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lundi, 30 octobre 2017

Hervé Juvin - Le gouvernement du désir


Hervé Juvin - Le gouvernement du désir

Hervé Juvin invité du Cercle Aristote le 5 décembre 2016 pour présenter son dernier ouvrage : 'Le gouvernement du désir'.
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dimanche, 29 octobre 2017




Visitez le site du Cercle de l’Aréopage : http://cercleareopage.org
Conférence au Cercle de l'Aréopage:
Par Yvan Blot
Retrouvez les évènements du Cercle : http://cercleareopage.org/conf%C3%A9r...

mercredi, 25 octobre 2017

Identity, Theism & The Religion Of Capital


Identity, Theism & The Religion Of Capital


Ex: http://www.usa.forzanuova.info

In the modern world, and particularly in the “West”, we have slipped into a devastating pattern of deconstructionism. We’ve deconstructed with pseudo-intellectual lines of attack all of the traditional institutions and paradigms that have held our society together; gender, race, sexuality, religion – the list could potentially be perennial. Anything and everything that held together a people within a group identity has been deconstructed, thereby removing its inherent value and purpose.

Religion is perhaps the greatest example of this and certainly the battleground in which we first encountered the deconstructionist. With the advent of the modern era, with science and the values of enlightenment, we have “disproved” many previously held religious axioms. Most notably of course, and an example with which everyone is familiar, the belief in Darwin’s evolutionary theory as an antithesis of creationism. Once science can effectively disprove the opening chapter of the Holy Bible, the door has been wedged open for the great deconstructionist to begin extracting the value from the rest of the book.

Never mind the fact that the bible contains many lessons from which one might come to lead a better life; never mind the fact that much of the bible should be understood as metaphor as opposed to magic and miracles; once they can defeat one area in the field of battle, they will not stop until there remains no value in a concept.

Thus the Christian way of life was brought down in the west – and I lament this, despite practising a different faith myself. I lament the passing of this system due to the simultaneous loss of group identity it has caused as a side effect, or perhaps the former was a catalyst for the latter. Whatever the cause of the process, the action and reaction, the facts remain the same; the loss of group identity on a community and national level has occurred in direct proportion with the decline of religious faith.

The reason for this is quite simply. Our societies and communities, on a micro and macro level, were built around the Church. The Church was the focal point of the community, a place where one’s fellow kith and kin would gather at least once a week in unified faith. Every major event in our lives was in the domain of the Church; birth, marriage and even death. We celebrated Easter together, the Harvest together, Christmas and Lent and so on and so forth. Even social issues that have now been taken over by the state – with charity being the greatest example of this – were previously under the remit of the Church.

British society is a great example of this. For better or worse, the Church and faith in the Christian religion held society together, even offering legitimacy to the royals and morale for the armies. Whilst I am not a Christian and I believe that a different faith and ethics system is preferable, that’s just personal taste – the focus point of this discussion isn’t necessarily the particular religion, but the system of society that collective belief in a religion generally brings about; cooperation, a sense of belonging, goodwill to one’s neighbour, charity, asceticism.

Another example of this, and perhaps useful for a “compare and contrast” exercise, is the Islamic world. The Islamic world has soundly rejected atheism as a theory and has instead embraced a more traditionalist, more conservative approach to their faith, which in many cases has become almost reactionary as a response to Western-backed atheism. Whilst many of you may not agree with the values of Islam, not one of you can deny that their collective faith gives Muslims a strong sense of identity that many of us in the Western world sorely lack.

The great lie that the deconstructionists fed to us is that one can either be rational, or spiritual. These concepts are, to those who seek to remove the latter, absolutely mutually exclusive. The implication being that by entertaining a degree of spirituality one is by definition, lacking in a logical understanding of the world and their environment. This is false; very few theists claim that their religion should be practised like a child with blind faith in Santa. The belief in a “man in the sky” is not a prerequisite for theism – on the contrary, many theologists will confirm that one can be an ardent Christian without believing literally in the book of Genesis, for instance.

Yet this is how we’ve been taught to view such issues, in grossly absolutist terms that do a disservice to those who do follow a spiritual path. We are given a black and white interpretation that says you’re either with science – and by definition against religion – or against science – and by definition, stupid. The mockery directed at those who practise faith, that sometimes extends to borderline social ostracism, has been weaponised by the deconstructionists to deprive the collective of its identities.

The free-market also has a lot to answer for in this regard. The pressure by free-marketeers to loosen traditionally restricted trading hours, most notably the Sunday Trading Hours laws that have been introduced in the United Kingdom, have turned what used to be time for reflection, community, charity and family, into yet more time for materialist pursuits and mindless, atomised consumerism. In this way, a religiously traditional society is a great threat to the free-market, as it restricts the number of hours the giant capitalists have to make money.

More broadly, neo-liberal Western capitalism has been one of the driving forces behind the challenges to traditionally spiritual societies – hence why Islamic societies fight so vehemently against the doctrine. The proponents of such doctrines – ironically the “conservatives” who claim a Christian foundation – only have one belief system, one faith, and one God: capital. Money and only money is their raison d’etre. They live for no higher purpose, no greater collective mission and nothing other than the accumulation of capital – what a sad existence that must be!

But its effects on Western societies have been momentous. Many in Europe often claim Islam is the fastest growing religion in the continent and, of course, they’re not wrong, but one cannot overlook the fact that the atheistic are the fastest growing demographic more generally. And in any case, it is difficult to separate atheism from the umbrella term of “religious groups”, given their undying profession of eternal love for and their steadfast belief in capital – in a way, this in itself amounts to a religion. It certainly has characteristics of religion that they themselves overlook.

As we know, the belief in money and the accumulation of capital as the only notion to hold inherent value serves no greater purpose than to remove collective identities. Whether it be from the right, the neo-liberal capitalists, or from the left, the individualist social democrats, the prevailing political paradigm of our time is money above all, and identity below everything.

Thus it can be said that, rather than the irreligious being the fastest growing demographic in Western societies, it is in fact those bereft of collective identity who are truly prevailing. As I alluded to earlier on in this piece, I’m not a Christian, and nor do I believe that the rise of Islam is a good thing purely because it’s a religious doctrine combatting an irreligious doctrine. Rather an atheist West than a theist East – yet I can’t help feel somewhat envious of those in the Islamic world, for they have retained their belief in the spiritual and their comradeship of the collective.

Perhaps the West, as opposed to their perennial cycle of teaching foreigners liberal democracy, should take a step back and ask what lessons we could learn from them.

mardi, 24 octobre 2017

Friedrich Schleiermacher: The Father of Modern Theology & a Prophet of German Nationalism


Friedrich Schleiermacher:
The Father of Modern Theology & a Prophet of German Nationalism

Part 1

“I feel sure that Germany, the kernel of Europe, will arise once more in a new and beautiful state, but when this will happen, and whether the country will not first have to experience even greater difficulties […] God alone knows.” — Friedrich Schleiermacher, 1806[1] [3]

“. . . were you not mine, I should not have felt so conscious of how true is my patriotism and my courage. As it is, however, I know that I may place myself on a level with whomsoever it may be, that I am worthy of having a country I can call my own, and that I am worthy of being a husband and a father. […] Now, this is just my vocation – to represent more clearly that which dwells in all true human beings, and to bring it home to their consciences.” — Friedrich Schleiermacher, in a letter to his wife to be, Henriette von Willich, 1808[2] [4]

Friedrich Schleiermacher is generally recognized as the father of modern theology,[3] [5] and considered the most influential Protestant theologian since John Calvin. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Schleiermacher redirected the course of Protestant theology by breaking the stalemate of rationalism and orthodoxy.[4] [6] The rise of neo-orthodoxy in the twentieth century, led by Karl Barth, was in many ways a reaction to the influence of Schleiermacher. After World War Two, Schleiermacher was treated with suspicion, since he was a Romantic, a German idealist, and an advocate of nationalism, culturally conditioned Protestantism, and the German Volksgeist.[5] [7] To him, the essence of religion was an inward disposition of piety, rather than outward practices or written dogmas.[6] [8]

Early Life

Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher was born in 1768 in the Silesian town of Breslau in Prussia (now Wroclaw in Poland). He was the son of a Reformed pastor who served as a chaplain in the Prussian army.[7] [9] At fourteen, Schleiermacher was placed in a school of the Moravian Brethren, or Herrnhuters, a Pietist congregation. The Moravians emphasized an intense devotion to Jesus and a vivid communion with him, resulting in the immediate presence of God, experienced within the self. This had a profound influence on Schleiermacher. At the Moravian school he also got a humanistic education based on the study of Latin and Greek.[8] [10] He enrolled in a Moravian seminary at sixteen to become a pastor. At the seminary, the students were forbidden from reading modern writers like Goethe, or the investigations of modern theologians and philosophers into the Christian system and the human mind. Schleiermacher asked his father for permission to enroll at the University of Halle instead, telling him that he no longer believed in Christ’s vicarious atonement. His father reluctantly agreed, believing that “pride, egotism, and intolerance” had taken possession of him.[9] [11] “Go then into the world whose approval you desire,” he told his son.[10] [12]

Schleiermacher matriculated at Halle in 1787. The leading philosopher at Halle then was Johann August Eberhard, who acquainted his students with a thorough knowledge of Kant’s philosophical system, and introduced them to the history of philosophy, and philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. For many years, Schleiermacher devoted himself to the study of Kant’s philosophy,[11] [13] and for a while he thought he’d lost all faith except in Kantian ethics.[12] [14]

In 1796, Schleiermacher moved to Berlin when he was appointed as a Reformed chaplain at Berlin’s main hospital, the Charité Hospital. There, he became acquainted with a circle of Romantics, who sought unity in their lives by completely devoting themselves to something they thought worthy of devotion. Their ideas centered around inward feeling, idealism and the growth of individuality. There, Schleiermacher met the poet Friedrich Schlegel who became his friend and had a significant influence on him.[13] [15] Schleiermacher understood individuality to be the designation of each individual in the order of things by divine providence: “Your obligation is to be what the consciousness of your being bids you to be and become.”[14] [16] His relationship with the Romantics was somewhat ambivalent. He noted that all people with artistic nature had “at least some stirrings of piety.” But ultimately, Schleiermacher wrote, “imaginative natures fail in penetrative spirit, in capacity for mastering the essential.” Wilhelm Dilthey wrote about Schleiermacher’s time with the Romantics: “Like every genius he was lonely in their midst and yet needed them. He lived among them as a sober man among dreamers.”[15] [17] Schleiermacher was repeatedly embarrassed and humiliated by their social impropriety and inability to function in the real world.[16] [18]

Together, Schleiermacher and Friedrich Schlegel decided to begin the monumental task of producing the first German translation of Plato’s works. But Schleiermacher could not count on Schlegel, and soon he had had to work on the translation alone. The work took many years and the volumes were published intermittently between 1804 and 1828, although not all dialogues were translated. Still today, Schleiermacher’s translations are the most sold paperback editions of Plato in Germany and are authoritative translations for scholars. Dilthey claimed that through them, “knowledge of Greek philosophy first became possible.”[17] [19] The work on the translation was to have a profound effect on the development of Schleiermacher’s philosophy.

The Speeches on Religion

Bothered by the Romantics’ hostility toward religion, Schleiermacher wrote his most famous work, On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers (Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern), in 1799, which made him instantly famous. In it, Schleiermacher attempted to discern the spirit or idea of pure religion, just as Kant had done for pure reason. In this early work his philosophical and theological ideas were still unformed and would evolve in the following years.

9780521357890-us-300.jpgSchleiermacher thought that the Romantics’ criticism of religion applied only to external factors such as dogmas, opinions, and practices, which determine the social and historical form of religions. Religion was about the source of the external factors. He noted that, “as the childhood images of God and immortality vanished before my doubting eyes, piety remained.”[18] [20] He distinguished religion from “vain mythology” that conceived God as an outside being who interfered in history or natural events, although he thought Christianity should retain its mythical aspects and language as long as it was recognized as myth. Beliefs or knowledge about the nature of reality were also to be separated from religion.[19] [21] After Kant, the old-world view with its metaphysical idea of God was no longer possible. Martin Redeker explains: “On the basis of critical transcendental philosophy God cannot be the object of human knowledge, since human knowledge is bound to space and time and the categories of reason, i.e., the finite world.”[20] [22]

True religion, according to Schleiermacher was the “immediate consciousness of the universal being of all finite things in and through the infinite, of all temporal things in and through the eternal.”[21] [23] Feeling was the essence of his idea of religion, feeling of the eternal in all that has life and being. Feeling was only religious though, if it imparted a revelation of the spirit of the whole. That was God, the highest unity, being felt.[22] [24] Schleiermacher defined feeling as the pre-conceptual organ of subjective receptivity that makes thought and experience possible. Feeling is self-consciousness itself, the unifying property of the self that pre-reflectively apprehends the world as a whole.[23] [25] It is the primal act of the spirit before reality is divided into subject and object. An existential experience of revelation is the basis of faith and the certainty of salvation, not correct doctrines or theological formulations.[24] [26]

In contrast to Romantic religious individualism, Schleiermacher claimed that religion was social or nothing at all, since it was “man’s nature to be social.” The more one is stirred by religious feelings, “the more strongly his drive toward sociality comes into play.” A religious person, therefore, must interact with other people and do his part in the Christian church, which is the social form of the idea of true religion. Although, corruption is to be expected when the eternal steps down into the sphere of the temporal and must adapt to historical and political realities.[25] [27]  What characterizes Christianity is the conflict of the infinite and finite in human history, and through Christ’s reconciliation this conflict is overcome. Thus, Christianity is by nature a polemical religion, critical of culture, of religion, and above all of itself.[26] [28]

Many readers, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, found Schleiermacher’s account of the essence of religion wonderful, but his attempt to justify church Christianity disappointing. Georg W. F. Hegel admired On Religion, but later the admiration would turn to hate. It has been suggested that it was partly because Hegel envied Schleiermacher’s work on Plato, Heraclitus, and the dialectic, although their later rivalry at the University of Berlin seems an adequate cause.[27] [29]

In this early work, Schleiermacher shows some prejudice toward his neighboring countries, when he asks who could fathom his testimony: “To whom should I turn if not to the sons of Germany? Where else is an audience for my speech? It is not blind predilection […] that makes me speak thus, but the deep conviction that you alone are capable, as well as worthy, of having awakened in you the sense for holy and divine things.”[28] [30] According to Schleiermacher, the English, “whom many unduly honor,” are incapable of attaining true religion, for they are driven by the pursuit of “gain and enjoyment.” He continues, “their zeal for knowledge is only a sham fight, their worldly wisdom a false jewel, […] and their sacred freedom itself too often and too easily serves self-interest. They are never in earnest with anything that goes beyond palpable utility.”[29] [31] The French are worse: “On them, one who honors religion can hardly endure to look, for in every act and almost in every word, they tread its holiest ordinances under foot.” The “barbarous indifference” of the French people and the “witty frivolity” of their intellectuals towards the historical events taking place in France at the time, (the French Revolutionary Wars) shows how little disposition they have for true religion. “What does religion abhor more than that unbridled arrogance by which the leaders of the French people defy the eternal laws of our world? What does religion more keenly instill than that humble, considerate moderation for which they do not seem to have even the faintest feeling?”[30] [32]

Professor at Halle and Christmas Eve

In 1804, the Prussian government called Schleiermacher to the University of Halle as professor and university preacher.[31] [33] The following year, he wrote Christmas Eve (Die Weihnachtsfeier), a work in the style of Plato’s dialogues. It is a conversation among a group of friends gathered on Christmas eve, discussing the meaning of the Christmas celebration and Christ’s birth.[32] [34]

10954134.jpgThe dialogue begins with the historical criticism of the Enlightenment, claiming that although the Christmas celebration is a powerful and vital present reality, it is hardly based on historical fact. The birth of Christ is only a legend. Schleiermacher rejects the historical empiricism of the Enlightenment since it results only in the discovery of insignificant causes for important events and the outcome of history becomes accidental. This is not good enough, “for history derives from epic and mythology, and these clearly lead to the identity of appearance and idea.” Therefore, he says, “it is precisely the task of history to make the particular immortal. Thus, the particular first gets its position and distinct existence in history by means of a higher treatment.”[33] [35]

Speculation and empiricism must be combined for historical understanding: “However weak the historical traces may be if viewed critically, the celebration does not depend on these but the necessary idea of a Redeemer.”[34] [36] Since men lack the unity and harmony of primordial nature and whose nature is the separation of spirit and flesh, they need redemption.[35] [37] The birth of Christ, “is founded more upon an eternal decree than upon definite, individual fact, and on this account cannot be spoken of in a definite moment but is rather elevated above temporal history and must be maintained mystically.” Festivals like Christmas simply create their own historical background.[36] [38] But the myth of Christmas is far from arbitrary: “Something inward must lie at its basis, otherwise it could never be effective nor endure. This inner something, however, can be nothing else than the ground of all joy itself.”[37] [39]

Schleiermacher understands Christmas as the event when eternal being enters the finite becoming of history, influenced by the Platonic ideas, the archetypes of pure being. The spirit thus reveals himself in history and brings mankind to self-consciousness.[38] [40] The celebration of the eternal is what sets Christmas apart from other festivals.

Some, to be sure have attempted to transfer the widespread joy that belongs to the Christmas season to the New Year, the day on which the changes and contrasts of time are pre-eminent. […] The New Year is devoted to the renewal of what is only transitory. Therefore, it is especially appropriate that those who, lacking stability of character, live only from year to year should make an especially joyful day of it. All human beings are subject to the shifts of time. That goes without saying. However, some of the rest of us do not desire to have our live in what is only transitory.[39] [41]

The joy of Christmas bespeaks an original undivided human nature where the antitheses between time and eternity, thought and being have been overcome, an eternal life in our temporal existence.[40] [42] The celebration of Christmas also brings to the fore the divine relationship of mother and child. Mary symbolizes every mother, and mother’s love for her child is the eternal element in every woman’s life, the essence of her being.[41] [43]

Schleiermacher’s life changed when Napoleon defeated the Prussian army in 1806. After battles in the streets, Halle was captured and occupied. Schleiermacher’s house was plundered and occupied by French soldiers.[42] [44] “Unlike Goethe and Hegel, who admired the French conqueror, Schleiermacher seethed with rage at the crushing of old Prussia.”[43] [45] When he was asked by a French official to witness Napoleon’s entry into the city, Schleiermacher asked to be excused. The students were expelled and the University dissolved. Yet Schleiermacher remained, convinced that greatness awaited Prussia and Germany. The destruction of Prussia was only a transition, the old and feeble had to fall for something stronger to emerge. He wrote: “The scourge must pass over everything that is German; only under this condition can something thoroughly beautiful later arise out of this. Bless those who will live to see it; but those who die, may they die in faith.”[44] [46] He was convinced that God had ordained that Germany, this glorious cultural entity, would also be realized politically.[45] [47]

Prussia’s defeat and Napoleon’s occupation brought Schleiermacher to consciousness of the spirit of nationalism. He joined the movement for reform in Prussia, based on the emerging Protestant ethics, and the values of Volk, state, and fatherland. Schleiermacher’s ethics had until then been based on individuality. The individual self now found its freedom by serving the nation and the state. Moreover, Providence was at work in history as peoples and states evolved into social individuals. The old idea of history as a process of continuous perfection, harmony, and peace, gave way to a history as a life of struggle, decisions, and sacrifice, but also catastrophe and destruction. This was the will of God for the realization of justice and truth.[46] [48] In the collapse of the Prussian state, Schleiermacher sensed the will of God leading his people through defeat to victory. Germans had to recognize God’s work in the ethos and spirit of the German nation and the historical state, and obey his will. God would protect those who wanted to preserve themselves, and their unique meaning and spirit. For the fatherland and its freedom, one must risk his life. A Christian cannot rely on others or only himself, but should trust in the power of God when standing up for his Fatherland.[47] [49]

Up until the defeat, Schleiermacher had seen Prussia as his Fatherland, but he now started to question its existence. He wondered whether God was using the defeat to awaken the Prussian people to their destiny in Germany. This humiliation could only have been prevented by a unified Germany.[48] [50] He felt that the struggle of nationalism had been made almost impossible by the Enlightenment, its ideas masked decay with a false sense of progress. “Every last moment is supposed to have been full of progress. Oh, how much I despise this generation, which adorns itself more shamelessly than any other ever did.”[49] [51]

Professor at the University of Berlin

The University of Berlin was founded in 1809 by Wilhelm von Humboldt. Schleiermacher played an important role in the founding of the university, working as one of Humboldt’s closest collaborators. Schleiermacher, like Fichte, opposed the idea of the university as a technical school of higher learning and special studies, based on those that had been established in France after the Revolution. Science was supposed to be universal and coherent, a unified and universal system of man’s total knowledge.[50] [52]

220px-Friedrich_Daniel_Ernst_Schleiermacher_2.jpgSchleiermacher and Fichte based their idea of university on the transcendental idealist philosophy and its new conception of science. A mere technical academy could not represent the totality of knowledge. According to Schleiermacher, “the totality of knowledge should be shown by perceiving the principles as well as the outline of all learning in such a way that one develops the ability to pursue each sphere of knowledge on his own.” All genuine and creative scholarly work must be rooted in the scientific spirit as expressed in philosophy.[51] [53] The philosophical faculty was to predominate over the other faculties in the university because, “there is no productive scientific capacity in the absence of the speculative spirit.”[52] [54] The students were to be captivated by the idea of knowledge, and all specialized learning was to be understood in accordance with the entire framework of knowledge. From this, the students would derive the impulse for their own research.[53] [55]

In 1810, Schleiermacher joined the Prussian Academy of Sciences and became permanent secretary of the philosophical division in 1814. There he worked to establish a new field, cultural-historical studies, in which he emphasized a new study of antiquity that combined philosophy with the history of philosophy, law, and art. A critical edition of Aristotle’s works was also prepared at his recommendation. Because of the importance of the new studies, Schleiermacher urged the appointment of Hegel to Berlin, but Hegel became isolated, and they had no personal relationship.[54] [56] Hegel soon took issue with Schleiermacher’s theology of feeling and blasted Schleiermacher in every lecture cycle.[55] [57] Schleiermacher, in turn made sure that Hegel was kept out of the Academy of Sciences, ostensibly on the grounds that Hegel’s speculative philosophy was no science.[56] [58]

Schleiermacher served as a pastor alongside his academic appointments his whole career. During the French occupation he used his pulpit in the Berlin Charité to raise the spirits of his congregation and instill in them the spirit of nationalism. The philosopher Henrik Steffens, a friend of Schleiermacher’s, described his sermons thus: “How he elevated and settled the mind of [Berlin’s] citizens […]; through him Berlin was as if transformed […]. His commanding, refreshing, always joyful spirit was like a courageous army in that most troubled time.”[57] [59] In 1808 he joined a secret group of agitators, who sought to prepare a popular uprising and a war against Napoleon. There he befriended prominent patriots like general Gerhard von Scharnhorst and field marshal August von Gneisenau, whose names were later given to famous German battleships. Political maneuvers of Russia and Austria ruined the work of the secret group and the possibility of war against Napoleon would have to wait a few years.[58] [60]

Then in 1813, Prussia prepared to fight Napoleon again. That year, Schleiermacher preached a sermon before young soldiers in Berlin who were going to fight the coming war. He told them that they should think only of the nation when fighting. That should be their inspiration for bravery. They were fighting for the Fatherland and not for personal liberties. If a soldier died fighting to preserve his personal liberties, his death was a total waste since one had to be alive to enjoy the liberty. To die fighting for the Fatherland, on the other hand, was only an “utterly insignificant casualty.” Schleiermacher, valued death from a mystical point of view, as it united the soul with God. He knew what tragedy the death of a soldier was, but he wanted them to know that the only meaningful death for a soldier would be for the sake of the Fatherland. He himself served in the Landsturm reserve unit for the defense of Berlin. The Landsturm was supposed to be a second line of defense behind the newly established Landwehr.[59] [61]

The struggle against France and the ineffective political organization in Prussia caused Schleiermacher to begin to question the rule by divine right, on which the monarchy was based. Germany was ruled by many monarchs who all claimed to rule by the will of God, but to Schleiermacher, God would only approve a unified Germany. A rule by a monarch was only justified by the will of the nation as expressed in its traditions. He also blamed the conceited aristocracy for Germany’s troubles, for they were more concerned with their own status than with the welfare of the Fatherland. [60] [62]

It was during a crisis period over the defense of Berlin that Schleiermacher also noted that one particular group was very unwilling to participate in the Landsturm reserve units. He had no sympathy for those who left Berlin only to avoid their obligations, and conspicuous among them were the Jews. In 1799, Schleiermacher had advocated full civil rights for the Jews. Now he saw no place for them in Prussia, nor could he foresee one in a unified Germany. Before 1813 he had also never criticized Jewish theology, traditions, or culture. That was to change too.[61] [63]

In the summer of 1813, Schleiermacher was appointed as a journalist and editor of a newspaper called The Prussian Correspondent, where he began to criticize the Prussian government for its handling of the war. He regarded a peace treaty with France as a betrayal since it would doom the chance to unify Germany. King Friedrich Wilhelm was furious with Schleiermacher and had him dismissed from the newspaper and expelled from Berlin. The order was later eased, and Schleiermacher got to stay and keep his position in the University and as pastor.[62] [64]

After the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, a period of reaction began in Prussia, and Schleiermacher found himself almost an enemy of the state. Despite official opposition and knowing that he would never live to see the unification of Germany, Schleiermacher still preached and taught the ideals of German nationalism in the church and in his lectures. He decided to be patient and prepare the groundwork for a unified German state, or as much as the Prussian government would tolerate.[63] [65] For fifteen years he had to live with the fear of persecution, and many friends and colleagues were forced to choose between him and the government.[64] [66] Yet he remained publicly committed to German nationalism, certain that those who frustrated the nationalist effort would ultimately have to answer to God for their crime.[65] [67] We now turn to Schleiermacher’s ideas as they appear in his mature writings.


[1] [68] Jerry F. Dawson, Friedrich Schleiermacher: The Evolution of a Nationalist, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966), p. 66.

[2] [69] Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Life of Schleiermacher, as Unfolded in His Autobiography and Letters, vol. II, trans. Frederica Rowan, (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1860), p. 125.

[3] [70] Jacqueline Marina, “Introduction”, The Cambridge Companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher, ed. Jacqueline Marina, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 1.

[4] [71] Richard R. Niebuhr, Schleiermacher on Christ and Religion, (London: SCM Press LTD, 1964), p. 6.

[5] [72] Niebuhr, p. 12.

[6] [73] Robert Merrihew Adams, “Faith and Religious Knowledge”, The Cambridge Companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher, ed. Jacqueline Marina, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 37.

[7] [74] Robert P. Scharlemann, “Friedrich Schleiermacher”, Encyclopædia Britannica, (2006, September 22), retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Friedrich-Schleiermacher.

[8] [75] Martin Redeker, 9-10.

[9] [76] Gary Dorrien, Kantian Reason and Hegelian Spirit: The Idealistic Logic of Modern Theology, (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), p. 86.

[10] [77] Martin Redeker, Schleiermacher: Life and Thought, trans. John Wallhausser, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973, p. 14.

[11] [78] Redeker, p. 15.

[12] [79] Dorrien, p. 87.

[13] [80] Dorrien, pp. 88-89.

[14] [81] Redeker, p. 22.

[15] [82] Redeker, pp. 62-63.

[16] [83] Dawson, p. 47.

[17] [84] Julia A. Lamm, “Schleiermacher as Plato Scholar, The Journal of Religion, Vol. 80, No. 2, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pp. 206-207.

[18] [85] Dorrien, pp. 89-90.

[19] [86] Dorrien, p. 93.

[20] [87] Redeker, p. 38.

[21] [88] Dorrien, p. 92.

[22] [89] Dorrien, p. 93.

[23] [90] Dorrien p. 93.

[24] [91] Redker, p. 39-40.

[25] [92] Dorrien, pp. 93-94.

[26] [93] Redeker p. 48.

[27] [94] Michael Inwood, “German Philosophy”, The Oxford Companion to Phiosophy, ed. Ted Honderich, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 336.

[28] [95] Friedrich Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers, trans. John Oman, (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1893), p. 9.

[29] [96] Schleiermacher, On Religion, pp. 9-10.

[30] [97] Dorrien, p. 94.

[31] [98] Redeker, p. 76.

[32] [99] Redeker, p. 82.

[33] [100] Redeker, p. 83.

[34] [101] Redeker, p. 83.

[35] [102] Redeker, p. 83.

[36] [103] Niebuhr, pp. 60-61.

[37] [104] Niebuhr, pp. 62-63.

[38] [105] Redeker, p. 85.

[39] [106] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Christmas Eve Celebration: A Dialogue, trans. Terrence N. Tice, (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2010), pp. 75-76.

[40] [107] Niebuhr, p. 63.

[41] [108] Redeker, p. 82.

[42] [109] Redeker, p. 86.

[43] [110] Dorrien, p. 96.

[44] [111] Redeker, p. 86.

[45] [112] Dorrien, pp. 96-97.

[46] [113] Redeker, p. 88.

[47] [114] Redeker, p. 89.

[48] [115] Dawson, pp. 63-64.

[49] [116] Dawson, p. 41.

[50] [117] Redeker, pp. 95-96.

[51] [118] Redeker, p. 96.

[52] [119] Redeker, p. 96.

[53] [120] Redeker, p. 97.

[54] [121] Redeker, p. 186.

[55] [122] Dorrien, p. 212.

[56] [123] Dorrien, p. 208.

[57] [124] Redeker, p. 91.

[58] [125] Redeker, p. 91.

[59] [126] Dawson, p. 104.

[60] [127] Dawson, pp. 108-110

[61] [128] Dawspon p. 115.

[62] [129] Dawspon pp. 118-120.

[63] [130] Dawspon pp. 123-124.

[64] [131] Dawspon p. 132.

[65] [132] Dawspon p. 98.

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

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/10/friedrich-schleiermacher-part-1/


Friedrich Schleiermacher:
The Father of Modern Theology & a Prophet of German Nationalism

Part 2

Schleiermacher’s Philosophy of Mind

According to Schleiermacher, the task of philosophy is the “immersion of the Spirit into the innermost depths of itself and of things in order to fathom the relations of their [spirit and nature] being-together.”[1] [3] Schleiermacher’s philosophy, like German idealism in general, was very influenced by, and a reaction to, the critical transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kant. His philosophy was also influenced by Plato, of whom Schleiermacher was the chief scholar in Germany in his time.[2] [4] In his major work, The Christian Faith (Der christliche Glaube), published in 1821–22, Schleiermacher put forth his philosophy of consciousness.

The experience of consciousness discloses that it has both an unchanging identity and is also changing and various in its different moments. The two constitutive elements of self-consciousness are, according to Schleiermacher, the self-caused element and the non-self-caused element, the ego and other. The self is constituted only in relation to an other, it cannot be thought of without an object.[3] [5] He says:

Now these two elements, as they exist together in the temporal self-consciousness, correspond in the subject [to] its receptivity and its activity. […] The common element in all those determinations of self-consciousness which predominantly express a receptivity affected from some outside quarter is the feeling of dependence. On the other hand, the common element in all those determinations which predominantly express spontaneous movement and activity is the feeling of freedom.[4] [6]

Self-consciousness, “which accompanies our whole existence, […] is itself precisely a consciousness of absolute dependence; for it is the consciousness that the whole of our spontaneous activity comes from a source outside of us in just the same sense in which anything towards which we should have a feeling of absolute freedom must have proceeded entirely from ourselves.”[5] [7] But a feeling of absolute freedom is impossible since it would require consciousness without an object.[6] [8] Schleiermacher adds that, “the whence of our receptive and active existence, as implied in this self-consciousness, is to be designated by the word ‘God’, and that is for us the really original signification of that word. […] To feel oneself absolutely dependent and to be conscious of being in relation with God are one and the same thing.”[7] [9]

It is therefore not an object which is the determinative element in the feeling of absolute dependence, but a transcendental eternal and absolute now, which can only be God. God is the absolute infinite unity, the decisive power which unifies the inherent contradictions in the world, e.g., thought and being, reason and sensibility, ego and other. God thus vitally permeates the world and creates and preserves life. Schleiermacher describes the feeling of absolute dependence as an “immediate existential relation.”[8] [10] According to him, self-consciousness has two levels, the sensible, dealing with objects, perceptions and ideas, and the immediate self-consciousness which grounds and unifies thinking and willing. Feeling is related to immediate self-consciousness, the pre-conceptual and undivided essence of the self, before there is an ego and other.[9] [11]

Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Schleiermacher defined theology as self-reflection of the church, or believers, on their own beliefs and practice. Church teaching, worship and polity is to be analyzed phenomenologically and pneumatically. Church life is to be unified with the scientific spirit. Faith and a critical spirit of inquiry are not contradictory, although church-mindedness is a precondition of theology.[10] [12]

517v45Um+vL.jpgSchleiermacher does away with the reliance on scriptural proof or the creeds as the basic structure of his theology. Faith is not awakened by obedience to doctrinal norms, but through a community of believers and their relation to the Redeemer. Scripture and creeds take on a special meaning only after one has been brought to faith.[11] [13] Availing himself of the new concept of science from German transcendental philosophy, Schleiermacher’s theology is determined by the differentiation between idea and appearance, and by the idea of an organic whole. Attempting to overcome the opposition between a historical-empirical approach on the one hand, and metaphysical speculation about God on the other, the idea, or the nature and truth of Christianity, becomes manifest in the present and historical life of Christianity.[12] [14]

For Schleiermacher, the omnipotence of God does not mean that God can do whatever he wills, but rather that he is the cause of everything. A scientific worldview based on critical transcendental philosophy should not necessarily end in pantheism or atheism, but be open to the reality of God as the Lord of nature and history. Schleiermacher wanted to make clear that religion is a necessary element of human life in history, that it alone provides the foundation for the unity of the human spirit with the ground of being, thus protecting human life from degeneration.[13] [15] God as the world’s unity and totality is the power that brings together the antithesis of matter and spirit, and is the source of all finite life.[14] [16]

Man is, however, unaware of God as the vital power and is unable to have a relationship with him. This, Schleiermacher calls unredeemed God-consciousness, or sin. Only through redemption in Christ, can the God-consciousness be restored, and God’s omnipotence and final purpose be comprehended. It is the experience of a living communion with Christ and the unity with God as the ground of being that is the new assurance of faith.[15] [17] In Christ was first formed the perfect and archetypal God-consciousness, and through the Christian community, preaching, and the Gospel stories, this God-consciousness is awakened in the believer and a relationship established.[16] [18]

Schleiermacher does not consider Christianity to be a continuation of Judaism. The essential element in the both religions is eternally constituted, meaning that if they did not exist or have a historical beginning, they would have to be created by necessity. But rather than being a religion, Judaism represents for Schleiermacher the absence of religion:

Judaism has long been a dead religion, and those who still wear its livery only sit lamenting at the imperishable mummy, bewailing its departure and the mournful state of being left behind. But I do not talk about it as were it in some way a predecessor of Christianity: I hate such historical connections in religion; its necessity is one that is far higher and eternal, and every beginning in it is original […] the whole thing [is] such a strange example of the corruption and total disappearance of religion.[17] [19]

He also held that among the early Christians, heathens had less to overcome than the Jews, which is why more heathens became Christians. Jews found it very difficult forsake their law and Abrahamic promises.[18] [20] Schleiermacher identified the New Testament exclusively as the Christian canon.[19] [21] His hermeneutical rule for Old Testament exegesis was: “Whatever is most definitely Jewish has least value.”[20] [22] He even found it hard to believe that Jesus had much in common with the people among whom he was born:

And where indeed was that narrowing and isolating race-prejudice keener than just where our Lord was born? The nation that regarded all other nations as unclean, and avoided intercourse with them; […] such a people could not of themselves have produced, nurtured and instructed Him who is the Fountain of universal love.[21] [23]

Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutics

Friedrich Schleiermacher has had a great influence on the field of hermeneutics. Richard E. Palmer, in his book Hermeneutics, states: “Schleiermacher […] is properly regarded as the father of modern hermeneutics as a general study.”[22] [24] According to Schleiermacher, hermeneutics is to be both creative and scientific, it is the imaginative reconstruction of the writer’s selfhood. It therefore ventures beyond the principles of philological science and becomes an art.[23] [25] Johann Gottfried Herder was a primary influence on the hermeneutical thinking of Schleiermacher.[24] [26]

Thinking has, according to Schleiermacher, a moral and historical character that involves an awareness of the relatedness of the individual consciousness to a community of other minds. Thinking also necessarily involves an awareness of conflict between the judgements of one’s own self and those of others. The self is then situated in a dialogical relation where it struggles to overcome conflict. Thought is a constant reproduction of the social matrix in which the self finds itself and from which the impulse to critical reflection stems. Thinking also involves the mediation of one’s thoughts and to deposit them in the public language and to respond to the thoughts of others. And since all men learn to speak within some given, historical language, their historical mold also impresses their thinking.[25] [27]


The interpreter, Schleiermacher claims, must master the grammar of the language of the author he is studying, as well as the history and physical conditions of the language. The author is to be considered as an expression of the language or an event in its life. The language is moreover an inheritance that qualifies the author’s spirit and demarcates the direction and progress of his thought. A thorough knowledge of the author’s language is therefore required to know the limits of his mind and to avoid anachronism in textual exegesis. Schleiermacher stated that the goal of hermeneutics is “to understand the text just as well and then better than the author himself understood it.” That is, the interpreter must be conscious of the history of the language and culture of the author, things that the author may have been unconscious of.[26] [28] In addition, the text of an author also arises from his own being and inner history, which is separate from the history of the language. Therefore, acquaintance with the author’s own personal history is required, helping the interpreter to fathom the author’s sense of identity and purpose.[27] [29]

What Schleiermacer called the psychological method deals with an author’s decision, or his freedom. Its goal is “the thorough understanding of the style.” He explains this further:

We are accustomed to understand by ‘style’ only the way in which the language is handled. But thoughts and language always inform each other, and the distinctive way in which the object is grasped informs the arrangement [of the elements of the composition] and thereby also the handling of the language.[28] [30]

The task of the psychological method is twofold. One part, which he calls the “technical” method, is to analyze the form in which the author organizes and presents his thoughts. The other part, the “pure psychological” part, is the attempt to fully grasp the significance of the author’s decision to make this particular writing and to communicate these ideas. They mean little if the interpreter can’t understand why and how a rational will chose them as his instruments.[29] [31]

Schleiermacher defined interpretation as an art, and therefore the interpreter must possess certain talents that only a few have in the requisite measure. He must not only have an extensive knowledge of the language, but also be able to grasp the language as a vital reality and to penetrate “into the core of the language in its relation to thought.” He must have the ability to gain a direct understanding of men and to grasp the “genuine meaning of a man and his distinctive characteristics in relation to the [essential] idea [Begriff] of the man.”[30] [32]

Schleiermacher extended the concept of the so called “hermeneutic circle,” the idea that the understanding of the whole text is gathered from the individual parts, and then each part is interpreted in light of the whole. It is not enough for Schleiermacher, to interpret the part in light of the whole text, but the whole text must also be interpreted in light of the author’s whole mind and being and his historical linguistic and cultural setting. The hermeneutic circle is in fact much more than a tool for interpretation. It is an essential part of the mind. “Every child comes to understand the meanings of words only through hermeneutics,” Schleiermacher wrote.[31] [33] Hermeneutics is how any understanding is possible at all through a dialogical process, it is the art of understanding. In conversation, we construct the meaning of a sentence by hearing a series of words that otherwise would have little meaning individually.[32] [34] Sometimes, we can know what our interlocutor wants to say and even construct the development of his thought before we have heard the whole speech.[33] [35] According to Hans-Georg Gadamer:

Schleiermacher’s grounding of understanding on dialogue and on interhuman understanding establishes a foundation for hermeneutics at a deeper level than before, and in a way that allows one to erect a system that is scientific and scholarly on a hermeneutical basis. Hermeneutics becomes the foundation not just for theology but for all historically based humanistic disciplines.[34] [36]

Philosophical Ethics, or Reason in History

Schleiermacher defined ethics thus: “Ethics, as the depiction of the way in which reason and nature coexist, is the science [of the principles of] history.”[35] [37] He does not conceive of ethics as a normative science that only deals with the “ought to be,” rather, it is to deal with the “is,” like the natural sciences. He has therefore little sympathy with Kant’s categorical imperative. Morality is not to obey any specific commands, it is a principle that permeates all of life.[36] [38] Ethics is the science of the organizing activity of the ideal principle in nature.[37] [39]

Schleiermacher divides science into two main branches, ethics and physics:

Ethics is, accordingly, the representation of being under the power of reason, that is from that side in which, in the co-inherence of the polarity, reason is the active term, and the real that which is acted upon; and physics is the representation of finite being under the power of nature, that is, as the real is the active term and the ideal that which is acted upon.[38] [40]

