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dimanche, 06 octobre 2019

The Roots of Liberalism’s Contemporary Crisis


The Roots of Liberalism’s Contemporary Crisis

Patrick J. Deneen
Why Liberalism Failed
New Haven, Ct./New York: Yale University Press, 2018

Patrick Deneen, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, wrote the present study in 2016, completing it shortly before Donald Trump’s election. In February 2019, a paperbound edition with a few revisions and a new Preface was published.

Why Liberalism Failed is a study comparing the basic assumptions of Lockean liberalism with its historical results as revealed in our own time.

Now, as the author points out, not everything we think of as liberalism originated in early modern times:

Many of the institutional forms of government that we today associate with liberalism were at least initially conceived and developed over long centuries preceding the modern age, including constitutionalism, separation of powers, separate spheres of church and state, rights and protections against arbitrary rule, federalism, rule of law, and limited government. Protection of rights of individuals and the belief in inviolable human dignity, if not always consistently recognized and practiced, were nevertheless philosophical achievements of premodern medieval Europe. Some scholars regard liberalism simply as the natural development, and indeed the culmination, of protoliberal thinking and this long period of development, and not as any sort of radical break from premodernity. (23)

However, there was certainly a significant conceptual break with classical ethico-political thought in the seventeenth century. Previous to this break, the tradition of thought stemming from Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and their Christian heirs held liberty to be

the condition of self-governance, whether achieved by the individual or by a political community. Because self-rule was achieved only with difficulty – requiring an extensive habituation in virtue, particularly self-command and self-discipline over base but insistent appetites – the achievement of liberty required constraints upon individual choice. This limitation was achieved not primarily through promulgated law – though law had its place – but through extensive social norms in the form of custom. (xiii)

Classical and Christian ethical thought centered on “the duties of one’s station,” that “station” being the specific manner in which each person was embedded (usually from birth) in the larger social formations of family, economic class, and local community, each with its own preexisting customs and traditions.

This station in society was integral to one’s personal identity; one could no more exist outside that context than a tree could live without soil or light. Since desire is infinitely expansible, but the world is finite and must be shared with others, the desires of the individual must be limited by considerations of the common good. Hence, the duty to govern one’s appetites. Law stepped in only to deal with cases where self-control and habituation had failed.

The modern break from this tradition had a number of dimensions, but Deneen emphasizes three: first, the rejection of self-control through reason and habituation in favor of a paradigm in which the “pride, selfishness, greed and the quest for glory” of different groups within a society are harnessed to check the same passions in other groups (Machiavelli); second, traditional social, religious, economic, and familial structures, formerly “viewed as essential supports for a training in virtue, and hence preconditions for liberty,” came to be reinterpreted as sources of oppression, arbitrariness, and conflict from which individuals were to be liberated through rationally-based positive law (Descartes and Hobbes); and third, the understanding of nature as a cosmos of which man is a part was rejected in favor of a fundamental opposition between man and nature, with the latter serving as raw materials for human activity for “the easing of man’s estate” and the increase of his power (Bacon).

The protoliberal philosopher Thomas Hobbes even denied that rational self-control was possible: “Thoughts, are to the Desires, as Scouts, and Spies, to range abroad, and find the way to the things Desired.” Consistent with this understanding of man, Hobbes denied that liberty could meaningfully be understood as anything more than an absence of interference with desire: “if a man should talk to me of a free will, or any free, but free from being hindered by opposition, I should not say he were in an error, but that his words were without meaning, that is to say, absurd.” As Deneen comments: “liberalism in many cases attained its ends by redefining shared words and concepts and, through that redefinition, colonizing existing institutions with fundamentally different anthropological assumptions.”

Of course, Hobbes and his liberal successors understood that desires must be checked for society to function. But they made a conscious choice in favor of external constraints, holding that “the only limitation on liberty should be duly enacted laws consistent with maintaining order of otherwise unfettered individuals” (xiii). Freedom existed wherever the law was silent, and except as limited by law, desire might be satisfied without limit. Wealth, for example, could be safely maximized: “The public stock cannot be too great for the public use,” Hobbes wrote.

In a sense, though Deneen does not state this, the modern ethico-political conceptions are more primitive and probably older than those of classical thought. Even today the average child would have no difficulty grasping the concept of freedom as the absence of interference, or that of thought as a tool of desire. Understanding the concept of self-mastery requires greater maturity, and probably came along later in history, just as it does in the life of the average person. Pace Hobbes, however, it is both meaningful and observable: Anyone who has known a person unable to keep a credit card without getting himself deeply into debt can see that the classical concept of bondage to desire – and its corresponding ideal of liberty as self-mastery – is no absurdity. In modern psychology, conscientiousness is one of the five major dimensions of personality. Liberalism is based on an anthropological falsehood.

It has certainly revolutionized the world and produced at least some good effects, however. The most full-throated celebration of liberalism is known as the “Whig interpretation of history” that, in Deneen’s words, goes something like this:

The advent of liberalism marks the end of a benighted age, the liberation of humanity from darkness, the overcoming of oppression and arbitrary inequality, the descent of monarchy and aristocracy, the advance of prosperity and modern technology, and the advent of an age of nearly unbroken progress. Liberalism is credited with the cessation of religious war, the opening of an age of tolerance and equality, the expanding spheres of personal opportunity that today culminate in globalization and the ongoing victories over sexism, racism, colonialism, heteronormativity and a host of other prejudices. (27-28)

Of course, the notion that the distinction between men and women is an arbitrary prejudice from which the state must liberate us is a good clue that liberalism has turned into a Frankenstein’s monster which is now out to devour its creator.

As Deneen sees it, liberalism has quietly remade the world in its own image, converting human beings into monadic individual wills impatient of restraint, accepting no duties they have not themselves chosen, and looking to the state to “liberate” them from the claims of their fellow man. Referring to Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation (1944), he writes:

The individual as a disembodied, self-interested economic actor didn’t exist in any actual state of nature but rather was the creation of an elaborate intervention by the incipient state in early modernity. Economic arrangements were separated from particular cultural and religious contexts in which those arrangements were understood to serve moral ends [such as] the sustenance of community order and the flourishing of families within that order. The replacement of this economy required a deliberate and often violent reshaping… most often by elite economic and state actors disrupting traditional practices. The “individuation” or people required people’s acceptance that their labor and its products were commodities subject to price mechanisms, a transformative way of considering people and nature alike in newly utilitarian and individualistic terms. This process was repeated countless times in the history of modern political economy: in efforts to eradicate the medieval guilds, in the enclosure controversy, in state suppression of “Luddites,” in state support for owners over organized labor, and in government efforts to empty the nation’s farmlands via mechanized, industrial farming. (51-52)

This emphasis on the ways both state power and market forces have been harnessed by liberalism constitutes one of the great merits of Deneen’s book. As he observes, most of today’s political debate opposes a “pro-market Right” to a “pro-state Left;” i.e., it occurs within liberalism, so that whichever side wins, the liberal project is advanced.

Liberalism is fundamentally hostile to culture which, properly speaking, consists in precisely the traditional social, religious, economic, and familial structures from which the individual is to be liberated. Culture is a “set of generational customs, practices and rituals that are grounded in local and particular settings” (64). It at once looks past the present generation and binds people to a social and geographical place. Liberalism abstracts from both time and place, fostering “a new experience of time as a pastless present in which the future is a foreign land; and . . . [rendering] place fungible and bereft of definitional meaning” (66).

A healthy culture is akin to healthy agriculture . . . that takes into account local conditions intends to maintain fecundity over generation, and so must work with the facts of given nature, not approach nature as an obstacle to the attainment of one’s unbounded appetites. Modern industrialized agriculture works on the liberal model that apparent natural limits are to be overcome through short-term solutions whose consequences will be left for future generations. (70)

Liberalism makes humanity into mayflies, and unsurprisingly, its culmination has led each generation to accumulate scandalous levels of debt to be left for its children, while rapacious exploitation of resources continues in the progressive belief that future generations will devise a way to deal with the depletions. (74)

Deneen mentions that there were once laws “forbidding banks to open branches in communities outside where they were based, premised on a belief that the granting and acceptance of debt rested on trust and local knowledge.” He quotes a banker’s 1928 characterization of the business he was in: “the community as a whole demands of the banker that he shall be an honest observer of conditions around him, that he shall make constant and careful study of those conditions, financial, economic, social and political, and that he shall have a wide vision over them all.” The economic crash of 2008 was in part the result of the elimination of such cultural norms “that existed to regulate and govern the granting and procuring of mortgages” (86). The response to the disaster, predictably, was a call for more governmental regulation, not any renewed reliance on local knowledge and responsibility. Most of us have simply lost any ability to think outside the liberal opposition of state and market forces.

What used to be called the American Dream was roughly a country where every man of normal capacity with a willingness to work could afford to support a wife and family, own a home and car, and take the children to the beach every summer. The realization of such a social vision in the middle of the last century was ascribed at the time (i.e., during the Cold War) largely to America’s free enterprise system. Now that this way of life is lost to us, we can better perceive that it also depended on certain limitations to the rule of market forces: viz., legalized discrimination against working women (the reservation of “family wage” jobs to men), restrictions on immigration (especially by the low-skilled), trade unionism and collective bargaining, as well as greater obstacles to foreign “outsourcing.” We have liberalism to thank for tearing all these supports away.

In compensation, it has given us the cheapness of the junk at Walmart. Economist Tyler Cowen believes that the rise of the talented few “will make it easier to ignore those who are left behind.” He has actually proposed constructing subsidized favelas where the losers of the liberal economic order – the majority of the population – can while away the years between birth and death with distractions such as free internet: “We might even look ahead to a time when the cheap or free fun is so plentiful that it will feel a bit like Karl Marx’s communist utopia, albeit brought on by capitalism.” He describes this nightmare scenario as “the light at the end of the tunnel” (141).

Deneen notes the irony that an economic system which has sacrificed everything to individual autonomy has come to seem even to the most talented like an impersonal form of bondage, a rat race from which there is no escape. He reports a typical student telling him:

If we do not race to the very top, the only remaining option is a bottomless pit of failure. To spend time in intellectual conversation in moral or philosophical issues or to go on a date all detract from time we could be spending on getting to the top and thus will leave us worse off relative to everyone else. (11-12)

Under our “meritocratic” education system, “elite universities engage in the educational equivalent of strip mining: identifying economically valuable raw materials in every city, town, and hamlet, they strip off that valuable commodity, process it in a different location, and render the products economically useful for productivity elsewhere.” But just how long are our economically valuable processed materials going to remain productive for us if they no longer even have time to go on dates? Meanwhile, “the places that supplied the raw materials are left much like depressed coal towns whose mineral wealth has been long since mined and exported” (132).

Education in the service of economic productivity is seen as “practical” but, as Deneen observes, this is to ignore the “more capacious way of understanding ‘practical’ to include how one lives as a spouse, parent, neighbor, citizen, and human being.” The abstract babbling about “social justice” on university campuses encourage functions as a replacement for the genuine social duties students no longer have.

Meanwhile, “conservative” legislatures are gutting the humanities offerings at state-supported schools in the name of cost-cutting. One liberal administrator has perceptively described the mindset: “They’ve decided that rather than defending Edmund Burke, it’s easier just to run Intro to Business online and call it a day.”

Deneen is not optimistic about the prospects for a political solution to the crisis of liberalism, warning that “the likely popular reaction to an increasingly oppressive liberal order might be forms of authoritarian illiberalism that would promise citizens power over those forces that no longer seemed under their control: government, economy, and the dissolution of social norms.” I believe this is correct. The best near-term political fix would likely be a Caesarism similar to what Donald Trump promised but failed to deliver in America. As Deneen says,

the “limited government” of liberalism today would provoke jealousy and amazement from tyrants of old, who could only dream of such extensive capacities for surveillance and control of movement, finances, and even deeds and thoughts.

Could the “illiberal democracy” endorsed by Viktor Orbán really be any worse?

In the longer term, the answer to our problems is not to be found in politics at all:

There is evidence of growing hunger for an organic alternative to the cold, bureaucratic, and mechanized world liberalism has to offer. While especially evident in the remnants of orthodox religious traditions, . . . the building up of practices of care, patience, humility, reverence, respect, and modesty is also evident among people of no particular religious belief, homesteaders and “radical homemakers” who are seeking within households and local communities to rediscover old practices that foster forms of culture liberalism otherwise seeks to eviscerate. Often called a counterculture, such efforts should better understand themselves as a counter-anticulture. (191-192)

As advanced liberalism throws ever more people into economic and familial instability, and our ever-increasing individual autonomy leaves us (as Tocqueville predicted) both “independent and weak,” “such communities of practice will increasingly be seen as lighthouses and field hospitals to those who might once have regarded them as peculiar and suspect” (197).


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

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2019/10/the-roots-of-liberalisms-contemporary-crisis/

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jeudi, 03 octobre 2019

Survivre au déclin de l' Europe - Le Zoom avec David Engels sur TVL


Survivre au déclin de l' Europe

Le Zoom avec David Engels sur TVL

L’historien et professeur d’Université David Engels nous présente son ouvrage Que faire ? Survivre au déclin de l’Europe !
A travers ce livre l’auteur, enseignant à Poznan, propose aux européens et tout particulièrement aux pays les plus exposés à des bouleversement de société de repenser leur mode de vie.
Retrouvez-nous sur : https://www.tvlibertes.com/

jeudi, 19 septembre 2019

The Breakdown of Order in Late Mass Democracy


The Breakdown of Order in Late Mass Democracy

By John Derbyshire

Ex: http://www.hlmenckenclub.org

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being here, and thanks to Paul  for what already looks like another very successful conference.

First somewhat of an apology. The title of my talk is misleading. I have the heart and soul of a freelance journalist, and we don’t bother much with titles. Titles to articles in newspapers and magazines were traditionally supplied by subeditors—the people responsible for headlines and photo captions. Where titles are concerned, a freelancer has to take his chances with the subs.

That’s not precisely what happened here. What actually happened was, Paul asked me if I’d join a panel on anarcho-tyranny. I said I’d be delighted. Paul asked if there was any particular subtopic I wanted to focus on. I said: “Nah, just give me a topic and I’ll run with it.” Paul then listed my topic as: “The Breakdown of Order in Late Mass Democracy.”

I tell you this to make it plain that I don’t, from long habit, take titles very seriously; and this is not Paul’s fault.

So I can now tell you that, after pondering the title Paul has supplied me with, I don’t in fact think there will be a breakdown of order in what—yes, I do agree—we can rightly call “late mass democracy.”

Not only do I think there will not be a breakdown of order, I fear the opposite thing: an intensification of order.  Let me explain that.

I think the distinguishing characteristic of late mass democracy is the elites getting their mojo back.  After a Century of the Common Man, elites are now saying to themselves, in the current popular idiom: “We’ve got this.”

To explain what I mean, let me take a brief historico-literary detour.*

When I was getting my secondary education back in England in the early 1960s, a common exercise for sixth formers—that is, high school juniors and seniors—was to read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and then to read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and to write an essay declaring, with supporting arguments, which of the two books you thought the actual future would more closely resemble.

BNW-AH.jpgBoth these books presented the reader with a dystopia—a dark view of humanity’s future.  The two dystopias were radically different, though.

In Orwell’s vision, as I’m sure is well known, the human spirit had been tamed by terror. A ruling elite, divided into an Inner Party and an Outer Party, maintained itself by fear.  Outer Party members, who did the administrative grunt work, were kept under constant vigilance by the Thought Police. Dissidents were hauled away to be tortured and killed. A great sullen mass of proles, with no political rights, were kept pacified by a coarse kind of popular culture and frequent spasms of war fever, and were also under watch by the Thought Police, so that potential troublemakers could be quickly identified and eliminated.

Huxley’s dystopia was altogether different.  Huxley’s planet is unified and at peace. Its affairs are managed by ten regional Controllers. Marriage, childbirth, and family life have been abolished, along with all kinds of suffering — even such minor kinds as disappointment and frustration. Also gone are the nation-state, war, religion, ethnicity, and all profound art and literature. Disease has been banished. Old age has been banished too, very nearly: Citizens are healthy, vigorous, and attractive until about age 60, when they decline quickly to death. Everyone lives in a state of contented hedonism, assisted by regular doses of soma, a freely available narcotic with no side- or after-effects. Sex is promiscuous and recreational, with universal free access to contraception and abortion.

The necessary work of Huxley’s society is carried out via a system of castes, with bright and capable Alphas at the top, then betas, gammas, deltas, down to dimwitted Epsilons at the bottom. Caste is determined in the Hatcheries, where good-quality eggs and sperm are mated to produce Alphas. Inferior zygotes are assigned to the lower castes and cloned. The production of well-adjusted citizens is completed in Conditioning units.

All this is accomplished so successfully that society is well-nigh self-regulating. The Controllers, though in theory they’re possessed of despotic powers, in fact have very little to do.

When I got this assignment around age 17, I pondered the matter and came down on the side of Huxley as having given us a more probable picture of the future. I can’t honestly remember my arguments, but I suspect my choice was mainly esthetic.  Orwell’s vision was plainly horrible. It even smelled bad: remember how Winston Smith’s apartment building stank of boiled cabbage? Huxley’s world, on the other hand, didn’t sound bad at all. Universal peace; no more diseases; pop a harmless pill if you’re unhappy; guilt-free recreational sex; what’s not to like? When you read Brave New World, you know there’s something badly wrong with it; but it’s surprisingly difficult to say what, exactly, that is.  Speaking as a bookish intellectual, I would say that what’s wrong is the stasis, the end of any quest for knowledge, for deeper understanding of the world.

When I look at the trends of our own time, it seems to me that my 1962 judgment was correct, however accidentally.  Of course, Huxley’s vision was only very approximately predictive. He got a lot of things wrong. We don’t need a caste of dimwitted Epsilons to do the industrial work, we can have robots do it.

BNW-2-AHux.jpgMore glaringly, he did not foresee the great explosion in the populations of hopeless people seeking to escape chaotic nations—the crowds we have seen on our TV screens this past few weeks heading up through Mexico; with, looming up behind them, the prospect of—what is the latest UN projection? Four billion, is it?—desperate Africans by the end of this century.

Still, if the civilized world can find some way to deal with those issues, or can just fence itself off from them, the trendlines for our society are Huxleyan.  Soma, the universal tranquillizer, is not yet with us, but with a couple more cycles of pharmacological advance, it likely will be. An alpha class of genetically superior humans could arise quite naturally and commercially from techniques of embryo selection already available. Something like it is anyway emerging naturally, from assortative mating among our meritocratic elites.  As has often been noted: doctors used to marry nurses and lawyers used to marry their secretaries. Now doctors marry doctors and lawyers marry lawyers. Huxley’s feelies—entertainment fed in through all the senses—are not far from the Virtual Reality gadgets already on the market.

As for social disorder: well, Pat Buchanan—who turned eighty yesterday, by the way: Happy Birthday, Pat!—reminded us in a column just last month how very disorderly the USA, and the rest of the civilized world, was fifty years ago. The Weathermen and the Black Panthers; the Symbionese Liberation Army—remember them? The Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof gang; political assassinations; the 1968 Democratic Convention; Kent State and Cornell; …

Antifa put up a good show; and yes, I certainly agree that they illustrate the principle of anarcho-tyranny very well, controlling the streets while leftist politicians stand down the police forces. As a force for generalized disorder, though, they are not impressive. Antifa would run like chickens from a whiff of grapeshot.

The overall trend of our societies is Huxleyan.  It is the trend Steven Pinker has famously described in his book Better Angels: towards a pacified, tranquillized, hedonistic caste society.

Here in the USA the trend lines can actually be traced some way back.

In every organized society there is a tension between order and liberty. We Americans love our liberty, of course; but my love of liberty stops well short of loving your liberty to break my leg or pick my pocket. There needs to be social order.

albionseed.jpegOur own conception of social order is a fermented brew whose original ingredients were sketched out by David Hackett Fischer in his 1989 classic Albion’s Seed. Fischer described how the four main stocks of British settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries each contributed an ingredient to the national culture, and in particular to our notions of social order.

  • The Puritans of New England, drawn heavily from England’s literate artisan classes, had a conception of social order Fischer defines thus: “A condition where everything was put in its proper place and held there by force if necessary … a condition of organic unity.”  Crime stats tell the story. Further quote from Fischer: “Crimes against property were more common than crimes against persons. But crimes against order were the most common of all.” [My italics.]  The examples Fischer gives are: violations of the sabbath, blasphemy, sexual offenses, idleness, lying, domestic disorder, or drunkenness.

  • The “distressed cavaliers” and rustic, illiterate English peasants and house servants who populated Virginia and the Tidewater South had a much less egalitarian, much more hierarchical notion of social order, with county sheriffs appointed in the name of the Crown, not elected constables as in New England.  There was much more interpersonal violence here; but the violence too was hierarchical. Fischer: “It was often used by superiors against inferiors, and sometimes by equals against one another, but rarely by people of subordinate status against those above them.” Crimes of violence were more common than property crimes.

  • The Quakers of the Delaware Valley based social order on tolerance, forbearance, and the Golden Rule.  Quote from Fischer: “There were no crimes of conscience in the Quaker colonies before 1755.” Social order meant social peace. Criminal penalties were generally lighter than in the other colonies; but, says Fischer: “They punished very harshly acts of disorder in which one citizen intruded upon the peace of another … Penalties for crimes of sexual violence against women were exceptionally severe.”

  • And then there were the Scotch-Irish of the back-country, drawn from the half-civilized border lands where England meets Scotland, and from those same border folks’ Protestant settlements in Northern Ireland. These people had the least structured notion of social order among all the colonists. Fischer: “The prevailing principle was lex talionis, the rule of retaliation. It held that a good man must seek to do right in the world, but when wrong was done to him he must punish the wrongdoer himself by an act of retribution that restored order and justice in the world … A North Carolina proverb declared that ‘every man should be sheriff on his own hearth.’” That didn’t leave much for government to do. This was a very individualistic culture. Property crimes were punished much more severely than crimes of violence. One 18th-century court gave the following sentences: for hog stealing, death by hanging; for the rape of an 11-year-old girl, one shilling fine.

Overlaid on these original order traditions were the political arrangements thrashed out by the founders of our republic. Just to remind you, in very brief: Anti-Federalists favored localism and democracy modeled on the classical age, as updated by Locke and Montesquieu—a loose collection of self-governing cantons with minimal central control. Federalists argued for a stronger central government as better suited for defense and financial stability. Out of these arguments emerged our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The Constitution was supposed to have settled this question: Could a republic of the classical democratic or aristocratic type, as somewhat modernized by recent thinkers, be scaled up to continental size, given that the only pre-modern unitary states of that size had been despotic empires?

You can make a case that the answer was “No” for the first hundred years or so of the U.S.A.; that the Civil War, whatever its proximate cause, showed the fundamental instability of the 1789 model; but that the model was then rescued, from the late 19th century on, by technology—particularly by mass communication, mass transportation, and mass education.

And thus we arrived at mass democracy: and not only us, but much of the rest of the world. And of course I am over-simplifying: the relevant developments have roots back in the 16th century, with printing and the Reformation—what the Third Duke of Norfolk dismissed with disgust as “this new learning.”

But we arrived at mass democracy, and the 20th century was the Century of the Common Man.  We still had elites, of course; but under mass democracy—or, in the context of my title, early mass democracy—the elites had to pretend to be just lucky commoners.  They had to practice the common touch.

The transformation is easier to see in cultures that came later to the party.  Japanese elites used to wear fantastically elaborate uniforms. Palace flunkies used to stain their teeth black to distinguish themselves from the common herd.  Now Japan’s elites strive to look just like middle-class salarymen. Or perhaps you’ve seen that juxtaposition of two photographs of female undergraduates at an Egyptian university, one taken in 1950 where they are in Western frocks and blouses, a westernized elite, the other much more recent with them all in burkas like peasant women.

Now, in the 21st century, the elites are making a comeback.  They’ve had a bellyful of this Common Man stuff.  How to do it, though? The traditional hierarchy of rank and genealogy—the pattern of order that shaped Europe and the old Tidewater South—is long gone. The violent egalitarianism of the Scotch-Irish has been corralled off into a few localities none of us ever need visit: inner-city ghettos and remote mountain villages.  The totalitarian order of the big old 20th-century despotic utopias proved a bust, though it lingers on in a few hell-holes like North Korea.

What system of order is appropriate to an age of unbounded material plenty, ample leisure, an internet panopticon, and rapid growth of understanding in the human sciences and biotechnology?  I think the goodthinking consensual model of Puritan Massachusetts set the model; except that, with sophisticated conditioning, a free ration of soma, and endless hedonistic distractions, there’ll be no need to burn witches or hang Quakers.

If we can just find some way to manage, or contain, those swelling tides of the hopeless heading for our borders, we shall reach the Brave New World at last.

vendredi, 21 juin 2019

Panajotis Kondylis: Ein skeptischer Aufklärer


Panajotis Kondylis: Ein skeptischer Aufklärer


PKphoto.jpgDer Bewunderer des sozialpolitischen Denkers Panajotis Kondylis (1943-1998), Falk Horst, brachte vor einigen Monaten einen gehaltvollen Sammelband heraus. Der Titel lautet: „Panajotis Kondylis und die Metamorphosen der Gesellschaft“.

Kennzeichnend für das Werk des verstorbenen griechischen Gelehrten, der in Heidelberg ein großes Stück seiner Lebenszeit verbrachte und der meist auf Deutsch seine begrifflichen Entwürfe ausführte, war sein auf Machtansprüche bezogener interpretativer Ausgangspunkt. Im Gegensatz zu anderen dem Moralisieren zugeneigten Ideen- und Sozialhistorikern hat Kondylis nie für das „Gute“ gekämpft. Zwar von der Aufklärung geprägt, hat Herausgeber Falk Horst recht, wenn er von einem Aufklärer ohne Mission spricht.

Kondylis zergliedert aufeinanderfolgende Weltanschauungen ausgehend vom Mittelalter, aber er packte seine Aufgabe möglichst wertfrei an. Er bezeichnete diese Herangehensweise als „deskriptiven Dezisionismus“, den er von wertbezogenen Auffassungen menschlicher Entscheidungen und Ansprüche abhebt. Und er benennt die Wissenschaftlichkeit, die er in seinen zur Reife gelangten Büchern verfolgt, als „Sozialontologie“.

In erster Linie ein Sozialwesen

Kondylis geht von der Grundannahme aus, dass das menschliche Wesen nicht von einer bestimmten Sozialbeziehung loszutrennen sei. Von seinem Standpunkt her ist der Mensch in erster Linie Sozialwesen, dessen Verhältnis zu Mitmenschen und zur Außenwelt durch seine Stelle in einer vorgegebenen Rangordnung zu berücksichtigen sei.

Zuallererst kümmert man sich um die Selbsterhaltung, die die Mitwirkung anderer voraussetzt und dann darum, seine Nische gegen Kontrahenten zu verteidigen. In seinem schmalen Band Macht und Entscheidung. Die Herausbildung der Weltbilder und die Wertfrage (1984) nimmt Kondylis die kämpferische und machtstrebende Seite von zwischenmenschlichen Wechselwirkungen in den Blick.

Moralismus oder Nihilismus

Grundlegend für seine seitenreichen Bücher über die Aufklärung, den klassischen Konservatismus und das Zeitalter der planetarischen Politik ist seine Inanspruchnahme einer machtorientierten Auslegungsperspektive. Auch bei gelehrten Auseinandersetzungen und streng herausgebildeten theoretischen Arbeiten lässt sich so eine alle Anliegen prägende Kampfgesinnung feststellen. Der Wissenschaftler stellt seine These derjenigen seines Kontrahenten entgegen.

Die Aufklärungsdenker legten es darauf an, Natur und Sinnlichkeit gegen eine mittelalterliche Denkart geltend zu machen. Doch die ehemaligen Beteiligten gingen getrennte Wege, als die Frage aufkam, ob der Kampf gegen die verworfene Metaphysik in einer normativen Sittlichkeit oder in einem alles zerlegenden Nihilismus münden sollte. In zwei gegensätzliche Denkgruppen zerteilten sich die Aufklärer, die Verfechter einer Vernunftsmoralität wie Kant und Voltaire und nihilistische Materialisten wie Holbach und La Mettrie.

Die bürgerliche Gesellschaft, die die Kulturwelt der Aufklärung hochhielt, mußte einen Zweifrontenkrieg gegen den Konservatismus führen, der die Ideale einer vormodernen Sozialordnung wieder zur Geltung bringen wollte, und gegen die Massendemokratie, die für die Gleichheit und Austauschbarkeit der Menge eintritt. Ohne diese dialektische, kämpferische Stoßrichtung zu betrachten, meint Kondylis, sind aufeinanderfolgende Herrscherklassen und führende Ideologien kaum zu begreifen. Nur im Hinblick auf ein Gegenüber entwickelt sich der Einzelne gemeinschaftlich, seinsartig und begrifflich heraus.

