En poursuivant votre navigation sur ce site, vous acceptez l'utilisation de cookies. Ces derniers assurent le bon fonctionnement de nos services. En savoir plus.

vendredi, 21 septembre 2018

Alexandre Kojève & the End of History


Alexandre Kojève & the End of History

Author’s Note:

This is transcript by V. S. of a talk that I gave to the Atlanta Philosophical Society in 2000. As usual, I have eliminated some wordy constructions and some back-and-forth with the audience. 

We live in a time when there’s a lot of talk about the ends of ages. Last year, at the end of 1999, the vast majority of people celebrating the New Year were celebrating the millennium a year early. But still, there’s a sense that when we reach a round number something important is going to happen. There’s a lot of talk about the “end of modernity” in academia today. So-called postmodernist philosophers and literary critics are quite popular, and certain religious thinkers and writers are of course concerned that time itself may end very soon.

A friend of mine who is an Orthodox monk in Bulgaria emailed me just before the New Year saying that not only did some people in Bulgaria think that all the computers were going to fail, they thought the end of time was at hand. I wrote back saying, “Well, if I don’t hear from you again, it’s been nice knowing you.”

I want to talk about one of the most stunning claims that history is over, namely the claim popularized by Alexandre Kojève, a 20th-century philosopher who I think is probably the most influential single philosopher in the 20th century, although at the same time he’s one of the least known. He’s influential not only in the world of ideas but also in the world of politics. In fact, he’s had an enormous influence on the post-Second World War global economic and political order that we live in today. People sometimes call it the “New World Order.” It’s very much influenced by his thought and action.

Kojève claimed that history is not about to end, but that it had already ended, and that it ended in 1806. So, all of the expectant people who are waiting for the millennium have already missed it. History is already over. It’s been over for nearly two centuries, and it came to an end in 1806 when Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was sitting in his study in Jena writing his book Phenomenology of Spirit and nearby Napoleon was defeating his enemies at the great Battle of Jena, which turned the tide of resistance in Europe toward the ideas of the French Revolution.

According to Kojève, history ended with the triumph of the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity and Hegel’s understanding of the significance of these events. Everything that’s happened since then, he said, including the two World Wars, is just post-historical “mopping up.” It’s of no real historical significance. It’s just a matter of carrying the ideals of the French Revolution to the furthest corners of the globe.

Last night I saw a trailer for a film called The Cup, which is set in Bhutan in the Himalayas. This is a movie about the mopping-up process. It’s about some intrepid young Buddhist monks who fall in love with soccer and decide to bring satellite television to Bhutan. According to Kojève, this is just the kind of mopping-up process you’d expect as the world becomes completely integrated and its culture becomes entirely homogenized. Of course, this is presented as a heart-warming tale of intrepid youth.

51MV5jM0MgL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNow, who was Alexandre Kojève? He was born in 1902 as Aleksandr Vladimirovič Koževnikov. He was born in Moscow to a very wealthy family. After the Russian Revolution, the family fell on hard times, and he was eventually reduced to selling black-market soap on the street. He was arrested for this and narrowly escaped execution. His experiences with the GPU led to a rather unusual outcome. He converted to Marxism and maintained that he was an ardent Stalinist to the very end of his life.

In 1920, ardent Marxist-Stalinist that he was, he still saw fit to flee the Soviet Union to Germany. He enrolled at the University of Heidelberg, studying philosophy with the great German existentialist thinker Karl Jaspers, and he wrote a dissertation on Vladimir Soloviev, a Russian mystical philosopher of some interest, although he is rather unknown in the West.

Apparently, the Koževnikovs had money abroad, so while he was in Germany Kojève was actually something of a bon vivant. He lived the high life. He was a sort of limousine Stalinist. But he invested his family money poorly, and in 1929 he was pretty much wiped out by the great stock market crash.

In that year, he moved to France and started trying to find work. He had many friends, Russian émigrés, who helped him out. One of them was Alexandre Koyré, who was a historian of philosophy and science who had to go off to Egypt as a visiting professor and got Kojève the job in 1933 of subbing for him in a seminar on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.

Kojève did such a spectacular job that he gave the seminar every year until 1939, when the Germans moved in and French intellectual life changed somewhat. Kojève spent the war in the south of France, writing, and some of the works that he wrote during the war were published posthumously. He probably sat out the war because he realized that it was of no historical significance.

In 1945, he returned from his exile and was immediately given a position in the French Ministry of Economic Affairs, the head of which had been a student in his Hegel seminar during the 1930s.

From 1945 to 1968, he held the same position, a kind of undersecretary position, yet while he did not have any official leadership role, he was—as one person who knew him put it—the Mycroft Holmes of the French government. He was the guy who knew everything and everybody, and kept everybody abreast of everything else. He was a nerve center or brain center for the French government for a period of more than 20 years.

He claimed, in his typically hyperbolic style, that de Gaulle took care of foreign affairs, and “I, Kojève,” as he put it, “took care of everything else.” And apparently Raymond Aron, who was another of his students and an extremely sober fellow, actually said that this was pretty much true, that Kojève was probably second only to de Gaulle in importance in the French government in the 22 years that he occupied his position.

And what did he do? Well, he was one of the architects of what’s now called the European Economic Community. He was also one of the architects of what is known as the General Agreement on Trades and Tariffs, or GATT.

Right after the Second World War, he gave a speech to a bunch of technocrats in West Germany, where he laid out the model for what was then called pejoratively “neo-colonialism.” In his terms, colonialism after the Second World War and the end of the old colonial empires would now take the form not of taking, but of giving, namely of investing in and developing the underdeveloped countries, the former colonies, and integrating them into the world economic system. His model was basically carried out to a T. Organizations like the World Bank basically follow to this day the Kojèvian model of neo-colonialism.

9782070295289FS.gifHe was also the first person to announce what is sometimes called the convergence thesis. Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter, is often credited with this view. The convergence thesis is basically that as the Cold War wore on, the pressures of fighting it would cause both sides to gradually converge and become indistinguishable from one another.

Kojève was instrumental in creating—through the economic and political integration of the Western, non-Communist nations—one of the most important factors in helping them win the Cold War, but the French intelligence service believed that he was passing information to the KGB the whole time. So he was playing both sides in a very dangerous game. I want to give some suggestions about what Kojève’s dangerous game actually was.

Before I do that, though, I want to talk about his influence in the world of ideas. I’ve talked about his political activity. Really, of all the philosophers in the 20th century, he’s had the most impressive record of actually changing the world instead of just theorizing about it. Much of the world that we know today and think of as normal was influenced by this strange Russian. So, we need to understand the ideas behind his actions.

Kojève’s students at his Hegel seminar in the 1930s included the following people: Raymond Aron, who was probably the most brilliant conservative political theorist in France in the 20th century; Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who was something of a Marxist-Stalinist at one time and one of the most significant phenomenological philosophers in 20th-century France; Jacques Lacan, the great interpreter of Freud, who fused Freud with Kojève’s Hegel and is probably the leading Freudian thinker after Freud; Henry Corbin, who made the first (partial) French translation of Heidegger’s Being and Time but is far more famous for the work that he did in medieval Arabic philosophy and mysticism; Robert Marjolin, who was the leader of the French Ministry of Economic Affairs, the guy who gave Kojève his job; Gaston Fessard, who was little-known outside France but was an extraordinary scholar and a Jesuit priest as well; André Breton, who was one of the founders of French Surrealism; Georges Bataille, famous for writing really rather gross and I think quite untitillating pornography, as well as many books and essays on the philosophy of culture—a rather profound although difficult and quite perverted thinker; and Raymond Queneau, a novelist whose most famous novels are translated as The Sunday of Life and Zazie in the Metro—these are “end of history” novels and were very much influenced by Kojève’s vision of life at the end of history.

And of course these members of the seminar in turn had their own students and readers. Among them are some of the most important 20th-century French thinkers of the next generation: Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, and the like. None of them were students of Kojève himself, but I would maintain that nobody can really understand these French postmodernists—especially their use of certain words like “metaphysics,” “modernity,” “difference,” and “negativity”—without understanding how all of these derive from Kojève’s interpretation of Hegel. The peculiar vehemence with which terms like “metanarrative,” “history,” “being,” “absolute knowledge,” and so forth are spoken by these writers has everything to do with Kojève’s specific interpretation of the meaning of these terms in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. One can’t read French postmodernism and understand it without understanding that most of these thinkers are reacting to Kojève. They would not call themselves Kojèvians. They’re all anti-Kojèvians. But insofar as they’re opposing themselves to him and to his very peculiar takes on things, they’re very much influenced by him. They bear the trace of Kojève.

9782253075035FS.gifAnother contemporary thinker who’s really quite trendy today is the Slovene writer Slavoj Žižek. I hope there are no Slovenians in the audience who will knock my pronunciation. Žižek has written quite a number of books with titles like Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan . . . But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock, and he’s enormously influenced by Kojève’s view of Hegel, and also Lacan’s reading of Kojève’s Hegel.

Kojève attracted students even after he stopped teaching. Two of them were Allan Bloom, the author of The Closing of the American Mind, and Stanley Rosen, who is a very well-known commentator on Greek philosophy, as well as on Hegel and Heidegger. Their teacher, Leo Strauss, sent them to study with Kojève in the early 1960s. Bloom and Rosen would go to his office at the Ministry. He would close the door, and they would talk philosophy.

More recently, Francis Fukuyama, who was a student of Allan Bloom, became famous for his book The End of History and the Last Man, which is really a popularization of Kojèvian ideas. Just as the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe were coming down, Fukuyama raised the question: What if Kojève was wrong and history hadn’t ended in 1806, as Hegel wrote the Phenomenology of Spirit? What if history ended in 1989, as Communism fell and Fukuyama was in the process of interpreting it as the global triumph of Western liberal democracy? That started a huge debate.

Of course, people on the Right in America were particularly delighted to hear that their perseverance in the Cold War had brought about not just the end of Communism but the end of history itself, and everything would be smooth sailing from then on. Little things like the Gulf War were just mopping-up.

Some of Kojève’s peers—people that he corresponded with and interacted with and influenced him—include Leo Strauss, who is one of the most important 20th-century philosophers. He was a German-Jewish philosopher who met Kojève in the 1920s. They met again in Paris in the 1930s, where they spent a lot of time together, and they corresponded throughout the rest of their lives. Strauss, of course, was a conservative thinker, a thinker of the Right, and yet he derived both pleasure and knowledge from his friendship with Kojève, the ardent Stalinist.

Carl Schmitt was the notorious German jurist and political philosopher who wrote the brief showing how Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933 was perfectly legal according to the Weimar constitution—which was indeed a brief anybody could have written because, strictly speaking, it was legal. Schmitt, of course, had been tarred with the Nazi association until he died at a very old age recently. Schmitt was a friend of Kojève’s, and they corresponded over a period of many decades. Another improbable intellectual friendship.

Georges Bataille was not just a student of Kojève, but really a peer. I think Bataille dramatically influenced Kojève’s intellectual development. Bataille is certainly a thinker of the far Left.

So, we have a strange phenomenon: Kojève had close intellectual relationships with, and a powerful influence on, thinkers on the Right and on the Left, but the thing that all of these thinkers have in common is a vehement rejection of modernity, precisely the modernity that Kojève himself is so eager to proclaim as inevitable. All of Kojève’s students and most passionate admirers ended by rejecting, vehemently, his vision of the end of history. That’s an interesting thing to puzzle through.

If Hegel and Kojève believe that history came to an end in 1806, then they obviously mean something very different by “history” than all of us do. If history can come to an end, it has to be something different from what is reported every day in the newspapers. They didn’t claim that human events would cease. There are post-historical human events, just as there were pre-historical human events. So, history isn’t just the record of human events. It is a very specific thing.

For Hegel, history is the human quest for self-knowledge and self-actualization. There was a time when human beings were not actively pursuing those aims. This was characteristic of prehistorical forms of life, when men were brutish and dumb. And there will be a time when human beings will no longer actively pursue self-knowledge and self-actualization, because we will have already achieved them. That will be post-historical life.

History is the human quest for self-knowledge and self-actualization. When that quest comes to an end, when we know ourselves and become ourselves, then there will be no more history. That’s how history will stop.

Hegel posits that human beings have a fundamental need for self-knowledge. In fact, in the last analysis, for him self-actualization just is self-knowledge. So, human beings are fulfilled by knowing themselves. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what we’re all striving for. That’s what the whole record of history has been pointing to: self-knowledge.

hegel.jpgHow is the pursuit of self-knowledge connected with history? Isn’t self-knowledge just something we have through introspection? Can’t you just have self-knowledge on a desert island or lying in bed in the morning? Why do we need to do things like build civilizations or cathedrals and fight wars? Why do we need history in order to pursue self-knowledge?

Hegel would agree that we do have a kind of immediate self-awareness, which Rousseau would call the “sentiment of existence.” But that feeling is shared with all the animals, too. Therefore, insofar as we have an immediate feeling of self that really doesn’t constitute knowledge of us as distinctly human creatures. Second, knowledge as such requires more than just immediate feeling. It has to be more articulated, reflective, and, as he puts it, mediated rather than immediate. It has to be on the level of thought rather than the level of feeling. In order to arrive at self-knowledge of our distinctly human characteristics, and to know that in a distinctly human way through reason, through thought, we have to go beyond just feeling. We have to do things.

Now, to know ourselves as physical beings we can look in a mirror. Although we have to recognize the being we see in the mirror as ourselves. Animals don’t seem to be able to recognize their own reflections. But when human beings reach a certain point in our development, we realize, “Aha! That’s us!” And there’s something extraordinary about recognizing ourselves as reflected in something other, something external.

Hegel believes that self-knowledge of our soul, if you will, requires a similar process. We need to find a mirror in which our soul can be reflected, and in which we can recognize our reflection, and thereby come to know ourselves as spiritual beings.

Now, what is the appropriate mirror of the soul? Well, the first and most obvious answer would be another soul, another human being. The way that we come to know ourselves as human beings is by recognizing ourselves in others. The best form of recognition would be to recognize ourselves in the eyes of somebody who is very similar to us, who can really show us who we are. The kind of relationship where that happens is friendship or love. We can know ourselves through people who antagonize us, but the best kind of self-awareness is through love and friendship. The most complete sort of self-awareness is through love and friendship.

But that’s not enough. Love is not enough for Hegel. Friendship is not enough to explain history. If we could know ourselves adequately, if we could satisfy our need for self-knowledge simply through interpersonal relationships, we never would have embarked on this long quest towards civilization, because we could have satisfied that need in the prehistorical family, in the little villages, in thatched huts, in hunter-gatherer bands. We don’t need buildings and technologies and civilizations that extend thousands of miles. We don’t need cathedrals and skyscrapers or any of that just to have interpersonal relationships.

So, the quest for self-knowledge has to be understood more precisely here. We need to know ourselves. To know ourselves as individuals does not require history, so what kind of self-knowledge requires history? Hegel seems to believe that history is required if we are to know ourselves universally, to know ourselves in an abstract sense, and not just as a particular individual—in other words, to know what is man in general. Ultimately, this is the aim of philosophy.

Your best friend or your spouse is not going to be adequate to give you this kind of universal self-knowledge. Another human being isn’t an adequate mirror for that. Only philosophy can show that to you, and so Hegel believes that we have to understand history as arising out of the need for universal self-knowledge.

But of course philosophy wasn’t there at the beginning of history. So, how do we try to begin to satisfy that need for universal self-knowledge?

Hegel’s argument is simple: We have to make a mirror for ourselves. We have this material called nature—rocks and rivers and trees—and we need to remake it. We need to go out there and transform the world, to put the stamp of humanity upon it, to humanize the world, to remake the world in our own image—and to recognize ourselves, to recognize the truth about mankind in general, in our work.

Every culture is basically an ensemble of practices, artifacts, and institutions in which, and by which, human beings embody a particular attempt to understand themselves. Culture is the mirror in which human beings know themselves in a universal way. The record of cultures and their transformation is what we call history. Therefore, history is necessitated as our first step towards universal self-understanding.

There are many cultures and thus many interpretations of our nature. But there is only one truth. Therefore, all cultures can’t be rated equally. Some are truer to man and his nature than others. So it’s possible to rank cultures in a hierarchy in terms of how well or how poorly they reflect the true nature of man. But Hegel is also clear that ultimately, culture as such is an inadequate medium for coming to universal self-understanding. Thus what happens at a certain point in at least some cultures—three, to be exact—is the emergence of philosophy. The Greeks, the Indians, and the Chinese all spontaneously evolved philosophical traditions.

Hegel’s view is that we finally come to universal self-understanding through philosophy—ultimately through Hegel’s philosophy, as it turns out. History is the pursuit of wisdom. Hegel has become wise. He knows the truth about man, and therefore the philosophical quest and the historical quest both came to an end in 1806, when Hegel wrote his book The Phenomenology of Spirit.

Now, this might sound grandiose to you, but really every philosopher worth his salt is grandiose, because they’re searching for the Truth with a capital T. Hegel is just one of the more immodest philosophers, because he claims that not only is he searching for it, he’s actually found it, and therefore he’s not really a philosopher anymore. He’s a wise man. He’s a sage.

What is this big Truth that has brought history to an end? According to Kojève, the truth about man is that we’re all free and equal. That might sound banal, but he says that that’s what human beings have been fighting for and struggling for—sculpting and painting, composing music and writing books for, over thousands of years—in order to discover that we’re all free and equal. Once this discovery has been announced, and once the world has been remade in the image of freedom and equality, history has come to an end.

Kojève claims that history comes to an end with what he calls the universal and homogeneous state. When we recognize that all men are free and all men are equal, the only thing left is to create a form of society that recognizes this freedom and equality. That form of society has to be universal. It can’t be attached to any particular culture, because culture is over, too. History is just a record of cultures, and when history ends, culture is over, too. Culture becomes, in some sense, unnecessary, because it’s really not the best medium for coming to self-understanding. Kojève glimpses a tendency towards the complete homogenization of the world within this universal state. So he calls the end of history the universal homogeneous state, and he thinks this is great. This is wonderful.

