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.

lundi, 21 septembre 2020

The Puritan Legacy Birthed the American Creed


The Puritan Legacy Birthed the American Creed

Secularized Calvinist beliefs about the elect now animate progressive causes
Ex: https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org

Right-wing critics of Christianity often quote from The Hour of Decision, the last work of a once widely read German historian of philosophy, Oswald Spengler. This short, graphically composed book was published in 1933, the year Adolf Hitler took power in Germany. Although it has never been proven, there is a suspicion that the Nazi government disposed of this onetime hero of the right, who did not hide his contempt for Hitler or his “plebeian” followers. Spengler supposedly referred to Christianity as the “Bolshevism of antiquity,” and today’s neo-pagan Alt-Right has picked up his description to justify its contempt for Christianity as a proto-socialist religion of slaves.

9625631987.jpgHaving found the original statement in the German text, which I own, I am not sure the Alt-Right has interpreted Spengler’s drift correctly. The author is not expressing contempt for the primitive church but rather viewing it as a prototype for revolutionary movements. Spengler correctly suggests that Marx, Engels, and the Bolsheviks, despite their pretension to being “scientific socialists,” viewed the early church as a model for their own movement; as did the French anarchist Georges Sorel, who thought his labor-class revolutionary movement needed a “redemptive myth” as powerful as the one that animated early Christians.

In Christianity, Spengler and Sorel saw a religion of the downtrodden—though they may have exaggerated the predominance of slaves and the poor in early Christianity—one which practiced communal ownership as it awaited the end of human history. Moreover, after an initial persecution and the killing of martyrs, this religious community managed to become the official religion of the Roman Empire. All other revolutionaries on the left, as opposed to revolutionary nationalists on the right (who were heavily influenced by neo-paganism), found lessons in the ascent of the early church from its humble beginnings.

Christians themselves later looked back at how their church rose from these blood-stained, painful beginnings to become a dominant world religion. They ascribed this course of events to divine Providence. Sometimes, as in the writings of St. Augustine, the trials would have to be endured by the faithful until the end of secular history. But there was an upward course in which the founding of the church presaged the end times, when Christ would return.

The centrality of this founding and its institutional arrangements played an even larger role for radical Protestants. Sects like the German Anabaptists in the 16th century and the Fifth Monarchy Men during the English Civil War in the 17th century believed they were living in a final historical age and that their attempted return to the primitive church was being undertaken in preparation for Christ’s Second Coming. Among such sectarians, of whom there were many in early modern Europe, going back to the early church was essential to their plans.

Indeed, much of the Protestant Reformation was about returning to a purer form of Christianity before papal councils and institutions borrowed from the pagan world were thought to have corrupted the true faith. Significantly for Luther and other earlier Reformers, the “fall of the church” was not seen to have occurred in the early centuries. This fall was mostly identified with the High Middle Ages and papal monarchical pretensions. But for the more radical Anabaptists, Christendom had already fallen into grievous error when the church leaders gave power over its deliberations and decisions to Roman emperors. The early church had remained uncorrupted because it was separated from political power.

41834462._SY475_.jpgA different model, however, became prevalent in Puritanism, especially after this religious movement traveled to the New World. Perry Miller’s classic study Errand into the Wilderness (1956), leaves no doubt about the overshadowing presence of the ancient Hebrews on Puritan society and religion. The New Israelites—which is how the Puritans envisioned themselves—were bound by a covenant, just as the ancient Jews had been under the covenant of Abraham and Moses. Just as the Hebrews had gone forth from bondage to settle the Holy Land, so too were their Puritan successors summoned into the North American wilderness to carry out a divine mandate. They were to establish their own community of believers where they would build the godly city on the hill as the New Jerusalem. Puritan sermons and political ordinances are so permeated with Hebrew and Old Testament images and phrases that their borrowings from an earlier chosen people are unmistakable. Harvard, Yale, and other originally Puritan institutions encouraged the study of biblical Hebrew, and the most common Christian names given to both sexes were taken from Hebrew Scripture.

In considering why these early American settlers were so mesmerized by the example of the ancient Hebrews, we might look at the European Calvinists from whom they were theologically descended. Like the American Puritans, Protestant followers of John Calvin strongly rejected the tradition of Roman authority they found in the Catholic Church. For them, the Catholics were too heavily influenced in their authority structure and canon law by Roman paganism. The early Protestants felt it necessary to return to the Bible as a guide for building a Christian society.

Calvinists also believed that salvation came through unmerited divine election. Since all humans had fallen away from God with the sin of Adam, no mortal could earn grace through his own efforts. Indeed, any sense that humans earned grace was mere vanity on our parts, for outside of God’s will, which was inscrutable to man, there could be no salvation. Yet those who were elected had a sense of being saved and lived in a manner that comported with the undeserved grace that had been ascribed to them by an all-knowing and all-powerful Deity.

Particularly revealing for the Calvinists in general were the passages in Deuteronomy, in which the Israelites are shown two paths, either obedience to divine commandments, which will result in blessings for the people, or falling away, which will bring collective curses. In this narrative, the Puritans and other Calvinists saw the paths that were laid out for their own lives. If they grasped the signs of divine election and acted accordingly, they would prosper; if they were among the sinners, they would suffer in this life and in the next. 


Like their ancient model, the Calvinists strongly focused on signs of divine favor or divine disfavor in this life. Preparing for the next life was not a particularly rewarding task for those who never knew for sure whether they belonged “in that number when the saints go marching in.” No matter how hard the Puritans tried to believe they were in “that number,” some doubt probably lingered in their minds. That black spiritual about the saints marching in, which first began to be sung about a hundred years ago, refers to the end times, not to the afterlife. 

Millenarianism, which refers to a preoccupation with the thousand-year kingdom that would usher in Christ’s rule, became a recognizable part of American Protestant culture. Although tonier Calvinist denominations, like Congregationalists and Presbyterians, moved away from such speculative points, less upper-class denominations like Southern Baptists absorbed them. Such speculation about the end times drew from the Hebrew prophets and the Book of Daniel, as well as from the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. It also became strongly associated with an American brand of Protestantism. It was one in which fevered debates took place between Pre- and Post-Millenarians, those who believed that Christ would return before the end of secular history and those who believed that humanity would first have to endure “the tribulations” before Christ returned. 

A Calvinist legacy, with a strong Old Testament orientation, and various forms of millenarianism shaped American culture and politics. A once-deeply-embedded Protestant work ethic, which originated in Calvinist moral theology; an emphasis on public morality, the content of which went back to the Mosaic law; and a view of religion as above all an individual commitment, have roots in America’s Calvinist founding. The willingness to tolerate religious dissenters, which by the late 18th century had become a more-or-less prevalent American view, also went back to the Protestant idea that religion depended on the individual’s experience of faith, independent of priestly mediation or hierarchical structures.

Finally, republican government fit with the Calvinist-Puritan historical experience. In Europe, Catholic and High Church Anglican monarchs had opposed the proliferation of Protestant sects and had often been at war with the Calvinists. When James I tried to unite the Anglican and Presbyterian confessions in the late 16th century, the deal breaker was the Scottish Calvinist refusal to accept the office of bishop. To which James famously and presciently responded, “No bishop, no king.” The political and ecclesiastical chain of command understandably went together in the king’s mind.

Portrait_of_John_Calvin,_French_School.jpgThese Protestant traditions have served the American people well. Religious freedom but not indifferentism, the enforcement of strong communal moral standards, and the expectation that the young will apply themselves diligently to their work and study as a religious act, have all benefited our country. So have the Calvinist Protestant suspicion of power in the hands of earthly princes and an awareness of the need to rein in such political actors. One need not denigrate other political or religious traditions that suit other societies to recognize the strengths of what has worked well in this country. It is also the case that the Puritan-Calvinist value of teaching the young to study biblical and classical languages was a spur to education and the founding of great universities in early America.

Still, the Protestant legacy has had its problematic side, much of which is related to the idea of divine election. At least in American politics, it has expressed itself in a moral arrogance that has nurtured a missionary foreign policy from which our country cannot seem to break free. Martin E. Marty, a Lutheran scholar, entitled his history of American Protestantism Righteous Empire (1970). The American government’s relation with other countries has usually meant trying to export our “democratic values” and “human rights” while making others more like ourselves. That means stressing whatever our dominant values are at any given time, be it traditional Judeo-Christian morality or LGBT self-expression. But whatever those rights and values are, they are supposedly universally valid because they come from an “exceptional nation” (read: Calvin’s ingathering of the elect); and it has been America’s destiny to become “a city on a hill,” albeit not in the manner intended by Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts who constructed that phrase in the 17th century. We end wars against the wicked with demands for unconditional surrender and then we hold war trials so that our virtues can stand out more brightly in relation to those reprobates whom we have just defeated.

Kurth.jpgCalvinist scholar James Kurth (photo) once defined “the American Creed” that dominated American views of international relations in the 20th century as a degraded form of American Protestant theology:

The elements of the American Creed were free markets and equal opportunity, free elections and liberal democracy, and constitutionalism and the rule of law. The American Creed definitely did not include as elements hierarchy, community, tradition, and custom. Although the American Creed was not itself Protestant, it was clearly the product of a Protestant culture—a sort of secularized version of Protestantism…

Although Kurth views this American missionary politics as peculiarly American and as a “declension of the Reformation,” he also stresses its rootedness in the individualism and repugnance for hierarchy that came out of older Protestant thinking. This creed is intolerant of societies and countries that display traditional ways of life. It requires redeemed Americans to raise the less fortunate or perverse out of their degraded conditions. According to Kurth, one has yet to figure out how to keep the Protestant baby while disposing of the unwanted bathwater. But as the American Creed has become more widespread, much of its original Protestant character has eroded. Today, Protestants are far from the only ones boasting about American exceptionalism and an American mission.

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried is Editor in Chief of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is also the Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents.

dimanche, 31 mars 2019

Reflecting on the Interwar Right


Reflecting on the Interwar Right

Please note this rightist opposition to war must be distinguished from the objections of Communist sympathizers or generic leftists to certain wars for ideological reasons. For example, George McGovern, who was a longtime Soviet apologist, protested the Vietnam War, while defending his own role in dropping bombs on helpless civilians in World War Two. For McGovern the “good war” was the one in which the US found itself on the same side as the Soviets and world Communism. Clearly McGovern did not object to American military engagements for rightist reasons.

My own list of interwar American Rightists would include predominantly men of letters, e.g., Wallace Stevens, H.L. Mencken, George Santayana (who was Stevens’s teacher at Harvard and longtime correspondent), Robert Lee Frost, the Southern Agrarians, and pro-fascist literati Ezra Pound and Lovecraft, (if accept these figures as part of a specifically American Right). Although Isabel Patterson and John T. Flynn may have regarded themselves as more libertarian than rightist, both these authors provide characteristically American rightist criticism of the progress of the democratic idea. The same is true of the novelist and founder of the libertarian movement Rose Wilder Lane, whose sympathetic portrayal of an older America in “House on the Prairie” has earned the disapproval of our present ruling class. Many of our rightist authors considered themselves to be literary modernists, e.g., Stevens, Pound and Jeffers. But as has been frequently observed, modernist writers were often political reactionaries, who combined literary innovations with decidedly rightist opinions about politics. Significantly, not only Mencken but also Stevens admired Nietzsche, although in Stevens’s case this admiration was motivated by aesthetic affinity rather than discernible political agreement.

This occasions the inevitable question why so many generation defining writers, particularly poets, in the interwar years took political and cultural positions that were diametrically opposed to those of our current literary and cultural elites. Allow me to provide one obvious answer that would cause me to be dismissed from an academic post if I were still unlucky enough to hold one. Some of the names I’ve been listing belonged to scions of long settled WASP families, e.g., Frost, Stevens, Jeffers, and, at least on one side, Santayana, and these figures cherished memories of an older American society that they considered in crisis.  Jeffers was the son of a Presbyterian minister from Pittsburgh, who was a well-known classical scholar. By the time he was twelve this future poet and precocious linguist knew German and French as well as English and later followed the example of his minister father by studying classics, in Europe as well as in the US.

Other figures of the literary Right despised egalitarianism, which was a defining attitude of the self-identified Nietzschean Mencken. The Sage of Baltimore typified what the Italian Marxist Domenico Losurdo describes as “aristocratic individualism” and which Losurdo and Mencken identified with the German philosopher Nietzsche. This anti-egalitarian individualism was easily detected in such figures as Mencken, Pound and the Jeffersonian libertarian, Albert J. Nock.

états-unis,droite américaine,conservatisme,conservatisme américain,littérature,lettres,lettres américaines,littérature américaine,histoire,paul gottfried,philosophie,nietzschéismeIt may be Nock’s “Memoirs of a Superfluous Man” (1943) with its laments against modern leveling tendencies, and Nock’s earlier work “Our Enemy, The State” (1935) which incorporated most persuasively for me this concept of aristocratic individualism. Nock opposed the modern state not principally because he disapproved of its economic policies (although he may not have liked them as well) but because he viewed it as an instrument of destroying valid human distinctions. His revisionist work Myth of a Guilty Nation, which I’m about to reread, has not lost its power since Nock’s attack on World War One Allied propaganda was first published in 1922. Even more than Mencken, whose antiwar fervor in 1914 may have reflected his strongly pro-German bias, Nock opposed American involvement in World War One for the proper moral reasons, namely that the Western world was devouring itself in a totally needless conflagration. Curiously the self-described Burkean Russell Kirk depicts his discovery of Nock’s Memoirs of a Superfluous Man on an isolated army base in Utah during World War Two as a spiritual awakening. Robert Nisbet recounts the same experience in the same way in very similar circumstances. 

Generational influence:

These interwar rightists of various stripes took advantage of a rich academic-educational as well as literary milieu that was still dominated by a WASP patrician class before its descendants sank into Jed Bushism or even worse. These men and women of letters were still living in a society featuring classes, gender roles, predominantly family owned factories, small town manners, and bourgeois decencies. Even those who like Jeffers, Nock and Mencken viewed themselves as iconoclasts, today may seem, even to our fake conservatives, to be thorough reactionary. The world has changed many times in many ways since these iconoclasts walked the Earth. I still recall attending a seminar of literary scholars as a graduate student in Yale in 1965, ten years after the death of Wallace Stevens, and being informed that although Stevens was a distinguished poet, it was rumored that he was a Republican. Someone else then chimed in that Stevens was supposed to have opposed the New Deal, something that caused consternation among those who were attending. At the times I had reservations about the same political development but kept my views to myself. One could only imagine what the acceptance price for a writer in a comparable academic circle at Yale would be at the present hour. Perhaps the advocacy of state-required transgendered restrooms spaced twenty feet apart from each other or some even more bizarre display of Political Correctness.  I shudder to think.

But arguably the signs of what was to come were already present back in the mid-1960s. What was even then fading was the academic society that still existed when Stevens attended Harvard, Frost Dartmouth, though only for a semester, or Nock the still recognizably traditional Episcopal Barth College. Our elite universities were not likely to produce even in the 1960s Pleiades of right-wing iconoclasts, as they had in the interwar years and even before the First World War.  And not incidentally the form of American conservatism that came out of Yale in the post-war years quickly degenerated into something far less appealing than what it replaced. It became a movement in which members were taught to march in lockstep while advocating far-flung American military entanglements. The step had already been taken that led from the interwar Right to what today is conservatism, inc. Somehow the interwar tradition looks better and better with the passage of time.

jeudi, 21 février 2019

The Republicans’ Millennial Problem


The Republicans’ Millennial Problem

It's going to take more than policy gimmicks to compete with the growing allure of victimology

In a recent article at TAC, writer Alex Muresianu put into relief the difficulties that lie ahead for the GOP as it seeks to capture a larger chunk of the Millennial vote.

In the 2018 elections, voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for Democrats in House races by a margin of 35 points. Tellingly, Millennials who attended college were more likely to vote Democrat than those who didn’t. As a retired professor, I can attest to the immersion in leftist ideas that a college education, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, brings with it. But however we look at the demographic under consideration, the disparity in voting preferences cited by Muresianu remains quite noticeable.

Muresianu proposes that Republicans endeavor to reduce “income inequality” in part by making it easier to live in urban areas. Because of controls on who can build what in certain cities, which are invariably run by Democratic administrations, Millennials, who concentrate in those cities, are paying more for housing and rentals than they otherwise would. If more abundant and cheaper housing were available, those urban residents might reward the Republicans who helped bring this about by changing their party affiliations.


Pardon my skepticism. For one, people tend to make their electoral choices for cultural and sociological—not just material—reasons. Further, it seems unlikely that policies, even ones as popular as affordable urban housing, can shake political loyalties that run so deep.

Let’s look at non-economic factors. Black voters are not rushing to embrace Donald Trump because he improved their employment prospects (unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2006). As a bloc, black voters loathe the president and prefer Democrats who—though they might not be much help financially—still appeal to their view of themselves as an oppressed minority.

Democrats play up race and gender because it works as an electoral magnet. Muresianu and I may not like this situation (personally I detest it). But it is nonetheless a winning strategy. Millennials vote for the Left because they have been conditioned to do so by social media, educational institutions, and their peers. They are not likely to be turned away by a policy gimmick—one that could only be implemented, by the way, if Republicans capture municipal governments, a prize that the GOP will not likely be winning in the near future. (The bane of the GOP, Bill de Blasio of New York City, won 65.3 percent of the votes cast in his last mayoral race.)  

This doesn’t necessarily hold in Europe, where some young people are more inclined to vote for the Right than they are here. In France, the Rassemblement National is building its base among Millennials; a similar trend can be seen at work among populist Right parties in Eastern Europe. In Hungary, the favorite political party among university students is the very far Right (I don’t use this term lightly) Jobbik Party. But there are also variables at work in Europe that have helped make the young more conservative: less urbanization in some countries than is the case here, a high degree of ethnic and racial homogeneity, and the persistence of traditional family and gender relations are all factors that counteract the cultural-political radicalization of young adults.

In the U.S., we may have reached a perfect storm for this radicalization, because very few of the countervailing forces that continue to operate in other societies are present here. This is not to even mention the giveaway programs (masquerading as “socialism”) that the Democrats have promised the young. How can Republicans match such largesse?

Moreover, a growing percentage of Millennial voters are multiracial and generally tend toward the Left. A study by the Brookings Institute in 2016 indicates that no more than 55 percent of those between 18 and 34 are white. It is hard to imagine that these non-white young voters, who are now solidly on the Left, will embrace Republican politicians because they promise to free up the urban rental and real estate markets.

Political and cultural loyalties may change among some Millennials but not because of the attraction of deregulation (except possibly for marijuana). These loyalties will change as certain groups within the leftist front start fighting each other. Why should straight white males continue to make common cause with black nationalists, feminists, and LGBT activists? Why should poor blacks go on supporting indefinitely the policy of rich leftist elites advocating virtually open borders? Being flooded with unskilled labor from other countries certainly doesn’t help the job situation in black communities.

The politics of victimology does have its limits and at some point may show wear. Hatred of white male Christian heterosexuals cannot keep a coalition going forever, particularly when this alliance of self-described victims reveals sharply competing interests and sensibilities. Of course, the Left’s coalition will not fall apart in the short run. But if some Millennials do eventually move towards the Right, what will draw them will not be the promise of cheaper lodgings. Something more dramatic will have to happen.

Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents.

lundi, 15 octobre 2018

Zur Aktualität von Ludwig Gumplowicz


Rassenkampf als Triebfeder der Geschichte

Von Univ.-Prof. Paul Gottfried

Zur Aktualität von Ludwig Gumplowicz

Was an dem Soziologen Ludwig Gumplowicz (1838–1909) zunächst auffällt, ist die Vergessenheit, in die der Wissenschaftler seit Mitte des letzten Jahrhunderts geraten ist. In der Zwischenkriegszeit wurde Gumplowicz in der deutschen Fachliteratur noch rühmend hervorgehoben, und obwohl der langjährige Professor an der Universität Graz schon im Dritten Reich wegen seiner jüdischen Herkunft und erneut im Nachkriegsdeutschland zur Unperson erklärt wurde, war es in den 1970er Jahren noch möglich, in amerikanischen Enzyklopädien auf günstige Einschätzungen seiner Leistung zu treffen. Zur Bestätigung dieses Ruhmes in den USA läßt sich anführen, daß Gumplowicz, der an Krebs erkrankte und mit seiner schon lange bettlägerigen Gattin Franziska Doppelselbstmord beging, vom hervorragenden amerikanischen Soziologen Frank Lester Ward mit einem ausführlichen Nachruf gewürdigt wurde. Ein noch namhafterer Soziologe, Harry Elmer Barnes, erstellte im Jahre 1968  für die „International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences“ einen Beitrag über den Sozialwissenschaftler Gumplowicz.

Als Nachkomme einer Familie galizischer Rabbiner trat Gumplowicz zum Katholizismus über, als er sich für eine akademische Laufbahn entschied. In seiner Jugendzeit beteiligte er sich in seiner Heimstadt Krakau stürmisch am aufflammenden polnischen Nationalismus. Gekoppelt mit diesem Engagement gab Gumplowicz eine für die polnische Unabhängigkeit eintretende, polnischsprachige Zeitung mit dem Titel „Krai“ (dt. das Land) heraus. Seine frühen Schriften über Soziologie und Verwaltungslehre wurden auf polnisch verfaßt. 1875 zog er nach Graz, wo der Neuankömmling an der Universität über Verwaltungslehre dozierte. Binnen zwanzig Jahren brachte er es dort zum Ordinarius und erweiterte den Bereich seiner Lehrtätigkeit um die Sozialwissenschaft. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt begann der Professor durch seine zahlreichen Publikationen bekannt zu werden.
In der biographischen Skizze der „International Encyclopedia“ finden sich wiederholt Hinweise auf Ludwig Gumplowicz als „einen der Grundväter der Sozialwissenschaften im neunzehnten Jahrhundert“. Barnes zufolge trug er viel zum Verständnis der „intergroup relations“ und vor allem zur Überwindung älterer Begriffe des Gesellschaftskörpers bei. Er stellte die Scharnierrolle der Gegensätzlichkeit nicht nur bei der Entschlüsselung sozialer Verhältnisse, sondern auch bei der Entwicklung des Staatswesens und der menschlichen Zivilisationen in den Vordergrund. Und nicht zuletzt fokussiert er das Geflecht der Machtfaktoren, das sowohl die Gruppenbildung wie die konfliktträchtigen Beziehungen zwischen konkurrierenden Gruppen mitprägt. Im Gegensatz zu anderen hochprofilierten Sozialwissenschaftlern wie Emile Durkheim, die ein organisches Sozialgefüge annehmen oder ein aus der idealisierten Natur abgeleitetes ganzheitliches Bild von sozialen Verhältnissen darbieten, befaßte sich Gumplowicz hauptsächlich mit den Kämpfen unter den Menschen.

Was ihn verdächtig macht, liegt darin, wo er das konfliktträchtige Potential im geschichtlichen Prozess ausmacht. Sein 1883 in Innsbruck erschienener Erfolgstitel heiβt „Soziologische Untersuchungen. Rassenkämpfe“. In dieser Studie steht der Einfluß ethnischer Faktoren auf den menschlichen Entwicklungsprozess im Vordergrund. Wechselwirkung und Zusammenprall von rassisch verschiedenen Gruppen dienen für Gumplowicz als Schlüssel, um Geschichtsveränderungen von bedeutendem Ausmaβ zu begreifen. Obwohl der „Widersinn“ (sein bevorzugtes Schimpfwort) sich bei ihm nur selten einschleicht, daß aller Wandel einseitig und unmittelbar auf den Rassenfaktor zurückzuführen sei, stimmt es, daß für Gumplowicz Rassengegensätze eine zentrale Rolle bei den geschichtlichen Veränderungen spielen. Gumplowicz war auch der Auffassung, daß „alle diese Gesetze der Vererbung und Übertragung eher zur Erhaltung als zur Zersplitterung des Typus dienen“, daß die Rassenunterschiede also aufrecht bleiben. Eines seiner Hauptthemen versäumt Gumplowicz, mit der angemessenen Überzeugungskraft zu bearbeiten. Eine besondere Abteilung in seinen „Soziologischen Untersuchungen“ widmete er einer Verteidigung des „Polygenismus“. Doch alle neuen anthropologischen Daten belegen die Vermutung, daß der Homo sapiens sapiens vor ungefähr fünfzigtausend Jahren aus Ostafrika hervortrat. Erst zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt zeichnen sich die feststellbaren Rassenunterschiede ab. Gumplowicz ist im Irrtum, wenn er seinen Standpunkt auf polygenetische Prämissen zu stützen versucht. Auch wenn man davon ausgeht, daß die sich voneinander abgrenzenden Rassenteilungen lange nach der Auswanderung aus Afrika erfolgten, zieht das nicht die Nachhaltigkeit der später vollendeten Verschiedenheit in Zweifel.

Auch Gumplowicz Beschäftigung mit der Entwicklungsgeschichte der Sprachen muß als historisch überholt betrachtet werden. Immerhin räumt er ein, daß verschiedene Sprachen von einer Rasse, oder dieselbe Sprache von verschiedenen Rassen gesprochen werden können. Das besagt allerhand. Der Autor anerkennt, wenn auch nur stellenweise, daß sich Menschengruppen verschiedene Sprachen nutzbar machen konnten.
Als Jude aus Galizien, der mit Polnisch aufgewachsen war, wechselte Gumplowicz, als er 1875 nach Graz übersiedelte, zu der hochgeachteten deutschen Sprache. Er machte sie sich ganz zu eigen und pflegte als deutschösterreichischer Autor einen glänzenden Stil. Zwischen Sprach- und Rassenverwandtschaft, so Gumplowicz, besteht eine entfernte und nicht immer nachweisbare Entsprechung. Wenn dem so ist, warum sollte dann die Rassenverschiedenheit eine wuchernde Vielfalt von vorgeschichtlichen Sprachen voraussetzen? Bestreitbar, wenn nicht sogar zu widerlegen ist seine Feststellung, daß die Anzahl von Sprachen seit der grauen Vorzeit bedeutend abnimmt. Gumplowicz deutet auf die Herausbildung einer Vielfalt von Weltreichen und Staatsverwaltungen hin, um seine Argumentation zu stützen; jedoch fußt die Behauptung allenfalls auf Mutmaβungen.