9780061300363-us-300.jpgSchleiermacher constructs his theory of ethics on the fundamental antithesis of ideal and real. All finite being never represents the pure unity of the ideal and real. Its actual existence cannot be inferred from its form and its form cannot be inferred from its existence. Both ideal and real fall outside of human experience, which is limited to that which is involved in becoming. The intellect can never grasp it and reduce it to a single term. Therefore, we cannot ascribe primacy to either form without matter or matter without form, since both transcend our experience. This is so because of our own existence in body and soul. Experience cannot be reduced to either pure reason or pure matter.[39] [41] Therefore, all real knowledge is only possible within the world and is delimited by human history.[40] [42]

Schleiermacher says: “The work which is the activity of the spiritual [ideal] within nature is always shape; the work of the material [real] in reason is always consciousness.”[41] [43] He continues:

Body and soul in man is the highest tension of the antithesis, a twofold interpenetration of the objective [real] and the spiritual [ideal]. We see it diminish in the animal and the vegetable world, but we never see it quite disappear. Where there is form, there is also consciousness corresponding to it, and vice versa. This antithesis, which was first found in our own being […] extends through the whole of reality.[42] [44]

In this world of human experience, the world of becoming, it is the real which predominates in everything over the ideal, except in human beings. Man alone express the proper nature of the ideal principle, he is the turning point. Man manifests the ideal principle through the knowledge process, as thought organizes experience into science. Thought, the work of reason in man, is what prevents total chaos in human conduct, a conflict of purposes. Reason thus manifests itself in advanced social life, the organization of the state, commerce and the exploitation of natural resources for its ends.[43] [45] Schleiermacher divides ethics into branches such as industry, agriculture, commerce, science, art, religion, and friendship, according to the impact of the ideal principle on nature.[44] [46]

Schleiermacher was influenced by the idea, or form, of the good in Plato’s Republic, a book he considered “the most glorious composition of antiquity.” Man, as a reflection of the divine world, with the ability to regulate himself, inwardly and outwardly, according to the pattern of eternal ideas, was the most important, yet undeveloped implication of the idea of the good in the history of ethics, Schleiermacher thought.[45] [47] But for him, it meant not conformity to a universal maxim of reason, but the concrete realization of the rational principle through man. Man is thus an organism of reason, and through him reason finds concrete expression in institutions, such as family, nation, university and state. He defines the good simply as the progressive organization of nature by reason. Everything which is produced in this process is good, and everyone who works toward its end partakes in the good itself.[46] [48]

According to Schleiermacher, reason is given to us only through our embodiment and natural constitution, which cannot be dismissed as mere accidents, but are essential to the life of the soul. The soul is then, always rooted in a particular man, his family, nation and race, and shares in his destiny. Man is therefore never an absolute agent but is defined by his historical, social and biological setting.[47] [49] Our existence is also ethically, always an expression and extension of the organizing wills of others. Primarily, of our parents through procreation, but of other members of the community and nation from which we come and exist. The individual begins his life already as an organized being, he is determined both by the soul-body existence, and by the character and destiny his community.[48] [50] Schleiermacher rejects the basis of the social contract theory, that the freedom of the natural man is inimical to social order. Society is rather an expression of freedom, not a limitation of it.[49] [51]

Man and State

For Schleiermacher, mankind is not an abstract universal idea about the human race or the essence of man. Mankind has a concrete being whose essence is expressed in three forms of community: in friendship, marriage, and Fatherland. Against the spirit of the Enlightenment, he did not think that the sole purpose of man was the progressive domination of nature, increased well-being and the advance of civilization. Martin Redeker explains:

The national state, for instance, is not a necessary evil, not an external community of the material world for the increase of property and protection against misfortune and calamity. The state is the finest work of human art by which man raises his being to the highest level. The state is for Schleiermacher the concretion of mankind as moral community and higher life.[50] [52]

According to Schleiermacher, a state is necessary if a society is to progress beyond a certain point. His idea of society and the state is very influenced by his reading of The Republic. When a state is established, the customs of the social organism are sanctioned and expressed in its laws. The state thus furthers the ends of the organism and expresses its individuality, it represents the completion of the good life.[51] [53] He wrote: “When such an institution is founded, it is one of the greatest steps forward possible for our race. […] It follows that patriotism is good, and those who think it is not for them are like guests or aliens.”[52] [54] The idea of a multi-ethnic state did not impress Schleiermacher:

Variation in political dignity is always a sign that several hordes have been fused together. […] Particularity in common is the basis of the state, partly to the extent that it is also a family bond and partly because only to that extent will every individual posit the totality of the external sphere of the state as his own moral, particular sphere (that is, as absolutely holy and inviolable), for on this alone does the defence of the state rest.[53] [55]

The state must be active in the life of the nation, otherwise the nation will degenerate: “To transform the state into a mere legal institution, […] would be to reverse the direction of the ethical process.”[54] [56] Schleiermacher also claims that: “Essentially people and soil belong together. […] State is the identity of people and soil. […] The determining power of the soil is an essential element in the character of the people…”[55] [57] War for living space is justified:

Every state needs a sufficiency of soil because it ought not to be dependent [on others] for its essential needs. These essential needs increase, however, if the community of peoples gains in size. The state strives to push back its frontiers, in order to acquire what is lacking; these are wars of need. Thus we can distinguish three different sorts of natural warfare: wars of unification which form the state, frontier wars, or wars which maintain a state of equilibrium, and wars of need which defend the state; the usual distinction, on the other hand, between offensive wars and defensive ones, is an entirely empty one.[56] [58]

Schleiermacher.jpgFolk traditions (Volkstümlichkeit) and race mark the boundaries for the possibility of a moral community according to Schleiermacher: “. . . people from different folk traditions, or who speak different languages, and to an even greater extent people of different races, find themselves separated in a way that is specifically different to any other. It is within these natural boundaries that moral relationships are determined . . .”[57] [59] It is history and geography that make a nation, they can never be brought about deliberately, “on the contrary, the fusing of different elements into a single people can only come about where it is physically predetermined, only ever, no doubt, within the confines of the race; for a people has never yet been formed from half-breeds.”[58] [60] The separation of the races is part of the divine order, “. . . for God has imparted to each its own nature, and has therefore marked out bounds and limits for the habitations of the different races of men on the face of the earth.”[59] [61] The idea of a state is inherent in the nature of a race and it is actualized by a powerful leader when the time is right:

Let us now suppose that some person for the first time combines a naturally cohesive group into a civil community (legend tells of such cases in plenty); what happens is that the idea of the state first comes to consciousness in him, and takes possession of his personality as its immediate dwelling place. Then he assumes the rest into the living fellowship of the idea. He does so by making them clearly conscious of the unsatisfactoriness of their present condition by effective speech. The power remains with the founder of forming in them the idea which is the innermost principle of his own life, and of assuming them into the fellowship of that life. The result is, not only that there arises among them a new corporate life, in complete contrast to the old, but also that each of them becomes in themselves new persons – that is to say, citizens. And everything resulting from this is the corporate life – developing variously with the process of time, yet remaining essentially the same – of this idea which emerged at that particular point of time, but was always predestined in the nature of that particular racial stock.[60] [62]

Schleiermacher’s ideal ruler is the philosopher king of The Republic, who is the source of all freedom and justice, who has no private interest above the state, and who personifies the spirit of the nation.[61] [63]

The End of Schleiermacher’s Life

A wave of revolutions went through Europe in 1830 and 1831. Schleiermacher was deeply hurt by the prospect of seeing the German people having to go through revolutions before a unified Germany could be realized. In September 1832, seventeen months before his death, he wrote in a letter to his wife Henriette: “It often makes me sad to think, that after all our bright hopes and good beginnings, I shall, when I depart this life, leave our German world in such a precarious state – for this will most probably be my lot.”[62] [64]

Although Schleiermacher never lived to see the unification of Germany himself, he used his sermons and classes to infuse his listeners with the ideals of German nationalism. Some of them would be influential in German politics in the following decades. It seems providential almost, that in Schleiermacher’s confirmation class of 1830 was one sixteen year old, Otto von Bismarck, who would later realize what Schleiermacher had long believed was God’s destiny for Germany.[63] [65] Many Prussians who knew little of Schleiermacher’s theology, recognized him as a national hero and patriot.[64] [66]

Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher died in February 1834 from pneumonia. On the day of his funeral around 30,000 Berliners joined the funeral procession, including the king, which was unparalleled at the time for an academic.[65] [67] His friend, Steffens reported of the funeral:

Never has a funeral similar to this taken place. It was not something arranged but a completely unconscious, natural outpouring of mourning love, an inner boundless feeling which gripped the entire city and gathered about his grave; these were hours of inward unity such as have never been seen in a metropolis of modern times.[66] [68]


[1] [69] Redeker, p. 185.

[2] [70] Redeker, p. 154.

[3] [71] Dorrien, p. 100.

[4] [72] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Friedrich Schleiermacher: Pioneer of Modern Theology, ed. Keith W. Clements (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), p. 100.

[5] [73] Schleiermacher, Friedrich Schleiermacher: Pioneer of Modern Theology, p. 103.

[6] [74] Schleiermacher, Friedrich Schleiermacher: Pioneer of Modern Theology, p. 102.

[7] [75] Schleiermacher, Friedrich Schleiermacher: Pioneer of Modern Theology, pp. 103-104.

[8] [76] Redeker, p. 114.

[9] [77] Dorrien, pp. 100-101.

[10] [78] Redeker, p. 105.

[11] [79] Redeker, p. 107.

[12] [80] Redeker p. 107.

[13] [81] Redeker, p. 111.

[14] [82] Redeker, p. 122.

[15] [83] Redeker, p. 123.

[16] [84] Redeker, p. 132.

[17] [85] Anders Gerdmar, The Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism: German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews, from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann (Leiden: Brill, 2009), p. 65.

[18] [86] Dorrien, p. 102.

[19] [87] Christine Helmer, “Exegetical Theology and the New Testament,” The Cambridge Companion to Schleiermacehr, ed. Jacqueline Marina (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 236.

[20] [88] Dorrien, p. 102.

[21] [89] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher, trans. Mary F. Wilson (Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2004), p. 292.

[22] [90] Richard E. Palmer, Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger and Gadamer (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969), p. 97.

[23] [91] Niebuhr, p. 79.

[24] [92] Michael Forster, “Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (September 20, 2017), retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/schleiermacher/ [93].

[25] [94] Niebuhr, p. 81.

[26] [95] Niebuhr, p. 83.

[27] [96] Niebuhr, p. 84.

[28] [97] Niebuhr, p. 84.

[29] [98] Niebuhr, p. 84.

[30] [99] Niebuhr, p. 85.

[31] [100] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Hermeneutics: The Handwritten Manuscripts, ed. Heinz Kimmerle, trans. James Duke and Jack Forstman (Missoula, Mt.: Scholars Press, 1977), p. 52.

[32] [101] Palmer, p. 86.

[33] [102] Niebuhr, p. 86.

[34] [103] Hans-Georg Gadamer, “Classical and Philosophical Hermeneutics,” Theory, Culture and Society, vol. 23, no. 1 (January 2006), p. 35.

[35] [104] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Lectures on Philosophical Ethics, p. 8.

[36] [105] Redeker, p. 159.

[37] [106] Richard B. Brandt, The Philosophy of Schleiermacher: The Development of His Theory of Scientific and Religious Knowledge (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1941), pp. 170-71.

[38] [107] Niebuhr, p. 105.

[39] [108] Niebuhr, p. 98.

[40] [109] Niebuhr, p. 102.

[41] [110] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Lectures on Philosophical Ethics, trans. Louise Adey Huish (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 148.

[42] [111] Brandt, p. 254.

[43] [112] Brandt, pp. 255-56.

[44] [113] Brandt, p. 171.

[45] [114] Niebuhr, p. 95.

[46] [115] Brandt, p. 173.

[47] [116] Niebuhr, p. 104.

[48] [117] Niebuhr, pp. 114-15.

[49] [118] Niebuhr, p. 117.

[50] [119] Redeker, 57.

[51] [120] Theodore Vial, “Schleiermacher and the State,” The Cambridge Companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher, ed. Jacqueline Marina (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 272-73.

[52] [121] Theodore Vial, p. 277.

[53] [122] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Lectures on Philosophical Ethics, p. 72.

[54] [123] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Lectures on Philosophical Ethics, p. 74.

[55] [124] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Lectures on Philosophical Ethics, pp. 77-78.

[56] [125] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Lectures on Philosophical Ethics, p 79.

[57] [126] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Lectures on Philosophical Ethics, p. 201.

[58] [127] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Lectures on Philosophical Ethics, p. 202.

[59] [128] Friedrich Schleiermacher, Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher, p. 73.

[60] [129] Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, eds. H. R. Mackintosh and J. S. Stewart (London: T&T Clark, 1928), p. 429.

[61] [130] Dawson, p. 151.

[62] [131] Dawson, p. 158.

[63] [132] Redeker, p. 205.

[64] [133] Dorrien, p. 206.

[65] [134] Dorrien, p. 206.

[66] [135] Redeker, p. 213.


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URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/10/friedrich-schleiermacher-part-2/

lundi, 23 octobre 2017

Le katechon selon Carl Schmitt: de Rome à la fin du monde


Le katechon selon Carl Schmitt: de Rome à la fin du monde

Le retour du Christ sur Terre, la parousie, ne surviendra pas tant que le katechon​, cette figure « ​qui retient » le déchaînement du mal, agira efficacement. C’est ce qu’affirme l’apôtre Paul dans sa seconde épître aux Thessaloniciens. Si le texte biblique continue de faire débat chez les théologiens,​ ​certains​ ​pensent​ ​avoir​ ​identifié​ ​cette​ ​mystérieuse​ ​figure.

L’idée du katechon (κατέχων), que l’on pourrait traduire par « rétenteur » ou « retardateur », est largement ignorée des chrétiens eux-mêmes. Saint Paul s’adressant aux Thessaloniciens affirme pourtant, s’agissant de l’Antéchrist : « Maintenant vous savez ce qui le retient, de sorte qu’il ne se révélera qu’au temps fixé pour lui. Car le mystère d’iniquité est déjà à l’œuvre ; il suffit que soit écarté celui qui le retient à présent » (II Thessaloniciens 2, 6-7). Puissance qui empêche l’avènement du mal absolu et la fin du monde, le katechon atténue profondément l’eschatologie chrétienne dans son acception la plus fataliste, qui tend à considérer que le cours de l’histoire est tout entier entre les seules mains de la Providence.

Cette puissance qui retient semble devoir s’analyser en une entité théologico-politique. Vraisemblablement inspirée par Dieu pour la défense du bien chrétien, mais néanmoins libre des ses décisions comme l’est toute figure de la Création, elle réconcilie le déterminisme eschatologique avec une conception sphérique de l’histoire qui postule que l’homme, par l’action politique fondatrice de tout ordre, joue un rôle décisif dans le cours des événements et la lutte contre le règne du mal. C’est ce que notait Carl Schmitt, dernier grand penseur du katechon, lorsqu’il écrivait que « la foi en une force qui retient la fin du monde jette le seul pont qui mène de la paralysie eschatologique de tout devenir humain jusqu’à une puissance historique aussi imposante que celle de l’Empire chrétien des rois germaniques. » Cette conception schmittienne du katechon est issue du Nomos de la Terre, paru en 1950. Elle nous semble plus aboutie que celle utilisée en 1944 dans Terre et Mer, plus vague et générique, qui a pu conduire certains commentateurs à identifier le katechon à toute puissance étatique résistant à la marche forcée du monde vers une hypothétique anomie globale.

Le katechon est donc mû par une volonté propre et n’est pas la marionnette de Dieu sur terre. Il est une puissance décisive dont l’action concrète fonderait un ordre conforme à l’idée chrétienne du bien là où le désordre tendrait à s’insinuer. Chez Schmitt, le bien n’est pérenne que dans l’ordre, et la capacité à le conserver en décidant du cas d’exception est au souverain ce que le miracle est à Dieu. Cela suppose d’abord que la « vraie foi » soit établie et transmise, pour que l’idée chrétienne du bien contenue dans le décalogue et les « lois non écrites » puisse être poursuivie et défendue efficacement. L’institution de l’Église catholique romaine, vecteur et garante du dogme, est donc naturellement une composante du katechon selon Carl Schmitt, reprenant à son compte l’idée développée par nombre de théologiens et de Pères de l’Église. Mais parce que le katechon ne saurait se réduire à une autorité spirituelle, et suppose aussi la force d’action concrète du pouvoir politique, c’est plus précisément dans le Saint Empire romain germanique que le juriste en voyait une incarnation historique.


Une​ ​figure​ ​duale

L’Église latine est une institution indéfiniment ancrée dans le sol romain, comme une garantie de sa permanence, pour fonder un ordre à vocation universelle. Et l’association au sein de l’Empire d’Occident des deux ordres distincts de l’imperium et du sacerdotium, dévolus respectivement à l’Empereur et au Pape, formait une authentique communauté dans la Respublica Christiana. Ordre éternellement chrétien, puisque bâti sur la pierre angulaire de l’Église (le tombeau de Pierre) et sur lequel le mal, se propageant dans le monde, finirait toujours par buter.

C’est donc véritablement une figure duale, à la fois théologique et politique, que celle du katechon. Et si elle apparaît clairement dans la Respublica christiana, c’est justement par la distinction formelle de ces deux ordres d’imperium et de sacerdotium, qui renvoie à la distinction entre un pouvoir (potestas) et une autorité qui le légitime et le transcende (auctoritas), là où les sociétés traditionnelles réunissaient pouvoir temporel et autorité spirituelle sous la figure unique du roi-prêtre. Cet imperium avait d’ailleurs acquis une dimension proprement chrétienne, se définissait comme le commandement utile à maintenir l’ordre chrétien, et s’ajoutait aux prérogatives des rois chaque fois qu’il était nécessaire. Un évènement historique important est situé au XIe siècle, date de la réforme grégorienne au cours de laquelle l’Église s’affirme, avec force, indépendante et supérieure aux pouvoirs temporels. Mais cette distinction n’a pas immédiatement provoqué une opposition frontale, ni même l’exclusion mutuelle des deux domaines. Il y avait au contraire, initialement, la recherche d’une synergie, d’une conciliation, que Carl Schmitt résume dans l’expression de « lutte pour Rome ». 

Or cette conception de la « puissance qui retient » ne pouvait valoir que dans un monde où tous les chemins menaient à Rome, où toute l’Europe chrétienne regardait vers le tombeau de Pierre comme vers le centre du monde et espérait la bénédiction de ses décisions politiques par les autorités romaines. L’autorité spirituelle ressemblait alors à un rempart au pouvoir politique, objet des passions potentiellement destructrices et contraires à l’ordre chrétien établi d’après Rome. Or, de ce romanisme médiéval concentrique, où le pouvoir cherchait à s’adjoindre l’autorité de l’Église, l’Europe a basculé vers un romanisme excentrique. C’est désormais à l’Église romaine de gagner le monde par ses propres moyens résiduels, d’imposer son bien par le bas, dépourvue de son autorité politique depuis l’émergence de la conception moderne et exclusive de la souveraineté. L’imperium et le sacerdotium, jusqu’alors distingués mais néanmoins liés, sont désormais deux ordres qui tendent à s’exclure mutuellement. L’État s’est divinisé.

L’Église se voit ainsi exclue des affaires politiques, contrainte à se plier aux exigences d’un monde où les États comptent sans elle. Si l’on peut certes reconnaître aux papes contemporains un rôle politique certain, celui-ci ne semble plus que ponctuel et exceptionnel et relève de l’influence bien plus que de la décision. On pense notamment à l’anticommunisme de Jean-Paul II et au soutien qu’il apporta à Solidarnosc en Pologne, peu avant l’implosion du bloc soviétique.

Symboliquement, la métamorphose de l’Église est acquise depuis le Concile « Vatican II », au cours duquel fut adopté l’usage des langues vernaculaires au détriment du latin dans les célébrations. L’Église qui s’adressait au monde entier dans un même langage s’est comme dissoute dans les particularismes. Elle est devenue une institution mondaine parmi d’autres, et sa lutte ne peut plus guère être menée en association avec les pouvoirs politiques en qui Carl Schmitt voyait les pierres fondatrices et les garanties de tout ordre. Non seulement les dimensions théologique et politique du katechon tendent à s’exclure, mais l’ordre romain du sacerdotium semble considérablement affaibli face à un imperium hypertrophié et dépourvu de sa dimension chrétienne ancienne. Pour bien des dépositaires du pouvoir politique, la parole de l’Église semble compter autant que celle d’une quelconque organisation non gouvernementale.


Rome​ ​éternelle​ ​ou​ ​troisième​ ​Rome​ ​?

Certes, il convient de nuancer une approche trop européocentrique de la figure du katechon, le monde chrétien ne se limitant ni à Rome ni à l’Occident, et l’Église catholique latine n’étant pas la seule Église au monde. Cependant, sa forme historique sui generis lui a certainement confié une légitimité particulière. Et c’est l’Empire d’Occident qui conserva le lien géographique avec le tombeau de Pierre, assise tellurique déterminante aux yeux de Carl Schmitt et de nombreux théologiens occidentaux, car elle permettait un rayonnement universel puissant, une « juridiction universelle » partant d’un seul et unique centre de gravité. L’Église orthodoxe, en revanche, s’est développée dans une relation toute différente à la localité, témoignage d’un enracinement nécessairement moins imposant symboliquement, voyant le siège de Pierre en celui de chaque évêque.

L’idée que le katechon serait aujourd’hui incarné par la Russie orthodoxe fleurit pourtant ça et là depuis une dizaine d’années, notamment dans les courants eurasistes, comme une réminiscence de l’idéal d’une « troisième Rome » incarnée par Moscou. Le Patriarche Cyrille de Moscou, à la tête de l’Église orthodoxe russe, affirme régulièrement l’importance de la foi comme guide essentiel à la conduite des affaires politiques. Certes, il reproche aux sociétés d’Occident de s’estimer capables de fonder un ordre sain sur la négation de la chrétienté. De son côté, le gouvernement russe actuel manifeste ostensiblement son identité chrétienne. Il n’y a cependant là rien de comparable avec l’articulation historique de l’imperium et du sacerdotium, ni avec le rayonnement universel de l’Église romaine d’autrefois.

Ironie du sort, c’est peut-être aujourd’hui l’Organisation des Nations Unies qui constitue l’autorité la plus universelle et qui continue le mieux l’autorité autrefois dévolue au Pape ! Un exemple parmi tant d’autres : la colonisation des Amériques par l’Espagne était fondée juridiquement sur un mandat de mission pontificale, tout comme l’ONU délivre aujourd’hui des mandats fondant des opérations dites de « maintien de la paix ». L’arbitrage moral quant à l’emploi de la violence armée par les puissances dominantes se fait au sein de cette organisation, au nom de principes aussi généraux que généreux. On a longtemps justifié les conquêtes et les pillages par la nécessité de répandre le christianisme sur les terres inexplorées, puis par celle de « civiliser » les « sauvages ». Désormais, on apporte les Droits de l’Homme. Ce que l’on appelait le droit des gens, le droit international applicable aux étrangers non chrétiens, se retrouve aujourd’hui sous l’appellation pudique de « droit international humanitaire », autrement appelé droit de la guerre. Mais l’Évangile ne figurant pas parmi les références de l’Organisation, et l’ordre qu’elle fonde ne semblant pas inspiré par les exigences chrétiennes, elle ne serait qu’une sorte de katechon laïque, de toute façon dépendante des États souverains. Or, purement théologique, un katechon n’aurait pas le pouvoir de fonder un ordre social ; purement politique, il serait condamné à dévier.


Le katechon sous sa forme historique, tel que Carl Schmitt l’a conçu, est-il alors une figure morte ? Elle semble éteinte, et les métamorphoses juridiques et politiques l’ont certainement mené à prendre une forme nouvelle qui peine à se dévoiler. Mais une menace plane : ne le voyant plus, l’Occident ne semble plus croire au katechon, et donc ne plus se penser capable, et encore moins destiné, à l’incarner. Il faut dire que les prophéties hégéliennes modernes de la « fin de l’Histoire » et de l’avènement d’un « État universel et homogène » (Kojève) idyllique vont encore bon train, privant l’idée du katechon de sa raison d’être. C’est d’abord de son urgente nécessité qu’il faudra se convaincre pour pouvoir l’incarner à nouveau. Suivant l’intuition schmittienne, c’est certainement dans la redécouverte de la doctrine chrétienne véritable et ordonnée que se trouve la vitalité du katechon, ce qui conforte aujourd’hui les conservateurs dans l’Église face à un Pape controversé et souvent décrit comme progressiste. Mais se pose encore la question de la portée politique de cette doctrine dans le monde contemporain. Il n’y a plus guère de pieux monarque qui règne, et les souverainetés déjà diluées dans les foules démocratiques se partagent désormais entre une infinité de monstres bureaucratiques. Si le diable est celui qui divise, le katechon ne peut sans doute se retrouver que dans une convergence théologico-politique, une tendance à la réunification des deux ordres en équilibre.

jeudi, 19 octobre 2017

Le premier impératif politique


Le premier impératif politique

par Laurent Ozon


Quelles que soient les formes ou les idées auxquelles nous pouvons être attachés, ces principes ont tous pour condition, dans leur genèse comme dans leur capacité de réalisation historique, l’existence de populations distinctes pour les porter. Pas plus que les idées ne tombent du ciel, les créations de l’histoire, celles de l’esprit comme les autres, sont le résultat d’interactions entre plusieurs facteurs. Mais le facteur principal c’est l’acteur lui-même. Nous sommes, individuellement et collectivement des acteurs de l’histoire des techniques, sciences, politiques, arts et guerres. Nous sommes donc en premier lieu le facteur d’influence le plus évident de ce qui arrive et aussi de ce qui n’arrive pas. La nature profonde de ce que nous sommes, notre savoir-faire, notre vitalité, nos peurs, nos représentations collectives, nos créations, procèdent de nos particularités. Ces particularités telles qu’elles sont à un moment de l’histoire, influencent au premier chef, l’ensemble des domaines de réalisation des sociétés humaines.

Il serait assez facile de faire des comparaisons entre sociétés, entre pays dans tous les domaines. Du taux d’alphabétisation au nombre de brevets déposés par millier d’habitants, de la stabilité des institutions au Produit Intérieur Brut (PIB), de l’Indice de Développement Humain (IDH) aux pratiques alimentaires, du nombre de personnes porteuses du HIV à celui de l’âge moyen du premier enfant, du quotient intellectuel au taux de carbone émis, du pourcentage d’athées au niveau de conservatisme. On pourra évoquer les comportements individuels et familiaux comparés entre les Haïtiens et les Japonais lors des catastrophes environnementales qui les touchèrent il y a peu, la position dans la hiérarchie sociale à la troisième génération des Américains d’origine chinoise et de ceux d’origine afro-américaine aux USA, le niveau de diplôme moyen entre les enfants de troisième génération issues du Vietnam et ceux provenant de Turquie en Allemagne en 2013 etc. Il se trouvera toujours quelqu’un pour vous expliquer que ce que vous prenez pour une différence d’aptitude entre deux populations n’est que le résultat des hasards de l’histoire ou d’autres facteurs explicatifs environnementaux nombreux et complexes. Et lorsque certaines personnes vous expliquent que c’est complexe, ils veulent vous dire que toute conclusion à partir des données collectées est impossible et qu’il vaut donc mieux changer de sujet…

Je ne nie évidemment pas que des facteurs environnementaux ou « accidentels » puissent expliquer certaines différences d’aptitudes, de sensibilités, bref des particularités mesurables entre populations qui s’expriment dans l’histoire et leurs réalisations, dans tous les domaines des activités humaines. Mais le facteur qui s’exprime avec le plus de constance pour modeler les sociétés et affecter leurs particularités, c’est la population dont elles sont constituées. Rien de plus, rien de moins.

Prenons un exemple caricatural mais parlant. Si vous transfériez la population de la Papouasie Nouvelle Guinée en Suède et que vous transplantiez la population suédoise en Papouasie Nouvelle Guinée (pays de superficies équivalentes), qui peut soutenir que la Suède et la Papouasie Nouvelle Guinée seraient des collectivités aux caractéristiques maintenues ? Qui oserait prétendre que l’échange des populations de ces deux pays ne changerait pas radicalement les particularités et donc les indicateurs généraux de ces pays ?

Certes, cet exemple est caricatural, mais il a le mérite de rappeler une évidence : si l’histoire d’un pays est  déterminée par ses ressources et de nombreux autres éléments, le facteur le plus déterminant de tous est bien celui des populations qui le composent. Vous pourriez continuer à appeler Suède le pays qui porte aujourd’hui ce nom et son État, État suédois. Qui pourrait sérieusement parier que seulement 50 ans après le transfert de population imaginaire avec la Papouasie, l’ensemble des indicateurs qui permettent d’évaluer dans les grandes lignes, d’un pays, ne serait pas changé fondamentalement ?

Ces indicateurs, qu’ils soient économiques, culturels, technologiques et scientifiques, politiques ou sociologiques peuvent bien-sûr êtres toujours discutés. On peut dire que le PIB ne mesure pas le taux de bonheur brut et que le taux d’alphabétisation est un paramètre occidental. Mais quoi que l’on pense de ces paramètres, ils seraient différents. Radicalement différents. Indirectement et progressivement, les pays en question verraient se modifier l’ensemble de leurs particularités.

La condition de l’existence des formes historiques, de ces idées, de ces principes auxquels l’un et l’autre peuvent être attachés, dans notre histoire ou celles d’autres sociétés humaines, c’est l’existence, la persistance du substrat de population qui les a fait apparaître et qui est évidemment capable de les porter dans l’Histoire. C’est donc logiquement ce point qui constitue l’impératif politique dont tout dépendra toujours.

Augustin Cournot, découvreur de la posthistoire


Augustin Cournot, découvreur de la posthistoire

par Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: http://www.dedefensa.org

« …Il doit aussi venir un temps où les nations auront plutôt des gazettes que des histoires… »

Henri de Man a pertinemment souligné l’importance du mathématicien, épistémologue et philosophe français Augustin Cournot, un génie méconnu qui a inventé au milieu du XIXème siècle la notion de posthistoire. Je suis allé voir ses œuvres sur archive.org et y ai trouvé quelques remarques écrites vers 1850. Cournot a été un grand mathématicien, un historien des sciences, un économiste chevronné, un philosophe, mais un modeste inspecteur de l’instruction publique ! Il fait penser à Kojève qui a fini fonctionnaire européen à Bruxelles…

Cournot incarne parfaitement ce génie médiocre, petit-bourgeois à la française, qui depuis Descartes ou Pascal jusqu’aux intellectuels du siècle écoulé, rêve de sa petite place dans la fonction publique. On peut dire aussi qu’il liquide à la française toute notion d’héroïsme ou de grandeur ! Hyppolite Taine a brillamment décrit l’avènement du bourgeois français. Ce bourgeois aura bien analysé un déclin dont il est la marque la plus pitoyable. Tiens, un peu de Taine :

« Le bourgeois est un être de formation récente, inconnu à l'antiquité, produit des grandes monarchies bien administrées, et, parmi toutes les espèces d'hommes que la société façonne, la moins capable d'exciter quelque intérêt. Car il est exclu de toutes les idées et de toutes les passions qui sont grandes, en France du moins où il a fleuri mieux qu'ailleurs. Le gouvernement l'a déchargé des affaires politiques, et le clergé des affaires religieuses. La ville capitale a pris pour elle la pensée, et les gens de cour l'élégance. L'administration, par sa régularité, lui épargne les aiguillons du danger et du besoin. Il vivote ainsi, rapetissé et tranquille. A côté de lui un cordonnier d'Athènes qui jugeait, votait, allait à la guerre, et pour tous meubles avait un lit et deux cruches de terre, était un noble. »

Pour Athènes, cela dépend de l’époque. On recommandera au lecteur le texte de Démosthène sur la réforme des institutions publiques (Περὶ Συντάξεως). On y apprend qu’une loi punissait de mort ceux qui osaient proposer de rendre au service de la guerre les fonds usurpés par le théâtre…

La science française –penser surtout au grand et petit Poincaré – n’est pas seulement rationnelle : elle est raisonnable. Elle reflète d’ailleurs le déclin démographique et le vieillissement de notre population à cette époque, le dix-neuvième donc, qui contraste avec le dynamisme européen. Cela ne retire rien bien sûr à la puissance conceptuelle de nos savants et de nos mathématiciens, ni à leur lucidité.

Cournot s’intéresse à tous les sujets avec la méthode et l’étroitesse d’un penseur de son siècle. C’est qu’il évolue dans le monde petit-bourgeois de Madame Bovary. Il parle surtout de la révolution terminée, 120 ans avant François Furet dans un très bon livre inspiré par Tocqueville et Cochin :

« Alors l'histoire de la Révolution française sera close, son mouvement initial sera épuisé, aussi bien en ce qui concerne à l'intérieur la rénovation du régime civil, qu'en ce qui regarde les entreprises extérieures et l'action sur le système européen…. Dès les premières années du siècle on pouvait dire avec fondement que la révolution était finie, en ce sens que tout un ensemble d'institutions ecclésiastiques et civiles, que l'on appelle chez nous l'ancien régime, avait disparu pour ne plus reparaître… »


Le renversement de la féodalité a été finalement la grande affaire de cette Fin de l’Histoire, ce que confirment aussi bien les autres grands esprits français. Après la Révolution apparaît le rond-de-cuir (Cochin) ou bien sûr le bureaucrate soviétique, qui ne demandent qu’à conserver les acquis de leur pitance révolutionnaire. Celle-ci devient d’ailleurs de plus en plus un spectacle : on s’habille à la romaine, comme disait Debord du temps de Robespierre, et on défile au pays de Staline.

Cournot voir poindre aussi une humanité plus tiède, une humanité ni, ni, comme diraient Barthes ou Mitterrand. Une humanité vaguement religieuse, tempérée par la médecine et les machines :

« Après toutes les explications dans lesquelles nous sommes entrés jusqu'ici, est-il besoin d'ajouter qu'autant nous croyons impossible d'extirper du cœur humain le sentiment religieux et le sentiment de la liberté, autant nous sommes peu disposés à admettre que les futures sociétés humaines reconnaîtront pour guides les prêtres d'une religion ou les apôtres de la liberté? »

Ni prêtres ni missionnaires libertaires… Notre matheux voit bien plus loin que tous les Vallès et Bakounine de son temps ultérieur (le seul que je vois se nicher à sa hauteur est cet australien nommé Pearson – un littéraire cette fois ! - qui décrira toute notre entropie dans son National life and character [sur archive.org])

On devrait se rassurer, puisque Cournot voit arriver une modération universelle avec un échec des idéologies, comme on disait encore. Avant Nietzsche il voit la modération arriver, modération qui on le sait sera un temps rejetée par les Allemands, et avec quelle imprudence ; mais d’un point de vue historique, Cournot a plus d’avance que Nietzsche, et il fonde ses considérations sur son observation mathématique et quasi-astronomique de l’Histoire :

« Tous les systèmes se réprimeront ainsi à la longue, quoique non sans de déplorables dommages, dans ce qu'ils ont de faux ou d'excessif. »

Lisez ces lignes superbes de lucidité et de froideur :

« Si rien n'arrête la civilisation générale dans sa marche progressive, il doit aussi venir un temps où les nations auront plutôt des gazettes que des histoires ; où le monde civilisé sera pour ainsi dire sorti de la phase historique ; où, à moins de revenir sans cesse sur un passé lointain, il n'y aura plus de matière à mettre en œuvre par des Hume et des Macaulay, non plus que par des Tite-Live ou des Tacite. »

A la place de Tacite on a Françoise Giroud.

Cournot voit un avènement de la fin de l’histoire qui est plutôt une mise en marge de l’Histoire, comme une porte qui sort de ses gonds, une bicyclette qui sort de la piste et dont la roue semble tourner, mais pour rien. Debord souligne « l’incessant passage circulaire de l’information, revenant à tout instant sur une liste très succincte des mêmes vétilles, annoncées passionnément comme d’importantes nouvelles. »


Henri de Man écrira :

« L'histoire est un produit de l'esprit humain élaboré pour que les événements puissent être mesurés à l'échelle des buts et des forces humaines. À des événements comme ceux que nous vivons aujourd'hui il semble que cela ne s'applique plus ; et ce sentiment est à la base de l'impression que nous avons que « les temps sont révolus », que nous sommes entrés dans une époque en marge de l'histoire. Ce monde en marge de l'histoire qu'un instant Hamlet a entrevu dans le miroir de son âme égarée : un monde disloqué. »

Debord a consacré deux excellentes pages au baroque post-ontologique.

En prétendant progresser alors qu’il ne fait que du surplace, le monde décrit par Tocqueville, Cournot, De Man, vingt autres, ne fait que nous tromper. Seul un pessimisme radical mais révolutionnaire pourrait nous en préserver. L’optimisme moderne reste celui de la dévastation par la stupidité décrite par Cipolla, la dette et les attentats.

Kojève disait que pour supporter la fin de l’histoire il fallait apprendre le grec (lisez donc la syntaxe de Démosthène…). Je dirais plus sobrement qu’il faut surtout y apprendre à supporter sa journée et à la réussir. L’homme-masse allume sa télé, va au concert, à Las Vegas, au stade parce qu’il ne veut que de mimétisme et d’aliénation ;  l’homme de bien au sens d’honnête homme ou d’homme de bien du Yi King, apprend à jardiner ou à jouer du violon ; le reste c’est de l’actualité.


Antoine-Augustin Cournot, considérations sur la marche des idées (archive.org)

Henri de Man : considérations sur le déclin…

Debord - Commentaires

Taine – La Fontaine

vendredi, 06 octobre 2017

George Orwell and the Cold War: A Reconsideration


George Orwell and the Cold War: A Reconsideration

[From Reflections on America, 1984: An Orwell Symposium. Ed. Robert Mulvihill. Athens and London, University of Georgia Press, 1986.]

In a recent and well-known article, Norman Podhoretz has attempted to conscript George Orwell into the ranks of neoconservative enthusiasts for the newly revitalized cold war with the Soviet Union.1If Orwell were alive today, this truly “Orwellian” distortion would afford him considerable wry amusement. It is my contention that the cold war, as pursued by the three superpowers of Nineteen Eighty-Four, was the key to their successful imposition of a totalitarian regime upon their subjects. We all know that Nineteen Eighty-Four was a brilliant and mordant attack on totalitarian trends in modern society, and it is also clear that Orwell was strongly opposed to communism and to the regime of the Soviet Union. But the crucial role of a perpetual cold war in the entrenchment of totalitarianism in Orwell’s “nightmare vision” of the world has been relatively neglected by writers and scholars.In Nineteen Eighty-Four there are three giant superstates or blocs of nations: Oceania (run by the United States, and including the British Empire and Latin America), Eurasia (the Eurasian continent), and Eastasia (China, southeast Asia, much of the Pacific).

The superpowers are always at war, in shifting coalitions and alignments against each other. The war is kept, by agreement between the superpowers, safely on the periphery of the blocs, since war in their heartlands might actually blow up the world and their own rule along with it. The perpetual but basically phony war is kept alive by unremitting campaigns of hatred and fear against the shadowy foreign Enemy. The perpetual war system is then used by the ruling elite in each country to fasten totalitarian collectivist rule upon their subjects. As Harry Elmer Barnes wrote, this system “could only work if the masses are always kept at a fever heat of fear and excitement and are effectively prevented from learning that the wars are actually phony. To bring about this indispensable deception of the people requires a tremendous development of propaganda, thought-policing, regimentation, and mental terrorism.” And finally, “when it becomes impossible to keep the people any longer at a white heat in their hatred of one enemy group of nations, the war is shifted against another bloc and new, violent hate campaigns are planned and set in motion.”2


From Orwell’s time to the present day, the United States has fulfilled his analysis or prophecy by engaging in campaigns of unremitting hatred and fear of the Soviets, including such widely trumpeted themes (later quietly admitted to be incorrect) as “missile gap” and “windows of vulnerability.” What Garet Garrett perceptively called “a complex of vaunting and fear” has been the hallmark of the American as well as of previous empires:3 the curious combination of vaunting and braggadocio that insists that a nation-state’s military might is second to none in any area, combined with repeated panic about the intentions and imminent actions of the “empire of evil” that is marked as the Enemy. It is the sort of fear and vaunting that makes Americans proud of their capacity to “overkill” the Russians many times and yet agree enthusiastically to virtually any and all increases in the military budget for mightier weapons of mass destruction. Senator Ralph Flanders (Republican, Vermont) pinpointed this process of rule through fear when he stated during the Korean War:

Fear is felt and spread by the Department of Defense in the Pentagon. In part, the spreading of it is purposeful. Faced with what seem to be enormous armed forces aimed against us, we can scarcely expect the Department of Defense to do other than keep the people in a state of fear so that they will be prepared without limit to furnish men and munitions.4 This applies not only to the Pentagon but to its civilian theoreticians, the men whom Marcus Raskin, once one of their number, has dubbed “the mega-death intellectuals.” Thus Raskin pointed out that their most important function is to justify and extend the existence of their employers. … In order to justify the continued large-scale production of these [thermonuclear] bombs and missiles, military and industrial leaders needed some kind of theory to rationalize their use. … This became particularly urgent during the late 1950s, when economy-minded members of the Eisenhower Administration began to wonder why so much money, thought, and resources, were being spent on weapons if their use could not be justified. And so began a series of rationalizations by the “defense intellectuals” in and out of the Universities. … Military procurement will continue to flourish, and they will continue to demonstrate why it must. In this respect they are no different from the great majority of modern specialists who accept the assumptions of the organizations which employ them because of the rewards in money and power and prestige. … They know enough not to question their employers’ right to exist.5

In addition to the manufacture of fear and hatred against the primary Enemy, there have been numerous Orwellian shifts between the Good Guys and the Bad Guys. Our deadly enemies in World War II, Germany and Japan, are now considered prime Good Guys, the only problem being their unfortunate reluctance to take up arms against the former Good Guys, the Soviet Union. China, having been a much lauded Good Guy under Chiang Kai-shek when fighting Bad Guy Japan, became the worst of the Bad Guys under communism, and indeed the United States fought the Korean and Vietnamese wars largely for the sake of containing the expansionism of Communist China, which was supposed to be an even worse guy than the Soviet Union. But now all that is changed, and Communist China is now the virtual ally of the United States against the principal Enemy in the Kremlin.

