, le système s’en moque éperdument, et  même s’en pourlèche, pouvant ainsi agiter l’épouvantail factice d’une virulente et redoutable "opposition".

Aujourd’hui, la seule réelle crainte du système est clairement le retrait et le court-circuit, c’est-à-dire le fait pour des individus, regroupés et organisés au sein de communautés, de rompre non pas avec les superficialités du temps mais avec les fondements de l’époque : la consommation, l’industrie du divertissement et l’omniprésence financière. Il suffit pour s’en convaincre de constater le mépris hargneux de la "gauche" capitalo-compatible envers les tenants de la "décroissance" ou l’acharnement judiciaro-policier dont ont été victimes les SEL (Systèmes d’échanges locaux), les "casseurs de pub" ou les épiciers communautaires de Tarnac.

Que ces expériences socialo-collectivistes se débarrassent de leurs scories libertariennes, xénophiles et ethno-masochistes et s’enrichissent des préoccupations patriotiques, méritocratiques et différentialistes et la plus grand terreur de l’oligarchie prendra alors forme, réveillant les fantômes de la Commune et le souvenir de Louis Rossel.

Pour atteindre cet objectif, qui est tout sauf utopique, il n’y a pas d’autre voie que la communauté, seul "lieu" où le retrait et le court-circuit (consistant à se passer au maximum des infrastructures et des mécanismes imposés par le système)  sont viables et porteurs de sens politique. Car il ne s’agit pas d’encourager à la multiplication des retraites au désert et des vocations d’anachorètes mais d’inciter à la mise en place de structures collectives où un autre mode de vie, basé sur la décence commune, le sens de la mesure, l’altruisme, la simplicité volontaire, est possible sans être synonyme d’exclusion et de précarisation progressive.

Prêts sans intérêts entre camarades, habitat collectif, recyclage et récupération, services gratuits, troc, rejet de la lobotomie télévisuelle et de l’emprisonnement facebookien, réappropriation agraire, coopératives, loisirs collectifs, chantiers communs… les moyens, à la fois humbles et gigantesques,  sont nombreux pour poser dès aujourd’hui les premières pierres de ces communautés qui seront autant de monastères et de phalanstères conservant et entretenant la flamme de la civilisation au cœur de la longue nuit de la barbarie libérale. »

 

Zentropa

vendredi, 22 juin 2012

Au-delà du vote individuel

Au-delà du vote individuel

par Georges FELTIN-TRACOL

 

Modalites-de-vote--differents-types-de-majori.jpgParmi les nombreuses promesses électorales du socialiste François Hollande, il y a le droit de vote aux élections locales des étrangers extra-communautaires qui seraient victimes d’une soi-disant discrimination alors qu’ils paient leurs impôts (les braves gens !). Avant d’étendre ce droit politique majeur à des non-citoyens, il serait approprié de l’accorder aux nouvelles générations de racines européennes.

 

Avec La famille doit voter, Jean-Yves Le Naour et Catherine Valenti  retracent l’histoire d’un enjeu politique qui fit longtemps débat, mais qui pourrait resurgir : le vote plural familial. Le « vote plural » se pratique dans les systèmes censitaires pour désigner l’attribution à un même électeur de plusieurs suffrages. Il se distingue du vote familial qui revendique une autre forme de représentativité.

 

L’ouvrage retrace en détail les débats sur le rôle politique des familles sous la IIIe République, l’État français et aux débuts de la IVe République. Ce thème, méconnu et intéressant, méritait un meilleur traitement. Malheureusement, Le Naour et Valenti se montrent partiaux. S’inscrivant dans le conformisme intellectuel de la gauche bien-pensante, ils étudient leur sujet avec un parti-pris défavorable. Pour eux, le suffrage familial est une tentative inacceptable de remise en cause du suffrage universel d’essence égalitaire. Un mineur pouvant, dès sa naissance, hériter ou posséder un bien sous la tutelle de ses représentants légaux, pourquoi ne pourrait-il pas être électeur par délégation ?

 

Certes, les partisans du vote familial qui se recrutent dans la droite conservatrice invoquent l’ordre supposé des pères de famille. Mais ils ne sont pas les seuls à en réclamer l’instauration. La Belgique (État fasciste ?) l’applique de 1893 à 1919. En décembre 1923, 440 députés de la Chambre bleu-horizon (en chemises brunes ?) en votent le principe. En 1945 – 1946, d’anciens résistants démocrates-chrétiens défendent en vain l’idée d’une « République familiale » contre un Sénat à majorité radicale. Et, dans les années 1970, l’ancien Premier ministre gaulliste Michel Debré qui ne passe pas pour un nostalgique de l’alliance du Trône et de l’Autel, ne reprend-il pas le combat en faveur du vote familial ? Bien entendu, les auteurs ont beau jeu de noter que le Front national s’y est montré favorable, surtout pour des motifs démographiques (1). En 1988, Bruno Gollnisch, alors député du Rhône, observait dans une proposition de loi que « les familles de trois enfants et plus, qui représentent 11 % de la population, et qui assurent à elles seules 27 % du renouvellement des générations, ne représentent que 5,3 % du corps électoral (2) ».

 

Le vote familial eut cependant des alliés surprenants, comme les militantes du vote féminin ou les partisans de « l’approbation des morts ». À l’exception de quelques pétroleuses suffragettes extrémistes, les  organisations féministes ont souvent collaboré avec les partisans du vote familial, car elles y voyaient une avancée notable dans la réalisation de leur objectif final. Quant au vote des morts tombés pour la France proposé par Maurice Barrès dans sa chronique du 1er février 1916 (et reprise vers la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale par le communiste Jacques Duclos !), il fait resurgir les débats autour de la citoyenneté accordée aux femmes et du suffrage multiple, l’académicien suggérant que les épouses ou les pères des disparus en deviennent les mandataires.

 

De leur côté, les promoteurs du vote familial se divisent en natalistes et en familialistes. Pour le courant nataliste, « le dénombrement intégral des membres de la famille répond […] à une logique individualiste qui reconnaît à l’épouse et aux enfants le droit d’être représentés » alors que la tendance familialiste considère que la famille est la « cellule sociale fondamentale et repose sur la fonction supérieure du père de famille par rapport au célibataire ». Nourris par les travaux de Frédéric Le Play et de René de La Tour du Pin qui associent familialisme et corporatisme, les seconds accusent les premiers d’aménager et donc d’accepter la dérive individualiste. En revanche, les deux parties s’inquiètent de la dépopulation de la France. Soucieux de la faible natalité persistante après 1918, ils réclament une grande politique familiale nataliste et lorgnent, dans les années 1930, du côté des régimes autoritaires voisins, avec toutefois d’importantes nuances. « Si les natalistes admirent les politiques démographiques menées par les fascismes, les familialistes se méfient de l’omnipotence de l’État qui écrase l’autorité paternelle et finalement nuit aux familles. L’étatisme est pour eux un péril au moins aussi redoutable que l’individualisme », leur préférence allant pour le régime portugais de Salazar.

 

Soulagés par une décision du Conseil constitutionnel du 17 janvier 1979 qui proscrit tout vote plural, Le Naour et Valenti pensent que le vote familial se trouve désormais dans les « poubelles de l’histoire », car « la réforme du suffrage universel est maintenant complètement inintelligible aux Français. La famille ne votera pas », concluent-ils. Pourquoi cette assurance fate ? Ignorent-ils que l’histoire est toujours ouverte ? Longtemps, on a estimé que la famille était une structure vieillotte, ringarde, dépassée. Et à quoi assiste-t-on maintenant ? À une intense propagande en faveur du mariage homosexuel, de l’homoparentalité et de la famille homosexuée. Pour peu que les couples de même sexe obtiennent le droit à l’enfantement (la maternité étant l’ultime discrimination à bannir), des groupes activistes exigeront ensuite l’extension du suffrage à leur progéniture…

 

En dépit de la multiplication des familles monoparentales et des familles recomposées, l’enjeu du vote familial reste d’actualité. En 2004, des parlementaires conservateurs autrichiens demandèrent son introduction rapide. Et en 2005, ce sont trente députés allemands du Bundestag qui déposèrent une proposition de loi similaire. Dans une Europe touchée par l’« hiver des berceaux », la « Peste blanche » et le Papy Boom, la reconnaissance du vote familial s’interpréterait comme le signal fort d’une relance volontariste de la fécondité autochtone. Mais cette mesure politique de salut public doit impérativement s’accompagner d’une révision draconienne des naturalisations et de la réforme radicale du code de la nationalité. Le droit du sang remplacerait avantageusement le droit du sol sous peine d’obtenir le contraire de ce que l’on souhaite. L’application du vote familial suppose enfin une remise en cause des dogmes égalitaires et universalistes actuellement dominants, en clair, entreprendre une gigantesque révolution intellectuelle. « Mais après tout, écrivait Marc Dem, pourquoi la gauche aurait-elle le monopole de la révolution ? (3) » Loin d’être dépassé, le suffrage familial ou plural a de l’avenir et la grande supériorité d’être pré-moderne, anti-moderne et post-moderne.

 

Georges Feltin-Tracol

 

Notes

 

1 : Cette proposition qui figurait dans le programme présidentiel de Jean-Marie Le Pen de 1988 à 2007 semble avoir été abandonnée en 2012, car très incorrecte au regard des gras médias.

 

2 : Proposition de loi cité par Marc Dem, « Que deviendra la France quand il n’y aura plus de Français ? », Le Choc du Mois, n° 5, avril 1988, p. 26.

 

3 : Idem.

 

• Jean-Yves Le Naour (avec la collaboration de Catherine Valenti), La famille doit voter. Le suffrage familial contre le vote individuel, Hachette, coll. « Littératures », 2005, 266 p., 20,50 €.

 

• Article d’abord paru dans la revue Liberté politique, n° 31, octobre – novembre 2005 – 2006, et largement modifié pour la présente mise en ligne.

 


 

Article printed from Europe Maxima: http://www.europemaxima.com

 

URL to article: http://www.europemaxima.com/?p=2337

jeudi, 21 juin 2012

La démocratie jusqu’à l’indigestion

587739_litterature-camus.jpg

La démocratie jusqu’à l’indigestion

par Pierre LE VIGAN

Une société suppose des règles de civilité. Et ce sont ces règles qui rendent possible le droit, et la démocratie, en d’autres termes un code raisonné des affrontements politiques. La civilité, c’est le dépassement des préjugés, des tribus, des égoïsmes. C’est un horizon commun donc une culture commune. Disons le mot : ce sont des mœurs communes. Or à quoi assistons-nous ? À la réduction de la démocratie à des procédures, à des droits sociaux déconnectés des usages culturels de notre pays.

 

Ces droits appliqués à tout constituent une hyper-démocratie : droit à la santé, à la culture, etc. Mais l’inconvénient, c’est que l’hyper-démocratie tue la vraie démocratie. Car l’hyper-démocratie est démesure, hubris (outrage), tandis que la démocratie est l’apprentissage du temps, de la patience, du travail, de l’effort. C’est l’effort même de la civilisation.

 

Nous en sommes là. L’hyper-démocratie est, explique Renaud Camus, « la transposition plus ou moins opportune de la démocratie dans des domaines où sa pertinence est moins immédiatement évidente qu’en celui qui circonscrit le processus décisionnel au sein de la cité ». Par voie de conséquence, les mots perdent leur sens. La culture ne consiste plus à élever tout le monde dans la mesure des possibles de chacun mais à dire que tout est culture. Il en est de même pour l’éducation. Tout le monde a « le niveau » puisque le niveau est celui de tout le monde. Au terme de cela, c’est une moyennisation du monde qui se met en place. Ce sont les vraies hiérarchies qui s’effacent pour laisser la place aux seules hiérarchies de l’argent. Les riches ne sont plus des gens cultivés et aisés (ce qu’ils n’étaient pas toujours mais ce que l’on attendait d’eux !). Ce sont des pauvres qui ont réussis. « Les riches ne sont plus que des pauvres avec plus d’argent », note Renaud Camus. Le festivisme de la vie sociale et l’ironisation de tout sont les conséquences de cela, avec la dépolitisation qui va avec. L’enseignement de l’ignorance se combine avec la généralisation de la muflerie. Pour refaire une démocratie, c’est tout le problème de l’éducation du peuple qui devra être repris.

 

Pierre Le Vigan

 

• Renaud Camus, Décivilisation, Fayard, 212 p., 17 €.

 


 

Article printed from Europe Maxima: http://www.europemaxima.com

 

URL to article: http://www.europemaxima.com/?p=2486

mercredi, 13 juin 2012

Civilization as political concept

Civilization as political concept

Interview with the leader of the International “Eurasian Movement”, a philosopher, and a  professor at Moscow State University Alexander Dugin

Interviewed by the Global Revolutionary Alliance’s own Natella Speranskaja 

Ex: http://www.granews.info/

- The crisis of identity, with which we faced after the Cold War and the collapse of the communist world, is still relevant. What do you think is capable of lifting us out of this crisis  – a religious revival or creation of a new political ideology? Which of the options are you  inclined to yourself?