PK2.jpgEine Synthese aus Marx und Carl Schmitt?

Die Sozialontologie und Sozialanthropologie von Kondylis wird normalerweise als eine einfallsreiche Verschmelzung der Gedanken Marxens und Carl Schmitts interpretiert. Verblüffend mag es sein, dass Kondylis Marx, aber bei weitem weniger Schmitt, als Vordenker anerkannte. Ebenso großzügig gestand er Reinhart Koselleck, mit dem er einen langjährigen Briefwechsel unterhielt, und seinem Doktorvater aus Heidelberg, Werner Conze, eine Einwirkungsrolle bei seiner Ideenwelt zu. Zusätzlich erwähnt er Spinoza, dessen-theologisch-politischer Traktat seinen Machtbegriff mitgestaltete.

Warum aber ging Kondylis mit Schmitt, dessen Freund-Feind-Denken  er teilt, fast stiefmütterlich um? Mag sein, dass Kondylis die Originalität seiner Begriffe unterstreichen wollte. Ebenso relevant, wie Horsts Sammelband klarmacht, wurde Kondylis zu seiner Jugendzeit radikalisiert, als er gegen die Regierung der Obristen in seinem griechischen Stammland aufgemuckt hatte.

Auf diese Jugendjahre ist die marxistische Prägung zurückzuführen, auch wenn der ausgereifte Denker kaum als Marxist oder als links orientiert einzustufen war. Die Fokussierung auf Geschichtsabläufe und sozial bedingte Leitkulturen weisen auf marxistisch angehauchte Schwerpunkte zurück. Klar ist aber, daß Kondylis wie Koselleck und andere führende deutsche Ideenhistoriker aus der zweiten Hälfte des letzten Jahrhunderts von Schmitt beeinflusst wurden.

Daß Kondylis mit einem einspurigen oder übermäßig vereinfachenden Weltbild hantierte, ist eine geläufige Kritik an seiner anthropologischen und politischen Perspektive, die sich um die Selbsterhaltung und das Machtstreben des sozial angesiedelten Einzelnen dreht. Aber das setzt voraus, daß der Sozialforscher Kondylis ein Gesamtbild des politischen, gemeinschaftlichen und ideentheoretischen Handelns liefern wollte. Stattdessen kann sein Gedankengut herangezogen werden, um das menschliche Verhalten zu beleuchten und Erkenntnis über die menschliche Motivation in einzelnen Situationen abzugeben.

Kein Optimist

Bei all seiner Anhänglichkeit an die Aufklärung und die dazugehörigen Einsichten hat Kondylis keinesfalls das optimistische Zukunftsbild vertreten, das den Rationalismus des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts prägte. Er zählte zur Gesellschaft, die Zeev Sternhell und Isaiah Berlin als „les Contre-lumières” charakterisierten und die angeblich nichts Gutes im Schilde führten. Diese Grübler setzen die kritische Verfahrensweise der Aufklärung ein, um ihre Endvision zu hinterfragen und sogar zu entwerten.

Anders gesagt: Kondylis verstand seinen Lehrauftrag anders als die von ihm bespöttelten Moralisten. Außer dem Entscheidungstreffen sozial verorteter und motivierter Einzelner und Gruppen, die im Spannungsfeld mit anderen ähnlich bestimmten Wesen handeln, kann uns Kondylis kein Welt- oder Zukunftsbild anbieten. Zu seiner Ehre mahnt er vor den Schönfärbern, die unsere Freiheit wie unsere Nüchternheit abschaffen wollen.

Aus dem Kreis der BN-Autoren hat sich insbesondere Felix Menzel mit Kondylis beschäftigt und ein Zitat aus Macht und Entscheidung seiner Alternativen Politik vorangestellt.

dimanche, 26 mai 2019

Interview mit Prof. Dr. David Engels zum Verfall der EU


Interview mit Prof. Dr. David Engels zum Verfall der EU

Die westliche Welt steckt in einer Krise

Ex: https://www.freiewelt.net

Die EU ist in der Krise. Das ist ein Symptom einer viel tieferen Krise, in der allgemein die westliche Welt steckt. Dies zeigt sich am Verfall der Werte, an der außenpolitischen Überforderung, an der Deindustrialiserung und den restriktiven Maßnahmen zur Zensur.

Foto: Freie Welt

Freie Welt: Sehr geehrter Herr Prof. Engels: Befindet sich die EU in einer Krise?

Prof. Engels: Leider ja, sogar mehr denn je. Selbst die politischen Eliten, welche lange ausschließlich von einer „institutionellen“ Krise der EU gesprochen haben, sind zunehmend gezwungen anzuerkennen, daß es sich um nichts weniger als um eine echte Zivilisationskrise handelt, wie kürzlich noch Emmanuel Macron in seinem feierlichen Aufruf schrieb. Diese Krise ist freilich nicht durch die EU hervorgerufen worden (wenn diese auch das ihre dazu getan hat, sie zu verstärken); vielmehr könnte man sagen, daß die EU selber mitsamt ihren zahlreichen inneren Problemen nur ein Symptom der sich immer stärker verschärfenden Krise der westlichen Welt ist.

Freie Welt: Was sind für Sie die Hauptprobleme des heutigen Europa?

Prof. Engels: Die Liste ist lang: Gesellschaftliche Polarisierung, Masseneinwanderung, Bildungsnotstand, Fundamentalismus, verfallende Infrastrukturen, Terrorismus, demographischer Niedergang, Desindustrialisierung, Zerfall der klassischen Familie, Hedonismus, Überalterung, Rechtsrelativismus, explodierende Staatsschulden, Islamisierung, Elitendemokratie, Kasinokapitalismus, asymmetrische Kriege, absehbarer Bankrott der Rentenkassen, Zunahme krimineller Gewalt, bürokratische Überregulierung, Bedrohung der Sicherheit der Frau, ausufernde Sozialbudgets, Parallelgesellschaften, Instrumentalisierung der historischen Schuld der abendländischen Völker, Bargeldabschaffung mitsamt den sich potentiell daraus ergebenden Negativzinsen, immer größerer wissenschaftlich-technologischer Rückstand, zunehmender Aufbau eines flächendeckenden digitalen Überwachungssystems – und die Liste ließe sich noch lange fortsetzen und natürlich um die zahlreichen inneren Probleme des EU-Apparats wie auch die äußeren Bedrohungen des Kontinents durch ein expandierendes China, eine instabile USA, einen immer fundamentalistischeren Nahen Osten und ein demographisch gärendes Afrika ergänzen.

Freie Welt: Was macht für Sie die Eckpfeiler der europäischen Identität aus?

Prof. Engels: Die europäische – ich bevorzuge eigentlich das schöne Wort „abendländische“ – Identität besteht in der seit Jahrhunderten geteilten gemeinsamen Geschichte mit ihrer inneren Dynamik und Zusammengehörigkeit. Ein noch so oberflächlicher Blick in ein beliebiges Museum europäischer Kunst oder Geschichte, sei es nun in Portugal, Deutschland oder Polen, sollte eigentlich genügen, selbst dem historisch Unbedarftesten zu zeigen, daß das Abendland eine kulturelle Schicksalsgemeinschaft sondergleichen ist: Von der Romanik über Gotik, Renaissance, Barock, Rokoko, Klassizismus, Romantik und Historismus bis zum Modernismus; vom mittelalterlichen Katholizismus über die Reformation, die Wiederentdeckung der Antike, die Aufklärung und den Liberalismus bis zur gegenwärtigen „politischen Korrektheit“; von der Monarchie über den Feudalismus, die frühneuzeitlichen Territorialstaaten, den Absolutismus, die bürgerliche Demokratie und den Totalitarismus bis hin zur gegenwärtigen internationalen und globalistischen Ordnung – all dies betrifft nicht nur einen einzigen europäischen Nationalstaat, sondern verbindet uns alle von Lissabon bis Vladivostok und von Palermo bis nach Tromsø, und trennt uns gleichzeitig auch in schärfster Weise von den anderen großen Kulturräumen der Weltgeschichte. Die Wurzel jener geteilten Identität aber liegt in der gemeinsamen Auseinandersetzung mit dem Christentum, wobei zu betonen ist, daß in Europa selbst noch die Ablehnung des Christentums sich in geistig typisch christlich geprägter Weise vollzieht. Wir können unserem christlichen Erbe nicht entkommen, denn wir tragen es in uns.

Freie Welt: Warum verkörpert die heutige EU diese nicht? Warum fällt es vielen Bürgern heutzutage schwer, sich mit der EU zu identifizieren?

de-l2-1.jpgProf. Engels: Sehr einfach: Die EU glaubt, sich von der historischen Identität des Abendlands abwenden zu können und den (wiederum letztlich typisch christlich verankerten) Wunsch nach Selbstüberwindung und Selbstkritik so pervertiert überziehen zu können, daß sie ganz auf eine historische Fundamentierung ihrer Identität verzichtet und gewissermaßen in Erwartung künftiger Weltverbrüderung schon jetzt auf dem europäischen Kontinent einen universalistischen, multikulturellen, rein humanistisch und somit relativistisch fundierten Weltstaat aufbaut. Das ist in etwa so klug, als schneide man einer Pflanze die Wurzeln ab, damit ihre Bodenhaftung sie nicht am Wachstum hindere – und ebenso selbstzerstörerisch, denn das europäische Projekt kann sich über kurz oder lang nur in einen materialistischen, zynischen und hedonistischen Alptraum wandeln, wenn die „Werte“, auf denen es basiert, rein positivistisch gesetzt und somit beliebig interpretier- und manipulierbar sind, da ihnen jeglicher absoluter, sei es transzendentaler, sei es traditionaler Bezugspunkt fehlt.

Freie Welt: Ist es überhaupt möglich, alle Vorgänge und Lebensbereiche der europäischen Länder in Brüssel zu zentralisieren?

Prof. Engels: Möglich ist dies sicher – Stichwort Sowjetunion –; die Frage ist natürlich nur, wie lange, und um welchen Preis.

Freie Welt: Droht ein Verlust unserer europäischen Identität?

Prof. Engels: Dieser Verlust „droht“ ja leider nicht nur, er ist bereits zu einem großen Teil eingetreten. Freilich ist dies nicht unmittelbar die alleinige Schuld der europäischen Institutionen; vielmehr handelt es sich nur um die letzte Konsequenz eines typisch spätzeitlichen Selbsthasses, der sich schon in der Fin-de-siècle-Stimmung ankündigte und sich in den 1968ern erstmals voll entlud. Die Entwicklung ist heute schon so weit geraten, daß seit wenigstens einer, wenn nicht zwei Generationen eine weitgehende Loslösung von der eigenen Geschichte und somit den eigenen Werten stattgefunden hat: Die heutigen Europäer wandeln durch ihre Lebenswelt wie Fremde durch das Museum einer lange untergegangenen Kultur, und es steht zu fürchten, daß zusammen mit der geteilten Vergangenheit nicht nur die innere Verpflichtung zum Schutz dieses Erbes verlorengeht, sondern auch jegliche Solidarität zwischen den Menschen abendländischer Kultur.

Freie Welt: Was ist für Sie die Aufgabe einer Europäischen Union? Brauchen wir überhaupt eine europäische Gemeinschaft?

Prof. Engels: Ja, wir brauchen sie sogar unbedingt. Aber freilich nicht in der gegenwärtigen Form, welche den eigentlichen Interessen des Abendlands geradezu entgegengesetzt ist: Wir brauchen eine institutionalisierte Zusammenarbeit der abendländischen Staaten, welche deren Lebensart bewahrt und sie nach außen hin schützt. Heute haben wir das Gegenteil: Eine EU, welche wesentlich daran beteiligt ist, Welt- und Menschenbild der europäischen Völker durch Universalismus, Multikulturalismus und politische Korrektheit aufzulösen und den Kontinent gleichzeitig den Interessen einer kleinen globalistischen Wirtschafts- und Politikelite auszuliefern.

Freie Welt: Welche Rolle kommt in einer Europäischen Gemeinschaft in Ihren Augen den einzelnen Nationen zu?

Prof. Engels: Als Kulturmorphologe erwarte ich, auch auf Basis des Vergleichs mit der Entwicklung anderer Zivilisationen, daß der „Nationalstaat“ im Sinne des 19. Jhs. nur noch eine sehr begrenzte Zukunft hat: Die äußere wie innere Bedrohung Europas ist solchermaßen geartet, daß das Abendland gegen die Gefahr der demographischen Überflutung, der Islamisierung und der Unterwerfung unter die chinesische Hegemonie nur dann noch eine Zukunft hat, wenn die Nationalstaaten zumindest Teile ihrer Hoheitsrechte an eine höhere Instanz delegieren: Auf sich alleine gestellt, dürften die meisten europäischen Nationalstaaten, Deutschland inklusive, rasch in der einen oder anderen Weise als politische und kulturelle Akteure der Weltgeschichte ausscheiden. Freilich muß es im Gegenzug gesichert werden, daß jene gemeinsamen Institutionen nicht nur einer echten demokratischen Kontrolle unterliegen, sondern auch im Geiste der positiven inneren Verbundenheit mit der abendländischen Geschichte und den europäischen Interessen agieren – was zur Zeit ja leider reine Zukunftsmusik und letztlich der Grund für die Krise der EU ist. Mit den „Nationen“ steht es freilich anders: Sie gab es bereits vor dem Nationalstaat, und sie werden diesen wohl auch überleben, wenn auch zum einen die Grenzen zwischen den einzelnen Völkern aufgrund der hohen Binnenmobilität zunehmend (wieder) verschwimmen werden, und zum anderen aufgrund der allgegenwärtigen Amerikanisierung eine gewisse Verflachung stattfindet, die ihrerseits natürlich auch den Weg zu einer zunehmenden, auch politischen Vereinheitlichung des Kontinents ebnet. Das darf und soll man bedauern – aber man kann es nicht rückgängig machen. Wem tatsächlich am Alten gelegen ist, der darf nicht versuchen, den status quo ante zu restituieren (etwa die angeblich „gute alte Bundesrepublik“), sondern der muß revolutionär in die Zukunft hinein wirken. Di Lampedusa schrieb einmal: „Damit alles gleichbleibt, muß sich alles verändern“ – diesen Satz sollte man sich gerade auf Seiten der Konservativen zu Herzen nehmen.

Freie Welt: Ihr nun herausgegebenes Buch Renovatio Europae trägt den Untertitel Plädoyer für einen hesperialistischen Neubau Europas. Halten Sie die EU nicht für reformierbar? Warum braucht es einen Neubau?

Prof. Engels: In der Tat: Die EU ist aus eigenen Kräften gegenwärtig nicht reformierbar – und dieser Zustand wird sicherlich auch einige Jahre, wenn nicht Jahrzehnte andauern, bis die EU, zusammen mit unserer gegenwärtigen Gesellschaft, an ihren inneren Widersprüchen zerbricht und den Weg freimacht für eine Neuordnung. Das wird ein sehr schmerzhafter und gewaltsamer Prozeß werden, und auch der daraus hervorgehende Zustand wird wohl in Anbetracht der Sachlage kaum ein Idealstaat werden. Immerhin aber soll unser Buch helfen, schon jetzt, wo es gewissermaßen zunehmend im Gebälk kracht, einige Wege aufzuzeigen, wie man aus den kommenden Zeiten das Beste machen könnte, und wie wir zumindest das Wichtigste, nämlich unser abendländisches Welt- und Menschenbild, in die Zukunft hinüberretten können. Es geht also weniger um ein unmittelbar zu realisierendes Idealbild – dafür ist es ohnehin schon viel zu spät – als vielmehr um eine Art regulative Idee, die aber heute schon ihre Wirkmächtigkeit entfalten kann – vielleicht gerade weil sie den gegenwärtigen Zuständen so radikal entgegengesetzt ist.

Freie Welt: Der Titel ist, schreiben Sie, auch eine Provokation. Warum wollen Sie provozieren?

Prof. Engels: Eine der größten Probleme der Gegenwart ist die feige und opportunistische Suche nach Kompromiß, Konsens und kleinsten gemeinsamen Nennern. Dies hat nicht nur zur gegenwärtigen Dominanz der „politischen Korrektheit“ geführt, die ja paradoxerweise eben jenen Anti-Elitismus zum Motor einer einzigartigen politischen und gesellschaftlichen Polarisierung des Westens in „Völker“ und „Eliten“, in „reich“ und „arm“ umgestaltet hat; es hat auch zu einer fast völligen Gleichschaltung „konservativer“ Denker und Meinungen mit dem gegenwärtigen Zeitgeist geführt. Anstatt sich mutig zu Tradition und Geschichte zu bekennen, bemühen sich die meisten Konservativen, ihre Positionen durch das allgegenwärtige Vokabular des Linksliberalismus zu begründen: Dies bringt sie aber nicht nur in eine unüberwindliche Schieflage, sondern gestaltet ihren Kampf um die Gestaltung unserer Lebensumstände in ein bloßes Betteln um ihre Anerkennung als „eine Meinung unter mehreren“. In dieser Situation einmal den Spieß herumzudrehen und sich nicht anzubiedern, sondern im Gegenteil die in sich selbst ruhende Begründung der eigenen Überzeugung zu unterstreichen, schien mir ein dringend notwendiger Schritt, gerade in einer Zeit der zunehmenden Verengung und Verschiebung des Meinungskorridors.

Freie Welt: Wer sollte das Buch lesen?

Prof. Engels: Jeder!

Freie Welt: Der Begriff Hesperialismus ist uns noch nie begegnet: Was ist der Hesperialismus?

Prof. Engels: Mit „Hesperialismus“ ist die Überzeugung gemeint, daß das Abendland nur dann eine Zukunft hat, wenn es zum einen treu zu seinem historischen Erbe steht und seine Wurzeln pflegt, anstatt sie abzuschneiden, zum anderen aber politisch eng zusammenarbeitet, um sich gegen die zahlreichen Gefahren von innen wie von außen zu wehren. Diese Überzeugung ist insoweit „neu“ bzw. unüblich, als lange Jahre hinweg der kulturkonservative Standpunkt meist mit den sogenannten Nationalisten oder Euroskeptikern assoziiert wurde, während das Bekenntnis zu einem vereinigten Europa meist eher auf Seiten der Linken gepflegt wurde.


Freie Welt: Warum haben Sie ein neues Wort geschaffen? Hätte man nicht ein gängiges Wort neu definieren können?

Prof. Engels: Als Historiker bin ich natürlich sehr sensibel, wenn es um Begrifflichkeiten geht, und habe lange über die Frage nachgedacht. Leider ist es so, daß alle anderen Termini, welche ein ähnliches, patriotisches und gleichzeitig konservatives Bekenntnis zum Abendland hätten ausdrücken können, bereits ganz anders konnotiert waren. „Europäismus“ zum Beispiel ist heute ein Standardbegriff, um nicht etwa die eigentlichen „pro-Europäer“ zu bezeichnen, sondern vielmehr die Anhänger der EU mitsamt ihrer gegenwärtigen politisch korrekten Ideologie. Oder nehmen Sie „Okzidentalismus“ – hier denkt natürlich jeder an den Gegenbegriff „Orientalismus“ und die Debatte um Edward Said. Und ich will erst recht schweigen vom „Westlertum“, was ja auch nur als Antonym zu den „Slawophilen“ verständlich ist. Da war es angebracht, einen neuen Begriff zu prägen, und was lag näher, als die griechische Bezeichnung für den äußersten Westen der damals bekannten Welt, die Inseln der Hesperiden, zum Ausgangspunkt zu nehmen; umso mehr, als sie ja auch auf jene typisch abendländische, „faustische“ Sehnsucht nach dem verweisen, was immer „hinter dem Horizont“ ist, dem klassischen „plus ultra“…

Freie Welt: Wer sind für Sie die Feinde eines >>hesperialistischen Europas<<? Wo sehen Sie die größten Gefahren für Europa?

Prof. Engels: Das „hesperialistische“ Abendland ist von zahlreichen Seiten bedroht. Einige dieser Konflikte sind konkreter Art: In der multipolaren Welt des 21. Jh.s kann nur harter realpolitischer Pragmatismus, verbunden mit der Bereitschaft, schmerzliche Entscheidungen zu treffen, um noch Schlimmerem vorzubeugen, es verhindern, daß wir den Gefahren von Osten, Westen oder Süden erliegen oder an der inneren Spaltung in Klassen und Parallelgesellschaften zugrundegehen. Ein anderes Schlachtfeld – m.E. das eigentlich entscheidende – ist der Kampf um die innere, seelische Ausrichtung der letzten Abendländer: Denn der eigentliche „Feind“ Europas sitzt nicht, wie von vielen „Populisten“ behauptet, in den islamischen Vororten von Paris, London, Brüssel, Berlin oder Stockholm, auch wenn die Aufgabe, jene Bürger in das zu integrieren, was von der „Mehrheitsgesellschaft“ übrigbleibt, eine enorme Herausforderung ist. Der eigentliche Feind sitzt in uns selbst: Die Tendenz, uns von der Verpflichtung unserer Vergangenheit abzukoppeln und nur an uns und nicht unsere Vorfahren oder Nachkommen zu denken; die Versuchung, den letzten Fragen auszuweichen und ein tierhaftes, nur auf Bedürfnisbefriedigung ausgerichtetes Leben zu verbringen; die Feigheit, lieber mit der Masse zu gehen, um ungestört zu bleiben, als anzuecken; der Wunsch, keine Unterscheidungen mehr treffen zu müssen, aus jeder Ausnahme gleich eine Regel zu machen und Fragen von Gut und Böse elegant positivistisch zu relativieren; der einfache Opportunismus, in jedem Augenblick moralische Maximalpositionen zu vertreten, aus deren Unmöglichkeit sowohl ein gutes Gewissen als auch die praktische Unmöglichkeit ihrer Verwirklichung folgen, etc. Das ist der eigentliche Feind, den es zu bekämpfen gilt – und er ist heute mächtiger denn je.

Freie Welt: Glauben Sie, dass derzeit eine Bewegung entsteht, welche die linke Meinungsdominanz durchbricht? Welche Rolle sehen Sie darin für Ihr Buch?

Prof. Engels: Ich denke in der Tat, daß die Gegenbewegung zum politisch korrekten Linksliberalismus immer stärker wird, auch wenn es wohl viele Jahre, wenn nicht Jahrzehnte dauern wird, bis auf einen (ebenfalls noch in einiger Zukunft stehenden) politischen Wandel auch ein wirklich kultureller und gesellschaftlicher folgen wird – Stichwort „Marsch durch die Institutionen“. Doch reicht es nicht, jene Dominanz nur zu brechen – was soll an ihre Stelle treten? Die sogenannten „konservativen“ oder „populistischen“ Bewegungen sind tief gespalten, nicht nur, was etwa die Ausrichtung gegenüber Rußland betrifft, sondern auch und gerade die Werte: Laizismus oder Christentum; liberale oder soziale Marktwirtschaft; nationalistischer oder abendländischer Patriotismus; Positivismus oder Naturrecht; Modernismus oder Klassizismus; Individualismus oder Traditionalismus; Hedonismus oder Transzendenz… Sollte mein Buch mithelfen, die Waage zugunsten der jeweils zweiten Richtung ausschlagen zu lassen, wäre ich bereits überglücklich.

Freie Welt: Warum wir ein konservatives Weltbild heutzutage oft als rechtspopulistisch gebrandmarkt? Woher kommt all der Haß auf die konservativen Kräfte?

Prof. Engels: Vordergründig ließe sich natürlich einmal mehr das Trauma des Zweiten Weltkriegs und des Totalitarismus bemühen, aber das greift natürlich viel zu kurz, denn dann müßte eine ähnliche Abneigung auch gegen linke Kräfte bestehen, was generell nicht oder doch nicht im selben Maße der Fall ist. Auch kennen wir eine analoge Entwicklung ja gerade in jenen Staaten wie dem Vereinigten Königreich oder den USA, welche selber nie durch totalitäre Regime geprägt waren. Nein, die zunehmende Polarisierung in ein „universalistisches“ und ein „traditionalistisches“ Lager – denn das sind die einzigen Bezeichnungen, die gegenwärtig politisch überhaupt noch Sinn machen – geht mindestens bis auf den Ersten Weltkrieg zurück, wo wir sie im Kampf der „Zivilisation“ gegen die „Kultur“ finden, wie Thomas Mann sie in den „Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen“ wortreich beschwor, und hatte bereits da eine Dimension erreicht, welche es eigentlich nötig machen würde, die Ursachen jener Spaltungen bis hin zur Französischen Revolution, ja vielleicht sogar bis zur Reformation zurückzuverfolgen (aber ich schweife ab) und gewissermaßen als allgegenwärtige anthropologische Konstante anzunehmen, die sich im Laufe der Kulturgeschichte mal zugunsten der einen, mal der anderen Richtung mit einer gewissen Regelhaftigkeit entwickelt. In dieser Hinsicht bin ich sehr von Oswald Spengler geprägt…

Freie Welt: Wird sich die Spaltung der Gesellschaft noch vertiefen?

Prof. Engels: Ganz sicherlich. In einigen Monaten oder Jahren werden massive Verteilungskämpfe einsetzen, wenn die Sozial- und Rentenfürsorge zerbricht, die Enteignung des Bürgers durch die Eurorettung (in Deutschland) bzw. die aufoktroyierte Austeritätskur (in Südeuropa) manifest wird und die Alimentierung immer größerer Migrantenmengen ins Visier der ausgebeuteten Bürger tritt. Kleinste Auslöser können hier rasch einen Flächenbrand entzünden, den zu löschen wohl viele Jahre, vielleicht sogar Jahrzehnte in Anspruch nehmen wird.

Freie Welt: Glauben Sie, dass die Kräfte des Establishments Ihre Anstrengungen noch intensivieren werden, um Ihre Macht zu erhalten? Was bedeutet dies für die freie Meinungsäußerung?

Prof. Engels: Es wird ihnen keine andere Möglichkeit bleiben: Zum einen macht die Stärke der „Populisten“ überall in Westeuropa „große Koalitionen“ zu einer institutionellen Notwendigkeit, so daß bis auf ein störrisches „Weiter so“ bzw. „Wir schaffen das“ machttechnisch nur noch eine punktuelle Alimentierung einzelner Wählerkreise möglich sein wird, nicht aber eine grundlegende Reform des gesamten Systems – ganz zu schweigen davon, daß letzteres ja auch ein Eingeständnis der eigenen Fehler wäre. Selbst einzelne Wahlsiege der „Populisten“ egal welcher Obedienz werden in Anbetracht der Interdependenz der europäischen Staaten untereinander nur wenig Einfluß auf die generelle geschichtliche Dynamik Europas in den kommenden Jahren ausüben können. Die öffentliche Debatte wird sich angesichts dieser politischen Polarisierung sicherlich weiter verschärfen: Das „politisch korrekte“ Spektrum wird in Anbetracht der nötigen, nahezu manichäischen Abgrenzung nach „rechts“ zunehmend enger werden und Abweichungen vom Erlaubten immer stärkere berufliche und gesellschaftliche Konsequenzen haben; das „konservative“ Spektrum aber wird wohl zunehmend stärker hervortreten und sich trotz der Gängelung der alternativen und sozialen Medien seine Kanäle zu schaffen wissen.

Freie Welt: Warum haben Sie sich für eine Aufsatzsammlung entschieden?

Prof. Engels: Das ganze Projekt entstammt ja einem Forschungsprojekt, welches ich seit 2018 am polnischen „Instytut Zachodni“ in Posen betreuen durfte. Erstes Ziel war es, Intellektuelle aus ganz Europa zu vernetzen, welche sich sowohl durch einen gewissen Kulturkonservatismus als auch durch eine positive Haltung der europäischen Vereinigung gegenüber kennzeichnen, um in dieser Hinsicht so etwas wie eine neue Öffentlichkeit zu schaffen. Polen war hierfür der ideale Ort, da gerade die polnische Öffentlichkeit (wie ohnehin alle Visegrad-Staaten) durch eine grundsätzlich positive Haltung gegenüber der europäischen Idee geprägt ist, ohne dafür doch ihre Liebe zur eigenen Kultur und zur historischen abendländischen Tradition opfern zu wollen – kein Wunder also, daß bei unserer Tagung zahlreiche interessierte Vertreter der polnischen Regierung und des polnischen Parlaments anwesend waren. Zweites Ziel war es, nicht auf der üblichen Ebene der Klagen über die (schlechte) Gegenwart und der kritiklosen Idealisierung der „guten alten Zeit“ zu verharren, sondern konkrete Reformvorschläge für Nationalstaat wie Europäische Union zu durchdenken. Das Resultat kann sich sehen lassen: Wir haben renommierte Denker aus Frankreich, dem Vereinigten Königreich, Belgien, Deutschland, Italien, Ungarn und Polen verpflichten können und dadurch gezeigt, daß „Konservatismus“ eben nicht mit Nationalismus gleichbedeutend sein muß, sondern ganz im Gegenteil Geister aus ganz Europa im konstruktiven Bemühen um eine innere Erneuerung vereinen kann.

de-l1.jpgFreie Welt: Was kennzeichnet die einzelnen Aufsätze? Wer sind die Autoren?