Along with other institutions of the permanent cold war, Orwellian New-speak has developed richly. Every government, no matter how despotic, that is willing to join the anti-Soviet crusade is called a champion of the “free world.” Torture committed by “totalitarian” regimes is evil; torture undertaken by regimes that are merely “authoritarian” is almost benign. While the Department of War has not yet been transformed into the Department of Peace, it was changed early in the cold war to the Department of Defense, and President Reagan has almost completed the transformation by the neat Orwellian touch of calling the MX missile “the Peacemaker.”


As early as the 1950s, an English publicist observed that “Orwell’s main contention that ‘cold war’ is now an essential feature of normal life is being verified more and more from day to day. No one really believes in a ‘peace settlement’ with the Soviets, and many people in positions of power regard such a prospect with positive horror.” He added that “a war footing is the only basis of full employment.”6

And Harry Barnes noted that “the advantages of the cold war in bolstering the economy, avoiding a depression, and maintaining political tenure after 1945 were quickly recognized by both politicians and economists.”

The most recent analysis of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in terms of permanent cold war was in U.S. News and World Report, in its issue marking the beginning of the year 1984:

No nuclear holocaust has occurred but Orwell’s concept of perpetual local conflict is borne out. Wars have erupted every year since 1945, claiming more than 30 million lives. The Defense Department reports that there currently are 40 wars raging that involve one-fourth of all nations in the world — from El Salvador to Kampuchea to Lebanon and Afghanistan.

Like the constant war of 1984, these post-war conflicts occurred not within superpower borders but in far-off places such as Korea and Vietnam. Unlike Orwell’s fictitious superpowers, Washington and Moscow are not always able to control events and find themselves sucked into local wars such as the current conflict in the Middle East heightening the risk of a superpower confrontation and use of nuclear armaments.7

But most Orwell scholars have ignored the critical permanent-cold-war underpinning to the totalitarianism in the book. Thus, in a recently published collection of scholarly essays on Orwell, there is barely a mention of militarism or war. 8

In contrast, one of the few scholars who have recognized the importance of war in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Fourwas the Marxist critic Raymond Williams. While deploring the obvious anti-Soviet nature of Orwell’s thought, Williams noted that Orwell discovered the basic feature of the existing two- or three-superpower world, “oligarchical collectivism,” as depicted by James Burnham, in his Managerial Revolution (1940), a book that had a profound if ambivalent impact upon Orwell. As Williams put it:

Orwell’s vision of power politics is also close to convincing. The transformation of official “allies” to “enemies” has happened, almost openly, in the generation since he wrote. His idea of a world divided into three blocs — Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, of which two are always at war with the other though the alliances change — is again too close for comfort. And there are times when one can believe that what “had been called England or Britain” has become simply Airship One.9

A generation earlier, John Atkins had written that Orwell had “discovered this conception of the political future in James Burnham’s Managerial Revolution.” Specifically, “there is a state of permanent war but it is a contest of limited aims between combatants who cannot destroy each other. The war cannot be decisive. … As none of the states comes near conquering the others, however the war deteriorates into a series of skirmishes [although]. … The protagonists store atomic bombs.”10

To establish what we might call this “revisionist” interpretation of Nineteen Eighty-Four we must first point out that the book was not, as in the popular interpretation, a prophecy of the future so much as a realistic portrayal of existing political trends. Thus, Jeffrey Meyers points out that Nineteen Eighty-Four was less a “nightmare vision” (Irving Howe’s famous phrase) of the future than “a very concrete and naturalistic portrayal of the present and the past,” a “realistic synthesis and rearrangement of familiar materials.” And again, Orwell’s “statements about 1984 reveal that the novel, though set in a future time, is realistic rather than fantastic, and deliberately intensifies the actuality of the present.” Specifically, according to Meyers, Nineteen Eighty-Four was not “totalitarianism after its world triumph” as in the interpretation of Howe, but rather “the very real though unfamiliar political terrorism of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia transposed into the landscape of London in 1941–44.”11 And not only Burnham’s work but the reality of the 1943 Teheran Conference gave Orwell the idea of a world ruled by three totalitarian superstates.

Bernard Crick, Orwell’s major biographer, points out that the English reviewers of Nineteen Eighty-Four caught on immediately that the novel was supposed to be an intensification of present trends rather than a prophecy of the future. Crick notes that these reviewers realized that Orwell had “not written utopian or anti-utopian fantasy … but had simply extended certain discernible tendencies of 1948 forward into 1984.”12 Indeed, the very year 1984 was simply the transposition of the existing year, 1948. Orwell’s friend Julian Symons wrote that 1984 society was meant to be the “near future,” and that all the grim inventions of the rulers “were just extensions of ‘ordinary’ war and post-war things.” We might also point out that the terrifying Room 101 in Nineteen Eighty-Four was the same numbered room in which Orwell had worked in London during World War II as a British war propagandist.


But let Orwell speak for himself. Orwell was distressed at many American reviews of the book, especially in Timeand Life, which, in contrast to the British, saw Nineteen Eighty-Four as the author’s renunciation of his long-held devotion to democratic socialism. Even his own publisher, Frederic Warburg, interpreted the book in the same way. This response moved Orwell, terminally ill in a hospital, to issue a repudiation. He outlined a statement to Warburg, who, from detailed notes, issued a press release in Orwell’s name. First, Orwell noted that, contrary to many reviews, Nineteen Eighty-Four was not prophecy but an analysis of what could happen, based on present political trends. Orwell then added: “Specifically, the danger lies in the structure imposed on Socialist and on liberal capitalist communities by the necessity to prepare for total war with the USSR and the new weapons, of which of course the atomic bomb is the most powerful and the most publicized. But danger also lies in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours.” After outlining his forecast of several world superstates, specifically the Anglo-American world (Oceania) and a Soviet-dominated Eurasia, Orwell went on:

If these two great blocs line up as mortal enemies it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents. … The name suggested in 1984 is of course Ingsoc, but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the USA the phrase “American” or “hundred per cent American” is suitable and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as any could wish.13

We are about as far from the world of Norman Podhoretz as we can get. While Orwell is assuredly anti-Communist and anticollectivist his envisioned totalitarianism can and does come in many guises and forms, and the foundation for his nightmare totalitarian world is a perpetual cold war that keeps brandishing the horror of modern atomic weaponry.

Shortly after the atom bomb was dropped on Japan, George Orwell pre-figured his world of Nineteen Eighty-Four in an incisive and important analysis of the new phenomenon. In an essay entitled “You and the Atom Bomb,” he noted that when weapons are expensive (as the A-bomb is) politics tends to become despotic, with power concentrated into the hands of a few rulers. In contrast, in the day when weapons were simple and cheap (as was the musket or rifle, for instance) power tends to be decentralized. After noting that Russia was thought to be capable of producing the A-bomb within five years (that is, by 1950), Orwell writes of the “prospect,” at that time, “of two or three monstrous super-states, each possessed of a weapon by which millions of people can be wiped out in a few seconds, dividing the world between them.” It is generally supposed, he noted, that the result will be another great war, a war which this time will put an end to civilization. But isn’t it more likely, he added, “that surviving great nations make a tacit agreement never to use the bomb against one another? Suppose they only use it, or the threat of it, against people who are unable to retaliate?”

Returning to his favorite theme, in this period, of Burnham’s view of the world in The Managerial Revolution,Orwell declares that Burnham’s geographical picture of the new world has turned out to be correct. More and more obviously the surface of the earth is being parceled off into three great empires, each self-contained and cut off from contact with the outer world, and each ruled, under one disguise or another by a self-elected oligarchy. The haggling as to where the frontiers are to be drawn is still going on, and will continue for some years.

Orwell then proceeds gloomily:

The atomic bomb may complete the process by robbing the exploited classes and peoples of all power to revolt, and at the same time putting the possessors of the bomb on a basis of equality. Unable to conquer one another they are likely to continue ruling the world between them, and it is difficult to see how the balance can be upset except by slow and unpredictable demographic changes.

In short, the atomic bomb is likely “to put an end to large-scale wars at the cost of prolonging ‘a peace that is no peace.’” The drift of the world will not be toward anarchy, as envisioned by H.G. Wells, but toward “horribly stable … slave empires.14

Over a year later, Orwell returned to his pessimistic perpetual-cold-war analysis of the postwar world. Scoffing at optimistic press reports that the Americans “will agree to inspection of armaments,” Orwell notes that “on another page of the same paper are reports of events in Greece which amount to a state of war between two groups of powers who are being so chummy in New York.” There are two axioms, he added, governing international affairs. One is that “there can be no peace without a general surrender of sovereignty,” and another is that “no country capable of defending its sovereignty ever surrenders it.” The result will be no peace, a continuing arms race, but no all-out war.15


Orwell completes his repeated wrestling with the works of James Burnham in his review of The Struggle for the World (1947). Orwell notes that the advent of atomic weapons has led Burnham to abandon his three-identical-superpowers view of the world, and also to shuck off his tough pose of value-freedom. Instead, Burnham is virtually demanding an immediate preventive war against Russia,” which has become the collectivist enemy, a preemptive strike to be launched before Russia acquires the atomic bomb.

While Orwell is fleetingly tempted by Burnham’s apocalyptic approach, and asserts that domination of Britain by the United States is to be preferred to domination by Russia, he emerges from the discussion highly critical. After all, Orwell writes, the

Russian regime may become more liberal and less dangerous a generation hence. … Of course, this would not happen with the consent of the ruling clique, but it is thinkable that the mechanics of the situation may bring it about. The other possibility is that the great powers will be simply too frightened of the effects of atomic weapons ever to make use of them. But that would be much too dull for Burnham. Everything must happen suddenly and completely.16

George Orwell’s last important essay on world affairs was published in Partisan Review in the summer of 1947. He there reaffirmed his attachment to socialism but conceded that the chances were against its coming to pass. He added that there were three possibilities ahead for the world. One (which, as he had noted a few months before was the new Burnham solution) was that the United States would launch an atomic attack on Russia before Russia developed the bomb. Here Orwell was more firmly opposed to such a program than he had been before. For even if Russia were annihilated, a preemptive attack would only lead to the rise of new empires, rivalries, wars, and use of atomic weapons. At any rate, the first possibility was not likely. The second possibility, declared Orwell, was that the cold war would continue until Russia got the bomb, at which point world war and the destruction of civilization would take place. Again, Orwell did not consider this possibility very likely. The third, and most likely, possibility is the old vision of perpetual cold war between blocs of superpowers. In this world,

the fear inspired by the atomic bomb and other weapons yet to come will be so great that everyone will refrain from using them. … It would mean the division of the world among two or three vast super-states, unable to conquer one another and unable to be overthrown by any internal rebellion. In all probability their structure would be hierarchic, with a semi-divine caste at the top and outright slavery at the bottom, and the crushing out of liberty would exceed anything the world has yet seen. Within each state the necessary psychological atmosphere would be kept up by complete severance from the outer world, and by a continuous phony war against rival states. Civilization of this type might remain static for thousands of years.17

Orwell (perhaps, like Burnham, now fond of sudden and complete solutions) considers this last possibility the worst.

It should be clear that George Orwell was horrified at what he considered to be the dominant trend of the postwar world: totalitarianism based on perpetual but peripheral cold war between shifting alliances of several blocs of super states. His positive solutions to this problem were fitful and inconsistent; in Partisan Review he called wistfully for a Socialist United States of Western Europe as the only way out, but he clearly placed little hope in such a development. His major problem was one that affected all democratic socialists of that era: a tension between their anticommunism and their opposition to imperialist, or at least interstate, wars. And so at times Orwell was tempted by the apocalyptic preventive-atomic-war solution, as was even Bertrand Russell during the same period. In another, unpublished article, “In Defense of Comrade Zilliacus,” written at some time near the end of 1947, Orwell, bitterly opposed to what he considered the increasingly procommunist attitude of his own Labour magazine, the Tribune, came the closest to enlisting in the cold war by denouncing neutralism and asserting that his hoped-for Socialist United States of Europe should ground itself on the backing of the United States of America. But despite these aberrations, the dominant thrust of Orwell’s thinking during the postwar period, and certainly as reflected in Nineteen Eighty-Four, was horror at a trend toward perpetual cold war as the groundwork for a totalitarianism throughout the world. And his hope for eventual loosening of the Russian regime, if also fitful, still rested cheek by jowl with his more apocalyptic leanings.


1.Norman Podhoretz, “If Orwell Were Alive Today,” Harper’s, January 1983, pp. 30-37.

2.Harry Elmer Barnes, “How ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ Trends Threaten American Peace, Freedom, and Prosperity,” in Revisionism: A Key to Peace and Other Es­says (San Francisco: Cato Institute, 1980), pp. 142-43. Also see Barnes, An Intel­lectual and Cultural History of the Western World, 3d rev. ed., 3 vols. (New York: Dover, 1965), 3: 1324-1332; and Murray N. Rothbard, “Harry Elmer Barnes as Revisionist of the Cold War,” in Harry Elmer Barnes, Learned Crusader, ed. A. Goddard (Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles, 1968). pp. 314-38. For a similar anal­ysis, see F.J.P. Veal[e] Advance to Barbarism(Appleton, Wis.: C.C. Nelson, 1953), pp. 266-84.

3.Garet Garrett, The People’s Pottage (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1953), pp. 154-57.

4.Quoted in Garrett, The People’s Pottage, p. 154.

5.Marcus Raskin, “The Megadeath Intellectuals,” New York Review of Books, November 14, 1963, pp. 6-7. Also see Martin Nicolaus, “The Professor, the Policeman and the Peasant,” Viet-Report, June-July 1966, pp. 15-19; and Fred Kaplan, The Wizards of Armageddon (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983). [6]Barnes, “‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ Trends,” p. 176.

6.Barnes, “‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ Trends,” p. 176.

7.U.S. News and World Report, December 26, 1983, pp. 86-87.

8.Irving Howe, ed., 1984 Revisited: Totalitarianism in Our Century (New York: Harper and Row, Perennial Library, 1983). There is a passing reference in Robert Nisbet’s essay and a few references in Luther Carpenter’s article on the reception given to Nineteen Eighty-Four by his students at a community college on Staten Island (pp. 180, 82).

9.Raymond Williams. George Orwell (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), p. 76.

10.John Atkins, George Orwell (London: Caldor and Boyars, 1954), pp. 237-38.

11.Jeffrey Meyers, A Reader’s Guide to George Orwell (London: Thames and Hud­son, 1975), pp. 144-45. Also, “Far from being a picture of the totalitarianism or the future 1984 is, in countless details, a realistic picture of the totalitarianism of the present” (Richard J. Voorhees, The Paradox of George Orwell, Purdue Uni­versity Studies, 1961, pp. 85-87).

12.Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life (London: Seeker and Warburg, 1981), p. 393. Also see p. 397.

13.George Orwell, The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, 4 vols. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968), 4:504 (hereafter cited as CEJL). Also see Crick, George Orwell, pp. 393-95.

14.George Orwell, “You and the Atom Bomb,” Tribune, October 19, 1945, re­printed in CEJL, 4:8-10.

15.George Orwell, “As I Please,” Tribune, December 13, 1946, reprinted in CEJL, 4:255.

16.George Orwell, “Burnham’s View of the Contemporary World Struggle,” New Leader (New York), March 29, 1947, reprinted in CEJL, 4:325.

17.George Orwell. “Toward European Unity,” Partisan Review July-August 1947, reprinted in CEJL, 4:370-75.

Jean-Claude Michéa: Between Capital & Archaic Socialism


Jean-Claude Michéa: Between Capital & Archaic Socialism


Audio version: To listen in a player, click here [2]. To download the mp3, right-click here [2] and choose “save link as” or “save target as.” To subscribe to the CC podcast RSS feed, click here [3].

michea-64655164-407e2.jpgJean-Claude Michéa
Notre Ennemi, le Capital
Paris: Climats, 2016

Following the election of Donald Trump as the forty-fifth President of the United States, there was a flood of YouTube clips of Clinton supporters, mostly female, throwing tantrums of biblical proportions (the reader will know the sort of thing: he rent his garments and covered himself with sackcloth, etc.) which afforded this writer both amusement and bewilderment. The tearful outbursts of grief were without insight or intelligence of any kind, with one exception.

The exception was a young lady who, after assuring her viewers that she had “stopped crying about it,” turned her wrath on Hillary Clinton. Hillary, it seemed, had enabled “a fascist” to become President, and thereafter unfolded an attack on Clinton from one of the disappointed YouTube amazons, the first of its kind which indicated that a functioning human mind was at work. “We told you,” the lady wailed, “we warned you” (who she meant by “we” was unclear – Bernie supporters, perhaps?) “but you would not listen. We told you: don’t ignore the working man. Don’t ignore the rust belt . . . Hillary Clinton, we overlooked a lot, we overlooked the corruption, we overlooked your links to Goldman Sachs. We warned you. Hilary Clinton, oh, we kept warning you and you wouldn’t listen. You were so sure, so damn arrogant. I’m through with you. You ignored the working man. You ignored the rust belt. Now we’ve got this and it’s your fault! It’s your fault!” Amidst the wailing and petulance, this Clinton voter had made a telling point. Donald Trump won because he had not ignored the rust belt, and his opponent had.

The two seismic upsets of 2016, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, confounding both polls and media expectations, would not have come about without the common man, the rust belt, the blue-collar worker, Joe Sixpack, slipping harness and voting with “the Right.” Those who had faithfully and reliably followed the Democrat/Labour parties through one election after another, as their parents had done, and in many cases their parents’ parents, voted in opposition to the way the urban professional class voted. These events highlighted the distance between the wealthy liberal elites deciding what constituted progressive and liberal politics, and the political priorities of the indigenous low-paid classes.

The gulf between wealthy urban liberals and an ignored, socially conservative working class is the focus of a new and impassioned political essay by the French sociologist Jean-Claude Michéa called Notre Ennemi, le Capital (Our Enemy: Capital). Jean-Claude Michéa is a socialist, but his analysis of recent events is far from that of the establishment Left-wing’s alarm at the “worrying rise of populism.” His critique of the Left – he does not call himself a Left-winger and indeed makes a critical distinction between Left-wing and socialist – is the hardest a socialist could make, namely that it has abandoned a realistic or meaningful critique of capitalism. “The modern Left,” Michéa claims, “has abandoned any kind of coherent critique of capital.”

The title of Michéa’s book might arguably be Our Enemy: Liberalism, since it is against the liberalism of the affluent that his ire is directed. The word liberal has slightly different connotations in France and the Anglophone world. In France, liberalism is primarily the ideology of faith in free markets with minimal state interference, “those who lose deserve to lose, those who win deserve to win”; and secondly, the expression of an ideology of individual freedom from social constraint. Michéa distinguishes two radically different trends at the heart of socialist/emancipatory movements in history. “In fact, socialism and the Left draw on, and have done from their very beginnings, two logically distinct narratives which only in part overlap.” (p. 47) Put simply, one is the doctrine which seeks the emancipation of the working class, that is to say, the de-alienation of all who work in society, a society organized from the bottom up and based in the organic community, while the other is the Left-wing notion of progress, the ongoing struggle to free individuals from social restraint or responsibility, for minority rights and abstract issues in the name of progress, a demand from the top down. This latter kind of progressive politics, according to Michéa, is not only not opposed to global capitalism, it undermines the very kind of social solidarity which should be expected to oppose global capitalist growth.

Michéa understands the liberal element of parties of progress as being fundamentally anti-democratic, echoing here the distinction made by the French thinker, Alain de Benoist, between democracy and liberalism. Liberalism, obsessed with minorities and what another socialist, George Galloway, famously mocked as “liberal hothouse” issues, is not in principle opposed to the centralization of economic power at all, according to Michéa. Quite the contrary. It is, however, opposed to democracy, that is to say to any entitlement giving a role in the allocation of power to the majority of the people and of any entitlement to a nation to decide its own destiny. In short, liberalism extends economic sovereignty at the expense of political sovereignty.

Michéa’s argument is given credence by the actions of the leaders of the European Union, who are as enthusiastic about deregulating trade as they are unenthusiastic about allowing popular democratic decisions to be made about trade. Liberalism, according to Michéa, is a belief system operating in the cause of capital which supports a minority to oppress a majority. He notes that the very authoritarian and viscerally anti-socialist General Pinochet in Chile pursued an extremely liberal economic policy based on the free market ideas of Friedrich Hayek, who did not much care about democratic liberties so long as rulers got the economy right and followed the economic precepts of Milton Friedman, whose pupils were advisers to the government. Michéa quotes Jean-Claude Juncker (from Le Figaro, January 29, 2015) as stating that “there could be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”

The stream of venom from the rich kids of Britain which erupted, and has not ceased, since June 23, 2016 (the day the EU referendum result was announced) is another casebook example of the liberal loathing of democracy. Liberal outrage is directed at the very notion that major political or economic decisions should be made by a majority of the people, instead of by a minority of wealthy experts, in the first place. A piece that is exemplary in its anti-democratic virulence was penned by the author Julian Barnes and published in the London Review of Books (“People Will Hate Us Again [4]“) in the aftermath of the referendum result in which he described how he and his affluent London dinner-party friends discussed whom they despised most among those who were responsible for the result. (Nearly all remainers were against having a referendum at all.) Barnes’ choice alighted on Nigel Farage. Here is a taste of Julian Barnes:

Farage . . . had been poisoning the well for years, with his fake man-in-pub chaff, his white paranoia and low-to-mid-level racism (isn’t it hard to hear English spoken on a train nowadays?). But of course Nigel can’t really be a racist, can he, because he’s got a German wife? (Except that she’s now chucked him out for the Usual Reasons.) Without Farage’s covert and overt endorsement, the smothered bonfire of xenophobia would not have burst into open flame on 23 June.

flparr2176.jpgHere is what can be understood as a socialist (in Michéa’s sense of the word) comment by the Filipino writer Karlo Mikhail, discussing Barnes’ novel Flaubert’s Parrot on his blog [5]:

That novels like this have sprouted everywhere like mushrooms in recent decades is expressive of a particular socio-political condition. The persistence of a world capitalist system that prioritizes individual profit over collective need goes side by side with the elevation of a hedonistic bourgeois writer to the pedestal as the bearer of individual creativity and artistic beauty.

Interestingly, Jean-Claude Michéa picks out the very same French writer, Gustave Flaubert, as an example of an early liberal’s obsession with minorities (in Flaubert’s case, with gypsies) – a love of minority rights accompanied by disdain for collective identities and aspirations as well as the working classes. Then and now, the liberal does not greatly care for your average Joe, at least not if Joe’s face is white. As Aymeric Patricot wrote in Les Petits Blancs (Little Whites), “They are too poor to interest the Right and too white to interest the Left.”

Michéa appeals to the notion highlighted by George Orwell (whom he greatly admires) of common decency, morality, and social responsibility. But liberalism, notes Michéa, has become the philosophy of skepticism and generalized deconstruction. There is all the difference in the world between a socialism of ordinary folk and a socialism of intellectuals, the latter being nothing more than a championing of causes by a deconstructivist elite. Liberalism is the philosophy of “indifferentiation anchored in the movement of the uniformity of the market” (p. 133). It is a central thesis of the book that liberalism creates individuation in human societies so that the individual is increasingly isolated and social cohesion declines, while paradoxically and running parallel to this development, the economic structures of the world become increasingly uniform, dominated by the power of capital and concentrated in the hands of an increasingly wealthy few.

Michéa stresses that liberalism then becomes obsessed by phobias. A “phobia,” once coined by the National Socialists in occupied Europe to describe the members of the French and Serb resistance movements, he notes wryly, has been recently reappropriated, presumably unknowingly, by opponents of Brexit to describe Brexiters, namely: “europhobe.” Michéa gives a sad but well-known example of the stultifying effects of the “phobia” label: the Rotherham scandal, which erupted in 2014 after the publication of the Jay Report. The report revealed that, from 1997 to 2013, over a thousand girls between ages 11 and 16 had been kidnapped or inveigled by Pakistani gangs to go with them, who were then abused, drugged, plied with alcohol, raped, and in some cases even tortured and forced into prostitution. The town council did nothing about it for over a decade, in spite of being informed about the situation, out of fear of being found guilty of one of the liberal phobias (in this case, “Islamophobia”). For Michéa, this is an example of “common decency” being sacrificed to a liberal prejudice. The protection of the young was seen as less important than risking the allegation of “Islamophobia.” Michéa then quotes Jean-Louis Harouel: the rights of man took precedence over the rights of people.

It is the often-concealed reality of the power of capital which constitutes the fraud of liberal progressive politics, for liberalism as an ideology is increasingly understood as an ideology of the well-to-do. The notion of social justice has shifted from the belief in fair pay and fair opportunities towards hothouse issues which serve to undermine social solidarity. So it is that feminists at the BBC are more concerned about equality of pay between high-earning male and female media executives than a fairer deal for the poor, whether male or female, in society as a whole. This feminist focus on highly-paid women was also evident in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The Democratic Party seemed more concerned that women in top jobs should receive the same pay as men in comparable jobs than in wishing in any way to close the gap between America’s wealthy and poor. For poor Democrat families living on $1,500 a month, the “glass ceiling’” debate and the “solidarity of sisters” must have seemed very remote from their daily concerns.

For Michéa, all this is no coincidence, since progressive politics, as he sees it, has become a contributory force to the intensification of the power of capital and a vehicle of social disintegration, serving to reinforce the ever-greater concentration of capital in the hands of the few. All prejudices are combated except one: the prejudice of fiscal power. That is to say, nobody should face any barrier other than the barrier of money; and nobody should be excluded from any club, from buying any house, from doing anything he or she wants to do, so long as they have the financial means to do it. If they do not have the financial means to join the club, then their entitlement is withdrawn. Money is everything.

michgau.jpgMichéa, like Marx, believes that development by internationalist capitalism acts as a centrifuge to separate the two extremes of those who possess capital from those who do not. Modern society offers increasingly fewer loyalties other than loyalty to the principle of individual competition in a free market. This is why all group adhesion and group loyalty, whether ethnic or geographic or of social class, is undermined or openly attacked by the proponents of progress. In the tradition of socialist conservatives going back to George Orwell, Michéa sees the simplification of language, the dumbing-down of society, and the failure of modern education as part of a pattern.

An example of this centrifugal tendency as practiced by the European Union is the new guidelines issued by the Central European Bank to national banks, which state that mortgage loans should only be granted to those who can prove that they will be able to service the debt in its entirety within the span of their working life. This astonishing provision, which has received little publicity, is purportedly a measure to prevent a repetition of the American mortgage crisis of 2008, but if Michéa is correct, it is more likely a measure aimed at depriving the working and middle classes of the opportunity to become property owners. It will effectively accelerate the widely-noted tendency in Europe to reduce the power of the middle class, which is being driven upwards or downwards towards the minority of haves or the majority of have-nots. It used to be a Marxist axiom that the middle classes would turn to fascism if deprived of their livelihoods by capitalism, as an alternative to joining the ranks of the dispossessed. Michéa does not directly reiterate this Marxist analysis but he certainly implies it; he has obviously read Marx, and if he is not a Marxist (he leans more toward the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the anarchist/socialist critic of Marx), he certainly owes a debt to the social-psychological analyses of the author of Das Kapital.

The capitalist system, to which even the Right-wing critiques of immigration are wed, necessarily strives towards growth, profit, greater efficiency, and expanding markets. All this means an ever-increasing globalization of business. There is an underlying contradiction between on the one hand an appeal to a conservative electorate fearful of job losses and distrustful of immigration, and a pursuit of growth and free trade to maximize profits on the other. Michéa identifies, rightly I believe, mass immigration as a phenomenon backed by the capitalist ruling order to ensure that full employment is never achieved, for the fear of unemployment is the best way to keep wages down. In this respect, pro-immigration anti-fascists act as security guards for high finance, terrorizing any opposition to cheap labor immigration. The contradiction between an appeal to job security and internationalization of capital and free financial markets underlies the promise to impose trade barriers and build walls while at the same time vigorously pursuing and furthering the cause of global trade and financial interdependence.

The liberalization and privatization which became fashionable in the 1980s was a response by the state to the collapse of Soviet Communism and a reaction against Keynesian solutions to stagnation and economic inertia. Michéa favors neither big government of the traditional socialist kind nor a free-market system caught, as he sees it, in a contradiction between a conservative wish to halt the free flow of individuals and its encouragement of the free flow of finance. Instead, Michéa argues for a third kind of social and economic order, one which eschews the centralization and economic top-down principles of Fordism and Leninism on the one hand and the liberal atomization of society as envisaged by progressives on the other. For Michéa, both are alienating and both destroy human communities in service to growth and the concentration of power in a political and economic center. Such centralist notions of ordering society are characterized even in post-war architecture: Michéa cites here the example of the ill-famed Pruitt-Igoe apartment complex [6], demolished in 1976, which was a monument to collectivist folly and liberal “good intentions,” and which can be summed up in the expression of all experts, in this case architectural and engineering experts: “Trust us, we know what’s best for you.”


All abstract revolutionary doctrine, whether economic or political, warns Michéa, sacrifices the people to its power-seeking goals, whether Taylorist (revolutionizing the means of production to maximum efficiency) or Leninist (revolutionizing the control of the means of production to the point of absolute central control). Michéa finishes with a dire warning that what he calls “Silicon Valley liberalism” is the new face of an old ideology whose ideals are growth and progress in a world which cannot bear much more of either, and whose victims are the great mass of human beings, whose natural ethnic, geographical, and social attachments are being destroyed by humanity’s great enemy, capital. This is what Michéa has to say about the condescending pose of modern advanced and affluent liberal thinkers:

For a growing number of people of modest means, whose daily life is hell, the words “Left-wing” mean, if they mean anything at all, at best a defense of public sector workers (which they realize is a protected corral, albeit they may have an idealized view of public employees’ working conditions), and at worst, “Left-wing” means to them the self-justification of journalists, intellectuals, and show-business stars whose imperturbable and permanently patronizing tone has become literally intolerable. (p. 300) (Emphasis Michéa’s)

So now we are back where I started. Clinton ignored the rust belt and Donald Trump won the election. But now Donald Trump seems to be more interested in what he is most skilled at: accumulating capital. Brexit spokesmen seem to be more concerned with proving that Britain’s exit from the EU will open the way for more international trade than stressing that it provides the nation with the ability to close its borders and create a fairer society.

The liberal global model is one model of society, proposed to us today by the champions of globalism and growth; the society where, as John Rawls approvingly put it, individuals can exist side by side with each other while being mutually indifferent. Michéa asks, what is the second element within socialism, distinct from liberal notions of progress and growth, that is a model of society which is socialist but not global, not top-down? It is the socialism of the living indigenous community, of those who, as he puts it, “feel solidarity from the very beginning,” and socialism will be the rebirth, in superior form, of an archaic social type. The choice, in other words, is between a true community of kindred spirits and the barbarism of global centralized power, whose aim is to reduce human society to a mass of hapless individuals easily divided and oppressed.

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

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/09/between-capital-archaic-socialism/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/9-27-17-4.jpg

[2] here: http://cdn.counter-currents.com/radio/NamingTheEnemy.mp3

[3] here: https://www.counter-currents.com/tag/podcasts/feed/

[4] People Will Hate Us Again: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n08/julian-barnes/diary

[5] discussing Barnes’ novel Flaubert’s Parrot on his blog: https://karlomongaya.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/an-undelightful-novel-on-a-hedonist-novelist/

[6] Pruitt-Igoe apartment complex: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pruitt%E2%80%93Igoe

dimanche, 01 octobre 2017

Patrick Marcolini: La société du spectacle


Patrick Marcolini: La société du spectacle

La société du spectacle.
Avec Patrick Marcolini à la Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Le concept de "société du spectacle" est le plus souvent mal compris et ne rend pas justice de la puissance de l'analyse développée au sein du mouvement situationniste en général, et par Guy Debord en particulier.
C'est bien l'analyse du spectacle comme modalité de l'aliénation qui est originellement visée, et la dénonciation d'un rapport social où l'identification psychologique des masses s'accorde aux représentations de la vie qui leur sont données à voir.
La conséquence n'étant autre que leur maintient dans un état de passivité quant à leur vie réelle.
Avec Patrick Marcolini, retour sur la genèse de ce concept qui trouve ses racines dans la critique que Bertolt Brecht fait du théâtre.

vendredi, 29 septembre 2017

Thor v. Waldstein – Macht und Öffentlichkeit


Thor v. Waldstein – Macht und Öffentlichkeit

Vom 15. bis 17. September 2017 fand in Schnellroda die 18. Sommerakademie des Instituts für Staatspolitik statt. Thema war, passend zur unmittelbar bevorstehenden Bundestagswahl am 24. September, die »Parteienherrschaft«. Rechtsanwalt und Autor Dr. Dr. Thor v. Waldstein sprach über die Frage nach dem Verhältnis zwischen »Macht und Öffentlichkeit«. Beachten Sie auch Thor v. Waldsteins thematisch ergänzenden Vortrag über »Metapolitik und Parteipolitik«!
Hier entlang zum Mitschnitt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQSIT...
Weitere Informationen im Netz unter: http://staatspolitik.de

Georges Sorel et la montée de la médiocrité moderne


Georges Sorel et la montée de la médiocrité moderne

par Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: http://www.dedefensa.org

Rien de tel qu’un bon classique pour nous consoler de vivre en l’an 2017 ! Dans Les illusions du progrès, publiées à la fin du dix-neuvième siècle, (archive.org) Georges Sorel décrit des temps qui traînassaient déjà. Florilège :

« Depuis que la démocratie se croit assurée d’un long avenir et que les partis conservateurs sont découragés, elle n’éprouve plus le même besoin qu’autrefois de justifier son droit au pouvoir par la philosophie de l’histoire. »

Politique ? Finance ? : « Le spectacle écœurant donné au monde par les écumeurs de la finance et de la politique explique le succès qu’obtinrent assez longtemps les écrivains anarchistes. »

La déception de la démocratie parlementaire fut rapide. Bakounine observait qu’elle n’avait mis que cinq ans à anéantir l’Italie (Bakounine (Œuvres, 1911, Tome V).

Religion délavée ? Pape François ? :

« Un clergé, plus ou moins incrédule, qui travaille de concert avec les administrations publiques, pour améliorer le sort des hommes ; voilà ce dont se contente fort bien la médiocrité. »

Mais la source du sublime se tarit : « Les personnes religieuses vivent d’une ombre. Nous vivons de l’ombre d’une ombre. De quoi vivra-t-on après nous ? »

Sorel remarque chez les scientifiques un développement de tartuferie religieuse qui a depuis gagné tous les croyants pépères :

« Nous assistons à un spectacle qui paraît, au premier abord, paradoxal : des savants qui ont rejeté tout ce que l’Église considère comme formant le dépôt de la foi, prétendent cependant demeurer dans l’Église. »

L’Église est déjà une ONG chargée du contrôle social et de la moralisation publique :

« Aujourd’hui les catholiques sociaux voudraient que le clergé organisât des associations à la fois éducatives et économiques, propres à amener toutes les classes à comprendre leurs devoirs sociaux. L’ordre que les audaces du capitalisme troublent gravement, suivant leur petit jugement, arriverait à se rétablir.

En définitive, toute cette religion sociale manquait de valeur religieuse ; les catholiques sociaux songent à faire rétrograder le christianisme vers cette médiocrité. »


Comme Huysmans, Sorel souligne la nullité de l’art chrétien (appétit de laideur, dit Huysmans). Reconnaissez-la, dessillez-vous enfin comme ces grands esprits :

« L’extrême bassesse de l’esthétique catholique actuelle gênera beaucoup toute tentative de renaissance religieuse. »

Sur la démocratie encore Sorel ajoute :

 « Il suffit de regarder autour de nous pour reconnaître que la démocratie est une école de servilité, de délation et de démoralisation.

Nous sommes descendus aux boniments électoraux, qui permettent aux démagogues de diriger souverainement leur armée et de s’assurer une vie heureuse ; parfois d’honnêtes républicains cherchent à dissimuler l’horreur de cette politique sous des apparences philosophiques, mais le voile est toujours facile à déchirer. »

La ploutocratie est plus dangereuse que l’aristocratie. Et pour cause :

« L’expérience paraît montrer que les abus de pouvoir commis au profit d’une aristocratie héréditaire sont, en général, moins dangereux pour le sentiment juridique d’un peuple que ne sont les abus provoqués par un régime ploutocratique ; il est absolument certain que rien n’est aussi propre à ruiner le respect du droit que le spectacle de méfaits commis, avec la complicité des tribunaux, par des aventuriers devenus assez riches pour pouvoir acheter les hommes d’État. »

La richesse est boursière, artificielle, déjà détachée de l’économie réelle. Sorel constate avant Gramsci et l’indice US à 22 000 :

« Dans la formation des grosses fortunes actuelles, les spéculations à la Bourse ont joué un rôle bien autrement considérable que les heureuses innovations introduites dans la production par d’habiles chefs d’industrie. Ainsi la richesse tend de plus en plus à apparaître comme étant détachée de l’économie de la production progressive et elle perd ainsi tout contact avec les principes du droit civil. »

Sorel établit alors une psychologie de la médiocrité moderne (pas besoin de Juppé ou de Lady Gaga) :

« Or, au fur et à mesure que nous avons considéré des régions dans lesquelles notre intelligence se manifeste plus librement, nous avons reconnu que la médiocrité exerce son empire d’une manière plus complète.