Staaten entstehen durch Gewalt

Hingegen ist Gumplowicz Grundthese bezüglich der Bedeutung von Rassenkämpfen gröβtenteils haltbar, auch wenn seine Belege nicht immer zwingend erscheinen. (Erklärend muß man hinzufügen, daß Gumplowicz den Begriff der „Rasse“ allgemein auf ethnisch oder kulturell geschiedene Menschengruppen bezog.) Bei seiner Darlegung des „naturgeschichtlichen Prozesses“ verweist er gezielt auf ethnische Streitigkeiten und berücksichtigt, in welchem Umfang sie Herrschaftsverhältnisse bestimmen. Die im Kampf überlegene Stammesgruppe „nutzt die Unterlegenen aus“, doch das geschieht nicht immer auf dieselbe Weise. Zuerst töteten oder versklavten die Sieger, was ihnen zur Beute fiel. Als sie aus dem Urzustand allmählich emporstiegen, fanden sie eine bessere Verwendung für die Besiegten. Die Unglücklichen bildeten eine Art Unterschicht und mußten der Herrscherklasse samt Kindern und Kindeskindern dienen. Auf die Dauer wurden die unterlegenen Stämme in eine geregelte Staatsordnung eingefügt, und das ging Hand in Hand mit der Einführung einer Amtssprache und der Schaffung von verbrieften Rechten für alle Stände.

LG1.jpgGumplowicz nennt für den Aufbau des Staates eine Reihe von Folgeerscheinungen. Dabei verschwand die Rassentrennung nicht ganz. Vielmehr wird sie in die staatliche Ordnung eingebettet und tritt als eine staatlich gewährleistete Rangfolge auf. Gumplowicz erklärt: „Denn schließlich ist Herrschaft nichts anderes als eine durch Übermacht geregelte Teilung der Arbeit, bei der den Beherrschten die niedrigeren und schweren, den Herrschenden die höheren und leichteren (oft nur das Befehlen und Verwalten) zufällt. Wie aber ohne Teilung der Arbeit keinerlei Kultur denkbar ist, so ist ohne Herrschaft keine gedeihliche Teilung der Arbeit möglich, weil sich, wie gesagt, freiwillig niemand zur Leistung der niedrigeren und schwereren Arbeit hergeben wird.“ Dieser Punkt ist wichtig: Obwohl die „Vergesellschaftung der Sprache und Religion“ zu einer „amalgamierten“ Gesellschaft führt, wirkt die Staatenbildung gleichzeitig darauf hin, eine Herrschaftsordnung mit einer Trennung von Herrschern und Beherrschten zu festigen.
Ein weiteres Mittel, das der Herrscherklasse gegeben ist, betrifft die Ausgestaltung der immer mehr verzweigten Reichsstrukturen. Das erlaubt es den Besiegten und Tributpflichtigen, ein kollektives Eigenleben unter eingeschränkten Möglichkeiten zu führen. Die Unterordnung bleibt, ohne jedoch die bezwungenen Stammesgruppen ganz zu unterjochen oder ihre Eigenart auszulöschen. Dazu gehört auch die Bildung von Trabanten-Staaten, ein Entwurf, den sowohl die USA wie ihr sowjetischer Widersacher nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg umgesetzt haben. Obwohl beide eine Zwangsherrschaft im besetzten Deutschland errichteten, wirkten sich die jeweiligen Direktiven verschieden aus. Die DDR wurde zu einem dauernden Polizeistaat, die sowjetische Regierung beutete die  Bodenschätze und die Industrie der Ost- und Mitteldeutschen für sich aus.

In Westdeutschland dagegen haben die Sieger ihren Trabanten-Staat aus der Ferne geschickter gesteuert. Man setzte darauf, den Deutschen jede Spur eines Nationalbewußtseins zu rauben und ihnen nur die Erkenntnis zu lassen, daß sie mit schlimmen Verbrechen belastet waren, und daß sie zwei verheerende Kriege angezettelt hatten. Um diese gefährliche Neigung zu überwinden und den Nachbarländern künftige Gewalttaten zu ersparen, verlange es der Anstand sowie eine erdrückende „Weltmeinung“, die Besiegten umzuerziehen. Wenn diese Umformung gelänge, so die Hoffnung der Sieger, dann würde es möglich sein, einen Nachwuchs heranzubilden, der auf seine Heimat und Tradition nicht mehr stolz wäre. Im besten Falle würden die Umgeformten die gesamte deutsche Geschichte bedauern bis zu dem Moment, da ihr Land eingenommen und geistig und weltanschaulich umgebaut wurde.

Gumplowicz hätte in beiden Fällen von einem Trabanten-Staat sprechen können. Denn in beiden Fällen ist ein als fremd und bedrohlich eingeordneter Feind geschlagen worden, und der Sieger macht sich die Geschlagenen zu Dienern. (Der Vollständigkeit halber muß erwähnt werden, daß die Einnahme Deutschlands durch die Ansätze des Kalten Krieges begleitet wurde. Die Unterworfenen suchte man beiderseits zur Verfolgung weiterer Kriegsziele auszunutzen.)

Im Anhang zu seinen „Soziologischen Untersuchungen“ stuft Gumplowicz die Perser als musterhafte Reichsschöpfer ein und spendet ihrem vergangenen Reich lobende Worte: „Sie verstanden es besser als andere, eine dauernde Weltmacht zu begründen. Den ganzen Witz der Staatskunst: die mannigfachsten ethnischen Elemente in eine einheitliche Interessengemeinschaft zu verbinden, die Eigentümlichkeit der einzelnen Elemente so weit zu schonen, soweit dieselben dem Bestande der Ganzen nicht im Wege stehen.“
Verbriefte Rechte haben, wie schon erwähnt, langfristig eine positive Wirkung für die  Unterdrückten. Danach war es um die Niedrigen nicht so schlimm bestellt wie früher bei der Leibeigenschaft. Gumplowicz sagt dazu: „Nur im Staat scheint das ursprüngliche Leben der Stämme von Grund auf einer Umwandlung unterzogen worden zu sein – nur der Staat konnte dasselbe von Grund auf ändern. Wo dieser es nicht tat oder nicht vermochte, da besitzt das Leben der Stämme eine derartige zähe Stabilität, daß es sich heutzutage in denselben Formen vollzieht wie vor Jahrtausenden.“

Dagegen sollte man folgendes nicht auβer acht lassen: Die Staatsordnung gilt als fortwährende Herrschaftsordnung, die besonders anfänglich die Bezwungenen gesetzlich benachteiligt. Die vorausgegangene Übernahme von Land und Macht ist durch Rassenfeindseligkeit geprägt. In seinem 1875 veröffentlichten Traktat über die Staatenbildung lehnt Gumplowicz schlichtweg jeden Begriff von einer „Vertragstheorie“ für den Ursprung der Staatsentwicklung ab. Weltverbesserer wie Kant und Rousseau wiegten sich in einer Traumwelt, worin die Unterjochung des anderen mit der Gründung einer Staatsverwaltung nichts zu tun hätte. Gumplowicz spricht sich eindeutig gegen solche Ansätze für die Sozialwissenschaft aus.

Gleichzeitig nimmt er sich aber in acht, die bloße Gruppenzugehörigkeit mit echten Rassen zu verwechseln. Wegen der in Gang gesetzten Amalgamierung sind Stammesgruppen miteinander vermischt und kulturell verwachsen: „Danach sehen wir im Laufe der Entwicklung der Menschheit immer und überall aus heterogenen Gruppen, die wir einfach Rassen nennen wollen, höhere Gemeinschaften entstehen, die sich im Gegensatz zu anderen heterogenen Gruppen und Gemeinschaften als Rassen darstellen. Die Stammeszugehörigkeit bekundet sich in einem ‚Gefühl der Einheit, vermöge dessen dieselben sich an die eine Menschengruppe enger anschlossen und mehr angezogen fühlen als an andere Menschengruppen.‘“

Zum „sozialen Naturprozeß“ treten noch zwei Tendenzen hinzu, die in argem Gegensatz miteinander zu stehen scheinen, aber tatsächlich nebeneinander herlaufen. Einerseits wirkt die Amalgamierung als Triebkraft, wenn Stammesgruppen sich verbünden und Mischehen eingehen. Andererseits formen sich immer wieder gegensätzliche Fronten aus, die angetrieben werden von einem Stammesbewußtsein, gekoppelt mit einer tiefen Abneigung gegen die drohenden Konkurrenten. Gumplowicz hält es nicht für lohnend, bestimmte Grundsätze in Abrede zu stellen. Zu seinen Grundaussagen zählt etwa: „Jede Herrschaft ist immer das Resultat eines Krieges“; ohne Herrschaft wäre es nicht möglich, die Kultur als „Gesamtheit der geistigen Gebiete“ eines Volkes hervorzubringen, und nicht zuletzt: Die ethnisch bedingten Gegensätze führen schließlich zu einer menschlichen Zivilisation.

LG2.jpgGumplowicz bringt seine brutalen Grundsätze aber nicht vor, um Blutvergießen zu rechtfertigen oder die Herrschenden zum Krieg aufzustacheln. Ihm geht es darum, auf die blutige Voraussetzung jeder Staatswerdung aufmerksam zu machen. Er distanziert sich von der Gefühlsduselei, die schon zu seiner Zeit die Darstellungen der internationalen Beziehungen prägten. Und nicht zuletzt versucht er, menschliche Erfahrungen und Errungenschaften ohne die übliche Weichzeichnung darzustellen. Die Wechselwirkung von Rassenstreitigkeiten und dem nachfolgenden Amalgamierungsdrang stellt Gumplowicz nochmals in „Rasse und Staat. Eine Untersuchung über das Gesetz der Staatenbildung“ (1875) dar: „Ohne Rassengegensätze gibt es keinen Staat und keine staatliche Entwicklung, und ohne Rassenverschmelzung gibt es keine Kultur und keine Zivilisation.“
Die vollendete Gleichheit gibt es jedoch nie: „Wir bemerkten es fast in allen Staaten, daß die Erobererrasse, die sich als herrschende Adels-Classe in den erobernden Gebieten niederläßt, die geistig entwickeltere, intelligentere, mit einem Wort die moralisch überlegene ist.“ Auch wenn die peinlich genau erstellten Rangordnungen sich verschieben lassen oder Einschnitte bilden, dauert es Generationen, bis sich eine entscheidende Umstellung vollzogen hat.

Vorläufer von Spengler und Schmitt

Gumplowicz ist Spengler um zwei Generation voraus, wenn er mit dem Verfall des öffentlichen Lebens und der Lockerung der Staatsräson eine verfeinerte Gesittung und geschmäcklerische Kunstpflege verbindet. Im Vorgriff auf das Leitmotiv des „Untergangs des Abendlandes“ stellt der Soziologe einen auffälligen Vergleich zwischen den Lebensstufen einer Staatsordnung und der Abfolge der Menschenalter an: „Das Stadium der schroffen Rassengegensätze, die in politischem und socialem Kastenwesen ihren Ausdruck finden, das ist die noch culturlose Kindheit des Staates; das Stadium des Kampfes und der beginnenden Amalgamierung der Rassen, das ist das Jünglings- und Mannesalter des Staates; das Stadium der Ausgleichung der Rassengegensätze und der reifen Civilisation, das ist das Greisenalter des Staates, das sein nahes Ende verkündet.“ (Bei dem Vergleich mit Spengler muß man natürlich gewissen terminologischen und begrifflichen Unterschieden Rechnung tragen. Im Gegensatz zu Spengler spricht Gumplowicz vom Staat und nicht von einer ausgeprägten Zivilisation. Überhaupt verwendet er die Bezeichnung „Cultur“ für das, was Spengler als reife „Zivilisation“ bezeichnet. Sosehr sich Gumplowicz in seinem „Grundriss“ von naturwissenschaftlichen Analogien und Gleichnissen distanziert und die Unvereinbarkeit dieses Vorgehens mit einer streng sozialwissenschaftlichen Sichtweise betont, verwendet er stellenweise doch die geschmähte Methode.)

Reizthemen, denen man später bei Georg Simmel und vor allem Carl Schmitt begegnet, nimmt Gumplowicz ebenfalls vorweg. Seit den 1870er Jahren oder schon früher führt er seinen eigenen Begriff von einer Freund-Feind-Beziehung zur Vollkommenheit. Mehr als Schmitt im „Begriff des Politischen“ zieht Gumplowicz reichhaltige historische Beispiele für seine Konflikttheorien heran. Bei seiner eingehenden Betrachtung der griechischen Geschichte bestreitet er grundsätzlich, daß die Erweiterung des Machtgebiets von Athen im Unterschied zur Geschichte Spartas im Wesentlichen friedlich erfolgte. In Attika wie in Lakonia ging die Herausbildung einer „politischen Gemeinschaft“ nur mit Brachialgewalt vonstatten. Schon Aristoteles, athenischer Herkunft und ehrenhalber athenischer Staatsbürger, verwies im ersten Buch seiner „Politik“ auf die unterschiedliche Abstammung der Herrschenden und Beherrschten. Zwar bringt er einen grundsätzlichen Einwand gegen das Sklavenhaltertum vor, indem er darauf verweist, daß es Sklaven gäbe, die wegen ihrer Verstandeskraft in einen höheren Rang eingestuft werden sollten, und ebenso Sklavenbesitzer, die keine Begabung zum Herrschen aufweisen. Dennoch hält er daran fest, daß es Menschen gibt, die zum Sklaven geboren sind und daß insbesondere die „Barbaroi“, die nicht vom selben Stamm wie die Herrscher seien, nur zu dieser Rangstufe taugen. Auch die Athener haben den ursprünglichen Bewohnern das Land entrissen und die früheren Ansiedler unterworfen. Diese Verdrängung bezeugt einen immer wiederkehrenden Geschichtsablauf, auf den auch der bedeutende preußische Historiker Maximilian Duncker verwies: „Das Emporkommen des mächtigeren ethnischen Elements“, dessen Machtausübung kultur- und zivilisationsbringend ist.

Wie die Weißen die Herrschaft über ihre Länder verlieren

Wenn der Leser Gumplowicz pessimistisches Ideengebilde in den Blick nimmt, dürften ihm zwei Fragen in den Sinn kommen. Zuerst könnte man sich fragen, ob die Widersprüche, wodurch Gruppen sich verfeinden, immer auf blutige Lösungen hinauslaufen müssen. In den letzten sechzig Jahren wurden alle westlichen Länder in unterschiedlichem Grad von einer Beinahe-Diktatur der Politischen Korrektheit und deren Folgen geprägt. Im Verlauf dieser Umkehr aller Werte, die durch Wahlen bestätigt wurde, sind ganze europäische Kulturen abgetragen und weite Gebiete „umgevolkt“ worden. Diejenigen, die der gesteuerten „Zeitströmung“ entgegenzuwirken versuchen, werden als Rassisten und sogar als Nazis diffamiert, von öffentlichen Ämtern und den Medien ausgeschlossen und schlimmstenfalls strafrechtlich belangt.

Diese einschneidende Wende möchte ich nicht moralisch beurteilen. Ich will nur auf den einen Punkt hinweisen, daß die Umwandlung einer ehemals bürgerlich-christlichen westlichen Gesellschaft in eine (beschönigend zu sprechen) grundverschiedene Form des Zusammenlebens erfolgt, ohne daß Gewalt ausgeübt wird. Die Einwohner stimmten zu, als die neuen Herrschenden die Deutungshoheit übernahmen und zur Förderung ihrer Umformungszwecke den Staat benutzten. Die gewalttätigen Auseinandersetzungen verschiedener Gruppen, die Gumplowicz mit der Entstehung von Staaten in Verbindung bringt, gelten offenbar nicht mehr als Voraussetzung zum Machtwechsel.

In Anknüpfung daran ergibt sich die zweite Frage: Wenn die menschliche Geschichte als eine Aufeinanderfolge von Herrschaftsformen sich entfaltet und wenn das Machtstreben mit einer Stammeszugehörigkeit deckungsgleich ist, warum zeigen dann die Weiβen in den westlichen Ländern und allen voran die Deutschen einen solchen Mangel an Gruppensolidarität? Es mag sein, daß dies zahlenmäβig eine unbedeutende Ausnahme darstellt im Vergleich zur Gesamtheit aller Erfahrungen. Dennoch sticht die Abweichung ins Auge. Wieso lassen sich die weißen Mehrheiten von land- und zivilisationsfremden Einwanderern verdrängen und wegschieben, ohne einen Protest zu äuβern, während Erzieher und Journalisten die Stammesgruppen, aus denen sie selbst kommen, geringschätzen? Die Einheimischen sprechen nach, was die Vertreter der „multikulturellen Gesellschaft“ ihnen vorbeten. Das verdient aufmerksame Betrachtung, weil es mit den genannten Gesetzmäßigkeiten keineswegs in Einklang steht.

Einige Gründe für diese Abweichung schildert der Ordinarius für Psychologie am Massachusetts Institute for Technology, Steven A. Pinker, in seinem 2011 erschienenen Bestseller „The Better angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined“. Wenngleich bei manchen seiner Schlußfolgerungen erhebliche Zweifel angebracht sind, steht doch fest, daß die westlichen Kernvölker seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg immer weniger zur Gewalt neigen, und daß kriegerische Gewalttaten und zivile Ausschreitungen weiterhin im Abnehmen begriffen sind. Pinker prahlt mit dieser Entwicklung, die er weitgefächerten Faktoren zuschreibt, ausgehend von Kriegsmüdigkeit und dem Vorhandensein besserer Beschäftigung bis hin zu einer therapeutischen Regierung, die „aus der Rasse der Menschen alle Streitsucht herauszüchtet“. Pinker freut sich über die von oben gesteuerte Verweichlichung der Männerwelt, die Schwächung der Nationalgefühle in Westeuropa, und die von oben nach unten verordnete Pflege von friedensstiftenden weltgemeinschaftlichen Empfindungen.

Bei diesem Punkt steht man vor einer weiteren Frage: was werden die ihres ererbten und erarbeiteten Besitzstandes beraubten Abendländer tun, wenn sie von den einströmenden und kulturell begünstigten Zuwanderern bedroht werden? Würden Sie gegebenenfalls den Mut aufbringen, einer drohenden Enteignung und Übernahme zu widerstehen? Ist die Verweichlichung so weit fortgeschritten, daß sie bei den Betroffenen jedem Widerstandsimpuls entgegenwirkt? Vielleicht sollte man sich nicht nur in Graz wieder darauf besinnen, was Gumplowicz, immerhin einer der Väter der deutschen Soziologie, als wesentliche Antriebskraft der historischen Entwicklung herausgestellt hat.

samedi, 02 décembre 2017

Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy Reply


Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy Reply
by Keith Preston

Ex: https://attackthesystem.com

A classic from Paul Gottfried and one of the definitive works criticizing totalitarian humanism. Available at Amazon. The important point for anarchists and libertarians is that totalitarian humanists are not amoral, libertine, hedonists as their critics often claim. Instead, they are fanatical moral puritants (“secular theocrats”). They oppose religious fundamentalists, nativists, racists, reactionaries, right-wing authoritarians, etc not because they are pro-freedom but because they want to replace these with authoritarian state-centric moralisms of their own. Many anarchists and libertarians have trouble understanding this, because they sympathize with the rhetorical values of the totalitarian humanists. Most anarchists and libertarians are not religious conservatives, racists, nativists, etc (though some are). But many anarchists and libertarians do sympathize with leftist causes like anti-racism, anti-sexism, gay liberation, environmentalism, etc, and consequently remained blinkered regarding totalitarian humanism.

PG-guilt.jpgMulticulturalism and the Politics of Guilt extends Paul Gottfried’s examination of Western managerial government’s growth in the last third of the twentieth century. Linking multiculturalism to a distinctive political and religious context, the book argues that welfare-state democracy, unlike bourgeois liberalism, has rejected the once conventional distinction between government and civil society. Gottfried argues that the West’s relentless celebrations of diversity have resulted in the downgrading of the once dominant Western culture. The moral rationale of government has become the consciousness-raising of a presumed majority population. While welfare states continue to provide entitlements and fulfill the other material programs of older welfare regimes, they have ceased to make qualitative leaps in the direction of social democracy. For the new political elite, nationalization and income redistributions have become less significant than controlling the speech and thought of democratic citizens. An escalating hostility toward the bourgeois Christian past, explicit or at least implicit in the policies undertaken by the West and urged by the media, is characteristic of what Gottfried labels an emerging “therapeutic” state. For Gottfried, acceptance of an intrusive political correctness has transformed the religious consciousness of Western, particularly Protestant, society. The casting of “true” Christianity as a religion of sensitivity only toward victims has created a precondition for extensive social engineering.

Gottfried examines late-twentieth-century liberal Christianity as the promoter of the politics of guilt. Metaphysical guilt has been transformed into self-abasement in relation to the “suffering just” identified with racial, cultural, and lifestyle minorities, Unlike earlier proponents of religious liberalism, the therapeutic statists oppose anything, including empirical knowledge, that impedes the expression of social and cultural guilt in an effort to raise the self-esteem of designated victims. Equally troubling to Gottfried is the growth of an American empire that is influencing European values and fashions. Europeans have begun, he says, to embrace the multicultural movement that originated with American liberal Protestantism’s emphasis on diversity as essential for democracy. He sees Europeans bringing authoritarian zeal to enforcing ideas and behavior imported from the United States. Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt extends the arguments of the author’s earlier After Liberalism. Whether one challenges or supports Gottfried’s conclusions, all will profit from a careful reading of this latest diagnosis of the American condition.

mercredi, 26 avril 2017

The French Intellectual Right An effort to put thinkers in their proper political categories


The French Intellectual Right

An effort to put thinkers in their proper political categories

In the latest issue of The American Conservative, editor Scott McConnell presents a well-considered and superlatively researched article on why France, and perhaps no longer the U.S., is at “the epicenter of today’s fearsome battle between Western elites bent on protecting and expanding the well-entrenched policy of mass immigration and those who see this spreading influx as the ultimate threat to the West’s cultural heritage, not to say its internal tranquility.” France has brought forth an intelligentsia—and, in figures like Marine Le Pen, political leaders—whose focus is on “national culture and its survival.” What in the U.S. is an almost totally marginalized political fringe, paleoconservatives together with elements of the alt-right, might feel at home in contemporary France; while our “mainstream think-tank conservatism,” with its emphasis on “lowering taxes, cutting federal programs, and maintaining some kind of global military hegemony,” would seem irrelevant to the French intellectual right.

imatz-droite-gauche.jpgFor full disclosure, let me mention that at least one of Scott’s French contacts, Arnaud Imatz, who represents perfectly the kind of French intellectual he describes, is someone whom the author met through me. Arnaud and I have been friends and correspondents for over 30 years, and his understanding of the French nation and the enjeu social (social question) confronting his people make eminently good sense to Scott and me. Although I have focused on German more than French intellectual history, most of the authors and social critics whom Scott cites are for me familiar names. I agree with Scott that Éric Zemmour, a Moroccan Jew who has tried to revive the sense of French honor that he associates with the late General de Gaulle, illustrates the new identitarian French politics. So too does the iconoclastic novelist Michel Houellebecq, who, despite his shockingly erotic work, clearly loathes multiculturalism and despises French Islamophiles. Another figure in this Pleiades of intellectuals of the French right is Christophe Guilluy, who often sounds like the French Steve Bannon. In his books La France périphérique(2014) and Le crepuscule de la France d’en haut (2016), Guilluy comes to the defense of that 60 percent of the French population living on the “periphery,” that is, outside of metropolitan areas and the sprawling suburbs. These are the les Francais de souche,” the true indigenous French, whom the globalist elites treat like human waste while they cut production costs by bringing in cheap labor from the Muslim Third World.

Although those who speak for the French grunges (les ploucs) would like us to think that they stand beyond right and left, Scott is correct to assign these tribunes of the people to the historic right. Our friend Arnaud Imatz would disagree, and in his long book that I just finished reading, Droite/gauche: pour sortir de l’équivoque (2016), argues that the terms right and left no longer apply to contemporary French politics. Imatz says we are dealing with a “huge displacement” in which the historic French nation is being sacrificed on the altar of globalist financial interests and “human rights platitudes.” Scott appropriately points out that once the conversation turns to historic nations and native workforces, those who do the defending will inevitably be classified as being on the right. No matter how often Marine Le Pen calls for protecting the jobs of French workers, she will be characterized by Fox News as well as CNN as a figure of the “far right.” In contrast, Emmanuel Macron, the spokesman for multinational business interests and the candidate of former President Obama and the French Socialist Party, fits our establishment-conservative notion of a “centrist.” Although their right and our conservative establishment operate on different wavelengths, our Republican media understand that the French right is most decidedly on the right. Where else can one place a movement that worries first and foremost about national identity and the survival of a millennial civilization?