Prof. Engels: Wir haben uns bemüht, das weite Feld abendländischer Identität in verschiedene Schwerpunktbereiche aufzuteilen und von jeweils einem unserer Mitarbeiter analysieren zu lassen (mit einem Geleitwort von Justyna Schulz, der Direktorin des „Instytut Zachodni“). Chantal Delsol etwa, Philosophin, Gründerin des Hannah-Arendt-Instituts und Professorin an der Universität Marne-La-Vallée, untersucht die gegenwärtige Migrationskrise und plädiert nicht nur für einen größeren Realismus und Pragmatismus bei der Aufnahme neuer Einwanderer, sondern auch die Stärkung der europäischen Leitkultur. Alvino­Mario Fantini, ehemaliger Vorsitzender des Hayek-Instituts und Herausgeber der Zeitschrift „The European Conservative“, spürt den historischen Wurzeln des abendländischen Weltbilds nach und unterstreicht die Notwendigkeit einer inneren Rückkehr der Europäer zu ihrer christlichen Identität. Birgit Kelle, Publizistin und Journalistin, analysiert den gegenwärtigen Zerfall der Gesellschaft durch die „Gender“-Ideologie und engagiert sich für selbstbestimmte, aber den traditionellen Geschlechterrollen gegenüber durchaus positive Neubestimmung der europäischen Familienstrukturen. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Professor für Soziologie an der Universität Bremen und Vize-Präsident des Europäischen Parlaments, zerlegt in seinem Beitrag auf sehr nuancierte Weise die Eckpunkte politisch korrekten Denkens und Handelns auch im Kontext der Spaltung zwischen West- und Osteuropa und setzt sich für eine selbstbewußtere Mitgestaltung der europäischen Einigung durch konservative Politiker an. András Lánczi, Professor für Politologie und Rektor der Corvinus-Universität in Budapest, zeigt den Widerspruch zwischen Naturrecht und positivistischem Rechtsrelativismus auf und unterstreicht die Bedeutung einer Einbindung historischer Werte in moderne Verfassungen. Max Otte, bekannter Wirtschaftswissenschaftler und Finanzexperte und Initiator des „Neuen Hambacher Festes“, bespricht die Probleme des gegenwärtig dominierenden angelsächsischen Wirtschaftsliberalismus und fordert eine Rückkehr zum kontinentalen Modell sozialer Marktwirtschaft, wie sie auch in der christlichen Soziallehre verteidigt wurde. Jonathan Price, Dozent für Philosophie an den Universitäten von Oxford und Warschau sowie Sekretär der „Vanenburg Society“, liefert eine transzendentale Einordung der gegenwärtigen modernistischen Ästhetik, zeigt, wie untrennbar diese vom Zerfall unserer gesellschaftlichen und politischen Ordnung ist, und wirbt für eine Rückbesinnung auf eine „klassische“ Ästhetik, welche auch zu einer Stärkung der politischen und kulturellen Solidarität der Europäer beitragen könnte. Ich selbst schließlich habe in meinem Beitrag versucht, die gegenwärtige (Fehl-)Entwicklung der EU in einen breiteren geschichtsphilosophischen Kontext einzuordnen und die Umrisse einer möglichen künftigen europäischen Verfassung zu skizzieren, welche sich durch radikale Subsidiarität wie eine konsequente Rückbesinnung auf unsere historischen Werte auszeichnet.

Freie Welt: Ein zentrales Thema, das in „Renovatio Europae“ immer wieder umkreist wird, ist die Begründung einer europäischen Verfassung. Warum braucht Europa eine Verfassung und wie sollte diese gestaltet sein?

Prof. Engels: Daß der Bürger weder genau weiß, was die EU letztlich institutionell sein will, noch, wohin sie sich entwickelt, trägt sicherlich zu der großen Verunsicherung unserer heutigen Zeit bei: Niemand besteigt gerne ein Schiff, dessen Ziel er nicht kennt, und dessen Kapitän er nicht vertraut. Bedenkt man, daß durch den Europäischen Gerichtshof und die gezielten Unklarheiten der gegenwärtigen Verträge einem ungesteuerten Wildwuchs der Institutionen ebenso wie einer beliebigen Interpretation der europäischen „Werte“ Tür und Tor geöffnet sind, kann man dem Bürger kaum Unrecht geben. Allein schon aus diesen Gründen scheint es mir wie vielen anderen Projektmitarbeitern unerläßlich, dem Schiff Europa durch eine mehr oder weniger definitive und klare Verfassung gewissermaßen eine effiziente Kommandostruktur zu geben, welche nationale Eigenarten ebenso wie eine hinreichende Steuerbarkeit des gesamten Unternehmens sichert und zudem die Rückbindung der europäischen Werte an jene transzendentale Dimension gewährleistet, welche alleine das Schiff auf Kurs zu halten vermag. Ganz konkret gesprochen bedeutet dies, Parlament und europäischen Rat zu den zwei Kammern einer wahrhaft demokratischen Volksvertretung umzugestalten, bei der die alleinige Gesetzbefugnis liegt, und welche zudem eine kleine Zahl von Staatssekretären bestellt, die an die Stelle der Kommission zu treten haben und sich mit einer Handvoll von Schlüsselbefugnissen beschäftigen (Schutz der Außengrenzen, Zusammenarbeit bei der Verbrechensbekämpfung, Infrastruktur, strategische Ressourcen, Forschungskooperation, legale Abstimmungsverfahren, Finanzen). Nur Außenpolitik und innere Streitschlichtung sollten einem von der Gesamtbevölkerung gewählten Magistraten übertragen werden, der gleichzeitig als äußerer Repräsentant der Union dienen kann. Die Verfassung sollte darüber hinaus aber auch das klare Bekenntnis zu den historischen Leitwerten der abendländischen Kultur enthalten (antikes und jüdisch-christliches Erbe, abendländisches Familienbild, sozialverträgliche Wirtschaft, naturrechtliche Prinzipien, etc.), welche der gegenwärtigen Beliebigkeit bei der Interpretation rein rechtspositivistisch begründeter „Werte“ entgegentreten und darüber hinaus eine verfassungsrechtliche Bestätigung des jahrhundertealten abendländischen Menschenbilds liefern sollen, welche erst eine langfristig glückliche Integration fremder Einwanderer möglich macht…

Freie Welt: Wie müssten sich europäische Konservative in Ihren Augen heutzutage vernetzen und wo finden Sie die stärksten Bündnispartner?

Prof. Engels: Ich denke, die vorrangige Frage seitens der gegenwärtigen „Konservativen“ ist die ideologische Entscheidung zwischen Liberalismus und Traditionalismus; alles andere folgt daraus. Diese Wahl konnte sowohl aus innerer Unsicherheit wie auch aus wahltaktischen Gründen lange aufgeschoben werden; die Unklarheit über den einzuschlagenden Kurs ist aber mittlerweile ein Hemmnis geworden, und selbst, wenn eine solche Trennung zeitweise einen wahltaktischen Rückschlag bringen könnte, würde sie doch zu einer deutlichen Schärfung des Profils und einem langfristigen Glaubwürdigkeitsgewinn führen. Was die Bündnispartner betrifft, so ist es zum einen unerläßlich, eine möglichst europaweite Front aufzubauen und die entsprechenden Wahlprogramme möglichst kompatibel (ich sage bewußt nicht: identisch) zu gestalten. Darüber hinaus gilt es aber auch, den Anschluß an unpolitische Organisationen zu finden und in die Zivilgesellschaft hineinzuwirken. Ich denke hier nicht nur an die Kirchen, Gewerkschaften, Schulen und Universitäten, sondern auch an das in Zukunft sicher steigende Bedürfnis nach sozialer Absicherung und nach Schutz vor steigenden Verbrechensraten und zunehmender Rechtsunsicherheit – hier einzuhaken, würde einen definitiven Vorteil bringen.

Freie Welt: Was erhoffen Sie sich in diesem Zusammenhang von der Übersetzung von Renovatio Europae in andere Sprachen?

Prof. Engels: Es war unsere feste Überzeugung, daß alle europäischen Staaten mit analogen Problemen konfrontiert sind, und auch eine langfristige Lösung nur auf europäischer Ebene stattfinden kann. Dementsprechend darf auch die Diskussion dieser Fragen nicht auf einzelne Nationalstaaten begrenzt bleiben, sondern muß auf dem ganzen Kontinent geführt werden. Wir sind daher sehr glücklich, daß neben der deutschen auch eine französische, englische, polnische und spanische Version unseres Buchs erscheinen wird. Gerade in Anbetracht der Tatsache, daß aufgrund der gegenwärtigen Medienlandschaft viele Europäer nur ein sehr ungenügendes Bild von den Verhältnissen im jeweiligen Nachbarland haben, das ihnen in der Regel nur dem Grade der dort herrschenden politischen Korrektheit entsprechend verzerrt präsentiert wird, ist übernationale Aufklärungsarbeit ein echtes Desiderat.

de-lnl.jpgFreie Welt: Was kann in Ihren Augen der einzelne Bürger heutzutage noch bewirken?

Prof. Engels: Der Gestaltungsspielraum des Einzelnen ist in einem Staatengebilde von einer halben Milliarde Menschen natürlich höchst beschränkt, zumal der gegenwärtig herrschende Geist im besten Fall eine apolitische innere Immigration, im schlechtesten die opportunistische Unterwerfung unter den ideologischen Mainstream fördert. Trotzdem mag gerade dies eine echte Chance sein: Wo keiner seine Stimme erhebt, da schallt der Ruf des Querdenkers umso lauter, wenn er nur die Wände des Schweigens durchbricht, welche leider von vielen Medien aufgerichtet werden. Und natürlich gilt heute wie immer in der Geschichte: Das echte Heil kommt niemals von der Gesellschaft, sondern immer aus dem Inneren. Für unsere Belange bedeutet dies, daß eine äußere Erneuerung oder doch wenigstens hinreichende Stabilisierung des alternden und verfallenden Europas nur dann Früchte tragen kann, wenn sie auch von einer inneren Rückbesinnung begleitet wird. Wie dies selbst unter widrigsten Umständen erreicht werden kann, zeigt Ernst Jüngers „Waldgänger“ – und in diesem Sinne wird in den nächsten Wochen ein weiteres Büchlein von mir erscheinen (zunächst nur in der französischen Version mit dem an Tschernyschewski angelehnten Titel „Que faire?“ – „Was tun?“), in dem es darum geht, wie man als unpolitischer Einzelner mit dem Niedergang Europas leben kann, ohne an seinem kulturellen Erbe zu verzweifeln. Hoffentlich wird auch eine deutsche Fassung erscheinen. Michel Houellebecq hat sich jedenfalls bereits sehr positiv über das Buch geäußert…

Freie Welt: Welche Rolle werden die Christen bei dem Neuaufbau Europas spielen? Glauben Sie an ein Wiedererstarken des christlichen Glaubens in Europa?

Prof. Engels: Das Christentum wird, wie ich gleichzeitig erwarte und erhoffe, eine wesentliche Rolle bei diesem Neuaufbau oder doch wenigstens bei der Festigung Europas spielen, aber als kulturmorphologischer Denker erwarte ich nicht, daß es hierbei zu einer echten spirituellen Neugeburt kommen wird – dafür sind wir zu weit gegangen, und dafür sind unsere zivilisatorischen Kräfte auch zu erschöpft. Immerhin aber steht zu hoffen, daß – wie im augusteischen Principat – ein „hesperialistisches“ Europa wesentlich auf einer kollektiven Rückbesinnung auf die christliche Tradition als ultimativer „Leitkultur“ des Kontinents beruhen wird; eine Art bewußte, gewissermaßen posthume Verklärung eines Erbes, das zumindest in einzelnen Menschen immer noch lebt und wirkt, und das auch in jenen, die zum Glauben selbst nicht mehr finden können, doch zumindest Liebe und Ehrfurcht hervorrufen kann. Denkt man an den gegenwärtigen Grad der Entchristlichung des laut Benedikt XVI. längst „heidnisch“ gewordenen Europas, wäre dies mehr, als die meisten von uns überhaupt erhoffen können – und vielleicht auch mehr als das, was wir nach der leichtfertigen Verschwendung unseres Erbes verdient haben.

Freie Welt: Sehr geehrter Prof. Engels, wir danken Ihnen sehr für das Gespräch.

[Siehe auch Buchrezension zum neuesten Werk von Professor Engels HIER]




Por Antonio Sánchez García
Ex: http://elblogdemontaner.com

“La contracción del tiempo, el re-manente (1 Cor 7,29: «el tiempo es breve [lit., ‘contraído/abreviado’], el resto,..*) es la situación mesiánica por excelencia, el único tiempo real.” Giorgio Agamben, El tiempo que resta.

A Baltasar Porras y Ovidio Pérez Morales


El centrismo apaciguador y dialogante de todos los tiempos ha odiado al jurista y pensador alemán Carl Schmitt, concentrando su escandaloso reclamo en contra de su radicalidad filosófico política en dos frases que condensan su amplia obra de teología política: “soberano es quien decide del estado de excepción”, frase con la que encabeza una de sus obras más importantes: Teología Política (1922); y “la diferenciación específica a la que se dejan remitir las acciones y motivaciones políticas, es la diferencia de amigo y enemigo”, la frase más sustantiva y polémica de su obra príncipe El concepto de lo político (1932).[1]

Para ello ocultan o dicen desconocer sus críticos, poco importa si de buena o mala fe, que no existe reflexión divorciada del contexto histórico político que lo sustenta, lo que Hegel sintetizara en una de sus más polémicas frases, si se piensa que su pensamiento es la culminación del idealismo alemán: Wahrheit ist konkret, la verdad es concreta. Ortega, tan mal preciado e incomprendido a pesar de su inmensa estatura intelectual, lo tradujo a su aire, con esa excelencia estilística que lo caracterizara: “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo.” (Meditaciones del Quijote, Madrid, 1914)

teologie.jpgCarl Schmitt, alemán, católico in partibus indifelis y profundo conocedor de la teología cristiana, que fundamenta y da sentido a su pensamiento y acción, sólo es verdaderamente compresible en función de su circunstancia y sus esfuerzos por salvarla.  Nació y vivió en medio de los tormentosos tiempos de la confrontación bélica que definió a la Europa de comienzos del Siglo XX y culminara en las dos Guerras Mundiales, las más devastadoras conflagraciones bélicas de la historia humana, culminando en los dos totalitarismos del siglo pasado: La revolución rusa de Lenin-Stalin y la revolución alemana de Adolf Hitler. Cuyas más nefastas  consecuencias sirven de telón de fondo a su pensamiento.

¿Alguien puede negar que bajo el imperio de esas circunstancias lo político no fuera la confrontación amigo-enemigo? Pues esos años y todos los que le siguieran, hasta el día de hoy, hicieron carne de las ideas expuestas por Thomas Hobbes en su Leviatán (Londres, 1651), según las cuales el estado natural que subyace a la historia de la humanidad es la barbarie: bellum omnia contra omnes, la guerra de todos contra todos. Razón que, según el mismo Hobbes, habría impuesto la necesidad de crear un monstruo que pudiera contener, delimitar, regular y si fuera posible, impedir dicha belicosidad y enemistad primigenia en que se desarrolla la existencia humana: el Estado, ese Leviatán bíblico que impera en los mares. Cuestionado, convertido en botín de las facciones en pugna y neutralizado por esa guerra de todos contra todos, caerían las sociedades en un estado de casi barbarie primigenia, como en su tiempo caerían las salvajes sociedades americanas, tal cual lo indica en su magna obra: “Los pueblos salvajes en varias comarcas de América, si se exceptúa el régimen de pequeñas familias cuya concordia depende de la concupiscencia natural, carecen de gobierno en absoluto, y viven actualmente en ese estado bestial a que me he referido. De cualquier modo que sea, puede percibirse cuál será el género de vida cuando no exista un poder común que temer, pues el régimen de vida de los hombres que antes vivían bajo un gobierno pacífico, suele degenerar en una guerra civil.”[2]

Es, precisamente, ese estado, el que ha sido caracterizado por el concepto introducido por Carl Schmitt en la polémica político ideológica de nuestro tiempo como “estado de excepción” (Ausnahme Zustand) . Su esencia: el Estado ha perdido su poder de decisión y control soberano y la guerra de todos contra todos, redefinida por Schmitt en la inseparable dualidad de amistad y enemistad (Freundachft-Feinschft) – conceptos generales que nada tienen que ver con las relaciones personales entre los sujetos, sino con la densidad del enfrentamiento por la conquista del Poder, es decir: la apropiación del Leviatán – se convierte en la lucha mortal por conquistarlo. La sociedad, sin una soberanía fundante de legitimidad aceptada por el conjunto de los ciudadanos – tal como acontece hoy en Venezuela, con dos gobiernos yuxtapuestos sin reconocimiento recíproco ni aceptados por el conjunto social – , queda a la deriva y susceptible al asalto de la más combativa, decidida y voluntariosa de las partes en combate para restablecer la soberanía, ya esté en manos de amigos o de enemigos.

ca.jpgSon esos conceptos, soberanía y legitimidad, como la valoración de las virtudes clásicas del soberano capaz de resolver el estado de excepción – la decisión y la voluntad – las que incomodan y disgustan a nuestros dialogadores, conciliadores y pacifistas de fe y profesión. Pues carecen de ellos. Es la tara que se encuentra en la raíz de esta oposición “conversadora”, para usar otro concepto caro al jurista alemán. En este caso concreto, privilegiar el diálogo y la conversación, el espurio entendimiento de partes ontológicamente enemigas y contrapuestas, antes que luchar con decisión y voluntad para restablecer la soberanía democrática, única capaz de ejercer una hegemonía legal y jurídica aceptada por el todo social. Negarse, como lo afirmara el pensador judío alemán Jacob Taubes en su ardorosa defensa de Carl Schmitt[3], a compartir el katechon, ese concepto paulista que invoca la necesidad de ponerle fin al caos y oponerse a las tendencias apocalípticas que estallan cuando las fuerzas disgregadoras provocan un estado de excepción. Y ello, como lo afirma Pablo en su Epístola a los romanos, con la urgencia debida, ho nyn kairós, en el “momento presente», vale decir: “en el tiempo que resta”. Ahora mismo, no el día de las calendas.


Si bien estamos en un ámbito estrictamente filosófico y desde un punto de vista fenomenológico la descripción y la caracterización conceptual propuesta por Schmitt no supone juicios psicológicos individuales ni valoraciones morales: el enemigo es enemistad política pura, a la búsqueda del control sobre el sistema establecido, que persigue con las armas en la mano  quebrantar, poseer y transformar de raíz, y el amigo es, a su vez, o debiera ser, su mortal contrincante, aquel que recurriendo al imperativo del echaton, defiende con voluntad y decisión el estado de derecho, ho nyn kairós, en el tiempo que nos resta, vale decir: ahora mismo. El amigo lo es para quienes están de este lado del asalto, de la fracción de los asaltados – los demócratas – , de ninguna manera del lado de los asaltantes – los autócratas. Estos son, en estricto sentido schmittiano, un mortal enemigo. Lo que, llegado el momento del inevitable enfrentamiento, puede incidir y de hecho incide, sobre la percepción y la voluntad de los contrincantes en su esfera personal. Dice Schmitt: “Los conceptos amigo y enemigo deben ser tomados en su sentido concreto, existencial, y no como metáforas o símbolos, ni mezclados ni debilitados a través de otras concepciones económicas, morales, y muchísimo menos en un sentido privado, individualista, en sentido psicológico como expresión de sentimientos y tendencias individuales. No son oposiciones normativas ni contradicciones ‘puramente espirituales’.  En un típico dilema entre espíritu y economía, el liberalismo pretende diluir al enemigo en competidor comercial (Konkurrent), y desde el punto de visto político espiritual en un mero antagonista de un diálogo. En el ámbito de lo económico no existen, por cierto, enemigos sino sólo competidores, y en un mundo completamente moralizado y purificado éticamente puede que existan, si acaso,  sólo dialogantes.” [4]Desde luego, no en la realidad. Ni muchísimo menos en la nuestra, como quedara demostrado en Santo Domingo, desmentido de manera cruel y sangrienta en el enfrentamiento amigo-enemigo de la masacre de El Junquito. Oscar Pérez es el símbolo, la metáfora, de una enemistad ontológica, mortal. Todo diálogo pretende enmascararla en un falso entendimiento. Como ahora mismo el de Oslo.

csjt.jpgLa diferenciación schmittiana es de trascendental importancia, precisamente porque quienes más se oponen a su cabal comprensión son aquellos sectores “liberales”, también en sentido schmittiano, – digamos: electoralistas, parlamentaristas, habladores y dialogadores, así sean socialdemócratas o socialcristianos, incluso liberales – , que, incapaces de comprender la totalidad social en disputa y asumir, consecuentemente, la naturaleza existencial, biológica de la guerra que nos ha declarado el chavomadurismo castro comunista – confunden enemistad con “competencia” y buscan en el diálogo y el contubernio resolver cualquier obstáculo a su justa ganancia. Confunde el ámbito de lo político con el mercado, y al Estado con la Asamblea Nacional. Olvidando, es decir traicionando el hecho de que el origen de la República, como Estado soberano, nació y se forjó de una Guerra a Muerte y de que, sentando un precedente hoy brutalmente irrespetado por los partidos de la que en el psado inmediato fuera la MUD y es hoy el llamado Frente Amplio, desconocen la decisión propiamente schmittiana, aunque a más de un siglo de distancia de la formulación del jurista alemán, que dictó el mandato definitorio del parto de nuestra Nación: «Españoles y Canarios, contad con la muerte, aun siendo indiferentes, si no obráis activamente en obsequio de la libertad de América. Americanos, contad con la vida, aun cuando seáis culpables.» Fue la Guerra a Muerte, en “donde todos los europeos y canarios casi sin excepción fueron fusilados” según el balance que hiciera Bolívar. Si no el texto, el sentido debiera ser emulado. Lo traicionan quienes se confabulan con los asaltantes y, con buenas o malas intenciones, se hacen cómplices de la guerra a muerte contra nuestra democracia y nuestra República. Tampoco Bolívar se opuso al diálogo y la negociación. Pero no en 1812, cuando declarara la Guerra a Muerte, sino en 1820, cuando la guerra estaba ganada. Traicionan a la República quienes lo olvidan.

[1] “Die spezifisch politische Unterscheidung, auf welche sich die politischen Handlungen und Motive zuruckzufahren Lassen, ist die Unterscheigung con Freund und Feind.” Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 2002.

[2] Thomas Hobbes, El Leviatán, Pág.104. Fondo de Cultura Económica, México, 1994.

[3] Jacob Taubes, La Teología Política de Pablo

[4] Ibídem, Pág. 28.

samedi, 25 mai 2019

Algorithmic Governance and Political Legitimacy


Algorithmic Governance and Political Legitimacy

Ex: https://americanaffairesjournal.org

In ever more areas of life, algorithms are coming to substitute for judgment exercised by identifiable human beings who can be held to account. The rationale offered is that automated decision-making will be more reliable. But a further attraction is that it serves to insulate various forms of power from popular pressures.

Our readiness to acquiesce in the conceit of authorless control is surely due in part to our ideal of procedural fairness, which de­mands that individual discretion exercised by those in power should be replaced with rules whenever possible, because authority will inevitably be abused. This is the original core of liberalism, dating from the English Revolution.

Mechanized judgment resembles liberal proceduralism. It relies on our habit of deference to rules, and our suspicion of visible, personified authority. But its effect is to erode precisely those pro­cedural liberties that are the great accomplishment of the liberal tradition, and to place authority beyond scrutiny. I mean “authori­ty” in the broadest sense, including our interactions with outsized commercial entities that play a quasi-governmental role in our lives. That is the first problem. A second problem is that decisions made by algorithm are often not explainable, even by those who wrote the algorithm, and for that reason cannot win rational assent. This is the more fundamental problem posed by mechanized decision-making, as it touches on the basis of political legitimacy in any liberal regime.

I hope that what follows can help explain why so many people feel angry, put-upon, and powerless. And why so many, in expressing their anger, refer to something called “the establishment,” that shadowy and pervasive entity. In this essay I will be critiquing both algorithmic governance and (more controversially) the tenets of pro­gressive governance that make these digital innovations attractive to managers, bureaucrats, and visionaries. What is at stake is the qual­itative character of institutional authority—how we experience it.

blackbox.gifIn The Black Box Society: The Hidden Algorithms That Control Money and Information, University of Maryland law professor Frank Pasquale elaborates in great detail what others have called “platform capitalism,” emphasizing its one-way mirror quality. In­creasingly, every aspect of our lives—our movements through space, our patterns of consumption, our affiliations, our intellectual habits and political leanings, our linguistic patterns, our susceptibility to various kinds of pitches, our readiness to cave in minor disputes, our sexual predilections and ready inferences about the state of our marriage—are laid bare as data to be collected by companies who, for their own part, guard with military-grade secrecy the algorithms by which they use this information to determine our standing in the reputational economy. The classic stories that have been with us for decades, of someone trying to correct an error made by one of the credit rating agencies and finding that the process is utterly opaque and the agencies unaccountable, give us some indication of the kind of world that is being constructed for us.

What Was Self-Government?

“Children in their games are wont to submit to rules which they have themselves established, and to punish misdemeanors which they have themselves defined.” Thus did Tocqueville marvel at Americans’ habit of self-government, and the temperament it both required and encouraged from a young age. “The same spirit,” he said, “pervades every act of social life.”

Writing recently in the Atlantic, Yoni Appelbaum notes the sheer bulk of voluntary associations that once took up the hours and days of Americans, from labor unions and trade associations to mutual insurers, fraternal organizations, and volunteer fire departments. Many of these “mirrored the federal government in form: Local chapters elected representatives to state-level gatherings, which sent delegates to national assemblies. . . . Executive officers were accountable to legislative assemblies; independent judiciaries ensured that both complied with rules.” Toward the end of the twentieth centu­ry, however, this way of life more or less collapsed, as Robert Put­nam documented in Bowling Alone. We still have voluntary associa­tions, but they are now typically run by salaried professionals, not the members themselves, Appelbaum points out. This is part of the broader shift toward what has been called “managerialism.”

I believe these developments have prepared us to accept a further abstraction of institutional decision-making—as something having little to do with ourselves, and with human judgment as we know it firsthand. Another development that paved the way for our accept­ance of algorithmic governance was the transfer of power out of rep­resentative bodies into administrative agencies. Let us take a glance at this before turning to things digital.

Administration versus Politics

We often hear about a growing “administrative state” (usually from conservative commentators) and are given to understand that it is something we ought to worry about. But why? Doesn’t it consist simply of the stuff all those agencies of the government must do in order to discharge their duties? And speaking of government agen­cies, what are they—part of the executive branch? Yes they are, but a bit of confusion is natural, as this is a hazy area of governance.


In The Administrative Threat, Columbia law professor Philip Ham­burger writes that, in contrast to executive power proper, “ad­ministrative power involves not just force but legal obligation.” This is an important distinction, and in the blurring of it lies great mis­chief against the Constitution, which invested “the power to bind—that is, to create legal obligation” not in the executive branch but in Congress and in the courts. Administrative power “thereby side­steps most of the Constitution’s procedural freedoms.” It is funda­mentally an “evasion of governance through law.”

Provocatively, Hamburger draws a close parallel with the mecha­nisms of prerogative (such as the notorious Star Chamber) by which King James I of England consolidated “absolute” power—not in­finite power, but power exercised through extralegal means:

Ever tempted to exert more power with less effort, rulers are rarely content to govern merely through the law, and in their restless desire to escape its pathways, many of them try to work through other mechanisms. These other modes of bind­ing subjects are modes of abso­lute power, and once one understands this, it is not altogether surprising that absolute power is a recurring problem and that American administrative power revives it.