We’re rapidly seeing this all around us. In Bhutan, they’re getting TV today. Tomorrow, they’re going to be wearing little baseball caps—backwards, of course—listening to rap music, and wearing t-shirts with American brand names on them. Eventually it will be more practical to just learn one language: English. As one friend puts it, “language par excellence.” And we’ll all be English speakers; we’ll all be buying the same things; we’ll all be watching the same TV shows. We’ll be one big, happy, peaceful world, and mankind will be entirely satisfied, because we’ll all be free and we’ll all be equal.  But we won’t all be philosophers. Only the very smart ones will become philosophers. Because we’re not going to all be equal in that respect. We’ll be politically equal.

That’s the Hegelian story, in a very crude overview. It’s crude, but it’s completely correct and accurate. It’s completely correct and accurate to Hegel’s view, if not to reality; let’s put it that way.

This is Kojève’s description of the end of history: “In the final state, there are naturally no more human beings.” Why? Because man is a historical being, too, and when history comes to an end, what is distinctively human disappears. “The healthy automata are satisfied. They have sports, art, eroticism, and so forth, and the sick ones get locked up.” Or they get Prozac. Or other mood-altering drugs to make them happier. “The philosophers become gods. The tyrant becomes an administrator, a cog in the machine fashioned by automata for automata.”

This is his view of the end of things. Now, if somebody were to step forward and declare, “I have a dream of a world of healthy, well-fed automata, de-humanized robots ruled over by technocrats that think they are gods,” would you be at all inclined to be inspired by that vision of things? It is a very strange way of speaking about something that Kojève at least officially regards as utopia, the form of society that totally satisfies all of mankind.

Here we arrive at the odd problem, because as he becomes more and more enthusiastic about the end of history—at least putatively enthusiastic, apparently enthusiastic—he begins phrasing it in ways that are more and more chilling, unappetizing, and unappealing.

The notes for Kojève’s Hegel seminar were edited and published in 1947 by Queneau as Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. After it was published, it was reprinted in a number of different editions. As the new editions came out, Kojève would add notes to them. About half of the French volume has been translated into English. The good stuff. There’s a famous note in here. Kojève adds a note to the second edition and then adds a note to that note in the third edition. As the notes pile up, the vision of the end of history becomes more and more disturbing and unappealing.

What’s going on here? Surely, Kojève, who was a master of rhetoric, knew the likely effects of his rhetoric. So, why was he praising something in terms designed to produce discomfort and disgust? It’s a very interesting question.

His second thoughts about the end of history were expressed in his later writings as a thesis that man is coming to an end. The end of history is the end of man. Man, properly understood, is being erased. The masses of people at the end of history, he said, will become beasts. And another term for them, he said, are slaves without masters.

He said, “Bourgeois man is a slave without a master. He is a slave spiritually, because there is nothing he is willing to die for.”

The worst possible thing for the bourgeoisie, he says, is a violent death. They’ll do anything to avoid that. The greatest possible thing is comfortable living. They’ll betray virtually anything for that. “Do it to Julia!” He says that the end of history is a society where the vast majority of human beings are slaves without masters. They’re officially free, but spiritually speaking, they are slavish. They have no ideals. There’s nothing they’re willing to die for. Nothing is more important than just being comfortable and secure.

The small minority who will rule everything will at least understand everything. They are the philosophers. And they too are dehumanized. Not by becoming beasts, but by becoming gods.

What’s left out are just men, and by “man” Kojève means people who have what Plato called spiritedness. And what is spiritedness? Well, part of spiritedness for Plato is the capacity to respond passionately to ideals. In the most primitive sense, spiritedness is just a kind of touchiness about points of honor. A desire to be treated with respect. But the same kind of attachments to one’s ideal vision of one’s self that used to lead us to fight duels to the death over matters of honor can also be attached to higher things like countries and causes, and so forth. It can even be attached to a love of the good itself.

Kojève thinks that the end of history will mark the elimination of the spirited part of man’s soul. Once we know the truth about mankind—that we are all free and equal—there will be nothing to fight over and no propensity to fight, anyway. The capacity to get angry over points of honor or ideology will simply disappear. This is what he means by the end of man.

Again, it’s not a very appealing picture. Yet it’s a picture that’s increasingly true.

The philosophers, as I said, are increasingly dehumanized as well. They become gods, which means that they are de-spirited creatures as well—effete, cosmopolitan, rootless, and so forth. They jet from one end of the globe to another. They interpret things. They give little papers at conferences. They graze at the buffets and crowd around the open bars. And they experience nothing greater than themselves. They look down on the cultures of the past with detachment, but they buy their artifacts and playfully display them in an eclectic jumble on their mantlepieces.

At the very time Kojève was painting this bleak picture of the end of man, he maintained it was his dream—indeed, that it’s all of our dreams. This is what history is aiming towards, and we’ll all be completely satisfied by it. You’ll love it! Believe me! You’re already loving it! But why in the world did he say things that undermine his overall thesis?

The interpretation I want to give is this: Kojève became very much influenced by Nietzsche, and Nietzsche is really the great 19th-century antipode of Hegel. If you want to find two thinkers who are most fundamentally opposed in philosophy of history and culture, Nietzsche and Hegel are the most opposite you can find. The influence of Nietzsche, I think, was primarily mediated through the influence of Georges Bataille, Kojève’s student, peer, and friend. Bataille was something of a Nietzschean, and I think that as their friendship progressed and as Kojève thought more about things, he came to think that Bataille was fundamentally correct that there was something true about Nietzsche’s view of history.

So, what is Nietzsche’s view of history? Hegel has a linear view of history. History proceeds in a straight line from a beginning to an end. The progress of history arises from a single fundamental need, which is the human need for self-knowledge. Once we achieve that goal, history ends, and that’s it. It’s paradise.

Nietzsche, by contrast, has a cyclical view of history, and he believes that there are two fundamental principles that make the historical world go around. One is the need for self-knowledge, but the other is what I would like to call “the need for vitality,” the need to feel alive and express that feeling.

In Nietzsche’s view, history begins with a kind of vital upsurge, which is leading towards self-knowledge. History begins with a kind of barbarous vitality. As culture progresses, however, and become more refined, our reflectiveness and refinement come to interfere and undermine the sources of cultural vitality.

Culture, at the beginning, is something that’s necessary for us to be healthy, but as it progresses and becomes more refined, it becomes a source of sickness, decline, and decay. So, at this point we have a decadent culture where people are very reflective, dispassionate, corrupt, and lacking in virtue. And what eventually happens when decadence grows widespread? Everything collapses, everything falls apart. You can’t have a functioning society full of rotten people. The few survivors who are left return to barbarism. All the cobwebs of fine-spun theories are swept away, human vitality returns, and history begins again.

Now, in the portrait that Kojève paints at the end of history, you really can see this Nietzschean perspective at work. The “last man,” which was Nietzsche’s term for decadent and dehumanized men, is the true outcome of Hegel’s drive for universal freedom and equality. But the last man can’t sustain civilization, so history must start all over again. The last man, in Nietzsche’s terms, is precisely what Kojève is describing as slaves without masters and masters without slaves, the dehumanized beasts and gods that exist at the end of history. Both beasts and gods lack a distinctively human vitality to give rise to culture and values.

I want to argue that Kojève’s ambivalence about the end of history really arises out of the fact that he simultaneously affirms two completely contradictory theories of history. One is Hegel’s and the other is Nietzsche’s. Kojève was not an idiot. In fact, people who I respect enormously said that he was the smartest man they ever knew. He was extraordinarily intelligent. The best-functioning and best-stocked brain of the century, according to one person who knew him. Thus he was not so stupid as to overlook the fact that he was affirming two diametrically opposed views. So why was he doing this?

I’ll answer this question, but I want to raise another one first. Why did Kojève play both sides of the Cold War? Clearly he had to see that there was something a little immoral, or there was at least an appearance of impropriety, in passing secrets to the KGB. Why did he do this? Why was he affirming opposed theories of history, and why was he playing both sides against another in the Cold War? I think that the answers to both questions are related.

Let me answer the first question this way. I follow Plato, and Plato recommends that in order to understand a philosopher’s teachings, you don’t just look at his words, you also look at his deeds, and then you put the words and the deeds together and look at the total effect. The total effect of a philosopher’s teaching is what he is really getting at. Not necessarily what he says or what he does, but the total effect of the two together on the actions of the people who read it, understand it, and follow it. These guys are smart. They know the likely effect of their writings. So, if you want to understand the meaning of a philosopher’s teachings, look at the effect, not what he says in isolation, not what he does in isolation, but the effect of what he says and what he does taken together.

What’s the effect of Kojève’s teaching about modernity? The fact is that every single person who took Kojève seriously as a teacher—Left or Right, far Left or far Right—ended up rejecting the end of history, the vision of modernity that Kojève was loudly trumpeting as his dream—and everybody’s dream—come true. He was not so stupid as to be caught unaware by this. I refuse to believe that.

I think that the meaning of Kojève’s teachings is precisely this: Kojève presented Hegel’s view of history in such dire and dystopian terms to induce people to revolt against it. He was presenting the end of history in a way that was designed to make people want to get history started all over again. If history can start all over again, that means that, fundamentally, we affirm the Nietzschean cyclical view rather than the Hegelian linear view. So, I think that ultimately Kojève was a kind of Nietzschean who was deeply disturbed by modernity and wanted to bring it to an end.

How is this connected with his political actions? Well, some people may say, “Look, the reason why he was on both sides of the Cold War is because he believed in the convergence thesis and didn’t think there was any difference between the two.”

But that really doesn’t explain it, for this reason: If he didn’t believe that either side was fundamentally different from the other, then why wouldn’t he have worked as hard as possible on one side to ensure its ultimate triumph? It would be a matter of indifference as to which side he supported. But why was he helping both sides? That can’t be explained, because by helping both sides in the Cold War, you would think that that was actually helping to perpetuate the Cold War rather than bring it to an end. Why would he want us to keep fighting?

But this makes sense if Kojève is fundamentally a Nietzschean who wanted to forestall as long as possible the end of history that Fukuyama—his somewhat unsubtle and popularizing student—was so happy about.

I think that perhaps his very dangerous political game had a similar aim as his philosophical game, namely not to bring history to an end but to keep it going, keep the conflict going. Why? Because as a Nietzschean, he believed that, ultimately, conflict about values is the thing that makes us most human. The capacity to aspire to and ultimately die for ideals, is the most glorious and distinctly human characteristic we have. And the Cold War was one, long conflict over fundamental ideas, and it would be perfectly consistent with the Nietzschean view to want to keep that conflict going, especially if he foresaw that the outcome of one side winning would be McWorld. If that was the case, then it makes perfect sense that he would be playing both sides. He didn’t want either one to win. The longer Kojève could forestall the end of history, the better. The better for all of us.

And now that history has ended, we need to go to Plan B, which is to start history all over again. And we don’t need to wait for the barbarians. They are already here.


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

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/09/alexandre-kojeve-and-the-end-of-history/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/9-19-18-1.jpg

jeudi, 06 octobre 2016

Kojève et les origines russes de la Fin de l'Histoire


Kojève et les origines russes de la Fin de l'Histoire

par Nicolas BONNAL

Ex: http://www.dedefensa.org

En dépit des guerres et des crises financières qui nous menacent de tous côtés, l’expression Fin de l’Histoire a fait le tour du monde. Elle n’est pas de Francis Fukuyama, mais de son inspirateur, un russe blanc émigré à Paris, Alexandre Kojève, humaniste, esprit universel, professeur de sanscrit et auteur de prestigieux commentaires sur la philosophie de Hegel.

AK-1.jpgFonctionnaire à la CEE vers la fin de sa vie, choix qui releva chez lui d’un nihiliste apostolat, Kojève s’est efforcé de comprendre pourquoi nous allions vivre des temps ennuyeux. Voici comment il définit la Fin de l’Histoire dans ses notes sur Hegel, écrites en 1946.

En fait la fin du Temps humain ou de l’Histoire signifie tout simplement la cessation de l’Action au sens fort du terme. Ce qui veut dire pratiquement : — la disparition des guerres et des révolutions sanglantes… Mais tout le reste peut se maintenir indéfiniment ; l’art, l’amour, le jeu, etc., etc. ; bref, tout ce qui rend l’Homme heureux. — Rappelons que ce thème hégélien, parmi beaucoup d’autres, a été repris par Marx.

Kojève ne nie pas le danger inhérent à cette Fin de l’Histoire : l’homme risque en effet de devenir un petit animal heureux, « un oiseau construisant son nid ou une araignée tissant sa toile ». Il redeviendrait même un jeune animal joueur, comme dans les films de Walt Disney !

Kojève pressent même le devenir de l’espèce humaine livrée à la technologie, au téléphone et aux réseaux. C’est un avenir d’insecte communiquant.

Les animaux de l’espèce Homo sapiens réagiraient par des réflexes conditionnés à des signaux sonores ou mimiques et leurs soi-disant « discours » seraient ainsi semblables au prétendu «langage » des abeilles… Car il n’y aurait plus, chez ces animaux post historiques, de connaissance du Monde et de soi.

Sur le plan historique et en pleine guerre froide, Kojève remarque plus tard que finalement Russes et Américains ne s’opposent pas. Or on est en 1959 ! Le but est le même, le confort matériel et le bonheur de tous. Pour lui les jeux sont faits depuis Napoléon et la Révolution française. Ce n’est pas pour rien que Kant avait troublé sa promenade à l’annonce de la prise de la Bastille, ni que Hegel avait parlé d’âme du monde à la vue de l’empereur en 1806.

AK-2.jpgEn observant ce qui se passait autour de moi et en réfléchissant à ce qui s’est passé dans le monde après la bataille d’Iéna, j’ai compris que Hegel avait raison de voir en celle-ci la fin de l’Histoire proprement dite. Dans et par cette bataille, l’avant-garde de l’humanité a virtuellement atteint le terme et le but, c’est-à-dire la fin de l’évolution historique de l’Homme. Ce qui s’est produit depuis ne fut qu’une extension dans l’espace de la puissance révolutionnaire universelle actualisée en France par Robespierre-Napoléon.

Kojève relativise alors tout le vécu moderne, même le plus tragique: la colonisation, les deux guerres mondiales, le nazisme, le communisme, la décolonisation, le tourisme, l’ONU, le centre commercial, tout annonce la réalisation de la Fin de l’Histoire ! La Fin de l’Histoire suppose un triomphe du modèle américain, mais pas pour des raisons politiques. Car pour Kojève l’Amérique est le produit de la Fin de l’Histoire, et même la réalisatrice du marxisme.

On peut même dire que, d’un certain point de vue, les États-Unis ont déjà atteint le stade final du « communisme » marxiste, vu que, pratiquement, tous les membres d’une « société sans classes » peuvent s’y approprier dès maintenant tout ce que bon leur semble, sans pour autant travailler plus que leur coeur ne le leur dit… J’ai été porté à en conclure que l’American way of life était le genre de vie propre à la période post-historique, la présence actuelle des États- Unis dans le Monde préfigurant le futur «éternel présent» de l’humanité tout entière.

L'expression éternel présent a été reprise par Guy Debord pour caractériser la société spectaculaire contemporaine. Plus loin Kojève ajoute même ces lignes propres à choquer un marxiste-léniniste des années 1950 : les Russes et les Chinois ne sont que des Américains encore pauvres, d’ailleurs en voie de rapide enrichissement.

Comme la Fin de l'Histoire a des origines russes, je cite aussi Eugène Onéguine (Traduction de Tetyana Popova-Bonnal) :

Il invectivait Homère et Théocrite,

En revanche il lisait Adam Smith

Et il fut un économiste profond –

Donnant sa propre opinion

Sur l'art pour l’Etat de s’enrichir,

De quoi il vit, et pour quelle raison

Il n’a pas besoin d'or,

S’il possède son simple produit.

Son père ne le comprenait pas

Et ses terrains il hypothéqua...

Après l'horreur économique, le déclin de la langue, car la langue moderne vit d'emprunts si son économie vit de la dette...

En russe ces mots on ne trouve jamais.

Je vois et je le reconnais,

Que mes pauvres vers

Devraient être moins émaillés

De tous ces mots si étrangers...

Enfin la vacuité mathématique est soulignée par Pouchkine:

Ayant secoué cette dernière superstition,

nous nous considérons seuls comme des unités,

et tenons le reste du monde pour des zéros.

Tous nous nous haussons à la hauteur d’un Napoléon.

A la même époque Chateaubriand écrit :

Le vieil ordre européen expire ; nos débats actuels paraîtront des luttes puériles aux yeux de la postérité. Il n'existe plus rien : autorité de l'expérience et de l'âge, naissance ou génie, talent ou vertu, tout est nié ; quelques individus gravissent au sommet des ruines, se proclament géants et roulent en bas pygmées.

Pouchkine et Kojève en Russie, Chateaubriand et Tocqueville en France avaient montré mieux que personne ce que signifierait cette Fin de l'Histoire.

Pouchkine encore, pour rire un peu :

Dans son service noble, impeccable,

Son père ne vivait qu’à crédit,

Donnait trois bals annuellement

Et puis ruiné il a fini.

Nicolas Bonnal


Bonnal – Chroniques de la Fin de l'Histoire (à paraître en Kindle)

Chateaubriand – Mémoires d'Outre-tombe

Debord – Commentaires

Fukuyama – The End of History

Kojève – Notes sur Hegel

Pouchkine – Eugène Onéguine

samedi, 11 juin 2016

Reinhold Oberlercher – Der letzte Hegelianer


Reinhold Oberlercher – Der letzte Hegelianer

PDF der Druckfassung aus Sezession 67 / August 2015

von Siegfried Gerlich

Politisch verfemte Denker der Zeitgeschichte sind Legion, aber Reinhold Oberlercher ist ein Enfant terrible gesteigerter Art: vom linksliberalen Juste Milieu ignoriert, flieht ihn nicht minder auch die rechtskonservative Szene. Sogar in der radikalen Rechten steht Oberlercher auf verlorenem Posten, seit Hans-Dietrich Sander sich von dem Starautor seiner Staatsbriefe trennte und selbst Horst Mahler sich mit seinem geistigen Mentor überwarf.

