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dimanche, 28 juin 2020

Le Traité du Sablier, Ernst Jünger

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Le Traité du Sablier, Ernst Jünger

 
 
Introduction du séminaire intitulé « Initiation, transmission, transformation.
Rites de passage et figures de passeurs de l’Antiquité à nos jours », avec Françoise Bonardel.
 
Pour accéder à l'intégralité de l'échange: https://www.baglis.tv/ame/initiations...
Le site de Françoise Bonardel : http://www.francoise-bonardel.com
 
 
Remerciements à Lorant Hecquet et sa librairie L'Or des Etoiles, de Vézelay, organisatrice du séminaire http://www.ordesetoiles.fr
 
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mardi, 02 juin 2020

Carl Schmitt, le meilleur ennemi du libéralisme

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Carl Schmitt, le meilleur ennemi du libéralisme

Conférence de Jean Leca

 
Dans cette conférence de novembre 2001, Jean Leca s'intéresse à la pensée de Carl Schmitt et au rapport de celui-ci à la philosophie politique. Il note que Carl Schmitt est une référence importante pour les philosophes continentaux, notamment Hayek, et pour les philosophes politiques alors même que selon Carl Schmitt il ne peut y avoir de philosophie politique.
 
De même, il n'y a pas de normativité morale : au fondement de la normativité, il y a la juridicité et non la moralité. Si l'on se met à agir pour des raisons morales, en politique, c'est le meilleur moyen de susciter une violence incontrôlable.
 
La guerre, inscrite dans la politique comme le mal dans la création, ne saurait avoir de justification morale ou rationnelle. Elle n'a qu'une valeur existentielle, particulière. Parce que l'identité personnelle est d'abord polémique (l'être humain se définit par opposition, par inimitié), un monde sans guerre serait un monde sans être humain.
 
Jean Leca analyse ensuite la critique schmittienne de la non-théorie politique du libéralisme: il n' y a pas de politique libérale sui generis, il n'y a qu'une critique libérale de la politique.
 
 

vendredi, 29 mai 2020

De la mobilisation en période de pandémie. Neuf extraits commentés de La mobilisation totale d’Ernst Jünger

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De la mobilisation en période de pandémie. Neuf extraits commentés de La mobilisation totale d’Ernst Jünger

par Baptiste Rappin

Ex: http://www.juanasensio.com

 

Ernst Jünger dans la Zone.

Baptiste Rappin dans la Zone.

La présente «crise», qui provoqua le confinement de plusieurs milliards d’êtres humain en raison de la pandémie mondiale du coronavirus baptisé Covid-19, qui, autrement dit, installa une sédentarité et un immobilisme contraints, s’accompagna paradoxalement d’une exigence de mobilité qui prit la forme, précise et non fortuite nous le constaterons par la suite, de l’appel à la mobilisation totale. La nation se mobilise, les hôpitaux se mobilisent, les entreprises se mobilisent, les associations se mobilisent, les universités et les chercheurs se mobilisent, les «ados» se mobilisent, bref, tout le monde se mobilise…

ej-mt.jpgCe fut l’idoine occasion de relire l’essai d’Ernst Jünger, qui, paru en 1930, porte précisément le nom de La mobilisation totale (Éditions Gallimard, coll. Tel, 1990), et d’en proposer quelques extraits choisis et commentés afin d’éclairer, par le recul qui tient à la distance temporelle, c’est-à-dire de manière inactuelle, la déconcertante actualité que nous vécûmes et continuons à vivre.

Quelques mots toutefois, en guise de préambule, à propos dudit ouvrage : La mobilisation totale se présente comme un court texte, à peine quarante pages réparties en neuf parties dont nous extrairons de chacune un passage qui nous semble significatif du point de vue de l’analyse de la contemporanéité. L’essai tente de cerner la rupture anthropologique, qu’Ernst Jünger juge non seulement décisive mais également irréversible, que la Première Guerre Mondiale a introduite dans le cours de l’histoire humaine.

Premier extrait

«Nous nous emploierons […] à rassembler un certain nombre de faits qui distinguent la dernière guerre – notre guerre, cet évènement le plus considérable et le plus décisif de notre époque – de toutes celles dont l’histoire nous a livré le récit» (§ 1, p. 98).

C’est tout d’abord à un effort de discernement que se livre l’écrivain : bien des guerres se ressemblent, bien des guerres sont comparables, bien des guerres procèdent d’une même logique. La Première Guerre Mondiale, quant à elle, introduit une discontinuité, de telle sorte qu’elle ne saurait être ramenée à un étalon déjà connu, bien identifié; elle possède, autrement dit, un caractère inédit, qu’Ernst Jünger, à travers ce court texte qui sert en réalité de laboratoire à un essai décisif : Le Travailleur, cherche à mettre au jour. cms_visual_1099299.jpg_1541772104000_292x450.jpgN’anticipons guère, car les critères de démarcation apparaîtront bien assez tôt, mais notons ceci afin d’établir un pont avec l’actualité : comprendre l’événement, pour Jünger, ne consiste pas à répéter mécaniquement, machinalement si l’on peut dire, les analyses précédentes et les schémas explicatifs préétablis; cela consiste, tout au contraire, à cerner sa spécificité, et à poser sur lui les justes mots afin de le faire advenir en tant que tel à la conscience collective. Telle fut très certainement la première faute, de nature épistémologique mais aux conséquences politiques, du Président Emmanuel Macron et de son équipe gouvernementale qui n’eurent de cesse de parler d’un virus comme d’un ennemi et d’une épidémie comme d’une guerre, des choix lexicaux et sémantiques pour le moins malheureux qui sont à mon sens en partie responsables de comportements a priori irrationnels comme la razzia des commerces (attention, indispensable précision, par ces propos, je n’excuse ni ne cautionne en aucune manière ces agissements dignes de pourceaux dépourvus de toute faculté de juger).

Deuxième extrait

«La meilleure manière de faire apparaître le caractère spécifique de cette grande catastrophe consiste sans doute à montrer qu’elle a été pour le génie de la guerre et l’esprit de progrès l’occasion de conclure une alliance étroite» (§ 2, p. 98).

Voilà une remarque qui me paraît souligner le caractère à proprement parler critique du progrès : il n’est en effet que des esprits simples, dogmatiques ou utopiques, pour concevoir le progrès comme l’écoulement d’un long fleuve tranquille ou comme la paisible marche vers un paradis terrestre à portée de mains. La réalité est plus chaotique, plus erratique, parce que le système capitaliste non seulement nécessite la révolution permanente des moyens de production – l’innovation dans toutes ses déclinaisons : économique, technologique, organisationnelle, sociale, citoyenne, écologique, parentale, éducative, etc. –, mais possède en outre le don de profiter de chaque catastrophe pour étendre son empire et accentuer son emprise : telle est en effet la «stratégie du choc», si justement décrite par Naomi Klein, qui joue de la perte de repères et de l’angoisse engendrées par la crise pour délivrer une ordonnance sur-mesure. Et si la Première Guerre Mondiale, selon Jünger, fut l’occasion de la conclusion d’une alliance entre «le génie de la guerre et l’esprit de progrès», alors il y a fort à parier, et à craindre, que l’association d’un coronavirus conquérant et d’un esprit de progrès tout aussi tenace servira de tremplin à la post-industrialisation de la France qui se traduira – et se traduit déjà – par des investissements massifs dans le numérique, le développement de juteux marchés pour l’industrie pharmaceutique, l’installation accélérée d’une société de la surveillance ainsi que par le recours accentué aux techniques managériales gages d’efficacité et d’adaptation. Je préfère prévenir ici toute illusion : le monde d’après sera identique au monde d’avant, mais en pire.

Troisième extrait

«On peut suivre désormais l’évolution au cours de laquelle l’acte de mobilisation revêt un caractère toujours plus radical dès lors que, dans une mesure croissante, toute existence est convertie en énergie, et que les communications subissent une accélération accrue au profit de la mobilité […]» (§ 3, p. 106).

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Qui dit guerre dit mobilisation : non seulement la mise sur pied de guerre de l’ensemble des forces armées, voire même de tous les citoyens susceptibles de participer à l’effort, mais aussi l’orientation de toutes les ressources, matérielles et technologiques, financières et organisationnelles, vers la victoire, seule issue désirée, escomptée, espérée, lorsque le combat s’engage. C’est en toute logique que la rhétorique belliqueuse déployée par nos dirigeants s’accompagne d’un appel à la mobilisation générale : celle-ci est toutefois d’une ampleur sans précédent, puisque l’ennemi est, comme les dieux du panthéisme, possiblement partout, à telle enseigne que l’enrôlement concerne certes les soldats et les citoyens, mais cible également les enfants, les femmes, les personnes âgées, qui, eux aussi, sont sommés de convertir leur existence en énergie. On pourrait dire de ce point de vue que l’épidémie confirme et entérine la mutation du paradigme guerrier qu’avait déjà accompli le terrorisme.

Mais la mobilisation est de surcroît une mise en mouvement : les énergies deviennent en effet disponibles quand elles se trouvent libérées de toute attache et enclines à la mobilité, si bien que toute mobilisation se trouve inséparable d’une structure logistique de gestion des flux, d’hommes, de matières, d’informations. C’est précisément ici que l’attaque surprise du coronavirus dans sa version 2019 devient, pour l’observateur, digne d’intérêt : car jamais, me semble-t-il, la mobilité de la cognition n’a-t-elle été à ce point découplée de la mobilité des corps. Confinés dans nos foyers, consignés à demeure comme des enfants punis dans leur chambre, nos corps, privés de leur élémentaire liberté de mouvement, demeurent immobiles alors que nos pensées ne laissent pas de circuler sur la Toile, à tel point, d’ailleurs, que nos vies n’auront jamais été aussi dépendantes et intégrées au Réseau, par la grâce duquel, Dieu soit loué, nous travaillons à distance, nous achetons à distance, nous prenons l’apéro à distance, nous baisons à distance.

D’une telle situation, je tire deux leçons : d’une part, que le sous-équipement numérique que la présente crise a révélé accélèrera, par des investissements massifs, la digitalisation de notre pays; d’autre part, le confinement restera la première expérience collective d’une vie transhumaniste post-incarnation dans laquelle le corps aura enfin avoué sa superfluité.

Quatrième extrait

«Néanmoins, le versant technique de la mobilisation totale n’en constitue pas l’aspect décisif. Son principe, comme le présupposé de toute technique, est au contraire enfoui plus profond : nous le définissons ici comme disponibilité à être mobilisé» (§ 4, p. 115).

001065708.jpgLe Réseau est une chose, notre appétence et notre célérité à nous y soumettre une autre. Jünger, qui aura sur ce point très largement anticipé et influencé les développements de Heidegger dans La question de la technique, conférence dans laquelle ce dernier affirme notamment que «l’essence de la technique n’est pas la technique», met en évidence qu’aucun dispositif technique ne parvient à s’encastrer dans le tissu social, c’est-à-dire à devenir un système sociotechnique, s’il n’est précédé d’une révolution anthropologique qui, dans les mentalités et les structures de la croyance collective, légitime l’usage dudit dispositif. Pourquoi donc le confinement, présenté comme un acte de mobilisation, et désormais les règles du déconfinement, qui ne sont autres que la poursuite de la mobilisation sous une forme nouvelle, se trouvent-t-ils aussi largement respectés ? Il est vrai que la peur de la maladie et la crainte de l’amende y sont pour quelque chose, je ne le nie pas; mais c’est au fond le principe directeur de notre société qui oriente nos actions, pour les uns, qui se limitent à respecter les consignes, de façon minimaliste, pour les autres, qui n’hésitent guère à prendre directement part au combat en cousant des masques et en imprimant des visières (masques et visières, dont la pénurie annonce la future fortune de proches du pouvoir, c’est une évidence qui ne requiert aucune boule de cristal), de manière engagée voire fanatique.

Quel est ce principe que Jünger situe à la racine de la mobilisation, et que tant Heidegger qu’Anders identifieront comme le tuf même de la société industrielle ? Il s’agit de la disponibilité, c’est-à-dire l’état ou le fait de se trouver à disposition de quelqu’un ou de quelque chose. En d’autres termes, loin d’attendre le tonitruant appel de la mobilisation pour se faire énergies, nos existences sont déjà prêtes et disposées à être mobilisées, n’attendant même que cela, d’être mobilisées, puisque pour les Modernes, le mouvement c’est la vie, mobilisées donc, c’est-à-dire à la fois convoquées, réquisitionnées et ordonnées à la finalité de la victoire. Les «ressources humaines», le «facteur humain», le «capital humain» ne sont pas qu’expressions techniques réservées aux seules entreprises : ces mots, dans toute leur crudité, disent tout simplement la condition des derniers hommes que nous sommes devenus : des outils à la recherche permanente d’un emploi.

Cinquième extrait

«Mais cela n’est rien par rapport aux moyens dont on disposait à l’ouest (en Amérique) pour mobiliser les masses. Il ne fait pas de doute que la civilisation soit plus étroitement liée au progrès que la Kultur; qu’elle sache parler sa langue naturelle dans les grandes villes surtout, et s’entende à manier des notions et des méthodes qui n’ont rien à voir avec la culture, auxquelles même celle-ci s’oppose. La culture ne peut être exploitée à des fins de propagande […]» (§ 5, p. 125).

Je dois ici préciser au lecteur, avant tout commentaire, que le couple civilisation-culture, dans l’Allemagne de l’entre-deux guerres, se présente sous la forme d’une opposition irréductible héritée de la période romantique : d’un côté, celui de la Kultur, la naturalité des liens socio-historiques qui lient les hommes dans une communauté organique de destin; de l’autre, celui de la civilisation, l’artificialité engendrée par les progrès techniques de la société industrielle. Jünger perpétue cette dichotomie, ce dont témoigne assurément le pont tendu entre civilisation et urbanité.

Ce cinquième extrait introduit un nouvel élément indispensable à la bonne compréhension de la mobilisation : les références dernières, en l’occurrence la disponibilité pour la société industrielle, exigent une mise en scène, c’est-à-dire l’intercession de symboles, par l’entremise de laquelle elle s’adresse à ses destinataires. Jadis occupée par la religion et les mythes dont les récits se théâtralisent dans des liturgies, cette fonction se trouve aujourd’hui dévolue à la propagande – les termes de «propagande», «relations publiques» et «marketing» seront dans ce texte considérés comme synonymes –, comme si la médiation, elle aussi, devait se plier à la logique générale de substitution du technique (la «manufacture du consentement» selon la si révélatrice expression de Walter Lippmann) au symbolique.

978849661442.JPGIl n’est guère étonnant que Jünger tienne ses propos, lui qui assiste à l’émergence des relations publiques dont le chef d’œuvre inaugural demeure l’incroyable Propaganda d’Edward Bernays. Quant à nous, c’est la télévision et ses experts, ce sont les journaux et leurs éditorialistes, ce sont toutes ces associations subventionnées et leurs porte-paroles illuminés, qui anesthésient toute liberté d’esprit afin d’imposer la disponibilité en principe de vie. Peut-être l’opposition que Jünger dresse entre civilisation et culture suggère-t-elle d’ailleurs une issue qu’il faudrait prendre à la lettre, au mot : la campagne ne serait-elle pas la clef des champs, elle qui demeure encore un peu, malgré tout, allergique au baratin du nouveau monde ?

Sixième extrait

«La mobilisation totale, en tant que mesure décrétée par l’esprit d’organisation, n’est qu’un indice de cette mobilisation supérieure accomplie par l’époque à travers nous» (§ 6, p. 127-128).

La mobilisation totale n’épuise toutefois pas l’esprit de l’époque, elle ne constitue qu’un aspect partiel d’un phénomène encore plus général, plus englobant, dont elle sert toutefois de révélateur; car, la crise, en tant qu’elle désigne le point culminant de la maladie, est synonyme de moment de vérité. La mobilisation totale qui est déclarée face à l’attaque ne fait ainsi que mettre en évidence ceci : que l’époque ne cesse de nous mobiliser, en temps de paix comme en temps de guerre, qu’elle ne laisse pas de nous rendre encore et toujours disponibles, qu’elle cherche, à travers tous les moyens possibles, à nous employer, à nous rendre utiles et fonctionnels, qu’elle a fait de nous des «types adaptables», formulation positive de l’expression «unadaptable fellows» qu’on lit sous la plume aiguisée de Günther Anders, c’est-à-dire des organismes psychologiquement modifiés.

Tel est l’esprit d’organisation qui donne à l’époque son triste visage : rien ne saurait résister à une entreprise d’optimisation, rien ne saurait demeurer en retrait sans être exploité – la planète est une immense mine de matières premières –, il n’est aucune de nos qualités qui ne doive se mettre au service d’une production, s’ordonner à une fin de performance. On l’observe d’ailleurs aux curriculum vitae et aux lettres de motivation de candidats au recrutement qui n’hésitent plus à faire de l’organisation de leur vie personnelle un gage de réussite de leur carrière professionnelle, à présenter leurs voyages touristiques comme l’occasion de développer des compétences interculturelles, à rendre compte de leur engagement associatif comme d’une expérience managériale. La transitivité de l’efficacité est parfaite, qui atteste de l’omniprésence de son idéologie.

Septième extrait

«Nous avons expliqué qu’une grande partie des forces progressistes avait été mobilisée par la guerre; et la dépense d’énergie ainsi entraînée était telle qu’on ne pouvait plus rien réinvestir dans la lutte intérieure» (§ 7, p. 134-135).

Après la métaphysique, le retour à la politique. Il est évident que la mobilisation totale qui suit la guerre déclarée au souverain virus conduit à un épuisement complet, autant dû à l’atrophie de corps immobilisés, confinés, empêchés, qu’à l’usure de psychismes sidérés par les écrans du «télétravail»; il est tout aussi obvie que la mobilisation générale, celle qui est quotidiennement requise par l’esprit d’organisation, produit une fatigue structurelle, un dépérissement lent et continu, une torpeur et une anesthésie qui constituent très certainement le premier frein à toute action authentiquement révolutionnaire. La disponibilité permanente entraîne une adhérence, sinon une adhésion, à l’époque, si bien que l’intempestivité, que je pourrais littéralement et abusivement définir comme l’action de pester intelligemment contre son temps, paraît bien disparaître des radars, si ce n’est à titre de vestige de l’ancien monde.

eae1fe006afadd2fa6a8ec97d94e657d.pngLe président Emmanuel Macron le sait bien, et si vraiment il l’ignore, une quelconque huile l’aura bien averti : la colère gronde, dont l’intensité n’a d’égale que son niveau d’incompétence et d’incurie – sans compter l’irritation née de ces invraisemblables et insignifiantes envolées technico-lyriques («un été apprenant et culturel» ! : «mdr» aurait-t-on envie de rétorquer) qui circulent en boucle sur les réseaux sociaux. L’épuisement de l’opposition, non pas celle qui se met douillettement en scène à l’Assemblée Nationale en attendant que le fatum de l’alternance produise son effet, mais celle qui s’empare des ronds-points de l’Hexagone et refuse de se laisser institutionnaliser par le jeu de la représentation, l’épuisement de cette opposition-là, qui se trouve aujourd’hui mobilisée en première ligne dans les hôpitaux, les commerces et les ateliers, représente très certainement le gage d’une certaine tranquillité intérieure, c’est-à-dire de sa possible réélection, à condition, par conséquent, de maintenir l’état d’exception jusqu’à ce qu’il soit accepté comme normal et que le régime autoritaire, dictatorial, s’installe dans notre quotidien avec le statut de l’évidence. Le tout assorti de concessions qui ne le sont point : remaniement ministériel, retour de la souveraineté, tournant écologique, visions du monde d’après qui ne sera plus jamais le même, etc.

Huitième extrait

«Le progrès se dénature en quelque sorte pour faire ressortir son mouvement à un niveau très élémentaire, après une spirale accomplie par une dialectique artificielle; il commence à dominer les peuples sous des formes qu’on ne peut déjà plus distinguer de celles d’un régime totalitaire, sans même parler du très bas niveau de confort et de liberté qu’elles offrent. Un peu partout, le masque de l’humanitarisme est pour ainsi dire tombé; et l’on voit apparaître un fétichisme de la machine […]» (§ 8, p. 137).

Le progrès, qui prend aujourd’hui la forme de la «transformation digitale», mot d’ordre que l’on entend autant dans les entreprises, petites et grandes, que dans les écoles et les collectivités, promet la liberté mais sème la terreur. Comment Bernard de Clairvaux, le Saint, n’y aurait-il pas pensé quand il affirma, locution devenue proverbiale, que «l’enfer est pavé de bonnes intentions» ? C’est tout sourire que le progrès engendre le pire, c’est au nom de l’humanité et du Bien qu’il installe une domination d’un nouveau genre. Car si le régime totalitaire «classique» repose avant tout sur une idéologie, celle de la race, celle de la classe, qui reconfigure la société en lui imposant de nouveaux régimes de normativité, le progrès, dont le docteur Frankenstein de Mary Shelley fournit une idoine personnification, accouche d’un monstre froid, impersonnel et intégralement artificiel : la méga-machine, l’hydre hyper-connectée dont la prolifération ne connaît pas de terme, car tel est le propre du Réseau, que de toujours s’étendre, se répandre, se propager, sans autre ambition que son propre prolongement, sans autre souci que son accroissement de puissance.

Les masques tomberaient-ils, malgré la propagande, en dépit de la mobilisation ? Certains d’entre nous, trop peu bien entendu, ont pris goût à une vie décélérée et exempte des tourbillons et de l’agitation du quotidien, réalisent que cette liberté retrouvée les renvoie, par contraste, à leur ordinaire condition de servilité, se disent qu’au fond ils se satisferaient bien d’un prolongement de cette parenthèse enchantée. Ils ont même retrouvé une certaine forme de mesure et de sérénité dont le fol emballement de la vie moderne les avait privés (et ils en furent les complices volontaires, nous le savons bien !) : mais que valent ces gouttes d’eau dans l’océan de dispositifs digitaux, que peuvent ces minuscules prises de conscience contre le Grand Déferlement ?

Neuvième extrait

«À travers les failles et les jointures de cette tour babylonienne, notre regard découvre aujourd’hui déjà un monde apocalyptique dont la vue glacerait le cœur du plus intrépide. Bientôt l’ère du progrès nous semblera aussi énigmatique que les secrets d’une dynastie égyptienne, alors que le monde lui avait en son temps accordé ce triomphe qui, un instant, auréole d’éternité la victoire» (§ 9, p. 139).

Robots-Square.jpgLe progrès a pour nous un statut d’évidence; non plus le progrès moral (celui qui croit au perfectionnement de l’individu raisonnable par l’éducation), non plus le progrès historico-politique (celui qui imagine la construction d’un avenir radieux par des citoyens rationnels épousant le sens de l’Histoire), mais, bien sûr, le progrès technique qui, sûr de son statut d’idole et de son implacable force, lance ses rouleaux-compresseurs mécaniques, automatiques, numériques, à l’assaut des vieilleries de la civilisation, écrase les traditions, casse les institutions et concasse les corps intermédiaires, broye le langage pour lui substituer le grincement assourdissant des rouages et le bruit diffus de l’information. Non, ce n’est pas un monde que détruit le progrès; non ce n’est pas seulement une ère qui prend fin sous les coups de butoir de la méga-machine; non, Messieurs les relativistes, notre époque ne saurait se diluer dans une histoire générale du mal et de ses manifestations. Jamais les assemblages anthropologiques qui garantissent la pérennité de l’espèce humaine ont-ils été aussi durement mis à l’épreuve; jamais une société («société» qui s’est, soit dit en passant, dilué dans le «social», dilution ou dissolution qui mériterait à elle seule un article entier) n’a-t-elle adopté, pour seul mode de reproduction, la fabrique d’êtres opérationnels. Telle est bien, au fond, l’énigme que nous laissons à nos survivants ou, hypothèse osée mais stimulante, à une civilisation extra-terrestre qui découvrirait les décombres de la nôtre. Si l’espèce humaine, je veux dire : réellement humaine, venait à survivre à cette catastrophe, alors nos descendants s’interrogeront, avant peut-être de baisser les bras devant l’insondable mystère du progrès : mais de quelle folie ont-ils été pris, nos ancêtres de la société industrielle, pour précipiter la civilisation dans l’apocalypse ?

mercredi, 13 mai 2020

Oswald Spengler and the Destruction of Intelligence - Matt Raphael Johnson

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Oswald Spengler and the Destruction of Intelligence

Matt Raphael Johnson

 
Spengler cannot be summarized in an hour. Therefore, we concentrate on one important element of his thought, that around which all other elements revolve: the distinction between culture and civilization.
 
Culture is the organic state; the natural life. Civilization is the decay of that state into formalism and quantity. Authority turns into power. In thought, this is manifest in the over-formalization of the intellect and the rise of the mass-intellectual. This intellectual is not a scholar, he's an actor in a role. He's the pseudo-intellectual.
 
This lecture will briefly discuss Spengler in relation to the mass-intellectual and the means to tell the phoney from the legitimate scholar. It is an unpleasant excursion into the world of fakery and fraud.
 
Presented by Matt Johnson

dimanche, 12 avril 2020

Günter Figal: Nietzsche und Heidegger über die Kunst der Moderne

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Günter Figal: Nietzsche und Heidegger über die Kunst der Moderne (21.01.2010)

 
 
Ringvorlesung der Nietzsche-Forschungsstelle der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften am Deutschen Seminar der Universität Freiburg in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Studium generale. Gottfried Benn nannte Nietzsche das "größte Ausstrahlungsphänomen der Geistesgeschichte". Entscheidend wirkte er auf Thomas Mann, Hofmannsthal, Musil, Benn, Freud und Heidegger. Zahlreiche Autoren weltweit stehen bis heute im Bann seines revolutionär modernen Denkens. Ausgehend von Erfahrungen des 19. Jahrhunderts, entwickelte Nietzsche eine intellektuelle Sprengkraft, die bestehende Wertvorstellungen, gewohnte Formen des Philosophierens und auch die Konventionen der Wissenschaft erschütterte. An der Schwelle zum 20. Jahrhundert wurde er eine Leitfigur moderner Lebensphilosophie, Kulturkritik und Anthropologie. Die Vorlesungsreihe, bei der führende Nietzsche-Spezialisten zu Wort kommen, will alle diese Aspekte umfassend beleuchten.
 

mardi, 31 mars 2020

Homenaje a Oswald Spengler

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Homenaje a Oswald Spengler

Armin Mohler

Traducción: Carlos X. Blanco

Ex: https://decadenciadeeuropa.blogspot.com

Hay muchas maneras de ignorar los pensamientos de los grandes hombres, y de vivir como si esos pensamientos nunca hubieran sido expresados. En 1980, cualquier espectador en la Alemania Federal habría visto precisamente eso. Celebramos el centenario del nacimiento de Oswald Spengler. Incluso en los homenajes ofrecidos al filósofo, uno habría encontrado, objetivamente, lagunas. Algunos subrayaron la importancia de la filosofía spengleriana de la historia, cuyas profecías serían confirmadas por los acontecimientos; pero así evitaron abordar las afirmaciones políticas del autor de La decadencia de Occidente. Otros querían "rescatar" al político Spengler convirtiéndolo en antifascista y estudiando sólo muy superficialmente los vínculos que existían entre Spengler, Hitler y el nacional-socialismo. No diré nada de los "brillantes" ensayistas que trabajaron prodigiosamente en su estudio de Spengler para sacar tan poco de él.

El Spengler total

Fue otro gran hombre, Herbert Cysarz (nacido dieciséis años después de Spengler), quien pudo comprender verdaderamente a Spengler en su totalidad. El homenaje que ofreció, en el número de enero de la revista Aula, editada en Graz, Austria, comenzó con estas palabras:

"Ningún historiador contemporáneo ha conocido una gloria tan grande como Oswald Spengler. Ninguno ha sido, en su vida, tan incontestablemente original. Este hombre, hostil a toda la literatura y a todo idealismo, totalmente alejado del mundo abstracto de las letras, ha examinado los grandes temas y las múltiples capas de la Historia, y ha subrayado, como ningún hombre lo ha hecho hasta ahora, la intensidad que reside en la voluntad y la acción. Ha dado al mundo una nueva forma de concebir lo político, con una particular manera de ver, pensar y presentar la Historia."

No cabe duda de que Cysarz comprende que Spengler es más que un historiador: en lo que respecta a su obra, escribe, sigue siendo un signo del destino que se manifestó en el cambio de nuestra época.

Un hombre de la misma generación que Cysarz, Ernst Jünger, escribió cosas de este tipo en los años 20... Aunque su tono fuera más comedido, no tan lleno de patetismo. En un artículo político muy importante de esa época (por cuya reedición en las obras completas de Jünger no deberíamos esperar, claro está), expresa una opinión compartida por muchos de sus contemporáneos: por un cerebro del calibre de Spengler, estarían encantados de dar todo un Parlamento.

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Las debilidades del trabajo de Spengler

Una recepción tan entusiasta de la totalidad de la obra de Spengler no significa que aprobemos todos sus detalles, por lo demás, sin formular ninguna crítica. Spengler no es un superhombre: él también tenía sus debilidades. Además de las profecías que se cumplieron de hecho están las que no se han cumplido. Los profundos estudios de Spengler sobre las diversas culturas de la Historia nos obligan a señalar que no todos los dominios de la actividad humana creativa le son igualmente familiares. Por ejemplo, el estilo literario de Spengler no siempre puede estar a la altura de sus temas; esto no debe aturdirnos, ya que estos textos despiertan las emociones más fuertes. Los enemigos de Spengler también se deleitan en citar frases que muestran cierto "kitsch". Además, Spengler sufre una debilidad como muchos visionarios: lo más inmediato se le escapa. Por lo tanto, según él, el gran poeta de su generación no es ni Stefan George ni Rainer Maria Rilke, sino Ernst Droem, que, con razón, ha languidecido en la oscuridad.

Muy reveladora es la reacción del autor de la Decadencia de Occidente al envío, por parte de un joven escritor, de uno de los libros más importantes de nuestro siglo. En 1932, Ernst Jünger envió a Spengler, con sus más cálidos saludos, su libro titulado Der Arbeiter (El Trabajador). Spengler se contentó con hojear el libro y responder:

"En Alemania, el campesinado sigue siendo una fuerza política. Y cuando uno se opone al campesinado - supuestamente moribundo - el "Obrero" - es decir, el trabajador manufacturero - uno se distancia de la realidad, y se excluye de toda influencia en el futuro..."

Como Spengler no leyó el libro, no podía saber que Jünger no hablaba del obrero de la fábrica. Pero es bastante sorprendente que sobrevalore las potencialidades políticas del campesinado que, unos años más tarde, sería completamente aniquilado.

Obstrucción interna

29976181.jpgNi estos pocos puntos ciegos, ni los extraños aspectos de la vida de Spengler, deben desviar nuestra atención de la masa de su trabajo. Este hombre sensible usaba una máscara, adoptó un estilo que no debe ser tomado directamente. Por lo tanto, los admiradores de Spengler deberían evitar confundir su verdadera personalidad con esa "máscara Cesárea" que usó en sus numerosas apariciones públicas.[i]

Los detractores de Spengler, por su parte, intentarán no describirlo, a la luz de su vida privada, como una especie de extraño tótem de la burguesía decadente.

Por supuesto, la vida solitaria de Spengler permite ciertas suposiciones. Nació el 29 de mayo de 1880, hijo de un alto funcionario postal, en Blankenburg en Harz.[ii] No fue su padre, un hombre apacible, quien dominó el hogar familiar, sino su madre, una criatura medio loca, devorada por ambiciones pseudo-artísticas. Adornó su gran apartamento con tal cantidad de muebles, que el joven Oswald y sus tres hermanas tuvieron que dormir en los desvanes bajo las vigas.

Después de defender una disertación sobre Heráclito, Spengler se convirtió en profesor de matemáticas y ciencias naturales en un instituto de secundaria (Gymnasium). La posterior muerte de su madre no le dejó una gran herencia, pero le permitió vivir sin trabajar: desde 1911 hasta su muerte por un ataque al corazón el 7 de mayo de 1936, vivió retirado como investigador independiente en Munich, en un inmenso apartamento de estilo Gründerzeit (el estilo de los años 1870-80), repleto de enormes muebles y situado en la Widenmayerstraße. Una de sus hermanas lo atendía.

Viajaba poco y sólo mantenía un círculo de conocidos restringido. Rechazó el puesto de profesor que le ofrecieron. Quedó trastocado por la Primera Guerra Mundial. Esta vida parece dominada por el feroz rechazo de todo contacto humano. No sabemos nada de ninguna relación erótica. Desde el principio, hubo un repliegue hacia la interioridad. Y en Spengler, los únicos resultados que nos interesan son los productos de ese aislamiento después de 1917. La castidad de esta existencia no es en absoluto un argumento contra el trabajo de Spengler. Así como el aislamiento en una celda monástica no sería un argumento contra Agustín.

Más allá del optimismo y el pesimismo

En la historia de las ideas, el sentido de la obra de Spengler reside en que, en estado de crisis, devuelve a la conciencia los fundamentos "subterráneos" del pensamiento, con un vigor que recuerda al de un Georges Sorel. ¿Y cuáles son estos fundamentos "subterráneos"? Es el pensamiento resueltamente realista iniciado por Heráclito y la escuela del Pórtico (Stoa). Es un pensamiento que siempre ha renunciado a los falsos consuelos y a la organización del destino de los sistemas fundados en pseudo-órdenes cósmicos. De manera magistral, Spengler confronta a la generación de la guerra con este pensamiento. Su estilo era una curiosa mezcla de "monumentalidad" clásica y expresionismo, realizada con pinceladas de fuertes colores. Y fueron precisamente los que más profundamente habían experimentado el colapso del mundo burgués (el del "espectáculo de marionetas" [Puppenspiel]) los que escucharon su llamamiento.

Este pensamiento se sitúa más allá del optimismo y el pesimismo. El título que el editor eligió para la obra maestra de Spengler (La decadencia de Occidente) engaña. Es posible que Spengler, en privado, deplorara el colapso de un mundo que le era querido. Pero su obra no deplora nada: más bien nos sorprende que la Historia sea un movimiento único de surgimiento y declive, y que no haya nada que el hombre pueda hacer sino afrontar esta realidad con compostura, en el lugar que el destino le ha asignado. Esto es lo que impide a Spengler identificarse con el Tercer Reich, y lo que le llevó en 1933, en su última obra, Jahre der Entscheidung (Años Decisivos), a enfrentarse al NSDAP por su ceguera en política exterior. Para Spengler, la política exterior, por ser un combate, es primordial con respecto a la política interior, que a su vez insiste en la importancia del bienestar. Por lo tanto, el carácter híbrido del nacionalsocialismo aparece claramente: como socialismo, alimenta una fuerte tendencia a la utopía, aunque también conoce la fascinación de la melodía heraclítea.

Sin duda, ninguna praxis política es posible sin una cierta dosis de esperanza, y sin alusiones a un orden (cósmico) dotado de sentido (teleológico). Sólo una minoría de individuos puede sostener la mirada de la Gorgona. Dentro de esta minoría, el porcentaje de hombres de acción es mayor que el de los intelectuales, o sacerdotes, o de otros fabricantes de opinión. En todo caso, los discípulos de Heráclito poseen un consuelo propio, que sacan precisamente de lo que constituye, para los demás, una fuente de terror. La lectura de Spengler nos demuestra el doble aspecto del pensamiento de Heráclito.

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Inflexibilidad

De manera muy pertinente Herbert Gysarz cita dos frases que muestran de manera insuperable lo que separa a Oswald Spengler de la sociedad liberal, como de cualquier tipo de dictadura del bienestar (ya sea roja o marrón). La primera de estas frases dice: "Los hechos son más importantes que las verdades". La segunda: "La vida no es sagrada". Este es el lado duro de la filosofía de Spengler; y es en El Hombre y la Técnica (1931), un libro ajeno a toda ambigüedad, donde Spengler lo subraya más particularmente, para desafiar toda la cháchara de nuestro siglo.

Heinz Friedrich, en su artículo en Die Welt, escrito para el centenario del filósofo, ofrece fórmulas aún más precisas. Comienza con el hecho de que el propio Spengler es un discípulo declarado de Goethe y Nietzsche. El propio Cysarz dice que la noción spengleriana de destino muestra más afinidad electiva con las sagas germánicas y el heroísmo trágico de Shakespeare que con el humanismo clásico. Friedrich escribe, en un idioma nada Spengleriano (¡habla de "verdades"!):

Al final de la era del caos, los ciudadanos deben habituarse no sólo a llegar a tomar conciencia de las verdades, sino también a vivirlas y a convivir con ellas. Como dijo Goethe, no sólo la naturaleza es insensible, sino también la historia; porque, parafraseando a Spengler, se podría decir que conserva más características naturales que las que nos gustaría admitir. Por consiguiente, es con una absoluta indiferencia que ella ignora nuestras esperanzas y temores.

Para Friedrich, lo que es nietzscheano en esto es el diagnóstico que representa la decadencia como una debilidad vital: "El agente de la vida, el factor favorecido del eterno devenir es, para Nietzsche, la voluntad de poder". Friedrich añade una advertencia: "La voluntad de poder, reconocida por Nietzsche como principio vital, es cualquier cosa menos el orgullo biológico y muscular que aún hoy queremos que signifique". Esta concepción vulgar de las cosas es compartida por los adeptos de Nietzsche como por sus adversarios. Simplemente significa que toda la vida siente el impulso de afirmarse a sí misma. Spengler es más que un discípulo de Nietzsche: lo completa y lo transforma. La contribución personal de Spengler a esta escuela de pensamiento es cumplir algo que encontró en Nietzsche en forma de un llamamiento.

Los colores de la vida

Quien se resiste a la mirada de la Gorgona no se aparta del mundo. Al contrario: ve el mundo de una manera más intensa, más plástica, más colorida. Esta es la paradójica verdad del asunto. La mirada de la esperanza, por otra parte, sólo puede ver coherencias, leyes, y, por esta razón, desvía su atención de lo particular para perderse en lo general: desencanta al mundo.

Hay que tener en cuenta cómo los Weltanschauungen dominantes, que son un lúgubre pastiche de la insípida ideología de la Ilustración y del cristianismo secularizado, han transformado el mundo, para el hombre mediocre, en un conjunto de tristes esquemas. Es el resultado de una visión bien definida de la Historia (en la Historia, el hombre descifra el mundo para comprenderlo). ¿De dónde, en esta visión, saca su valor la vida? De algo que se alcanzará en un futuro lejano, después de una larga evolución, y después de nuestra propia muerte. Nada es en sí mismo; todo existe sólo en la medida en que significa otra cosa, que está "detrás".

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La vida se ve entonces reducida a una racionalidad mediocre, que excluye todas esas grandes efervescencias que conducen a las alturas o a las profundidades; el hombre se mueve entonces dentro de una angosta estrechez, que no le ofrece nada más que la satisfacción de sus necesidades físicas. Por encima de esta estenosis sopla un tibio aliento de ética conductista. Arnold Gehlen llamó a esto "eudaimonismo masivo". Las masas están constituidas por individuos aislados, que no están enraizados en nada sólido, que no están enredados en una estructura de hormigón, que vagan sin rumbo en lo "general".

Es en este contexto que el ciclón spengleriano debe ser entendido: rompe la monotonía de lo que se llama a sí mismo "moderno", y reinvierte el mundo con tonalidades vibrantes. En la visión Spengleriana, el hombre ya no se manifiesta como una "generalidad", que comparte con todos sus semejantes. Al contrario, pertenece a una cultura específica, que no puede ser reducida a ninguna otra cosa, pero que tiene su propio significado. Toda cultura es de naturaleza totalmente litúrgica, porque de todo lo que produce surge el símbolo con el que se identifica y por el que se distingue. Spengler vio a estas culturas viviendo como viven las plantas: con sus fases de crecimiento y declive. Cada una de estas fases de crecimiento ocupa su propio rango. ¡Qué fuerte suena una melodía en su evocación del fin de una cultura o del Cesarismo! Podríamos citar con placer páginas enteras del primer volumen de La Decadencia:

"Una vida real se lleva a sí misma. No está determinada por el intelecto. Las verdades se sitúan más allá de la Historia y de la vida. [...] Los pueblos de la cultura son formas efímeras del río de la existencia. [...] Para mí, el pueblo (Volk) es una unidad de alma (Seele). [...] La mirada se libera de los límites de la vigilia. [...] Lo que confiere valor a un solo hecho es simplemente el mayor o menor poder de su lenguaje formal, la fuerza de sus símbolos. Más allá del bien y del mal, lo superior y lo inferior, lo necesario y lo ideal."

Todavía debemos añadir una última palabra sobre el alemán que fue Oswald Spengler. No evocó la pluralidad de culturas para sublimarse a través del exotismo. Escribió sus libros para los alemanes que vivieron el colapso del Reich. Spengler no lleva a los alemanes ante un tribunal de "generalidad", sino que los confronta con su especificidad, en el espejo de su historia. En todos los escritos de Spengler, uno siente su convicción de que los alemanes han jugado en el pasado un papel particular, y que los prusianos lo jugarán en el futuro. Estas convicciones de Spengler obviamente desmienten el deseo de mantener la mentalidad frustrada que reina hoy en día.

Versión inglesa de Fergus Cullen: https://ferguscullen.blogspot.com/2020/03/armin-mohler-homage-to-oswald-spengler.html. Con nuestro agradecimiento.

Versión francesa: http://www.archiveseroe.eu/spengler-a48363374

[i] [* Nota del autor. Podríamos, por supuesto, discutir el buen gusto de publicar la foto de Spengler en su lecho de muerte. Esta foto prueba, sin embargo, que esta máscara no impregnó de forma duradera la fisonomía de Spengler].

[ii] [** Nota del autor. Otro protagonista de la revolución conservadora que vino de esta ciudad es August Winnig. Nació dos años antes que Spengler en 1878, y era hijo de un sepulturero].

 

lundi, 30 mars 2020

"Antes de la historia: Algunas notas asistemáticas" (1975)

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"Antes de la historia: Algunas notas asistemáticas" (1975)

Armin Mohler, Nouvelle École 27-28 (1975).

Del tipo de hombre que concede una importancia especial a la historia, queremos decir que es un ser que se siente incómodo en este presente y que busca volver en sus sueños a las épocas que ama y, por esta razón, podemos decir que es "conservador". Para describir esta actitud, que hoy en día comienza a parecer una epidemia, se ha acuñado el término "nostalgia". La nostalgia es un fenómeno con múltiples aspectos y, a la luz de estos, no resulta fácil emitir un juicio. Pero parece que no depende de unas actitudes intelectuales fundamentales. Hay conservadores nostálgicos y conservadores que no lo son, mientras que un sinnúmero de no conservadores experimentan una intensa nostalgia. De todas formas, la nostalgia no es un elemento constitutivo del conservadurismo; y el hecho de que uno sea o no nostálgico no es lícito concluir que alguien es o no es conservador.

  1. La historia está cerca

La mayoría de los malentendidos sobre el tema de la historia provienen del hecho de que la consideramos distante en el tiempo. Ciertamente la historia no es inmediatamente perceptible. Pero no por ello tiene menos importancia en el presente. Podríamos concebir nuestra relación con ella según el modelo de la holografía, que fue introducido en 1948 por Dennis Gabor. Se trata esencialmente de un nuevo tipo de "fotografía", capaz de representar tanto los contornos como el reverso de un objeto, aunque nuestro ojo sólo puede tomar su propia perspectiva. El hombre sin sentido histórico es como quien se ve en un espejo: se ve a sí mismo como si estuviera transcrito en una superficie, con las distorsiones y omisiones que esto conlleva. Tener sentido histórico significa no contentarse sólo con esta dimensión. Y, para seguir con la imagen que hemos tomado como ejemplo, estudiar la historia significa sostener un segundo espejo detrás de la cabeza, o todo un sistema de espejos, para verse desde todos los ángulos y así lograr una distancia con respecto a uno mismo.

  1. La historia no es una clase académica.

El beneficio que se obtiene de la historia es generalmente de orden moral. Alabamos los ejemplos que esperamos igualar. Afirmamos que nos ayuda a evitar los errores de los demás. Y así sucesivamente. Los historiadores no han escatimado esfuerzos en lo que se refiere a estos supuestos efectos directamente educativos de la historia. Los sucesores de los grandes hombres son generalmente pocos en número; y los errores se ensayan fatigosamente. Si la historia tiene un efecto educativo, éste se manifiesta de la forma menos directa, por decir algo.

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  1. La historia permite una observación verificable

La historia tiene un poder disciplinario porque su función es la misma que la de la experimentación en el dominio de las ciencias naturales: la historia ofrece la única posibilidad de efectuar una observación verificable a nivel humano, tal como la experimentación la ofrece a nivel de la naturaleza. Esta observación es más fácil de hacer ya que la filosofía se ha degradado a un modesto papel de secretario en las reuniones interdisciplinares. La lógica tiene ciertamente sus inducciones, pero sólo en abstracto. Lo que tratamos de distinguir en el ámbito humano, como "naturaleza", "alma" (Seele) y "espíritu" (Geist), está tan íntimamente enredado que la lógica se esfuerza por comprenderlo. ¿Qué podría decir realmente verificable sobre una cosa, una persona, un evento humano? Podría decir qué es, en qué se convertirá con el tiempo y cómo cambia mientras tanto. Sobre los detalles puede haber diferencias de opinión: en términos generales, sin embargo, un consenso es posible.

  1. La verificabilidad no lo es todo

Quien comenta los severos límites de la observación verificable se expone generalmente a la sospecha de querer desvalorizar toda observación adelantada. Pero no tendría sentido actuar de esta manera: sería decir que cualquier intento de volver a las raíces, cualquier proyecto de gran envergadura debería ser limitado en consecuencia, y que la fuerza creativa en el hombre debería dejarse marchitar. En la esfera de la acción humana, la historia tiene una función particular: "verificabilidad" no significa otra cosa más. Y llamar a esa función "compensatoria" sería minimizarla: ya que la experiencia de la historia puede tener dos efectos contrarios y radicalmente opuestos.

  1. A través de la historia experimentamos lo complejo

Seguiría siendo una de esas simplificaciones inadmisibles, como en el caso de la cuestión de la nostalgia, decir que el "conservador" experimenta la historia como un absurdo. Algunos autores han utilizado la metáfora de "lo in-significativo" ("l'in-signifiant") para denotar aquello que aparece efectivamente en todo acontecimiento histórico: a saber, el hecho de la experiencia de que la historia representa siempre un exceso con respecto a los esquemas interpretativos que tratamos de atribuirle en el pensamiento. La experiencia fundamental según la cual "el mundo no es divisible", es decir, que el pensamiento humano y la realidad nunca pueden coincidir, alcanza en la dimensión histórica una intensificación que se podría comparar con un "efecto estéreo". La historia es una escuela de humildad: todos los intentos de explicación monocausal (o incluso bi- y tricausal) se hacen añicos contra ella, y nos hace conscientes del carácter complejo de toda realidad. Esto no tiene por qué molestarnos, ni siquiera desalentarnos, sino todo lo contrario: de una manera difícil de definir (e inexplicable en términos racionales), esto puede -de hecho- impulsarnos a una apreciación más profunda. Al darnos cuenta de lo complejo que es el mundo, vivimos una especie de segundo nacimiento.

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  1. A través de la historia experimentamos la forma.

"Darle un significado a lo que no tiene significado" es igualmente una fórmula de la que debemos desconfiar. Desmiente una psicología un tanto escuálida. Es cierto que el mundo no tiene sentido y que, como el hombre no puede vivir sin sentido, pues bien, se construye uno. Pero la relación que debemos tener con la historia es aún más esencial. Este "segundo nacimiento" no sólo consiste en la experiencia de la complejidad del mundo, sino que también reside en nuestro impulso de contraponer a lo complejo (Benn o Montherlant dirían "contra el caos") una forma, una configuración. Lo que nos mueve profundamente en la historia es que el hombre siempre busca, precisamente a partir de esta experiencia de una realidad compleja, e incluso en las situaciones más desesperadas, dejar todavía un rastro detrás de él. Aunque sólo sea un rasguño en una realidad tan compacta, como dijo Malraux en alguna parte, con esa brillante despreocupación que hizo suya.

El hombre de la Aufklärung [Ilustración] dirá: "No es mucho". Nuestra respuesta sólo puede ser: "Pero lo es".

Tomado de : https://ferguscullen.blogspot.com/2020/01/armin-mohler-be...

dimanche, 29 mars 2020

Ernst Jünger et notre apocalyptique médecine moderne

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Ernst Jünger et notre apocalyptique médecine moderne

par Nicolas Bonnal

Le conseil d’actualité du maître :

« …On a déjà vu guérir bien des malades condamnés par les médecins, mais jamais celui qui s’est laissé aller… Eviter les médecins, s’en reposer sur la sagesse du corps, mais prêter à ses avis une oreille attentive, c’est pour le bien-portant la meilleure des ordonnances. Il en va de même du Rebelle, qui doit s’aguerrir en vue de situations où toute maladie autre que mortelle est considérée comme un luxe. »

Ce livre est indispensable car il dénonce la montée du monstre – et du mouton – technocratique et  postmoderne. Je cite encore des extraits du Traité du rebelle, ou le recours aux forêts (traduction Henri Plard) :

« Quant à la santé, le modèle que chacun en porte en lui-même, c’est son corps intangible, créé au-delà du temps et de ses vicissitudes, qui transparaît dans l’enveloppe physique et dont l’efficace n’est pas moins sensible dans la guérison. Toute guérison met en jeu des vertus créatrices.

Dans l’état de parfaite santé, telle qu’elle est rare de nos jours, l’homme possède aussi la conscience de cet acte d’une créature divine, dont la présence met autour de lui un nimbe visible.

Nous trouvons encore chez Homère la connaissance d’une telle fraîcheur, dont son monde est animé. Nous trouvons, unie à elle, une libre sérénité et plus les héros s’approchent des dieux, moins ils deviennent vulnérables – leur corps gagne en spiritualité.

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Actuellement encore, le salut dépend de ce rapport et il importe que l’homme se laisse guider par lui, ne dût-il que l’entrevoir. Le malade, non le médecin, est souverain, dispensateur d’une guérison qu’il tire de résidences inexpugnables. Il n’est perdu que si c’est lui qui perd l’accès de ces sources. L’homme semble souvent, dans son agonie, égaré, en quête de quelque objet. Il trouvera l’issue, en ce monde ou dans l’autre. On a déjà vu guérir bien des malades condamnés par les médecins, mais jamais celui qui s’est laissé aller.

Eviter les médecins, s’en reposer sur la sagesse du corps, mais prêter à ses avis une oreille attentive, c’est pour le bien-portant la meilleure des ordonnances. Il en va de même du Rebelle, qui doit s’aguerrir en vue de situations où toute maladie autre que mortelle est considérée comme un luxe.

Quoi qu’on pense de ce monde de sécurité sociale, d’assurances-maladie, de fabriques de produits pharmaceutiques et de spécialistes – on est plus fort quand on peut se passer de tout cela.

Un trait suspect et qui doit inciter à une extrême vigilance, est l’influence croissante que commence à exercer l’Etat sur l’administration de la santé, en se couvrant le plus souvent de prétextes philanthropiques. En outre, le médecin étant, dans bien des cas, relevé de son secret professionnel, il faudra recommander la défiance envers toute consultation. Car on ne sait jamais dans quelles statistiques on est classé, ni s’il n’y en a pas d’autres que celles des organismes médicaux. Toutes ces fabriques de santé, avec des médecins fonctionnaires mal payés, dont les cures sont surveillées par la bureaucratie de la Sécurité sociale, sont suspectes et peuvent se muer tout d’un coup en figures inquiétantes, sans même que la guerre les y oblige. Il n’est alors nullement impossible, pour dire le moins, que leurs fichiers scrupuleusement tenus fournissent ces pièces au vu desquelles on pourra être interné, châtré ou liquidé.

L’énorme clientèle que recrutent les charlatans et les guérisseurs ne s’explique pas seulement par la crédulité des masses, mais aussi par leur méfiance envers la pratique de la médecine et plus spécialement sa tendance à l’automatisme. Ces thaumaturges, malgré toute la grossièreté de leurs procédés, diffèrent cependant des médecins sur deux points importants : d’abord, ils traitent le malade comme un tout ; puis ils présentent la guérison comme un miracle. Tel est le trait qui satisfait un instinct demeuré sain et sur lequel se fondent les guérisons.

Le monde des assurances, des vaccins, de l’hygiène minutieuse, du prolongement de la moyenne de vie représente-t-il un gain réel ? Il ne vaut pas la peine d’en débattre, puisque ce monde continue à s’épanouir et que les idées sur lesquelles il s’appuie ne sont pas encore épuisées. Le navire poursuivra sa course, au-delà même des catastrophes. »

Un seul commentaire : oui, le navire de la modernité poursuit sa route, et « bien au-delà même des catastrophes ! ».

vendredi, 27 mars 2020

Evola and Italian Philosophy, 1925–49: Three Biographical and Bibliographical Essays

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Evola and Italian Philosophy, 1925–49: Three Biographical and Bibliographical Essays

by Gianfranco de Turris, Stefano Arcella & Alessandro Barbera

Translation by Fergus Cullen

The following essays all appeared in Vouloir 119–121 (1996), the supplement to the revue Orientations, edited by Robert Steuckers. They centre on Julius Evola’s relations with the two major figures of Italian philosophy in the interwar period.

In “Evola, ultime tabou?” (pp. 1–3), Gianfranco de Turris asks if the rehabilitation enjoyed by such philosophers as Giovanni Gentile, previously denounced as Fascist, might be afforded to Evola. He briefly sketches the case in his favour: unlike the marginal crank of post-War imagination, Evola seems to have maintained relations with such figures of the first rank as Gentile and Benedetto Croce. In “Gentile/Evola: une liaison ami/ennemi…” (pp. 3–5) Stefano Arcella examines Evola’s fertile collaboration with Gentile and Ugo Spirito on the Enciclopedia Italiana. And in “Quand Benedetto Croce ‘sponsorisait’ Evola” (pp. 5–7) Alessandro Barbera investigates the Croce connection, looking in some detail at the correspondence between Evola, Croce, and the publisher Laterza.