Scott might have added to his sketches of the figures of the French right a few more personalities who help illustrate his key point. Philippe de Villiers, Jean-Yves Gallou, and Jean-Pierre Chevènement are all veterans of French national politics who strongly represent and even prefigured the French nationalist politics described by Scott. All of them, like Marine, are EU critics and Eurosceptics and relentlessly critical of Muslim immigration into France. The former Sarkozy advisor Patrick Buisson is also worth studying because of his heroic efforts to cement together an alliance between French populists and the French establishment center-right. The Sarkozy center-right, out of which Buisson has emerged, looks very much like our conservative establishment; and not surprisingly, Buisson’s efforts have generally met with skepticism from the French populist right. Scott is correct, by the way, not to bring into his piece a longtime acquaintance of mine, Alain de Benoist, progenitor of the not very new Nouvelle Droite. Benoist has been active as a publicist since the 1960s but has moved about so fitfully in his political stances, from supporting French Algeria to being an identitarian multiculturalist hoping to turn Europe into a collection of independent ethnic groups from all over the planet, that it may be hard to associate him specifically with those tendencies that Scott discusses.

I would not have included in this commentary on the French populist, nationalist right either the French social commentator Alain Finkielkraut or the Sorbonne professor Pierre Manent. Manent may be described (and indeed has described himself) as a French disciple of Leo Strauss; he has cultivated close relations with American neoconservatives for many decades. Although he has written critically about Muslim immigration and the erosion of European identity, it is hard to view this political theorist as being in the same ideological boat with Zemmour, Gallou, and the Front National. Despite Finkielkraut’s enthusiasm for the anti-democrat Martin Heidegger, he too seems to be something of a liberal-democratic centrist, and perhaps one who is nostalgic for an older left. Finkielkraut has gained publicity by criticizing the practice of allowing Muslim girls to wear head coverings (foulards) to public schools. But he also opposes with almost equal vigor the association of Christian and other religious symbols from what from his perspective should be an immaculately secular French educational system. Finally Finkielkraut holds a globalist vision of France as the source of the “rights of man,” a vision that sounds very much like the neoconservatives’ concept of America as a universal “propositional nation.”

Manent and Finkielkraut, it may be argued, are holdovers from the 1980s, when there was a thriving sodality of French neoconservatives, a company to which I would also attach the names Jean-Marie Benoist, Guy Sorman, and Jean-Francois Revel. This sodality, which arose in the wake of the victories of Reagan and Thatcher and was irrigated with American foundation funds, is well on its way to dissolving. It has little to do with the more genuine or more serious French right that Scott has presented. This, bear in mind, is not a value judgment, but an effort to put people in the proper political categories.

Paul Gottfried is the author of Leo Strauss and the American Conservative Movement.

mercredi, 22 février 2017

A Review of The Great Purge: The Deformation of the Conservative Movement


Where Conservatism Went Wrong:
A Review of The Great Purge: The Deformation of the Conservative Movement


Paul E. Gottfried & Richard B. Spencer (eds.)
The Great Purge: The Deformation of the Conservative Movement [2]
Arlington, Va.: Washington Summit Publishers, 2015

All political movements need a history, and such histories, if well-constructed, almost always coalesce into myth. Once mythologized, a movement’s past can inform its present members about its reason for being, its need for continuing, and its plans for the future. And this can be accomplished quickly – and without the need for study or research – in the form of what Edmund Burke called “prejudice.” “Prejudice,” Burke says [3], “is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, skeptical, puzzled, and unresolved.”

Prejudice is a time-saver, in other words, and it puts everyone on the same page. These are two invaluable things for any movement which aims to effect political change. For those who wish to participate in any of the various factions of the Alt Right and learn its history and myth, they do not need to go much farther than The Great Purge: The Deformation of the Conservative Movement.

Edited by Paul Gottfried of the H. L. Menken Club and Richard Spencer of Radix Journal, The Great Purge discusses the march of the once-mighty American conservative movement towards the abject irrelevance it faces today. This took about fifty years, but the villains of this inquisition managed to purge conservatism of its conservatives and replace them with a globalist elite which kowtows to political correctness. The villains, of course, are National Review founder and publisher William F. Buckley (an unflattering photo of whom graces the book’s cover) and a cabal of refugees from the Left known as “neoconservatives.” The Great Purge, as Spencer tells us, is less a “full chronicling of these purges,” and more a “phenomenological history of conservatism. It seeks to understand how its ideology . . . functioned within its historic context and how it responded to power, shifting conceptions of authority, and societal changes.”


The book presents seven essays, with a foreword by Spencer and an afterward by VDARE.com founder and former National Review writer Peter Brimelow. In between, we have essays from established Dissident Right luminaries such as Gottfried, William Regnery, and John Derbyshire. Sam Francis, perhaps one of the godfathers of the Alt Right, who passed away in 2005, contributes a comprehensive and quite useful philosophical treatise on how mainstream conservatism devolved into the toothless friend of the Left it has become today. Rounding out the remainder is American Revolutionary Vanguard founder Keith Preston, professor and writer Lee Congdon, and independent author and scholar James Kalb.

So, according to myth, William F. Buckley founded his conservative magazine National Review in the mid-1950s and revitalized a flagging conservative ideology. At the time, liberalism in its various forms enjoyed near-complete hegemony in academia, enough to prompt scholar Lionel Trilling by mid-century to announce that conservatism, at least as it had been embodied by what we now call the Old Right, was dead. Buckley, along with other conservative thinkers such as Russell Kirk and popular authors like Ayn Rand, proved that reports of conservatism’s death were a tad overstated. Thanks to Buckley, conservatism now had the intellectual heft to resist the Left, both foreign and domestic. As Spencer describes it, this entailed promoting free-market capitalism over Soviet Communism, erecting the Christian West as a bulwark against Soviet atheism, and pushing for an aggressive foreign policy both to thwart Soviet militarism and promote the interests of Israel. The New Right was born.

Enter the neocons. Disenchanted by the manifest failures of Communism, these former Leftists, led by Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, began testing the waters in conservative circles by the 1970s. The neocons shared much of the New Right’s anti-Soviet belligerence and loyalty towards Israel. Having given up on the New Deal and other big-government initiatives, the neocons were equally uncomfortable with free-market capitalism. Sam Francis quotes Irving Kristol at length, describing how the welfare state should not be eradicated, but altered to create a “social insurance state.”

Most importantly, the neocons promoted a Wilsonian “global and cosmopolitan world order” which sought to greatly increase America’s role in foreign affairs, often through military interventionism. In particular, democracy was the great talisman which could civilize the world – whether the world wanted to be civilized or not. Bolstered by their faith in the Democratic Peace Theory, which posits that democracies do not wage war upon each other, the neocons transferred the messianic fervor of Communism to democratization and never looked back. Lee Congdon’s entire essay. “Wars to End War,” rails against such “morality-driven foreign policy” and how it co-opted conservatism almost completely. “Pluralism, (human) rights, and democracy,” as stated by Charles Krauthammer, became something of a rallying cry for the neocons. Against such high-minded egalitarianism, which opened the door for feminism, gay rights, race-mixing, and other by-products of democratic freedom, the traditional conservative arguments began to crumble.

Congdon quotes Pat Buchanan as defending true conservatism when he wrote in 2006 that America is bound together by “the bonds of history and memory, tradition and custom, language and literature, birth and faith, blood and soil.” This is an outright rejection of the neocon claim of America being a “proposition nation” in which citizens are “bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds,” to quote George W. Bush from his first inaugural address. Essentially, if you believed in putting America first, or had no interest in foreign wars, or took the libertarian ideal of limited government seriously, or (most importantly) professed a tribal or familial fealty to the white race, then you had no place among the neocons or in the New Right.

And there to police you and expunge you into the wilderness, if need be, was none other than Mr. Buckley himself.

Both Paul Gottfried and William Regnery provide first-hand accounts of the purges, as well as some historical perspective on them. For example, according to Gottfried, Buckley banished the John Birch Society from respectable conservatism in the 1960s not because of anti-Semitism, but because the Birchers expressed insufficient hawkishness against the North Vietnamese and in the Cold War in general. This point is echoed later in the volume by Keith Preston. It seems that any anti-Semitic aspect in the early victims of the purge was purely incidental.


That didn’t remain the case, of course. What I find most striking and ironic about The Great Purge is that the “racist” infractions of many of the purge victims were so slight, so indirect, and so buried in one’s past that to summarily expurgate a person on those grounds required almost Soviet levels of behind-the-scenes machinations and ruthlessness. Gottfried explains that his offense was to merely assume a leadership role in the H.L. Menken Club, which gives a platform to people “who stress hereditary cognitive differences.” For this, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) severed all ties with him. Another example is Joe Sobran, who was labeled an anti-Semite by Buckley and banished from the National Review in the late 1980s because, as Gottfried explains, Sobran “noticed the shifting meaning of ‘anti-Semite,’ from someone who hates Jews to someone who certain Jews in high places don’t like.”

William Regnery relates how he had been banished from the ISI as well, an organization to which his grandfather, father, and uncles had very close ties for many years. Regnery’s offense? He spoke at an American Renaissance study group in 2005 and promoted “building a sense of racial unity.” For this, he faced an anonymous charge from ISI and was tried among his peers, only one of whom voted to keep him on. Seventeen voted to expel him, and expelled he was.

Another person who pops up a lot in The Great Purge is Jason Richwine, a junior researcher who lost his job at the Heritage Foundation in 2013. It was discovered that his approved doctoral thesis from years earlier contained a fully supported statistic which pointed to the lower than average IQ of many immigrant groups. For this, and for fear of causing too much consternation among Leftist elites, the Heritage Foundation determined that Richwine had to go, his permanently sullied reputation notwithstanding. Certainly, mainstream conservatives know how and when to eat their own – unlike the Left, of course. As Regnery aptly points out, “Media Matters would never have cashiered a researcher on the strength of conservative ire.”

This only cracks the surface of the damage the Bill Buckley mentality has done to the Right over the years. John Derbyshire and Peter Brimelow relate how their more deliberate infractions got them evicted from the movement. Keith Preston describes how, despite the New Right’s professed desire to limit government, it did absolutely nothing to stop its near-exponential growth. In The Great Purge, Buckley and his epigones are called nearly every name in the book, from cowardly to cannibalistic, yet Regnery attributes much of this betrayal to something a little more mundane: complacency. Buckley and his people were simply unwilling to give up their cushy lifestyles in order to combat the Left in any meaningful way. As a result, they put tight leashes on anyone who did.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in this volume is the thirty-five page essay from Sam Francis, which was written back in 1986. Francis, who suffered his own purge from The Washington Times in the 1990s thanks to Dinesh D’Souza, provides a philosophical vocabulary to explain the fall of conservatism in America. It was the slow usurpation of the Old Right, in other words “traditionalist and bourgeois ideologies, centering on the individual as moral agent, citizen, and economic actor” by a “managerial elite” which did in conservatism. This “managerial humanism,” according to Francis, espoused

a collectivist view of the state and economy and advocated a highly centralized regime largely unrestrained by traditional legal, constitutional, and political barriers. It rejected or regarded as backward, repressive, or obsolete the institutions and values of traditional and bourgeois society – its loyalties to the local community, traditional religion and moral beliefs, the family and social and political differentiation based on class, status, and property – and it articulated an ideal of man “liberated” from such constraints and re-educated or redesigned into a cosmopolitan participant in the mass state economy of the managerial system.

This certainly is an apt description of the Left, and as more and more neocons joined the conservative movement, the more apparent it became that they were bringing this managerial humanism along with them. This cultural shift, of course, had deleterious effects across the board for the Right, not least of which was separating it from its stated purpose and weakening its resolve to combat change. In characteristic form, Francis ends his essay with a prediction, this one quite dire:

If neoconservative co-optation and the dynamics of the continuing managerial revolution deflect the American Right from [its] goal, the result will not be the renaissance of America and the West but the continuation and eventual fulfillment of the goals of their most ancient enemies.

If The Great Purge has any flaws, it’s of omission, which isn’t really a flaw since Spencer copped to it in his Foreword. This book is not a history, but rather a collection of reminiscences and musings on the state of the Right. So, it’s not surprising that many things are left out. Still, I wish more detail had been provided in places. It is possible, for example, that there was more to the Sobran affair than what Gottfried and others provide. Sobran’s split with Buckley may have spoken as much to Buckley’s sincere philo-Semitism and his desire not to appear anti-Semitic as it did to Sobran’s desire (or need) to speak out against Israel. The whole thorny issue of whether or not this constitutes anti-Semitism was covered thoroughly (and perhaps ad nauseum) in In Search of Anti-Semitism [4], Buckley’s 1992 recounting of the affair. But it would have been nice to hear a different perspective from one who was around back then.

Further, The Great Purge seems to let Buckley off the hook for not banishing the John Birch Society because of anti-Semitism, yet fails to mention (at least in my reading) any mention of Buckley’s early purge of writers from The American Mercury, which was, in Buckley’s words, “anti-Semitic.” Therefore, Buckley showed his philo-Semitic stripes early on, and that may have informed some of his attitude vis-a-vis the John Birch Society.

The Jewish Question in general is also never explored. While not absolutely necessary to the subject, I’m sure it would have been interesting at the very least, given how eighty to ninety percent of the neoconservatives named in the book are obviously Jewish. Really, it’s impossible not to notice the nigh-homogeneous ethnic makeup of the neocons who appear over and over in The Great Purge like a gang of irrepressible supervillains. Such a list renders parenthesis-echoing utterly superfluous: Irving Kristol, Norman Podheretz, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Seymour Lipset, Ben Wattenberg, Elliott Abrams, Michael Ledeen, Max Boot, David Gerlenter, Allen Weinstein, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Paul Wolfowitz.

You could practically host a baseball game with such a lineup. And is it all a huge coincidence? Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait for the sequel to find out.

In the meantime, however, The Great Purge does a magnificent job of myth-making for the Alt Right. It spells out our origins and purpose, and describes the challenges and betrayals the older generation of conservatives had to face while remaining true to the nationalist, traditionalist, and racialist ideals which made Western civilization great to begin with. Most importantly, The Great Purge shows what happens when you give up on winning and instead compromise with the enemy. You eventually become him. And at no point will your pettiness and spite become more apparent than when you turn on your own.

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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2017/02/where-conservatism-went-wrong/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/2-20-17-1.jpg

[2] The Great Purge: The Deformation of the Conservative Movement: http://amzn.to/2meCuPd

[3] says: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=92AIAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=%22and+does+not+leave+the+man+hesitating+in+the+moment+of+decision%22&source=bl&ots=OGHbkM9vXL&sig=Ghby2bcwjX2pVS70u5d-hm4ouMc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjU6p2Y5p7SAhXG1RQKHVPkD0MQ6AEIMTAG#v=onepage&q=%22and%20does%20not%20leave%20the%20man%20hesitating%20in%20the%20moment%20of%20decision%22&f=false

[4] In Search of Anti-Semitism: http://amzn.to/2kEivgE

lundi, 13 février 2017

Calling One’s Political Opponents the “F” Word


Calling One’s Political Opponents the “F” Word

My young friend Jack Kerwick in a column on townhall stated that protestors against Donald Trump who are destroying property and assaulting suspected Trump supporters are “not snowflakes but leftist thugs.” Jack is absolutely right in his description, although there is another qualification that I would add. Contrary to other commentaries that I see on the same website and on other Republican forums, the protestors aren’t “fascists.” They are exactly what Jack calls them, “leftist thugs.” Last year I published a carefully researched book on the uses and abuses of the term “fascist.” What motivated this project was first and foremost the tendency of journalists to call anything they didn’t fancy “fascist.” Those leftists, including a distinguished professor of European history at Yale University, Tim Snyder, who has gone after President Trump as a “fascist” or, even more ridiculously, as a “Nazi,” are using political terms with inexcusable recklessness. But then so are Republican publicists who hurl the same epithets at Democrats and who now refer to the anti-Trump protesters as fascists.

The word “fascist” has a definite historical reference point. It does not signify any group that engages in violent demonstrations or refuses to accept the election results of an American presidential contest. My book painstakingly distinguishes “fascists,” who came to power in Italy after World War One, from the German Nazis, who borrowed heavily from Stalinism as well as Latin fascism. Generic fascists came mostly out of a Latin Catholic cultures and favored a nationalist authoritarian government that would restore the glories of a partly mythic past. Fascism also served a counterrevolutionary function, as a force of resistance to revolutionary socialism. But fascists looked and acted in a sufficiently iconoclastic or disruptive manner to be mistaken for genuine revolutionaries. The German historian Ernst Nolte was on the mark when he characterized the fascists as “a counterrevolutionary imitation of the Left.”

In my book, I point out that the theory and reality of interwar fascism should not be equated with whatever a political partisan wishes to rant against. People can be violent without being fascists; and most contemporary advocates of an expanded administrative state are not trying to revisit the experiences of Mussolini’s Italy. Even less are they endorsing violence or big government for the reasons that the Nazis gave. Whatever we may say about Black Lives Matter and LGBT demonstrators, they are not glorifying Aryanism or calling for Lebensraum for Nordic man. Mind you, this does not make these demonstrators any less thuggish or repulsive. But they are, as Jack properly noted, distinctly leftist thugs—and neither fascists nor Nazis. The demonstrators want to destroy our constitutional freedoms and like all leftists, they are explicitly or implicitly totalitarian.

But they also stand for things that Western societies have been taught especially in the last fifty years taught us to revere such as egalitarianism and the interchangeability of all human beings. Even our supposedly conservative press does not attack Jack’s thugs for the ideals they profess but rather refer to these vandals as fascists or Nazis.  It would be futile in today’s court of public opinion to defend such truly conservative notions as hierarchy and particularity. This may be the case despite the fact that classical conservative ideals are at least as necessary as their opposites for those who value social cohesion and cultural stability. But one rarely encounters the defenses of such ideals in public life anymore; and therefore anyone seeking to make leftists look bad paints them as racists, sexists, and anti-egalitarians.

In a memorable observation, English political theorist John Gray, writing in the London Times Literary Supplement (January 2, 2013) commented that intellectuals continue to deny “the radical evil that has come from the pursuit of progress.” Gray was noting not only the totalitarian direction of leftist attempts to reconstruct human nature. He was also underlining the unwillingness of intellectuals to recognize the inherent danger of those ideals that the Left embraces. We continue to celebrate ideals that have been carried to excess and which now operate without the stabilizing influence of opposing principles? One might also ask whether the Left’s triumphant ideals are better than those taught by defenders of custom and traditional authority, going all the way back to Confucius and Aristotle.


But what I’m offering is not so much a defense of conservative principles as an explanation for why our soi-disant conservatives call those they don’t like “fascists.” This is the same kind of stuff we encounter when conservative publicists try to blacken the current Democratic Party by identifying it with antebellum slave-owners? This morning a distinguished classical historian, who is beloved to our conservative establishment, Victor Davis Hanson, resorted to this shtik when he scolded California secessionists. Does Hanson, who is a well-educated scholar, really believe that the Cultural Marxists in California who want to pull their state out of Donald Trump’s America are the modern equivalents of the South Carolina planter class that seceded from the Union in 1861?  This polemic and others of its kind cause me to wonder why our official conservatives don’t tell us that leftists are harmful because they are following specifically leftist ideals.  Why do they have to link their debating partners to some antiquated Right? And even more curiously, why do they assume that talk about equality and human rights is specifically “conservative”?

Yes, I know the usual justification for such habits, namely that those who indulge them are trying to hang the Left on its own petard. But more may be going on here. The conservative establishment has trouble saying the obvious, that the Left holds harmful leftist beliefs and has been implementing these beliefs to the detriment of an inherited social order, for this among other reasons.  So-called conservatives have absorbed so much of the Left’s rhetoric and historical thinking that sometimes it can’t distance itself, at least not on first principles, from what it criticizes.

This was first brought home to me dramatically when I read a column by Jonah Goldberg in National Review in 2002. In this commentary, Goldberg declaimed against the most illustrious European counterrevolutionary of the early nineteenth century, Joseph de Maîstre (whose name by the way he misspells). According to Goldberg, Maîstre was a toxic leftist thinker because in his Evening Conversations of Saint-Petersburg we find this statement: “There’s no man as such. I’ve only encountered Frenchmen, Italians, and Russians…” Goldberg tells us this illustrates the thinking that the Democrats are promoting when they support minority quotas. Maîstre, we are made to believe, was a precursor of our Left and the Democratic Party, a party that Goldberg would later profitably associate with fascism. It makes no difference to Goldberg (who presumably never read the actual text) that Maîstre’s aphorism was spoken in response to a discussion about the relation between governments and national traditions. Maîstre, who excoriated the French Revolution, from which he fled, was warning against revolutionaries who presumed to inflict their model of government on other countries. These revolutionaries were so fixated on their presumed superior model of government that they tried to make it fit the entire world.

For Goldberg, the fact that Maîstre stresses the distinctive nature of cultures and nations indicates that he was an early representative of the party that Goldberg has made a career out of blasting. Note that I’m not saying that Goldberg is not entitled to his views. But I don’t understand what makes those views “conservative” while the archetypically conservative understanding of human nature expressed in the Evening Conversations would show that Maîstre was an early advocate of Democratic identity politics.  Moreover, Goldberg compares Maîstre to the feminist, black civil rights jurist, Lani Guiniere, who in 1993 was considered by Bill Clinton for the Supreme Court, before her name was withdrawn.

Like Goldberg, Guiniere, a Harvard Professor of Law, has repeatedly affirmed her belief in human rights. Unlike Goldberg, however, she also advocates in her writing an extensive program of minority quotas. She believes, rightly or wrongly, that we can advance these universal rights by treating preferentially those groups whom Guiniere considers to be historically disadvantaged. On this issue, I would come down on the side of Goldberg, because of my fear of the modern administrative state and its increasingly unchecked power. But I doubt that our philosophical concerns would be the same. (And I’m speaking not as a Maîstrean but as someone who can appreciate Maîstre’s insight). What separates Guiniere from Goldberg is a policy difference; what separates her and Goldberg from Maîstre is an entire worldview.

mardi, 07 février 2017

Anti-Trump demonstrations are far from irrational. The opposite is more likely

Anti-Trump demonstrations are far from irrational. The opposite is more likely

Every day I hear exasperated Trump-backers exclaim that the Left has gone crazy. And their complaint seems justified, at least up to a point. The demonstrations against Trump, which now involve such gestures as setting fires, destroying property and beating up suspected Trump backers, look utterly “irrational.” It’s as if the election and subsequent inauguration of Donald Trump released forces of madness that can no longer be contained. Wild accusations are being made against those who voted for Trump, that they yearn to exterminate blacks and gays and put Jews into concentration camps, etc. One of my close acquaintances has turned her home into “a safe space for Jewish children,” so there will be no more Anne Frank-deaths during the terrible persecutions that our “illegitimately appointed, fake head of state” will soon supposedly unleash. I myself have been called by leftist ex-friends a “Holocaust-denier” because I think Trump’s decision to stop the influx of visitors and immigrants from terrorist-laden countries is entirely justified. How this shows that I deny Hitler’s murderous activities is never explained to me, but I’m sure the Trump-haters in Hollywood, CNN and at Berkeley would understand the connection.

Note that I’m not saying that everyone out there making noise or burning property is a model of scientific rationality. Nor am I claiming that the entertainment community makes sense when they scream against the Donald, or that students who recently set fires on the Berkeley campus to protest a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos were engaging in Aristotelian reasoning. What I am asserting is that viewed from the top, this agitation and violence reveal careful thought. In fact, from the vantage point of George Soros and such protest organizers as the Democratic National Committee and the leaders of the grievance culture, noisy demonstrations are a reasonable means toward a predetermined end. Max Weber, Vilfredo Pareto, and other sociologists who understood functional rationality as working systematically toward the desired end would have pointed to these protests as illustrating the perfectly rational action, at least on the part of those who organize them.

bdcoyifygmilm1bgpae0.jpgThe useful idiots are all over the place, but that’s exactly what they are, mere stage extras. They are impressionable adolescents, Hollywood airheads, middle-aged women who want to “assert themselves,” perpetually incited racial minorities, and Muslim activists. Many of them can be mobilized at the drop of a pin to “march for tolerance,” however that term is interpreted by those who organize the march and by politicians, like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, who seek to increase their influence through well-prepared displays of “righteous indignation.” Please note that Schumer’s obstructionist tactics in the Senate, blocking or delaying cabinet nominees and threatening to shoot down Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, have been applied to the accompaniment of non-stop anti-Trump protests. Only a fool or unthinking partisan would believe these events are unrelated.

Most of what we see and hear is profoundly hypocritical. Trump is not threatening gays or blacks; he is far from being an exterminationist anti-Semite, he is surrounded by Jewish family members and Jewish advisers and is adored by the population of Israel. He is not an anti-Muslim religious bigot, and the temporary travel restriction that he established last week affects non-Muslims as well as Muslims trying to enter the USA from certain countries. Only 109 travelers were detained last weekend because of the ban; and one may easily surmise that other passengers who were jostled by the loads of screaming, gesticulating demonstrators suffered far more grievously than those who were temporarily detained. Moreover, since Obama imposed a four-month travel ban on passengers from Iraq in 2011, we may assume that even more people during the supposedly sensitive Obama years were inconvenienced. But, strange as it seems, I don’t recall mass demonstrations by our selective humanitarians against Obama’s travel restrictions. Perhaps I didn’t notice them when they were taking place.