So beschränkt sich seine Anhängerschaft mittlerweile auf jenen verlorenen Haufen kompromißloser Nationalrevolutionäre, die dem »Deutschen Kolleg« verbunden geblieben sind, welches 1994 gegründet und 1998 von Mahler und Oberlercher als »Schulungseinrichtung der nationalen Befreiungsbewegung der Deutschen« zu neuem Leben erweckt wurde.

Oberlerchers einsame Stellung verdankt sich jedoch nicht nur seinem politischen Extremismus, sondern zumal seinem philosophischen Rigorismus. Denn bei allen didaktischen Ambitionen, die Oberlercher notorisch wie einen Oberlehrer dozieren lassen, bewegt er sich durchweg auf einem zu hohen Theorieniveau, um noch mit volkspädagogischer Breitenwirkung rechnen zu können. Und die wenigen ihm geistig gewachsenen Intellektuellen scheuen jede Auseinandersetzung, so als würde unweigerlich zum politischen Gefolgsmann, wer sich mit Gewinn an seinen theoretischen Schriften abarbeitet.

Dabei lebt in Oberlerchers doktrinärer Unduldsamkeit noch immer der revolutionäre Habitus des einstmaligen Agitators des Hamburger SDS fort, und gewiß hätte er es ohne seine marxistischen Lehrjahre kaum zu jener dialektischen Meisterschaft gebracht, mit der er noch Adolf Hitler als legitimen Erben von Karl Marx auszuweisen versteht.

Jedenfalls besticht Oberlerchers Werk durch eine so strenge Systematik und stupende Sachkompetenz in nahezu allen Wissensbereichen, daß nicht nur Rechte, sondern auch Liberale und Linke ihren politischen Verstand daran schulen könnten – und sei es mit dem Ziel, den fatalen Strategien seines überspitzten Intellektualismus auf die Schliche zu kommen anstatt sich mit begriffsstutzigem Kopfschütteln zu begnügen.

Am 17. Juni 1943 in Dresden geboren und später in Leipzig aufgewachsen, wurde Oberlercher bereits 1959 »republikflüchtig« und siedelte nach Hamburg über, wo er seit 1965 Philosophie, Pädagogik und Soziologie studierte und die »Wortergreifung« von 1968 intellektuell munitionierte.

Während des »roten Jahrzehnts«, als die revoltierenden Pragmatiker ihren kommoden Marsch durch die Institutionen antraten, arbeitete der revolutionäre Theoretiker dagegen an einer Formalisierung des Marxschen Kapital und gab die Zeitschrift Theorie und Klasse heraus.

roberhegel51Z+Su7RhYL.jpgOberlerchers philosophischer Totalitätsanspruch sollte indessen erst in den folgenden Dekaden ganz hervortreten: Das 1986 vollendete enzyklopädische System der Sozialwissenschaften wurde 1994 in eine sozialphilosophische Lehre vom Gemeinwesen überführt und 2014 von einem holistischen System der Philosophie [2] überwölbt.

Auf seinem nicht weniger totalisierenden politischen Denkweg wiederum durchlief Oberlercher nach marxistischen Anfängen erst noch eine sozialdemokratische sowie eine anarchistische Phase, bevor sich schließlich eine nationalrevolutionäre Position herauskristallisierte, welche die frühe »dutschkistische« Programmatik geläutert in sich aufnahm.

Als Hegelianer war Oberlercher davon überzeugt, daß die Philosophie weder rechts noch links stehen dürfe, da sie das »Ganze« als das »Wahre« zu denken habe. Und weil der mittlere, der liberale Weg als einziger nicht nach Rom führt, ließ er die Extreme so überhitzt aufeinanderprallen, daß es dabei gleichsam zu einer »nationalmarxistischen« Kernfusion kam.

Einen »Nationalmarxisten« darf Oberlercher sich ohne Koketterie nennen, hat er doch die Marxsche Klassenanalyse, mit der Das Kapital unvollendet abbrach, konsequent weitergeführt [3] und aus den ökonomischen Produktionsfaktoren die ihnen entsprechenden politischen Parteiungen abgeleitet:

Wie der »Liberalismus« das »Kapital« repräsentiert, so der »Konservatismus« den »Grundbesitz« und der »Sozialismus« die »Arbeitskraft«.

Um eine angemessene Repräsentation dieser Eigentumsklassen zu gewährleisten, müßten die Parteien daher wieder als reine, kämpferische »Klassenparteien« auftreten, nachdem die sogenannten »Volksparteien«, die eben nicht das ganze Volk vertreten, sich den Staat zur Beute gemacht und die öffentlichen Kassen geplündert haben.

Nur durch die Abschaffung der kapitalistischen Klassenherrschaft wie der parlamentarischen Parteienherrschaft läßt sich nach Oberlercher das Staatsvolk in seine politischen Rechte einsetzen; denn nicht nur eine despotische Monopolpartei bolschewistischen Typs, auch ein pluralistisches Parteiensystem kapitalistischen Typs usurpiert die verfassungsgebende Gewalt des Volkes, welches allein in einem souveränen Nationalstaat zu historischem Dasein findet.

Der wesensgemäße Lebensraum des Staates ist mithin nicht die bürgerliche Gesellschaft, die ihn ökonomisch zu vereinnahmen trachtet, sondern die durchaus unbürgerliche Staatengesellschaft, in der er sich politisch zu behaupten hat. Aber freilich unterscheidet sich der historisch gewachsene »Nationalstaat« kontinentalgermanischer Prägung charakteristisch von der politisch gewollten »Staatsnation« angloamerikanischer Provenienz, welche kein kulturell homogenes »Volk« versammelt, sondern lediglich eine multikulturell heterogene »Bevölkerung« zusammenhält.

Insofern taugen gerade klassische Einwanderungsländer, die von »staatsgeborenen Pseudovölkern« besiedelt werden, keinesfalls als Modell für »volksgeborene Staaten« wie Deutschland, das traditionell ein die osteuropäischen Länder kulturell bereicherndes Auswanderungsland gewesen war.

In diesem modernen Gegensatz von bodenständigen Nationalstaaten und wurzellosen Staatsnationen aber sieht Oberlercher noch immer den alten Widerstreit zwischen »seßhaft-produktiven« und »nomadisch-extraktiven« Lebens- und Wirtschaftsformen fortwirken:

Hatten einst indogermanische Bauernvölker dank der kulturstiftenden Erfindung des Ackerbaus die »neolithische Revolution« getragen, welche dem prähistorischen Jäger- und Sammlerdasein des Menschen ein Ende setzte, so rüsteten sich dagegen orientalische Nomadenvölker zu einer »anti-neolithischen Gegenrevolution«, indem sie mit ihrer primitiven Raub- und Viehwirtschaft eine Politik der verwüsteten und abgeweideten Erde betrieben.

Viele Jahrtausende später wiederum, als die von Europa ausgegangene industrielle Revolution sich als Fortsetzung der neolithischen Revolution mit technisch fortgeschrittenen Mitteln entfaltet hatte, waren es »kosmopolitische Kapitalnomaden« vornehmlich aus den Vereinigten Staaten, die »parasitäre Abweidungsfeldzüge« gegen produktive Volkswirtschaften und gehegte Kulturlandschaften unternahmen.

Schon die extrem-calvinistischen Pilgrims, die mit ihrer alttestamentlichen Verschärfung der katholischen Werkheiligkeit zur kapitalistischen Erfolgsheiligkeit zugleich die lutheranische Gnadenheiligkeit zurückwiesen und so das germanische Reformationswerk insgesamt verrieten, wähnten sich als auserwähltes Gottesvolk und beschworen damit jenes »Unheilige Reich« herauf, welches sich nachmals durch »frömmelnden Imperialismus und globalen Interventionismus« auszeichnen sollte.

Einstweilen hat der US-amerikanische Globalkapitalismus sein Militär als freihändlerische Eingreiftruppe in einen missionarischen Dauereinsatz versetzt, um mit frei flottierendem Spekulationskapital alles standortgebundene Produktionskapital ungehemmt in den Ruin treiben zu können.

Vollends seit die Deregulierung von Finanzmärkten und Warenströmen auch immer mobilere Informationsfluten und Migrationsströme freisetzt, erweist sich die »Nomadologie« als Schicksalsgesetz einer im Posthistoire versandenden Moderne.

Gleichwohl sind nach Oberlercher seßhafte germanisch-europäische Kulturstaaten gegen mobile orientalische wie angloamerikanische Migrationsgesellschaften, die noch dem nomadischen Gesetz der Wüste gehorchen oder bereits hochtechnisierte Wüstenstürme entfesseln, allemal im Recht, da nur sie beglaubigtes »Recht« und beständiges »Eigentum« von bloßem »Gesetz« und beweglichem »Besitz« überhaupt unterscheiden können.

roberlphilo40553332z.jpgIn Opposition zu einer gesetzes- und vertragsförmig normierten Weltgesellschaft aus entwurzelten Individuen fordert Oberlercher folgerichtig die rechts- und ordnungsgemäße Wiedereinwurzelung von souveränen Volksgemeinschaften, wie sie nur eine »völkische Weltrevolution« durchsetzen könnte.

Und für diese am Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker ausgerichtete Totalrevolution weist er, kaum überraschend, den Deutschen als dem »reichsbildenden Volk Europas« die Führungsrolle zu: War der Deutschen Nation schon vom Heiligen Römischen Reich das Amt des »Katechonten« übertragen worden, so hätte sich ein erneuertes Deutsches Reich als stabilisierende Ordnungsmacht der künftigen europäischen Geschichte und zumal als »antiimperialistischer Aufhalter« einer »judäo-amerikanischen Endzeitherrschaft« zu bewähren.

Als letzter Fluchtpunkt von Oberlerchers unzeitgemäßen Betrachtungen aber firmiert stets das Dritte Reich, und allein aus dessen hegelmarxistischer Umdeutung erklärt sich die Entschiedenheit, mit der er Rudi Dutschke zur neuen deutschen Führergestalt und die RAF zum »Waffen-SDS« als vorauseilender »Reichs-Armee-Fraktion« eines »Viertes Reiches« stilisiert hat.

Als Schüler Hegels, der die Deutschen aufgrund ihrer geglückten Reformation zum neuzeitlichen Träger des Weltgeistes berufen hatte, aber auch Marxens, der keine proletarische Klassenherrschaft errichten, sondern das Proletariat als Klasse vernichten und im Volk aufgehen lassen wollte, vertritt Oberlercher die tollkühne Auffassung, die von beiden Denkern avisierte National- und Sozialrevolution sei in der nationalsozialistischen Revolution zumindest ansatzweise zur Wirklichkeit geworden.

Indem Oberlercher den Nationalsozialismus allerdings scharf gegen den Faschismus abgrenzt, bezieht er eine buchstäblich »antifaschistische« Position, die gegen Max Horkheimers bekanntes Diktum, wer vom Kapitalismus nicht reden wolle, solle auch vom Faschismus schweigen, keinerlei Einwände erhebt.

Denn gemessen an Hitler, der eine »antikapitalistische Volksrevolution« vollzogen habe und damit dem Ideal der von Hegel gefeierten germanischen Volksdemokratie treu geblieben sei, muß Mussolini nachgerade als ein konterrevolutionärer Etatist erscheinen, der weit mehr Affinitäten zu Lenin aufweist:

Wie der russische Bolschewismus eine »asiatische Konterrevolution« war, die sich am orientalischen Despotismus und zumal der pharaonischen Zwangswirtschaft orientierte, so stellt entsprechend der italienische Faschismus eine »antike Konterrevolution« dar, sofern er sich an der römischen Diktatur ausrichtete und das Volk unter der Herrschaft eines zum Imperium überhöhten Staates begrub.

Deutschland hingegen habe gerade aufgrund seines nationalromantischen Antikapitalismus und seiner antirömischen Affekte einen echten »völkischen Sozialismus« hervorgebracht.

Immerhin räumt Oberlercher ein, daß das Dritte Reich zum Scheitern verurteilt war, da es durch seine faschistischen Bündnisse korrumpiert worden und in seinen imperialistischen Herrschaftsanmaßungen auf faschistisches Niveau herabgesunken sei. Zudem habe Hitler das deutsche Volk, anstatt es als »Rechtssubjekt« zu konstituieren und zum Souverän des politischen Gemeinwesens zu erheben, nach jüdischem Vorbild zur »Rasse« naturalisiert und für eine altisraelische Lebensraumpolitik instrumentalisiert.

Aber auch in der nationalsozialistischen Judenverfolgung kann Oberlercher nur eine »tätige Beihilfe zur jüdischen Religionspropaganda« sehen, die sich nicht ohne Grund gegen deren Urheber selbst gewendet habe – denn als »radikal böse« gilt ihm bezeichnenderweise nicht der reale Völkermord, sondern vielmehr das religiöse »Völkermordgebot«.

Daß Oberlercher aus einschlägigen Stellen des 5. Buches Mose, unbekümmert um tatsächliche jüdische Lehrmeinungen, einen solchen kategorischen Vernichtungsimperativ glaubt extrahieren zu dürfen, ist indessen nicht nur seinem unversöhnlichen Antijudaismus geschuldet, zu dem er sich forsch und freimütig bekennt, sondern ebensowohl seinem unerschütterlichen Hegelianismus.

Auch für Oberlercher nämlich ist die Weltgeschichte das Weltgericht, und schon darum durften all jene Zeitgenossen, welche die Deutschen nach der Judenvernichtung für ein »von der Geschichte widerlegtes Volk« (Otto Westphal) hielten, keinesfalls Recht behalten.

Und gegen jene Geisteshistoriker, die lange zuvor schon den »Zusammenbruch des Hegelschen Systems« vermeldet hatten, suchte Oberlercher mit einem wahrhaft kindlichen Urvertrauen in den deutschen Idealismus dieses »Allerheiligste des deutschen Geistes« wieder in Kraft zu setzen. Die größte Herausforderung der Hegelschen Geschichtsphilosophie aber war die Theodizee: die Rechtfertigung Gottes, wodurch »das Übel in der Welt begriffen, der denkende Geist mit dem Bösen versöhnt werden« sollte.

Und weil dieses Böse, als welches die Epoche der Aufklärung noch das Erdbeben von Lissabon erlebt hatte, nach der Epoche des Faschismus sich in Auschwitz zu inkarnieren schien, mußte Oberlercher alles daran setzen, eine philosophische Versöhnung noch und gerade mit dieser entsetzlichsten Untat der deutschen Geschichte zustande zu bringen.

roberllegal8136703034.jpgMit sicherem Gespür für den würdigen Feind attackierte er den »kafkaesken Professor« Theodor W. Adorno, der in seinen philosophischen Fragmenten einen Angriff auf das deutsche Systemdenken geführt und das »Ganze« zum »Unwahren« erklärt hatte.

Insbesondere Adornos Negative Dialektik [4], die er als »jüdische Rache« für Auschwitz beargwöhnte, suchte Oberlercher durch eine »positive Dialektik« von deutscher Gründlichkeit zu parieren. Unerschrocken zitierte er Paul Celans berüchtigtes Verdikt vom Tod als »Meister aus Deutschland«, um diesem eine ungeheuerliche affirmative Wendung zu geben: »Nur der Tod aus Deutschland ist ein Meisterwerk, jede der vielen schlechten Auschwitz-Kopien seit dem zweiten Weltkrieg zeigt das.«

Doch selbst mit solchem wahnwitzigen Bekennermut, der freilich die notorischen Auschwitz-Revisionisten ihrer Gesinnungsschwäche überführte, blieb Oberlercher am Ende nur Hegel treu.

Denn nicht obwohl, sondern weil Oberlercher sich stets als der konsequenteste aller Hegelianer verstand, mußte er in letzter Konsequenz auch zum Hitlerianer werden und ungerührt darüber hinwegsehen, daß gerade Hitlers Vernichtungspolitik aus Hegels bekanntem Bild von der Geschichte als »Schlachtbank«, auf welcher »das Glück der Völker, die Weisheit der Staaten und die Tugend der Individuen zum Opfer gebracht werden«, eine geradezu monströse Wahrheit freigesetzt hat.

Insofern zeugt Oberlerchers bis zur Manie gesteigerte Apologie des Dritten Reiches immer auch von einer verzweifelten Abwehr jener Depression, die den deutschen Geist nach dessen Untergang befiel und bis zur Selbstverleugnung trieb.

Aber wenn er mit einer intellektuellen Stringenz und einem militanten Ethos ohnegleichen auch nach den Katastrophen des 20. Jahrhunderts noch einmal versucht hat, »die Vernunft in der Geschichte« zu erweisen und selbst Auschwitz in den Dienst des Wahren, Guten und Schönen zu zwingen, so konnte daraus nur eine sich selbst kompromittierende, schwarze Theodizee resultieren.

Der tragische Umstand, daß gerade Oberlerchers messerscharfer Verstand ihn zu diesem Wahnsinn mit Methode verführte, ist dabei so wenig zu verkennen wie der terroristische Grundzug eines Denksystems, in dessen perfektionistischer Hermetik schlechthin alles aufgeht – das konservative Wissen um die problematische Mängelnatur des Menschen aber ausgelöscht ist.

Article printed from Sezession im Netz: http://www.sezession.de

URL to article: http://www.sezession.de/53127/reinhold-oberlercher-der-letzte-hegelianer.html

URLs in this post:

[1] PDF der Druckfassung: http://www.sezession.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Sez_67_Gerlich.pdf

[2] System der Philosophie: http://antaios.de/grossist/16323/system-der-philosophie

[3] konsequent weitergeführt: http://antaios.de/detail/index/sArticle/21638

[4] Negative Dialektik: http://antaios.de/detail/index/sArticle/21639

samedi, 28 février 2015

A Hole in Being: Notes on Negativity

A Hole in Being:
Notes on Negativity

By Greg Johnson 

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

2341715822.jpgG. W. F. Hegel and his able interpreter Alexandre Kojève claim that the essence of consciousness is “negativity,” that man lives “outside himself,” that man “negates” or “nihilates” nature, that man is a “nothingness” or a “hole in being,” that man is “time that negates space.” What does this mean?