French originals:

1—http://www.archiveseroe.eu/evola-a48672110

2—http://www.archiveseroe.eu/gentile-a126198308

3—http://www.archiveseroe.eu/croce-a126196870

PDF of this translation:

https://www.academia.edu/42191919/Evola_and_Italian_Philo...

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Gianfranco de Turris

Evola: the Last taboo?

by Gianfranco de Turris

gdtlivre.jpgWe will surely remember 1994 better than 1984, which Orwell immortalised by writing his celebrated apocalyptic book predicting an ultra-totalitarian world in which we all would have been irredeemably crushed. We will not remember it solely for the political event of 27 March in Italy, but above all for the consequences that this “reversal” might (I insist on the conditional!) have in the cultural sphere. Whatever one may thing of the victory of Berlusconi and his allies, it has already had a first result: the organisation of a colloquium dedicated to the personality of Giovanni Gentile; it was held in Rome on 20 and 21 May 1994 on the initiative of the leftist municipal council (which does honour to the Italian left, as does the other colloquium it dedicated to Nietzsche). We remember he whom we always defined as the “philosopher of Fascism,” fifty years after his death, when he was assassinated by a commando of communist partisans in Florence on 15 April 1944. After having beaten a long and sinuous intellectual course, many post-Marxist philosophers, such as Colletti, Marramao and Cacciari, claimed him for an authentic figure of the left, at least in a decent part of his work.

So Gentile recovers all his dignity for the “official” culture in Italy: of course, this concerns first of all Gentile the philosopher, and not the man and political militant. All the same, his rehabilitation as a philosopher marks a step forward in the liberation of spirits. So the last taboo for Italian intellectuals remains Julius Evola, as Pierluigi Battista nicely put it in the columns of Tuttolibri. Now, this year we also commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Evola’s death (11 June 1974). For Gentile, Italian official culture has at last come to accept, after a half-century and only some years before the year 2000, the position and importance of the “actualist” and Fascist philosopher. For Evola, on the contrary, a silence is always held, even is, imperceptibly, one feels that something is in the process of changing.

Luciferian Dilettante

Evola, in official culture, is thrown from one extreme to the other: on the one hand, he’s a demon, the Devil, an almost Luciferian personage, an ultra-racist to whom salvation is never to be granted; on the other, he’s culture’s sock-puppet, the inexact dilettante, unscientific and superficial, a clown of esotericism, “il Divino Otelma.” In interesting ourselves in him, we then risk toppling into the laughable, unless a more authorised voice begins to speak of him.

So there is still much work to be done on Evola, whether it be as a thinker of multiple interests, as an organiser of colloquia and promoter of intellectual initiatives between the Wars, as a man of culture and innumerable contacts, who received many suggestions from his contemporaries and gave in his turn.

During the twenty years that have passed since his death, few things have been done on his work and person in Italy; and these were the work of a small number of those who had always referred to Evola. We’ve found neither the time nor the manpower. It’s a bitter truth; but it’s so. It suffices to consider archival research: to reconstitute the facts and ideas, to fill in the “voids” in the life and in the evolution of Evolian thought, we need the documents; and these are still not all archived. The documents exist: it suffices to go and search where one thinks they might be found…

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For example, we don’t have access to the complete documentation on the relations between Evola and the Italian philosophical world of the ’20s and ’30s: Croce, Gentile, Spirito, Tilgher… We only finally know what Evola recounts of himself in his “spiritual autobiography,” The Path of Cinnabar. Ultimately, we know what we can deduce of his positions on diverse philosophical systems and on what we surmise intuitively. In general, we only know the views and opinions on Evola of the historians and academics who have especially studied that period of Italian culture: and they say that Evola was an isolated, marginal figure; that his ideas were not taken into consideration; that he was a singular, if not folkloric, figure. But do these opinions really correspond to reality?

We believe that we can today affirm that things were not so simple: that Evola was more relevant in his epoch than we’ve believed him to be. And we affirm this on the basis of a series of indications, hidden until today. The Roman weekly L’Italia settimanale is cataloguing these indications for the first time in a special supplement, in the hope of provoking debate and research.

Sponsored by Croce?

Evola maintained far more complex relations with Croce and Gentile that we’ve believed for many decades. Can we imagine an Evola “sponsored” by Croce? An Evola, collaborator with the Enciclopedia Italiana, patronised by the Mussolinian regime and directed by Gentile? An Evola close to Adriano Tilgher? An Evola in direct contact with Ugo Spirito? We can now divine that these relations were pursued more than we imagined them; but we have neither formal proofs nor the documents that definitively attest to them. The “isolated figure” was not, ultimately, isolated; the marginalised personage, as well, was not marginalised as we wished to say; the intellectual who, under Fascism, had amounted to not much, or missed out on everything, had been, ultimately, of more impact that we’d thought him. I think that we must seek out and recognise our fault: that of not having contemplated this sooner, and having given a truncated picture of Evola; with a complete vision of Evolian words and deeds, we may be able to refute many commonplaces. This won’t be possible unless the Croce Archives at Naples and the Gentile Foundation at Rome agree to let us consult the documents they hold and that concern the relations of Croce and Gentile with Evola.

Better late than never. The future will tell, after our work is done, whether Evola will always be, for progressivist culture, a taboo, will be the Devil, a clown…

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Stefano Arcella

Gentile and Evola: Friends and Enemies

by Stefano Arcella

The relations between Evola and Gentile have always been seen from the perspective of conflict, from the perspective of profound differences between the respective philosophical orientations of the two men. Evola, in his speculative period (1923–7), elaborated a conception of the absolute individual, representing a decisive overcoming of idealist philosophy in all its multiple formulations—notably those of Croce’s idealism and Gentile’s actualism. Evola, in reaching the end of his speculations, already approached the threshold of tradition, understood and perceived as openness to transcendence, and towards esotericism (as an experimental method for the knowledge and realisation of the self). His speculative period had thus been a necessary step on his path towards Tradition.

For all that, in the history of the relations between these two thinkers, there is an element that has remained utterly unknown before now: if we make ourselves aware of it, we acquire a clearer, more direct and more complete vision of the bond that united these two men—enemies to all appearances. This element is the correspondence between Evola and Gentile, which we can now consule, thanks to the courtesy the Fondazione Gentile has shown. This correspondence dates to the years 1927–9, to the time during which Evola directed the revue Ur, a publication aimed at working out a science of the Self, and which was subsequently titled a “revue of esoteric science.”

It was at this time that Gentile, with his collaborators, prepared a work of great scientific importance: the Enciclopedia Italiana, of which he was the first director. The first volume of this gargantuan work, commissioned by the Mussolinian regime, was produced in 1929. The following tomes appeared quarterly.

The most significant letter, at least from an historico-cultural perspective, is that sent by Evola to Gentile on 2 May 1928 (the year in which Imperialismo pagano was published). This letter is on paper with the letterhead of the revue Ur; it thanks Gentile heartily for having acted upon his wish to collaborate on the Enciclopedia Italiana; and Evola, in what follows, makes reference to his friend Ugo Spirito regarding the areas that might fall within his expertise.

This collaboration is confirmed in a letter of 17 May 1929, in which Evola reminds Gentile that the latter entrusted the writing of certain entries to Ugo Spirito, who in turn entrusted them to him. In this letter, Evola doesn’t specify precisely which entries are concerned, which makes our researches more difficult. Currently, we have identified with only one entry with certitude, relating to the term “Atanor,” signed with the initials “G.E.” (Giulio Evola).

These points can be verified in the volume Enciclopedia Italiana: Come e da chi è stata fatta, published under the auspices of the Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana in Milan in 1947. Evola is mentioned in the list of collaborators (Evola, Giulio, p. 182); and also mentioned are the initials which he used to sign the entries of his expertise (G. Ev.), as well as the specialism in which his expertise was incorporated: “occultism.” This term designates the specialisation of the Traditionalist thinker, and not an entry in the Encyclopaedia. Furthermore, the citations, which this little introductory volume indicates beside the matter treated, suggest the volume on which Evola collaborated especially: it was vol. V, published in 1930, whose first entry was “Assi,” and last “Balso.”

Currently, we seek to identify precisely the notes prepared by Evola himself for this volume. We account for the fact that a good number of entries weren’t signed, and that the preparatory material for the Encyclopaedia must constantly be recategorised and put in order under the auspices of the Archivio Storico dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, because these masses of documents were dispersed in the course of the Second World War. Indeed, one part of the documentation had been transferred to Bergamo under the Social Republic.

Another element lets us verify Evola’s participation in this work of broad scope: Ugo Spirito mentions the name Evola in a text of 1947 among the writers of the Encyclopaedia in the domains of philosophy, economy and law. Identical indications are found in vol. V of 1930.

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On the basis of his data, further considerations are in order. The fact that Evola wrote to Gentile on paper with the Ur letterhead, on 2 May 1928, is not random.

Evola was not a man who acted at random, above all when he might be put in contact with a philosopher of Gentile’s standing, a figure of the first rank in the Italian cultural landscape of the era. Evola then didn’t present himself to the theoretician of actualism in a personal capacity, but as the representative of a cultural thread which found its expression in Ur, the revue of which he was the director. Evola hereby attempted to formalise esoteric studies and sciences within the bounds of the dominant culture, at the historical moment at which Mussolinian Fascism triumphed. This purpose is divined immediately when one knows that the discipline attributed especially to Evola in the Encyclopaedia was “occultism.”

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Giovanni Gentile

Gentile then accepts Evola’s collaboration, which represents, in fact, an avowed recognition of the qualifications of the theoretician of the absolute individual, as well as an indication of the attention given by Gentile to the themes treated in Ur, beyond the convictions that oppose one man to the other, and the irreducible differences of a philosophical order that separate them. Evola’s collaboration on the Encyclopaedia directed by Gentile proves that the latter counted him among the first rank of scientific minds, the cultural prestige of which was incontestable in the Italy of that epoch. From these epistolary exchanges between Evola and Gentile, we can deduce, today, a lesson which the two philosophers bequeath us in concert: they both show themselves capable of harmoniously integrating coherences to which they are strangers—coherences which contradict their own principles—which attests to an openness of spirit and a propensity for dialogue; to fertile confrontation and to collaboration, even and above all with those who express a marked otherness in character and ideas. Coherence is a positive force: it is not the rigidity of him who shuts himself up in sterile isolation. A fair play upon which it suits to meditate at this moment, at which some shout their heads off for a new inquisition.

For fifty years, we have witnessed an uncritical, misguided and unfounded demonization of our two thinkers; we’ve observed a gulf of incomprehension, of barriers which, happily, we might begin to break today, in view of the processes of transformation at work in the world of culture. All the same, the degradation of cultural debate in the aftermath of anti-fascism or party spirit is an unhappy reality of our era. To reverse the trend, it suits to return the spotlight on these bonds between Evola and Gentile—between two philosophers belonging to entirely different and opposite schools—in order to launch a debate at the Italian national level; to re-examine the roots of our recent history; to recuperate what has been unjustly stifled since 1945 and scrubbed from our consciousness in a burning fever of damnatio memoriae.

In conclusion, besides the path that the consultation of the Laterza archives offers us to explore the relations between Croce and Evola, we would also like to consult the letters of Croce; but alas, the Croce Archives have told us in so many words that “those letters are not consultable.” These are politics diametrically opposed to those practiced by the Fondazione Gentile, which itself permits one to consult, without difficulty, the letters of which I’ve informed you.

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Alessandro Barbero

When Benedetto Croce “Sponsored” Evola

by Alessandro Barbero

Julius Evola and Benedetto Croce. In appearance, these two thinkers are very distant from one another. That said, for a certain period of their coexistence, they were in contact. And it wasn’t an ephemeral episode, but a link of long standing, lasting for almost a decade, from 1925 to 1933. To be more precise, we should say that Croce, in this relation, played the part of “protector,” and Evola the role of “protégé.” This relation began when Evola entered the prestigious Areopagus of authors at the publisher Laterza of Bari.

In the ’30s, Evola published many works with Laterza, which have been reissued post-War. Now, today, we still don’t know the details of these links within the publisher. In fact, two researchers, Daniela Coli and Marco Rossi, have already furnished us in the past with intelligence on the triangular relation between Evola, Croce and the publisher Laterza. Daniela Coli approached the question in a work published ten years ago with Il Mulino (Croce, Laterza e la cultura europea, 1983). Marco Rossi, for his part, raised the question in a series of articles dedicated to the cultural itinerary of Julius Evola in the ’30s, and published in Renzo de Felice’s review Storia contemporanea (6, December 1991). In his autobiography, The Cinnabar Path (Scheiwiller, 1963), Evola evokes the relations he maintained with Croce, but tells us very little, ultimately: far less, in any case, than we can divine today. Evola wrote that Croce, in a letter, did him the honour of appraising one of his books: “Well ordered, and underpinned by reasoning quite exact.” And Evola adds that he knew Croce well, personally. The inquest leads us straight to the archives of the publishers at Bari, currently deposited at the State archives of that town, which might consent to furnish us with far more detailed indications as to the relations having united these two men.

The first of Evola’s letters that we find in Laterza’s house archives isn’t dated, but must trace to the end of June 1925. In this missive, the Traditionalist thinker replies to a preceding negative response, and pleads for the publication of his Teoria dell’individuo assoluto. He writes:

It is assuredly not a happy situation in which I find myself, I, the author, obliged to insist and to struggle for your attention on the serious character and interest of this work: I believe that the recommendation of Mr. Croce is a sufficient guarantee to prove it.

Theory of the Absolute Individual

The liberal philosopher’s interest is also confirmed in a letter addressed by Laterza to Giovanni Preziosi, send on 4 June of the same year. The publisher writes: “I have had on my desk for more than twenty hours the notes that Mr. Croce sent me concerning J. Evola’s book, Teoria dell’individuo assoluto; and he recommends its publication.” In fact, Croce visited Bari around 15 May; and it was on this occasion that he transmitted his notes to Giovanni Laterza. But the book was published by Bocca in 1927. That was the first intervention, of a long series, by the philosopher in Evola’s favour.

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Some years later, Evola returned to knock at the door of the Bari publisher, in order to promote another of his works. In a letter sent on 23 July 1928, the Traditionalist proposed to Laterza the publication of a work on alchemical Hermeticism. On this occasion, he reminded Laterza of the Croce’s intercession on behalf of his work of a philosophical nature. This time once more, Laterza responded in the negative. Two years passed before Evola reoffered the book, having on this occasion obtained, for the second time, Croce’s support. On 13 May 1930, Evola wrote: “Senator Benedetto Croce communicated to me that you do not envisage, in principle, the possibility of publishing one of my works on the Hermetic tradition in your collection of esoteric works.” But this time, Laterza accepted Evola’s request without opposition. In the correspondence of that era between Croce and Laterza that one finds in the archives, there are no references to this book of Evola’s. This is why we may suppose that they had spoken of it in person at Croce’s house in Naples, where Giovanni Laterza has in fact stayed some days previous. In conclusion, five years after his first intervention, Croce succeeded finally in getting Evola into Laterza’s catalogue.

The third expression of interest on the part of Croce probably originated in Naples, and concerns the reedition of Cesare della Riviera’s book, Il mondo magico degli Heroi. Of the dialogues relative to this reedition, we find a first letter of 20 January 1932, in which Laterza complains to Evola of having failed to find notes on this book. A day later, Evola responds and asks that he be procured a copy of the original second edition, that he might cast an eye over it. Meanwhile, on 23 January, Croce wrote to Laterza:

I have seen in the shelves of the Biblioteca Nazionale that book of Riviera’s on magic; it’s a lovely example of what I believe to be the first edition of Mantova, 1603. It must be reissued, with dedication and preface.

The book ended up being published with a preface by Evola and his modernised transcription. A reading of the correspondence permits us to admit the following hypothesis: Croce had suggested to Laterza to entrust this work to Evola. The latter, in a letter to Laterza dated 11 February, gave his view and judged that “the thing was more boring that I’d thought it would be.”

The Anthology of Bachofen’s Writings

The fourth attempt, which was not welcomed, concerned a translation of selected writings by Bachofen. In a letter of 7 April 1933, to Laterza, Evola wrote:

With Senator Croce, we once mentioned the interest which might receive a translation of passages selected from Bachofen, a philosopher of myth much in vogue today in Germany. If this thing interests you (it might eventually join the “Modern Culture” series), I can tell you what it concerns, taking into account the opinion of Senator Croce.

In fact, Croce was preoccupied by Bachofen’s theses, as a series of articles from 1923 demonstrates. On 12 April, Laterza consults the philosopher: “Evola wrote me that you had spoken of a volume that would compile passages selected from Bachofen. Is it a project that we ought to take into consideration?” In Croce’s response, dated the following day, there is no reference to this project; but we ought to account for one fact: the letter has not been conserved in its original form.

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Benedetto Croce

Evola, in any case, had not rejected the idea of producing this anthology of Bachofen’s writings. In a letter of 2 May, he announces that he proposes “to write to Senator Croce, that he might remind him of to what he had alluded” in a conversation between the two. In a second letter, dated to 23, Evola asked of Laterza if he in turn had asked the opinion of Croce, while confirming that he’d written to the philosopher. Two days later, Laterza declares not “to have asked Croce for his opinion” regarding the translation, because, he adds, “he fears lest he approve of it.” This is clearly a deceit. In fact, Laterza had asked the opinion of Croce; but we still don’t know what this opinion was, nor what had been decided. The anthology of selected writings of Bachofen was finally produced, many years later, in 1949, by Bocca. From 1933, the links between Evola and Croce seem to come to an end, at least from what the Laterza house archives permit us to include.

To find the trace of a reconciliation, we must refer ourselves to the post-War period, when Croce and Evola almost met once more in the world of publishing, but without the Traditionalist thinker noticing. In 1948, on 10 December, Evola proposed to Franco Laterza, who had just succeeded his father, to publish a translation of a book by Robert Reininger, Nietzsche e il senso de la vita. After having received the text, on 17 February, Laterza wrote to Alda Croce, the daughter of the philosopher: “I enclose to you a manuscript on Nietzsche, translated by Evola. It seems to me a good work; might you see if we can include it in the ‘Library of Modern Culture’?” On 27 of the same month, the philosopher responds. Croce considers that the operation might be possible; but he provides a few reservations all the same. He postpones his decision till Alda’s return, who was a few days in Palermo. The final decision was taken in Naples, around the 23 March 1949, in the presence of Franco Laterza. The opinion of Croce is negative, seemingly under the influence of his daughter Alda. On 1 April, Laterza confirms to Evola that “the book was much appreciated [without specifying by whom] on account of its quality,” but that, for reasons of “expediency,” it had been decided not to publish it. The translation appeared much later, in 1971, with Volpe.

This refusal to publish puzzled Evola, who didn’t know the real whys and wherefores. A year later, in some letters, returning the issue to the table, Evola raised the hypothesis of a “purge.” This insinuation irritated Laterza. Following this controversy, relations between the writer and the publisher cooled. In the final analysis, we can conclude that Evola was introduced to Laterza thanks to Croce’s interest in him. He left on account of a negative opinion offered by Alda, Croce’s daughter, on one of his proposals.

jeudi, 26 mars 2020

Ernst Jünger entre panique, système et rebelle

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Ernst Jünger entre panique, système et rebelle

par Nicolas Bonnal

Le système occidental use de la peur pour se maintenir. Virus, terrorisme, chiites, climat nationalisme, fascisme, Chine, sexisme, Poutine, ce qu’on voudra, tout justifie l’agenda.

Nous autres antisystèmes sommes aussi soumis à un feu croisé d’affolements divers : troisième GM, faillite du système, acheter de l’or, fin des religions, culture Illuminati, disparition des libertés, de l’eau, de l’air, du reste… On en deviendrait drôle ! Cela n’empêche pas de continuer de cliquer et de laisser Assange à ses bourreaux.

Un qui en a bien parlé de cette conjonction du monde automatique moderne et de la croissance corrélée de la panique est Ernst Jünger. Traité du rebelle, XIII…

71LDopSYPwL.jpg« La peur est l’un des symptômes de notre temps. Elle nous désarme d’autant plus qu’elle succède à une époque de grande liberté individuelle, où la misère même, telle que la décrit Dickens, par exemple, était presque oubliée. »

Jünger évoque justement le Titanic ; on se souvient du succès effarant de ce film répugnant. Il écrit donc :

« Comment ce passage s’est-il produit ? Si l’on voulait nommer l’instant fatal, aucun, sans doute, ne conviendrait mieux que celui où sombra le Titanic. La lumière et l’ombre s’y heurtent brutalement : l’hybris du progrès y rencontre la panique, le suprême confort se brise contre le néant, l’automatisme contre la catastrophe, qui prend l’aspect d’un accident de circulation. »

Jules Verne a bien montré que l’automatisme (la civilisation mécanique) croissait avec la peur. Voyez les 500 millions de la Bégum qui montre la montée du péril parano allemand sur fond de grosse industrialisation. Il y a une grosse promesse, raconte Jünger, mais elle croît avec un grand risque et une grosse trouille :

« Il est de fait que les progrès de l’automatisme et ceux de la peur sont très étroitement liés, en ce que l’homme, pour prix d’allégements techniques, limite sa capacité de décision. Il y gagne toute sorte de commodités. Mais, en contrepartie, la perte de sa liberté ne peut que s’aggraver. La personne n’est plus dans la société comme un arbre dans la forêt ; elle ressemble au passager d’un navire rapide, qui porte le nom de Titanic, ou encore de Léviathan. Tant que le ciel demeure serein et le coup d’œil agréable, il ne remarque guère l’état de moindre liberté dans lequel il est tombé. Au contraire : l’optimisme éclate, la conscience d’une toute-puissance que procure la vitesse. Tout change lorsqu’on signale des îles qui crachent des flammes, ou des icebergs. Alors, ce n’est pas seulement la technique qui passe du confort à d’autres domaines : le manque de liberté se fait sentir, soit que triomphent les pouvoirs élémentaires, soit que des solitaires, ayant gardé leur force, exercent une autorité absolue. »

Jünger a vu le lien entre les mythes grecs et le progrès technique, comme Anouilh, Giraudoux, Domenach, Cocteau et quelques autres. Le Titanic n’est pas seul en cause. C’est aussi le syndrome du radeau de la méduse, épisode affreux de notre histoire et qui rappelle que la méduse nous transforme en pierres (en cœurs de pierre).

Et nous finissons comme des bougies dans un tableau de Bosch :

« On pourrait élever une objection : d’autres ères de crainte, de panique, d’Apocalypse ont suivi leur cours, sans que ce caractère d’automatisme vînt les renforcer, leur servir d’accompagnement.

Laissons ce point : car l’automatisme ne prend ce caractère terrifiant que s’il s’avère être l’une des formes, le style même de la fatalité, dont Jérôme Bosch donnait déjà une représentation incomparable. »

Mais Jünger souligne l’essentiel. Nous crevons de trouille et c’est la marque du monde moderne (la vie aurait dû rester un « risque à courir, pas un problème à résoudre », comme dit un Bernanos écœuré) :

« On constatera que presque tous, hommes ou femmes, sont en proie à une panique telle qu’on n’en avait plus vu dans nos contrées depuis le début du Moyen Age. On les verra se jeter avec une sorte de rage dans leur terreur, en exhiber sans pudeur ni retenue les symptômes. »

On veut se cacher (collapsologues, catastrophistes, apocalyptiques, à vos bateaux, à votre or, à vos cavernes !) :

71XW0DHwSNL.jpg« On assiste à des enchères où l’on dispute s’il vaut mieux fuir, se cacher ou recourir au suicide, et l’on voit des esprits qui, gardant encore toute leur liberté, cherchent déjà par quelles méthodes et quelles ruses ils achèteront la faveur de la crapule, quand elle aura pris le pouvoir. »

L’automatisme progresse évidemment avec la panique, et dans le pays qui reste le plus avancé, l’Amérique :

« La panique va s’appesantir, là où l’automatisme gagne sans cesse du terrain et touche à ses formes parfaites, comme en Amérique. Elle y trouve son terrain d’élection ; elle se répand à travers des réseaux dont la promptitude rivalise avec celle de l’éclair. Le seul besoin de prendre les nouvelles plusieurs fois par jour est un signe d’angoisse ; l’imagination s’échauffe, et se paralyse de son accélération même. » 

Jünger va même plus loin ici :

« Toutes ces antennes des villes géantes ressemblent à des cheveux qui se dressent sur une tête. Elles appellent des contacts démoniaques. »

Nous avons parlé du rôle narcotique de l’info dans un texte ici-même, en citant Platon, Théophraste, Fichte et Thoreau. Reprenons Thoreau :

« À peine un homme fait-il un somme d’une demi-heure après dîner, qu’en s’éveillant il dresse la tête et demande : « Quelles nouvelles ? » comme si le reste de l’humanité s’était tenu en faction près de lui. Il en est qui donnent l’ordre de les réveiller toutes les demi-heures, certes sans autre but ; sur quoi en guise de paiement ils racontent ce qu’ils ont rêvé. Après une nuit de sommeil les nouvelles sont aussi indispensables que le premier déjeuner. »

« Dites-moi, je vous prie, n’importe ce qui a pu arriver de nouveau à quelqu’un, n’importe où sur ce globe ? »

Nous risquons toujours la guerre avec la Chine et la Russie, comme durant la Guerre Froide. Jünger remarque :

« Il est certain que l’Est n’échappe pas à la règle. L’Occident vit dans la peur de l’Est, et l’Est dans la peur de l’Occident. En tous les points du globe, on passe son existence dans l’attente d’horribles agressions. Nombreux sont ceux où la crainte de la guerre civile l’aggrave encore.

La machine politique, dans ses rouages élémentaires, n’est pas le seul objet de cette crainte. Il s’y joint d’innombrables angoisses. Elles provoquent cette incertitude qui met toute son espérance en la personne des médecins, des sauveurs, thaumaturges. Signe avant-coureur du naufrage, plus lisible que tout danger matériel. »

Ce naufrage n’est pas très prometteur d’autant que la solution semble impossible. Jünger envoie promener le yoga, pourtant recommandé avec la Kabbale dans Sex in the City :

« Reste à signaler une source d’erreurs – nous songeons à la confiance en l’imagination pure. Nous admettrons qu’elle mène aux victoires spirituelles.

Mais notre temps exige autre chose que la fondation d’écoles de yoga. Tel est pourtant le but, non seulement de nombreuses sectes, mais d’un certain style de nihilisme chrétien, qui se rend la tâche trop facile. On ne peut se contenter de connaître à l’étage supérieur le vrai et le bon, tandis que dans les caves on écorche vifs vos frères humains. »

Reconnaissons que nous avons progressé. On les écorche moins vifs, on les bourre vifs et on les surinforme vifs. Mais passons. Jünger encore pour conclure (si c’est encore possible) :

« Car nous ne sommes pas impliqués dans notre seule débâcle nationale ; nous sommes entraînés dans une catastrophe universelle, où l’on ne peut guère dire, et moins encore prophétiser, quels sont les vrais vainqueurs, et quels sont les vaincus. »

Comme on sait Jünger défend le recours aux forêts. Comme on sait aussi les montagnes sont bourrées de parkings payants et nous venons d’apprendre que dans les Pyrénées la ballade sera payante. On paie un automate…

Jünger définit son rebelle :

« Quant au Rebelle, nous appelons ainsi celui qui, isolé et privé de sa patrie par la marche de l’univers, se voit enfin livré au néant. Tel pourrait être le destin d’un grand nombre d’hommes, et même de tous – il faut donc qu’un autre caractère s’y ajoute. C’est que le Rebelle est résolu à la résistance et forme le dessein d’engager la lutte, fût-elle sans espoir. Est rebelle, par conséquent, quiconque est mis par la loi de sa nature en rapport avec la liberté, relation qui l’entraîne dans le temps à une révolte contre l’automatisme et à un refus d’en admettre la conséquence éthique, le fatalisme. »

Sources:

Jünger – Traité du rebelle, le recours aux forêts –archive.org

 

samedi, 21 mars 2020

Ernst Jünger et nos paniques modernes

e.junger 01.jpg

Ernst Jünger et nos paniques modernes

par Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: https://nicolasbonnal.wordpress.com

Ernst Jünger et nos paniques modernes : « La panique va s’appesantir, là où l’automatisme gagne sans cesse du terrain et touche à ses formes parfaites, comme en Amérique. Elle y trouve son terrain d’élection ; elle se répand à travers des réseaux dont la promptitude rivalise avec celle de l’éclair. Le seul besoin de prendre les nouvelles plusieurs fois par jour est un signe d’angoisse ; l’imagination s’échauffe, et se paralyse de son accélération même… Toutes ces antennes des villes géantes ressemblent à des cheveux qui se dressent sur une tête. Elles appellent des contacts démoniaques.»

Le système encense l’effroi. Terrorisme, chiites, climat, racisme, fascisme, Chine, sexisme, virus, Poutine, ce qu’on voudra, tout justifie l’agenda.

Nous autres antisystèmes sommes aussi soumis à un feu croisé d’affolements divers : troisième GM, faillite du système, acheter de l’or, fin des religions, culture Illuminati, disparition des libertés, de l’eau, de l’air, du reste…

Un qui en a bien parlé de cette conjonction du monde automatique moderne et de la croissance corrélée de la panique est Ernst Jünger. Traité du rebelle, XIII…

« La peur est l’un des symptômes de notre temps. Elle nous désarme d’autant plus qu’elle succède à une époque de grande liberté individuelle, où la misère même, telle que la décrit Dickens, par exemple, était presque oubliée. »

AKG88684.jpg

Jünger évoque justement le Titanic ; on se souvient du succès effarant de ce film répugnant. Il écrit donc :

« Comment ce passage s’est-il produit ? Si l’on voulait nommer l’instant fatal, aucun, sans doute, ne conviendrait mieux que celui où sombra le Titanic. La lumière et l’ombre s’y heurtent brutalement : l’hybris du progrès y rencontre la panique, le suprême confort se brise contre le néant, l’automatisme contre la catastrophe, qui prend l’aspect d’un accident de circulation. »

Jules Verne a bien montré que l’automatisme (la civilisation mécanique) croissait avec la peur. Voyez les 500 millions de la Bégum qui montre la montée du péril parano allemand sur fond de grosse industrialisation.

Jünger a vu le lien entre les mythes grecs et le progrès technique, comme Anouilh, Giraudoux, Domenach, Cocteau et quelques autres. Le Titanic n’est pas seul en cause. C’est aussi le syndrome du radeau de la méduse, épisode affreux de notre histoire et qui rappelle que la méduse nous transforme en pierres (en cœurs de pierre).

HBhell.jpg

Et nous finissons comme des bougies dans un tableau de Bosch :

« On pourrait élever une objection : d’autres ères de crainte, de panique, d’Apocalypse ont suivi leur cours, sans que ce caractère d’automatisme vînt les renforcer, leur servir d’accompagnement.

Laissons ce point : car l’automatisme ne prend ce caractère terrifiant que s’il s’avère être l’une des formes, le style même de la fatalité, dont Jérôme Bosch donnait déjà une représentation incomparable. »

Mais Jünger souligne l’essentiel. Nous crevons de trouille et c’est la marque du monde moderne (la vie aurait dû rester un « risque à courir, pas un problème à résoudre », comme dit un Bernanos écœuré) :

« On constatera que presque tous, hommes ou femmes, sont en proie à une panique telle qu’on n’en avait plus vu dans nos contrées depuis le début du Moyen Age. On les verra se jeter avec une sorte de rage dans leur terreur, en exhiber sans pudeur ni retenue les symptômes. »

On veut se cacher (collapsologues, catastrophistes, apocalyptiques, à vos bateaux, à votre or, à vos cavernes !) :

 « On assiste à des enchères où l’on dispute s’il vaut mieux fuir, se cacher ou recourir au suicide, et l’on voit des esprits qui, gardant encore toute leur liberté, cherchent déjà par quelles méthodes et quelles ruses ils achèteront la faveur de la crapule, quand elle aura pris le pouvoir. »

L’automatisme progresse évidemment avec la panique, et dans le pays qui reste le plus avancé, l’Amérique :

« La panique va s’appesantir, là où l’automatisme gagne sans cesse du terrain et touche à ses formes parfaites, comme en Amérique. Elle y trouve son terrain d’élection ; elle se répand à travers des réseaux dont la promptitude rivalise avec celle de l’éclair. Le seul besoin de prendre les nouvelles plusieurs fois par jour est un signe d’angoisse ; l’imagination s’échauffe, et se paralyse de son accélération même. » 

Jünger va même plus loin ici :

« Toutes ces antennes des villes géantes ressemblent à des cheveux qui se dressent sur une tête. Elles appellent des contacts démoniaques. »

467854.253607937.1.1600.jpg

Nous risquons toujours la guerre avec la Chine et la Russie, comme durant la Guerre Froide. Jünger remarque :

« Il est certain que l’Est n’échappe pas à la règle. L’Occident vit dans la peur de l’Est, et l’Est dans la peur de l’Occident. En tous les points du globe, on passe son existence dans l’attente d’horribles agressions. Nombreux sont ceux où la crainte de la guerre civile l’aggrave encore.

La machine politique, dans ses rouages élémentaires, n’est pas le seul objet de cette crainte. Il s’y joint d’innombrables angoisses. Elles provoquent cette incertitude qui met toute son espérance en la personne des médecins, des sauveurs, thaumaturges. Signe avant-coureur du naufrage, plus lisible que tout danger matériel. »

Jünger encore pour conclure (si c’est encore possible) :

« Car nous ne sommes pas impliqués dans notre seule débâcle nationale ; nous sommes entraînés dans une catastrophe universelle, où l’on ne peut guère dire, et moins encore prophétiser, quels sont les vrais vainqueurs, et quels sont les vaincus. »

Comme on sait Jünger défend le recours aux forêts. Comme on sait aussi les montagnes sont bourrées de parkings payants et nous venons d’apprendre que dans les Pyrénées la ballade sera payante. On paiera un automate. Mais ne paniquons pas !

Bonne continuation…

Sources

Jünger – Traité du rebelle, le recours aux forêts – archive.org

Freyer, Hans (Johannes)

hans-freyer-fbba1dbb-daea-41dd-912e-34f5c3f2d51-resize-750.jpg

Freyer, Hans (Johannes)

Elfriede Üner

Ex: http://www.uener.com

(Lexikon Artikel im "Lexikon des Konservatismus", Leopold-Stocker-Verlag, Graz/Stuttgart 1996)

geb. 31.7.1887 Leipzig; gest. 18.1.1969 Ebersteinburg/Baden-Baden.

Deutscher Philosoph und Soziologe; Schwerpunkte historische politische Soziologie und Kulturtheorie der Industriegesellschaft.

Revolution-von-rechts-e1547504426465-210x300.jpgDer Sohn eines sächsischen Postdirektors erhielt seine Gymnasialausbildung am königlichen Elitegymnasium zu Dresden-Neustadt, studierte von 1907 bis 1911 in Leipzig Philosophie, Psychologie, Nationalökonomie und Geschichte, u.a. bei Wilhelm Wundt und Karl Lamprecht, in deren universalhistorischer Tradition er seine ersten Arbeiten zur Geschichtsauffassung der Aufklärung (Diss. 1911) und zur Bewertung der Wirtschaft in der deutschen Philosophie des 19. Jahrhunderts (Habilitation 1921) verfaßte. Nach zusätzlichen Studien in Berlin mit engen Kontakten zu Georg Simmel und Lehrtätigkeit an der Reformschule der Freien Schulgemeinde Wickersdorf kämpfte F. mit dem Militär-St.-Heinrichs-Orden ausgezeichnet im Ersten Weltkrieg. Als Mitglied des von Eugen Diederichs initiierten Serakreises der Jugendbewegungverfaßte F. an die Aufbruchsgeneration gerichtete philosophischen Schriften: Antäus (1918), Prometheus (1923), Pallas Athene (1935). Von 1922 bis 1925 lehrte er als Ordinarius hauptsächlich Kulturphilosophie an der Universität Kiel, erhielt 1925 den ersten deutschen Lehrstuhl für Soziologie ohne Beiordnung eines anderen Faches in Leipzig und widmete sich von nun an der logischen und historisch-philosophischen Grundlegung dieser neuen Disziplin. In Auseinandersetzung mit dem Positivismus seiner Lehrer und mit der Philosophie Hegels sollten typische gesellschaftliche Grundstrukturen herausgearbeitet und ihre historischen Entwicklungsgesetze gefunden werden. Darüber hinaus ist für F. die Soziologie als konkrete historische Erscheinung, erst durch die abendländische Aufklärung möglich geworden, Äußerung einer vorher nie dagewesenen gesellschaftlichen Emanzipation zur wissenschaftlichen Selbstreflexion, drückt deshalb als "Wirklichkeitswissenschaft" in der Erfassung des gegenwärtigen gesellschaftlichen Wandels auch den kollektiven Willen aus, ist also als Wissenschaft zugleich politische Ethik, die die Richtung des gesellschaftlichen Wandels zu bestimmen hat.

81BnL7dXLWL.jpgF. war ab 1933 Direktor des Instituts für Kultur- und Universalgeschichte an der Leipziger Universität. Als neu gewählter Präsident der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie legte er diese 1933 still, um eine politische "Gleichschaltung" zu verhindern. Den damaligen europäischen politischen Umbrüchen brachte F. als Theoretiker des Wandels zunächst offenes Interesse entgegen, fühlte sich der theoretischen Erfassung dieser Entwicklungen verpflichtet und war deshalb nie aktives Mitglied einer politischen Partei oder Bewegung; er wurde später der "konservativen Revolution" der zwanziger Jahre als "jungkonservativer Einzelgänger" (Mohler) zugeordnet. Die vor 1933 noch idealistisch formulierte Konzeption des Staates als höchste Form der Kultur (1925) hat F. im Lauf der bedrohlichen politischen Entwicklung revidiert in seinen Studien über Machiavelli (1936) und Friedrich den Großen (Preußentum und Aufklärung 1944) durch einen realistischen Staatsbegriff, der ausschließlich durch Gemeinwohl, langfristige gesellschaftliche Entwicklungsperspektiven und durch prozessuale Kriterien der Legitimität gerechtfertigt ist: durch den Dienst am Staat, der aber den Menschen keinesfalls total vereinnahmen darf, sowie die Prägekraft des Staates, der dem Kollektiv ein gemeinsames Ziel gibt, aber dennoch die Freiheit und Menschenwürde seiner Bürger bewahrt. Insbesondere gelang F. in der Darstellung der Legitimität als generellem Gesetz jeder Politik eine dialektische Verknüpfung des naturrechtlichen Herrschaftsgedankens mit der klassischen bürgerlich-humanitären Aufklärung: Nur die Herrschaft ist legitim, die dem Sinn ihres Ursprungs entspricht - es muß das erfüllt werden, was das Volk mit der Einsetzung der Herrschaft gewollt hat.

Als Gastprofessor für deutsche Kulturgeschichte und -philosophie an der Universität Budapest (1938-45) verfaßte F. sein größtes historisches Werk, die "Weltgeschichte Europas", eine Epochengeschichte der abendländischen Kultur. Von den politischen Bestimmungen der Amtsenthebung nicht betroffen lehrte F. ab 1946 wieder in Leipzig, wurde 1947 nach einer durch G. Lukács ausgelösten ideologischen Debatte entlassen, war danach Redakteur des Neuen Brockhaus in Wiesbaden, lehrte 1955 bis 1963 Soziologie an der Universität Münster und nahm mehrere Gastprofessuren in Ankara und Argentinien wahr. 1958 leitete er als Präsident den Weltkongreß des Institut International de Sociologie in Nürnberg und wurde mit dem Ehrendoktor der Wirtschaftswissenschaften in Münster (1957) und der Ingenieurswissenschaften an der Technischen Hochschule in München (1961) ausgezeichnet.

41IpH1pl9ML._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgZentraler Gesichtspunkt seiner Nachkriegsschriften war die gegenwärtige Epochenschwelle, der Übergang der modernen Industriegesellschaft zur weltweit ausgreifenden wissenschaftlich-technischen Rationalität, deren "sekundäre Systeme" alle naturhaft gewachsenen Lebensformen erfassen. F. weist nach, wie diese Fortschrittsordnung zum tragenden Kulturfaktor wird in allen Teilentwicklungen: der Technik, Siedlungsformen, Arbeit und Wertungen. Seine frühere integrative Perspektive einer Kultursynthese wird ersetzt durch den Konflikt von eigengesetzlichen, künstlichen Sachwelten einerseits und den "haltenden Mächte" des sozialen Lebens andererseits, die im "Katarakt des Fortschritts" auf wenige, die private Lebenswelt beherrschende Gemeinschaftsformen beschränkt sind. Jedoch bleibt die Synthese von "Leben" und "Form", von Menschlichkeit und technischer Zivilisation für F. weiterhin unerläßlich für den Fortbestand jeder Kultur, im krisenhaften Übergang noch nicht erreicht, aber durchaus denkbar jenseits der Schwelle, wenn sich die neue geschichtliche Epoche der weltumspannenden Industriekultur konsolidieren wird. F.s Theorie der Industriekultur, kurz vor seinem Tode begonnen, ist unvollendet geblieben. Sein strukturhistorisches Konzept der Epochenschwelle hat in der deutschen Nachkriegssoziologie weniger Aufnahme gefunden, während es in der deutschen Geschichtswissenschaft wesentlich zur Überwindung einer evolutionären Entwicklungsgeschichte beigetragen hat und eine sozialwissenschaftlich orientierte Strukturgeschichtsschreibung einleitete, wofür F.s Konzept der Eigendynamik der sekundären Systeme ebenso ausschlaggebend war.

F. hielt andererseits an einem gegen die Sachgesetzlichkeiten gerichteten Begriff der Geschichte als souveräne geistige Verfügung über Vergangenheit fest. Die Annahme einer selbstläufigen Entwicklung ist nach F. dem Geschichtsdenken des 19. Jahrhunderts verhaftet, ein modernes historisches Bewußtsein hat solchen Chiliasmus abgetan. Geschichte als Reservoir von Möglichkeiten für konkrete Zielformulierungen kann Wege öffnen zur Bewältigung der Entfremdung durch sekundäre Systeme. Zugleich weist F. auf die Paradoxie eines rein konservativen Handelns hin: Ein Erbe nur zu hüten ist gefährlich, denn es wird dadurch zu nutzbarem Besitz, zum Kulturbetrieb entwertet; ebenso wird die Utopie, durchaus förderlich als idealtypische oder experimentelle Modellkonstruktion, als konkrete Zukunftsplanung zum Terror einer unmenschlichen wissenschaftlichen Rationalität. Diese Paradoxien beweisen für F. die Wirklichkeitsmacht der Geschichte, die weder bewahrt, geformt noch geplant, sondern nur spontan gelebt werden kann. F.s bleibender Beitrag besteht in der dialektischen Verschränkung und Nichtreduzierbarkeit der Dimensionen von politischer Herrschaft, wissenschaftlicher Rationalität und der sozialen Willens- und Entscheidungsgemeinschaft und in der Charakterisierung dieses dialektischen Verhältnisses als die eigentliche Dimension des "Politischen", die auch im gegenwärtigen "technisch-wissenschaftlichen Zeitalter" nicht an Bedeutung verloren hat.

Literaturverzeichnis Hans Freyer bis etwa 1994

Bibliographie:

E. Üner: H. F.-Bibliographie, in: H. F.: Herrschaft, Planung und Technik. Hg. E. Üner, Weinheim 1987, S. 175-197.

Schriften:

Die Geschichte der Geschichte der Philosophie im achtzehnten Jahrhundert (Phil. Diss.), Leipzig 1911; Antäus. Grunlegung einer Ethik des bewußten Lebens, Jena 1918; Die Bewertung der Wirtschaft im philosophischen Denken des 19. Jahrhunderts (Habil.), Leipzig 1921; Theorie des objektiven Geistes, Leipzig-Berlin 1923; Prometheus. Ideen zur Philosophie der Kultur, Jena 1923; Der Staat, Leipzig 1925; Soziologie als Wirklichkeitswissenschaft, Leipzig-Berlin 1930; Revolution von rechts, Jena 1931; Pallas Athene. Ethik des politischen Volkes, Jena 1935; Das geschichtliche Selbstbewußtsein des 20. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig 1937; Machiavelli, Leipzig 1938; Weltgeschichte Europas, Wiesbaden 1948; Die weltgeschichtliche Bedeutung des 19. Jahrhunderts, Kiel 1951; Theorie des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters, Stuttgart 1955; Schwelle der Zeiten, Stuttgart 1965.

Editionen:

Gedanken zur Industriegesellschaft, Hg. A. Gehlen, Mainz 1970; Preußentum und Aufklärung und andere Studien zu Ethik und Politik, Hg. E. Üner, Weinheim 1986; Herrschaft, Planung und Technik. Aufsätze zur politischen Soziologie, Hg. E. Üner, Weinheim 1987.

Literatur:

J. Pieper: Wirklichkeitswissenschaftliche Soziologie, in: Arch. f. Soz.wiss. u. Soz.pol. 66 (1931), S. 394-407; H. Marcuse: Zur Auseinandersetzung mit H. F.s Soziologie als Wirklichkeitswissenschaft, in: Philos. Hefte 3 (1931/32), S. 83-91; E. Manheim: The Sociological Theories of H. F.: Sociology as a Nationalistic Paradigm of Social Action, in: H. E. Barnes, ed., An Introduction to the History of Sociology, Chicago 1948, S. 362-373; L. Stern: Die bürgerliche Soziologie und das Problem der Freiheit, in: Zs. f. Geschichtswiss. 5 (1957), S. 677-712; H. Lübbe: Die resignierte konservative Revolution, in: Zs. f. die ges. Staatswissensch. 115 (1959), S. 131-138; G. Lukacs: Die Zerstörung der Vernunft, Neuwied-Berlin 1962; H. Lübbe: Herrschaft und Planung. Die veränderte Rolle der Zukunft in der Gegenwart, in: Evang. Forum H. 6, Modelle der Gesellschaft von morgen, Göttingen 1966; W. Giere: Das politische Denken H. F.s in den Jahren der Zwischenkriegszeit, Freiburg i. B. 1967; F. Ronneberger: Technischer Optimismus und sozialer Pessimismus, Münster/Westf. 1969; E. Pankoke: Technischer Fortschritt und kulturelles Erbe, in: Geschichte i. Wiss. u. Unterr. 21 (1970), S. 143-151; E. M. Lange: Rezeption und Revision von Themen Hegelschen Denkens im frühen Werk H. F.s, Berlin 1971; P. Demo: Herrschaft und Geschichte. Zur politischen Gesellschaftstheorie H. F.s und Marcuses, Meisenheim a. Glan 1973; W. Trautmann: Utopie und Technik, Berlin 1974; R. König: Kritik der historisch-existentialistischen Soziologie, München 1975; W. Trautmann: Gegenwart und Zukunft der Industriegesellschaft: Ein Vergleich der soziologischen Theorien H. F.s und H. Marcuses. Bochum 1976; H. Linde: Soziologie in Leipzig 1925-1945, in: M. R. Lepsius, Hg., Soziologie in Deutschland und Österreich 1918-1945, Kölner Zs. f. Soziol. u. Sozialpsychol., Sonderh. 23, 1981, S. 102-130; E. Üner: Jugendbewegung und Soziologie. H. F.s Werk und Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft, ebd. S. 131-159; M. Greven: Konservative Kultur- und Zivilisationskritik in "Dialektik der Aufklärung" und "Schwelle der Zeiten", in: E. Hennig, R. Saage, Hg., Konservatismus - eine Gefahr für die Freiheit?, München 1983, S. 144-159;E. Üner: Die Entzauberung der Soziologie, in: H. Baier, Hg., H. Schelsky - ein Soziologe in der Bundesrepublik, Stuttgart 1986, S. 5-19; J. Z. Muller: The Other God That Failed. H. F. and the Deradicalization of German Conservatism. Princeton, N. J. 1987; E. Üner: H. F.s Konzeption der Soziologie als Wirklichkeitswissenschaft, in: Annali die Sociologia 5, Bd. II, 1989, S. 331-369; K. Barheier: "Haltende Mächte" und "sekundäre Systeme", in: E. Pankoke, Hg., Institution und technische Zivilisation, Berlin 1990, S. 215-230; E. Nolte: Geschichtsdenken im 20. Jahrhundert, Berlin-Frankfurt/M. 1991, S. 459-470; E. Üner, Soziologie als "geistige Bewegung", Weinheim 1992; H. Remmers: H. F.: Heros und Industriegesellschaft, Opladen 1994; E. Üner: H. F und A. Gehlen: Zwei Wege auf der Suche nach Wirklichkeit, in: H. Klages, H. Quaritsch, Hg., Zur geisteswissenschaftlichen Bedeutung A. Gehlens, Berlin 1994, S. 123-162.

mercredi, 18 mars 2020

Ernst Jünger & The End Times by Tomislav Sunić: The Balkanization of The System

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Ernst Jünger & The End Times by Tomislav Sunić: The Balkanization of The System

 
 

samedi, 07 mars 2020

Carl Schmitt. Die Militärzeit 1915 bis 1919

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Neueste Geschichte:
E. Hümsert u.a. (Hgg.):
Carl Schmitt. Die Militärzeit 1915 bis 1919
Titel
Die Militärzeit 1915 bis 1919. Tagebuch Februar bis Dezember 1915. Aufsätze und Materialien
 
Autor(en)
Schmitt, Carl
Herausgeber
Hüsmert, Ernst; Giesler, Gerd
Erschienen
Berlin 2005: Akademie Verlag
Anzahl Seiten
VIII, 587 S., 10 s/w Abb.
Preis
€ 49,80
Rezensiert für H-Soz-Kult von
Reinhard Mehring, Institut für Philosophie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

cover_book-35195__120.jpgDer Nachlass Carl Schmitts ist eine reiche Quelle. Fast wundert es aber, dass er so reichlich sprudelt. Denn seine Edition wurde nicht generalstabsmäßig geplant. Das lag auch an Schmitt selbst. Zwar entwickelte der zahlreiche interpretative Strategien im Umgang mit seiner Rolle und seinem Werk. Anders als etwa Heidegger organisierte er aber seine posthume Überlieferung nicht im großen Stil. Er betrieb keine Fusion von Nachlassinterpretationspolitik und Nachlasseditionspolitik, bei der interpretative Strategien kommenden Editionen vorarbeiteten. Initiativen zu einer großen Werkausgabe scheiterten deshalb auch nach Schmitts Tod. Damals wurde eine Chance vertan, denn personell und institutionell haben sich die Bedingungen nicht verbessert. Schmitts letzte Schülergeneration, die „dritte“ Generation bundesdeutscher Schüler (Böckenförde, Schnur, Quaritsch, Koselleck etc.), tritt ab und den Institutionen geht das Geld aus. Heute ist keine historisch-kritische Gesamtausgabe in Sicht. Die Zukunft ist solchen Projekten auch nicht rosig. Das gerade erschienene Berliner „Manifest Geisteswissenschaften“ etwa, ein revolutionäres Dokument der „Beschleunigung wider Willen“, plädiert für eine Überführung akademischer Langzeitvorhaben in „selbständige Editionsinstitute“.[1] Vor Jahren hätte sich wahrscheinlich noch staatlicher Beistand finden lassen. Heute ist das schwieriger. Einige letzte Schüler und Enkelschüler sowie Duncker & Humblot und der Akademie-Verlag schultern die editorischen Aufgaben allein im Aufwind der internationalen Resonanz. Es gibt eine Arbeitsteilung: Die juristisch besonders einschlägigen Schriften publiziert Schmitts alter Hausverlag Duncker & Humblot. Auch nachgelassene Texte wie das „Glossarium“[2] und der Briefwechsel mit dem spanischen Naturrechtler Álvaro d’Ors [3] erschienen dort. Andere Texte aber veranstaltete der Akademie-Verlag, dessen früherer Leiter Gerd Giesler, Mitherausgeber des jüngsten Tagebuch-Bandes, mit Schmitt (wie auch Ernst Hüsmert) noch über viele Jahre befreundet war.

Das bei Lebzeiten publizierte Werk ist nun nahezu komplett greifbar. Vier aufwändige Editionen erschienen mit apologetischen Zielsetzungen. Helmut Quaritsch [4] verteidigte Schmitts Sicht des Völkerrechts in seinen kommentierten Ausgaben eines Rechtsgutachtens über das „Verbrechen des Angriffskrieges“ sowie der Antworten Schmitts im Rahmen der Nürnberger Prozesse. Günter Maschke [5] ergänzte Schmitts Sammlung „Verfassungsrechtliche Aufsätze“ um zwei weitere Bände und realisierte damit in anderer Weise Überlegungen, die Schmitt selbst früher noch erwogen hatte. Nur die Schriften zur deutschen Verfassungsentwicklung stehen heute aus. Einiges davon ist unproblematisch, anderes jedoch nicht. Soll man eine Kampfschrift wie „Staat, Bewegung, Volk“ von 1933 wieder auflegen? Bedenken liegen nahe. Gralshüterische Mauern aber gibt es im Umgang mit Schmitt heute nicht mehr. Der Nachlass ist offen und die intensiven Debatten der letzten Jahre haben zu einem abgeklärten Umgang geführt. Schmitt rückte uns auch menschlich-allzumenschlich näher. Die bisher publizierten Briefwechsel bieten hier manche Überraschungen. Völlig neue Einblicke eröffnen aber die Tagebücher. Im Verblüffungsgang des Werkes sind sie die jüngste Überraschung. Man wusste zwar, dass Schmitt Tagebuch schrieb. Umfang und Gehalt aber waren kaum zu ahnen. Ähnlich wie bei Thomas Mann tauchen sie als Chronik des Lebens fast unverhofft auf. Zwei Bände sind inzwischen erschienen; weitere Tagebücher bis 1934 kündigen die Herausgeber nun im Vorwort an (S. VIII).