- After the collapse of communism came the phase of the “unipolar moment” (as Charles Krauthammer called it). In geopolitics, this meant the victory of unilateralism and Atlanticism, and because the pole was left alone, the West has become a global phenomenon. Accordingly,  the ideology of liberalism (or more accurately, neo-liberalism) is firmly in place crushing the two alternative political theories that existed in the twentieth century – communism and fascism . The Global liberal West has now defined culture, economics, information and technology, and politics. The West’s claims to the universalism of it’s values, the values of Western modernity and the Postmodern era, has reached its climax. 

Problems stemming from the West during the “unipolar moment” has led many to say that this “moment” is over, that he could not yet be a “destiny” of humanity.That is, a “unipolar moment” should be interpreted very broadly – not only geopolitical, but also ideologically, economically, axiologically, civilization wide. The crisis of identity, about which you ask, has scrapped all previous identities – civilizational, historical, national, political, ethnic, religious, cultural, in favor of a universal planetary Western-style identity  – with its concept of individualism, secularism, representative democracy, economic and political liberalism, cosmopolitanism and the ideology of human rights.Instead of a hierarchy of identities, which have traditionally played a large role in sets of collective identities, the “unipolar moment” affirmed a flat one-dimensional identity, with the absolutization of the individual singularity.  One individual = one identity, and any forms of the collective identity (for example, individual as the part of the religious community, nation, ethnic group, race, or even sex) underwent dismantling and overthrow. Hence the hatred of globalists for different kind of “majorities” and protection of minorities, up to the individual.

The Uni-polar Democracy of our moment - this is a democracy, which unambiguously protects the minority before the face of the majority and the individual before face of the group.  This is  the crisis of identity for those of non-Western or non-modern (or even not “postmodern”) societies,since this is where customary models are scrapped and liquidated. The postmodern West with  optimism, on the contrary, asserts individualism and hyper-liberalism in its space and zealously  exports it on the planetary scale.

However, it’s not painless, and has caused at all levels it’s own growing rejection.  The problems, which have  appeared in the West in the course of this “uni-polar moment”, forced many to speak, that this “moment’s” conclusion, has not succeeded in becoming “the fate” of humanity.  This, therefore,  was the cost of the  possibility of passage to some other paradigm…

So, we can think about an alternative  to the “unipolar moment” and, therefore, an alternative to liberalism, Americanism, Atlanticism, Western Postmodernism, globalization, individualism, etc. That is, we can, and I think should,  work out plans and strategies for a “post-uni polar world “, at all levels – the ideological and political, the economic, and religious, and the philosophical and geo-political, the cultural and civilizational, and technology, and value.

In fact, this is what I call multi-polarity. As in the case of uni-polarity it is not only about the political and strategic map of the world, but also the paradigmatic philosophical foundations of the future world order.  We can not exactly say that the “uni-polar moment” has finally been completed. No, it is still continuing, but it faces a growing number of problems. We must put an end to it – eradicate it. This is a global revolution, since the existing domination of the West, liberalism and globalism completely controls the  world oligarchy, financial and political elites.

So they just will not simply  give up their positions. We must prepare for a serious and intense battle.   Multi-polarity will be recaptured by the conquered peoples of the world in combat and it will be able to arise only on the smoking ruins of the global West.  While the West is still dictating his will to the rest, to talk about early multipolarity  – you must first destroy the Western domination on the ground.   Crisis – this is much, but far from all.

- If we accept the thesis of the paradigmatic transition from the current unipolar world order model to a new multi-polar model, where the actors are not nation-states, but  entire civilizations, can it be said that this move would entail a radical change in the very human identity?

- Yes, of course. With the end of the unipolar moment, we are entering a whole new world. And it is not simply a reverse or a step back, but it is a step forward to some unprecedented future, however, different from the digital project of “lonely crowds”, which is reserved for  humanity by globalism. Multi-polar identity will be the complex nonlinear collection of different identities – both individual and collective, that is varied for each civilization (or even inside each civilization).

This is something completely new that  will be created.

And the changes will be radical. We can not exclude that, along with known identities, civilizations, and offering of  new ways … It is possible that one of these new identities will become the identity of “Superman” – in the Nietzschean sense or otherwise (for example, traditionalist) …  In the “open society” of globalism the individual is, on the contrary, closedand strictly self-identical.

The multi-polar world’s anthropological map will be, however, extremely open, although the boundaries of civilizations  will be defined clearly. Man will again re-open the measurement of inner freedom – “freedom for”, in spite of the flat and purely external  liberal freedom – “freedom from” (as John Mill), Which is actually,  not freedom, but its simulacrum, imposed for a more efficient operation of the planetary masses by a small group of global oligarchs.

- Alexander Gelevich Dugin, you are the creator of the theory of a multi-polar world, which laid the foundation from which we can begin a new historical stage. Your book“The theory of a multi-polar world” has been and is being translated into other languages. The transition to a new model of world order means a radical change in the foreign policy of nation-states, and in today’s global economy, in fact, you have created all the prerequisites for the emergence of a new diplomatic language. Of course, this is a challenge of the global hegemony of the West. What do you think will be the reaction of your political opponents when they realize the seriousness of the threat posed?

- As always in the vanguard of  philosophical and ideological ideas, we first have the effect of bewilderment, the desire to silence or marginalize them. Then comes the phase of severe criticism and rejection. Then they begin to consider. Then they become commonplace and a truism. So it was with many of my ideas and concepts in the past 30 years. Traditionalism, geopolitics, Sociology of imagination , Ethnosociology, Conservative Revolution , National Bolshevism, Eurasianism, the Fourth Political Theory, National-structuralism, Russian Schmittianism, the concept of the three paradigms, the eschatological gnosis, New Metaphysics and Radical Theory of the Subject , Conspiracy theories, Russian haydeggerianstvo , a post-modern alternative , and so on – perceived first with hostility, then partially assimilated, and finally became part of mainstream discourse in academia and politics of Russia, and in part, and beyond.

Each of these directions has their fate, but the diagram of their mastering is approximately identical. So it will be also with the theory of a multipolar world   It will be hushed up, and then demonized and fiercely criticized, and then they will begin to look at it closely, and then accepted. But for all this it is necessary to pay for it and to defend it in the fight.  Arthur Rimbaud said that “the spiritual battle as fierce and hard, as the battle of armies.” For this we will have to struggle violently and desperately. As for everything else.

- In the “Theory of a multipolar world,” you write that in the dialogue between civilizations the responsibility is born by the elite of civilization. Do I understand correctly, it should be a “trained” elite, that is, the elite, which has a broad knowledge and capabilities, rather than the present “elite”? Tell me, what is the main difference between these elites?

- Civilizational elite – is a new concept. Thus far  it does not exist. It is a combination of two qualities – deep assimilation of the particular civilizational culture (in the philosophical, religious, value levels) and the presence of a high degree “of drive,” persistently pushing people to the heights of power, prestige and influence. Modern liberalism channels passion exclusively in the area of economics and business, creating a preference for a particular social elevator and it is a particular type of personality (which is an American sociologist Yuri Slezkine called “mercurial type”) .

The Mercurial elite of globalism, “aviakochevniki” mondialist nomadism, sung by Jacques Attali, should be overthrown in favor of radically different types of elites. Each civilization can dominate, and other “worlds”, not only thievish, mercurial shopkeepers and  cosmopolitans.  Islamic elite is clearly another – an example of this we see in today’s Iran, where the policy (Mars) and economics (Mercury) are subject to  spiritual authority, of the Ayatollah (Saturn).

But the “world” is only a metaphor. Different civilizations are based on different codes. The main thing is that the elite must be reflected in the codes themselves, whatever they may be. This is the most important condition. The will to power inherent in any elite, shall be interfaced with the will to knowledge, that is intellectualism and activism in such a multipolar elite should be wedded. Technological efficiency and value (often religious) content should be combined in such an elite. Only such an elite will be able to fully and responsibly participate in the dialogue of civilizations, embodying the principles of their traditions and engaging in interaction with other civilizations of the worlds.

- How can you comment on the hypothesis that the return to a bipolar model is still possible?

- I think not, practically or theoretically. In practice, because today there is no country that is comparable to the basic parameters of the U.S. and the West in general. The U.S. broke away from the rest of the world so that no one on its own can compete with them. Theoretically, only the West now has a claim to universality of its values, whereas previously Marxism was regarded as an alternative. After the collapse of the Soviet Union it became clear that universalism is only  liberal, capitalist. To resist Western imperialism there can only be a coalition of large spaces – not the second pole, but immediately multiple poles, each of them with its own strategic infrastructure and with a particular civilizational, cultural and ideological content.

- How real is the sudden transition to a non-polar model? What are the main disadvantages of this model?

- Passage to a non-polar model, about which leaders are increasingly talking of in the Council on Foreign Relations (Richard Haass, George Soros,etc.), means the replacement of the facade of a uni-polar hegemony, the transition from the domination based on military and strategic power of the United States and NATO (hardware ) to dispersed domination of the West as a whole (software). These are two versions – hard-hegemony and soft-hegemony. But in both cases the West, its civilization, its culture, its philosophy, its technologies, its political and economic institutes and procedures come out as the standard universal model.  Over the long term, this will indicate  the transfer of power to a “world government”, which will be dominated by all  the same Western elites, the global oligarchy. It will then  discard it’s  mask and will act directly on behalf of the transnational forces. In some sense non-polarity is worse than uni-polarity, though, it would seem hard to believe.

Non-polarity itself, and even more sharply and rapidly, will not yet begin. For this, the world must go through the turmoil and trials until a desperate humanity itself cried for the world elite with a prayer for salvation. Prior to that, to weaken the power of the United States, world disasters occur, and war. Non-polar world under the control of a world government, consisting of direct representatives of the global oligarchy,  is expected by many religious circles as the coming “of the kingdom of the Antichrist.”

As for the “shortcomings” of such a model, I believe that it is just  “a great parody of” the sacred world empire, which  Rene Guenon warned of in his work The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times. This will be a global simulacrum.  To recognize these “deficiencies” will  not be so easy, otherwise opposition “to the antichrist” would be too simple a matter, and the depth of his temptation would be insignificant.

The true alternative is a multi-polar world, everything else – evil in the truest sense of the word.

- The “counter-hegemony” by Robert Cox, who you mention in your book aims to expose the existing order in international relations and raise the rebellion against it. To do this, Cox called for the creation of counter-hegemonic bloc, which will include political actors who reject the existing hegemony. Have you developed the Fourth Political Theory as a kind of counter-hegemonic doctrine that could unite the rebels against the hegemony of the West?

- I am convinced that the Fourth Political Theory fits into the logic of building counter-hegemony, which Cox spoke of. By the way, also inthe proximity of critical theory in the MO theory, and multi-polar world is a wonderful text by Alexandra Bovdunova ,voiced at the Conference on the Theory of a multipolar world in Moscow, Moscow State University on 25-26 April 2012 .

4PT is not a complete doctrine, this is still the first steps toward the exit from the conceptual impasse in which we find ourselves in the face of liberalism, today rejected by more and more people around the world, in the collapse of the old anti-liberal political theories – Communism and Fascism. In a sense, the need for 4PT – is a sign of the times, and really can not be disputed by anyone. Another matter, what will be 4PT in its final form. The temptation appears to build it as a syncretic combination of elements of previous anti-liberal doctrines and ideologies …

I am convinced that we should go another way. It is necessary to understand the root of the current hegemony. This coincides with the root of modernity as such, and it grows from the roots of modernity in all three pillars of political theories – liberalism, communism and fascism. To manipulate them to find an alternative to modernity and liberalism, respectively, and of the liberal hegemony of the West, is in my view, pointless. We must move beyond modernity in general, beyond the range of its political actors – individual, class, nation, state, etc.

Therefore 4PT as the basis of a counter-hegemonic planetary front should be constructed quite differently. Like the theory of a multipolar world 4PT operates with a new concept – “civilization”, but 4PT puts special emphasis on the existential aspect of it. Hence the most important, the central thesis of 4PT that its subject is the actor -  Dasein. Every civilization, its Dasein, which means that it describes a specific set of existentials. On their basis, should be raised a new political theory  generalized at the following level into a “multipolar federation Of Dasein” as the concrete structure of counter – hegemony. In other words, the very counter-hegemony must be conceived existentially, as a field of war between the inauthentic globalization (global alienation) and the horizon of authentic  peoples and societies in a multipolar world (the possibility of overcoming the alienation  of civilizations).

- When we talk about cognitive uprising, however first of all, our actions should be aimed at the overthrow of the dictatorship of the West?

- The most important step is the beginning of the systematic preparation of a global revolutionary elite-oriented to multi-polarity 4PT. This elite must perform a critical function – to be a link between the local and global. At the local level we are talking about the masses and the clearest exponents of their local culture (religious leaders, philosophers, etc.). Often, these communities do not have a planetary perspective and simply defend their conservative identity before the onset of toxic globalization and Western imperialism.

Raising the masses and the traditionalist-conservatives  to a realized uprising in the context of a complex union of a counter-hegemonistic block is  extremely difficult. Simple conservatives and their supportive mass, for example, of the Islamic or Orthodox persuasion are unlikely to realize the necessity of  alliances with the Hindus or the Chinese. This will be the play  (and they are already actively playing it) of the globalists and their principle of “divide and conquer!” But the revolutionary elite, which is the elite, even within a particular traditionalist elite of society, should take the , heartfelt deep and deliberate feelings of local identity and correlate it within a total horizon of multi-polarity, and  4PT.