First, let’s consider the claim that man contains a negativity or absence within him. Imagine you are holding a rock in your hand. A rock is a paradigmatic natural object. It is an inert lump of matter. A rock is complete and self-contained. To say that the rock is self-contained is to say that it does not need anything from outside of itself in order to go on being a rock. A plant, by contrast, is not self-contained; it needs things outside of itself—water, nutrients, sunlight—in order to go on being a plant. Without these things, it is reduced to a mass of inert matter, like the rock.

To say that the plant is not self-contained and self-sufficient is to say that it has an absence or lack within it; its need is a hole in it that must be filled by something from outside it. The rock, because it has no needs, is wholly self-sufficient and self-contained; it has no absences within it.

Another way of understanding this is to say that what makes the plant whole lies outside of its skin, outside of the space that it inhabits and occupies; what makes the plant whole is literally outside it; the plant is outside of itself, displaced from the physical space that it occupies; another way of putting this is to say that the plant is “ecstatic,” for the word “ecstatic” literally means “out-standing,” being outside of or beside oneself.

The rock, by contrast, is not ecstatic; because it needs nothing from outside itself to make it complete, all that it is lies within the physical space it occupies. To understand a plant as a whole, one cannot simply look at the plant, for what the plant is, is not wholly within its skin; the things that make the plant a whole are found outside it, in the needs which are fulfilled from the environment in which it dwells.

When Hegel/Kojève claim that man contains negativity and absence in him, they mean, first of all, that man has needs and desires, that man is not wholly self-sufficient and self-contained. Human beings lie outside of themselves, outside of their skins, for it is only outside of ourselves that we find those things which fulfill our needs and make us complete.

B43_oGeIAAAaJkS.jpgNext, let’s consider the ideas of “negating” and “nihilating” nature. When a plant or an animal finds something from the external world that fulfills its needs, it must remove that thing from the outside world and transform and incorporate it into itself. Hegel and Kojève refer to this activity as “negating,” i.e., saying “no.”

A plant transforms sunlight, nutrients, and water into something that they are not; it in effect says “no” to them as they are given and transforms them into something it can use; it says “no” to their objective, external being and makes them part of itself.

When a cow eats the plant, it says “no” to the plant as an objective, external being and incorporates it into itself.

When a human being takes a rock and transforms it into a paperweight or an example, we say “no” to its objective, external being and incorporate it into the network of human meanings and purposes.

Now what does it mean to say that man is “time” that negates “space”? To understand this, we must appreciate an essential difference between human beings and other kinds of beings. All living things, save for human beings, have needs which are given by nature and which are satisfied within the natural world. Animals may say “no” to given nature, but it is only to satisfy their natural needs, so the process of negation is situated within and bounded by the order or economy of nature.

This is not the case with human beings. Human beings have naturally given needs. But we also have needs which are not given by nature and which cannot be satisfied by given nature. Human beings, unlike all other living things, can say “no” to their own naturally given needs—to their animal natures—and to the entire economy of the natural world. Among the strongest human needs are for physical survival and biological propagation. But Human beings say “no” to the real in the name of the unreal or the unrealized, of the ideal or the idealized.

Human beings have the power of language, reason, speech, abstraction, invention, creativity, logos—what Hegel calls the realm of the concept—which allows them to create needs, ideals, and plans which are not based on nature and cannot be satisfied by it. They can be satisfied only by the transformation of the natural world through work. It is here that the dimension of time enters in.

Hegel claims that:

Man = Negativity = Time = Concept

To say that the concept = time is to say that the concept is a plan, a blueprint for a process of transforming what is given in the present into what is desired in the future. To say that man = time is to say that man’s unique mode of being, man’s unique mode of negativity, is the transformation of the natural world through our projects. Man, therefore, is time that negates.

But what does it mean to say that man is time that negates space? By space, Hegel/Kojève mean nature, given being, inert reality, which is to be changed in light of our concepts and plans. Hegel/Kojève use “space” to designate given being, because given beings, unlike living beings, are wholly self-contained and self-sufficient; because they need nothing outside of themselves to be complete, all that they are is found within their given spatial location.

To say that man is time that negates space, is, therefore, to say that man is time that negates given being in the light of his concepts and plans. We say “no” to what is given now in the name of the not yet, what is conceived in the mind and realized through the transformation of given nature.

There is a phrase from Jean-Paul Sartre that is often quoted by people who want to argue that French philosophy is all a bunch of gobbledygook:

Man is what he is not and is not what he is.

On the surface this does sound like nonsense, but it actually makes a great deal of Kojèvian sense.

To say that man is what he is not, is to say that human beings are not just lumps of inert given being; human beings have physical-material-animal bodies, but the body is simply the site at which a potential of infinity of plans and projects burst out in all directions, toward myriad possible futures.

Human beings are what they are not because they live in their plans and projects, encountering their given reality as incomplete in light of all the things they want to achieve.

Human beings are not what they are—i.e., the given matter within our skins—because what we are is radically incomplete, and can be completed only by completing our plans and projects, and since we always have uncompleted plans and projects, which are cut off only by death, man is always incomplete, a hole in being that will never be fully filled.


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/02/a-hole-in-being/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/book-transforming-itself-into-a-nude-woman-1.jpg

mardi, 24 février 2015

Why Read Hegel?


Why Read Hegel?
Notes on the “End of History”

By Greg Johnson

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

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) has had a tremendous influence on the modern world, not only in the history of ideas, but in the political realm as well. How big an influence? Without Hegel, there would have been no Marx; without Marx, no Lenin, no Mao, no Castro, no Pol Pot. Now, reflect just a moment on the difference the Communism has made in the modern world, even in non-Communist countries, whose policies were deeply motivated by the desire to defeat Communism. 

Communism is without a doubt the most important and influential, not to mention deadly, political innovation in the 20th century; and, before Marx, some of its intellectual foundations were laid by Hegel. I should add, however, that Hegel would have rejected Marxism and thus cannot be held responsible for the lesser minds influenced by him; furthermore, not all aspects of his cultural and political legacy are so negative; and, rightly understood, Hegel has the potential to exercise an immensely positive influence on modern politics and culture.

Outwardly, Hegel did not live a particularly interesting life. He was born in 1770 in Stuttgart, to an educated, middle-class family of lawyers, civil servants, and Lutheran pastors. He was educated at the University of Tübingen, first as a seminarian. He shared rooms with Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Friedrich Hölderlin, who also made huge contributions to German philosophy and letters. Having completed the equivalent of a Ph.D. in philosophy, he held a series of tutoring positions, collaborated on a couple of journals, inherited and spent his patrimony, and found himself broke and approaching his middle thirties.

Salvation came in the form of a book contract with a healthy advance but a draconian penalty for lateness. Hegel started writing . . . and writing . . . and writing. His outlined work got out of hand; each chapter became bigger than the last, and Hegel found himself dangerously close to his deadline, writing feverishly to finish his work, when outside the city where he resided, Napoleon fought and defeated the Prussian army at the Battle of Jena. In the midst of chaos, as French troops were occupying the city, Hegel bundled up the only copy of his manuscript and put it in the mail. It reached the publisher, and the next year, in 1807, Hegel’s most celebrated work, Phenomenology of Spirit, was published.

Phenomenology of Spirit is one of the classic works of German idealism: more than 500 prolix, rambling, tortured, and mind-bogglingly obscure pages. My copy is covered with dents from the times I hurled it against the wall or floor in frustration. Hegel is, without a doubt, the worst stylist in the history of philosophy. Unlike Kant, who could write well when he wanted to but often chose not to, Hegel could not write a clear sentence to save his life. Heinrich Heine reports that on his deathbed, Hegel is said to have sighed, “Only one man has understood me.” But then, a few minutes later, he added fretfully, “And even he did not understand me.” Never has so much been misunderstood by so many.

Phenomenology of Spirit laid the foundations for Hegel’s philosophical system and for his academic career and reputation, but it was only after 10 years that he received an academic position. For the rest of his life he lectured, he wrote, and he published. And then, in 1831, he died. Now, at this point, with any other author’s story, I would conclude by saying, “and the rest is history.” But in Hegel’s case, it is not so simple.

Phenomenology of Spirit

hegel-271-01075-4md.jpgGiven its formidable difficulties, why would anyone trouble read a book like Phenomenology of Spirit? Because, if Hegel is right, then world history comes to an end with the writing of his book. Specifically, Hegel held that the battle of Jena brought world history to an end in the concrete realm because it was the turning point in the battle between the principles of the French revolution—liberty, equality, fraternity, secularism, and progress—and the principles of traditional absolutism, the so-called throne-altar alliance.

Napoleon was, for Hegel, the World Spirit made incarnate, on a horse. Napoleon did not, however, understand his significance. But Hegel did. And when Hegel understood the world historical significance of the principles of the French Revolution and their military avatar, Napoleon, and wrote it down in Phenomenology of Spirit, he believed that the underlying purpose of history had been fulfilled. Just as Christ was the incarnation of the divine logos, so is the historical world—and the book—brought about by the French Revolution the incarnation of the logos of human history, and Hegel and Napoleon played the role of the Holy Spirit, mediating the two, making the ideal (the concept) concrete.

Now, at first glance—and maybe at second glance—all of this must seem quite mad. There is more madness to come. But I think that if your experience is like mine, you will find that these claims, which initially seem so mad, have a certain method to them, and even a logic. Hegel and his most able and charismatic expositor Alexandre Kojève exercise a strange fascination, which I hope you will come to share. If they were mad, then I hope to convince you that they had cases of divine madness.

What is “History”?

The main reason for reading Hegel is that he provides deep insights into the philosophy of history and culture. But what does Hegel mean by “history”? If history is something that can come to an end through a battle and a book, then Hegel must have a very specific—and very peculiar—conception of history in mind. This is true.

History, for Hegel, is the history of fundamental ideas, basic interpretations of human existence, interpretations of mankind and our place in the cosmos; basic “horizons” or “worldviews.” History for Hegel is equivalent to what Heidegger calls the “History of Being”—“Being” being understood here as fundamental and hegemonic worldviews. For uniformity’s sake, I shall say that Hegelian history is the history of “fundamental interpretations of human existence.” When these interpretations are explicitly articulated in abstract terms, they are what we call philosophies.

But it would be a mistake to think of these fundamental interpretations of human existence merely as abstract philosophical positions. They can also be found in less-abstract articulations, such as myth, religion, poetry, and literature. And they can be concretely embodied: in the form of art and architecture and all other cultural productions, as well as in social and political institutions and practices.

Indeed, Hegel holds that these fundamental interpretations of existence exist for the most part in concrete, rather than abstract form. They exist as “tacit” presuppositions embedded in language, myth, religion, custom, etc. Although these can be articulated at least in part, they need not be and seldom fully are. These fundamental interpretations of existence are what Nietzsche calls “horizons”: unspoken, unarticulated, unreflective attitudes and values that constitute the bounding parameters and vital force of a culture.

History for Hegel does include more concrete and mundane historical facts and events, but only insofar as these embody fundamental interpretations of human existence—and there are few things in the world that do not embody such interpretations. Even the stars, which would seem to fall into the realms of natural science and natural history, fall into human history and the human world, insofar as they are construed from the point of view of the earth, and through the lenses of different myths and cultures, as constellations, portents, or even gods. Indeed, since all of the sciences are themselves human activities, and the sciences interpret all of nature, all of nature falls within the human world.

The “Human World”: Idea, Spirit

I have been using the expression “the human world.” What does this expression mean? The human world means the world of nature as interpreted by human reason and as transformed by human work. The human world comes into being when men appropriate nature, when we make it our own by endowing it with meaning and/or transforming it through work, thereby integrating it into the web of human concerns, human purposes, and human projects.

This process can be quite simple. A rock in your driveway is simply a chunk of nature. But it can be brought into the human world by endowing it with a purpose. One can use it as a paperweight; or one can use it as an example in a lecture. By doing this, I have appropriated the rock, lifting it out of the natural world, where it has no purpose and no meaning, and bringing it into the human world, where it has purpose and meaning.

Hegel’s primary concern as a philosopher is with the human world. Now, Hegel is known as an “idealist.” Idealism is generally held to be a thesis that the world is made of “idea stuff.” And “idea stuff” is supposed to be something ghostly, numinous, immaterial, mental. Does this mean that Hegel held that the human world was somehow numinous and abstract?

No, Hegel is not that kind of idealist. Hegel has a very peculiar way of using the world “idea” (Idee). When Hegel talks about ghostly, immaterial abstract mental “ideas” he uses the German word “Begriff,” which is well-translated “concept.” And concepts are distinct from, though related to Ideas. Hegel’s understanding of the distinctness and the relatedness of concepts and Ideas can be expressed by the following equation:

Concept + Concrete = Idea

Ideas for Hegel are not abstract and numinous, because the Hegelian Idea consists of chunks of solid, concrete reality interpreted, worked over, and otherwise transformed in the light of concepts. Or, conversely formulated, the Hegelian Idea consists of concepts that have been concretely realized in reality, whether by deploying concepts merely to interpret reality or as blueprints for transforming it. The Hegelian Idea is identical to the human world, and the human world is the world of concrete natural objects interpreted and transformed by human beings.

Another term that Hegel uses as equivalent to Idea is “Spirit.” Again, this word has an abstract and numinous connotation, but not for Hegel. For Hegel, Spirit and Ideas can be as solid and concrete as a rock, so long as the rock has been transformed in light of human concepts. So the aforementioned rock/paperweight is a chunk of Spirit, a chunk of Idea. History proper is not, however, the history of mundane concepts, mundane Ideas, and humble chunks of Spirit like a paperweight. History is the history of fundamental concepts, fundamental Ideas: fundamental interpretations of human existence, both as abstractly articulated and as concretely embodied.

To sum up:

The Human World = Spirit = Idea = Concepts + Concretes

History as Dialectic

Hegel claims that all fundamental interpretations of human existence that fall within history are partial and inadequate interpretations, which are relative to time, place, and culture. This is the position known as “historicism”; it is the source of the commonplace assertion that a person or a cultural production is a creature or product of a particular time and culture.

Since there is a plurality of distinct and different times, places, and cultures, there is also a plurality of distinct and different fundamental interpretations of human existence. The existence of a plurality of different interpretations of human existence on the finite surface of a globe means that eventually these different interpretations and the cultures that concretize them will come into contact—and, inevitably, into conflict—with one another.

History is the record of these confrontations and conflicts between different worldviews. It follows, then, that the logical structure of history is identical with the logical structure of the conflict of different worldviews. The logical structure of the conflict of different worldviews is called “dialectic.” History, therefore, has a dialectical structure.

Dialectic is the logic of conversation. It is the process whereby partial and inadequate perspectives work for mutual communication and intelligibility, thereby creating a broader, more-encompassing and adequate perspective.

Dialectic is the process whereby different individual or cultural perspectives, with all of their idiosyncrasies, work their way toward a more encompassing common perspective.

Dialectic is the process wherein largely tacit cultural horizons—myth, religion, language, institutions, traditions, customs, prejudices—are progressively articulated and criticized, casting aside the irrational, idiosyncratic, parochial, and adventitious in favor of the universal, rational, and fully self-conscious.

What drives the process forward is the search for an interpretation of human existence that is adequate to our nature. It is the search for a true understanding of human existence. And this presupposes that human beings have a fundamental need for a correct understanding of themselves and their world, a need which drives the dialectic forward.

Now, since fundamental interpretations of human existence take the form not merely of abstract theories, but concrete institutions, practices, cultures, and ways of life, the dialectic between these worldviews is not carried on merely in seminars, symposia, and coffee houses. It is carried on in the concrete realm as well in the form of the struggles between different political parties, interest groups, institutions, social classes, generations, cultures, forms of government, and ways of life, insofar as these embody different conceptions of human existence. The struggle is carried on in the form of peaceful rivalries and social evolution—and in the form of bloody wars and revolutions—and in the form of the conquest and annihilation or assimilation of one culture by another.

Absolute Idea, Absolute Spirit, and the End of History

If all fundamental interpretations of human existence in history are partial, inadequate, and relative to particular times and cultures, this implies that if and when we arrive at an interpretation of human existence that is comprehensive and true, then we have somehow stepped outside of history. If history is the history of fundamental ideological struggle, then history ends when all fundamental issues have been decided.

In the abstract realm, the realm of concepts, the end of history comes about when a final, true, and all-encompassing interpretation of human existence is articulated. This interpretation, unlike all the others that came before it, is not partial or relative but Absolute Truth, the Absolute Concept. It is important to note that the Absolute Truth, unlike all previous partial and relative truths, does achieve a wholly articulated form; it is not a merely tacit and unarticulated cultural horizon; it is fully articulated, all-encompassing system of ideas.

However, just because the absolute truth is wholly articulated in abstract terms, that does not imply that it exists in the abstract realm only. The Absolute Concept is also realized in the concrete realm as well. In the concrete realm, Absolute Truth is realized at the end of history in the form of a universal, and in all important respects, homogeneous, world civilization.

This does not necessarily mean a world government. Distinct nations may remain, but only insofar as their existence is fundamentally unimportant. For in all important things—that is, in all issues relating to the correct interpretation of human nature and our place in the world—uniformity reigns. Hegel calls the post-historical world in which the Absolute Truth is concretely realized “Absolute Idea” and “Absolute Spirit.”

Hegel does not hold that Absolute Truth and Absolute Spirit are mere possibilities, the speculations of an agile and perhaps fevered mind. He holds that they are already actual. The Absolute Truth is to be found—where else?—in Hegel’s writings. Specifically, it is to be found in his Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. The Phenomenology of Spirit is only a ladder leading up to Absolute Truth, proving that it is and what it must be like, but giving no specifics. And, as we have seen, Hegel holds that ideological history comes to an end with the ideals of the French Revolution: the universal rights of man; liberty, equality, and fraternity; secularism and scientific and technological progress.

The fundamentally scientific and technological character of Absolute Spirit/Idea cannot be stressed enough. A particular chunk of Idea/Spirit equals a chunk of nature, of given reality, transformed by human discourse and/or human work. Absolute Idea/Spirit therefore equals the totality of nature transformed by human discourse and work, i.e., by science and technology.