I also hear from establishment Republicans, and even from family members who should know better, that Trump is bringing all this on himself because he is too free with his words. If only he could explain himself calmly and read more often from a teleprompter, none of this would be happening. Moreover, if Trump were a nice conciliatory guy, like, say, W, Romney or Kasich, the PC crowd would be pacified—or would stop running riot. This gives me food for thought. Does anyone really believe that the Left was nice to George W. Bush, whom they also smeared as a racist and religious bigot? And is any Republican or Never-Trumper naïve enough to believe that if it had been Ted Cruz rather than Trump naming Neil Gorsuch as his pick to the Supreme Court, there would be no demonstrations against this outstanding non-leftist jurist? Perhaps if the silver-tongued Cruz were defending Gorsuch in Ciceronian accents, Schumer, and his friends in the Senate would not be trying to block the confirmation? Come to think of it: Cruz has already endorsed Gorsuch—to no effect.

The only question that should be asked in this matter concerns the end game of those who are organizing the insurrectionary masses. What do they expect to gain from the continuing noise and escalating violence? At the very least they may hope to disempower Trump and his administration–perhaps to render them so powerless that they won’t able to do anything that the Left and the Democratic base (to make a perhaps unnecessary distinction) don’t want them to do. The Democrats are also hoping to take advantage of the chaos to which their fans and operatives have contributed by posing as the true party of order. Only the Democrats, the electorate will be impelled to assume, could end the civil unrest by bringing back the glorious days of the Obama administration.

This transfiguration of the bungling leftist Obama into the guarantor of American order may not be as strange an idea as it first seems. Last week I found myself sitting next to a sixty-year-old black woman on a train going to Philadelphia, and this traveler began telling me how nice it had been under Obama. At first, I reminded her of the growing criminality in our cities during the last few years, but then I noticed she wasn’t talking about crime. Things had been nicer under Obama because back then one didn’t witness daily and even hourly eruptions of organized anger, with the media, entertainment industry, and in varying degrees the Democratic Party egging on the mobs. The woman whom I spoke to wasn’t looking for deeper causes. All she knew was that since Trump had taken office, pandemonium was loosed on the country. And it’s not yet clear that this pandemonium will be blamed on those who are causing it, namely the organizers, the media, and the throngs of useful idiots.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

vendredi, 15 juillet 2016

Das seltsame Leben der Genies


Das seltsame Leben der Genies

von Prof. Dr. Paul Gottfried
Ex: http://www.blauenarzisse.de

Wie ist Franz Kafka als Mensch zu bewerten? Prof. Paul Gottfried hat sich für uns mit der Kafka-​Biographie von Reiner Stach beschäftigt.

kafkastach8-3-10-075114-0.jpgAuf Anraten eines vielseitig gebildeten Freundes aus Bayern bestellte ich mir den ersten Band des Dreiteilers über Franz Kafka (18831924), dem der Literaturwissenschaftler Reiner Stach einen Großteil seiner Lebensjahre gewidmet hat. Mehr als 650 Seiten, einschließlich der reichhaltigen Hinweise und einer umfänglichen Quellenzusammenstellung, umfasst der erste Band Die Jahre der Entscheidungen (2002). Bei all meiner Bewunderung für Stachs Leistung wurde ich nach dem Zurücklegen der ersten zweihundert Seiten schon recht lesemüde, und meine Ausdauer musste ich ausreizen, um bis zum Ende durchzuhalten.

Schreiben statt Leben?

Aber vielleicht geht meine vorläufige Bewertung daneben. Stach leuchtet mit Akribie den Lebenswandel einer wahrhaftigen Größe der modernen europäischen Literatur aus. Seine Mammutarbeit handelt von einer seelisch gestörten und kurzlebigen Figur, die wegen ihres Schreibens die meisten normalen Lebensvergnügen aufgab, und auch als Autor „nicht hervortreten“ wollte. Franz Kafkas unbeirrbare schriftstellerische Hingabe galt als Leitthema in einem am 2. September 1913 an seine damalige Verlobte Felice Bauer gerichteten Brief: „Die Lust für das Schreiben auf das größte menschliche Glück zu verzichten, durchschneidet mir unaufhaltsam alle Muskeln. Ich kann mich nicht frei machen.“

Nächtlich quälte sich Kafka schonungslos an seinen Schreiberzeugnissen ab, und tagsüber bemühte er sich bei einer Versicherungsanstalt, wo er sich als höchst tauglicher Unfallbegutachter hervortat. Die eigenartige, geschlossene Schriftsprache, die seine Romane und Erzählungen kennzeichnet, findet man nicht zufälligerweise in seinen Ratschlägen über Unfallverhütung und Zahlungsverhandlungen vor. Kafkas Vorgesetzte haben seinen Hang zu kernigen, gut durchdachten Formulierungen frühzeitig erkannt und ließen ihn auf der Berufsstufenleiter rapide nachrücken, aber jede Förderung war erwartungsgemäß mit zusätzlichen Schreibaufgaben verknüpft.

Ein literarisches Genie, aber ein – höflich ausgedrückt – schwieriger Mensch

Kafkas Bestehen auf einer nicht zu übertretenden Trennlinie zwischen seinem „Büroschuften“ und seinem nächtlichen Schaffen, eine Trennung, die er bis zu seinem Amtsaustritt 1922 wegen Schwindsucht hat bewahren wollen, entspricht den Tatsachen aber bei weitem nicht. Vielmehr zeichnet sich ein frappantes Überlappen zwischen den zwei Tätigkeitsbereichen ab. Der gezügelte Wortstil, der in seinen Berichten durchschlägt und die einleuchtenden Besprechungen der Unfallsachverhalte wurden in seine Literatur eingewoben. Wie Stach hervorhebt, liegt eine Sinnverwandtschaft zwischen der existenzialistisch erschreckenden oder schlechthin verwirrenden Lebenswelt, die man in Der Prozess, Das Schloss, Die Verwandlung und anderen derartigen Schöpfungen begegnet, und Kafkas Alltag. Kafka führte einen Balanceakt aus, als er sich schriftlich anderen verständlich zu machen versuchte. Stach betont dazu: „Was wir heute als seine spezifische Leistung wahrnehmen – die erschütternde wechselseitige Durchdringung von Intimität und strengster Form – war für Kafka ein Kraftakt, vor dem er selbst erliegen musste: Das Erlebte und das Erdachte stürzten ineinander, verschmolzen tagträumerisch, zersetzen das Realitätsprinzip, trafen sich in einem Punkt des Schreckens.“

Kafkas gestörter Isoliertheit und stets wechselnder Stimmungen schenkt Stach einen beachtlichen Teil seines ersten Bandes. Aus Kafkas postum herausgebrachtem Briefwechseln mit Felice Bauer, seinem Schwiegervater in spe, dem eigenen Vater Hermann, und dem pragdeutschen jüdischen Literaten Max Brod, der Kafkas hinterlassene Manuskripte besorgte und veröffentlichen ließ, tritt ein wohlkonturiertes Porträt des Subjekts heraus. Obwohl Stach damit bezweckt, unsere Anteilnahme zu erwecken, haben die dazugehörigen Daten nicht immer auf mich wohlwollend gewirkt. Kafkas Ichbezogenheit, widerspiegelt in seinem Verhältnis zu seiner schwer geprüften Verlobten, dringt allzu deutlich durch. Bei aller Hochachtung vor seinen verschlossenen Manieren, bemüht man sich mit der Frage, warum Felice je etwas mit diesem Einsiedler zu tun haben wollte. Stach geht ins Eingemachte über Kafkas Marotten, insbesondere über das Verhältnis zwischen seinem Sauberkeitsfimmel und seiner sexuellen Verklemmtheit. Die bevorstehende Heirat mit Franz wurde Felice erspart, ehe sie mit diesen Peinlichkeiten belastet werden musste.

Nie eingelöste Verantwortlichkeiten

Mit Kafkas gewerbetreibendem, familienbewussten Vater Hermann, Felice, und allen anderen, die den Schriftsteller bei Laune zu halten versucht haben, kann ich dagegen mitfühlen. Und wenig beeindruckt bin ich von Kafkas Begeisterung für politische Sachen, sei es für den Zionismus, die „echte“ ostjüdische Dorfkultur oder einen Sozialismus, mit dem er höchstens eine vordergründige Bekanntschaft machte.

Diese Anhänglichkeiten bedeuteten, nie eingelöste Verantwortlichkeiten durch Zujubeln auf Distanz zu entschädigen. Ungeachtet seiner großartigen literarischen Leistung und seinem tragischen Tod an Schwindsucht unweit von Wien im jungen Alter von vierzig Jahren kann ich für Kafka als Person keine glühende Anziehung verspüren. Als ich Stachs Werk las, fiel mir die Frage ein, ob Kafka ein solches Leben geführt hat, dass eine Biographie von diesem Ausmaß berechtigt sei. Nicht jeder bedeutende Literat kommt an seiner langen, ereignisreichen Existenz einem Titan nach dem Rang von Goethe nahe.

Immerhin gebührt es sich, Stachs Lebenswerk anzuerkennen. Sein Wühlen in Archiven verdient unsere Hochachtung und seine Schrift enthält sogar einige aphoristische Funken von hoher Qualität. Ich empfehle unbedingt seine Beschreibung der avantgardistischen Literaten, die sich um Franz Werfel in Prag und den angehenden Verleger Kurt Wolff in Leipzig scharten: Sie glauben „tatsächlich an die Überlegenheit einer absoluten neuen Literatur – ohne einen Gedanken daran, dass damit alles Neue verurteilt war, schon von morgen vom Neuesten überholt zu werden. Sie wollten Avantgarde sein, doch ohne den Zwang zur fortwährenden Selbstüberbietung, den dieser Begriff unweigerlich mit sich führt.”

Prag und Deutschland

Kafka verlebte seine Jugendjahre in der gegenwärtigen Hauptstadt Tschechiens innerhalb des österreichisch-​ungarischen Habsburgerreiches. Damals war Prag mit anderen Ballungszentren in dem seinerzeit vereinten Reich vernetzt. Außerdem nahmen die deutschsprechenden Staatsbürger und insbesondere die Juden mit dem deutschen Reich und seinen Stadtbewohnern mannigfache Berührung auf. Eisenbahnreisende zwischen mitteleuropäischen Großstädten sind laufend abgegangen und eingetroffen. Obwohl die Juden in diesem Netz von sprachlich, kulturell und politisch miteinander verbundenen Zentren wohlig vernetzt waren, wurden sie auch nach der geläufigen Denkrichtung einer antisemitischen Verpestung ununterbrochen ausgesetzt.

Kafka und seine Eltern waren vermeintlich an diesem auf sie einprasselnden Ungemach Mitleidende. Der junge Schriftsteller igelte sich gezwungenermaßen in seinen Kokon ein, um sich vor einer feindseligen Außenwelt abzuschirmen. Nur als sein Leidensweg zur Neige ging und als er mit einer Sozialistin und Zionistin in Berlin, Dora Dymant, eine Liebesbeziehung antrat, wurde Kafka geistig geheilt. Zu dieser Spätzeit, als Kafka mit einer tödlichen Krankheit rang, fand der Schriftsteller zu seiner echten, lange zurückgedrängten Identität zurück.

kafkablr_lkrcs9GJXq1qac37io1_500.jpgKafkas Vater

Die Lebensumstände, in welchen Kafka beheimatet war, müssen dem unbefangenen Leser als ausgesprochen mittelständisch (und gar nicht auschließlich jüdisch) vorkommen. Kafkas geschäftlich beflissener Vater wie die Familie seiner Verlobten in Berlin und andere mitteleuropäische Stadtbürger dieser Ära waren darauf aus, ein ausreichendes Einkommen zusammenzukratzen, damit sie ihren ähnlich strebsamen Bekannten imponieren konnten. Hermann Kafka wurde schwer verärgert, als Franz einen zappligen ostjüdischen Schauspieler in zerlumpter Kleidung nach Hause einlud und darauf den Eltern und Geschwistern seinen Neubekannten als einen lupenreinen Juden (im Gegensatz zu „unseren Westjuden“) vorstellte. Es besteht überhaupt kein Grund zu denken, dass die Eltern diesen unscheinbaren Gast abblitzen ließen, weil sie von Antisemiten behelligt wurden.

Kafkas Vater reagierte auf Jitzchak Löwy auf dieselbe Weise, wie seine christlichen Nachbarn es getan hätten. Stach zitiert einen aussagekräftigen Eintrag aus Kafkas Tagebuch, als er ein Heilbad am Rivasee besuchte. Dort traf er eine junge schweizerische Italienerin, die er äußerst attraktiv fand: Nach dem peinlichen Abschiednehmen führte Kafka auf seinen „westjüdischen“ Hintergrund seine gehemmte, überangepasste Gemütslage zurück. Einer deutschjüdischen Kinderstube und (bitteschön!) nicht Christen schob er den Schwarzen Peter zu. Die Familie seiner Verlobten tat Kafka als Neureiche ab, die bestrebt waren, seine „Peinlichkeiten“ heuchlerisch zu verstecken.

Verklärung der Ostjuden

Diesen ihm missfallenden Strebern stellte Kafka die eingebildete schlichte Lebensweise seiner verklärten Ostjuden gegenüber. Die Frage ließ man dabei offen: In welchem Sinn waren die Letzteren als urwüchsiger einzustufen, als die deutschjüdischen Gewerbetreibenden und Fabrikanten, die bildungsbürgerlich zu werden anstrebten? Und warum stellte Franz sich vor, dass die unter der Kuratel der Rabbiner befindlichen Ostjuden weniger verklemmt aufgewachsen wären als sein deutschjüdischer Bekanntenkreis? Zu diesem Kreis gehörten solche Frauenhelden wie Max Brod, Franz Werfel, und Felices Schwerenöter-​Bruder Ferri, der von einer Liebschaft zu der nächsten taumelte. Felices Vater brachte eine Menge Geld durch, damit er es seinen Mätressen ermöglichen konnte, wie Gott in Frankreich zu leben.

Obwohl die meisten deutschschreibenden Literaten in Prag, mit denen Kafka verkehrte, einen jüdischen Hintergrund hatten, war Kafka, wenn seine kauzige Gesinnung die Gesellschaft erlaubte, mit deutschen und tschechischen Christen befreundet. Da die Prager Deutschen dazumal besser oder häufiger gebildet waren als die Tschechen und da mitteleuropäische Juden unverhältnismäßig stark an der Hochkultur beteiligt waren, ist es kaum verwunderlich, dass Kafkas literarische Kontakte in Prag vorwiegend aus Juden bestanden.

Max Brod und Franz Kafka

Zuallerletzt: Seinen Vertrauten Max Brod, der mit Kafkas Nachlass betraut wurde, verdanken wir die Veröffentlichung von mehr als neunzig Prozent seiner literarischen Schöpfungen mit Einschluss seines hinterbliebenen Briefwechsels und seiner Tagebücher. Zu alledem brachte Brod zwei erkenntnisreiche, mit persönlichen Reminiszenzen gespickte Bände über Franz heraus, beide nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg. Obwohl man sich schwer tun würde, Kafkas Werden in Zusammenhang mit seiner Lebenswelt ohne diese Zeugnisse gründlich zu begreifen, hat die Sache auch einen Haken. Brod hat mit sich die eigenen Bindungen und Groll herumgetragen, wie Stach reichlich beweist. Und der Kafka-​Forscher muss achtgeben, die schillernden Haltungen von Kafkas „Kurator” mit denjenigen des Subjekts als restlos überlagert zu betrachten.

vendredi, 27 mai 2016

Is Jonah Goldberg Right About Fascism?


Is Jonah Goldberg Right About Fascism?


At the recent Scholars’ Conference (sponsored by the L von M Institute) I asserted that while anti-New Deal commentators between the two wars were not entirely wrong in their analysis of fascism, current attempts to identify fascism with the Left are rarely more than GOP rhetoric.  Since this point may have puzzled my listeners, it may be helpful to explain what my statement meant. My clarification may be all the more necessary since I said roughly the same thing on Tom Woods’s radio program, without going into details. In the 1930s and 1940s, such critics of the New Deal and FDR’s liberal internationalism as John T. Flynn, Albert J. Nock, Garet Garrett and Frank Chodorov were fond of associating the politics of the American government with European fascism. This criticism went back to the 1930s and in the case of Flynn, was originally aimed at the Italian fascist regime. Flynn and his followers feared that fascism, which like the New Deal offered a halfway house between capitalism and socialism, was more insidious for the West than Communism:  “A man could support publicly and with vehemence this system of the Planned Economy without incurring the odium of being too much of a radical for a polite and practical society.” Fascism with its “Planned Capitalism,” insisted Flynn, was the “direct opposite of liberalism.” (Flynn in this passage was using the word liberal in its true historical sense.) This newly conceived regime was “an attempt, somewhere between Communism and capitalism, to organize a stable society and to do it by setting up a state equipped with massive powers over the lives and fortunes of its citizens.”

The Roosevelt Myth_Flynn.jpgFlynn’s still highly readable The Roosevelt Myth includes accurate, well-phrased observations, however much they may overestimate the staying power of the fascist model. But in his assumption that the fascist state would have long-term appeal, Flynn was hardly alone. In 1933, FDR and his Brain Truster Rexford Tugwell thought that fascism would be here to stay, and as late as 1940, James Burnham viewed it as one of the several forms of the modern administrative state —and possibly the most successful form that it would assume in the course of the twentieth century.

I should also indicate at this point what Flynn and his confreres never said. They did not claim that fascists were leftists, at a time when New Dealers and the editorial board of the very leftist New Republic imagined that Mussolini was their ideological ally. Critics of the New Deal who discerned overlaps between Mussolini and FDR pointed to a shared managerial style of rule. They viewed fascist Italy and welfare-state America as related threats to a liberal society, and the fact that FDR in the early and mid-1930s, before Mussolini’s sudden about-face and alliance with Nazi Germany, expressed admiration for his Italian counterpart, seemed to prove the validity of Flynn’s comparison.  I would not hold it against Flynn, Garrett, and Nock that they failed to anticipate my own arguments about Italian fascism. From their historical position, they may not have seen this development as a make-believe revolutionary movement, which came to power largely as a check on the revolutionary Left.

This was not obvious to most American observers in the 1930s, who may have been more likely to have noticed the political resemblances between fascist Italy and New Deal America. The extensive labor legislation introduced in America in the 1930s looked at least on paper like the “Labor Charter” introduced by Mussolini’s government in 1926. The pump-priming efforts undertaken by both governments to deal with the Great Depression were noticeably similar. Nor was there any reason in the early or mid- 1930s or perhaps even later for an intelligent foreign observer to think that fascism would soon be on its way out. By the early 1930s, there was a “fascist international” that sought to compete with the Communist movement for support throughout the world.  Italian fascist journalists were then taking the side of indigenous populations against English colonialism. (The Italian fascist government generally viewed England as their main rival; however between 1933 and 1936 Mussolini’s hostility was transferred temporarily to Nazi Germany.)

godwinslaw.jpgWhile New Deal critics tried to understand fascism in their time, today’s GOP propagandists do not try to understand anything about this interwar movement. They make their living by labeling the Democrats “fascists” and then identifying fascism and the Democrats with the Left.  Jonah Goldberg’s best-selling pseudo-scholarship Liberal Fascism (2007) may be the most popular example of this propaganda technique but (alas) Goldberg’s nonsense is far from the worst of its genre. In researching my monograph, I unearthed so many abuses of the “f” word by GOP publicists and conservatism, inc., that I finally gave up cataloging them. I also discovered that no one (except perhaps for old-fashioned Habsburg monarchists) really believes that “fascism” was or is a leftist movement. When neocons start screaming about “Islamofascism,” I doubt that they’re suggesting that Muslim terrorists and multicultural Americans are ideological soulmates.

By this point fascism is not an ideological reference point but the verbal equivalent of a chair that one throws at one’s enemy’s head. Just a few minutes ago, I found this substantiated when neoconservative luminary Robert Kagan announced that “Trump will bring fascism to America.” Finally, I can’t believe that anyone but a total idiot would imagine that American affirmative action programs (when enforced by Democrats but supposedly not Republicans) resemble Hitler’s exclusion of Jews from professions and from German citizenship during the 1930s. When I encountered this comparison in Goldberg’s turgid screed, I remember saying to myself I hope he’s joking or simply lying to sell books to Dittoheads. Any other reason for his lunatic statements is too scary to consider.

In any case, I get exasperated by those who try to trace Goldberg’s opinions back to Flynn and other anti-New Deal critics of fascism. Contrary to what is suggested in the introductory chapter of Fascism: Career of a Concept Goldberg and his fellow-publicists in the GOP establishment are not offering an interpretation of fascism that goes back to the interwar American Right. These specialists in PR have never thought seriously about the “f” word and happily run together Italian fascism, German Nazis, Hillary Clinton and whatever else the GOP establishment is currently running against.  By contrast, Flynn and others of his time and persuasion were better-informed analysts. Their critical commentaries on the “fascist revolution” and its relation to the New Deal are still worth revisiting.

00:05 Publié dans Histoire | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : paul gottfried, fascisme, histoire, états-unis | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

mardi, 12 avril 2016

Robert Stark interviews Paul Gottfried about his book Fascism: The Career of a Concept


Robert Stark interviews Paul Gottfried about his book Fascism: The Career of a Concept

Listen Here!

Robert Stark and co-host Alex von Goldstein talk to Professor Paul Gottfried about his latest book Fascism: The Career of a Concept

Ex: http://www.attackthesystem.com

pgfasccQXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgTopics include:

How Fascism is used as a pejorative to describe any opposing political movement

Defining Fascism and how most people who use the term cannot define it

Mussolini’s Italy as the truest form of fascism

How Hitler was not a generic Fascist and that

Franco in Spain was not a Fascist at all

Ernst Nolte‘s Fascism In Its Epoch and his view that fascism was a counter-revolutionary movement to socialism

Non European movements influenced by Fascism such as Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey, Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and the Hindutva movement in India

The de-Nazification process in postwar Germany and how it had a delayed effect

The Frankfurt School(Cultural Marxist) who have used anti-Fascism to shape the political discourse

Cultural Marxist versus Traditional Marxist and how the former abandoned economic issues

How mainstream conservatives also missuse the term (ex.Eco-fascism, Islamo-Fascism, Liberal Fascism)

The myth that fascism was on the left

How conservatives have adopted the values and rhetoric of the left

Paul Gottfried’s article Will a Trump Victory Actually Dislodge the Neocons?

lundi, 14 mars 2016

Will a Trump Victory Actually Dislodge the Neocons?


Will a Trump Victory Actually Dislodge the Neocons?

Although I fully share the jubilation of others that Donald Trump may be taking a wrecking ball to the GOP establishment, I don’t hold the view that Trump’s candidacy will reduce neoconservative power. Matthew Richer, Justin Raimondo and other writers whose columns I usually welcome all believe that Trump’s rise as a Republican presidential candidate may help bring down his bogus conservative enemies. The more Trump’s popular support soars, the more the neocons have supposedly turned themselves into paper tigers. The establishment Republicans whom they “advise” have not marginalized Trump; nor have the neocons and their clients been able to elevate as GOP frontrunner someone who serves their purposes. The fact that prominent neocons like Robert Kagan have indicated their willingness to vote for Hillary Clinton instead of a GOP presidential candidate they don’t want, has underscored the emptiness of their opposition to Mrs. Clinton. The neoconservatives’ willingness to abandon the Republican side in the presidential race if they don’t get their way dramatizes their deviousness and arrogance. Presumably others will now abandon these power-hungry careerists and perpetual war mongers.

Unfortunately, I expect none of this to happen. Indeed it would not surprise me if the neocons exhibited the staying power of the Egyptian New Kingdom, which ruled Egypt for five hundred years (1570-1070 BC) despite such occasional setbacks as military defeats. What neoconservative publicists are now doing when they bait and switch, does not seem different from what they did in the past. Prominent neocons have not consistently taken the side of eventually victorious Republican presidential candidates. In 1972 Nathan Glazer, Daniel Bell and other neocon heavyweights backed McGovern against Nixon, yet neocon and Democrat Daniel Moynihan carried great weight in the Nixon administration. In the presidential primaries in 1976 Irving Kristol and most other Republican neocons backed Gerald Ford against Ronald Reagan; nonetheless, after Reagan’s victory in 1980 neoconservatives William Bennett and Eliot Abrams came to play highly visible roles in the Republican administration.

Conceivably even if Robert Kagan and his friends support Hillary Clinton against Trump, they would still remain prominent, well-connected “conservatives.” The neoconservatives’ power and influence do not depend on their willingness to march in lockstep with the GOP. Their power base extends into both parties; and if most neocons are currently identified with the “moderate” wing of the GOP, providing their political ambitions are met and their foreign policy is carried out, other recognizable neocons like William Galston, Kagan’s wife Victoria Nuland, and Ann Applebaum have identified strongly with Democratic administrations. Neoconservatives will not likely cease to be part of the political and journalistic establishment, even if some in their ranks chose to back Hillary against the Donald.

Even less likely, will they cease to be a shaping force in a “conservative movement” that remains mostly under their wing. Since the 1980s neoconservatives have been free to push that movement in their own direction, toward a neo-Wilsonian foreign policy, toward the defense of what they celebrate as a “democratic capitalist welfare state” and toward a gradual acceptance of leftist social positions, as being less vital to “conservatism” than “national defense.” Neoconservatives demand that the government be pro-active in relation to the rest of the world. They and those politicians they train speak of “leading from the front” and place special emphasis on the protection of Israel and continued American intervention in “trouble spots” across the globe.