Without the formation of such a elite the revolt against the  post-modern world and the overthrow of the dictatorship of the West will not take place. Every time and everywhere   the West has a problem, he will come to the aid of anti-Western forces, which, however, will be motivated by narrow bills to specific civilizational neighbors – most often, just as anti-Western as they are. So it will be and already is the instrumentalization of globalists of various conservative fundamentalist and nationalist movements. Islamic fundamentalists to help the West is one. European nationalists – is another. So a “unipolar moment” extends not only to exist in itself, but also playing the antagonistic forces against him. The overthrow of the dictatorship of the West will become possible only if this strategy  will be sufficient enough to create or make appear a new counter-hegemonic elite. A initiative like Global Revolutionary Alliance – the unique example of really revolutionary and effective opposition to hegemony.

- You have repeatedly said that Eurasianism is a strategic, philosophical, cultural and civilizational choice. Can we hope that the political course chosen by Vladimir Putin (establishment of a Eurasian Union ) Is the first step towards a multipolar model?

- This is a difficult question. By himself, Putin and, especially, his environment, they act  more out of inertia, without calling into question the legitimacy of the existing planetary status quo. Their goal – to win his and Russia’s  rather appropriate place within the existing world order. But that is the problem: a truly acceptable place for Russia is not and can not exist, because the “uni-polar moment”, as well as the globalists stand for the desovereignization of Russia, eliminating it as an independent civilization, and strategic pole.

This self-destruction seems to suit, Dmitry Medvedev and his entourage (INSOR) for he was ready to reboot and go for almost all of it. Putin clearly understands the situation somewhat differently, and his criteria of “acceptability” is also different. He would most of all psychologically  arrange  a priority partnership with the West while maintaining the sovereignty of Russia. But this is  something  unacceptable under any circumstances to the unipolar globalists -  practically or theoretically.

So Putin is torn between multipolarity, where he leads the orientation of  sovereignty and Atlanticism, where he leads the inertia and the tireless work of a huge network of influence that permeates all of the structure of Russian society. Here’s the dilemma. Putin makes moves in both directions – he proclaims multi-polarity, the Eurasian Union, to protect the sovereignty of Russia, even spoke of the peculiarities of Russian civilization, strengthening vertical power, shows respect (if not more) to Orthodoxy, but on the other hand, surrounds himself with pro-American experts (eg, “Valdai Club”), rebuilds, education and culture under the globalistic Western models, has a liberal economic policy and suffers comprador oligarchs, etc.

The field for maneuver Putin is constantly shrinking. The logic of the circumstances pushes him to a more unambiguous choice. Inside the country this uncertainty of course causes growing hostility, and his legitimacy falls.

Outside the country  the West only increases the pressure on Putin to persuade him towards globalism and the recognition of “unilateralism”, specifically – to cede his post to the Westerner Medvedev. So Putin, while continuing to fluctuate between multipolarity and Westernism, loses ground and support here and there.

The new period of his presidency will be very difficult. We will do everything we can to move it to a multipolar world, the Eurasian Union and 4PT. But we are not alone in Russian politics – against us for influence in Putin’s circles we have an army of liberals, agents of Western influence and the staff of the global oligarchy. For us, though, we have the People and the Truth. But behind them – a global oligarchy, money, lies, and, apparently, the father of lies. Nevertheless, vincit omnia veritas. That I have no doubt.

mercredi, 23 mai 2012

La boussole s’est rompue par Costanzo PREVE

 

La boussole s’est rompue

par Costanzo PREVE

 

I

 

costanzop.gifOn ne peut décemment demander au marin de partir en mer sans compas, surtout lorsque le ciel est couvert et que l’on ne peut s’orienter par les étoiles. Mais qu’arrive-t-il, si l’on croit que le compas fonctionne, alors qu’il est falsifié par un aimant invisible placé dessous ? Eh bien, voilà une métaphore assez claire de notre situation présente.

 

II

 

En Italie, avec le gouvernement Monti, les choses sont devenues à la fois plus claires et plus obscures. Plus claires, parce qu’il est bien évident que la décision politique démocratique (dans son ensemble, de gauche, du centre, de droite) a été vidée de tout contenu; et que nous sommes devant une situation que n’avaient jamais imaginée les manuels d’histoire des doctrines politiques (bien évident : du moins pour ces deux pour cent de bipèdes humains qui entendent faire usage de la liberté de leur intelligence; je ne tiendrai pas compte ici des quatre-vingt dix-huit pour cent restant).

 

En bref, nous sommes devant une dictature d’économistes, à légitimation électorale référendaire indirecte et formelle. Il est évident  que cette dictature s’exerce pour le compte de quelqu’un, mais ce serait se tromper que de trop « anthropomorphiser » ce quelqu’un : les riches, les capitalistes, les banquiers, les Américains, etc. Cette dictature d’économistes est au service d’une entité impersonnelle (que Marx aurait qualifiée de « sensiblement suprasensible »), qui est la reproduction en forme « spéculative » de la forme historique actuelle du mode de production capitaliste (1). À ce point de vue, les choses sont claires.

 

Ce qui n’est pas clair du tout, et même obscur, c’est la manière dont cette junte d’économistes peut « conduire l’Italie hors de la crise ». Elle est au service exclusif de créanciers internationaux; son unique horizon est la dette. La logique du modèle néo-libéral consiste à « délocaliser » de Faenza jusqu’en Serbie la fabrication des chaussures Omca, afin de pouvoir payer les ouvrier deux cents euros.

 

Dans cette situation, le maintien du clivage Droite/Gauche n’est plus seulement une erreur théorique. C’est potentiellement un crime politique.

 

III

 

Dernièrement, je suis resté ébahi en lisant un tract du groupuscule La Gauche critique. Je ne comprenais même pas pourquoi, et puis tout d’un coup j’ai cru comprendre. Le terme même de « gauche critique » est une contradiction, puisque le présupposé principal et très essentiel de toute critique, sans lequel le terme de « critique » perd tout son sens, est justement le dépassement de cette dichotomie « Droite/Gauche ». On ne peut plus être à la fois critiques, et de gauche; non plus que de droite, ce qui revient au même.

 

Comunitarismo.jpgJe viens de renvoyer au dernier livre de Diego Fusaro. Dans cette histoire philosophique du capitalisme, depuis ses origines au XVIe siècle jusqu’à aujourd’hui, ces deux petits mots, Droite et Gauche, n’apparaissent absolument jamais, par ce fait tout simple et nu que la mondialisation capitaliste, et la dictature des économistes qui   nécessairement en est la forme, a entièrement vidé ces catégories de leur sens. Norberto Bobbio (2) pouvait encore en parler en toute bonne foi, en un temps où existait encore une souveraineté monétaire de l’État national, et où les partis de « gauche » pouvaient appliquer des politiques économiques de redistribution plus généreuses que celle des partis « de droite ». Mais aujourd’hui, avec la globalisation néo-libérale, le discours de Bobbio ne correspond plus à la réalité.

 

Il y a, bien sûr, un problème, du moment que la dictature « neutre » des économistes a cependant toujours besoin d’être légitimée constitutionnellement par des élections, fussent-elles vides de tout sens de décision. C’est donc ici que se met en scène une comédie à l’italienne; personnages : la « gauche responsable » : Bersani, D’Alema, Veltroni, tout le communisme togliattien recyclé; le bouffon qui fait la parade, Vendola, dont on sait bien a priori que  ses suffrages iront de toute façon au Parti démocrate (3); les « témoins du bon vieux temps » Diliberto et Ferrero, dont les suffrages iront toujours au même Parti démocrate, sous le prétexte du péril raciste, fasciste, populiste, etc.; les petits partis à préfixe téléphonique (respectivement Pour la refondation de la IVe internationale bolchevique, Refondateurs communistes), de Turigliatto et Ferrando, fidèles au principe olympique « L’important n’est pas de vaincre, mais de participer »; enfin, les « Témoins de Jéhovah » du communisme (Lutte communiste), dans l’attente du réveil du bon géant salvifique, la classe ouvrière et salariée mondiale (4).

 

L’idéal serait que, selon la fiction du romancier portugais José Saramago, personne n’allât plus voter; je souligne : personne. Si personne n’allait plus voter, la légitimation formelle de la dictature des économistes s’écroulerait. Le magicien capitaliste trouverait encore le moyen de tirer un nouveau lapin de son chapeau, mais on s’amuserait bien en attendant. Hélas ! Cela est un rêve irréalisable. La machine Attrape-couillons est trop efficace pour qu’on la laisse tomber en désuétude.

 

IV

 

Et pourtant, la solution pourrait bien être à la portée de la main : une nouvelle force politique radicalement critique à l’égard du capitalisme libériste mondialisé, et tout à fait étrangère au clivage Droite/Gauche. Une force politique qui laisse tomber tous les projets de « refondation du communisme » (la pensée de Marx est encore vivante, mais le communisme historique est mort), et qui retrouve plutôt des inspirations solidaristes et communautaires (5). En théorie, c’est l’œuf de Christophe Colomb; en théorie, il faudra encore plusieurs décennies, à moins d’improbables accélérations imprévues de l’histoire, pour que l’on comprenne bien que la boussole est hors d’usage, et que « droite » et « gauche » ne sont plus désormais que des espèces de panneaux de signalisation routière.

 

V

 

Et c’est ici que je vais donner l’occasion à tous les scorpions, araignées, et vipères de m’accuser : « Preve fasciste ! ». Il est vrai que, si l’on a peur de briser les tabous, mieux vaut se reposer et lire des romans policiers.

 

Voici : un cher ami français vient de m’envoyer le livre qu’a écrit Marine Le Pen (6). Je sais déjà qu’on va parler d’une astucieuse manœuvre d’infiltration populiste par l’éternel fascisme; mais ce livre, lisez-le, au moins. Il est étonnant. Moi, il ne m’étonne pas, puisque je connais bien la dialectique de Hegel, l’unité des contraires, et la logique du développement tant de la gauche que de la droite depuis une vingtaine d’années.

 

Voyons cela. À la page 135, Marine Le Pen écrit : « Je n’ai pour ma part aucun état d’âme à le dire : le clivage entre la gauche et la droite n’existe plus. Il brouille même la compréhension des enjeux réels de notre époque ». Je vois que ses principales références philosophiques dont deux penseurs « de gauche » : Bourdieu et Michéa (p. 148). Je vois que Georges Marchais, ce représentant du vieux communisme français, est cité, favorablement. Plus de Pétain ni de Vichy. Sarkozy est condamné tant pour sa politique extérieure au service des États-Unis que pour sa politique intérieure qui aggrave l’inégalité sociale. Sur la question du marché, sa principale référence théorique est Polanyi (p. 26). Le non français à la guerre d’Irak de 2003 est revendiqué (p. 37). Marx est cité (p. 61); le grand économiste Maurice Allais est souvent cité, pour soutenir l’incompatibilité du marché et de la démocratie. Mais surtout, j’y ai retrouvé avec plaisir ce qui me séduisait dans le communisme des années soixante, à savoir que la parlotte polémique à courte portée marche derrière, et non devant : le livre commence par un long chapitre intitulé, à la française « Le mondialisme n’est pas un humanisme ». La globalisation est très justement qualifiée d’« horizon de renoncement », et il y est réaffirmé que « l’empire du Bien est avant tout dans nos têtes », ce qui est vrai.

 

Je pourrais continuer. Je sais que j’ai donné aux vipères et aux scorpions une belle occasion de m’outrager; et c’est ce qui va arriver.

 

Mais pour moi, tout ce que je veux, en réalité, c’est faire réfléchir.

 

VI

 

Pour comprendre ce que sont aujourd’hui la Droite et la Gauche, nul besoin de s’adresser à des défenseurs « idéal-typiques » de la fameuse dichotomie, en termes de valeurs éternelles et de catégories de l’Esprit, comme un Marco Revelli. Il suffit de lire des défenseurs du système comme Antonio Polito (dans le Corriere della sera, 25 février 2012). Polito dit ouvertement que la compétition politique peut désormais avoir lieu dans le seul cadre, tenu pour définitif, de l’économie globalisée; que tout le reste, du pitre Nichi Vendola (Mouvement pour la gauche) à Forza Nuova (d’« extrême droite »), n’est qu’agitation insignifiante; que cela est notre destin.

 

Que proposent donc les « gauches » encore en activité, d’Andrea Catone à Giacche et à Brancaccio ? Une relance du keynesisme  et de la dépense publique en déficit, à l’intérieur de l’Union européenne ? Une nouvelle mise en garde après tant d’autres contre la menace du racisme, de la Ligue du Nord, du populisme ? Une « alter-globalisation à visage humain » ? À présent que le Grand Putassier n’occupe plus le devant de la scène, avec quoi va-t-on continuer à fanatiser comme des supporters de foot le « peuple de gauche » ?