Now, this is not to say that Absolute Spirit comes into being only after the entire universe has been scientifically understood and technologically appropriated and transformed, for this is an infinite task. Rather, Absolute Spirit comes into being by setting up the infinite task of understanding and transforming nature; Absolute Spirit consists of a way of framing nature as, in principle, infinitely knowable by science and, in principle, infinitely malleable by technology. All limitations encountered in the unfolding of this infinite task are encountered as merely temporary impediments what can always, in principle, be overcome by better science and better technology. Hegel, like all the other great philosophers of modernity, is a good Baconian.

The end of history does not mean the end of history in the more mundane sense. The newspaper will still come in the morning, but it will look more like the Atlanta Journal than the New York Times: a global village tattler, chronicling untold billions of treed cats, weddings, funerals, garage sales, and church outings, bulging with untold billions of pizza coupons. Remember: the end of history means the end of ideological history. It means that no ideological and political innovations are possible, that there are no causes worth killing or dying for anymore, that we fully understand ourselves.

The end of history is a technocrat’s dream: now that the basic intellectual and political parameters of human existence have been fixed once and for all, we can get on with the business of living: the infinite task of the mastery and possession of nature; the infinite play made possible by an endless stream of new toys.

The Question of Historicism

It is often said that Hegel holds that human nature itself is relative to particular times, places, and cultures, and that as history changes, so does human nature. This strikes me as false. It is man’s nature to be historical, but this fact is not itself a historical fact. It is a natural fact that makes history possible. It is natural in the sense that it is a fixed and permanent necessity of our natures, which founds and bounds the realm of human action, history, and culture. Different interpretations of human nature are relative to different times, places, and cultures; different worldviews change and succeed one another in time.

Absolute Truth = a true self-interpretation of man = a final account of human nature. If such an account is not possible, because a fixed human nature does not exist, then Hegel could never hold that history comes to an end. There will be merely an endless progression of merely relative human self-interpretations, none of which can claim any greater adequacy than any other, because of course there is nothing for them to be adequate to. For Hegel, man gains knowledge of his nature through history. But he does not gain his nature itself through history.


Hegel claims that the end of history would be wholly satisfying to man. But is it? This brings us to Alexandre Vladimirovich Kojevnikoff (1902–1968), known simply as “Kojève.” Kojève was the 20th century’s greatest, and most influential, interpreter and advocate of Hegel’s philosophy of history. Kojève’s Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit [4] has its errors; it has its obscurities, eccentricities, and ticks. But it is still the most profound, accessible, and exciting introduction to Hegel in existence.


Kojève in 1922

Ironically, though, by stating Hegel clearly and radically, Kojève has pushed Hegel to the breaking point, forcing us to confront the question: Is Hegel’s end of history really the end of history? And if it is, can it really claim to be fully satisfying to man?

Kojève was born in Moscow in 1902 to a wealthy bourgeois family, which, when the communists took over in 1917, was subjected to the indignities one would expect. Kojève was reduced to selling black market soap. He was arrested and narrowly escaped being shot. In a paradox that has called his sanity into question in the minds of many, he left prison a convinced communist. In 1919, he left Russia with the family jewels, which he cashed in for a small fortune in Berlin. (He might be called a limousine communist.)

He studied philosophy in Heidelberg with Karl Jaspers and wrote a doctoral dissertation on Vladimir Solovieff, a Russian philosopher and mystic. In the late 1920s, he moved to Paris. His fortune was wiped out by the Great Depression, and he was reduced to severely straightened circumstances. Fortunately, during the 1920s, Kojève had met and befriended Alexandre Koyré, a historian of philosophy and a fellow Russian émigré, who arranged for Kojève to take over his seminar on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit at the École pratique des hautes études.

koj81AoObfC9FL.jpgKojève taught this seminar from 1933 to 1939. Although the seminar was very small, it had a tremendous influence on French intellectual life, for its students included such eminent philosophers and scholars as Jacques Lacan, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Georges Bataille, Raymond Queneau, Raymond Aron, Gaston Fessard, and Henri Corbin. Through his students, Kojève influenced Sartre, as well as subsequent generation of leading French thinkers, who are known as “postmodernists,” including Foucault, Deleuze, Lyotard, and Derrida—all of whom felt it necessary to define their positions in accordance with or in opposition to Hegel as portrayed by Kojève.

I am convinced that it is impossible to understand the peculiar vehemence with which many French postmodernists abuse such concepts as modernity and metaphysics until one sees that these refer ultimately to Kojève’s reading of Hegel. And this brings us to another reason for reading Hegel and Kojève: It is an ideal tool for understanding French postmodernism, a tremendously influential school of thought. Indeed, it seem that on some academic presses now, every third book contains “postmodern” or one of its cognates in its title.

Kojève’s seminar came to an end in 1939, when World War II broke out. During the German occupation, Kojève joined the French resistance. Or so he said. After the war it was hard to find someone who didn’t claim to have joined the resistance.

After the war, Kojève did not return to academia. Instead, one of his students from the 1930s, Robert Marjolin, got him a job in the French Ministry of Economic affairs, where he worked until his death in 1968. Through his position at the ministry, Kojève exercised almost as great an influence as De Gaulle on the creation of the post-war European economic order. He was the architect of GATT and was instrumental in setting up the European Economic Community. He was also quite prescient in predicting a number of political, economic, and cultural trends. For instance, in the 1950s he was already confident that the West would win the Cold War. He also offers profound diagnoses of the logic of contemporary culture’s obsession with senseless violence and cruelty. Finally, in the late 1950s he glimpsed the logic of Japan’s rising power. Up until his death in 1968, Kojève was a trusted advisor to a number of French politicians, mostly on the right, all the while puzzling his friends by maintaining that he was still an ardent Stalinist. He even bought a house on the Boulevard Stalingrad.

Kojève was fully convinced that history had come to an end in 1806 with the battle of Jena. Accordingly, he held that nothing of any fundamental historical importance had happened since then: not the First World War, not the Second World War, not the Russian and Chinese revolutions. All of these were, in Kojève’s eyes, simply petty squabbles about the implementation of the principles of the French revolution. Even the Nazis were regarded by Kojève as simply history’s way of bringing democracy to Imperial Germany.

Kojève was not, however, convinced that the end of history would mean the complete satisfaction of man. Indeed, he thought that it would spell the abolition of mankind. This does not mean that Kojève thought that human beings would become extinct. He simply thought that what makes us humans, as opposed to contented animals, would be abolished at the end of history.

Kojève held that it was the capacity to engage in struggle over fundamental interpretations of human existence—the struggle for self-understanding—that set us apart from the beasts. Once these struggles are ended, that which sets us apart from the beasts disappears. The end of history would satisfy our animal natures, our desires, but it would offer nothing to satisfy our particularly human desires.

Kojève does not, however, argue that everyone is reduced to a beast at the end of history. Traditionally, human beings have regarded themselves as occupying the space between beasts and gods on the totem pole. When one loses one’s humanity, one can do so either by becoming a beast or by becoming a god.

kojT753JHA5L.jpgKojève held that most human beings at the end of history would be reduced to beasts. But some would become gods. How? By becoming wise. At the end of history, the correct and final interpretation of human existence, the Absolute Truth, has been articulated as a system of science by Hegel himself. This system is the wisdom that philosophy has pursued for more than 2,000 years.

Philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom, not the possession of wisdom. Hegel, by possessing wisdom, is no longer a philosopher; Hegel is a wise man. In putting the period on history, Hegel brings philosophy to an end as well.

A post-historical god takes up a critical distance from the end of history. He does not live post-historical life. He tries to understand it: how we got here, what is happening, and where we are going — all things we can learn from Hegel and Kojève. If dehumanization is our destiny, at least we can try to become gods, which is reason enough to read Hegel.


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/02/why-read-hegel/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/HegelAbsolut.jpg

[2] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/hegel2.jpg

[3] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Kojeve1922.jpg

[4] Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0801492033/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0801492033&linkCode=as2&tag=countecurrenp-20&linkId=QQQVCRZ25CGM4EYM

mercredi, 10 décembre 2014

Critique de la Révolution par Hegel : Périclès contre l’égalitarisme

Critique de la Révolution par Hegel : Périclès contre l’égalitarisme

Ex: http://anti-mythes.blogspot.com

Pericles_Pio-Clementino_Inv269_n2.jpgAlors que la Révolution française insuffle à l’Europe une énergie philosophique nouvelle, affirmant ressusciter l’esprit de la démocratie grecque, un soupçon germe déjà dans l’esprit de Hegel : cette filiation avec l’Antiquité ne repose-t-elle pas sur un malentendu ? Par la figure de Périclès, le philosophe révèle l’erreur d’interprétation commise par ceux qui se réclament de la démocratie athénienne. Présentée comme une révolution chargée de promesses égalitaires que Périclès se serait empressé de trahir, ne fut-elle pas plutôt la célébration de la liberté et de la vertu individuelles, dont Périclès s’avéra le plus admirable serviteur ?
Périclès a fait l’objet d’une disgrâce constante dans l’histoire de la philosophie, dont les traces subsistent encore fortement, même à la fin du XVIIIème siècle. Lui préférant Sparte, les révolutionnaires français n’ont que modérément recours au modèle d’Athènes, et voient dans le destin tragique de cette cité le paradigme à ne pas suivre en ces heures de refondation politique intégrale – or, Périclès incarne en tout point cette corruption de l’idéal démocratique qu’ils entendent ne pas reproduire. En Allemagne, à la même époque, les détracteurs de l’entreprise révolutionnaire française puisent dans l’œuvre de Platon d’innombrables présages du destin qui attend, selon eux, le peuple français. Le philosophe grec, constatant l’échec absolu de la démocratie, et formulant une critique acerbe du régime qui avait, selon lui, corrompu la grandeur athénienne, assimilait entièrement sa décadence à la personnalité de Périclès. Ainsi, le nom de l’homme d’État est à la fois utilisé par ses opposants pour discréditer la Révolution, et mettre en garde contre le chaos dont ils la croient porteuse, et rejeté par ses défenseurs, qui se passeraient volontiers de l’encombrant exemple d’un homme en qui l’historiographie persiste à ne voir qu’un monarque déguisé, populiste et manipulateur de foules.
Hegel, fasciné par les bouleversements politiques qui ont lieu en France, expose dans ses Leçons sur la Philosophie de l’Histoire les raisons qui le poussent à rejeter en bloc l’analyse de Platon. Découlant d’une idée univoque selon laquelle la démocratie fut néfaste à Athènes, le philosophe grec formule un jugement partial et intéressé, puisqu’il s’agit avant tout de discréditer un régime après son effondrement, en s’appuyant allègrement sur l’impopularité de Périclès dans la mémoire de ses contemporains. Platon reproche notamment à l’homme d’État athénien d’avoir préféré la prospérité économique de la Cité, pour s’assurer le soutien des foules ainsi comblées, à la véritable poursuite de l’idéal de justice. Périclès serait également le corrupteur moral de la vie politique athénienne, ayant introduit un système de rétribution de l’exercice des charges publiques, explicitement accusé par Platon, dans le Gorgias, d’avoir précipité la décadence d’un régime déjà vicié. « Périclès a rendu les Athéniens paresseux, lâches, babillards et intéressés, ayant le premier soudoyé les troupes. » Il semble pourtant que ce système ait, bien au contraire, permis à un nombre sans cesse croissant de citoyens athéniens de prendre part à l’administration de la Cité. Hegel ne s’y trompe pas, et il annonce ne vouloir juger Périclès qu’à l’aune des récits produits par les historiens, c’est-à-dire en s’appuyant sur des textes certes pas neutres quant à leur substance, puisque trahissant inconsciemment leur époque, mais du moins plus impartiaux dans leurs intentions que ceux de Platon.
Le chef plutôt que la foule, le mérite plutôt que l’égalité
C’est naturellement chez Thucydide que Hegel trouve la source documentaire la plus utile à son entreprise, mais également chez Plutarque, bien qu’il ne souscrive pas aux critiques sévères que ce dernier adresse aux décisions politiques prises par Périclès. Recoupant les descriptions concordantes, Hegel brosse le portrait d’un homme dont la qualité première fut la modération. Jamais en proie aux excès de la colère ou de la peur, Périclès était avant tout un homme tempéré, qui n’agissait qu’avec précaution et mesure, en accord avec les vertus de son temps. Intègre, il est peu probable qu’il eût jamais cédé à quelque tentative de corruption que ce fût, étant doté d’une force de caractère implacable, qui le poussait à obéir aux principes qu’il s’était lui-même fixé. De Thucydide, Hegel retient surtout l’éloge de la culture de Périclès, « homme riche en esprit », signe d’une formation irréprochable. Or, pour le philosophe allemand, c’est justement la formation qui permet à l’individu d’entrer en contact avec l’universel tout en développant sa personnalité. « La personnalité ne doit pas être confondue avec la particularité, car la première sera d’autant plus grande qu’elle sera dégagée de la seconde et qu’elle aura davantage saisi, exprimé et réalisé là, la véritable essence de son époque ».
Périclès apparaît ainsi comme l’homme portant à leur plus parfaite harmonie les vertus individuelles permettant la bonne conduite de la vie collective de la Cité qu’il dirige seul. Là où les historiens n’avaient vu qu’une preuve supplémentaire du dévoiement de la démocratie au profit du pouvoir d’un seul homme, Hegel voit finalement dans le pouvoir de Périclès la résolution de l’inextricable tension qui parcourt la démocratie : tiraillée entre la liberté individuelle et la subjectivité, entre l’obéissance et la volonté, elle ne peut être que de courte durée sous sa forme institutionnelle. Il lui faut donc un homme d’État fort et vertueux, qui se distingue par ses qualités morales et intellectuelles, et qui s’impose aux foules par une maîtrise absolue du langage, ainsi que par une détermination sans faille. A l’opposé de la méfiance platonicienne à l’égard des sophistes et des démagogues, Hegel célèbre donc la fascination de la foule pour l’éminence d’un individu demeurant cependant entièrement soumis à elle, ne pouvant agir contre son gré ni la contrarier, sous peine de perdre immédiatement son affection et son appui.
C’est dans ce rapport quasi organique entre l’homme d’État et le tribunal perpétuel devant lequel il s’exprime que réside, selon Hegel, l’assurance la plus fiable d’une Cité administrée selon la volonté du peuple, sans corruption ni déformation. Le seul critère permettant de déterminer l’aptitude d’un homme à se distinguer et à diriger la Cité repose donc sur l’examen de ses qualités propres, loin des fantasmes abstraits d’une égalité supposée absolue entre tous les tempéraments, tous les caractères et toutes les individualités. Nourrissant ici une divergence très marquée avec la philosophie kantienne et la neutralité morale des talents qu’elle avait posée comme principe fondateur de l’égalité des individus, Hegel n’en vient pas pour autant à réhabiliter la conception aristocratique de la Cité chère aux platoniciens. Bien au contraire, il vante les mérites du procédé par lequel l’homme vertueux parvient à s’imposer comme tel auprès de ses pairs, à se faire reconnaître par eux et à les guider : le mérite.
Éloge de la liberté individuelle et critique de la liberté formelle
Il serait absurde de déceler dans la perspective hégélienne une quelconque tentative de justification des despotismes éclairés tels qu’ils se développèrent au cours du XVIIIème siècle, puisqu’elle célèbre avant tout l’individu libre que fut Périclès, et dénonce les « abstractions » dont se nourrissent les révolutionnaires français. Il convient de noter que, par ce terme péjoratif, Hegel ne critique pas leur tentative de fonder une anthropologie ex nihilo, grâce à une raison autosuffisante dont découleraient, purs et évidents, les principes éthiques régissant la cité – c’est là le reproche principal des contre-révolutionnaires français. Il s’en prend davantage aux libertés attribuées à l’homme, et dont il reproche, avec une justesse relativement visionnaire, le formalisme auquel elles sont condamnées. Car c’est bien là que se situe, selon lui, toute l’ambiguïté de la Révolution : ses grands principes, aussi nobles soient-ils, sont désincarnés, et ne porteront fatalement aucun fruit, lorsqu’ils ne s’avéreront tout simplement pas délétères.
Pour le comprendre, il suffit de se rappeler qu’à l’opposé d’Athènes et de Périclès se trouve le modèle lacédémonien, Sparte, Cité idéalisée dans l’imaginaire des révolutionnaires de 1789. Face aux richesses bourgeoises d’Athènes, à son exaltation de la beauté, des arts et du superflu, ainsi qu’à son attachement profond à l’individu, la frugalité spartiate, austère et rigoureuse, séduit bien davantage les figures les plus radicales comme Robespierre. Rien d’étonnant à cela, selon Hegel, qui voit dans ces deux périodes historiques la manifestation de la même tendance égalitaire destructrice. Entre l’égalité forcée des fortunes et des propriétés privées à Sparte et la dérive sanglante de la Terreur, le philosophe ne concède aucune différence : c’est la même « vertu rigide et abstraite » à l’œuvre, qui fait du Comité de Salut Public le nouveau directoire des Éphores, c’est à dire une aristocratie portée par des principes qui, sous couvert d’égalité, attire le peuple vers la médiocrité et noie l’individu dans la masse. Sans liberté individuelle, pas de développement de la subjectivité. Sans la prospérité économique, pas d’accès à ces luxes que représentent les arts, la science ou la pensée universelle. Hegel condamne les Spartiates comme les Jacobins en les accusant de travestir l’enchaînement de l’individu libre en une apparente promesse d’égalité vide de tout sens et intenable, comme le démontreront les événements à venir.
Si Périclès trouve grâce aux yeux de Hegel, ce dernier n’appelle en aucun cas à reproduire la tentative athénienne. L’analyse historique ne peut fournir autre chose qu’une éventuelle inspiration, mais ne constitue pas un idéal vers lequel il conviendrait de tendre. De même, s’il identifie les révolutionnaires français aux Spartiates, ce n’est que pour souligner l’essence abstraite et perverse des principes qui les guident, et non pour prophétiser le déclin de l’idée démocratique en France. C’est finalement à cette dernière que sont adressées les principales critiques que formule Hegel dans ses Leçons, ou, plus précisément, à l’ambiguïté de son nom, dont profitent les révolutionnaires pour se dispenser d’avoir à mettre en place l’égalité et la liberté effectives. Il ne s’agit pas de gouverner pour le peuple, ni même de permettre au peuple de gouverner directement – ce sont là des questions d’agencement presque secondaires, et qui, ironiquement, constituent l’horizon absolu de toute la philosophie politique contemporaine. Le projet dont il est question, bien plus vaste et ambitieux, concerne la marche de l’Histoire du monde : il s’agit de permettre à la raison de se réaliser. Et c’est précisément pour éviter que la démocratie, fût-elle bien réelle et permît-elle aux citoyens libres et égaux de déterminer leur avenir, ne se fasse plus nuisible encore en remettant le pouvoir à une masse d’individus ayant troqué leurs singularités et leur liberté contre l’égalitarisme médiocrement uniforme, que Hegel oppose aux révolutionnaires de 1789 la figure vertueuse et libre de Périclès, et avec elle le modèle athénien contre l’ombre égalitaire qui est en train de se lever sur l’Europe.