Neoconservatives have their own characteristic American nationalism, which is based on both energetic involvement in the affairs of other states and calls for further immigration, which now comes mostly from the Third World. Both of these foundational positions are justified on the grounds that American identity rests on a creed, which stresses universal equality. Most anyone from anywhere can join the American nation by adopting the neocons’ preferred creed; and once here these “new Americans, “ it is argued, will become hardy defenders of our propositional nationhood while providing the cheap labor needed for economic growth. Perhaps most importantly, neocons have no trouble attracting corporate donors, who hold their views on immigration and their fervent Zionism. Australian newspaper baron Rupert Murdoch, who finances their media outlets, has been particularly generous to his neoconservative clients but is far from their only benefactor.

The hundreds of millions of dollars that are poured into neoconservative or neoconservative-friendly policy institutes annually are not likely to dry up in the foreseeable future. A meeting just held on Sea Island off the coast of Georgia for the purpose of devising and executing a plan to bring down Trump, included, according to Pat Buchanan, all the usual suspects. Neocon journalist Bill Kristol,, executives of neocon policy institute AEI, and Republican bigwigs and politicians were all conspicuously represented at this gathering of the “conservative “ in-crowd , and gargantuan sums of money were pledged to destroy the reputation of someone whom the attendees hoped to destroy.

If the neocons were falling, certainly they are hiding their descent well. Finally, there seems to be a continuing congruence between the liberal internationalism preached by neoconservatives and such architects of America’s foreign policy as the Council on Foreign Relations. Although the Old Right and libertarians may lament these troublemakers, the neoconservatives do not labor alone in imposing their will. They are the most out-front among those calling for an aggressive American internationalism; and this has been a dominant stance among American foreign policy elites for at least a century.

It is hard to imagine that the neocons will lose these assets because they’ve been branding Trump a fascist or because they’re unwilling to back the GOP presidential candidate, no matter who he or she is. Powerbrokers in their own right, they don’t have to worry about passing litmus tests. They enjoy unbroken control of the “conservative movement,” and benefit from the demonstrable inability of a more genuine Right to displace them. Matthew Richer asks whether Donald Trump’s election would spell “the end of NR’s influence over the conservative movement in America.” The answer is an emphatic no, unless those who distribute the funding for the neoconservative media empire decide to close down this particular fixture. Otherwise Rich Lowry and his buds will go on being funded as agents for disseminating neocon party lines.

Moreover, those featured in NR‘s printed issues and/or on its widely visited website are routinely invited on to Fox-news and contribute to other interlocking neoconservative enterprises. Rich Lowry and Jonah Goldberg will not be thrown out of work, because they dumped toxic waste on Trump. And Max Boot will not lose his position at the WSJ because of his over-the-top tirades against Trump, after having railed non-stop for several weeks against Confederate monuments and Confederate Battle Flags. There is nothing the neocons say when they’re reaching leftward or revealing their leftist colors that the leftist media aren’t also saying, even more stridently. Pointing out the silliness of neoconservative assertions about history or the current age may help us deal with our irritation. It does not mean that we can dissuade those who fund the neoconservatives from giving them more money. They are being kept around not for their wisdom or the elegance of their prose but because they are useful to the powerful and rich.

Finally I should observe that the neocons have done so well in marginalizing their opposition on the right that it seems unlikely, as George Hawley points out in Right-Wing Critics of the Conservative Movement (University of Kansas, 2016), that the balance of power between the two sides is about to change. How exactly will a genuine Right that has not been contaminated by the neocons gain enough influence to replace them? How can such a Right, given its modest circumstances, even compete with the neocons for access to the public and for friends in high places?

The neocons would never yield ground to competitors on the right. Indeed they have fought them so relentlessly, because they view them as nothing less carriers of anti-Semitism and other things that the neocons fear. Further, leftist allies would join the neocons in preventing our side from ever gaining ground. And this kind of alliance has worked well before, e.g., when the neocons made their opposition disappear with an assist from the Left in the 1980s and early 1990s. Although there are isolated journalists like Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan who resist the neocons from the Right while enjoying prominence, these are the exceptions. Most of those who attack the neocons from the right languish in relative obscurity. Indeed most right-wing critics of the neoconservatives, as Hawley underscores, have been effectively removed from media visibility. This isolation suits the regular Left as it does the Left’s more moderate neoconservative wing.

To those who hope to see the neocons swept from power as Donald Trump and his backers prosper politically, I am offering the sobering message that your expectations are unrealistic. Although the neoconservatives can be challenged from the Right, such a challenge can only work on the media level if the would-be counterforce is as well-equipped as what it’s fighting. Simply saying that the neocons are losing ground or are now in freefall won’t make one’s wish come to pass. Needless to say, I’d be delighted if proven wrong in this matter.

vendredi, 19 février 2016

Heidegger, ein Faschist?


Heidegger, ein Faschist?

von Prof. Dr. Paul Gottfried

Ex: http://www.blauenarzisse.de

Im Oktober ist im Karolinger-​Verlag die Schrift „Heidegger und der Antifaschismus“ von Bernard Willms erschienen. Herausgegeben wurde sie von Till Kinzel.

Heidegger-​Studien in Hülle und Fülle vorliegen, legte Willms etwas Originelles hin, als er durch seinen bündig gefassten Band Heideggers politische Kritiker auseinandernahm. Eine Schwemme an überhitzten Denunziationen kreist um Heideggers Einsatz für die „Deutsche Revolution“, die in seiner Freiburger Rektoratsrede von 1933 anklang, nachdem er eine Woche zuvor der NSDAP beigetreten war.

9770789a0f33e588bdf77280b57e9f04_L.jpgDie antisemitischen Äußerungen von Heidegger

Ausgehend von einem bahnbrechenden Band (1987) des chilenischen Kommunisten Victor Farias, sind einander jagende Anti-​Heidegger-​Demontagen zuhauf erschienen. Samt und sonders zielen sie darauf ab, Heideggers ideenpolitische Reise zum Faschismus von seiner Kinderstube bis zu seinem Tod aufzuzeigen. Auf seinem Lebensweg tauchen vermeintlich gewisse Charakteristika auf, im besonderen Abscheu vor der Moderne, Judenhass, und (bei Farias) eine Reihe von katholisch angehauchten tiefreaktionären Haltungen.

Willms, der sein Buch 1991 vollendete, war nicht imstande, die in den letzten zehn Jahren veröffentlichten Werke von Peter Trawny über die „Schwarzen Hefte“, die die antisemitischen Aussprüche aus Heideggers zwischen 1938 und 1941 niedergelegten „Überlegungen“ zusammentragen, und die Kinzel in seinem bibliographischen Anhang aufführt, zu besprechen. Aber meiner Ansicht nach ist dieser für Skandal sorgende Renner Willms Einschätzung kaum abträglich. Heideggers Anzüglichkeiten über Juden, dass sie „entwurzelt“ seien und zu einem krassen Händlertum gehören, sind klischeehaft und zwar schimpflich, aber kommen der Nazi-​Rassentheorie an Lästerlichkeit bei weitem nicht gleich. Leicht wäre es, ebenso unglimpfliche Bemerkungen zu Juden bei Churchill oder anderen zu finden. Dergleichen habe ich schon bei diesen Prominenten ausgebuddelt. Dem Anklagebrief entgegenzuhalten, ist aber die Tatsache, dass Heidegger vor 1933 von jüdischen Studenten umschwärmt wurde. Die berühmteste ist sicherlich die deutsche Jüdin Hannah Arendt. Seinem jüdischstämmigen Gönner und engem Freund Edmund Husserl hatte er zudem Sein und Zeit (1927) gewidmet.

Die größte Dummheit seines Lebens

Auch während des Krieges hielt Heidegger die seinem Tagebuch vertrauten antijüdischen Äußerungen nicht für „druckfähig“. Schon im April 1934 trat er verdrossen aus seiner Rektoratsstelle aus, und nach dem Krieg kennzeichnete er sein mit verschränkten Verweisen auf das Griechentum beschwingte Lob auf das Dritte Reich als die „größte Dummheit meines Lebens“. Leider genügt dieser begrenzte Reueausdruck keineswegs, um der Schlägerei ein Ende zu machen. Beim deutschen Intellektuellentum, so Willms, floriert eine Heimindustrie, die Heidegger eine lebenslange Anfälligkeit für die Nazi-​Bewegung unterstellt. Von dem verdeutschten Farias, über Bernd Martin, Hugo Ott und Jürgen Habermas bis zu Trawny schießen die Verrisse wie Pilze aus dem Boden.

Sie sind bestrebt, so Willms, Heidegger ins ärgste erdenkliche Licht zu rücken und hantierten mit fragwürdigen Kontinuitäten, um die beabsichtigte Bilanz zu ziehen. Aus der denunziatorischen Wortflut erschließen sich bestimmbare Grundmotive, die Willms akribisch untersuchte. Zuallererst ersparen sich die Denunzierenden die Mühe, Heideggers Seinsphilosophie zu bewältigen, eine erschöpfende Aufgabe angesichts der Verstricktheit des zu berücksichtigenden Lesestoffs. Statt mit stilistisch schweren Texten ringen zu müssen, kann sich der Kritiker mit politischen Mahnungen begnügen. Die seinsphilosophische Grübelei fühlt man sich berechtigt abzutun, denn sie entsprang einem Feind unserer jeweiligen Demokratie und ohnehin einem eingefleischten Faschisten.

Postmoderne Wende

Zum zweiten tauchten die vielfältigen Anklagen gegen Heidegger im Zusammenhang einer aufgeheizten Auseinandersetzung in Frankreich und anschließend in Deutschland zwischen einerseits den Modernisten, Linksdemokraten sowie Kommunisten, und andererseits den Vertretern der Postmoderne auf. Die postmodernen Vordenker, vor allem Jacques Derrida und Jean-​Francois Lyotard, reißen sich von Marx und anderen fortschrittlichen Vordenkern los, so der Jammerchor, um auf einen antidemokratischen, zeitfremden Mystiker ihre Spannkraft zu richten. Damit die Abgelenkten auf die rechte Bahn zurückgebracht werden können, tut es not, Heidegger in seiner vollen Niedertracht zu entlarven.

In Anknüpfung daran – und hier steckt das wahre Herzstück der Arbeit – bezeugen die Anstürme auf Heidegger den steten Versuch der ihn Denunzierenden, ihren Antifaschismus als Gründungslehre der aus der Besatzung entstandenen menschenrechtlichen deutschen Demokratie zu unterstreichen. Jedesmal wenn ein Möchtegern-​Prominenter Heidegger schlechtmacht, attestiert er seinen Mitbürgern oder seinen gleichgestimmten Kollegen, dass er anständiger ist. Als Paradebeispiel führt Willms Karl Jaspers an, der mit der „schnodderigen Bemerkung“ den Reigen eröffnete: „Heidegger weiß nicht, was die Freiheit ist.“

Wer Faschist ruft, will seine eigene moralische Überlegenheit beweisen

Stark geprägt von Heideggers Existenzphilosophie, die er in einer volkstümlichen Gestalt, den breiten Massen zugänglich machte, setzte Jaspers einen weitaus helleren Denker herab, um seine moralische Überlegenheit zu beweisen. Die Sache noch weiter trübend, so Willms, wusste Jaspers Bescheid, dass Heidegger einen philosophischen Freiheitsbegriff eingehend ausgearbeitet hatte. Was Jaspers mit seiner Urteilfindung bezweckte, war sich über einen höher zu rangierenden Kopf moralisch emporzuheben. Und mit seinem Gestus bekannte er sich zu der antifaschistischen Nachkriegsordnung, die für Heidegger keinen Platz übrig hatte.

Noch zeitbedeutender ist darüber hinaus, dass der politisch und kulturell grundlegende Antifaschismus den eingeschworenen Kommunisten und sonstigen Linkstotalitären eine rauschende Willkommenskultur bescherte. Namhaften kommunistischen Fürsprechern, am merkwürdigsten Berthold Brecht und Jean-​Paul Sartre, war alle Ehre im antifaschistischen Kampflager beschieden. Abbitte mussten Antifaschisten keineswegs leisten, auch wenn sie für Stalin und Mao unverschämt eingetreten waren. Während es gehalten sei, Heidegger wegen seiner 1933 verübten Verirrung laufend zu verdammen, belobigt man dennoch „antifaschistische” Kommunisten als vorbildliche Demokraten.

Hoffnung auf eine schicksalshafte Geschichtswende

Im Gegensatz zu dem heuchlerischen Gefasel der Sittenwächter sei die Auffassung, die Heideggers ehemaliger Assistent Karl Löwith in Denker in dürftiger Zeit (1953) darbietet, wenigstens vertretbar, dass Heideggers emotional aufgeladener Sinn der Schicksalshaftigkeit zu seiner eingangs positiven Haltung zum Dritten Reiches den Weg bahnte. Die Erwartung einer weltbewegenden Geschichtswende, die die „Destruktion“ aller bestehenden Wertsysteme nach sich ziehen muss, öffnete dem in die Rektoratsrede eingeflochtenen Thema „Nationalrevolution“ Tür und Tor.

Löwith sucht eine begriffliche Überleitung von Heideggers Denkansätzen zu seiner folgenschweren Entscheidung im Gefolge einer verhängnisvollen Regierungsveränderung. Er führt aus, dass Heideggers Aufbruch von einem subjektiven Dasein, das in Sein und Zeit herausgestellt wird, zu einem alles durchdringenden Seinsbegriff gewisse Weiterungen mittrug. Diese als philosophisch eingeordnete Wende hatte eine Politik der apokalyptischen Erwartung zur Folge. Seiner zeitlich begrenzten Empfänglichkeit für den 1933 vorgefallenen Erdenrutsch eilte Heideggers geistige Umorientierung voran.

Beiläufig erwähnt: Löwith, ein protestantischer Akademiker jüdischer Abkunft, wurde nach 1933 gedrängt, aus Deutschland nach Italien zu flüchten. Dort traf er mit seinem in Urlaub gegangenen Mentor zusammen, der drauflos redete, wie durch und durch begeistert er war von der Neuordnung. Der entflohene Ex-​Anhänger wurde von Entsetzen gepackt, als er Heideggers Ergüssen zuhörte. Nicht nur war er aus seiner Heimat hinausgedrängt worden. Ebenso beunruhigend war die sonderbar anmutende Begeisterung seines Freundes, den er nicht mehr wiedererkannte. Im Unterschied zu den jetzt in Schwung gekommenen Anti-​Heidegger-​Moralisten kreidete Löwith aber seinem gefallenen Idol später kein Festhalten seiner ehemaligen Haltungen an. Heidegger war eben eine im Wandel stehende und nicht immer auf einen glücklichen Ausgang zustrebende Denkfigur.

Bernard Willms: Heidegger und der Antifaschismus. Wien: Karolinger, 2015.

lundi, 01 février 2016

Fighting the Multicultural Left


Fighting the Multicultural Left

By Paul Gottfried

Ex: http://www.lewrockwell.com 

In his latest column Pat Buchanan writes eloquently about a “civil war on the right.” According to Pat, “conservatives” are now locked in mortal combat over the future of the American Right, and the sides are divided between the fans and despisers of populist presidential candidate Donald Trump. From this narrative it seems that while some “conservatives” are rooting for the Donald, others are ready to bolt the Republican Party if he picks up the Republican presidential nomination.

Although the events Pat describes are indeed unfolding, his label is misleading. Whatever political term one may decide to confer on Trump, most of those who are now railing against him, led by Rich Lowry and his band at National Review, are hardly “conservative.” They are essentially leftists, who are slightly less leftist than their friends at the Washington Post and at other national papers, whose editorial pages are graced by such “conservatives” as Jennifer Rubin, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and Michael Barone. Much of what looks like the Right has been forced to live in the shadows since the neoconservatives in conjunction with the establishment Left helped to marginalize a truer Right in the 1980s. Real “conservative wars” did take place in the 1980s; and the paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians were overrun by the other side’s superior resources. The winning side was led by the neoconservatives who were helped significantly by the journalistic Left.

What happened in those years resulted in having “conservative” and “liberal” labels assigned to factions that had once belonged on the Left. By now of course the “conservative” label means whatever the media and our two official parties wish it to mean. Thus we encounter advocates of gay marriage, David Boas and John Podhoretz featured among National Review‘s “conservatives,” in a battle against the supposed interloper from the left, Donald Trump? It is certainly hard, and perhaps even impossible, to locate the “conservative” substance or worldview uniting the critics of Trump in National Review. Why should we think, for example, that National Review expresses “conservatism” when it protests Vladimir Putin’s critiques of “Western social decadence” and when a National Review-regular contributor wishes to intervene in Ukraine on behalf of the transgendered? Does the magazine represent the “conservative” side in international relations, as opposed to, say, self-described leftist Steven Cohen, who has urged greater moderation in dealing with the conservative nationalist Russian government?

Why are Republican presidential candidates who yearn to call Bibi and pledge him our unconditional support as soon as they’re elected taking the “conservative” side in anything? And is being in good standing with Rupert Murdoch and Sheldon Adelson the current operative definition of being a “conservative”? Perhaps Richard Lowry and Marco Rubio could answer this question for us. But it’s unlikely they would, since I’m considered to be the sworn enemy of “conservativism,” whatever that term has now come to mean. Not surprisingly, National Review and most of its anti-Trump critics ran to affix the label “conservative” to Mitt Romney, John McCain and to other centrist, leaning-left Republicans when they were nominated for president. The term “conservative” for these Trump-critics is synonymous with being acceptable to the Republican establishment.

It was also tiresome listening to Megyn Kelly on Fox news explain that “conservative luminaries” have denounced Trump as a leftist. Most of those who did the denouncing would have been viewed as social radicals by the American standards of the 1950s, that is, before the feminist and gay movements took over and before the government became an agency of accelerating Political Correctness. Further, the word “luminary” is one that I would reserve for figures of the stature of Shakespeare, Newton, Mozart, Goethe, and George Washington. Lesser but also significant luminaries in my time were Murray Rothbard, M.E. Bradford, Sam Francis and other brilliant thinkers whom Rich Lowry’s movement of yuppie journalists and pretentious cultural illiterates helped turn into non-persons.

Talking about the mislabeling of what Trump called a “dying” publication (which unfortunately is still not dead enough), the most unconvincing defense of NR’s tear against Trump was from those who wish to remind us that Bill Buckley set up a publication that would “stand athwart the time.” Since NR in 1955 was meant to be a “conservative” fortnightly, we are therefore supposed to believe that it has remained such. The problem with this evidence is that it proves nothing at all, except that in 1955 the founder of a particular enterprise had a certain intention which he may or may not have realized. One may doubt whether Buckley’s brain child ever realized its proposed goal (certainly those on the right whom he expelled would have questioned that).

But even if we do concede arguendo that the magazine was properly established to present conservative positions, why would I have to believe that sixty years later it is still doing the same thing? In the 1950s the New York Times was a pro-Eisenhower Republican newspaper; in 1940 the French daily Le Figaro was a right-wing nationalist one; and as late as fifteen years ago, Hans-Hermann Hoppe described the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quite accurately to me as “eine bürgerliche Zeitung (a bourgeois newspaper).” All these publications are now integral parts of the propaganda apparatus of the multicultural Left, although Le Figaro and the FAZ may be more sympathetic to corporate capitalism than the spasmodically socialist NYT.

Newspapers and news magazines change their politics over the decades, and most of them that have survived into our now perfected “liberal democracies” have moved decidedly to the left on a wide range of social and political issues. Despite the fact that its advertising still features, with ample support from leftist friends, the “conservative” name brand, National Review has undergone the kind of fundamental change that has characterized other publications that once belonged recognizably to the Right. Evidence of how far to the left this fortnightly has moved became apparent to me when I chanced upon a long tribute on National Review-Online to the Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Particularly noteworthy about this fulsome tribute, by Steve Schwarz, was that it was prominently published in a “conservative” magazine.

The same publication had actively participated in purging and marginalizing those right-wing contributors (like me), who had failed to meet the PC criteria of the magazine’s control people. As I read NR’s tribute to a failed Communist global revolutionary, it dawned on me that what the editorial board understood as “conservative” was something far closer to Trotskyism than it was to what had passed for “conservatism” among NR’s founders in 1955. Needless to say, the term in question had signified something different to interwar opponents of the American welfare state than it did to Bill Buckley. Still, the two sides spoke to each other in a meaningful fashion. Although strife broke out on the right when Buckley espoused his own form of liberal interventionism, the anti-welfare state isolationists of the 1930s and the original editors of NR shared enough of the same universe of discourse to engage in communication. Moreover, by the present standards of ideological conformity that prevail at Lowry’s operation, the post-World War Two debates on what still looked like some kind of Right were models of free exchange. But today NR‘s editors and those whom they’ve helped flush down a memory hole could not even begin to hold a civil conversation. This may be attributed to the not insignificant fact that NR’s “conservatives” have taken over so much of the leftist spirit of the age that there is nothing conservative that they represent any longer.

See this quotation from NR; it’s unforgettable: “To my last breath, I will defend Trotsky who alone and pursued from country to country and finally laid low in his own blood in a hideously hot house in Mexico City, said no to Soviet coddling to Hitlerism, to the Moscow purges, and to the betrayal of the Spanish Republic, and who had the capacity to admit that he had been wrong about the imposition of a single-party state as well as about the fate of the Jewish people. To my last breath, and without apology. Let the neofascists and Stalinists in their second childhood make of it what they will.” [see Paul Gottfried’s commentary on Takimag.com, April 17, 2007]

Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is Horace Raffensperger Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Elizabethtown College and author of Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, The Strange Death of Marxism, and Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right. His latest book is Encounters: My Life with Nixon, Marcuse, and Other Friends and Teachers.


Previous article by Paul Gottfried: From Under the Rubble

mercredi, 13 janvier 2016

Second Thoughts About the Germans

Second Thoughts About the Germans


Ex: http://www.lewrockwell.com

For the last thirty years I have devoted my energies to defending the German people against a variety of charges directed against them by their leftist and neoconservative critics in the US and Germany. Many of the points that I’ve raised about the historical past don’t have to be amended, because they continue to be true, e.g., about the Allied responsibility for the outbreak of World War One,  the silliness of looking for Nazi ideas throughout the German past, and the brilliance of German philosophical and literary accomplishments. Nothing that is now occurring would cause me to revise my critical judgments about the grossly unjust Treaty of Versailles, the terror bombing of German cities during the last year of World War Two, the arrogant stupidity of the post-World War Two re-education of the German people carried out by the “Western democracies” and the kangaroo court held in Nuremberg in 1946 and 1947. These are not things that I feel impelled to reconsider.

What I am changing my mind about is whether the Germans are totally blameless for the antifascist horror into which they’ve descended. As German friends tell me, what transpired on New Year’s Eve, when over a thousand Near Eastern Muslims attacked 121 women near the central train station in Cologne, tore off their clothes and in some cases began to rape them, is only the “tip of the iceberg.” There have been hundreds of other incidents of violence across Germany that have been reported since Angela Merkel, to the near unanimous support of her Christian Democratic-captains, encouraged Muslim migrants to enrich her country by their presence. The German media have tried to hush up the embarrassing incidents or after the attacks in Cologne shifted the blame to the victims. Apparently the verbally abused and assaulted women didn’t “stay at arm’s length” from their attackers. It is hardly surprising that the police came belatedly to the crime scene or that Cologne’s feminist social democratic mayor, Henriette Reker, insists that the failure of the victims to maintain the proper distance from their attackers led to their fate. But, according to Reker, this setback will not hinder the construction of a German multicultural society. The federal minister of justice, Heiko Maas, who is also a feminist Social Democrat (read antinationalist, antifascist enthusiast) has expressed the same optimistic judgment as the one issued by the Cologne mayor.

Last Sunday when a demonstration against the abuse of the victimized German women took place at the site of the attacks, the police quickly intervened and threw canisters of gas at the demonstrators. The government and various corporate heads have pledged to take action against those who are heard to disparage the “welcoming culture.” This culture has been generated for the benefit of more than one million Muslim migrants who have entered Germany, with the blessings of the political and journalistic class. If the “conservative” German head of state Angela Merkel falls from power and her totally submissive party is “abgewählt” (voted out of office), the new government would likely be the most Culturally Marxist regime on the face of this planet. PC totalitarianism will then descend on the Germans in a hurry rather than with measured strides.

Up until recently I might have explained away this situation by pointing to German antifascist re-education after the War, a subject on which I have written a great deal. I might also have cited the fact that the Germans have lost two great wars, a fate that has left them utterly demoralized. I would also have brought up the understandable reaction to the crimes committed by the Third Reich and the concomitant responsibility felt by the younger Germans to somehow make amends for the Third Reich. Although Germans, I would have argued, have been excessive in their atonement frenzy and have drawn the wrong conclusions from the recent past, at least their motives seemed decent. One German lady provided another interpretation that was at least plausible when I asked why Germans revel in their atonement rites. She explained that they still regard themselves as being “occupied” by the victors of World War Two and therefore are intent “die Amis zu befriedigen (to please the Yankees).”

Although there may be a measure of truth in most of these explanations, I no longer accept them as definitive. I now consider the Germans to be responsible for their own mess and reaping a well-deserved punishment. The fanatically intolerant leftist politicians who inhabit the German political scene were democratically elected. No one put a gun to the head of any German to vote for them. Moreover, there’s nothing like a Trump movement or the National Front that has emerged on the German right, which hardly exists as a political force. The only slightly right-of-center party in Germany, and the one that is stepping forth to address the exploding Muslim violence, is the Alternative für Deutschland. This is a party that only in Germany would be viewed as occupying the “far Right.” In the US the AfD would be hardly indistinguishable from the GOP establishment; and like our establishment Republicans, the leaders of this party are forever pummeling each other for being “too right-wing.” When Angela Merkel praised Germany for not needing “a party of the Right,” she knew whereof she spoke. Until now all her opposition has come from a Left that would make Bernie Sanders look like Edmund Burke.