 

Si on lit le dossier « Chine 2020 » de la Banque mondiale, récemment présenté à Pékin, on verra que la dictature des économistes s’étend sur le monde entier. Aujourd’hui, la révolution n’est pas mûre; elle n’est à l’ordre du jour ni selon sa variante stalinienne (Rizzo), ni selon sa variante trotskiste (Ferrando). Ni même le réformisme, puisque le réformisme suppose la souveraineté de l’État national. Et il y en a encore qui jouent comme des enfants avec la panoplie du petit fasciste contre le petit communiste ? Ou du petit communiste contre le petit fasciste ? Aujourd’hui, l’ennemi, c’est la dictature des économistes néo-libéraux. Avec ceux-ci, pas de compromis ! Voilà le premier pas. Si on le fait, on pourra faire les suivants.

 

Deux mots encore à propos de la manie du vote compulsif.

 

1Il-Popolo-al-Potere-di-Costanzo-Preve.jpgIl est probable que l’américanisation intégrale et radicale, bien plus grave encore que l’européisme, que va apporter le gouvernement Monti, produise une diminution de la participation électorale des Italiens, qui depuis 1945 a toujours atteint des niveaux délirants. Cette compulsion électoraliste, qui est évidente chez les personnes âgées, était liée à l’opposition Démocratie chrétienne/Parti communiste; elle s’est prolongée, par inertie, au temps de Craxi, de Prodi, et de Berlusconi. Mais à présent que l’État prend tout et ne donne plus rien, elle devrait diminuer; pas assez vite, hélas ! Il y aura toujours du champ pour des clowns comme les Casini, les Veltroni, les Vendola, etc.

 

À côté de cet affaiblissement du vote compulsif, on notera un second aspect de l’américanisation : le déclin des débats sur la politique extérieure. Aux États-Unis, il est naturel que les gens ne sachent pas où sont l’Afghanistan, l’Irak, la Syrie, etc., dont les bombardements sont confiés à d’obscurs spécialistes. Les temps où tous s’intéressaient à la Corée ou au Vietnam sont bien passés, irréversiblement. Toute la caste journalistique, sans aucune exception, est devenus une parfaite machine de guerre qui produit joyeusement du mensonge.

 

Au temps de la guerre du Golfe de 1991, il y avait encore de la discussion; puis elle s’est tue. On a eu alors ce que Carl Schmitt a appelé la reductio ad hitlerum, c’est-à-dire l’attribution de tous les malheurs de la société et du monde à de féroces dictateurs, et l’invention (dont l’origine est « de gauche ») de peuples unis contre les dictateurs. Les peuples furent médiatiquement unis contre des Hitler toujours nouveaux, ennemis des droits de l’homme. Le jeu commença avec Caucescu, continua avec Noriega, puis ce furent Saddam Hussein, Ahmadinejad, Milosevic, Kadhafi, et maintenant Assad. L’histoire a été abolie; on l’a remplacée par un canevas de comédie, toujours le même : un peuple uni contre le féroce dictateur; le silence coupable de l’Occident; les « bons » dissidents, auxquels est réservé le droit à la parole. Depuis un an, je n’ai jamais entendu à la télévision manipulée un seul partisan d’Assad, et pourtant, la Syrie en est pleine.

 

C’est seulement lorsque le jeu se durcit qu’il importe que les durs commencent à jouer. Tant que règne la comédie italienne de la parodie Droite/Gauche, il en est toujours comme de ces spectacles de catch américain où tout n’est que simulation devant des spectateurs idiots.

 

État national, souveraineté nationale, programme de solidarité et de communauté nationale, non à la globalisation sous toutes ses formes, et à la dictature des économistes anglophones !

 

Costanzo Preve
Traduit de l’italien par Yves Branca

 

Notes

 

1 : cf. Diego Fusaro, Minima mercatazlia. Philosophie et capitalisme, Bompiani, Milan, 2012.

 

2 : Norberto Bobbio (1909 – 2004). Turinois, professeur de philosophie politique, socialiste, célèbre en Italie. Plusieurs de ses ouvrages ont été traduits en français. Signalons, Droite et gauche, Paris, Le Seuil, 1996; L’État et la démocratie internationale. De l’histoire des idées à la science politique, Bruxelles, Éditions Complexe, 1999. Ce dernier ouvrage est considéré comme son œuvre majeure. Costanzo Preve a correspondu avec lui et a écrit une étude critique courtoise, mais radicale, de sa pensée, comme forme classique d’un politiquement correct de gauche : Les contradictions de Norberto Bobbio. Pour une critique du bobbioisme cérémoniel, Petite plaisance, 2004.

 

3 : Fondé en 2007, par une coalition de divers courants de gauche et centristes (démocrates chrétiens); d’une tonalité analogue au Nouveau Centre, allié de l’U.M.P. en France.

 

4 : Respectivement trotskiste à la manière du Parti des travailleurs [aujourd’hui remplacé par le Parti ouvrier indépendant, N.D.L.R. d’E.M.] ou de Lutte ouvrière, et refondateur communiste. Susceptibles de s’unir dans une sorte de « front de gauche » à l’italienne. Diliberto et Ferrero cités auparavant sont les chefs de file d’autres courants gauchistes et « refondateurs communistes ».

 

5 : Preve a quant à lui retrouvé l’inspiration aristotélicienne; à ses yeux, la communauté est la société même.

 

6 : Marine Le Pen, Pour que vive la France, Grancher, Paris, février 2012.

 

• Écrit à Turin, le 3 mars 2012, et mis en ligne le jour même sur le site italien ComeDonChisciotte.


Article printed from Europe Maxima: http://www.europemaxima.com

URL to article: http://www.europemaxima.com/?p=2527

lundi, 21 mai 2012

Ein idealistischer Prophet der Tat

Ein idealistischer Prophet der Tat

Von Günter Zehm

Ex: http://www.jungefreiheit.de/

290_Johann_Gottlieb_Fichte_als_Berliner_Landsturmmann_.jpegJohann Gottlieb Fichte war nicht nur ein gewaltiger Tribun und einer der größten Philosophen, die die Welt je trug, er war vor allem auch ein bis ins letzte aufrechter, ja knorriger Mann, dem man nichts vormachen konnte. Man muß lesen, wie unnachsichtig er gegen alle Formen ziviler Geschmeidigkeit ankämpfte, wie abgrundtief seine Verachtung für beifallheischendes Literatengeschmeiß und karrierebedachte Katzbuckelei war und wie schneidend er diese Verachtung zu formulieren verstand.

Er war kleiner Leute Kind, Sohn eines Bandwirkers aus der Oberlausitz, hatte dank der Unterstützung des örtlichen Gutsbesitzers Haubold von Miltitz das berühmte Elitegymnasium Schulpforta besuchen können und danach jahrelang das Hauslehrer- und Hofmeisterschicksal der damaligen deutschen Intellektuellen geteilt. Es bedeutete für ihn viel, als er 1794 als Professor nach Jena berufen wurde, aber gerade diese Stelle verscherzte er sich bald wieder durch seine Unnachgiebigkeit.

Ein von ihm mit einem Nachwort versehener Artikel von Friedrich Karl Forberg im Philosophischen Journal hatte der Vermutung Ausdruck gegeben, daß die Existenz Gottes nicht notwendig sei für die Errichtung einer moralischen Wertordnung. Das hatte das äußerste Mißfallen diverser Obrigkeiten erregt, der berüchtigte „Atheismusstreit“ brach aus, Sachsen und Preußen drohten, die Universität Jena zu boykottieren und ihr sämtliche Fördermittel zu entziehen.

Meinungsfreiheit aus Prinzip

Fichte stimmte nicht mit dem fraglichen Aufsatz überein, doch um des Prinzips der wissenschaftlichen Freiheit willen warf er sich stürmisch in den Kampf und ließ „gerichtliche Verantwortungsschriften“ und „Appellationen an das Publikum“ erscheinen. Nicht Forberg, sondern Fichte rückte unversehens in den Fokus der Auseinandersetzung. Er wurde aus seinem Lehrverhältnis entlassen, und aufgehetzte Studenten warfen ihm abends die Fenster ein.

Der zuständige sachsen-weimarische Minister, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, der Fichte als Person an sich sehr achtete, kommentierte spöttisch: „Eine unangenehme Art, von der Existenz der Außenwelt Kenntnis zu nehmen.“ Seine Worte bezogen sich auf die Philosophie Fichtes, seine „Wissenschaftslehre“, die das berühmte „Ding an sich“ der Kantischen Theorie seiner Objektivität entkleidet und zum Produkt der dialektischen Vernunft gemacht hatte.

Goethe vermochte in Fichte nur eine Neuausgabe des seinerzeitigen englischen Bischofs George Berkeley (1685–1753) zu sehen, der das Vorhandensein einer unabhängig vom individuellen Bewußtsein existierenden Außenwelt leugnete und die Gegenstände als bloße individuelle Vorstellungen auffaßte. Die Reduktion Fichtes auf Berkeley und andere „subjektive Idealisten“ und Sensualisten ging jedoch völlig an der wesentlichen Problematik vorbei.

Das Ich setzt sich sein Nicht-Ich

Entscheidend war, daß Fichte als erster ein einheitliches voluntaristisches System entwarf, das keines Anstoßes von außen bedurfte, weil das Prinzip seiner Bewegung in ihm selbst ruhte. Es handelte sich bei diesem Prinzip nicht um irgendeinen biologischen „Trieb“, sondern um jenen Widerspruch in jedem denkenden Selbstbewußtsein, daß sich das „Ich“ nur dann als Ich denken kann, wenn es gleichzeitig auch ein „Nicht-Ich“ denkt.

Fichte konstatierte, daß sich der allgemeine Widerspruch zwischen Ich und Nicht-Ich in jeder konkreten Situation des Ich wiederhole. Immer und überall könne es nur im Nicht-Ich seine Bestimmung finden, es sei also ins Nicht-Ich hinein entfremdet, und sein wesentliches Bestreben sei es, diese Entfremdung aufzuheben und sich mit seinen konkreten Bestimmungen zu vereinigen. Dadurch aber entstehe der Weltprozeß wie auch der Prozeß jedes Individuums.

Diese Dialektik, als deren Schöpfer also mit Fug Fichte gelten kann, ist ungeheuer folgenreich gewesen: Hegel faßte ein wenig später die Entfremdung des Ich ins Nicht-Ich als „Negation“ und das Bestreben des Ich, das Nicht-Ich einzuholen, als „Negation der Negation“, baute diese Begriffe zu einer kompletten Methode aus und faßte mit ihrer Hilfe das ganze Material der damaligen Wissenschaften zu seinem epochemachenden System zusammen. Marx bediente sich bei seinen ökonomischen Analysen ebenfalls der Dialektik und gelangte dadurch zu seiner revolutionären Theorie vom Proletariat als der leibhaftigen Negation der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft.

Ein prophetischer Philosoph der Tat

Aber nicht genug damit. Dadurch, daß Fichte nicht gewillt war, die Dialektik zu objektivieren, mußte er folgerichtig zu dem Schluß gelangen, daß die Empfindung der äußeren Gegenstände nichts anderes sei als der freie Wille des Ich, sich Gegenstände zu setzen, um sie später wieder „einzuholen“, also zu zerstören. Der Denker war in erster Linie Täter, mag sein Untäter. Er formte die Welt nach seinem Willen – und nach dem Willen Gottes, von dem das Ich gleichsam ein „Teilchen“ und ein „Fünklein“ war.

Fichte war der Prophet der Tat, das Ich hatte sich bei ihm unentwegt an sozialen und politischen Konstellationen abzuarbeiten. So war er also, wie wir heute sagen würden, ein ungeheuer „engagierter“ Denker, der sich ungeniert und mit der ganzen Kraft seiner schier dämonischen Rhetorik in die politischen Händel einmischte. Er war nach seiner Vertreibung aus Jena nach Berlin gegangen, und dort stieg er in kürzester Zeit zu einem der bekanntesten Publizisten des Reiches auf.

Deutschland sah sich um die Jahrhundertwende vom 18. zum 19. Jahrhundert den massiven Angriffen und Vereinnahmungen Napoleons ausgesetzt, und der Widerstand dagegen trug entscheidend zur Formierung des Landes als moderne Nation bei. Und Fichte war (mehr noch als Herder) von der Geschichte tatsächlich dazu ausersehen, diesen objektiven Prozeß klar und machtvoll ins öffentliche Bewußtsein zu heben. Seine „Reden an die deutsche Nation“ von 1808 waren ausdrücklich als Medizin gedacht, welche den Widerstand gegen die Fremdherrschaft und den Prozeß der Nationwerdung befördern sollte.

„Wo das Licht ist, ist das Vaterland“

Nichts Dümmeres gibt es, als Fichte als geborenen „Franzosenfresser“ und die „Reden“ als Ausdruck eines ignoranten Chauvinismus hinzustellen. In den ersten Jahren der Revolution von 1789 hatte Fichte Frankreich ja noch als Hort der Freiheit gefeiert, man denke an Schriften wie „Zurückforderung der Denkfreiheit von den Fürsten Europas“. „Ubi lux, ibi patria“, schrieb er da, „wo das Licht ist, ist das Vaterland“.