Ce que dans cette étude on a appelé du nom péjoratif de médiocrité, est ce que les écrivains politiques nomment démocratie ; il est donc démontré que l’histoire réclame l’introduction de la démocratie. »

À l’époque les râleurs ne sont plus les socialistes, récupérés par le système parlementaire, mais les anarchistes :

« Cette apologie de la démocratie n’est pas sans offrir des dangers sérieux ; elle a conduit à l’anarchie beaucoup de jeunes gens, il y a une vingtaine d’années… il a montré que les esprits étaient, en France, désireux de trouver de la grandeur ; il ne faut pas s’étonner si de nombreux anarchistes se jetèrent dans le syndicalisme révolutionnaire qui leur parut propre à réaliser de la grandeur. »

Et de terminer par un petit reproche à Karl Marx :

« La grande erreur de Marx a été de ne pas se rendre compte du pouvoir énorme qui appartient à la médiocrité dans l’histoire ; il ne s’est pas douté que le sentiment socialiste (tel qu’il le concevait) est extrêmement artificiel ; aujourd’hui, nous assistons à une crise qui menace de ruiner tous les mouvements qui ont pu être rattachés idéologiquement au marxisme. »

Souriez, ce n’est pas terminé !

jeudi, 28 septembre 2017

A Perfeição da Técnica: Friedrich-Georg Jünger


A Perfeição da Técnica: Friedrich-Georg Jünger

por Robert Steuckers

Ex: http://legio-victrix.blogspot.com
Nascido em 1 de setembro de 1989 em Hannover, irmão do famoso escritor alemão Ernst Jünger, Friedrich-Georg Jünger se interessou pela poesia desde uma idade muito jovem, despertando nele um forte interesse pelo classicismo alemão em um itinerário que atravessa Klopstock , Goethe e Hölderin. Graças a esta imersão precoce no trabalho de Hölderin, Friedrich-Georg Jünger é fascinado pela antiguidade clássica e percebe a essência da helenidade e da romanidade antigas como uma aproximação à natureza, como uma glorificação da elementalidade, ao mesmo tempo que é dotada de uma visão do homem que permanecerá imutável, sobrevivendo ao longo dos séculos na psique européia, às vezes visível à luz do dia, às vezes escondida. A era da técnica separou os homens dessa proximidade vivificante, elevando-o perigosamente acima do elemental. Toda a obra poética de Friedrich-Georg Jünger é um protesto veemente contra a pretensão mortífera que constitui esse distanciamento. Nosso autor permanecerá profundamente marcado pelas paisagens idílicas de sua infância, uma marca que se refletirá em seu amor incondicional pela Terra, pela flora e pela fauna (especialmente insetos: foi Friedrich-Georg quem apresentou seu irmão Ernst ao mundo da entomologia), pelos seres mais elementares da vida no planeta, pelas raízes culturais.
A Primeira Guerra Mundial acabará com essa imersão jovem na natureza. Friedrich-Georg se alistará em 1916 como aspirante a oficial. Severamente ferido no pulmão, na frente do Somme, em 1917, passa o resto do conflito em um hospital de campo. Depois de sua convalescença, se matricula em Direito, obtendo o título de doutor em 1924. Mas ele nunca seguirá a carreira de jurista, logo descobriu sua vocação como escritor político dentro do movimento nacionalista de esquerda, entre os nacional-revolucionários e o nacional-bolcheviques, unindo-se mais tarde à figura de Ernst Niekisch, editor da revista "Widerstand" (Resistência). A partir desta publicação, bem como de "Arminios" ou "Die Kommenden", os irmãos Jünger inauguraram um novo estilo que poderíamos definir como do "soldado nacionalista", expressado pelos jovens oficiais que chegaram recentemente do front e incapazes de se adaptar à vida civil . A experiência das trincheiras e o fragor dos ataques mostraram-lhes, através do suor e do sangue, que a vida não é um jogo inventado pelo cerebralismo, mas um rebuliço orgânico elemental onde, de fato, os instintos reinam. A política, em sua própria esfera, deve compreender a temperatura dessa agitação, ouvir essas pulsões, navegar em seus meandros para forjar uma força sempre jovem, nova e vivificante. Para Friedrich-Georg Jünger, a política deve ser apreendida de um ângulo cósmico, fora de todos os miasmas "burgueses, cerebrais e intelectualizantes". Paralelamente a esta tarefa de escritor político e profeta desse nacionalismo radicalmente anti-burguês, Friedrich-Georg Jünger mergulha na obra de Dostoiévski, Kant e dos grandes romancistas americanos. Junto com seu irmão Ernst, ele realiza uma série de viagens pelos países mediterrâneos: Dalmácia, Nápoles, Baleares, Sicília e as ilhas do Mar Egeu.


Quando Hitler sobe ao poder, o triunfante é um nacionalismo das massas, não aquele nacionalismo absoluto e cósmico que evocava a pequena falange (sic) "fortemente exaltada" que editou seus textos nas revistas nacional-revolucionárias. Em um poema, Der Mohn (A Papoula), Friedrich-Georg Jünger ironiza e descreve o nacional-socialismo como "a música infantil de uma embriaguez sem glória". Como resultado desses versículos sarcásticos, ele se vê envolto em uma série de problemas com a polícia, pelo que ele sai de Berlim e se instala, com Ernst, em Kirchhorst, na Baixa Saxônia.
Aposentado da política depois de ter publicado mais de uma centena de poemas na revista de Niekisch - que vê pouco a pouco o aumento das pressões da autoridade até que finalmente é preso em 1937 -, Friedrich-Georg Jünger consagra por inteiro à criação literária, publicando em 1936 um ensaio intitulado Über das Komische e terminando em 1939 a primeira versão de seu maior trabalho filosófico: Die Perfektion der Technik (A Perfeição da Técnica). Os primeiros rascunhos deste trabalho foram destruídos em 1942, durante um bombardeio aliado. Em 1944, uma primeira edição, feita a partir de uma série de novos ensaios, é novamente reduzida às cinzas devido a um ataque aéreo. Finalmente, o livro aparece em 1946, provocando um debate em torno da problemática da técnica e da natureza, prefigurando, apesar de sua orientação "conservadora", todas as reivindicações ambientais alemãs dos anos 60, 70 e 80. Durante a guerra, Friedrich-Georg Jünger publicou poemas e textos sobre a Grécia antiga e seus deuses. Com o surgimento de Die Perfektion der Technik, que verá várias edições sucessivas, os interesses de Friedrich-Georg se voltam aos temas da técnica, da natureza, do cálculo, da mecanização, da massificação e da propriedade. Recusando, em Die Perfektion der Technik, enunciar suas teses sob um esquema clássico, linear e sistemático; seus argumentos aparecem "em espiral", de maneira desordenada, esclarecendo volta após volta, capítulo aqui, capítulo lá, tal ou qual aspecto da tecnificação global. Como filigrana, percebe-se uma crítica às teses que seu irmão Ernst mantinha então em Der Arbeiter (O Trabalhador), que aceitou como inevitável a evolução da técnica moderna. Sua posição antitécnica aborda a tese de Ortega y Gasset em Meditações sobre a Técnica (1939) de Henry Miller e de Lewis Munford (que usa o termo "megamaquinismo"). Em 1949, Friedrich-Georg Jünger publicou uma obra de exegese sobre Nietzsche, onde es interrogava sobre o sentido da teoria cíclica do tempo enunciado pelo anacoreta de Sils-Maria. Friedrich-Georg Jünger contesta a utilidade de usar e problematizar uma concepção cíclica dos tempos, porque este uso e esta problematização acabarão por conferir ao tempo uma forma única e intangível que, para Nietzsche, é concebida como cíclica. O tempo cíclico, próprio da Grécia das origens e do pensamento pré-cristão, deve ser percebido a partir dos ângulos do imaginário e não da teoria, que obriga a conjugar a naturalidade a partir de um modelo único de eternidade e, assim, o instante e o fato desaparecem sob os cortes arbitrários estabelecidos pelo tempo mecânico, segmentarizados em visões lineares. A temporalidade cíclica de Nietzsche, por seus cortes em ciclos idênticos e repetitivos, preserva, pensou Friedrich-Georg Jünger, algo de mecânico, de newtoniano, pelo que, finalmente, não é uma temporalidade "grega". O tempo, para Nietzsche, é um tempo policial, sequestrado; carece de apoio, de suporte (Tragend und Haltend). Friedrich-Georg Jünger canta uma a-temporalidade que é identificada com a natureza mais elementar, o "Wildnis", a natureza de Pã, o fundo natural intacto do mundo, não manchado pela mão humana, que é, em última instância, um acesso ao divino, ao último segredo do mundo. O "Wildnis" - um conceito fundamental no poeta "pagão" que é Friedrich-Georg Jünger - é a matriz de toda a vida, o receptáculo aonde deve retornar toda vida.
Em 1970, Friedrich-Georg Jünger fundou, juntamente com Max Llimmelheber, a revista trimestral "Scheidwege", onde figuraram na lista de colaboradores os principais representantes de um pensamento ao mesmo tempo naturalista e conservador, céticos em relação a todas as formas de planificação técnico. Entre os pensadores desta inclinação conservadora-ecológica que apresentaram suas teses na publicação podemos lembrar os nomes de Jürgen Dahl, Hans Seldmayr, Friederich Wagner, Adolf Portmann, Erwin Chargaff, Walter Heiteler, Wolfgang Häedecke, etc.
Friedrich-Georg Jünger morreu em Überlingen, perto das margens do lago de Constança, em 20 de julho de 1977.
FGJ-PerfTech.jpgO germanista norte-americano Anton H. Richter, em seu trabalho sobre o pensamento de Friedrich-Georg Jünger, ressalta quatro temas essenciais em nosso autor: a antiguidade clássica, a essência cíclica da existência, a técnica e o poder de o irracional. Em seus escritos sobre antiguidade grega, Friedrich-Georg Jünger reflete sobre a dicotomia dionisíaca/titânica. Como dionisismo, abrange o apolíneo e o pânico, numa frente unida de forças organizacionais intactas contra as distorções, a fragmentação e a unidimensionalidade do titanismo e do mecanicismo de nossos tempos. A atenção de Friedrich-Georg Jünger centra-se essencialmente nos elementos ctônicos e orgânicos da antiguidade clássica. Desta perspectiva, os motivos recorrentes de seus poemas são a luz, o fogo e a água, forças elementares às quais ele homenageia profundamente. Friedrich-Georg Jünger zomba da razão calculadora, da sua ineficiência fundamental exaltando, em contraste, o poder do vinho, da exuberância do festivo, do sublime que se aninha na dança e nas forças carnavalescas. A verdadeira compreensão da realidade é alcançada pela intuição das forças, dos poderes da natureza, do ctônico, do biológico, do somático e do sangue, que são armas muito mais efetivas do que a razão, que o verbo plano e unidimensional, desmembrado, purgado, decapitado, despojado: de tudo o que torna o homem moderno um ser de esquemas incompletos. Apolo traz a ordem clara e a serenidade imutável; Dionísio traz as forças lúdicas do vinho e das frutas, entendidos como uma dádiva, um êxtase, uma embriaguez reveladora, mas nunca uma inconsciência; Pan, guardião da natureza, traz a fertilidade. Diante desses doadores generosos e desinteressados, os titãs são usurpadores, acumuladores de riqueza, guerreiros cruéis e antiéticos que enfrentam os deuses da profusão e da abundância que às vezes conseguem matá-los, lacerando seus corpos, devorando-os.
Pan é a figura central do panteão pessoal de Friedrich-Georg Jünger; Pan é o governante da "Wildnis", da natureza primordial que os titãs desejam arrasar. Friedrich-Georg Jünger se remete a Empédocles, que ensinava que ele forma um "contiuum epistemológico" com a natureza: toda a natureza está no homem e pode ser descoberta através do amor.
Simbolizado por rios e cobras, o princípio da recorrência, do retorno incessante, pelo qual todas as coisas alcançam a "Wildnis" original, é também o caminho para retornar a esse mesmo Wildnis. Friedrich-Georg Jünger canta o tempo cíclico, diferente do tempo linear-unidirecional judaico-cristão, segmentado em momentos únicos, irrepetíveeis, sobre um caminho também único que leva à Redenção. O homem moderno ocidental, alérgico aos esconderijos imponderáveis ​​onde a "Wildnis" se manifesta, optou pelo tempo contínuo e vetorial, tornando assim a sua existência um segmento entre duas eternidades atemporais (o antes do nascer e o depois da morte). Aqui se enfrentam dois tipos humanos: o homem moderno, impregnado com a visão judaico-cristã e linear do tempo, e o homem orgânico, que se reconhece inextricavelmente ligado ao cosmos e aos ritmos cósmicos.
A Perfeição da Técnica
Denúncia do titanismo mecanicista ocidental, este trabalho é a pedreira onde todos os pensadores ecológicos contemporâneos se nutriram para afinar suas críticas. Dividida em duas grandes partes e uma digressão, composta por uma multiplicidade de pequenos capítulos concisos, a obra começa com uma observação fundamental: a literatura utópica, responsável pela introdução do idealismo técnico no campo político, só provocou um desencanto da própria veia utópica. A técnica não resolve nenhum problema existencial do homem, não aumenta o gozo do tempo, não reduz o trabalho: ela tão somente desloca o manual em proveito do "organizativo". A técnica não cria novas riquezas; pelo contrário: condena a classe trabalhadora ao pauperismo físico e moral permanente. O desdobramento desenfreado da técnica é causado por uma falta geral da condição humana que a razão se esforça para sanar. Mas essa falta não desaparece com a invasão da técnica, que não é senão uma camuflagem grosseira, um remendo triste. A máquina é devoradora, aniquiladora da "substância": sua racionalidade é pura ilusão. O economista acredita, a partir de sua apreensão particular da realidade, que a técnica é uma fonte de riquezas, mas não parece observar que sua racionalidade quantitativista não é senão aparência pura e simples, que a técnica, em sua vontade de ser aperfeiçoada até o infinito, não segue senão sua própria lógica, uma lógica que não é econômica.
Uma das características do mundo moderno é o conflito tático entre o economista e o técnico: o último aspira a determinar processos de produção a favor da lucratividade, um fator que é puramente subjetivo. A técnica, quando atinge seu grau mais alto, leva a uma economia disfuncional. Essa oposição entre técnica e economia pode produzir estupor em mais de um crítico da unidimensionalidade contemporânea, acostumada a colocar hipertrofias técnicas e econômicas na mesma caixa de alfaiate. Mas Friedrich-Georg Jünger concebe a economia a partir de sua definição etimológica: como medida e norma dos "oikos", da habitação humana, bem circunscrita no tempo e no espaço. A forma atual adotada pelos "oikos" vem de uma mobilização exagerada dos recursos, assimilável ​​à economia da pilhagem e da rapina (Raubbau), de uma concepção mesquinha do lugar que se ocupa sobre a Terra, sem consideração pelas gerações passadas e futuras.


A idéia central de Friedrich-Georg Jünger sobre a técnica é a de um automatismo dominado por sua própria lógica. A partir do momento em que essa lógica se põe em marcha, ela escapa aos seus criadores. O automatismo da técnica, então, se multiplica em função exponencial: as máquinas, por si só, impõem a criação de outras máquinas, até atingir o automatismo completo, mecanizado e dinâmico, em um tempo segmentado, um tempo que não é senão um tempo morto. Este tempo morto penetra no tecido orgânico do ser humano e sujeita o homem à sua lógica letal particular. O homem é, portanto, despojado do "seu" tempo interno e biológico, mergulhado em uma adaptação ao tempo inorgânico e morto da máquina. A vida é então imersa em um grande automatismo governado pela soberania absoluta da técnica, convertida senhora e dona de seus ciclos e ritmos, de sua percepção de si e do mundo exterior. O automatismo generalizado é "a perfeição da técnica", à qual Friedrich-Georg, um pensador organicista, opõe a "maturação" (die Reife) que só pode ser alcançada por seres naturais, sem coerção ou violência. A principal característica da gigantesca organização titânica da técnica, dominante na era contemporânea, é a dominação exclusiva exercida por determinações e deduções causais, características da mentalidade e da lógica técnica. O Estado, como entidade política, pode adquirir, pelo caminho da técnica, um poder ilimitado. Mas isso não é, para o Estado, senão uma espécie de pacto com o diabo, porque os princípios inerentes à técnica acabarão por remover sua substância orgânica, substituindo-a por puro e rígido automatismo técnico.
Quem diz automatização total diz organização total, no sentido de gestão. O trabalho, na era da multiplicação exponencial de autômatos, é organizado para a perfeição, isto é, para a rentabilidade total e imediata, deixando de lado ou sem considerar a mão-de-obra ou o útil. A técnica só é capaz de avaliar a si mesma, o que implica uma automação a todo custo, o que, por sua vez, implica troca a todo custo, o que leva à normalização a todo custo, cuja conseqüência é a padronização a todo custo. Friedrich-Georg Jünger acrescenta o conceito de "partição" (Stückelung), onde "partes" não são mais "partes", mas "peças" (Stücke), reduzidas a uma função de mero aparato, uma função inorgânica.


Friedrich-Georg Jünger cita Marx para denunciar a alienação desse processo, mas se distancia dele ao ver que este considera o processo técnico como um "fatum" necessário no processo de emancipação da classe proletária. O trabalhador (Arbeiter) é precisamente "trabalhador" porque está conectado, "volens nolens", ao aparato de produção técnica. A condição proletária não depende da modéstia econômica ou do rendimento, mas dessa conexão, independentemente do salário recebido. Esta conexão despersonaliza e faz desaparecer a condição de pessoa. O trabalhador é aquele que perdeu o benefício interno que o ligava à sua atividade, um benefício que evitava sua intercambiabilidade. A alienação não é um problema induzido pela economia, como Marx pensou, mas pela técnica. A progressão geral do automatismo desvaloriza todo o trabalho que possa ser interno e espontâneo no trabalhador, ao mesmo tempo que favorece inevitavelmente o processo de destruição da natureza, o processo de "devoração" (Verzehr) dos substratos (dos recursos oferecidos pela Mãe-Natureza, generosa e esbanjadora "donatrix"). Por causa dessa alienação técnica, o trabalhador é precipitado em um mundo de exploração onde ele não possui proteção. Para beneficiar-se de uma aparência de proteção, ela deve criar organizações - sindicatos - mas com o erro de que essas organizações também estejam conectadas ao aparato técnico. A organização protetora não emancipa, enjaula. O trabalhador se defende contra a alienação e a sua transformação em peça, mas, paradoxalmente, aceita o sistema de automação total. Marx, Engels e os primeiros socialistas perceberam a alienação econômica e política, mas eram cegos para a alienação técnica, incapazes de compreender o poder destrutivo da máquina. A dialética marxista, de fato, se torna um mecanicismo estéril ao serviço de um socialismo maquinista. O socialista permanece na mesma lógica que governa a automação total sob a égide do capitalismo. Mas o pior é que o seu triunfo não terminará (a menos que abandone o marxismo) com a alienação automatista, mas será um dos fatores do movimento de aceleração, simplificação e crescimento técnico. A criação de organizações é a causa da gênese da mobilização total, que transforma tudo em celulares e em todos os lugares em oficinas ou laboratórios cheios de agitação incessante e zumbidos. Toda área social que tende a aceitar essa mobilização total favorece, queira ou não, a repressão: é a porta aberta para campos de concentração, aglomerações, deportações em massa e massacres em massa. É o reinado do gestor impávido, uma figura sinistra que pode aparecer sob mil máscaras. A técnica nunca produz harmonia, a máquina não é uma deusa dispensadora de bondades. Pelo contrário, esteriliza os substratos naturais doados, organiza a pilhagem planejada contra a "Wildnis". A máquina é devoradora e antropófaga, deve ser alimentada sem cessar e, uma vez que acumula mais do que doa, acabará um dia com todas as riquezas da Terra. As enormes forças naturais elementares são desenraizadas pela gigantesca maquinaria e retém os prisioneiros por ela e nela, o que não conduz senão a catástrofes explosivas e à necessidade de uma sobrevivência constante: outra faceta da mobilização total.
As massas se entrelaçam voluntariamente nesta automação total, ao mesmo tempo que anulam as resistências isoladas de indivíduos conscientes. As massas são levadas pelo rápido movimento da automação, a tal ponto que, em caso de quebra ou paralisação momentânea do movimento linear para a automação, elas experimentam uma sensação de vida que acham insuportável.
A guerra, também, a partir de agora, será totalmente mecanizada. Os potenciais de destruição são amplificados ao extremo. A reivindicação de uniformes, o valor mobilizador dos símbolos, a glória, desaparecem na perfeição técnica. A guerra só pode ser suportada por soldados tremendamente endurecidos e tenazes, apenas os homens que possam exterminar a piedade em seus corações poderão suportá-la.
FGJ-livre0834605-00-00.jpgA mobilidade absoluta que inaugura a automação total se volta contra tudo tudo que pode significar duração e estabilidade, especificamente contra a propriedade (Eigentum). Friedrich-Georg Jünger, ao meditar sobre essa afirmação, define a propriedade de uma maneira original e particular. A existência de máquinas depende de uma concepção exclusivamente temporal, a existência da propriedade é devida a uma concepção espacial. A propriedade implica limites, definições, cercas, paredes e paredes, "clausuras" em suma. A eliminação dessas delimitações é uma razão de ser para o coletivismo técnico. A propriedade é sinônimo de um campo de ação limitado, circunscrito, fechado em um espaço específico e preciso. Para progredir de forma vetorial, a automação precisa pular os bloqueios da propriedade, um obstáculo para a instalação de seus onipresentes meios de controle, comunicação e conexão. Uma humanidade privada de todas as formas de propriedade não pode escapar da conexão total. O socialismo, na medida em que nega a propriedade, na medida em que rejeita o mundo das "zonas enclausuradas", facilita precisamente a conexão absoluta, que é sinônimo de manipulação absoluta. Segue-se que o proprietário de máquinas não é proprietário; o capitalismo mecanicista mina a ordem das propriedades, caracterizada por duração e estabilidade, em preferência de um dinamismo omnidisolvente. A independência da pessoa é uma impossibilidade nessa conexão aos fatos e ao modo de pensar próprio do instrumentalismo e do organizacionismo técnicos.
Entre suas reflexões críticas sobre a automatização e a tecnificação totais nos tempos modernos, Friedrich-Georg Jünger apela aos grandes filósofos da tradição europeia. Descartes inaugura um idealismo que estabelece uma separação insuperável entre o corpo e o espírito, eliminando o "sistema de influências psíquicas" que interligava ambos, para eventualmente substituí-lo por uma intervenção divina pontual que faz de Deus um simples demiurgo-relojoeiro. A "res extensa" de Descartes em um conjunto de coisas mortas, explicável como um conjunto de mecanismos em que o homem, instrumento do Deus-relojoeiro, pode intervir completamente impune em todos os momentos. A "res cogitans" é instituído como mestre absoluto dos processos mecânicos que governam o Universo. O homem pode se tornar um deus: um grande relojoeiro que pode manipular todas as coisas ao seu gosto e alvedrio, sem cuidado ou respeito. O cartesianismo dá o sinal de saída da exploração tecnicista ao extremo da Terra.

vendredi, 22 septembre 2017

Le patriotisme de Charles Péguy par Géraldi Leroy


Le patriotisme de Charles Péguy par Géraldi Leroy

Le patriotisme de Charles Péguy prononcée par Géraldi LEROY, professeur émérite à l’Université d’Orléans, auteur de nombreux ouvrages sur l’auteur du Mystère de la charité de Jeanne d’Arc dont le dernier vient de paraître chez Armand Colin sous le titre : Charles Péguy l’inclassable. D’emblée, Géraldi Leroy a intrigué ses auditeurs par une citation sur le « rire de guerre », qui témoigne d’un mépris du danger et redonne de l’espoir. Son auteur — bien oublié de nos jours — s’appelle Henri Lavedan, à peu près contemporain de Péguy (d’une douzaine d’années plus âgé), orléanais lui aussi, mais farouchement antidreyfusard et chantre d’un patriotisme cocardier, de plus académicien très en vue : en un mot aux antipodes de notre écrivain engagé qui n’a rien d’un belliciste et n’envisage la guerre que comme défensive. L’ idée de revanche lui est étrangère ; il reste dans l’esprit d’un « nationalisme de gauche », avec des références aux révolutionnaires de 93. Il croit à une guerre juste et l’exprime dans Eve : « Heureux ceux qui sont morts pour la terre charnelle, Mais pourvu que ce fût pour une juste guerre… » S’il manifeste une certaine allégresse au moment de la mobilisation, c’est qu’il a partagé les illusions d’une offensive de courte durée, sans mesurer l’ampleur du conflit, ni considérer sa dimension industrielle. Cependant son relatif optimisme ne lui a pas caché l’extrême tension provoquée par la crise de Tanger au printemps 1905 (comme en témoigne Notre Patrie publiée dans les Cahiers de la Quinzaine).
Géraldi Leroy met à juste titre l’accent sur l’éducation patriotique qu’il a reçue à l’école annexe auprès des « hussards noirs de la République », une éducation reposant sur un concept messianique de la France érigée en arbitre et en défenseur de le liberté, et qu’il ne peut renier — difficile dans ce cas d’assumer un pacifisme serein. Devant le péril, il faut faire face, avec sang froid et courage, comme Jeanne d’Arc ( dans la première version de 1912) qui assure que « pour éradiquer le mal, la prière ne suffit pas ! » La crise de 1905 a donc ravivé « la voix de mémoire », celle de l’école républicaine, et celle des lectures de l’enfance. Parmi celles-ci, le poème des Châtiments qui s’ouvre par cette envolée: « O soldats de l’an deux… » demeurera pour lui un exemple… Dans la dernière partie de son propos, Géraldi Leroy s’est attaché à évoquer la façon dont le soldat Péguy a vécu la guerre, en particulier d’après la quarantaine de lettres envoyées du front, lettres aussi concises que discrètes sur l’existence quotidienne du combattant. Nous avons suivi son itinéraire depuis le jour de son enrôlement (le 4 août) jusqu’à son arrivée aux environs de Meaux, après une retraite pénible, exactement à Villeroy où sa compagnie reçoit le 5 septembre l’ordre d’attaquer l’ennemi solidement installé sur les hauteurs de Montyon : une mission périlleuse, pour ne pas dire impossible. Le lieutenant Charles Péguy, resté debout après avoir protégé ses hommes, tombe d’une balle en plein front. Par cet acte de bravoure, voire de témérité, il a renoué avec la geste héroïque des révolutionnaires de 93, en même temps qu’il trouve une forme d’épanouissement dans ce sacrifice consenti - et peut-être même secrètement désiré…
Pour résumer la conclusion de G. Leroy, quitte à nous répéter, disons que l’attitude de Péguy n’a jamais été conquérante, ni belliciste. Ce qui est sûr, c’est qu’elle reflétait celle la majorité de ses contemporains, et surtout celle du peuple, et du peuple le plus humble, celui des paysans, vignerons et artisans du faubourg Bourgogne dont il se sentait si proche. Pour tous ces hommes, la tâche était toute simple : quand la Patrie était en danger, il fallait courir aux armes. Et c’est cet esprit qui a permis le sursaut de la bataille de la Marne et qui a donné la foi en la victoire. L’exemple de Péguy restera un modèle à suivre…

La culture protestante est-elle dominante en France?


La culture protestante est-elle dominante en France?

Entretien avec Régis Debray et Olivier Abel

Ex: https://www.reforme.net

Les philosophes Régis Debray et Olivier Abel débattent de la synchronisation de la mondialisation avec la culture protestante américaine.

Pour quelles raisons estimez-vous que la culture protestante est aujourd’hui dominante en France ?

Régis Debray : Parce que le nouvel état des lieux qui règne dans notre pays, marqué par l’individualisme, c’est-à-dire la « désintermédiation », le contournement des institutions par l’accès à l’information, rencontre le rapport direct entretenu par les protestants avec la divinité.

Par ailleurs, la culture de l’émotion s’accorde assez bien avec le protestantisme évangélique. La nouvelle valeur du témoignage, qui a aujourd’hui la priorité sur la tradition doctrinale ou dogmatique, peut-être même une certaine désacralisation – à la fois de l’histoire et de la nature –, me conduisent à constater l’extraordinaire coïncidence entre la tradition protestante et notre postmodernité.

Olivier Abel : Cette intuition, qui me semble centrale dans les derniers livres de Régis Debray, peut surprendre un grand nombre de nos concitoyens. Mais elle a pour mérite de faire voir notre société sous un jour nouveau. Ce n’est pas seulement une réalité politique, mais la réalité de notre civilisation que Régis Debray nous encourage à regarder en face. Nous sommes à l’ère du témoignage, en effet d’abord corrélé au protestantisme évangélique, mais présent dans l’éthos de l’ensemble du monde protestant. Cela comporte un risque, je le dis tout de suite : la culture de l’immédiateté, du non-différé, la croyance d’être directement « branché ».

Mais Régis désigne aussi plusieurs aspects que les protestants plus classiques devraient revendiquer : le goût de la pluralité, l’idée que tout est profane, la prise en compte des populations déplacées, des migrations. Tout cela met en phase la civilisation occidentale actuelle avec le protestantisme.

Vous, Régis Debray, semblez associer la domination du protestantisme à un effondrement du politique. Or, les protestants ont porté et portent encore, un projet politique favorable à la République…

Régis Debray : Vous avez raison, la Réforme a permis l’intrusion de la rationalité dans la Révélation, c’est-à-dire une construction intellectuelle, rigoureuse, doublée d’une religion du cœur à la Rousseau ; l’herméneutique exigeante et le « vicaire savoyard » admirant la nature sont associés dans un élan commun. La minorité protestante a joué, pour cette raison, un rôle décisif dans l’assomption de la laïcité républicaine. En ce sens, le vieux républicain que je suis a toujours été reconnaissant à la tradition protestante d’avoir, beaucoup plus que les catholiques, suscité, soutenu l’effort républicain, notamment par l’école. Donc, nous avons historiquement une grande dette envers le protestantisme.

Quel sens donnez-vous à ce mot « protestantisme », aujourd’hui ?

Régis Debray : Le  protestantisme nous est parvenu par les voies commerciales du Nord. Je le sais, vous allez m’objecter les Cévennes, le Languedoc… Et vous n’aurez pas tort ! Mais ce qui me semble plus important, de nos jours, c’est le mouvement par lequel un certain protestantisme, émigré vers l’Amérique du Nord au XIXe siècle, nous revient comme en boomerang par le Sud.

Ce réchauffement climatique du protestantisme européen, par influence afro-antillaise, par le saxophone, la batterie, le synthétiseur, par la danse et la transe, me semble savoureux, inattendu et sous-estimé en France. J’ai voulu attirer l’attention sur un phénomène qui paraît illogique et qui, pourtant, ne manque pas de logique.

Que voulez-vous dire ?

Régis Debray : Encore une fois, je pense que le protestantisme répond très bien au désir d’hyperconnexion, de recentrement individualiste, mais aussi à la recherche d’une chaleur communautaire dont ont besoin nombre de gens tout à la fois déracinés et heurtés par le désenchantement du monde. Aujourd’hui, sur le plan géopolitique et culturel, deux religions dominent: l’islam d’un côté et les protestantismes (à dominante américaine) de l’autre.

Pour faire face, pour s’adapter à l’état des lieux, l’Église catholique se « protestantise » à toute vitesse. La décentralisation à laquelle François est en train de procéder en donne un extraordinaire aperçu. Au fond, le concile de Trente a perdu la bataille et, revenant à des sources prétridentines, l’Église donne pour ainsi dire raison à la Réforme.

Olivier Abel : Oui, Régis Debray, médiologue, attire l’attention sur la chaleur de l’autre monde protestant, en phase avec les formes actuelles de communication et laisse entendre aux « vieux protestants de France » que cette chaleur humaine peut leur apporter du bon. C’est une réponse forte à l’égard de ceux qui réclament la limitation de la religion à la sphère privée, sans voir qu’elle est un élément essentiel de toute civilisation, que le foot et les stars du music-hall ne sauraient remplacer durablement. Mais ne désespérons pas, observons ce qui se passe d’un peu plus près.

L’institution romaine est marquée par la filiation. La culture protestante est plutôt de type conjugal, au sens du libre accord, de libre alliance. N’est-ce pas aussi une forme d’institution ? Ne réduisons pas les religions à des contrats de for intérieur et sachons accueillir leur diversité.

Régis Debray : Olivier Abel a raison : il n’y a pas de transmission sans institution. Si la transmission s’oppose à la communication comme le temps à l’espace, pour passer de l’émotion d’un moment à une inscription dans le temps, il faut des institutions. Maintenant, nous assistons à une transformation des figures de l’autorité. La figure de l’autorité n’est plus le père – le Saint-Père, le père de l’Église, « mon père » comme on dit chez les catholiques. La figure de l’autorité la plus communément admise aujourd’hui est fraternelle ; et c’est précisément le modèle protestant, pour lequel il n’y a qu’un seul Père et il est aux cieux. On peut admettre que cela déstabilise un certain nombre de catholiques. D’autant plus, encore une fois, quand le pape lui-même suit cette pente et se pose avant tout comme l’évêque de Rome…

Olivier Abel : Je veux signaler que le protestantisme européen et le catholicisme européen sont plus proches, culturellement, que le protestantisme européen parfois ne l’est du protestantisme africain ou d’Asie du Sud-Est – pour ne prendre qu’un exemple.

Régis Debray : Voilà qui justifie que l’on pratique la géoculture ou la climatologie. Nous partageons, historiquement, un même climat, des mœurs, des habitudes, des plis qui outrepassent les divisions confessionnelles. L’apothéose du marché, de la réussite, de la prospérité, que porte aux nues le néoprotestantisme, peut inquiéter.

Le président de la République a été élève des jésuites avant de travailler auprès de Paul Ricœur. Est-il le « président-manageur » que vous décrivez, alors qu’il veut rétablir une autorité verticale ?

Régis Debray : Disons qu’il incarne un heureux mariage entre Machiavel et Paul Ricœur. Du premier, je crois – bien que je ne le connaisse pas personnellement – qu’il dispose du sens de la ruse, d’un certain dédoublement, sinon de la duplicité, propre aux politiques classiques. Du second, il paraît avoir appris une certaine exigence intellectuelle. Cela dit, je le crois plus butineur que producteur de miel. Mais enfin, il a eu le souci de butiner, ce qui est devenu rare au sein de notre classe politique. Lorsque j’évoque, à son sujet, l’américanité, je pense plutôt à son milieu.

Que signifie, pour vous, l’américanité ?

Régis Debray :  C’est la prise du pouvoir de l’économique sur le politique, la fusion entre le monde des affaires et celui du politique, les allers-retours entre le service public et le secteur privé, des pratiques dont on sait qu’elles sont monnaie courante dans le monde protestant.

Il me semble qu’Emmanuel Macron est le symptôme de cela, même si je lui concède qu’il a conscience de ses lacunes, de ses manques, ce qui l’entraîne à cultiver la symbolique du pouvoir, dont il sent bien qu’en France on ne peut pas se passer.

Olivier Abel : J’ajouterais qu’Emmanuel Macron n’est pas seulement lié à Paul Ricœur. Il puise aussi chez Habermas, Claude Lefort, d’autres encore. On peut se demander, parfois, dans quel ordre et de quelle façon tout cela s’articule en lui. Cherche-t-il à arrimer le politique au réalisme économique ? Ou bien cherche-t-il à réintroduire un sens du politique, une fonction du politique magistrale, au sein d’un monde dominé par l’économie ? Je me demande s’il n’existe pas un écart entre Emmanuel Macron et le « macronisme ». Celui-ci me semble très proche de ce que décrit Régis Debray quand il déplore le culte de l’entrepreneur de soi, l’idéologie de la capacité ; mais avec celui-là se niche un hiatus, j’en devine l’existence. Ceci étant posé, je veux rappeler qu’en pays protestant, notamment chez les Anglais et les Américains, la tradition politique est extrêmement forte. Il serait faux de réduire la culture anglo-saxonne au primat de l’économique.

Régis Debray : Oui, mais l’articulation à laquelle nous assistons en France depuis des années, entre l’économie et la politique, se fait « à l’américaine » et elle n’est pas étrangère au néoprotestantisme. L’idéal type du gagneur, de la start-up, l’idée qu’un pays est une entreprise qui doit être rentable, cette logique de management, de gestionnaire comptable, est typiquement américaine. Prenons un autre exemple si vous le voulez… Pour un républicain à la française, un président élu laisse son conjoint au vestiaire ; il n’y a pas de first lady. L’invasion du public par le privé, la charte de la transparence, un temps évoquée pour mettre en scène l’épouse du président, voilà des choses qui ne sont pas laïques pour un républicain classique et qui s’apparentent, qu’on s’en réjouisse ou qu’on le regrette, à une certaine culture protestante.

Pourtant, Angela Merkel , fille de pasteur, chancelière d’un pays dont la tradition protestante n’est pas discutable, ne met pas en avant son mari. On sait qu’il existe, qu’il accompagne son épouse au concert, mais il n’est pas un « first man »…

Régis Debray : Certes, mais elle est peut-être moins prisonnière de la vidéosphère qu’Emmanuel Macron. Je note chez notre président des façons de faire, depuis la main sur le cœur en écoutant la Marseillaise, petit mimétisme dont il s’est corrigé, jusqu’à la mise en scène de son épouse en passant par l’utilisation de la langue américaine – entre eux, les « Élyséens » parlent, par exemple, de « task force », il cède à l’atmosphère que j’appelle gallo-ricaine.

Olivier Abel : Attention : tout ce que vous dénoncez comme venu d’Amérique n’est pas seulement américain. Le progrès technique y tient sa part, qui l’emporte, même aux États-Unis, sur ce que Ricœur appelle le noyau éthico-mythique de chaque pays. La mondialisation est un patchwork.

Régis Debray : Il n’en reste pas moins que la mondialisation est standardisée selon des critères américains, ce qui est tout à fait normal puisque les Américains sont les inventeurs des nouvelles technologies qui organisent notre vie quotidienne, façonne notre imaginaire.

Olivier Abel : Ces nouvelles technologies sont aussi japonaises, et en portent l’imaginaire spécifique…

Régis Debray : Certes, mais le Japon – comme l’Allemagne – est entré dans la sphère américaine. Une civilisation dominante, ce sont des traits d’union entre un standard inventé par l’Empire et des cultures locales. Une bonne imprégnation suppose le respect d’un terreau local. Les Romains n’ont pas effacé la Gaule, mais ils l’ont épousée et formatée selon leurs normes.

Olivier Abel : Ce que vous dites est vrai, mais ne concerne pas seulement les civilisations dominantes. Une société n’existe que par des traits d’union. Toute forme de culture implique le croisement des racines, des origines, des traditions.

Régis Debray : Je suis d’accord, mais dans une alliance de ce genre, il y a toujours un formateur et un formaté. Que vous le vouliez ou non, nous sommes placés sous l’hégémonie culturelle américaine. Je ne prétends pas que cette hégémonie soit le fruit d’une volonté de nuire – je ne suis pas complotiste – mais je constate qu’elle dérive d’un nouvel état des techniques humaines : le cinéma, la musique, le numérique surtout, ce que j’appelle un état des lieux.

L’organisation de la marine à voile était britannique, celle du chemin de fer était française parce que portée par un État centralisateur. Aujourd’hui nous vivons sous l’empire du web, qui a vu le jour dans la Silicon Valley. Alors, parce que nous tenons à notre propre culture, nous essayons de la faire entrer dans le moule. Mais cela s’appelle la French Tech.

Propos recueillis par Frédérick Casadesus

À noter

Le Nouveau pouvoir
Régis Debray
Le Cerf, 112 p., 8 €.

jeudi, 14 septembre 2017

Les habits neufs de l’aliénation


Les habits neufs de l’aliénation

Par André Bellon, ancien Président de la Commission des affaires étrangères de l’Assemblée nationale, auteur de Une nouvelle vassalité (Les mille et une nuits, 2007) et Président de l’Association pour une Constituante.

Le dogme est de retour, plus insidieux qu’autrefois car il se coule dans les déguisements inattendus de la raison. L’Homme peut-il résoudre cette aporie ?

Le néo libéralisme, nouvelle idéologie de la pensée économique, se pare, en effet, des attributs qui caractérisent traditionnellement la science. Ainsi des économistes tels que Kydland et Prescott, « prix Nobel*1 » 2004, appellent à enserrer dans des règles incontournables une démocratie jugée trop soumise à l’incertitude. De nouveaux grands inquisiteurs dénoncent les hérétiques et fulminent contre eux des anathèmes. Le livre intitulé « Le négationnisme économique : et comment s’en débarrasser ?*2 » dessine ainsi les buchers modernes au nom de la science.

L’esprit critique

Le développement de ces thèses s’est fait avec le soutien plus ou moins assumé des forces dites de gauche. La phrase honteuse de François Mitterrand, « Contre le chômage, on a tout essayé » fut prononcée dans le cadre d’un discours politique qui se voulait rassembleur sur la base d’une « France unie » autour d’un discours européen commun. La mondialisation sert de justification à l’extension universelle de cette pensée présentée comme une vérité.

Mais, comme le rappelle Alain Supiot*3, « les véritables scientifiques savent que les lois découvertes par les sciences de la nature sont inhérentes aux phénomènes observés, alors que celles qui donnent ordre et sens à la vie humaine sont nécessairement postulées. Les scientistes au contraire croient trouver dans une science fétichisée les vraies lois qui régiraient l’humanité et s’emploient à les faire régner ». En présentant la mondialisation comme un fait de nature et non comme une construction humaine contestable, les principales forces politiques ont fermé la discussion sur les politiques menées.

Paradoxalement donc, des méthodes dites scientifiques détruisent l’esprit critique qui est pourtant la base fondamentale de la science*4.

Méthode ou apparence ? S’interroge-t-on sur la manière dont sont conçus les chiffres qui abreuvent le public, par exemple le taux de prélèvements obligatoires*5, véritable épouvantail des faux-débats de plateaux télévisés ?

Méthode ou vocabulaire ? Je repense souvent à Horace, ce personnage d’Eugène Labiche qui déclare à un parvenu plutôt méprisant : « Nous avons de par le monde une bande de petits poseurs… sérieux, graves, avec de grands mots dans la bouche… ça étonne les imbéciles »*6.

Certes le monde est complexe, suivant une formule largement répandue. Mais la complexité doit-elle être le paravent d’un refus d’analyser ou d’une renonciation à comprendre ? Doit-elle in fine servir à empêcher toute contestation ?

La mythification de la complexité aboutit à magnifier les experts, nouvelle élite censée porter la vérité. Que des experts soient utiles pour éclairer la décision publique, pour aider aux choix démocratiques, va de soi. Mais éclairer ne veut pas dire choisir. Car l’expertise se présente de plus en plus comme le substitut à l’échange et à la confrontation des arguments. Elle permet trop souvent d’empêcher la contestation. On est loin du « débat libre et raisonné » proposé par Condorcet. L’esprit critique se méfie des évidences, il questionne, il cherche, il se confronte aux autres, il construit une pensée. A l’inverse, la vision dominante aujourd’hui tend à imposer des a priori.