2003 erschien ein erster Band über die (vorwiegend) Düsseldorfer Jahre.[6] Er zeigte ein Leben wie aus einem Roman Kafkas oder Robert Walsers: hin und her geworfen zwischen der juristischen Fron des Rechtsreferendars bei einem dämonischen „Geheimrat“ und der Hohezeit des Liebesglück einer waghalsigen ersten Ehe. Seltsam überzeichnet und irreal erschienen die Bedrängnisse und Exaltationen dieses Lebens. Wie im Bunten Blatt wartete der Leser auf Fortsetzung. Nun ist sie da. Auch diesmal ist für Überraschungen gesorgt. Der zweite Band umfasst die Münchener Militärzeit im Verwaltungsstab des stellvertretenden Generalkommandos des 1. bayerischen Armee-Korps, die biografisch bislang weithin im Dunklen lag. Neben dem Tagebuch vom 6. Mai bis 29. Dezember 1915 sowie einem kurzen Anhang enthält er einen Dokumentationsteil über die Tätigkeit bis 1919 sowie eine Auswahl aus Veröffentlichungen der Jahre 1915 bis 1919. Dazu kommen interessante Abbildungen, Briefe und Materialien sowie ein Anhang. Anders als im ersten Band füllt das Tagebuch weniger als ein Drittel. Über zweihundert Seiten umfasst der Dokumentationsteil, knapp einhundert Seiten die Auswahl wichtiger Veröffentlichungen, die bisher schlecht zugängig waren und besonderes Interesse finden werden. Dieser Aufwand mag überraschen. Gerade auch in Ergänzung zum ersten Band macht die extensive Edition aber einen guten Sinn. Liest man den ersten Band wie einen Roman der Wirrnis, so spiegelt der zweite jetzt eine Wendung zur Reflexion und Objektivation der eigenen Lage und Problematik, durch die Schmitt seine existentielle Krise allmählich distanziert und überwindet. Er wechselt das literarische Genre, bricht sein Tagebuch ab, weil er stärkere Formen der Distanzierung gefunden hat.

Das Tagebuch zeigt Schmitt am neuen Ort, in neuer Funktion und Tätigkeit. Wir lernen den Stabssoldaten in den prägenden Jahren seiner Absage an Boheme und Romantik und des Scheiterns seiner ersten Ehe genauer kennen. Man könnte von einer formativen Phase oder auch Inkubationsjahren sprechen. Hier lebte Schmitt seine Neigung zur Boheme aus. Hier wurde er zu dem gegenrevolutionären Etatisten, den wir aus der Weimarer Zeit kennen.

Das Tagebuch beginnt mit der Ankunft in München. Das „Leben in der Kaserne“ ist zunächst die Hölle (S. 23). Schmitt erlebt den „Gott dieser Welt“ (S. 28f.), das Recht, von der Seite der „Vernichtung des Einzelnen“ (S. 64, vgl. 130). Der Straßburger Lehrer Fritz van Calker, nunmehr Major, holt ihn bald ins Münchner Generalkommando. Schmitt beschließt den „Pakt mit dieser Welt“, um dem Frontdienst zu entkommen. An die Stelle des Geheimrats tritt nun ein „Hauptmann“. Stand Schmitt im ersten Band zwischen Cari und „Geheimrat“, leidet er nun am „Gegensatz zwischen dem Generalkommando und Cari“ (S. 72). „Militär und Ehe; zwei schöne Institutionen“, vermerkt er ironisch (S. 90, vgl. S. 106). Beides findet er fürchterlich und gerät darüber erneut in lamentable Krisen. Ein ganzes Spektrum von Todesarten phantasiert er durch. Schmitt lebt in der ständigen Angst, seine langweilige Tätigkeit als Zensor gegen die Front eintauschen zu müssen, und streitet sich mit seiner angeschwärmten Frau. Jahre später, 1934, wird er in einer verfassungsgeschichtlichen Kampfschrift den „Sieg des Bürgers über den Soldaten“[7] beklagen. Hier erfahren wir nun, wie es um diesen kriegsfreiwilligen „Soldaten“ im Ersten Weltkrieg steht: Er verachtet den Krieg und das Militär, hasst den „preußischen Militarismus“ und die „Vernichtung des Einzelnen“ durch den Staat, der er doch Anfang 1914 noch in seiner späteren Habilitationsschrift „Der Wert des Staates und die Bedeutung des Einzelnen“ rechtsphilosophische Weihen erteilte. Wir sehen einen Menschen im ständigen Hader mit sich selbst, der unter seiner Zerrissenheit leidet. Schmitt steht im existentiellen Entscheidungszwang. Militär und Ehe kann er nicht beide bekämpfen. Vor Cari flüchtet er zum Staat.

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Im Büro hat er zumeist „nichts“ zu tun. Den „Mechanismus des täglichen Berufslebens“ (S. 64) nimmt er als „Gefängnis“ wahr, obgleich er mittags meist wieder draußen ist. Er trifft sich regelmäßig mit Freunden. Einige unterstützen ihn finanziell. Unter der Bank schreibt Schmitt ab Mai 1915 seine Studie über Theodor Däublers Nordlicht-Dichtung. Sein Kriegsdienst beschränkt sich, scheints, auf Gutachten über die Entwicklung des Belagerungszustandes, das Erteilen von „Passierscheinen“ und andere Genehmigungen sowie auf die Briefzensur und Beobachtung literarischer Pazifistenkreise, die im Dokumentationsteil eingehender nachgewiesen ist. Für die „Kerls in Berlin“ will Schmitt sich nicht totschlagen lassen (S. 71). Pazifistischer Literatur aber erteilt er die „Beschlagnahmeverfügung“ (S. 73). Dabei schämt er sich seiner Tätigkeit als Zensor (S. 85). „Pfingstsonntag. Den ganzen Tag auf dem Büro. Es ist entsetzlich, so eingespannt zu sein; eine lächerlich dumme Arbeit, Polizeistunden-Verfügungen, albern“ (S. 72). Schmitt erlebt den Krieg 1915 mehr als Papierkrieg und leidet unter der Verschlechterung der Schokoladenqualität. Jenseits allgemeiner Schmähungen des „Militarismus“ finden sich keine politischen Bemerkungen. Der Frontverlauf existiert in diesen Aufzeichnungen nicht. Von den „Ideen von 1914“ oder glühendem Nationalismus und Etatismus findet sich in den frühen Tagebüchern insgesamt fast keine Spur. Darüber kann man sich gar nicht genug wundern.

Seine literarischen Feindbeobachtungen verkauft Schmitt an eine Wochenzeitung. Auszüge aus seinen Berichten in der „Hamburger Woche“ sind abgedruckt. Durch die Tätigkeit als Zensor lernt er die literarische Avantgarde genauer kennen. Mit ästhetischem Gefallen liest Schmitt manche Schriften, die er dann verbietet. Weil Aphorismen ihm zusagen, schickt er einem „gescheiten, verstandeskräftigen Juden“ seine Monografie über den Staat, worüber der sich wundert (S. 88, 91). Assessor August Schaetz (S. 112 ff.) taucht auf, dem später, zum Gedenken an seinen Soldatentod, der „Begriff des Politischen“ gewidmet ist. Zum Scheiden er, zum Bleiben Schmitt erkoren. Am 6. September 1915 stellt Schmitt noch kategorisch fest: „Ich werde mich in einer Stunde vor Wut über meine Nichtigkeit erschießen.“ (S. 125) Doch am nächsten Tag erhält er vom Verlag die Zusage für das Däubler-Buch und vom Generalkommando den Auftrag, einen Bericht über das Belagerungszustands-Gesetz zu schreiben, den er höhnisch kommentiert: „Begründen, dass man den Belagerungszustand noch einige Jahre nach dem Krieg beibehält. Ausgerechnet ich! Wofür mich die Vorsehung noch bestimmt hat.“ (S. 125) Seine Studie über „Diktatur und Belagerungszustand“ [8] wird ein Erfolg. Das Thema bahnt ihm den weiteren Weg. Die Diagnose einer Verschiebung der Gewaltenverhältnisse wird seine wichtigste verfassungspolitische Einsicht.

Der „Militarismus“ versetzt ihn weiter in Angst und Schrecken. Schmitt empfindet, „wie berechtigt es ist, vor dem Militärregime Angst zu haben und eine Trennung der Gewalten und gegenseitigen Kontrollen einzuführen“ (S. 135). Nachdem die Nordlicht-Studie abgeschlossen ist, kommt Däubler für einige Tage zu Besuch und die Freundschaft geht in die Brüche. Schmitt fühlt sich ausgenutzt und abgestoßen (S. 142ff.). Der Straßburger Lehrer Fritz van Calker schlägt ein „Habilitationsgesuch nach Straßburg“ (S. 157) vor, was Schmitt begeistert aufnimmt.

Wieder einmal erweist sich Calker als rettender Engel. Er lehrte Schmitt eine politische Betrachtung des Rechts; beide planten einst sogar eine gemeinsame „Einführung in die Politik“ [9]; Calker rettete Schmitt aus dem Düsseldorfer Ehedrama nach München, zunächst in die Kaserne, dann ins Generalkommando, und ermöglichte ihm später während des Militärdienstes die Habilitation. Diese Rückkehr nach Straßburg erscheint nun als paradiesischer „Traum“ (S. 157). „Das ist das richtige Leben“ (S. 162), notiert Schmitt. Als aus Straßburg nicht gleich Nachricht kommt, vermutet er eine Intrige des Geheimrat (S. 169). Doch auch diese Sorge ist überspannt. Auch der Geheimrat, der uns in den ersten Tagebüchern kafkaesk begegnete, wird sich als Förderer erweisen, indem er Schmitt seine erste feste Dozentur an der Münchner Handelshochschule vermittelt. Der Band dokumentiert dies durch Briefe zur beruflichen Entwicklung (S. 503ff.). Der wichtigste Mentor aber bleibt der Straßburger Doktorvater. Calker steht 1933 noch hinter der Berufung nach Berlin, weil er sich beim Minister Hans Frank, auch ein Schüler Calkers, für Schmitt einsetzte.[10] Schmitts schnelle Karriere in der Weimarer Republik wurde gerade durch die frühen Kontaktnetze ermöglicht, die in den Tagebüchern so gespenstisch begegnen. Nur Calker kommt bei Schmitt stets positiv weg. Ihm widmete er 1912 seine Studie „Gesetz und Urteil“.[11] Doch in seinen späteren Schriften erwähnt er ihn fast überhaupt nicht mehr. Der Name des wichtigsten Mentors ist aus Schriften und Nachlass geradezu vertilgt. Erst in den Tagebüchern taucht er wieder auf.

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Unentwegt rätselt Schmitt selbst über seinen problematischen Charakter. Er bringt ihn auf eine Formel. Schmitt empfindet sich als „Prolet“ und möchte ein Buch schreiben: „Der Prolet, oder: Der Plebejer. [...] Sein Instinkt: sich zu ducken und sich zu strecken, wie es kommt. Er ist ad alterum.“ (S. 124, dazu vgl. S. 448) Was Schmitt an sich bemerkt, rechnet er immer wieder auch Richard Wagner und dem Judentum zu: die „Abhängigkeit von der Meinung anderer“ (S. 173). Das Spiegelgefecht um Selbst- und Fremdhass, Freund-Feind-Identifikationen, treibt Schmitt in diesen Aufzeichnungen bis zur Selbstparodie. Im Licht von Nietzsches Wagnerkritik nimmt er Wagners antisemitische Disjunktion von Wagnerianismus und Judentum zurück, wenn er beiden das gleiche Syndrom, die gleiche Abhängigkeit von der Meinung der anderen unterstellt, den Vater des modernen, postchristlichen Antisemitismus seinerseits als „Juden“ (S. 115) brandmarkt und als „eine rein interne jüdische Angelegenheit“ (S. 164) betrachtet. Viel Literatur steckt im Antisemitismus. Schmitt dekonstruiert ihn als Spiegelgefecht in der literarischen Tradition Heines, Wagners und Friedrich Nietzsches. Aus den Verstrickungen der modernen Weltanschauungen, die Schmitt in einen Topf wirft (S. 176), flüchtet er zum Katholizismus. So ärgerlich vieles auch klingt, muss man nicht alles auf die Goldwaage legen. Schmitt sieht seinen Feind durchaus schon als „die eigne Frage als Gestalt“ an.

Das Tagebuch endet mit der Entscheidung für Straßburg. Schmitts Verfahren ist durch den Wiederabdruck der Probevorlesung gespiegelt. Der Band greift durch weitere Texte noch über das Jahr 1916 hinaus. Wichtig ist hier vor allem der Abdruck der Beiträge zur Zeitschrift „Summa“. Durch dieses Texttriptychon konfrontiert Schmitt seinen satirischen „geschichtsphilosophischen Versuch“ über „Die Buribunken“ mit einer theologisch anspruchsvollen „scholastischen Erwägung“ über „Die Sichtbarkeit der Kirche“ und vermittelt beides über die rechtsphilosophische Verhältnisbestimmung von „Macht und Recht“. Sinnvoll ist auch die Beigabe der kurzen Satire auf Karl Kraus sowie der Vorbemerkung zur Ausgabe einer romantischen Autobiografie. Diese kleine Veröffentlichung spiegelt Schmitts biografische Entscheidung: den Sprung in den Glauben, für den offenbar auch die Begegnung mit Theodor Haecker und Kierkegaard wichtig war. Ein Vorlesungsauszug über Bodin kündigt die Ausarbeitung der Souveränitätslehre an, die dann ins nächste Kapitel der Biografie gehört.

Das Thema der Münchener Militärzeit ist die Entscheidung für Etatismus und Katholizismus, die Schmitt seinen existentiellen Krisen abrang und die er privatim, psychobiografisch, kaum vertreten konnte. Wir sehen eine doppelte Fluchtbewegung: eine Flucht aus der Zeit und in die Zeit. Zunächst flieht Schmitt in die Zeit, indem er sich von seinem ruinösen Privatleben abwendet und dem gegenrevolutionären Staat verschreibt. Später flieht er auch aus der Zeit: zum Katholizismus, wie es sein Dadaistenfreund Hugo Ball [12] in seinen Tagebüchern „Flucht aus der Zeit“ beschrieb.

Nun erst ist die Münchner Militärzeit material erschlossen. Sie erscheint in ihrem eigenartigen Profil gegenüber der Düsseldorfer Jugendkrisis sowie der zweiten Münchener Zeit an der Handelshochschule. Diese Zeit von 1919 bis 1921, die erste feste akademische Stellung noch vor dem Wechsel nach Greifswald, wurde bisher kaum zur Kenntnis genommen. Auch dafür sind nun neue Gleise gestellt. Schmitt war nicht nur akademisch frühreif, sondern machte auch schnelle berufliche Karriere. Schon im Generalkommando saß er recht fest im Sattel. Die Front blieb ihm erspart. Ab 1919 war er dann, 31-jährig, als Dozent mit glänzenden Aussichten etabliert. Beruflich jedenfalls wurde er bald zum „Glückspilz“ (S. 521ff.), was die Tagebücher zunächst kaum erahnen lassen.

Das Gewicht dieses zweiten Bandes liegt nicht zuletzt in der gedankenreichen Einleitung, sorgsamen Kommentierung und Zusammenstellung. Dass Schmitt mit der – 1919 erscheinenden – „Politischen Romantik“ auch seinen eigenen Ästhetizismus niederrang, war lange bekannt. Schon Karl Löwith hatte es bemerkt. Der zweite Band zeigt nun, dass diese existentielle Entscheidung durch die objektivierende Phase der Zensorentätigkeit im Generalkommando hindurchging. Hier begegnet das Leben der Boheme aus der Perspektive staatlicher Repression. Wir kannten bereits den Romantiker, der die politische Romantik exekutiert. Hier haben wir den Etatisten, der den Staat hasst. Er bestätigt die Generalthese seiner Habilitationsschrift nicht als General Dr. von Staat mit geschwollener Brust. Schmitt findet den „Wert des Staates“ in einer moralischen „Vernichtung des Einzelnen“, die ihm die existentielle Rettung aus seinen Exaltationen bedeutete.

Anmerkungen:
[1] Gethmann, Carl Friedrich u.a. (Hgg.), Manifest Geisteswissenschaften, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin 2005, S. 9, vgl. S. 25f.
[2] Schmitt, Carl, Glossarium. Aufzeichnungen der Jahre 1947 bis 1951, hg. v. von Medem, Eberhard, Berlin 1991.
[3] Herrero, Montserrat (Hg.), Carl Schmitt und Álvaro d’Ors. Briefwechsel, Berlin 2004.
[4] Quaritsch, Helmut (Hg.), Carl Schmitt. Das internationalrechtliche Verbrechen des Angriffskrieges und der Grundsatz ‚Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege’, Berlin 1994; Ders., Carl Schmitt. Antworten in Nürnberg, Berlin 2000.
[5] Schmitt, Carl, Staat, Großraum, Nomos. Arbeiten aus den Jahren 1916 bis 1969, hg. v. Maschke, Günter, Berlin 1995.
[6] Schmitt, Carl, Tagebücher. Oktober 1912 bis Februar 1915, hg. v. Hüsmert, Ernst Berlin 2003; dazu meine Besprechung , in: H-SOZ-U-KULT vom 21.1.2004 <http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/rezensionen/2004-1-039>. Inzwischen ist (2005) eine zweite, korrigierte Auflage erschienen.
[7] Schmitt, Carl, Staatsgefüge und Zusammenbruch des zweiten Reichen. Der Sieg des Bürgers über den Soldaten, Hamburg 1934.
[8] Schmitt, Carl, Diktatur und Belagerungszustand, in: Ders., Staat, Großraum, Nomos, Berlin 1995, S. 3-20.
[9] Das geht aus einem erhaltenen Brief van Calkers an Schmitt vom 30.10.1922 hervor (Hauptstaatsarchiv NRW, Nachlass Carl Schmitt, RW 265-2492). Im Erscheinungsjahr der Erstfassung des „Begriffs des Politischen“ publizierte Calker dann seine „Einführung in die Politik“ (München 1927), die aus Vorlesungen hervorging.
[10] Brief Friedrich van Calkers vom 14.6.1933 an Schmitt (Nachlass Carl Schmitt, RW 265-2493).
[11] Schmitt, Carl, Gesetz und Urteil. Eine Untersuchung zum Problem der Rechtspraxis, 1912, München 1968, vgl. S. VIII.
[12] Ball, Hugo, Flucht aus der Zeit, Luzern 1946.

vendredi, 28 février 2020

Itinéraire posthume de l’antilibéralisme schmittien. Un héritage incontournable ?

Itinéraire posthume de l’antilibéralisme schmittien. Un héritage incontournable ?

Une critique de Tristan Storme
Ex: https://www.raison-publique.fr

arton276-c1eeb.jpgEditeur : Armand Colin
Collection : Le Temps Des Idées
Nb. de pages : 400 pages
Prix : 21 euros.

Référence : Critique publiée dans Raison publique, n° 8, avril 2008, pp. 153-165.

- Jan-Werner Müller, Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, trad. par Sylvie Taussig, Paris, Armand Colin, coll. « Le temps des idées », 2007, 400 p.

Publié à l’origine en anglais il y a cinq ans, l’ouvrage de Jan-Werner Müller, Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, aujourd’hui traduit en français dans la collection « Le temps des idées » dirigée par Guy Hermet, tombe à point nommé dans le monde universitaire et intellectuel francophone, où il n’est pas rare d’entendre que ce « Hobbes du vingtième siècle » [1] n’aurait plus rien à nous livrer. Schmitt, un esprit à la fois brillant et dangereux — ou, pourrait-on dire, dangereux en raison de son talent indéniable — a connu la crise de la république de Weimar, les deux guerres mondiales, la séparation de l’Allemagne et la Guerre froide ; son œuvre vieille de soixante-dix ans est, quelque part, le parangon des meurtrissures que porta le siècle récemment écoulé [2]. En mai 1933, le juriste rhénan adhérait à la NSDAP, donnant du crédit au régime hitlérien au travers de nombreux textes rédigés durant cette période. S’il prend néanmoins ses distances à l’égard du Führer dès 1936, il ne reniera jamais son antisémitisme philosophique, comme l’atteste avec virulence le recueil de ses journaux publié après sa mort, en 1991. C’est cette compromission qui fait d’ailleurs question ; les commentateurs se sont interrogés, en vue de savoir jusqu’à quel point un tel ralliement se répercuta sur les écrits schmittiens ultérieurs. Certains exégètes ont aussi pris le parti d’affirmer que les prémisses analytiques de l’adhésion de Schmitt au nazisme se découvraient à la lecture de ses livres de jeunesse. Depuis quelques années, semblables questionnements ont été au cœur des débats français. Mais force est de reconnaître qu’en dépit de son passé funeste, Carl Schmitt semble avoir suscité l’intérêt d’auteurs très différents et joué un rôle particulièrement influent dans l’évolution des discussions politico-philosophiques contemporaines. Dans son ouvrage, Jan-Werner Müller, professeur à l’université de Princeton, s’attèle à examiner de près la réception essentiellement européenne (surtout allemande) de l’œuvre du juriste rhénan ou, comme il le dit si bien lui-même, à « constituer une histoire critique de "ce que Schmitt a signifié" pour le vingtième siècle. » [3]

Dans une première partie, intitulée « Un juriste allemand au vingtième siècle », Müller retrace chronologiquement, et avec érudition, le parcours biographique et intellectuel de Carl Schmitt, depuis la rédaction de ses deux thèses de doctorat jusqu’au retranchement du savant dans son village natal du Sauerland, au lendemain du procès de Nuremberg. Pointant du doigt les contradictions et les arguments forts de la pensée de Schmitt, l’auteur compose le portrait d’un jeune publiciste qui, dès l’amorce de sa carrière, s’employa à forger et à affûter un arsenal théorique destiné à mettre à mal le libéralisme bourgeois, le parlementarisme dominé par les intérêts d’une frange sociétale non représentative. La doctrine libérale, qui refuse de discerner ses ennemis et de reconnaître le primat de la décision, participerait du phénomène d’envahissement de l’État par la société dont serait responsable la prolifération des associations économiques. À la lecture des premiers chapitres, on comprend rapidement qu’aux yeux de Müller, l’antilibéralisme constitue la pierre angulaire, le motif central de la pensée politique de Schmitt, telle qu’elle s’est déployée durant les années vingt. Le philosophe de Weimar s’est évertué à rendre la mass democracy compatible avec l’autoritarisme, par l’intermédiaire d’une théorie de la représentation à même de rendre publiquement présent le peuple rassemblé. Il oppose sa définition particulière de la démocratie aux conceptions libérales de la notion qui l’identifient à une simple addition des voix des individus esseulés dans l’isoloir. Müller n’aurait pas pu procéder autrement qu’en restituant le contexte d’énonciation des philosophèmes schmittiens, dans la mesure où l’examen de l’impact de cette pensée représente le centre névralgique de son étude. Puisqu’il opère de la sorte, il peut éminemment tenter, dans la suite du récit, de répondre à la question de savoir ce qui, en dehors de la conjoncture contextuelle, est susceptible d’être extirpé et de survivre à son fondateur.

Depuis les travaux de Dirk van Laak [4], Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux est certainement, à ce jour, l’examen le plus exhaustif qui a trait à la réception allemande, et plus largement européenne, des idées schmittiennes. Müller sillonne l’héritage du juriste, auteur par auteur, tout en évitant soigneusement le travers qui consisterait à débusquer des « schmittiens » partout, au détour de la moindre citation ; il rapporte en substance les nombreux débats pointus et spécialisés qui animèrent l’histoire des idées politiques de l’après-guerre, livrant des tendances, des filiations qu’il ne cherche nullement à plaquer sur une typologie embarrassante. Les arguments des successeurs et des interlocuteurs intellectuels de Carl Schmitt sont livrés dans toute leur singularité discursive. Si bien qu’il est difficile qu’échappe au lecteur le fait que Schmitt ait pesé de manière considérable sur les raisonnements de nombre de ses contemporains. Au sortir de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, quoique privé d’enseignement et écarté des universités, Carl Schmitt, ayant refusé de se soumettre à la dénazification, reçoit furtivement dans sa demeure à Plettenberg une minorité influente de penseurs qui participèrent à la mise sur pied de la nouvelle structure étatique ouest-allemande : Nicolaus Sombart, Hanno Kesting, Reinhart Koselleck, Roman Schnur, Armin Mohler ou encore Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, pour ne citer que quelques noms. Il n’est donc pas faux d’affirmer, avec Habermas, que « l’histoire de cette influence a[urait] une valeur fondatrice pour l’État allemand. » [5] L’ombre de l’auteur de La notion de politique a effectivement plané sur les controverses d’après la guerre et accompagné le façonnage théorique du paysage juridico-polititque de la RFA. Devant le triomphe de l’adversaire américain, Schmitt, qui refusa de faire contrition et de consacrer la mise au ban de l’unité politique allemande, a permis d’assurer « la continuité d’une tradition allemande qui aurait été mise en cause. » [6] Tenu en dehors du « système », à l’écart des lieux déterminants, il est devenu une figure d’inspiration emblématique pour toute une série de jeunes théoriciens qui n’hésitèrent aucunement à puiser, dans son œuvre, des conceptions plutôt mal perçues à l’époque. Ses réflexions, conservatrices et autoritaires, furent relayées ; elles alimentèrent les discussions relatives à la rédaction d’une Constitution pour l’Allemagne de l’Ouest, exhumant l’option d’une protection de la démocratie renaissante contre ses ennemis antidémocratiques. L’idéal d’un État fort fut puissamment reconduit dans les écrits d’Ernst Forsthoff, schmittien devant l’Éternel, bien décidé à remettre l’État au-dessus de la société et des intérêts conflictuels qui animeraient cette dernière.

9783428159802.jpgMais l’œuvre du publiciste de Weimar n’a pas seulement eu écho à travers les travaux d’auteurs plus ou moins conservateurs : la réception de la pensée du juriste a pour spécificité d’être étonnamment polarisée. Jürgen Habermas lui-même, l’un des plus farouches contempteurs du théoricien du politique, n’a pas manqué de reconnaître l’exactitude du constat de Schmitt qui conclut à une déliquescence de la logique parlementaire. L’histoire de l’ « espace public » suit, en effet, à la lettre l’analyse que soumet Carl Schmitt de la transformation progressive du parlementarisme [7]. Dans son ouvrage, Müller rapporte que Henning Ritter, le fils de Joachim Ritter, avait déjà laissé sous-entendre qu’il existerait « une relation entre la pensée de Habermas et celle de Schmitt » [8] ; plus récemment, et en France qui plus est, Philippe Raynaud a défendu la thèse suivant laquelle la pensée du défenseur du patriotisme constitutionnel serait particulièrement redevable de celle du juriste allemand, « dans la mesure même où elle s’est constituée contre le décisionnisme de Schmitt » [9]. Phénomène plus curieux encore, une partie des doctrinaires libéraux prit l’initiative de libéraliser la pensée « du plus brillant ennemi du libéralisme qu’ait vu le siècle. » [10] Certains envisagèrent de composer un libéralisme amendé, capable de répliquer aux défis lancés par le juriste rhénan. Schmitt aurait diagnostiqué avec précision et acuité les failles et les faiblesses de la doctrine libérale, formulant des « questions percutantes » qui tourmentèrent les orthodoxies libérales ; il demeurerait entièrement envisageable de remédier aux problèmes de la neutralité et de la stabilité politique, deux béances qui fragiliseraient les théories libérales, en redéployant différemment les concepts du juriste — à se confronter aux anamnèses du philosophe conservateur, le libéralisme en ressortirait grandi. Parmi d’autres, Odo Marquard et Hermann Lübbe « s’efforcèrent de libéraliser des pans entiers de sa pensée pour la mettre au service de la démocratie libérale, c’est-à-dire pour la fortifier et lui donner de meilleurs outils pour qu’elle soit à même de relever des défis antilibéraux. » [11] Il en résulte « un mélange instable de priorités libérales et de moyens non libéraux. » [12] Lübbe s’est notamment risqué à prélever la méthode décisionniste chez Schmitt, dans l’optique assumée de renforcer la démocratie libérale. Cependant, comme l’indique Müller, une pareille entreprise dévoile avec clarté les limites d’une compatibilité des concepts schmittiens avec la pensée libérale, vu que Lübbe, par exemple, se voit contraint de délier la stabilité politique du principe de justification publique. Mais l’extrême droite ne demeure pas en reste ; elle s’est, elle aussi, penchée sur les arguments avancés par le juriste. En effet, sur une autre case de l’échiquier politique, la Nouvelle Droite française, menée par Alain de Benoist, a pour sa part multiplié les références à Schmitt afin de préserver la particularité des peuples contre l’universalisme libéral abstrait [13].

Au bout de chaque avenue, détaillée par Müller, qu’empruntèrent les nombreux « héritiers » de Carl Schmitt, aussi divers fussent-ils, émerge l’antilibéralisme pérenne du savant de Plettenberg. D’autres exégètes ont également émis une semblable hypothèse, sans toutefois l’étayer avec force détails comme l’a fait Jan-Werner Müller [14]. La tangibilité patente de la mondialisation socio-économique qui, d’autre part, s’étend au nom de principes éthiques (l’exportation des Droits de l’Homme), « ranime en permanence la tentation de reprendre la critique que Schmitt a dirigé contre un libéralisme tour à tour impuissant ou hypocrite » [15] — de la reprendre ou de s’en inspirer, de l’amender et de la prolonger. Les questions posées par le penseur conservateur ainsi que les diagnostics qu’il énonce ont connu une prorogation considérable au vu de la chronologie qu’a bâtie Müller. Il y a d’ailleurs fort à parier que les thèses et les outils conceptuels forgés par Schmitt en son temps n’ont pas terminé de nous livrer leurs vertus heuristiques, qu’elles demeurent susceptibles de nous révéler leur « actualité » potentielle.

En filigrane, Müller met le doigt sur deux phénomènes majeurs, qu’il analyse pour partie, et qui touchent de très près à l’héritage des théories politiques de Carl Schmitt. Ces deux questions ont trait à l’usage on ne saurait plus actuel — souvent polémique — des idées du juriste rhénan. Incontestablement, elles attestent de l’actualité manifeste de certains pans importants de la pensée de Schmitt, elles témoignent du caractère indéniable de l’héritage schmittien. D’un côté, à l’heure de la mondialisation, le post-marxisme semble éprouver toutes les difficultés du monde à se (re)définir : pour pallier un « manque » conceptuel, des théoriciens de la gauche radicale ont vu en Schmitt une formidable source d’inspiration disposée à redorer un blason obsolescent. D’autre part, bien qu’il est (ou qu’il fût) coutumier de dépeindre l’auteur du Nomos de la Terre comme le héraut de la cause statonationale, il semblerait que celui-ci ait pu léguer un attirail systématique habilité à penser positivement l’intégration macro-régionale, et plus particulièrement européenne, ainsi que moult arguments à même de souligner les faiblesses potentielles de toute construction continentale.

LES TOURMENTS THÉORIQUES DU POST-MARXISME : LE CONFLIT EN GUISE DE POLITISATION

Après la chute du mur de Berlin, Müller le répète à plusieurs endroits de son livre, une certaine gauche post-marxiste devait redécouvrir la pensée politique de Carl Schmitt. Les accointances de la gauche avec les concepts du théoricien conservateur ne relèvent toutefois pas d’une situation entièrement inédite. Depuis les années soixante, plusieurs auteurs ou mouvements radicaux se sont intéressés de près aux écrits du juriste, à commencer par Joachim Schickel, maoïste de son état. La Théorie du partisan, publiée en 1962, et l’optimisme général que purent inspirer à Schmitt les luttes anticoloniales n’y sont pas pour rien dans l’intérêt de la gauche qui essaie de penser le rôle de la guérilla dans les limites d’une idéologie révolutionnaire [16]. Peu de temps plus tard, toujours en Allemagne, Johannes Agnoli ressuscitait la critique schmittienne du parlementarisme, arguant que l’organe représentatif aurait développé une structure profondément oligarchique qui, de fait, ne représenterait plus le peuple mais l’État [17]. À la même période, en Italie, Mario Tronti et les « Marxisti Schmittiani » empruntaient le syntagme de l’ami et de l’ennemi — critère spécifique du politique —, l’interprétant sous la forme d’une compréhension renouvelée de l’antagonisme de classes [18]. On le voit, les récents emprunts à gauche ne sont pas sans posséder quelques antécédents de marque. C’est probablement chez Antonio Negri et Giorgio Agamben que le recyclage équivoque de concepts schmittiens pour une analyse ou pour une résolution normative des problèmes politico-philosophiques contemporains s’avère le plus frappant. Alors qu’Agamben mobilise le paradigme de l’ « état d’exception », Negri réfléchit le « pouvoir constituant » en s’appuyant notamment sur La dictature [19]. La visibilité retentissante des thèses et des prescriptions de ses deux auteurs a fait prendre conscience de l’ampleur d’un phénomène d’actualité, celui d’un « schmittianisme » (ou d’un « schmittisme ») de gauche. Selon Yves Charles Zarka, qui persiste a pensé que Schmitt est l’auteur de documents et non d’une œuvre, si l’extrême droite en vient à faire appel à Carl Schmitt, ce serait là « une chose naturelle », puisqu’elle ne ferait que « revendiquer ce qui lui appartient et selon une rhétorique habituelle », mais que la gauche radicale « prenne le même chemin », voilà un phénomène quelque peu incongru qui, d’après le spécialiste français de Hobbes, témoignerait d’une « crise idéologique » profonde du post-marxisme [20]. Pourquoi donc — car il est vrai qu’une telle inspiration ne semble pas aller de soi — une partie de la gauche actuelle s’est-elle empressée de recourir aux philosophèmes d’un conservateur aguerri qui, par surcroît, se compromit un temps avec le Reich hitlérien ?

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Dans un ouvrage publié il y a peu, Jean-Claude Monod tente d’apporter une première explication à ce curieux syndrome, en précisant que « les lectures marxistes de Schmitt pourraient faire l’objet d’une étude en soi » [21]. Il existerait sinon une réelle connexité, du moins une connivence notable, entre la pensée marxiste et celle du publiciste de Weimar : elles consacreraient, toutes les deux, l’existence d’une distinction conceptuelle originale. À la fois sanctifiée par Schmitt et par les théories marxistes, « la dissociation du libéralisme et de la démocratie » légitimerait un certain type de violence — celle de la classe ouvrière dans le cas des épigones de l’auteur du Capital. Mais, d’un autre côté, « la dissociation du politique et de l’étatique », constat malheureux dans La notion du politique, permettrait à l’extrême gauche actuelle de libérer le peuple — le pouvoir constituant — du joug de la souveraineté du prince [22]. Cette proximité analytique aurait rendu possible un emploi réfléchi (et infléchi) des thèses de l’ancien partisan du Troisième Reich. Les outils empruntés par « les schmittiens de gauche ou d’extrême gauche » leur auraient surtout permis de dénoncer l’un des travers de l’ordre libéral, à savoir le sapement de l’État de droit par le biais de procédures d’exception totalement banalisées [23]. La traduction en français du livre de Müller met à la portée du lectorat francophone un constat qui, quoique formulé quelques années auparavant, s’apparente grandement à celui de Monod. Néanmoins, le professeur de Princeton insiste plus particulièrement sur le fait que la gauche aurait trouvé chez Schmitt une réponse, qu’elle juge sans doute déterminante, dans l’objectif de pallier le besoin d’une repolitisation de la lutte contre le libéralisme triomphant ; c’est-à-dire le besoin d’une constitution de l’unité politique face à l’adversaire capitaliste. « En particulier, nous dit Müller, la pensée de Schmitt est censée compenser l’absence du politique et, plus encore, l’absence d’une théorie de l’État dans le marxisme. » [24] Partant du théoricien du politique, la gauche d’inspiration schmittienne finirait par célébrer le retour du conflit international ouvert, afin de s’opposer à l’universalisme libéral qu’elle calomnie pour cause de son hypocrisie. Plutôt que de concevoir « un modèle d’action politique à proprement parler », elle se borne à « réaffirmer la nature inévitablement conflictuelle du politique » (soit qu’elle estime cela comme une nécessité véritable, soit qu’un engagement dans une telle direction lui paraît préférable au triomphe du marché mondial) [25]. Dans tous les cas, il semble pour Müller que le post-marxisme souffre d’insuffisances théoriques, dans son combat contre le libéralisme, et qu’à ce titre, la pensée du plus fidèle détracteur de la doctrine libérale a pu tenir lieu d’expédient.

9782707149701.jpgSi en Allemagne ou en Italie, les emprunts contemporains aux théories de Schmitt peuvent prendre appui sur de véritables précédents, Zarka souligne qu’il s’agit en réalité d’un « phénomène assez nouveau en France » [26] — l’étude de Müller se cantonne d’ailleurs principalement aux deux premiers pays cités, et l’auteur ne cache pas que le « terme » de son parcours introspectif ne soit que « tout provisoire » [27]. Daniel Ben Saïd et Étienne Balibar ont, entre autres, eu recours à la pensée du juriste, ce dernier soutenant pour sa part que « pour connaître l’ennemi, il faut aller au pays de l’ennemi. » [28] Les réflexions de Balibar, ancien élève d’Althusser, nous apparaissent comme une piste conséquente, dans l’optique de concilier le « schmittianisme de gauche » (antilibéral) avec le refus de consacrer l’avènement du conflit comme mode d’être du politique. L’exigence d’une politisation — ou, plus simplement, d’une définition d’un « état » politique — peut déboucher, en dernière instance, sur « une résistance à la violence » [29]. Le philosophe français reconnaît sans ambages que le juriste rhénan a pesé sur l’histoire des idées politiques ; il n’a du reste pas hésité à affirmer, dans sa préface à la traduction du Der Leviathan de Schmitt, que la pensée de celui-ci était « l’une des pensées les plus inventives » [30] du vingtième siècle. C’est en s’adossant à la théorisation schmittienne de la souveraineté, qui lui apparaît « indispensable » pour comprendre l’ensemble des discours ayant trait « aux limites d’application » d’un tel concept [31], que Balibar a pu développé « la thèse d’un extrémisme du centre », taxant l’État de droit libéral d’être doté d’une « face d’exception » qui participerait à l’exclusion des anormaux et des déviants [32]. Mais cette prise en considération des arguments antilibéraux du juriste, que Balibar actualise et façonne, ne l’a pas empêché de questionner les « effets destructeurs de la violence, y compris de la violence révolutionnaire. » [33] La violence détruirait la possibilité même de la politique dont le maintien nécessiterait « un moment propre de civilité », c’est-à-dire un moment à l’issue duquel serait introduit l’impératif de l’anti-violence. À bien lire Balibar, il n’est pas certain que schmittianisme et post-marxisme soient incapables d’avancer de concert vers la génération d’une action politique de gauche.

LA CONSTRUCTION EUROPÉENNE OU L’OUBLI DE L’ÉLÉMENT PROPREMENT « POLITIQUE »

Il peut sembler inadapté, à première vue, de formuler l’hypothèse d’un rapprochement plausible entre la pensée politique de Carl Schmitt et les considérations théoriques actuelles autour de la construction européenne. Nicolas Sombart, qui a fréquenté le juriste déchu à Plettenberg, a réprouvé le fait que la plupart des lecteurs du publiciste découvraient, selon lui, « le faux Schmitt », à savoir le « concepteur de cette machine célibataire qu’est l’ "État" » [34], alors que l’auteur du Nomos de la Terre avait surtout su diagnostiquer le déclin de la forme étatique moderne qui serait parvenue à son terme. Avec le passage à l’ère globale, les Européens devraient songer à remplacer l’État, vieilli et poussiéreux, « par des formes d’ "unité politique" substantielles, véritablement souveraines. » [35]

41YfDNAAdOL.jpgDepuis une dizaine d’années, les études schmittiennes se sont élargies à la question d’un prolongement continental et européen de la notion du « politique ». Ce phénomène naissant, encore à l’état d’un décantage initial, fut impulsé, pour l’essentiel, par les recherches de Christoph Schönberger et d’Ulrich K. Preuss [36]. Au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, le penseur conservateur s’était effectivement donné pour objectif de réfléchir sur l’avenir du Vieux Continent, désormais pris en étau entre les deux puissances dominantes. La « reconstruction » européenne, telle qu’il la voyait se dessiner, lui apparaissait comme une entreprise menée à l’encontre des Allemands vaincus et qui manquait, par ailleurs, de se pourvoir des attributs du politique. À la vue d’une Europe « kidnappée par des esclaves » [37] et soumise au dictat des vainqueurs, Schmitt conçoit un équilibre mondial reposant sur l’instauration d’un pluriversum de « grands espaces ».

Après 1945, le juriste rhénan revoit sa théorie du Großraum qu’il avait mise, dans un premier temps, au service du régime nazi. Celle-ci prévoit la suppression des entités étatiques en tant que lieux de souveraineté et leur incorporation au sein d’un espace « aux limites indéterminées, ou plutôt flexibles » [38], où chacun des peuples phagocytés disposerait de droits différentiels. Sous l’impulsion d’un « centre », du Reich allemand, un grand espace européen unifierait le Vieux Continent sur la base d’un critère d’appartenance christique (ou chrétien), constituant de fait une réponse appropriée au dépérissement progressif du concept d’État. Carl Schmitt n’a de cesse d’identifier l’Europe à la chrétienté ; cette dernière représenterait une solide alternative au bloc soviétique et au bloc libéral — marxisme et libéralisme étant tous deux la conséquence d’un noyau métaphysique athée et de croyances immanentistes. Se composerait, dès lors, un ordre mondial fondé sur la coexistence de plusieurs blocs autonomes — les grands espaces — qui permettrait ainsi un rééquilibrage des puissances. Tomas Kostelecky, en particulier, s’autorise à interpréter la notion de Großraum comme l’analyse intéressante d’un effacement tendanciel des frontières [39]. Schmitt aurait pressenti le déplacement progressif du lieu de la souveraineté depuis les entités étatiques vers un grand espace européen, préfigurant de ce fait l’avènement d’une construction d’échelle continentale.

L’élargissement des frontières géographiques s’accompagne, dans la théorie du penseur conservateur, d’une révision des limites « nationales » : la théorisation d’un Großraum passe inévitablement par une redéfinition du concept de nation. « Une Europe démocratique avait d’abord besoin d’un peuple européen homogène » [40], ce que la croyance en Jésus-Christ était toute disposée à fournir. Schmitt estime qu’un pacifisme morne ne peut, en aucun cas, prodiguer les propriétés vertueuses du politique. Dans sa construction de l’après-guerre, l’Europe aurait omis de fonder le patriotisme européen sur l’identification d’un autre, d’un ennemi, de se fonder sur l’homogénéité du peuple chrétien à même d’édifier une forme authentiquement politique pour le continent. Le savant de Plettenberg bat en brèche l’idéal du refus de la puissance ; il souhaite faire de l’Allemagne le « pôle impérial » d’une nation chrétienne, refusant d’un même geste la sanction des triomphateurs et l’élaboration d’une formule politique « neutre ».

Les questions de l’État-nation — et des relations internationales —, de la souveraineté, de l’ordre juridique européen, soulevées par Schmitt à son époque, sont actuellement consubstantielles au problème de l’intégration européenne. C’est assez logiquement que les raisonnements de ce dernier paraissent susceptibles, au jour d’aujourd’hui, de trouver une utilité particulièrement éloquente dans le cadre des discussions théoriques relatives à l’idée d’Europe. Si les écrits du juriste permettent d’attaquer systématiquement les thèses « néo-cosmopolitiques » et de nourrir l’ensemble des discours « souverainistes », nous rejoignons Müller sur le fait qu’il est également tout à fait pensable que de tels textes puissent peser sur les réflexions des néo-kantiens et des libéraux, dans l’optique bien différente de solidifier le modèle cosmopolitique. Il semble que s’il souhaite prendre effet, le cosmopolitisme y gagnerait beaucoup à prendre en compte « la dialectique schmittienne de la souveraineté et de l’unité politique forgée à peine de vie et de mort » [41], en vue d’envisager, en fin de compte, d’y échapper complètement. Müller formule, en filigrane, l’hypothèse suivante : probablement que ceux qui relèvent le défi de réfléchir à de nouvelles identités supranationales devront, d’une manière ou d’une autre, se mesurer aux philosophèmes de Carl Schmitt, afin d’imaginer les moyens nécessaires au dépassement de l’homogénéité et de l’hostilité [42]. Le penseur conservateur pourrait, semble-t-il, nous aider, a contrario, à penser (à renforcer ?) le domaine du métanational. Existerait-il une thématique plus actuelle en théorie politique ?

CONCLUSION

Yves Charles Zarka a tout récemment précisé la distinction qu’il avait opérée entre les œuvres et les documents, lorsque dans un article paru dans Le Monde au lendemain de la publication en français du Der Leviathan de Schmitt, il avait affirmé que les textes du juriste allemand appartenaient à la catégorie des documents [43]. Il écrit que « ce qui fait le caractère particulier du document est d’être inscrit dans un moment historique dont il est un témoignage, d’en être d’une certaine manière inséparable. En revanche, une œuvre nous interpelle au-delà de son temps, en dehors du contexte où elle a été écrite pour nous parler aussi bien de son temps que du nôtre. En ce sens, […] Schmitt est l’auteur de documents. » [44] Durant l’espace d’un demi-siècle, Carl Schmitt a influé sur l’ensemble du spectre politique, de l’extrême gauche italienne à la Nouvelle Droite française — et il continue de le faire de manière posthume. Il reste à espérer que la traduction en langue française de l’ouvrage de Jan-Werner Müller fera prendre conscience du poids et de l’importance qu’ont pu prendre les diagnostics et les anamnèses souvent judicieuses de l’adversaire le plus virulent du libéralisme — ce qui n’a jamais contraint ses lecteurs de partager les suggestions normatives qui corroborent l’analyse. S’obstiner à discréditer à tout prix la pensée du savant de Plettenberg au point de refuser que les écrits de ce dernier constituent une œuvre, au motif qu’entachés par le nazisme, ils n’auraient plus rien à nous dire d’actuel, est un tour de passe-passe plutôt difficile à réaliser.

Une critique de Tristan Storme

 
Pour citer cet article :

Notes

[1] L’expression est de George D. Schwab, « un chercheur de l’université de New York » qui, écrit Müller, fut « à l’origine de la redécouverte américaine de Schmitt » (Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, p. 302).

[2] Nous paraphrasons ici la formule d’Étienne Balibar : « Carl Schmitt est le plus brillant et donc [nous soulignons] le plus dangereux des penseurs d’extrême droite » (BALIBAR, Étienne [entretien avec], « Internationalisme ou barbarie », propos recueillis par Michael Löwy et Razmig Keucheyan, SolidaritéS, n° 30, mercredi 2 juillet 2003, p. 22, texte disponible sur : http://www.solidarites.ch/index.php... ).

[3] Op. cit., p. 9.

[4] Cf. surtout VAN LAAK, Dirk, Gespräche in der Sicherheit des Schweigens : Carl Schmitt in der politischen Geistesgeschichte der frühen Bundesrepublik, Berlin, Akademie Verlag. 1993.

[5] HABERMAS, Jürgen, « Le besoin d’une continuité allemande. Carl Schmitt dans l’histoire des idées politiques de la RFA », trad. par Rainer Rochlitz, Les Temps Modernes, n° 575, juin 1994, p. 31.

[6] Ibid., p. 32.

[7] Schmitt a développé sa compréhension de l’évolution du régime parlementaire dans Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus (Parlementarisme et démocratie, trad. par Jean-Louis Schlegel et préface de Pasquale Pasquino, Paris, Seuil, coll. « Essais », 1988).

[8] Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, p. 369.

[9] RAYNAUD, Philippe, « Que faire de Carl Schmitt ? », Le Débat, n°131, septembre – octobre 2004, p. 165.

[10] Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, p. 13.

[11] Ibid., p. 169. C’est nous qui soulignons.

[12] Ibid., p. 184.

[13] « 13. L’intégrisme européen et l’essor de la (des) nouvelle(s) droite(s) européennes », in ibid., pp. 288-303.

[14] Claire-Lise Buis affirme, parmi d’autres, que « l’antilibéralisme est bien un élément fondamental de regroupement des fidèles schmittiens » (« Schmitt et les Allemands », Raisons politiques, n°5, février 2002, p. 151).

[15] Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, p. 29.

[16] « 8. Le Partisan dans le paysage de la trahison : la théorie de la guérilla de Schmitt — et ses partisans », in ibid., p. 204-219.

[17] « La critique du parlementarisme », in ibid., pp. 240-248.

[18] « Schmitt et la haine de classes : les Marxisti Schmittiani », in ibid., pp. 248-253.

[19] Cf. notamment AGAMBEN, Giorgio, État d’exception. Homo sacer, II, 1, trad. par Joël Gayraud, Paris, Seuil, coll. « L’ordre philosophique », 2003 ; NEGRI, Antonio, Le pouvoir constituant. Essai sur les alternatives de la modernité, trad. par Étienne Balibar et François Matheron, Paris, PUF, coll. « Pratiques théoriques », 1997.

[20] ZARKA, Yves Charles, « Carl Schmitt, après le nazisme », Cités, n°17, 2004, p. 148.

[21] MONOD, Jean-Claude, Penser l’ennemi, affronter l’exception. Réflexions critiques sur l’actualité de Carl Schmitt, Paris, La Découverte, coll. « Armillaire », 2007, p. 21.

[22] « Les usages opposés de Schmitt : une longue histoire », in ibid., pp. 21-31.

[23] Ibid., p. 107.

[24] Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, p. 302.

[25] Ibid., p. 310 ; pp. 321-322.

[26] ZARKA, Yves Charles, Un détail nazi dans la pensée de Carl Schmitt, suivi de deux textes de Carl Schmitt traduits par Denis Trierweiler, Paris, PUF, coll. « Intervention philosophique », 2005, p. 92.

[27] Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, p. 343.

[28] BALIBAR, Étienne (entretien avec), loc. cit., p. 22.

[29] Cf. BALIBAR, Étienne, « Violence et civilité. Sur les limites de l’anthropologie politique », in GÓMEZ-MULLER, Alfredo, La question de l’humain entre l’éthique et l’anthropologie, Paris, L’Harmattan, coll. « Ouverture philosophique », 2004. Le texte est disponible sur : http://ciepfc.rhapsodyk.net/article... .

[30] « Le Hobbes de Schmitt, le Schmitt de Hobbes », préface à : SCHMITT, Carl, Le Léviathan dans la doctrine de l’État de Thomas Hobbes, p. 8.

[31] BALIBAR, Étienne, « Prolégomènes à la souveraineté : la frontière, l’État, le peuple », Les Temps Modernes, n°610, septembre – octobre – novembre, 2000, p. 50.

[32] « Le Hobbes de Schmitt, le Schmitt de Hobbes », préface à : SCHMITT, Carl, op. cit., p. 11. C’est l’auteur qui souligne.

[33] BALIBAR, Étienne (entretien avec), « Internationalisme ou barbarie », propos recueillis par Michael Löwy et Razmig Keucheyan, SolidaritéS, n° 30, mercredi 2 juillet 2003, p. 23.

[34] « Promenades avec Carl Schmitt », in SOMBART, Nicolaus, Chroniques d’une jeunesse berlinoise (1933-1943), trad. par Olivier Mannoni, Paris, Quai Voltaire, 1992, p. 324.

[35] Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, p. 342.

[36] Cf. WAGNER, Helmut, « La Notion juridique de l’Union européenne : une vision allemande », trad. par Pascal Bonnard, Notes du Cerfa, n°30(a), février 2006, pp. 1-13. Le texte est disponible sur : http://www.ifri.org/files/Cerfa/Not... .

[37] Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, p. 203.

[38] KERVÉGAN, Jean-François, « Carl Schmitt et "l’unité du monde" », Les études philosophiques, n° 1, janvier 2004, p. 13.

[39] Cf. KOSTELECKY, Tomas, Aussenpolitik und Politikbegriff bei Carl Schmitt, München, Neubiberg-Institut für Staatwissenschaften, 1998.

[40] Carl Schmitt : Un esprit dangereux, p. 14. C’est nous qui soulignons.

[41] Ibid., p. 337.

[42] « Une ère post-héroïque ? Après la nation, l’État — et la mort politique », in ibid., pp. 336-338.

[43] ZARKA, Yves Charles, « Carl Schmitt, nazi philosophe ? », Le Monde, n° 17998, vendredi 6 décembre 2002, p. VIII.

[44] ZARKA, Yves Charles, « Carl Schmitt ou la triple trahison de Hobbes. Une histoire nazie de la philosophie politique ? », Droits – Revue française de théorie, de philosophie et de culture juridiques, n° 45, 2007, p. 177.

Le droit des peuples réglé sur le grand espace de Carl Schmitt

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Le droit des peuples réglé sur le grand espace de Carl Schmitt

par Karl Peyrade

Ex: https://www.lerougeetlenoir.org

Avec Le droit des peuples réglé sur le grand espace (1939-1942), Carl Schmitt commence à s’intéresser, dans le cadre de son analyse juridique et géopolitique, à la question de l’espace. Le droit international public est désigné par le juriste allemand comme le droit international des gens, c’est-à-dire ceux qui appartiennent à un Etat territorialement délimité dans un pays homogène. Le concept de grand espace apparaît au XIXe siècle avec l’idée de territoires équilibrés. Dans la tradition juridique française initiée par Jean Bodin puis reprise par les jacobins, ce sont plutôt les frontières naturelles qui ont servi à justifier l’expansion gallicane. A l’opposé, la logique de grand espace valide le droit des peuples à forte population à dominer sur les autres. La conception française s’articule sur un schéma géographique tandis que la notion de grand espace est liée à un déterminant démographique.

41Slx8ar6bL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgCe paradigme spatial apparaît très explicitement dans la doctrine Monroe de 1823. Cette théorie américaine revendique l’indépendance de tous les Etats américains, interdit leur colonisation par des Etats tiers et défend à ceux-ci d’intervenir en leur sein. Elle crée donc un corpus de règles ayant vocation à s’appliquer à un grand espace qui est l’espace américain. La difficulté réside dans le fait que la doctrine Monroe a évolué avec le temps. Elle est passée d’un non-interventionnisme catégorique à un impérialisme intransigeant, d’une neutralité à une position morale donnant le droit de s’ingérer dans les affaires des pays du monde entier. « L’aversion de tous les juristes positifs contre une telle doctrine est bien compréhensible ; devant pareille imprécision du contenu normatif, le positiviste a le sentiment que le sol se dérobe sous lui », ironise l’auteur. En fait, les américains ont modifié leur interprétation de la doctrine Monroe au fil du temps et de leurs intérêts. La raison d’Etat se passe facilement des débats juridiques car contrairement à ce que de nombreux juristes pensent, dans la lignée du positivisme juridique, le droit ne créé rien. Il est simplement le reflet d’un rapport de forces. Les marxistes le désigneraient comme étant une superstructure.