Erst unter dem Einfluß der Napoleonischen Kriege gab der Philosoph seine transrheinische Begeisterung auf. „Der Staat Napoleons“, hieß es nun in den „Reden“, „kann nur immer neuen Krieg, Zerstörung und Verwüstung erzeugen. Man kann damit zwar die Erde ausplündern und wüste machen und sie zu einem dumpfen Chaos zerreiben, nimmermehr aber sie zu einer Universalmonarchie ordnen.“

Zur selben Zeit, da Fichte vor größter Öffentlichkeit in Berlin seine Reden an die deutsche Nation hielt, trug er vor akademischem Publikum auch seine „Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters“ vor, will sagen: seine Geschichtsphilosophie, die natürlich ein überzeitliches, jeder politischen Aktualität enthobenes historisches Schema zu liefern begehrte. Dennoch bereitet es hohen Reiz, die „Reden“ sich in den „Grundzügen“ spiegeln zu lassen und umgekehrt.

Deutschland zum Licht heben

Fichte unterschied drei gesellschaftliche Grundstadien. Da ist erstens das „arkadische Zeitalter“, in dem primitive Zustände und allenfalls ein „Vernunftinstinkt“ herrschen, und zweitens das sogenannte „Zeitalter der vollendeten Sündhaftigkeit“, in dem das Gemeinwesen sich von sich selbst entfremdet hat und in unendlich viele divergierende Individuen auseinandergefallen ist. In dieser Sündhaftigkeit, daran läßt der Philosoph keinen Zweifel, leben wir jetzt.

Abgelöst aber wird diese Ära der Sündhaftigeit, drittens, vom „elysischen Zeitalter“, dem Zeitalter der „Vernunftkunst“. Dieses letzte Zeitalter, meint Fichte, wird sich erheben, wenn die sündhafte Willkür der Individuen ihren Höhepunkt erreicht hat und sie nur noch wie Atome konturlos durcheinanderschwirren. Angesichts der politischen Zustände im damaligen Deutschland mag der Geschichtsdenker ernsthaft überzeugt gewesen sein, daß das Zeitalter der Sündhaftigkeit nun also komplett sei und es „nur“ noch der Zusammenfassung aller individuellen Energien bedürfe, um Deutschland zu einem Land des Lichts und der Vernunft emporzuheben.

Wenn Fichte gut von den Deutschen sprach, dann sprach er immer in der Zukunft. In den „Reden“ betont er an vielen Stellen, daß eine Erhebung aus dem gegenwärtigen Zustande einzig unter der Bedingung denkbar sei, daß dem deutschen Volk eine neue Welt aufginge. Johann Gottlieb Fichte starb im Januar 1814, mitten im Siegeslärm der Befreiungskriege, am Lazarettfieber, das seine Frau, die in einem Hospital verwundete Landsturmleute pflegte, von daher mitgebracht hatte.

Ein tragisch-banaler, früher Tod. Aber er ersparte dem großen Philosophen immerhin so manche Enttäuschung, die die Nachkriegszeit mit ihren Demagogenverfolgungen und ihrer feigen Biedermeierei mit sich brachte. Sein Vermächtnis weht uns heute wundersam ungebrochen an.

samedi, 19 mai 2012

Contre la proportionnelle

Contre la proportionnelle

par Georges FELTIN-TRACOL

 

Le 19 février 2012, lors d’une émission de « Méridien Zéro » consacrée à une « Histoire non-conformiste de l’élection présidentielle », Emmanuel Ratier critiqua la constitution de la Ve République, condamna le mode de scrutin majoritaire et en appela à l’établissement de la proportionnelle (1).

 

Dans le « camp national », il n’est pas le seul à la réclamer. À l’occasion des « clans de la presse » en première partie du « Libre-Journal de la Résistance française » sur Radio Courtoisie qu’Emmanuel Ratier anime un mercredi sur quatre, un autre de ses invités réguliers, Jérôme Bourbon, directeur du coruscant hebdomadaire Rivarol, défend lui aussi ce point de vue.

 

Il est exact que le scrutin majoritaire uninominal à deux tours déforme considérablement les résultats électoraux. Ainsi, aux élections législatives de juin prochain, il est très probable que le Front national n’ait que un, deux, voire aucun député, alors que sa présidente, Marine Le Pen, a recueilli à la présidentielle 6 421 426 suffrages (17,90 %). Dans le même temps, grâce à un accord électoral passé avec les socialistes, Europe Écologie – Les Verts peut espérer obtenir une trentaine de sièges malgré les 828 345 voix (2,31 %) de leur candidate, Éva Joly. Déjà, cinq ans plus tôt, François Bayrou, alors troisième homme de la présidentielle avec 18,57 % (6 820 119 voix), n’eut finalement que quatre députés !

 

Le scrutin majoritaire appliqué actuellement dans l’Hexagone crée de l’injustice politique et organise une réelle discrimination civique en rejetant des portions importantes du corps électoral. Tous les spécialistes des systèmes électoraux relèvent judicieusement que « cette injustice se double d’une certaine immoralité, dans la mesure où nombre de marchandages sont possibles à l’heure des désistements (2) ». Le scrutin proportionnel gomme ces travers et reflète le « corps des représentés, exprimant toutes les variétés, toutes les nuances physiques, idéologiques, économiques du corps social considéré (3) ». Mais, outre les problèmes arithmétiques de répartition des sièges entre les listes selon le plus fort reste, la plus forte moyenne, la méthode d’Hondt ou le quotient rectifié, la proportionnelle comporte de grands inconvénients tels que susciter l’instabilité ministérielle, favoriser des coalitions gouvernementales précaires et renforcer les partis politiques. Un peu comme leurs prédécesseurs ultra-royalistes sous la Seconde Restauration qui, à leur corps défendant, acclimatèrent en France le régime parlementaire anglomorphe alors qu’ils se présentaient en chantres de l’Ancien Régime (magnifique exemple d’hétérotélie historique), Emmanuel Ratier, Jérôme Bourbon et d’autres défendent avec passion le scrutin proportionnel afin que leur famille politique puisse être représentée à l’Assemblée nationale. Cependant, « il serait inexact de tenir le système proportionnel pour plus démocratique que d’autres, souligne Carl Schmitt. Les divisions qu’il introduit ne sont certes pas territoriales mais elles n’en traversent que plus fortement l’État entier (4) ».

 

Ce dysfonctionnement majeur a été perçu par un autre observateur attentif de l’Occident, Alexandre Soljénitsyne. De son exil forestier du Vermont, il soulignait que « les élections à la proportionnelle avec scrutin de liste renforcent exagérément le pouvoir des instances des partis, qui constituent les listes de candidats, l’avantage allant alors aux grands partis organisés (5) ». Du fait de son principe qui ne peut  concevoir que des listes, la proportionnelle avantage la partitocratie et la forme partisane avec une nette prédilection pour des candidats médiocres et serviles envers leur direction. Le révolutionnaire conservateur allemand et le dissident russe avaient compris que « ce sont […] les partis qui règnent au sein du Parlement en faisant et défaisant les majorités et les gouvernements sans tenir compte de l’opinion publique. Le régime des partis c’est également et surtout l’irresponsabilité des partis d’où la crise qu’ils provoquent dans le fonctionnement du régime parlementaire (6) ». Profondément partitocratique, la proportionnelle attise les coteries personnelles et attire les groupes de pression.

 

Il est néanmoins vrai qu’en France, le système partitocratique a su proliférer et s’implanter grâce au scrutin majoritaire. Est-ce pour autant une raison pour instituer une représentation proportionnelle ? Le raisonnement dans ces circonstances repose souvent sur une démonstration binaire et franchement manichéen. D’autres solutions existent pourtant au-delà des scrutins majoritaire à deux tours et proportionnel. Citons par exemple le vote préférentiel, le scrutin proportionnel à deux tours en vigueur aux élections municipales et régionales, le système proportionnel personnalisé allemand, le vote alternatif ou préférentiel appliqué en Australie ou le vote unique transférable en cours en Irlande et que les libéraux-démocrates britanniques ont tenté d’introduire sans succès à la Chambre des Communes. Ce mode de scrutin original assure à chaque parti « une représentation proportionnelle à sa force réelle et les électeurs ont élu les candidats de leur choix (7) ».

 

Mais tous ces systèmes électoraux entérinent l’existence des partis politiques. Or ce sont ces nuisances politiciennes qui perturbent par leur présence même l’ordre de la Cité. Ne faut-il pas dès lors envisager une alternative démocratique impartiale, c’est-à-dire sans la présence parasitaire et nocive de formations politiques, électorales ou politiciennes ? N’est-il pas temps de s’extraire des schémas vieillots, carrément obsolètes même, de la « représentation nationale » et d’abandonner le système représentatif ?

 

En effet, plutôt que de soutenir la proportionnelle, œuvrons en faveur d’une démocratie post-moderne. Ses fondements en seraient l’interdiction effective des partis politiques (comme en Iran), la généralisation de la pratique référendaire à chaque échelon administratif territorial avec des choix autres que les habituels « oui » ou « non » (des projets plutôt) – plus loin donc que la Suisse -, la révocation et le mandat impératif pour les magistrats (les exécutants gouvernementaux des décisions populaires), l’instauration du vote parental (8) et l’introduction massive du tirage au sort (embryon de clérocratie).

 

Imaginée par François Amanrich, président du Mouvement des clérocrates de France, la clérocratie est une solution d’avenir souhaitable dont les effets – hasardeux – seraient préférables à l’actuel système électif avec ses candidats pré-sélectionnés par les appareils militants pour leur obéissance, leur naïveté et leur avidité au gain (9). Les partis politiques ne servent à rien, faisons plutôt confiance aux aspirations du peuple incarné par ses citoyens. À la condition bien sûr qu’on entende par « citoyen » « l’enfant né de parents tous deux citoyens (10) ».


Georges Feltin-Tracol


Notes

1 : « Histoire non-conformiste de l’élection présidentielle » à « Méridien Zéro », le 19 février 2012, animée par le Lieutenant Sturm et Pascal G. Lassalle en compagnie d’Emmanuel Ratier et de Georges Feltin-Tracol. Le passage évoqué débute vers la vingt-cinquième minute.

2 : Jean-Marie Cotteret et Claude Emeri, Les systèmes électoraux, P.U.F., coll. « Que sais-je ? », n° 1382, Paris, 1983, p. 55.

3 : Id., p. 56.

4 : Carl Schmitt, Théorie de la Constitution, P.U.F., coll. « Léviathan », 1993, p. 378.

5 : Alexandre Soljénitsyne, Comment réaménager notre Russie ? Réflexions dans la mesure de mes forces, Fayard, Paris, 1990, p. 76.

6 : Gwénaël Le Brazidec, René Capitant, Carl Schmitt : crise et réforme du parlementarisme. De Weimar à la Cinquième République, L’Harmattan, coll. « Logiques juridiques », Paris, 1998, p. 133.

7 : Jean-Marie Cotteret et Claude Emeri, op. cit., p. 80.

8 : cf. Frederico Fubini et Danilo Taino, « Et si l’on accordait le droit de vote aux enfants ? », Corriere della Sera, repris dans Courrier international du 8 au 14 décembre 2011. Sur l’histoire du vote parental (ou familial), on peut se reporter – avec précaution car hostile à cette véritable idée d’avant-garde – à Jean-Yves Le Naour (avec Catherine Valenti), La famille doit voter. Le suffrage familial contre le vote individuel, Hachette, Paris, 2005. L’Autriche a abaissé le droit de vote à 16 ans et ces jeunes nouveaux électeurs apprécient beaucoup le parti populiste F.P.Ö.

9 : Le tirage au sort comme mode de désignation commence à être examiné avec attention par des juristes, des journalistes et des citoyens. Outre Georges Feltin-Tracol, « Plus loin que Simone Weil » et « La clérocratie comme alternative politique » dans Orientations rebelles (Les Éditions d’Héligoland, 2009) et Étienne Chouard (cf. son site <http://etienne.chouard.free.fr/> et son texte « Tirage au sort ou élection ? Démocratie ou aristocratie ? Qui est légitime pour faire ce choix de société ? Le peuple lui-même ou ses élus ? » repris par Polémia, le 29 avril 2012), un « grand » quotidien vespéral a évoqué cette idée révolutionnaire radicale à la fois traditionnelle et post-moderne dans ses pages intérieures : Pierre Barthélémy, « Et si on tirait au sort nos députés ? », Le Monde, 24 mars 2012, et Pierre Mercklé, « La démocratie au hasard », Le Monde, 28 avril 2012.

Dans son article d’improbablologie et en s’appuyant sur un modèle de calcul inspiré de la physique statistique, Pierre Barthélémy explique qu’une « Chambre aléatoire à 100 % est un échec retentissant. Certes, les projets de loi adoptés profitent tous au plus grand nombre, mais les 500 députés virtuels par ce modèle sont tellement indépendants les uns des autres que la plupart des textes n’obtiennent pas la majorité suffisante pour être votés ! Efficacité presque nulle ». Preuve rationnelle que la clérocratie est incompatible avec le système représentatif.

10 : Aristote, La politique, Vrin, introduit et traduit par J. Tricot, Paris,  1995, III, 2, p. 172.