The “less effort” bit is just as important for understanding this formula as the “more power” bit. The relevant effort is that of per­suading others, the stuff of democratic politics. The “restless desire to escape” the inconvenience of law is one that progressives are especially prone to, in their aspiration to transform society: merely extant majorities of opinion, and the legislative possibilities that are circumscribed by them, typically inspire not deference but impatience. Conservatives have their own vanguardist enthusiasms that rely on centralized and largely unaccountable power, but in their case this power is generally not located in executive agencies.1

I am not competent to say if Hamburger is right in his characterization of administrative power as extralegal (Harvard law professor Adrian Vermeule says no), but in any case he raises ques­tions that are within the realm of conventional political dispute and within the competence of constitutional scholars to grapple with. By contrast, the rush to install forms of extralegal power not in execu­tive agencies, but in the algorithms that increasingly govern wide swaths of life, pushes the issue of political legitimacy into entirely new territory.

More Power with Less Effort 

“Technology” is a slippery term. We don’t use it to name a toothbrush or a screwdriver, or even things like capacitors and diodes. Rather, use of the word usually indicates that a speaker is referring to a tool or an underlying operation that he does not understand (or does not wish to explain). Essentially, we use it to mean “magic.” In this obscurity lies great opportunity to “exert more power with less effort,” to use Hamburger’s formula.

To grasp the affinities between administrative governance and algorithmic governance, one must first get over that intellectually debilitating article of libertarian faith, namely that “the government” poses the only real threat to liberty. For what does Silicon Valley represent, if not a locus of quasi-governmental power untouched by either the democratic process or by those hard-won procedural liberties that are meant to secure us against abuses by the (actual, elected) government? If the governmental quality of rule by algo­rithms remains obscure to us, that is because we actively welcome it into our own lives under the rubric of convenience, the myth of free services, and ersatz forms of human connection—the new opiates of the masses.

To characterize this as the operation of “the free market” (as its spokespersons do) requires a display of intellectual agility that might be admirable if otherwise employed. The reality is that what has emerged is a new form of monopoly power made possible by the “network effect” of those platforms through which everyone must pass to conduct the business of life. These firms sit at informational bottlenecks, collecting data and then renting it out, whether for the purpose of targeted ads or for modeling the electoral success of a political platform. Mark Zuckerberg has said frankly that “In a lot of ways Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company. . . . We have this large community of people, and more than other technology companies we’re really setting policies.”

It was early innovations that allowed the platform firms to take up their positions. But it is this positioning, and control of the data it allows them to gather, that accounts for the unprecedented rents they are able to collect. If those profits measure anything at all, it is the reach of a metastasizing grid of surveillance and social control. As Pasquale emphasizes, it is this grid’s basic lack of intelligibility that renders it politically unaccountable. Yet political accountability is the very essence of representative government. Whatever this new form of governance might be called, it is certainly not that.

Explainability and Legitimacy

This intelligibility deficit cannot be overcome simply through goodwill, as the logic by which an algorithm reaches its conclusions is usually opaque even to those who wrote the algorithm, due to its sheer complexity. In “machine learning,” an array of variables are fed into deeply layered “neural nets” that simulate the fire/don’t fire synaptic connections of an animal brain. Vast amounts of data are used in a massively iterated (and, in some versions, unsupervised) training regimen. Because the strength of connections between logi­cal nodes within layers and between layers is highly plastic, just like neural pathways, the machine gets trained by trial and error and is able to arrive at something resembling knowledge of the world. That is, it forms associations that correspond to regularities in the world.

As with humans, these correspondences are imperfect. The differ­ence is that human beings are able to give an account of their reason­ing. Now, we need to be careful here. Our cognition emerges from lower-level biological processes that are utterly inaccessible to us. Further, human beings confabulate, reach for rationalizations that obscure more than they reveal, are subject to self-deception, etc. All this we know. But giving an account is an indispensable element of democratic politics. Further, it is not only legislative bodies that observe this scruple.

When a court issues a decision, the judge writes an opinion, typically running to many pages, in which he explains his reasoning. He grounds the decision in law, precedent, common sense, and prin­ciples that he feels obliged to articulate and defend. This is what transforms the decision from mere fiat into something that is polit­ically legitimate, capable of securing the assent of a free people. It constitutes the difference between simple power and authority. One distinguishing feature of a modern, liberal society is that authority is supposed to have this rational quality to it—rather than appealing to, say, a special talent for priestly divination. This is our Enlightenment inheritance.

You see the problem, then. Institutional power that fails to secure its own legitimacy becomes untenable. If that legitimacy cannot be grounded in our shared rationality, based on reasons that can be articulated, interrogated, and defended, it will surely be claimed on some other basis. What this will be is already coming into view, and it bears a striking resemblance to priestly divination: the inscrutable arcana of data science, by which a new clerisy peers into a hidden layer of reality that is revealed only by a self-taught AI program—the logic of which is beyond human knowing.

For the past several years it has been common to hear establishmentarian intellectuals lament “populism” as a rejection of Enlightenment ideals. But we could just as well say that populism is a re-assertion of democracy, and of the Enlightenment principles that underlie it, against priestly authority. Our politics have become at bottom an epistemic quarrel, and it is not all clear to me that the well‑capitalized, institutional voices in this quarrel have the firmer ground to stand on in claiming the mantle of legitimacy—if we want to continue to insist that legitimacy rests on reasonableness and argument.

Alternatively, we may accept technocratic competence as a legiti­mate claim to rule, even if it is inscrutable. But then we are in a position of trust.2 This would be to move away from the originating insight of liberalism: power corrupts. Such a move toward trust seems unlikely, however, given that people are waking up to the business logic that often stands behind the promise of technocratic competence and good will.

Surveillance Capitalism

In her landmark 2019 book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff parses what is really a new form of political economy, bearing little resemblance to capitalism as we have known it. The cynic’s dictum for explaining internet economics—“if you don’t know what the product is, you’re the product”—turns out to be incorrect. What we are, Zuboff shows, is a source of raw material that she calls “behavioral surplus.” Our behavior becomes the basis for a product—predictions about our future behavior—which are then offered on a behavioral futures market. The customers of the platform firms are those who purchase these prediction products, as a means to influence our behavior. The more you know of some-one’s predilections, the more highly elaborated, fine-grained, and successful your efforts to manipulate him will be.  The raw material on which the whole apparatus runs is knowledge acquired through surveillance. Competition for behavioral surplus is such that this surveillance must reach ever deeper, and bring every hidden place into the light.


At this point, it becomes instructive to bring in a theory of the state, and see if it can illuminate what is going on. For this purpose, James C. Scott’s Seeing Like a State, published in 1998, is useful. He traces the development of the modern state as a process of rendering the lives of its inhabitants more “legible.” The premodern state was in many respects blind; it “knew precious little about its subjects, their wealth, their landholdings and yields, their location, their very identity. It lacked anything like a detailed ‘map’ of its terrain and its people.” This lack of a synoptic view put real limits on the aspiration for centralized control; the state’s “interventions were often crude and self-defeating.” And contrariwise, the rise of a more synoptic administrative apparatus made possible various utopian schemes for the wholesale remaking of society.

Google is taking its project for legibility to the streets, quite literally, in its project to build a model city within Toronto in which everything will be surveilled. Sensors will be embedded throughout the physical plant to capture the resident’s activities, then to be mas­saged by cutting-edge data science. The hope, clearly, is to build a deep, proprietary social science. Such a science could lead to real improvements in urban planning, for example, by being able to pre­dict demand for heat and electricity, manage the allocation of traffic capacity, and automate waste disposal. But note that intellectual property rights over the data collected are key to the whole concept; without them there is no business rationale. With those rights secure, “smart cities” are the next trillion-dollar frontier for big tech.

Writing in Tablet, Jacob Siegel points out that “democratic gov­ernments think they can hire out for the basic service they’re sup­posed to provide, effectively subcontracting the day to day functions of running a city and providing municipal services. Well, they’re right, they can, but of course they’ll be advertising why they’re not really necessary and in the long run putting themselves out of a job.” There is real attraction to having the optimizers of Silicon Valley take things over, given the frequent dysfunction of democratic gov­ernment. Quite reasonably, many of us would be willing to give up “some democracy for a bit of benign authoritarianism, if it only made the damn trains run on time. The tradeoff comes in the loss of power over the institutions we have to live inside.” The issue, then, is sovereignty.3


As Scott points out in Seeing Like a State, the models of society that can be constructed out of data, however synoptic, are necessarily radical simplifications. There is no quantitative model that can capture the multivalent richness of neighborhood life as described by Jane Jacobs, for ex­ample, in her classic urban ethnography of New York. The mischief of grand schemes for progress lies in the fact that, even in the absence of totalitarian aspirations, the logic of metrics and rationalization carries with it an imperative to remake the world, in such a way as to make its thin, formal descriptions true. The gap between the model and reality has to be narrowed. This effort may need to reach quite deep, beyond the arrangement of infrastructure to touch on considerations of political anthropology. The model demands, and helps bring into being, a certain kind of subject. And sure enough, in our nascent era of Big Data social engineering, we see a craze for self-quantification, the voluntary pursuit of a kind of self-legibility that is expressed in the same idiom as technocratic so­cial control and demands the same sort of thin, schematic self-objectifications.4

If we take a long historical view, we have to concede that a regime can be viewed by its citizens as legitimate without being based on democratic representation. Europe’s absolutist monarchies of the sev­enteenth century managed it, for a spell. The regime that is being imagined for us now by venture capital would not be democratic. But it emphatically would be “woke,” if we can extrapolate from the current constellation of forces.

And this brings us to the issue of political correctness. It is a topic we are all fatigued with, I know. But I suggest we try to understand the rise of algorithmic governance in tandem with the rise of woke capital, as there appears to be some symbiotic affinity between them. The least one can say is that, taken together, they provide a good diagnostic lens that can help bring into focus the authoritarian turn of American society, and the increasingly shaky claim of our institu­tions to democratic legitimacy.

The Bureaucratic Logic of Political Correctness

One reason why algorithms have become attractive to elites is that they can be used to install the automated enforcement of cut­ting‑edge social norms. In the last few months there have been some news items along these lines: Zuckerberg assured Congress that Facebook is developing AI that will detect and delete what progressives like to call “hate speech.” You don’t have to be a free speech absolutist to recognize how tendentiously that label often gets ap­plied, and be concerned accordingly. The New York Times ran a story about new software being pitched in Hollywood that will determine if a script has “equitable gender roles.” The author of a forthcoming French book on artificial intelligence, herself an AI researcher, told me that she got a pitch recently from a start-up “whose aim was ‘to report workplace harassment and discrimination without talking to a human.’ They claim to be able to ‘use scientific memory and interview techniques to capture secure records of high­ly emotional events.’”

Presumably a scientifically “secure record” here means a description of some emotionally charged event that is shorn of ambiguity, and thereby tailored to the need of the system for clean inputs. A schematic description of inherently messy experience saves us the difficult, humanizing effort of interpretation and introspection, so we may be relieved to take up the flattened understanding that is offered us by the legibility-mongers.5

Locating the authority of evolving social norms in a computer will serve to provide a sheen of objectivity, such that any reluctance to embrace newly announced norms appears, not as dissent, but as something irrational—as a psychological defect that requires some kind of therapeutic intervention. So the effect will be to gather yet more power to what Michel Foucault called “the minor civil servants of moral orthopedics.” (Note that Harvard University has over fifty Title IX administrators on staff.) And there will be no satisfying this beast, because it isn’t in fact “social norms” that will be enforced (that term suggests something settled and agreed-upon); rather it will be a state of permanent revolution in social norms. Whatever else it is, wokeness is a competitive status game played in the institutions that serve as gatekeepers of the meritocracy. The flanking maneuvers of institutional actors against one another, and the competition among victim groups for relative standing on the intersectional to­tem pole, make the bounds of acceptable opinion highly unstable. This very unsettledness, quite apart from the specific content of the norm of the month, makes for pliable subjects of power: one is not allowed to develop confidence in the rightness of one’s own judg­ments.

To be always off-balance in this way is to be more administratable. A world-renowned historian, a real intellectual giant of the “old Left,” told me that once a year he is required to take an online, multiple-choice test administered by his university’s HR department, which looks for the proper responses to various office situations. It seems clear that there is a symbiotic relationship between administration and political correctness, yet it is difficult to say which is the senior partner in the alliance. The bloated and ever-growing layer of administrators—the deans of inclusion, providers of workshops for student orientation, diversity officers, and what­not—feeds on conflict, using episodes of trouble to start new initia­tives.

But what does any of this have to do with the appeal of algorithms to managers and administrators? If we follow through on the suspicion that, in its black-box quality, “technology” is simply administration by other means, a few observations can be made.

haverl.jpgFirst, in the spirit of Václav Havel we might entertain the idea that the institutional workings of political correctness need to be shrouded in peremptory and opaque administrative mechanisms be­cause its power lies precisely in the gap between what people actu­ally think and what one is expected to say. It is in this gap that one has the experience of humiliation, of staying silent, and that is how power is exercised.

But if we put it this way, what we are really saying is not that PC needs administrative enforcement but rather the reverse: the expand­ing empire of bureaucrats needs PC. The conflicts created by identi­ty politics become occasions to extend administrative authority into previously autonomous domains of activity. This would be to take a more Marxian line, treating PC as “superstructure” that serves main­ly to grease the wheels for the interests of a distinct class—not of capitalists, but of managers.6

The incentive to technologize the whole drama enters thus: managers are answerable (sometimes legally) for the conflict that they also feed on. In a corporate setting, especially, some kind of ass‑covering becomes necessary. Judgments made by an algorithm (ideally one supplied by a third-party vendor) are ones that nobody has to take responsibility for. The more contentious the social and political landscape, the bigger the institutional taste for automated decision-making is likely to be.

Political correctness is a regime of institutionalized insecurity, both moral and material. Seemingly solid careers are subject to sud­den reversal, along with one’s status as a decent person. Contrast such a feeling of being precarious with the educative effect of volun­tary associations and collaborative rule-making, as marveled at by Tocqueville. Americans’ practice of self-government once gave rise to a legitimate pride—the pride of being a grown-up in a free society.  One thing it means to be a grown-up is that you are willing to subordinate your own interests to the common good at crucial junctures. The embrace of artificial intelligence by institutions, as a way of managing social conflict, is likely to further erode that adult spirit of self-government, and contribute to the festering sense that our institutions are illegitimate.

The Ultimate Nudge

Of all the platform firms, Google is singular. Its near-monopoly on search (around 90 percent) puts it in a position to steer thought. And increasingly, it avows the steering of thought as its unique responsibility. Famously founded on the principle “Don’t be evil” (a sort of libertarian moral minimalism), it has since taken up the mission of actively doing good, according to its own lights.

In an important article titled “Google.gov,” law professor Adam J. White details both the personnel flows and deep intellectual affini­ties between Google and the Obama White House. Hundreds of people switched jobs back and forth between this one firm and the administration over eight years. It was a uniquely close relationship, based on a common ethos, that began with Obama’s visit to Goog­le’s headquarters in 2004 and deepened during his presidential cam­paign in 2007. White writes:

Both view society’s challenges today as social-engineering problems, whose resolutions depend mainly on facts and ob­jective reasoning. Both view information as being at once ruth­lessly value-free and yet, when properly grasped, a powerful force for ideological and social reform. And so both aspire to reshape Americans’ informational context, ensuring that we make choices based only upon what they consider the right kind of facts—while denying that there could be any values or politics embedded in the effort.

One of the central tenets of progressives’ self-understanding is that they are pro-fact and pro-science, while their opponents (often the majority) are said to have an unaccountable aversion to these good things: they cling to fond illusions and irrational anxieties. It follows that good governance means giving people informed choices. This is not the same as giving people what they think they want, according to their untutored preferences. Informed choices are the ones that make sense within a well-curated informational setting or context.

When I was a doctoral student in political theory at the University of Chicago in the 1990s, there was worry about a fissure opening up between liberalism and democracy. The hot career track for my cohort was to tackle this problem under the rubric of an intellectual oeuvre called “deliberative democracy.” It wasn’t my thing, but as near as I could tell, the idea (which was taken from the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas) was that if you could just establish the right framing conditions for deliberation, the demos would arrive at acceptably liberal positions. We should be able to formalize these conditions, it was thought. And conversely, wherever the opinions of the demos depart from an axis running roughly from the editorial page of the New York Times to that of the Wall Street Journal, it was taken to be prima facie evidence that there was some distorting influ­ence in the conditions under which people were conducting their thought processes, or their conversations among themselves. The result was opinion that was not authentically democratic (i.e., not liberal). These distortions too needed to be ferreted out and formal­ized. Then you would have yourself a proper theory.

Of course, the goal was not just to have a theory, but to get rid of the distortions. Less tendentiously: protecting the alliance “liberal democracy” required denying that it is an alliance, and propping it up as a conceptual unity. This would require a cadre of subtle dia­lecticians working at a meta-level on the formal conditions of thought, nudging the populace through a cognitive framing operation to be conducted beneath the threshold of explicit argument.

At the time, all this struck me as an exercise in self-delusion by aspiring apparatchiks for whom a frankly elitist posture would have been psychologically untenable. But the theory has proved immensely successful. By that I mean the basic assumptions and aspira­tions it expressed have been institutionalized in elite culture, perhaps nowhere more than at Google, in its capacity as directorate of information. The firm sees itself as “definer and defender of the public interest,” as White says.

One further bit of recent intellectual history is important for understanding the mental universe in which Google arose, and in which progressivism took on the character that it did during the Obama years. The last two decades saw the rise of new currents in the social sciences that emphasize the cognitive incompetence of human beings. The “rational actor” model of human behavior—a simplistic premise that had underwritten the party of the market for the previous half century—was deposed by the more psychologically informed school of behavioral economics, which teaches that we need all the help we can get in the form of external “nudges” and cognitive scaffolding if we are to do the rational thing. But the glee and sheer repetition with which this (needed) revision to our under­standing of the human person has been trumpeted by journalists and popularizers indicates that it has some moral appeal, quite apart from its intellectual merits. Perhaps it is the old Enlightenment thrill at disabusing human beings of their pretensions to specialness, whether as made in the image of God or as “the rational animal.” The effect of this anti-humanism is to make us more receptive to the work of the nudgers.

The whole problem of “liberal democracy”—that unstable hy­brid—is visible in microcosm at Google; it manifests as schizophrenia in how the founders characterize the firm’s mission. Their difficulty is understandable, as the trust people place in Google is based on its original mission of simply answering queries that reflect the extant priorities of a user, when in fact the mission has crept toward a more tutelary role in shaping thought.


Google achieved its dominance in search because of the superior salience of the results it returned compared to its late-1990s rivals. The mathematical insights of its founders played a large role in this. The other key to their success was that they rigorously excluded commercial considerations from influencing the search results. Reading accounts of the firm’s early days, one cannot help being struck by the sincere high-mindedness of the founders. The internet was something pure and beautiful, and would remain so only if guarded against the corrupting influence of advertising.

In other words, there was some truth in the founding myth of the company, namely, the claim that there are no human biases (whether value judgments or commercial interests) at work in the search results it presents to users. Everything is in the hands of neutral algorithms. The neutrality of these algorithms is something the rest of us have to take on trust, because they are secret (as indeed they need to be to protect their integrity against the cat-and-mouse game of “search engine optimization,” by which interested parties can manipulate their rank in the results).

Of course, from the very beginning, the algorithms in question have been written and are constantly adjusted by particular human beings, who assess the aptness of the results they generate according to their own standards of judgment. So the God’s-eye perspective, view-from-nowhere conceit is more ideal than reality. But that ideal plays a legitimating role that has grown in importance as the com­pany has become a commercial behemoth, and developed a powerful interest in steering users of its search engine toward its own ser­vices.7 More importantly, the ideal of neutral objectivity underlies Google’s self-understanding as definer and defender of the public interest.

This is the same conceit of epistemic/moral hauteur that Obama adopted as the lynchpin of his candidacy. The distinctive feature of this rhetoric is that the idea of neutrality or objectivity is deployed for a specific purpose: to assert an identity of interest between liberals and the demos. This identity reveals itself once distortions of objective reality are cleared away. Speaking at Google’s headquarters in 2007 (as characterized by White), Obama said that “as president he wouldn’t allow ‘special interests’ to dominate public discourse, for instance in debates about health care reform, because his administration would respond with ‘data and facts.’” During the Q&A, Obama offered the following:

You know, one of the things that you learn when you’re traveling and running for president is, the American people at their core are a decent people. There’s . . . common sense there, but it’s not tapped. And mainly people—they’re just misinformed, or they’re too busy, they’re trying to get their kids to school, they’re working, they just don’t have enough information, or they’re not professionals at sorting out the infor­mation that’s out there, and so our political process gets skewed. But if you give them good information, their instincts are good and they will make good decisions. And the president has the bully pulpit to give them good information.

. . .  I am a big believer in reason and facts and evidence and feedback—everything that allows you to do what you do, that’s what we should be doing in our government. [Applause.]

I want people in technology, I want innovators and engi­neers and scientists like yourselves, I want you helping us make policy—based on facts! Based on reason!

Lest my point be misunderstood, it is perhaps appropriate to say that I voted for the man in 2008. And since the example he gives above is that of health care, I should say that I am open to the idea that socialized medicine is a good idea, in principle. Further, the debate about health care really was distorted by special interests. The point I wish to make is not about substantive policy positions, but rather to consider the cognitive style of progressive politics as exem­plified by the mutual infatuation of Google and Obama.

Why engage in such an effort now, in the Trump era, when we are faced with such a different set of problems? It is because I believe the appeal of Trump, to fully half the country, was due in significant part to reaction against this peremptory and condescending turn of progressivism.

It is telling that Obama said he would use the president’s bully pulpit not to persuade (the opportunity that “the bully pulpit” has generally been taken to offer), but to “give good information.” We are a people of sound instincts, but “not professionals at sorting out the information that’s out there.” What we need, then, is a professional.

Persuasion is what you try to do if you are engaged in politics. Curating information is what you do if you believe your outlook is one from which dissent can only be due to a failure to properly process the relevant information. This is an anti-political form of politics. If politics is essentially fighting (toward compromise or stalemate, if all goes well, but fighting nonetheless), technocratic rule is essentially helping, as in “the helping professions.” It extends compassion to human beings, based on an awareness of their cogni­tive limitations and their tendency to act out.


In the technocratic dream of early twentieth-century Progressives such as Woodrow Wilson, politics was to be overcome through facts and science, clearing the way for rule by experts. Daniel Bell famously named this hoped-for denouement “the end of ideology.” It was a project that acquired a moral mandate as recoil from the ideologically driven cataclysm of World War II. From today’s per­spective, it is striking that twentieth-century Progressives seemed not very conflicted about their cognitive elitism.8 Wilson’s project to transfer power from the legislature to administrative bodies entailed a deliberate transfer of power to “the knowledge class,” as Hamburger writes, or “those persons whose identity or sense of self-worth centers on their knowledge.” This includes “all who are more attached to the authority of knowledge than to the authority of local political communities. . . . [T]heir sense of affinity with cosmopolitan knowledge, rather than local connectedness, has been the foundation of their influence and their identity.”

Today’s progressives have a more complex relationship to their own elitism, surely due in part to the legacy of the civil rights move­ment.9 It takes a certain amount of narrative finesse to maintain a suitably democratic self-understanding while also affirming the role of expertise. This is the predicament of the tech firms, and it is the same one Obama had to manage for himself. In his 2007 remarks at Google, Obama referred to the firm’s origins in a college dorm room, and drew parallels with his own trajectory and aspirations. “What we shared is a belief in changing the world from the bottom up, not the top down; that a bunch of ordinary people can do extraordinary things.” This is the language of a former community organizer. But it is a peculiar sort of “bottom up” that is meant here.

In the Founders Letter that accompanied Google’s 2004 initial public offering, Larry Page and Sergey Brin said their goal is “getting you exactly what you want, even when you aren’t sure what you need.” The perfect search engine would do this “with almost no effort” on the part of the user. In a 2013 update to the Founders Letter, Page said that “the search engine of my dreams provides information without you even having to ask.” Adam J. White glosses these statements: “To say that the perfect search engine is one that mini­mizes the user’s effort is effectively to say that it minimizes the user’s active input. Google’s aim is to provide perfect search results for what users ‘truly’ want—even if the users themselves don’t yet realize what that is. Put another way, the ultimate aspiration is not to answer the user’s questions but the question Google believes she should have asked.” As Eric Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal, “[O]ne idea is that more and more searches are done on your behalf without you having to type. . . . I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.”

The ideal being articulated in Mountain View is that we will inte­grate Google’s services into our lives so effortlessly, and the guiding presence of this beneficent entity in our lives will be so pervasive and unobtrusive, that the boundary between self and Google will blur. The firm will provide a kind of mental scaffold for us, guiding our intentions by shaping our informational context. This is to take the idea of trusteeship and install it in the infrastructure of thought.

Populism is the rejection of this.

The American founders were well acquainted with the pathetic trajectories of the ancient democracies, which reliably devolved into faction, oligarchic revolution, and tyranny. They designed our con­stitutional regime to mitigate the worst tendencies of direct democracy by filtering popular passions through political representation, and through nonrepresentative checks on popular will. The more you know of political history, the more impressive the American founding appears.10

Any would-be populist needs to keep this accomplishment in view, as a check on his own attraction to playing the tribune. How much deference is due the demos? I think the decisive question to ask is, what is the intellectual temper of today’s elites? Is it marked by the political sobriety of the founding generation, or an articulated vision of the common good of the nation such as the twentieth-century Progressives offered? Not so much? One can be wary of the demos and still prefer, like William F. Buckley, to be ruled by the first fifty names in the Boston phone book than by one’s fellow intellectuals.

When the internal culture at Google spills out into the headlines, we are offered a glimpse of the moral universe that stands behind the “objective” algorithms. Recall the Googlers’ reaction, which can only be called hysterical, to the internal memo by James Damore. He offered rival explanations, other than sexism, for the relative scarcity of women programmers at the firm (and in tech generally). The memo was written in the language of rational argumentation, and adduced plenty of facts, but the wrong kind. For this to occur within the firm was deeply threatening to its self-understanding as being at once a mere conduit for information and a force for pro­gress. Damore had to be quarantined in the most decisive manner possible. His dissent was viewed not as presenting arguments that must be met, but rather facts that must be morally disqualified.

On one hand, facilitating the free flow of information was Silicon Valley’s original ideal. But on the other hand, the control of information has become indispensable to prosecuting the forward march of history. This, in a nutshell, would seem to be the predicament that the platform firms of Silicon Valley find themselves in. The incoherence of their double mandate accounts for their stumbling, incoherent moves to suppress the kinds of speech that cultural progressives find threatening.11

This conflict is most acute in the United States, where the legal and political tradition protecting free speech is most robust. In Eu­rope, the alliance between social media companies and state actors to root out and punish whatever they deem “hate” (some of which others deem dissent) is currently being formalized. This has become especially urgent ahead of the European Parliament elections sched­uled for May 2019, which various EU figures have characterized as the last chance to quarantine the populist threat. Mounir Mahjoubi, France’s secretary of state for digital affairs, explained in February 2019 that, by the time of the election, “it will be possible to formally file a complaint online for hateful content.”12 In particular, Twitter and Facebook have agreed to immediately transmit the IP addresses of those denounced for such behavior to a special cell of the French police “so that the individual may be rapidly identified, rapidly prosecuted and sentenced.” He did not explain how “hateful con­tent” is to be defined, or who gets to do it. But it is reported that Facebook has a private army of fifteen to twenty thousand for this task.

Speaking at MIT six months after the Damore memo episode, in February 2018, former president Obama addressed head-on the problem of deliberative democracy in an internet culture. He made the familiar point about a “balkanization of our public conversation” and an attendant fragmenting of the nation, accelerated by the internet. “Essentially we now have entirely different realities that are being created, with not just different opinions but now different facts—different sources, different people who are considered author­itative.” As Obama noted, “it is very difficult to figure out how democracy works over the long term in those circumstances.” We need “a common baseline of facts and information.” He urged his tech audience to consider “what are the . . . algorithms, the mechanisms whereby we can create more of a common conversation.”


Obama’s description of the problem seems to me apt. Our political strife has become thoroughly epistemic in nature. But the fix he recommends—using algorithms to “create more of a common conversation”—is guaranteed to further inflame the sense any dissi­dent-minded person has that the information ecosystem is “rigged,” to use one of President Trump’s favorite words. If we are going to disqualify voices in a way that is not explainable, and instead de­mand trust in the priestly tenders of the algorithms, what we will get is a politics of anticlericalism, as in the French Revolution. That was not a happy time.

Among those ensconced in powerful institutions, the view seems to be that the breakdown of trust in establishment voices is caused by the proliferation of unauthorized voices on the internet. But the causal arrow surely goes the other way as well: our highly fragmented casting-about for alternative narratives that can make better sense of the world as we experience it is a response to the felt lack of fit between experience and what we are offered by the official organs, and a corollary lack of trust in them. For progressives to now seek to police discourse from behind an algorithm is to double down on the political epistemology that has gotten us to this point. The algorithm’s role is to preserve the appearance of liberal proceduralism, that austerely fair-minded ideal, the spirit of which is long dead.