Dans sa Tour en Gironde, au plafond de son bureau, sur les poutres du plafond, Montaigne avait fait peindre des maximes, généralement tirées de la bible. L’une d’elles est particulièrement d’actualité : « Malheur à vous qui vous pensez sages !*7 ». Peut-on revenir à ce précepte ?

Le peut-on alors que, de plus, les médias jouent un rôle très négatif en simplifiant à outrance les enjeux, en déséquilibrant la parole publique au profit de la pensée dominante, en plaçant sur le même plan simples témoignages et travaux scientifiques ? Qui plus est, l’absence de critique résulte également de l’évolution des contenus enseignés dans les écoles : la diminution des heures de philosophie n’est-elle pas un signe de ce refus d’analyse ?

On ne s’étonnera pas, dans ce contexte, de la propagation du complotisme et des intox (fake news). Une société qui a désappris à réfléchir et à débattre est particulièrement vulnérable à ces phénomènes et démunie pour les combattre. Mais, au fond, l’irréalisme du complotisme n’est-il pas le miroir de l’irréalisme du discours dominant ?

Au-delà de ces considérations, c’est la conception même de l’être humain qui est en jeu. Car l’esprit critique est le fondement de l’Humanisme qui donne au citoyen le rôle de décideur dans la cité, à l’homme la maitrise de son propre destin.

La défaite de la volonté

Pour sa part, la pensée dominante magnifie les émotions au détriment de la raison*8. Elle se caractérise par une justification des démissions face aux défis extraordinaires d’un tournant historique profond. Loin de mobiliser les volontés, elle privilégie les remords et les condamnations sans conséquences. Non seulement les porte-paroles les plus écoutés dégoulinent de bonne conscience, mais ils croient de plus faire œuvre novatrice en ressassant les mêmes prêches. On ne peut plus ainsi évoquer la République sans s’indigner des abominations de la colonisation, la nation sans s’apitoyer sur les malheurs de la guerre, le peuple sans évoquer les débordements de violence. Dans le panthéon des personnages historiques, la victime a remplacé le héros. Parmi les symboles de cette dérive, évoquons le choix consternant du monument érigé à Paris pour représenter le Général Dumas, père de notre grand écrivain, né esclave et devenu héros de la Révolution*9. Alors qu’un projet d’Ousmane SOW représentant la force et la fonction du général avait été proposé, la mairie de Paris a inauguré, le 4 mai 2009, une énorme chaîne d’esclave. Ainsi, un symbole de la fraternité révolutionnaire, de la promotion républicaine, de la volonté nationale, est-il réduit à son ancienne condition servile.

L’Histoire ne peut alors plus mobiliser une volonté collective. L’analyse de la Révolution française, considérée par le grand écrivain Carlos Fuentes comme « la meilleure révolution du millénaire*10» n’est présentée qu’au travers des violences, conduisant par exemple Jean-François Copé à déclarer qu’il régnait « en France, une ambiance malsaine de nuit du 4 Août*11 », anathème porté contre l’abolition des privilèges, symbole historique jusqu’alors consensuel. Nombre d’intellectuels dits de gauche se laissent aller à ces facilités. Ainsi, François Ewald et Dominique Lecourt s’indignent-ils publiquement que, « sous la Terreur, (les révolutionnaires) éliminaient les scientifiques eux-mêmes (Bailly, Condorcet, Lavoisier) » … parce qu’ils voulaient « rabaisser l’arrogance du savant que son savoir distinguait trop du peuple des sans-culottes*12 ». Analyse stupide quand on connait la fascination scientiste de la Révolution et le rôle qu’a joué, sous la Convention, le comité des savants avec Berthollet, Chaptal, Lakanal, Monge … Ces déclarations ne seraient jamais que des interjections anecdotiques absurdes si l’invasion du politiquement correct ne formatait pas les pensées des citoyens, si les lois mémorielles ne restreignaient pas la liberté de pensée au bénéfice des juges, si le champ du débat n’était pas par ces biais réduit à la peau de chagrin.

Notre propos n’est pas de justifier la violence. Mais la volonté de ne regarder l’histoire, ou du moins les moments que l’on choisit de condamner*13, qu’au travers des violences, est totalement contraire à toute utilisation de la raison. Il ne reste à l’homme ramené à une condition de pécheur qu’à demander l’absolution.

La démocratie

Ce sont alors la volonté, la souveraineté populaire, le suffrage universel, en un mot la démocratie, qui sont attaqués. On ne compte plus les déclarations ramenant le suffrage universel à sa caricature au travers d’allégations plus ou moins subtilement discutables. Ainsi, anathème commode, le suffrage universel aurait créé Hitler*14.

Que le suffrage universel soit bafoué ou que le mépris du suffrage soit amplifié par des institutions antidémocratiques est une évidence que le référendum de 2005 a particulièrement éclairée. Mais en quoi cela remet-il en cause son principe ?

Les attaques contre le suffrage universel sont en fait des attaques contre la raison humaine présentée comme dangereuse ou antisociale. Ainsi la volonté fort répandue de promouvoir le tirage au sort est une insulte à la particularité, à la parcelle de souveraineté que porte tout être humain. Au nom de l’égalité, on promeut par ce biais l’uniformité comme si tous les individus étaient interchangeables. Comme par hasard, les thuriféraires d’une telle idée proposent que les heureux gagnants de cette loterie soient entourés par des experts qui vont guider leur réflexion. Coucou, les revoila !


L’Histoire de la République est évidemment contradictoire. Rappeler ceux qui se sont battus pour ses valeurs essentielles, pour la libération de l’humanité et la démocratie, ne peut être que salutaire. C’est Jean Jaurès qui souhaitait amplifier l’œuvre républicaine et déclarait « Ceux qui prévoient la prise de possession brusque du pouvoir et la violence faite à la démocratie, ceux-là rétrogradent au temps où le prolétariat était réduit à des moyens factices de victoire*15 ». C’est Pierre Mendes-France qui, votant contre le traité de Rome, proclamait son refus « de la délégation des pouvoirs à une autorité extérieure, laquelle, au nom de la technique, exercera en réalité la puissance politique*16 ».

Nous sommes loin de telles pensées. Aujourd’hui, loin de chercher à identifier et résoudre les conflits, la vie politique cherche à imposer des consensus, à empêcher l’expression des divergences fondamentales, bref à marginaliser le rôle créatif de l’esprit critique dans la vie publique.

Demain n’est pas fatal

C’est donc la place et le rôle mêmes de l’Homme qui doivent être le cœur du débat aujourd’hui. C’est de lui que doit émaner le pouvoir car c’est la seule manière de faire face efficacement aux défis de ce moment dramatique. C’est dans cette logique que l’élection aux Etats généraux de 1789 avait été précédée par l’élaboration des cahiers de doléances.

Une telle perspective ne saurait émaner des institutions actuelles. Elle doit être construite par les citoyens en même-temps qu’elle construit les citoyens. Et, tout particulièrement, la présidentielle, élection particulièrement aliénante, ne peut rebâtir la citoyenneté. La logique du scrutin présidentiel est personnalisante et destructrice de la liberté de pensée. En acceptant les moyens, elle privilégie le « faire » par rapport au « penser ».

La reconstruction démocratique doit être un travail philosophique autour de la liberté. Il ne saurait évidemment être lié à un extérieur autoritaire qui enserre la pensée en même temps qu’il donne plus ou moins les réponses. Il doit, de plus, se construire de façon la plus décentralisée possible pour affirmer la place et la force des initiatives les plus locales possibles. La commune, aujourd’hui massacrée par les pouvoirs successifs, nationaux autant qu’européens, peut être la base de cette dynamique. C’est dans un tel cadre que les initiatives associatives nombreuses peuvent trouver une capacité de synergie.

L’objectif démocratique peut trouver ainsi sa réalisation car une telle démarche allie la liberté de l’individu à la recherche de l’intérêt général. Notre époque n’est plus à la présentation de solutions clefs en main, mais à la reconnaissance de la volonté humaine sur son propre destin.

1 Il s’agit du prix de la Banque de Suède en sciences économiques en mémoire d’Alfred Nobel, généralement appelé prix Nobel d’économie
2 Pierre Cahuc et André Zylberberg, Flammarion 2017
3 L’esprit de Philadelphie, La justice sociale face au marché total, Alain Supiot, Seuil, 2010
4 André Bellon, Science sans critique…, La jaune et la rouge, août-septembre 2015
5 Censé représenter la part de la richesse nationale affectée aux agents publics, il est le rapport entre un chiffre d’affaire et une valeur ajoutée, ce qui n’a aucun sens.
6 Les vivacités du capitaine Tic, Acte II, Scène 6
7 Jérémy, V
8 Voir La stratégie de l’émotion, Anne-Cécile Robert, Le Monde diplomatique, Février 2016.
9 Sur cette place du général Catroux existait avant la guerre les statues des trois générations, soit le général, son fils Alexandre Dumas et son petit-fils, l’auteur de La dame aux camélias. Celle du général fut détruite par les allemands sous l’occupation.
10 Carlos Fuentes, Ma révolution préférée, Le Monde, 23 septembre 1999.
11 France Inter, 20 juillet 2010
12 Voir François Ewald et Dominique Lecourt, Les OGM et les nouveaux vandales, Le Monde, 4 septembre 2001
13 Faut-il rappeler que la semaine sanglante de liquidation de la Commune par Thiers ou même la répression du mouvement ouvrier de 1848 firent plus de morts que la Terreur ?
14 Hitler, en dépit de résultats très importants n’a jamais été majoritaire seul. Ce sont des alliances avec d’autres partis très présentables et le soutien de la bourgeoisie allemande qui lui ont donné les pleins pouvoirs.
15 Jean Jaurès, « Question de méthode », article-préface du 17 novembre 1901 au Manifeste communiste de Marx et d’Engels.
16 Discours de Pierre Mendès France à l’Assemblée nationale le 18 janvier 1957

samedi, 09 septembre 2017

Eric Voegelin and the "Orient"

Review: Éric Voegelin et l’Orient: Millénarisme et religions politiques de l’Antiquité à Daech. Renaud Fabbri. Editions L’Harmattan, 2016.

EvoeBook1.jpgRenaud Fabbri is a professor of political science at l’Université de Versailles. Over the past few years he has been quietly blogging away at a post-secular age, applying the ideas of Eric Voegelin to Hinduism and Islam. Éric Voegelin et l’Orient seems to be his first book and it is a very welcome addition to Voegelinian thought indeed. Just about anyone familiar with Voegelin’s output should be able to admit that what he had to say in relation to India and Islam, two of the most important players in world history, was inattentive at best and perhaps downright woeful, Eurocentric and dismissive at worst. Voegelin was a very prolific thinker, yet one cannot do equal justice to everything one supposes. Happily, Fabbri is seeking to remedy this by charting what he sees as a decline in Hindu and Muslim luminosity into immanentism, nationalism and millenarianism in the form of contemporary phenomena such as Daesh (ISIS) and the Iranian Revolution. As one might expect a great deal of the blame for these eastern “political religions” falls squarely (and rightly) on “Gnostic” influences absorbed from the West during the colonial period: Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, “process theology”.

At 123 pages Eric Voegelin et l’Orient is a very short text. My overwhelming sense when reading it the first time was that it is simply an opening salvo for a much larger and more detailed work we can expect from Fabbri in the near future. Moreover, one can tell Fabbri is a blog writer. Even in producing a monograph he writes in linked short bursts of a few pages on certain important figures in the history of the two religions in question. However, this is not to denigrate the book; rather we should celebrate it for its adventurousness. Fabbri is an abstract and thematic thinker, like Voegelin at his most experimental. Anyone picking up this book expecting something akin to the Voegelinian-Straussian The New Political Religions, written not long after 9/11 on the pneumatopathological history of Islamic terrorism (including its eye-opening essay on the ethics of suicide bombing), is going to be more than a little surprised.[1] Fabbri leaps around, he reads between the lines and conjures up obscure thinkers, both as nodes in the history of the decline of Islamic and Hindu religious experience, and as accessories to aid him in his explorations.

The two most important accessories Fabbri uses besides Voegelin are the French thinkers René Guénon and Henry Corbin, the former of which he uses largely in his discussions on Hinduism and the latter on Islam. Many readers may not be familiar with either of these so perhaps a little explanation is in order. Guénon is the father of an esoteric movement known commonly as Traditionalism or Perennialism. He believed that for all the diversity of the world’s religions, they call contained a transcendental unity of shared truth. Ergo, Guénon was a universalist, a very unpopular opinion in our post-colonial era. However, he was a very eccentric universalist, even for the early 20th century. The basis of Guénonian history is the idea that the cosmos passes through cycles of decline, from all quality and no quantity (=God) to all quantity and no quality. This comes to a final Kali Yuga, a scientistic “reign of quantity”. Finally the world collapses into total atomisation and spiritual decay before another Golden Age begins.[2]

However, this does not tend to make Traditionalists millenarians trying to force the Golden Age to come back. There is of course the exception of far-right outliers such as Julius Evola and Russian “New Rasputin” Aleksandr Dugin, in whom there is at least as much Nietzsche as Guénon.[3] In my experience with Traditionalists (all my teachers when I was an undergrad religious studies student were Guénonians), there is a far more profound sense of a pessimistic acceptance of a pre-determined order to things. There are no “Guns, Germs and Steel”, theories about millenarian “political religions” or Heideggerian blame-Plato-for-the-reign-of-quantity in Guénon.[4] The West simply drew the short straw in a natural cosmic process. Nonetheless, in Guénon’s successor Fritjof Schuon one can certainly find the idea that the West was metaphysically broken from the start because of Greek rationalism, scepticism and materialism. To Schuon Islam and Christianity got more out of the Greeks than they got out of themselves:

“The true “Greek miracle, if a miracle there be – and in this case it would be related to the “Hindu Miracle”- is doctrinal metaphysics and methodic logic, providentially utilized by the monotheistic Semites”.[5]

The aim for the Traditionalist becomes to find what is left of an imagined universal sophia perennis of esoteric truth in Sufism, Hinduism, the Western Hermetic traditions – the part of inferno that is not inferno, so to speak. Thus, as one might imagine, Fabbri seems to believe that the Guénonian narrative of decline can be laid over the Voegelinian narrative of pneumatopathology. There are problems with this, perhaps. Compared with Voegelin’s open-ended “order in history” as the produce of human experiences of social crisis, there is very little metacritical about the deterministic Guénonian historical narrative. All of this is amusingly epitomised by the Guénonian who put me on to Fabbri and his book: “Oh Voegelin? Too historicist for my liking. But then again you have to be if you want the academy to take you seriously.” However, I think that what Fabbri has done, nonetheless, is attempt a highly original experimental dual focus using both thinkers well, yet erring on the side closer to Voegelin and historicity.

Fabbri utilises the ideas of Guénon to patch up what he sees, quite reasonably, as Voegelin’s faults in understanding India. For Voegelin India had never been the recipient of any great historical upheavals, as occurred in the Ancient Near East with the collapse of the ancient cosmological empires. Thus no one ever really had to think about rationalising an order to history. Moreover, because God/Brahman in Hinduism is always atman (the self) and never Other, this also prevented any emergence of a “differentiation in being” to take place. Voegelin writes:

“In the culture of Hinduism, historical consciousness is muted by the dominance of late-cosmological speculations on the cosmos as a “thing” with a beginning and an end, as a “thing” that is born and reborn in infinite sequence. The hypostasis of the cosmos, and the fallacious infinite of cosmological speculation, can be identified as the stratum in the Hinduist experience of reality that has not been broken by epochal events comparable to the noetic and pneumatic theophanies in Hellas and Israel. As a consequence, the Brahmanic experience of reality does not develop the self-consciousness of the Platonic-Aristotelian philosophy as a noetic science; in its self-understanding it is a darshana, a way of looking at reality from this particular thinker’s position… The most striking manifestation of this phenomenon is the nonappearance of historiography in Hindu culture.”[6]

Now, so one might think, to Voegelin all this would be a good thing – none of the dualism and millenarianism that caused the decline of Near Eastern and Western religious experience into secular political religions. However, Voegelin simply seems to snub India as something which never really went anywhere. He shows some passing interest in the Greco-Bactrian cultural exchange, but the only thinker of note is Shankara with his advaitya vedanta. This is perhaps because of similarities between the neti neti (God is not this, not this) of Shankara and the via negativa (negative theology) of the Christian Cloud of Unknowing, which Voegelin initially took to be a Gnostic text, but later came to embrace because of its refusal of “Gnosis”- ultimate positive knowledge.[7] There are other problems, small but niggling. We are never even told by Voegelin whether, as with China and its t’ien hsien (all under heaven), anyone in Indian history ever attempted to symbolise a universal “humanity”.[8] Even more invitingly, as Fabbri (p. 39) suggests, we are left wondering why Voegelin never had anything to say about the great Indian epic the Mahabharata. Let’s hope that Fabbri or someone else in the near future gets around to fixing this. I would love to read such a thing.


Fabbri attempts to turn Voegelin’s remarks on their head. From a Guénonian perspective India’s atman and lack of “historicism” makes it far more spiritually healthy. To Fabbri India represents a more complete primordial view of things, spared from the dualism inherent in monotheism that leads to obsessions with mastery over nature and the millenarian immanentisation of an alien God (pp. 40-1). This only begins to come apart with the introduction of Western ideas during the colonial period (p. 43). Fabbri’s main target of interest is Sri Aurobindo, a British-educated turn of the century figure who reshaped Hinduism towards a progressive view of history – a Hegelesque “integral” view of the world. The whole world comes to be united in a futuristic enlightened communist consciousness emanating from India and its god-man sages (pp. 49-60). Indeed Aurobindo and those like him such as the Theosophists have done a lot of damage to Indian thought. Without them there would have been none of the “New Age” millenarianism of the 60s that the West (and India) came to be soaked in. What is curious, and what Fabbri fails to mention, is that Guénon initially had some enthusiasm for Aurobindo, but eventually realised that his evolutionism was a modern corruption of the traditional Hindu cyclic view of history.[9] However, the supreme sin of Aurobindo for Fabbri is the fact that he transformed Maya, the veil of illusion separating the individuated entity from realising it is part of atman, to Lila, merely the cosmic playfulness of entities coming into being and perishing (p. 57). The phenomenal world becomes a joyous, immanentised plenitude, reminiscent of “process theology”. Such views in my experience are of course extremely prevalent in New Ageism and its gutting of Hindu thought, especially the twee Spinozism of “Deep Ecology”.

This brings us to two curious absences in Fabbri’s take on India. The first is that although he traces the influences of Aurobindo down to modern Indian nationalism and communism and New Age gurus, he does this perhaps too succinctly. For instance, he mentions Radhakrishnan only in passing (p. 48). This thinker not only actively engaged in attempting to square Hindu thought with western progress narratives, science and “process thought”, but also played an enduring part on the international stage as a representative of Indian nationalism.[10] At least something on this figure would have been welcome. The second issue is that although Fabbri (p. 41) mentions the idea of the kalki-avatara, the tenth and final avatar of Vishnu, who is supposed to come at the end of this cosmic cycle to renew the world, he never queries whether even this idea might have come from the millenarianisms of the Abrahamic religions. Some thinkers have certainly asked this before, as also in regard to the closely related legend of the eschatological kalki kings and armies of Shambhala in Buddhism, for which at least some Islamic influence has been posited.[11] Nonetheless, Fabbri (p. 42) is very much right to remind us that there are thousands more years of the to go before any kalki-avatara might be expected. Anyone, especially all those dubious New Age gurus, who claim otherwise, seem testament to the idea that millenarianism should perhaps be called the opiate of the Kali Yuga. Everyone wants out but Great Disappointments keep on coming.

Fabbri then moves from India into tracing a similar history in Islam. In fact India disappears for the rest of the book. This largely seems to be because Islam is a far greater issue in relation to contemporary global politics. Fabbri’s (p. 67) understanding of Islam takes its bearings from two things. The first is the idea that Islam has always been troubled by a “noeud gordien” (Gordian Knot), wherein prophesy and empire-building have had an uneasy coexistence. He attributes the origins of this understanding to Voegelin, which does not actually seem to be the case, though the conception still seems quite valuable. Rather, if we are to look at what Voegelin has to say about Islam in The Ecumenic Age, the results are even more woeful than what he has to say about India. All we get is a couple of pages, most of which are simply block-quotes from the Koran and the declaration that Islam was little more than the combined empire-and-church approach of the Byzantine and Sassanid ecumenai. These, so Voegelin says, formed the “horizon” in which Mohammad thought:


“Mohammed conceived the new religion that would support its ecumenic ambition with the simultaneous development of imperial power. The case is of special interest as there can be no doubt that Islam was primarily an ecumenic religion and only secondarily an empire. Hence it reveals in its extreme form the danger that beset all of the religions of the Ecumenic Age, the danger of impairing their universality by letting their ecumenic mission slide over into the acquisition of world-immanent, pragmatic power over a multitude of men which, however numerous, could never be mankind past, present, and future.” [12]

Whether we are talking about “Gordian Knots” or “sliding over”, for all the briefness of Voegelin’s observations, there would certainly seem to be something profound to work with here. It seems that Islam, like Christianity with its Heavenly and Earthly City, millennium and later its “two swords” of Church and State, was troubled from the moment it began to set down concrete notions of the historical finalisation of the nature of things.

This brings us to the second basis for Fabbri’s history of Islamic spiritual decline – his reliance on the ideas of Henry Corbin (pp. 70, 83-5). Like Guénon, the name of Corbin in not well-known (except perhaps within Islamic mystical circles or in the writing of Norman O. Brown). Corbin was the first French translator of Heidegger, but his main importance comes from his enterprising work on angelology and proposed Zoroastrian influences in Shi’a Islam.[13] Corbin describes the existence of a “mundus imaginalis” (imaginal world) – a medial realm between man and God –  peopled by angelic beings. This Nâ-Kojâ-Abâd, “Country of Non-Where”, or “Eighth Clime”, is accessible only through the consciousness and is the organ for the reception of the visions and prophesies that are brought to men from God via the angels. The “imaginal” is not to be confused with modern western understandings of the “imagination”, which largely view this term to mean simply a source for entertaining aesthetic produce or downright falsity. Imagination isn’t “fantasy”. However, so I am tempted to propose, if one looks closely at the history of these two terms their confusion seems to lie in the mediaeval reception of the ideas of Avicenna in Europe. Many tangled arguments ensued over which term meant a purely receptive capacity for external images and inner divine visitations, and which the organ of active creativity from pre-received material.[14]

What both Corbin and then Fabbri do is chart the history of Islam as the history of the decay and forgetting of the angelic reality – the death of ongoing prophesy. As one might imagine Fabbri finds similarities between the medial nature of this “mundus imaginalis” and Voegelin’s metaxy or In-Between and his reading of history as the breaking down of this dynamic experiential system into dualism and then immanentism. Without a “resolving third” full of intramundane spirits and myths one’s ecumene and consciousness becomes very empty indeed. Fabbri also sees this inherent in the discarding of the cult of the gods, the Ishtadevas, in Hinduism by thinks such as Aurobindo. In a later essay I would like to return to such questions in relation to the history of the West and its own loss of angels. However, for now it is more important to emphasise that all this means that both Corbin and Fabbri come down hard on the side of Shi’a rather than Sunni Islam. The root of Islam’s issues is the “tragédie fondatrice” (founding tragedy) of the Sunni-Shi’a division (the fitna), just as much as the “Gordian Knot” of prophesy and empire mentioned above. For the Shi’a, prophesy kept on going to a certain point, depending on how many Imams each faction take to be rightfully guided, up to the Great Occultation of the mahdi – the imam in hiding. For the Sunnis, Muhammad was the “seal of the prophets” and that was that. This means that those claiming to be the recipients of new prophesies and divine knowledge have always had a strained relationship with mainstream Islamic thought.


Fabbri (pp. 74-7) lays out the history of these difficulties through figures such as Al Farabi, whose mixture of Platonism and Islamic revelation produces an image of a proto-Kantean world state ruled by “philosopher kings”. Following Corbin, Fabbri (p. 75) ponders whether Farabi was a “crypto-Shiite” trying to think beyond the Grand Occultation of the last imam. Another important thinker is the Sufi Ibn Arabi who represented the rulers from Adam to Muhammad as God’s representatives on Earth, and those thereafter as simply secular rulers. History instead is controlled from the outside by the saints and angels. As Fabbri (pp. 88-9) notes there is something strongly anti-millenarian and “realist” about this. Yet, at the same time, this descacralisation of the caliphate opens up the space for a “spiritual anarchy” where the secular rulers are unimportant compared with the Gnostic claims of holy men.

The “Gordian Knot” problem leads down to the “presque schmittienne” (almost Schmittian p. 90) political theorisations of Ibn Taymiyya. Here maintaining the sharia and the temporal rule of the Islamic states against heathens becomes the onus. So too is the cult of the saints pejorated as idolatry, leaving no intermediaries or intercessors between man and God. The genesis of Islamism then emerges in a kind of dual spiritual desperation. On the one hand there is the destruction of the Caliphate by the Mongols (and later the collapse of the Ottoman Empire). On the other there in an increasing shutting out and disappearance of prophetic claims and the intercession of saints. What then emerges is a kind of panicked assumption that if the Caliphate is restored, Islamic consciousness then too will be restored to how it was during its early period. Increased persecution of Sufis, attempts to rid foreign corruptions from an imagined pure, original Islam and abject literalism ensue through Abd al-Wahhab, Sayyid ibn Qutb and other prominent thinkers among contemporary Sunni Islamists. Fabbri (pp.91-3), in comparison with The New Political Religions, only gives these influential thinkers a couple of pages and he has nothing to say about Westernised Pan-Arabist movements like Ba’aathism. He remains far more interested in the stranger, more obviously “Gnostic” cases.

Fabbri (pp. 95-101) then descends into the influence of Western political religions on Islam during the colonial period. The most important thinker here is Muhammad Iqbal, who attempted to square Einsteinian cosmology, and the “process” thought of Whitehead and Bergson with Islam, and ends up producing a series of bizarre “Gnostic” visons about modernity. Marx becomes the angel Gabriel of the new age, feminism appears manifest as a monstrous Priestess of Mars. Reading all this strongly reminds me of the way in which in the Soviet Era the old religious and heroic oral epics of “minorities” in the USSR were secularised to replace millenarian heroes such as Geser Khan and his titanic foes with Marx, Engels and Lenin flying through the cosmos battling the fifty-headed hydra of capitalism.[15] The strange syncretism of the old religions and the political religions seems to have got into everything in the twentieth century.


Finally, Fabbri (pp. 103-11) comes to Ali Shariati, Khomeyni and the Iranian Revolution. Fabbri deftly notes the influence of a number of Western thinkers such as Sartre and Marx (“red Shi’ism”) on the formation of these ideas and the degeneration into millenarian theocracies ruled by Gnostic “philosopher kings”. Yet, there is one very obvious absence in his analysis. This is Heidegger. Fabbri mentions Heidegger numerous times throughout Eric Voegelin et l’Orient in connection with globalism, subjectivity, technology and nihilism (pp. 30, 46, 50, 58, 100). However, like his references to Leo Strauss (ie. pp. 99-100), Heidegger is always cited as a kind of minor accessory – one of the “good guys” – but not as important as Corbin, Guénon and of course Voegelin himself. Fabbri does not at all mention how the influential concept gharbzadegi (“westosis/weststruckness”- being infected with western nihilism) from the Iranian Revolution is nearly entirely down to Heidegger’s influence through Ahmad Fardid, who propagated Heidegger’s ideas about cultural “authenticity” in Iran and organised a group of “Iranian Heideggerians” in the 1970s.[16] Fabbri (p.104) in passing names Jalal al-e-Ahmad who popularised the concept, but Ahmad and his Heideggerianism is never dealt with at all.

Heidegger is a very troublesome thinker, far more than the occasional ritualistic hand-wringing about his Nazi period in contemporary continental philosophy usually conveys. Heidegger’s embrace of Nazism has its basis in the idea that the Germans had a unique primordial and “authentic” link with the Greeks and Being, which was under threat by the flattening effects of capitalist and communist nihilism.[17] There is quite a profound legacy to this idea of one’s people possessing an ancient and unique manifest destiny and identity to overcome global nihilism. Shortly after Heidegger’s infamous Rektor speech in 1933, some of the Japanese philosophers of the “Kyoto School” such as Keiji Nishitani, who studied with Heidegger, took this up, replacing Being with the Zen Void, to construct a Japanese imperial manifest destiny.[18] “Reactionary” Heidegger returns in the Iranian Revolution and more recently in the “Fourth Political Theory” of Aleksandr Dugin and his obsessions with building a Eurasian Empire to combat the “post-liberal” monster of globalised American consumer culture.[19] As Foucault said of the Iranian Revolution – it was to be the first great rebellion against the Western “world system”. Just as much as Heidegger, his reputation never managed to live this down.[20] Thus, I think that Fabbri should have expended at least some attention on dealing with the millenarian and deforming aspects of Heidegger’s ideas outside the West.

In comparison, perhaps, as Chinese Heideggerian Yuk Hui has recently shown with his book The Question Concerning Technology in China, which touched upon the uneasy Heideggerian legacy in Dugin and the “Kyoto School”, there might be some hope of using Heidegger’s later ideas to undertake culturally-specific “rememberings of Being” without it all just turning into a “metaphysical fascism”. This possibility is based around re-investigating how imported Western conceptions of technology have covered over the ongoing relationship between Qi and Tao in Chinese philosophy. Knowing the dangers of an emerging China simply repeating Western global empire building and technological nihilism seems to be the first step; to live with technology China must learn to reintegrate it, the world, life and society together into a “cosmotechnics”. One can only hope this doesn’t backfire and we end up with some sort of exceptionalist Taoism with a transhumanist immortality complex.[21] Heideggerian “traditionalism” remains a dangerous animal.

Fabbri draws his book to a close by attempting to consider how to deal with contemporary Islamism. Although one is unsure of his political leanings, he does seem very much aware of the weaknesses of the contemporary left and right in Europe (though it could be America, Australia…) in understanding Islam and its history. To the liberal left Islam is a magical victim, which must be defended at all costs, often to the point of naivety; to the increasingly reactionary right and the actively anti-religious left it is simply anathema – it has no place in Western society (p. 121). Fabbri’s (pp. 116-9) beginning of an answer to this is in the vague hope he seems to find in the figure of Tariq Ramadan, a popular Islamic public intellectual. Ramadan believes that Islam needs to reform the Sharia for the “complexities” of the modern world and understand that there is a “double revelation of God” – the koran and nature.


What is it that Fabbri finds promising about Ramadan? It simply seems to be that he is not necessarily a priori against the ideas from Sufi thinkers (p. 118). This doesn’t really sound like much. Fabbri himself recognises that Ramadan’s attitude towards the metaphysical aspects involved in the nature of modernity and Islam are gravely lacking. Moreover he admits that Ramadan is rather “naïve” in his attempts to square Islam with modern science. All in all to Fabbri (p. 116), Ramadan “illustre bien la vitalité mais aussi les limites de cette literature de résistance au fondamentalisme en terre d’Islam” (illustrates well the vitality but also the limits of this literature of resistance to fundamentalism in the Islamic world). These days there seem to be “Ramadans” everywhere, many far worse than the man himself. Some of them are atheists simply flying the identity politics flag of “cultural Islam”. They people TV talk show panels and public lectures telling everyone of the wonders of some liberal Islamic reformation, which seems to exert almost no influence outside of educated liberal Western circles. As to how the Islamic world might actually go about such a thing, and moreover, how it might do so without losing even more of its spirit than it already has done through the “Gordian knot” and Western influence, seems extremely fanciful.[22] Nonetheless, it seems difficult to consider how the Islamic world might actually go about a renewal of the spirit, and moreover, how it might do so without losing even more of its spirit than it already has done through the “Gordian knot” and Western influence.

Although things might seem rather dark, Fabbri (p. 122) ends his book with the optimistic hope for a “New Axial Age”, a renewal of Islam, Hinduism (and presumably Western traditions too) that might emerge by looking back over their histories and rediscovering the moments of luminosity that produced them. Yet because of the narratives of spiritual decline inherent in Voegelinian and Guénonian perspectives, there might seem no real exit beyond simply enduring “modernity without restraint” as best one can. In the words of Peter Sloterdijk on Voegelin, one of the few popular thinkers to engage with his ideas in recent years: “defences of philosophia perennis in the twentieth century frequently become involuntary obituaries instead.”[23] Here Sloterdijk might as well have been speaking of Guénon. The elephant in the room, however, is whether announcing a new epoch like this is not an act of millenarianism in itself. In light of this one should perhaps recall Georges Sorel’s apt observation that it is pessimist desperation that gives rise to millenarian will-to-deliverance and revolution, not optimistic images of the world.[24] Maybe the best we can do is stay positive about what remains of esoteric tradition, name the devil of millenarianism for what it is, and keep an open mind to different traditions, experiences and ecumenical histories. All in all Fabbri has written an amazing little book, as much as it cannot help but seem to be slightly tinged with obituary. I look forward to finding out more about this “New Axial Age”.


[1] Barry Cooper, The New Political Religions, or, An Analysis of Modern Terrorism, University of Missouri Press, Columbia and London, 2004.

[2] René Guénon, The Essential René Guénon, World Wisdom, Sophia Perennis, Bloomington, 2009.

[3] Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger: A Survival Manual for Aristocrats of the Soul, trans. Jocelyn Goodwin, Inner Traditions, New York, [1961] 2003; Aleksandr Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory, Arktos, London, 2014.

[4] For an example of just how dependent upon the idea of deterministic primary causes in the narrative of the cosmos Guénonian thought is, compare Voegelin’s conceptions of order and history with this: Fritjof Schuon, The Essential Fritjof Schuon, edited by Seyyed Hussein Nasser, World Wisdom Publishers, Bloomington, Indiana, 2005,  p. 181:”…traditions having a prehistoric origin are, symbolically speaking, made for “space” and not for “time”; that is to say, they saw the light in a primordial epoch when time was still but a rhythm in a spatial and static beatitude…the historical traditions on the other hand must take the experience of “time” into account and must foresee instability and decadence, since they were born in periods when time had become like a fast-flowing river and ever more devouring, and when the spiritual outlook had to be centred on the end of the world.”

[5] Fritjof Schuon, The Essential Fritjof Schuon, p. 144. Cf. p. 138 uses the anti-philosophical arguments of the Sufis against the philosophical obsessions with laws of causation and the “outer world”. Here Schuon refers to the “best of the Greeks” as those who saw immanent Intellect at work in the world, but even here he has to emphasise that he believes the Arabic mismatch of Plato, Plotinus and Aristotle was superior because Islamic thinkers considered them holy men and used their ideas as a combined instrument to search for the truth. Also see: Ibid, Art from the Sacred to the Profane: East and West, World Wisdom Publihsers, Bloomington, Indiana, 2007, p. 48.  Perhaps an anecdote might shed some light on the occasional habit among Traditionalists to pejorate the “Western tradition” in favour of Hinduism and Islam. Many years ago when my old teacher Roger Sworder hired Harry Oldmeadow for his Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at Latrobe University Bendigo, Australia he asked him one important question over the phone: “What do you think of Guénon and Schuon’s attitudes towards the Greeks?” The appropriate answer that got him the job was “They said Plato was the best the West had available. They didn’t say enough.” Sworder spent his whole life in many ways trying to redeem the Greeks (especially the Neo-Platonic tradition) from a Traditionalist perspective. See: Roger Sworder, Mining, Metallurgy and the Meaning of Life, Sophia Perennis, San Rafael CA, [1995] 2008.

[6] Eric Voegelin, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Vol. 17: Order in History Vol IV: the Ecumenic Age, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 2000, p. 394. Cf. Idem, Anamnesis, trans. Gerhart Niemeyer, University of Missouri Press, Columbia and London, 1990, p. 123 on India: “but no historiography.”

[7] Idem, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Vol. 21: History of Political Ideas Vol. III: The Later Middle Ages, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, p. 177: “the civilizational destruction perpetrated by a peasant group fighting for the perfect realm does not differ in principle from the annihilation of the world content in the…Cloud of Unknowing.” Cf. Eugene Webb, Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1981, pp. 28-9.

[8] Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, esp. pp. 375-6.

[9] Pierre Feuga, “Rene Guenon et l’Hindouisme,” http://pierrefeuga.free.fr/guenon.html#_ftnref25 last accessed: 11th July 2017. Also see: René Guénon, Studies in Hinduism, trans. Henry D. Fohr and Cecil Bethell, Sophia Perennis, Hillsdale NY, 2004, p. 168 where he quotes Aurobindo at length against the Freudian unconsciousness.

[10] See: Radhakrishnan, An Idealist View of Life, Unwin Books, London, 1970.

[11] Mahabharata Vol. II, trans. and ed. by J. A. B. van Buitenen University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1975, Book III. section 188.86-189.12. See: A. L. Basham, The Wonder that Was India, Rupa, Calcutta, 1986, p. 309 which mentions similarities with Christ’s second coming on a white horse as a similarity with Kalki; Zoroastrianism and Buddhism are mentioned as possible sources for the myth too. Wendy Doniger, The Hindus: An Alternative History, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010, pp. 486-7. On Shambhala, Kalki and Islam see: Alexander Berzin, “Holy Wars in Buddhism and Islam,” Alexander Berzin Archive:www.studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-studies/history-culture...islam last accessed: 19th June 2016; Jan Elvserskog, “Ritual Theory Across the Buddhist-Muslim Divide in Late Imperial China,” in A. Akasoy, C. Burnett and R. Yoeli-Tlalim, (eds) Islam and Tibet: Interactions Along the Musk Road, Ashgate, Farnham UK, 2011, pp. 1-16 and 293-312. On the Soviet use of the Shambhala myth to spread communism: Alexander Znamenski, Red Shambala: Magic, Prophesy and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia, QuestBooks, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, 2011.

[12] Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, pp. 198. The koranic quotes are carried over onto pp. 199-201. Perhaps Voegelin didn’t like Islam very much, as is suggested in The New Science of Politics, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1952, pp. 139-42 where he uses the term “koran” pejoratively to indicate the Gnostic habit of writing heretical third testaments to biblical history.

[13] Henry Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi, trans. Ralph Manheim, Princeton University Press, Princeton N.J., 1969. Idem, “Mundus Imaginalis, or, The Imaginary and the Imaginal,” Zurich, Spring 1972, available from:  https://ia600201.us.archive.org/28/items/mundus_imaginali... last accessed: 6th July 2017.

[14] For a commensurate overview see: Dennis L. Sepper, Descartes’ Imagination: Proportions, Images and the Activity of Thinking, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1996, pp. 19-25.

[15] Jonathan Ratcliffe, “The Messianic Geser: from Religious Saviour to Communism,” Paper delivered at Geser Studies Conference, 23rd June 2016, Buryat Scientific Centre, Ulan Ude. English and Russian versions. http://anu-au.academia.edu/JonathanRatcliffe last accessed: 6th July 2017.

[16] Mohammad Rafi, “Re-Working the Philosophy of Martin Heidegger: Iran’s Revolution of 1979 and its Quest for Cultural Authenticity,” Telos Press, 19th April 2013, http://www.telospress.com/re-working-the-philosophy-of-ma... last accessed: 6th July 2017.

[17] Martin Heidegger, “The Self-Assertion of the German University,” in Richard Wolin, The Heidegger Controversy, MIT Press, London, 1993, pp. 29-39; idem, Nature History and the State 1933-1934, trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt, various contributors, Bloosmbury, London, 2015.

[18] Yuk Hui, The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics, Urbanomic, Falmouth, UK, 2016, pp. 241-69.

[19] Aleksandr Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory; Alexander S. Duff, “Heidegger’s Ghosts,” The American Interest 11/5 25th February 2016, http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/02/25/heidegger... last accessed: 17th September 2016.

[20] Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson, Foucault and the Iranian Revolution, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2005. Cf Slavoj Žižek, In Defence of Lost Causes, Verso, New York, 2008, esp. pp. 107-17.

[21] Yuk Hui never talks about transhumanism, but is very much dependent upon Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China Vol II: History of Scientific Thought, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1956.  However as noted by one of the most millenarian thinkers of the last century: Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown Connecticut, 1959, p. 311: “But Needham’s enthusiasm for Taoism as a human and organismic response to life in the world must be qualified by recognising that the Taoist perfect body is immortal: Taoism does not accept death as part of life.”

[22] Exemplary is this book: Paul Berman, The Flight of the Intellectuals, Scribe, Melbourne, 2010. This is little more than a kind of rather ineffectual beat-up about Ramadan, all based on his father’s connections with the Muslim Brotherhood rather than the thinker’s own character. The conclusions of its author were simple: replace the public intellectual Ramadan with another, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. What’s so special about Ali? She’s an ex-muslim, she loathes Islam and campaigns against it. Ergo, the only good Islam in Europe (or possibly everywhere) is no Islam.

[23] Peter Sloterdijk, In the World Interior of Capital, trans. Wieland Hoban, Polity, Cambridge UK, 2016, p. 283 n.4.