dimanche, 12 octobre 2014

Il sapere tradizionale di Evola e la scienza ermetica di Hegel


Il sapere tradizionale di Evola e la scienza ermetica di Hegel

Il sapere tradizionale di Evola e la scienza ermetica di Hegel

Giandomenico Casalino

Ex: http://www.ereticamente.net

La comparazione di natura filosofica tra Julius Evola e Giorgio F. G. Hegel, pensatori di natura sapienziale tanto lontani nel tempo e, quindi, apparentemente, così differenti, sia nel lessico da loro adottato che in relazione al contesto storico-culturale in cui hanno vissuto ed operato, impone rigorosamente la ricerca di ciò che realmente abbia significato per gli stessi la Cosa del pensiero, l’oggetto di cui e su cui hanno tematizzato, al di là delle modalità e cioè delle divergenze attraverso le quali, tutto ciò, loro malgrado, si è espresso. Quindi il lavoro deve essere caratterizzato da un approccio di natura ermeneutica, che privilegi non tanto la dimensione filologica quanto quella teoretica che, data la sua natura, abbia l’ambizione di varcare i limiti del tempo e delle stagioni culturali e, per dirla con il Kerenyi, entri in Idea nel cuore del Pensiero, che, nella sua inten­zionalità, li ha guidati nel percorso dello Spirito. Quanto dedotto vuol significare che, come intorno ad Evola il discorso deve superare la “vulgata” del suo preteso “abbandono” della Filosofia, con la co­siddetta “chiusura” del periodo ad essa dedicato e l’ “apertura” nei confronti di ciò che tout court si è definito Tradizione, così per lo Hegel è necessario emendare radicalmente quanto certa critica pigra e conformista ha dedotto sulla sua pretesa modernità e sul concetto di razionale confuso e mistifi­cato con quello cristiano e/o moderno di razionalismo individualistico e quindi astratto. At­tesa la complessa vastità del tema, faremo in modo di esaminare e di indicare sinteticamente alcuni nodi essenziali comuni alla prospettiva sia di Evola che di Hegel, al fine di offrire quelli che, secondo noi, pos­sono essere i percorsi di ricerca e di studio relativi alla quaestio sollevata.


L’autentica “svolta” spirituale esperita da Evola alla fine degli anni venti del Novecento non è con­sistita, a ben riflettere, in un “abbandono” della Fi­losofia e del suo orizzonte di ricerca e di visione, del suo oggetto di amore e dei suoi itinerari aristo­telicamente dovuti, ma bensì in un lasciare al suo destino di impotenza gnoseologica e di inefficacia spirituale la Filosofia moderna o meglio il concetto moderno della stessa (che è poi quello cristiano…). La frase di Lagneau sulla Filosofia considerata una sorta di “…riflessione tesa a riconoscere la sua propria insufficienza e la necessità di un’azione assoluta che conduca al di là della medesima…” (Rev. de Met. et de Mor., Mars 1898, p. 127), posta da Evola come “incipit” ai Saggi sull’idealismo ma­gico (1925), in concreto vuol significare che per realizzare il suo logos, la sua ragione, la Filosofia nel momento attuale, deve superare, andare al di là, effettuare un salto di natura ontologica per collo­carsi nel luogo dello spirito che, e qui sta l’autenticità ermeneutica del percorso evoliano, è il luogo di pertinenza da sempre della Filosofia nel suo unico e autentico significato che è quello premo­derno e cioè greco: percorso spirituale, di natura iniziatica, in un télos che è l’omòiosis theò! Ciò è quanto Evola ha compiuto nella sua azione realiz­zativa e di paidéia dei fondamenti della Scienza dello Spirito, sin dalla costituzione del Gruppo di UR, la cui natura, nel significato di essenza e quindi la sua virtus come finalità, è alquanto simile a ciò che è stata l’Accademia Platonica dagli inizi sino a Proclo: palestra rigorosa del Sapere che è ascesi filosofico-rituale e non cerimoniale, la cui finalità, pertanto, è l’assimilazione al Divino. Tutto ciò cosa ha a che fare con il concetto e la prassi moderni della Filo­sofia? Cosa ha a che fare la vera ricerca del sapere che è essere con, al di là di rare eccezioni, un sedicente “insegnamento” di natura sterilmente nozionistica e stupida­mente specialistica, da “dotti ignoranti”, come si esprime lo stesso Evola, vera caricatura mistificante di quanto l’uomo cerca sin dall’alba del suo spirito? Nulla, desolatamente nulla! Tale concetto moderno e quindi degradato di ciò che Aristotele afferma essere l’atteggiamento più naturale per l’uomo, cosa ha in comune con la definizione espressa dallo Hegel sull’essere la Fi­losofia “… la considerazione esoterica di Dio…”? (Enc. Scienze Fil.) e con il principio di Platone che il filosofo è solo colui il quale vede il Tutto, confermato dallo stesso Hegel quando insegna che “il Vero è l’Intero”?Assolutamente niente, ma le affermazioni hegeliane come quella di Platone hanno tutto in comune invece con quanto Evola enuncia in quella autentica e maestosa professione di fede platonica che è l’inizio di Rivolta contro il mondo moderno, quando edifica tutta la sua opera sul Sapere intorno alle due nature del Mondo, la naturale e la sovrannaturale, come medesime dimensioni e dello Spirito e della Phýsis, tanto che, platonicamente, in Evola la Fisica è Teologia in quanto il Mondo “è pieno di Dei!” E la Teologia in quanto Teosofia, Sapere intorno al Divino, è la stessa Logica che ha per oggetto il Nous come intelletto che è il Dio dormiente nell’uomo e quindi nel cosmo: l’intero Logos evoliano ha per fine, in guisa esclusiva, la rimozione attiva di quel “quindi” in quanto impedimento effettuale all’oscuramento dello Spirito; è, pertanto, opera di realizzazione del Sé, perseguita ed indicata come Via iniziatico-solare, di natura platonico­apollinea e non nientificazione orfico-dionisiaca dell’Io che, avendo la natura spirituale del pathèin e non del  mathéin (Aristotele, Perì philosophias, fr. 15), non è conoscenza dell’autentica essenza dello Spirito in quanto realtà Divina trascendentemente immanente che è come dire la realtà dell’Individuo Assoluto, vera sublimazione dell’Io; “…la filosofia ha lo scopo di riconoscere la verità, di conoscere Dio, poiché Dio è la verità assoluta…”, afferma Hegel nelle Lezioni sulla filosofia della religione; (vol. II).  Allora è d’uopo affermare, senza alcun timore, che sia in Evola che in Hegel, riappare, in piena modernità, il senso e il significato greco della Filosofia, stru­mento per il conseguimento del Risveglio, che è la rinascita, dopo la caduta-oblio, in quanto anàmnesi di ciò che si è e lo si è sempre stati pur  non avendone scienza (ignoranza come avidya), quindi riconquista di un Sa­pere che coincide con l’Essere in senso ontologico. Talché la Filosofia, nel suo vero ed unico significato, che è quello platonico-iniziatico (Lettera VII), nocciolo esoterico della stessa esperienza spirituale dei Misteri (Fedone, 69c-d), è quindi  Scienza Sacra in senso eminente e autentica Tradizione, avente ad “oggetto” solo ed esclusivamente il Divino, che è la Verità in quanto essenza e dell’uomo e del Mondo, come Cosmo; è pertanto Sapere per pochi, è gnosi, è Teosofia, conoscenza del Dio che si rivela, nella completezza del percorso rituale-filosofico, come theopoìesis (deificatio) (Platone, Teeteto, 176 b 1; Repubblica, 613 a b; Timeo, 90 d; Leggi, 716 c s; Plotino, Enneadi, I, 2, 6, 25; Proclo, Elementi di Teologia, 127; 112, 31; Corpus Hermeticum, I, 26; 16, 12), significando ciò il rammemo­rare la consapevolezza quale Sapere, aldilà ed oltre sia il Mito che il Simbolo (livelli di conoscenza sa­pientemente riconosciuti, sia da Evola che da Hegel, inefficaci ai fini della Scienza, in relazione allo stato intellettivo-noetico puro che è l’apolli­neo), che il Dio è “oggetto” da superare, da negare,  andando oltre il dualismo soggetto-oggetto per “osare” essere Lui! Tale identificazione, sia in Hegel che in Evola, è la stessa autoconoscenza del Sé quale Assoluto nella sua natura solare, in totale estraneità, pertanto, ad ogni confusione panteistica e ad ogni vedantino acosmismo spirituale. In tale guisa, pertanto, anche se mediante linguaggi diffe­renti e in contesti storico-culturali lontani, Evola ed Hegel dicono il Medesimo e la Filosofia, quindi, nella loro opera non è più quell’insulsa propaggine della teologia dogmatica (cristiana), né quella serva ti­mida delle cosiddette scienze moderne, cioè della concezione parziale, riduttiva e quindi irreale, in quanto galileiana, della natura, ormai desacraliz­zata e ridotta ad oggetto di calcolo matematico e ciò al di là della autentica rivoluzione epistemologica operata nel XX secolo dalla fisica dei quanti e dalla sua meccanica che, invece, ritornando ad una visione platonica del reale (vedi Heisenberg ed il suo concetto della chòra platonica…) non fa che confermare, tutto sommato, il sapere sia di Evola che di Hegel. La Filosofia torna così ad essere ciò che non può non essere, consistendo, secondo Aristotele, nel Destino che gli Dei hanno affidato all’uomo; non “fede”, non “credenza”, ma Sapere che è esposizione del Mondo in quanto Pensiero puro, sono “le idee di Dio prima della “creazione” del mondo e di ogni oggetto finito” (Hegel); è speculazione (da specu­lum) dove il Pensiero si specchia nel Mondo, in senso oggettivo e vede se stesso come Idea e quindi Unità (Hegel); è la realtà dell’Oro ermetico, che è la Cosa più vicina e nel contempo più lontana (Evola), è la certezza sen­sibile, è il concreto esistente che è da sempre Spirito, solo che non lo sa, (medesimo concetto esprime Plotino in riferimento all’esperienza del “toccare”  il Dio [Enneadi, VI, 9, 7]); l’Oro si trova infatti nella più oscura Tenebra o Feccia (Ermetismo) da cui l’uomo fugge, proprio perché non sa che l’Opera deve iniziare da quello stato come riconquista eroica che corporizza lo Spirito e spiritualizza il corpo, ed è la grande fatica del concetto (Hegel). Tutto ciò Evola lo rende manifesto nella sua opera  La Tradizione ermetica che è la summa circolare del viaggio iniziatico (dal Corpo come impietramento del principio Fuoco allo stesso Corpo però rinato come rosso Cinabro, solfuro di mercurio) simile alla circolarità triadica della Scienza della Logica di Hegel: il Logos qui non è una conoscenza astratta e quindi profana cioè falsa ma, come per gli antichi maestri neoplatonici, è l’apertura dell’occhio dello Spirito sul Mondo come è, e quindi come appare, ciò significando che  essenza ed esistenza sono il Medesimo che è l’Essere, nel “momento”, che non è temporale, ma logico cioè ontologico, in quanto riguarda la natura profonda dell’uomo, in cui lo stesso, acquisito il medesimo livello di essere-conoscenza, è nella capacità di vedere, attesa la natura epoptica della filosofia evoliana. La veneranda Tradizione Platonica, a cui appartengono sia Hegel che Evola, è il filone aureo che da Plotino, Proclo ed Eckhart sino a Nicola da Cusa, Giorgio Gemisto Pletone, Marsilio Ficino, Benedetto Spinoza e Jacob Boehme, non è altro che Introduzione alla Scienza dell’ Io, come spirito Universale, come Atto puro, proprio nel significato dell’autoctisi gentiliana che è poi il causa sui di Spinoza, che, nel Sapere Assoluto, che è filosofico, realizza il Sapere del Dio, dove quel “del” è tanto il Sapere che ha il Dio come “oggetto” che il Sapere che appartiene al Dio stesso.


Il situarsi sia di Evola che di Hegel nella Tradizione Platonica, ci conduce in immediato nella evidenza relativa ad una fondamentale verità presente nel loro orizzonte sapienziale: la polare identità tra Pensiero ed Essere, intesi in senso cosmico e quindi oggettivo e non certo nel significato individuale e soggettivo che è come dire cartesiano e quindi moderno; identità che è da costruire, con fatica eroica, in quanto cammino catartico (Feno­menologia dello Spirito in Hegel; Rivolta contro il mondo moderno in Evola) per la riacquisita co­scienza che è poi Inizio dell’altro percorso, avente il Fine della identificazione plotiniana, che è il mònos pros mònon, come mutamento della propria natura (metànoia), principio noetico ormai desto, non più e non mai “esterno” all’Io ma Sé autentico che è al contempo (e da sempre) il Lògos del mondo (Tradizione Ermetica in Evola; Scienza della Logica in Hegel). Il Sapere (Nous) che coin­cide anzi è l’Essere (Phýsis) è ciò che, in guisa auro­rale, afferma la sapienza indoeuropea, ad iniziare da Parmenide e dai Veda (Atman è Brahman). Il Mi­stero di tale verità è l’Inesprimibile del Pensiero che si riconosce nel Tutto come i Molti che è visto nell’Istante- exàiphnes come Uno (Platone, Parmenide, 156, c) ed è il fondamento della conoscenza comune sia ad Evola che ad Hegel: ad uno stadio di consape­volezza, che è un “momento” (“temporale” ma che non si svolge nel tempo…) della coscienza e quindi un essere della stessa, in senso ontologico, corri­sponde uno stadio o livello di conoscenza-sapere che è il vivere-essere lo stadio o livello equiva­lente e corrispondente nel Mondo; tale processo spirituale in Evola è da situare in guisa manifesta dopo la catarsi dialettica che certamente coincide con la fase del suo pensiero preparatoria della teoresi dell’Idealismo magico che è il salto nella gnosi platonica. La realtà dello spirito che, come qui appare evidente, è circolare, e va dall’io al mondo e dal mondo all’io vuol significare che si conosce ciò che si è e si è ciò che si conosce e, quindi, si conosce ciò che si diviene, equivalendo ciò al ritorno anamnestico verso l’Inizio, dove si è sempre stati, nella natura in cui si è sempre consistiti ma della quale si è presa coscienza, solo dopo aver perfezionato l’Opera filosofica. Evola ed Hegel, nel solco del platonismo, ci inducono pertanto a meditare sulla dimensione dello Spirito, nel “momento” in cui il Pensiero, pensando il suo “passato” (l’Anima, il suo sonno…), si riconosce tale ed il Mondo, gli Dei (l’oggetto) appare quello che è sempre stato, cioè il Pen­sato, la dimensione dell’Anima, il movimento, la Vita, la dialettica (essere-non essere; vita-morte; dolore-gioia…). Evola lo afferma in tutta la sua opera: se si è forma, si vede la forma, che è sempre, ma anche colui che “ora” la vede lo è sempre stato solo che lo aveva dimenticato. Secondo Evola ed Hegel, ovviamente, non è questione di ideologie o di modi di vedere il mondo, cioè di stati soggettivi, poiché di soggettivo, nel senso di personale o individuale-psicologistico, qui non è dato parlare, ma di stati molteplici, differentemente gerarchici, dell’Essere (sia in senso microcosmico che macrocosmico, cioè quello che ignorantemente chiamiamo ancora tanto “soggetto” quanto “oggetto”)!