Workers and state employees dutifully report to the government about who is expressing rightist sentiments, for example, by not participating in the welcoming culture for the migrants. Universities, which in Germany are entirely state-run institutions, would not give anyone a position in a history or social science department if that person were thought to hold insufficiently antinational opinions. The renowned modern historian Christopher Clark was shocked at the anti-German animus that he encountered while lecturing at German universities on the causes of World War One. Last year I too was shocked when German President Joachim Gauck accepted blame on behalf of his country for “the massacre of the Armenians” in 1915. I’m still trying to figure out how the German Imperial army participated in the mass murder that Gauck has laid on them. From what I’ve read on the subject, (and it is a great deal), German officers, like Liman von Sanders, tried to prevent Turkish military units from massacring Armenians, despite the fact that some Armenians had taken up arms on the side of Russia against Germany and Turkey. But since German politicians relish recounting their nation’s sins, real and imagined, why shouldn’t they throw in more nonsense? We might even add to their mea culpa list all the lesbians that the Third Reich is imagined to have killed but never did.

It is entirely possible that Germans act as they do because as one young American friend who is studying in Germany noted: “They follow their leaders, right over the cliff.” Although this explanation may be drawing on unfair stereotypes, the person who offered it is far from an inveterate German hater. He went to study at a German university because of his deep respect for the humanistic accomplishments of mostly dead Germans. But Germans of the present generation have embraced a lunatic, antifascist ideology, and they have done so with a moral intensity that is characteristically German. Other nations do not act in this way, at least not to the same degree.

Claiming this behavior is due to the forced re-education inflicted on Germans after World War Two and to the bad self-image that Germans took away from the Nuremberg show trials is not entirely credible. World War Two ended in 1945 and Germany is no longer an occupied country. If the Germans stopped waging war on themselves as a people, the American army would not likely reinvade their territory. In fact except for a handful of German-hating journalists and academics, who are located exclusively between Boston and D.C., most people wouldn’t even notice if the Germans became a self-respecting nation again. Perhaps they could start by closing their borders to migrants. They might also think about filling their universities with academics who don’t loathe their country’s entire existence up until the moment the Allies occupied it.

vendredi, 04 décembre 2015

Prof. P. Gottfried: Die deutsche Nation

Die deutsche Nation

von Prof. Dr. Paul Gottfried
Ex: http://www.blauenarzisse.de

Prof. Paul Gottfried stellt in diesem Beitrag das Denken von Bernard Willms und insbesondere sein Buch „Die deutsche Nation“ vor.

willms.pngDer den Freitod wählende Staatsdenker und weltbekannte Hobbes-​Sachkenner Bernard Willms (19311991) zählte zu den eigenständigsten Promovierten von Joachim Ritter. Wie Ritter, der eine beträchtliche Reihe von namhaften konservativ ausgerichteten Gelehrten promoviert hat, wurde Willms von Hegels Rechtsphilosophie stark angetan. In einem beweisbaren Sinn versinnbildlicht Hegel einen Fixpunkt für Willms’ politische und weltanschauliche Orientierung. Gewiss wurde Willms von anderen Staatsdenkern, insbesondere Fichte, Hobbes und Carl Schmitt und nicht zuletzt von Heideggers Seinsphilosophie unauslöschlich geprägt.

Besät ist sein Band Die deutsche Nation mit weitgehenden Hinweisen auf Fichte und Hobbes (ganz von Heideggers Vorstellung der „Seinsvergessenheit“ zu schweigen). Diese Vordenker sind in Hülle und Fülle herangezogen, als es versucht wird, eine „politisch organisierte“ Lebensform und eine zum Selbstbewußtsein wachgerufene deutsche Volksnation in Verbindung zu bringen. Zusätzlich wartet Willms mit Auszügen aus Fichtes „Reden an die deutsche Nation“ auf. Ebenso wie im frühen neunzehnten Jahrhundert, als gegen Napoleon mobilisierte Patrioten auf eine deutsche Erweckung abzielten, bedürfen bis heute die Deutschen eines Programms der Nationalerziehung, damit sie es dazu bringen können, eine „Fremdherrschaft“ loszuschütteln.

Der Vernunftstaat

Die unübersehbaren Hegelschen Begrifflichkeiten bei Willms treten aus seinem Ansatz hervor, die Gründung oder Bewahrung einer nationalen Allgemeinheit auf das Werden und Wirken eines Staates zu beziehen. Nach seiner aus Hegel entlehnten Formulierung hängt die Beschützung einer „Kulturnation“ vom geeigneten Staatsgefüge ab. Beides macht ein „wirklichkeitsbezogenes“ Gespann. Willms borgt Hegels Wendung des „Vernunftstaates”, um die erwünschte Zusammenfügung von Denken und Geschichtsnotwendigkeit zu kennzeichnen. Er verweist auf eine in Nachkriegsdeutschland in Schwung gekommene Absicht, eine wiederhergestellte Nation der Dichter und Denker anzustreben. Diesen Idealisten fehlte es allerdings an einem geübten Verhältnis zur Geschichte. Ohne eine staatliche und staatserzieherische Unterstützung verlief der Plan, Deutschland als eine reine Kulturnation zurückzubringen, im Sande.

Gemeinsame Selbstbehauptung

Auch zu beachten ist, dass Willms dem Hegelschen Gedankengang folgend eine „verwirklichte Nation” als eine ausgeprägt „begriffene Allgemeinheit” erfasst. Egal auf welche Weise sie urzeitig oder urwüchsig sich zusammenfaßte, ist die neuzeitliche Nationalgemeinschaft nur als eine ausgedachte Volksidentität zu verwirklichen. Und die Zeit fordert dringlich, dass eine Staatsregierung, die die dazugehörige Nationalität gewährleistet, ins Leben gerufen wird. Willms richtet sich an deutsche Patrioten, die eine aus der Vergangenheit entstandene und auf die Zukunft hinausgreifende kollektive Existenz geistig sowie emotional behaupten. Nicht ein dumpfes Gefühl der Zusammengehörigkeit sondern eine gemeinsame Selbstbehauptung, der sich alle einzelnen Mitglieder anschließen, und die eine vereinigende Staatsform annimmt, prägt die zum Nationalstaat gehobene Volksgemeinschaft der Neuzeit aus.

Ein Schwerpunkt, der bei Willms kaum zu übersehen ist, stellt seine Thematisierung der Neuzeit dar. Von den medialen Seitenhieben auf ihn als einen abstoßenden Reaktionär absehend, erachtet sich Willms als Vollblutvertreter der Moderne. Immer wieder streitet er den Linken ihre Vereinnahmung der Moderne ab. Er konstatiert, dass die Moderne dem Wesen nach nicht in erster Linie mit einer Konsumgesellschaft oder mit dem Kultus der sogenannten Menschenrechte gleichzustellen ist. Die „Neuzeit“ habe vielmehr Erscheinungen hervorgebracht wie die protestantische Reformation, der Aufstieg einer gebildeten, selbstbewussten Bürgerschaft, das Schaffen des Nationalstaates und eines überall im Westen geltend gemachten Völkerrechts.

Liberale Demokratie und deutscher Idealismus

Ebenso hervorstechend bei seiner Zeitanalyse ist ein anderer von Willms vorgetragener Gegensatz, zwischen den nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg den Geschlagenen aufgezwungenen „liberaldemokratischen“ Leitsätzen und dem zur gegenwärtigen Stunde in Mißkredit geratenen „deutschen Idealismus“. Beide Weltanschauungen nehmen für sich in Anspruch, die Neuzeit zu vollführen, aber Willms stellt fest, dass nur die letztere das Gütesiegel trägt. Die zur Staatsreligion aufgewertete liberaldemokratische Grundlehre führt dazu, einer einstigen Nation sowohl ihre Selbstverwirklichungsmöglichkeit wie ihre Selbstachtung abzunehmen. Statt ein Durchdenken ihres Nationsdefizits zu erwecken, hat die liberaldemokratische Gängelführung zur Folge, die Deutschen sich selbst zu entfremden und ihren Siegern unterzuordnen. Die Sache erschwerend gibt diese Einstellung einer genießerischen Lebensweise Nahrung, als sie darauf gerichtet ist, die Deutschen von der Wiedererlangung einer Nationalidentität dauernd abzulenken.

Willms bezeichnet gezielt die „deutsche Philosophie“, den Idealismus von Kant bis Heidegger, als den Weg für seine selbstentfremdete Nation ins Freie. Dadurch versteht er die Wiederaneignung einer Selbstidentität über einen punktuellen Denkprozess. Ein Grundzug der Moderne, betrachtet von der Sichtweise der deutschen Idealisten her, war die Vorpräparierung eines bedachten nationalen Eigenwesens, deren Ergebnis auf eine Allgemeinheit übertragbar war. Eine Idee von dieser Ausprägung entsprang der Zukunftsvision und dem Geschichtssinn der Philosophen, die für die Deutschen eine Nationalgemeinschaft vorgreifend umrissen. Das Ergebnis war nur insoweit möglich, als das betreffende Denken eine historische Notwendigkeit philosophisch widerspiegelt.

willms35.JPGWer national ist, wird als Antidemokrat beschimpft

Die liberaldemokratische Herrschaft, die mit der französischen Besatzung während der napoleonischen Zeitepoche verglichen wird, verweigert den Deutschen ein wahres Recht, die „Nationalfrage“ zur Diskussion zu stellen. Diesem Denkverbot zuwiderzuhandeln, tut jeder Freidenker auf die Gefahr hin, sich als „Antidemokrat“ stempeln zu lassen. Dennoch riet Willms seinen Mitbürgern einen „demokratischen“ Kurs nicht kategorisch ab.

In Die deutsche Nation nimmt Willms eine Reihe von antinationalen Strömungen ins Visier, einschließlich der moralisierenden antideutschen Geschichtsschreibung, des Kollektivschuldfimmels und der Anstrengungen der Eliten den Deutschen ein erfundenes „weltgemeinschaftliches“ Eigenwesen unterzuschieben. Unter seinen Zielscheiben befindet sich ebenso eine auf die Spitze getriebene Konsumgesellschaft. Hier beruft sich Willms auf Rousseau und Fichte, die von der Zucht der gesetzten Staatsbürger als ausgesprochenes Charakteristikum der wohlgeordneten Gemeinschaft sprachen.

Die Jugend und die Mobilisierung der Nationalidentität

Auch klagt Willms die jüngere Generation an, die samt und sonders „gehäufte irrationalistische Ausbrüche aus dem Zirkel der Sinnlosigkeit” zum Schaden der deutschen Nation entladen. Zu einer „Mobilisierung der Nationalidentität” würden diese Gestrauchelten nicht im entferntesten taugen.

Meine beliebtesten Stellen aus dem Buch Die deutsche Nation beinhalten jedoch Willms’ Ansatz, gestützt auf die Wertkritik von Max Weber und Carl Schmitt, die liberaldemokratische Höchstwertsetzung auseinanderzunehmen. Ohne mit demokratischen Spielregeln vorliebzunehmen, drängen die „Gesinnungsdemokraten“ dazu, ihrem Verfahren eine unbestreitbare Heiligkeit zu verleihen. Mit einer nüchternen Wertung der jeweiligen Existenzlage hat das nichts zu tun. Die Zeitwirklichkeit kann so aufgefasst werden, dass wegen zweier verlorener Kriege eine von ihren Eroberern vorgeschriebene Staatsform den Deutschen aufgedrängt wurde, zusammen mit einem geschmälerten außenpolitischen Spielraum.

Der Höchstmaßstab für politisches Handeln

Statt eine verhaltene Haltung dem Unausweichlichen gegenüber anzunehmen, münzen die Gesinnungsdemokraten den Willensakt ihrer Besieger in eine Staatskirche um. Willms macht uns klar, dass diese Anbetung keinem philosophisch oder geschichtlich begründeten Standpunkt entspricht. Wie Weber stellt er fest, dass weder Menschenrechte noch wechselnde Parteiregierungen, sondern das Weiterbestehen einer Nation den „Höchstmaßstab” für politisches Handeln bildet. Willms weist darauf hin, dass Weber, der altliberal ausgerichtet war, nicht von einem ausufernden Deutschnationalismus angetrieben war. Der berühmte Soziologe war bestrebt, die von ihm begriffenen politischen Verhältnisse der Neuzeit darzulegen.

Durch seine akademische Laufbahn hindurch besetzte Willms eine Professur an der Universität Bochum. Dort konnte er sich seinem freimütigen Schreiben und scharfsinnigen Referaten unbehelligt hingeben. Ebenso augenfällig war sein Erfolg beim Platzieren seiner Buchtexte bei ansehnlichen Verlagshäusern, wie Suhrkamp, Kohlhammer und Bertelsmann. Seit seinem Tod werden Willms’ vielfältige Schriften totgeschwiegen, wenn nicht verunglimpft. Wenn Willms nicht seine Lebensjahre verkürzt hätte, dann hätte er schon erkannt, dass ihm der Zeitgeist unverkennbar abgewandt ist. Als geschichtlich orientierter Denker musste er aber wissen, dass der Zeitgeist nicht von selbst her handelt. Die sachbezogene Frage heißt nicht, wer über den Ausnahmefall entscheidet, sondern wer die „liberaldemokratische” Deutungshöhe zur Ausschließung der Nichtangepassten besetzt.

jeudi, 29 octobre 2015

The Gospel According to Kristol


The Gospel According to Kristol

Having noticed that Bill Kristol has agreed with Billy Graham that Seventh Day Adventists are “great on New Testament doctrine,” I have to wonder how much canonical weight Bill’s judgment here would carry among Murdochites. (My friend Boyd Cathy has created this term for those whose minds are totally imprisoned in the synthetic world of the Murdoch media.) Now I can figure out why Kristol the Lesser has conferred his seal of approval on the Seventh Day Adventists. His least favorite Republican presidential contender, the Donald, has been lording it over Dr. Ben, a political competitor who, unlike the Presbyterian Trump, is a lowly Adventist. Trump’s comments on this subject seem hardly worth remembering, and for all I know, they may have been said jokingly. But Kristol decided to come to the defense of the candidate whom he’s hoping will knock out the hated Trump, not because Bill really wants a black Adventist surgeon named Ben Carson to become the GOP nominee but because he needs Carson to get rid of Trump. At that point he and the other neocons will push one of their paid lackeys, preferably Rubio, to the front of the line, providing they can do a number on Dr. Ben.

All of this should seem obvious to anyone who has been following the GOP presidential contest with open eyes. The problem is, authentic Murdochites would never accept the view that Bill Kristol is not speaking as an expert on the Bible.  Neocons for the adepts are experts on everything they deign to address, just as Marxists used to claim an extensive knowledge about everything because of their Marxist “science.” Allow me to mention that I’ve just finished an anthology of essays mostly on historical topics, which Northern Illinois University Press will be publishing after my book on fascism. Among those distortions and half-truths I engage in this volume, the bulk came from neoconservative journalists, typically misrepresented as “conservatives” or “libertarians.”  Friends ask me why I would waste my time dealing with these lightweights. The answer is simple: These lightweights get loads of publicity in the neoconservative and established leftist press; and whatever kooky stuff they write about the past or about the Bible or about anything else they “explain” to the rest of us, is widely treated as the alternative position to what the academic Left is saying. Unfortunately what these self-described scholars are peddling are not really alternative views but what the Left used to proclaim before it went on to even nuttier positions.

I for one wouldn’t care what these scribblers wrote if they weren’t reaching millions of people, at least some of whom have told me the following nonsense: There is no reason to write anything else on fascism because Jonah Goldberg has already treated this subject from a “conservative” point of view, and everyone who counts, including Ted Cruz and the New York Times Bestseller list, has recognized the brilliance and comprehensiveness of Jonah’s scholarship.  Or: the Germans and Austrians were entirely responsible for World War One because Victor Davis Hanson and Max Boot say so. What supposedly seals the case is that the Weekly Standard ran an article maintaining that Kaiser Bill planned to invade the US as soon as he finished off “democratic” England. Since most of this article was an attack on the “horrid” Germanophile H.L. Mencken, it was unclear whether Mencken was embroiled in the invasion or was simply ready to cheer it on.  Let’s not get into Lincoln and the American Civil War, subjects about which there is no significant difference between what the PC Left drums into our heads and what the “conservatives” are proposing as their non-alternative alternative. Tom DiLorenzo may have to devote the rest of his earthly existence to the “conservative” defenders of the “conservative” Lincoln, trying to change their obstinate minds. I shall gladly leave him this task.

In a less uniformly leftist and less ideologically leftist culture, I would not feel obliged to write my “revisions and dissents,” which is the provisional title of my anthology; nor would other non-leftist revisionist historians have to fight what usually looks like a combined leftist-neocon front on historical questions; nor would I find myself battling “conservative interpretations” of subjects like fascism prepared by culturally illiterate partisan Republicans. Even more depressing is the activity of the Murdoch media, which spits out instant historical interpretations that have no factual content but correspond to neoconservative prejudices or momentary GOP strategy.  Each time I encounter this nonsense my blood pressure goes through the roof. The new Authorized Version rarely deviates from what the establishment Left taught us in college and graduate school.  But back then one could easily extract alternative views from traditional conservatives, from libertarian authors like Murray Rothbard or from some traditional Marxist who had an interesting take on some historical development. Murdoch and his friends have been able to white out the discussion of alternative historical views from the non-authorized Right. And even worse, they duplicate what they pretend to oppose.

Of course on certain subjects they go their own way, particularly when it comes to the Middle East. I’ve no idea how Murdoch’s Jerusalem Post can pretend that no Palestinian was ever ethnically cleansed during the creation of the Israeli state. In a well-researched dossier, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe puts the figure for non-combatant Palestinians who were killed or driven from the present Israeli territory (excluding the West Bank) at about 800,000. One does not have to be an enemy of the Jewish state (and I am certainly not one) to recognize that Palestinians do have justified historical gripes. Furthermore, their territory was not a land waiting for a people when Jewish settlers arrived from Europe. On this historical point the neocons and their sponsors differ significantly from everyone else, and the rest of the Left may be closer to the truth here than the neoconservatives and establishment Republicans. Also on those very few issues on which “conservative” history now diverges from the opinions of the rest of the Left, the Old Right, or what’s left of one, may find itself closer to the official Left than it is to the faux conservatives.

jeudi, 10 septembre 2015

Conservativism, Inc. and the Ideological Follies of My Youth


Conservativism, Inc. and the Ideological Follies of My Youth

One of the first essays I ever published was in the left-leaning Canadian Forum, to which I contributed a dissenting article, from the right, in 1968. Those were the days when the Left was far more tolerant than it is at the present time, and also far more tolerant than are the Stalinists and Trotskyites who run Conservatism, Inc. Unfortunately I can’t say much for the essay that I wrote as a young assistant professor at Case Western Reserve, which was full of sound and fury but signifying about as much as the latest NR editorial In fact there wasn’t much difference between what I said in 1968 and what a minicon today, looking back at the 1960s, would likely be saying. I berated the hippies and the “Counter-culture” for being unwilling to recognize the mortal struggle we were engaged in against the bad guys. Combatting the communist beast, I thought, was all-important, and the malodorous hippies who were high on a psychedelic life style, were AWOL in our war for civilization. What I didn’t mention was that I was then a fervent Republican and had just made a donation to the presidential campaign of Richard Nixon. My views in 1968 were reducible to the facile formula: “Hippies are bad; Republicans are good.”

Boy, was I deluded as well as insufferably pompous back then! The hippies were epiphenomenal in terms of what the Left has since become, while the Republican Party seems an insurmountable barrier to any attempt to stop the further progress of the Cultural Marxist epidemic that has grabbed hold of the Western world. The most critical political development of the 1960s, as I argue in After Liberalism, was the explosion of the managerial state in the Western “liberal democracies,” together with the state’s increasing involvement in “social policy.” The flower children had nothing to do with this tendency, although those who later promoted the new politics, like Hillary Clinton, are delighted to pull out old pics of themselves looking like flower-power kids. There were intelligent thinkers in 1968 who did point out the big picture. But since, like my later friends Christopher Lasch and Murray Rothbard, these critics were deemed as weak in fighting the Soviet challenge, they were not regarded in official movement circles as “conservative.” Back then I imagined that arch-conservative political thinker George F. Kennan, who was blistering in his attacks on Western decadence, was a raving leftist. After all, William F. Buckley said so and to prove the case, Kennan was in favor of making agreements with communist countries.

Mind you, I’m not saying the Soviets were not an international danger or that the Right was not justified in calling for resistance against aggressive communist dictatorships. Not everything the Right argued for or against during the 1960s, particularly on the domestic front, was wrong, and in retrospect, I would prefer the Right we had in 1960 to the grotesque caricature of the one we’re stuck with now.

But the onetime preoccupation of the American Right with what its critics described as “apocalyptic anti-Communism” has had unhappy consequences. Among them are saber-rattling and a fixation on foreign enemies that have to be invaded before they overrun the “homeland.” These obsessions have found lasting form in what is now imagined to be conservatism. In most meaningful respects the conservative movement has moved far, far from where it used to be. Today it shamelessly fronts for the GOP and the Israeli Right (sometimes so abjectly that it may embarrass Israeli politicians); at the national level it goes along with increased immigration from the Third World and various plans to “normalize” (read amnesty) illegal residents, and most conservative publicists whom I encounter either acquiesce in or jubilantly affirm the sanctity of gay marriage. But for our self-described patriots and vicarious front-line warriors, these developments are not worth our mental energy. We should be standing up for “American exceptionalism” and against all those who would resist our expanding conception of “human rights.”

Although on every social issue the current conservative establishment is light years to the left of the founders of National Review, on at least crucial two points, past and present merge. Today’s conservatives no less than the militant Cold Warriors of an earlier epoch seek to “roll back” the foreign enemy. What James Burnham once said about America’s fate in the Cold War, has now been extended to all foes of “American democracy.” We are “in a struggle for the world,” with changing Axes of Evil and see it dramatized every day and night on Fox News. Although admittedly a world power like ours faces real enemies, one has to wonder why enemies requiring military preparedness and possibly military intervention keep popping up every night on “conservative” TV and in the Republican press. This issue overshadows all other concerns, exactly as the Communist menace did for the older conservative movement, even after the Commies had ceased to be an international threat.

The other point on which conservatism then and now would agree is that the main, perhaps overshadowing domestic threat is creeping “socialism.” The worst insult that the “conservative” press hurls against Obama, when he is not attacked as an adversary of American military strength, is that he is really a “socialist” and a “Marxist” at heart. Fortunately, we are told, there is an alternative. Apparently, whenever the GOP captures the presidency, the socialist threat recedes, although the same massive welfare state that the Democrats preserve and expand remains in place. Still, we are assured, there is a difference: When the Republicans manage public administration and collect taxes, they claim (counterfactually) to be “getting government off our backs.” Again I am willing to concede that Republican administrations tweak the taxes a bit better to favor certain business interests and don’t unleash the EPA as often on landowners in rural areas. But they certainly don’t change the structure of the administrative state and whatever distinguishes them from the other side, is a difference of degree rather than a large difference of kind.

Even more upsetting is the persistent use of the word “socialist” to divert us from the real threats of overreaching government. Why doesn’t the relentless advance of anti-discrimination laws and government-enforced sensitivity training matter to so-called conservatives as much as does the specter of full-blown socialism? Significantly, Western countries, led by the Labour government of Tony Blair in England in the 1990s, have generally been moving in the direction of denationalizing industries. Economic socialism as it existed in the past has become less, not more, visible, if by this term we mean direct government ownership of productive forces. But at the same time public administration is taking away our economic and other freedoms, without being technically “socialist.” For example, government is steadily tightening control over our behavior, in the name of fighting prejudice. When the Left went after the Confederate Battle Flag and began attacking other symbols and place names associated with Confederate heroes, the protest from Conservatism, Inc. was deafening silence. After all, the Left, we were made to believe, is fighting bigots, even if that means stripping entire regions of the country of the outward signs of their heritage. The Left, for Conservatism, Inc., only becomes a threat when it skimps on military weapons and avoids military confrontations. The Left becomes an even larger threat when it doesn’t favor GOP donors. Then we’re truly playing with “socialism.”

I most definitely am not a friend of a state-controlled economy and, in fact, would like to see our increasingly centralized managerial government and meddlesome courts get out of our lives as much as humanly possible. But this is not likely to happen, given our leftward-trending electorate and disastrous immigration policies, and given our even more radicalized media and educational establishment. But what makes the desired outcome even less possible are the obvious priorities of Conservatism, Inc. Some of its emphases are of relatively recent origin, but others reveal a dangerous continuity with the obsessions of a less leftist conservative movement that arose after the Second World War. Today the conservative movement offers the worst of both past and present. It is unwilling to confront the Left’s social agenda, and usually submissively accepts it, but to make matters worse, it outdoes an older, more conservative Right by screaming incessantly for military intervention and larger military budgets. Finally, it diverts attention from efforts to limit the scope of runaway government by making it appear that the solution to the problem is voting for the Republican Party. I am still waiting to see how such an action could reverse the march now underway into a grimly leftist future.

The eighth annual meeting of the H.L.Mencken Club will take place Nov. 6th and 7th. To find out more about the conference and to register, click on this link: http://hlmenckenclub.org/2015-conference/

dimanche, 08 février 2015

Houellebecq’s SOUMISSION: Would Nietzche Say Islam Can Redeem Europe?


Houellebecq’s SOUMISSION: Would Nietzche Say Islam Can Redeem Europe?


lundi, 22 décembre 2014

Robert Stark interviews Paul Gottfried on Dugin & Neoconservatives

Robert Stark interviews Paul Gottfried on Dugin & Neoconservatives





Duginxcvvbnb.jpgPaul Gottfried recently retired as Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, PA. He is the author of After Liberalism, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt and The Strange Death of Marxism His most recent book is Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America.