Such a project reveals a lack of confidence in one’s arguments—or a conviction about the impotence of argument in politics, due to the irrationality of one’s opponents. In that case we have a simple contest for power, to be won and held onto by whatever means necessary.

This article originally appeared in American Affairs Volume III, Number 2 (Summer 2019): 73–94.


1   I am thinking of the project to transform society in the image of an imagined “free market” that would finally bring to fruition what nature prescribes (often destroying customary practices and allegiances along the way), or stories of a novus ordo seclorum that will blossom if only we are courageous enough to sweep away the impediments to “freedom” (man’s natural estate)—by aerial bombardment, if necessary. Both enthusiasms tend toward lawlessness. Both seek a world that is easily conjured in the idiom of freedom-talk, but in practice require more thorough submission to mega-bureaucracies, whether of corporations or of an occupation force.


2   In his 2018 book The Revolt of the Public, Martin Gurri diagnoses the eruption of protest movements around the world in 2011—Occupy Wall Street, the indignados in Spain, and the violent street protests in London, to name a few—as a politics of pure negation, driven more by the romance of denunciation than by any positive program. These protests expressed distrust of institutional voices, and a wholesale collapse of social authority. On left and right alike, people feel the system is rigged, and indeed political leaders themselves have stoked this conviction, insisting that elections lost by their side were illegitimate, whether because of “voter suppression” or a phantom epidemic of voting by illegal immigrants. This is dangerous stuff.

3   It is therefore perhaps appropriate to consider Europe’s experiment in transferring political sovereignty to a technocratic, democratically unaccountable governing body (the European Union) for clues as to what sort of political reactions such a project might engender.

4   Richard Rorty celebrated the power of “redescription” to alter our moral outlook. He had in mind the genuinely liberal effect that literature sometimes has in shifting our gaze, for example the effect that reading Dickens or Uncle Tom’s Cabin had in enlarging the sympathies of people in the nineteenth century. But redescriptions can just as easily have an impoverishing effect on how we view ourselves and the world. As Iris Murdoch wrote, man is the animal who makes pictures of himself, and then comes to resemble the pictures.

5   On campus, something like this is evident in the reduction of the entire miasma of teenage sexual incompetence, with its misplaced hopes and callow cruelties, to the legal concept of consent. Under the influence of this reduction, a young person is left with no other vocabulary for articulating her unhappiness and confusion over a sexual encounter. She must not have really consented.

6   In a related materialist vein, Reihan Salam ties “wokeness” to the political economy of precarity. Wokeness is a competitive status game played by aspirants to cultural capital. As one friend put it to me, “my PC status advancement seems to depend on my having a Perry Mason moment, in which I reveal that the defendant’s superficially unobjectionable speech actually hides a subtext of oppression only apparent to me.”

7   Whenever there is a whiff of regulatory concern about possible self-dealing by Google as it expands into services far afield from search, it asserts that if its search results presented anything but the  disinterested, best possible match to what “customers” were looking for, they would go elsewhere. This incantation of the free market syllogism works like a magic spell in arresting criticism. But how does the logic of the market apply to a near-monopoly? Or to a firm that provides a free service? The reality, of course, is that the users of Google are not the customers. Customers are those who pay for a product. Advertisers gave Google $95 billion in 2017 for access to the product. The product consists of predictions about users’ susceptibility to a specific pitch.

8   Another difference stands out. The early Progressive program had avowedly nationalist elements (consider William James’s famous essay “The Moral Equivalent of War” promoting a program of universal national service and an ethic of hardness, to be achieved through manual labor). It sought to forge an American identity based on solidarity, whereas for today’s progressives the idea of a common good, defined as American, is more problematic. A version of it underlies the economic populism of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but the idea of a specifically American common good is also subject to constant challenge on the left, both by immigration maximalists and by intersectional entrepreneurs who must direct their claims against what is common. Relatedly, the perspective of today’s progressivism is global rather than national, and this sits easier with the “shareholder cosmopolitanism” of capital.

9   Woodrow Wilson complained that “the bulk of mankind is rigidly unphilosophical, and nowadays the bulk of mankind votes.” The reformer is bewildered by the need to influence “the mind, not of Americans of the older stocks only, but also of Irishmen, of Germans, of Negroes.” Hamburger argues that it was the expansion of voting rights early in the twentieth century that prompted Wilson to want to shift power from representative bodies to executive agencies.

10  Barbara Tuchman wrote, “Not before or since has so much careful and reasonable thinking been invested in the formation of a government system. . . .  [T]he Founders remain a phenomenon to keep in mind to encourage our estimate of human possibilities, even if their example is too rare to be a basis of normal expectations” (The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, 1984).

11  Silicon Valley’s original intellectual affiliations lie deep in the California counterculture: the Human Potential Movement, Esalen, the Whole Earth Catalog, and all that. Like the generation of ’68 in its long march through the institutions, the Valley staked its early identity on an emancipatory mission, and it has had a hard time adjusting its self-image to reflect its sheer power. In the same vein, recall Obama striking the pose of community organizer in his second term, speaking truth to power from Air Force One.

12  “Mounir Mahjoubi : ‘Dans quelques mois, il sera possible de porter plainte sur internet pour contenus haineux,’” Fdesouche.com, February 20, 2019.

vendredi, 24 mai 2019

Schmitt’s Blakean Vision of Leviathan and Behemoth


Schmitt’s Blakean Vision of Leviathan and Behemoth

Schmitt wrote The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes (1938) in order to analyze the figure of the great Biblical fish leviathan as it figures as a symbol in Hobbes’ political theory. Part of the book consists of a genealogy of the leviathan as it appears in Western culture, from the Bible through to nineteenth-century English literature. From there, Schmitt delves into Hobbes’ political theory and its mechanistic core before providing a thoughtful assessment of the fate of continental liberalism and its decline in the early twentieth century.

Schmitt possessed a great deal of learning in many areas, including the history of European art and culture. His book on Hobbes, and its genealogy of the leviathan, allows Schmitt to display that learning. Of particular interest here is Schmitt’s wide reading in English literature from the Renaissance to the modern period. What follows is a long quote, but one that serves the purpose of helping us understand a hidden insight behind Schmitt’s appraisal of Hobbes’ political theory in the book. He explains:

The leviathan is cited a few times in Shakespeare’s dramas as a powerful, enormously strong, or quick sea monster, without any symbolism pointing toward the politico-mythical. Moreover, when he illustrates the unrestrained savagery of the plundering soldiers, as, for example, in the third act of Henry V, he gives no hint of medieval theological demonology or of a methaphysically determined enmity. Notwithstanding fanatical Bible-quoting writers, English literature was governed at the time of Hobbes’ Leviathan (around 1650) by a completely nonrnythical and nondemonic conception of the leviathan. The leviathan, it appears, was hardly suitable as an allegory in the style of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For example, Milton did not attach any enigmatic symbolism to the leviathan in his Paradise Lost, depicting him as a huge sea monster. In a satirical-literary depiction of hell by Thomas Dekker, which was published for the first time in 1607, there appears a postillion of hell who explains its geography to a just deceased London miser and is characterized as a "lackey of that great leviathan." If I understand his depiction correctly, the leviathan is still the devil but not in the medieval-theological sense or in the sense of Dante's portrayal in The Inferno or even in the sense of Swedenborg's images of hell, but in a thoroughly literary-ironic sense and in the style and in the atmosphere of English wit. In Sanderson’s Sermons (II/310) of around 1630, God deals "with the great leviathans ofthe world." Here the leviathans are simply "the greats" of this world. This colloquial usage evolved further, permitting Burke (Works, VIll, 35) to speak of the Duke of Bedford as the "Leviathan of all the creatures of the Crown" and de Quincey (in 1839) of a lawsuit against such a powerful opponent as the "leviathan of two counties."
The leviathan finally becomes a humorous description of all sorts of unusually large and powerful men and things, houses, and ships. Slang, too, has appropriated this imposing word. Hobbes was undoubtedly responsible for exerting a specific influence on the colloquial usage of the word. I am not sure whether a place in Richard Ligon's History of the Island of Barbados, which reminds one of Hobbes' description, was actually influenced by him: "What produces harmony in that leviathan is a well-governed commonwealth." It is understandable why Locke, Hobbes' adversary. did not avoid the polemical usage of leviathan: "A Hobbist will answer: 'because the Leviathan will punish you, if you do not.'" Mandeville's fable about the bee (1714) speaks in a typically Hobbesian manner: "The gods decided that millions of you, well attached to each other, compose the strong leviathan."

csleviathan.jpgWhat is interesting about this extensive genealogy is the glaring omission of William Blake’s rendering of the leviathan (see above image, dated 1805). Some have associated the image with Schmitt — for instance, in this Internet edition of Land and Sea — and this association is even more interesting because Schmitt omits Blake’s work in this passage.

Immediately before this passage, Schmitt indicated that he was intersted in the leviathan in visual art, and discussed in particular the work of Bosch and Bruegel. In his discussion of English literature, he goes as far back as Shakespeare, and as far forward as de Quincey. Along the way, Schmitt touches on two of Blake’s major influences, Milton and Swedenborg, and even cites one of Blake’s immediate contemporaries: Edmund Burke. In the above passage, Schmitt reads around Blake very closely without naming him, even when the need is obvious.

A possible reason for this omission is that Blake’s image does not tell the story that Schmitt wishes to tell about Hobbes’ leviathan, but instead, it does points towards his own conception of the state, and his own vision of leviathan and behemoth. In the book, he criticizes Hobbes and his vision of the leviathan on a few grounds, and one of them is Hobbes’ mechanistic humanism. Hobbes’ brilliant insight was that all that was required for a human community to create a functioning state was to trade protection for obedience with a state that operates as an impersonal mechanism: the ‘leviathan.’ It seems like a simple trick, and is accomplished without religion — there can be a state church, for instance, or the state can tolerate varieties of belief, but ultimately it is the state that determines the place of religion in society. Following his experience with the English Civil War, Hobbes created the image of the behemoth to symbolize rebellion. Schmitt’s sees Hobbes’ symbols of leviathan and behemoth as being sharpened in the subsequent history of modernity, and to find themselves in mutated form in contemporary concepts of “state and revolution,” and Schmitt uses the phrasing of state and revolution to deliberately evoke the title of Lenin’s book by the same name.

Schmitt believed that the well-functioning state was not only determined by its order (which Hobbes’ state theory provides), but also by its orientation (which Hobbes’ theory does not provide), which has a religious or at least strong mythic basis. Schmitt’s state theory is more like the depiction of leviathan and behemoth in Blakes image. Hobbes was only concerned with the leviathan and behemoth as they contended in the terrestrial sphere, without any relationship to a transcendent realm or idea. To relate Hobbes’ theory to Blakes image is to see leviathan and behemoth contending solely within that sphere, as if we were to cut that sphere out of the picture and view it alone as a complete depiction of the state. Blake, however, includes above the terrestrial sphere a realm of God, angels, and other figures who look down on the terrestrial sphere with concern.

Because the liberal state, in Schmitt’s view, did not have a common orientation for everyone in that state, it eventually succumbed to private organizations with private orientations, particularly parties, churches, and trade unions. These indirect powers operating in the private sphere, Schmitt observes, have a tremendous advantage in the liberal state because they can mobilize power, and then act upon other individuals and groups, and even the state. As Schmitt says, “indirect” power works by masking (Schmitt uses the word “veil”) their power, which “enables them to carry out their actions under the guise of something other than politics — namely religion, culture, economy, or private matter — and still derive all the advantages of state.” As a result, private organizations in the liberal state “enjoy all the advantages and suffer none of the risks entailed with the possession of political power.” But private organizations in the liberal state enjoy this advantage in part because of the human need to seek orientations, which is ultimately the stronger element of Schmitt’s understanding of the state as order and orientation.

The human desire for orientation is can be satisfied by a private organization or by inward withdrawl. This withdrawl acts upon the liberal state in its own way, by becoming what Schmitt calls a “counterforce of silence and stillness.” Mystical withdrawal is perhaps one way to view at least some of the figures in Blake’s image: in particular, those that sit with God and amongst the angels, looking down with concern.

samedi, 18 mai 2019

Guerra y saber político: Clausewitz y Günter Maschke


Guerra y saber político:
Clausewitz y Günter Maschke

Antonio Muñoz Ballesta

Ex: http://www.nodulo.org

Conviene, especialmente cuando suenan tambores de guerra, no malinterpretar a Carlos Clausewitz (1780-1831), y reconocer la conclusión realista del filósofo militar prusiano, que la Guerra es la expresión o la manifestación de la Política

«George Orwell advertía en una ocasión que, en las sociedades libres, para poder controlar la opinión pública es necesaria una «buena educación», que inculque la comprensión de que hay ciertas cosas que no «estaría bien decir» –ni pensar, si la educación realmente tiene éxito–.» (Noam Chomsky en Tarragona, octubre de 1998)

A José María Laso, luchador en la paz y en la guerra


 La inminente guerra del Imperio realmente existente en el planeta, EEUU, contra Irak, y contra otros países del llamado «Eje del mal», entre los que se encuentra, según expresión de Gabriel Albiac, el «manicomio militarizado» de Corea del Norte, y que puede provocar la primera Guerra Nuclear en la que los dos contendientes utilicen efectivamente armas atómicas –aunque en la Historia contemporánea se ha estado varias veces al borde de la misma, y no solamente en la crisis de los misiles de Cuba, sino también hace unos meses en la guerra silenciada entre Pakistán y la India–, requiere que nos dispongamos a contemplarla con las mejores armas conceptuales posibles (pidiendo, a la misma vez, a Dios, a Alá, o a Yahvè, según la religión de cada uno, que «el conflicto bélico» no nos afecte individualmente).

¿Qué mejor arma conceptual, para nosotros, que delimitar lo que sea verdaderamente la «guerra» desde el punto de vista del «saber político»?

Porque las guerras no son una «maldición divina o diabólica» a pesar de que las consecuencias en las víctimas humanas, y la destrucción que provocan, así lo sea.

Las guerras pertenecen también, como nos recuerda Clausewitz, al «ámbito de la acción humana», y aunque siempre han estado envueltas en las formas artísticas de su tiempo y han sido el ámbito en el que se han realizado avances técnicos, tecnológicos y científicos de eficaz transcendentalidad –en el sentido del materialismo filosófico– innegable para las sociedades, las guerras «no pertenecen al campo de las artes y de las ciencias», y sin embargo, no son un saber sencillo, sino al contrario, «llevar una guerra» consiste en un saber de los más complejos y racionales que existen.

En las guerras se trata de «movimientos de la voluntad aplicado... a un objeto viviente y capaz de reaccionar», y por ello, subraya Günter Maschke, para Clausewitz, la guerra (también la próxima guerra contra Irak y Corea del Norte, &c., habría que añadir) es «incertidumbre, fricción y azar» que no permite una simplificación –ni por los militares, ni por los políticos e intelectuales– de los «complejos procesos» de la guerra, presentándola de tal forma «que incluso un niño podía tener el sentimiento de ser capaz de dirigir un ejército» («militärische Kinderfreunde»). Ni admite el desarme conceptual de la Filosofía ante ella, pues estaríamos renunciando a la comprensión verdadera de una de las cuestiones más cruciales del Presente histórico. ¡Ya es hora que la Filosofía no quede al margen de la Guerra, de la Idea de «guerra»!


gm.jpgEl gran ensayista y pensador de lo político y la política, Günter Maschke, ha encontrado, al respecto y recientemente{1}, una solución plausible al laberinto interpretativo de lo que realmente nos quiso decir Carlos Clausewitz (1780-1831) sobre la Idea de la «Guerra» en su obra principal De la guerra, y en concreto en su relación con la «política».

Günter Maschke, después de un preciosa, y laboriosa, labor exegética de la correspondencia y demás obras, algunas inéditas, del famoso general prusiano, ha concluido, lo que muchos siempre hemos intuido, desde hace tiempo, a saber, que:

«La Guerra es la expresión o la manifestación de la Política».

Es ésta conclusión de Maschke una tesis que acerca el pensamiento de Clausewitz al «realismo político», y lo aleja, definitivamente, de los análisis bien intencionados y humanitaristas, de ciertos filósofos, intelectuales, especialistas universitarios y periodistas, que continuamente tratan de ocultarnos o silenciarnos la verdad de la geopolítica del inicio del siglo XXI en el Mundo (los que Antonio Gramsci denominó «expertos en legitimación»).

No podía ser de otra forma ya que la realidad política internacional, y nacional, es objetiva, y es la que es, independientemente de la propaganda orwelliana que realicen los «intelectuales», los «centros de educación» y los medios de comunicación.


La propaganda orwelliana de EEUU, y de sus «satélites» europeos –«satélites» porque no han conseguido tener una política exterior común, ni un ejército propio–, más o menos sutil, se presenta en dos frentes.

El primero es el frente de la opinión pública y consiste en conseguir que la misma adopte el consenso «políticamente correcto» de la élite intelectual.

En este caso el «consenso» significa que la guerra contra Irak es inevitable y necesaria por parte de EEUU y sus aliados (en cambio más razones tendría Irán), independientemente de saber si realmente el Irak de 2003 ha amenazado o agredido a EEUU o a Inglaterra o a Alemania o a España, o si sabemos con certeza las consecuencias sobre la población civil que tendrán los bombardeos y la invasión de los soldados de las fuerzas terrestres (bombardeos que se vienen haciendo, por lo demás, periódicamente desde 1991, y terminación «por tierra» de la guerra del golfo de 1991, sin hacer mención de la «medida política o militar» del «embargo de medicamentos, &c.»). Pueblo irakí y kurdo que, indudablemente, no se merece el régimen político de Sadam Husein (ni de Turquía), ni la ausencia de los derechos humanos elementales, inexistencia de derechos fundamentales que, lamentablemente, se suele olvidar por los que están en contra de la guerra contra Irak, salvo la honrosa excepción de Noam Chomsky, quién siempre ha defendido los derechos humanos auténticos contra cualquier organización estatal o no, sea EEUU o se trate de otro Estado.

El segundo frente de la propaganda orwelliana se presenta en el campo de las ideas del saber político. En el análisis político interesa que no se comprenda, no ya por la opinión pública, sino tampoco por parte de los dedicados a la «ciencia política», lo que significa la realidad de la guerra y la política, pues es propio de la ideología de un determinado régimen político que su «élite intelectual» posea unas herramientas conceptuales «apropiadas» para la consecución, no de la verdad, sino de los objetivos del régimen político –que suele coincidir con los objetivos de los más ricos y poderosos del régimen y sus monopolios económicos–.

Günter Maschke, en mi opinión, contribuye con su acertado análisis o comprensión verdadera del pensamiento de Clausewitz, a no convertirnos en víctimas conceptuales de este segundo frente de la propaganda orwelliana del «eje del bien» y/o del «eje del mal».


Los «intelectuales humanitaristas», que están afectados, del llamado por Noam, «problema de Orwell»{2}, suelen permanecer en la «ilusión necesaria» de que la política fracasa cuando se recurre a la guerra (de que la guerra es el «fin» de la política), porque han interpretado incorrectamente la famosa frase de Clausewitz:

«La guerra es un instrumento de la política/ Der Krieg ist ein Instrument der Politik»{3}

La «ilusión» de estos intelectuales de la «intelligentsia» viene de la confusión entre «instrumento» y «objetivo» de la «verdadera política». Si consideramos la guerra como un simple instrumento del «arte de la política», y la política tiene el instrumento pacífico de la diplomacia ¿no es, por tanto, un «fracaso» de la política, el recurrir al «instrumento de la guerra»?

Günter-Maschke+Kritik-des-Guerillero-Zur-Theorie-des-Volkskriegs.jpgPlanteados así las premisas o los presupuestos, habría que concluir que sí; pero ocurre que las cosas no son así, es decir, que el pensamiento de Clausewitz (ni de los más importantes y coherentes «pensadores políticos», incluido Noam Chomsky) no tiene esos presupuestos que se les atribuye falsamente. Y ello debido a que la frase de Clausewitz (ni el pensamiento de los filósofos a los que me refiero) no puede sacarse del contexto de toda su obra, incluido la correspondencia, del general prusiano (y de los autores que miren «sin prejuicios» los hechos ).

Y el «objetivo» de la «política», como sabemos, es la eutaxia de su sociedad política; y para ello el objetivo no es solamente la «paz a cualquier precio», pues ello implicaría la renuncia a su «soberanía», a su «libertad» (si, en un país, todos aceptaran ser siervos o esclavos, o vivir en la miseria y sin luchar, no habría jamás violencia o «guerras»), &c., y en el límite la renuncia, de la misma sociedad política, a su «existencia» o permanencia en el tiempo de sus planes y programas –de su prólepsis política–.

Renuncia a la existencia de la misma sociedad política, puesto que, y esto se reconoce por Clausewitz y todos los autores, la «paz» como las «guerras», no son conceptos unívocos.

La «paz», y la «guerra», puede ser de muchas formas, desde la «Pax romana» a la «Paz establecida en Versalles». Además de la existencia, quizás más realista, de un «status mixtus que no es ni guerra ni paz», por ejemplo, ¿cómo calificar la situación actual entre Marruecos y España después de la «batalla» del islote Perejil? ¿O en el futuro, entre España e Inglaterra, por el asunto del peñón de Gibraltar? ¿O en el futuro, entre España y el «País Vasco» o «Catalonia» o «Galicia»? ¿De «diplomacia» o de «guerra»?


En realidad la guerra es la expresión o manifestación de la política, y ella –la guerra– es como «un verdadero camaleón, pues cambia de naturaleza en cada caso concreto», aparentemente creemos que se produce la «desaparición» de la política (o del Derecho Internacional) cuando «estalla la Guerra», y en verdad no es así, pues la política y la diplomacia continúa implementando sus planes y programas, ¿para qué?, para conseguir una mayor eutaxia de la sociedad política vencedora o no, en el «tiempo de paz» posterior (así consiguió EEUU su predominio en Oriente Medio después de la Guerra Mundial II).

Pues, recordemos que las guerras terminaban con los Tratados de Paz, por lo menos hasta la Guerra Mundial I. Hoy en día, parece más bien, que estemos en un permanente «estado de guerra» mundial, en el que es imposible un «Tratado de Paz» entre los contendientes. Así las cosas en el «mundo del saber político» ¿Cómo y cuando se firmará el Tratado de Paz entre EEUU y Ben Laden? ¿Y es posible tal cosa?

Bien dice G. Maschke que Clausewitz es autor de las siguientes frases que inclinan la balanza en favor del primado de lo político sobre lo militar en el tema de la «guerra»:

«la política ha engendrado la guerra», «la política es la inteligencia... y la guerra es tan sólo el instrumento, y no al revés», «la guerra es un instrumento de la política, es pues forzoso que se impregne de su carácter » político, la guerra «es solo una parte de la política... consecuentemente, carece absolutamente de autonomía», «únicamente se pone de manifiesto –la guerra– en la acción política de gobernantes y pueblos», «no puede, jamás, disociarse de la política», «pues las líneas generales de la guerra han estado siempre determinadas por los gabinetes... es decir, si queremos expresarlo técnicamente, por una autoridad exclusivamente política y no militar», o cuando dice «ninguno de los objetivos estratégicos necesarios para una guerra puede ser establecido sin un examen de las circunstancias políticas», &c.

gmbew.jpgAhora bien, volvamos a la Guerra contra Irak, una manifestación más (en este caso de violencia extrema «policial») de la nueva «política «del «Imperio» constituido y constituyente de la también «nueva forma de la relación-capital» –el «Capitalismo como forma Imperio», según la reciente tesis del libro de Antonio Negri y M. Hardt– e intentemos «comprender» ahora, con las «armas conceptuales tradicionales» clausewitzianas, la política del bando «occidental». Entonces, EEUU, dirigido por Bush II, se nos presenta como un «nuevo Napoleón» que reuniera en su persona política la categoría de «príncipe o soberano» al ser, a los ojos del Mundo, al mismo tiempo «cabeza civil y militar» de la «civilización». Pero otorgándole que sea la cabeza militar en el planeta, ¿quién le otorga el que sea también la «cabeza civil»?{4} –Noam Chomsky es más realista al reconocer que desde el punto de las víctimas, es indiferente que el poder que los humilla y mata se llame «Imperio» o «Imperialismo». En cambio, el poder militar y civil de Sadam Husein se nos da en toda su crueldad dictatorial, apoyada –por cierto– hasta hace once años por los mismos EEUU y Occidente, que miraban, entonces, para otro lado, cuando se cometían innumerables atentados a los derechos humanos contra su propia población irakí y kurda.


En verdad la guerra es la expresión de la política, y en ese orden, es decir, que la política no es la manifestación de la guerra, lo cual viene a dar la razón, no solamente al realismos político de Carl Schmitt y Julien Freund, sino también a Gustavo Bueno, pues la existencia de las sociedades políticas auténticas, de los Estados o Imperios, requiere una capa cortical que se da, entre otras causas, por la acción política partidista y eutáxica.

Se consigue así que dichos intelectuales no incidan, como deseamos todos, en su lucha y defensa por una nueva política que se exprese predominantemente en diplomacia, y no en guerras de exterminio, predominantemente «exterminio de civiles».

Estos «intelectuales» y periodistas se concentran, en cambio, en la denuncia «humanitaria»{5} de los males de la guerra (males de la guerra que por más que se han denunciado en la Historia no han dejado de producirse salvo que se ha influido de manera práctica en la política), olvidándose de luchar conceptualmente, filosóficamente, por conseguir una vuelta a la verdadera política que no se exprese en guerras nucleares generalizadas o no.

Y, en cambio, la verdadera política incluye, como nos demuestra el análisis de G. Maschke, dos partes, en su expresión, la «diplomacia» y la «guerra». Y la política de una sociedad determinada no deja de ser «verdadera política» –utilizando conceptos de la «realista» filosofía política de Gustavo Bueno– cuando se manifiesta en diplomacia o en la guerra.

No se reduce la política a la paz, y a los medios pacíficos.

Otra de las causas del error habitual, hasta ahora, en la interpretación de Clausewitz, es no percatarse del origen histórico de determinadas Ideas del saber político, y viene recogida y resaltada por G. Maschke, a saber, la trascendental importancia del cambio histórico en la concepción de la guerra, con la Revolución Francesa de 1789 y Napoleón (príncipe o soberano, y no sencillamente «dictador»), ya que se pasó del «viejo arte de la guerra» de gabinete de los Estados Absolutistas, a «los grandes alineamientos engendrados por la guerras», por la Revolución.

ra-cl.jpgGustavo Bueno ha recogido también esta modificación crucial, sin hipostatizarla, con su análisis del surgimiento de la Idea de la «Nación política» o nación canónica:

«Algunos historiadores creen poder precisar más: la primera vez en que se habría utilizado la palabra nación, como una auténtica «Idea-fuerza», en sentido político, habría tenido lugar el 20 de septiembre de 1792, cuando los soldados de Kellerman, en lugar de gritar «¡Viva el Rey!», gritaron en Valmy: «¡Viva la Nación!» Y, por cierto, la nación en esta plena significación política, surge vinculada a la idea de «Patria»: los soldados de Valmy eran patriotas, frente a los aristócratas que habían huido de Francia y trataban de movilizar a potencias extranjeras contra la Revolución.» Gustavo Bueno, España frente a Europa, Alba Editorial, Barcelona 1999, página 109.

Por ello, el realismo político, y toda la filosofía política «realista» –en cuanto sabe separar la ideología y la verdad geopolítica– que incluye, en este sentido y a mi entender, a Gustavo Bueno y a Noam Chomsky, tienen que reconocer, lo que ya dijera Clausewitz:

«Que la «guerra no es otra cosa que la prosecución de la política por otros medios»

O como dice el mismo Günter Maschke: «La tesis fundamental de Clausewitz no es que la guerra constituye un instrumento de la política, opinión de los filántropos que cultivan la ciencia militar, sino que la guerra, sea instrumento o haya dejado de serlo, es la «prosecución de la política por otros medios.» Pero Clausewitz encontró una formulación aún mejor, sin percatarse de la diferencia con la precedente. Él escribe que las guerras no son otra cosa que «expresiones de la política» (tal cita proviene del estudio, todavía inédito, «Deutsche Streitkräfte», cfr. Hahlweg en la edición citada de Vom Kriege, pág. 1235), y en otro lugar, que la guerra «no es sino una expresión de la política con otros medios».» Empresas políticas, número 1, Murcia 2002, pág. 47.