Hegel, infatti, nella Scienza della Logica, quando parla di meccanicismo, chimismo, organicismo, non sta enunciando determinate visioni del mondo o punti di vista, ma sta dicendo che una natura, in senso ontologico, meccanicistica conosce solo il meccanicismo o meglio il livello o “momento” meccanicistico del mondo e quindi sta trattando filosoficamente degli stati della coscienza, come li­velli del pensiero a cui corrispondono gli stessi stati della natura poiché questa è il medesimo Pensiero uscito da sè (proodòs plotiniana); essi sono pertanto il percorso del Sapere come Idea a cui corrispondono stati equivalenti della natura poiché la Verità cioè il Divino è l’Intero cioè l’Uno (e questo non è lo stesso principio di corrispondenza magica tra uomo e Metalli-Mondo cioè Astro-Nume-Metallo tanto in senso microcosmico quanto macrocosmico che è il fondamento della Tradizione sia nella forma Er­metica che in quella Platonica?). Evola dice il medesimo quando afferma che Inferno e Paradiso, esotericamente, sono stati della coscienza nei quali e attraverso i quali si conoscono le tenebre infernali o le luminosità celesti che sono livelli o dimensioni dell’Essere dello stesso mondo o dimensioni del Tutto, il chiuso Athanòr, che una natura corrispondente andrà a co­noscere o tenebroso come assenza di Luce o luminoso. Pertanto un essere che è, come spiritualità autentica, o il primo o il se­condo, può conoscere solo o uno o l’altro, cre­dendo, nel momento ingenuo (mitico, secondo Evola), intellettivo-astratto (direbbe Hegel), del percorso di conoscenza, che si tratti di un “altro” mondo a sé medesimo opposto e definito dualisticamente non-Io. Gli Dei non esistono a priori per fede… se non si cono­scono e si conoscono solo esperimentando e quindi essendo lo stato corrispondente. Se in Evola tutto ciò è definito identificazione iniziatico-­solare in cui è manifesto che Io sono Te, ricono­scendo pertanto l’irrealtà dello stato religioso-devozionale, in Hegel è il percorso dello Spirito che supera l’oggettivazione del Sé (Dio), come Altro e, con la semplificazione filosofica ed il suo Sapere apicale, è l’Assoluto che conosce se stesso, “accadendo” come evento logico, cioè fuori dal tempo, “dopo” lo stato-essere spirituale rappresentativo che è il religioso-dualistico. È la realizzazione della conoscenza che il soggetto è l’oggetto, il Pensiero come Atto puro cosmico è l’Essere che è il Dio, e si ritorna ad Aristotele, al Pensiero di Pensiero, al Pensiero che pensa Se stesso ed è poi l’Autarca di Evola! In sostanza ed in termini filosofici, cioè concettuali, è il Risveglio buddistico (vedi La dottrina del risveglio) che in Evola è la realizzazione della vera natura  dell’uomo, rendendo manifesta quella occulta o incosciente (Aristotele, Etica nicomachea, 1177b 33) idea di origine platonica (Timeo, 90c) che è l’athanatìzein di Proclo, cioè il rendersi immortali in quanto si assume piena consapevolezza e quindi Sapere di esserlo sempre stati. Corollario di tale Tradizione gnosica è, in Evola, La Scienza dell’Io che si riconosce, quale atto magico di anamnesi, come Idea eterna del Sé: “…Io alla seconda persona, alter ego celeste dell’uomo: è ancora l’uomo ma nello stesso tempo non è più solo l’uomo…” (Henry Corbin) ed è l’affermazione che la conoscenza del Dio è l’autoconoscenza del Dio come Divino nell’uomo e dell’uomo: il Dio si conosce e si vede nell’uomo, come l’uomo, nel doversi conoscere, conosce Se medesimo quale il Divino stesso. È il sapere di natura apollinea, di cui enigmaticamente parla Platone nell’Alcibiade Maggiore (133 c)…!


In riferimento a tale Sapere Pavel Alexandrovic Florenski ne Le radici universali dell’Idealismo rileva la natura primordiale dello stesso e trae la conclusione che il Platonismo è la Conoscenza originaria presente nelle Tradizioni religiose e sapienziali di tutti i popoli del Mondo, cioè a dire, nella sue essenza metafisica, la Tradizione Unica di tutte le Civiltà, nella forma tanto mitico-religiosa nei primordi delle stesse, quanto magica ed unitivo-sapienziale al tramonto del ciclo.

Pertanto il Sapere, la Gnosi, di cui non solo parlano o scrivono sia Evola che Hegel, ma che sono e realizzano come mutamento della natura, essendo lo stesso Sapere, è in virtù di “qualcosa” di arcaico, di ancestrale, di originario, di non classificabile nelle e con le comuni categorie dello Spirito non solo di questo tempo ma di ogni tempo; “qualcosa” che è una realtà vivente, un fuoco che brucia nella continuità della loro vita, nel loro athanòr, come fiamma che consuma tutti i residui, le scorie, le impurità tanto che “magicamente” loro appaiono quello che sono in quanto Essere come identità di essenza ed esistenza; dai contemporanei sono infatti veduti come autentici maghi, nel significato arcaico e quindi vero del termine, chiarito, quasi nello stesso periodo di tempo, sia da Florenski che da Evola in questi termini: natura attiva dello Spirito nei confronti delle Forze e dei Numi cosmici e tanto intensa da apparire quasi naturale, come innata identificazione con gli stessi, mediante riconoscimento anamnestico!

Allora il Sapere tradizionale, che equivale a dire metafisico e che stiamo tentando di delineare per brevi cenni, è di natura magico-sacrale!

E non può essere diversamente, atteso il fatto che Evola non è lo scrittore, lo studioso o l’erudito, figlio di una sclerotica civilizzazione ma è frutto di una Kultur che, proprio nel senso spengleriano, è qualcosa di vivente che emerge maestosa e luminosa, vasta e complessa nella sua cosmica valenza, da tutta la sua opera che è principalmente ed in guisa essenziale, la sua stessa presenza e la sua vita come Simbolo e Mito. Non si può negare la presenza della Luce di questa forza magico-sacrale, quasi sciamanica, in uomini, in Sapienti Solfurei, autentiche trasparenze della doxa omerica, cioè della gloria del Pensiero, inteso in senso Vivente e Divino, in tutti coloro i quali, con linguaggi diversi ed in tempi storico-culturali oltremodo differenti,  hanno osato dire, vivere ed essere Verità, autenticamente rivoluzionarie e destabilizzanti per tutte le Chiese, i Dogmi e le Istituzioni dominanti, quasi come Vie della mano destra di ogni epoca, Verità che hanno sempre incusso paura, tremore e financo terrore nell’uomo, inducendo e provocando mistificazione del loro Dire, calunnie sul loro Fare, negazione del loro Essere e tentativi, peraltro vani, di oscuramento della Verità da loro eroicamente difesa. È la vicenda, non solo di un Evola, criminalizzato e mistificato o di un Hegel, incompreso e pertanto trasferito tout court, nonostante la geniale intuizione di un Feuerbach sull’essere il sapiente Svevo “…il Proclo tedesco…”, nel positivismo e nel laicismo immanentista o nel soggettivismo postcartesiano, ma è la storia umana anche di Eckhart, di Giorgio Gemisto Pletone, di Boehme, di Spinoza, cioè è il destino comune, la risposta, la reazione di chi, in buona sostanza, rifiuta, ne ha paura e non comprende insegnamenti come questi di Plotino: “…Il compito non è essere virtuosi o buoni ma essere Dei!…”; “…Non devo andare io agli Dei ma gli Dei venire a me…!”; che equivalgono a ciò che dice Eckhart nei Sermoni: “…Dio ed io siamo una cosa sola…!”; a quanto afferma Hegel: “…Si crede usualmente che l’Assoluto debba trovarsi molto al di là mentre è invece proprio ciò che è del tutto presente e che, in quanto pensanti, anche senza averne espressamente coscienza, portiamo sempre con noi…!” o a ciò che rivela Boehme nel De Signatura rerum: “…tra la Nascita Eterna, la Redenzione dalla Caduta e la scoperta della Pietra dei Filosofi non c’è alcuna differenza…!”.

Si tratta, quindi, di un Sapere primordiale, è la Tradizione iniziatica regale, è la originaria via indoeuropea agli Dei, nel senso spirituale e realizzativo del Risveglio del Re che dorme nel profondo dell’anima, ed è, innanzitutto ed essenzialmente il Rito filosofico quotidiano e costante onde realizzare il Katèchon che, difendendo il principio superiore della coscienza e quello animico ad esso orientato, costituisca invalicabili barriere nei confronti delle potenze tenebrose provenienti dal basso; al fine di “ricostruire” eroicamente la natura autentica dell’uomo: la libertà dello Spirito, nella divinificazione che è l’Eghemonicòn stoico, di cui parla Evola, la liberazione dell’uomo dalle catene invisibili con cui egli stesso si è reso prigioniero di sé medesimo! Tale Conoscenza suprema che è di una semplicità fanciullesca (gli antichi Ermetisti parlano di “gioco di bambini”) mai come nella fase presente, di palese e drammatica decadenza spirituale da fine di un ciclo di civiltà, come rivela Aristotele (Metafisica, XII, 8,1074a, 38-b 14), è di straordinaria ed inattuale attualità, poiché, essendo la Conoscenza della maturità avanzata di un epoca, proprio come precisa Aristotele nel passo su citato, è l’ultima àncora di salvezza sia per coloro che vogliono percorrere tale unica ed ineludibile Via dello Spirito, per tornare ad essere, come precisa Evola, quanto meno e come base di partenza, uomini, sia per la conservazione e la trasmissione dei Fondamenti della stessa da “tràdere” cioè consegnare a coloro i quali saranno i protagonisti del ciclo successivo: non altro concetto ha, infatti, espresso lo stesso Hegel quando ha definito la filosofia il Sapere del meriggio che nasce quando s’invola la nottola di Minerva!

Ci chiediamo, alla fine di questa nostra riflessione, la ragione per cui la Tradizione magico-arcaica, la Sapienza antica, il Platonismo come eterno Idealismo, il Logos di Evola come quello di tutti i Sapienti che nei secoli e nei millenni hanno rivelato sempre e soltanto la medesima Cosa, avente ad “oggetto” il Pensiero pensante che è già e da sempre Pensiero pensato e cioè il Divino come Mondo che ritorna ciclicamente e liberamente, in quanto sapientemente, in se stesso, appaiono tanto irrimediabilmente inattuali da essere invece così indiscutibilmente attuali; la risposta a tale domanda risiede nella natura protervamente materialista e quindi antiumana di questa epoca in cui dello Spirito nulla si sa e si deve sapere, dell’Anima non se ne deve parlare  più, affidando il suo semantema residuo ed umbratile a forme di stregonerie e ciarlatanerie definitesi, molto appropriatamente, “psicoanalisi” (vedi J. Evola, L’infezione psicanalista, Quaderni della Fondazione Evola, Napoli 2012); il corpo  è ignorato in quanto “pensato” come un assemblaggio di pezzi meccanici da riparare e, nel caso, da sostituire; epoca in cui, infine, ci si è fatti convincere che l’uomo non sia e non debba essere altro che un “tubo digerente” avente solo una finalità: il disciplinato e silenzioso consumo planetario, in quanto “naturalmente”  privo di idee, sentimenti e passioni,  che pericolosamente abbiano o conservino qualcosa che ricordi l’umano; nessun Discorso, religioso o filosofico contemporaneo, che può pur apparire radicale e liberatorio lo può mai essere, in verità e nella dimensione universale, così come lo è manifestamente e dall’eternità la Luce della Tradizione, per la semplice ragione che tutti i “discorsi” che non appartengono alla sua Verità, appartengono alla Modernità, come categoria dello Spirito; e non si può nemmeno tentare di superare l’effetto coniugandolo con la sua causa!

Solo la Scienza dello Spirito, l’atto supremo ineludibile di Rivolta contro il mondo moderno, può aprire gli occhi,  prima dell’anima e poi dello Spirito, dell’uomo della presente età, sì da fargli riacquistare la stazione eretta che, come insegna Platone, gli consente di guardare il Cielo e quindi gli Dei!

Di una sola cosa, comunque, siamo certi e serenamente consapevoli e quindi convinti: il potere unico della Chiesa dogmatica tecno-finanziaria del capitalismo mondialista, apparentemente trionfante al crepuscolo del presente ciclo, ha di fronte, alle spalle ed intorno a sé medesimo, una sola ed invincibile nonché semplice e luminosa Verità, espressa da Julius Evola nei termini seguenti: “…Tutto si potrà fare sull’uomo e nell’uomo ma mai strappare dal fondo del suo animo la presenza del Divino!…”.

Giandomenico Casalino



Albanese L., La tradizione platonica, Roma 1993.

Albert K., Sul concetto di filosofia in Platone, Mi­lano 1991.

Beierwaltes W., Platonismo e idealismo, Bologna 1987.

Boutroux E., Jacob Boehme e l’origine dell’idea­lismo tedesco, Milano 2006.

Casalino G., La prospettiva di Hegel, Lecce 2005.

Casalino G., L’origine. Contributi per la filosofia della spiritualità

indoeuropea,Genova 2009.

Casalino G., La conoscenza suprema. Essere la concretezza luminosa

dell’Idea, Genova 2012.

Casalino G., Sul fondamento. Pensare l’Assoluto come Risultato, Genova 2014.

Carbonara C., Hegel platonico e teologo. Quaderni contemporanei, 6, 1971.

Di Vona P., Metafisica e politica in Evola, Padova 2000, pp. 55 ss.

Evola J., (a cura di), Introduzione alla Magia, Roma 1969, volume I, pp. 56 ss.; 364 ss.

Evola J., La tradizione ermetica, Roma 1998.

Hadot P., Esercizi spirituali e filosofia antica, To­rino 1988.

Hegel G.G.F., Scienza della Logica, Bari 2001.

Hegel G.G.F., Fenomenologia dello spirito, Firenze 1960.

Heidegger M., “Hegel e i greci” in Idem, Segna­via, Milano 1987.

Kramer H., Platone e ifondamenti della metafisica, Milano 1989, pp. 285 ss.

Lugarini L., Hegel e la tradizione arcaica, Il Pen­siero, voI. XXXII, 1992.

Magee G.A., Hegel e la Tradizione Ermetica, Roma 2013.

Plotino, Enneadi, VI, 9,40.

Platone, Lettera VII

Platone, Alcibiade Maggiore.

Ponsetto A., L’anima religiosa della filosofia, Lecce 2000.

Proclo, Teologia Platonica.

Ruggenini M., Il Dio assente. La filosofia è l’espe­rienza del Divino, Milano 1997.


vendredi, 12 avril 2013

Hegelian Reflections on Body Piercing & Tattoos


A Little Death:
Hegelian Reflections on Body Piercing & Tattoos

By Greg Johnson

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

It is safe to say that urban youth culture in the contemporary West is pretty much saturated with hedonism. Yet in the midst of all this hedoism, tattooing and body piercing are huge industries, and they hurt.

It is, moreover, shared pain, broadcast to and imposed upon all who see it. It is natural for human beings to feel sympathy for people in pain, or who show visible signs of having suffered pain. Perhaps this is a sign of morbid oversensitivity, but I believe I am not the only person who feels sympathy pains when I see tattoos and piercings, especially extensive ones. Sometimes I actually shudder and look away. Furthermore, am I the only one who finds tattoos and piercings extreme sexual turn-offs?

Sexual sadism and mascochism fit into a larger hedonistic context, since the are merely intensifications or exaggerations of features of normal hetrosexual relations. But what is the place of the non-sexual masochism of body piercing and tattooing in a larger hedonistic society?

This question first occured to me when I saw Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, in which Jody, the wife of the drug dealer Lance, launches into a discourse about piercing. Jody, it is safe to say, is about as complete a hedonist as has ever existed. Yet Jody has had her body pierced sixteen times, including her left nipple, her clitoris, and her tongue. And in each instance, she used a needle rather than a relatively quick and painless piercing gun. As she says, “That gun goes against the whole idea behind piercing.”

Well then, I had to ask, “What is the whole idea behind piercing?” Yes, piercing is fashionable. Yes, it is involved with sexual fetishism. (But fetishism is not mere desire either.) Yes, it is now big business. But the phenomenon cannot merely be reduced to hedonistic self-indulgence. It is irreversible. And it hurts. And apparently, if it doesn’t hurt, that contradicts the “whole idea.”

For Hegel, history begins when a distinctly human form of self-consciousness emerges. Prehistoric man is merely a clever animal who is ruled by his desires, by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, including the desire for self-preservation. When we enjoy creature comforts, however, we are aware of ourselves as mere creatures.

But human beings are more than clever animals. Slumbering within prehistoric man is a need for self-consciousness. To see our bodies, we need a mirror. To see our self also requires an appropriate “mirror.” For Hegel, the first mirror is the consciousness of others. We see ourselves as we are seen by others. When the reactions of others coincide with our sense of self, we feel pride. When we are treated in ways that contradict our sense of self, we feel anger. Sometimes this anger leads to conflict, and sometimes this conflict threatens our very lives.

For Hegel, the duel to the death for honor reveals the existence of two different and conflicting parts of the soul: desire, including the desire for self-preservation, and honor, which is willing to risk death to find satisfaction. For Hegel, the man who is willing to risk death to preserve his honor is a natural master. The man who is willing to suffer dishonor to preserve his life is a natural slave. For the master, honor rules over desire. For the slave, desire rules over honor. Hegel sees the struggle to the death over honor as the beginning of history, history being understood as a process by which human beings come to self-understanding.

Of course not every road to self-understanding involves an encounter with death. But the primary means by which we understand ourselves is participation in a culture, and civilized life entails countless repressions of our physical desires, countless little pains and little deaths.

According to Hegel, if history is a process of self-discovery, then history can end when we learn the truth about ourselves and live accordingly. And the truth is that all men are free. Hegel’s follower Francis Fukuyama became famous for arguing that the fall of communism and the globalization of liberal democracy was the end of history. But he also followed Alexandre Kojève, Hegel’s greatest 20th-century interpreter, who argued that the end of history would not bring a society of universal freedom, but a society of universal slavery: slavery in the spiritual sense of the rule of desire over honor. And that is a perfect description of modern, hedonistic, bourgeois society.

But there is more to the soul than desire. Thus man cannot be fully satisfied by mere hedonism. The restless drive for self-consciousness that gave rise to history in the first place will stir again. In a world of casual and meaningless self-indulgence, piercing and its first cousin tattooing are thus deeply significant; they are tests; they are limit experiences; they are encounters with something—something in ourselves and in the world—that transcends the economy of desire. To “mortify” the flesh literally means to kill it. Each little hole is a little death, which derives its meaning from a big death, a whole death, death itself. Thus one can see the contemporary craze with body modification as the re-enactment of the primal humanizing encounter with death within the context of a decadent and dehumanizing society. History is beginning again.

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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/03/a-little-death-hegelian-reflections-on-body-piercing-and-tattoos/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/canovaamorandpsyche.jpg

jeudi, 28 mars 2013

The Beginning & the End of History


The Beginning & the End of History

By Greg Johnson

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

The duel to the death over honor is a remarkable phenomenon. Animals duel over dominance, which insures their access to mates. But these duels result in death only by accident, because the whole process is governed by their survival instincts, and their “egos” do not prevent them from surrendering when the fight is hopeless. The duel to the death over honor is a distinctly human thing.

Indeed, in his Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel claims that the duel to the death over honor is the beginning of history—and the beginning of a distinctly human form of existence and self-consciousness.

Prehistoric man is dominated by nature: the natural world around him and the natural world within him, namely his desires. History, for Hegel, is something different. It is the process of (1) our discovery of those parts of our nature that transcend mere animal desire, and (2) our creation of a society in accord with our true nature.