 Article printed from Europe Maxima: http://www.europemaxima.com

URL to article: http://www.europemaxima.com/?p=2530

 

dimanche, 13 mai 2012

Volk und Nation

Michael PAULWITZ:

Volk und Nation

Ex: http://www.jungefreiheit.de/

PhilippVeit-Germania-I-DateUnknown.jpgDer „zweifache Nationsbegriff“ der Ungarn sei einer der Gründe, warum EU-Alteuropa den Magyaren so sehr mißtraut, führt Georg Paul Hefty in einem lesenswerten, leider nicht kostenfrei zugänglichen Beitrag in der Samstags-FAZ vom 5. Mai aus. Politischen Ausdruck findet der „zweifache Nationsbegriff“ in der neuen ungarischen Verfassung, die zwischen Staatsnation und Volk als Sprach- und Abstammungsgemeinschaft differenziert und vor allem deswegen – und wegen des expliziten Gottes- und Familienbezuges – zum Ziel eines regelrechten Kulturkampfes von seiten der EU-Kommission geworden ist.

Hefty zitiert aus der „Nationales Glaubensbekenntnis“ überschriebenen Präambel der neuen Verfassung: „Wir versprechen, daß wir die geistige und seelische Einheit unserer in den Stürmen des vergangenen Jahrhunderts in Teile zerrissenen Nation bewahren.“ Und weiter: „Geleitet von der Idee der einheitlichen ungarischen Nation, trägt Ungarn Verantwortung für das Schicksal der außerhalb seiner Grenzen lebenden Ungarn, fördert den Bestand und die Entwicklung ihrer Gemeinschaften, unterstützt ihre Anstrengungen zur Bewahrung ihres Ungarntums, bringt ihre Zusammenarbeit untereinander und mit Ungarn voran.“

Man muß schon Eurokrat oder komplett geschichtsignorant sein, um solche Formulierungen anstößig zu finden. Den meisten Europäern sei der doppelte Nationsbegriff fremd oder zumindest fremd geworden, stellt Hefty fest; die Deutschen hätten mit der Wiedervereinigung aufgehört, darüber nachzudenken, während die Ungarn gerade wieder damit anfingen.

Im Grundgesetz nur noch den Buchstaben nach vorhanden

Das ist zweifach fatal: Zum einen, weil es auch nach der Wiedervereinigung noch Deutsche außerhalb der deutschen Grenzen gibt, die politische Fürsorge verdient hätten – als Folge der Niederlagen in beiden Weltkriegen, nach deren zweiter Deutschland noch ärger zerstückelt wurde als Ungarn nach dem ersten, aber auch, weil das historisch entstandene Volksdeutschtum in Mittel-, Ost- und Südeuropa in Resten noch immer besteht.

Man könnte in den zitierten ungarischen Verfassungstexten mühelos statt „Ungarn“ „Deutschland“ bzw. „Deutsche“ einsetzen und das Resultat als konkreten Auftrag begreifen. Im Grundgesetz ist dagegen der volksbezogene Nationsbegriff zwar dem Buchstaben nach noch vorhanden, faktisch kümmert sich die Politik schon lange nicht mehr drum.

Das ist um so ärgerlicher, als der „zweifache Nationsbegriff“ ja recht eigentlich in Deutschland entstanden ist. Anders als die meisten Sprachen, auch das Ungarische, kennt das Deutsche sogar verschiedene Begriffe für beide Aspekte: „Volk“ und „Nation“. Nation beschreibt dabei das politisch organisierte Staatsvolk, das als Träger eines Nationalstaates zugleich handelndes und souveränes Subjekt im internationalen Verkehr mit anderen Nationen ist, während unter Volk eine ethnisch-kulturelle, durch gemeinsame Geschichte und Überlieferungen verbundene Abstammungs-, Sprach- und Kulturgemeinschaft zu verstehen ist.

Der deutsche Volksbegriff stand bei dem ungarischen Pate

Volk und Nation sind nicht notwendig deckungsgleich und waren es tatsächlich in der europäischen und insbesondere deutschen Geschichte häufig auch nicht. Angehörige desselben Volkes können in verschiedenen Staaten leben und Glieder unterschiedlicher Nationen sein, während Angehörige unterschiedlicher Völker oder Volksgruppen durchaus zu einer Nation verbunden sein können. Auch die neue ungarische Verfassung sieht die in Ungarn lebenden Nationalitäten und Ethnien selbstverständlich als Teile der ungarischen Nation.

Der Widerstreit zwischen dem französischen Nationsbegriff („Franzose ist, wer in Frankreich lebt“) und dem deutschen „volkstumsbezogenen Vaterlandsbegriff“ („so weit die deutsche Zunge klingt“) prägte das Ringen der Deutschen um die Gründung des modernen deutschen Staates im 19. Jahrhundert und wirkt bis heute fort. Mit der „kleindeutschen“ Reichsgründung von 1871, der Österreich nach tausendjährigem gemeinsamem Weg von der Mehrheit der Deutschen trennte, war entschieden, daß der Nationalstaat der Deutschen nicht das ganze deutsche Volk umfassen würde.

Der französische Nationsbegriff führte in der Vergangenheit zu mitleidloser Zwangsassimilation autochthoner Volksgruppen. Auch Ungarn wandte dieses Prinzip im 19. Jahrhundert an, als sein Reich noch viele fremde Völkerschaften umfaßte, und ist daran gescheitert. Den Volksbegriff der Deutschen entdeckten die Ungarn erst nach dem Vertrag von Trianon 1920.

Der französische Nationsbegriff setzt sich in der EU durch

In der Welt der EU-Politklasse soll es nur noch eine technokratisch reduzierte Version des französischen Nationsbegriffs geben: Staat gleich territoriale Verwaltungseinheit, Staatseinwohnerschaft gleich Nation, nationale Fragen und Bindungen sind auszuschalten, weil sie die freien Waren- und Menschenströme stören.

Aber gerade in Frankreich läßt sich studieren, daß dieser abstrakte Nationsbegriff angesichts massiver außereuropäischer Einwanderung ins Absurde umschlägt und zum Scheitern verurteilt ist. Nordafrikaner und Türken werden nicht dadurch zu Franzosen und Deutschen, daß man sie automatisch einbürgert. Zugehörigkeit zur Staatsnation wird üblicherweise durch Bekenntnis und Einbürgerung erworben, die im Idealfall eine bewußte Integrations- und Assimilationsentscheidung vollendet und nicht etwa Voraussetzung von „Integration“ ist; Zugehörigkeit zum Volk als Abstammungsgemeinschaft ist dagegen das Ergebnis eines längeren, über Generationen hinweg sich vollziehenden Einschmelzungs- und Vermischungsprozesses.

Voraussetzung für das eine wie für das andere ist der beiderseitige Wille zur Zusammengehörigkeit und ein ausreichender Vorrat an Gemeinsamkeiten. Wer zwischen Volk und Nation unterscheiden kann, weiß das. Auch deshalb täten wir besser daran, gemeinsam mit den Ungarn den „zweifachen Nationsbegriff“ hochzuhalten, statt uns dem einfältigen und wirklichkeitsignoranten EU-Sprech auszuliefern.

Michael Paulwitz , freier Journalist und Redakteur. Geboren 1965 in Eichstätt, studierte Geschichte, Latein und Slavistik in München und Oxford. Inhaber eines Büros für Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit in Stuttgart. Ständiger JF-Autor seit 2001. Verheiratet, Vater von zwei Kindern.

mardi, 08 mai 2012

The cooperative principle as the basis of Swiss political culture – past and present

Val-Ferret-Suisse.jpg

The cooperative principle as the basis of Swiss political culture – past and present

by Dr phil René Roca

Ex: http://www.currentconcerns.ch/

The cooperatives in their various forms provide an essential foundation for the Swiss federal state. As economic self-help organizations cooperatives are based on the personal concept of man. Cooperatives should not merely be considered as a form of organization but in a broader sense as an important form of society. A cooperative is supported by a community that raises the highest ethical demands to respective tasks and that assumes much responsibility as the owner of a common cause. The total property, which must be protected, belongs to the association of people and the individual cooperative members. The functioning of a cooperative is guided by strict rules. These are monitored and in case of violations the community is supposed to impose sanctions. The cooperative is always locally based and often embedded in a federal-subsidiary political system. Cooperative members democratically decide on every question, everyone has a one vote.

The purpose of a cooperative is that all the members of such an association have the optimal benefit of their common cause. Utilization can vary but the purpose must always serve the Bonum Commune, the common good anchored in natural law.

The well-known Swiss historian Professor Dr Adolf Gasser has highlighted the importance of the economic co-operative principle in a very clear and plausible way. According to his findings, the history of Europe was characterized and shaped by the strong contrast of two different ethical principles, namely domination and cooperative. In this manifestation, Gasser states, two worlds were facing each other that were subject to very different laws of development: the world in which the political system was established from above and the other world in which the structures developed from the bottom up, or in other words: the world of domination and the world of cooperative, the world of subordination and the world of co-ordination, the world of centralism and the world of communalism, the world of command and the world of self-government, the world of communal bondage and the world of communal freedom:
“The contrast between domination and cooperative might be the most important antithesis known in social history. This contrast of authoritarian state – state of society is simply about very fundamental issues: namely about the elementary foundations of human social life.”

In his major work “Gemeindefreiheit als Rettung Europas. Grundlinien einer ethischen Geschichtsauffassung” (Communal Freedom as a Rescue of Europe. Outlines of an ethical conception of history) Gasser explains that it is the cooperative organizing principle which leads to community ethics:

“Whereas in an authoritarian-bureaucratic state, politics and morality always base on different levels, they are inseparable in a social-communal state. Accordingly, it is the cooperative organizing principle, as it is the foundation of the bottom up community, which can be called ‘communal community ethics’.”

In Switzerland this cooperative principle has not only been applied since 1848, but even before it had been an integral part of the federal ethos for centuries. This can be shown by a look at history.

The origin and history of the cooperative principle

The cooperative principle itself is probably as old as mankind, but it lacks written sources. Even for Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, the sources are sparse. But a look at the ensuing written sources and the knowledge about man’s social nature reveal that cooperative forms of organization were prevailing at that time. Most of the cooperatives developed from the medieval cadastral constitution or in other words, they emerged from the “medieval common Mark”.
One theory is that the free Mark cooperatives date back to the conquest of the Germanic peoples at that time. The land acquisition was done by clans, called ‘groups of a hundred’, assigned to them by the prince in their areas. These areas were just called “Mark(graviates)”, and their soil was cultivated cooperatively. The communal and economic life within the clan was thus a free Mark cooperative. The Frankish constitution and the feudal system have suppressed this early medieval order in many parts of Europe, except in some places, such as the pre-Alpine regions of today’s Switzerland. This tradition has partly been kept alive until today on the existing common land cooperatives, alpine and forest cooperatives.

Another approach emphasizes that the Mark cooperatives were only established in the high and late Middle Ages as a merger of existing rural cooperatives; or they were created by concentration of neighborhood associations. The residents wanted to regulate the use of the common Mark within a larger framework. The population increase, the then prevailing three-field system and the further development of the country supported this development. The regulations along borders and roads as well as agreements were necessary to cope with the joint work.

Both explanations are important and deserve attention when exploring the origin and development of the cooperative principle in the European Middle Ages. These early roots of the cooperative system are essential for the understanding of the Swiss political system. The historian Professor Dr Wolfgang von Wartburg writes:

“These small, natural, self-governing communities have been fertile ground and seminary of Swiss freedom and democracy and they still are today. The most extensive and most viable Mark cooperatives could however be found in the mountains, where the joint Alp and cattle farming encompassed entire valleys.”1

Development of the cooperative principle in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age

In Switzerland, the Allmend, i.e. the common grounds or commons, were central to the spreading and development of the cooperatives. These areas were used for pasture, as forest and desert ground and they were open to everyone. To establish their commons, the inhabitants of a village association – of one or more villages, hamlets or groups of farms – designated a specific area for collective economic use. A peasant family’s work was thus divided into three parts: Besides the agricultural land and the residential area with gardens and homesteads the commons represented a third zone, which was jointly worked. Since the early Middle Ages the European nobility had sought to restructure the common lands constitution or at least influence it. In many places, including the territory of modern Switzerland, the cooperative principle could however be maintained. Due to the diversity of local conditions and human relations a variety of forms of cooperatives have developed over time.

For Switzerland, the preconditions of settlement history were particularly important. In the Swiss Central Plateau, where the dwellings concentrated and became villages, the common Mark or Allmend alongside with house, garden and fields was essential for all villagers. Therefore, regulations on the use of the commons and on the management of arable ground seemed necessary. Such land utilization systems had been in use since the 10th century. A prerequisite for the use of commons was often the long-term possession of a farm within the village district. Newcomers had to buy this right and pay an entry fee. By establishing and claiming definite rules the rural population was often able to resolve their conflicts via neighborly agreements. The cities also had a common Mark and enacted a similar legislation. In the hilly Alpine foreland the farms united and formed so-called Allmend cooperatives. In many places of the Alps so-called valley cooperatives were established – on the basis of the valley communities as rural associations – as for example in Uri, Ursern, Schwyz, Glarus, Entlebuch, in the Grisons, the Valais and the Ticino valleys.

The commons were of fundamental importance for the livestock until silage feeding in summer was introduced. In addition to the meadows and the stubble of the arable land, farmers grazed the forest, in particular with pigs. The forest also provided wood for construction and fireplaces. The collection of fruit and berries or mushrooms complemented the people’s nutrition and secured them in case of crop failure. The Allmend has always been a kind of land reserve the people could resort to if necessary. From the 16th century onward the commons were divided and became separate property, but many also stayed intact until the rise of the Helvetic Republic and beyond.