En conclusión, es mucho más «humano» ser «realista» en el saber político, cuando se trata de Idea tan omnipresente como la «guerra», pues se evitan más «desastres humanitarios», y se consigue más auténtica libertad y justicia, cuando superamos el «problema de Orwell» y podemos contemplar la política tal como es, es decir, como la que tiene el poder real de declarar la guerra y la paz, que van configurando, a su vez, los «cuerpos de las sociedades políticas» en sus respectivas «capas corticales». Por ello la solución de G. Maschke a las ambigüedades de la obra de Clausewitz viene a contribuir al intento serio de cambiar la política para evitar las guerras. Se trata de una lucha por la verdad, en la paz y en la «guerra».


{1} «La guerra, ¿instrumento o expresión de la política? Acotaciones a Clausewitz», traducción de J. Molina, en la revista Empresas políticas (Murcia), año I, número 1 (segundo semestre de 2002).

{2} El «problema de Orwell» es el tema central de la labor de Noam como filósofo político, y consiste en la cuestión de «cómo es posible que a estas alturas sepamos tan poco sobre la realidad social» y política de los hombres(y olvidemos tan pronto las matanzas, miserias, etc. causados por el poder estatal imperialista), disponiendo, como se dispone, de todos los datos e informaciones sobre la misma. A Orwell no se le ocultó que una «nueva clase» conseguía en gran medida que los hechos «inconvenientes» para el poder político y económico, llegasen a la opinión pública «debidamente interpretados», y para ello si era preciso cambiar el Pasado, se hacía, pues se controlaba los hechos y los conceptos del Presente. La propaganda en las sociedades «libres» se consigue sutilmente, por ejemplo por el procedimiento de fomentar el debate pero dejando unos presupuestos o premisas de los mismos sin expresarse (y sin poder ser criticadas), o discutiendo por la intelligentsia, entre sí, cuestiones periféricas, dando la impresión de verdadera oposición.

{3} Clausewitz, Vom Kriege, págs. 990-998, 19 ed., Bonn 1980.

{4} La ONU, como institución internacional con «personalidad jurídica propia», ha sido «puenteada» continuamente por EEUU, cuando le ha interesado, y sus Resoluciones incumplidas sistemáticamente, siempre y cuando no sean como la 1441, que da a entender, o no –dicen otros– que se puede utilizar la «fuerza» contra el dictador irakí.

{5} ¡Como si no fuera «humano» el análisis científico y filosófico del concepto de las guerras y sus relaciones con la política, precisamente para conseguir mejores y mayor cantidad de Tratados de Paz!

vendredi, 17 mai 2019

Michel Maffesoli: “L’entre-soi médiatico-politique”


Michel Maffesoli: “L’entre-soi médiatico-politique”


Michel Maffesoli, professeur émérite à la Sorbonne et membre de l’Institut, analyse les raisons du fossé qui s’est établi entre le peuple et les élites. La classe médiatico-politique semble s’être repliée sur elle-même et vit dans l’entre-soi. Pourquoi n’est-elle pas capable d’entrer en empathie avec le peuple ? Comment cette rupture a-t-elle été consommée ?

N’est-ce point le mépris vis-à-vis du peuple, spécificité d’une élite en déshérence, qui conduit à ce que celle-ci nomme abusivement « populisme » ? L’entre-soi, particulièrement repérable dans ce que Joseph de Maistre nommait la « canaille mondaine » – de nos jours on pourrait dire la « canaille médiatique » –, cet entre-soi est la négation même de l’idée de représentation sur laquelle, ne l’oublions pas, s’est fondé l’idéal démocratique moderne. En effet, chose frappante, lorsque par faiblesse on cède aux divertissements médiatiques, ça bavarde d’une manière continue dans ces étranges lucarnes de plus en plus désertées. Ça jacasse dans ces bulletins paroissiaux dont l’essentiel des abonnés se recrute chez les retraités. Ça gazouille même dans les tweets, à usage interne, que les décideurs de tous poils s’envoient mutuellement.


La verticalité du pouvoir.

L’automimétisme caractérise le débat, national ou pas, que propose le pouvoir – automimétisme que l’on retrouve dans les ébats indécents, quasiment pornographiques, dans lesquels ce pouvoir se donne en spectacle. Pour utiliser un terme de Platon, on est en pleine théâtrocratie, marque des périodes de décadence. Moment où l’authentique démocratie, la puissance du peuple, est en faillite.

Automimétisme de l’entre-soi ou auto-représentation, voilà ce qui constitue la négation ou la dénégation du processus de représentation. On ne représente plus rien, sinon à courte vue, soi-même. Cette Caste on ne peut plus isolée, en ses diverses modulations – politique, journalistique, intellectuelle –, reste fidèle à son idéal « avant-gardiste », qui consiste, verticalité oblige, à penser et à agir pour un prétendu bien du peuple.

Cette Caste on ne peut plus isolée, en ses diverses modulations – politique, journalistique, intellectuelle –, reste fidèle à son idéal « avant-gardiste », qui consiste, verticalité oblige, à penser et à agir pour un prétendu bien du peuple.

Une telle verticalité orgueilleuse s’enracine dans un fantasme toujours et à nouveau actuel : « Le peuple ignore ce qu’il veut, seul le Prince le sait » (Hegel). Le « Prince » peut revêtir bien des formes, de nos jours celle d’une intelligentsia qui, d’une manière prétentieuse, entend construire le bien commun en fonction d’une raison abstraite et quelque peu totalitaire, raison morbide on ne peut plus étrangère à la vie courante.

Ceux qui ont le pouvoir de dire vitupèrent à loisir les violences ponctuant les soulèvements populaires. Mais la vraie « violence totalitaire » n’est-elle pas celle de cette bureaucratie céleste qui, d’une manière abstruse, édicte mesures économiques, consignes sociales et autres incantations de la même eau en une série de « discours appris » n’étant plus en prise avec le réel propre à la socialité quotidienne ? N’est-ce pas une telle attitude qui fait dire aux protagonistes des ronds-points que ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir sont instruits, mais non intelligents ?


Le monopole de la parole.

Ceux-là même qui vitupèrent et parlent, quelle arrogance !, de la « vermine paradant chaque samedi », ceux-là peuvent-ils comprendre la musique profonde à l’œuvre dans la sagesse populaire ? Certainement pas. Ce sont, tout simplement, des pleureuses pressentant, confusément, qu’un monde s’achève. Ce sont des notables dans l’incapacité de comprendre la fin du monde qui est le leur. Et pourtant cette Caste s’éteint inexorablement.

Au mépris vis-à-vis du peuple correspond logiquement le mépris du peuple n’ayant plus rien à faire avec une élite qu’il ne reconnaît plus comme son maître d’école. Peut-être est-ce pour cela que cette élite, par ressentiment, utilise, ad nauseam, le mot de « populisme » pour stigmatiser une énergie dont elle ne comprend pas les ressorts cachés.

Le bienfait des soulèvements, des insurrections, des révoltes, c’est de rappeler, avec force, qu’à certains moments « l’hubris », l’orgueil d’antique mémoire des sachants, ne fait plus recette. Par là se manifeste l’important de ce qui n’est pas apparent. Il y a, là aussi, une théâtralisation de l’indicible et de l’invisible. Le « roi clandestin » de l’époque retrouve alors une force et une vigueur que l’on ne peut plus nier.

L’effervescence sociétale, bruyamment (manifestations) ou en silence (abstention) est une manière de dire qu’il est lassant d’entendre des étourdis-instruits ayant le monopole légitime de la parole officielle, pousser des cris d’orfraie au moindre mot, à la moindre attitude qui dépasse leur savoir appris.


Le lieu fait lien.

Manière de rappeler, pour reprendre encore une formule de Joseph de Maistre, « les hommes qui ont le droit de parler en France ne sont point la Nation ».

Qu’est-ce que la Nation ? En son sens étymologique, Natio, c’est ce qui fait que l’on nait (nascere) ensemble, que l’on partage une âme commune, que l’on existe en fonction et grâce à un principe spirituel. Toutes choses échappant aux Jacobins dogmatiques, qui, en fonction d’une conception abstraite du peuple, ne comprennent en rien ce qu’est un peuple réel, un peuple vivant, un peuple concret. C’est-à-dire un peuple privilégiant le lieu étant le sien.

Les Jacobins dogmatiques, en fonction d’une conception abstraite du peuple, ne comprennent en rien ce qu’est un peuple réel, un peuple vivant, un peuple concret.

Le lieu fait lien. C’est bien ce localisme qui est un cœur battant, animant en profondeur les vrais débats, ceux faisant l’objet de rassemblements, ponctuant les manifestations ou les regroupements sur les ronds-points. Ceux-ci sont semblables à ces trous noirs dont nous parlent les astrophysiciens. Ils condensent, récupèrent, gardent une énergie diffuse dans l’univers.

C’est bien cela qui est en jeu dans ces rassemblements propres au printemps des peuples. Au-delà de cette obsession spécifique de la politique moderne, le projet lointain fondé sur une philosophie de l’Histoire assurée d’elle-même, ces rassemblements mettent l’accent sur le lieu que l’on partage, sur les us et coutumes  qui nous communs.


L’émotion et la solidarité.

C’est cela le localisme, une spatialisation du temps en espace. Ou encore, en laissant filer la métaphore scientifique, une « einsteinisation » du temps. Etre-ensemble pour être-ensemble sans finalité ni emploi. D’où l’importance des affects, des émotions partagées, des vibrations communes. En bref, l’émotionnel.

Pour reprendre une figure mythologique, « l’Ombre de Dionysos » s’étend à nouveau sur nos sociétés. Chez les Grecs, l’orgie (orgè) désignait le partage des passions, proche de ce que l’on nomme de nos jours, sans trop savoir ce que l’on met derrière ce mot : l’émotionnel. Emotionnel, ne se verbalisant pas aisément, mais rappelant une irréfragable énergie, d’essence un peu mystique et exprimant que la solidarité humaine prime toutes choses, et en particulier l’économie, qui est l’alpha et l’oméga de la bien-pensance moderne. Que celle-ci d’ailleurs se situe à la droite, à la gauche, ou au centre de l’échiquier politique dominant.

L’émotionnel et la solidarité de base sont là pour rappeler que le génie des peuples est avant tout spirituel. C’est cela que, paradoxalement, soulignent les révoltes en cours. Et ce un peu partout de par le monde. Ces révoltes actualisent ce qui est substantiel. Ce qui est caché au plus profond des consciences. Qu’il s’agisse de la conscience collective (Durkheim) ou de l’inconscient collectif (Jung). Voilà bien ce que l’individualisme ou le progressisme natif des élites ne veut pas voir. C’est par peur du Nous collectif qu’elles brandissent le spectre du populisme.


L’organique contre le mécanique.

Paul Valéry le rappelait : « Ce n’est pas sur ce qu’ils voient, mais sur ce qu’ils ne voient pas qu’il faut juger les hommes ». C’est bien sur ce qu’ils ne voient pas qu’il faut juger la Caste agonisante des notables établis : incapacité de repérer l’invisible à l’œuvre dans le corps social, incapacité à apprécier l’instinct naturel qui meut, sur la longue durée, la puissance populaire.

On est, dès lors, dans la métapolitique. Une métapolitique faisant fond comme je l’ai indiqué sur les affects partagés, sur les instincts premiers, sur une puissance au-delà ou en-deçà du pouvoir et qui parfois refait surface. Et ce d’une manière irrésistible. Comme une impulsion quelque peu erratique, ce qui n’est pas sans inquiéter ceux qui parmi les observateurs sociaux restent obnubilés par les Lumière (XVIIIe siècle) ou par les théories de l’émancipation, d’obédience socialisante ou marxisante propres au XIXe siècle et largement répandues d’une manière plus ou moins consciente chez tous les « instruits » des pouvoirs et des savoirs établis.

C’est bien sur ce qu’ils ne voient pas qu’il faut juger la Caste agonisante des notables établis : incapacité de repérer l’invisible à l’œuvre dans le corps social, incapacité à apprécier l’instinct naturel qui meut, sur la longue durée, la puissance populaire.

En son temps, contre la violence totalitaire des bureaucraties politiques[1], j’avais montré, en inversant les expressions de Durkheim, que la solidarité mécanique était la caractéristique de la modernité et que la solidarité organique était le propre des sociétés primitives. C’est celle-ci qui renaît de nos jours dans les multiples insurrections populaires. Solidarités organiques qui, au-delà de l’individualisme, privilégient le « Nous » de l’organisme collectif. Celui de la tribu, celui de l’idéal communautaire en gestation. Organicité traditionnelle, ne pouvant qu’offusquer le rationalisme du progressisme benêt dont se targuent toutes les élites contemporaines.


Vers une tradition dynamique !

Oui, contre ce progressisme dominant, on voit renaître les « instincts ancestraux » tendant à privilégier la progressivité de la tradition. La philosophie progressive, c’est l’enracinement dynamique. La tradition, ce sont les racines d’hier toujours porteuses de vitalité. L’authentique intelligence « progressive », spécificité de la sagesse populaire, c’est cela même comprenant que l’avenir est un présent offert par le passé.

C’est cette conjonction propre à la triade temporelle (passé, présent, avenir) que, pour reprendre les termes de Platon, ces « montreurs de marionnettes » que sont les élites obnubilées par la théâtrocratie sont incapables de comprendre. La vanité creuse de leur savoir technocratique fait que les mots qu’ils emploient, les faux débats et les vrais spectacles dont ils sont les acteurs attitrés sont devenus de simples mécanismes langagiers, voire des incantations qui dissèquent et règlementent, mais qui n’apparaissent au plus grand nombre que comme de futiles divertissements. Les révoltes des peuples tentent de sortir de la grisaille des mots vides de sens, de ces coquilles vides et inintelligibles. En rappelant les formes élémentaires de la solidarité, le phénomène multiforme des soulèvements est une tentative de réaménager le monde spirituel qu’est tout être-ensemble. Et ce à partir d’une souveraineté populaire n’entendant plus être dépossédée de ses droits.

Les révoltes des peuples rappellent que ne vaut que ce qui est raciné dans une tradition qui, sur la longue durée, sert de nappe phréatique à toute vie en société. Ces révoltes actualisent l’instinct ancestral de la puissance instituante, qui, de temps en temps, se rappelle au bon souvenir du pouvoir institué.

Bon sens populaire.jpg

Le bon sens populaire.

Voilà ce qui, en son sens fort, constitue le génie du peuple, génie n’étant, ne l’oublions pas, que l’expression du gens, de la gente, c’est-à-dire de ce qui assure l’éthos de toute vie collective. Cet être-ensemble que l’individualisme moderne avait cru dépassé ressurgit de nos jours avec une force inégalée.

Mais voilà, à l’encontre de l’a-priorisme des sachants, a-priorisme dogmatique qui est le fourrier de tous les totalitarismes, ce génie s’exprime maladroitement, parfois même d’une manière incohérente ou se laissant dominer par les passions violentes. L’effervescence fort souvent bégaie. Et, comme le rappelle Ernest Renan : « Ce sont les bégaiements des gens du peuple qui sont devenus la deuxième bible du genre humain ».

Cet être-ensemble que l’individualisme moderne avait cru dépassé ressurgit de nos jours avec une force inégalée.

Remarque judicieuse, soulignant qu’à l’encontre du rationalisme morbide, à l’encontre de l’esprit appris des instruits, le bon sens prend toujours sa source dans l’intuition. Celle-ci est une vision de l’intérieur. L’intuition est une connaissance immédiate, n’ayant que faire des médias. C’est-à-dire n’ayant que faire de la médiation propre aux interprétations des divers observateurs ou commentateurs sociaux. C’est cette vision de l’intérieur qui permet de reconnaître ce qui est vrai, ce qui est bon dans ce qui est, et, du coup, n’accordant plus créance au moralisme reposant sur la rigide logique du devoir-être.

Du bien-être individuel au plus-être collectif.

C’est ainsi que le bon sens intuitif saisit le réel à partir de l’expérience, à partir du corps social, qui, dès lors, n’est plus une simple métaphore, mais une incontournable évidence. Ce que Descartes nommait l’« intuition évidente » comprend ainsi, inéluctablement, ce qui est évident.

Dès lors ce n’est plus le simple bien-être individualiste d’obédience économiciste qui prévaut, mais bien un plus être collectif. Et ce changement de polarité, que l’intelligentsia ne peut pas, ne veut pas voir, est conforté par la connaissance collective actualisant la « noosphère » analysée par Teilhard de Chardin, celle des réseaux sociaux, des blogs et autres Tweeters. Toutes choses confortant un « Netactivisme » dont on n’a pas fini de mesurer les effets.

Voilà le changement de paradigme en cours dont les soulèvements actuels sont les signes avant-coureurs. On comprendra que les zombies au pouvoir, véritables morts-vivants, ne peuvent en rien apprécier la vitalité quasi-enfantine à l’œuvre dans tous ces rassemblements. Car cette vitalité est celle du « puer aeternus » que les pisse-froids nomment avec dégoût « jeunisme ». Mais ce vitalisme juvénile[2], où prédomine l’aspect festif, ludique, voire onirique, est certainement la marque la plus évidente de la postmodernité naissante.

Michel Maffesoli

[1] Michel Maffesoli, La Violence totalitaire (1979), réédité in Après la Modernité, CNRS Éditions, 2008, p.539.

[2] La jeunesse n’étant bien sûr pas un problème d’âge, mais de ressenti, ce que traduit bien le mythe fédérateur de la postmodernité qu’est le Puer aeternus

mardi, 14 mai 2019

Média & Politique : La fabrique du consentement - Michel Onfray


Média & Politique : La fabrique du consentement - Michel Onfray

Retrouvez les vidéos et les ouvrages des intervenants sur http://philocloud.fr
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Haussez la réalité d'un ton, abonnez-vous https://goo.gl/MPBYLu.
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Autres sources : Facebook PhiloCloud : https://www.facebook.com/PhiloCloud52
Facebook Clip & Musique : https://www.facebook.com/frenchflux

lundi, 13 mai 2019

Le théoricien de la très grande Europe


Le théoricien de la très grande Europe


Ex: http://www.europemaxima.com

Comme lors de la chronique de février dernier, il ne sera pas aujourd’hui question d’une figure européenne, mais d’une personnalité déjà évoquée à l’occasion de la deuxième chronique en date du 31 janvier 2017, à savoir Jean Thiriart (1922 – 1992).

La sortie en 2016 dans la collection « Qui suis-je ? » chez Pardès de Thiriart par Yannick Sauveur suscita un regain de curiosité autour de ses idées. Jusqu’alors, on ne disposait que d’Un Empire de quatre cents millions d’hommes, l’Europe. La naissance d’une nation, au départ d’un parti historique chez Avatar sorti en 2007. Paru à l’origine en 1964, cet essai qui présente quelques points toujours actuels par exemple « pas de liberté politique individuelle sans indépendance économique personnelle (p. 108) » n’en demeure pas moins daté.

Ne disposer que de ce seul ouvrage aurait été préjudiciable pour l’activisme grand-européen si les excellentes éditions nantaises Ars Magna n’avaient pas produit un fantastique effort de publication sur et autour de Jean Thiriart. Le prophète de la grande Europe, Jean Thiriart (2018, 484 p., 32 €) contient des entretiens (dont un, célèbre, avec Juan Peron en exil à Madrid), des articles de Thiriart ainsi que quatre textes sur lui. L’empire qui viendra (2018, 168 p., 28 €) comprend une préface de Claudio Mutti, un entretien méconnu de Thiriart en 1987 et divers textes géopolitiques. L’Empire euro-soviétique de Vladivostok à Dublin (2018, 191 p., 28 €) se compose, en dehors de quelques entretiens, d’articles du milieu des années 1980 et la version écrite d’une fameuse discussion à Moscou en août 1992 avec Egor Ligatchev, responsable d’une faction conservatrice au sein du Parti communiste russe. S’y trouvent aussi des notes d’un essai inachevé consacré à un hypothétique ensemble euro-soviétique. À la fin de l’année 2018 est cependant paru aux Éditions de la plus grande Europe L’Empire euro-soviétique de Vladivostok à Dublin, préfacé et annoté par Yannick Sauveur (2018, 337 p., 25 €), soit la version intégrale d’esquisses parfois bien avancées.


Il est indéniable que Jean Thiriart soutenait des positions hétérodoxes au sein de l’anticonformisme intellectuel. Athée résolu, ce faustien – il préférait cependant le terme de « prométhéen » – affirme sans ambages que « le politique, c’est la gestion intelligente de l’homme tel qu’il est, pour ce qu’il est. C’est un effort qui doit tendre à une société cohérente, solidaire, cohésive, efficace, en évolution constante (version de Yannick Sauveur, p. 164) ».

Cet infatigable militant qui connut l’aisance professionnelle et la quiétude privée ne cessa d’agir en faveur d’une union géopolitique continentale paneuropéenne réelle. Reconnaissant volontiers sa dette à l’égard du penseur libéral Vilfredo Pareto, ce lecteur attentif de Machiavel considérait que « l’Union soviétique a hérité du destin historique de la principale puissance continentale (version d’Ars Magna, p. 96) ». Dès 1979, il salue l’intervention de l’Armée Rouge en Afghanistan. Dans « L’Union soviétique dans la pensée de Jean Thiriart », José Cuadrado Costa le range parmi les nationaux-bolcheviks, ce qui est quelque peu réducteur. Jean Thiriart savait dépasser les clivages, y compris au sein des droites radicales.

Rares sont en effet ceux qui effectuent à ces temps de relance de la Guerre froide « une critique positive de l’URSS (version de Yannick Sauveur, p. 185) » et pensent que « l’agrandissement de l’URSS vers Dublin et Cadix relève de la perspective historique (Idem, p. 188) ». Jean Thiriart croît que « l’Empire euro-soviétique sera une construction géopolitique parfaite comme le fut l’Empire romain, comme l’était la première République pour Sieyès. Conception de géohistorien chez moi, dénuée de toute passion (Id., p. 69) ». Il regrette en revanche que l’Union soviétique n’ait pas annexé après 1945 la Pologne, la Roumanie, la Yougoslavie, la Hongrie, l’Allemagne de l’Est, etc. La Bulgarie a failli devenir en 1979 une 16e république soviétique… « La forme grand-européenne exige plusieurs modifications des concepts ou habitudes mentales communistes, écrit Jean Thiriart : la stupide et dangereuse théorie des nationalités (multi-nationalités) doit faire place à la supranationalité, l’Empire (version d’Ars Magna, p. 66). »

Il parie enfin que « l’Empire euro-soviétique – une nécessité pour l’URSS – ne sera pas possible en l’absence d’un nouveau concept, celui d’imperium euro-soviétique. Il se charpente autour de deux règles : la garantie de l’« omnicitoyenneté » et l’État-Nation extensif grâce à un “ nationalisme politique ” (“ peuple politique ” opposé en tant que tel à peuple racial, à peuple linguistique, à peuple religieux, à peuple culturel, etc.) (version de Yannick Sauveur, p. 223) », ce qui implique à l’instar du modèle républicain laïque assimilationniste français qu’il ne cesse d’admirer une forme restreinte de cosmopolitisme, voire un mondialisme relatif et partiel, dans le cadre d’un grand espace continental représenté par cette République impériale euro-soviétique.

Remarquable doctrinaire grand-européen, Jean Thiriart s’inspirait finalement de l’exemple national et républicain turc. Son vœu le plus cher aurait-il été de devenir le Mustapha Kemal Atatürk de la très grande Europe ?

Au revoir et dans quatre semaines pour une chronique consacrée à une nouvelle grande figure européenne.

Georges Feltin-Tracol

• Chronique diffusée le 23 avril 2019 à Radio Courtoisie dans le cadre du « Libre-Journal des Européens » de Thomas Ferrier.

Vers un nouveau printemps des études parétiennes?


Vers un nouveau printemps des études parétiennes?

par Daniel COLOGNE

Vilfredo Frederigo Samaso, marquis de Pareto, est né le 15 juillet 1848 à Paris. Son père y est en exil pour avoir participé à un complot républicain à Gênes. La réhabilitation paternelle lui permet d’entreprendre ses études à Gênes et Turin. Après avoir soutenu une thèse de physique, il devient ingénieur et directeur technique de deux sociétés, l’une ferroviaire, l’autre métallurgique.

Déçu par l’engagement politique, Vilfredo Pareto se lance dans l’étude de la théorie économique, rencontre Léon Walras en 1891 et obtient une chaire d’économie politique à Lausanne en 1893. Il se passionne ensuite pour la sociologie et publie notamment Les Systèmes socialistes. Il soutient Mussolini. Il est nommé sénateur du royaume d’Italie le 23 mars 1923, mais il meurt quelques mois plus tard (le 19 août) à Céligny, face au lac Léman.

Un lycée Pareto existe à Lausanne et j’y ai rencontré Giuseppe Patanè, avec qui j’ai organisé en 1976 une commémoration de la répression de la révolte de Budapest par les chars soviétiques (1956). Patanè avait deux fils : Fabrizio, très sympathique, fort discret et d’un bon niveau, et Massimo, jeune érudit m’ayant fait découvrir que le syndicalisme mussolinien n’avait rien à envier à celui des régimes situés à gauche et intouchable à l’époque dans des medias tendancieux.

L’évocation du syndicalisme permet de faire une transition vers la pensée de Georges Sorel (d’un an plus vieux que Pareto) et vers l’intérêt que suscite l’auteur de Réflexions sur la Violence chez Jean-Pierre Blanchard, pasteur militant de la cause identitaire et auteur de Vilfredo Pareto, génie et visionnaire.

À propos de Sorel, l’auteur rappelle « qu’il a introduit un célèbre distinguo entre force et violence, la force ayant pour but d’imposer un ordre social, alors que celui de la violence est de le détruire (p. 118) ». J’attire aussi l’attention des lecteurs sur l’annexe où Jean-Pierre Blanchard développe l’hypothèse d’une cohabitation inattendue de Nietzsche et de Marx chez Sorel, ce dernier ayant donc pu permettre de « faire mariage » à « l’aristocratie nationaliste réactionnaire » et au « bourgeois communiste révolutionnaire (p. 136) ».


Le brillant exposé de la sociologie parétienne par le pasteur Blanchard est préfacé par Georges Feltin-Tracol qui espère que l’ouvrage de 2019 sera « l’hirondelle printanière », messagère d’un « renouveau des études parétiennes ! (p. 18) ». Car il faut bien reconnaître l’optimisme excessif de Jules Monnerot et de son pronostic des années 1960 sur « une remontée de la cote Pareto à la bourse des valeurs intellectuelles de l’Europe (p. 17) ».

Et ce malgré l’intérêt jamais démenti de la « Nouvelle Droite » à travers l’admiration vouée à Pareto par Georges Henri-Bousquet (ouvrage paru chez Dalloz en 1971), les références d’Alain de Benoist dans son Vu de droite (1977) et la revue Nouvelle École (1981), les allusions de Louis Pauwels dans son Blumroch l’Admirable (1976) et même, assez récemment, l’influence parétienne observable chez Guillaume Faye dans Mon Programme (2012).

« Toute population sociale est composée de deux couches, une couche inférieure qui comprend tous ceux qui ne réussisent que médiocrement dans la vie et une couche supérieure, l’élite, qui comprend tous ceux qui réussissent, dans quelque domaine que ce soit, et qui se divise en deux : l’élite non gouvernementale et l’élite gouvernementale. » Le pasteur Blanchard précise que, si de bons éléments émergent de la « couche inférieure » et que des membres de « l’élite », « gouvernementale » ou non, s’avèrent défaillants, « la décadence menace toute société qui ne pratique pas la mobilité sociale, la circulation des élites (p. 108) ». L’Establishment britannique fournit un bon exemple de cette « mobilité sociale », mais aussi l’Église catholique, comme le souligne pertinemment en page 73 Éric Zemmour dans son Destin français. Deux ans après le décès de Pareto, le Grand d’Espagne Miguel de Unamuno parle d’« agonie du christianisme » (1925).

Un deuxième stade de la « régression des castes dominantes (Julius Evola) » sévit déjà à travers la simple « magistrature d’influence » exercée par les derniers monarques issus de la noblesse. Ainsi s’exprime l’historien liégeois Léon Balace pour décrire les rois des Belges qui règnent sans gouverner et qui se contentent désormais de pérorer sur l’utopique vivre-ensemble, tant au niveau de leur petite patrie fracturée qu’à celui de la grande et illusoire fraternité mondialiste. L’élite gouvernementale désignée par Vilfredo Pareto est celle de la troisième fonction (en termes duméziliens) ou des « hommes de gestion » (dans le lexique de Raymond Abellio). Les producteurs ne sont pas seulement économiques, mais aussi culturels. Ceux-ci composent l’essentiel de l’élite non gouvernementale (presse, écrivains, artistes de toutes disciplines, animateurs des industries du divertissement, du spectacle et du luxe).