D’après Talleyrand, l’Europe est constituée de relations entre Etats. Monroe est le premier à parler de grand espace. Le grand espace repose sur l’idée d’inviolabilité d’un espace déterminé sur lequel vit un peuple avec un projet politique. Il suppose aussi l’absence d’intervention dans les autres espaces. Au départ, ce principe était donc interprété dans un sens continentaliste. Mais à l’arrivée, on débouche sur un interventionnisme capitaliste et universaliste avec le triomphe de l’interprétation britannique. Le passage de la neutralité à l’impérialisme américain s’incarne particulièrement en la personne du président Wilson (1917). Ce dernier a fait du principe local du droit des peuples à disposer d’eux-mêmes un principe à valeur universelle. Carl Schmitt critique cette « réinterprétation de la doctrine Monroe, au départ idée concrète du grand espace, géographiquement et historiquement déterminée, en principe général d’inspiration universaliste, censé valoir pour la Terre entière et prétendant à l’ubiquité ».

Le principe de sécurité des voies de communication britanniques constitue un bon exemple de notion universaliste au profit de l’impérialisme anglo-saxon. Contrairement aux Etats-Unis et à la Russie, il n’existe pas de continuité spatiale dans l’empire britannique qui est une addition de possessions émiettées sans espace déterminée et sans cohérence. Afin de justifier la sécurité des voies de communication, les anglais ont adopté des principes universalistes permettant d’assimiler l’empire britannique au monde. En effet, les anglais régnaient sur la mer. Ils avaient donc intérêt à ce que les voies maritimes soient sécurisées au nom de leur principe de sécurité des voies de communication leur permettant d’intervenir partout et de dominer les espaces maritimes des pays neutres. A titre d’exemple, ils ont empêché le monopole français sur le Canal de Suez en invoquant le principe de droit naturel des peuples à disposer d’eux-mêmes. Cela n’a en revanche pas fonctionné à Panama où les américains leur ont justement opposé la doctrine Monroe.

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Philosophiquement, la vision universaliste du monde trouve sa source dans la théorie du droit naturel du XVIIe siècle qui trouve son apogée dans le concept de liberté commerciale forgée au XIXe siècle. Il ne faut pas confondre la loi naturelle qui vient de Dieu et le droit naturel selon lequel les hommes naissent tous avec des droits inhérents à leur personne humaine. Ainsi, au-delà des caractéristiques ethniques, culturelles ou religieuses, l’homme parce qu’il est homme dispose de certains droits fondamentaux. L’avènement des droits de l’homme constitue l’aboutissement suprême de la théorie du droit naturel.

A l’inverse de cette théorie, la logique des grands espaces n’a pas de portée universaliste. Elle intègre l’évolution historique des grandes puissances territoriales ayant de l’influence sur des pays tiers. Le paradigme n’est donc plus national mais spatial. Au sein de l’espace dominé par une grande puissance règne la paix en raison de l’exigence de non-intervention. Mais en dehors de cet espace, l’intervention redevient possible. Carl Schmitt reprend le concept allemand d’empire pour l’adapter aux particularités de son époque. L’impérialisme répond au contraire à une vision supra ethnique, capitaliste et universaliste. L’auteur plaide pour le Reich allemand contre les deux universalismes de son temps : l’URSS socialiste et la révolution mondialo-libérale occidentale. Il faut rappeler que la pensée schmittienne n’est en aucun cas une pensée racialiste ce que les membres de la SS n’ont pas manqué de lui reprocher. Elle s’appuie en revanche sur un peuple constitué historiquement et ayant conscience de lui-même. Pour Schmitt, le concept d’empire est traversé par les mêmes idées, la même philosophie, ancré dans un grand espace et soutenu par un peuple.

« Les autres concepts de l’espace, désormais indispensables, sont en premier lieu le sol, à rattacher au peuple par une relation spécifique, puis celui, corrélatif au Reich, débordant l’aire du peuple et le territoire étatique, du grand espace de rayonnement culturel, mais aussi économique, industriel, organisationnel […] L’empire est plus qu’un Etat agrandi, de même que le grand espace n’est pas qu’un micro-espace agrandi. L’Empire n’est pas davantage identique au grand espace ; chaque empire possède un grand espace, s’élevant par là au-dessus de l’Etat spatialement déterminé par l’exclusivité de son domaine étatique, au-dessus de l’aire occupée par un peuple particulier. »

Plusieurs conceptions peuvent découler de cette notion de grand espace. Une acception purement économiste pourrait le voir uniquement comme le lieu de l’échange commercial avec d’autres grands espaces. La vision impériale, et non impérialiste, aboutirait à des relations entre empires basés sur des grands espaces. Au sein de ces grands espaces, des relations interethniques pourraient voir le jour. Sous réserve de non-ingérence de puissances étrangères, des relations interethniques pourraient même naître entre empires différents. La notion d’empire permet, contrairement à l’universalisme des droits de l’homme, de conserver les Etats et les peuples.

Juridiquement, l’espace est traditionnellement abordé par le droit de la manière suivante : le droit privé l’appréhende à travers l’appropriation d’une terre tandis que le droit public le considère comme le lieu d’exercice de la puissance publique. Les théories positivistes voient le droit comme « un ordre intimé par la loi ». Or, « les ordres ne peuvent s’adresser qu’à des personnes ; la domination ne s’exerce pas sur des choses, mais sur des personnes ; le pouvoir étatique ne peut donc se déterminer que selon les personnes ». Le positivisme juridique n’admet donc l’espace que comme un objet relevant de la perception, déterminé selon le temps et l’espace. Au fond, il s’agit d’un espace vide sur lequel s’exerce le pouvoir étatique. A l’inverse, Carl Schmitt part de l’espace pour fonder tout ordre juridique. L’auteur note l’influence juive au sein du droit constitutionnel allemand sur le concept d’espace vide : « Les rapports bizarrement gauchis qu’entretient le peuple juif avec tout ce qui touche au sol, à la terre et au territoire découlent du mode singulier de son existence politique. La relation d’un peuple à un sol façonné par son propre travail d’habitation et de culture, et à toutes les formes de pouvoir qui en émanent, est incompréhensible pour un esprit juif. » Le juriste allemand conclue son ouvrage en insistant sur le vocable juridique du Moyen-Âge qui avait une dimension spatiale (Stadt = site, civitas = cité, Land = terre etc.) et en constatant que la négation de l’espace conduit à la négation des limites ce qui aboutit à l’universalisme abstrait.

« Ces considérations ne visent certes pas à prôner le retour vers un état de choses médiéval. Mais on a bien besoin de subvertir et d’éliminer un mode de pensée et de représentation regimbant à l’espace, dont le XIXe siècle marque l’avènement, et qui gouverne encore la conceptualisation juridique tout entière ; en politique internationale, il va de pair avec l’universalisme déraciné, négateur de l’espace et par là sans limite, de la domination anglo-saxonne des mers. La mer est libre au sens où elle est libre d’Etat, c’est-à-dire libre de l’unique représentation d’ordre spatial qu’ait pu penser le droit d’obédience étatique. »

nomos.jpgOuvrage court mais très exigeant, Le droit des peuples réglé sur le grand espace constitue une bonne introduction à l’ouvrage majeur Le nomos de la terre qu’écrira par la suite Carl Schmitt. Ecrit dans un style toujours clair sans être universitaire, le livre présente le grand mérite d’être en avance sur son temps. A une époque où l’on réfléchissait encore en termes de nation, il anticipe largement les grandes évolutions du monde. Aujourd’hui, comment nier que le monde est traversé par une logique de blocs animés par une puissance dominante. L’espace américain est dominé par les Etats-Unis, l’espace asiatique par la Chine et l’espace eurasiatique par la Russie. Il n’y a guère que l’Europe qui ne suit pas cette évolution. En effet, au lieu de s’ancrer dans son espace culturel et religieux, elle a préféré se dissoudre dans un système technico-économique abstrait sous-tendu par les inévitables droits de l’homme. A trop nier l’espace, on finit par nier l’homme comme produit d’un enracinement culturel pour aboutir à l’homme-marchandise.

Karl Peyrade

jeudi, 27 février 2020

Historian of the Future: An Introduction to Oswald Spengler’s Life and Works for the Curious Passer-by and the Interested Student

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Historian of the Future:
An Introduction to Oswald Spengler’s Life and Works
for the Curious Passer-by and the Interested Student

By Stephen M. Borthwick
Ex: https://europeanheathenfront.wordpress.com

There have been two resurgences in the popularity of Oswald Spengler since the initial blooming of his popularity in the 1920s; the first in the 1980s and the second most recently, with almost ten major books dealing directly with him or his thought published in the last ten years, and more articles in various academic journals. It is a resurgence in the popular mind that may yet be matched in the academy, where Spengler has hardly been obscure but nevertheless an unknown—a forbidden intellectual fruit for what was, in the words of Henry Stuart Hughes, his first English-language biographer, “obviously not a respectable performance from the standpoint of scholarship” calling Decline of the West, in form typical to Hughes’ species “a massive stumbling block in the path to true knowledge”.[1] This is a pervasive attitude amongst academics, whose fields, especially history, are dominated by a specialisation that Spengler’s history defies with its broad perspective and positivist influences. As such when Spengler’s magnum opus first appeared, it was immediately subject to what in popular parlance can only qualify as nit-picking, which did not cease when the author corrected what factual errors could be found in his initial text. Nevertheless, in the popular mind Spengler has remained an influential if obscure author. Most recently, his unique, isolated civilisations encapsulated in their own history has been observed in Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, though the development of civilisations from Mediterranean to Western that he paints resembles the dominant theory posited by William McNeill in his Rise of the West rather than Spengler’s Decline of the West. Nevertheless, Spengler’s theory of encapsulated cultural organisms growing up next to one another, advanced by subsequent authors like Toynbee, remains a stirring line of thought, growing more relevant in the rising conflict between Western countries and the resurging Islamic world.

T9780195066340_p0_v1_s550x406.jpgo understand this adversity that Spengler’s ideas struggle against in the academic establishment, and therefore to know why his ideas have filtered through the decades but left his name and book behind, it is necessary to do what very few academics dare to do: to explore and openly discuss the significance of Spengler’s thought. This is the project of this essay; to explain to any who have recently discovered Spengler, especially if they are a college student or college graduate, why they have never heard the name “Spengler” before, and what his thought entails at its most basic level. This discussion will deal not just with Spengler’s most famous work, Der Untergang des Abendlandes (“The Downfall of the Occident”, popularly known as Decline of the West, after C.F. Atkinson’s translation) but also with his numerous political pamphlets and subsequent works of philosophy and history. His philosophical texts include, chiefly: Man and Technics, a specialised focus expanding on the relationship of the human being and the age of technology in which we live already mentioned in Decline, The Hour of Decision, which foresees the overthrow of the Western world by what today would be called the “Third World”, or what Spengler refers to as the “Coloured World”, and Prussianism and Socialism, his first major political text, prescribing the exact form of political structure needed, in his view, to save Germany immediately after the First World War. Numerous other texts, published by C.H. Beck in Munich, also exist, compiled in two primary collections, Politischen Schriften (“Political Writings”) of 1934 and posthumous Reden und Aufsätze (“Speeches and Essays”) of 1936; these are joined by Gedanken (“Reflections”), also of 1936. His unfinished works, posthumously collected and titled by chief Spengler scholar Anton Koktanek in the 1960s, Urfragen and Frühzeit der Weltgeschichte, will not be touched upon in this brief introduction, since they are not available in the English language, but readers fluent in German are encouraged to explore them as well as Koktanek’s other works.

On the assumption that without understanding a man, one cannot grasp his thought, it seems most appropriate to begin any exploration of Spengler the philosopher with Spengler the man. Spengler was a conservative first, then a German nationalist, then a pessimist (though he regarded himself as a consummate realist). Further, he was one of the few men (if not the only man) to meet Adolf Hitler and come away completely unmoved by the demagogue and future dictator of Germany. He openly attacked National Socialism as “the tendency not to want to see and master sober reality, but instead to conceal it with... a party-theatre of flags, parades, and uniforms and to fake hard facts with theories and programmes” and declared that what Germany needed was “a hero, not merely a heroic tenor.”[2] Nevertheless, when voting in the 1932 elections, Spengler, along with some 13.5 million other Germans, cast his ballot for the National Socialist ticket; he explained his choice to friends by saying enigmatically “Hitler is an idiot—but one must support the movement.”[3] At the time people speculated what he meant, and have subsequently continued to speculate to what he was referring when he said “the movement”, especially after his sustained criticisms of National Socialism well into what other Germans were experiencing as “the German Rebirth” in the years between 1933 and his death in 1936.

Spengler’s sustained pessimism about the National Socialist future (he remarked sarcastically shortly before his death that “in ten years the German Reich will probably no longer exist”) is reflective of a realism he had well before the beginning of the First World War, when the idea that would become Decline of the West were first conceived shortly after the Agadir crisis in 1911. Spengler lived and wrote largely in unhappy times; his chief contributions were made in Germany’s darkest hours of the interwar period, dominated by an unstable, incompetent government, extraordinary tributes exacted by the victorious allies, and as a result unrivalled poverty, inflation, and unemployment while the former Allied Powers (save for Italy) were experiencing the so-called “Roaring ‘20s”. He was born and he died, however, in times when things were looking bright. Few regular Germans in 1936 could or did foresee the barbarity of Hitler’s reign, five gruelling years of World War and the planned extermination of non-“Aryans” in conquered territories as well as at home, just as Wilhelmine Germany was oblivious to the consequences of the First World War almost right through it. All that the Germans saw was Germany, their Germany, was on the rise! In 1880, when the young Oswald was born to Bernhard Spengler and his wife Pauline, the German Empire was led by Kaiser Wilhelm I and his Iron Chancellor Bismarck, and the German Reich was still celebrating its formation and the unification of the German nation. Aside from the tribulation of the “year of three emperors” when the young Oswald was eight, there was no reason for the average German to worry about catastrophe: the kindly old Kaiser Wilhelm was replaced by his young, virulent grandson, Wilhelm II, who promised his people “a place in the Sun”. Later, in 1936, when the now established scholar died in his sleep of a heart-attack, the German people were again in good spirits; from the popular perspective, all they could see was that they at last had jobs again, inflation no longer loomed as so painful a memory, their shattered Reich was being rebuilt, and someone had finally reasserted German control over the Rhineland and the Saar—where the memory of the insulting use of colonial occupation forces by the French, and the various abuses civilians suffered during the occupation, still lingered in the German mind.

Early Life (From Youth to Decline, 1880-1917)

All of this blithe cheerfulness and celebration, though, did not affect either the young or the old Oswald Spengler. The opening chapter of Koktanek’s biography of him is titled “Ursprung und Urangst” – “Origin and Original Anxiety”, and not without good reason. Throughout his life, Spengler suffered a nervous affliction and anxiety, leading to chronic headaches in later years so bad that they caused minor short-term memory loss. He would later reflect in his planned autobiography that in his youth he had “no friends, with one exception, [and] no love: a few sudden, stupid [infatuations], fearful of the bond [of relationship]. [I had] only yearning and melancholy.”[4] His home life was similarly dismal. John Farrenkopf characterises it as the typical bourgeois home of the period; his father, a former copper miner turned civil servant, was proud of the Fatherland, conservative in social attitudes, and generally took for granted his loyalty to the Prussian State. It was, in Spengler’s own eyes, a cold place, and an unhappy one. Spengler remarked that his parents were “unliterarisch”—“unlettered, unliterary”—and they “never opened our bookcase nor bought a book”; he himself developed an early love for reading, which earned him ire from his father, of whom he wrote was characterised by a “hatred for all recreation, most of all books”.[5] Despite his newspaper reading and bourgeois sensibilities, though, Bernhard Spengler rarely raised the topic of politics in the household, and young Oswald was only exposed to the workings of the State by outside influences. He would break from this aloofness of politics only once in his life, shrinking after his failure back into scholastic and theoretical efforts to influence the political climate.

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Spengler’s mother led an unhappy life; she married Bernhard, it would seem, out of convenience rather than deep feeling, and bitter about her lot. Originally from the famous Grantzow clan of ballerinas and ballet masters, Pauline Spengler was prevented from ballet and the stage because of her figure, and then forced to leave her beloved home town, the quiet hamlet of Blanckenburg in the Harz mountains, for the bustling Hessian city of Halle-an-der-Saale when young Oswald was ten and her husband changed his trade from mining to postal work (a change he was not especially excited about, either). She displayed her dissatisfaction by brooding over her painting (an effort to cling to what artistry she could maintain in competition with her sisters) and playing petty tyrant over her children.

The young Spengler escaped this life through fantasy and fiction, inventing imaginary kingdoms and world-empires and writing childish theatre-plays with echoes of Wagner. He found further escape after he began his schooling at the Latina, administered by the Franckean Foundation in Halle, where he formally studied Greek and Latin, but in his free time devoured Goethe and Schiller, the first of literary influences that would later be joined by such eclectic writers as William Shakespeare, Gerhart Hauptmann, Henrik Ibsen, Maksim Gorky, Honoré de Balzac, Heinrich von Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Friedrich Hebbel, Heinrich Heine, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Émile Zola, Gutave Flaubert, and others.[6] Spengler complained of the Franckean focus on Greek and Latin that prevented him from learning “practical languages”, and he was forced as a result to teach himself French, English, Italian, and, later, during his university days, Russian, through reading authors in those languages. His fluency in the languages was astounding to many, but he himself never felt comfortable enough with them to correspond with many of the authors he would later read and who would bring to bear influence on his own magnum opus in their own languages. Anton Koktanek blames this anxiety and lack of formal training in modern foreign languages for Spengler remaining “a German phenomenon”.[7]

Spengler’s interest in world history and contemporary history also began here, and added to the fiction he wrote, including a short story set in the Russo-Japanese War titled Der Sieger as well as poetry, librettos, dramatic sketches, and other notes and such, most of which he would commit to the flames in 1911.[8] At University, he read the entirety of Goethe’s corpus and discovered two men who would bear tremendous influence on his later writing: Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche. He would also become a devotee of Richard Wagner during this time, declaring his favourite work to be Tristan and Isolde.[9] His interest in Nietzsche especially would have great bearing on his choice of thesis topic, the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus.

Spengler’s father died in 1901, just as Oswald was beginning University studies. He was by and large emotionally unaffected by the loss, and began all the more focusing on his studies. Like most students at University in those days, Spengler matriculated at several Universities while formally enrolled at the University of Halle. First, he travelled to Munich, a city with which he would fall in love and later make his home. Subsequently he would also study at the University of Berlin and then returned to Halle to complete his dissertation topic, entitled “Heraklit: eine Studie über den energetischen Grundgedanken seiner Philosophie” (“Heraclitus: A Study of the Energetic Fundamental Thought of his Philosophy”). It was, as Klaus Fischer observes, “a daring subject for a young scholar because Heraclitus had only left a few and highly cryptic fragments of his thought.”[10] Spengler, however, dared, and presented the first form of his thesis in 1903, but failed the oral defence. Despite his own typically depressed personality, however, he was not downtrodden at the failure; rather, he agreed with almost every criticism that was offered against his work—in his autobiography he called himself “naïve”. He had not, as most biographers observe, consulted any professors on his thesis before submitting it, and therefore had made errors and omissions that one only really avoids from consultation and discussion of one’s work.[11] The primary complaint was his lack of citations. He would repeat this mistake with the first edition of Decline of the West in 1917, writing the book entirely alone and isolated from the outside world—after initial criticism of the book he would revisit and largely revise the text, such that when it arrived in second edition in 1922 he had fixed most of his errors, but did not, as the academics insisted he should, increase the number of citations.

Spengler received his Ph.D. in 1904 and immediately went on to pass State examinations in a number of subjects that allowed him to become a Gymnasium teacher. His first assignment was a major turning point in his life, when he resolved not to be a teacher after stepping off the train in the little town of Lüneburg, taking a glance about at the town and the school and realising how terribly provincial his life would be. Spengler promptly boarded a train for his home town of Blankenburg and had a nervous breakdown. From this point forward he resolved to use teaching as a support for his true passions of study and writing. He recovered from his breakdown and took a different assignment, this time in Saarbrücken, happy to be so close to the French border that would allow him to take several holidays in France.[12] After a year there, he moved on to Düsseldorf, where he taught for another year before taking on a permanent (or so it appeared at the time) position in Hamburg.

Spengler flourished in these cities of big industry and metropolitan life—despite his writings criticising money power and the soul-stealing metropolis, Spengler remained a cosmopolitan urbanite throughout his life. An attestation to this aspect of his personality is his behaviour while teaching. Spengler remembered his days in the Franckean Latina with mixed disdain for the parochial moralists he had as teachers and gratitude for the training he received. He resolved, in the words of Klaus Fischer, “to avoid the foibles commonly attributed to schoolteachers: pedantry, narrow provincialism, and incivility” and made an effort to keep himself fully attuned to the petty culture of fashion and the latest advances in his scholarly fields (he taught German, mathematics, and geography). He would also frequent the theatre (where he would weep easily at especially moving plots and concertos) and local museums—in Düsseldorf he was even spotted frequently in the casino, a place quite foreign to most schoolteachers![13] His time in teaching, however, was short-lived. By almost all accounts Spengler hated Hamburg, not for itself, nor because he disliked the people, his colleagues or his students—indeed in all these respects he was well-respected and well-loved and returned these feelings of affection—but because of the weather. The cold, wet north German city terrorised him, increasing the acuteness and the frequency of his chronic headaches to such a degree that he took a year sabbatical in 1911 from which he would never return. His immediate plans were a holiday in Italy, where he would sojourn frequently in imitation of Goethe.[14]

His complete departure from teaching, much to the disappointment of both colleagues and students, who regarded him as a superlative teacher and amicable fellow, was by and large decided by his mother’s death in 1910. He had little regard for his mother, who psychologically tortured his sister Gertrude, disdained his other sister Hildegard, and was no kinder to his beloved sister Adele.[15] While he marked his father’s passing in 1901 with reflections of the latter’s loyalty to Prussia, his mother’s death was marked only with his inheritance and departure from his childhood home, leaving his sister Adele to dissolve the household.[16] Adele, a frustrated bohemian and largely talentless aspiring virtuoso, quickly spent the 30,000DM she inherited and committed suicide in 1917. Oswald’s inheritance, on the other hand, was wisely invested and used with some measure of thrift, giving him a comfortable lifestyle in Munich and allowing him to pursue his desire to be a writer.

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At first, Spengler hadn’t the slightest idea what to write about. In Heraklit he displayed some of the budding thought which came to fruition as his magnum opus, to be sure. In one of the thicker sections of notes for Eis Heauton, the author proclaims that “my great book, Untergang des Abendlandes, was already emotionally conceived in my twentieth year” (four years before he would submit his doctoral thesis).[17] Farrenkopf observes that Spengler’s dissertation bears the marks of Decline as well, declaring that “what Spengler later attempted as a philosopher of history is analogous to what he claimed Heraclitus had accomplished in Greek philosophy”.[18] The true inspiration for Decline, however, came not from Heraclitus nor from Goethe or Nietzsche; nor did it come to him, as it did with Gibbon and Toynbee, from a physical visit to any landmarks. Rather, the genesis of Decline of the West was in a much different, political work titled Liberal and Conservative, which Spengler began writing in response to the Agadir Crisis of 1911.

Agadir, briefly put, was an attempt on the part of Kaiser Wilhelm II to imitate the American support of the Panamanian rebellion against Columbia, which was accomplished by placing the American fleet off the coast of Panama to prevent Columbian intervention. When Moroccans rebelled against the puppet Sultan Abdelhafid after years of allowing his country to be exploited by European powers, the French offered to support Fez by sending in troops. Wilhelm attempted to assert German interests in the region by sending the gunboat Panther to the harbour of Agadir, much to the chagrin of the French, who would later take over Morocco as part of their colonial Empire, and the British, who viewed the act as a challenge to their own power and a threat to peace in Europe. The end result of the whole event was a strengthened Entente cordiale that would eventually become the Allied Powers in the First World War.

Spengler was keenly aware of the situation at the time, and took on the task of writing a book on the subject that would contrast German and British world-aims and national spirits. The general thrust of this work would become his later work Prussianism and Socialism of 1919, but as he worked on Liberal and Conservative, he found his topic broadening more and more, to the point where he was taking into account not the national rivalries of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but the great trials and tribulations of entire civilisations over the course of millennia. Thus the work transformed into the first volume of his Decline of the West, the title of which he probably derived from discovering Otto Seeck’s Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt (“History of the Downfall of the Ancient World” or The History of the Decline of Antiquity) in a store-front window.[19] He would complete the work over the next few years, well into the World War, about which he maintained a positive outlook, to the extent that his introduction to the first volume of Decline, appearing in 1917, bore the hope of the author (omitted in Atkinson’s translation) that “this book might not stand entirely unworthy next to the military achievements of Germany.”[20]

The book that took shape was sweeping in scale, painting the picture of a broad history of mankind as the life cycle(s) of massive organisms to which Spengler gave two names: Kultur and Zivilisation, each representing the youth and the adulthood of the organism. These organisms passed through four seasons of life—(as Kultur) Spring, Summer, (as Zivilisation) Autumn, and Winter—before passing from existence and leaving the soil to which it is tied to give rise to a new organism. A more detailed discussion of the theory may be required before departing into Spengler’s life after the War and the publication of Decline.

Decline of the West and its Influences

Der Untergang des Abendlandes occurs as a part of a long tradition of German historical writing, dating from the early nineteenth century and in which the giants of the field, both famous and infamous, stand: G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Heinrich von Treitschke, Leopold von Ranke, Heinrich Friedjung, among others. It also occurs as a part of a long tradition of German philosophy and social thought, dating even further into history and starting, not with the rational Kant, but with the intuitive and romantic, sometimes quasi-mystical writings of Goethe, following to Nietzsche, Ferdinand Tönnies, Max Weber, and still more. More can be said of Spengler’s influences, and has been said in the works of Farrenkopf and Fischer on the subject, but a brief discussion of chief influences will be sufficient for our purposes.

osimagep.jpgIf Spengler was the first to propose a World-Historical view, as he claims in the early pages of Decline, Leopold von Ranke preceded him by for the first time proposing a European-Historical view in his two-volume Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation (“German History in the Age of Reformation”) of 1845/47.[21] Ranke wrote a history which belongs to a very specific school of historical inquiry, dependent on objectivity and a slice of historical fact drawn from primary source work with bearing only on that exact moment in history, showing things wie es eigentlich gewesen, as he proclaims in his 1824 work Geschichte der romanischen und germanischen Völker von 1494 bis 1514 (“History of the Latin and Teutonic Peoples, 1494-1514”). For all his efforts at objectivity in history, he was a firm believer in the balance of power of nation-states, and his loyalty to this state philosophy bleeds through in his writing. He is significant to Spengler in that both men sought to broaden historical inquiry into an objective rather than national project, and that Spengler was certainly beholden to the school of narrative historicism that Ranke would found, inasmuch as his project was heavily criticised by more loyal Rankeans than himself.

Spengler’s other major historical inheritance was G.W.F. Hegel, who stood with Ranke in his typical nineteenth century fascination with the nation-state but was completely opposed to Ranke’s objective, slice-of-history approach, demanding a broader view, and the ability to see the future in the past. Hegel was also a dedicated Prussian, much like Spengler’s father and Spengler himself—so much so, in fact, that he is among several German historians of preceding centuries who are mentioned by Shirer in his fumbling, attempt to link National Socialism and the Prussian state in Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. His declaration in Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (“Elements of the Philosophy of Right”) that “the course of God in the world—that is the State—and its foundation is the mighty force of Reason actualising itself as Will” is reflected in Spengler’s own firm belief in the role of fate in the lifespan of Kultur-Zivilisation organisms.[22] Furthermore, like Hegel, Spengler’s history is a designated march to a designated end: for Hegel, the “end of history” is a progressive, linear movement from antiquity to modernity and the pinnacle of mankind’s development—a belief that has earned Hegel accusations of arrogance and stubbornness, among other things, from detractors. He would pass this view onto his student Karl Marx, who proclaimed the same progression, but from a strictly economic view, of modes of production through history, culminating in the elimination of alienation and the realisation of Species-being in Communism. The difference between the Hegelian and Marxian view of history and Spengler, however, is two-fold: while the given lifespan of a Kultur-Zivilisation organism can be viewed as linear, it is a downward motion rather than the upward motion Hegel and Marx see; further, there is no single linear history of all mankind, the way Hegel and Marx see it. Quite the contrary, Spengler echoes Goethe, declaring that “‘Mankind’ is a zoological concept or merely an empty word.”[23]

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It seems contradictory, of course, that Spengler would reject that “mankind” exists while attempting very earnestly to write a “world-history.” As much as Spengler reflects Hegel and Ranke as historical predecessors, his views of the organism of society bear the marks of Ferdinand Tönnies, whose famous work Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft would practically found the discipline of sociology, influencing both Max Weber’s seminal The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism as well as Emile Durkheim’s functional theories of society.[24] Tönnies summarises his project in Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft in the very first page, saying “The connexion will be understood either as real and organic – this being the nature of the Gemeinschaft – or in an ideological and mechanistic form – this being the notion of Gesellschaft” and further summarising the difference between the two by saying that, “all that is familiar, private, living together exclusively (we find) is understood as life in a Gemeinschaft. Gesellschaft is the public sphere, it is the World”.[25]

Spengler’s structure of the communal, agrarian Kultur passing into individualised, urban Zivilisation has much in common with Tönnies’ conception of the organic Gemeinschaft and its artificial counterpart Gesellschaft. It is also important to bear in mind that the key to the Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft schema is two-fold—both the contrast of the private with the public spheres as well as the organic with the artificial—when considering Spengler’s own contrast of the representative of Kultur, which is the “country-town” with the representative of Zivilisation, which is the megalopolis. As Spengler says himself, “long ago the country bore the country-town and nourished it with her best blood. Now the giant city sucks the country dry, insatiably and incessantly demanding and devouring fresh streams of men, till it wearies and dies in the midst of an almost uninhabited waste of country.”[26]

The contrast of the organic with the artificial, the personal with the impersonal, and the village with the city runs throughout Spengler’s whole structure. Spengler’s vision is two-fold: both the binary progression of Kultur crystallising and stagnating into Zivilisation as well the four-phase life cycle that all Kultur-Zivilisation structures (or, more properly, organisms) follow. Describing this, Spengler uses two sets of terms: organic terms, describing the actual birth, growth, decline, and death of the Kulture-Zivilization organism as a life form, and the fatalistic language for which he has been so criticised: he declares “the Civilisation is the inevitable destiny of a Culture… Civilisations are… a conclusion, the thing-become succeeding the thing-becoming, death following life”.[27] The central concept there—Werden and Gewordene, “becoming” and “become”—are ideas for which Spengler is deeply indebted (as he admits) to Goethe, and play strong role in the contrast he makes between the vivacious, developing Kultur and the stagnant, crystallised Zivilisation.[28]

These Kultur-Zivilisation organisms are detailed in three tables he includes in his work: the first details the passage of Spring-Summer-Autumn-Winter, which for the Occident begins in 900, after the Carolingian period and the final death of Antiquity, and ends (or begins to end) with modernity, completely the roughly thousand-year lifespan which Spengler assigns to his Kultur-Zivilisation organisms (except those of the far east). Each Kultur-Zivilisation organism has a symbol which accompanies it in the Kultur phase; for the West it is infinite space; for the Egyptian, the long corridor; the Semitic, the cavern; the Greeks, the idealised statue, etc. Spengler also specifically names three of the “souls” of these organisms with especial bearing on the Occident. The West itself is “Faustian” defined by Goethe’s own character and his constant outward-reaching for knowledge and more; Antiquity, which the West has replaced, is “Apollonian”, a term readily borrowed from Nietzsche, defined by the Nietzschean Apollonian rationality and thirst for worldly perfection; finally, the Semitic, being Jewish, Arabic, etc. is a sort of mixed Kultur-Zivilisation organism called “Magian”, after the mystics who visited the birth of the Christ-child, and is defined by the preoccupation with essence rather than space.

9200000078648382.jpgThe Magian requires some further discussion, since it represents for Spengler a different “mutation” (to keep with the biological sense of an organism) of the main species of Kultur-Zivilizationen. This is because of a process Spengler describes in the second volume of Decline called “pseudomorphosis”. He asserts in the first volume that the “Arabian soul was cheated of its maturity—like a young tree that is hindered and stunted in its growth by a fallen old giant of the forest,” but after critiques of the work began to circulate back to him, realised that this was inadequate to explain the unique situation that the Magian Kultur-Zivilisation finds itself.[29] He therefore suggests a parallel with mineralogy, pointing the phenomenon of “pseudomorphosis”, by which volcanic molten rock flows into spaces left by washed away minerals in the hollows of rocks; likewise, since the Arabian culture’s pre-historical period is encompassed by Babylonian Civilization, and later as it develops it is stunted by Antiquity with the Roman conquest of Egypt.[30] Spengler sees a similar occurrence with the Russian Kultur-Zivilisation, which is pressed between the Faustian Kultur-Zivilisation and the Asiatic hordes which repeatedly conquer it. He maintains even in his last work, Jahre der Entscheidung, that the Bolshevist revolution represented a part of this pseudomorphosis that Russia is experiencing: “Asia has conquered Russia back from “Europe” to which it had been annexed by Peter the Great”.[31]

This is the structure within which the subject of Spengler’s title exists. Spengler remarked on his title at length in an essay titled “Pessimismus?” (“Pessimism?”) appearing in the Preußischer Jahrbücher in 1921:

But there are men who confuse the downfall [literally “going under”] of Antiquity with the sinking of an ocean liner. The notion of a catastrophe is not contained in the word. If one said—instead of downfall—completion, an expression that is linked in a special way with Goethe’s thought, the “pessimistic” side is removed without the real sense of the term having been altered.[32]

He is not, therefore, discussing a cataclysmic event that would bring about the end of Western civilisation, though no doubt much of the appeal of his work was the recent catastrophe of the Great War. What he sees instead is a general inadequacy in the trends coming out of his contemporary West, which the Great War only compounded. Faustian civilisation had come to stagnate with the rise of bourgeois economists; as he says, “through the economic history of every Culture there runs a desperate conflict waged by the soil-rooted tradition of a race, by its soul, against the spirit of money”.[33] The capitalism and industrialisation of liberal Europe represents the bleeding dry of the soul of Faustian Kultur; it, too, however, shall pass in the coming Ceasarism of the Faustian Winter that Spengler predicts. He speaks of “the sword” being triumphant over money-power and finance capital, bringing about the final period of where violence of spirit triumphs and is marked by the rise of the “Caesars”, demagogues who will bring about a Western World Imperium that Spengler envisioned being headed by Germany. It is worth noting that John Farrenkopf believes this to remain an accurate prediction for America, which Spengler himself discounted, as most Europeans at the time, as an adolescent child of Europe, hardly capable of contributing to Faustian Zivilisation in any great way.

It is, at last, important to note that while Spengler offers this structure that explains history, it is not his intent to “save” the Occident. He participated in politics that would, in his view, further the progression of Faustian Zivilization out of its Autumn and into Winter, but, in true Nietzschean fashion, he encourages his readers to adopt an amor fati toward the decline of their Kultur-Zivilisation. Indeed, the hope one retains after reading Spengler is of a peculiar kind—since all Kultur-Zivilisationen are destined to wither and die, the Faustian man should embrace the destruction of the Occident with an eye to the subsequent Kultur-Zivilisation organism that will take its place, which Spengler predicts will be Russian, a society which due to close contact to both the Occidental and Asian Kultur-Zivilisation organisms has not been able to come into itself—in short, it is not yet Werden, existing in the historyless period that marks the beginning and end of every Kultur-Zivilisation organism.

The Conservative Revolutionary (Political Writings and Speeches, 1919-1924)

The Decline of the West marks a high-point in Spengler’s life, and also a turning point for both his own life and the life of Germany as a whole. Decline appeared complete in two volumes in 1922, four years after Germany’s defeat in the First World War and in the midst of the Weimar Republic struggling to get on its feet. As mentioned above, this contributed greatly to the book’s circulation, though it is unclear how many enthusiasts made an effort to read the entire text. Spengler found himself now ushered into higher intellectual circles, battling with intellectual greats over the value of his work, and once again able to enjoy the delicacies he had to go without for the duration of the War (he wrote that much of the work he did on Decline was done by candlelight). In 1919 he joined such famous names as Hermann Alexander Graf Keyserling (for his seminal work Reisetagebuch eines Philosophen, “Travel-Diary of a Philosopher”) and distinguished Kant scholar Dr. Hans Vaihinger (for his work Philosophie des Als Ob, “The Philosophy of As-If”) in being awarded the Nietzsche Archives’ “Distinguished Scholar Award” with an academic diploma and the sum of 1,500.00DM (roughly $45.00 in 1919).[34]

Despite his acute sense of the depressing reality of his work, Spengler was materially well-off and led a generally comfortable life because of its popularity. He moved from the small flat where he had written Decline during the war to a spacious apartment that overlooked the Isar River. He decorated it with a variety of fine paintings, Chinese and Greek-styled vases, and other pieces obtained at auctions or gifted to him by admirers, and shocked visitors with his vast library, which literally lined the walls of his new home. He covered the fine hard-wood floors with even finer rugs, most markedly a strikingly red carpet in his office upon which he was known to pace endlessly in the night while he worked.[35] He was, though, of relatively modest tastes, and was frugal with his money. He took holidays to Italy frequently, but otherwise only left Germany when another party could pay for his travel; his tastes at home included trips to the theatre, fine wines, and a regular supply of dark cigars. He never hired a housekeeper or married, and his sister Hildegard, widowed by the World War, would keep house for him. He rarely entertained and continued to devote himself to work. His work now, though, was not strictly scholarly.

41-idJ1g3nL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgA well-known name now, Spengler began to take a greater interest in politics than he had hitherto. He wrote to Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz in 1920 regarding the recovery of the flag from the SMS Scharnhorst, which was sunk in the Battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914, taking Admiral Maximillian Graf von Spee to the bottom with it; the flag, Spengler wrote, had fallen into the hands of an anti-German party who wished to send it to Britain to be a trophy of war, something offensive to Spengler as a German nationalist.[36] Admiral von Tirpitz replied that he would refer the matter to the admiralty, but the flag was undoubtedly not that from the Scharnhorst’s main post, which went down flying, and therefore the value of the demands of the original owners for the flag (50,000-60,000DM) was probably not equal even to its sentimental value. The admiral added, probably much to Spengler’s satisfaction, that he had thoroughly enjoyed reading Prussianism and Socialism, and wrote “I only wish that your ideas could find response in the Marxist-infected working classes.”[37]

The work Admiral Tirpitz praised so highly was Spengler’s second attempt to reflect on the Agadir crisis and the significance of German and British relations. Prussianism and Socialism appears in English translation by Donald O. White with a number of other shorter articles that Spengler penned in the early 1920s. The work appears in White’s 1967 collection Selected Essays, which is roughly a translation of Politischen Schriften, but making some omissions and drawing also from Rede und Aufsätze. The overall collection gives a decent introductory glance at Spengler’s social and political thought, which merits it some exposition here. Other works included in it are “Pessimism?”, which was written as a response to the charge levelled against Decline, his two speeches “The Two Faces of Russia and Germany’s Eastern Problems” (delivered to a conference of influential Ruhr industrialists in 1922) and “Nietzsche and his Century” (delivered at a conference hosted by the Nietzsche Archive in 1924 before Spengler severed ties with Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche because of her alignment with Hitler ten years later), another short essay titled “On the German National Character”, published in 1927, and finally a brief response given by Spengler to a query posited internationally by Hearst International’s The Cosmopolitan, titled “Is World Peace Possible?”, which was published in what White calls “barely adequate translation” in 1936 alongside answers from Mohandas K. Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, General Billy Mitchell, and Lin Yu-tang.[38]

Prussianism and Socialism abandons Spengler’s earlier, less informed political alignment with the Kaiser, but beyond this minor change it expresses and sets the tone for almost all of Spengler’s other political writings before and after, including his final major work, Hour of Decision. It is also the work that initiated Spengler’s name into the collection of intellectuals and aristocrats that formed the “Conservative Revolution” movement in Weimar Germany. The names he is included with range from the completely obscure to the internationally famous. Among them are obscure authors like Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, for his work, later appropriated by the Nazis, Das Dritte Reich (1923—available in English as Germany’s Third Empire) and Edgar Julius Jung, who is seen as the leader of the movement, for his work Die Herrschaft der Minderwertigen (“The Reign of the Mediocre”, 1927), and more famously for Franz von Papen’s “Marburg Speech”, the last open condemnation of Nazism made in Weimar Germany. However, members of the movement also included men like the internationally acclaimed Ernst Jünger, for his famous memoir of the World War, In Stahlgewittern (first published in 1920 and having been revised by the author 7 times, it is now available in very good translation by Michael Hoffmann as Storm of Steel), Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis (“Battle as Inner Experience”, 1922), Das Wäldchen 125 (“Copse 125”, 1925) and Feuer und Blut (“Fire and Blood”, 1925) as well as the famous and widely translated Carl Schmitt, now well known for his works Die Diktatur (1921—now available in translation as On Dictatorship), Politische Theologie (1922—available as Political Theology), Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus (1923—now available in a good translation by Ellen Kennedy titled The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy), and his extremely significant Der Begriff des Politischen (1926—now available as The Concept of the Political). The unifying feature of the movement was a desire to bridge the gap between nationalist conservatism and socialism, though another major factor was the distaste that all the men had for Adolf Hitler and his, in the words of Moeller van den Bruck, “proletarian primitiveness”.[39]

Spengler’s interactions with other conservatives were largely done through his involvement in the Juniclub (“June Club”) a gathering of Conservatives and Monarchists who shared Spengler’s hatred of the Versailles Treaty (commonly known in Germany as the Versailles Diktat because of the lack of input allowed from the German delegation). Among the group’s founding members was Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, with whom Spengler had many encounters from 1919 until Moeller’s suicide in 1925 through lectures that both gave to the Juniclub. At the Juniclub he also had the opportunity to meet and begin correspondence with Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, Walther Rathenau, Erich Ludendorff, Hans von Seeckt, and create friendships and lasting ties to major industrialists like Paul Reusch, Roderich Schlubach, Alfred Hugenberg, Karl Helfferich, and Hugo Stinnes.[40] Aside from Moeller, however, his encounters with the other major thinkers of the Conservative Revolutionary movement seemed few; he had some contact later with Jung, who wrote him on several occasions. However, his major inclination during his years of involvement with the Juniclub was toward becoming actively involved in conservative politics, not merely being a theoretician. His ambitions during this time were as disparate and far-flung as leading German intellectuals into politics and founding a newspaper cartel in imitation of William Randolph Hearst.[41]

SpenglerAD.jpgSpengler’s letters during this time are often brief (owing to his preference for meeting people rather than writing them) and to a wide variety of people, including invitations to tea with Erich Ludendorff and his wife, which he maintained as a regular affair until Ludendorff’s involvement in the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. There was also an extended correspondence with the German government regarding interaction with General Jan C. Smuts, who had invited General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (with whom Spengler also corresponded) to a dinner for African commanders of the war.[42] He also met semi-regularly, it would seem, with the Prussian royal family; Crown Prince Wilhelm wrote him a number of times, and Spengler sent copies of his magnum opus to Huis Doorn. He also managed to elicit a positive response from Gregor Strasser, a prominent rival of Hitler’s in the National Socialist party who was murdered in the Night of the Long Knives.[43]

Spengler, however, remained primarily a theoretician; he met many men with whom he had lasting friendships, but he was not a man of political action and he was acutely aware of that. Throughout his brief political career, he was advised by friends not to waste his genius on petty affairs of state, and he eventually gave in and retreated from public life in 1924 after five years of immense popularity and prolific writing. In addition to the one or two speeches and articles in the White collection, in 1924 alone Spengler published Frankreich und Europa (“France and Europe”), Aufgaben des Adels (“Tasks of the Nobility”), Politische Pflichten der deutschen Jugend (“Political Duties of the German Youth”), Neubau des deutschen Reiches (“Reconstruction of the German Reich”), Neue Formen der Weltpolitik (“New Forms of Global Politics”) all of which were derived from speeches and lectures he had given at the Juniclub or at various Industrial clubs and conferences during his involvement there. Some of them, including Politische Pflichten and Neubau would appear in Spengler’s Politischen Schriften of 1932, the others would only be published together in 1937 in the posthumous Reden und Aufsätze collection. The works, all expressing a common theme of the necessity to “reclaim socialism” from Marx and bring about a new birth of “Prussianism” in the German population, brought Spengler immense notoriety in Germany while Decline was making its way through foreign circles. Other presentations included his Das Verhältnis von Wirtschaft und Steuerpolitik seit 1750 (“The Relationship of Economy and Tax Policy since 1750”, 1924). His lectures drew tremendous crowds and he participated in a number of public debates between 1919 and 1924.

Prussianism and Socialism: A Brief Glance

Of all Spengler’s political writings and speeches, both from his public career and after, the most detailed and the most significant remains Prussianism and Socialism. In the work, Spengler makes two arguments, one unique to his own time and one with far-reaching relevance. The work’s principal argument surrounds the “true German spirit” with “the German Michel”, which Spengler declares “the sum of all our weaknesses: our fundamental displeasure at turns of events that demand attention and response; our urge to criticise at the wrong time; our pursuit of ideals instead of immediate action; our precipitate action at times when careful reflection is called for; our Volk as a collection of malcontents; our representative assemblies as glorified beer gardens.”[44] The thrust of the work is a contrast between “English” parliamentarianism and liberalism, which the “German Michel” typifies, the Marxist socialist movement of the Sparticists, which at least has the integrity that the “German Michel” lacked, and real “German” socialism, which Spengler ties to Prussian military spirit and civic duty to create the “Prussian socialism” that he insists is the only way to bring about a rebirth of the German Reich.

The opening of Prussianism and Socialism declares the same sense of destiny found in Decline, quoting Seneca's aphorism ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt (“Fate leads along the willing soul and drags the unwilling”).[45] He declares that “the spirit of Old Prussia and the socialistic attitude, at present driven by brotherly hatred to combat each other, are in fact one in the same”, defining “socialism” itself, which he claims “everyone thinks… means something different”.[46] Spengler’s hero of socialism is August Bebel, the Marxist founder of the SPD who was famously born in a Prussian army barracks. He praises Bebels’ party for its “militant qualities…the clattering footsteps of workers’ battalions, a calm sense of determination, good discipline, and the courage to die for a transcendent principle” and damns the SPD in power in the Weimar Republic for abandoning the revolution and throwing in its lot with the “foe of yesteryear” and encouraging the Freikorps to crush the Spartacists, who Spengler felt “retained a modicum of integrity”.[47] It is not the Marxism of the Social Democrats Spengler admires, however; rather, it is their integrity and their dedication to their beliefs—something that simply does not exist for the “German Michel”, the contemporary parliamentarian.

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He goes on to condemn the “so-called German Revolution” that took place in November, saying that the Germans “produced pedants, schoolboys, and gossips in the Paulskirche and in Weimar, petty demonstrations in the streets, and in the background a nation looking on with faint interest”—not at all what a real revolution entails, but something feeble, something belonging to the parliamentarian and the “German Michel”.[48] Spengler establishes the foundation of Prussian Socialism with “the real German Socialist Revolution” which he says happened in 1914—a real revolution because it involved “the whole people: one outcry, one brazen act, one rage, one goal”.[49] He further asserts that the revolution is not over—a notion he expands on in later speeches and essays. The Revolution of the German people cannot come to full fruition for Spengler and his fellow conservatives, until the German nation is truly born—for 1918 in Germany was not 1789 in France; the nation and the revolution were not the same.

He concludes that “Socialism is not an instinct of dark primeval origin… it is, rather, a political, social, and economic instinct of realistically-minded peoples, as such it is a product of one stage of our civilisation—not of our culture.”[50] He asserts a thoroughly modern origin and a thoroughly modern role for socialism: the realistic, the enemy of the dictatorship of money and capitalism, defined in socialistic form by a sense of duty to the whole, that whole being the German nation. It is in this way that “all Germans are workers”, so that the failing of Marx, he asserts, is his inability to grasp anything more in Hegel, “who by and far represented Prussianism at its best” than mere method.[51] Marx misleads socialism by creating class antagonism when in reality the bourgeois is a meaningless term, Spengler asserts—and the real enemy is the English spirit of mercantilism and parliamentarianism of the feeble “German Michel”; it is not worker against burgher, nor burgher against elite, but German against the Englishman in himself. This is why the German Revolution is incomplete: because the national revolution that unites and brings about the birth of the German nation has not been achieved.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of this and subsequent political texts is the complete absence of any mention of Germany’s Jews. Spengler did not believe, as many of his day did, that the Jewish people had any connexion to parliamentarianism or Marxism or Capitalism or any other distinctly Western phenomenon; rather Western man was at war with himself and himself alone in the conflict between Prussian Socialism and English Mercantilism, between Revolution and Cowardice. He calls Marx “an exclusively English thinker”, unable to see beyond mere economics and ignoring the notion of everyone working for the whole, but each in his own destined place—the King for Spengler’s socialist is “the first servant of the state”, in the highest place among the rest of the nation serving a single, national goal. It is such a different picture than the typical anti-Bolshevik stance in Germany that never tired of reminding the world of Marx’s Jewish origins (his grandfather was a rabbi). This, for Spengler, was as much a simplification as Marx’s class antagonism, because it directed anger and action toward an invented foe instead of directing it toward corrective measures in the West itself.

The Hermit-Scholar (Return to Private Life 1924-1930)

After he retreated from public life, Spengler returned to the lonely life of the hermit scholar, and rededicated himself to work on the theories put forth in Decline. His re-entry into politics was prevented both my deteriorating health as well as a decrease in opportunity with the rising tide of National Socialism. Of all the Conservative Revolutionary thinkers, only Jünger and Schmitt would live to see the Second World War, and their literary lives were even shorter; Spengler was silenced by the Nazi state as early 1933, Jung was murdered, along with several of Spengler’s friends, in the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, and Moeller van den Bruck had a nervous breakdown and committed suicide as early as 1925. Others, like Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Stefan George (especially famous for his Das Neue Reich of 1928), died of natural causes, Hofmannsthal of a stroke in 1929, George four years later of old age. It is indubitable with his voracious appetite for the latest works that Spengler encountered these men through their writing, but no correspondence between them exists. This is not terribly surprising—Spengler wrote letters when he felt the passion to do so (such as to Admiral Tirpitz), or when it furthered his studies (such as the many letters to academics and professors). This was not out of a dislike of people; rather, it was because he detested the task of writing letters and preferred to grant an interview or meet with friends in person, something he did frequently—his sister, Hilde, who became primary caretaker of his estate after his death, remarked that “he always disliked writing letters, even when he was a child.”[52] Those political letters he did write he wisely burned in 1933 to protect himself and others from the National Socialist state.

The return to private living gave Spengler a tremendous opportunity to begin scholarly work again after some years of pamphleteering (something he himself hated, remarking to a friend in 1919, referring to Prussianism and Socialism that “I am not a born journalist and consequently I wrote out 500 pages of rough draft in four weeks and then started paring to get 100 pages of readable German. I realise now how I ought to work and shall never again accept any assignment that carries a deadline with it”).[53] He never ceased his correspondences with high-level academics and contributors in almost every field of study, but after 1924 he was able to begin to write more widely. He wrote frequently to Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche and it was in 1924 after his departure from public life that he presented his paper “Nietzche and His Century”.

From 1925 onward his time was dominated by lectures, correspondences, and his old reading habits. He took several holidays in Italy and elsewhere, and as early as 1925 was in correspondence with Benito Mussolini, who would write a review of Hour of Decision in 1933 for Il Popolo d’Italia in December of that year. The Italian dictator, it would seem, was somewhat reserved about Spengler, who he felt tread close to Fascism but was not close enough.[54] He was not alone; after Spengler’s retreat from politics, was when his works came under heaviest fire from popular political personalities. His correspondence with Gregor Strasser in 1925 displays the chief dispute with Spengler, which seems to be his dislike of “popular movements”, like National Socialism, which he regarded as vulgar and mob-driven.[55] Aside from these, however, the bulk of his letters are not with political men but with academics.

lelivr_R240137969.jpgThe reason for this likely had much to do with Germany’s growing stability after 1925. Arthur Helps, who translated Spengler’s letters, suggests that Spengler left the public sphere precisely because of this; however, it is more likely that Spengler simply tired of the time he spent in the public eye—the constant assault of attention from both enthusiastic supporters and detractors of all stripes wore on the man whose sensitivity was well-known only to his sister and perhaps very close friends. He was a man who throughout his life was soft-hearted and sympathetic, ever striving to overcome the little boy whose nightmares in his bedroom in Halle haunted him vividly until he was well into his forties; the image he had inadvertently created of the hard-hearted, iron-willed prophet of doom was not an easy persona for him to fulfil on a constant basis, and put tremendous stress on his body. Fischer observes in his biographical sketch that “he agonised about his weaknesses with the same honesty as Rousseau did in the Confessions, with the difference that Spengler rarely tried to project his shortcomings on society… [he] believed that, in the final analysis, the individual has to assume responsibility for his own weaknesses”.[56]

Spengler’s physical weaknesses became acute during his time in politics, as the stress increased his headaches and other ailments. In 1925, rarely does a letter mention an illness or time of sickness—he seemed to recover from his ailments from getting away from stress of politics and the dismal state in which he perceived his beloved German Reich to be. He took cures in the sun of Italy, writing in February of 1925 from Palermo, after which he travelled to Rome and elsewhere.[57] In 1926, deep in the scholarly world once again, Spengler was invited by the Philosophical Congress in the United States to travel to America and conduct a lecture tour (C.F. Atkinson’s translation of the first volume of Decline appeared that very year). His excuse for declining the offer was that he felt America would leave too deep an impression on him that would disrupt the work he was conducting on his latest book (still unfinished at his death), Urfragen (“Primordial Questions”). His letters are strewn with questions to experts and professors of ancient history after information about Babylonian tablets and other Middle Eastern interests.