[24] Georges Sorel, Reflections on Violence, trans. J. Roth and T.E. Hulme, Collier Books, New York, 1961, pp. 34-6.


Written by


Jonathan Ratcliffe is a doctoral candidate in Asian History at the Australian National University. He is working with Chris Heggie-Brown on a history of technology and politics, provisionally titled "Voegelin Among the Machines."

lundi, 04 septembre 2017

The Geopolitics of Jason Jorjani


The Geopolitics of Jason Jorjani

Jason Reza Jorjani
World State of Emergency [2]
London: Arktos Media, 2017

Dr. Yen Lo: ”You must try, Comrade Zilkov, to cultivate a sense of humor. There’s nothing like a good laugh now and then to lighten the burdens of the day. [To Raymond] Tell me, Raymond, do you remember murdering Mavole and Lembeck?”[1] [3]

If Dr. Jason Jorjani were an inanimate object, he would be an exploding cigar; or perhaps one of those cartoon guns with a barrel that twists around [4] and delivers a blast to the man behind the trigger.[2] [5] Jorjani, however, is neither a gun nor a cigar, but an author, and with his new book he delivers another kind of unexpected explosion of conventional — albeit alt-Right — expectations. Anyone possessed with the least amount of intellectual curiosity — and courage — needs to read this book; although you should keep well away from windows and beloved china, as you will likely want to hurl it away from time to time.

After the twin hammer blows of first, publishing Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos, 2016), and then almost immediately taking on the job of Editor-in-Chief at Arktos itself, Jorjani has symmetrically one-upped himself by almost simultaneously resigning from Arktos and unleashing a second book, World State of Emergency, the title of which represents, he tells us almost right at the start, his “concept for a state of emergency of global scope that also demands the establishment of a world state.”[3] [6]

It’s no surprise that there hasn’t been much change here, but a glance at his resignation statement — helpfully posted at his blog[4] [7] — shows that he has set his sights on new targets, and changed his focus from how we got here to where we — might? must? — be going.

In my view, the seismic political shift that we are shepherding, and the Iranian cultural revolution that underlies it, represents the best chance for the most constructive first step toward the Indo-European World Order that I conceptualize in my new book, World State of Emergency.

Another change is that unlike his previous book, where the length and variety made it a bit difficult to keep the thread of the argument before one’s mind, this work is relatively straightforward. In fact, he provides an admirably clear synopsis right at the start, and by Ahura Mazda he sticks to it.

Over the course of the next several decades, within the lifespan of a single generation, certain convergent advancements in technology will reveal something profound about human existence. Biotechnology, robotics, virtual reality, and the need to mine our Moon for energy past peak oil production, will converge in mutually reinforcing ways that shatter the fundamental framework of our societies.

It is not a question of incremental change. The technological apocalypse that we are entering is a Singularity that will bring about a qualitative transformation in our way of being. Modern socio-political systems such as universal human rights and liberal democracy are woefully inadequate for dealing with the challenges posed by these developments. The technological apocalypse represents a world state of emergency, which is my concept for a state of emergency of global scope that also demands the establishment of a world state.

An analysis of the internal incoherence of both universal human rights and liberal democracy, especially in light of the societal and geopolitical implications of these technologies, reveals that they are not proper political concepts for grounding this world state. Rather, the planetary emergency calls for worldwide socio-political unification on the basis of a deeply rooted tradition with maximal evolutionary potential. This living heritage that is to form the ethos or constitutional order of the world state is the Aryan or Indo-European tradition shared by the majority of Earth’s great nations — from Europe and the Americas, to Eurasia, Greater Iran, Hindu India, and the Buddhist East.

In reviewing Jorjani’s previous book [8], Prometheus and Atlas, I said that it could serve as a one-volume survey of the entire history of Western thought, thus obviating the need to waste time and money in one of the collegiate brainwashing institutes; I also said that “the sheer accumulation of detail on subjects like parapsychology left me with the feeling of having been hit about the head with a CD set of the archives of Coast to Coast AM.”

The new book changes its focus to technology and its geopolitical implications, but a bit of the same problem remains, on a smaller scale and, as I said, the overall structure of the argument is clear. In the first chapter, Jorjani lands us in media res: the Third World War. Unlike the last two, most people don’t even realize it’s happening, because this is a true world war, a “clash of civilizations” as Samuel Huntington has famously dubbed it.

The dominance of Western values after the Second World War was a function of the West’s overwhelming military and industrial power; the ease which that power gave to the West’s imposition of its values misled it into thinking those values were, after all, simply “universal.” With the decline of that power, challenges have emerged, principally from the Chinese and Muslim sectors.

Jorjani easily shows that the basis of the Western system — the UN and its supposed Charter of Universal Human Rights — is unable to face these challenges; it is not only inconsistent but ultimately a suicide pact: a supposed unlimited right to freedom of religion allows any other right (freedom from slavery, say, or from male oppression) to be checkmated.

Chapter Two looks at the neocon/neoliberals’ prescription for an improved world order, the universalizing of “liberal democracy.” Here again, Jorjani easily reveals this to be another self-defeating notion: liberalism and democracy are separate concepts, which history shows can readily be set to war with each other, and Moslem demographics alone predicts that universal democracy would bring about the end of liberalism (as it has wherever the neocon wars have brought “democracy”).[5] [9]

For a more accurate and useful analysis, Jorjani then pivots from these neo nostrums to the truly conservative wisdom of the alt-Right’s political guru, Carl Schmitt.

Schmitt’s concept of the state is rooted in Heraclitus: the state emerges (note the word!) not from the armchair speculations of political philosophers on supposed abstract “rights,” but from

Decisive action required by a concrete existential situation, namely the existence of a real enemy that poses a genuine threat to one’s way of life.

Thus, there cannot be a “universal” state: the state must be grounded in the ethos or way of life of a particular people, from which it emerges; and it does so in the state of emergency, when the people confronts an existential Enemy. Unless . . .

Humanity as a whole were threatened by a non-human, presumably extraterrestrial, enemy so alien that in respect to it “we” recognized that we do share a common way of life that we must collectively defense against “them.”[6] [10]


There it is — bang! Just as Jorjani found a passage in Heidegger’s seminar transcripts that he could connect to the world of the paranormal,[7] [11] he grabs hold of this almost off-hand qualification and runs for daylight with it.

We have in interplanetary conflict a threat to Earth as a whole, which according to the logic of Schmitt’s own argument ought to justify a world sovereign. This is even more true if we substitute his technological catalyst[8] [12] with the specter of convergent advancements in technology tending towards a technological singularity, innovations that do not represent merely incremental or quantitative change but qualitatively call into question the human form of life as we know it. This singularity would then have to be conceived of, in political terms, as a world state of emergency, in two senses: a state of emergency of global scope, and a world state whose constitutional order emerges from out of the sovereign decisions made therein.

After this typically Jorjanian move, we are back to the land of Prometheus and Atlas, where each chapter is a mini-seminar; Chapters Three, Four and Five are devoted to documenting this “technological singularity” that “calls into question the human form of life as we know it.”

Take biotechnology:

What is likely to emerge in an environment where neo-eugenic biotechnology is legalized but not subsidized or mandates is the transformation of accidental economic class distinctions, which is possible for enterprising individuals to transcend, into a case system based on real genetic inequality.[9] [13]

Next up, robotics, artificial intelligence, drones, and most sinister of all, virtual reality:

In some ways, the potential threat to the human form of life from Virtual Reality is both more amorphous and more profound than that posed by any other emergent technology. It could become the most addictive drug in history. The enveloping of the “real world” into the spider-web of Cyberspace could also utterly destroy privacy and personal identity, and promote a social degenerative sense of derealization.

None of this matters, however, if we cannot maintain the “development of industrial civilization” after “the imminent decline in petroleum past the global peak in oil production.” This can only be addressed by the third technological development, “a return to the Moon for the sake of Helium-3 fueled fusion power.” This will “challenge us to rethink fundamental concepts such as nationalism and international law.” Who, on the Moon, is to be sovereign?

Having softened up the reader with this barrage of terrifying facts, Jorjani is ready to spring his next trap. The task of regulating biotechnology and guiding us to the moon requires a world state; Schmitt has shown us that a state can emerge only from the ethos of a particular people.


We have also seen that a bureaucratic world state will not suffice. Certain developments in robotics mean the end of personal privacy [and] as we live ever more of our lives in cyberspace, identity theft is coming to have a much more literal meaning. All in all, the convergent technological advancements that we have looked at require a maximal trust society simply for the sake of human survival. We need a world society with total interpersonal transparency, bound together by entirely sincere good will.

And yet, even if we could create such a society, perhaps by biotechnology itself, we don’t have the time: we have at most a generation to act. Is there “an already existing ethos, a living tradition that is inter-civilizational[10] [14] and global in scope,” as well as promoting high levels of mutual trust?

That would be, of course, “the common Aryan heritage of the Indo-European civilizations.”

It’s as if Jorjani took Carl Schmitt and Kevin MacDonald[11] [15] and through some kind of genetic engineering produced a hybrid offspring: the World State.

Reeling but still upright, the Alt-Right reader at least still has this to hang onto: “good old Aryan culture!” Lulled into complacency, he doesn’t even see the next punch coming:

Iran or Iran-Shahr — literally the “Aryan Imperium” — is the quintessentially Indo-European Civilization.

Iran is not just one great civilization among a handful of others, it is that crossroads of the world that affords all of humanity the possibility for a dialogue toward the end of a new world order.

A renaissance of Greater Iran . . . will be the spearhead of the war for an Indo-European World Order.

Once the Iranian or Aryan Renaissance triumphs domestically, the Persians and Kurds in the vanguard of the battle against the nascent global Caliphate — with its fifth-column in the ghettos of the major European cities — will reconstitute Greater Iran as a citadel of Indo-European ideals at the heart of what is now the so-called “Islamic world” . . . this is going to happen.


At this point, the alt-Right reader throws up his hands and shouts “No mas! I didn’t sign up for this crusade!”

Now might be the point to bring up the general question: in what sense — if any – is Jorjani an Alt-Right writer? There is that resignation business, and what’s with all this Iranian Renaissance stuff?[12] [16]

Well, you say “Aryan,” he says “Iran.” The point is that the Aryan Imperium is explicitly White, and fulfills Greg Johnson’s principle of setting up a white hegemony where all public issues are discussed in term of “what’s good for the White race,” rather than other hot button issues like school choice, abortion, etc. Under Jorjani’s postulated “world emergency” the new Aryan overlords would be viewed as both necessary and, therefore, literally unquestionable.[13] [17]

In a way, the Aryan Imperium is even too white, hence the alt-Rightist’s discomfort. Jorjani delights in taking “conservative” ideas and taking them to their logical endpoint. Enumerating the accomplishments of the Indo-Iranians, he lists “major . . . religious traditions such as . . . Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.” As in his previous book, Jorjani goes beyond the fashionable anti-Jihadism of the Right and locates the root of the problem in the Semitic tradition as such.

This is probably not what most alt-Rightists signed on for. But then, it is they who are among “those self-styled ‘identitarians’ who want to hold on to Traditional Christianity and hole up in one of many segregated ethno-states.” Not to worry; they will “perish together with the other untermenschen” in the coming world state of emergency, which will be the “concrete historical context for the fulfillment” of Zarathustra’s prophecy of a “new species,” the Superman.

So, I guess we have that to look forward to, at least.[14] [18]

As you can see, the anti-Christian animus can claim a pedigree back to that alt-right darling, Nietzsche, although it may not be something one is supposed to mention in public. That brings us to another sense in which Jorjani is an alt-Right thinker: he draws on, and orients himself by, the alt-Right canon: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Schmitt, de Benoist, Faye, Dugin, etc.

But again, as always . . .

“I’ve tried to clear my way with logic and superior intellect. And you’ve thrown my own words right back in my face, Brandon. You were right, too. If nothing else, a man should stand by his words. But you’ve given my words a meaning that I never dreamed of! And you’ve tried to twist them into a cold, logical excuse for your [Aryan Imperium].”[15] [19]

Calm down, people! Always with a little humor, comrades, to lighten the day’s geopolitical work.

While there is a cottage industry of goodthinkers trying to find evidence — well, more evidence — of how Heidegger’s allegiance to National Socialism “twisted” his thought, Jorjani found connections with parapsychology and even the occult; it’s a toss-up which association Heidegger epigones found more infuriating.

Now, Jorjani uptilts Heidegger’s colleague and fellow party-member Carl Schmitt; did Schmitt argue that the world-state of liberal globalist dreams was logically and existentially impossible? Sure, except this place here where he grants that one would be possible and necessary — if aliens invaded.[16] [20]

As for your White Imperium, sure, we’ll have that . . . run out of Tehran![17] [21]

The alt-Right is full of titanic thinkers of the past — Heidegger, Spengler, Yockey, Benoist — and their modern epigones (fully their equals, at least in their own minds), but Jorjani is the thinker we need now: more than just a lover of wisdom, he’s a wise guy.[18] [22]

That’s how Wolfi Landstreicher describes Max Stirner, and we might compare our situation to the Left Hegelians and Die Freien who populated the Berlin beerhalls and Weinstube — the blogs of the day — in the wake of Hegel. Among them were such “serious” thinkers as Karl Marx — and we know how that turned out — and Bruno Bauer, who invented the Christ Myth theory.

But there was also an individual — a Unique One — born Caspar Schmidt, calling himself — his online handle, if you will — “Max Stirner.”

As I wrote in my review [23] of Landstreicher’s new translation of The Unique One and Its Property, Stirner was driving people nuts right from the start.


Marx famously claimed to have found Hegel standing on his head, and to have set him right-side up; in other words, he re-inverted Hegel’s already inverted idealist dialectic and made material reality the basis of ideas.

Stirner, by contrast, picked Hegel up and held him over his head, spun him around, and then pile-drove him into the mat; a philosophical Hulk Hogan.

Stirner’s magnum opus is a kind of parody of Hegelianism, in which he spends most of his time using the famous dialectic to torment Hegel’s epigones, first Feuerbach and then, at much greater length, the Whole Sick Crew of (mid-19th century Euro-)socialism.

Have you philosophers really no clue that you have been beaten with your own weapons? Only one clue. What can your common-sense reply when I dissolve dialectically what you have merely posited dialectically? You have showed me with what kind of ‘volubility’ one can turn everything to nothing and nothing to everything, black into white and white into black. What do you have against me, when I return to you your pure art?[19] [24]

Of course, unless you’re Howard Roark claiming “no tradition stands behind me,” everyone has their sources; the more creative among us are the ones who transform them, and no one’s alchemical sleight of hand is as dramatic as Jorjani’s.[20] [25] As the great Neoplatonist John Deck wrote:

Clearly, there can be no a priori demonstration that any philosophic writer is more than a syncretist: but if it is good to keep our eyes open to spot “sources,” it is even better to bear in mind that a philosopher is one who sees things, and to be ready to appreciate it when sources are handled uniquely and, in fact, transmuted.[21] [26]

As always, the Devil — or Ahriman — is in the details.[22] [27]

In reviewing his previous book, I took Jorjani to task for assuming that a particular view of Islam, the fundamentalist, was ipso facto the “true” or “original” version of the religion.

Why privilege the fundamentalist, or literalist, view? It is as if Jorjani thinks that because religion determines culture (true) it does so in a way that would allow you to read off a culture simply from a study its sacred books, especially the ethical parts.[23] [28]

But the latter is neither the same as nor a valid inference from the former. A religion does not “imply” a culture, like a logical inference. Both the Borgia’s Florence and Calvin’s Geneva are recognizably “Christian” and totally unlike any Islamic society, but also almost totally unlike each other.

By this method, one could readily predict the non-existence of lesbian rabbis, which, in fact, seem to be everywhere.

The temptation, of course, is to dismiss those outliers are “not really Islam,” in preference to one’s own, whether one is a Wahabi oneself or an observer like Jorjani insisting Wahbism is “real” Islam; but to call the moderate Islam that made Beirut “the Islamic Riviera” heretical ironically puts Jorjani and other anti-jihadis in the same boat as an Obama, who hectors terrorists about “betraying Islam” and lectures us that “Islam is a religion of peace.”[24] [29]

And yet Jorjani himself upbraids Huntington for advising Westerners to “take pride in the uniqueness of western culture, reaffirming, preserving and protecting our values from internal decay,” which he derides as “the kind of conservatism that imagines “western values” to be static.”

In the book under review here, Jorjani doubles down: Islam is still based on a book actually written by this chap Mohammed, and a reading thereof shows it to be “impervious to reform or progressive evolution.”


But to this he now adds a similar concept of Zoroastrianism, but of course given a positive spin:

A handful of ideas or ideals integral to the structure of Iranian Civilization could serve as constitutional principles for an Indo-European world order: the reverence for Wisdom; industrious innovation; ecological cultivation, desirable dominion; chivalry and tolerance.

Jorjani writes in his two, last, geopolitical chapters as if there were a discernable set of “principles” written down or carved in stone as defining Zoroastrianism, and that these principles were adhered to, unquestionably, down through Persian history, accounting for its salient features. In reality, like all religions, Zoroastrianism was in favor and out of favor, adhered to strictly and given mere lip service, and always subject to reinterpretation and syncretism with outside sources.

After flourishing early on among the Achaemenid Persians (600s to 300s BC), Zoroastrianism was suppressed under the Parthian regime (200s BC to 200s AD), only to reemerge under the Sassanid dynasty for a few final centuries before the Arab conquest imposed Islam.

Zaehner distinguished three distinct periods in the history of pre-Islamic Zoroastrianism: “primitive Zoroastrianism,” that is, the prophet’s own message and his reformed, monotheistic creed; “Catholic Zoroastrianism,” appearing already in the Yasna Haptaŋhaiti and more clearly in the Younger Avesta, which saw other divinities readmitted in the cult, a religious trend attested in the Achaemenid period, probably already under Darius I and Xerxes I, certainly from Artaxerxes I onwards as shown by the calendar reform that he dates to about 441 BCE and finally the dualist orthodoxy of Sasanian times.[25] [30]

At times Jorjani recognizes this interplay of text, interpretation, and historical necessity, at least with Christianity:

The so-called “Germanization of Christianity” would be more accurately described as an Alanization of Christianity, since Alans formed the clerical elite of Europe as this took shape.[26] [31]

Or here:

One particularly colorful practice which reveals the love of Truth in Achaemenid society is that, according to Herodotus, the Persians would never enter into debates and discussions of serious matters unless they were drunk on wine. The decisions arrived at would later be reviewed in sobriety before being executed. . . . It seems that they believed the wine would embolden them to drop all false pretenses and get to the heart of the matter.

Indeed, and rather like the Japanese salarymen as well.[27] [32] But it comports poorly with Zoroaster’s insistence on sobriety and temperance; indeed, according to Zaehner, the whole point of Zoroaster’s reforms was the recognition that the drunken, orgiastic rites of the primitive Aryans (involving the entheogen haoma, the Hindu soma) were inappropriate for peasants in a harsh mountainous terrain.[28] [33]

I have spent this time — shall we say, deconstructing — Jorjani’s account of Zoroastrian culture because it is the envelope in which he presents us with his Indo-European principles, and is therefore important; but this must not be taken to mean I object to the principles themselves. They are fine ones, but if we choose to make them the principles for our Indo-European Imperium, it will be because we do so choose them our own, not because they instantiate some hypothetical, synchronic version of Zoroastrianism which we have already persuaded ourselves must govern our choices.[29] [34]

Such great, world-creating choices require the guidance of great minds, and not just those of the past. The Great Thinkers of the past are not only Titans but dinosaurs; and racing around them is a wily newcomer, Jason Jorjani — a prophet, like Nietzsche or Lawrence, who imagines new forms of life rather than reiterating the old ones[30] [35] — to whom the archeo-future belongs.


[1] [36] The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer, 1962)

[2] [37] Surprisingly, this myth is confirmed: MythBusters Episode 214: Bullet Baloney [38] (February 22, 2014).

[3] [39] Big scope and small scope, as we used to make the distinction back in the analytic philosophy seminars. Down the hall in the English Department corridor, Joyce Carol Oates was typing away at her novel of madness in Grosse Pointe, Expensive People: “I was a child murderer. I don’t mean child-murderer, though that’s an idea. I mean child murderer, that is, a murderer who happens to be a child, or a child who happens to be a murderer. You can take your choice. When Aristotle notes that man is a rational animal one strains forward, cupping his ear, to hear which of those words is emphasized — rational animal, rational animal? Which am I? Child murderer, child murderer? . . . You would be surprised, normal as you are, to learn how many years, how many months, and how many awful minutes it has taken me just to type that first line, which you read in less than a second: I was a child murderer.” (Vanguard Press, 1968; Modern Library, 2006).

[4] [40] “My Resignation from the alt-Right,” August 15th, 2017, here [41].

[5] [42] It’s happening here as well; a commenter at Unz.com observes that [43] “That’s the thing about representative democracy with universal, birthright citizenship suffrage. You don’t need to invade to change it, just come over illegally and have children. They’ll vote their homeland and culture here.”

[6] [44] Jorjnan’s paraphrase of Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political, p. 54: “Humanity as such cannot wage war because it has no enemy, at least on this planet.

[7] [45] In Prometheus and Atlas, Jorjani discusses an imaginal exercise conducted by Heidegger himself in his Zollikon Seminars, in which participants are asked to “make present” the Zurich central train station. Heidegger insists that “such ‘making present’ directs them towards the train station itself, not towards a picture or representation of it,” his conclusion being that ‘We are, in a real sense, at the train station.” (Quoting from Zollikon Seminars: Protocols, Conversations, Letters [Northwestern, 2001], p. 70). See my review [8] for a discussion of the implications of the Japanese saying, “A man is whatever room he is in.”

[8] [46] In a late work, Theory of the Partisan, Schmitt already begins to suggest that the development of what we would now call “weapons of mass destruction” may already constitute such a planetary threat.

[9] [47] Perhaps only evaded by “a small but highly motivated and potentially wealthy anarchical elite of Transhumanists who want to push the boundaries ad infinitum.”

[10] [48] I think Jorjani reverses “civilization” and “culture” (i.e., ethos) as defined by “Quintillian” here [49] recently: “The left cunningly advances its false narrative by deliberately contributing to the confusion between two terms: culture and civilization. Simply put, a civilization is an overarching (continental) commonality of shared genetics, religious beliefs, and political, artistic, and linguistic characteristics. A civilization is generally racially identifiable: African civilization, Asian civilization, and white European civilization. A civilization can have any number of constituent cultures. The culture of the Danes and that of the Poles are very different in superficial details, but they are both immediately identifiable as belonging to the same Western civilization. Africans are similarly divided among a variety of culture and ethnicities.” But “As I [Jorjani] understand it, a civilization is a super-culture that demonstrates both an internal differentiation and an organic unity of multiple cultures around an ethno-linguistic core.” Both would agree, however, that “the Indo-Europeans originated nearly all of the exact sciences and the technological innovations based on them, the rich artistic and literary traditions of Europe, Persia and India, as well as major philosophical schools of thought and religious traditions.” (Jorjani)

[11] [50] See, for example, the discussion of trust in White societies in Greg Johnson’s interview with Kevin MacDonald, here [51].

[12] [52] Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

[13] [53] A typically subtle point: by requiring a high-trust population, Jorjani implicitly excludes Jews and other Semites. A low-trust people themselves, the Jewish plan for World Order is to encourage strife within and between societies, until the sort of managerial or administrative state Jorjani rejects is installed to maintain order, under the wise leadership of the secular rabbis.

[14] [54] “So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.” Bill Murray, Caddyshack (Landis, 1980).

[15] [55] Rupert Cadell, upbraiding the crap-Nietzscheanism of his former pupils in Rope (Hitchcock, 1948). Cadell, of course, actually refers to “your ugly murder” which, the viewer knows, sets off the action of the film.

[16] [56] A not uncommon trope in science fiction, from The Day the Earth Stood Still to Childhood’s End to Independence Day; as well as a particularly desperate kind of Keynesian economic punditry: in a 2011 CNN interview video Paul Krugman proposed Space Aliens as the solution to the economic slump (see the whole clip here [57] for the full flavor).

[17] [58] I am reminded of the moment when Ahab reveals his hidden weapon against the Great White Whale: “Fedallah is the harpooner on Ahab’s boat. He is of Indian Zoroastrian (“Parsi”) descent. He is described as having lived in China. At the time when the Pequod sets sail, Fedallah is hidden on board, and he later emerges with Ahab’s boat’s crew. Fedallah is referred to in the text as Ahab’s “Dark Shadow.” Ishmael calls him a “fire worshipper,” and the crew speculates that he is a devil in man’s disguise. He is the source of a variety of prophecies regarding Ahab and his hunt for Moby Dick.” (Wikipedia [59]) For more on Moby Dick and devils, see my review of Prometheus and Atlas.

[18] [60] “You know, we always called each other goodfellas. Like you said to, uh, somebody, “You’re gonna like this guy. He’s all right. He’s a good fella. He’s one of us.” You understand? We were goodfellas. Wiseguys.” Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990). Who but Jorjani would define “arya” as “‘crafty,’ and only derivatively ‘noble’ for this reason.” But then is that not precisely the Aryan culture-hero Odysseus?

[19] [61] Max Stirner,The Philosophical Reactionaries: The Modern Sophists by Kuno Fischer,reprinted in Newman, Saul (ed.), Max Stirner (Critical Explorations in Contemporary Political Thought), (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p. 99.

[20] [62] Given Jorjani’s love of Heraclitus, one thinks of Water Pater’s description, in Marius the Epicurean, of the Roman philosopher Aristippus of Cyrene, in whom Heraclitus’ “abstract doctrine, originally somewhat acrid, had fallen upon a rich and genial nature well fitted to transform it into a theory of practice of considerable simulative power toward a fair Life.”

[21] [63] John N. Deck, Nature, Contemplation, and the One: A Study in the Philosophy of Plotinus (University of Toronto Press, 1969; Toronto Heritage series, 2017 [Kindle iOS version].

[22] [64] Including such WTF moments as Jorjani off-handedly defines “Continental Philosophy” as “largely a French reception of Heidegger.”

[23] [65] Ethical treatises, such as Leviticus, as best seen as reactions to the perceived contamination of foreign elements, rather than practical guides to conduct; Zaehner dismisses the Zoroastrian Vendidad as a list of “impossible punishments for ludicrous crimes. . . . If it had ever been put into practice, [it] would have tried the patience of even the most credulous.” R. C. Zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, London, 1961, pp. 27, 171.

[24] [66] As one critic riposted, “Who made Obama the Pope of Islam?” Indeed, the Roman Catholic model may be the (mis-)leading model here; Islam, like Judaism, lacks any authoritative “magisterium” (from the Greek meaning “to choose”) to issue dogma and hunt down heretics. Individual imams have only their own personal charisma and scholarly chops to assert themselves, just as individual synagogues hire and fire their own rabbis, like plumbers. On Jorjani’s model, lesbian rabbis should be as scarce as unicorns, rather than being a fashionable adornment of progressive congregations.

[25] [67] Encyclopedia Iranica Online, here [68]. Quoting Zaehner, op. cit., pp. 97–153.

[26] [69] Compare, on your alt-Right bookshelf, James C. Russell: The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

[27] [70] What, by the way, happened to Japan, which in Jorjani’s first book was specially favored by its non-Abrahamic traditions and catastrophic encounter with atomic energy to lead the way into the new future?

[28] [71] Zaehner, op. cit., p. 81. In fact, Herodotus never mentions Zoroaster at all, suggesting how obscure and un-influential the cult was at that time. Rather than the modern idea of “in vino veritas,” the “wine” here, as in the symposiums of Greece, may have been “mixed wine” containing entheogenic substances. “Visionary plants are found at the heart of all Hellenistic-era religions, including Jewish and Christian, as well as in all ‘mixed wine’, and are phenomenologically described in the Bible and related writings and art.” (Michael Hoffman, “The Entheogen Theory of Religion and Ego Death,” in Salvia Divinorum, 2006.)

[29] [72] Whether it’s Cyrus or Constantine, periods of Imperium are ipso facto periods of syncretism not orthodoxy. Surely this is more in accord with the author’s notion, here and elsewhere, of truth emerging from a Heraclitean struggle?

[30] [73] “[Henry] James evidently felt confident that he could make his last fictions not as a moralist but as a prophet; or a moralist in the sense in which Nietzsche and Lawrence were prophets: imagining new forms of life rather than reinforcing old ones.” Denis Donoghue, “Introduction” to The Golden Bowl (Everyman’s Library, 1992).

Le despotisme éclairé et ses avatars modernes


Le despotisme éclairé et ses avatars modernes

Bernard Plouvier,

auteur, essayiste

Ex: https://metamag.fr

« Quant à moi, j’aime l’État plus que mon âme », Niccolo Machiavel

Qu’est-ce qui différencie le populisme du despotisme éclairé ? Le but ! Ce n’est pas le bien de la Nation qui est la cible visée par ce dernier système politique, mais la puissance et la grandeur de l’État. Machiavel, théoricien de ce type de gouvernement, pose en principe que le bon « Prince » dirige avec douceur quand il le peut, avec ruse le plus souvent, avec brutalité au besoin, mais toujours avec le souci de l’efficacité.

Les despotes éclairés sont les dévots de la raison d’État, réagissant en idéalistes pragmatiques, qui estiment que la fin justifie et ennoblit les moyens. Tout ce qui est profitable ou simplement utile à l’État devient, ipso facto, licite. Le succès fait disparaître jusqu’au souvenir des crimes qui ont paru nécessaires à l’obtention du résultat. Est beau, juste et noble ce qui a réussi. C’est un peu trop vite confondre l’État et le Bien commun. L’État n’est jamais qu’un moyen… il n’y a pas que les adeptes du despotisme éclairé qui oublient cette notion. C’est, en principe, le bien de la Nation qu’un bon gouvernement doit rechercher : c’est la définition du populisme !

Les despotes éclairés du XVIIIe siècle – Frédéric II de Prusse, Joseph II, antépénultième empereur romain de langue germanique, Pierre le Grand au début du siècle et Catherine II de Russie à la fin, Gustave III de Suède, le marquis de Pombal au Portugal ou Robert Turgot – réalisèrent des expériences politiques fort rationnelles, où un monarque héréditaire (ou un grand ministre agissant en son nom) luttait contre les féodalités nobiliaires, judiciaires et cléricales, en s’appuyant sur la fraction la plus dynamique du peuple aux plans économique et intellectuel, dans le but de moderniser l’État et d’en accroître la puissance et le prestige, voire l’étendue.

L’expression « despote éclairé » n’est pas « une création d’un historien allemand du XIXe siècle », comme l’a écrit un docte universitaire : sa sottise fut immédiatement reprise par ses confrères historiens. En réalité, on la trouve, dès 1758, sous la plume de l’ami de Diderot, Melchior von Grimm, dans sa Correspondance littéraire. On peut en faire remonter la préhistoire au cardinal de Richelieu, même si les historiens, recopiant les Mémoires de Frédéric II, en bornent l’ancienneté au règne personnel de Louis XIV, aidé de grands ministres (Colbert, Louvois et Vauban sont les plus connus) et de quelques littérateurs (‘’Molière’’, Boileau, Racine ou La Fontaine), utiles à la gloire de son règne.

Dans ce système, le monarque (ou son substitut) s’appuie sur des hommes de talent qui ont réussi dans les affaires (manufacturiers, négociants et armateurs, grands administrateurs) ou qui sont des penseurs originaux (les physiocrates français, ou la trinité enluminée : Montesquieu, ‘’Voltaire’’ et Diderot ; ailleurs : les idées de Thomas Hobbes ou les écrits et la personne de Julien Onfroy de La Mettrie). Ces hommes sont moins des conseillers que des incitateurs, remerciés avec plus ou moins de chaleur une fois que le maître a remporté ses premiers succès, dont il ne veut partager la gloire avec personne.


Affirmer que le despote éclairé s’appuie sur la bourgeoisie pour contrer la noblesse et le haut-clergé, c’est faire preuve d’une grande simplicité et d’un défaut de documentation : tous les monarques médiévaux ont utilisé ce moyen pour asseoir leur pouvoir personnel et s’opposer aux grands prédateurs féodaux.

Certains appuis des monarques « éclairés » proviennent de milieu pauvre, de la caste nobiliaire ou du vivier clérical. Denis Diderot est issu du monde de l’artisanat peu aisé, ce qui ne l’empêche pas de conseiller Catherine II ; l’abbé Ferdinando Galiani et de nombreux aristocrates jouent un rôle de premier plan en Suède, en Autriche-Hongrie et surtout en Prusse et en Russie.

Seuls les corps constitués (assemblées du clergé, cour des pairs et parlements) sont repoussés par les monarques réformateurs qui veulent substituer au système des castes privilégiées le service de l’État, comme cela existe, depuis le XVe siècle, à Florence. Une bureaucratie zélée remplace les hiérarques traditionnels, avantageusement et à meilleur coût. Partout, le mot d’ordre est de laïciser, de moderniser, d’améliorer dans toutes les activités : de l’agriculture au commerce et aux manufactures, aussi bien qu’en matière de justice, d’enseignement, d’hygiène publique et d’art militaire ou de navigation. On casse les féodalités et l’on accroît les rentrées fiscales. Quand c’est possible, on étend le territoire.

Le despotisme éclairé, c’est le culte de l’État, fort, centralisé, uniformisé, ce qui fâche les membres des minorités ethniques qui veulent à toute force « cultiver leur différence », et de l’État moderne appliquant les innovations techniques et ne repoussant pas les idées originales, ce qui irrite les réactionnaires.

Le budget est maintenu en équilibre et la balance commerciale idéalement excédentaire, du moins en période de paix : c’est un héritage de Colbert. C’est ce qu’Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, à mi-chemin du populisme et du despotisme éclairé au XXe siècle, appelait « une politique nationale de vérité » : on règle ses dépenses sur ses recettes et l’on gère l’État comme le bon père de famille le fait (en principe) de son ménage.

Le menu peuple est protégé des fantaisies des nobles et du clergé ; il devient leur égal face à la Justice. En revanche, il doit travailler, obéir aux lois et fournir toujours plus de soldats et de marins, sans grogner et, si possible, avec enthousiasme. La promotion sociale des sujets de haute valeur est assurée : ce type de gouvernement modère les conséquences de la stratification en castes (liées à la naissance) et en classes (liées au niveau de fortune). De ce fait, il instaure un certain degré de méritocratie, du moins pour ceux qui se plient en tous points au monarque, qui, pour se vouloir éclairé par les lumières de la raison, n’en reste pas moins un despote ombrageux.

À la suite de Frédéric II, on a voulu définir ce régime par une phrase lapidaire autant que cynique : « Tout pour le peuple. Rien par le peuple » . En réalité, la formulation exacte serait : « Tout pour l’État », le monarque en étant le premier serviteur. Hegel l’a fort bien compris et en a formulé la théorie, vers 1820. Dans le despotisme éclairé, le souverain veut améliorer les conditions de vie de la majorité de ses sujets (idéalement, celle de tous), mais il ne demande nullement l’avis du peuple. Tout au plus, les élites sont-elles consultées de loin en loin, lorsque le monarque le décide.

L’armée n’intervient que pour défendre les frontières ou agrandir le territoire national : le despotisme éclairé n’a rien d’une dictature militaire. Même en Prusse, il existe beaucoup plus de fonctionnaires civils que d’officiers.


Dans tous les cas, le despote éclairé ne sort pas du cadre de l’autocratie, de la monarchie absolue. De ce fait, les réformes sont abolies dès qu’au despote succède un monarque faible ou traditionaliste, trop facilement ému par les jérémiades ou les menaces des grands féodaux et du haut-clergé. Le système ne persiste qu’en Prusse où, un demi-siècle après le Grand Frédéric, Bismarck puis Guillaume II transcendent son œuvre, en y adjoignant une protection sociale, bien avant l’action des réformistes du XXe siècle.

Le despotisme éclairé est le système qui définit le moins mal le régime franquiste en Espagne qui ne fut pas une dictature populiste, ainsi que les expériences de divers Caudillos latino-américains durant le XIXe siècle : Simon Bolivar dans la fugace Grande-Colombie, Gabriel Moreno en Équateur, José Rodriguez de Francia au Paraguay, ou, au Mexique, le moderniste Porfirio Diaz, renversé par le  richissime socialiste, vaniteux et entouré d’affairistes, Francisco Madero, associé puis ennemi de l’Indien raciste et sanguinaire Emiliano Zapata, qui rêvait d’en revenir au mode de vie paléolithique des chasseurs-cueilleurs, ou encore la tentative du dernier Shah d’Iran, Mohamed Reza, de moderniser son État et sa Nation, en dépit d’un fanatisme religieux omniprésent et qui réussit à balayer son régime.

Les dictateurs « fous de dieu », qui furent si nombreux de la Renaissance du Quattrocento (Jérôme Savonarole) et de l’époque moderne (Oliver Cromwell) jusqu’à nos jours (les chefs d’État de l’islam djihadiste), sont généralement opposés aux riches (de nos jours : les grands capitalistes, les maîtres des multinationales) et aux rhéteurs ineptes des parlements, mais ce sont avant tout des théocrates hallucinés, des fanatiques, nullement des populistes, encore moins des individus éclairés par la raison. S’il leur arrive, inconstamment, d’entreprendre des réformes pour améliorer le sort de leur Nation, ce n’est nullement leur but premier : le triomphe de leur conception de la divinité est l’unique préoccupation de ces fous furieux.

Les sanglantes dictatures marxistes furent très exactement calquées sur ce fanatisme d’essence religieuse. L’athéisme ne fait rien à l’affaire : les sanguinaires disciples de Marx et d’Engels, qui avaient tous leur herméneutique très personnelle des textes sacrés de l’utopie communiste, voulaient imposer le bonheur sur Terre aux élus, issus d’un prolétariat de fantaisie. L’absurde berquinade dégénéra en génocides, en dantesques règlements de comptes avec les « ennemis de classes » et les « déviationnistes ». L’Inquisition catholique, même celle du marrane Thomas de Torquemada, ne fut qu’amusette comparée aux ignominies des polices politiques de chaque « paradis des travailleurs ».


À l’opposé, les « révolutionnaires-conservateurs » européens, au XXe siècle, ne furent que des réactionnaires, issus de milieux fortunés et/ou cultivés, haïssant la plèbe et reprochant au IIIe Reich sa politique de fusion des castes et des classes sociales : Oswald Spengler, Ernst Jünger, Ernst von Salomon, Julius Evola n’en finissent pas d’agonir « l’aspect prolétarien et même vulgaire du national-socialisme ». Ce sont des nostalgiques du despotisme éclairé, mais nullement des héritiers de la centralisation jacobine de 1792-94 : le jacobinisme fut, avant tout, la mise en tutelle de l’Éxécutif par le Législatif.

Le mot d’ordre de ces esthètes a été donné en 1934 par l’un des précieux ridicules de la vie littéraire française, Abel Bonnard : « Une nation peut se sauver sans le secours d’un grand homme, elle ne le peut sans l’existence d’une élite ». C’est une phrase entièrement démentie par l’histoire des civilisations : tout système stable voit fleurir une élite d’administrateurs et de cadres, de scientifiques et de techniciens… quant à savoir si les purs intellectuels sont utiles à la Nation et à l’État, c’est une question qui risque de tourner à l’aporie.

Au XXe siècle, en Ibérie et en Amérique latine, les néo-despotes militaires se sont limités à réprimer l’agit-prop communiste, de façon d’ailleurs bien moins brutale que n’auraient agi les marxistes s’ils étaient parvenus au Pouvoir. L’opinion publique, désinformée par des clowns fort malhonnêtes, en a fait des monstres, alors qu’ils sont parvenus à éviter à leurs peuples la barbarie marxiste.

D’une manière générale, les nombreuses dictatures antimarxistes du XXe siècle, dites contre-révolutionnaires, comme celle des colonels grecs durant les années 1970 ou celle des généraux et amiraux chiliens ayant mis fin au règne chaotique de Salvator Allende, elles n’eurent rien de « populiste », étant l’expression de l’omnipotence du capitalisme cosmopolite, soutenu par la puissance de l’US-Army et de la ribambelle des services secrets des USA.

jeudi, 31 août 2017

Eric Voegelin: A Philosopher of Crisis

Many people, I suspect, find themselves in this position. They have heard that Eric Voegelin is a great philosopher of history, much esteemed by such eminent conservatives as Willmoore Kendall, Russell Kirk, and Mel Bradford, and that he and Leo Strauss rank as the most influential political theorists of the contemporary American Right.1 They eagerly obtain a copy of Voegelin’s most comprehensive work, Order and History. They are intrigued by the book’s opening: “The order of history emerges from the history of order”; but after reading a few pages, they turn away in bafflement. Though he can on occasion write with great beauty, Voegelin’s style is often dense and his train of thought difficult to follow. Even the great economist Murray Rothbard once told me that he found Voegelin’s “leap in being” unfathomable.