La quatrième fonction des « hommes d’exécution » (Abellio) ne s’est mise en valeur que le temps d’une brève parenthèse historique avec la complicité des penseurs de type sartrien, trop rarement éveillés à l’inanité du déterminisme socio-économique : « Valéry est un intellectuel petit-bourgeois, mais tout intellectuel petit-bourgeois n’est pas Valéry. » Peut-on encore attendre aujourd’hui de la nouvelle caste médiatique dominante ce type de jugement nuancé dont même Sartre était encore capable ? Le mondialisme qu’elle cherche à imposer correspond parfaitement à la nation parétienne de « dérivation », à savoir un ensemble de « manifestations verbales [qui] s’éloignent de la réalité [tout en ayant] une valeur persuasive bien supérieure au raisonnement objectif (p. 67) ».

« Voici ce qui est plus grave : toutes ces idées pures, toutes ces théories, ces doctrines, nous en connaissons la vanité, et l’inexistence au point de vue objectif (p. 81). » Ces lignes du Pasteur Blanchard mettent en exergue le « pragmatisme » de Vilfredo Pareto, dont le préfacier Georges Feltin-Tracol rappelle qu’il est « une référence revendiquée [par Jean Thiriart] dans le cadre de son État central grand-européen (p. 17) ». C’est une raison supplémentaire de lire l’excellent ouvrage de Jean-Pierre Blanchard sur l’auteur du Traité de sociologie générale (1916).

Note complémentaire

Dans une excellente contribution d’août 2018 au site Rédacteurs RH, David Rouiller évoque « l’autre tiers-mondisme », différent de celui qui s’est exprimé dans les livres de Frantz Fanon et de Jean Ziegler et dans les conférences de Bakou (1920) et de Bandœng (1955). On peut l’appeler tiers-mondisme « de Droite », à l’intérieur duquel David Rouiller sépare encore l’ivraie du « fatras » d’Alain Soral et le bon grain de la « Quadricontinentale » de Thiriart et des positions de Guénon et d’Evola en faveur des cultures traditionnelles détruites par la modernité. David Rouiller souligne toutefois que l’installation de Guénon en terre musulmane d’Égypte peut inciter certains guénoniens à développer un « philo-islamisme de Droite », comme le fit aussi la revue évolienne Totalité en 1979 avec son éloge d ela révolution iranienne.

Toujours en août 2018 et sur le même site, David Rouiller aborde la question de « l’avènement du Cinquième État », stade ultime de la « régression des castes dominantes » (Julius Evola). À la manœuvre de ce processus semble opérer une large fraction de ce que Pareto appelle « l’élite non gouvernementale ». Les anciens intellectuels soutenant le prolétariat sont remplacés par les partisans du « chaos social » (René Guénon), une sorte de nouvelle caste dont les contours sont toutefois difficiles à cerner ainsi que le notait déjà dans un article de 1980 le regretté Guillaume Faye.

Daniel Cologne

• Jean-Pierre Blanchard, Vilfredo Pareto, génie et visionnaire, préface de Georges Feltin-Tracol, Dualpha Éditions, coll. « Patrimoine des héritages », 2019, 152 p., 23 €.

vendredi, 10 mai 2019

Evola and Neo-Eurasianism


Evola and Neo-Eurasianism

Ex: https://www.geopolitica.ru

We must understand Julius Evola’s work in the same vein as we understand Heidegger’s approach to metaphysics and Western civilization.

While we can know, for sure, that the current state of Western civilization no longer resembles, in toto, the idealistic image once pictured by Heidegger and Spengler, we must be aware that their work constitutes an important and vital watershed.

The spirit of of old Europe is alive in Heidegger’s work, just as much as in Evola’s work. Both represent the spirit of an age that knew – intimately, perhaps – the Nietzschean drive to its deep modernistic roots and its essence, and perhaps could be depicted in a certain sense as representing the age of the (aspiring) Overman, the active nihilist, and of the regimes that sought a new model of man – many of them Fascist, Communist or even Liberal – as opposed to the current age of the Last Man, a man who has lost the Faustian drive almost entirely and therefore succumbed to passive nihilism, and to the spirit of an age that has fully transitioned from Modernity to Post-Modernity. An age that now consequently, in our current epoch, faces complete dissolution.

Evola addresses this age of dissolution just as intensively and concisely as Heidegger deconstructs the essence of Western logos and of its Metaphysics focused on unreal abstract presences, on reified essences, and on the thinking subject.

We must understand Evola as a savant who was deeply aware of his own role within the End Times, and the sort of distillation, of objectivity (sachlichkeit), that would be necessary in confronting the dimensions and challenges given in our age. We must sense, in him, a man who grasped the inevitable dissolution and destruction of the standards of the bourgeois era, and the age of so-called “Old” Europe, of the Europe that was still recognizable to a man like Oswald Spengler, and about whose inevitable destiny Goebbels firmly proclaimed – as he spoke, during the aftermath of the Dresden bombing and the late 2nd major global confrontation: “all of old Europe comes crashing down, and will be buried, with this war. With this conflict, comes down the ruin of the bourgeois age.” [rough translation]

Even if this fundamentally correct intuition did not come in the style of perverted Nazi dreams, with the construction of the fascist Neue Ordnung, but instead with the building of a demented, sick, geriatric and nihilistic liberal regime within an Americanized mold, we must still see in Evola a sort of logical conclusion to the presuppositions that have so far underlined the later stages of European reaction.

Evola must be understood as constituting the bridge from late Western European continental thought, to Tradition as we should know, and properly understand in the conception that must underlie the foundations of a new, post-liberal civilization that we – as men of the Midnight – must necessarily aspire to.

The very movement of Evola’s life, from the Absolute Idealism of his youth, towards the Neo-Platonic intellectual rigidity, the cemented and refined orthodoxy of the “late” Evola, is indicative of the way that we should take in our age.

Evola wrote precisely for us, the men of the midnight. His writings concerned not just the critique of late Western metaphysics, from a partial point of view that is perhaps much more complete in the work of Rene Guenon and Martin Heidegger, but carries in itself the apocalyptic and eschatological vision of the End – although within Evola’s work, we must understand the undertones of this view of the End Times as being fundamentally different from the Semitic bluster of emotions that have characterized our understanding of the term within Christian civilization.

Evola’s view of the End Times is strictly aligned with a different Orthodoxy, namely, that of Platonism, Hermeticism, Buddhism in its early purer form, and also Samkhya, Advaita and other such currents that can still be discerned in our age. In them, while the End Times and the Dark Age form a coherent given, there’s a marked absence of the pathos of the Semitic type within the scope of these alternative traditional teachings.

The current age of liberal decadence, of the end of Western humanity, must be understood within the aegis and scope of the broad movement of dissolution, of fragmentation, that precedes the end of the cycle. And this is followed, markedly, by the search for transcendence in a world that has become meaningless, formless, objectified, banal and the passive receptacle of a process very similar to the fetish of commodities described by Marxist ideologues. And within this dystopian world of the late times, we can also witness the correspondence made in a very precise fashion with the age of the fourth caste, the age of the Sudra – characterized for instance by the domination of the formless mass man, of pure quantity and of machines – as opposed to the previous bourgeois age that retained the remnants of deeper, older organic elements.


Within this age, and within the West, we must acknowledge that everything that was still organic and traditional in the previous “bourgeois” age, that ended most definitely in 1945, is now coming to an end or has already been destroyed. The anti-modernist teaching of the Roman Church was killed and buried together with its ceremonial and liturgical core, and so were the remnants of the organic, pre and anti-modern social elements, like the aristocracy, the clergy, and the broad aristocratic and hierarchical structures that still played their role in granting a deep and effective sense of societal and personal differentiation no longer present in our day and age.

In our age, which is marked deeply by the liberal and also former Communist erosion of all the remaining standards of organic civilization, we cannot count on the luxury of having the old models and superstructures present within our current milieu. The organic society of the Renaissance, and its predecessor, the organic society of the Middle Ages, are now but a distant memory. What is present right now is precisely the inorganic model of the civilized, late liberal world, that drags itself inexorably towards a vortex of imbecility, downwards leveling of the social structure, and also self-disintegration. Of this, we can only take into account the brilliant work “Jihad vs McWorld”, the sort of book that bears a title very fitting to the current age of Spenglerian early Caesarism, money politics, and solidification.

We have already discussed briefly here and elsewhere the nature of this age. And now, we must understand that when the West lies close to its stage of effective mortality, the initiative must be seized decisively towards a new direction. This initiative consists in the gathering of the men of the Midnight, the differentiated men who “ride the tiger”, to the construction of a new paradigm that must necessarily come after the deep, dark night of Western modernity, and that shall come to the fore as the necessary civilizing Traditional force over a world in ruins. Of a world that has lost sight of itself, and has submerged itself into the most elementary and animal-like barbarity.

dimanche, 05 mai 2019

Mihail Manoilescu: “Protectionism 2.0” – The (New) Name of the (Old) Game in Postwar Developmentalism


Mihail Manoilescu: “Protectionism 2.0” – The (New) Name of the (Old) Game in Postwar Developmentalism

Ex: http://www.themarketforideas.com

Mihail Manoilescu, more than an engineer, journalist or professor, was a Romanian political and economic thinker. Although in his country he was not recognized and his theory used, he has inspired other countries in different regions. His ascension was great, as great as his fall. Mihail Manoilescu ended up in the darkness of oblivion, obscurity and, consequently, death. 

Early years 

Mihail Manoilescu was born on December the 9th, 1891, in Tecuci, Romania, coming from a family with old boyar origins (Boyar was a nobility title attributed to members of the 10th-17th century Russian aristocracy). In 1893 the family moved to Iași. Mihail Manoilescu remained there until he began his university studies. His father, Constantin Manoilescu, was a teacher and member of the Socialist Party. Natalia Grigoreanu, his mother, was also a teacher.

In 1910, he graduated from the National High School in Iași. Mihail Manoilescu wanted to pursue law studies, but his precarious financial situation, left fatherless when he was nine years old, did not permit it. Consequently, he applied and was admitted to the National School of Bridges and Roads in Bucharest (now The University Politehnica of Bucharest), and graduated as valedictorian in 1915.

He was assigned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs after completing his university studies, as an engineer, in an artillery regiment in Roman, Moldova. Under Eng. Tancred Constatinescu’s leadership, he built an original model of howitzer (the “Manoilescu type” 210 mm howitzer). Mihail Manoilescu’s career started in the military area and, after the First World War, became the General Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade in 1921.

Mihail Manoilescu started his incursion into the business world through investment in the minerals sector. Together with his brother, Grigore Manoilescu, he became co-owner of Sorecani Mines, in Cluj County. They made a significant investment and opened new galleries considerably increasing the production of lignite. They established an agreement with the Belgian company Electrobel to build a power plant in Aghireșu, inaugurated in 1930. 

Economic thought 

While developing his financial backing and power, including by becoming shareholder in a bank, Mihail Manoilescu published a book that many consider his greatest and most relevant bibliographical work: Théorie du protectionnisme et de l’échange international (Theory of protectionism and international exchange) in 1929.

Looking for a simple overview of the main ideas/concepts of Mihail Manoilescu, Sorin Șuteu (2016) considered the “author’s main findings:

  • In any country, labour productivity varies considerably depending on the economic branch. The biggest differences are between industry and agriculture. Their report is relatively constant and was named the Manoilescu constant.
  • It makes the industrialized countries have considerably higher labour productivity than predominantly agrarian countries.
  • As a result, in international trade, when an industrialized country sells a product to an agrarian country, we actually talk about the exchange between the work of a small number of industrial workers and the work of a large number of agricultural workers”.

Manoilescu, as per above considerations, considered that industrialized countries had the capacity and power to exploit agricultural countries by means of trade. The natural consequences of this situation were the losses in the national income that were recorded. In order to solve these shortcomings, “the author proposes two solutions:

  1. The industrial way, consisting in the manufacture of goods, in the country, with labour productivity above the national average.
  2. The commercial way, based on the importation of those goods with lower labour productivity than the national average” (Șuteu 2016).

To implement these ideas, Mihail Manoilescu’s recommendation is to adopt the measures aimed to protect and stimulate the economic sectors with productivity above the national average.

Although influenced by the economist Friederich List, he theoretically distanced himself from List: the protection he advocated was not temporary. He believed he had identified an important exception to the conclusions derived from exchange models, based on the presumed perfect competitiveness of the markets, which were behind the free trade policy advocated by most economists. 

mm-livre2.jpgImpact abroad 

At the time it was published, the book was harshly criticized by classical economists such as Jacob Viner (1932), or neoclassicists such as Bertil Ohlin (1933). In 1954, future Nobel laureate Arthur Lewis seems to have independently presented the argument, originally proposed by Manoilescu, that protection was justified in less developed countries, where wages in industry were excessive in relation to agriculture (Lewis 1954, 159). In the late 1950s, Everett Hagen also concluded in an article that historical experience suggested that protectionism was responsible for the acceleration of economic progress in countless countries, which were fully industrialized after the English Industrial Revolution. The United States, Japan, the Soviet Union and three Latin American countries – Brazil, Colombia and Mexico – clearly exemplified this statement. In each of these cases, the increase in per capita income was associated with the greater participation of the industrial sector in the global income, that is, the income of industrial employees increased more than the growth of the world economy. Therefore, it was statistically true that industry contributed more to raising per capita income.

This theory was very well received in Latin America. At this time, Brazil was in a very serious economic crisis following the Great Depression of 1929. So, this theory was growing because of the difficulties and challenges that Brazil experienced in the export competition with African and Asian countries. This fact was used to justify the low wages in Brazil.

The industrialists of São Paulo generally supported the values of organization, elitism, industrialization and, increasingly, as the 1930s progressed, of state intervention in the economy. After 1937, they also supported the Getúlio Vargas (1937-45) dictatorship. It is no wonder, therefore, that they were attracted to Manoilescu’s theses, values, and attitudes.

Industrial production grew by 50% between 1929 and 1937, creating income and strengthening the domestic market (Furtado 1980). The Brazilian economy recovered relatively quickly after the crisis, returning to a 9% annual growth rate already in 1934. This policy generated deficits for the government, but sustained the level of economic activity; the domestic protection given to the industry through exchange control, the regulation of the compulsory consumption of domestic production of raw materials, and the prohibition of imports by idle companies were fundamental for the industry to grow at an average of 10% per year between 1930 and 1936. Rising imports stimulated the use of the idle capacity of industries; fiscal, monetary, credit, and coffee policies ensured demand on the other side, causing industry to grow by more than 11% a year between 1934 and 1937. 

Impact at home 

In Romania, the protectionist doctrine of Manoilescu could not be applied. This doctrine was not accepted in the geopolitical context of the nation. After 1944, another model of development was applied by external imposition. In Brazil and in other Latin American countries as well, political and intellectual elites evinced a pragmatism in thought and action that was free to adopt Manoilescu’s theory as the basis for economic development strategies.

mm-livre1.jpgIt is important to consider that, over time, Manoilescu not only acquired sympathy for Nazi and fascist regimes, but also he was a believer in these social and political models. The subsequent situation of Soviet dominance in Romania, mainly after the end of the Romanian-German alignment, made impossible any attempt or intention to adopt his economic conceptions.

After World War II, Manoilescu completely lost his credibility, mainly because of the support he gave to the regimes that were in place, or that would come to take power in the 1930s, in Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Brazil, then for the eventual failures of his theory. His political pragmatism led him to renege on his economic ideas, to support the Third Reich on the eve of the war, and to advocate Romania’s insertion into the German war effort as a supplier of primary products.

Through his influence and integration into Romanian political power before the fall of the Nazi regime, his status, credibility and his own life would be doomed. In 1945, Mihail Manoilescu was arrested for one year and two months, without a trial. He was also fired from the Political Economy Department of the University Politehnica of Bucharest and purged from university surroundings. He was released from the prison, but kept under surveillance.

In 1948, Mihail Manoilescu was arrested again for political reasons. He was taken to several prisons and, in 1950, he was jailed in Sighet together with the former officials of the interwar and war periods, who had been incarcerated in conditions of extermination and who had never been brought to trial. He died in prison on December 30th, 1950. The family was only notified eight years after, in May 1958. After his death, legal procedures were brought against him for his activity as a journalist and he was sentenced in absentia on April 1952. 


It is verified that the bibliographical work and the protectionist theory of Manoilescu gained great importance for the foreign countries, mainly in the case of Brazil. Over time, his economic theses were re-evaluated and not all of them were discarded, being analysed until the present day, contributing to the enrichment of the debates about the adoption of national economic measures. 

Photo credit: https://expo1921.mnir.ro/ro/expozitia/expozitia-si-targul... 


Furtado, C. 1980. Formação Econômica do Brasil. São Paulo: Ed. Nacional, http://www.afoiceeomartelo.com.br/posfsa/Autores/Furtado,....

Lewis, W.A. 1954. Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour. The Manchester School 22(2): 139-191.

Love, J.L. 1996. Crafting the Third World: Theorizing Underdevelopment in Rumania and Brazil. Stanford University Press, https://books.google.ro/.

Pușcaș, V.; Sălăgean, M. 2012. Mihail Manoilescu – Economic Thought and Economic Reality. Anuarul Institutului de Istorie “George Barițiu” din Cluj-Napoca, tom LI: 325-336, http://www.historica-cluj.ro/anuare/AnuarHistorica2012/19....

Silva, L.O. 2010. Roberto Simonsen: A industrialização brasileira e a Segunda Guerra Mundial. História Econômica & História de Empresas 13(2): 25-52, https://doi.org/10.29182/hehe.v13i2.

Șuteu, S. 2016. Mihail Manoilescu and the Theory of Protectionism. Revista de Management și Inginerie Economică 15(4) http://www.rmee.org/abstracturi/62/20_Personalitati_Mihai....


vendredi, 12 avril 2019

Liberalism: the other God that failed

While Arthur Koestler was awaiting execution after being captured and sentenced to death by Francoist forces as a communist spy during the Spanish Civil War, he had a mystical experience. Formerly a Marxist materialist who believed the universe was governed by “physical laws and social determinants”, he glimpsed another reality. The world now seemed instead as “a text written in invisible ink”.

The experience left him untroubled by the prospect of his imminent death by firing squad. At the last moment, he was traded for a prisoner held by Republican forces. But the epiphany of another order of things that came to him in the prison cell stayed with him for the rest of his days, informing his great novel of communist faith and disillusion, Darkness at Noon (1940), his later writings on the history of science, and a lifelong interest in parapsychology.

Koestler_(1969).jpgKoestler was a pivotal figure in the post-war generation that rejected communism as “the God that failed”— the title of a celebrated book of essays, edited by the Labour politician Richard Crossman and published in 1949, to which Koestler contributed. The ex-communists of this period followed a variety of political trajectories. André Gide, another contributor to the collection, abandoned communism, after a visit to the Soviet Union in 1936, to become a writer on issues of sexuality and personal authenticity.

Further reading

The rise of post-truth liberalism

By John Gray

Other ex-communists became social democrats, while a few became militant conservatives or lost interest in politics completely. Stephen Spender, poet and novelist and author of Forward from liberalism (1937), morphed into a cold-war liberal. James Burnham, a friend and disciple of Leon Trotsky, rejected Marxism in 1940 to reappear as a militant conservative, publishing The Suicide of the West: the meaning and destiny of liberalism (1964) and eventually being received into the Catholic Church. All of them became communists in a time when liberalism had failed. All were able to return to functioning liberal societies when they abandoned their communist faith.

When interwar Europe was overrun by fascism, the Soviet experiment seemed to these writers to be the best hope for the future. When the experiment failed, and they renounced communism, they were able to resume their life and work in a recognisably liberal civilisation.

Post-war global geopolitics may have been polarised, with a precarious nuclear stand-off between the Soviet Union and the US and its allies. Liberal societies may have been flawed, with McCarthyism and racial segregation stains on the values western societies claimed to promote. But liberal civilisation was not in crisis. Large communist movements may have existed in France, Italy and other European countries, while Maoism attracted sympathetic interest from alienated intellectuals. But even so, liberal values were sufficiently deep-rooted that in most western countries they could be taken for granted. The West was still home to a liberal way of life.

The situation is rather different today. Liberal freedoms have been eroded from within, and dissidents from a new liberal orthodoxy face exclusion from public institutions. This is not enforced by a totalitarian state, but by professional bodies, colleagues and ever vigilant internet guardians of virtue. In some ways, this soft totalitarianism is more invasive than that in the final years of the Soviet bloc.

Further reading

How Thatcherism produced Corbynism

By John Gray

The values imposed under communism were internalised by few among those who were compelled to conform to them. Ordinary citizens and many communist functionaries were a bit like Marranos, the Iberian Jews forced to convert to Christianity in mediaeval and early modern times, who secretly practised their true religion for generations or centuries afterwards. Such fortitude requires rich inner resources and an idea of truth as something independent of subjective emotion and social convention. There are not many Marranos in the post-liberal west.

Some have attempted to revive classical liberalism, an anachronistic project that harks back to a time when western values could command a global hegemony. Others have opted for a hyperbolic version of liberalism in which western civilisation is denounced as being a vehicle for global repression.

In this alt-liberal ideology, the central values of classical liberalism — personal autonomy and the rejection of tradition in favour of critical reason — are radicalised and turned against the liberal way of life. A heretical cult, alt-liberalism is what liberalism becomes when it tears up its roots in Jewish and Christian religion. Today it is the ruling ideology in much of the academy and media.

In these conditions one might suspect self-censorship, since anyone expressing seriously heterodox views risks a rupture in their professional life. Yet it would be a mistake to think alt-liberals are mostly cynical conformists. Since practising cynics realise that the views they are publicly promoting are actually false, cynicism presupposes the capacity to recognise truth. In contrast, alt-liberals appear wholly sincere when they denounce the society that privileges and rewards them. Unlike the Marranos, whose public professions concealed another view of the world, alt-liberals conceal nothing. There is nothing in them to conceal. They are expressing the prevailing western orthodoxy, which identifies western civilization as being uniquely malignant.

Further reading

Deluded liberals can't keep clinging to a dead idea

By John Gray

Of course, civilisational self-hatred is a singularly western conceit. Non-western countries — China, India and Russia, for example— are increasingly asserting themselves as civilisation-states. It is only western countries that denounce the civilisation they once represented. But not everything is as it seems. Even as they condemn it, alt-liberals are affirming the superiority of the West over other civilisations. Not only is the West uniquely destructive. It is only the West — or its most advanced section, the alt-liberal elite — that has the critical capacity to transcend itself. But to become what, exactly? Lying behind these intellectual contortions is an insoluble problem.

In his essay in The God that failed Gide wrote: “My faith in communism is like my faith in religion. It is a promise of salvation for mankind.” Here Gide acknowledged that communism was an atheist version of monotheism. But so is liberalism, and when Gide and others gave up faith in communism to become liberals, they were not renouncing the concepts and values that both ideologies had inherited from western religion. They continued to believe that history was a directional process in which humankind was advancing towards universal freedom.

Without this idea, liberal ideology cannot be coherently formulated. That liberal societies have existed, in some parts of the world over the past few centuries, is a fact established by empirical inquiry. That these societies embody the meaning of history is a confession of faith. However much its devotees may deny it, secular liberalism is an oxymoron.

A later generation of ex-communists confirms this conclusion. Trotskyists such as Irving Kristol and Christopher Hitchens who became neo-conservatives or hawkish liberals in the Eighties or Nineties did not relinquish their view of history as the march towards a universal system of government. They simply altered their view as to the nature of the destination.

Further reading

You're reaping what you sowed, liberals

By John Gray

Instead of world communism, it was now global democracy. Western interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and later Libya were wars of liberation backed by the momentum of history. The fiascos that ensued did not shake this belief. The liberalism of these ex-Trotskyists was yet another iteration of monotheistic faith.

Alt-liberals aim to deconstruct monotheism, along with the grand narratives it has inspired in secular thinkers. But what emerges from this process? Once every cultural tradition is demolished, nothing remains. In principle, alt-liberalism is an empty ideology. In practice it defines itself by negation.

Populist currents are advancing throughout the West and supply the necessary antagonist. The old liberalism that prized tolerance no longer survives as a living force. Iconoclasts who smash statues of colonial-era figures are raging at an enemy that has long since surrendered. An impish avatar of a vanished liberal hegemony, alt-liberalism needs populism if it is to survive.

Resistance to populist movements fills what would otherwise be an indeterminacy at the heart of the alt-liberal project. Privileged woke censors of reactionary thinking and incendiary street warriors are mutually reinforcing forces. At times, indeed, they are mirror-images of one another. Both have targeted the state of Israel as the quintessential embodiment of western evil, for example. Not only do alt-liberals and populists need one another. They share the same demonology.

Further reading

Today's voguish communists should remember Budapest

By James Bloodworth

Viewing the post-liberal West from a historical standpoint, one might conclude that it will suffer the same fate as communism. Facing advancing authoritarian powers and weakened from within, a liberal way of life must surely vanish from history. True, some traces will remain. Even in societies where denunciation for reactionary thinking is a pervasive practice, fossil-like fragments of ancient freedoms will be found scattered here and there. But surely the global liberal order will finally implode, leaving behind only defaced remnants of a civilisation that once existed.

In fact, any simple analogy between the fall of communism and the decay of liberalism is misleading. The difference is that old-style liberals have nowhere to go. To be sure, they could abandon any universalistic claim for their values and think of them as inhering in a particular form of life — one that is flawed, like every other, but still worthwhile.

Yet this is hardly a viable stance at the present time. For one thing, this way of life is under siege in what were once liberal societies. Yet liberals cannot help but see themselves as carriers of universal values. Otherwise, what would they be? Anxious relics of a foundering civilisation, seeking shelter from a world they no longer understand.

There may be no way forward for liberalism. But neither is the liberal West committing suicide. That requires the ability to form a clear intention, which the West shows no evidence of possessing. Nothing as dramatic or definitive will occur. Koestler and the ex-communists of his generation regarded communism as the God that failed because they once believed it to be the future. Today almost no one any longer expects liberal values to triumph throughout the world, but few are able to admit it — least of all to themselves. So instead they drift.

It is not hard to detect a hint of nostalgia among liberals for the rationalist dictatorships of the past. Soviet communism may have been totalitarian, but at least it was inspired by an Enlightenment ideology. Though it has killed far fewer people, Putin’s Russia is far more threatening to the progressive world-view.

China, on the other hand, is envied as much as it is feared. Its rulers have renounced communism, but in favour of a market economy, globalisation and a high-tech version of Bentham’s Panopticon — all of them imported western models. The liberal west may be on the way out, but illiberal western ideas still have a part in shaping the global scene.

When ex-communists became liberals, they shifted from one secular faith to another. Troubled liberals today have no such option. Fearful of the alternatives, they hang on desperately to a faith in which they no longer believe. Liberalism may be the other God that failed, but for liberals themselves their vision of the future is a deus absconditus, mocking and tormenting them as the old freedoms disappear from the world.


vendredi, 05 avril 2019

Polybius, Applied History, and Grand Strategy in an Interstitial Age


Polybius, Applied History, and Grand Strategy in an Interstitial Age

Ex: https://warontherocks.com

Sometime around 118 B.C., a boar-hunting octogenarian cantering through southern Greece suddenly fell off his horse. The sprightly retiree — who ended up succumbing to his injuries — was Polybius, the great historian and chronicler of the Punic Wars. Born into the highest echelons of Greek aristocracy, Polybius lived a life worthy of Odysseus, or perhaps of a toga-clad Forrest Gump. From the rise of Rome as the uncontested hegemon of the Mediterranean to the brutal destruction of Carthage and the final subjugation of the Hellenistic world, he bore direct witness to a series of system-shattering events. His discussion of these epochal shifts, and his soulful reflections on what they might mean for the future of power, order, and international justice, are freighted with insights for our own troubled era.

Polybius was raised in a politically fractured Greece — a land wreathed in the shadows of its former glory, and too consumed with its own bitter rivalries to adequately prepare for the rising Roman challenger across the Ionian Sea. Indeed, one of the most memorable passages of Polybius’ Histories is a speech made by a Greek ambassador at a peace conference in 217 B.C., during which the diplomat pleads in vain with his feuding countrymen to put aside their petty grievances and pay attention to the “clouds that loom in the west to settle on Greece.”

Polybius’ hometown was Megalopolis, the most powerful member of the Achaean confederation, a collection of city-states that had joined forces to counterbalance Macedonian military might. Had Rome’s steady expansion into the Eastern Mediterranean not collided with his own leadership ambitions, the young noble would have enjoyed a highly successful political career. In all likelihood, the political wunderkind would have followed in the footsteps of his father, who had served as strategos — or top elected official — of the Achaean confederation several times throughout the 180s. In 170 B.C., 30-year-old Polybius was elected at the youngest possible age of eligibility to the position of hipparchos, the second highest office in the confederation. While in office, his cautious attempts to preserve Achaean independence by officially supporting Roman war efforts against Perseus of Macedon while tacitly pursuing a policy of passive neutrality ended up backfiring. At the end of the Third Macedonian War (168/167 B.C.) he was accused of anti-Roman conduct and unceremoniously bundled, along with a thousand other Achaeans, onto a ship bound for Italy.