These interests, as a preparation for Urfragen, had begun as early as 1924, when Spengler appeared before the Oriental Institute in Munich with a lecture titled “Plan eines neuen Atlas Antiquus” (“Plan for a new Atlas Antiquus”), which detailed the need of a new cartographic project to map the ancient world within the scope of the Apollonian Kultur-Zivilisation organism.[58] The general thrust of his work, whether this lecture or the later letters to colleagues, is a collaborative effort that would overcome the increasing specialisation of history already in its adolescence in Spengler’s day and still increasing in contemporary academic history. During subsequent years he also became first enthralled and then embroiled with the famous archaeologist and ethnographer of Africa, Leo Frobenius, whose initial agreement with cyclical history caught Spengler’s attention, but his argued proofs for slow, gradual development of civilisations drew the censure of the author of Decline, who believed in epochal moments rather than gradual evolution (he detested all forms of Darwinism). His correspondence took him in more positive directions with the famous Assyriologist Alfred Jeremias, who took an immense interest in Spengler’s work.

Most striking about Spengler’s time as a private scholar in the late 1920s was the vast amount of interest being generated in his works abroad. 1927 saw contacts coming from The New York Times attempting to solicit an article from him; the paper had featured him in full-page articles twice before, and after including him in an article “Will our Civilization Survive?” of 1925, hoped he might appear in print with them—they even offered a sum of $100, which was no small sum of money in Germany at the time.[59] No response to their inquest ever came, however, and it does not appear Spengler showed any interest in taking up any journalistic venture. A query that Spengler felt did merit response came from André Fauconnet, a professor at Poitiers whose Un philosophe allemeand contemporain Oswald Spengler. Le prophète du déclin de l'Occident (“A Contemporary German Philosopher: Oswald Spengler, the Prophet of the Decline of the Occident”) appeared in 1925. He also received an invitation to speak at the University of Saragossa, which promised he could speak in German and translations of his speech would be distributed beforehand.[60] Spengler accepted the engagement, spending the entire month of April of 1928 on holiday in Spain; he loved the climate and found the place to have a profoundly positive affect on his demeanour—he even did some mountain climbing. He wrote his sister Hilde from Granada (where he stayed for about a week), “Grenada is beautiful beyond all description… I could live here”, and, later that week, that “here every day pleases me better”.[61]

lelivr_R240137968.jpgDuring all of his touring and international correspondence, Spengler did manage to make one or two forays back into political life; the first occasion was a speech in Düsseldorf before the Industry-Club titled “Das heutige Verhältnis zwischen Weltwirtschaft und Weltpolitik” (“The Contemporary Relationship between World Economics and World Politics”) in 1926, and was solicited by Edgar Julius Jung a year later to make a speech before the German Student Union, historically a hotbed for right-wing politics. 1927 also saw him begin writing on the topic again, with “Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Deutschen Presse” (“Toward a Developmental History of the German Press”) appearing in the Der Zeitungsverlag and “Vom Deutscher Volkscharakter” (“On the German National Character”) appearing in Deutschland the same year. After some time of soliciting his attention, Richard Korherr also finally convinced Spengler to write a brief introduction to his thesis “Über den Geburtenrückgang” (“Regarding the Decline of Birthrates”) of two years previous, which the author had dedicated to Spengler. Korherr hounded Spengler with information of the thesis, especially when it was translated into Italian by deputies of Mussolini’s in 1928.[62] Spengler regarded the young student well, and congratulated him on his success; he would probably not have had so positive a view of the young Dr. Korherr twelve years later, when he became one of Heinrich Himmler’s most loyal lieutenants in executing the “Final Solution”.[63]

Cassandra (Last Writings and Death, 1930-1936)

The years of 1929 and 1930 were eventful for Germany, but for Spengler much of the same that he had experienced in the second half of the 1920s. His pessimism was beginning to be proven true, with the stock market crash in 1929 and the swift rise of National Socialist and German Communist party power in the shattered Weimar Republic. In September 1930, the results gave the Nazis 107 seats in the Reichstag, and increased the Communist seats from 54 to 77. When the Reichstag took its seats, no business could be conducted, with the National Socialist “delegates” showing up in full uniform, sometimes with flags, interrupting the proceedings with chants, shouts, and songs; the Communists, not to be outdone, followed suit, and together they made a mockery of what was left of Weimar democracy.[64] Spengler was generally not disappointed with the turn of events, and, having put his Urfragen project on hold, wrote a prolegomena to his planned work titled Der Mensch und die Technik (“Man and Technics”) in 1931.

The work can hardly be said to be of the same calibre as Decline or even of Prussianism and Socialism—but then, it was never meant to be. The most important introductory note that can be given on Man and Technics is that it is fundamentally meant to be a primer for planned works. It is, by and large, a restatement of things said in Decline, and an expansion on the relationship between human beings and the tools they create. Fischer describes the book by saying “Spengler tried to show that primitive man was a magnificent predatory animal who possessed two major advantages over other beasts of prey: a superior brain and ambidextrous hands.”[65] The work is a true experiment in Nietzschean psychology by Fischer’s estimate: a tragic conflict between a naturally savage and predatory human being with the moral codes he makes to contain his savagery, but he cannot flee from it, for as he develops his technology, he also develops his means of savagery, and therefore his savagery itself.[66]

In greater detail, the book develops themes of conflict between man and external nature as well. Farrenkopf highlights that Spengler sees a religious grounding for this conflict—a suggestion not lost on several subsequent environmentalists—declaring that Spengler “claims to have uncovered the ‘religious origins’ of Western technical thought in the meditations of early Gothic monks, who in their prayers and fastings wrung God’s secrets from Him.”[67] Farrenkopf, working at the turn of the twenty-first century, attempts to make Spengler the prophet of “climate change” and “ecological disasters”, and points to a thesis in his own work—that Spengler’s thought changed from Decline to his later works—to say that Spengler was arguing for the inevitable failure of mankind’s struggle against nature. Whether his thesis has merit or not is not really a line of inquiry this introduction need undertake, but the conflict and eventual failure of humankind because of its own “progress” is certainly present in the work. A line from Decline of the West, quoted above, accurately encapsulates the entire purpose of Man and Technics: “the giant city sucks the country dry, insatiably and incessantly demanding and devouring fresh streams of men, till it wearies and dies in the midst of an almost uninhabited waste of country.”[68]

The urban sprawl and disappearance of the “green belt” that contemporary commentators, especially in America, where there is so much of the “green belt”, have witnessed is somewhat captured in this picture. The dangers of an industrial dystopia and plea for an agrarian Reich was one also being preached by the National Socialists at this time—Walther Darré’s 1928 pamphlet “Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der nordischen Rasse” (“The Peasantry as the Life-source of the Nordic Race”) stands as a testament to that. The Nazis, though, were better at selling their message than Spengler was his own, primarily because of what each promised the German people. Spengler promised that the path of Western civilisation was destined and irreversible, and the coming destruction guaranteed by the very nature of Faustian man of his home-soil should be greeted with a Nietzschean amor fati. The Germans in 1931 were in no mood to hear that they were themselves to blame for their situation, and that it was an inescapable destiny.

The Nazis, on the other hand, gave the Germans an enemy—the Jews—that were causing this industrialisation and destruction of the nation, and if they could just get rid of them, there was a bright hope and future for Germans. The German people declared which message they preferred with dismal sales for Man and Technics, and subsequent tremendous victories at the ballot for the National Socialists. Hitler’s biographer, Lord Bullock gives a deep insight into the exact state of affairs; “taking 1928 as a measuring rod,” he declares, “the gains made by Hitler – close on thirteen million in four years – are still more striking,” adding that by early 1932, “with a voting strength of 13,700,000 electors, a party membership of over a million and a private army of 400,000 S.A. and S.S., Hitler was the most powerful political leader in Germany, knocking on the doors of the Chancellery at the head of the most powerful political party Germany had ever seen.”[69]

Spengler was shocked, if not a little appalled, by this turn of events. To Spengler, as he had been to Moeller, Adolf Hitler was an idiot in the scientific sense of the word: a vulgar proletarian clown shouting and flailing his arms and playing about in the muck, not a statesman who could lead Germany to her rebirth or a realistic forward-thinker. For the time being, though, there were few other options, and Spengler was willing to give the Führer the benefit of the doubt before meeting him—a meeting at which he hoped that his stature as one of Germany’s leading conservative intellectuals might moderate the Austrian firebrand somewhat.[70] He was dreadfully wrong.

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Spengler met with Hitler in 1933 at the invitation of the National Socialist Party, hoping to make use of Spengler’s sustained popularity. Fischer describes the meeting, of which little account exists on either side. It was Hitler, characteristically, who did most of the talking when the two men met, and used all of his well-accounted-for charm. Spengler was sufficiently fooled that Hitler, though a clown, was a well-meaning clown who basically wanted what was best for Germany. He nevertheless would remark later that “sitting next to him one did not gain the slightest inkling that he represented anything significant”—the jobless Austrian post-card painter may have built himself up into a powerful and captivating demagogue, but in the end he remained the disaffected young delinquent who wandered the streets of Munich and Vienna building a fantasy world in which he was important.[71] According to a popular anecdote, when the men had finished their encounter, Hitler asked Spengler for advice, to which the scholar enigmatically replied “watch your Praetorian guard!” a comment many have taken to be a bit of advice Hitler acted on in the Night of the Long Knives, when he purged his “praetorian guard” and replaced it—the S.A.—with a new one, the S.S. There is no evidence that this is accurate, but if it is, as Fischer asserts, it would be the first time Spengler had any direct influence on a public leader.[72]

It was not long, however, before the spell of Hitler’s charm over coffee wore off. The Nazis went on to preach a proletarian utopian future founded fundamentally in scapegoating the Jews and answering Germany’s problems with “party-theatre” of mass rallies and a well-tuned propaganda machine. It was in answer to the delusions of the National Socialist political machine that Spengler wrote his final book, Jahre der Entscheidung (“Years of Decision”, more popularly known in translation as Hour of Decision) in 1933. This work, largely considered Spengler’s most overtly political and explicit in its message, was banned by the Nazis as soon as they figured out what was in it—which took them a full year, even after one of their own published a critique of the book (Arthur Zweininger’s Oswald Spengler im dritten Reich), by which time the book had already made it into English translation and had received extensive comment by The New York Times.[73] Spengler also, naïvely, sent a signed copy directly to Hitler, accompanied by an expression of hope that the two might meet and discuss the work in the future.[74] Hitler consented to meet, but disparaged Spengler’s pessimism in what he was selling as Germany’s brightest hour.

Jahre der Entscheidung
deserves some specific attention to be paid to it. The first thing worth mention is that it was originally intended to be the first volume of a several-volume work, but after it was banned in 1934, Spengler abandoned the work, writing Goebbels that he would only write the conclusions of his own mind and that he would “not write books for confiscation”.[75]

The press was especially cruel to the new work, evoking (despite Fischer’s claims to the opposite) a number of highly sympathetic letters to Spengler from old conservative colleagues like Alfred Hugenburg, Crown Prince Wilhelm, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler (later executed as a resistance leader), as well as some new names, including Grand Duke Joseph Franz von Habsburg, who was enthralled by the new work, and Rudolf Graber, a professor of Theology and later Bishop of Regensburg. Despite the press and the Nazis, however, the book was initially a tremendous success, especially compared with Man and Technics. Heinrich Beck wrote to Spengler in November of 1933 that “the success of your Jahre der Entscheidung already surpasses, at least as far as tempo is concerned, The Decline of the West. You will certainly be pleased and I am proud also of publishing such a book.”[76] The Roman Curia was also impressed, and allowed the book to be placed by the Cardinal Hayes Literature Committee in the “First Circle” of their “White List” for Roman Catholics in America; the section was named for the First Circle of Hell in Dante’s inferno, where honest pre-Christian thinkers who were valuable to Christianity resided—on the White List proper for that year were titles like Essays in History by Pope Pius XI.[77]

l_9783938176153.jpgThe contents of the book are significant not just for Spengler’s life, but to his overall philosophy as well. Spengler frequently uses what critics have called “fetishistic” terms in his works like “blood”, “race”, “soul”, etc. The accusations of critics were left largely unanswered until Jahre der Entscheidung, which saw Spengler for the first time seriously take on the task of defining what he meant by “race” especially. Benito Mussolini, at the time still in his virulent anti-racist stage, received a copy of the work almost immediately after it was published, and wrote a review of the work highlighting that “Spengler clearly wishes to differentiate his views from the vulgar, materialistic Darwinism now fashionable among anti-Semites in Europe and America” (words he was in fact borrowing from Spengler) and points to Spengler’s declaration that “ ‘racial unity’ is a grotesque phrase considering that for centuries all types and kinds have mixed.”[78]

Spengler does indeed use the word “race”; however, he defines against the biological racial theories of Chamberlain, Gobineau and the various authors of National Socialism. “Race” to Spengler was captured in a spiritual feeling or will of a culture—thus in Jahre der Entscheidung, even the Russians find themselves included in Spengler’s “Coloured World”. The Faustian soul—and the Faustian will—that is the Faustian “race”. Farrenkopf observes from reading Spengler’s unpublished political writings that “Race for Spengler meant having ‘strong instincts’”, something reflected in Gedanken, where Spengler says “Men without race are without Will. Indeed, the more of a “race” one has, the more resolute is his sense of self”.[79] Spengler references this notion in Man and Technics as well, concluding with the exemplary of a man with “strong race”, the legionary who kept his post in Pompey as Vesuvius erupted because his superiors had forgotten to relieve him; “It is greatness, namely to have race”.[80] This sort of conception of race is one that has fled the English and German languages (and most other languages, really) in the wake of the biological racialist movements of the early twentieth century, but is still present in English when one says “the human race”—but for Spengler, there is no “human race”, there are different spiritual types of humans. Farrenkopf quotes him “There are not any noble races. There are only noble specimens of all races.”[81]

With this sense of “race” in mind, Spengler portrays two revolutions taking place in the coming decades and centuries: a White World-Revolution and a Coloured World-Revolution, the former of which will be a class revolution, and the latter will be a racial revolution. As he suggested in Decline, the Occident is failing, and some other Kultur-Zivilisation organisms must come into itself in order to replace the dying Faustian Zivilisation. This is what is meant in the “Coloured World-Revolution”; a collapse of the Western direct control over the rest of the world and the beginning of a new birth. The “White World-Revolution”, on the other hand, will be one of class: not because of Bolshevism, but because of the liberalism that destroyed the social structure of the West in the Autumnal season and brought about the new sense of egalitarianism. These combined “World-Revolutions” must ultimately arise from a great World War which Spengler foresees in the near future; it is his hope that the War will set the West back on its path toward Ceasarism, and begin the final phase of decay which has been prevented, be believes, by the defeat of the “Prussian Spirit” in the First World War; he therefore proclaims at the end of the work that, “Only the militarist Prussian spirit remains as a shaping force, not only for Germany, but everywhere.”[82]

Farrenkopf offers the critique that Spengler does not sufficiently “probe” into “how geopolitical competition among non-Western powers will interact with the conflict between the West and the non-West”.[83] Nevertheless, for a German in a time of when the general feeling of the nation was one of peace and plenty, to foresee a world-shattering global conflict that would bring about a post-colonial age is hauntingly astute, and speaks to the significance of Spengler’s overall corpus to contemporary political and historical study. Another testament to his skills of prophecy is the very military power gained by the United States subsequent to the Second World War; Farrenkopf also observes that Spengler discounted America but nevertheless may be applied in an American paradigm.

With all the talk of “race” and the “militaristic Prussian spirit” and Spengler’s relationship to National Socialism, it seems fitting that a special word be said of Spengler’s relationship to the Jewish community. He himself found anti-Semitism especially abhorrent, and recognised it for exactly what it was: namely, social and political scapegoating. As Fischer observes, “Spengler observed that the character of the Jew was moulded by his position as an outsider…[who is] generally forced to adopt attitudes that are inimical to the mainstream of society,” which is why they are viewed as threats; the only solution Spengler could see for the Jews to escape this inevitable situation was to assimilate or, though Spengler never suggests it, to leave.[84] A similar conclusion was reached by Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, in his 1896 Der Judenstaat, which proposed the second option: that the Jews remove themselves from European society physically to escape anti-Semitism.

After his name was officially banned from the press and his book taken off the shelves in German bookstores, Spengler once again retreated from the public eye, this time never to return. Unlike other intellectuals of the day, he declined offers to university jobs, including the rectorship of the University of Leipzig’s Institute for Cultural and Universal History and a professorship at the University of Marburg. He was, nevertheless, honoured in 1933 with membership in the Senate of the German Academy, which he maintained even after his work was officially censored by the Nazi state. He was encouraged by friends to flee Germany and emigrate to America or England and continue his studies, but he refused to leave. He did, however, continue his work on Urfragen and his other unfinished book, Frühzeit der Weltgeschichte. He still received some attention from other countries, and in 1935 wrote an article entitled “Zur Weltgeschichte des zweiten vorchristlichen Jahrtausends” (“Toward a World History of the Second Millennium BC”) in the journal Die Welt als Geschichte.

9783902475435xxl.jpgSpengler’s final contribution while he was alive was a reply to a cable from Hearst International Cosmopolitan magazine, which at the time was still a respectable publication that gave attention to serious global political issues. The work, entitled Ist Weltfriede moeglich? (“Is World Peace Possible?”) was translated by editors of the magazine and published in January of 1936. This last work is largely ignored by Spengler biographers, but is rather his last real political offering, in which he expressed that the question was one that “can only be answered by someone familiar with world history… [which] means to know most humans as they have been and always will be.”[85] His next words encapsulate his “strong pessimism”, when he says that “there is a vast difference… between viewing the history of the future as it shall be and as one might like it to be. Peace is the wish, war is an actuality”: he echoes his introduction to Jahre der Entscheidung, “it is the great task of the connoisseur of history to understand the actualities of his age and, using them, to sense the future, to indicate and to sketch out what will come, whether we desire it or not.”[86] He follows it saying that, ultimately, man will always resort to violence in some form or another. He declares that a man may “be branded a criminal, a class can be called revolutionary or traitorous, a people bloodthirsty, but that does not alter the actuality” that violence is in escapable.[87]

He then repeats a his message to the Western world, hoping perhaps for an audience in liberal America where he had lost his in Germany: “It is a deadly reality that today only the white peoples speak of ‘world peace’, not the many coloured peoples. As long as individual thinkers and idealists do this—and they have done it in all ages—it is ineffective. When, on the other hand, entire peoples become pacifistic, it is a symptom of senility. Strong and unspent breeds do not do it: it is abandonment of the future, because the pacifist ideal is a terminal state that contradicts the reality of life.”[88] Spengler would go to his grave convinced that half of the Occident had adopted this very abandonment of the future, and the other half had gone mad on the drunkenness of National Socialism. Fischer observes that “convinced of the truth of his ideas, Spengler seems to have resigned himself to a life of quiet desperation.”[89] His desperation ended before the dawn of the 8th of May 1936, when a sudden heart attack mercifully took him from the world before he could witness his most recent predictions of death and doom become reality.

Eleven days after Spengler’s death, his closest friend, August Albers, who Fischer calls his “philosophical sounding board”, which he had been since Decline in 1917, threw himself in front of a train, unable to cope with the absence of his mentor and friend. His sister collected his papers and would spend the rest of her life handling the publication of his remaining papers; her daughter would devote most of her academic life to studying and publicising his contributions to history, politics, and philosophy. Paul Reusch chose and paid for the grave marker, a simple block of polished black granite with SPENGLER etched across it in stark white letters. Beneath it Spengler rests holding a copy of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Goethe’s Faust.



[1] H. Stuart Hughes, Oswald Spengler: A Critical Estimate (New York: Charles Scribner Sons, 1952), 1.

[2] Anton Mirko Koktanek, Oswald Spengler in Seiner Zeit (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1968), 435.

[3] Koktanek, Spenger in Seiner Zeit, 427.

[4] Oswald Spengler, Ich beneide jeden, der lebt, ed. Gilbert Merlio and Hilde Kornhardt (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2007), 16. The original title of the text was to be Eis heauton, in imitation of Marcus Aurelius, and the manuscript was originally edited by Spengler’s niece and her mother, both named Hilde Kornhardt.

[5] Spengler, Ich beneide, 14.

[6] John Farrenkopf, Prophet of Decline, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 2001), 9.

[7] Koktanek, Spengler in Seiner Zeit, 19.

[8] Farrenkopf, Prophet, 7-8.

[9] Farrenkopf, Prophet, 8-9.

[10] Klaus P. Fischer, History and Prophecy: Oswald Spengler and the Decline of the West (New York: Peter Lang, 1989), 34.

[11] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 35.

[12] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 36.

[13] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 36.

[14] Farrenkopf, Prophet, 11.

[15] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 28.

[16] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 37.

[17] Spengler, Ich beneide, 73.

[18] Farrenkopf, Prophet, 15.

[19] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 45.

[20] Oswald Spengler, Der Untergang des Abendlandes, (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1969), x.

[21] Thomas A. Brady, German Histories in the Ages of Reformations (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2009), 3.

[22] G.W.F. Hegel, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (Leiden: A.H. Adriani, 1902), 238.

[23] Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, trans. C.F. Atkinson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928), 21. He derives this notion from Goethe, who says in a letter to Heinrich Luden (†1847), “‘Die Menschheit’? Das ist ein Abstraktum. Es hat von jeher nur Menschen gegeben und wird nur Menschen geben.(“‘Mankind’? It is an abstraction. There have only ever been men and will only ever be men.”) (p 281)

[24] The proper rendering of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft in English is highly disputed among translators; the former is often translated as “community” but may also be understood (perhaps more clearly) as “communion”, while the latter is rendered both as “society” and “association,” with the latter being favoured in recent scholarship. Cf. Ferdinand Tönnies: A New Evaluation, ed. Werner J. Cahnman (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1973).

[25] Ferdinand Tönnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (Berlin: Karl Curtius, 1912), 3-4.

[26] Spengler, Decline, 109.

[27] Spengler, Decline, 31.

[28] Spengler, Decline, 53.

[29] Spengler, Decline, 212.

[30] Spengler, Decline, 191-192.

[31] Oswald Spengler, Jahre der Entscheidung (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1933), 43. He doesn’t, however, make clear what the implications of Stalin’s “modernisation” policies and the five-year plan might be.

[32] Oswald Spengler, “Pessimismus?” in Rede und Aufsätze (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1937), 63-64.

[33] Spengler, Decline, 485. N.B. The notion of “race” here should not be understood as the restrictive biological concept but retaining its nineteenth-century use as a term for a broad cultural unit.

[34] Oswald Spengler, Letters 1913-1936, trans. Arthur Helps (London: George Allen Unwin, 1966), 87.

[35] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 68.

[36] Spengler, Letters, 92.

[37] Spengler, Letters, 93.

[38] Donald O. White, Introduction to Selected Essays, by Oswald Spengler, trans. and ed. Donald O. White (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1967), xiii.

[39] Timothy Ryback, Hitler’s Private Library (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 112.

[40] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 61.

[41] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 61.

[42] Spengler, Letters, 133-138.

[43] Spengler, Letters, 181.

[44] Spengler, Selected Essays, 7.

[45] Spengler, Selected Essays, 3.

[46] Spengler, Selected Essays, 1, 3.

[47] Spengler, Selected Essays, 10-11.

[48] Spengler, Selected Essays, 13.

[49] Spengler, Selected Essays, 13.

[50] Spengler, Selected Essays, 29.

[51] Spengler, Selected Essays, 92.

[52] Spengler, Letters, 11.

[53] White, Introduction, xi.

[54] Benito Mussolini, “Anni decisive di Osvaldo Spengler”, Il Popolo d’Italia, 15 December 1933, p. 16.

[55] Spengler, Letters, 184.

[56] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 71.

[57] Spengler, Letters, 180.

[58] Cf. Oswald Spengler, Reden und Aufsätze (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1937), 96.

[59] Spengler, Letters, 211; “Will Our Civilization Survive?” New York Times, 24 May 1925, SM1; “Doom of Western Civilization,” New York Times, 2 May 1926, BR1. 

[60] Spengler, Letters, 222.

[61] Spengler, Letters, 229.

[62] Spengler, Letters, 203, 204, 219-220, 235.

[63] Spengler, Letters, 2031.

[64] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 73.

[65] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 66.

[66] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 66.

[67] Farrenkopf, Prophet, 202.

[68] Spengler, Decline, 109.

[69] Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 217-218.

[70] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 74.

[71] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 74.

[72] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 74.

[73] William McDonald, “Spengler’s New Challenge” New York Times, 11 February 1934.

[74] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 78.

[75] Farrenkopf, Prophet, 238.

[76] Spengler, Letters, 291.

[77] “June ‘White List’ of Books Issued” New York Times, 26 May, 1934, p. 15.

[78] Spengler, Jahre der Entscheidung, 157.

[79] Farrenkopf, Prophet, 256; Oswald Spengler, Gedanken, (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1941), 23.

[80] Spengler, Der Mensch und die Technik (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1931), 89.

[81] Farrenkopf, Prophet, 256.

[82] Spengler, Jahre der Entscheidung, 165.

[83] Farrenkopf, Prophet, 258.

[84] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 76.

[85] Spengler, Reden und Aufsätze, 292.

[86] Spengler, Reden und Aufsätze, 292; Spengler, Jahre der Entscheidung, vii.

[87] Spengler, Reden und Aufsätze, 292.

[88] Spengler, Reden und Aufsätze, 292-293.

[89] Fischer, History and Prophecy, 68.

mercredi, 26 février 2020

The Two Faces Of Russia And Germany’s Eastern Problems

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Oswald Spengler:

The Two Faces Of Russia And Germany’s Eastern Problems

An address delivered on February 14, 1922, at the Rhenish-Westphalian Business Convention in Essen

First published in Spengler, Politische Schriften (Munich, 1932).

Ex: https://europeanheathenfront.wordpress.com

In the light of the desperate situation in which Germany finds itself today -- defenseless, ruled from the West by the friends of its enemies, and the victim of undiminished warfare with economic and diplomatic means -- the great problems of the East, political and economic, have risen to decisive importance. If from our vantage point we wish to gain an understanding of the extremely complex real situation, it will not suffice merely to familiarize ourselves with contemporary conditions in the broad expanses to the east of us, with Russian domestic policy and the economic, geographic, and military factors that make up present-day Soviet Russia. More fundamental and imperative than this is an understanding of the world-historical fact of Russia itself, its situation and evolution over the centuries amid the great old cultures -- China, India, Islam, and the West -- the nature of its people, and its national soul. Political and economic life is, after all, Life itself; even in what may appear to be prosaic aspects of day-to-day affairs it is a form, expression, and part of the larger entity that is Life.

One can attempt to observe these matters with "Russian" eyes, as our communist and democratic writers and party politicians have done, i.e., from the standpoint of Western social ideologies. But that is not "Russian" at all, no matter how many citified minds in Russia may think it is. Or one can try to judge them from a Western-European viewpoint by considering the Russian people as one might consider any other "European" people. But that is just as erroneous. In reality, the true Russian is basically very foreign to us, as foreign as the Indian and the Chinese, whose souls we can likewise never fully comprehend. Justifiably, the Russians draw a distinction between "Mother Russia" and the "fatherlands" of the Western peoples. These are, in fact, two quite different and alien worlds. The Russian understands this alienation. Unless he is of mixed blood, he never overcomes a shy aversion to or a naïve admiration of the Germans, French, and English. The Tartar and the Turk are, in their ways of life, closer and more comprehensible to him. We are easily deceived by the geographic concept of "Europe," which actually originated only after maps were first printed in 1500. The real Europe ends at the Vistula. The activity of the Teutonic knights in the Baltic area was the colonization of foreign territory, and the knights themselves never thought of it in any other way.

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Soviet architecture, 1920s

In order to reach an understanding of this foreign people we must review our own past. Russian history between 900 and 1900 A.D. does not correspond to the history of the West in the same centuries but, rather, to the period extending from the Age of Rome to Charlemagne and the Hohenstaufen emperors. Our heroic poetry, from Arminius to the lays of Hildebrand, Roland, and the Nibelungs, was recapitulated in the Russian heroic epics, the byliny, which began with the knights at the court of Prince Vladimir (d. 1015), the Campaign of Igor, and with Ilya Muromets, and have remained a vital and fruitful art form through the reigns of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, the Burning of Moscow, and to the present day. [1] Yet each of these worlds of primeval poetry expresses a very different kind of basic feeling. Russian life has a different meaning altogether. The endless plains created a softer form of humanity, humble and morose, inclined to lose itself mentally in the flat expanses of its homeland, lacking a genuine personal will, and prone to servility. These characteristics are the background for high-level politics in Russia, from Genghis Khan to Lenin.

(1. Cf. my The Decline of the West, II, 192ff.)

Furthermore, the Russians are semi-nomads, even today. Not even the Soviet regimen will succeed in preventing the factory workers from drifting from one factory to another for no better reason than their inborn wanderlust. [2] That is why the skilled technician is such a rarity in Russia. [3] Similarly, the home of the peasant is not the village or the countryside into which he was born, but the great expanses. Even the mir or so-called agrarian commune -- not an ancient idea, but the outgrowth of administrative techniques employed by the tsarist governments for the raising of taxes -- was unable to bind the peasant, unlike his Germanic counterpart, to the soil. Many thousands of them flooded into the newly developed regions in the steppes of southern Russia, Turkestan, and the Caucasus, in order to satisfy their emotional search for the limits of the infinite. The result of this inner restlessness has been the extension of the Empire up to the natural borders, the seas and the high mountain ranges. In the sixteenth century Siberia was occupied and settled as far as Lake Baikal, in the seventeenth century up to the Pacific.

(2. Cf. several stories of Leskov, and particularly of Gorki.)

(3. Except perhaps in the earlier arteli, groups of workers under self-chosen leaders, which accepted contracts for certain kinds of work in factories and on estates. There is a good description on an artel’ in Leskov’s The Memorable Angel.)

Even more deep-seated than this nomadic trait of the Russians is their dark and mystical longing for Byzantium and Jerusalem. It appears in the outer form of Orthodox Christianity and numerous religious sects, and thus has been a powerful force in the political sphere as well. But within this mystical tendency there slumbers the unborn new religion of an as yet immature people. There is nothing Western about this at all, for the Poles and Balkan Slavs are also "Asiatics."

The economic life of this people has also assumed indigenous, totally non-European forms. The Stroganov family of merchants, which began conquering Siberia on its own under Ivan Grozny [4] and placed some of its own regiments at the tsar’s disposal, had nothing at all in common with the great businessmen of the same century in the West. This huge country, with its nomadic population, might have remained in the same condition for centuries, or might perhaps have become the object of Western colonial ambitions, had it not been for the appearance of a man of immense world-political significance, Peter the Great.

(4. Grozny means "the terrifying, just, awe-inspiring" in the positive sense, not "the terrible" with Western overtones. Ivan IV was a creative personality as was Peter the Great, and one of the most important rulers of all time.)

There is probably no other example in all of history of the radical change in the destiny of an entire people such as this man brought about. His will and determination lifted Russia from its Asiatic matrix and turned it into a Western-style nation within the Western world of nations. His goal was to lead Russia, until then landlocked, to the sea -- at first, unsuccessfully, to the Sea of Asov, and then with permanent success to the Baltic. The fact that the shores of the Pacific had already been reached was, in his eyes, wholly unimportant; the Baltic coast was for him the bridge to "Europe." There he founded Petersburg, symbolically giving it a German name. In place of the old Russian market centers and princely residences like Kiev, Moscow, and Nizhni-Novgorod, he planted Western European cities in the Russian landscape. Administration, legislation, and the state itself now functioned on foreign models. The boyar families of Old Russian chieftains became feudal nobility, as in England and France. His aim was to create above the rural population a "society" that would be unified as to dress, customs, language, and thought. And soon an upper social stratum actually formed in the cities, having a thin Western veneer. It played at erudition like the Germans, and took on esprit and manners like the French. The entire corpus of Western Rationalism made its entry -- scarcely understood, undigested, and with fateful consequences. Catherine II, a German, found it necessary to send writers such as Novikov and Radishchev into jail and exile because they wished to try out the ideas of the Enlightenment on the political and religious forms of Russia. [5]

(5. "Jehova, Jupiter, Brahma, God of Abraham, God of Moses, God of Confucius, God of Zoroaster, God of Socrates, God of Marcus Aurelius, God of the Christians -- Thou art everywhere the same, eternal God!" (Radishchev).)

And economic life changed also. In addition to its ages-old river traffic, Russia now began to engage in ocean shipping to distant ports. The old merchant tradition of the Stroganovs, with their caravan trade to China, and of the fairs at Nizhni-Novgorod, now received an overlay of Western European "money thinking" in terms of banks and stock exchanges. [6] Next to the old-style handicrafts and the primitive mining techniques in the Urals there appeared factories, machines, and eventually railroads and steamships.

(6. Cf. Decline of the West, II, 480f., 495.)

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German architecture, 1920s, "Chilehaus" in Hamburg and Berlin Tempelhof

Most important of all, Western-style politics entered the Russian scene. It was supported by an army that no longer conformed to conditions of the wars against the Tartars, Turks, and Kirghiz; it had to be prepared to do battle against Western armies in Western territory, and by its very existence it continually misled the diplomats in Petersburg into thinking that the only political problems lay in the West.

Despite all the weaknesses of an artificial product made of stubborn material, Petrinism was a powerful force during the two hundred years of its duration. It will be possible to assess its true accomplishments only at some distant future time, when we can survey the rubble it will have left behind. It extended "Europe," theoretically at least, to the Urals, and made of it a cultural unity. An empire that stretched to the Bering Strait and the Hindu Kush had been Westernized to the extent that in 1900 there was hardly much difference between cities in Ireland and Portugal and those in Turkestan and the Caucasus. Travel was actually easier in Siberia than in some countries in Western Europe. The Trans-Siberian Railway was the final triumph, the final symbol of the Petrinist will before the collapse.

Yet this mighty exterior concealed an internal disaster. Petrinism was and remained an alien element among the Russian people. In reality there existed not one but two Russias, the apparent and the true, the official and the underground Russia. The foreign element brought with it the poison that caused that immense organism to fall ill and die. The spirit of Western Rationalism of the eighteenth century and Western Materialism of the nineteenth, both remote and incomprehensible to genuine Russian thought, came to lead a grotesque and subversive existence among the intelligentsia in the cities. There arose a type of Russian intellectual who, like the Reformed Turk, the Reformed Chinese, and the Reformed Indian, was mentally and spiritually debased, impoverished, and ruined to the point of cynicism by Western Europe. It began with Voltaire, and continued from Proudhon and Marx to Spencer and Haeckel. In Tolstoy’s day the upper class, irreligious and opposed to all native tradition, preened itself with blasé pretentiousness. Gradually the new world view seeped down to the bohemians in the cities, the students, demagogues, and literati, who in turn took it "to the people" to implant in them a hatred of the Western-style upper classes. The result was doctrinaire bolshevism.

At first, however, it was solely the foreign policy of Russia that made itself painfully felt in the West. The original nature of the Russian people was ignored, or at least not understood. It was nothing but a harmless ethnographic curiosity, occasionally imitated at bals masques and in operettas. Russia meant for us a Great Power in the Western sense, one which played the game of high politics with skill and at times with true mastery.

What we did not notice was that two tendencies, alien and inimical to each other, were operative in Russia. One of these was the ancient, instinctive, unclear, unconscious, and subliminal drive that is present in the soul of every Russian, no matter how thoroughly westernized his conscious life may be -- a mystical yearning for the South, for Constantinople and Jerusalem, a genuine crusading spirit similar to the spirit our Gothic forebears had in their blood but which we hardly can appreciate today. Superimposed on this instinctive drive was the official foreign policy of a Great Power: Petersburg versus Moscow. Behind it lay the desire to play a role on the world stage, to be recognized and treated as an equal in "Europe." Hence the hyper-refined manners and mores, the faultless good taste -- things which had already begun to degenerate in Paris since Napoleon III. The finest tone of Western society was to be found in certain Petersburg circles.

At the same time, this kind of Russian did not really love any of the Western peoples. He admired, envied, ridiculed, or despised them, but his attitude depended practically always on whether Russia stood to gain or lose by them. Hence the respect shown for Prussia during the Wars of Liberation (Russia would have liked to pocket Prussian territory) and for France prior to the World War (the Russians laughed at her senile cries for revanche). Yet, for the ambitious and intelligent upper classes, Russia was the future master of Europe, intellectually and politically. Even Napoleon, in his time, was aware of this. The Russian army was mobilized at the western border; it was of Western proportions and was unmistakably trained for battle on Western terrain against Western foes. Russia’s defeat at the hands of Japan in 1905 can be partly explained by the lack of training for warfare under anything but Western conditions.

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Such policies were supported by a network of embassies in the great capitals of the West (which the Soviet government has replaced with Communist party centers for agitation). Catherine the Great took away Poland, and with it the final obstacle between East and West. The climax came with the symbolic journey of Alexander I, the "Savior of Europe," to Paris. At the Congress of Vienna, Russia at times played a decisive role, as also in the Holy Alliance, which Metternich called into being as a bulwark against the Western revolution, and which Nicholas I put to work in 1849 restoring order in the Habsburg state in the interest of his own government.

By means of the successful tradition of Petersburg diplomacy, Russia became more and more involved in great decisions of Western European politics. It took part in all the intrigues and calculations that not only concerned areas remote from Russia, but were also quite incomprehensible to the Russian spirit. The army at the western border was made the strongest in the world, and for no urgent reason -- Russia was the only country no one intended to invade after Napoleon’s defeat, while Germany was threatened by France and Russia, Italy by France and Austria, and Austria by France and Russia. One sought alliance with Russia in order to tip the military balance in one’s favor, thus spurring the ambitions of Russian society toward ever greater efforts in non-Russian interests. All of us grew up under the impression that Russia was a European power and that the land beyond the Volga was colonial territory. The center of gravity of the Empire definitely lay to the west of Moscow, not in the Volga region. And the educated Russians thought the very same way. They regarded the defeat in the Far East in 1905 as an insignificant colonial adventure, whereas even the smallest setback at the western border was in their eyes a scandal, inasmuch as it occurred in full view of the Western nations. In the south and north of the Empire a fleet was constructed, quite superfluous for coastal defense: its sole purpose was to play a role in Western political machinations.

On the other hand, the Turkish Wars, waged with the aim of "liberating" the Christian Balkan peoples, touched the Russian soul more deeply. Russia as the heir to Turkey -- that was a mystical idea. There were no differences of opinion on this question. That was the Will of God. Only the Turkish Wars were truly popular wars in Russia. In 1807 Alexander I feared, not without reason, that he might be assassinated by an officers’ conspiracy. The entire officers’ corps preferred a war against the Turks to one against Napoleon. This led to Alexander’s alliance with Napoleon at Tilsit, which dominated world politics until 1812. It is characteristic how Dostoyevsky, in contrast to Tolstoy, became ecstatic over the Turkish War in 1877. He suddenly came alive, constantly wrote down his metaphysical visions, and preached the religious mission of Russia against Byzantium. But the final portion of Anna Karenina was denied publication by the Russian Messenger, for one did not dare to offer Tolstoy’s skepticism to the public.

As I have mentioned, the educated, irreligious, Westernized Russians also shared the mystical longing for Jerusalem, the Kiev monk’s notion of the mother country as the "Third Rome," which after Papal Rome and Luther’s Wittenberg was to take the fulfillment of Christ’s message to the Jerusalem of the apostles. This barely conscious national instinct of all Russians opposes any power that might erect political barricades on the path that leads to Jerusalem by way of Byzantium. In all other countries such political obstacles would simply disturb either national conceit (in the West) or national apathy (in the Far East); in Russia, the mystical soul of the people itself was pierced and profoundly agitated. Hence the brilliant successes of the Slavophil movement, which was not so much interested in winning over Poles and Czechs as in gaining a foothold among the Slavs in the Christian Balkan countries, the neighbors of Constantinople. Even at an earlier date, the Holy War against Napoleon and the Burning of Moscow had involved the emotions of the entire Russian people. This was not just because of the invasion and plundering of the Russian countryside, but because of Napoleon’s obvious long-range plans. In 1809 he had taken over the Illyrian provinces (the present Yugoslavia) and thus became master of the Adriatic. This had decisively strengthened his influence on Turkey to the disadvantage of Russia, and his next step would be, in alliance with Turkey and Persia, to open up the path to India, either from Illyria or from Moscow itself. The Russians’ hatred of Napoleon was later transferred to the Habsburg monarchy, when its designs on Turkish territory -- in Metternich’s time the Danubian principalities, and after 1878 Saloniki -- endangered Russian moves toward the south. Following the Crimean War they extended their hatred to include Great Britain, when that nation appeared to lay claim to Turkish lands by blockading the Straits and later by occupying Egypt and Cyprus.

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Finally, Germany too became the object of this hatred, which goes very deep and cannot be allayed by practical considerations. After 1878, Germany neglected its role as a Russian ally to became more and more the protector and preserver of the crumbling Habsburg state, and thereby also, despite Bismarck’s warning, the supporter of Austro-Hungarian intentions in the Balkans. The German government showed no understanding of the suggestion made by Count Witte, the last of the Russian diplomats friendly to Germany, to choose between Austria and Russia. We could have had a reliable ally in Russia if we had been willing to loosen our ties to Austria. A total reorientation of German policy might have been possible as late as 1911.

Following the Congress of Berlin, hatred of Germany began to spread to all of Russian society, for Bismarck succeeded in restraining Russian diplomacy in the interest of world peace and maintaining the balance of power in "Europe." From the German point of view this was probably correct, and in any case it was a master stroke of Bismarckian statesmanship. But in the eyes of Petersburg it was a mistake, for it deprived the Russian soul of the hope of winning Turkey, and favored England and Austria. And this Russian soul was one of the imponderables that defied diplomatic treatment. Hostility to Germany kept on growing and eventually entered all levels of Russian urban society. It was diverted momentarily when Japanese power, rising up suddenly and broadening the horizons of world politics, forced Russia to experience the Far East as a danger zone. But that was soon forgotten, especially since Germany was so grotesquely inept as to understand neither the immediate situation nor the future possibilities. In time, the senseless idea of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway came up; Germany now seemed intent on capturing full control of this path to Constantinople, a move which would have benefitted neither German politics nor the German economy.

Just as in the field of politics, the economic life of Russia was divided into two main tendencies -- the one active and aggressive, the other passive. The passive element was represented by the Russian peasantry with its primitive agrarian economy; [7] by the old-style merchants with their fairs, caravans, and Volga barges; by Russian craftsmen; and finally by the primitive mining enterprises in the Urals, which developed out of the ancient techniques of pre-Christian "blacksmith tribes," independent of Western mining methods and experience. The forging of iron was invented in Russia in the second millennium B.C. -- the Greeks retained a vague recollection of the beginning of this art. This simple and traditional form of economy gradually found a powerful competitor in the civilized world of Western-style urban economy, with its banks, stock exchanges, factories, and railroads. Then it was money economy versus goods economy; each of these forms of economic existence abhors the other, each tries to attack and annihilate the other.

(7. On the contrast between agrarian and urban economy, see Decline of the West, II, 477ff.)

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The Petrinist state needed a money economy in order to pay for its Westernized politics, its army, and its administrative hierarchy, which was laced with primitive corruption. Incidentally, this form of corruption was habitual public practice in Russia; it is a necessary psychological concomitant of an economy based on the exchange of goods, and is fundamentally different from the clandestine corruption practiced by Western European parliamentarians. The state protected and supported economic thinking that was oriented toward Western capitalism, a type of thinking that Russia neither created nor really understood, but had imported and now had to manage. Furthermore, Russia had also to face its doctrinary opposite, the economic theory of communism. Communism was in fact inseparable from Western economic thinking. It was the Marxist capitalism of the lower class, preached by students and agitators as a vague gospel to the masses in the Petrinist cities.

Still, the decisive and truly agitating factor for Russia’s future was not this literary, theoretical trend in the urban underground. It was, rather, the Russians’ profound, instinctively religious abhorrence of all Western economic practices. They considered "money" and all the economic schemes derived from it, socialistic as well as capitalistic, as sinful and satanic. This was a genuine religious feeling, much like the Western emotion which, during the Gothic centuries, opposed the economic practices of the Arabic-Jewish world and led to the prohibition for Christians of money-lending for interest. In the West, such attitudes had for centuries been little more than a cliché for chapel and pulpit, but now it became an acute spiritual problem in Russia. It caused the suicide of numerous Russians who were seized by "terror of the surplus value," whose primitive thought and emotions could not imagine a way of earning a living that would not entail the "exploitation" of "fellow human beings." This genuine Russian sentiment saw in the world of capitalism an enemy, a poison, the great sin that it ascribed to the Petrinist state despite the deep respect felt for "Little Father," the Tsar.

Such, then, are the deep and manifold roots of the Russian philosophy of intellectual nihilism, which began to grow at the time of the Crimean War and which produced as a final fruit the bolshevism that destroyed the Petrinist state in 1917, replacing it with something that would have been absolutely impossible in the West. Contained within this movement is the orthodox Slavophils’ hatred of Petersburg and all it stood for, [8] the peasants’ hatred of the mir, the type of village commune that contradicted the rural concept of property passed down through countless family generations, as well as every Russian’s hatred of capitalism, industrial economy, machines, railroads, and the state and army that offered protection to this cynical world against an eruption of Russian instincts. It was a primeval religious hatred of uncomprehended forces that were felt to be godless, that one could not change and thus wished to destroy, in order that life could go on in the old-fashioned way.

(8. "The first requirement for the liberation of popular feeling in Russia is to hate Petersburg with heart and soul" (Aksakov to Dostoyevsky). Cf. Decline of the West, II, 193ff.)

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The peasants detested the intelligentsia and its agitating just as strongly as they detested what these people were agitating against. Yet in time the agitation brought a small clique of clever but by and large mediocre personalities to the forefront of power. Even Lenin’s creation is Western, it is Petersburg -- foreign, inimical, and despised by the majority of Russians. Some day, in some way or other, it will perish. It is a rebellion against the West, but born of Western ideas. It seeks to preserve the economic forms of industrial labor and capitalist speculation as well as the authoritarian state, except that it has replaced the Tsarist regime and private capitalist enterprise with an oligarchy and state capitalism, calling itself communism out of deference to doctrine.

It is a new victory for Petersburg over Moscow and, without any doubt, the final and enduring act of self-destruction committed by Petrinism from below. The actual victim is precisely the element that sought to liberate itself by means of the rebellion: the true Russian, the peasant and craftsman, the devout man of religion. Western revolutions such as the English and French seek to improve organically evolved conditions by means of theory, and they never succeed. In Russia, however, a whole world was made to vanish without resistance. Only the artificial quality of Peter the Great’s creation can explain the fact that a small group of revolutionaries, almost without exception dunces and cowards, has had such an effect. Petrinism was an illusion that suddenly burst.

The bolshevism of the early years has thus had a double meaning. It has destroyed an artificial, foreign structure, leaving only itself as a remaining integral part. But beyond this, it has made the way clear for a new culture that will some day awaken between "Europe" and East Asia. It is more a beginning than an end. It is temporary, superficial, and foreign only insofar as it represents the self-destruction of Petrinism, the grotesque attempt systematically to overturn the social superstructure of the nation according to the theories of Karl Marx. At the base of this nation lies the Russian peasantry, which doubtless played a more important role in the success of the 1917 Revolution than the intellectual crowd is willing to admit. These are the devout peasants of Russia who, although they do not yet fully realize it, are the archenemies of bolshevism and are oppressed by it even worse than they were by the Mongols and the old tsars. For this very reason, despite the hardships of the present, the peasantry will some day become conscious of its own will, which points in a wholly different direction.

The peasantry is the true Russian people of the future. It will not allow itself to be perverted and suffocated, and without a doubt, no matter how slowly, it will replace, transform, control, or annihilate bolshevism in its present form. How that will happen, no one can tell at the moment. It depends, among other things, on the appearance of decisive personalities, who, like Genghis Khan, Ivan IV, Peter the Great, and Lenin, can seize Destiny by their iron hand. Here, too, Dostoyevsky stands against Tolstoy as a symbol of the future against the present. Dostoyevsky was denounced as a reactionary because in his Possessed he no longer even recognized the problems of nihilism. For him, such things were just another aspect of the Petrinist system. But Tolstoy, the man of good society, lived in this element; he represented it even in his rebellion, a protest in Western form against the West. Tolstoy, and not Marx, was the leader to bolshevism. Dostoyevsky is its future conqueror.

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There can be no doubt: a new Russian people is in the process of becoming. Shaken and threatened to the very soul by a frightful destiny, forced to an inner resistance, it will in time become firm and come to bloom. It is passionately religious in a way we Western Europeans have not been, indeed could not have been, for centuries. As soon as this religious drive is directed toward a goal, it possesses an immense expansive potential. Unlike us, such a people does not count the victims who die for an idea, for it is a young, vigorous, and fertile people. The intense respect enjoyed over the past centuries by the "holy peasants" whom the regime often exiled to Siberia or liquidated in some other way -- such figures as the priest John of Kronstadt, even Rasputin, but also Ivan and Peter the Great -- will awaken a new type of leaders, leaders to new crusades and legendary conquests. The world round about, filled with religious yearning but no longer fertile in religious concerns, is torn and tired enough to allow it suddenly to take on a new character under the proper circumstances. Perhaps bolshevism itself will change in this way under new leaders; but that is not very probable. For this ruling horde -- it is a fraternity like the Mongols of the Golden Horde -- always has its sights set on the West as did Peter the Great, who likewise made the land of his dreams the goal of his politics. But the silent, deeper Russia has already forgotten the West and has long since begun to look toward Near and East Asia. It is a people of the great inland expanses, not a maritime people.

An interest in Western affairs is upheld only by the ruling group that organizes and supports the Communist parties in the individual countries -- without, as I see it, any chance of success. It is simply a consequence of Marxist theory, not an exercise in practical politics. The only way that Russia might again direct its attention to the West -- with disastrous results for both sides -- would be for other countries (Germany, for instance) to commit serious errors in foreign policy, which could conceivably result in a "crusade" of the Western powers against bolshevism -- in the interest, of course, of Franco-British financial capital. Russia’s secret desire is to move toward Jerusalem and Central Asia, and "the" enemy will always be the one who blocks those paths. The fact that England established the Baltic states and placed them under its influence, thereby causing Russia to lose the Baltic Sea, has not had a profound effect. Petersburg has already been given up for lost, an expendable relic of the Petrinist era. Moscow is once again the center of the nation. But the destruction of Turkey, the partition of that country into French and English spheres of influence, France’s establishment of the Little Entente which closed off and threatened the area from Rumania southwards, French attempts to win control of the Danubian principalities and the Black Sea by aiding the reconstruction of the Hapsburg state -- all these events have made England and, above all, France the heirs to Russian hatred. What the Russians see is the revivification of Napoleonic tendencies; the crossing of the Beresina was perhaps not, after all, the final symbolic event in that movement. Byzantium is and remains the Sublime Gateway to future Russian policy, while, on the other side, Central Asia is no longer a conquered area but part of the sacred earth of the Russian people.

In the face of this rapidly changing, growing Russia, German policy requires the tactical skill of a great statesman and expert in Eastern affairs, but as yet no such man has made his appearance. It is clear that we are not the enemies of Russia; but whose friends are we to be -- of the Russia of today, or of the Russia of tomorrow? Is it possible to be both, or does one exclude the other? Might we not jeopardize such friendship by forming careless alliances?

Similarly obscure and difficult are our economic connections, the actual ones and the potential ones. Politics and economics are two very different aspects of life, different in concept, methods, aims, and significance for the soul of a people. This is not realized in the age of practical materialism, but that does not make it any less fatefully true. Economics is subordinate to politics; it is without question the second and not the first factor in history. The economic life of Russia is only superficially dominated by state capitalism. At its base it is subject to attitudes that are virtually religious in nature. At any rate it is not at all the same thing as top-level Russian politics. Moreover, it is very difficult to predict its short and long-range trends, and even more difficult to control these trends from abroad. The Russia of the last tsars gave the illusion of being an economic complex of Western stamp. Bolshevist Russia would like to give the same illusion; with its communist methods it would even like to become an example for the West. Yet in reality, when considered from the standpoint of Western economics, it is one huge colonial territory where the Russians of the farmlands and small towns work essentially as peasants and craftsmen. Industry and the transportation of industrial products over the rail networks, as well as the process of wholesale distribution of such products, are and will always remain inwardly foreign to this people. The businessman, the factory head, the engineer and inventor are not "Russian" types. As a people, no matter how far individuals may go toward adapting to modern patterns of world economics, the true Russians will always let foreigners do the kind of work they reject because they are inwardly not suited to it. A close comparison with the Age of the Crusades will clarify what I have in mind. [9] At that time, also, the young peoples of the North were nonurban, committed to an agrarian economy. Even the small cities, castle communities, and princely residences were essentially marketplaces for agricultural produce. The Jews and Arabs were a full thousand years "older," and functioned in their ghettos as experts in urban money economy. The Western European fulfills the same function in the Russia of today.

(9. Cf. Decline of the West, II, Chapters XIII and XIV, "The Form-World of Economic Life.")

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Machine industry is basically non-Russian in spirit, and the Russians will forever regard it as alien, sinful, and diabolical. They can bear with it and even respect it, as the Japanese do, as a means toward higher ends, for one casts out demons by the prince of demons. But they can never give their soul to it as did the Germanic nations, which created it with their dynamic sensibility as a symbol and method of their struggling existence. In Russia, industry will always remain essentially the concern of foreigners. But the Russians will be able to distinguish sensitively between what is to their own and what is to the foreigners’ advantage.

As far as "money" is concerned, for the Russians the cities are markets for agricultural commodities; for us they have been since the eighteenth century the centers for the dynamics of money. "Money thinking" will be impossible for the Russians for a long time to come. For this reason, as I have explained, Russia is regarded as a colony by foreign business interests. Germany will be able to gain certain advantages from its proximity to the country, particularly in light of the fact that both powers have the same enemy, the financial interest-groups of the Allied nations.

Yet the German economy can never exploit these opportunities without support from superior politics. Without such support a chaotic seizure of opportunities will ensue, with dire consequences for the future. The economic policy of France has been for centuries, as a result of the sadistic character of the French people, myopic and purely destructive. And a serious German policy in economic affairs simply does not exist.