Topics include:

Alexander Dugin and Martin Heidegger

The definition of Liberalism

The Eurasian school of thought

National Review’s Hit Piece on Dugin

How Neoconservatives attack their enemies such as Dugin as Fascist or Nazis

How Neoconservatives are a faction of the left

The Neoconservative View toward Russia

The Cold War and whether it was a mistake

The conflict with Russia in the Ukraine

Why Paleoconservatives tend to dislike Israel

Paul Gottfried’s upcoming book Fascism: The Career of a Concept

samedi, 08 novembre 2014

Unverdienter Sieg


Unverdienter Sieg

von Prof. Paul Gottfried

Ex: http://www.blauenarzisse.de

Professor Paul Gottfried kommentiert die Midterm-​Wahlen in den USA: Nicht glanzvoll, sondern nur mit Hängen und Würgen konnten sich die Republikaner durchsetzen.

Jetzt kann ich mit Genugtuung behaupten, daß ich das Ergebnis des jüngst in den USA ausgetragenen Wahlkampfes mit Akribie vorhergesagt habe. Mein Prognose war, daß die Republikanische Partei eine Mehrheit der Mandate im Bundessenat nach großen Anstrengungen erringen würde.

Ohne die sozialkonservative Parteibasis zwingend anzusprechen, erreichten die Republikaner den Zieleinlauf mit acht neuen Mandaten im Senat und vierundzwanzig im Unterhaus. Die meisten hinzugewonnenen Sitze legten sie aber mit einer mickrigen Gewinnspanne von ein bis drei Prozent zu. Die Siegerpartei wollte vor allem mit ihrer Mißbilligung von Obamas Gesundheitspolitik und Kritik an einer einsatzbereiten Außenpolitik punkten. Sozialfragen wurden laut Pat Buchanan „nicht mal mit der Kneifzange“ angefasst. Zudem wurden republikanische Kandidaten von einer Gottesangst erfaßt, daß sie mit traditionsgebundenen Christen in schädlicher Verbindung gebracht werden könnten und dabei die Frauen und Minoritäten vergraulen würden.

Notfalls mit Bestechung

Die Parteibonzen und das sozial-​links geneigte Mäzenatentum setzten alles daran, jeden gewagten Herausforderer ihrer gut angepaßten oder einförmig dressierten mittleren Kandidaten mit großem Aufwand von Geld und Werbemitteln kleinzuhalten. Im Bundesstaat Mississippi wurden die Diffamierungsanstrengungen der republikanischen Parteioberen so weit getrieben, daß ein wählbarer Gegner des 78- ​jährigen, tattrigen Amtshabers Thad Cochran ohne den geringsten Beweis als „racist“ in der Vorwahl schlechtgemacht wurde. Der Republikanische Bundesausschuß heuerte sogar schwarze Demokraten an, die beauftragt wurden, ihre Stammesbrüder zur Urne zu treiben, damit Cochran sich durchsetzen konnte. Eine Vielzahl der bestochenen Wähler gaben ihre Stimmen gesetzeswidrig ab, da sie schon in der vorausgegangenen Demokratischen Vorwahl abgestimmt hatten.

In den meisten Bundesstaaten, auch in denjenigen, die nicht parteilich begrenzte Vorwahlen (open primaries) veranstalten, ist es dem Wähler erlaubt, nur einmal wahlweise für Republikaner oder Demokraten zur Urne zu gehen. Auf Amtsstellen und Pfründe, die eine Senatsmehrheit nach sich ziehen würde, lossteuernd, beeilte sich die Parteiführung der „Grand Old Party“ (GOP) die Moralität über den Haufen zu werfen. Und das als eine Partei, die tagein, tagaus auf ihre Ehre insistiert und die Gegenseite der ärgsten Verdorbenheit bezichtigt.

Ohne eigene Vision dagegen

Um eine mögliche Niederlage abzufedern, erläuterten die republikanischen Medien den parteitreuen, daß ein bis dahin nicht ausreichend diskutierter Faktor Schaden bereiten könnte. Es stellte sich heraus, daß die andere Partei über eine riesigere Schatulle verfügte und das Mißverhältnis bei der Waffenstärke den Republikanern eine Enttäuschung eintragen dürfte. Darüber hinaus gelang es der anderen Partei, mit hervorragenden Prominenten ins Feld zu ziehen. Nie wollte man den Verdacht aufkommen lassen, daß die Begünstigung der möglichst farblosen Kandidaten, wie am deutlichsten in Bundesstaaten wie Michigan und Kansas, der Partei etliche Verluste einbringen könnte. Felsenfeste Standpunkte wiesen die Republikaner nichtsdestotrotz auf.



Sie setzten sich Obamacare entgegen, machten aber nicht deutlich, was das Programm ersetzen soll oder ob sie die Willenskraft aufbringen können, das Pfuschwerk abzuschaffen. Gleichzeitig sind sie für eine tatkräftige Außenpolitik und weitere Aufrüstung. Leider findet ihre Kriegstreiberei in der Öffentlichkeit wenig Anklang. Während nach Umfragen mehr als siebzig Prozent unserer amerikanischen Wählerschaft einen Einsatz gegen ISIS bejaht, ist das Ergebnis keineswegs mit Begeisterung für stete amerikanische Kampfhandlungen quer durch die Welt gleichzusetzen.

Und auch wenn eine Mehrzahl der Amerikaner für ein verstärktes Vorgehen gegen ISIS eintreten – diese Haltung rangiert mit Abstand hinter anderen innenpolitischen Sorgen. Aus Kreisen republikanischer Anhänger entnimmt man, daß eine strenge Immigrationspolitik vorrangig bleibt. Aber die Parteitaktiker laufen solchen brenzligen Kampfpositionen davon. Im Gegensatz zu ihrer Basis ist die Republikanische Geberklasse auf eine aufgelockerte Einwanderungspolitik verschrieben und sozial links ausgerichtet. Die unverkennbare Lücke zwischen Feldherren und Fußsoldaten der Partei läßt sich schwerlich mit weiteren Kriegsaktionen und Aufrufen zu einem amerikanischen Überlegenheitsgefühl auffüllen.

Gleichgültig ob Elefant oder Esel

Achtbare linksgerichtete Kommentatoren ließen verlauten, daß republikanische Senatskandidaten verlieren mußten, weil sie nicht genug für die Frauenbewegung geleistet haben. Die betreffenden Kandidaten bemühten sich nicht genug, so die Anklage, zu ansteckenden christlichen Reaktionären eine Distanz zu halten. Diese Anschuldigung läuft der wahrnehmbaren Wirklichkeit zuwider. Es fiel schwer, die meisten republikanischen Kandidaten und ihre demokratischen Gegner sozialpolitisch zu unterscheiden.

Entweder übergingen die Republikaner Sozialfragen oder wollten den Eindruck vermitteln, daß sie und die Demokraten, was die Frauen und illegale Einwanderer betrifft, ähnliche Ansichten haben. Als ein demokratischer Senatskandidat im Bundesstaat Colorado gegen seinen republikanischen Gegner eiferte wegen seiner angeblichen Weigerung Verhütungsmittel in allerlei Läden erhältlich zu machen, ging der Angriff daneben. Sozialpolitisch stellte sich der Republikaner wie sein demokratischer Ankläger. Die zwei konkurrieren miteinander im Anbiedern – bei der Frauenbewegung, bei Schwulen und den Sachwaltern der „Illegals“.

Mangelnde Mobilisierung der Demokraten…

Der republikanische Wahlsieg erhärtet zwei Eindrücke: Zuallererst erreichten es die Parteimedien und die wohlhabenden Förderer, die Basis an der Leine zu halten. Man bläute der republikanischen Wählerschaft ein, daß die demokratische Opposition und voran Obama ihr eigenes Land an den Bettelstab bringen. Entgegen dem weitverbreiteten Spruch konnte man wenigstens in diesem Fall den Hund hinterm Offen hervorlocken. Ohne eine wohlüberlegte Alternative vorzuschlagen und ohne an Sozialfragen von rechts heranzugehen, richtete es die Werbebranche der republikanischen Partei ein, das Geschäft wie immer zu treiben.

Zum anderen verloren der Präsident und seine Partei wegen ihrer gescheiterten Politik das Wohlwollen der meisten Wähler, mit den merklichen Ausnahmen seiner schwarzen Gefolgschaft und des schon ausufernden Staatsbeamtentum. Zum Leiden des jeweiligen Staatsträgers besteht ein klaffender Widerspruch zwischen den Interessen der meisten Amerikaner und den Begehren der Minderheiten, die sich ihm anhängen. Aber auch das ist nicht überzubewerten. Weil gerade die Schwarzen nach ihrer begeisterten Unterstützung des ersten halbschwarzen Präsidenten kaum Verbesserungen für sich warhnehmen, versäumten sie vorgestern, für Obama in gleichwertigen Zahlen wie vorher einzutreten. Kurzum siegten die Republikaner nicht wegen des eigenen Verdienstes – der recht spärlich erscheint.

…und Enthaltung bei den Republikanern

Das Publikum zeigte den Demokraten ihre Verdrossenheit anschaulich. Der Washington Post–Berichterstatter Dan Balz erachtet die erfolgte Wahl als eine „ablehnende Entscheidung“, die nicht mit „einem mündigen Auftrag“ zu verwechseln sei. Jedenfalls sind die Demokraten bei dieser Zwischenwahl glimpflich davongekommen. Die meisten Verluste sind bei der nächsten Bundeswahl in zwei Jahren zu vermuten.

Genau aus diesen Gründen bin auch ich der Wahl ferngeblieben. Eine Förderung des geringeren Übels kam für mich nicht in Frage. Meine Stimmenthaltung werde ich gern überdenken, sobald bedeutende Alternativen zum Kampf antreten. Aber ich bezweifle, daß zu meinen Lebzeiten die erwünschte Änderung eintreffen wird.


jeudi, 11 septembre 2014

Neocon Mythmongering About WW1

Neocon Mythmongering About WW1

us_propaganda-7.jpgThe success of neoconservative myth-mongering about World War One was brought home to me for the millionth time this weekend as I picked up our borough weekly The Elizabethtown Advocate. The feature article was supposedly by our Republican congressman, who represents Pennsylvania’s 16th District. Although I don’t want to speak ill of him, I can’t think of anything positive to say about Congressman Joe Pitts, other than the fact that he mails me a nice picture of his family, around Election Day. Like our US Senator Pat Toomey, Pitts is a paradigmatic Republican, who marches in lockstep with his party, particularly in foreign affairs. This now means first and always parroting the Murdoch media and sounding like the Weekly Standard and Victor Davis Hanson in speaking about twentieth century history.

In Pitts’s imagination “the First World War has lessons we can learn one-hundred years later.” Back before the War began, “there were many educated persons who believed that the major European powers had moved past the notion of using armies to settle conflicts” and “trade ties between all the major powers had blossomed.” But then suddenly a Teutonic bee appeared in the ointment: “While business leaders and the general public may have been unprepared for war, the leaders of Germany had been preparing for years. At a secret war council meeting in1912, Kaiser Wilhelm and his top commanders had concluded that was inevitable. They set about finding a way to swiftly deal a knockout blow to France and defeat Russia. They stockpiled materials and trained what became one of the finest fighting forces ever assembled.”  

Allow me to note that I don’t think Pitts produced this garbled account of the antecedents of the Great War. It is too literate and sophisticated for anything that I associate with his persona. Presumably it came from the word processor of a congressional assistant who is steeped in neoconservative talking points. An attempt is made in this literary exercise, but never clearly developed, to link Wilhelm, Hitler and Putin in some kind of rogues’ gallery. But this is hardly original. It seems to be nothing more than a paraphrase of the latest invective of VDH or something that one could easily extract from any neocon publication mentioning the anniversary of the Great War. We are also told that the war unleashed by the Kaiser created such “horror” in the interwar period that the Allies allowed Hitler to run riot across Europe. This continuing fear of war and craving for material security are now producing what for Pitts or his ghost-writer is a new unwillingness to face international challenges.

As an historian of World War One, I continue to wonder what was the ominous meeting that the Kaiser and his General Staff held in 1912, in order to plan a European-wide war, for which they had been “stockpiling” weapons for decades. There were in fact multiple meetings that the General Staff held in 1911 and 1912 with and without Wilhelm and/or his ministers. The idea that there was one meeting in 1912 at which these decisions were reached is a fiction, as Gunter Spraul shows convincingly in Der Fischer Komplex. This charge arose among state-authorized historians in East Germany and then traveled by way of Fritz Fischer and his groupies to West Germany, where the fateful, invented meeting became a staple of the antifascist Left’s brief against their country. Joe Pitts’s imagined meeting then migrated to England where anti-German historians and strangely enough, Mrs. Thatcher picked it up and used it as evidence of an eternal German danger. Not at all surprisingly, the East German Communists abandoned the narrative by then, perhaps for being incompatible with the Marxist-Leninist interpretation that both sides were responsible for the First World War, which had been a struggle for world power among late capitalists.

What really happened is that the Kaiser, the Chief of the General Staff, Helmut von Moltke, and other German political actors were concerned that the French and the Russians were drafting far more soldiers than the Germans and their Austrian allies. There was no plan to launch a European-wide preventive war, unless, as Wilhelm pointed out, the “very existence in Germany hung in the balance.” We know there was a Schlieffen Plan, drafted in the 1890s and then periodically updated, that would allow the Germans to gain the upper hand in a two-front war, since they were in fact encircled by hostile Entente powers. But this was discussed as a last resort, and Moltke expressed the view, in a memorandum in December 1911, that his country should be careful to avoid risks, given the imbalance of forces between them and their enemies. That particular memorandum, according to Spraul, has usually been cited in a garbled form to make it appear that Moltke was actually advocating a preventive war against France and Russia. Significantly, the Jewish social democratic historian Arthur Rosenberg, who was by no means a hardened German nationalist, noted in 1929: “General von Moltke as the head of the military faction never desired any war. Whoever asserts the contrary, knows nothing about the weak character of the first chief of the German general staff, who shuddered at whatever responsibilities were thrust on him.”

In 1912, while the German government was supposedly planning a great war, its leaders sat by passively while the Serbs, Greeks, Romanians and Greeks made war on Germany’s ally Turkey, with Russian support. The Germans also sat on their hands while the Balkan belligerents stripped the Ottoman Empire of most of its European possessions. This situation was a provocation not only for Germany but even more for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, since it allowed a very unfriendly Serbia, in alliance with Russia, to expand in Southeastern Europe. One might ask Congressman Pitts’s ghost-writer why the Germans didn’t mobilize their armies and reach for their long stockpiled weapons to launch a war at that point. Oh, and lest I forget to mention the obvious, the anti-German side had been arming to the teeth for decades. The Germans were not alone in this practice and in fact lagged behind the other side in military manpower as the Guns of August went off.

vendredi, 29 août 2014

Ignorant Conservatives and August 1914


Ignorant Conservatives and August 1914

Those Intellectuals Who Know Nothing of the Past May Help to Repeat It

I recently received an unexpected gift from American historian and political theorist Barry Alan Shain, The Declaration of Independence in Historical Context, a 600 page collection of documents from the era of the American Revolution, with accompanying commentaries and a long introductory essay, published by Yale University Press. It would be marvelous if Barry’s ambitious scholarship elicited the widespread discussion among journalists and media celebrities that it richly deserves. But I doubt this will happen. The author is not in sync with the authorized political camps, from Dinesh D’Souza to the followers of left-radical historian Howard Zinn, when he warns against such “misconceptions” as the belief that the US was founded as a “propositional nation.” Contrary to this belief: “The Declaration may more accurately be seen as the unintended and undesired culmination of a process of resistance in which the majority of the colonists believed they were defending customary and traditional British constitutional institutions and historical political rights against misguided ministerial and parliamentary innovations.”

Shain demonstrates exhaustively that up until the eve of the Revolution most members of the Continental Congress opposed “parliamentary innovations,” as staunch monarchists. Most of these dignitaries were not comfortable with the natural rights phrases that Thomas Jefferson inserted into the Declaration, a point that such scholars as George Carey and Forrest McDonald have also made. If one could go back in time and tell these delegates they were founding a global democracy based on human rights, and that they were putting the US on a course toward converting the entire planet to something called “liberal democracy,” they would have viewed the speaker as mad.

Although other scholars have offered similar arguments, their views, like those of Shain, cannot possibly prevail against the parameters of debate established by our political-journalistic elites. Certain discussions that would have unfolded in the past have become closed questions. This has happened for two reasons, both of which I try to explain in my book The Strange Death of Marxism.

First, in the cultural and social sphere, the US has moved dramatically toward the left, so much so that the left center in my youth would be well to the right of where “conservatives” have placed themselves. Note that onetime feminist Eleanor Roosevelt wanted to limit women’s access to the workplace, lest their presence there reduce the “single family wage” of their husbands and threaten the unity of the family.

Until the 1960s, women were seen by both of our political parties as primarily wives and mothers; homosexuality was generally viewed as a psychic disorder (by communist even more than capitalist nations); and civil rights for blacks meant the right to sit at an integrated lunch counter. Although those changes that have occurred since then may be viewed by the broad public as “only fair,” they have exacted an enormous price, and part of that price is an intolerance of the way people lived before the cataclysm of the 1960s and 1970s. Please note that an idea like gay marriage would have struck most people as silly and possibly offensive thirty years ago; today it is proclaimed by our media as a fundamental, universal right. The Wall Street Journal rails against Russian leader Vladimir Putin for not allowing self-proclaimed homosexuals to teach in public schools. Through most of my life I could easily imagine most Americans taking similar positions to those of the Russian president, without eliciting the anger of Democratic or Republican newspapers.

Second, the shift of our cultural-political spectrum leftward has brought a narrowing of historical debate, which seems to have resulted in having both sides take what used to be recognizably leftist positions. Certain discussions can barely take place any longer, without the participants being accused by the media, the educational establishment, and the official conservative opposition of racial or gender insensitivity. Is it really possible to take a negative view of Reconstruction, without being attacked as a racist? This fate has befallen even the pro-Union historian William A. Dunning. In his study of the Union army’s occupation of the post-Civil War South, Dunning criticizes the politics and rapacity of the Reconstruction government and of those who were behind it; this hapless historian, who came from an impeccable Abolitionist background, is therefore now condemned as a racist. The book on Reconstruction by Eric Foner, which treats the events in question as a morality play between evil Southern whites and a virtuous Union occupying army, has supplanted other treatments of a now politically settled subject. The fact that Foner, a longtime revolutionary socialist, presents Reconstruction as “America’s unfinished revolution” gives his work a link to contemporary social engineering projects.

But the most disfiguring ideological reconstruction of history has taken place on what is supposedly the conservative side. Here we see the current labeling of good and bad guys read back into the past in order to justify a belligerent foreign policy. Thus the struggles for hegemony between two ancient Greek slave societies, according to Victor Davis Hanson, reveal the outlines of modern confrontations between predictable heroes and equally predictable villains.

These evocations of Manichean struggles, which I notice particularly in Hanson’s newspaper columns, sometimes verge on the ludicrous. They have nothing to do with history as a serious discipline. The first rule for the study of history should be to understand the differences between past and present and then the differences between different things in the past. I am now reading and hearing outbursts of anger in the press about the revival of murderous anti-Semitism in Germany and France. This invective, however well-intentioned, leave the mistaken impression that the violently anti-Jewish demonstrators who are raging through European cities are the left over accessories from the Nazi regime. Only by looking at pictures could one guess that the troublemakers are Muslim immigrants who have been allowed to settle in Western European countries. Although a serious problem is occurring, let’s not pretend it’s more of the evil European past. We are dealing with an unprecedented problem that was caused by an unwise immigration policy.

A discussion that the “conservative” establishment in particular has tried to take off the table concerns responsibility for the Great War that started one hundred years ago. From reading Professor Hanson and Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, I would have to assume both counterfactually and counterintuitively, that “autocratic” Germany was responsible for the entire bloodbath, that Winston Churchill played a gallant role in World War One as he did in the struggle against Hitler, in preserving European democracy against the German threat, and that Imperial Germany and possibly the Habsburg Empire were precursors of the Third Reich. These tediously recited opinions are the result of looking in the wrong places for a later disaster, in this case Nazi crimes. Although Imperial Germany was an unevenly developed constitutional monarchy and although the last German Kaiser was far from a model diplomat (who was in European politics in 1914?), Germany in 1914 was a government of law, with the best fed working class and lowest taxes in Europe and a very free press. Germany had no more to do with inciting the First World War, the scope of which none of the belligerents foresaw, than the Entente powers that the Germans fought.

All the major participants behaved with equivalent recklessness, a point that Christopher Clark demonstrates in his magisterial The Sleepwalkers. As someone who has been studying the Great War for forty years, I shall be happy to provide my critics with a mountain of counterevidence to what has become neoconservative holy writ for German sole responsibility for the Great War. This position was supposedly worked out indisputably in Fritz Fischer’s voluminous critical study of Wilhelmine Germany, Griff nach der Weltmacht (1961), a work that seems to have brought equal pleasure to the German anti-national Left, American refugee historians with whom I studied in graduate school, and the future neoconservative masters of the American conservative movement.

Unfortunately for his ill-informed American fans, every major contention in Fischer’s brief against Imperial Germany, which was written by a onetime Nazi zealot, who later made a name for himself as a German antifascist, anti-nationalist historian, has been effectively challenged multiple times. It is even questionable whether Fischer found the evidence for his brief in those East German archives to which he was given access, but which were closed to less radically leftist historians. Much of what Fischer claims to be documenting was glaringly misquoted or given a distorting context. Moreover, those nationalist attitudes Fischer’s books treat as peculiarly German were at least as much present in Germany’s enemies as they were in the German Second Empire. France and Russia has far more extensive military conscription than the Germans and Austrians and were obviously planning for war against the Central Powers in 1914.

Equally noteworthy, the German historian Gunter Spraul in Der Fischer Komplex devotes several hundred pages of minute analysis to investigating how Fischer twisted the statements of German leaders in 1914 and even earlier in order to prove what Fischer never satisfactorily proves: that the German government alone planned a general European war that it unleashed in 1914, for the sake of territorial conquest and economic hegemony. Even more devastating in this regard is the 1100 page work 14/18. Der Weg nachVersailles by Jörg Friedrich, a study that blows out of the water any explicit or implicit defense of the main lines of the Fischer-thesis. Of course the authors of neoconservative screeds against Imperial Germany may be totally oblivious to whatever contradicts the anti-German hang-ups of their patrons. I strongly doubt that these journalists do research in German sources or keep up with relevant secondary works. There is no need for them to do either in order to collect their checks.

There are copious available sources for all the following assertions, which I can easily provide for the curious or skeptical: Although Winston Churchill behaved heroically in facing up to Hitler, the British First Lord of the Admiralty was an anti-German loose wire in 1914 and throughout the decade before the war; it was the Germans and Austrians, never the Allies, who displayed a willingness to end the war with a compromise peace. Not incidentally, there was far more tolerance of antiwar opposition in Germany and Austria than in the “democracies,” particularly after Woodrow Wilson launched our first “crusade for democracy” after having suppressed all opposition to this undertaking.

It is also inaccurate to claim that the British were “driven” into an anti-German and anti-Austrian alliance system because of the naval expansion begun by the Germans in 1898. This build-up never came close to threatening English naval supremacy, and on the eve of the war, Germany had only moved from eleventh place up to fifth as a naval powe r. When Anglophile German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg (his name is inexcusably misspelled in the English Wikipedia and in its slavish German translation) proposed to scale down the naval build-up and offered other concessions to the British as a way of winning their friendship, he got nowhere in a hurry. As we learn from German dean of diplomatic historians Konrad Canis in Der Weg in den Abgrund 1891-1914 , the British government of Lord Edward Grey ignored the Chancellor’s overtures and proceeded to tighten the encirclement of Germany with the French and Russians. In the summer of 1914, if the war had not broken out, the British would have signed an agreement with the Russians centered on landing Russian armies, who were to be transported in British ships, on the North German coast. This was not in any way prompted by provocative German action. It was, as Canis painstakingly documents, a step toward the hostile encirclement of Germany that the Grey government had been working to achieve since 1905.

Moreover, a civilian government continued to operate in Germany throughout what we are sometimes misleadingly told was a “military dictatorship,” and it was the collapse of the will of the Kaiser and the military command that caused Germany to sue for peace. The parliamentary parties would in all probability have continued the struggle against the Allies. Ironically the military fobbed off the defeat on the civilian government, when it was the military that caved in. The starvation blockade that Churchill placed around Germany resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and led to the unrestricted U-Boat sinking carried out by the Germans in the Atlantic, which was intended to divert the blockading British fleet. This misstep handed Wilson’s never really neutral government the excuse to go to war, a step the Anglophile Republican Party had been calling for since 1914.

This blockade would have been illegal as well as outrageously immoral but the British government, knowing they would use this measure in a war they expected to wage against Germany, refused to sign the Hague Conventions, banning starvation blockades on humanitarian grounds. The Belgians were far from neutral in 1914. Indeed the Belgian king had participated in military conversations with the British and French, calling for an amphibious landing of British troops on the Belgian coast in case of war with Germany. Finally, as Niall Ferguson points out in The Pity of War, England would have been in a much better position in 1919, even if the Central Powers managed to squeeze out a victory, than she was after the devastation of World War One. Nor would the US have chosen badly if it had stayed out. It still would have been the world’s major power in 1919 and might have done even better if it had tried, contrary to what it actually did, to broker an honest peace between the two war-weary sides.