Reading Voegelin is well worth the effort his demanding books require, and Jeffrey C. Herndon’s insightful new book Eric Voegelin and the Problem of Christian Order offers a useful guide to an important part of Voegelin’s work.2 Before turning to it, however, it will be helpful to look at the historical situation that formed Voegelin’s thought. Mark Lilla here grasps the essential point. In an excellent survey article on Voegelin, Lilla remarks: “In the twentieth century, European history writing became a kind of Trümmerliteratur, a look back at the civilization that collapsed in 1933 . . . or 1917, or 1789, or further back still. . . . Edmund Husserl spoke for many German thinkers when he declared, in a famous lecture just before the Second World War, that ‘the “crisis of European existence” . . . becomes understandable and transparent against the background of the teleology of European history that can be discovered philosophically.’”3

How did the Nazis, a gang of brutal thugs, succeed in gaining power in Germany? Once Hitler attained power, why did the Western powers fail to stop him before his bid for European mastery? To Voegelin, as the quotation from Lilla suggests, these questions were of prime importance. Only a spiritual collapse could explain the failure to resist such an obvious menace.

But we must here avoid a misleading impression. Voegelin was by no means a head-in-the clouds philosopher who was never willing to descend from the empyrean to analyze mundane events. Quite the contrary; he often had penetrating and unusual insights on political affairs. He once told me he thought that Britain, blinded by ideology, had wrongly insisted on sanctions against Italy after its invasion of Ethiopia, thus driving Mussolini into alliance with Hitler. He also contended that Christian Science had exercised a deleterious pacifist influence on such British appeasers as Lord Lothian and recommended that I read Christopher Sykes’s biography Nancy: Lady Astor for background on the issue. (Although I’m fairly familiar with the literature on World War II origins, I’ve never seen anyone else make this point.)

His insights were by no means confined to the 1930s. He sharply rejected the influential book by Fritz Fischer, Griff nach der Weltmacht (1961), which placed near-exclusive blame on Germany for the First World War. (He thought that the only decent German prose in the book was in some of the letters of Kaiser Wilhelm that it included.) He said that the diplomatic crisis after the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia should have been settled though a conference of the Great Powers. The smaller nations such as Serbia should have been told, “taisez-vous!”


To cope with political upheaval, Voegelin believed that severe measures were required. He points out in The New Science of Politics, his most popular book, and elsewhere that if one adds the votes for the Nazis and the Communists in the last years of the Weimar Republic, one obtains a large majority of the population in favor of revolutionary overthrow of the existing order. In this circumstance, the ruling authorities would have been justified in suspending ordinary democratic rule. Voegelin supported for this reason the clerical regime of Engelbert Dollfuss, which was willing to act forcibly to counter revolutionary violence; and in his The Authoritarian State, buttressed with learned citations from Ernest Renan and the French jurist Maurice Hauriou, he offers a detailed defense of emergency authoritarian rule.4 

This might stave off immediate disaster, but as I suggested earlier, a deeper problem—spiritual crisis—finally had to be confronted. Voegelin believed that order in society is much more than a political problem in the conventional sense. Besides the everyday world, there is a transcendent realm: human beings exist in tension between it and the world we grasp through the senses. Voegelin calls this tension the In-Between or, using a term of Plato’s, the Metaxy. The transcendent cannot be described in language that is literally true: myth and symbol are our only recourse. As he puts the point in his philosophically deepest book, The Ecumenic Age, Plato “is aware of the limits set to the philosopher’s exploration of reality by the divine mystery. . . . Since the philosopher cannot transcend these limits but has to move in the In-Between, the Metaxy, . . . the meaning of his work depends on an ambiance of insight concerning the divine presence and operation in the cosmos that only the myth can provide.”5

But what has all this to do with politics? Voegelin thought that the rulers of a society must mirror their society’s conception of cosmic order in the way they organize the government. In doing so, it is vital that the governing authorities preserve the tension between the human and divine realms.

If this requirement is flouted, disaster threatens. If, e.g., a society thinks that God’s kingdom on earth can be established, its futile attempt to overcome the tension in which human beings exist will result in tyranny or chaos. Voegelin thought that this “derailment of being” paralleled the ideas of the Gnostics, a movement that flourished in the first few centuries of the Christian era. As the name suggests, the Gnostics believed in salvation through the possession of esoteric knowledge. In like fashion, Voegelin argues, Comte’s positivism, Marxism, and Nazism contend that human nature can be completely remade under the guidance of a revolutionary elite. In seeking to bring an end to the tension between human beings and the divine, these movements “immanentize the eschaton,” as Voegelin famously put it in The New Science of Politics.6 That is to say, these movements treat the symbol of the end of history as if it were a project that can be achieved in ordinary time.

Voegelin’s analysis of totalitarianism differs on a crucial point from the view of Hannah Arendt in her famous The Origins of Totalitarianism. Voegelin and Arendt knew each other, and he clarified the difference between them in a notable review of her book, to which she responded. He thought that she correctly saw that totalitarian movements aimed to change human nature. “This is, indeed, the essence of totalitarianism as an immanentist creed movement.” But “I [Voegelin] could hardly believe my eyes” that Arendt did not rule out such a change as impossible. For Voegelin, the structure of being is unchangeable: precisely because of this, attempts to alter it lead to disaster.7


Voegelin’s view that society represents cosmic order may strike those new to it as hard to grasp. Here Herndon’s book offers considerable help. Before Voegelin wrote Order and History he planned a massive History of Political Ideas. This he abandoned as unsatisfactory, but Herndon thinks that, to a large extent, it reflects Voegelin’s mature views. The History has the advantage of presenting certain aspects of Voegelin’s thought in more detail than is available elsewhere. Herndon gives us a detailed account of one part of this massive treatise; he covers the period from the rise of Christianity to the Reformation.8 Someone new to Voegelin who reads Herndon’s book will get a good grasp of the basics of Voegelin’s thought.

Herndon brings out that for Voegelin, Saint Paul devised a series of “compromises” that enabled the Christian community to survive and grow in the world. These compromises preserved the necessary tension between the divine and human: in doing so they enabled the members of the community to achieve concord (homonoia). Herndon remarks, “Christian homonoia as understood by Saint Paul was no mean achievement in history.”9 Herndon ably expounds the extensions and alterations of the Pauline compromises in the Middle Ages, culminating in the thought of Thomas Aquinas.10(Herndon might have mentioned the great influence on Voegelin’s account of the Holy Roman Empire of Alois Dempf’s Sacrum Imperium.) The Reformation overthrew the delicate balance between the divine and the human described at its best in Aquinas’s thought, though never fully achieved in practice; and Voegelin is scathing in his account of Luther and Calvin as political thinkers. Luther divorced the political world from the sacred; worse yet, Calvin attempted to construct an immanent universal Christianity. Herndon comments, “If Voegelin’s treatment of Luther was harsh, his examination of Calvin borders on the scandalous.”

What are we to make of all this? I find Voegelin’s thought impressive and his erudition staggering; but it seems to me that he fails to address a fundamental issue. Why should we accept what he says about the nature of being? Voegelin often does not give arguments for his views; indeed, in these matters, he distrusts the use of propositions altogether. For him, the mystical insights of certain great thinkers, Plato foremost among them, are primary, and Voegelin devotes most of his philosophical attention to an exposition of the myths and symbols of these thinkers. He was certainly capable of argument: to see this one has only to examine in The Authoritarian State the nimble dialectics he uses to analyze the new constitution proposed for the Dollfuss regime. But he thought that its place in philosophy was distinctly minor. I well remember one conversation in which he several times corrected me for referring to a philosopher’s “position,” a word he deemed unacceptably ideological.11

Voegelin also is open to challenge about the way he thinks society represents the cosmic order. Why must it be the ruling authorities who establish the order of society? In the classical liberal view, such matters belong entirely to civil society. Why should the police and defense departments decide how human society represents God? To ask this question is not at all to challenge Voegelin’s assumption that society mirrors cosmic order.12


Although Voegelin had been a member of the private seminar of the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises and had a good understanding of free-market economics, he dismissed what he considered extreme or dogmatic classical liberalism. He treated John Locke with scorn, hardly viewing him as a major thinker at all. The great classical liberal Charles Comte was for him someone who wished to overthrow the order of being. For Voegelin a strong state is essential.

I disagree with Voegelin here, for reasons set out elsewhere. But accept or reject the fundamental tenets of Voegelin’s thought, no one who studies him can fail to benefit from his insights and synoptic vision.13


  1. Voegelin and Strauss corresponded intermittently over many years, and their letters have been published: Faith and Political Philosophy (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2004). On one occasion, Strauss asked Voegelin what he thought of Karl Popper. Voegelin responded that Popper had deliberately twisted the meaning of Bergson’s phrase “open society” in his The Open Society and Its Enemies. Bergson meant societies open to the transcendent, as Popper decidedly did not. Strauss wrote back that Voegelin’s letter had been very useful to him in his efforts to block Popper from teaching at the University of Chicago. Voegelin once told me that he thought a major weakness of Strauss’s thought was that he never attempted an interpretation of Christianity.
  2. The book is based on the author’s doctoral dissertation at LSU. It is on the whole well written, though I regret to report that the author is guilty more than once of the solecism “mitigate against.”
  3. Mark Lilla, “Mr. Casaubon in America”, New York Review of Books, June 28, 2007, 29. Voegelin esteemed Husserl highly, and he wrote illuminatingly about him in his correspondence with Alfred Schutz. He thought, though, that Husserl at times succumbed to a positivist view of history.
  4. This book led to the unfair claim by Aurel Kolnai, in The War Against the West (1938), that Voegelin sympathized with fascism.
  5. The Irish philosopher William Desmond also uses the concept of the Metaxy. See, e.g., his Being and the Between(Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995).
  6. Arthur Versluis in The New Inquisitions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) assails Voegelin for his view of the Gnostics. He contends that totalitarian movements endeavor to impose a fixed system of beliefs. The Gnostics, by contrast, were a spiritual movement without rigid dogmas. Versluis’s critique fails to confront what for Voegelin is the key point, the direct possession of saving knowledge by an elite. In his later works, though, Voegelin thought that he had overemphasized the role of the Gnostics. Other movements were involved in the derailment of being as well. Cyril O’Regan, Gnostic Return in Modernity (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2001) is an outstanding analysis of Gnosticism, with some attention to Voegelin.
  7. Voegelin analyzed Nazism as a deformation of being in his early The Political Religions and in his lectures Hitler and the Germans. In the former work, he notes the importance of the symbol of light in Nazi propaganda: images and descriptions of “shining” abound.
  8. Voegelin never published the History, but it is now available in his Collected Works in eight volumes.
  9. On his visit to the United States in the 1920s, Voegelin attended the lectures of the sociologist Franklin Giddings at Columbia University. Giddings’s “consciousness of kind” influenced Voegelin’s later discussions of homonoia.
  10. Herndon does not mention that after his treatment of Aquinas in the History, Voegelin sometimes suggested that Aquinas held overly rigid notions of being and natural law. He in part anticipated the controversial work of Jean-Luc Marion, God Without Being.
  11. Frederick Wilhelmsen, among others, has criticized Voegelin for his departures from Christian orthodoxy. Whether Voegelin was a Christian obviously depends on how one characterizes Christianity. Herndon gives a good account of the controversy. Incidentally, when he was Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) sent Voegelin a letter in 1981 saying that his thinking had “fascinated and enriched” him.
  12. I owe this insight to my late friend Robert Nozick, who immediately raised the problem after he asked me to give him a brief account of Voegelin’s thought.
  13. For my criticisms of Voegelin on classical liberalism see my “The Fallacies of Voegelinian Liberalism,” Mises Review, Fall 2000. My tone in that essay is much too harsh.

First published: February. This article is reprinted with the author’s permission.

mardi, 29 août 2017

Du "populisme" d'après Laclau, Mouffe, Errejon.


Du "populisme" d'après Laclau, Mouffe, Errejon


Blog : Le blog de Vincent Présumey

Avertissement d' "euro-synergies": ce texte émane d'une voix de gauche qui s'oppose à l'utilisation par les populistes de gauche de l'oeuvre de Carl Schmitt. Nous affichons cet article pour montrer les arguments de cette gauche radicale qui refuse aujourd'hui, pour de bonnes et de mauvaises raisons, les théories émises par les idéologues de Podemos ou d'autres mouvements postmarxistes.Nous supposons que nos lecteurs pourront faire la part des choses: rendre à Marx ce qui revient à Marx, à Gramsci ce qui revient à Gramsci et à Schmitt ce qui revient à Schmitt. Coïncidentia oppositorum !

* * *

Le "populisme" est à la mode. Voici quelques mois, beaucoup d'adhérents de la "France insoumise" s'insurgeaient contre l'emploi de ce terme à l'égard de leur mouvement, croyant qu'il s'agissait de les amalgamer au Front National, dans la continuité des attaques que nous tous, militants de gauche opposés aux normes de la dite "construction européenne", avons eu à connaître depuis des années. Mais ils ont fini pour la plupart d'entre eux par réaliser que leur chef se réclame du dit "populisme" depuis un certain temps déjà, en tant qu'axe stratégique pour les présidentielles puis pour son mouvement, et leur réponse a changé : elle consiste à dire que les critiques ignorent la profondeur analytique et conceptuelle de la chose, laquelle renvoie aux oeuvres de deux supposés grands penseurs, l'un, décédé, l'argentin Ernesto Laclau, l'autre étant l'universitaire belge Chantal Mouffe.

Un petit livre (rouge ! - aux éditions catholiques du Cerf) est devenu le bréviaire de pas mal d'entre eux, et il est vrai que Construire un peuple, Pour une radicalisation de la démocratie, entretiens entre la théoricienne du "populisme" C. Mouffe et son principal promoteur dans Podemos (1), Inigo Errejon, est réussi au point de vue de la vulgarisation : il donne une version abrégée des conceptions principales de ce courant. Il me servira donc ici de point de départ pour une rapide analyse de ses principaux aspects idéologiques.

Chantal Mouffe et l'essentialisme.

Chantal Mouffe présente comme le résultat de profondes recherches sociologiques et politologiques un certain nombre de truismes que le bon sens connaît fort bien depuis toujours : "les identités politiques ne sont pas données, elles ne répondent pas à une nature par essence, mais sont constamment en construction." Ces formules s'opposent, selon elle, au "marxisme" et aux "marxistes" ainsi qu'à la "social-démocratie". La grande critique du "marxisme" à cet égard a été faite par elle-même et Ernesto Laclau en 1985 dans Hégémonie et stratégie socialiste (2). Le "marxisme" avait "une conception essentialiste qui faisait de l'existence des identités politiques le préalable à leur articulation dans le discours.", à savoir : "un "essentialisme de classe", dans lequel les identités politiques dépendaient de la position de l'acteur social dans les rapports de production, rapports qui déterminent sa conscience."

Dans un premier temps on pourrait penser qu'est visé le déterminisme économique, à l'oeuvre notamment dans le "marxisme" officiel de la seconde Internationale au début du XX° siècle , repris sous une forme aggravée dans les formulations idéologiques liées au stalinisme, déterminisme qui peut s'autoriser de telle ou telle formule de Marx mais certainement pas de l'ensemble de son oeuvre. Seuls deux "marxistes" trouvent grâce aux yeux de C. Mouffe, en tant qu'"hérétiques" supposés et pas en tant que "marxistes", Gramsci et Lukacs. Qu'aussi bien chez Lénine que chez Trotsky ou Rosa Luxembourg la place de l'action politique consciente contredise explicitement tout déterminisme économique semble lui avoir échappé (cette pauvre R. Luxembourg avait bien fait quelques efforts, explique-t-elle, mais "sans y arriver vraiment" !).

Le déterminisme économique, en fait, n'est en rien la cible de Chantal Mouffe. Ce n'est pas tant la supposée "dépendance" de l'identité politique envers les rapports de production qui est appelée par elle "essentialisme", ni une formation de la conscience qui serait directement conditionnée par la place de l'individu dans ces rapports. Ces visions schématiques "marxistes" ne font que lui faciliter la tache, mais ce ne sont pas elles qu'elle vise. C'est la relation entre rapports sociaux et identités politiques, c'est l'idée que les forces politiques correspondent évidemment à des intérêts sociaux pas forcément immédiatement conscients, qui est taxée d' "essentialisme".

Il nous faut faire une petite parenthèse sur ce terme. C. Mouffe en effet, procède à une inversion – Marx aurait peut-être dit : une inversion idéologique ! - dans son emploi.


Qu'est-ce que l' "essentialisme" ? Depuis Aristote on oppose l'essence d'une chose à ses accidents, mais ceci n'est une opposition que pour les interprètes superficiels - déjà chez Aristote, le nécessaire n'existe pas sans le contingent ni l'essence sans les accidents. La véritable opposition est celle du nominalisme et de l'essentialisme et elle a été exposée et explicitée notamment par les biologistes. "Le chat a des poils parce qu'il est un mammifère" est une proposition banale, essentialiste sans le savoir : le concept de mammifère ne préexiste pas ontologiquement aux individus (3). Dans une démarche scientifique, reposant sur le réalisme – le monde existe indépendamment et antérieurement à ma perception -, il faut se garder, avec une vigilance en éveil, de tout essentialisme, de toute conception centrée sur une norme idéale, de toute confusion entre science et valeur.

Une très belle critique de l'essentialisme se trouve sous la plume de Marx, dans la Sainte Famille (1844) : à la pomme et à la poire réelles que je mange, est substitué le concept de fruit, et pomme et poire deviennent des manifestations du "fruit absolu", chaque chose individuelle devenant l'incarnation d'une abstraction, d'une essence.

L'essentialisation, explicite ou implicite, de l'adversaire ou du contradicteur, est un phénomène courant qui constitue le principal obstacle aux débats argumentés : untel dit ceci parce qu'il est cela, un "marxiste", un "libéral", ou, pire, en raison de sa "nature", de classe, ethnique, de genre, etc (la pensée essentialiste est obligatoire dans le racisme). Ceci évite ou empêche de considérer ce que dit effectivement untel. La critique de l'essentialisme recoupe donc la critique de l'idéalisme et de l'institution d'abstractions figées à titre de modèles explicatifs, mais elle va au delà car elle critique aussi l'explication essentialiste des pensées, opinions et identités elles-mêmes : elle permet un matérialisme non dogmatique.

Il s'agit de rompre avec la classe ouvrière.

Ce que C. Mouffe, elle, dénonce comme "essentialisme" constitue précisément le contraire de l'essentialisme, à savoir le fait d'écarter les explications toutes faites sur les idées des uns et des autres par la référence à un quelconque mot en "isme" permettant de les classifier dans des catégories figées, pour pouvoir accomplir l'effort de prise en compte des réalités sociales et individuelles (les deux allant toujours de pair), des rapports matériels des individus entre eux et avec le monde, non pour ériger ces rapports en une nouvelle "essence", mais pour approcher au plus près la réalité concrète mouvante et contradictoire. Elle essentialise, par contre, le "marxisme", et avec lui la "social-démocratie", leur adressant ce reproche central qui pour elle résume, en fait, leur soi-disant "essentialisme" :

"Leur théorisation était différentes, mais finalement les deux courants ["marxisme" et "social-démocratie"] abordaient le socialisme en fonction des demandes de la classe ouvrière." (je souligne, VP).

La "social-démocratie", ce sont les partis socialistes, social-démocrates, travaillistes, ayant largement dérivés vers le libéralisme. Le "marxisme", c'est ici ce qui est censé s'être situé "à gauche" des précédents, soit, principalement, les partis communistes et apparentés. Pour Chantal Mouffe leur grand défaut était de procéder "en fonction des demandes de la classe ouvrière" (sic). Althussérienne orthodoxe jusque là (et peut-être bien réelle "marxiste essentialiste" ! ), elle aurait pris conscience du problème en raison de son engagement féministe londonien. Sans doute. On notera la double essentialisation a-critique à laquelle elle procède.

Premièrement, les forces politiques issues de la social-démocratie et du stalinisme (qu'il soit permis d'appeler ainsi les catégories essentialisées de C. Mouffe que sont "la social-démocratie" et "le marxisme", on se rapproche ainsi, d'un cran, du réel), représentaient bel et bien la classe ouvrière, et c'est bien là, deuxième point central, ce qu'il leur est reproché.

Exit tout questionnement sur la bureaucratie, la confiscation de la représentation, l'Etat "soviétique", etc. C. Mouffe en rompant avec ce qu'elle considérait comme son "marxisme", n'a pas à faire l'effort de critiquer le rapport politique de subordination et d'instrumentalisation, ni donc de se questionner sur les forces sociales en jeu, des appareils social-démocrates et "communistes" issus du stalinisme, avec la classe ouvrière. Non : le problème, c'est la référence à la classe ouvrière.

Pas de rupture avec les vieux partis en tant qu'appareils bureaucratiques, mais une rupture réelle avec toute référence à la classe ouvrière, et donc avec le mouvement ouvrier. La "critique de l'essentialisme" joue là le rôle classique d'une couverture idéologique : la conscience est proclamée autonome, les classes n'existent pas, donc inventons. Rompre avec "l'essentialisme" voulait dire rompre avec la classe ouvrière. Inventons ! Inventons quoi ? Le "populisme".

Voici le Populisme !

Le populisme fut ainsi défini par Ernesto Laclau dans La raison populiste :

"Un mode d'articulation opérant selon une logique équivalentielle, qui aboutit, par un enchaînement d'équivalences entre une multiplicité de demandes hétérogènes, à créer un peuple."

Sous ce verbiage impressionnant, voire intimidant, on pourrait penser qu'on a une démarche pragmatique assez simple, voire cynique, somme toute :

"L'idée des néo-populistes, c'est d'allier des luttes locales et a priori sans lien, comme par exemple celle pour le mariage homosexuel et celle contre la construction d'un aéroport et celle contre la fermeture d'une école maternelle. Chaque lutte possède un ennemi local (les cathos intégristes, les promoteurs immobiliers, la mairie de droite). Plus on agrège des luttes ensemble, moins ce qui "nous" relie a de substance, mis à part celle d'être en lutte contre une série d'ennemis tout aussi protéiformes. On a donné le nom de peuple, ou "les gens", pour décrire le nous, et celui des élites pour décrire l'ennemi. Ça permet de mobiliser toutes ces luttes dans un front large. Donc c'est pas si compliqué que ça, la formule est pas si obscure que ça en contexte, la stratégie fonctionne pour gagner des élections (voir Syriza, Podemos, Revolution Ciudadana) en évitant la fragmentation qui caractérise la gauche de la gauche depuis longtemps." (je recopie ici une intervention dans un débat sur Facebook).

Mais aucun des exemples donnés ici, et on pourrait en ajouter d'autres, ne s'est construit en réalité de cette manière. En ce qui concerne Podemos, il y a eu initiative politique d'un groupe, dans le contexte créé par les mouvements massifs d' "indignés" occupant les places publiques en 2012, mais il ne s'agit pas de l'expression politique directe de ce mouvement, ni de la fédération de luttes "sans lien entre elles". C. Mouffe et I. Errejon sont pleinement d'accord et se félicitent du fait que "l'initiative de Podemos est lancée sans aucune forme de consultation préalable entre les mouvements, ni les assemblées, ni avec les indignés." Il ne fallait surtout pas soumettre cette initiative à la discussion ! Le mode d'articulation dont parle Laclau n'est pas la fédération démocratique de mouvements divers. Au demeurant, ces mouvements étaient déjà articulés dans le 15M et les Indignés, précisément parce qu'ils n'étaient pas sans liens entre eux, mais que tous étaient des réactions sociales aux attaques capitalistes – "essentialisme" "marxiste" ! La question de leur représentation politique se posait publiquement, ouvertement, en Espagne depuis 2012. Comme l'avoue très franchement Errejon, Podemos en tant que mouvement "populiste" n'a pas été pensé et fondé pour assurer démocratiquement cette représentation. De fait, il n'aurait pas agi autrement si l'intention avait été de court-circuiter et de confisquer cette représentation le plus vite possible (4).


Les modes idéologiques actuelles à l'extrême-gauche ne facilitent pas, il est vrai, la compréhension critique de ce dont il s'agit réellement là. Ainsi, le terme d' "intersectionnalité" peut être facilement combiné aux "modes d'articulation" à la Mouffe-Laclau. Rien n'existerait "par essence", ni classes, ni genres, ni nations, tout serait "construction sociale et langagière", croyance qui constitue justement le plus sûr moyen de faire de l'essentialisme réel, celui que critiquait Marx il y a un siècle et demi, et que critiquent les biologistes aujourd'hui : cataloguer des "ismes" et des "phobies" les uns à côté des autres ("classisme", "sexisme", "homophobie", "islamophobie", "spécisme" ... (5)) en éclatant toute compréhension unifiée de la société et des rapports de production, ce qui permet éventuellement d'y faire son marché et de choisir son "isme" et sa "phobie" (6).

Au fond, Laclau et Mouffe ne font-ils pas de l' "intersectionnalité" ? Certes, mais avec un petit quelque chose de plus assez éclairant sur les confusions possibles autour de cette notion.

Deux termes clefs sont présents dans la formulation fumeuse de Laclau citée ci-dessus. Les "demandes" sont "hétérogènes", ce qui peut vouloir dire plus encore que sans lien apparent (mais avec un lien social sous-jacent), comme présenté ci-dessus par l'intervenant sur Facebook. Elles peuvent être, même, et elles le sont chez Laclau – comme elles l'étaient dans le mouvement politique qui a toujours été le sien : le péronisme de gauche – contradictoires, opposées.

C'est-à-dire, en termes soi-disant "essentialistes", qu'elles peuvent émaner de groupes sociaux aux intérêts opposés. Le "mode d'articulation" façon Laclau associe des intérêts opposés. Et il les associe dans "un peuple", seconde notion clef.

Combinons tout cela : il s'agit d'unir des intérêts sociaux opposés dans un seul et même "peuple". Dit comme cela, c'est certes beaucoup moins original ...

"Nous" contre "Eux".

Chez Laclau, ce dont il vient d'être question est la plupart du temps présenté comme une description des pratiques socio-politiques effectives, surtout dans des sociétés destructurées par le néolibéralisme comme celles d'Amérique du Sud, plus que comme une méthode préconisée pour construire des organisations politiques de masse. De Peron à Christina Kirchner, présidente néo-péroniste de l'Argentine qui lui rendra un hommage appuyé à sa mort en 2004, en passant par Chavez, Morales, Correa ..., mais aussi des rassembleurs de "droite", voire néolibéraux comme Fujimori au Pérou, le "mode d'articulation" à la Laclau a pu être fréquemment identifié, au point de friser la banalité sans contenu.

Mouffe entend, sur ces fondements, définir une manière de "produire du politique" expression synonyme ici du "construire un peuple" de Laclau : "Il me paraît fondamental de comprendre que la politique consiste à créer un "nous" et que ça implique nécessairement de le distinguer d'un "eux". Le sujet politique collectif (le "peuple") se constitue en désignant, en affrontant, en détestant, un ennemi : c'est ce qui fait son identité, puisque lui-même est formé de groupes aux intérêts hétérogènes voire opposés. L'ennemi est perçu comme celui qui vous fait du mal, mais sa définition ne doit pas être "essentialiste", comme de bien entendu : il n'est donc pas défini, mais décrit, et ne sera donc pas forcément, un groupe exploiteur et/ou oppresseur. Juste un ennemi.

Nous touchons là à l'apport plus propre à C. Mouffe. Elle a péché cette brillante trouvaille chez un illustre "penseur du politique" : Carl Schmitt. Il est permis de dire, l'ignorance ne servant de rien à personne (Spinoza), que chez Carl Schmitt, le "nous" était le Volk germanique, le "eux" la juiverie internationale (7). Carl Schmitt était le principal théoricien du "politique" et du droit, ou du non-droit, de l'Etat national-socialiste allemand entre 1933 et 1945. Certes, on ne saurait voir là une sorte de principe de contre-autorité qui interdirait d'étudier ou de se servir de Carl Schmitt. Il faut l'étudier, mais sans être dupe. Or, dans Construire un peuple, C. Mouffe, I. Errejon et l'éditeur évitent soigneusement d'informer le lecteur de ces données élémentaires sur le supposé grand penseur dont il est ici question. N'ayons pas la naïveté de croire qu'ils ont supposé les lecteurs tous assez cultivés pour savoir de qui il retournait. La jeune lectrice ou le jeune lecteur "insoumis" pourra facilement s'imaginer que Carl Schmitt était un grand "critique du libéralisme", et l'ignorance à cet égard se manifeste même chez de possibles lecteurs d'un âge plus canonique (8).

Le leader charismatique.

L'addition d'intérêts hétérogènes construit "un peuple" en se définissant comme un "nous" contre un "eux", et en se rassemblant autour de la figure d'un chef charismatique :

"Pour créer une volonté collective à partir de demandes hétérogènes, il faut un personnage qui puisse représenter leur unité, je crois donc qu'il ne peut pas y avoir de moment populiste sans leader, c'est évident." - un leader "charismatique".

Un peuple, un ennemi, un leader !

Sa relation à la base est autoritaire dans le cas du "populisme de droite" – et de mentionner Marine Le Pen. Mais il peut y avoir "un autre type de relation, moins vertical" ... sans plus de précisions, et l"horizontalité insoumise" en la matière n'a convaincu que les convaincus ...

Pour appuyer ces propos de C. Mouffe, I. Errejon pense opportun de citer le dirigeant anarchiste espagnol Buenaventura Durruti. L'exemple, comme le seraient tous les exemples pris dans l'histoire du mouvement ouvrier à l'exception partielle de Ferdinand Lassalle, est mal choisi, car ici la lutte commune (et non les "demandes hétérogènes" !), et l'organisation, préexistent au dirigeant reconnu comme tel. Dans le schéma "populiste" le chef est au contraire un identifiant nécessaire et donc préalable, puisque les "demandes" sont "hétérogènes" : la figure du chef et la figure de l'ennemi sont l'une et l'autre indispensables.

L'agonisme "démocratique".

Parvenu à ce stade, le sympathisant du "populisme" ou du "populisme de gauche" s'estimera sans doute en droit de protester :

"Vous êtes en train de nous tailler un costard qui suggère fortement que des mouvements comme la France insoumise sont des hordes fédérées par un Chef, contre une représentation de l'Ennemi, visant à fonder un Peuple dans lequel des intérêts – des intérêts de classe - hétérogènes, coexistent. Vous êtes en train de nous faire croire que c'est comme Mussolini. Mais vous mentez, car C. Mouffe dit bien qu'elle pense "avec et contre" Schmitt, sa vision du politique se situant dans le cadre de la démocratie pluraliste. Aucun confusion avec le fascisme n'est donc permise."

Il est exact que, à ce stade, les caractéristiques énumérées se prêtent fort bien à la description du fascisme lors de son émergence. Précisons toutefois que je ne me suis pas livré ici à un exercice autre que l'analyse du discours des théoriciens du "populisme" sur lui-même. Ni Podemos, ni la FI, ni le M5S italien, n'ont été ici analysés en eux-mêmes par leur place dans les rapports sociaux et politiques réels (de manière "marxiste essentialiste" !). Nous en sommes encore à l'analyse du discours et de la théorie. Et il est vrai qu'à ce stade, c'est en effet assez "inquiétant" !

Mais rassurons-nous donc, C. Mouffe, qui "pense" avec C. Schmitt, ne préconise pas de détruire quelque ennemi que ce soit par la violence, mais seulement d'instaurer temporairement, par la voie des urnes, une "hégémonie" nouvelle. Elle prend soin de distinguer l'antagonisme de Schmitt de ce qu'elle appelle l'agonisme de la démocratie pluraliste, qu'elle entend donc préserver. Nous voila rassurés ... mais "pensons" un peu, nous aussi, "avec et contre" C. Mouffe !


L'agon, c'est la compétition chez les citoyens grecs de l'Antiquité, fort conflictuelle, mais se situant dans le champ de la confrontation politique, rhétorique ... ou sportive. Il ne devait pas dégénérer en stasis, en guerre civile - mais c'est arrivé, souvent. La joute politique agonistique fait vivre la démocratie dans la cité en donnant forme aux conflits, sans jamais détruire la cité, ce qui se produit lorsque l'un des groupes en compétition – le démos, l'aristocratie, les nouveaux riches ...- entreprend de faire prévaloir radicalement ses intérêts. Pour être précis, l'agon évite d'entrer dans la voie de la réalisation du partage des terres et de l'abolition des dettes, ces deux revendications révolutionnaires du monde antique et au delà, qui s'accompagnent souvent, qui plus est, lorsque tel ou tel groupe entreprend de les satisfaire, de la libération collective d'esclaves. Historiquement l'exemple romain est intéressant : vers 130-120 av. J.C., les Gracques, voulant restaurer un corps civique étrillé par les inégalités, sont entrés dans la voie du partage des terres et de l'abolition des dettes. Leurs adversaires aristocratiques ont déclenché contre eux les guerres civiles romaines, au nom de la préservation de la république, conduisant à sa liquidation après des décennies de guerres généralisées dans toute la Méditerranée. L'ordre agonistique a été sauvé de la révolution sociale ... au prix de sa disparition. La compétition politique a disparu, remplacée par les joutes de rhéteurs et les jeux du cirque.

Le sens précis de la démocratie pluraliste maintenue par la confrontation agonistique, mais non antagonique, selon C. Mouffe, est que jamais le cadre social de celle-ci, que serait le capitalisme, ne prendra fin. I. Errejon enfonce le clou : le "libéralisme" veut mettre fin au conflit et donc à la politique, et le "marxisme" veut abolir "la contradiction capital-travail", passant à des "sociétés sans politique". Donc : si nous voulons préserver la politique, n'abolissons pas la contradiction capital-travail (on comprend mieux que le populisme soit disposé à être tout ce que l'on voudra, sauf une organisation de classe).

Qu'il y ait là une réaction contre de nombreux discours "marxistes", et aussi utopistes ou anarchistes, annonçant une société sans classe, ni Etat, ni politique, sans doute. Mais enfin, nous avons affaire à des gens qui se prévalent de leur capacité à "penser", et à "penser" "avec et contre", s'il vous plaît ! La notion d'"agonisme" opposée à "antagonisme" provient, disions-nous, des anciens Grecs, chez lesquels il n'y avait pas de "contradiction capital-travail". Preuve qu'on peut avoir de la "politique" sans celle-ci, non ? Que le réglement de cette contradiction là doive mettre fin au politique, au débat, aux confrontations d'intérêts, d'idées et d'objectifs, demanderait à être démontré, et ne l'a jamais été (y compris par ceux qui souhaitaient cette eschatologie). En somme, C. Mouffe et I. Errejon, ces "post-marxistes", conservent précieusement par devers eux une croyance, et une seule, de l'ancien mouvement ouvrier : celle selon laquelle en finir avec le capitalisme mettrait fin à la politique. Peu importe qu'ils tiennent la chose pour impossible ou pour dangereusement possible, le résultat est le même, puisque cette croyance devient chez eux un repoussoir. Au service d'une orientation politique précise : en finir avec le mouvement ouvrier, ne plus représenter d'intérêts de classe, unir des intérêts de classe opposés, et donc, préserver le capitalisme.

Or, il se trouve que le compère Carl Schmitt, sur ce point, était tout à fait d'accord. La contradiction capital-travail n'était pas son sujet et il entendait clairement maintenir le capitalisme. Sauf que chez lui, l'union du "peuple" sous un "chef" contre un "ennemi", maintenant au passage le capitalisme, détruisait sans états-d'âmes la démocratie pluraliste et même libérale. Cela s'appelait, permettons nous encore l'impolitesse de le rappeler, le national-socialisme, abrégé en nazisme, n'est-ce pas.

Aucun doute sur le fait que C. Mouffe est pour la démocratie pluraliste et donc qu'à ce titre, elle est bien "contre" son maître C. Schmitt. Mais démocratie pluraliste et capitalisme pour elle font bloc, sont associés. Donc, maintenir la démocratie pluraliste implique de maintenir le capitalisme, même si elle n'insiste pas trop, se contentant en général de sous-entendre ce point comme une évidence qui devrait aller de soi. Son "populisme", qui est, sinon "de gauche", en tout cas pas "de droite", se maintiendrait ainsi dans les limites d'une confrontation rigoureuse et animée, débordant la bienséance libérale, mais toujours civilisé. Pas de sang.

Qu'il soit permis d'avoir un doute, non pas sur la sincérité de l'attachement de C. Mouffe à la démocratie, mais sur le fait qu'on puisse rester civilisé en galvanisant des foules derrière un chef et contre un ennemi, tout en préservant le capitalisme. De ce point de vue, l'expérience de plusieurs gouvernements de gauche latino-américains est importante, particulièrement celle du Venezuela, qui, sous Chavez, était resté, voire véritablement devenu, une démocratie pluraliste. Mais sous Maduro ... non seulement le capitalisme, mais le paiement des dividendes aux actionnaires et créanciers impérialistes, sont préservés. Quand à la démocratie pluraliste ...

D'ailleurs C. Mouffe, devant les élans "antagonistes" d'I. Errejon qui compare la passion politique contre l'ennemi à celle des bandes de supporters d'un match de foot – une comparaison signifiante, nous y reviendrons -, lesquelles "'s'entre-tuent parfois", concède que "l'agonisme n'élimine pas l'antagonisme, c'est une façon de le sublimer." Des régimes qui "subliment" la passion de foules que l'on ne peut satisfaire sur le fond car le capital et son accumulation sont maintenus et poursuivis, il y en a eu ... et leur degré de violence, pas "antagonique" envers le capital, s'est avéré "antagonique" envers la civilisation et la culture humaines.

Nous ne sommes donc pas rassurés par la profession de foi démocrate-pluraliste "avec et contre" C. Schmitt de C. Mouffe.

Soyez quand même rassurés, notre ADN est antifasciste !

Errejon précise : "Pour nous, l'adversaire ce sont ceux d'en haut qui ont confisqué la démocratie, pas ceux d'en bas, sous prétexte qu'ils viendraient d'autres pays ou qu'ils auraient une autre couleur de peau. Ceux qui auraient ce genre d'idées, pas question de négocier ni de discuter avec eux ; pour nous, c'est une frontière infranchissable."

Avec les fascistes, racistes et xénophobes, il entend avoir des rapports "antagonistes" et pas "agoniques".

Dont acte. Mais il y a un talon d'Achille. C. Mouffe le fait ressortir elle-même. Elle explique d'abord que si "la confrontation peuple/caste" est bien de nature "agonistique", ceci signifiant clairement "qu'il ne s'agit pas d'essayer d'en finir avec la "caste" par une révolution ou un coup d'Etat" (et donc qu'il ne s'agit pas d'en finir avec elle d'une façon générale, car la "démocratie pluraliste" supposant la "confrontation agonistique" aucun des deux camps opposés ne doit être éliminé, tout au plus peuvent-ils se transformer en d'autres termes contradictoires opposés). Ces précisions étant apportées, elle demande à I. Errejon : "qui sont ceux de la caste" ?

"Leur indéfinition même fait leur pouvoir mobilisateur", répond ce dernier. Si nous étions rassurés, nous ne le sommes plus.

La "caste" et "l'oligarchie" sont les termes qui désignent, dans les trois mouvements "populistes" d'Europe occidentale, nonobstant leurs différences, que sont Podemos, la FI et le M5S, la figure de l'ennemi. Dans les deux premiers d'entre eux, peut-être même aussi dans le troisième, nul doute que ce sont les capitalistes qui sont perçus ainsi par beaucoup d'adhérents de base. L' "essentialisme" a la vie dure, forcément puisqu'il s'agit des rapports sociaux réels ... Mais dans le discours des chefs, il ne s'agit pas du capital, mais seulement de sa couche supérieure, le capital financier et boursier, lequel n'aurait pourtant aucune existence si le capital dit "productif" ne l'engendrait pas et ne recourrait pas à lui en permanence. La dénonciation de la "caste" est donc une formulation ambigüe qui se nourrit de l'existence du capital financier. Lui sont agrégés les politiciens et les gros acteurs médiatiques. Il s'agit là d'une représentation fétichisée, qui fantasme l'ennemi dans la figure du riche médiatique. Elle est indissociable des représentations traditionnelles contre la "finance cosmopolite", c'est-à-dire des représentations antisémites qui s'exprimaient ouvertement avant 1945, et à nouveau aujourd'hui dans plusieurs pays d'Europe centrale et orientale. Il est indispensable de dire et de comprendre cela pour caractériser les "populismes". En faisant ce constat, personne n'a traité I. Errejon ou J.L. Mélenchon d'antisémite. Toute tentative d'interdire que cette question soit abordée au motif que ce serait malséant, est une tentative d'interdire tout débat démocratique sérieux sur ce à quoi nous avons effectivement affaire (9).