Therefore it is the prime task of German business to help create order in German domestic affairs, in order to set the stage for a foreign policy that will understand and meet its obligations. Business has not yet grasped the immense economic significance of this domestic task. It is decidedly not a question, as common prejudice would have it, of making politics submit to the momentary interests of single groups, such as has already occurred by means of the worst kind of politics imaginable, party politics. It is not a question of advantages that might last for just a few years. Before the war it was the large agricultural interests, and since the war the large industrial interests, that attempted to focus national policy on the obtaining of temporary advantages, and the results were always nil. But the time for short-range tactics is over. The next decades will bring problems of world-historical dimensions, and that means that business must at all times be subordinate to national politics, not the other way around. Our business leaders must learn to think exclusively in political terms, not in terms of "economic politics." The basic requirement for great economic opportunity in the East is thus order in our politics at home.

mardi, 25 février 2020

Oswald SPENGLER: Nietzsche And His Century

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Oswald SPENGLER:

Nietzsche And His Century

An address delivered on October 15, 1924, Nietzsche’s eightieth birthday, at the Nietzsche Archive, Weimar

First published in Spengler, Reden und Aufsätze (Munich, 1937).

Ex: https://europeanheathenfront.wordpress.com

Looking back at the nineteenth century and letting its great men pass before the mind’s eye, we can observe an amazing thing about the figure of Friedrich Nietzsche, something that was hardly noticeable in his own time. All the other outstanding personages, including Wagner, Strindberg, and Tolstoy, reflect to a certain degree the color and shape of those years. Each of them was somehow bound up with the shallow optimism of the progress-mongers, with their social ethics and utilitarianism, their philosophy of matter and energy, pragmatism and "adaptation"; each of them made sacrifice after sacrifice to the spirit of the time. Only one person represents a radical departure from this pattern. If the word "untimely," which he himself coined, is applicable to anyone at all, then it is Nietzsche. One searches in vain throughout his whole life and all of his thought for any indication that he might have yielded inwardly to any vogue or fad.

In this respect he is the antithesis of, and yet in some ways profoundly related to, the second German of modern times whose life was one great symbol: Goethe. These are the only two notable Germans whose existence has profound significance apart from and in addition to their works. Because both were aware of this from the beginning and continually gave utterance to this awareness, their existence has become a treasure for our nation and an integral part of its spiritual history.

It was Goethe’s good fortune to be born at the high noon of Western culture, at a time of rich and mature intellectuality which he himself eventually came to represent. He had only to become the epitome of his own time in order to achieve the disciplined grandeur implied by those who later called him the "Olympian." Nietzsche lived a century later, and in the meantime a great change had occurred, one which we are only now able to comprehend. It was his fate to come into the world after the Rococo period, and to stand amid the totally cultureless 1860’s and 1870’s. Consider the streets and houses he had to live in, the clothing fashions, furniture, and social mores he had to observe. Consider the way people moved about in social circles in his day, the way they thought, wrote, and felt. Goethe lived at a time filled with respect for form; Nietzsche longed desperately for forms that had been shattered and abandoned. Goethe needed only to affirm what he saw and experienced around him; Nietzsche had no recourse but to protest passionately against everything contemporary, if he was to rescue anything his forebears had bequeathed to him as a cultural heritage. Both of these men strove during their whole lives for strict inner form and discipline. But the eighteenth century was itself "in form." It possessed the highest type of society that Western Europe has ever known. The nineteenth century had neither a distinguished society nor any other kind of formal attributes. Apart from the incidental customs of the urban upper class it possessed only the scattered remains, preserved with great difficulty, of aristocratic and middle-class tradition. Goethe was able to understand and solve the great problems of his time as a recognized member of his society, as we learn in Wilhelm Meister and Elective Affinities; Nietzsche could remain true to his task only by turning his back on society. His frightful loneliness stands as a symbol over against Goethe’s cheerful gregariousness. One of these great men gave shape to existing things; the other brooded over nonexisting things. One of them worked for a prevailing form; the other against a prevailing formlessness.

Aside from this, however, form was something very different for each of them. Of all the great German intellectuals, Nietzsche was the only born musician. All the others -- thinkers, poets, and painters alike -- have either been shapers of material or have taken material apart. Nietzsche lived, felt, and thought by ear. He was, after all, hardly able to use his eyes. His prose is not "written," it is heard -- one might even say sung. The vowels and cadences are more important than the similes and metaphors. What he sensed as he surveyed the ages was their melody, their meter. He discovered the musical keys of foreign cultures. Before him, no one knew of the tempo of history. A great many of his concepts -- the Dionysian, the Pathos of Distance, the Eternal Recurrence -- are to be understood quite musically. He sensed the rhythm of what is called nobility, ethics, heroism, distinction, and master morality. He was the first to experience as a symphony the image of history that had been created by scholarly research out of data and numbers -- the rhythmic sequence of ages, customs, and attitudes.

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He himself had music, just as he walked, spoke, dressed, experienced other people, stated problems, and drew conclusions. What Bildung had been for Goethe, was for Nietzsche tact in the broadest sense: social, moral, historical, and linguistic tact, a feeling for the proper sequence of things, made all the keener by his suffering in an age that had very little of this feeling. Like Zarathustra, Goethe’s Tasso was born of suffering, but Tasso succumbed to a feeling of weakness when challenged by a contemporary world which he loved and which he regarded as superior to himself. Zarathustra abhorred the contemporary world, and fled from it to distant worlds of the past and future.

The inability to feel "at home" in one’s own time -- that is a German curse. Because of the guilt of our past we came into bloom too late and too suddenly. Beginning with Klopstock and Lessing, we had to cover in eighty years a distance for which other nations had centuries. For this reason we never developed a formal inner tradition or a distinguished society that could act as guardian of such a tradition. We borrowed forms, motifs, problems, and solutions from all sides and struggled with them, whereas others grew up with them and in them. Our end was implicit in our beginning. Heinrich von Kleist discovered -- he was the first to do so -- the problematics of Ibsen at the same time that he strove to emulate Shakespeare. This tragic state of affairs produced in Germany a series of outstanding artistic personalities at a time when England and France had already gone over to producing literati -- art and thought as a profession rather than a destiny. But it also caused the fragmentation and frustration expressed in much of our art, the thwarting of final aims and artistic thoroughness.

Today we use the terms "Classical" and "Romantic" to denote the antithesis that appeared around 1800 everywhere in Western Europe, literary Petersburg included. Goethe was a Classic to the same extent that Nietzsche was a Romantic, but these words merely designate the predominant hues in their essential natures. Each of them also possessed the other potentiality, which at times urged its way to the foreground. Goethe, whose Faust-monologues and West-Eastern Divan are high points of Romantic sensibility, strove at all times to confine this urge for distance and boundlessness within clear and strict traditional forms. Similarly, Nietzsche often suppressed his acquired inclination for the Classical and rational, which held a twofold fascination for him by reason of temperament and philological profession, to what he termed the Dionysian, at least when he was evaluating. Both men were borderline cases. Just as Goethe was the last of the Classics, Nietzsche was, next to Wagner, the last of the Romantics. By their lives and their creations they exhausted the possibilities of these two movements. After them, it was no longer possible to render the meaning of the ages in the same words and images -- the imitators of the Classical drama and the latter-day Zarathustras have proved this. Moreover, it is impossible to invent a new method of seeing and saying like theirs. Germany may well bring forth impressive formative minds in the future; however, fortunate for us, they will nonetheless be isolated occurrences, for we have reached the end of the grand development. And they will always be overshadowed by the two great figures of Goethe and Nietzsche.

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An essential characteristic of Western Classicism was its intense preoccupation with the contemporary world. While seeking to control human drives that tend in opposite directions, it attempted to make the past and the future coalesce in the contemporary situation. Goethe’s dictum about the "Demands of the Day," his "cheerful present," imply after all that he called upon various kinds of past figures and events -- his Greeks, his Renaissance, Götz von Berlichingen, Faust, and Egmont -- in order to infuse them with the spirit of his own time. The result is that when reading such works as Tasso or Iphigenia we are not at all mindful of historical precedent. Just the opposite is the case with the Romantics; their proper domain was remote places and times. They longed for withdrawal from the present to distant and foreign realms, to the past and future of history. None of them ever had a profound relationship with the things that surrounded him.

The Romantic is enticed by whatever is strange to his nature, the Classic by what is proper to his nature. Noble dreamers on the one hand, noble masters of dreams on the other. The one type adored the conquerors, rebels, and criminals of the past, or ideal states and supermen of the future; the other type construed statesmanship in practical, methodical terms or, like Goethe and Humboldt, even practiced it themselves. One of Goethe’s great masterpieces is the conversation between Egmont and William of Orange. He loved Napoleon, for he was witness to his deeds in his own time and locality. He was never able to recreate artistically the violent personalities of the past; his Caesar went unwritten. But that is precisely the type of personality that Nietzsche worshipped -- from a distance. At close range, as with Bismarck, he was repelled by them. Napoleon would also have repelled him. He would have seemed to him uncouth, shallow, and mindless, like the Napoleonic types that lived around him -- the great European politicians and the rough-and-ready businessmen whom he never even saw, much less understood. He needed a vast distance between the Then and the Now in order to have a genuine relationship with a given reality. Thus he created his Superman and, almost as arbitrarily, the figure of Cesare Borgia.

These two tendencies are tragically present in the most recent German history. Bismarck was a Classic of politics. He based his calculations entirely on things that existed, things he could see and manipulate. The fanatical patriots neither loved nor understood him until his creative work appeared as a finished product, until he could be romantically transfigured as a mythic personage: "The Old Man of the Saxon Forests." On the other hand, Ludwig II of Bavaria, who perished as a Romantic and who never created or even could have created anything of enduring value, actually received this kind of love (without returning it), not only from the people at large, but also from artists and thinkers who should have looked more closely. Kleist is regarded in Germany with, at best, a reluctant admiration that is tantamount to rejection, particularly in those instances where he succeeded in overcoming his own Romantic nature. He is inwardly quite remote from most Germans, unlike Nietzsche, whose nature and destiny were in many ways similar to the Bavarian king’s, and who is instinctively honored even by those who have never read him.

Nietzsche’s longing for remoteness also explains his aristocratic taste, which was that of a completely lonely and visionary personality. Like the Ossian-type Romanticism that originated in Scotland, the early Classicism of the eighteenth century began on the Thames and was later taken across to the Continent. It is impossible to consider it apart from the Rationalism of the same period. The Classicists engaged in the act of creativity consciously and deliberately; they replaced free imagination with knowledge, at times even with scholarly erudition. They understood the Greeks, the Renaissance, and inevitably also the world of contemporary active affairs. These English Classicists, all of them of high social standing, helped create liberalism as a philosophy of life as it was understood by Frederick the Great and his century: the deliberate ignoring of distinctions that were known to exist in the practical life but were in any case not considered as obstacles; the rational preoccupation with matters of public opinion that could neither be gotten rid of nor hushed up, but that somehow had to be rendered harmless. This upper-class Classicism gave rise to English democracy -- a superior form of tactics, not a codified political program. It was based on the long and intensive experience of a social stratum that habitually dealt with real and practicable possibilities, and that was therefore never in danger of losing its essential congeniality.

Goethe, who was also conscious of his social rank, was never an aristocrat in the passionate, theoretical sense -- unlike Nietzsche, who lacked the habituation to regular practical experience. Nietzsche never really became familiar with the democracy of his time in all its strength and weakness. To be sure, he rebelled against the herd instinct with the wrath of his extremely sensitive soul, but the chief cause of his anger was to be found somewhere in the historical past. He was doubtless the first to demonstrate in such radical fashion how in all cultures and epochs of the past the masses count for nothing, that they suffer from history but do not create it, that they are at all times the pawns and victims of the personal will of individuals and classes born to be rulers. People had sensed this often enough before, but Nietzsche was the first to destroy the traditional image of "humanity" as progress toward the solution of ideal problems through the agency of its leaders. Herein lies the immense difference between the historiography of a Niebuhr or a Ranke, which as an idea was likewise of Romantic origin, and Nietzsche’s method of historical vision. His way of looking into the soul of past epochs and peoples overcame the mere pragmatic structure of facts and events.

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Yet such a technique required detachment. English Classicism, which produced the first modern historian of Greece in George Grote -- a businessman and practical politician -- was quite exclusively the affair of higher society. It ennobled the Greeks by regarding them as peers, by "present-ing" them in the truest sense of the word as distinguished, cultivated, intellectually refined human beings who at all times acted "in good taste" -- even Harner and Pindar, poets whom the English school of classical philology was the first to prefer over Horace and Virgil. From the higher circles of English society this Classicism entered the only corresponding circles in Germany, the courts of the small principalities, where the tutors and preachers acted as intermediaries. The courtly atmosphere of Weimar was the world in which Goethe’s life became the symbol of cheerful conviviality and purposeful activity. Weimar was the friendly center of intellectual Germany, a place that offered calm satisfaction to a degree unknown by any other German writer, an opportunity for harmonious growth, maturing, and ageing that was Classical in a specifically German sense.

Next to this career there is the other, which likewise ended in Weimar. It started out in the seclusion of a Protestant pastor’s home, the cradle of many if not most of Germany’s great minds, and reached its height in the sun-drenched solitude of the Engadin. No other German has ever lived such an impassioned private existence, far removed from all society and publicity -- though all Germans, even if they are "public" personalities, have a longing for such solitude. His intense yearning for friendship was in the last analysis simply his inability to lead a genuine social life, and thus it was a more spiritual form of loneliness. Instead of the friendly "Goethe house" on Weimar’s Frauenplan, we see the joyless little cottages in Sils-Maria, the solitude of the mountains and the sea, and finally a solitary breakdown in Turin -- it was the most thoroughly Romantic career the nineteenth century ever offered.

Nevertheless, his need to communicate was stronger than he himself believed, much stronger at any rate than Goethe’s, who was one of the most taciturn of men despite the social life that surrounded him. Goethe’s Elective Affinities is a secretive book, not to speak of Wilhelm Meister’s Years of Wandering and Faust II. His most profound poems are monologues. The aphorisms of Nietzsche are never monologues; nor are the Night Song and the Dionysus Dithyrambs completely monologues. An invisible witness is always present, always watching. That is why he remained at all times a believing Protestant. All the Romantics lived in schools and coteries, and Nietzsche invented something of the sort by imagining that his friends were, as listeners, his intellectual peers. Or again, he created in the remote past and future a circle of intimates, only to complain to them, like Novalis and Hölderlin, of his loneliness. His whole life was filled with the torture and bliss of renunciation, of the desire to surrender and to force his inner nature, to bind himself in same way to something that always proved to be foreign to himself. Yet that is how he developed insight into the soul of epochs and cultures that could never reveal their secrets to self-assured, Classical minds.

This organic pessimism of his being explains the works and the sequence in which they appeared. We who were not able to experience the great flourishing of materialism in the mid-nineteenth century should never cease to be amazed at the audacity that went into the writing, at such a tender age and contrary to the opinions of contemporary philological scholarship, of The Birth of Tragedy. The famous antithesis of Apollo and Dionysus contains much more than even today’s average reader can comprehend. The most significant thing about that essay was not that its author discovered an inner conflict in "Classical" Greece, the Greece that had been the purest manifestation of "humanity" for all others except perhaps Bachofen and Burckhardt. More important still was that even at that age he possessed the superior vision that allowed him to peer into the heart of whole cultures as if they were organic, living individuals. We need only read Mommsen and Curtius to notice the tremendous difference. The others regarded Greece simply as the sum of conditions and events occurring within a certain span of time and space. Our present-day method of looking at history owes its origin, but not its depth, to Romanticism. In Nietzsche’s day, history, as far as Greece and Rome were concerned, was little more than applied philology, and as far as the Western peoples were concerned little more than applied archival research. It invented the idea that history began with written records.

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The liberation from this view came out of the spirit of music. Nietzsche the musician invented the art of feeling one’s way into the style and rhythm of foreign cultures, aside from and often in contradiction to the written documents. But what did written documents matter anyway? With the word "Dionysus" Nietzsche discovered what the archaeologists eventually brought to light thirty years later -- the underworld and the undersoul of Classical culture, and ultimately the spiritual force that underlies all of history. Historical description had become the psychology of history. The eighteenth century and Classicism, including Goethe, believed in "culture" -- a single, true, mental and moral culture as the task of a unified humanity. From the very beginning Nietzsche spoke quite unforcedly of "cultures" as of natural phenomena that simply began at a certain time and place, without reason or goal or whatever an all-too-human interpretation might wish to make of it. "At a certain time" -- the point was made clear from the very first time in Nietzsche’s book that all of these cultures, truths, arts, and attitudes are peculiar to a mode of existence that makes its appearance at one certain time and then disappears for good. The idea that every historical fact is the expression of a spiritual stimulus, that cultures, epochs, estates, and races have a soul like that of individuals -- this was such a great step forward in historical depth-analysis that even the author himself was at the time not aware of its full implications.

However, one of the things the Romantic yearns for is to escape from himself. This yearning, together with the great misfortune of having been born in that particular period in history, caused Nietzsche to serve as a herald for the most banal form of realism in his second book, Human, All-Too-Human. These were the years when Western Rationalism, after abandoning its glorious beginnings with Rousseau, Voltaire, and Lessing, ended as a farce. Darwin’s theories, together with the new faith in matter and energy, became the religion of the big cities; the soul was regarded as a chemical process involving proteins, and the meaning of the universe boiled down to the social ethics of enlightened philistines. Not a single fiber of Nietzsche’s being was party to these developments. He had already given vent to his disgust in the first of his "Untimely Meditations," but the scholar in him envied Chamfort and Vauvenargues and their lighthearted and somewhat cynical manner of treating serious topics in the style of the grand monde. The artist and enthusiast in him was perplexed by the massive sobriety of an Eugen Dühring, which he mistook for true greatness. Priestly character that he was, he proceeded to unmask religion as prejudice. Now the goal of life was knowledge, and the goal of history became for him the development of intelligence. He said this in a tone of ridicule that served to heighten his own passion, precisely because it hurt to do so, and because he suffered from the unrealizable longing to create in the midst of his own time a seductive picture of the future that would contrast with everything he was born into.

While the ecstatic utilitarianism of the Darwinian school was extremely remote from his way of thinking, he took from it certain secret revelations that no true Darwinist ever dreamed of. In The Dawn of Day and The Gay Science there appeared, in addition to a way of looking at things that was meant to be prosaic and even scornful, another technique of examining the world -- a restrained, quiet, admiring attitude that penetrated deeper than any mere realist could ever hope to achieve. Who, before Nietzsche, had ever spoken in the same way of the soul of an age, an estate, a profession, of the priest and the hero, or of man and woman? Who had ever been able to summarize the psychology of whole centuries in an almost metaphysical formula? Who had ever postulated in history, rather than facts and "eternal truths," the types of heroic, suffering, visionary, strong, and diseased life as the actual substance of events as they happen?

That was a wholly new kind of living forms, and could have been discovered only by a born musician with a feeling for rhythm and melody. Following this presentation of the physiognomy of the ages of history, a science of which he was and will always be the creator, he reached to the outer limits of his vision to describe the symbols of a future, his future, which he needed in order to be cleansed of the residue of contemporary thought. In one sublime moment he conjured the image of Eternal Recurrence, as it had been vaguely surmised by German mystics in the Middle Ages -- an endless circling in the eternal void, in the night of immeasurable eons, a way to lose one’s soul utterly in the mysterious depths of the cosmos, regardless of whether such things are scientifically justifiable or not. Into the midst of this vision he placed the Superman and his prophet, Zarathustra, representing the incarnate meaning of human history, in all its brevity, on the planet that was his home. All three of these creations were completely distant, impossible to relate to contemporary conditions. For this very reason they have exerted a curious attraction on every German soul. For in every German soul there is a place where dreams are dreamed of social ideals and a finer future for mankind. Goethe lacked such a corner in his soul, and that is why he never became a truly popular personage. The people sensed this lack, and thus they called him aloof and frivolous. We shall never overcome this reverie of ours; it represents within us the unlived portion of a great past.

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Once having arrived at this height, Nietzsche posed the question as to the value of the world, a question that had accompanied him since childhood. By doing so he brought to an end the period of Western philosophy that had considered the types of knowledge as its central problem. This new question likewise had two answers: a Classical and a Romantic answer or, to put it in the terms of the time, a social and an aristocratic answer. "Life has value to the same degree as it serves the totality" -- that was the answer of the educated Englishmen who had learned at Oxford to distinguish between what a person stated as his considered opinion and what the same person did at decisive moments as a politician or businessman. "Life is all the more valuable, the stronger its instincts are" -- that was the answer given by Nietzsche, whose own life was delicate and easily injured. Be that as it may, for the very reason that he was remote from the active life he was able to grasp its mysteries. His ultimate understanding of real history was that the Will to Power is stronger than all doctrines and principles, and that it has always made and forever will make history, no matter what others may prove or preach against it. He did not concern himself with the conceptual analysis of "will"; to him the most important thing was the image of active, creative, destructive Will in history. The "concept" of will gave way to the "aspect" of will. He did not teach, he simply pointed matters out: "Thus it was, and thus it shall be." Even if theoretical and priestly individuals will it a thousand times differently, the primeval instincts of life will still emerge victorious.

What a difference between Schopenhauer’s world view and this one! And between Nietzsche’s contemporaries, with their sentimental plans for improving the world, and this demonstration of hard facts! Such an accomplishment places this last Romantic thinker at the very pinnacle of his century. In this we are all his pupils, whether we wish to be or not, whether we know him well or not. His vision has already imperceptibly conquered the world. No one writes history any more without seeing things in his light.

He undertook to evaluate life using facts as the sole criteria, and the facts taught that the stronger or weaker will to succeed determines whether life is valuable or worthless, that goodness and success are almost mutually exclusive. His image of the world reached its culmination with a magnificent critique of morality in which, instead of preaching morality, he evaluated the moralities that have arisen in history -- not according to any "true" moral system but according to their success. This was indeed a "revaluation of all values," and although we now know that he misstated the antithesis of Christian and master-morality as a result of his personal suffering during the 1880’s, nonetheless the ultimate antithesis of human existence lay behind his statement; he sought it, and sensed it, and believed that he had captured it with his formula.

If instead of "master morality" we were to say the instinctive practice of men who are determined to act, and instead of "Christian morality" the theoretical ways in which contemplative persons evaluate, then we would have before us the tragic nature of all mankind, whose dominant types will forever misunderstand, combat, and suffer from each other. Deed and thought, reality and ideal, success and redemption, strength and goodness -- these are forces that will never come to terms with one another. Yet in historical reality it is not the ideal, goodness, or morality that prevails -- their kingdom is not of this world -- but rather decisiveness, energy, presence of mind, practical talent. This fact cannot be gotten rid of with laments and moral condemnations. Man is thus, life is thus, history is thus.

Precisely because all action was foreign to him, because he knew only how to think, Nietzsche understood the fundamental essence of the active life better than any great active personality in the world. But the more he understood, the more shyly he withdrew from contact with action. In this way his Romantic destiny reached fulfillment. Under the force of these last insights, the final stage of his career took shape in strict contrast to that of Goethe, who was not foreign to action but who regarded his true calling as poetry, and therefore restrained his actions cheerfully.

Goethe, the Privy Councillor and Minister, the celebrated focal point of European intellect, was able to confess during his last year of life, in the final act of his Faust, that he looked upon his life as having attained fulfillment. "Tarry now, thou art so fair!" -- that is a phrase expressive of the most blissful satiety, spoken at the moment when the active physical work is completed under Faust’s command, to endure now and forevermore. It was the great and final symbol of the Classicism to which this life had been dedicated, and which led from the controlled cultural education of the eighteenth century to the controlled exercise of personal talent of the nineteenth.

Yet one cannot create distance, one can only proclaim it. Just as Faust’s death brought a Classical career to an end, the mind of the loneliest of wanderers vanished with a curse upon his age during those mysterious days in Turin, when he watched the last mists disappear from his image of the world and the highest peaks come ever clear into view. This puzzling final episode of his life is the very reason Nietzsche’s existence has had the stronger influence on the world ever since. Goethe’s life was a full life, and that means that it brought something to completion. Countless Germans will honor Goethe, live with him, and seek his support; but he can never transform them. Nietzsche’s effect is a transformation, for the melody of his vision did not end with his death. The Romantic attitude is eternal; though its form may at times be unified and complete, its thought never is. It will always conquer new areas, either destroying them or changing them radically. Nietzsche’s type of vision will pass on to new friends and enemies, and these in turn will hand it down to other followers and adversaries. Even if someday no one reads his works any longer, his vision will endure and be creative.

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His work is not a part of our past to be enjoyed; it is a task that makes servants of us all. As a task it is independent of his books and their subject matter, and thus a problem of German destiny. In an age that does not tolerate otherworldly ideals and takes vengeance on their authors, when the only thing of recognized value is the kind of ruthless action that Nietzsche baptized with the name of Cesare Borgia, when the morality of the ideologues and world improvers is limited more radically than ever to superfluous and innocuous writing and speech-making -- in such an age, unless we learn to act as real history wants us to act, we will cease to exist as a people. We cannot live without a form of wisdom that does not merely console in difficult situations, but helps one to get out of them. This kind of hard wisdom made its first appearance in German thought with Nietzsche, despite the fact that it was cloaked in thoughts and impressions he had gathered from other sources. To the people most famished for history in all the world, he showed history as it really is. His heritage is the obligation to live history in the same way.

dimanche, 23 février 2020

The Revolutionary Conservative Critique of Oswald Spengler

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The Revolutionary Conservative Critique of Oswald Spengler 

Ex: https://motpol.nu

Oswald Spengler is by now well-known as one of the major thinkers of the German Conservative Revolution of the early 20th Century. In fact, he is frequently cited as having been one of the most determining intellectual influences on German Conservatism of the interwar period – along with Arthur Moeller van den Bruck and Ernst Jünger – to the point where his cultural pessimist philosophy is seen to be representative of Revolutionary Conservative views in general (although in reality most Revolutionary Conservatives held more optimistic views).[1]

To begin our discussion, we shall provide a brief overview of the major themes of Oswald Spengler’s philosophy.[2] According to Spengler, every High Culture has its own “soul” (this refers to the essential character of a Culture) and goes through predictable cycles of birth, growth, fulfillment, decline, and demise which resemble that of the life of a plant. To quote Spengler:

A Culture is born in the moment when a great soul awakens out of the proto-spirituality of ever-childish humanity, and detaches itself, a form from the formless, a bounded and mortal thing from the boundless and enduring. It blooms on the soil of an exactly-definable landscape, to which plant-wise it remains bound. It dies when the soul has actualized the full sum of its possibilities in the shape of peoples, languages, dogmas, arts, states, sciences, and reverts into the proto-soul.[3]

There is an important distinction in this theory between Kultur (“Culture”) and Zivilisation (“Civilization”). Kultur refers to the beginning phase of a High Culture which is marked by rural life, religiosity, vitality, will-to-power, and ascendant instincts, while Zivilisation refers to the later phase which is marked by urbanization, irreligion, purely rational intellect, mechanized life, and decadence. Although he acknowledged other High Cultures, Spengler focused particularly on three High Cultures which he distinguished and made comparisons between: the Magian, the Classical (Greco-Roman), and the present Western High Culture. He held the view that the West, which was in its later Zivilisation phase, would soon enter a final imperialistic and “Caesarist” stage – a stage which, according to Spengler, marks the final flash before the end of a High Culture.[4]

Perhaps Spengler’s most important contribution to the Conservative Revolution, however, was his theory of “Prussian Socialism,” which formed the basis of his view that conservatives and socialists should unite. In his work he argued that the Prussian character, which was the German character par excellence, was essentially socialist. For Spengler, true socialism was primarily a matter of ethics rather than economics. This ethical, Prussian socialism meant the development and practice of work ethic, discipline, obedience, a sense of duty to the greater good and the state, self-sacrifice, and the possibility of attaining any rank by talent. Prussian socialism was differentiated from Marxism and liberalism. Marxism was not true socialism because it was materialistic and based on class conflict, which stood in contrast with the Prussian ethics of the state. Also in contrast to Prussian socialism was liberalism and capitalism, which negated the idea of duty, practiced a “piracy principle,” and created the rule of money.[5]

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Oswald Spengler’s theories of predictable culture cycles, of the separation between Kultur and Zivilisation, of the Western High Culture as being in a state of decline, and of a non-Marxist form of socialism, have all received a great deal of attention in early 20th Century Germany, and there is no doubt that they had influenced Right-wing thought at the time. However, it is often forgotten just how divergent the views of many Revolutionary Conservatives were from Spengler’s, even if they did study and draw from his theories, just as an overemphasis on Spenglerian theory in the Conservative Revolution has led many scholars to overlook the variety of other important influences on the German Right. Ironically, those who were influenced the most by Spengler – not only the German Revolutionary Conservatives, but also later the Traditionalists and the New Rightists – have mixed appreciation with critique. It is this reality which needs to be emphasized: the majority of Conservative intellectuals who have appreciated Spengler have simultaneously delivered the very significant message that Spengler’s philosophy needs to be viewed critically, and that as a whole it is not acceptable.

The most important critique of Spengler among the Revolutionary Conservative intellectuals was that made by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck.[6] Moeller agreed with certain basic ideas in Spengler’s work, including the division between Kultur and Zivilisation, with the idea of the decline of the Western Culture, and with his concept of socialism, which Moeller had already expressed in an earlier and somewhat different form in Der Preussische Stil (“The Prussian Style,” 1916).[7] However, Moeller resolutely rejected Spengler’s deterministic and fatalistic view of history, as well as the notion of destined culture cycles. Moeller asserted that history was essentially unpredictable and unfixed: “There is always a beginning (…) History is the story of that which is not calculated.”[8] Furthermore, he argued that history should not be seen as a “circle” (in Spengler’s manner) but rather a “spiral,” and a nation in decline could actually reverse its decline if certain psychological changes and events could take place within it.[9]

md30309192093.jpgThe most radical contradiction with Spengler made by Moeller van den Bruck was the rejection of Spengler’s cultural morphology, since Moeller believed that Germany could not even be classified as part of the “West,” but rather that it represented a distinct culture in its own right, one which even had more in common in spirit with Russia than with the “West,” and which was destined to rise while France and England fell.[10] However, we must note here that the notion that Germany is non-Western was not unique to Moeller, for Werner Sombart, Edgar Julius Jung, and Othmar Spann have all argued that Germans belonged to a very different cultural type from that of the Western nations, especially from the culture of the Anglo-Saxon world. For these authors, Germany represented a culture which was more oriented towards community, spirituality, and heroism, while the modern “West” was more oriented towards individualism, materialism, and capitalistic ethics. They further argued that any presence of Western characteristics in modern Germany was due to a recent poisoning of German culture by the West which the German people had a duty to overcome through sociocultural revolution.[11]

Another key intellectual of the German Conservative Revolution, Hans Freyer, also presented a critical analysis of Spenglerian philosophy.[12] Due to his view that that there is no certain and determined progress in history, Freyer agreed with Spengler’s rejection of the linear view of progress. Freyer’s philosophy of culture also emphasized cultural particularism and the disparity between peoples and cultures, which was why he agreed with Spengler in terms of the basic conception of cultures possessing a vital center and with the idea of each culture marking a particular kind of human being. Being a proponent of a community-oriented state socialism, Freyer found Spengler’s anti-individualist “Prussian socialism” to be agreeable. Throughout his works, Freyer had also discussed many of the same themes as Spengler – including the integrative function of war, hierarchies in society, the challenges of technological developments, cultural form and unity – but in a distinct manner oriented towards social theory.[13]

41KpKuhd2tL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgHowever, Freyer argued that the idea of historical (cultural) types and that cultures were the product of an essence which grew over time were already expressed in different forms long before Spengler in the works of Karl Lamprecht, Wilhelm Dilthey, and Hegel. It is also noteworthy that Freyer’s own sociology of cultural categories differed from Spengler’s morphology. In his earlier works, Freyer focused primarily on the nature of the cultures of particular peoples (Völker) rather than the broad High Cultures, whereas in his later works he stressed the interrelatedness of all the various European cultures across the millennia. Rejecting Spengler’s notion of cultures as being incommensurable, Freyer’s “history regarded modern Europe as composed of ‘layers’ of culture from the past, and Freyer was at pains to show that major historical cultures had grown by drawing upon the legacy of past cultures.”[14] Finally, rejecting Spengler’s historical determinism, Freyer had “warned his readers not to be ensnared by the powerful organic metaphors of the book [Der Untergang des Abendlandes] … The demands of the present and of the future could not be ‘deduced’ from insights into the patterns of culture … but were ultimately based on ‘the wager of action’ (das Wagnis der Tat).”[15]

Yet another important Conservative critique of Spengler was made by the Italian Perennial Traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola, who was himself influenced by the Conservative Revolution but developed a very distinct line of thought. In his The Path of Cinnabar, Evola showed appreciation for Spengler’s philosophy, particularly in regards to the criticism of the modern rationalist and mechanized Zivilisation of the “West” and with the complete rejection of the idea of progress.[16] Some scholars, such as H.T. Hansen, stress the influence of Spengler’s thought on Evola’s thought, but it is important to remember that Evola’s cultural views differed significantly from Spengler’s due to Evola’s focus on what he viewed as the shifting role of a metaphysical Perennial Tradition across history as opposed to historically determined cultures.[17]

In his critique, Evola pointed out that one of the major flaws in Spengler’s thought was that he “lacked any understanding of metaphysics and transcendence, which embody the essence of each genuine Kultur.”[18] Spengler could analyze the nature of Zivilisation very well, but his irreligious views caused him to have little understanding of the higher spiritual forces which deeply affected human life and the nature of cultures, without which one cannot clearly grasp the defining characteristic of Kultur. As Robert Steuckers has pointed out, Evola also found Spengler’s analysis of Classical and Eastern cultures to be very flawed, particularly as a result of the “irrationalist” philosophical influences on Spengler: “Evola thinks this vitalism leads Spengler to say ‘things that make one blush’ about Buddhism, Taoism, Stoicism, and Greco-Roman civilization (which, for Spengler, is merely a civilization of ‘corporeity’).”[19] Also problematic for Evola was “Spengler’s valorization of ‘Faustian man,’ a figure born in the Age of Discovery, the Renaissance and humanism; by this temporal determination, Faustian man is carried towards horizontality rather than towards verticality.”[20]

Finally, we must make a note of the more recent reception of Spenglerian philosophy in the European New Right and Identitarianism: Oswald Spengler’s works have been studied and critiqued by nearly all major New Right and Identitarian intellectuals, including especially Alain de Benoist, Dominique Venner, Pierre Krebs, Guillaume Faye, Julien Freund, and Tomislav Sunic. The New Right view of Spenglerian theory is unique, but is also very much reminiscent of Revolutionary Conservative critiques of Moeller van den Bruck and Hans Freyer. Like Spengler and many other thinkers, New Right intellectuals also critique the “ideology of progress,” although it is significant that, unlike Spengler, they do not do this to accept a notion of rigid cycles in history nor to reject the existence of any progress. Rather, the New Right critique aims to repudiate the unbalanced notion of linear and inevitable progress which depreciates all past culture in favor of the present, while still recognizing that some positive progress does exist, which it advocates reconciling with traditional culture to achieve a more balanced cultural order.[21] Furthermore, addressing Spengler’s historical determinism, Alain de Benoist has written that “from Eduard Spranger to Theodor W. Adorno, the principal reproach directed at Spengler evidently refers to his ‘fatalism’ and to his ‘determinism.’ The question is to know up to what point man is prisoner of his own history. Up to what point can one no longer change his course?”[22]

MOM-ND.jpgLike their Revolutionary Conservative precursors, New Rightists reject any fatalist and determinist notion of history, and do not believe that any people is doomed to inevitable decline; “Decadence is therefore not an inescapable phenomenon, as Spengler wrongly thought,” wrote Pierre Krebs, echoing the thoughts of other authors.[23] While the New Rightists accept Spengler’s idea of Western decline, they have posed Europe and the West as two antagonistic entities. According to this new cultural philosophy, the genuine European culture is represented by numerous traditions rooted in the most ancient European cultures, and must be posed as incompatible with the modern “West,” which is the cultural emanation of early modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and individualism.

The New Right may agree with Spengler that the “West” is undergoing decline, “but this original pessimism does not overshadow the purpose of the New Right: The West has encountered the ultimate phase of decadence, consequently we must definitively break with the Western civilization and recover the memory of a Europe liberated from the egalitarianisms…”[24] Thus, from the Identitarian perspective, the “West” is identified as a globalist and universalist entity which had harmed the identities of European and non-European peoples alike. In the same way that Revolutionary Conservatives had called for Germans to assert the rights and identity of their people in their time period, New Rightists call for the overcoming of the liberal, cosmopolitan Western Civilization to reassert the more profound cultural and spiritual identity of Europeans, based on the “regeneration of history” and a reference to their multi-form and multi-millennial heritage.

Lucian Tudor 

 

Notes

[1] An example of such an assertion regarding cultural pessimism can be seen in “Part III. Three Major Expressions of Neo-Conservatism” in Klemens von Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism: Its History and Dilemma in the Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968).

[2] To supplement our short summary of Spenglerian philosophy, we would like to note that one the best overviews of Spengler’s philosophy in English is Stephen M. Borthwick, “Historian of the Future: An Introduction to Oswald Spengler’s Life and Works for the Curious Passer-by and the Interested Student,” Institute for Oswald Spengler Studies, 2011, <https://sites.google.com/site/spenglerinstitute/Biography>.

[3] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West Vol. 1: Form and Actuality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926), p. 106.

[4] Ibid.

[5] See “Prussianism and Socialism” in Oswald Spengler, Selected Essays (Chicago: Gateway/Henry Regnery, 1967).

[6] For a good overview of Moeller’s thought, see Lucian Tudor, “Arthur Moeller van den Bruck: The Man & His Thought,” Counter-Currents Publishing, 17 August 2012, <http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/08/arthur-moeller-van-den-bruck-the-man-and-his-thought/>.

[7] See Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974), pp. 238-239, and Alain de Benoist, “Arthur Moeller van den Bruck,” Elementos: Revista de Metapolítica para una Civilización Europea No. 15 (11 June 2011), p. 30, 40-42. <http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n__15>.

[8] Arthur Moeller van den Bruck as quoted in Benoist, “Arthur Moeller van den Bruck,” p. 41.

[9] Ibid., p. 41.

[10] Ibid., pp. 41-43.

[11] See Fritz K. Ringer, The Decline of the German Mandarins: The German Academic Community, 1890–1933 (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1990), pp. 183 ff.; John J. Haag, Othmar Spann and the Politics of “Totality”: Corporatism in Theory and Practice (Ph.D. Thesis, Rice University, 1969), pp. 24-26, 78, 111.; Alexander Jacob’s introduction and “Part I: The Intellectual Foundations of Politics” in Edgar Julius Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, Vol. 1 (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1995).

[12] For a brief introduction to Freyer’s philosophy, see Lucian Tudor, “Hans Freyer: The Quest for Collective Meaning,” Counter-Currents Publishing, 22 February 2013, <http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/02/hans-freyer-the-quest-for-collective-meaning/>.

[13] See Jerry Z. Muller, The Other God That Failed: Hans Freyer and the Deradicalization of German Conservatism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), pp. 78-79, 120-121.

[14] Ibid., p. 335.

[15] Ibid., p. 79.

[16] See Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar (London: Integral Tradition Publishing, 2009), pp. 203-204.

[17] See H.T. Hansen, “Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors,” in Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2002), pp. 15-17.

[18] Evola, Path of Cinnabar, p. 204.

[19] Robert Steuckers, “Evola & Spengler”, Counter-Currents Publishing, 20 September 2010, <http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/09/evola-spengler/> .

[20] Ibid.

[21] In a description that applies as much to the New Right as to the Eurasianists, Alexander Dugin wrote of a vision in which “the formal opposition between tradition and modernity is removed… the realities superseded by the period of Enlightenment obtain a legitimate place – these are religion, ethnos, empire, cult, legend, etc. In the same time, a technological breakthrough, economical development, social fairness, labour liberation, etc. are taken from the Modern” (See Alexander Dugin, “Multipolarism as an Open Project,” Journal of Eurasian Affairs Vol. 1, No. 1 (September 2013), pp. 12-13).

[22] Alain de Benoist, “Oswald Spengler,” Elementos: Revista de Metapolítica para una Civilización Europea No. 10 (15 April 2011), p. 13.<http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n__10>.

[23] Pierre Krebs, Fighting for the Essence (London: Arktos, 2012), p. 34.

[24] Sebastian J. Lorenz, “El Decadentismo Occidental, desde la Konservative Revolution a la Nouvelle Droite,”Elementos No. 10, p. 5.

samedi, 22 février 2020

Antaios, spiritual sources of Europe

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Antaios, spiritual sources of Europe

Interview with “New Antaios” (Thor E. Leichhardt)

(interview taken by Robert Steuckers, late spring 2011).

(http://www.new-antaios.net)

Who are you? What’s the main purpose of your “New-Antaios” project? And why do you refer to the mythological figure of Antaios? Is it a revival of Jünger’s and Eliade’s Antaios or an English counterpart of the former Antaios journal of the Belgian novelist Christopher Gérard?

I was born in Agram (a German name for the city of Zagreb) in Croatia just over 42 years ago. I have lived in Zagreb during the times while my country was occupied by Yugoslav communist regime led by dictator Josip Broz Tito. There I have studied Political Sciences at the University of Zagreb and later on Philosophy and Psychology at Hrvatski Studiji, University of Zagreb. I have studied as well at Universities in Scandinavia, United Kingdom and Germany. I am coming from a family which is of an ethnic German heritage.

Antaios is uniting Earth and Sea, soil and water without whom both there is no life. Antaios father was Poseidon, the God of Sea and mother Gaia of the Earth. Antaios or Antaeus in Greek means as well ‘’against’’ so in this way ‘’The New Antaios’’ is in cultural and philosophical terms set to make an intellectual bulwark against that what is destroying Our European culture, tradition, heritage, folklore and with that ultimately our roots.

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Journal ‘’The New Antaios’’ is the continuation of the original ‘’Antaios’’ Journal of Mircea Eliade and Ernst Jünger so we can say it is a revival albeit the Journal will/is as well reflecting on all that is happening in these postmodern times. Hence Journal represents what I call ‘’Postmodern European thought’’ and as such serves primarily as an outlet for the postmodern philosophers and thinkers.

I do respect and highly admire Christopher Gerard and his work on Antaios in years from years 1992 to 2001. Like Gerard I dislike New Age teachings and don’t have any interest in TraditionalistSchool. The New Antaios is made of four sections which are making the whole Journal. First part is ‘’Plethon’’ the name I gave after the Byzantine Hellenistic philosopher George Gemistos Plethon and articles in that section are related to Hellenism, Heathenism in a scholarly way. Contributions will be made as well by certain authors from Asatru background. Heathenism and Heithni comes from the Old Norse word heiðni which was used to describe the pre-Christian spiritual beliefs and practices of the Northern European peoples. The word Heithinn (or Heathen) comes from the Old Norse word heiðinn, an adjective to describe the ideals of Heithni (ex. Heithinn ethics – those ethics which conform to Heithni), or as a noun to describe those who live by the ethic and world-view of Heithni (ex. He is Heithinn, those people are Heithnir [plural]). Heiðni also means ‘high, pure, clear’ in Icelandic language. Word also describes person who is a dweller in place in the nature. Postmodern Heathens are those people who are reviving and revitalizing the tradition through serious study, research and dedication combined with the worship of the Gods and Goddesses or just simply in a way of their thinking without the ritual worship part. Personally I am keen of combining the two in a proper and balanced way. Second section is ‘’Aesthetic Vedanta’’ named after the book by Swami Bhaktivedanta Tripurari Maharaja, Western teacher of ancient tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Aesthetic Vedanta section deals with Hindutva, Hinduism,Vaishnavism and Gaudiya Vaishnavism exclusively. Third section is ‘’Suncovrat’’ a Croatian archaic word for the Solstice and deals with pre-Christian cultures which existed prior to Christianization of what makes nowadays Republic of Croatia. Fourth section is the main section of the Antaios Journal.

I would further like to point out that Christopher Gerard has no input whatsoever and isn’t in any way associated or affiliated with this new Journal. That is why the journal has prefix ‘’The New’’ to clearly mark difference with previous two journals. As far as I know Gerard’s Journal ceased to exist just on the turn of the century hence prefix ‘’The New’’ is completely appropriate here. While it will preserve and retain the original idea and concept with due respect to previous editors and directors of the Journal, it will be updated with short blog style texts, proper academic articles and essays which reflect on and take a critical eye of current state of affairs in different areas of philosophy, politics, culture, art, tradition, science and these postmodern times .

What was the maturation process of your worldview? Has it to do with Croatian politics or not?

I would say that I have spiritual and political Weltanschauung complementing each other. I was brought up in a family whose background is Christian albeit my late grandfather and my late father were both reading authors like Nietzsche and Jünger and considere themselves to be Pagans. I was brought up on stories from ancient Greece and Old Norse and Germanic tales whom my friends in school didn’t even hear about. My own father was a Heathen. He wrote small and up until now unpublished treatise on what he calls ‘’Raan’’. In this book Raan is knowledge of the Gods and Goddesses who once in previous Yugas did visit our planet. In this work he is influenced by Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s philosophy.

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After spending years at the University in Croatia studying Political sciences in Zagreb I went to become a monk in Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. The reason for that was again in the Family. During the mid to late 80es my family got interested in Gaudiya Vaishnavism so I started reading and studying different books of Vedic knowledge like Upanishads, Puranas and Bhagavad Gita. I have discovered in mid 90es about Traditionalist School, Rene Guenon and Julius Evola. In years to come I have been reading and studying about diverse cultures, traditions of Europe and parallel with that I got initiated in the Traditional Gaudiya Vaishnavism while travelling to one of my spiritual pilgrimages to India.

Hence as a result, my own spiritual belief system would be Traditional Gaudiya Vaishnavism, while I permanently study and read about Indo-European beliefs of our ancestors, Ostrogothic pre-Christian beliefs, Old Norse, Hellenic and Germanic pre-Christian belief systems and Mithraism. Vedic knowledge in my opinion is very important key to unlock many secrets of the European tradition itself. In line with that I very much admire Hindutva writers such as Sita Ram Goel and Ram Swarup, Indian historian Bal Gangadhar Tilak , contemporary scholar from Belgium Dr. Koenraad Elst as well as Alain Danielou who are all big influence. Next influence would be primarily my own teacher Sri Ananta das Babaji Maharaja by whom I was directly initiated in Parivar or Traditional line which goes back many centuries ago, then authors such as: Sri Kunjabihari das Babaji Maharaja (who is the direct teacher of my own teacher Ananta das Babaji Maharaja), Kundali das, Binode Bihari das Babaji and Sripad Bhaktivedanta Tripurari Swami Maharaja whose certain books and teachings are in my opinion the Gaudiya Vaishnava answer to Traditionalist school. There should be veneration of our ancestors together with the firm belief in divine origins of Our Ancestral lines, veneration of Nature and veneration of the Gods and Goddesses which are part of our European Identity. Perhaps it would be the best to quote here another great influence of mine, Dominique Venner: ”To live according to tradition is to conform to the ideal that incarnates, to cultivate excellence according to its standard, to rediscover its roots, to transmit its heritage, to be in solidarity with the people who uphold it. ”

Croatian politics were influential to my worldview and perhaps it would be better to give a bit of background explanation from the not so well known Croatian history. Certain people would like such knowledge to remain hidden as such. In my opinion Croatian people have a unique position in Europe. There are people who label Croatia Western Balkans which is a complete nonsense. According to what I was reading from diverse sources Croats aren’t only just Slavs and are mixture of Slavenized Germanic tribes, Celtic tribes, Illyrians, ancient Romans, ancient Greeks and Indo-Persians. Over the span of more than half a century Croat academics and researchers who were proclaiming such theories were executed or ‘’disappeared’’. Persecutions started in times of the monarchist Yugoslavia up to late 80es of 20th century in the communist regime. Names like Haraqwati and Haraxvati which paleographic expert Dr. Kalyanaraman has found were names of the tribes, etnonymes which clearly show how early we can find about Croatian origins. Places where such names were found were part of Bharata Varsha or what is today India. Archaeologists have found along names emblems and coats of arms which look very much similar to Croatian coat of arms with the twenty – five field “chessboard”. In a similar way the remnants and artefacts were also found when those tribes have moved from what is today India to Persia and those names can be found in 6th century before Christ in places like Bagistan and Persepolis and also with ancient peoples like Hurrwuhé. Ancestors of today’s Croats were worshippers of Saraswati Goddess of Vedic India (Goddess of learning, arts and music) and from her name comes originally name Hrvati. Croats are therefore known as Hrvati, Haravaitii, Arachosians or Sarasvatians, descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the Harauti province & the Haravaiti or the Sarasvati River. The recent hravati /hrvati [sic] hence comes from haraxvaiti and earlier spelt as haraquati (arachotos, arachosia, araxes). Sarasvati is the river and Arachosia being the region.” Their mention is as well on the legendary inscriptions of Darius the Great. Early Croatian pre-Christian religion was derived from primordial Persian Sun-worship. Even the Croatian word for tie is kravat(a) which is again another connecting word.

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Furthermore, the name of the Croatian capital, Zagreb, is related to the Zagros mountain range of Iran. The Dinara mountains in Dalmatia may be connected to Mount Dinar (Dene) of Iran. When the tribes came to what is nowadays Croatia they have mingled with the numerous local Slavic (or Slavenized Germanic tribes) tribes and adopted the Slavic language from them. Meanwhile after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire Croats organized the local Slavs into a state and gave them their national name. Before the invasion of the Avars ca. 560 the White or Western Croats created along with the Antes a great state extending north of the Carpathians from the upper Elbe to the upper Dniester. (35: Niederle, 263-266; Dvornik, The Slavs, 277-297) R. Heinzel is of the opinion that the Carpathians of the old Germanic Hervarsaga took their name from the Croats who called them the Harvate mountains i.e. Croatian mountains. (36: Heinzel, 499; Dvornik, op. cit., 284, sq.)” (Mandic 1970, Ch.1)

There are similarities in folklore as well. “There are old Croatian customs and national poems that have been cited as evidencing lingering traces of the fire and sun worship of the Persians. Fire, the essence of human origin, the sun, and the great boiling cauldron around which the warriors spring in the age old kolo or circle dance, all these are ingredients in the national lore of the Croatian nation. The Croat vilas or fairy witches resemble the peris of Iranian mythology. Then there is the legendary Sviatozov, the personification of strength, a being almost too huge for the earth to bear. He is strongly reminiscent of the “elephant-bodied” Rustum of Persian legend.” (Guldescu 1964, pt.1.II) “It should be noted that only the thesis of the Iranian origin of the Croats can explain the name “Horvath”, the title of a Croat dignitary Banus, the names “White” and “Red Croatian”, and the Bogumile phenomenon (like Cathars in Occitania). According to this theory, the Croats were a branch of the Caucasian Iranians, who lived somewhere in the western Caucasus during the era of the Roman Emperors. The Caucasian Anten were another branch of this group.” (Dobrovich 1963)

Research shows clearly everything what I have written and quoted above to be the truth although some oppose that theory as they want to preserve artificial Panslavism , idea of Yugosphere ( the idea for the 3rd united Yugoslavia without Slovenia and with Albania) under the guise of ‘’Western Balkans’’. In Croatian language there is an excellent word I really like: ‘’Samosvojnost’’. Samosvojnost means Identity in Croatian language. In my opinion Croatian identity should and must be preserved only through the independent republic of Croatia or as it is now. Hence Croatia does not need any new unions. Friendship yes, but union definitely not.

Serbia on the other hand would like to establish themselves as a regional leader. They play with naive Croatian government and Croatian president Josipović while behind their back they lobby in EU to make what was once war in ex-Yugoslavia look as a ‘’civil war’’ and accuse Croatia who were defending themselves . They do have some allies and friends in Europe who would like to see them as the leaders in the region. Those allies on the other hand actually don’t consider Serbia as a friend but as a tool for their own means and nothing else. It is a travesty of justice to see Croatian generals such as Gotovina and Markač to be sitting in Hague so just that Croatia can get a green light for EU so that bureaurocrats in EU they can say that ‘’all sides’’ were equally responsible. I would like to ask the question then. What about the people and country of Croatia which was invaded, whose homes are burned and destroyed? According to that ‘’theory’’ Croatians should not have been defending themselves as they were supposed just to sit and wait to be erased from the face of this planet.

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Croatia has been suffering since demise of Austria-Hungary. It wasn’t good for Croatians either to be in any previous unions but union with Serbs has proven to be so far the worst one. Union with Austria-Hungary was far from perfect but at least we were in a monarchy which had culture and tradition. Croatian people don’t need anything anymore other than their own independence and peace with the neighbouring nations.

How the time is passing by I am less and less interested in Croatian politics. As a result I won’t be writing in Croatian language anymore since there is no purpose for it. I will rather use and invest my energy, effort and time for something I think will yield certain results than to write constantly for something what will anyway reach just a handful of people or just completely wither away. I have learned that from an example of the members of the ‘’Croatian Historical Revolution’’. Over the years I have read articles by leading Croatian intellectuals and scholars such as Dr. Tomislav Sunić then Dr. Jure Georges Vujić, prof. Amir Riđanović, prof. Petar Bujas (all members of Croatian group similar to G.R.E.C.E. – Arhelinea – www.arhelinea.com ) Dr. Zoran Kravar, then Croat republican conservatives such as: Tomislav Jonjić, Mario Marcos Ostojić, Hrvoje Hitrec, Croatian scientists such as : Dr. Vitomir Belaj, prof. Tomo Vinšćak, Dr. Radoslav Katičić, and prof. Mario Kopić and Dr. Hrvoje Lorković (of whom we can’t hear these days what is a real tragedy since Dr. Lorković is one of Croatian important intellectuals). Croatians should be happy to have such giants of free thinking yet many in Croatia don’t even know about some of them. That is for me completely bizarre. If one is carefully reading articles and books by above mentioned intellectuals and scholars one can only see that many of them are actually disillusioned with the current state of Croatia altogether. That is evident even from their articles. Hence as a result of that Zoran Kravar is not interested in any kind of politics neither he wants to be or get involved (yet he is one of authorities on Ernst Jünger in Croatia) same is with prof. Tomo Vinšćak as well, while others like Mario Kopić and Dr. Tom Sunić are publishing their new books outside of Croatia because there is hardly any interest in their ideas in Croatia. It seems that Dr. Jure Georges Vujić will publish his new books as well outside of Croatia. That is unavoidable since Croatians are lethargic in finding new solutions in political dialogue or any kind of new political ideas. They would rather stick to something what is completely falling apart while thinking that ‘’it would get better’’. I have a best friend in Croatia whose political ideas are in minority and while he wants betterment in any spheres of Croatian life (including politics and his fight against corruption) he doesn’t have as much support as he actually would and should get. It is the apathy and lethargy which are deeply rooted in certain parts of Croatian nation (thankfully not all of it) with its roots in the fear of change and political and historical lower self-esteem (which is really uncalled for, since Croats have such rich history, tradition and culture of whom they should be absolutely proud of) . The question they often ask themselves is: ‘’ What would happen if things change? ‘’ and because of constantly repeating that question they are indeed unable to make any significant change. I believe firmly that in the forthcoming parliamentary elections Croats will elect again some party or coalition of parties which will not bring nothing new to already stagnating Croatian political scene. In the right as well as left and centre there is nobody who could potentially have a quality for the deep changes Croatia needs desperately. In the right side of spectrum and as well on centre and left one can just see political opportunists in Croatia who long for their seat in parliament (called Sabor in Croatia) or certain position. That is their goal before anything else I am afraid, of course my humble bow to those politicians who aren’t like that and are in significant, significant minority.