When we fully know ourselves as more than merely natural beings and finally live accordingly, then history will be over. (History can end, because as a process of discovery and construction, it is the kind of thing that can end.) Hegel claimed that history ended with the discovery that all men are free and the creation of a society that reflects that truth.

When two men duel to the death over honor, the external struggle between them conceals an internal struggle within each of them as they confront the possibility of being ruled by two different parts of their souls: desire, which includes the desire for self-preservation, and honor, which demands recognition of our worth by others.

When our sense of honor is offended, we become angry and seek to compel the offending party to respect us. If the other party is equally offended and intransigent, the struggle can escalate to the point where life is at stake.

At this point, two kinds of human beings distinguish themselves. Those who are ruled by their honor will sacrifice their lives to preserve it. Their motto is: “Death before dishonor.” Those who are ruled by their desires are more concerned to preserve their lives than their honor. They will sacrifice their honor to preserve their lives. Their motto is: “Dishonor before death.”

Suppose two honorable men fight to the death. One will live, one will die, but both will preserve their honor. But what if the vanquished party begs to be spared at the last moment at the price of his honor? What if his desire to survive is stronger than his sense of honor? In that case, he will become the slave of the victor.

The man who prefers death to dishonor is a natural master. The man who prefers dishonor to death—life at any price—is a natural slave. The natural master defines himself in terms of a distinctly human self-consciousness, an awareness of his transcendence over animal desire, the survival “instinct,” the whole realm of biological necessity. The natural slave, by contrast, is ruled by his animal nature and experiences his sense of honor as a danger to survival. The master uses the slave’s fear of death to compel him to work.

History thus begins with the emergence of a warrior aristocracy, a two-tiered society structured in terms of the oppositions between work and leisure, necessity and luxury, nature and culture. Slaves work so that the masters can enjoy leisure. Slaves secure the necessities of life so the masters can enjoy luxuries. Slaves conquer nature so masters can create culture. In a sense the whole realm of culture is a “luxury,” since none of it is necessitated by our animal desires. But in a higher sense, it is a necessity: a necessity of our distinctly human nature to understand itself and put its stamp upon the world.

The End of History

Hegel had the fanciful notion that there is a necessary “dialectic” between master and slave that will lead eventually lead to universal freedom, that at the end of history, the distinction between master and slave can be abolished, that all men are potential masters.

Now, to his credit, Hegel was a race realist. He was also quite realistic about the tendency of bourgeois capitalism to turn all men into spiritual slaves. Thus his view of the ideal state, which regulates economic life and reinforces the institutions that elevate human character against the corrupting influences of modernity, differs little from fascism. So in the end, Hegel’s high-flown talk about universal freedom seems unworthy of him, rather like Jefferson’s rhetorical gaffe that “all men are created equal.”

hegel12b.jpgThe true heirs to Hegel’s universalism are Marx and his followers, who really believed that the dialectic would lead to universal freedom. Alexandre Kojève, Hegel’s greatest 20th-century Marxist interpreter, came to believe that both Communism and bourgeois capitalism/liberal democracy were paths to Hegel’s vision of universal freedom. After the collapse of communism, Kojève’s pupil Francis Fukuyama declared that bourgeois capitalism and liberal democracy would create what Kojève called the “universal homogeneous state,” the global political and economic order in which all men would be free.

But both capitalism and communism are essentially materialistic systems. Yes, they made appeals to idealism, but primarily to motivate their subjects to fight for them. But if one system triumphed over the other, that necessity would no longer exist, and desire would be fully sovereign. Materialism would triumph. (And so it would have, were it not for the rise of another global enemy that is spiritual and warlike rather than materialistic: Islam.)

Thus Kojève came to believe that the universal homogeneous state would not be a society in which all men are masters, i.e., a society in which honor rules over desire. Rather, it would be a world in which all men are slaves, a society in which desire rules over honor.

This is the world of Nietzsche’s “Last Man,” the world of C. S. Lewis’s “Men without Chests” (honor is traditionally associated with the chest, just as reason is associated with the head and desire with the belly and points below). This is the postmodern world, where emancipated desire and corrosive individualism and irony have reduced all normative cultures to commodities that can be bought and sold, used and discarded.

This is the end of the path blazed by the first wave of modern philosophers: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, etc., all of whom envisioned a liberal order founded on the sovereignty of desire, in which reason is reduced to a technical-instrumental faculty and honor is checked or sublimated into economic competitiveness and the quest for material status symbols.

From this point of view, there is no significant difference between classical liberalism and left-liberalism. Both are based on the sovereignty of desire. Although left liberalism is more idealistic because it is dedicated to the impossible dream of overcoming natural inequality, whereas classical liberalism, always more vulgar, unimaginative, and morally complacent, is content with mere “bourgeois” legal equality.

In Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, a black gangster named Marsellus Wallace bribes a boxer named Butch Coolidge to throw a fight. Butch is a small-timer near the end of his career. If he was going to make it, he would have made it already. So he is looking to scrape up some retirement money by throwing a fight. Marsellus Wallace offers him a large sum of cash to lose in the fifth round. Wallace plans to bet on Butch’s opponent and clean up.

Butch accepts the deal, then Wallace dispenses a bit of advice: “Now, the night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fuckin’ wit ya. Fuck pride! Pride only hurts, it never helps. Fight through that shit. ’Cause a year from now, when you’re kickin’ it in the Caribbean, you’re gonna say, ‘Marsellus Wallace was right.’” Butch replies, “I’ve got no problem with that, Mr. Wallace.”

The great theorists of liberalism offered mankind the same deal that Marsellus Wallace offered Butch: “Fuck pride. Think of the money.” And our ancestors took the deal. As Marsellus hands Butch the cash, he pauses to ask, “Are you my nigger?” “It certainly appears so,” Butch answers, then takes the money.

In modernity, every man is the nigger, the spiritual slave, of any man with more money than him—to the precise extent that any contrary motives, such as pride or religious/intellectual enthusiasm, have been suppressed. (Marsellus, a black man, calls all of his hirelings niggers, but surely it gives him special pleasure to deem the white ones so.)

But history can never really end as long as it is possible for men to choose to place honor above money or even life itself. And that is always possible, given that we really do seem to have the ability to choose which part of our soul is sovereign.


This is one of several pieces which I am transposing and adapting from various film reviews [2] into stand-alone articles in order to encourage broader dissemination and discussion.

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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/03/the-beginning-and-the-end-of-history/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/hoplites-fighting.jpg

[2] various film reviews: http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/06/pulp-fiction-part-1/

mardi, 21 septembre 2010

"Rechtsvölker sind immer im Recht!" - Im Gespräch mit Dr. R. Oberlercher

»Rechtsvölker sind immer im Recht!«

Ex: http://www.deutsche-stimme.de/

Hegel, die NPD und die Arbeiterklasse: Die Deutsche Stimme im Gespräch mit Dr. Reinhold Oberlercher

Oberlercher.jpgFrage: Herr Dr. Oberlercher, Sie haben vor Jahren den Begriff der »Wortergreifung« geprägt, die immer der Machtergreifung vorangehen müsse. Wie beurteilen Sie Art und Inhalt der Wortergreifungen der NPD, und was wäre zu verbessern?

Oberlercher: Die Wortergreifungen der NPD sind nicht immer systemsprengend. Übernimmt man gar die Zuschreibungen des BRD-Systems und verortet sich selbst z.B. als rechten Rand, dann ist man nicht mehr die politische Befreiungsorganisation der Gesamtnation. Geht das System schließlich unter, wird sein rechter Rand dann natürlicherweise mit ihm verschwinden.

Frage: Demnach ist es aber genauso wenig zielführend, sich als links zu bezeichnen. Eine systemüberwindende Opposition müßte sich also als gesamtdeutsche Volksbewegung verstehen?

Oberlercher: Ja, das allein ist der richtige Weg. Das deutsche Volk umfaßt nämlich viele politische Richtungen: Fortschrittliche und Traditionalisten, Konservative und Liberale und Sozialisten, Anarchisten und Etatisten. Und alle auch noch in rechter und in linker Ausführung.

Frage: Fälschlicherweise wird »rechts« ja oft gleichgesetzt mit national. Welche Bedeutung haben die Begriffe links und rechts in einer Zeit, in der die festen Abgrenzungen zunehmend verschwinden?

Oberlercher: Ach, wissen Sie, die Abgrenzungen waren eigentlich noch nie wirklich fest, sondern immer sehr beweglich, weswegen sie auch nicht totzukriegen sind. In der politischen Theorie, die das Deutsche Kolleg vertritt, ist der Begriff des Politischen das Recht und das Rechtssubjekt und nicht, wie bei Carl Schmitt, die Unterscheidung von Freund und Feind. Politik dreht sich unserer Auffassung nach um Rechte, die man hat und die man verteidigen muß, oder um solche Rechte, die man nicht hat und die man fordern muß. Die Recht-Inhaber sind politisch die Rechten, die Recht-Forderer sind politisch die Linken. Da es den Kampf um das Recht auch in Zukunft geben muß und geben wird, dürfte auch der Rechts-Links-Gegensatz fortbestehen.

Frage: Aufgrund der wirtschaftlichen Konzentrationen der vergangenen Jahre wird die These vertreten, daß man von Kapitalismus nicht mehr sprechen könne. Vielmehr habe eine Veränderung hin zum Monopolismus stattgefunden. Was halten Sie von dieser These?

Oberlercher: Nichts. Denn Monopol ist ein Gegenbegriff zu Konkurrenz oder auch zu Oligopol, aber nicht zu Kapital, folglich kann der Kapitalismus auch nicht in einen Monopolismus übergehen. Die ganze Entwicklung des kapitalistischen Systems ist eine seiner Einführung und Durchsetzung in vorkapitalistischen sozialen Bereichen. Solange es solche Bereiche gibt, hat der Kapitalismus noch zu erobernde soziale Räume und damit eine geschichtliche Aufgabe vor sich. Das Gewaltmonopol des Staates z.B. wie der gesamte Staatsapparat überhaupt ist solch eine Sphäre, die dem Kapital noch nicht zur Gänze formell und reell unterworfen ist, aber daran wird eifrig gearbeitet.
Ebensowenig sind Universitäten und allgemeinbildendes Schulsystem dem Kapital schon gänzlich reell subsumiert. Nach der bis zur Vollautomation der materiellen Produktion geführten kapitalistischen Revolution in der Wirtschaft wäre es durchaus ein noch kapitalimmanenter revolutionärer Fortschritt, die pädagogische Produktion, die die Arbeitskräfte herstellt, zu privatisieren, zu automatisieren und der kapitalistischen Entwertung aller (Arbeits-) Werte, also der Aldisierung ihrer Preise, zu unterwerfen. Der Deutsche Nationalmarxismus hat diese revolutionäre Seite des kapitalistischen Systems immer befürwortet.

Frage: Sie sprachen davon, daß die anhaltende Vorknechtschaft Bedingung und Voraussetzung für eine kommende Vorherrschaft Deutschlands sei. Trauen Sie sich eine Prognose zu, wie lange die Vorknechtschaft noch andauern und was sie beenden wird?

Oberlercher: Nachdem ich im Jahre 1995 den Staatsuntergang der BRD und der übrigen Reichszerteilungsregimes für das Jahr 2000 prognostiziert hatte, wage ich im Jahre 2010 nicht, eine weitere von der Geschichte falsifizierbare Vorhersage über einen Zusammenbruchstermin abzugeben. Soweit es nun aber die Vorknechtschaft der BRD gegen ihre europäischen Mitknechte angeht, hat sich nichts geändert, aber beim Verhältnis gegenüber ihrem Herrn und Besatzer USA ist auffällig, daß trotz rapiden Verfalls die BRD immer häufiger als Anführer einer Fronde gegen das israelhörige US-Imperium auftritt, dessen Machtverfall relativ größer ist als der seiner Knechte. Die Residuen des rheinischen Produktivkapitals generieren noch immer Gegenkonzepte zum global nomadisierenden Spekulanten-Kapital des Imperiums.

Frage: Das Schicksals Ihres ehemaligen Mitstreiters Horst Mahler bewegt nicht nur das nationale Lager. Wie weit kann die nationale Opposition in ihrem Widerstand gegen das antinationale System gehen, ohne ihrem Anliegen zu schaden?

Oberlercher: Horst Mahler hat dem nationalen Anliegen nicht geschadet. Er hat aus eigenem Entschluß die Märtyrerschaft für Volk und Reich der Deutschen auf sich genommen. Seit das System Horst Mahler für das Festhalten an seiner Meinung zu 12 Jahren Gefängnis verurteilt hat, können alle deutschen Kollaborateure der Besatzungsmächte wissen, welche Mindeststrafe ihrer harrt.

Frage: Um das Deutsche Kolleg ist es etwas ruhig geworden, obwohl Sie Ihren
Ehrenplatz im jüngsten Hamburger Verfassungsschutzbericht erneut erfolgreich verteidigt haben. Sind die Repressionen des Systems der Grund, daß man so wenig hört?

Oberlercher: Der Grund ist einfach darin zu sehen, daß das Deutsche Kolleg im wesentlichen alles gesagt hat, das in Theorie und Programm gesagt werden mußte. Die Arbeit der Theoretiker und Programmatiker in der Neuen Deutschen National-Bewegung ist im großen und ganzen beendet, die geistige Gewalt hat
zugeschlagen, nun ist die materielle Gewalt geschichtlich am Zuge. Das System ist geistig bereits enthauptet, jetzt ist es nur noch physisch zu enthaupten. Also: Arbeiter der Faust an die Front!

Frage: Könnten Sie uns bitte Ihr Konzept der Deutschland AG erläutern?

Oberlercher: Die Deutschland AG ist die Herstellung einer nachkapitalistischen Wirtschaftsordnung. Sie ist die Vergesellschaftung aller Produktionsmittel und die Vermeidung ihrer Verstaatlichung. Denn die Verstaatlichung der kapitalistischen Produktionsmittel wäre ihre Absonderung von der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft insgesamt, somit also weder die klassenlose Vergesellschaftung in ihr noch ihre wirkliche Vergemeinschaftung durch den alle Bürger und ihren Staat umfassenden staatsbürgerlichen Verband.
Das Kapital wird also bürgerlich vergesellschaftet und zugleich national vergemeinschaftet, aber nicht verstaatlicht. Konkret wird folgendes durchgeführt: Das auf deutschem Boden angelegte Gesamtkapital wird in eine Aktiengesellschaft der deutschen Volkswirtschaft überführt. Die Aktien dieser Deutschen Volkswirtschafts-AG werden gleichmäßig auf alle Reichsdeutschen verteilt. Sie sind unveräußerlich und jeder erhält ein gleichgroßes Aktienpaket mit gleichem Stimmrecht, aus dem er die von der Aktionärsversammlung genehmigte Dividende als Einkommen aus Kapital bezieht. Ich verweise auf die DK-Erklärung „Die liberalistische Volksrevolution“ vom 30.11.2008.

Frage: In Ihrem jüngsten Werk beschäftigen Sie sich mit dem in der ganzen europäischen Geistesgeschichte nicht verstandenen Unterschied zwischen Recht und Gesetz. Worin besteht dieser entscheidende Unterschied?

Oberlercher: Recht, der substantielle Begriff des Politischen, ist Besitz, der Eigentum ist. Gesetz hingegen ist eine bloße Besitznorm, und ein Normbesitz ist ein Muster. Gesetz ist also etwas Technisches und nichts Rechtliches. Folglich erreicht man mit keiner Betrachtung, Beachtung oder Brechung eines Gesetzes
die Sphäre des Rechts. Nun gibt es in der Weltgeschichte ganze Völker, deren Geist entweder vom Gesetz oder vom Recht geleitet wird. Also sind Gesetzesvölker wie z.B. die Juden und die Araber niemals im Recht, hingegen Rechtsvölker wie z.B. die Deutschen und die Dänen sind immer im Recht.

Frage: Angesichts so vieler Karrieristen, Opportunisten und Geschichtsfälscher, die uns ihre Deutungen über die 68er Bewegung mit Hilfe der Massenmedien liefern: was ist die Bedeutung dieser Bewegung, was ihr geistiger Kern aus Ihrer Sicht? War 68 so anti-national, wie uns die Katheder-Sozialisten heute lehren?

Oberlercher: Die 68er Bewegung war nationalrevolutionär. Ihr Hauptidentifikationspunkt war der Wiedervereinigungskrieg der Vietnamesen gegen die amerikanische Besatzungsmacht im Süden und die pro-kapitalistischen Kollaborateure des Saigoner Regimes. Das wurde als Inspiration für den deutschen Befreiungskampf aufgenommen und führte zur Erfindung der Neuen Linken durch Hans-Jürgen Krahl und Rudi Dutschkes mitteldeutsche SDS-Fraktion. Für die Neue Linke war das Volk, die ganze Nation, das Subjekt aller nationalen und sozialen Befreiungskämpfe einschließlich der Revolutionen, nicht nur eine Klasse. Die Klasse der Industriearbeiter wurde als letzte ausreichend starke soziale Stütze des kapitalistischen Systems erkannt, die aber schon damals
eine schrumpfende Klasse war wie vordem schon das Besitzbürgertum.
Die Alte Linke (Gewerkschaften, SPD, KPD) blieb dagegen auf ihre Klassenbasis beschränkt und wurde damals bereits als tendenziell absteigend erkannt, weil der Prozeß der Automatisierung der Produktion an ihrem Ast sägte. Dutschke ging in seinen strategischen Überlegungen von der Arbeitslosigkeit der Mehrheit im Volke aus. Folglich galt das Hauptaugenmerk den Problemen des Reiches der Freiheit.

Frage: Woran arbeiten Sie, was sind Ihre politischen Zukunftspläne?

Oberlercher: Ich arbeite an einer Broschüre, die »Hegels System in Formeln« darstellt. Selbstverständlich ist darin auch eine komprimierte Verbalfassung enthalten. Außerdem schreibe ich an einer hegelianischen »Philosophie der Mathematik«. Politische Wirkungsmöglichkeiten im engeren Sinne sehe ich für mich gegenwärtig nicht.

Herr Dr. Oberlercher, wir danken Ihnen für das Gespräch.

Das Gespräch mit Dr. Reinhold Oberlercher führte Uwe Meenen.