These are just a few of the judgments regarding the supposedly bad side in World War One, which would have been axiomatic truths in National Review, Human Events and among many respectable historians circa 1965. Naturally I have no hope of converting Professor Hanson whose idiosyncratic revulsion for the Germans may even exceed that of his neoconservative sponsors, who continue to loathe the Germans as perpetrators of the Holocaust. As a prime illustration of Hanson’s idée fixe, allow me to cite from a column on NATO that he posted on his home site at NR-Online on August 6: “The war-torn democracies were scared that Germany would quickly rebound to prompt yet another European war for the fourth time in less than a century.” Having shown this puzzling passage to various historians of my acquaintance, none of them could figure out what Hanson’s third German war was. We’ll concede arguendo two German wars, but what the hell is the third one. Perhaps Hanson means the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, but in that conflict it was France that stupidly declared war on Prussia (there was no unified Germany at the time). In the rest of his column Hanson rages against the dangers posed by Putin as a Russian nationalist, although even here it seems that Hanson is continuing his anti-German rant and simply transferring it to the new Kaiser Wilhelm in Moscow.

Well at least, Hanson has not descended to the degree of historical illiteracy about World War One that I’ve encountered in the Weekly Standard, most recently on August 4. There I learned that Wilson should have entered the war against the German autocrats much earlier, a point that we somehow learn, or so author Daniel Halper insists, from the events of the Second World War. I don’t quite grasp the connection, but since I’m neither a neocon nor a certified movement conservative any longer, this is not surprising. Apparently had we not entered the European struggle for democracy, after what Halper tells us was Wilson’s honest efforts to maintain neutrality, an aggressive Germany “would have dominated Europe and then threatened the United States.” Perhaps Wilson and Halper would have done well to notice the British starvation blockade, which drove the German government to desperate measures, and the fact that the Lusitania, which the Germans sank in 1915, was not a harmless pleasure vessel, as Halper suggests. The ship was loaded with contraband, including munitions to the British that would be used against German and Austrian soldiers. The Lusitania was also registered with the British navy as an auxiliary cruiser and was therefore a fair war target for the German submarines. Finally, and not insignificantly, the German government had advertised these facts in American newspapers and urged Americans not to expose themselves to danger by travelling on what was viewed as an armed war ship. Oh yes, I know this refutation is an exercise in futility. Neocons have at their beck and call major media resources and don’t have to respond to aging Old Right critics, whom they marginalized decades ago with the snap of their fingers.

Let me end my comments on Germanophobic obsessions, by recalling an exchange at a conference on international relations that was sponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Institute. At that conference I found myself on a panel with Hanson’s Doppelgänger, an army officer who seemed to have emerged from the pages of the Murdoch press but who had actually worked in intelligence. I agreed with my fellow-participant when he stressed the need for a “realistic” foreign policy,” although he may have meant by that term something different from my understanding of it. In my remarks I noted parenthetically that the origins of some conflicts are “extremely complex” and, because of the anniversary of that catastrophe, I mentioned the Great War as an example. The officer then shot back in my direction: “That’s not true. That was caused by a German military dictatorship.” At that point I thought to myself: “Right! And the Spanish American War was caused by a Latin Catholic autocrat who sank our ship in Havana harbor.”


mercredi, 29 janvier 2014

Paul Gottfried’s Leo Strauss & the Conservative Movement in America

Paul Gottfried’s Leo Strauss & the Conservative Movement in America

By Greg Johnson

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

Paul Edward Gottfried
Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America: A Critical Appraisal [2]
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012

leo strauss,paul gottfried,théorie politique,philosophie,philosophie politique,sciences politiques,politologie,états-unis,straussiens,néo-conservateursPaul Gottfried’s admirable book on Leo Strauss is an unusual and welcome critique from the Right.

Leo Strauss (1899–1973) was a German-born Jewish political theorist who moved to the United States in 1937. Strauss taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City before moving to the University of Chicago, where he was Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor until his retirement in 1969. In the familiar pattern of Jewish intellectual movements as diverse of Psychoanalysis, Marxism, and Objectivism, Strauss was a charismatic teacher who founded a cultish school of thought, the Straussians, which continues to this day to spread his ideas and influence throughout academia, think tanks, the media, and the government.

The Straussians have not, however, gone unopposed. There are three basic kinds of critiques: (1) critiques from the Left, which range from paranoid, middlebrow, journalistic smears by such writers as Alan Wolfe [3], Cloaked in Virtue: Unveiling Leo Strauss and the Rhetoric of American Foreign Policy [4], and John P. McCormick [5], to more scholarly middlebrow critiques by such writers as Shadia Drury [6] and Norton [7], (2) scholarly critiques of the Straussian method and Straussian interpretations from philosophers and intellectual historians such as Hans-Georg Gadamer and Quentin Skinner, and (3) scholarly critiques from the Right.

As Gottfried points out, the Straussians tend only to engage their critics on the Left. This makes sense, since their Leftist critics raise the cultural visibility of the Straussian school. The critics are also easily defeated, which raises Straussian credibility as well. Like all debates within the parameters of Jewish hegemony, the partisans in the Strauss wars share a whole raft of assumptions which are never called into question. Thus these controversies look somewhat farcical and managed to those who reject liberalism and Jewish hegemony root and branch.

Gottfried offers a far more penetrating critique of Straussianism because he is a genuine critic of liberalism. He is also surprisingly frank about Strauss’s Jewish identity and motives, although these matters come into crisper focus in Kevin MacDonald’s treatment [8] of Strauss. Gottfried’s volume is slender, clearly written, and closely argued—although his arguments tend to be overly involved. Gottfried presupposes a basic knowledge of Strauss. He also talks as much about Straussians as about Strauss himself. Thus this book cannot be used as an introduction to Strauss’s ideas—unlike Shadia Drury’s The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss [9] (New York: Saint Martins Press, 1988), for instance.

Gottfried strives to be scrupulously fair. He acknowledges the genuine intellectual virtues of Strauss and some of his followers. He distinguishes between good and bad writings by Strauss, good and bad Straussians, good and bad writings by bad Straussians, etc. But for all these careful qualifications, the net impression left by this book is that Straussians are an obnoxious academic cult engaged in a massive ethnically motivated intellectual fraud, to the detriment of higher education, the conservative movement, and American politics in general.

1. Straussians are Not Conservatives

Straussians like to posture as beleaguered intellectual and political outsiders. But Strauss and his school are very much an establishment phenomenon, with professorships at elite institutions, including Harvard and Yale, regular access to major university and academic presses (Yale, Chicago, and Cornell for the first stringers, SUNY, Saint Augustine’s Press, and Rowman and Littlefield for the rest), and a cozy relationship with the flagships of the “liberal” media the New York Times and the Washington Post.

This favored position is due largely to the strongly Jewish character of Straussian thought and of most Straussians. The Straussians are one of the major vectors by which Jewish hegemony was established over American conservatism. They are promoted by the Jewish establishment as a “safe” alternative to the Left. But they are a false alternative, since there is nothing conservative about the Straussians. Most Straussians are promoters of the welfare state, racial integration, non-white immigration, and an abstract “creedal” conception of American identity—the same basic agenda as the Jewish Left.

Where the Straussians depart from the Left is their bellicose “Schmittian” political realism. They recognize that enmity is a permanent feature of political life, and they fight to win. Although Straussians cloak their aims in universal terms like “liberal democracy,” the common thread running through their politics from Cold War liberalism to present-day neoconservatism is an entirely parochial form of ethnic nationalism, namely using the United States and Europe to fight on behalf of Israel and the Jewish diaspora world-wide.

As Jews in exile, Straussians prefer that the United States be a liberal democracy, a universal, propositional society that does not exclude them from power and influence. But since the world is a dangerous place, Straussians prefer the United States to be a militant, crusading liberal democracy, as long as its blood and treasure are spent advancing Jewish interests in Israel and around the globe.

Since the American Right contains strong militarist tendencies, Strauss and his followers regarded it as a natural ally. It was child’s play, really, for the Straussians to take over the post-World War II American Right, in which a glib, shallow poseur like William F. Buckley could pass as an intellectual leader. All the Straussians needed to do was assume “a certain right-wing style without expressing a right-wing worldview” (p. 115).

Once inside the Right-wing camp, the Straussians worked to marginalize any nativist, isolationist, identitarian, racialist, and genuinely conservative tendencies—any tendencies that might lead Americans to see Jews as outsiders and Israel as a questionable ally. Gottfried sums up Strauss’s project nicely:

As a refugee from a German movement once identified with the far Right and as someone who never quite lost his sense of Jewish marginality, Strauss was anxious about the “festering dissatisfaction” on the American Right. A patriotic, anticommunist conservatism, one that was open to the concerns of Strauss and his followers, could lessen this anxiety about Right-wing extremism. Such a contrived Right would not locate itself on the nativist or traditional nationalist Right, nor would it be closed to progressive winds in the direction of the civil rights revolution that was then taking off. But it would be anti-Soviet and emphatically pro-Zionist. In a nutshell, it would be Cold War liberalism, with patriotic fanfare. (p. 120)

Of course the Straussians did not gain the power to remake the American Right along Jewish lines merely through merit. Like other Jewish intellectual movements, the Straussians’ preferred method of advancement is not rational debate but the indoctrination of the impressionable, the slow infiltration of institutions, and then, when their numbers are sufficient to cement control, the purge of dissidents within and the exclusion of dissidents without. Gottfried has been observing the Straussian takeover of the American Right for decades. He has seen his own ambitions, and the ambitions of other conservatives, checked by Straussian operatives.

Straussians make a cult of great “statesmen” like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill. But, as Gottfried points out, “From the standpoint of . . . older [American] republicanism, Lincoln, and other Straussian heroes were dangerous centralizers and levelers, certainly not paradigms of great statesmanship” (p. 111). There is nothing distinctly conservative about the warmongering of Straussian neoconservatives:

Fighting wars for universal, egalitarian propositions was never a priority for authoritarian conservatives like Antonio Salazar or Francisco Franco. Nor is this type of crusade an activity that one might associate with American conservative isolationists like Robert Taft. It is an expression of progressive militarism, a form of principled belligerence that French Jacobinism, Wilsonianism, and wars of communist liberation have all exemplified at different times. (p. 116)

Some Straussian apologists argue that Strauss and the neoconservatives are two very different things. Of course not all Straussians are neoconservatives, and not all neoconservatives are Straussians. But nobody argues for such simplistic claims. Gottfried devotes an entire chapter to the neoconservative connection, arguing that “the nexus between neoconservatism and Straussians is so tight that it may be impossible to dissociate the two groups in any significant way” (p. 9).

Of course, the Straussians and neoconservatives need to be understood in the larger context of Jewish hegemony, and the more specific context of Jewish subversion of the American Right. The problem is not just the Straussians. Thus it could not be solved simply by purging Straussians from American life. The problem is the larger Jewish community and its will to dominate.

If Leo Strauss had never set foot on these shores, essentially the same process of Jewish subversion would have taken place, only the external details would be different. There were other sources of neoconservatism besides the Straussians: Zionist Trotskyites, for example. And long before the birth of neoconservatism, Jews were already at work redefining the American Right. For instance, George H. Nash documents extensive Jewish involvement in the founding of National Review. (See George H. Nash, “Forgotten Godfathers: Premature Jewish Conservatives and the Rise of National Review,” American Jewish History, 87, nos. 2 & 3 [June–September 1999], pp. 123–57.)

2. The “Lockean Founding” of the United States

Gottfried is apparently attracted to the anti-rationalist Burkean tradition of conservatism, which in effect claims that history is smarter than reason, therefore, we should take our guidance from historically evolved institutions and conventions rather than rational constructs. This form of conservatism is, of course, dismissed by the Straussians as “historicism.” Gottfried counters that the Straussians

seek to ignore . . . the ethnic and cultural preconditions for the creation of political orders. Straussians focus on those who invent regimes because they wish to present the construction of government as an open-ended, rationalist process. All children of the Enlightenment, once properly instructed, should be able to carry out this constructivist task, given enough support from the American government or American military. (pp. 3–4)

In the American context, historicist conservatism stresses the Anglo-Protestant identity of American culture and institutions. This leads to skepticism about the ability of American institutions to assimilate immigrants from around the globe and the possibility of exporting American institutions to the rest of the world.


leo strauss,paul gottfried,théorie politique,philosophie,philosophie politique,sciences politiques,politologie,états-unis,straussiens,néo-conservateurs


Moreover, a historicist Anglo-Protestant American conservatism, no matter how “Judaizing” its fixation on the Old Testament, would still regard Jews as outsiders. Thus Straussians, like other Jewish intellectual movements, have promoted an abstract, “propositional” conception of American identity. Of course, Gottfried himself is a Jew, but perhaps he has the intellectual integrity to base his philosophy on his arguments rather than his ethnic interests

(Catholic Straussians are equally hostile to an Anglo-Protestant conception of America, but while Jewish Straussians have changed American politics to suit their interests, Catholic Straussians have gotten nothing for their services but an opportunity to vent spleen against modernity.)

The Straussians’ preferred “Right-wing” form of propositional American identity is the idea that American was founded on Lockean “natural rights” liberalism. If America was founded on universal natural rights, then obviously it cannot exclude Jews, or refuse to grant freedom and equality to blacks, etc. The liberal, Lockean conception of the American founding is far older than Strauss and is defended primarily by Strauss’s followers Thomas L. Pangle in The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke [10] (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1988) and Michael Zuckert Natural Rights and the New Republicanism [11] (Princeton University Press, 1994). Moreover, the Straussians argue that Locke was a religious skeptic, thus on the Straussian account, “The ‘American regime’ was a distinctly modernist and implicitly post-Christian project . . . whose Lockean founders considered religious concerns to be less important than individual material ones” (p. 39).

Lockean bourgeois liberalism is so dominant in America today that it is easy to think that it must have been that way at the founding as well. But this is false. Aside from the opening words of the Declaration of Independence—which were highly controversial among the signatories—and the marginal writings of Thomas Paine, Lockean natural rights talk played almost no role in the American founding, which was influenced predominantly by classical republicanism as reformulated by Machiavelli, Harrington, and Montesquieu (the thesis of J. G. A. Pocock’s The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition [12] [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975]) and Calvinist Christianity (the thesis of Barry Allan Shain’s The Myth of American Individualism: The Protestant Origins of American Political Thought [13] [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994]).

There is nothing distinctly Lockean about the American Constitution, and nothing particularly Constitutional about modern Lockean America. Liberals effectively refounded America by replacing the Constitution with Jefferson’s Lockean Declaration of Independence (which is not even a legal document of the United States). Daniel Webster (1782–1852) is the first figure I know of to promote this project, but surely he was not alone. The refounding is summed up perfectly by the opening of Straussian hero Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago [i.e., 1776] our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The United States, of course, was founded by the US Constitution, which was written in 1787 and ratified in 1788 and which says nothing about universal human equality, but does treat Negroes as 3/5 of a person and Indians as foreign and hostile nations. But Lincoln was in the process of founding a new nation on the ruins of the Constitution as well as the Confederacy.

Straussians, of course, oppose both the classical republican and Anglo-Calvinist origins of the United States because both sources are tainted with particularist identities that exclude Jews. Gottfried doubts that the “organic communitarian democracy” defended by Carl Schmitt—and also by classical republicans and New England Calvinists, although Gottfried does not mention them in this context—would appeal to Strauss: “Outside of Israel, that is not a regime that Strauss would likely have welcomed” (p. 128). Jews can have an ethnostate in the Middle East, but they insist we live under inclusive, universal liberal democracies.

Incidentally, the North American New Right does not aim at a restoration of the Anglo-Protestant past, which has been pretty much liquidated by the universal solvents of capitalism and liberal democracy. The Anglo-American has been replaced by a blended European-American, although the core of our language, laws, and status system remains English. American “conservatism” has managed to conserve so little of the original American culture and stock that by the time New Rightist regimes might attain power, we will in effect be handed a blank slate for constructivist projects of our own design.

3. The “Return” to the Ancients

The Straussians are reputed by friend and foe alike to be advocates of a return to classical political philosophy, and perhaps even to classical political forms like the polis. Strauss and his students certainly have produced many studies of ancient philosophy, primarily Plato and Aristotle. The Straussians, moreover, have a definite pattern of praising the ancients and denigrating modernity.

Gottfried, however, demolishes this picture quite handily. We have already seen his argument that the Straussians are advocates of universalistic modern liberal democracy, not classical Republicanism or any other form of political particularism—except, of course, for Israel.

Beyond that, Gottfried argues that Straussians merely project Strauss’s own modern philosophical prejudices on the ancients. The method that licenses such wholesale interpretive projection and distortion is Strauss’s famous rediscovery of “esoteric” writing and reading. Strauss claims that under social conditions of intolerance, philosophers create texts with two teachings. The “exoteric” teaching, which is accommodated to socially dominant religious and moral opinions, discloses itself to casual reading. The “esoteric” teaching, which departs from religious and moral orthodoxy, can be grasped only through a much more careful reading. Philosophers adopt this form of writing to communicate heterodox ideas while protecting themselves from persecution.

Ultimately, Strauss’s claim that classical political philosophy is superior to the modern variety boils down to praising esotericism over frankness. But esoteric writers can exist in any historical era, including our own. Indeed, for the Straussians at least, the “ancients” have already returned.

In my opinion, Strauss’s greatest contribution is the rediscovery of esotericism. In particular, his approach to reading the Platonic dialogues as dramas in which Plato’s message is conveyed by “deeds” as well as “speeches” has revolutionized Plato scholarship and is now accepted well beyond Straussian circles.

That said, Strauss’s own esoteric readings are deformed by his philosophical and religious prejudices. Strauss was an atheist, so he thought that no serious philosopher could be religious. All religious-sounding teachings must, therefore, be exoteric. Strauss was apparently some sort of Epicurean materialist, so he dismissed all forms of transcendent metaphysics from Plato’s theory of forms to Aristotle’s metaphysics to Maimonides’ argument for the existence of God as somehow exoteric, or as mere speculative exercises rather than earnest attempts to know transcendent truths. Strauss was apparently something of an amoralist, so he regarded any ethical teachings he encountered to be exoteric as well.

In short, Strauss projected his own Nietzschean nihilism, as well as his radical intellectual alienation from ordinary people onto the history of philosophy as the template of what one will discover when one decodes the “esoteric” teachings of the philosophers. These prejudices have been taken over by the Straussian school and applied, in more or less cookie cutter fashion, to the history of thought. As Gottfried puts it:

He [Strauss] and his disciples typically find the esoteric meaning of texts to entail beliefs they themselves consider rational and even beneficent. . . . If this cannot be determined at first glance, then we must look deeper, until we arrive at the desired coincidence of views. . . . Needless to say, the “hidden” views never turn out to be Christian heresies or any beliefs that would not accord with the prescribed rationalist worldview. A frequently heard joke about this “foreshortening” hermeneutic is that a properly read text for a Straussian would reveal that its author is probably a Jewish intellectual who resides in New York or Chicago. Being a person of moderation, the author, like his interpreter, would have attended synagogue services twice a year, on the High Holy Days—and then probably not in an Orthodox synagogue. (p. 99)

This is not to deny that there are genuine Straussian contributions to scholarship, but the best of them employ Strauss’s methods while rejecting his philosophical prejudices.

Throughout his book, Gottfried emphasizes the importance of Strauss’s Jewish identity, specifically the identity of a Jew in exile. And I have long thought that the radical alienation of the Straussian image of the philosopher goes well beyond ordinary intellectual detachment. It is the alienation of the exiled Jew from his host population. Strauss’s philosophers reject the “gods of the city,” constitute a community with strong bonds of solidarity, and engage in crypsis to protect themselves from persecution by the masses. But Strauss’s philosophers are no ordinary Jews in exile, for they seek to influence society by educating its leaders. The template of the Straussian philosopher is thus the “court Jew” who advises the rulers of his host society, phrasing his advice in terms of universal values and the common good, but working always to secure the interests of his tribe. Thus it is no aberration that the Straussians have spawned a whole series of neoconservative “court Jews,” like William Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz, who do not just have ink on their fingers but blood up to their elbows.

Straussians make a great show of “piety” toward the great books. They have the face to claim that they understand texts exactly as the authors did, rejecting as “historicist” arrogance the idea of understanding an author better than he understood himself. In practice, however, Straussians turn the great philosophers of the past into sockpuppets spouting Strauss’s own views. As Gottfried remarks, “In the hands of his disciples, Strauss’s hermeneutic has become a means of demystifying the past, by turning ‘political philosophers’ into forerunners of the present age. One encounters in this less an affirmation of a permanent human nature than a graphic examples of Herbert Butterfield’s ‘Whig theory of history’” (p. 10).

Surely one cause of these Straussian misreadings is simple hermeneutic naïveté: they reject reflection on their own prejudices as “historicism,” thus they remain completely in their grip. But that is not the whole story. When a school of thought makes a trademark of praising dishonesty over frankness, one would be a fool to assume that “they know not what they do.”

Straussian interpretations have often been called “Talmudic” because of certain stylistic peculiarities, including their use of arithmetic. But the similarity is not just stylistic. Talmudism, like Straussianism, affects a great show of piety and intellectual rigor. But its aim is to reconcile human selfishness with divine law, to impose the interpreter’s agenda on the text, which is the height of impiety, intellectual dishonesty, and moral squalor. And if Talmudists are willing to do it to the Torah, Straussians are willing to do it to Plato as well. Beyond that, both Talmudism and Straussianism have elements of farce—as texts are bent to support preconceived conclusions—and of perversity, since the practitioners of the art applaud one another for their dialectical subtleties and their creation of complex arguments where simple ones will do.

Straussians like to posture as critics of postmodernism and political correctness, but in practice there is little difference. They merely sacrifice objective scholarship and intellectual freedom to a different political agenda. As with other academic movements, the pursuit of truth runs a distant third to individual advancement within the clique and collective advancement of its political agenda.

* * *

Throughout Gottfried’s book, I found myself saying “Yes, but . . .” Yes, Gottfried makes a powerful case against Straussianism. Yes, it functions as an intellectual cult corrupting higher education and national politics. Yes, the Straussian graduate students I encountered were smug, pompous, and clubbish. Yes, some of the Straussian professors I encountered really were engaged in cult-like indoctrination. But in all fairness, I have had a number of Straussian and quasi-Straussian teachers whom I greatly admire as scholars and human beings.

And, in the end, Strauss towers above his epigones. Over the last 25+ years, I have read all of Strauss’s published writings, many of them repeatedly. He has had an enormously positive influence on my intellectual life. More than any other writer, he has opened the books of both ancients and moderns to me, even though in the end I read them rather differently. (See my “Strauss on Persecution and the Art of Writing [14].”)

There are three areas in which I do not think Gottfried does Strauss justice.

First, Gottfried is correct to stress the abuses of Strauss’s hermeneutics. But these abuses to not invalidate the method. Gottfried shows no appreciation of the power of esotericism to reveal long-hidden dimensions of many ancient and modern thinkers.

Second, Gottfried is dismissive of the idea that Strauss’s engagement with Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Schmitt—and his evident knowledge of the broader Conservative Revolutionary milieu—indicates a real sympathy with far-Right identitarian politics. Simply repeating Strauss’s praise of liberal democracy cannot settle this question. The fact that Gottfried has written a fine book on Carl Schmitt proves that he is certainly competent to inquire further. (See my ongoing series on “Leo Strauss, the Conservative Revolution, and National Socialism,” Part 1 [15], Part 2 [16].)

Third, Gottfried is a historicist, Strauss an anti-historicist. Until the question of historicism is settled, a lot of Gottried’s criticisms are question-begging. Yet a serious engagement with historicism falls outside the scope of Gottfried’s book.

But all that is merely to say: Paul Gottfried’s Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America is that rarest of achievements: an academic book that one wishes were longer.

Source: The Occidental Observer, Part 1 [17], Part 2 [18]




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


URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/01/paul-gottfrieds-leo-strauss-the-conservative-movement-in-america/


URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Leo_Strauss_and_the_Conservative_Movement_in_America.jpg

[2] Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America: A Critical Appraisal: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1107675715/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1107675715&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[3] Alan Wolfe: https://chronicle.com/article/A-Fascist-Philosopher-Helps-Us/20483

[4] Cloaked in Virtue: Unveiling Leo Strauss and the Rhetoric of American Foreign Policy: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0415950902/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0415950902&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[5] John P. McCormick: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521664578/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0521664578&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[6] Shadia Drury: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312217838/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0312217838&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[7] Norton: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0300109733/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0300109733&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[8] treatment: http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2013/09/paul-gottfried-and-claes-ryn-on-leo-strauss/

[9] The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/140396954X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=140396954X&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[10] The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0226645479/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0226645479&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[11] Natural Rights and the New Republicanism: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0691059705/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0691059705&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[12] The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0691114722/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0691114722&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[13] The Myth of American Individualism: The Protestant Origins of American Political Thought: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0691029121/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0691029121&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[14] Strauss on Persecution and the Art of Writing: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/01/strauss-on-persecution-the-art-of-writing/

[15] Part 1: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/01/leo-strauss-the-conservative-revolution-and-national-socialism/

[16] Part 2: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/03/leo-strauss-the-conservative-revolution-and-national-socialism-part-2/

[17] Part 1: http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2014/01/review-of-paul-gottfrieds-leo-strauss-and-the-conservative-movement-in-america-part-1/

[18] Part 2: http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2014/01/review-of-paul-gottfrieds-leo-strauss-and-the-conservative-movement-in-america-part-2/