My own political interests nowadays evolve around Eurocontinentalism and European Identitarian Communitarianism. Even though I do speak Croatian language I consider myself first and foremost an ethnic German with Prussian mentality, after that I am an European.

Eurocontinentalism in this case represents strong continental Europe which stands between USA and Great Britain on one and Russia on the other side. The question of Europe here is not just a matter a blood; it is spiritual, historical and cultural phenomenon.
This further quote actually explains some of my thinking on the matter: ‘’Implicit in this view is the assumption that the body is inseparable from the spirit animating it, that biological difference, as a distinct vitality, is another form of spiritual difference, and that the significance of such differences (given that man is a spiritual being, not merely an animal) is best seen in terms of culture and history rather than nineteenth-century biological science. American “white racialists” with their materialist-technical conceptions of race actually diminish the significance of the Racial Question by reducing it to a simple matter of genes, biology, equations….’’ ( Mladikov – The Phora Forum)

2013_05_Venner.jpgDominique Venner is in my opinion the greatest influence for the Eurocontinentalism and my own political Weltanschauung with his writings, articles and books. In Croatia some of his books are available as well.

His thoughts describe the best what I think further:

‘’ The idea that is made of love is no more frivolous than the tragic sense of history that characterizes the European spirit. It defines the civilization, its immanent spirit, and each person’s sense of life, in the same way the idea shapes one’s work. Is the sole point of work to make money, as they believe across the Atlantic, or, besides ensuring a just return, is it to realize oneself in a job well done, even in such apparently trivial things as keeping one’s house. This idea urged our ancestors to create beauty in their most humble and most lofty efforts. To be conscious of the idea is to give a metaphysical sense to “memory.”

To cultivate our “memory,” to transmit it in a living way to our children, to contemplate the ordeals that history has imposed on us–this is requisite to any renaissance. Faced with the unprecedented challenges that the catastrophes of the twentieth century have imposed on us and the terrible demoralization it has fostered, we will discover in the reconquest of our racial “memory” the way to respond to these challenges, which were unknown to our ancestors, who lived in a stable, strong, well-defended world.

The consciousness of belonging to Europe, of Europeanness, is far older than the modern concept of Europe. It is apparent under the successive names of Hellenism, Celticness, Romanism, the Frankish Empire, or Christianity. Seen as an immemorial tradition, Europe is the product of a multi-millennial community of culture deriving its distinctness and unity from its constitutive peoples and a spiritual heritage whose supreme expression is the Homeric poems. ‘’

To read further perhaps I would recommend this article (and as well all other articles by Dominique Venner) : http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/06/europe-and-europeanness/#more-881

What were your main sources of inspiration?

I have mentioned some of them above. I would say that Ernst Jünger, Dominique Venner and Nicolás Gómez Dávila are the most significant and important influence for me personally simply because they complement each other perfectly and in my own opinion they represent the true European Tradition which Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel, Alain Danielou and Koenraad Elst represent in Hindu Tradition. Apart from them other authors, thinkers and philosophers I would say first of all I feel especially close regarding ideas and Weltanschauung are : Croatian thinkers and members of the ‘’Croatian Historical Revolution’’, Classical philosophers such as : Emperor Julian the Apostate, Porphyry, Celsus, Platonis Sallustius, Libanius, Julius Firmicus Maternus, Iamblichus, Gemistus Pletho(n) and other such philosophers, Erik von von Kuehnelt – Leddihn, Croatian philosopher prof. Mario Kopić, prof. Robert Steuckers, certain ideas of Alain de Benoist, certain ideas of Dr. Guillaume Faye, Dr. Georges Dumezil, Dr. Jan Assmann, Mircea Eliade, Emile Cioran, Alain Danielou, German greatest living poet Rolf Schilling, Oswald Spengler, Carl Schmitt, German Romanticism period authors and artists, Felix Dahn, Antoine Saint du Exupery, certain ideas of Julius Evola, Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt, composers Arvo Part and Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Ralph Vaughan Williams, postmodern musical projects such as Triarii, Arditi, In Slaughter Natives and new project Winglord, artists such as Ludwig Fahrenkrog, Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, Fidus, Caspar David Friedrich, Hermann Hendrich, Franz von Stuck, Carl Larsson, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Jean Béraud and others.

Who are the main Croatian thinkers according to you and that are completely ignored in the rest of the world? How could we discover them?

6891271.jpgMain and most influential Croatian thinkers were: Dr. Milan von Šufflay (picture), Dr. Ivo Pilar, Dr. Vinko Krišković, Dr. Filip Lukas, Dr. Julije (Julius) von Makanec, Dr. Stjepan Buć and authors involved with journal ‘’Spremnost’’ : prof. Tias Mortigjija, Dr. Milivoj Magdić, Dr. Ante Ciliga & Dr. Vilko Rieger (Dr. George W. Cesarich) . Influential are also early works of prof. Ivan Oršanić, Dr. Ivo Korsky, then author Ivan Softa (Croatian Knut Hamsun), national poet Jerko Skračić and a few others. It is very hard for somebody in Europe to discover them as their works were burned, destroyed and left to be forgotten by Yugoslavian and Serbian communist regime. Back in 1970es of 20th century for just reading the works of these authors, philosophers and thinkers one could get a lengthy prison term and that would be of course if you did find their books somewhere. I am collecting their works wherever I can find them and that is in most cases extremely hard and on top of that some of their books command very high prices. Situation is not like with authors of Conservative Revolution whose works remain saved and translated to many languages now. Most of the above mentioned people were brutally murdered by either Serbian Monarchist regime who ruled the first Yugoslavia or by communist regime who ruled Yugoslavia and occupied Croatia after the year 1945.

At this point in time there is no translated literature in any of other languages except the book ‘’Southslav question’’ written by Dr. Ivo Pilar (under pseudonym Dr. Leon v. Südland) which was printed at the beginning of the 20th century in Vienna originally in German language. Book was never reprinted again either in German or English (or any other foreign language) and was translated in Croatian language and has since been in print only twice. Copies of both editions are virtually impossible to find. Books of other authors are not being reprinted at all. I really don’t know if that is because of the economic crisis in Croatia since many members of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) turned out to be crooks and thieves who were stealing money from their own country and country’s resources. It has been going on like that for a long time and no government (even the coalition of liberals and social democrats which lasted for 4 years) didn’t make situation any better or because there is no interest in those books and those authors at all. It is partially because of many Croatians were killed and murdered from 1944 to early 1950es by communist regime (and in years after that up to 1990 just prior to war in Croatia) and because of the mentality which became a norm since 1918, after Croats lost the war as part of Austria-Hungary. Dr. Ivo Pilar did warn Croatians about those kinds of problems especially in two of his books. One of those books was above mentioned ‘’Southslav question’’.

I am afraid that the only way to discover them will be through book I am currently writing and subsequently I will translate some of the most important works by Šufflay, Pilar, Lukas, Krišković, Makanec, Mortigjija and Magdić. I will start with works of Dr. Ivo Pilar and Dr. Milivoj Magdić whose works I am collecting at the present time. I am putting together Dr. Milivoj Magdić’s and dr. Ivo Pilar’s articles and smaller important works and will include one very informative article about Milivoj Magdić’s life done by one Croatian historian. Dr. Pilar’s book ‘’Southslav question’’ will be most likely the first one to surface followed by Dr. Magdić’s collected works. It is very interesting to mention that Dr. Ivo Pilar and Dr. Milivoj Magdić had both the biggest private libraries in the city of Zagreb and most likely in Croatia at that time. I have heard that currently Alain de Benoist has one of the biggest private libraries.

So we can talk about a genuine Croatian “Conservative Revolution”?

Croatian Historical Revolution was a German Conservative Revolution’s and France’s Ordre Nouveau’s counterpart. It strikes me how there wasn’t anybody in Croatia trying to compare German Conservative Revolution with all these authors we have had. My guess is that certain levels of academia in Croatia have some sort of inferiority complex and lower self-esteem. Except post modern Croatian intellectuals and academics I have mentioned above (and most in this group were living, studying and teaching for some time outside of Croatia) other Croatian intellectuals constantly behave in a way which has ruined indescribably reputation of Croatia. Members of Croatian Historical revolution were totally opposite. Partially that is because they grew up in Austria- Hungary and partially because up until year 1918 influence of Balkan ‘’culture’’ wasn’t predominant in Croatia and our gene pool wasn’t almost destroyed as it is the case today (holocaust of Croats and ethnic Germans from years 1944 -1950es). Most of the people who today want any kind of communism to be back in Croatia are leftovers of previous regime and they are not even Croats by their genes or in spirit.

05224baf72f642bd03aea467e8abd40d.jpgMembers of CHR (Croatian Historical Revolution) have had experience with different ideologies and transformations as the ones in Germany. They rallied for the Croatia as an integral part of Europe and how some of them called it at the time ‘’Bieli Zapad’’ (White West). Like authors in German counterpart they have produced diverse works such as philosophical treatises, political journalism, manifestoes which have outlined their ideas for the transformation of Croatia and role of Croatia in Central Europe and Europe altogether. They were strongly opposing liberalism and even liberal democracy and they have rejected despiritualization and commercial culture. They advocated new conservative thought which was inspired by Croatian national patriotism. I find their ideal very much connected with ideals of German Conservative Revolution members and nowadays with prof. Dominique Venner.

How could we connect Croatian authors with their other European counterparts? Who are the Croatian authors that should be read together, beyond every language barrier?

My opinion is that all the works of the above mentioned members of the Croatian Historical revolution are very much worth exploring, studying and reading. They all do come highly recommended albeit due to totalitarian and primitive backwards communist regime headed by Josip Broz Tito and his blind followers lots of original writings are lost , destroyed or are very rare to that extent that only Croatian National Library may have only one copy or original of each of the original works of the members of the Croatian Historical Revolution. None of those works were translated in any languages (as I have mentioned above) except Dr. Pilar’s ‘’Southslav question’’ which was originally written in German and then translated to Croatian. Dr. Ivo Pilar was speaking and writing as Dr. Milan v. Šufflay and many other members of CHR, in several languages. In those times after the I WW it was quite normal for people of Croatia to speak German as a second and in many cases as their mother language together with Croatian language. Hopefully in time through my own ‘’ Hyperborea Press’’ which is the part of Somnium Media all the main works of the members of the Croatian Historical Revolution will surface and be translated in English language. As always one has to be realistic, as with any of such efforts good will isn’t enough, I will have to invest money and time into this project in a balanced manner.

Do you see original viewpoints or bias by these Croatian authors that you cannot find back in the works of their other European counterparts?

I know that I risk now sounding a bit vague but most of their viewpoints are similar or identical with their German and French counterparts, although one of their main focal points or focus was naturally fight against the repressive Serbian monarchist regime and its imperialistic hegemony. I have written recently some articles about this topic. I believe that I will answer much broader to this question in my book about Croatian Historical Revolution.

What are your projects for the near future?

The New Antaios Journal’s further development is my priority and alongside with TNAJ there is ‘’Eurocontinentalism Journal’’ and my own ‘’Somnium Media’’ website which offers music, merchandise and books which are serving as an alternative to world of mass consumerism we live in. Great help in that effort is my dear friend mr. Zvonimir Tosic who is an editor in chief and managing webmaster of The New Antaios Journal and Somnium websites. The New Antaios and Eurocontinentalism Journal will both have some interesting interviews and articles in months to come. Somnium Media imprint ‘’Hyperborea Press’’ will publish most significant works of members of the Croatian Historical revolution and hopefully some works by Nicolas Gomez Davila.

Further related to ‘’Hyperborea Press’’ I have plans for the three books and three translations. First one is above already mentioned book about Croatian Historical Revolution and its members and it will be an overview of the significance of Croatian Historical Revolution and works of its members and authors not only for Croatia but for Europe and European thought as well. Another book is ‘’ Gaudiya Vaishnavism – The Living and Timeless Tradition ‘’ which will explain how important Traditional Gaudiya Vaishnavism is (a belief in Hinduism) not only for Hinduism but for the resurgence of Indo – European thought in general. I know that Dr. Alexander Jacob has written extensively on the topic of resurgence of Indo-European thought but his emphasis is not like in authors such as Georges Dumezil , Jan de Vries, or Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel and Alain Danielou in Hinduism or ancestral pre-christian beliefs. Rather he uses as an example for restoration of Indo –European thought resurgence of European Medieval Christian noble spirit of ‘’archaic and brave’’ and Prussian noble spirit. In my own opinion the best starting point for such study would be a Saxon epic ‘’Heliand’’.

Picture: Dr. Ivo Pilar

220px-Ivo_Pilar.jpgTraditional Gaudiya Vaishnava thought in this book will serve as an alternative for the Traditionalist thought which was espoused by Guenon, Schuon and other Traditionalists. Third book deals with Croatian pre-Christian and pre-Slavic legends and it delves in times of the heroic Croatian past. I have contacted one still living Croatian author who gave me information on stories and its characters which obviously have roots in pre-Christian and pre-Slavic times of Croatia. It is quite a work and a huge challenge to reconstruct those tales and to find out and connect certain characters. Some shortened versions of those stories I will be presenting at certain Storytelling Fairs in Ireland during the summer. Three translations will be my most likely first translation work on the new book by Dr. Jure Georges Vujic (which will be his first book in English language) followed by translations of two books of the members of the Croatian Historical Revolution, Dr. Ivo Pilar’s ‘’Southslav question’’ and Dr. Milivoj Magdić’s best and collected works complete with my own explanations and commentaries. I will also continue writing for Brett Stevens’s Journal on line www.amerika.org which is with Europa Synergon one of the most interesting journals to be found on line.

Thank you very much Robert for the opportunity you gave me with this interview and as well thank you for your influence on my own thought which is indispensable and very important. I would also like to thank to anybody who has read this interview and found it interesting or just thought provoking.

(interview taken by Robert Steuckers, late spring 2011).

vendredi, 21 février 2020

ACTUALITÉ DE CARL SCHMITT: Les notions de politique, de guerre discriminatoire et de grands espaces

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ACTUALITÉ DE CARL SCHMITT:

Les notions de politique, de guerre discriminatoire et de grands espaces

Sur le NOMOS de la Terre et la dissolution de l'ordre européen

par Irnerio Seminatore

Ex: http://www.ieri.be

TABLE DES MATIÈRES

La République de Weimar et ses débats

L'ami et l'ennemi

La théorie moderne de l’État

La dissolution de l'ordre européen

Union européenne et Confédération d’États. De la guerre inter-étatique à la "guerre civile mondiale"

Ordre cosmopolitique, logique de la terre  et droits circonscrits

Le "pluriversum" comme nouvel ordre planétaire

Le Nomos de la Terre, la criminalisation de l'ennemi et la géopolitique des grands espaces

Types de Guerre et ordres juridiques

L'unification des théâtres et la sécurité collective

Conflits et systèmes d'équilibre: C.Schmitt et H.Kissinger

Le dilemme de l'ordre international. Système de règles ou système de forces? 

L'Europe, la démondialisation et les dangers du consensus de masse.

**********************************************

La République de Weimar et ses débats

Carl Schmitt (1888-1985),  figure centrale  de la "révolution conservatrice" allemande fut l'une des personnalités  marquantes du débat constitutionnel  de la République  de Weimar, puis de la montée et triomphe du national-socialisme des années 20 et 30.

Ses ouvrages et en particulier "La notion de politique" ne cessèrent d'être les références de base de la politologie allemande de l'époque.

Quant à cette notion, il bouleversa les paradigmes de la politique, comme lieu de discrimination de l'ami et de l'ennemi et dans le sillage  de celle-ci  il décela les fondements  des concepts de souveraineté et de décision, en gardant pour maîtres Machiavel, Bodin et Hobbes. Sa contribution est au confluant de doctrines et de situations diverses et elle est  redevable,pour l'aspect doctrinal de  la mise en relation de la métaphysique et de la théologie politiques, propres à  la tradition de la "Respublica Christiana" du Moyen Age , avec le rationalisme de la politique moderne et, pour la conjoncture politique et intellectuelle, de  la période d'incertitudes et d'instabilité, ouverte par le Traité de Versailles et par le passage de l'Empire allemand à la République de Weimar.

Lorsque parut, en 1927, la "Notion de politique", la plupart des politistes déduisaient la spécificité de la politique de la théorie générale de l’État. Or la politique est une activité primordiale, consubstantielle à la constitution de la société et précède l'invention moderne  de l’État, forme historique et périssable de la politique. Puisque Schmitt refuse de définir la politique par le droit ou par l'institution de l’État, il en radicalise le trait essentiel, celui d'une "relation spécifique et fondamentale, ne se laissant déduire d'aucune autre relation et à laquelle on peut réduire toute autre activité et tout motif politique, qui est celle de l'ami et de l'ennemi".

Dans la conception de Schmitt le primat du  politique sur le droit est fondé sur la distinction, selon laquelle le politique est constituant et le droit régulateur. Ce primat repose en effet  sur une décision souveraine, qui rend effectives, en temps de crise ,les situations d'exception, car "il n'existe pas de normes, que l'on puisse appliquer au cahos".

"Souverain est qui décide de l'exception en situation d'exception. En effet la normalité ne prouve rien et l'exception prouve tout, car la règle ne vit qu'à partir  de l'exception". Dans ces conditions, la dictature souveraine préserve l'unité, face au danger d'une situation prolongée de crise. Ici le risque extrême est la dangerosité existentielle de l'ennemi, à combattre et à anéantir. Dans ce cas la dictature du souverain rétablit l'ordre détruit, le droit bafoué et la sécurité menacée , par un pouvoir d'exception et d'urgence.

L'ami et l'ennemi

C'est par le primat du politique qu'on peut faire le partage entre l'ami et l'ennemi, fondement du concept de politique dans sa réalité existentielle, lorsque l’État est mis lui même en question et qu'une lutte est à mener sans limites juridiques.

La distinction entre l'ami et l'ennemi est d'exprimer le"degré d'intensité d'un lien, ou d'une séparation, d'une association ou d'une dissociation". Quant à la figure de l'ennemi, il s'agit d' un ennemi public (hostis) et non privé (inimicus), contre lequel une guerre est toujours possible.Or, pour qu'une guerre soit déclarée contre l'ennemi interne ou extérieur, il faut qu'un certain type d'ordre soit  remis en cause. Or,à l'époque de Weimar,cette remise en cause concernait la stabilité politique, par l'absence d'un État fort et d'une économe saine. Ce fut alors la raison pour laquelle, dès cette période, la constitution de l’État opposa C.Schmitt à l'inspiration libérale de la période et à la démocratie de masse, professés par les courants sociaux démocrates, en raison de leur capacité  de dissolution de l' homogénéité sociale du pays.

L'homogénéité est ici à entendre comme l'accord de tous sur les décisions fondamentales de l'être politique, ce qui constitue une masse en unité. Or la substance  de cet ensemble   est de l'ordre des sentiments et des affects, tandis que sa dissolution résulte de la problématisation de la raison moderne, sans foi ni transcendance.

Poussant plus loin sa critique de la  paralysie de la démocratie de Weimar, et opposant à l'idéologie du progrès  l'image de l’État qui décide et qui gouverne, Carl Schmitt blâme  la neutralisation et la dépolitisation du régime des partis, le parlamentarisme érodé et la ploutocratie, ainsi que la "passivité" de la bourgeoisie, comme classe "discutidora" (Donoso Cortès) et devient un partisan de "l’État fort" et  de la "démocratie plébiscitaire".

51mFmfLmnNL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgLa théorie moderne de l’État


Quant à la Constitution de la République de Weimar, paralysée par le pluralisme des intérêts particuliers et le libéralisme montant, considéré comme l'indécision organisée au sein de débats parmementaires sans fin, l’État se  rend incapable, selon Schmitt,  d'affronter la démocratie de masse. En se démarquant des droits de l'homme universel, indépendants du droit positif,  Schmitt soutient l'idée que toute constitution politique résulte d'un ordre qui se rend effectif par le droit, sans s'identifier à celui-ci. Or, dans toute constitution le souverain,( homme ou office), crée le cadre des conditions préalables du droit, l'ordre fondateur, la constitution.  Sous cet angle, l’État moderne est  légitimé démocratiquement, mais la démocratie, comme régime politique, est conditionnée à son tour, par la forme d’État et par l'homogénéité du peuple.
Enfin, en matière de relations internationales, Schmitt est à considérer comme le dernier représentant du " Ius Publicum Europaeum", le courant de pensée qui esquissa la trame du droit public européen, fondé sur la reconnaissance de la légalité et légitimité du "droit à la guerre" des États , au XVI ème et XVIIème siècles, tant exalté au XVIIIème, remis en cause par la Révolution française, repris avec le Congrès de Vienne en 1815 et prolongé jusqu'à l'universalisme abstrait de la Société des Nations et des Nations Unies au XXème siècle.

La dissolution de l'ordre européen


L'universalisme des institutions internationales   du premier et du deuxième après guerre, est tenu comme inapte à concevoir la variété des formes de la communauté juridique mondiale , car fait défaut à la Société des Nations et aux Nations Unies "toute pensée constructive  et toute substance d'une communauté" de peuples.

Quant au système international international publique, l'architecture  de celui-ci ne peut être assurée par une quelconque application de la "théorie pure du droit" ,à la Kelsen, dérivée d'une "Grundnorm", car celle-ci est de nature logico-transcendentale et  occulte l'origine profonde des normes.

D'après le Traité de Versailles et vis à vis  de l'Allemagne, les institutions universelles prolongeraient, pour Schmitt, sous un manteau juridique formel, la situation de guerre, derrière un ordre de façade et une paix "inauthentique".

Dans le cadre d'une situation européenne instable ou menaçante, la possibilité de l’État de s'autoconserver repose, pour Schmit, sur une action qui émane de sa souveraineté et de son autonomie, la capacité d'une décision  d'exception.

Ainsi , la survie  d'une communauté politique a besoin d'un État pourvu du "ius belli", car la guerre comme inimitié radicale ne peut exister que d’État à État et seul l’État peut lui consacrer des ressources vitales.

Sous cet angle, l’État qui mène une politique pacifiste ou humanitaire cesse d'être un sujet politique ou une unité significative du système international (Union européenne), car seul l’État, caractérisé par un rapport stable à son territoire et qui reste dans une relation de possession naturelle avec lui,  peut assurer l'auto-conservation d'une société.

41-mdkcq6IL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgUnion européenne et Confédération d’États. De la guerre inter-étatique à la "guerre civile mondiale"

La naissance de l'Union Européenne,dans les années 50, anticipant sur un monde pacifié, remplace l'ancien ordre étatique autour d'un concept dépolitisé et fonctionnel, l'intégration régionale, se situant entre les deux niveaux, du globalisme  et les États nationaux classiques. Elle marque la fin de la géopolitique traditionnelle, comme rivalité entre sujets belliqueux et résiste à la tendance continentale et eurasienne  des "grands espaces", ainsi qu'à la diversification du monde multipolaire.

Sa constitution d'acteur incomplet, lui interdit de se ranger du coté des puissances eurasiennes  et de pratiquer un jeu d' équilibre  et de contre-poids entre le pouvoir thalassocratique dominant et la logique continentale du Heartland. Par ailleurs elle participe du politéisme des valeurs,  propre à l'universalisme  mondialiste et ne peut saisir les occasions de l'ère post-moderne, pour profiter de la reconfiguration du monde.

Avec le désencrage de la Grande Bretagne du continent  se confirme  la prépondérance des puissances de la mer sur celles de la terre et la déterritorialisation du pouvoir d'éversion, qu'il prenne la forme du néo-terrorisme global ou d'autres formes de conflit armé. Ceci  implique  une transformation de la guerre inter-étatique en "guerre civile mondiale". La politique devient une simple potentialité d'opposition et de révolte, au cœur d'un universalisme nihiliste. Dans ce contexte le processus de démondialisation en cours, avec l'irruption du politique  et le retour sécuritaire de la forme étatique, implique une revendication d'indépendance et d'initiative stratégique, autrefois impensable, vis à vis de l'Amérique. Cette revendication postule également une réforme institutionnelle profonde .Selon l'ancien président de la Commission, Jacques Delors, l'Union européenne devrait s’inspirer du modèle de la confédération d’État et des capacités d'action de troisième force. Conçue en revanche comme espace euro-atlantique et comme appendice de l'Amérique, sa liberté de manœuvre est limitée, bien qu'elle puisse se donner le but commun de la conservation politique, si son existence politique était assortie d'un "ius belli". Or, l'objectif historique d'Hégémon est d'éviter la constitution d'un bloc continental eurasien, le Heartland, rivalisant avec les États-Unis. Pour rappel, l'évolution planétaire du monde, depuis l'effondrement de l'Union Soviétique a comporté une déterritorialisation des sociétés, dépourvues de frontières et la soumission du monde à la logique des flux, ou, en définitive,à la logique de la mer. Au même temps l'élargissement de l'Union européenne et de l'Otan vers les grands espaces d'Asie a substitué le principe d'ordre des relations internationales, de l'universalisme abstrait du droit international public aux rapports de force du réalisme classique.

Ordre, cosmopolitisme, logique de la terre et droits circonscrits


L'affaiblissement des États souverains, débuté dans les entre deux guerres,  fait perdre aux conflits leur caractère limité aux profit des notions de guerre illimitée et  d'alliances militaires, qui coïncident aujourd'hui, avec les pôles de pouvoirs d'un système désormais planétaire.

Par ailleurs, l'apparition des grands espaces, depuis le XVIème siècle avec la découverte des Amériques, pose  le problème d'un nouvel ordre, qui puisse devenir le fondement de nouvelles légitimités et allégeances.

Avec le "Nomos de la terre"(1950) Schmitt exprime l'exigence d'une réflexion qui rende possible l'instauration de ce  nouveau droit et identifie cette condition dans l'enracinement des  nouvelles lois dans la logique de la terre , comme unités d'un ordre et d'un espace circonscrits.

La  condition de l'espace est primordiale, pour Schmitt, car elle définit le fondement de la légalité internationale,  toute forme d' ordre comportant  une délimitation de l'espace. C'est d'ailleurs la raison pour laquelle la modernité occidentale peine à imposer des formes de pouvoir stables, puisqu'elle a remplacé l'ordre concret de la terre par l'ordre abstrait de la loi . On comprendra mieux l'opposition de Schmitt à la pensée positiviste (H.Kelsen) et à l'idéal cosmopolitique (E.Kant),car Schmitt fait appel au substrat originel de toute société, la terre,comme fondement ancestral du droit

L'occultation de l'origine des normes par H.Kelsen, fait rappeler à Schmitt la  conception pluraliste des sources du droit, comme socle de toutes les manifestations  de l'ordre social

Il en découle que tout peuple, est lié à son environnement géopolitique, dont il est empreint et que la négation, par les universalistes, de tout enracinement à une source de vie, est une négation des souverainetés qui s'y exercent.

La conception actuelle du "nouvel ordre mondial" (W.Bush) rompt avec la diversité des attachements aux sols, politiques et moraux, civils et religieux, par l'universalisme fictif d'un modèle  unique,le régime démocratique, comme modèle de déracinement et d'aliénation culturelle.

Ainsi , à titre de prévention, le "pluri-versum" des peuples et des États, qui  est le nom schmittien de la multipolarité actuelle,représente  la succession historique des souverainetés européennes et leur dépassement, dans  la perspective des "grands espaces" et dans l'irruption planétaire d' un ordre global.

9783428074716-fr.jpgLe "pluriversum" comme nouvel ordre planétaire

A la fin du deuxième conflit mondial, Schmitt tire le bilan de l'affaiblissement de l’État souverain et de la  fin du système international euro-centrique. Le constat d'un universalisme sans espace et d'un normativisme abstrait, dépourvu  d'une légalité sur  laquelle fonder des accords, pousse Schmitt à interroger le nouvel ordre planétaire, afin de dégager les règles communes à une pluralité d'acteurs dissemblables. Ça lui saute aux jeux avec évidence que le nouvel ordre ne peut être le produit d'une logique juridique, mais d'un ordre spatial délimité. Le nouveau Nomos,se dessine ainsi, comme"la forme immédiate, par laquelle l'ordre social et politique d'un peuple, devient spatialement visible". La lecture planétaire  de Schmitt est celle d'une diversification du monde en grands espaces autonomes, globalement opposés à l'universalisme de la puissance hégémonique et alternatif à un univers d'Etats-Nations déclinant. Le Nomos de la Terre, la criminalisation de l'ennemi et la géopolitique des grands espaces

Avec "Le Nomos de la Terre" (de 1950), Schmitt consacre sa réflexion aux relations internationales, une constante omniprésente de sa conception de la politique. Il semble même que les relations extérieures aient constituées une priorité sur la politique intérieure, où le critère de l'ami et de l'ennemi reste latent. Schmitt remonte en effet, dans cet ouvrage, aux origines ancestrales du droit inter-étatique, émanant de l'Europe, jusqu'au début de l'âge moderne, après l'effacement de la République Chrétienne et la fin des guerres de religions. Il repère là un ordre spatial, précédant l'ordre juridique, car, pour être concret et non "utopique", tout ordre juridique est , pour Carl Schmitt, un ordre de la terre et une délimitation territoriale . Contre " l'humanisme neutralisant" de More et d’Érasme, qui deviendra plus tard, la philosophie de la paix internationale de la Société des Nations et des Nations Unies, Schmitt, vise la limitation de la guerre et non la criminalisation de celle-ci (avec ses corrélats de crimes et d'atrocités). qui conduisent  à la "guerre totale" et à la volonté d'anéantissement de l'ennemi. En effet la criminalisation de l'ennemi en droit international du XXIème siècle par les tenants de la sécurité collective des Nations-unies, se démarque de la conception des juristes  du "Ius Publicum Europaeum", qui faisaient abstraction de la "guerre juste",sur la base du concept de guerre entre souverainetés, réciproquement égales et menant des guerres limitées. La philosophie  du nomos de la terre  est ainsi, pour résumer,  la limitation de la guerre, finalité essentielle de tout droit international, une guerre envisagée sous l'angle des transformations, qui lui font subir l'extension des "théâtres" et la nouvelle "géopolitique" de l'ordre juridique.

Types de guerre et ordres juridiques

Ainsi et de manière analytique Schmitt y met en évidence les transformations de la relation entre guerre et ordres normatifs.

Ainsi ,dans la "guerre juste", élaborée par les théologiens du Moyen Age,sous la double autorité du Pape et de l'Empereur, garants suprêmes d'un droit des gents, chrétien, européen et terrien , l'inégalité des adversaires était une supposition bien réelle, qui faisait de ce type de conflit une guerre unilatérale et limitée, au delà de la qualification juridique de la "iusta causa".

La guerre- duel, entre souverainetés régulières des temps modernes ( issues du traité de Westphalie, 1648 ), fondée sur l'égalité formelle des belligérants, demeurait bilatérale et circonscrite.

En revanche la guerre discriminatoire ou guerre sanction du XXème siècle tend à devenir totale,  sous l'effet des conceptions universalistes et "utopiques", étendues à un ordre global (l'émisphère occidental) et comporte la criminalisation de l'ennemi, dans  le but de l'éradiquer, en agresseur et en coupable, rabaissé au rang de criminel. L'exemple majeur a été  le Traité de Versailles, qui manqua à sa tache primordiale de rétablir la paix.

L'ouvrage est reparti en  quatre grandes sections, qui  scandent  l'élargissement de la scène géopolitique et différencient les nouveaux  théâtres sur la base de stratégies euro-centriques du monde.

A_La première partie repose sur l'idée que tout ordre juridique est situé dans une région du monde  et ancré dans les clôtures d'un sol. Une "prise de terres" ancestrale est donc le titre de légitimité fondamental de tout ordre juridique, qui implique souvent une action de guerre.

B-La deuxième  traite de l'expansion coloniale européenne vers le Nouveau Monde. Elle se traduit par la découverte  des Amériques et la délimitation de champs d'action distincts entre l'Espagne et le Portugal par deux lignes globales, fixant leurs zones respectives d'influence,de commerce et d'évangélisation ( traité de Tordesillas, 1494),intégrées par des "lignes d'amitié" assignées aux deux puissances neutres ,la France et la Grande Bretagne. Au delà régnait, en principe, par  convention admise ,un état de nature sans foi ni loi, où une guerre de conquête sans limites pouvait opposer les belligérants européens. La guerre était corsetée en Europe, dans l'utilisation de la violence armée,par l'impératif religieux de la République Chrétienne, de telle sorte que Grotius et  Pufendorf formalisèrent le "ius gentium", oubliant que le titre de légitimité des États souverains d'Europe découlait de la "découverte" et de "l'occupation" des terres des Amériques.

C-La troisième partie parvient à la description de la guerre-sanction. En effet, comme suite à une "prise de terre" planétaire de la part des puissances européennes s'affirme la coexistence de deux ordres concrets   aux statuts distincts, le statut homogène de la mer et les statuts hétérogènes des terres.
C'est seulement la puissance globale qui opère la  jonction entre ces deux ordres et garantit un équilibre de pouvoir entre terre et mer (l'Angleterre d'abord et les États-Unis ensuite), conforme à ses intérêts géopolitiques. On passe ainsi, à la fin du XIXème ,de l'ordre territorial et souverain de l'Europe, celui du "Ius publicum europaeum", purement inter-étatique, à un ordre d'essence mixte, qui distingue les relations  métropolitaines étatiques (ou européennes), des rapports  coloniaux, non étatiques  et non européens. Les grandes transformations géopolitiques entraînent avec elles ,des changements importants dans les deux sphères,  du droit privé et du droit publique, qui sont respectivement, topique et  concret le premier( le commerce) et utopique et abstrait le deuxième ( les droits universels). Dans le même temps la guerre devient limitée et d'occupation (en Europe),  mondiale , totale, illimitée et d'anéantissement (dans les deux hémisphères) La figure de l'ennemi change également de statut et configure la puissance hostile en ennemi de l'humanité, en figure éversive, par rapport à celle d'un acteur local, bien identifié et souverain . Le processus de criminalisation de la politique étrangère et mondiale s"achève enfin , par une plongée tragique, non pas dans  l'anarchie hobbesienne, mais dans une sorte de nihilisme apocalyptique.

D-Dans la quatrième partie Schmitt approfondit la dichotomie des deux ordres, métropolitain et colonial et analyse la fin du dualisme, qui a caractérisé le  "ius publicum européum", suite à l'émergence d'un droit international indifférencié, par l'affirmation  de la notion d'Occident au niveau planétaire (XXème siècle).

L'unification des théâtres et la sécurité collective

Les théâtres de guerre, jadis séparés, sont unifiés conceptuellement par une vision universaliste et utopique de l'ordre mondial, assurée par l'abstraction du droit, la moralisation des litiges et la doctrine de la sécurité collective (la SdN  et les ONU). Une sécurité,garantie  par l'interventionnisme de l'acteur hégémonique (les Etats-Unis), ou encore, par l'adoption d'une repartition territoriale du monde, qui intègre la conception "multipolaire" de la planète, dans  la défense concrète  du nouveau nomos  atlantique et globaliste, aujourd'hui à son déclin.

9783428158065.jpgSchmitt, en  excluant toute conception universaliste du droit international parvient à la conclusion que l'ordre du monde ne peut se réaliser sans antagonismes entre les grands espaces, ou sans la domination d'un centre sur sa périphérie. Toutefois il reconnaît l'exigence d'une autorité supérieure, en mesure de trancher sur les différends et les tensions entre forces régulières et irrégulière, intérieures et extérieures. Il est incontestable que l’État moderne se distingue de tous les autres, pour avoir dompté,  à l'intérieur de ses frontières,  la relation ami-ennemi , sans l'avoir totalement supprimée.

Par ailleurs et dans  l'ensemble de son œuvre, Schmitt semble privilégier la priorité de la politique extérieure sur la politique interne, confirmée par sa recherche en matière de droit international public, qui porte sur le  principe de limitation de la guerre et sur la source de stabilité,  constituée par l’enracinement géopolitique  de tout système normatif.

Ainsi se conclut l'immense effort de théorisation, entrepris sous la République de Weimar et achevé, en ses grandes lignes, avec le "Nomos de la Terre".

On passe du cadre intellectuel de la politique interne  et donc de la distinction entre l'ami et l'ennemi, avec, en corrélat, la problématique de l’État moderne et de ses oppositions intérieures maîtrisables , à l'ordre imprévisible des relations internationales de l'âge planétaire.

Conflits et systèmes d'équilibre : C. Schmitt et H. Kissinger

La conclusion du système de pensée schmittien, élaboré au courant de trente ans, viendra de Carl Schmitt lui même, avec l'observation selon laquelle :" La pratique du "Ius publicum Europaeum" tendait à comprendre le conflit, dans le cadre d'un système d'équilibres. Désormais on les universalise, au nom de l'unité du monde".

Conclusion à laquelle parviendra également H.Kissinger dans "L'Ordre du Monde", lorsqu'il essaie de définir l'ordre souhaitable du XXIème siècle,  sur le modèle de la paix  de Westphalie (1648), rappelant  que "La paix de Westphalie ne reflétait pas une perspective morale unique, .......mais reposait sur un système d’États indépendants, acceptant que leurs ambitions respectives soient freinées par l'équilibre général des forces, réduisant l'ampleur des conflits ".

Le dilemme de l'ordre international. Système de règles ou système de forces?

Comment parvenir à la constitution d'une structure d'ordre ,capable de limiter les conflits et de préserver la paix ,dans un monde global?

C'est la question ontologique du système international actuel.

Par un système de règles admises et respectées, qui limitent  la liberté d'action des États, ou par un équilibre des forces, qui interviennent en cas d'effondrement des règles?

41tQLwk8LyL.jpgCe dilemme et cette  problématique rapprochent Schmitt et Kissinger, au delà de leur plaidoirie respective en faveur de l'Allemagne ou des Etats- Unis.

Deux éléments sont aujourd'hui communs à l'analyse des réalités internationales et apparaissent tout à fait incontournables, la multiplicité des acteurs, des civilisations et des cultures et, à l'opposé, l'unicité du cadre d'action, l'unité d' un monde clos, limité et interdépendant .

En revanche deux moyens demeurent optionnels: celui des règles communes d'ordre conventionnel et celui du système des forces, aux références divergentes et aux objectifs incompatibles.

Nous retrouvons dans ce dilemme de l'art de gouverner et de la High Polics l'éternelle opposition entre la loi et la force,  au service de l'idéal de la paix et de la sécurité, auquel ont consacré leurs esprits Schmitt et Kissinger,le premier avec la dialectique de l'ami et de l'ennemi, le deuxième dans la perspective du consensus et du rôle de l"Amérique, les deux en l'absence de la figure du perturbateur radical , la figure du peuple.

L'Europe, la démondialisation et le danger du consensus de masse

Au moment où l’irruption de la politique dans un monde dépolitisé, éveille  les peuples sous la bannière inattendue du populisme ou de l'éversion violente, suggérant l'exigence d'un nouveau compromis historique entre le démos et les élites, le danger de la "guerre civile mondiale" vient de l'absence conjointe du consensus de masse et de la négation de normes universelles observées.

Il en découle la perte de contrôle des pouvoirs, affranchis de la logique des équilibres et des contre-poids assurés au système de Westphalie par l'assurance des rapports de force, désagrégés aujourd'hui par le choc des civilisations et des cultures, qui engendrent un ordre chaotique du monde et une vision nihiliste de l’avenir.

 

 

samedi, 15 février 2020

Oswald Spengler and the Morphology of Cultures

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Oswald Spengler and the Morphology of Cultures

Arthur Chandler

Ex: http://www.arthurchandler.com

(originally printed in Humanities, 1978)

Morphology: “the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features” (Wikipedia)

Prelude

Under the gloom of the funeral day, adult hands persuade the child to the pews. The minister intones the solemn ceremony, while grown-up faces weep, or press their sadness between steady eyes and firm lips. The child feels the strange oppressiveness of the atmosphere, but as yet cannot fathom the reason. 

Then the final processional: grim men and women file by the casket. The father’s hands reach down and lift the child high: and there, hovering like a captive angel in his father’s grip, the child first sees the shell of his grandfather’s soul. He stares down at the face he knew last week: the same face, but now shrunken into something remote and unfamiliar. It’s not like grandfather sleeping: something is gone.

“The child suddenly grasps the lifeless corpse for what it is: something that has become wholly matter, wholly space; and at the same moment it feels itself an individual being in an alien and extended world. Here, in the decisive moments of existence, when the child first becomes man and realizes his immense loneliness in the universal, the world-fear reveals itself for the first time as the human fear in the presence of death.”

Later, back in the subdued warmth of his own home, the child gazes out the window. People walk, cats prowl, birds dart. All live — but not grandfather. He will never walk the earth again. Never.

The day completes its cycle. Distinctions blur in the landscape. Stars wink into sight — tiny brightnesses in a vast dark. People lie down to sleep. Some people, like grandfather, will never see the morning: this the child now knows with certitude. 

The tears well up and shatter down his cheeks. He cries not only for the loss of what grandfather was for him: he cries for the inescapable loneliness that the sureness of grandfather’s death now means.

In these moments, the soul of the culture, like the soul of the child, is born. 

First Act: The Birth of the Soul of the Culture

“Primeval man is a ranging animal, a being whose waking consciousness restlessly feels its way through life, under no servitude of place or home, keen and anxious in its senses, ever alert to drive off some element of hostile Nature. A deep transformation sets in at first with agriculture — for that is something artificial, with which the hunter and shepherd have no touch. He who digs and plows is seeking not to plunder, but to alter nature. To plant implies, not to take something, but to produce something. Man roots in the earth that he tends, the soul of man discovers a soul in the countryside, and a new earth-boundness of being, a new feeling, pronounces itself. Hostile Nature becomes the friend, earth becomes Mother Earth. Between sowing and begetting, harvest and death, the child and the grain, a profound affinity is set up.”

People in landscape — this is the one fundamental, the basic unity of life and place that accompanies the birth of every culture. And from the shared unity of experience of the landscape comes the Culture: that totality of traditions and institutions that marks the expansion of a people’s existence into an organic unity greater than the sum of the individual lives that compose it.

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The local earth and air surround them. The new-born are delivered into a regional Nature that envelops them with its special shape of hills, demands of the soil, felt rhythm of the seasons, and sublime procession of the heavens at night. The old are finally delivered into the earth, or scattered to the winds — back to the mother-landscape. All life between infancy and death becomes a participation in the greater life of the Culture itself. 

In every culture, attitudes toward the surrounding world coalesce, and shape themselves, in their highest mode of expression, as religion. In the springtime of a society, the myth of a people expresses for them what the world is and means, why it is fashioned thus, and what they must do in obedience to the Ordering Principle. It is here, in the forms and assumptions of each religion, where cultural axioms reside.

Most of the countless human societies that come into being never become civilizations. With a very few Cultures, however, a new form of growth cycle begins. The first herald of this beginning is the birth of the soul of a town. “This is a mass-soul of a wholly new kind, which suddenly buds off from the general spirituality of its Culture. As soon as it awakes, it forms for itself a visible body. Out of the rustic group of farms and cottages, each of which has its own history, arises a totality. And the whole lives, breathes, grows, and acquires a face and an inner form and history.” When this budding culture metamorphoses into a civilization, the fateful and fated cycle has begun. Thenceforward the style-history of the Culture ever more resides in the town, the city, and finally in the gigantic megalopolis.

The Prime Symbol

As the town grows in the passage of time, the grand religious myths of its beginnings take on a style — those recognizable traits that separate each culture from all others — and mark the limits and possibilities of its soul. “Style itself is the rhythm of the process of self-implementing.” And it is the style that tells us that a building is Roman and not Renaissance, that a proof of a theorem belongs to Desargues and not Euclid, that a bas-relief is Assyrian and not Sumerian.

As an individual, everyone enacts a personal style of gesture, inflection, habit. The overall rhythm is given to us by the Culture, but its inflections are our own. Just so, people build and paint and create mathematics. Every architect, every artist, every mathematician shows forth in their work a style: unique personal inflections on the overarching rhythms of tradition. The unity of that cultural rhythm, the basic bond that integrates all branches of a culture into a pervasive whole, is its Prime Symbol. This symbol exists in every phase of a culture’s life, no matter how apparently grand or modest. But in its highest modes of creativity — in art, thought, political action and above all in religion, that the Prime Symbol is expressed with greatest purity and force.

“All that is, symbolizes.” In the great cultures — those entities that are destined to unfold into civilizations — world-fear and world-longing find expression in their Prime Symbols, which set the limits and define the possiblities of their growth and the secret of their inner principle of decay.

For Faustian Civilization — the outcome of the Culture of Western Europe and its siblings — the matrix of all reality, the core of its Prime Symbol, is infinite space.

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The Gothic Cathedral’s spires and arches yearn upward for the infinite, just as its space-commanding giant of sound, the bellows organ, storms heaven with its counterpoint of expanding volume. In Faustian painting, the ever-present and unifying device of perspective commands the eye to follow out to the vanishing point at infinity. In the realm of mathematics — where cultures show their beliefs about reality in purest form — Western mathematicians posit an infinitely extensive and infinitesimally divisible grid of space-points which radiate out to infinity in three dimension — and later, in an infinite number of directions.

For the classical culture of Greece, the Prime Symbol was radically different — and so, too, was the form-ideal is sought to express in its arts and thought. For the people of classical civilization, the near and present bodily form of things made up the basis, the ἀρχή, of existence. Greek painting contains no ordered distances, only bodies. Euclidean geometry always gives us the mathematics of surface and volume, never point-systems of variables in a matrix of infinite, Cartesian space. Even the music of Greece, with its supposed harmonic connection with Western music, is in fact based on a sound-appreciation of a radically different sort. For the classical mind, harmony consists of the relationship of two sounded notes. To the Western sensibility, music consists of the ever-changing relationship among moving intervals — mobile spaces between note clusters — that provides the sense of sonic dynamism.

The Western/Faustian mind perceives the universe as infinite space: the Classical/Apollonian as well-ordered aggregates of bodily forms beneath a corporeal vault of the heavens. A third civilization — the Near-Eastern/Magian — conceives of the universe as a cavern. Here, the primordial light-versus-dark struggle pervades the cavern dome of the heavens even as it dominates the eternal wars among the human race. The Magian world is thus a cosmos of opposing substances: God versus the devil, the righteous versus the infidel. “Even death, for the author of the John Gospel, as for the strict Moslem, is not the end of life, but a Something, a death force that contends with the life-force for the possession of man.”

By setting the high cultural achievements of the Magian world alongside those of the Apollonian and Faustian, we perceive the radical dissimilarity among them. The classical temple is an architectural body of ordered elements, optically graspable in a single glance, designed as a completely exterior experience for the eye. The Western cathedral is an expression of an inward yearning for the light from infinity. The Near-Eastern mosque is a cavern from which the symbolic duality of light and dark contend in the enclosing dome.

In Classical mathematics, proportions among magnitudes comprise the entirety of number-thought. In the West, it is the relationships among varying functions operating in infinite space that make up the concept of number. In Arabian mathematics, is the “alchemical” transmutation of undefined qualities that pervades the essence of mathematics. “And as Euclidean geometry is to Attic statuary (the same expression-form in a different medium) and the analysis of space to polyphonic music, so is algebra to the Magian art of the gold mosaic and the arabesque.”

Infinite space, the cavern cosmos, the sum of the forms of bodies — these are the essential cultural axioms of three of the great civilizations that have actualized their Prime Symbols. To the historical imagination searching for the morphology of other cultures, other Prime Symbols can be discovered:

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For the Egyptian, reality was “a resolute march down the path once entered.” The pyramids, seen in this light, are not buildings in the Western sense but pathways enclosed by mighty masonry.

“For the Chinese, the world-around is approached as a hither-and-thither wandering that nevertheless goes to the goal.” It is The Way: and in a culture where the path through Nature becomes the highest and deepest form of sensibility, landscape gardening becomes a high art, comparable in its richness and philosophical depth to the Gothic Notre Dame, the Magian Blue Mosque, and the Parthenon.

For the soul of India, the world is illusion, an existential zero, and its goal, the ever-circling phantom show of creation and destruction, to be escaped by attaining Nirvana. Here, the Prime Symbol is Zero — an idea which, in the realm of numbers, meant something entirely different to traditional Indian mathematicians than to their Faustian counterparts, for whom the 0 has always entailed deep paradoxes.

Interlude

The Child attains maturity. In the course of life, the growing youth encounters heroes and villains, profound thinkers and shallow phrased-spinners, firm friends and sly enemies. From all these people, real and fictional, we learn — but they do not influence us. We choose what we will take, and what we will ignore. Tough we expand and deepen our outlook throughout life, it is a deepening and expansion of our own nature. All outside forces are converted by our minds and bodies to our own uses. Those forces do not influence us: we pick and choose among them.  

We see a painting, hear a symphony, read a sonnet. In doing so, we “experience something in ourselves, but cannot give any account of the relation between this experience and what the creators lived in themselves. We see a form, but we do not know what in the other’s soul begat that form: we can only have some belief about the matter, and we believe by putting in our own soul. However definitely and distinctly a religion may express itself in words, they are words, and we put our own sense into them. However impressive the artist’s notes to colors, he sees and hears in them only ourselves, and if we cannot do so, the work is for us meaningless.”

Just so, the relationships between Cultures: connotations are not transferrable.

The Integrity of the Prime Symbol

Once a culture’s own Prime Symbol is established and expressed, its essence is unalterable. Individual works, or whole expression-forms such as Attic drama or Arabian alchemy, can be studied by Western dramatists or scientists. But outside their culture of origin, such works are lifeless. They have no power within themselves to move people of another origin. The choice to use this or that element must be made; and at that point, the user, not the work, dictates the nature to which the plot or formula will be put.

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Furthermore, most alien works are never “borrowed” at all. “In all conventional history, it is only the relations that are accepted that we observe. But what of those that were not accepted? Why, for example, do we fail to find in Classical expression-forms — supposedly “influenced” by Egypt — the pyramid, pylon, obelisk, hieroglyphic? What of the stock of Byzantium and of the Moorish East was not accepted by Gothic art and thought in Spain and Sicily?”

“Consider how every living Culture is continuously bathed in innumerable potential influences. But out of these, only some few are admitted as such — the great majority are not. Is the choice, then, concerned with the works, or with those creators who choose or ignore them?”

In the end, nothing reaches maturity except through the fulfillment of its own nature. Each Culture transvalues all its borrowings and makes them its own. Denotations may be taken, but connotations are inevitably transformed. The Prime Symbol, the Culture’s basic attitude toward its environment, translates all influences, expands, grows deeper and richer thereby, but remains in its essence inviolable.

Finale

Children become men and women, marry, and beget their own children. In them and through them, the parents seem to be reborn, surrounding their offspring with affection, knowledge and moral lessons condensed from life. But for all the parents’ efforts, children still go their own ways, absorbing, rejecting, and recreating themselves with all that their environment offers them. The child is the father and mother of the adult.

And so the child grows old, following the unalterable decay endemic to all creatures born and moving through time. Early creativity stiffens into pattern and habit. The fire in the blood cools, leaving noble the lukewarm pleasures of the philosophic mind, or a death-driven flight into a second religiousness.

But even in the winter years, there are tasks to perform. Twilight and winter leave bare the shape of things: the darkening mountain, the leafless tree, the multicolored past stripped to its essential components and toned down by the blank certitude of impending death. Still the world-fear and world-longing are at work, even in the deficient veins of the old; and if accident and senility can be avoided, the prime feelings of meaning in the world may yet produce final, austere monuments as departing symbols of a mature mind drawing to a close.

And then, the only end of age.

The Last Task

Some civilizations, like the Egyptian and the Indian, prolong their final years into centuries. In extended crepuscule of long-lived civilizations, the main creative works had long since been accomplished, and only a diminished echo of earlier greatness lingered in art and thought.

In some instances, late megalopolitans yearn and clamor for barbarian vigor, and turn aside from their own spiritual sources in an attempt to rediscover  meaning in borrowed forms. This second religiousness sprouts like mushroom clusters on the great sitting tree of the civilization ion. And though the death of the Culture may be postponed, the decline may not, and must proceed on its destined course to the end.

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For Western/Faustian culture, ripe autumn — the period known as the Enlightenment — has concluded. Already with the advent of Romanticism, the yellow softness of decay appears in the arts, and even in science and mathematics. “Impressionism is atheism in colors,” and n-dimensional geometry liberates Western mathematics from the obligation of perfecting the analogy between number and reality. Even the Prime Symbol of infinite space comes under challenge from thinkers who argue for a finite but unbounded universe.

In the sciences, arts, mathematics — in all of the highest orders of Faustian enterprise — the sureness of feel, the universal acceptance of the Prime Symbol of infinite space, has been lost. In all areas, a pervasive skepticism replaces certitude — a skepticism which is, in all cases, the mark of later stages of the Culture’s advance into Civilization. But in the West, this skepticism takes on an especially historical form. Faustian skepticism does not mean, as it did the Apollonian mind, a denial of the possibility of knowledge, nor, as it did for the Magians, a world-weary acceptance of Kismet. Faustian doubt takes the form of acknowledging that different conditions produce different results, that there is no truth that holds true everywhere and in all circumstances. In this connection, it is an occurrence of high cultural significance that Newton’s Laws have given way to Einstein’s theories.