Plus généralement la figure de l'ennemi est plastique et évolutive, ce qui semble beaucoup plaire à I. Errejon. Lui-même ne fera jamais d'un groupe ethnique ou national son ennemi, pas de doutes là-dessus. Mais la méthode de mobilisation politique qu'il théorise et promeut ne comporte en elle-même aucun garde-fou contre cela. Au contraire, en suscitant à la fois la "passion" dans la dénonciation de "la caste", sans que le but soit pour autant de transformer les conditions sociales qui fondent l'existence de la dite "caste", elle est susceptible de porter à son paroxysme passion et frustration en même temps. Dans la société capitaliste, de telles contradictions politiques ne se résolvent en général que par la désignation de boucs émissaires ne faisant pas partie du coeur de la classe dominante.

A propos du "patriotisme".

La métaphore favorite d'I. Errejon pour décrire ce que doit être la mobilisation de la foule rassemblée contre la caste est le match de foot. C'est plus qu'une métaphore : les "passions" doivent être mobilisées, explique C. Mouffe – d'autant plus qu'il s'agit d'associer des couches que leurs intérêts pourraient opposer. Dans un cadre de pensée présenté comme rationnel, le congédiement des conditions sociales concrètes en tant qu'"essentialisme" ouvre grand la porte à l'irrationnel, non pas à cet irrationnel qui est en chacun de nous, non pas aux émotions et passions d'amour et de colère qui animent évidemment tout mouvement social vivant, mais bien à l'irrationnel proprement dit, la galvanisation autour du Chef charismatique, la célébration du drapeau – I. Errejon est en quête d'un "drapeau", de l'objet -, la sensation des individus fusionnant dans le slogan, le cri, l'émulation du match. Toute une thématique de "la foule" qui remonte à Gustave Le Bon refait surface ici, qui n'est pas la même chose que la foule constituée, marchant à la lutte, faite d'individus conscients ou accédant à la conscience, de la manifestation "ouvrière", laquelle n'est pas pour autant sans chaleur et souffle.

Au final, le "peuple" qu'il s'agit de "construire" est déjà là, c'est celui des Etats-nations à défendre contre le "mondialisme" de la "caste" - cette problématique là est peut-être plus présente chez I. Errejon que chez C. Mouffe, de même que son appétence pour "la plèbe". Il me semble, dans ce cadre, significatif que les termes "patrie" et "patriotisme" soient utilisés par eux, préférentiellement à "nation". Cette évolution se retrouve chez J.L. Mélenchon, où l'idée nationale républicaine et égalitaire se mélange et fait de plus en plus place à un pathos émotionnel autour de "la patrie", terme qui renvoie à la filiation et au sol. La terre, les morts, la colline inspirée ... le sang, sont-ils si loin ?


Qu'il soit au moins permis de poser la question. Cela d'autant plus que la non mise en cause de la "démocratie pluraliste" équivaut de fait au maintien des Etats existants. En France, J.L. Mélenchon est un défenseur conséquent des intérêts impérialistes "nationaux". En Espagne, I. Errejon est gêné et contourné envers l'Etat espagnol. Mais, conséquent, il a pris la décision de l'appeler "Espagne" et de laisser de côté la question de la monarchie. Catalogne, Pays Basque et Galicie font donc partie de "l'Espagne", même si I. Errejon se réserve une marge de manoeuvre sur ces questions.

Ils ont bon dos ...

Ajoutons rapidement quelques remarques sur les références de nos penseurs. J'en ai mentionné une qui me semble de loin la plus sérieuse et la plus problématique : Carl Schmitt. Mais celui dont on aime à prononcer le nom, comme s'il était un label de pensée profonde, c'est "Gramsci". On pourrait dire que nous assistons à la mise en scène d'une essentialisation de Gramsci ...

Il est vrai que ceci n'a rien de nouveau. Dans le PC italien de Palmiro Togliatti, qu'I. Errejon invoque régulièrement comme le grand exemple passé de réussite "national-populaire", avait commencé la fétichisation de "Gramsci" au détriment de sa pensée impossible à mettre en cage, elle. C. Mouffe sait cependant très bien à quoi s'en tenir et elle a la franchise de le dire :

" ... nous reprenons son idée de "guerre de position", la lutte à l'intérieur des institutions, mais Gramsci pensait que c'était en préparation de la "guerre de mouvement", lors de la rupture révolutionnaire. Et ça, nous l'avons laissé de côté." En effet ; et de plus la "guerre de position" de Gramsci est loin de se réduire à "la lutte à l'intérieur des institutions".

Mouffe poursuit : "Un autre exemple est que le noyau central d'une hégémonie doit toujours être une classe fondamentale, et nous avons écarté cette idée."

Que reste-t-il alors du révolutionnaire prolétarien et marxiste Antonio Gramsci ? Rien, si ce n'est des expressions qui font intelligent, telles que l'assaisonnement à tout propos d'un peu de "guerre de position". C. Mouffe et I.Errejon sont ceci dit convaincus que "si Gramsci avait vécu à notre époque, il serait arrivé à une conception semblable à la notre" !

Cette affirmation nous apprend beaucoup sur la psychologie sociale (ah,"essentialisme", quand tu nous tiens ...) de Mouffe et Errejon. Le "marxisme" dont ils ont hérité dans leur jeunesse, résultat de décennies d'impasses politiques et bureaucratiques, était d'une telle fadeur que c'est sans doute un sentiment de libération intellectuelle qui les habite, et se complète d'un sentiment universitaire de supériorité, une fois qu'ils ont rompu avec leur fétiche, "l'essentialisme", et que licence leur est donner de raconter ce qu'ils veulent.

Le traitement de Gramsci est central. Nous le retrouvons avec quelques antiennes sur Hegel dont le "travail du négatif" est assimilé à la construction du peuple contre "eux" sans que jamais la négation ne s'arrête, car, c'est bien connu, il ne faut surtout pas mener la lutte à son terme. Et nous le retrouvons envers Machiavel, tantôt avec la thématique du nouveau Prince qui construit un peuple, une véritable idée machiavélienne qui conseille d'ailleurs au dit Prince de faire une révolution sociale pour cela, tantôt avec celle de la lutte agonistique des dominants et des dominés dans la cité, dont on oublie un peu vite que Machiavel la fait persister au moyen du "retour au principe" de la république, une rinovazione ou une réformation qui est à l'origine du mot "révolution", faute de laquelle la république se corrompt et meurt.

Du réformisme ?

Daniel Tanuro, dans une contribution dont je puis reprendre la plupart des termes (11), conclut ainsi sur ce supposé "populisme" :

"Il [ce "pauvre Gramsci"] doit se retourner dans sa tombe car ce que Mouffe propose est ce que la social-démocratie a prétendu faire… et qui l’a transformée en social-libéralisme. "

Je crois toutefois qu'il est nécessaire de pousser le bouchon un peu plus loin. Le réformisme était un courant du mouvement ouvrier qui préconisait une évolution progressive. Il est peu à peu devenu un non-réformisme, rallié aux contre-réformes dites libérales. Le "populisme" reprend en effet la thématique réformiste, refusant la révolution ou l'appelant "révolution citoyenne". Mais ce n'est pas une simple reprise. D'une part, il se présente comme la réponse à la corruption des vieux partis issus du mouvement ouvrier, et cette réponse consiste à "construire le peuple", au lieu de, et contre, le fait d'agir pour la représentation politique du prolétariat. D'autre part, il y met une chaleur "plébéienne", comme dirait Errejon, "patriotique", faisant appel à la notion centrale d' "ordre", qui le situe, si l'on veut faire des rapprochements historiques, non comme une résurgence du réformisme d'un Blum ou d'un Huysmans, certainement pas, mais comme un courant "néo" au sens de Marcel Déat en 1932 (12). Cela ne veut pas dire qu'on affirme qu'il finira de la même façon. Mais c'est un droit et un devoir imprescriptibles que de mettre en débat ces éléments, un droit et un devoir envers la génération de maintenant.

VP, le 24/08/2017.


(1) Errejon est le théoricien mais pas le chef charismatique, qui est Pablo Iglesias. Il est cependant important de noter que Podemos, par rapport à la FI et au M5S, reste l'organisation qui ressemble le plus à un parti au bon sens du terme. Cela tient au fait qu'un mouvement social l'a précédé et a permis son émergence, et que des courants existent de fait en son sein, différences qui ne sont pas négligeables.

(2) Faire de l'idéologie un facteur autonome était déjà un thème central de Laclau en 1977 dans Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory, New Lefts Books éd.

(3) Sur la critique de l'essentialisme par les biologistes de l'évolution, qui n'a rien à voir avec l'emploi de ce terme chez Mouffe, voir le Guide critique de l'évolution, sous la direction de G. Lecointre, Belin, 2009.

(4) Errejon est naturellement convaincu que si l'initiative n'avait pas été prise alors, aucune formation politique nouvelle n'aurait vu le jour. Il est vrai que les fondateurs de Podemos ont occupé le vide laissé par gauche et extrême-gauche traditionnelles. Mais il est vrai aussi que depuis 2012 la question d'une nouvelle formation politique était posée ouvertement et massivement en Espagne.

(5) Pour des raisons qu'il serait trop long de développer ici, le mot "racisme" est par contre de moins en moins présent dans ces énumérations, qui mettent à sa place notamment l'islamophobie.

(6) Le PIR (Parti des Indigènes de la République) dit rejeter l' "intersectionnalité". En fait il choisit un seul groupe ethno-religieux au nom duquel toute forme d'oppression est pour lui légitime.

(7) "Il est permis de le dire". Car, comme de longue date pour le nazi philosophe Martin Heidegger, il n'est en fait pas permis de le dire dans certains cercles et publications. Il est d'ailleurs à craindre que la mode "populiste" n'entraîne une mode des idées soi-disant profondes de Carl Schmitt, le nazi juriste.

(8) http://clubpolitiquebastille.org/spip.php?article197 Charles Jérémie écrit, pour jeter l'anathème sur mon "auvergnate" personne ("Vincent Présumey écrit beaucoup de sa bonne Auvergne, parfois des choses intéressantes."), que "Ainsi, faire découler de Chantal Mouffe, Carl Schmitt and Co un possible antisémitisme est tout à fait insensé. Imbuvable." . Que penser d'un "ashkénaze" prenant la défense de ... Carl Schmitt contre un "auvergnat"!? Il est vrai qu'on apprend dans le même article que "En France dans le mouvement ouvrier, il n’y a qu’un exemple de contamination antisémite.", celui des néos, et encore seulement à la fin des années trente ! Décidément, oui, "L'ignorance n'a jamais servi de rien à personne" (Spinoza).

(9) Tel est bien le sens de l'interdit jeté par C.Jérémie contre la soi-disant accusation d'antisémitisme envers Mélenchon, dans l'article en lien à la note précédente. "Stigmatiser me lasse", écrit-il plus haut. Il doit donc ressentir une grande lassitude.





Le Club est l'espace de libre expression des abonnés de Mediapart. Ses contenus n'engagent pas la rédaction.

mardi, 22 août 2017

De la culture comme arme de destruction massive


De la culture comme arme de destruction massive

par Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: http://www.dedefensa.org

La culture moderne veut détruire tout ce qu’il y a eu avant elle. L’idéologie du progrès l’a rendue folle (idem en 93 !) et elle est convaincue qu’elle peut juger et refaire le monde. Tout ce qui aura été conçu par le mâle blanc, bourgeois dont se moquait Sartre dans son plaidoyer aux étudiants japonais. Voyez Lost in translation pour voir ce qu’on a fait depuis du Japon.

Nietzsche, toujours lui, écrit :

« Les historiens naïfs appellent « objectivité » l’habitude de mesurer les opinions et les actions passées aux opinions qui ont cours au moment où ils écrivent. C’est là qu’ils trouvent le canon de toutes les vérités. Leur travail c’est d’adapter le passé à la trivialité actuelle. Par contre, ils appellent « subjective » toute façon d’écrire l’histoire qui ne considère pas comme canoniques ces opinions populaires ». »

Je me moque que la lie de notre bonne société ne s’intéresse plus aux humanités. Je l’avais dit chez Dechavanne. Mais qu’au moins elle ne détruise pas les statues, Versailles (roi facho), la sainte Chapelle (roi bigot) pour soulager sa bonne conscience. Les nazis faisaient de même, et on ne peut que comparer cette volonté de détruire les statues à celle de brûler des livres, dont plus de la moitié était écrite par des Allemands.

Le célèbre juriste allemand Carl Schmitt, un temps passé au nazisme, et inspirateur indirect des néocons, avait indiqué que tout ce qui avait été écrit par un juif dans le domaine culture, juridique ou autre devait être estampillé Judaïque. Or le prix Nobel péruvien Mario Vargas LLosa a remarqué qu’on ne  se repère plus comme jadis  dans les bibliothèques universitaires américaines. Comme chez les nazis vous êtes jugés en fonction de votre sexe ou de votre race.

Je cite ce libre esprit dans un espagnol très simple :

« A las anticuadas secciones de antaño — literatura, filosofía, arte, cine, crítica— habían reemplazado las posmodernas de teoría cultural, clase y género, raza y cultura y un estante titulado «el sujeto sexual», que me dio cierta esperanza, pero no tenía nada que ver con el erotismo, sino con la patrología filológica o machismo lingüístico.

La poesía, la novela y el teatro habían sido erradicados; la única forma creativa presente eran algunos guiones cinematográficos. En un puesto de honor figuraba un libro de Deleuze y Guattari sobre nomadología y otro, al parecer muy importante, de un grupo de psicoanalistas, juristas y sociólogos sobre la deconstrucción de la justicia.”

Vargas Llosa accuse les intellos français, la déconstruction (mais Derrida avait attaqué la démocratie à venir et la notion abjecte d’Etat-voyou), etc. Je pense que les intellectuels nazis comme Schmitt ont aussi leurs responsabilités. Tout cela a fourni un background culturel pour permettre au maire black de Baltimore de détruire les statues sudistes comme les nazis détruisaient les livres. Comme ça on ne parlera pas du chômage et des massacres de rue à Baltimore (je sais, c’est aussi la faute du blanc).

Notre culture comme arme de destruction massive va détruire tout : tout le passé est décrété blanc, macho, fasciste, il sera donc exterminé. Et alors ? Diront certains pressés de voir la suite de Walking dead.

Le reste sera adapté aux narratives officiels et on peut faire confiance à la technologie du clic et à la sous-culture, à la prostration de nos masses anesthésiées (Stanley Payne sur les espagnols) pour ne pas réagir plus que de raison !

Le journaliste Charlie Nash dans Breitbat.com parlait de la fin du free speech ordonnée par les ingénieurs ilotes, les robots et les logiciels de la Silicon Valley.

Silly con, encore un mot qui va loin.

Ils cassent le monde, disait Boris, il en reste assez pour moi.


Nicolas Bonnal – La culture comme arme de destruction massive (Amazon.fr)

Jean Baudrillard – Simulacres et simulation

Friedrich Nietzsche – Deuxième considération inactuelle

Macdonald – The culture of critique (pour la référence à Schmitt)

Mario Vargas LLosa – La civilisation du spectacle

Le djihadiste et la belle vie des autruches



Le djihadiste et la belle vie des autruches

par Philippe-Joseph Salazar

Ex: http://www.lesinfluences.fr

Le dernier attentat perpétré à Levallois-Perret souligne une fois de plus la totale politique de gesticulation face à la puissance rhétorique des partisans de l’islam terroriste.

#Paroles armées. C’est l’été, “Plus Belle la Vie en continu”, la météo des plages, et les autruches la tête dans le sable. À Levallois-Perret, des musulmans terroristes tentent d’assassiner nos soldats. Les autruches sortent la tête du bac, et l’y replongent. Les autruches que le gouvernement va plumer à la rentrée pensent aux cortèges syndicaux, le cancan national, et le truc en plume.

Des soldats tombent. On doit tout de même admirer nos militaires qui se sacrifient pour la défense des autruches. Pourquoi se font-ils tuer ? Pour des autruches.

Un « spécialiste », président du centre d’analyse du terrorisme, déclare à France Info que les militaires de l’opération Sentinelle « ne sont pas formés aux combats en zone urbaine ». Lapalisse analyste !

Des soldats tombent.

Depuis deux ans on les forme en effet à se faire tuer. Les autruches envoient, bagatelle pour des massacres, des jeunes gens qui auraient mieux fait de devenir banquiers, pour que les volailles continuent à avoir la tête dans le sable et faire du fitness plagiste.

Et pourtant, on enseigne bien la “stratégie” dans les boîtes à business d’où sort notre élite emplumée ? C’est une discipline qui fait bien partie de la formation de nos écoles militaires qui défilent au son incongru de “Get Lucky” le 14 juillet ? “Get lucky ?”, “bonne chance”, voilà la doctrine militaire d’une France en état de guerre et de guérilla : allez, soldats, bonne chance, « get lucky  ».

Les autruches, elles, sont à la plage. « Lucky » autruches.

Soyons sérieux, même en été.

Le philosophe politique Carl Schmitt conclut sa Théorie du partisan, composée au début des années soixante, sur ces mots prémonitoires :

« Qui saura empêcher l’apparition de types d’hostilité nouveaux et inattendus, dont la mise en œuvre engendrera des incarnations inattendues d’un partisan nouveau ?  »

Le Califat, ISIS, EI, Daesh, nommez-le comme vous le désirez, est encore debout, à quelques encablures en fait des plages de Corse. Cette hostilité nouvelle effraie, mais elle chasse surtout de nos pensées la réalité des faits. Il faut en finir avec la rhétorique creuse des médias et des politiciens de profession, et nommer avec justesse le phénomène, un Califat, et ses acteurs, « soldats et partisans », et ses actions, « guerre et guérilla ».


Carl Schmitt prémonitoire dans sa Théorie du partisan :« Le soldat ennemi en uniforme est la cible du partisan moderne ».

La classe politique et les relais médiatiques résistent devant l’appellation juste et radicale de cette hostilité islamique : la cause en est que la violence est, dans nos sociétés, aseptisée par la loi (à chaque violence correspond un délit ou un crime) et réduite à des rhétoriques explicatives (sociologie, psychologie, etc.), en vue de la cantonner dans l’idéologie dominante : la gestion des groupes humains par la prévention et la réinsertion. Les autruches aiment bien que le maître de la basse-cour leur dise : nous gérons le risque, pas de souci, je vous aime.

Des soldats tombent.

Les djihadistes du Califat qui opèrent sur le territoire national, dans notre temps et dans notre espace, implantent une forme neuve de proximité, celle du partisan. Schmitt avertit : « Le soldat ennemi en uniforme est la cible du partisan moderne ».

La propagande du Califat est claire dès son apparition sur la scène politique : il faut tuer tout représentant en uniforme de l’État car pour le Califat la France est occupée par des ennemis – nous, des mécréants et leurs alliés et serviteurs, les « musulmans modérés ». La gendarmerie et la police, et désormais l’armée déployée, sont des forces d’occupation de la « wilayat Fransa  ». Nous sommes des occupants. Du coup, le djihadiste doit résister à l’occupant en pratiquant la guérilla et devenir partisan.


On peut médicaliser, psychologiser et sociologiser autant qu’on veut pour « expliquer une radicalisation », le fait est que tous ces partisans du Califat qui sont déployés sur notre territoire sont corps et âme à un idéal qui les rend, à leurs yeux, mieux qu’eux-mêmes.

C’est donc le combat de l’irrégulier contre le régulier, du soldat sans uniforme, qui se fond dans le paysage urbain, contre le soldat régulier qui devient une cible. L’essentiel est ici : tout soldat régulier est cible du partisan. Dès lors le langage de l’hostilité change car la ligne de front est dans la proximité : « acte » terroriste est insuffisant, il faut dire « attaque de guérilla ».

Il est temps que les autruches comprennent que le partisan djihadiste fait intégralement partie d’une mission qui le dépasse et l’élève en même temps. Il s’aligne sur une politique idéale. C’est un aigle du Hoggar, un oiseau de proie venu d’Arabie Pétrée. On peut médicaliser, psychologiser et sociologiser autant qu’on veut pour « expliquer une radicalisation », le fait est que tous ces partisans du Califat qui sont déployés sur notre territoire sont corps et âme à un idéal qui les rend, à leurs yeux, mieux qu’eux-mêmes – un petit salaud devient un martyr, et un délinquant minable un héros. Ne riez pas, autruches mes sœurs, la guerre sert souvent à ça : transformer les gens. Tuer grandit. Tuer pour un idéal grandit encore plus. Tuer pour Dieu, grandit absolument.

Et nos soldats tombent, sans autre idéal que de faire en sorte que les autruches puissent regarder “Plus Belle la Vie” et attendre avec anxiété … la météo des plages.

  Philippe-Joseph Salazar est l’auteur de Paroles armées-comprendre et combattre la propagande terroriste (Prix des Lumières 2015).


dimanche, 30 juillet 2017

Une praxis révolutionnaire et conservatrice est-elle encore possible...?


Une praxis révolutionnaire et conservatrice est-elle encore possible...?

par Jure VUJIC

Ex: http://www.polemia.com

Nous reproduisons ci-dessous un point de vue de Jure Vujic, cueilli sur Polémia et dans lequel il s'interroge sur les conditions de l'efficacité d'une action conservatrice-révolutionnaire visant à abattre le système dominant. Il rappelle notamment la nécessité de penser politiquement le « système des objets » qui enserre nos vies et conditionne nos façons de penser...

Une praxis révolutionnaire et conservatrice est-elle encore possible ?...

Trop souvent on oublie que la reconduction au pouvoir du Système dominant et de la classe gouvernementale tient plus à l’internalisation et la reproduction des modes de pensée dominants au niveau social, culturel, sur le plan individuel comme sur le plan collectif.

On se souvient que la praxis, notion philosophique théorisée par Aristote dans l’Ethique à Nicomaque et qui initialement renvoyait à l’idée d’une pratique ou une action qui, transformant le sujet, a été plus tard reprise par les marxistes, par Antonio Gramsci et les situationnistes pour lesquels la philosophie de la praxis désignait la pratique qui se reconnaît elle-même par la théorie qui découle de son action, mais qui, de par sa fonction révolutionnaire, devait transformer les esprits.

Force est de constater que depuis Mai 68, le discours libertaro-marxiste a fait bon ménage avec le capitalisme libéral qui se traduit aujourd’hui par une praxis sociétale parfois schizophrène d’hyper-individualisme festif et de domination capitaliste marchande que l’on accepte comme une fatalité irréversible. Promouvoir une politique de gauche et des valeurs de droite, employer un discours à la fois révolutionnaire et conservateur impliquerait au préalable de reconnaître, en dépit des avancées les plus fines sur le plan social et politique, l’absence d’une praxis adéquate, susceptible de transformer les rapports sociaux, les façons de sentir, de penser. En effet, face à la praxis bien rodée du marché déstructurant du social, il faudra jeter les bases d’une praxis de restructuration des valeurs. D’autre part, on oublie souvent que la technique, les gadgets omniprésents dans notre société hightech constituent de puissants vecteurs d’individuation et de socialisation et trop souvent d’aliénation plus que les principes de l’éducation familiale et scolaire. Il s’agit ici de ce que Jean Francois Dufour appelle les percipiens (le principe de sentir), l’idée de forces mécaniques pesant sur notre pensée et notre entendement et qui préexistent et façonnent notre comportement, notre agir, notre praxis. Jean Baudrillard parle de « système des objets » pour rendre compte de cette mutation dans nos sociétés postmodernes du sens et du rȏle des objets de l’utilité vers la matérialité autonome (qui annule le symbolique), indéfiniment modulables et constituant un ensemble systémique cohérent de signes.

Notre rapport au monde se réduit le plus souvent au rapport aux objets quotidiens avec lesquels nous nouons une complicité profonde entre les investissements psychologiques, souvent induits et extorqués, et les impératifs sociaux de prestige, entre les mécanismes projectifs et le jeu complexe des modèles et des séries. Pier Paolo Pasolini parlait du vrai visage du fascisme qu’il voyait dans la société de consommation, mais non plus celle d’une mécanique d’exploitation extérieure à nous-mêmes, mais d’un système de pensée et de comportement internalisé par nos sens et notre mental.

Introduire une nouvelle praxis réellement révolutionnaire et non purement expérimentale sur le plan social et culturel suppose alors de dégager un nouveau sens du social, de produire de nouvelles formes de vivre-ensemble qui remettraient en cause de façon profonde la praxis dominante de la « valeur marché », le « fonctionnement » dont parle Gilbert Simondon, qui réside, non plus dans l’usage, mais « dans sa dimension anthropologique », dans le marché en tant que valeur et mode de reproduction des rapports sociaux.

Même si les résultats des dernières élections parlementaires et présidentielles dans de nombreux pays européens confirment la poussée de mouvements anti-Système populistes de gauche comme de droite, on est loin d’une remise en cause générale et massive du Système libéral marchand dominant, susceptible de menacer l’ordre établi. Le conditionnement médiatique, la manipulation mentale et politique des masses semblent encore marcher à merveille en tant que mécanique à discréditer et à démoniser les alternatives politiques potentielles. La victoire de Macron en France, qui l’opposait au second tour de la présidentielle à Marine Le Pen, en est une parfaite illustration. L’abrutissement politico-médiatique et la production de la peur sociale principalement dans les classes moyennes déclassées permet encore de reproduire les schémas de domination et de gouvernance oligarchique. On se rappellera à ce titre du Prince de Machiavel qui renvoie à l’emploi de la ruse, de la fraude et de la corruption, les armes de la ruse du «renard », afin d’empêcher la violence de masse et les soulèvements révolutionnaires, un softpower qui constitue le moyen de domination principal de la classe gouvernante.


Pourtant ce constat d’échec nous permet de nous interroger sur l’avenir du discours anti-Système qui articule à raison le fossé grandissant qui se creuse entre l’oligarchie et le peuple, et plus précisément sur la question de l’existence et l’efficacité d’une praxis réellement révolutionnaire et son adéquation avec ce que l’on peut appeler les valeurs, le discours, le narratif conservateur. Car si une infime minorité se reconnaît dans le discours et les valeurs anti-Système, lesquelles circulent par les réseaux d’informations alternatifs, on est encore loin de l’assentiment de larges masses de citoyens qui baignent dans le breuvage quotidien des médias officiels et se contentent très bien de ce déni de vérité. « L’esprit » d’une époque dépend de l’ensemble de ses faits sociaux, y compris le développement technique. Dans ce sens, les objets techniques qui s’autonomisent de plus en plus portent avec eux un impact considérable sur la manière dont nous nous représentons le monde, même des notions très abstraites comme le temps ou l’espace. Bien sûr, le rȏle des idées et le combat des idées tiennent encore une place importante dans la transformation des esprits, mais le changement de paradigme dans la praxis sociale comme cela été le cas pour le rȏle de la technique dans les révolutions scientifiques étudiées par T. Kuhn (dans La Structure des révolutions scientifiques) sera déterminant.

Le mérite de Kuhn a été celui de développer la thèse selon laquelle une science progresse de manière fondamentalement discontinue, c’est-à-dire non par accumulation mais par ruptures. Ces ruptures, appelées révolutions scientifiques, sont selon Kuhn analogues à un renversement des représentations (ce que les psychologues de la perception appellent un gestalt switch). Appliqué à la sphère sociale et politique, ce renversement des valeurs, qui correspondrait à une rupture épistémologique de paradigmes, aboutirait donc à l’issue de cette crise de légitimation à l’avènement d’un nouveau paradigme de système de valeurs. Pourtant, nul ne sait à quel moment, dans quelle situation de crise survient ce facteur d’anomalie perturbateur qui préside à la naissance d’un nouveau paradigme révolutionnaire, processus cyclique de gestation qui peut très bien perpétuer une longue agonie avant sa pleine reconnaissance et son adoption sociale.

Alors que les grands systèmes d’idées ne mobilisent plus, il faudra s’interroger sur quelles bases praxistes et idéologiques reconstruire. Alors que l’on dit volontiers que la révolution est une nostalgie de la gauche, force est de constater que la contre-révolution, voire les nombreux mythes de la « renaissance » de la « restauration », de l’ordre, constituent aussi une certaine forme de mélancolie de la droite, dont il est difficile de faire le deuil. A ces mythes sotériologiques et holistes se sont substitués, de façon indolore, des mythes technicistes consuméristes : le mythe de l’ouverture, le mythe de la communication, le présentisme, comme celui d’une mythologie du portable beaucoup plus attrayant pour les jeunes générations que celui des grandes luttes politiques et sociales ou du mythe Sorelien de la grève générale.

Cette praxis du marché est celle de l’ostensible, du conditionnement opérant que génèrent les concepteurs de produits par la dissémination de besoins artificiels vérifiables dans le domaine numérique de la communication. Un conditionnement   basé sur une stratégie de dépendance qu’on dissimule derrière le leurre d’une utilisation agréable et supposée enrichissante, pouvant préparer le terrain de l’addiction. Le facteur du libre choix et de la personnalité diminue considérablement, alors que l’emprise manipulatrice et l’autorégulation des comportements sociaux neutralisent la capacité réactive de résistance au stress social à mesure que s’amoindrissent les facultés de concentration et de l’intelligence émotionnelle. Il s’agit bien d’une praxis de la narcomanie sociétale   qui fonctionne sur un mode de dépendance-approvisionnement marché/dealeur et junkies/consommateur, une oniomanie organisée et généralisée, qui se traduit par de nombreuses pathologies sociales. Cette consommation compulsive est surtout visible sur le marché du smartphone par une hausse constante de la dépendance ou l’addiction au smartphone, une cyberaddiction (dépendance à Internet), pathologie s’exprimant par un curieux mélange d’anxiété phobique, d’euphorie hystérique et de dépression.

A l’administration des choses il faudra pourtant, tout comme le soutient Bruno Latour, re-politiser le « système des objets » et substituer le gouvernement des hommes, dire que tous les objets, la technique, ne sont pas neutres et même nocifs. En effet, alors que l’on a dépolitisé les questions de nature, il conviendra de re-politiser la question de l’impact sociétal des objets Il faudra se réapproprier l’utilité et la finalité des choses et dénoncer les stratégies de l’ostensible du marché. L’homme occidental n’est plus « mobilisable » au sens de l’ « Homme-masse », il est un agent-réseau autoconstitué connectable à l’infini, volontairement soumis à une discipline de dé-virilisation, du féminisable et de l’infantilisation à outrance. En un mot, c’est un objecteur de dé-conscience né, récalcitrant à toute forme d’engagement, de conscientisation, à la fois un nomade-déserteur. Lorsque Salvador Dali parlait de la télévision comme « instrument de crétinisation universelle », il annonçait déjà l’ouverture vers une humanité « homononcule » en voie de trollisation.

Jure Georges Vujic (Polémia, 7 juillet 2017)


–     Jean Baudrillard, Le Système des objets, Gallimard, 1968 [1978].
     Gilbert Simondon, Du mode d’existence des objets techniques, Aubier, Paris 1958 ; dernière réédition corrigée et augmentée, Flammarion, Paris 2012.
–     Thomas Kuhn, La Structure des révolutions scientifiques, Coll. « Champs/791 », Flammarion, Paris 2008.
–     Bruno Latour, Enquête sur les modes d’existence : Une anthropologie des modernes, La Découverte, Paris 2012.

mercredi, 12 juillet 2017

Animal Farm: Beware of the Language of Equality


Animal Farm: Beware of the Language of Equality

by Charles Johnson
Ex: http://www.eurocanadian.ca

The impulse for writing this brief essay comes from teaching the book for several years abroad. In my simple observations about the work, I've employed a medical analogy, whereby, Old Major is a social physician; his patient is the ailing, but equally oblivious, population of farm animals, and the illness is the daily life on that farm, owned by Mr. Jones. This analysis of Animal Farm follows a therapeutic progression: from a diagnosis, to a prescribed therapy, and ending finally in a description of a state of health that should result if the treatment is followed. In contrast to the usual interpretation of Animal Farm which highlights Orwell's famous quote that "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," the message of this medical analogy is that those who control language control politics and power.

In this respect, I'm aware of how Orwell uses Old Major to dramatize Karl Marx's critique of the struggle between owners and workers. But Orwell goes further, with important insights for the Alt Right. Aware that "Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies," Orwell puts aside whatever his sympathies with the workers might be; he challenges the idea that "All animals are equal." First, he shows the failure of this idea by focusing on who controls language, and then he presents reasons why equality among all the animals might not be all that desirable. In doing this, Orwell went against the egalitarian impulses of his day, displaying an intellectual originality that is rightly admired but perhaps all too seldom imitated.

I. Diagnosis—Medical Analogy

What Old Major offers the other animals is a diagnosis of the exploitation and unfairness that infects daily life on the farm. He states:
We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty.
Old Major educates the farm animals, making them aware that this is unhealthy. The animals "are forced to work," doing the most burdensome work to exhaustion, and in return, they only receive "just so much food as will keep the breath" in them — so that they can continue to work. As Old Major understands life on the farm, work is a major measure of value for most animals, and "the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered." Even at the end of a life-time of loyal labour on Manor Farm, animals don't get to enjoy retirement. Instead, they are mercilessly eliminated. Old Major assures Boxer that no animal is immune to this outcome: "the very day those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones [...] will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds." As with any good doctor, Old Major knows that it isn't enough to diagnose correctly the patient. The treatment must cure the illness.


II. Treatment

To treat the pandemic injustices of Manor Farm, Old Major prescribes the therapy of rebellion. Speaking to the animals gathered in the barn, Old Major says:
[W]ork night and day, body and soul, for the over throw of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion!
A reader might ask: Why do the ills of Manor Farm have to be treated by the harsh remedy of rebellion? Any increase in animal rights is a decrease in Jones' control. Any further sharing out of resources diminishes profit for Jones. Moreover, not yet unified with the other animals by hunger, the individual animal poses no threat to Jones. The lone animal can't stand against the immediate punishment of a beating or starvation. Divided, the animals don't have power. Without power, negotiation is impossible. Jones doesn't need to compromise, so why would he? People in power rarely like to share it. The only recourse the animals have, therefore, is to take and redistribute power through violent revolution. Old Major believes that this forceful redistribution of power on the farm will be the end of inequality and making of a society based on harmonious relations without exploitation.

III. State of Health

But having always experienced inequality, the animals don't know what equality is, so Old Major has to show them. He does so in two ways: he addresses all the animals by the revolutionary sobriquet of "Comrade." All the animals are "comrades." Therefore, according to Old Major, "all animals are equal." Old Major further shows this to be true with the power of the vote. Each animal has a vote. The donkey's vote is no less a vote than the horse's vote. A pig's vote is no more a vote than a sheep's vote. Simply put, a vote is a vote is a vote. All votes are equal; consequently, all animals are equal. Yet readers must acknowledge this animal egalitarianism is only Old Major's hope for the future and not quite the reality, especially under the rule of the pigs.

IV. Language as a Measure of Power—Breakdown of Egalitarianism

Language is a measure of power on the Animal Farm. The pigs give the sheep their slogans "Four legs good, two legs bad," and "Four legs good, two legs better." The sheep are incapable of coming up with their own slogans. They're illiterate and under the control of the pigs. The sheep mindlessly memorize and repeat slogans at the pigs' behest. If Wittgenstein is right when he claims, "The limits of my language are the limits of my world," then clearly the sheep have a small world. But even more revealing might be the application of Wittgenstein's idea to describe the relationships of power on the Animal Farm: the limits of language are the limits of power. It is, therefore, no accident that the sheep have the least language and the least amount of power while the pigs have the most language, and the most power. The pigs, after all, write and revise the rules that govern life on the farm for all the animals. However, language alone doesn't separate the pigs from the others.


V. Leisure

Snowball is able to become the hero of the Battle of the Cowshed not only because of language but because of leisure. Orwell describes an ordinary day on the farm shortly after the rebellion:
The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the others. With their superior knowledge it was natural that they should assume the leadership.
The pigs do have language ability to a high degree above the other animals. This "superior knowledge" of language is what makes it "natural that they should assume the leadership." Of course, later Snowball clearly makes use of this "superior knowledge" of language by reading about the campaigns of Julius Caesar. Snowball 's learning allows him to organize and direct the animals to defend themselves against the attacking humans; however, without leisure, even the most useful books remain unread. Therefore, it is not insignificant that the "pigs did not actually work;" un-tired at night, the pigs are holed up in the harness-room, studying "from books." There's an undeniably intimate connection between leisure and learning that enables Snowball to be heroic. Even the modern story-tellers of Hollywood can't ignore this fact. That is why the bat-suited hero of Gotham is the leisured Bruce Wayne during the day. Moreover, the iron-clad Tony Stark is equally free from draining daily work when he's not putting in a shift as Iron Man. In understanding Animal Farm, we shouldn't overlook the importance of leisure. Orwell and Hollywood might agree at least on this point: leisure doesn't make a person heroic, but it is awfully difficult to be heroic without leisure. But leisure isn't the only resource where the animals are found to be unequal.

VI. Food

Food not only is the product of the farm, but it is also proof that the egalitarian revolution of Animalism has failed. When the animals returned from a long day's work in the fields, they realized that "the milk had disappeared." If life on Animal Farm were truly egalitarian, wouldn't each animal get a portion of milk? Of course they would. But that doesn't happen. As Napoleon said, "Never mind the milk, comrades!" This inequality with food resources continues throughout the novel. Though the "animals had assumed" that the windfall apples "would be shared out equally," they soon learned that "all the windfalls were [...] for the use of the pigs." And even as the farm faces the winter hardship of food shortages, not all animals make equal sacrifices: "[A]ll rations were reduced, except those of the pigs and dogs." There are many examples of inequality on the Animal Farm that result from power, greed and the pigs' preference for pigs over other animals on the farm. But the most formidable and unyielding source of inequality might be Nature itself.

VII. Nature Isn't Egalitarian

Maybe we would like to believe that the failure of animal egalitarianism wasn't inevitable. But the truth, however, might be that it truly was never possible. The pigs have a natural advantage the other farm animals lack. Orwell writes that the pigs "had taught themselves to read and write." This auto-didactic aptitude for reading and writing reveals more than a few not insignificant natural abilities that the pigs have. The pigs have a passion for learning, for teaching themselves new abilities without being prompted to do so by others; moreover, what the pigs teach themselves is equally important because "to read and write" is to have power over others on the farm. The other farm animals are aware that the pigs are "manifestly cleverer" and therefore, "should decide the questions of farm policy." Nature has made the pigs different. And as Freud observes:
[N]ature, by endowing individuals with extremely unequal [...] mental capacities, has introduced injustices against which there is no remedy.
Nature isn't egalitarian, and clearly the pigs have benefited in part from the lottery of chance. Their leadership is the reward for being "superior" to the other animals. Nature and the effort of the pigs have made the animals unequal. Nonetheless, the "remedy" of enforced equality under Napoleon's dictatorship may be far worse than the disease of Nature's "injustices."


VIII. Undesired Outcomes of Egalitarianism

The dream of Old Major's egalitarianism turns into a nightmare under Napoleon's rule, and disagreement is outlawed through violence. One of Boxer's favorite slogans is "Napoleon is always right." He speaks more truth than he understands. Napoleon is always right. If he isn't, he exiles you or kills you. All animals are equal under Napoleon because they're all unable to dissent. Conformity is the unwritten law of Animal Farm. And its immediate consequences can't be ignored: countless deaths and tyranny; however, its unseen insidious effects are more dangerous. Maybe the windmill really fell because Benjamin refused to speak up. Since he "could read as well as any pig," who is to say that he didn't recognize the windmill's flaw of thin walls. If he realized the flaw, could it be that he chose to remain silent out of self-preservation? The silence of conformity comes at a cost: progress. As William Blake writes, "Without contraries is no progression." Doubtless, dissent is essential for progress and a healthy society. Silence puts an end to progress, and the tyranny of Napoleon turns even language into a weapon against the unsuspecting animals.

IX. Language as a Tool of Control

If you can say it, you can think it; you can do it. For this very reason, Napoleon bans "Beasts of England." Having witnessed the execution of their comrades by Napoleon's dogs, the farm animals retreat to the knoll and sing the song as an act of solace. Shortly afterwards, Squealer arrives. Orwell writes:
He announced that, by a special decree of Comrade Napoleon, 'Beasts of England' had been abolished. From now onwards it was forbidden to sing it.
The root of resistance is language; rebellion can't flower without it. "Beasts of England" is a song of rebellion, but now that Napoleon is in control, he doesn't want rebellion. The language of rebellion makes rebellion possible. Language comes first; the idea exists in language and only then is action possible. However, Squealer assures the animals that rebellion is "No longer needed" because, of course, Napoleon doesn't want it. To kill the flower, Napoleon tears out the root. It's not that "the Rebellion is now completed," as Squealer states, but rather that Napoleon has simply made rebellion impossible by eliminating its language. When the language of freedom disappears, slavery will be inescapable.

Orwell's work is rare in the world of books, and we do him the honor he deserves by reading it and reading it again. In Animal Farm, while sympathizing with the exploited and the urge for equality, he warned against the manipulation of those in control of the language of egalitarianism, the naive denial of the inescapable reality that animals and humans are not naturally equal, and that we must be wary of those who will manipulate us with words to believe we can be equal while not allowing open discussion about nature's inequalities.