The Nobel Prize in Economy laureate Professor Dr Elinor Ostrom studied the basic “constitution of the commons” in a comprehensive, world-wide study.2 Based on historical examples from different continents, she revealed the importance of the cooperative principle for the present. Based on the commons her study is a reminder of how people organize in view of scarce natural resources, in order to jointly solve complex problems. In her comprehensive studies Elinor Ostrom concludes that cooperation of those directly affected is better than state control or privatization if they want good management of their local commons and their resources. So she impressively appreciates the cooperative principle and clearly reveals its importance for the economies of the 21st century.

In the Middle Ages the commons formed an important foundation of social interaction; their rules provided order and security for the geographical area we now call Switzerland. Special types of cooperatives that serve specific purposes developed in addition to the commons which could be found in all agricultural villages until the 18th century. The Alpine cooperatives that are numerous in the Alps and the Jura are of great importance. Moreover, along the rivers and streams the so-called ‘weir cooperatives’ developed. In hydraulic engineering the term ‘weir’ means barrage. For the irrigation of lawns the so-called irrigation cooperatives developed, too.

The landlords and rulers repeatedly tried to exert influence on the organization of cooperatives, such as the Habsburgs in Central Switzerland. The early Confederation could however fend off such requests successfully. In the course of the 13th century Uri and Schwyz were given charters and they were even able to maintain this imperial competence later on. It enabled these valley cooperatives to freely dispose of their commons and use them without any outside interference. On this basis, the federal states and the Federal Charter of 1291 developed. In Uri and Schwyz the big valley cooperatives – the corporations Uri and Ursern in the canton Uri and the corporations Oberallmeind Unterallmeind in the canton Schwyz – have survived until today. The term “corporation” emerged in the late Middle Ages and can be equated with “cooperative”.

The Genossame has always been the highest authority of the cooperative. The meetings were chaired by a president who was elected as governor, beadle or Alp master. The chairman had to take decisions, carry out inspections and was responsible for administration and judiciary. The common public work was completed in the cooperative association. The rights and obligations were laid down in statutes and codes.

The cooperatives were of major political significance for the later development of the Confederation. They developed a community-building spirit, without which a nation forged by the will of the people like Switzerland could never have emerged. Therefore, during the late Middle Ages and in Early Modern Age the rural or valley cooperatives took over other tasks of common work besides their traditional ones. Such were the maintenance of roads and bridges or hydraulic engineering, water supply, the building of churches or even the duty to care for the poor. Thus, the rural and valley cooperatives developed slowly into rural and valley communities, the foundation of the future federal state.

Wolfgang von Wartburg aptly writes about this process: “The Swiss ideal of freedom has emerged from this human reality, not from an abstract idea [...]. Thus, the formation of the Swiss government differs from all other state formations in Europe. It is not based on the desire for political unity, but rather on the desire to preserve the original character and freedom of the members, thereby helping to maintain their diversity. Its unity is not created by a superior power or by uniformity but by free cooperation in joint tasks.”3

The comrades became citizens of the village and the former village cooperatives developed into public village communities. By the time this led to the development of the so-called “Bürgergemeinde”4 (citizens’ communes) that are still in existence in several cantons.

The Helvetic Republic of 1798 resulted in the separation of residents’ communes and citizens’ communes. The division of the commons was intensified then. Some commons were on lease or in private ownership, others were owned by residents’ communes, or corporations formed under private law.

The corporations and citizens’ communes in Switzerland are still an important traditional good and establish human connections to a commune’s history and culture. In the canton of Grisons, for example, the old rural cooperatives are still alive in the residents’ communes, so these are also the owners of most of the commons. In the central Swiss area around Bern the citizens’ communes as successors of the original rural cooperatives own the common property and manage it; this is also true for the canton of Valais. In the north of the Alps and the Ticino, the corporations or corporate citizens’ communes are the owners and managers of the commons.

Cooperative movement in the 19th Century – the cooperative as a moral foundation of democracy

Without the tradition of the commons and the described “cooperative spirit” in Switzerland the foundation of the Confederation in 1848 would never have taken place. Adolf Gasser emphasizes that this Swiss “cooperative spirit” always roots in the small unit, i.e. in the small neat unit of the commune, whose origin goes back to the cooperative principle. Only in such a unit a vibrant co-operative autonomy can develop. Adolf Gasser comments on that:
“Large-scale political bodies of national character could only develop in a cooperative spirit, if they emerged from an assembly of free, fortified people’s communities.” Based on the Swiss tradition of the commons and the cooperative, a large cooperative movement formed itself in the course of the 19th century, especially with the increasing industrialization.

This movement – in Switzerland and in Europe – infiltrated into new industrial areas but not without preserving the basic cooperative principles. The various types of cooperatives will be briefly presented below.

Agricultural cooperatives

In particular, the agricultural crisis of the 1880s in Switzerland triggered a wave of creation of new cooperatives, especially purchasing and marketing cooperatives. Farmers drew on the tradition of the commons and Alpine corporations as well as the dairy cooperatives. In the course of the 19th century, these cooperatives spread as milk and dairy cooperatives from the mountains to the lowlands, i.e. to the Central Plateau cantons of the German and French part of Switzerland. Towards the end of the 19th century there were about 2,000 of these cooperatives. At the beginning of the 20th century they joined to form associations without weakening the local cooperatives. The Eastern Swiss Association of Agricultural Cooperatives (Volg) is a pioneer of such a cooperative association. In the 1890s, cooperatives also emerged in the livestock branch. Agricultural cooperatives are still of significant importance in the agricultural sector.

Production cooperatives

During the industrial revolution production cooperatives were also established in Switzerland. Here, the cooperative members are not only owners but also employees of the cooperation. The idea of cooperative production was primarily developed by early socialist and social reform movements, who sought an answer to the social issue. In this context, the Englishman Robert Owen with his cooperative model plays a pioneer role. Under the influence of the early French socialists Charles Fourier and Louis Blanc the first production cooperatives were established in the 1840s, especially in the French part of Switzerland. Again, the cooperative explicitly stood in the tradition of cooperative self-help, as it had been important in rural commons corporations or Alpine corporations.

Consumer Cooperatives (Consumer associations)

The consumer cooperatives became particularly important for the economy. of The consumer cooperatives’ antecedents were the bread and fruit clubs, in which workers, craftsmen and farmers united, sometimes supported by manufacturers, to enable the cheap purchase of grain, other food or fuel and to make bread.

In the second half of the 19th century workers and later employees, officials and farmers joined to protect and foster their interests as consumers through joint procurement of essential goods. In 1851, eight members of the patriotic Grütli association around Karl Bürkli founded the Consumer Society Zurich (KVZ) which was the first to be called “consumer society”. The cooperative principles included an open membership, democratic management, the potential refunding and political and religious neutrality. The consumer society Zurich was soon imitated all over Switzerland (Founding of the Swiss Consumers’ Societies; from 1890 on called the Swiss Association of Consumer Associations, VSK; Coop since 1970). The consumer cooperation also stood in the cooperative tradition of Switzerland, of course.

Housing cooperatives

In the course of the 19th century the population of Switzerland doubled. At the same time, the shifting from home industry to factory-based industry in rural territories as well as in towns led to poor housing conditions and severe housing shortage. In the mid-19th century private housebuilding was mainly in the hands of speculators. At the beginning of the 20th century, finally, the cooperative and communal principle also became more and more important in the housebuilding sector. One reason was that the public authorities intervened extensively in the housing market for the first time and accepted housebuilding as a task of general public interest. Thus non-profit housing cooperative came into the necessary money to realise own communal building projects.

Credit cooperatives and savings cooperatives

Since the first quarter of the 19th century, savings and lending banks had been established in Switzerland in the course of industrialisation. Rural and urban homeworkers and factory workers wanted to invest their saved money and plan the provisions for their old age. Communes and cantons often founded their own savings banks or promoted their development by providing guarantees and donating capital funds. In 1850 already 150 savings banks were existent in Switzerland which devoted themselves in particular to the mortgage business and then also to the granting of operating credits. As many savings and lending banks risked their non-profit status over time, they lost importance from 1860 on. Sensible alternatives were the upcoming cantonal banks and the foundation of numerous cooperative local banks, inter alia the Raiffeisen banks. Due to a broader capital basis they had more freedom to grant credits; and as cooperatives they deserved the confidence of many citizens.

The main focus of Raiffeisen banks was on the savings and mortgage business. Until this day, every Raiffeisen bank is legally independent and each of them belongs to its cooperative members. The first Raiffeisen bank of Switzerland was founded in 1899 in Bichelsee on the initiative of the Catholic priest Johann Evangelist Traber. He was guided by the example of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen who had founded credit cooperatives in Germany around 1850. They were to strengthen the rural population by collective self-help and thus protect them against usury.


Traber describes the Raiffeisen banks as follows:

“What are Raiffeisen banks? They are credit unions which are based on altruism and charity, willing to make sacrifices; they are intended to enhance the status of farmers, craftsmen, trade and commerce morally and economically and to strengthen the financially weak.”5

The cooperative movement of the 19th century emphasised the cooperative tradition in Switzerland. So they succeeded in connecting conservative political forces with early socialism which was solidly connected to trade unions and labour parties via the Grütliverein. Similar to the development of direct democracy they succeeded – outgoing from the communal level up to the cantonal and national level – in establishing a national movement which internalised the cooperative idea across party lines.

Cooperative movement in the 20th century – social capital and the third way

The cooperative as a legal form was established in 1881 in the Swiss code of obligations and was becoming increasingly popular. Thus the number of cooperatives massively increased in Switzerland around the turn of the century (in 1883: 373; in 1890: 1,551; in 1910: 7,113). Above all, the most important reasons were the recurrent crises of the capitalist economy. With the big crisis of the 1930s the founding of cooperatives strongly rose again, until they reached a culmination point in 1957 with more than 12,000 cooperatives.

Barely half of the cooperatives were of agricultural nature; in addition, new ones came from tertiary sectors, as for example the electricity industry. After the Second World War building and housing cooperatives were founded and promoted particularly often.

The Migros, founded in 1925, was based on a business idea of Gottlieb Duttweiler. He had set himself the target to sell cheaper food by avoiding intermediary trade. In 1941 the Migros was converted into a cooperative. The intention was to protect the consumers’ interests and orient the business policy towards the “social capital”. For Duttweiler, the idea of the social capital was based on the cooperative principle: the capital must serve the community in a responsible way and foster solidarity in society. According to Duttweiler, the cooperative idea also fosters democracy in a decentralised sense and from bottom up.

The cooperative principle did not only win many supporters as an economic concept; in politics as well a number of personalities tried to establish this principle as the third way – beyond capitalism and communism. The political concept wanted to convert the capitalistic society into a society based on public service. Thus the labour movement in Switzerland also accepted the so-called “three-pillar-model” consisting of “party, trade unions and cooperatives”. Among other things, the trade unions supported the creation of production cooperatives and the social democratic party incorporated the support of the cooperatives in their programme from the outset. In 1895 a programme revision failed, inspired by Stefan Gschwind from Basel Land, who wanted the socialisation of cooperatives instead of nationalisation make the key tool for the transition to socialism.

After the First World War religious-socialist circles around Leonhard Ragaz also accepted the cooperative idea and saw in it an important basis for a fairer society. Leonhard Ragaz turned against Marxist, state-centred approaches and held the view of a federalist, cooperative and pacifist socialism.

From 1970 on, the discussions about self-government and alternative economic management provided the cooperative movement with new impulses. This was also reflected in the social democratic party of Switzerland. Toward the end of the 1970s the comrades discussed a revised version of the party programme. Famous personalities like the philosopher Professor Dr Arnold Künzli added the Yugoslavian model of self-government to the discussion. This model should form the basis to overcome capitalism and to establish a democratic, socialist society with the help of the cooperative principle. However, the Yugoslavian model entered only sparsely the revised programme sanctioned in 1982. Many suggestions remained in cold storage and were not resumed in the newest programme, which has been sanctioned only recently. Thus the social democrats reject their traditional “three-pillar-model” and ignored the cooperative principle without which, however, they are not able to realise their aim of a “social-ecological economic democracy”.

And today?