With the loss of the sure feel of tradition, each of us stands at the center of our own conceptual universe and propounds our own unique theory of coherence. For each of us, this theory grows from the roots of Truth as we see it, and puts into practice the principles of action that anyone who aspires to first rank must have. But next to us in the city-scape grows another human-plant, sinking different roots and bearing different fruit. The whole of our era in Faustian civilization is a rich, varied complexity of such exotic growths, each one vying, unsuccessfully, to cover the land, to establish a new Prime Symbol.

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Only in the world of technics is the high level of traditional Faustian world-view maintained, and where the Prime Symbol is pursued with something like the intensity of earlier centuries. In the realm of technics, Faustian longing aspires towards its final achievement: the application of power-knowledge for the conquest of astronomical space. “Not this or that bit of the world, as when Prometheus stole fire, but the world itself, complete with its secrets of force, is dragged away as spoil to be built into our culture.”

Religious faith comes at the beginning, practical results at the end. The faith that first sustained Western Culture comes to be superseded by causal, scientific myths which are, nevertheless, still predicated through and through upon the religious foundations at the origin of belief. It is the expansion, refinement, and universal application of technics for the mastery of endless space that constitutes the last and greatest task of Faustian Culture.

“And so the drama of a high Culture — that wondrous world of deities, arts, thoughts, battles, cities — closes with the return of the pristine facts of the blood eternal that is one and the same as the ever-circling cosmic flow. Time triumphs over space, and it is Time whose inexorable movement embeds the ephemeral incident of the Culture, on this planet, in the incident of Man — a form wherein the incident life flows on for a time, while behind it all the streaming horizons of geological stellar histories pile up in the light-world of our eyes.”

In the end, Faustian Culture, like all that lives, must pass away. “Even our machine technics, which seems so imperishable, a contribution to the history of civilization, will end with the Faustian civilization and one day will lie in fragments, forgotten — our railways and steamships as dead as the Roman roads and the Chinese wall, our giant cities and skyscrapers in ruins like old Memphis and Babylon.”

To hope, in fond and vain delusion, for renewed life, or for technics itself to save us from the decline is worse than folly. “Optimism is cowardice.” To recognize the inevitable, and yet perform what our heritage demands of us — this is the highest form of creativity left to us in the final season of our life-course. To face the world-fear of extinction, if not with the confidence of spring then with the determination of age — that is the last task of Faustian technics.

“We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one thing that cannot be taken from a man.”

All quotations in this essay are from Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West and Man and Technics, translated by Charles Francis Atkinson.

Backstory to “Oswald Spengler and the Morphology of Cultures”

When  I joined the interdisciplinary humanities program at my university, I at once recognized that I needed a unifying structure to unify the various works of literature, the fine arts, philosophy and history that I would be teaching — and, eventually, writing about. I had long been interested in all those fields, plus mathematics, film and photography — but had never thought about them or their interrelationships in any systematic way.

Over a lunch one day, a friend and colleague, David Renaker, suggested that I should look into Spengler’s Decline of the West for just such a unifying overview. I had heard of the book, but assumed it was just another one of the many apocalyptic pronouncements that had been popular in recent decades. But on the strength of David’s recommendation, I bought the book and started reading.

spengler-oswald-decline-west-modern_1_dd1f48fb07de64e38692927a923d4e6b.jpgThe Decline of the West, I discovered, as neither a traditional history book or a dirge predicting the end of civilization as we know it. Instead, Spengler opened up vast and profound vistas of world cultures, often with startling insights like this:

"Who amongst [present-day historians] realizes that between the Differential Calculus and the dynastic principle of politics in the age of Louis XIV, between the Classical city-state and the Euclidean geometry, between the space perspective of Western oil painting and the conquest of space by railroad, telephone and long-range weapon, between contrapuntal music and credit economics, there are deep uniformities?" (Spengler, Decline of the West, Volume I, page 7)

The special attraction of the book for me was Spengler’s unusual willingness to see mathematics, not as a system of universal truth, but as yet another creation of each culture, just as much bound to its cultural “Prime Symbol” as its works of literature, art, and religion.

Later, Spengler’s thought served as my inspiration for an essay I wrote for the Western Humanities Review (link here). And though, in the passage of time, I’ve become skeptical of some of his wide-ranging assertions, I still admire the power of his mind and his heroic determination to find unity in the infinite diversity of human history.

jeudi, 13 février 2020

Le métissage des cultures est-il possible?

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Le métissage des cultures est-il possible?

par Pierre Marcowich

Ex: https://oswald-spengler-le-retour.e-monsite.com

Pour Oswald SPENGLER, les cultures sont des courants de vie organiques, c’est-à-dire un ensemble d’organes par lesquels la vie s’exprime et constitue un processus créateur de formes diverses (peuples, État, nation, religion, langues, droit, art, économie, coutumes, etc.). 

Remarquons, au passage, que, pour Oswald SPENGLER, c’est la culture qui crée le peuple, et non pas le peuple qui crée sa culture, comme il est d’usage de penser. 

Oswald SPENGLER constate que moins la pensée historique connaît ces courants de vie (cultures), plus elle s’acharne à considérer que la vie se trouve dans les relations multiples de ces cultures entre elles, et, par conséquent (et paradoxalement) moins elle comprend ces relations elles-mêmes : 

« Quelle richesse de psychologie dans ces cultures qui s’attirent, se repoussent, se rapprochent, s’étudient, se corrompent, s’entrechoquent ou se sacrifient, soit qu’elle s’admirent ou se combattent en contact immédiat, soit qu’elles vivent isolées en face du monde formel d’une culture défunte, dont le paysage montre encore les ruines. » (1) 

Oswald SPENGLER porte, à mon avis, un regard très perspicace sur les différentes sortes de relations que peuvent avoir les cultures entre elles. Qui d’entre nous, lecteur, je vous le demande, n’a pas lu un ouvrage ou un article répertoriant et décrivant avec minutie les relations commerciales depuis 1.000 ans entre l’Occident et le monde arabe, ou entre le monde arabe et la Chine, dans lequel l’auteur conclue, péremptoire, que ces relations démontrent l’influence réciproque des cultures, sans analyser plus au fond, c’est-à-dire sans tenter de découvrir l’univers intérieur produit dans chaque être par les différentes cultures qui se rencontrent. 

En effet, la pensée historique actuelle ne voit ou ne comprend pas l’univers intérieur des hommes de cultures différentes, nous dit Oswald SPENGLER. Ce sont alors deux mondes aux antipodes l’un de l’autre. Mais l’historien rationaliste et causaliste ne veut voir que les faits bruts avec lesquels il construit une chaîne continue de relations de cause à effet. 

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Oswald SPENGLER nous donne l’explication du comportement de l’historien moderne : 

« À la base de cette mentalité scientifique se trouve l’image grandiose d’une unité de l’histoire humaine, telle qu’elle est apparue un jour aux grands maîtres du gothique. » (2) 

C’est donc, nous dit Oswald SPENGLER, une vision purement occidentale. L’homme occidental veut embrasser le monde entier pour le comprendre. Du coup, il s’élève à la généralisation des êtres humains la plus élevée possible, en ignorant les courants de vie qui sont propres aux cultures.

L’unicité de l’être humain, comme on dit au XXIème siècle, signifie que tous les êtres humains ont le même univers intérieur, le même regard sur le monde, les cultures n’étant qu’un habit superficiel. 

Et Oswald SPENGLER de constater : 

« C’est une dynamique purement faustienne. Aucun homme d’une autre culture ne s’est représenté ainsi l’histoire. » (3) 

En effet, nous dit Oswald SPENGLER, jamais l’esprit grec n’a recherché les effets des unités d’expression communes entre le drame attique et l’art égyptien. Pour l’homme antique, chaque nation menait sa vie propre. 

Qu’on pense également à la notion de gentils  ou d’infidèles (païens) propre à la culture arabe (qu’on la considère au stade juif ou au stade islamique) : pas de salut pour les païens. 

Nous sommes alors, dans ces cultures, en présence d’une ligne de démarcation infranchissable : grecs/barbares, peuple élu(juif)/gentilité (idolâtres), croyants(musulmans)/infidèles (qafir). 

Par contre, pour le christianisme, qui se trouve à la racine de la culture occidentale, le païen ou l’adepte d’une autre religion (musulman, juif, indou) peut toujours mériter le paradis chrétien, même s’il ne devient pas chrétien. 

C’est pourquoi, l’homme d’Occident fait la recherche chaque jour de l’élément spécifique et général de l’être humain. 

Mais pour ce faire, il doit théoriser toute chose pour parvenir, je dirais, au plus grand commun dénominateur général. 

Oswald SPENGLER nous décrit la logique de la pensée historique moderne : 

« On confond l’être avec l’être éveillé, la vie avec ses moyens d’expression […] la pensée théorique voit partout des unités théoriques mouvantes » (4) 

Oswald SPENGLER décrit alors la logique du chercheur faustien (=occidental) en sociologie, en histoire, psychologie, etc. : 

1)   il perçoit un système de formes d’expression (langue, coutumes, État, etc.) ;

2)   il lui donne un nom ;

3)    le nom dégage à ses yeux un réseau de rapports ;

4)   dès lors il croira que le nom est un organisme vivant ayant une fonction constituée de rapports entre des formes d’expression. 

On ne peut qu’admirer la perspicacité d’Oswald SPENGLER pour démonter le système de la plupart de nos théoriciens en sciences humaines, même contemporains, plagiant la méthode scientifique.

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On ne peut pas, non plus, s’empêcher de penser, parmi d’autres, à Claude LEVY-STRAUSS avec son structuralisme, voulant, avec un acharnement inouï, construire un système de rapports de parenté global, applicable à toute l’humanité et à toutes les cultures et réussissant à obtenir que l’on mette à son service un mathématicien pour tenter (en vain) de traduire ce système structuraliste en fonctions mathématiques.

On comprend qu’un de ses laudateurs ait loué Claude LEVY-STRAUSS pour le fait qu’il voyait une égalité totale entre la diversité culturelle (humaine) et la diversité naturelle (végétale ?). On ne peut pas aller plus loin dans la généralisation théorique : le niveau supérieur consiste à intégrer les étoiles. Ce n’est plus seulement une simple spécificité occidentale. Cela devient de l’arrogance, la fameuse hybris occidentale ! 

Un autre exemple pourrait être pris dans la notion d’indo-européen qui représente un système de rapports entre diverses langues situées de l’Inde à l’Europe. À partir de ce système d’expression linguistique, on a créé ex nihilo le « peuple indo-européen » ! 

En réalité, nous dit Oswald SPENGLER, lorsque l’homme occidental découvre une structure étrangère à sa culture (religion, forme étatique, coutumes, etc.), il ignore, en général, ce qui l’a engendré dans l’âme de l’autre. Sa réaction immédiate, consiste à  projeter sa propre âme dans cette forme d’une culture qui lui est étrangère. 

Cette constatation d’Oswald SPENGLER, nous la découvrons quotidiennement dans les articles de journaux ou dans les ouvrages d’« experts » à la mode. Ainsi, cherchant à comprendre (ou plutôt « expliquer ») l’islamisme, ces « experts » considèrent que le monde musulman est divisé entre partisans de la laïcité (les « modernes ») et les intégriste (les « conservateurs »). L’Occidental ne peut même pas comprendre que la notion de « laïcité » ne peut se concevoir en Islam sans remettre en cause la nature même de l’Islam. Un « musulman avec une vision laïque » n’est déjà plus tout-à-fait musulman, me semble-t-il, ou c’est la religion islamique qui a muté, et c’est un autre problème. Il en de même pour la notion de « nation », typiquement occidentale, que l’Occidental tente de coller aux pays musulmans ou autres, et pour bien d’autres points. 

Mais, peut-on objecter, si l’on convertit l’homme de l’autre culture à notre religion, n’est-il pas possible de le transformer en Occidental ? 

La réponse d’Oswald SPENGLER est, sur ce point, formellement négative. 

En effet, selon Oswald SPENGLER, il ne peut pas y avoir de « transhumance psychique » (comme il dit) entre deux individus de culture différentes : 

« Une religion a beau se révéler dans des paroles aussi claires que possible, elle reste parole et l’auditeur y projette son sens intérieur. » (5) Il en est de même au plan artistique, politique, etc. 

Oswald SPENGLER concède tout de même que le don de « transhumance psychique », « très rare et très moderne est réservé à quelques hommes éminemment historiques », parmi lesquels, je me permets de l’ajouter, il se compte certainement, ce qui nous fait de bénéficier de son intéressante et magistrale vision de l’histoire universelle. 

Oswald SPENGLER précise qu’il y a incommunicabilité psychique entre deux cultures différentes que ce soit au niveau artistique ou religieux. Celui qui écoute ne fait qu’y projeter sa propre âme. 

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Mais alors, que penser des influences indubitables que l’on peut constater entre deux cultures étrangères ? le chiffre 0 conçu par la culture indoue et transmis par les Arabes à l’Occident, l’arc en forme de voûte des églises romanes et gothiques empruntée à la culture arabe ? 

Oswald SPENGLER commence par définir ce qu’est une « influence » : 

Pour Oswald SPENGLER, une influence est une activité organique, c’est-à-dire qu’elle est une action exercée par un courant de vie organique, une unité cosmique (vision globale du monde), en l’espèce une culture. 

Par contre, les formes d’expression d’une culture donnée (art, langue, sciences, religion, formes étatiques, etc.) et- qui apparaissent concrètement dans les relations interculturelles, Oswald SPENGLER les définit comme des unités microcosmiques, car une forment un univers particulier, réduit à une sphère spécifique, produit par la culture, courant de vie organique. 

Et Oswald SPENGLER d’observer que, dans les multiples relations interculturelles, « ce ne sont pas les unités microcosmiques qui se déplacent, mais les unités cosmiques qui les choisissent et se les approprient. » (6) 

Autrement dit, lorsqu’un homme de culture A entre en relation avec un homme de culture B, chacun des deux dispose, pour lui-même, une multitude de systèmes d’expression (art, sciences, formes politiques, langues, coutumes, etc.) spécifiques à sa propre cultures. 

Pourtant, tout au long de la relation interculturelle, seuls quelques uns des systèmes d’expression passeront dans l’autre culture. 

En effet, si les influences entre les cultures s’étaient librement donné cours, il n’y aurait depuis longtemps qu’une seule « civilisation » éternelle. Ce n’est pas le cas. 

Lorsque deux hommes de cultures différentes entrent en relation, ce ne sont pas les unités d’expression (art, structures de la parenté, religion, etc.) qui sont actives, c’est, nous dit Oswald SPENGLER, l’homme seul qui est actif. Et l’action de l’un ne peut être intégré dans l’autre de façon vivante que si l’autre la sent dans son propre être. 

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Ainsi, pour Oswald SPENGLER, ce n’est pas le bouddhisme qui a émigré de l’Inde dans la Chine, mais ce sont les Chinois d’une certaine culture (d’une certaine orientation de sentiments) qui ont accueilli le bouddhisme et l’ont transformé en une nouvelle sorte d’expression religieuse.

 En outre, Oswald SPENGLER constate que, au mépris de la théorie de ceux qui prétendre qu’il y a continuité entre les vieilles civilisations et les plus jeunes cultures, ce sont seulement les plus jeunes cultures qui empruntent aux organismes plus âgés un petit nombre d’éléments qu’elles interprètent sans égard à leurs significations originelles (dans la culture plus âgée). 

Pour Oswald SPENGLER, prétendre qu’il y a continuité entre la philosophie grecque et la nôtre, c’est utiliser un « jargon artificiel ». 

En effet, nous dit Oswald SPENGLER, l’interprétation de la philosophie grecque par les Grecs eux-mêmes, puis les Arabes et enfin par les Occidentaux constitue trois interprétations différentes. 

« […] : il n’ y a pas une seule proposition d’Héraclite, de Démocrite, de Platon, qui soit vrai pour nous, si nous ne l’avons pas tout d’abord rectifiée. » (7) 

On ne peut qu’être d’accord avec Oswald SPENGLER, en particulier lorsqu’on pense au destin de la fameuse proposition de PROTAGORAS « L'homme est la mesure de toute chose », qui était la marque d’un relativisme absolu (une sorte de nihilisme de l’homme antique), et à laquelle l’homme occidental déclinant donne spontanément un sens humanitariste, comme on a pu le constater notamment lors des affoulements provoqués par les déplacements de feu le Pape JEAN XXIII dans divers pays, durant lequels cette proposition avaient transformée en slogan sous le regard approbateur des grands médias. 

En outre Oswald SPENGLER pose alors la question que ne se posent pas les philosophes "modernes" : pourquoi certaines influences ne sont pas acceptés ? pourquoi ne montre-t-on que les influences acceptées ? 

En effet, observe Oswald SPENGLER, il est dit que la Renaissance fut entièrement sous l’influence de l’art antique. « mais alors qu’a-t-elle fait » de la forme du temple dorique, de la colonne ionique, de la tectonique des statues, etc. ? 

Pour Oswald SPENGLER, l’acceptation d’une influence, choix inconscient, constitue une exception qui va entraîner une nouvelle interprétation du sens profond de l’apport accepté. 

Oswald SPENGLER donne des exemples concrets de ces nouvelles interprétations dans le christianisme avec ses deux interprétations, sans qu’un seul mot du dogme soit modifié : culture magique (juive, arabe)  et culture faustienne (occidental). 

Ainsi, les premiers conciles chrétiens ressortaient de la conception magique (juive, arabe) où chaque homme est l’expression du pneuma (souflle, esprit) divin. Donc, dans le rassemblement conciliaire, l’idée d’origine était que  la majorité exprime la parole divine, la Vérité immédiate. Ce raisonnement était inintelligible pour l’homme d’Occident qui a fait du Concile un moyen de contrôle du pouvoir spirituel du Pape à l’époque gothique. Puis, dans un mouvement de spiritualisation totale, spécifique à l’esprit occidental, l’infaillibilité papale s’est imposée. 

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On constate la même transformation du sens profond pour le dogme de la résurrection des morts, prise à l’origine au sens propre (résurrection de chair) dans la culture magique (juive), car le pneuma divin a élu domicile dans le corps humain. Cette résurrection de la chair, bien que jamais remise en cause, s’est transformée dans le christianisme occidental, porté à la spiritualisation, en l’immortalité de l’âme humaine. 

Oswald SPENGLER cite également d’autres exemples sur CALVIN et LUTHER dans ouvrage auquel j’invite le lecteur de se reporter. 

Comme le démontre Oswald SPENGLER, la jeune culture occidentale (faustienne), tout en maintenant le dogme ancien, l’a totalement réinterprété dans le sens d’une spiritualisation qui lui convenait, tout en créant de nouveaux dogmes (confession auriculaire) sur la base des Écritures évangéliques dont pas un iota n’aura été modifié depuis la période de la culture magique (juive). 

Pierre Marcowich 

(1)  Oswald SPENGLER, Le Déclin de l’Occident ; Éditions Gallimard, 1948, renouvelé en 1976, Tome II, Chap. I, Origine et paysage, § 12, page 54, alinéa 2 ;  

(2)     Ibidem, § 12, page 54, alinéa 3 ; 

(3)     Ibidem, § 12, page 55, alinéa 1 ; 

(4)     Ibidem, § 12, pages 54 et 55, alinéa 1 ; 

(5)     Ibidem, § 12, pages 55, alinéa 2 ; 

(6)     Ibidem, § 12, pages 56, alinéa 1 ; 

(7)     Ibidem, § 12, pages 57, alinéa 1 ; 

 

The Pre-Death Thoughts of Faust

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The  Pre-Death  Thoughts  of  Faust

(1922 - #59)

N. A. BERDYAEV (BERDIAEV)

         The fate of Faust -- is the fate of European culture. The soul of Faust -- is the soul of Western Europe. This soul was full of stormy, of endless strivings. In it there was an exceptional dynamism, unknown to the soul of antiquity, to the Greek soul. In its youth, in the era of the Renaissance, and still earlier, in the Renaissance of the Middle Ages, the soul of Faust sought passionately for truth, they fell in love with Gretchen and for the realisation of his endless human aspirations it entered into a pact with Mephistopheles, with the evil spirit of the earth. And the Faustian soul was gradually corroded by the Mephistophelean principle. Its powers began to wane. What ended the endless strivings of the Faustian soul, to what did they lead? The Faustian soul led to the draining of swamps, to the engineering art, to a material arranging of the earth and to a material mastery over the world. Thus we find spoken towards the conclusion of the second part of Faust:

   Ein Sumpf zieht am Gebirge hin,
   Verpestet alles schon Errungene;
   Den faulen Pfuhl auch abzuziehn,
   Das letzte waer das Hoechsterrungene,
   Eroeffn ich Raeume vielen Millionen,
   Nicht sicher zwar, doch taetig-frei zu wohnen.

   Nigh the mountain a swamp doth stretch,
   Pollutes there every advancement;
   To drain off the foul pool,
   Would be the utmost highest achievement,
   I'd open up space for many a million,
   Not indeed secure, but active-free to be.

       And thus do end during the XIX-XX Centuries the searchings of the man of modern history. With genius Goethe foresaw this. But the final word for him belongs with the mystic chorus:

   Alles Vergaengliche
   Ist nur ein Gleichnis;
   Das Unzulaengliche,
   Hier wird's Ereignis;
   Das Unbeschreibliche,
   Hier ist's getan;
   Das Ewig-Weibliche
   Zieht uns hinan.

   All the Transitory
   Is but a Symbol Image
   The Insufficient
   Here doth transpire;
   The Ineffable
   Here doth act;
   The Eternal-Feminine
   Upward doth draw us.

        And draining the swamp is but a symbol of the spiritual path of Faust, merely a sign of spiritual activity. Upon his path, Faust passes from a religious culture over to an irreligious civilisation. And in this irreligious civilisation the creative energy of Faust becomes drained, his endless aspirations die. Goethe gave expression to the soul of Western European culture and its fate. Spengler, in his challenging book, "Der Untergang des Abendslandes" ["The Decline of the West"], announces the end of European culture, its ultimate transition over into civilisation, which is the beginning of the death-process. "Civilisation -- is the irreversible fate of a culture". The book of Spengler bears within it an enormous symptomatic significance. It conveys the feeling of crisis, of sudden impending change, that of the end of an entire historical era. It speaks about the great sorry affair of things in Western Europe. We, as Russians, have been split off from Western Europe already for many a long year, from its spiritual life. And since our access to it has been blocked, it has seemed to us to be more fortunate, more orderly, more happy, than it is in actuality. Even prior to the World War, I very acutely sensed the crisis of European culture, the impending end of an entire world era, and I expressed this in my book, "The Meaning of Creativity". During wartime also I wrote an article, "The End of Europe", in which I expressed the thought, that the twilight period of Europe has begun, that Europe is at an end as a monopolist of culture, that the emergence of culture out beyond the bounds of Europe has been inevitable, for other continents and other races. Moreover, two years back I wrote an etude, "The End of the Renaissance", and a book, "The Meaning of History: Attempt at a Philosophy of Human Fate", in both which I definitely expressed the idea, that we are experiencing the end of modern history, that we are living out the final remnants of the Renaissance period of history, that the culture of old Europe has tended towards deterioration. And therefore I read the book of Spengler with an especial tremulation. In our era, with its historical disintegration, thought is focused upon the problems of the philosophy of history. It was the same in the epoch, when Bl. Augustine conceived of his first rendering of a Christian philosophy of history. It is possible to foresee, that philosophic thought henceforth will be concerned not so much with problems of gnosseology, as rather by problems of the philosophy of history. In the "Bhagavad Gita" revelations occur during a time of warfare. During a time of war there can be resolved ultimate problems about God and the meaning of life, but it is difficult to get concerned over analytic gnosseology. And in out time is at work the thinking during a time of war. We live in an epoch inwardly akin to the Hellenistic epoch, the epoch of the collapse of the ancient world. The book of Spengler -- is a remarkable book, in places almost of genius, it stimulates and makes for thought. But it cannot be too much a surprise for those Russian people, who long since already have sensed the crisis, about which Spengler speaks.

* * *

       

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Spengler can convey the impression of being an extreme relativist and sceptic. Even mathematics for him is something relative. There exists the ancient Apollonian mathematics, -- a finite mathematics, and there exists the European Faustian mathematics, -- an infinite mathematics. Science is not unconditional, not absolute, but is rather the expression of the souls of various cultures, of various races. But still, in essence, it is impossible to classify Spengler under any sort of current. Academic philosophy is quite alien to him, and he holds it in contempt. He is first of all his own unique individualist. And in this he is akin to the Goethean spirit of contemplation. Goethe intuitively contemplated the primal phenomena of nature. Spengler intuitively contemplates the history of the primal phenomena of culture. He, just also as with Goethe, is a symbolist as regards world-concept. He refuses to think employing abstract concepts, he does not believe in the fruitfulness of such thinking. All abstract metaphysics is foreign to him. From the morbid methodologism and gnosseologism, in which German great thought emerged, from the sick and futile reflection, Spengler has instead turned away towards living intuition. He casts himself into the dark ocean of the historical existence of peoples and penetrates into the soul of races and cultures, into the styles of the various epochs. He makes a break with the epoch of gnosseologism in the philosophy of thought, but he does not pass over to ontologism, he does not construct any sort of ontology and does not believe in the possibility of ontology. He knows only of being, as manifest in cultures, as reflected in cultures. The primal grounds of being and the meaning of existence remain for him hidden. The morphology of history for him -- is the solely possible philosophy. With him there is not even a philosophy of history, exclusively it is rather -- a morphology of history. All the truths, the truths of science, of philosophy, religion, -- are for Spengler merely the truths of culture, of cultural types, of cultured souls. The truths of mathematics -- are the symbols of various styles of cultured souls. Such an attitude towards cognition and being is characteristic to a man of a late and waning culture. The soul of a man set within an epoch of cultural decline tends to ponder over the fate of cultures, over the historical fate of mankind. It has always been so. Such a soul has no interest either in the abstract knowledge of nature, nor in the abstract knowledge of the essence and meaning of being. Of interest to it is the culture itself, and everything -- is merely reflected in the culture. It is struck by the dying off of once flourishing cultures. It is wounded by the inevitability of fate. Spengler is very capricious, he does not consider himself bound by anything in general obligatory. He is, first of all -- a paradoxicalist. For him, just as for Nietzsche, paradox is a means of cognition. In the book of Spengler there is a sort of affinity with the book of the youthful genius [Otto] Weininger, "Sex and Character", and despite all the different themes and spiritual outlook, the book of Spengler -- is just as remarkable a phenomenon in the spiritual culture of Germany, as is the book of Weininger. In breadth of intent, in scope, in its unique intuitive insights into the history of cultures, the book of Spengler can take its place alongside the remarkable book of [Houston Stewart] Chamberlain ("Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts" ["The Foundations of the Nineteen-Hundreds"]). After Nietzsche -- comes Weininger, Chamberlain and Spengler -- the sole genuinely original and remarkable figures in German spiritual culture. Just like Schopenhauer, Spengler has contempt for professors of philosophy. He offers a very arbitrary list of writers and thinkers, and in his opinion of the remarkable books, esteemed by him. These people are of a quite various a spirit. But they all bear some relationship to the principle of the will to live and the will to power, all have bearing on the crisis of culture. These are -- Schopenhauer, Proudhon, Marx, R. Wagner, Duhring, Ibsen, Nietzsche, Strindberg, Weininger. Is Spengler a pessimist? For many, his book has to produce the impression of a very boundless pessimism. But this is not a metaphysical pessimism. Spengler does not desire the quenching of the will to live. On the contrary, he desires the affirmation of the will to live and the will to power. In this he is closer to Nietzsche, than to Schopenhauer. All cultures are doomed to a withering away and death. Our European culture is also doomed. But it is necessary to accept fate, not oppose it, and to live it out to the end, and to the end manifesting the will to power. With Spengler there is the amor fati. The pessimism of Spengler, if such a term be properly applicable to him, is a pessimism culturo-historical, and is neither a pessimism individually-metaphysical nor individually-ethical. He -- is a pessimist on civilisation. He denies the idea of progress, and he returns to the teaching about cyclical returns. But with him there is no pessimistic balance of suffering and pleasure, of a pessimistic understanding of the very essence of life. He admits of an inexhaustible creative wellspring of life, lodged within the primal impulse, begetting culture all ever new and anew. He is fond of this will to cultural flourishing. And he perceives the death of a culture as a law of life, as an inevitable moment within the vital fate of a culture itself. Surprisingly strong with Spengler is a correlation of phenomena in various spheres of a culture and the discerning from them of an unique symbol, such as signifies that selfsame culture, that selfsame cultural style. He transfers concepts from mathematics and physics over into painting and music, from art into politics, from politics into religion. Thus, he speaks about an Apollonian and a Faustian mathematics. He discerns one and the same primary phenomenon within various epochs, within various cultures. And he regards it possible to admit of one and the same sort of such phenomena, as Buddhism, Stoicism and Socialism, belonging to various epochs and cultures. His most remarkable thoughts are about art and about mathematics and physics. And with him there are truly intuitions of genius.

         Spengler -- is of an areligious nature. In this is his tragedy. With him there is as it were an atrophied religious sense. Whereas both Weininger and Chamberlain -- are of a religious nature, Spengler -- is areligious. He is not only himself non-religious, but he also does not understand the religious life of mankind. Yet he examined the role of Christianity within the fate of European culture. This -- is the most striking side of his book. In this is its spiritual deformity, almost its monstrous defect. It is not necessary to be a Christian, in order to understand the significance of Christianity within the history of European culture. The pathos of objectivity ought to be brought to bear on this. But Spengler does not sense himself under the compulsion of any such objectivity. He does not ponder on Christianity within history, he does not see a religious meaning. He knows, that culture is religious by its nature and by this it is distinct from civilisation, which is irreligious. But he has been able to express very noble thoughts, such as only can be expressed by a non-believing soul in our epoch. Behind his civilised self-feeling and self-awareness can be sense the imprint of a culture, which has lost its faith and is tending towards decline.

* * *

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Spengler understands and senses the world foremost of all as history. This he regards as the modern perception of the world. It is only to such an attitude towards the world that there belongs a future. Dynamism is characteristic to our times. And only a perceiving the world as history is a dynamic perception. The world as nature is static. Spengler contrasts nature and history, as two methods of viewing the world. Nature is expanse. History is time. The world presents itself to us as nature, when we view it from the perspective of causality, and it presents itself to us as history, when we view it from the perspective of fate. That history is a matter of fate, is all very well and good with Spengler. Fate cannot be conceived of by means of a causal explanation. Only the perspective of fate gives us a grasp upon the concrete. Spengler's assertion is quite correct, that for ancient man there was no history. The Greek perceived the world as static, for him it was from nature, from the cosmos, and not from history. He did not know historical remoteness. Spengler's thoughts on antiquity are very insightful. And it mustneeds be admitted, that Greek thought did not know of a philosophy of history. It was not a matter of either Plato, or of Aristotle. The point of view of a philosophy of history is contrary to the aesthetic ponderings of the Hellene. The world for him was a completed cosmos. Hellenic thought created the Hellenic metaphysics, so inconducive for conceiving the world as an historical process. Spengler senses himself as an European man with a Faustian soul, with its infinite aspirations. He not only sets himself distinct from ancient man, he moreover asserts, that the ancient soul for him is inconceivable, is impenetrable. This however does not prevent him from drawing upon its understanding and insights. But does history exist for Spengler himself, is he one for whom there is a world, as history, and not as nature? I think, that for Spengler history does not exist and for him a philosophy of history is impossible. Not by chance did he call his book a morphology of world history. The morphological perspective derives from nature-knowledge. Historical fate, the fate of culture exists for Spengler only in that sense, that fate exists for a flower. The historical fate of mankind does not exist. There does not exist a single mankind, a single subject of history. Christianity was the first to have rendered possible a philosophy of history, in that it revealed the existence of a single mankind with a single historical fate, having its own beginning and end. Thus first for the Christian consciousness is revealed the tragedy of world history, the fate of mankind. Spengler however turns back to the pagan particularism. For him there is no mankind, no worldwide history. Cultures, races -- are isolated monads with an isolated fate. For him the varied types of culture experience a cyclical turning of their own fate. He returns to the Hellenic perspective, which was surpassed by the Christian consciousness. With Spengler the Baptismal water as it were was missing. He abjures his own Christian blood. And for him, just as for the Hellene, there does not exist the perspective of an historical remoteness. The historically remote distance exists only in this instance, if there exists an historical fate of mankind, a worldwide history, if each type of culture is but a moment of a worldwide fate.

       The Faustian soul with its endless aspirations, with the distance opening up before it, is the soul of the Christian period of history. This Christianity shatters the boundaries of the ancient world, with its delimited and narrowed horizons. After the appearance of Christianity in the world, an infinity opened up. Christianity rendered possible the Faustian mathematics, the mathematics of the endless. Of this Spengler is not at all aware. He does not posit the appearance of the Faustian soul in any sort of connection with Christianity. He has made an examination of the significance of Christianity for European culture, for the fate of European culture. This fate however -- is a Christian fate. He wants to push Christianity back exclusively to the sense of a magical soul, to a type of Hebrew and Arabic culture, to the east. And he thus dooms himself to a lack of understanding of the meaning of European culture. For Spengler generally there does not exist a meaning to history. The meaning of history also cannot exist amidst such a denial of the subject of the historical process. The cyclical turnings of the various types of culture, lacking connections between them of a single fate, is totally meaningless. Moreover, the denial of a meaning to history makes impossible a philosophy of history. There remains but the morphology of history. But for the morphology of history there is merely the manifestation of nature, in it there is no unique historical process, no fate, as a manifestation of meaning. In Spengler the Faustian soul ultimately loses its connection with Christianity, which gave it birth, and in the hour of the waning of the Faustian culture it attempts to return to the ancient sense of life, tacking on it also the theme of history. In Spengler, despite his distasteful civilisation pathos, there is sensed also the exhaustion of a trans-cultural man. This weariness of a man of an era of decline quenches any sense of the meaning of history and its connections to historical fates. There remains only the possibility of an intuitive-aesthetic insight into the types and styles of the souls of cultures. Faust does not bear up under a time of historical fate, he does not want to experience it to the final end. He, weary and exhausted by the modern history, agrees it the better to die, having experienced a short moment of civilisation, set at the summit of culture. He is captivated by the thought, that he is to be given this final mitigation and consolation of death. But there is no death. Fate continues on even beyond this side of what the Faustian soul had acknowledged as the sole life. And the burden of this fate has to be carried across into the remote eternity. For Spengler's Faustian soul the remote eternity is hidden, the historical fate beyond the bounds of this life, of this culture and civilisation; to the end of his days he wants to restrict himself to the cycle of a dying civilisation. He foresees the rise of new cultures, which likewise will pass over into a civilisation and die. But these new souls of cultures are foreign to him and he regards them for himself as impenetrable. These new cultures which, perhaps, will arise in the East, will not have any sort of inward connection with the dying European culture. Faust loses the perspective of history, of historical fate. Culture for him -- is merely a springing forth, a blossoming and fading flower. Faust ceases to understand the meaning and the bond of fate, since for him the light of the Logos has grown dim, there has grown dark the sun of Christianity. And the appearance of Spengler, a man exceptionally gifted, at times close to genius in certain of his intuitions, is very remarkable for the fate of European culture, for the fate of the Faustian soul. There is nowhere further to go. After Spengler -- there is already the plunge into the abyss. With Spengler there is a great intuitive gift, but this -- is but the giftedness of a blindman. As a blindman, no longer still seeing the light, he throws himself off into the murky ocean of culturo-historical being. With Hegel there was still a Christian philosophy of history, in its sort no less Christian, than the philosophy of history of Bl. Augustine. It knows of an unified subject of history and meaning to history. It shines through everything with the rays of the Christian sun. With Spengler there are no longer these rays. Hegel belongs to a culture, possessing a religious basis; Spengler senses himself as already having passed over into a civilisation, bereft of religious basis. One might moreover still note, that the point of view of Spengler unexpectedly reminds one of the perspective of N. Danilevsky, as developed in his book, "Russia and Europe". The culturo-historical types of Danilevsky are very similar to the souls of the cultures of Spengler, but with this difference, that Danilevsky is quite lacking in the enormous intuitive gift of Spengler. Vl. Solov'ev criticised N. Danilevsky from the Christian point of view. For Spengler the fate of the history of the world remains unsolved, since for him history is but an aspect of nature, a phenomenon of nature, and it is not in that nature -- is an aspect of history, as it is for historical metaphysics.

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  Every culture inevitably passes over into civilisation. Civilisation is the fate, the doomed lot of culture. Civilisation however ends up by death, it is already the beginning of death, the exhaustion of the creative powers of a culture. This -- is a central thought of Spengler's book. "We are civilised people, and not people of the Gothic or Rococco". What differentiates civilisation from culture? A culture -- is religious as to its basis, civilisation -- is irreligious. For Spengler -- this is a fundamental distinction. And he regards himself as a man of civilisation, since he is irreligious. A culture derives from a cult, it is bound up with a cult of ancestors, it is impossible without sacred traditions. Civilisation is the will to worldwide might, to an ordering of the surface of the earth. A culture -- is national. Civilisation -- is international. Civilisation is the worldwide city. Imperialism and socialism alike -- are civilisation, and not culture. Philosophy and art exist only in a culture, in a civilisation they are impossible and unnecessary. Possible and necessary within civilisation is only the engineering art. And Spengler gives the appearances, that he understands the pathos of the engineering art. Culture -- is organic. Civilisation -- is mechanical. Culture is grounded upon inequality, upon qualities. Civilisation in contrast is pervaded by the aspiration for equality, it seeks to be based upon quantities. Culture -- is something aristocratic. Civilisation -- is something democratic. The distinction of culture in contrast to civilisation is of something extraordinarily fruitful. With Spengler there is a very acute sense of an inexorable process of the victory of civilisation over culture. The decline of Western Europe for him is first of all the decline of the old European culture, the exhaustion within it of the creative powers, the end of art, of philosophy, of religion. Civilisation has still not reached its finish. Civilisation will still celebrate its victory. But after civilisation will come the onset of death for the Western European cultural race. And after this, culture can blossom forth only in other races, only in other souls.

       These thoughts are expressed by Spengler with an astounding brilliance. But are these thoughts something new? For us, as Russians, it is impossible to be taken aback by these thoughts. We long since already know of the difference of culture from civilisation. All the Russian religious thinkers have asserted this difference. they all sensed a certain sacred terror at the perishing of culture and the ensuing triumph of civilisation. The struggle against the spirit of philistinism, which so wounded Hertsen and K. Leont'ev, people of quite varied tendencies and outlook, was grounded upon this motif. Civilisation by its nature is pervaded by a spiritual philistinism, by a spiritual bourgeoisness. Capitalism and socialism entirely alike are infected by this spirit. Beneathe the hostility towards the West of many a Russian writer and thinker lies concealed not hostility towards Western culture, but rather hostility towards Western civilisation. Konstantin Leont'ev, one of the most insightful of Russian thinkers, loved the great culture of the West, he loved the colourful culture of the Renaissance, he loved the Catholic great culture of the Middle Ages, he loved the spirit of chivalry, he loved the genius of the West, he loved the mighty manifestation of the sense of person within this great cultural world. But he abominated the civilisation of the West, the fruition of the liberal-egalitarian process, the extinguishing of spirit and the death of creativity within civilisation. He comprehended already the law of the transition of culture over into civilisation. For him this was an inexorable law within the life of societies. Culture for him corresponded to that period in the developing of societies, which he termed as the period of the "blossoming of complexity", civilisation however corresponded to a period of "simplistic confusion". The problem of Spengler was quite clearly posited by K. Leont'ev. He likewise denied progress, he confessed a theory of cycles, he asserted, that after the complex blossoming forth of culture there ensues decline, decay, death. The process of "liberal-egalitarian" civilisation is the onset of death, of disintegration. For Western European culture he regarded this death as irreversible. He saw the perishing of the flourishing culture in the West. But he wanted to believe, that a flourishing culture was still possible in the East, in Russia. Though towards the end of his life he lost also this faith, he saw, that also in Russia civilisation was triumphing, that in Russia matters were going towards a "simplistic confusion". And then he came to be imbued with a dark apocalyptic outlook. So also Vl. Solov'ev towards the end lost faith of a possibility within the world of a religious culture and he had an anguished sense of the onset of the kingdom of the Anti-Christ. Culture is possessed of a religious basis, there is in it a sacred symbolism. Civilisation however is of the kingdom of this world. It is the triumph of the "bourgeois" spirit, of a spiritual "bourgeoisness". And it makes totally no difference, whether it be a civilisation capitalistic or socialistic, it is alike -- a godless philistine civilisation. Indeed even Dostoevsky was not an enemy of Western culture. Remarkable in this regard are the thoughts of Versilov in "The Adolescent". "They are not free, -- says Versilov, -- but we are free". "Only I alone in Europe with my Russian melancholy then was free... To the Russian, Europe is precious the same, as is Russia: each stone in it is dear and precious. Europe has been our fatherland the same, as also is Russia... O, to the Russian, dear are these old foreign stones, these miracles of God's old world, these bits of sacred wonders: and to us this is even more dear, than it is to them themselves. They have now other thoughts and other feelings, and they have ceased to appreciate the old stones". Dostoevsky loved these "old stones" of Western Europe, "these miracles of God's old world". But he, just as with K. Leont'ev, denounces the people of the West for this, that they have ceased to revere their "old stones", they have forsaken their own great culture and have surrendered themselves completely to the spirit of civilisation. Dostoevsky loathed not the West, not the Western culture, but rather the irreligious, the godless civilisation of the West. Russian Easternism, Russian Slavophilism was merely a veiled struggle of the spirit of a religious culture against the spirit of an irreligious civilisation. The struggle of these two spirits, of these two types, is innate to Russia itself. This is not a struggle of East and West, of Russia and Europe. And many Western people too have felt anguish, almost to the point of agony, at the triumph of the irreligious and monstrous civilisation over a great and sacred culture. Suchlike have been the romantics of the West. Suchlike were the French Catholics and symbolists -- Barbey d'Aurevilly, [Paul] Verlaine, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Huysmans, Leon Bloy. Suchlike was Nietzsche, with his anguish over the tragic Dionysian culture. Not only remarkable Russian people, but also the most refined and perceptive Western people with anguish felt, that the great and holy culture of the west was perishing, that it was dying, that coming to it was a civilisation alien to it, a worldwide city, irreligious and international, that a new sort of man was coming, a parvenue, obsessed with a will to world power and taking possession of all the earth. In this victorious march of civilisation was dying the soul of Europe, the soul of European culture.

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The originality of Spengler was not in the positing of this theme. This theme had already been posited with an extraordinary alacrity by Russian thought. The originality of Spengler lies however in this, that he has no desire to be a romantic, he does not wish to anguish over the dying great culture of the past. He wants to live in the present, he wants to accept the pathos of civilisation. He wants to be a citizen of the worldwide city of civilisation. He preaches a civilisation's will to world power. He is consentual to trading off religion, philosophy, art for technology, for the draining of swamps and the erecting of bridges, for the invention of machines. The uniqueness of Spengler lies in this, that there has not been yet a man of civilisation, a drainer of swamps, endowed with such an awareness as with Spengler, a sad awareness of the inexorable decline of the old culture, endowed with such a keenness and such a gift of penetration into the culture of the past. Spengler's self-feeling for civilisation and his self-awareness are at the root contradictory and ambiguous. In him there is not civilisation's arbitrary sense of value and self-smugness, there is not that faith in the absolute excellence of its own epoch, of its own generation over all the epochs and generations that went before. It is impossible to construct a civilisation, to defend the interests of a civilisation, to dry up swamps with such a mindset as Spengler has. For these deeds what is necessary is a dulling of consciousness, becoming thick-skinned, with a naive faith in the endless progress of civilisation. Spengler tends to understand everything too well. He is not the new man of civilisation, he is rather, the dying Faust -- the man of the old European culture. He -- is a romantic in an era of civilisation. He wants to give the appearance, that he is interested by the engineering art, by the draining of swamps, by the erection of the world city. In actuality, he writes instead a remarkable book about the decline of European culture and by this he works a deed of culture, rather than of civilisation. He is as such unusual a cultural man, overwhelmingly a cultural man. Such people tend poorly to build the world city of civilisation. They are better at writing books. Faust hardly can be called a fine engineer, a fine maker of civilisation. He is dying at the very moment, when he decides to set about the draining of swamps. Spengler is not a man of civilisation, as he wants both himself and us to believe,  - he is a man of a late and declining culture. And therefore in his book is discerned the evidence of grief, foreign to a man of civilisation. Spengler -- is a German patriot, a German nationalist and imperialist. This is clearly expressed in his booklet, "Preussentum und Sozialismus" ["The Prussian and Socialism"]. In him there is the will to world power for Germany, there is the faith, that during the period of civilisation, such as still remains for Western Europe, this world power of Germany will be realised. He combines with civilisation this will and this faith for himself, he finds for himself a place within it. But the history of recent years has inflicted such a blow to the imperialistic mindset of Spengler. If imperialism and socialism -- be not one and the same thing, then -- certainly, Spengler is moreso the imperialist, than a socialist. The civilisation of a world city however is beginning to move more rapidly in the direction of realisation of a world power and world kingdom, the kingdom of this world, through socialism, rather than through imperialism.

* * *

       Our era has features of affinity with the Hellenistic era. The Hellenistic era brought to an end the culture of antiquity. And, according to the thought of Spengler, this was a transition of the culture of antiquity over into civilisation. Suchlike is the doomed lot of every culture. And for both our era and for the Hellenistic era alike there is characteristic the mutual interaction of East and West, the meeting and coming together of all cultures and all races, a syncretism, the universalism of civilisation, the feeling of an end-time, the demise of an historical era. And in our era too the civilisation of the West turns towards the East and the trans-cultural people of this civilisation seek for light from the East. And in our era too within the various theosophic and mystical currents there occurs the jumbling together and combining of various systems of beliefs and cults. And in our era too there is the will towards a worldwide uniting in imperialism and the selfsame will finds expression also in socialism. Cultures and states cease to be nationally isolated. The individuality of the cultures passes over into the universality of civilisation. And in our era too there is the thirst to believe and a powerlessness to believe, a thirst to create and a powerlessness to create. And in our era too there predominates an Alexandrianism both in thought and in creativity. Within history daylike and nightlike eras follow in succession. The Hellenistic era was a transition from the daylight of the Hellenic world over to the night of the Medieval Dark Ages. And we stand at the threshhold of a new night era. The daytime of modern history is at an end. Its rational light is dying down. Evening ensues. And it is not Spengler alone who sees the signs of the encroaching twilight. Our time in many of its portents is reminiscent of the beginning of the early Middle Ages. The have begun the processes of drawing back and consolidation, similar to the processes of drawing back and consolidation during the time of the emperor Diocletian. And it is not so improbable an opinion, to imagine that there is beginning a feudalisation of Europe. The process of the collapse of states is transpiring parallel to an universalistic uniting. There are occurring enormous transmigrations and displacements of masses of mankind. And there will perhaps ensue a new chaos of peoples, from which nowise quickly will a new orderly cosmos take shape.

        The World War has drawn Western Europe out of its customary, its established boundaries. Central Europe lies inwardly devastated. Its powers not only materially, but also spiritually, have become overstrained. Civilisation through imperialism and through socialism has to pour forth across the surface of all the earth, has to move even towards the East. Into the civilisation will be brought ever new masses of mankind, new segments. But the new Middle Ages will be a civilised barbarism, a barbarism amidst machines, and not amidst forests and fields. The great and sacred traditions of culture will turn inward. The true spiritual culture, perhaps, will happen to experience a catacomb period. The true spiritual culture, having survived its Renaissance period, having gone through its humanistic pathos, will happen to return to certain principles of a religious medieval culture, not a barbarian Middle Ages, but rather a cultural Middle Ages. Upon the pathways of the modern, the humanistic, the renaissance history, everything is already exhausted. Faust upon the paths of an outward endlessness of aspirations exhausted his powers, he wore down his spiritual energy. Still, there remains for him movement towards an inner infinity. In one of his aspects, Faust has had to totally surrender himself over to the external material civilisation, a civilised barbarism. Though in another of his aspects he has to be faithful to the eternal spiritual culture, the symbolic existence of which was expressed by the mystical chorus at the finish of the second part of "Faust". Suchlike is the fate of the Faustian soul, the fate of European culture. The future is twofold. With Spengler, the preeminence of spiritual culture is sundered. It passes as it were over totally into civilisation and dies. Spengler does not believe in an abiding meaning to world life, he does not believe in the eternal aspect of a spiritual reality. But even if spiritual culture should perish amidst the quantities, it then still will be preserved and abide amidst the qualities. It was carried forth both through the barbarity and night of the old Middle Ages. It will be carried forth also through the barbarity and night of the new Middle Ages, prior to the dawn of a new day, to a coming Christian Renaissance, when there will appear the St. Francis and the Dante of the new epoch.

* * *

       The truths of science for Spengler are not independent truths, but are rather truths relevant of the culture, of cultural styles. And the truths of physics are connected with the souls of a culture. There is a very remarkable chapter about the Faustian and Apollonian nature-knowledge. Mighty strides in physics have been characteristic of our era. Within physics there is occurring a genuine revolution. But the discoveries, which the physics of our era is uncovering, are characteristic of the decline of a culture. Entropy, connected with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, radioactivity and the decaying apart of atoms of matter, the Law of Relativity -- all this tends to shake the solidity and stability of the physico-mathematical world-perception, and it undermines faith in the lasting existence of our world. I might say, that all this -- represents a physical apocalypsis, a teaching about the inevitability of the physical end of the world, the death of the world. Only during the era of the waning of European culture does there arise such an "apocalyptic" disposition within physics. What a difference it is from the physics of Newton. Newton in his physics did not give his own interpretation of the Apocalypsis. The physics of our day can be termed the pre-death thoughts of Faust. It has become impossible to seek for stability in the physical world order. Physics posits a death sentence for the world. The world is perishing in its proportionate discharge of warm energy into the universe, of energy, unreturnable into other forms of energy. The creating energies at work in forming the manifold of the cosmos, are subsiding. The world is perishing from an irreversible and insurmountable striving towards physical equilibrium. And is not the striving towards equilibrium, towards equality, in the social world that same sort of entropy, that same ruination of the social cosmos and culture in a proportionate discharge of warm energy, unreturnable in any sort of energy as is creative of culture? A pondering over the themes, posited by Spengler, leads to these bitter thoughts. But the bitterness of these thoughts ought not to be inescapable and gloomy. Not only physics, but also sociology, do not have belonging to them the final word in deciding the fates of the world and of man. The loss of a physical stability is not an irreversible loss. It is in the spiritual world that it is necessary to seek for stability. It is in the depths that it is necessary to seek for points of support. The world as external lacks infinite perspectives. The absurdity within it has been shown over the ages. But there is apparent an infinite inner world. And it is with it that there ought to be connected our hopes.

* * *

        In the large book of Spengler nothing is said about Russia. Only in the table of contents of the projected second volume is there a final chapter entitled -- "Das Russentum und die Zukunft" ["The Russian and the Future"]. There are grounds to think, that Spengler sees in the Russian East that new world, which will come to replace the dying world of the West: in his booklet "Preussentum und Sozialismus" several pages are devoted to Russia. Russia for him -- is a mysterious world, incomprehensible for the world of the West. The soul of Russia is still more remote and ungraspable for Western man, than is the soul of Greece or of Egypt. Russia is an apocalyptic revolt against antiquity. Russia -- is religious and nihilistic. In Dostoevsky is revealed the mystery of Russia. In the East can be expected the appearance of a new type of culture, of a new soul of culture. Yet this too contradicts the suggestions about Russia as a land nihilistic and hostile to culture. In the thoughts of Spengler, ultimately not followed out to the end, there is a sort of something turned backwards, where its opposite end seems an assertion of Slavophilism. And for us these thoughts are of interest, this turning of the West towards Russia, these expectations, connected with Russia. We are situated in more propitious a position, than is Spengler and the people of the West. For us the Western culture is attainable and graspable. The soul of Europe does not represent for us a soul remote and incomprehensible. We are in an inner communion with it, we sense in ourselves its energy. And yet at the same time we are the Russian East. Therefore the scope of Russian thought has to be broader, from its apparent remoteness. The philosophy of history, towards which the thought of our era turns, with great success has to be worked out in Russia. The philosophy of history always was of a basic interest within Russian thought, beginning with Chaadayev. That, which we are experiencing at present, ought ultimately to lead us out of our isolated existence. Granted that at present we are still moreso pushed back eastwards, but at the end of this process we shall cease to be the isolated East. Whatever happens with us, we inevitably have to emerge onto the world stage. Russia -- is at the middle between East and West. In it clash two torrents of world history, the Eastern and the Western. In Russia is hidden a mystery, which we ourselves cannot fully fathom. But this mystery is connected with a resolving of whatever the themes of world history. Our hour has still not come. It will be connected with the crisis of European culture. And therefore such books, as the book of Spengler, cannot but excite us. Such books are closer to us, than to the European peoples. This -- is our style of book.

Nikolai  Berdyaev.

(1922)

©  2003  by translator Fr. S. Janos

(1922 - 59,1 -en)

PREDSMERTNYE  MYSLI  FAUSTA.  Berdyaev's article is the 3rd of a four part anthology, "Osval'd Shpengler i Zakat Evropy", first published by book-publisher "Bereg" 1922, Moscow, p. 55-72. This entire 1922 Oswald Spengler anthology has been included in the V. V. Sapov edited Berdyaev-reprint under the partially inclusive title, "Smysl Istorii; Novoe Srednevekov'e", Publisher "Kanon", 2002 Moscow, p. 312-404; the Berdyaev title p. 364-381. (The other three selections included in this Spengler anthology are: F. Stepun -- "Osval'd Shpengler i 'Zakat Evropy'", S. Frank -- "Krizis zapadnoi kul'tury", Ya. Bukshpan -- "Nepreodolennyi ratsionalizm".

 




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