Today in Switzerland there still are more than 12,000 cooperatives. This number must yet be increased and the cooperative principle as a comprehensive and sensible economic model must be appreciated appropriately. The cooperative approach must be discussed again broadly and be taught in schools and universities. If we study and investigate Swiss history and culture, we will become aware of the rich cooperative fund. Once more Wolfgang von Wartburg:

“Thus the Swiss person finds his political orientation in his homeland not in abstract ideas, but in the real world. However, this reality is the person himself as a free, autonomous personality – and the alliance of free personalities in small and smallest communities.” 6

Elinor Ostrom lists principles for a successful economic activity as a résumé of her research about the commons. She was able to monitor these principles on the basis of examples worldwide. They serve as an approach toward economic problems. If we followed them in Switzerland we would continue a long cooperative tradition and pursue it in a dignified manner. Ostrom’s cooperative principles are the following:

1. Clearly defined boundaries and an effective exclusion of external non-entitled parties.
2. Rules for appropriation and provision of resource units must be related to local conditions.
3. Users can participate in modifying operational rules so that an improved adaptation to changing conditions becomes possible.
4. Monitoring of compliance with the rules.
5. Graduated sanctions in case of violations of rules.
6. Conflict-resolution mechanisms.
7. The independent rights of communes are not challenged by superior governmental authorities.     •

1    Von Wartburg, Wolfgang: Geschichte der Schweiz, München 1951, p. 17
2    Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Ostrom, Elinor, Cambridge University Press, 1990
3    Von Wartburg, Wolfgang: Geschichte der Schweiz, München 1951, p. 11
4    Bürgergemeinde is a statutory corporation in public law in Switzerland. It includes all individuals who are citizens of the Bürgergemeinde, usually by having inherited the Bürgerrecht (citizenship), regardless of where they were born or where they may currently live. (Wikipedia)
5    Traber, Joh. Ev.: Kurze Aufklärung über Raiffeisensche Darlehenskassenvereine im Lichte eines praktischen Beispiels, St Gallen 1907, p. 3
6    Von Wartburg, Geschichte der Schweiz, p. 10

Housing cooperatives in today’s Switzerland

mw. Even in the 21st century, housing cooperatives still play an important role in Switzerland. Primarily in towns there are, according to the Schweizerischer Verband für das Wohnungswesen (SVW – Swiss cooperative housing federation) around 1,500 housing cooperatives operate about 160,000 housing units which represent 5.1% of all housing units. In the city and the canton of Zurich alone, there are about 60,000 cooperative housing units.

Housing cooperatives do not only rent flats; they also include several cooperative activities: from neighbourly help to the compost team, parades for children with lamps made of turnips, excursions for seniors and the cooperative festivities. Once a year the cooperative assembly takes place, where the associates, i.e. the tenants of the flats, vote on legal issues – for example for the restoration of buildings or the construction of a district heating – and elect members to the cooperative bodies. Primarily in cities housing cooperatives contribute fundamentally to social cohesion of the people, especially in urban areas.

Source: www.mietbar.ch/index.cfm?&js=1 

dimanche, 29 avril 2012

Staat-Recht=Mafia!

Staat-Recht=Mafia!

samedi, 28 avril 2012

Parteien-Mafia? - Die Deutschlandakte - H. H. von Arnim

Parteien-Mafia? - Die Deutschlandakte

H. H. von Arnim

jeudi, 26 avril 2012

Platon, encore et toujours

Platon, encore et toujours

par Claude BOURRINET

Est-il une époque dans laquelle la possibilité d’une prise de distance ait été si malaisée, presque iplatocooperativeindividualismorg.jpgmpossible, et pour beaucoup improbable ? Pourtant, les monuments écrits laissent entrevoir des situations que l’on pourrait nommer, au risque de l’anachronisme, « totalitaires », où non seulement l’on était sommé de prendre position, mais aussi de participer, de manifester son adhésion passivement ou activement.

L’Athènes antique, l’Empire byzantin, l’Europe médiévale, l’Empire omeyyade, et pour tout dire la plupart des systèmes socio-politiques, de la Chine à la pointe de l’Eurasie, et sans doute aussi dans l’Amérique précolombienne ou sur les îles étroites du Pacifique, les hommes se sont définis par rapport à un tout qui les englobait, et auquel ils devaient s’aliéner, c’est-à-dire abandonner une part plus ou moins grande de leur liberté.

S’il n’est pas facile de définir ce qu’est cette dernière, il l’est beaucoup plus de désigner les forces d’enrégimentement, pour peu justement qu’on en soit assez délivré pour pouvoir les percevoir. C’est d’ailleurs peut-être justement là un début de définition de ce que serait la « liberté », qui est avant tout une possibilité de voir, et donc de s’extraire un minimum pour acquérir le champ nécessaire de la perception.

Si nous survolons les siècles, nous constatons que la plupart des hommes sont « jetés » dans une situation, qu’ils n’ont certes pas choisie, parce que la naissance même les y a mis. Le fait brut des premières empreintes de la petite enfance, le visage maternel, les sons qui nous pénètrent, la structuration mentale induite par les stimuli, les expériences sensorielles, l’apprentissage de la langue, laquelle porte le legs d’une longue mémoire et découpe implicitement, et même formellement, par le verbe, le mot, les fonctions, le réel, l’éducation et le système de valeurs de l’entourage immédiat, tout cela s’impose comme le mode d’être naturel de l’individu, et produit une grande partie de son identité.

L’accent mis sur l’individu s’appelle individualisme. Notons au passage que cette entité sur laquelle semble reposer les possibilités d’existence est mise en doute par sa prétention à être indivisible. L’éclatement du moi, depuis la « mort de Dieu », du fondement métaphysique de sa pérennité, de sa légitimité, accentué par les coups de boutoir des philosophies du « soupçon », comme le marxisme, le nietzschéisme, la psychanalyse, le structuralisme, a invalidé tout régime s’en prévalant, quand bien même le temps semble faire triompher la démocratie, les droits de l’homme, qui supposent l’autonomie et l’intégrité de l’individu en tant que tel.

Les visions du monde ancien supposaient l’existence, dans l’homme, d’une instance solide de jugement et de décision. Les philosophies antiques, le stoïcisme, par exemple, qui a tant influencé le christianisme, mais aussi les religions, quelles qu’elles soient, païennes ou issues du judaïsme, ne mettent pas en doute l’existence du moi, à charge de le définir. Cependant, contrairement au monde moderne, qui a conçu le sujet, un ego détaché du monde, soit à partir de Hobbes dans le domaine politique, ou de Descartes dans celui des sciences, ce « moi » ne prend sa véritable plénitude que dans l’engagement. Aristote a défini l’homme comme animal politique, et, d’une certaine façon, la société chrétienne est une république où tout adepte du Christ est un citoyen.

On sait que Platon, dégoûté par la démagogie athénienne, critique obstiné de la sophistique, avait trouvé sa voie dans la quête transcendante des Idées, la vraie réalité. La mort de Socrate avait été pour lui la révélation de l’aporie démocratique, d’un système fondé sur la toute puissance de la doxa, de l’opinion. Nul n’en a dévoilé et explicité autant la fausseté et l’inanité. Cela n’empêcha pas d’ailleurs le philosophe de se mêler, à ses dépens, du côté de la Grande Grèce, à la chose politique, mais il était dès lors convenu que si l’on s’échappait vraiment de l’emprise sociétale, quitte à y revenir avec une conscience supérieure, c’était par le haut. La fuite « horizontale », par un recours, pour ainsi dire, aux forêts, si elle a dû exister, était dans les faits inimaginables, si l’on se souvient de la gravité d’une peine telle que l’ostracisme. Être rejeté de la communauté s’avérait pire que la mort. Les Robinsons volontaires n’ont pas été répertoriés par l’écriture des faits mémorables. Au fond, la seule possibilité pensable de rupture socio-politique, à l’époque, était la tentation du transfuge. On prenait parti, par les pieds, pour l’ennemi héréditaire.

Depuis Platon, donc, on sait que le retrait véritable, celui de l’âme, à savoir de cet œil spirituel qui demeure lorsque l’accessoire a été jugé selon sa nature, est à la portée de l’être qui éprouve une impossibilité radicale à trouver une justification à la médiocrité du monde. L’ironie voulut que le platonisme fût le fondement idéologique d’un empire à vocation totalitaire. La métaphysique, en se sécularisant, peut se transformer en idéologie. Toutefois, le platonisme est l’horizon indépassable, dans notre civilisation (le bouddhisme en étant un autre, ailleurs) de la possibilité dans un même temps du refus du monde, et de son acceptation à un niveau supérieur.

Du reste, il ne faudrait pas croire que la doctrine de Platon soit réservée au royaume des nuées et des vapeurs intellectuelles détachées du sol rugueux de la réalité empirique. Qui n’éprouve pas l’écœurement profond qui assaille celui qui se frotte quelque peu à la réalité prosaïque actuelle ne sait pas ce que sont le bon goût et la pureté, même à l’état de semblant. Il est des mises en situation qui s’apparentent au mal de mer et à l’éventualité du naufrage.

Toutefois, du moment que notre âge, qui est né vers la fin de ce que l’on nomme abusivement le « Moyen Âge », a vu s’éloigner dans le ciel lointain, puis disparaître dans un rêve impuissant, l’ombre lumineuse de Messer Dieu, l’emprise de l’opinion, ennoblie par les vocables démocratique et par l’invocation déclamatoire du peuple comme alternative à l’omniscience divine, s’est accrue, jusqu’à tenir tout le champ du pensable. Les Guerres de religion du XVIe siècle ont précipité cette évolution, et nous en sommes les légataires universels.

Les périodes électorales, nombreuses, car l’onction du ciel, comme disent les Chinois, doit être, dans le système actuel de validation du politique, désacralisé et sans cesse en voie de délitement, assez fréquent pour offrir une légitimité minimale, offrent l’intérêt de mettre en demeure la vérité du monde dans lequel nous tentons de vivre. À ce compte, ce que disait Platon n’a pas pris une ride. Car l’inauthenticité, le mensonge, la sidération, la manipulation, qui sont le lot quotidien d’un type social fondé sur la marchandise, c’est-à-dire la séduction matérialiste, la réclame, c’est-à-dire la persuasion et le jeu des pulsions, le culte des instincts, c’est-à-dire l’abaissement aux Diktat du corps, l’ignorance, c’est-à-dire le rejet haineux de l’excellence et du savoir profond, plongent ce qui nous reste de pureté et d’aspiration à la beauté dans la pire des souffrances. Comment vivre, s’exprimer, espérer dans un univers pareil ? Le retrait par le haut a été décrédibilisé, le monde en soi paraissant ne pas exister, et le mysticisme n’étant plus que lubie et sublimation sexuelle, voire difformité mentale. Le défoulement électoraliste, joué par de mauvais acteurs, de piètres comédiens dirigés par de bons metteurs en scène, et captivant des spectateurs bon public, niais comme une Margot un peu niaise ficelée par une sentimentalité à courte vue, nous met en présence, journellement pour peu qu’on s’avise imprudemment de se connecter aux médias, avec ce que l’humain comporte de pire, de plus sale, intellectuellement et émotionnellement. On n’en sort pas indemne. Tout n’est que réduction, connotation, farce, mystification, mensonge, trompe-l’œil, appel aux bas instincts, complaisance et faiblesse calculée. Les démocraties antiques, qui, pourtant, étaient si discutables, n’étaient pas aussi avilies, car elles gardaient encore, dans les faits et leur perception, un principe aristocratique, qui faisait du citoyen athénien ou romain le membre d’une caste supérieure, et, à ce titre, tenu à des devoirs impérieux de vertu et de sacrifice. L’hédonisme contemporain et l’égalitarisme consubstantiel au totalitarisme véritable, interdisent l’écart conceptuel indispensable pour voir à moyen ou long terme, et pour juger ce qui est bon pour ne pas sombrer dans l’esclavage, quel qu’il soit. Du reste, l’existence de ce dernier, ce me semble, relevait, dans les temps anciens, autant de nécessités éthiques que de besoins économiques. Car c’est en voyant cette condition pitoyable que l’homme libre sentait la valeur de sa liberté. Pour éduquer le jeune Spartiate, par exemple, on le mettait en présence d’un ilote ivre. Chaque jour, nous assistons à ce genre d’abaissement, sans réaction idoine. La perte du sentiment aristocratique a vidé de son sens l’idée démocratique. Cette intuition existentielle et politique existait encore dans la Révolution française, et jusqu’à la Commune. Puis, la force des choses, l’avènement de la consommation de masse, l’a remisée au rayon des souvenirs désuets.

Claude Bourrinet


Article printed from Europe Maxima: http://www.europemaxima.com

URL to article: http://www.europemaxima.com/?p=2424

Bakounine visionnaire ?

Bakounine visionnaire ?

portrait-de-bakounine-gd.jpgL'« État a toujours été le patrimoine d'une certaine classe privilégiée : « une classe sacerdotale, une classe aristocratique, une classe bourgeoise. En définitive, lorsque toutes les autres classes se seront épuisées, l'État deviendra le patrimoine de la classe bureaucratique pour finalement tomber — ou, si vous préférez, atteindra la position d'une machine. » Mikhail Bakounine

Fervent de la liberté

Arturo-Alvarez-suspension-lustre-sophi-rouge-noir-blanc-2.jpg
« Je suis un amant fanatique de la liberté, la considérant comme l'unique milieu au sein duquel puissent se développer et grandir l'intelligence, la dignité et le bonheur des hommes ; non de cette liberté toute formelle, octroyée, mesurée et réglementée par l'État. » Mikhail Bakounine

La patrie

1004914-Bakounine.jpg« L’État n’est pas la patrie. C’est l’abstraction, la fiction métaphysique, mystique, politique, juridique de la patrie. Les masses populaires de tous les pays aiment profondément leur patrie ; mais c’est un amour réel, naturel. Pas une idée : un fait... Et c’est pour cela que je me sens franchement et toujours le patriote de toutes les patries opprimées. » Mikhail Bakounine

Ex: http://antoinechimel.hautetfort.com/