Polybius, however, was no ordinary political detainee. Due to his close friendship with the sons of Aemilius Paullus, the consul who had ground down the Macedonian phalanxes, he was allowed to remain in Rome while most of his fellow Greek prisoners were sent to eke out their existences in dreary backwaters scattered across Italy. It was at the throbbing heart of a youthful empire, hundreds of miles from his ancestral homeland — and in his curiously ambiguous role as both a captive and friend of Rome’s elites — that Polybius began to compose his sprawling, 40-volume history of Rome’s rise to dominance. Of this monumental work, which stretches from the First Punic War in 264 B.C. to the destruction of Corinth in 146 B.C., only five full volumes remain, along with disparate fragments of the remaining sections.

Polybius’ Histories should not only be viewed as a precious repository of information for classicists, but also as required reading for today’s national security managers. Indeed, over the past decade or so, growing apprehensions about China’s rise and America’s relative decline have prompted a surge in the study of the kind of great-power transitions experienced by Polybius. This heightened interest in the tectonics of geopolitical shifts has been accompanied by a singular fixation on the works of Thucydides and on what some political scientists — perhaps somewhat hastily and haphazardly — have termed the Thucydides Trap. Thucydides is in many ways the doyen of strategic history and a seminal figure in the Western canon. His elegant ruminations on war, politics, and the vagaries of human nature brim with world-weary wisdom and penetrating insight. His contemporary popularity amongst political scientists is also no doubt tied to his familiarity, as he remains a recurring character on international relations and security studies syllabi and a well-known figure within the halls of U.S. military academies. Casual familiarity, however, does not always equate with genuine intimacy and unfortunately he is often only cursorily read and understood. This becomes especially apparent whenever the great Athenian historian is invoked by some of the more ideologically-driven analysts and political operatives roaming Washington’s corridors of power.


Furthermore, the U.S. strategic community’s single-minded focus on Thucydides has perhaps obscured the intellectual depth and strategic relevance of some of his illustrious successors’ writings, including those penned by Polybius, a fellow Greek historian-cum-statesman. Indeed, in an era of great-power competition it may well be toward the latter that one should first turn for enduring insights into the prudential virtues of applied history, the insidious dangers of populism, and the challenges inherent to the exercise of primacy.

“Pragmatic History”: Polybius as the Father of Applied History

Polybius began by stating that his primary objective was to chart Rome’s rise to prominence, and to calmly and systematically explain both its drivers and underpinnings:

For who is so worthless and indolent as not to wish to know by what means and under what system of polity the Romans in less than fifty-three years have succeeded in subjecting nearly the whole inhabited world to their sole government—a thing unique in history?

For the Greek noble, this development was unprecedented not only in its scale and rapidity but also in its cross-regional character. Rome’s defeat of Carthage after more than a century of bipolar confrontation had allowed it to focus its vast resources on forcibly drawing Greece into its orbit. In so doing, he argued, the legions had meshed the Western and Eastern Mediterranean together, and subjected the entire civilized world — or oikumene — to their rule. The Roman soldiers fighting under Scipio Africanus at the battle of Zama, Polybius observed, had been fighting for a new form of glory — one that openly associated Rome’s destiny with that of universal empire. The power of this ideal — and its startling physical realization in the course of his lifetime — called for a new historiographical approach: one that viewed things synoptically, and that overrode antiquated geographical representations of the world. It also aimed for a deeper understanding of the connections between domestic political cultures and foreign policy, as well as between effective primacy and prudential leadership. “Previously,” Polybius notes,

The doings of the world had been, so to say, dispersed, as they were held together by no unity of initiative, results or locality; but ever since this date history has been an organic whole, and the affairs of Italy and Libya have been interlinked with those of Greek and Asia, all leading up to one end. (…) Fortune has guided almost all the affairs of the world in one direction, (…) a historian should likewise bring before his readers under one synoptical view the operations by which she has accomplished her general purpose.

PolybiusHistorionTaSozomena1670v3HalfTitle.jpgIt is this particular intellectual predisposition toward the synoptic, along with its acceptance of nuance, multicausality and complexity, that has rendered Polybius such an appealing figure over the centuries for theorists of statesmanship and grand strategy. Indeed, in his defense of what he termed “pragmatic history” — pragmatike historia — Polybius constantly exhorted his readers to move beyond their pinched disciplinary horizons to attain a sounder understanding of the issues at stake. In one of his more vivid parallels, Polybius compares the student of “isolated histories” to one “who, after having looked at the dissevered limbs of an animal once alive and beautiful, fancies he has been as good as an eyewitness of the creature itself in all its action and grace.” “One can get some idea of a whole from a part,” he adds, “but never knowledge or exact opinion.” Any accurate survey, he added, should involve an “interweaving” (symploke) of “all particulars, in their resemblances and differences.” In this, the reader is reminded of Sir Francis Bacon’s playful division of men of learning into various insect categories: ants, spiders, and bees—a taxonomy the Englishman laid out in the following terms:

The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use, the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course; it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.

Polybius was clearly arguing in favor of a historiographical approach akin to that of the cross-pollinating bee — one that widely absorbs multiple external sources of information, skillfully synthesizes that same information, and then seeks to infer connections by drawing on well-honed analytical abilities. Possessing such historically informed knowledge, along with a capacity for intellectual cross-pollination was, according to the Achaean, essential to statesmanship. Indeed, Polybius not only makes it evident from the get-go that his Histories are geared toward the policymaker, he also argues that a grounding in history is a prerequisite for political leadership.

In this the Greek historian was not wholly original. In periods of great-power flux, thinkers have traditionally glanced nervously over their shoulder, to scry past patterns of state behavior. For statesmen grappling with the uncertainty of their specific circumstances the “process of liaising between the universal and the particular has often been conceptualized in terms of a temporal process,” with the hope that the lessons of yesteryear hold the promise of better ascertaining future outcomes. Where Polybius stands out from his predecessors and contemporaries is in his dogged insistence on what is required of a true historian. Indeed, according to the Achaean, the scholar must also be something of an Indiana Jones-like figure — a man of action with a taste for travel, adventure, and preferably a firsthand experience in the handling of affairs of state.

Polybius, one classicist notes, “for the most part lived up to the high standards he set himself.” Not only did he crisscross the Mediterranean, traipsing across battle sites, decoding faded inscriptions, and interviewing eyewitnesses, he also bore witness to key events, such as the Roman destruction of Carthage in the company of Scipio Aemilianus. According to one account, the warrior-scholar (by then in his mid-fifties) even joined a Roman testudo, or shielded formation, in the storming of a Carthaginian position. Finally given permission to return to his homeland in 150 B.C., Polybius then played an important diplomatic role, assisting in the Roman reconstruction and settlement of Greece. Indeed, centuries later travelers such as Pausanias reported seeing monuments in Greece thanking the historian for having “mitigated Roman wrath against Greece.”


The Tocqueville of Republican Rome?

It is the hybrid quality of Polybius’s experience — both as an individual subjected to hegemonic domination, and as an intimate of that same hegemon’s national security establishment — that renders his observations on Roman foreign policy so fascinating. His Histories are marked by a certain distance intérieure — and a dispassionate yet keen-eyed attention for detail — one that brings to mind other, more recent studies of emerging powers penned by shrewd outsiders, such as Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. In some ways, Polybius fits within a broader tradition in Greco-Roman antiquity that associated great historical work with displacement and exile. In his essay De Exilo, Plutarch memorably drew attention to such a link, observing, “that the Muses as it appears, called exile to their aid in perfecting for the ancients the finest and most esteemed of their writings.” After all, Herodotus and Xenophon had both experienced the trauma of exile, and Thucydides famously confessed that his long years away from Athens “free from distractions” had allowed him to attain a greater degree of objectivity and clarity. Edward Said, in his commentary on the figure of the intellectual in exile, notes that such an individual can be compared to

a shipwrecked person who learns to live in a certain sense with the land, not on it, not like Robinson Crusoe, whose goal is to colonize his little island, but more like Marco Polo, whose sense of the marvelous never fails him, and who is always a traveler, a provisional guest, not a freeloader, conqueror, or raider. Because the exile sees things in terms both of what has been left behind, and what is actual here or now, there is a double perspective that never sees things in isolation.

Polybius’ own shipwrecked condition may have allowed him to reach conclusions about Rome’s strategic culture and trajectory that would have eluded other, more rooted, observers. It also meant that he was obliged to traverse the treacherous reefs of Rome’s culture wars, in a high society that entertained a bizarre, schizoid relationship with Greek culture. This was an era, after all, when leading politicians such as Cato openly associated Hellenism with sexual prurience, social decadence, and political disorder — all while seeking instruction from Athenian savants, admiring Thucydides, and quoting Homer. The historian was therefore required to walk something of a literary tightrope: providing an unvarnished assessment of the new hegemon’s strategic performance for the benefit of his fellow Greeks, yet taking care not to unduly alienate his Roman hosts and captors. There are certainly moments when the political detainee opts for circumspection over candor. For instance, when broaching the issue of the final destruction of Carthage — an event which sent ripples across the Mediterranean — Polybius avoids taking a clear position on the strategic necessity of such a radically punitive action.

All in all, however, one cannot help but be impressed by the dexterity with which he pulls off this intellectual balancing act. Although the Greek historian clearly admired Rome’s patriotic vigor and military prowess, along with aspects of its politeia, or socio-political structure, he was also unabashedly critical of what he perceived as early signs of Roman imperial overreach and hubris in the conduct of their “universal domination.” As University of Toronto professor Ryan Balot notes, Polybius was “no political anthropologist,” and his “account was far from value neutral.” Instead, he

offered a careful ethical appraisal of Rome’s domestic and foreign politics, with a view both to praising the Romans for their virtues and to criticizing the Romans’ excesses and self-destructive tendencies. His critique (…) was ameliorative. He posed his ethical challenges to the Romans with a deeper educational intention in mind, namely, to challenge the Romans’ self-destructive tendencies to behave harshly, arrogantly, and overconfidently.

Anacylosis and the Question of Hegemonic Decline

Like most Greco-Roman thinkers prior to the advent of teleological Christianity, Polybius understood time as more circular than linear. Drawing on an organicist vision of politics that can be traced back to the pre-Socratic age, Polybius argued that nations were ensnared within a quasi-biological cycle of growth and degeneration from which there can be no escape. There are two agencies “by which every state is liable to decay,” he explained, “the one external and the other a growth of the state itself.” There could be no “fixed rule about the former,” but the latter was a “regular process.” This process, which Polybius terms anacylosis, occurs as a polis’ system of government rotates through three separate conditions — monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy — each of which conceals, like a sinister larval parasite, its corrupted form.


Monarchy usually devolved into tyranny, aristocracy into oligarchy, and democracy — the most dangerous system of all — inevitably collapsed into what Polybius called ochlocracy, i.e. mob (ochlos) rule. In an ochlocracy, the people are governed by thumos (passion, wrath, and the desire for recognition), rather than logimos (reason), and inevitably end up turning to a monarch in a desperate quest for order, thus setting off the cycle once more. In one of the more remarkable passages of the Histories, the Achaean compares the masses to an ocean, whose seemingly calm surface could, in the space of an instant, be whipped up by a ruthless demagogue into a raging tempest.

Such politically destructive storms could not be avoided, but they could be delayed. Famously, Polybius attributed Rome’s successful forestalling of anacylosis to its institutions, and to its “mixed constitution.” The Roman politeia, which combined elements of all three systems of government — democracy in the form of elections, aristocracy in the form of the senatorial class, and monarchic in the form of the considerable powers granted to consuls — maintained a state of delicate equilibrium, “like a well-trimmed boat.”

For Polybius, great-power competition was fundamentally a two-level game, and Rome’s imperial success was directly linked to the solidity of its internal political arrangement. The First Punic War, he suggested, lasted for so long (23 years) because both Rome and Carthage were “at this period still uncorrupted in principle, moderate in fortune, and equal in strength.” By the time of the Hannibalic War or Second Punic War, however, the Carthaginian system had begun to degenerate, until finally it had succumbed to the corrosive political forces which affect all empires. Polybius stresses the strategic importance of time — or of windows of opportunity — in bouts of protracted competition. One of the reasons Rome prevailed, he suggests, was because even though it may have been equal to Carthage at the outset of the competition, it was on an ascending curve, while Carthage’s power trajectory had begun to trend downward.

The power and prosperity of Carthage had developed far earlier than that of Rome, and in proportion to this her strength had begun to decline, while that of Rome was at its height, at least so far as her system of government was concerned.

Rome’s social cohesiveness and political stability had provided it with the necessary reservoirs of resilience to weather its enormous losses during the Second Punic War, as well as a series of crushing defeats. Patriotic unity in the face of misfortune, Polybius argued, was preserved through the shared memory of “the discipline of many struggles and troubles,” and by the “light of experience gained in disaster.” Indeed, some of the more interesting passages in the Histories deal with collective memory, and with the dangers of strategic amnesia. For Polybius, it was only when a state’s elites had a clear memory of past sacrifices, and of the efforts that had led to the construction of a political order, that they were capable of mustering the will to act in defense of that same order. The rapidity with which such recollections of the fragility of order and peace seemed to dissipate depressed Polybius, and — in his opinion — rendered anacylosis grimly ineluctable.


The robustness of Rome’s politeia, Polybius argued, was in part tied to its citizens’ recognition of the importance of strong, shared civic traditions in arresting the process of memorial entropy that inevitably leads to disunity and decline. The Greek historian comments approvingly on the various festivals, rites, and traditions designed to inculcate in every Roman the virtues of self-sacrifice, along with a healthy love of the state. He appeared particularly taken with the Roman aristocratic funeral, elaborately staged events featuring ancestor masks, long narrations of the martial exploits of the deceased and his forebears, and a great deal of pomp and circumstance. “There could not easily be a more ennobling spectacle for a young man who aspires to fame and virtue,” he enthuses, positing that by this means future generations are inspired to remember past struggles and continuously strive toward self-sacrifice and glory in the service of Rome.

Like many ancient historians, Polybius believed in the power of education through example, and through the actions of a set of paradigmatic figures. The most memorable characters in the Histories are thus paragons of prudence and virtue, men who retain a strong awareness of the fickleness of tyche, or fortune, and whose actions are guided by moderation and empathy. One such example would be Aemilius Paullus, who in a speech following his triumph over the Macedonian King Perseus, exhorts his Roman comrades to learn from their experience:

“It is chiefly,” he said, “at these moments when we ourselves or our country are most successful that we should reflect on the opposite extremity of fortune; for only thus, and then with difficulty, shall we prove moderate in the season of prosperity.”

“The difference,” he said, “between foolish and wise men lies in this, that the former are schooled by their misfortunes and the latter by those of others.”

In another remarkably cinematic moment, Polybius recounts standing next to Scipio Aemilianus during the burning of Carthage. Moved to tears by the scene, Scipio purportedly whispered Homeric verses, quoting Hector predicting the destruction of Troy. Another version of the scene has the Roman general grasping his friend’s hands, and mentioning his “dread foreboding” that one day the same doom would be visited on his own country. “It would be difficult to mention an utterance more statesmanlike and more profound,” gushes Polybius. For the Greek historian, Roman primacy could only be preserved if its security managers preserved — through the medium of applied history and moral exemplars — such a sense of prudence and empathy, along with an alertness to the capriciousness of fortune, which, to quote Hannibal in the Histories, “by a slight turn in the scale” can bring about geopolitical “changes of the greatest moment as if she were sporting with little children.” Driving this lesson home, darker, more cautionary tales are proffered in the form of the vainglorious fallen — tragic figures such as Philip V of Macedon who, despite being initially viewed as “the darling of the whole of Greece,” gradually succumbs to his more irascible impulses, morphing into a sanguinary despot with a taste for “human blood and the slaughter and betrayal of his allies.”

Hubris and Imperial Overreach

Polybius’ reflections on Roman imperialism are tinged with the same melancholy that suffuse his discussion of domestic political systems. Indeed, for the Achaean, hubris erupts when a nation’s foreign policy begins to suffer from the same maladies that afflict its domestic system of government — i.e. moral degeneration and strategic amnesia. Polybius was also remarkably forthright in his discussion of the tenuousness of “total victory” — particularly in insurgency-prone regions. Commenting on the Carthaginians’ mismanagement of their territories in Spain, he pointedly remarks that

while success in policy and victory in the field are great things, it requires much more skill and caution to make a good use of such success (…) they [the Carthaginians] had not learnt that those who preserve their supremacy best are those who adhere to the same principles by which they originally established it.

When a nation’s foreign policy is unmoored from its founding principles, or — worse still — reflects the pathologies of its own domestic dysfunction, a sudden, swift reversal in geopolitical fortune is likely to follow. As the classicist Arthur Eckstein notes, many of the historian’s predecessors and contemporaries shared this pessimistic view of the corrupting effects of power. Where Polybius differs somewhat is in the urgency of his tone and in his desire that “his audience be aware of this corrupting trend, and fight against it.”

Throughout the Histories, Polybius reminds his Roman readership — sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly — that primacy can only endure if it appears more benevolent, just, and conducive to prosperity than the system or lack of system that preceded it. A Roman foreign policy that operated at a disjuncture from the very virtues that had enabled the Italian city-state to attain its hegemonic position would only nurture resentment, for “it is by kind treatment of their neighbors and by holding out the prospect of further benefits that men acquire power.” Wise hegemons should not engage in overly punitive military policies, for “good men should not make war on wrongdoers with the object of destroying or exterminating them, but with that of correcting and reforming their errors.”


As Polybius contemplated the future of Roman imperial rule, his reflections began to appear more pessimistic. Noble figures such as Scipio Africanus and Scipio Aemilianus, with their ancient military virtue and humble acceptance of the role of contingency, are depicted as the granite-faced avatars of a dying era. Polybius frequently alludes to the fact that with Rome’s expansion, financial corruption, bureaucratic indolence, and strategic complacency have become endemic. He gives various examples of Roman boorishness and cultural insensitivity. One such anecdote involves a Roman diplomat sent to mediate a dispute between a Greek Seleucid king and Ptolemaic Egypt. Without giving the Greek monarch any time to deliberate with his advisers, the Roman envoy traces a circle in the sand and orders the king to give an answer before setting foot outside the circle. This action, Polybius notes, was “offensive and exceedingly arrogant.” The Achaean is also bluntly critical of the Roman decision, following the seizure of Syracuse in 212 B.C., to denude the city of all its art and riches, observing that it would only stoke the resentment of the despoiled and was therefore strategically shortsighted in addition to immoral. Perhaps most significantly, the surviving fragments of the Histories end with the ominous image of Polybius watching a gaggle of braying Roman legionaries roll dice across priceless works of art, torn from the smoking ruins of Corinth.

The Enduring Relevance of Polybius

It is unfortunate that Polybius is not as widely read as he once was. Part of the problem may be that he is not the most accessible of historians. Indeed, scholars have long griped about the dryness of his prose, which is bare of the stylistic embellishments and rhetorical adornments so characteristic of other classical writers. Ancient critics scoffed that Polybius’ Histories were one of the major works that socialites liked to display on their bookshelves but never actually read in their entirety, while the great classicist Arnaldo Momigliano — in a rather waspish turn of phrase — quipped that Polybius “wrote as badly as the professors who studied him.”

Notwithstanding these stylistic critiques, there is evidence that in reality Polybius exerted an enormous influence over successive generations of thinkers. First in the classical era, with towering figures such as Cicero and Livy praising Polybius as “a particularly fine author,” and “an author who deserves great respect,” then following his eventual rediscovery in fifteenth-century Florence after centuries of obscurity. Indeed, the adventurous academic’s painstaking descriptions of Roman military modernization and politics were an object of fascination during the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Machiavelli, in particular, was captivated by Polybius’ theories, as was the great sixteenth-century neostoic Justus Lipsius, who called for the reorganization of modern armies along the lines of the Roman legions portrayed in the Histories. Polybius’ ideas on the virtues of a mixed constitution also shaped Enlightenment ideals, influencing luminaries ranging from Montesquieu to the Founding Fathers of the United States, while saturnine Victorians chewed over his concept of anacylosis as they debated the extent and duration of British imperial primacy.

What relevance do the Histories have for our own interstitial age? Can the Greek historian’s views on the conduct of geopolitical analysis help us refine our ability to engage with complexity and develop more thoughtful approaches to emerging challenges? And how can Polybian insights be applied to the present condition, as the United States grapples with growing domestic disunity, the rise of populism, and its own relative decline?

Embracing the Polybian Mode of Inquiry in the Study of Foreign Relations

Polybius took a multidisciplinary intellectual approach to the study of international affairs, and sought — like most effective grand strategists — to detect patterns across time, space, and scale. In this, he was also a product of his times. Indeed, ancient Greek culture distinguished between different modes of knowledge, and between speculative reason and practical wisdom. As Aristotle observes in his Nichomachean Ethics, the sphere of political action was one of ambiguity, inconstancy and variety — one that necessitated its own form of intelligence or “practical wisdom”: whereas “scientific knowledge is demonstrable, skill and practical wisdom are concerned with what is otherwise.” Geopolitics is a fundamentally human endeavor, ill-suited to the positivist, quantitative approaches now increasingly prevalent within the American social sciences. Polybius would no doubt be alarmed that in so many quarters (albeit thankfully not all) scholarly rigor has also come to be associated with universal models and parsimonious theories — rigid schema that seek to redefine the “cloudlike subject of [international] politics as the object of a clocklike science.” At a time when the field of applied history appears caught in a grim death spiral of its own, Polybius’ Histories serve as a powerful reminder of its prudential value — not only in terms of understanding the past, but also as a means of preparing for the onslaughts of Tyche — or Fortune, that most fickle of goddesses. As University of Edinburgh professor Robert Crowcroft rightly notes, “if one makes a claim to expertise in cause and effect, one should be trained to discern patterns and project trends forward.” A training in applied history can allow for greater intellectual agility, including with regard to the framing and conceptualization of epoch-spanning and cross-regional trends. Were he alive today, Polybius would most likely second the call, originating in Australia, to recast our collective mental map of the Asia-Pacific by referring to it as the Indo-Pacific. Indeed, the Indian and Pacific oceans now form part of a larger strategic continuum for U.S. defense planners, just as the Eastern and Western halves of the Mediterranean merged into one geopolitical space in the course of the Greek historian’s lifetime.

Great Power Competition Is a Competition Between Domestic Systems

Another of Polybius’s major insights is that any protracted bipolar struggle will likely constitute a death match between two domestic political systems. The Rome-Carthage rivalry was a grueling conflict of attrition that severely taxed the resources, morale, and alliance structures of both states. While Rome’s military efficiency and capacity for innovation played a major role in its final victory, Polybius argues that its institutional solidity and sense of societal cohesiveness played an equally significant part. As the United States seeks to restructure its grand strategy around the concept of great power competition, it must remain mindful of the need to strengthen its economic and societal foundations at home, by striving to remain a beacon of openness, freedom, and innovation. Equally important will be uniting the American people around a revived sense of shared destiny via a renewed emphasis on civics, national history, and a political discourse that privileges unity of purpose over the narcissism of small differences.


International Order and the Perils of Strategic Amnesia

Indeed, Polybius also reminds us of the dangers inherent to a foreign policy unmoored from its nation’s founding principles. The current U.S. president’s disavowal of some of these core tenets — the American Republic’s creedal nature and its basis in civic rather than cultural nationalism — has fueled fears of an eventual renunciation of Washington’s international mission. Both are, after all, closely linked. America’s unique sense of political community has historically underpinned its postwar internationalism and sense of “ethical egoism.” It has also furnished the ideational cement for its alliances with like-minded democratic powers, and the spiritual foundations of its refusal to let authoritarian powers carve out exclusionary spheres of influence. While some of the current debates surrounding the concept of a liberal international order may occasionally seem somewhat circular and tedious — especially for foreign observers troubled by the rise of authoritarian actors, and mindful of the overall benefits of American leadership — their intensity does also serve a useful purpose. Indeed, by taking aim at some of the more rosy-hued preconceptions of the American strategic community, these critiques force the order’s champions to return to first principles — and subsequently present a more balanced, thoughtful, and accessible defense of the virtues of American primacy to their fellow citizens and allies. Indeed, according to Polybius, one of the main accelerants of decline is a nation’s tendency toward collective amnesia, and its denizens’ tendency, after barely a few generations, to forget the struggles and sacrifices that led to their dominance of the international system in the first place. By refocusing public attention on the conditions under which postwar statesmen labored to structure various aspects of the extant order, strategic commentators can help build a more considered, and less reflexive, base of support for American internationalism and leadership.

Prudence and Humility Buttress Primacy in an Era of Relative Decline

Last but not least, American primacy can only be preserved if it continues to appear more appealing than various structural alternatives, ranging from competitive multipolarity to a world divided by a twenty-first century concert of nations, or segmented into spheres of influence. In an era characterized by a decline in U.S. relative power, this will require a novel approach, one characterized by greater prudence and humility, and laser-focused on the cultivation and preservation of alliances. If Rome prevailed in its system-wide competition, Polybius suggests, it was also because, by and large, it appeared to offer smaller Mediterranean polities a more attractive and less coercive international order than that proposed by Carthage. The Polybian emphasis on strategic empathy and respectful diplomacy could prove instructive for current and future U.S. administrations as they seek to enroll the help of other, less powerful states in their global competitive strategy against authoritarian behemoths. Polybius’ own colorful life — as a Greek observer of Rome’s rise — also serves as a demonstration of the virtues of travel, multilingualism, and deep-rooted cultural awareness when conducting strategic assessments of both allies and adversaries.

It also suggests that foreign friends of hegemons, by remaining at a certain critical distance, can prove useful and are occasionally worth listening to. This has, of course, been a conceit of Europeans — and of the British in particular — ever since America’s rise to international prominence and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s condescending remark that London should play Greece to Washington’s Rome. Such notions have often been breezily dismissed by self-assured American statesmen and commentators — much as Virgil in the Aeneid dismissively contrasted the airy, intellectual Greeks to the vigorous, conquering Romans. Nevertheless, in this day and age, the defense of the existent order can no longer be a disproportionately American endeavor. Without greater unity and a shared sense of urgency, the world’s community of democracies may well end up like the squabbling Greek states at the beginning of Polybius’ Histories: mere shadows of their former glory, relegated to the sidelines of history as another great power — this time located to the East — forcibly takes the reins of the international system.

Iskander Rehman is a Senior Fellow at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He holds a PhD in Political Science with distinction from the Institute of Political Studies in Paris (Sciences Po) and is a contributing editor at War on the Rocks. He can be followed on Twitter at @IskanderRehman


jeudi, 04 avril 2019

Pierre Manent on Machiavelli, Luther, and the Eclipse of the Natural Law


Pierre Manent on Machiavelli, Luther, and the Eclipse of the Natural Law

For most participants in modern political discourse, human rights are real and natural law is not.

More than that, the limits of natural law—not just particular natural law arguments made about human nature and its institutions—are seen as oppressive and mere constructs. Human rights, by contrast, are real freedoms that must be respected and benefits that must be granted to all human beings.

The French political philosopher Pierre Manent’s most recent book, Natural Law and the Rights of Man, is developed from his 2017 lectures for the Etienne Gilson Chair at the Institut Catholique in Paris and will be published in English later this year. (The final lecture is already available in translation.) In it, Manent offers a diagnosis of the way in which human rights have come to eclipse the natural law. He also advances an argument about the nature of political action and command in light of that law’s rationality and outlines the consequences of obscuring action. This shift from natural law to human rights was supposed to free us, Manent concludes, but has left us paralyzed.

pm-lex.jpgThe Double Standard that Relativism Creates

The perfect example arose last month. On February 19, the Trump administration announced a new campaign to fight laws in 72 countries that criminalize same-sex sexual acts. Why did Out magazine condemn it as racist and colonialist, instead of supporting it as a way to keep gays from being killed and imprisoned? Because rights claims are the moral trump card in our public debates, but not when it comes to cultures other than our own. As Manent notes, in our own countries, the bien pensant constantly make judgments about right and wrong in order to reform society. It is inexcusable to maintain the status quo, they claim, since nothing is more urgent or just than for men and women like us to recognize, declare, and vindicate our fundamental rights. But regarding other countries, they are more likely to suspend judgment: We would not want to suggest that our way of life is superior to those of other cultures, especially in a post-colonial era. As a result, we regard the “other” with cultured non-judgment, while furiously judging ourselves.

In effect, Manent argues, we posit that human rights are a rigorously universal principle, which have value for all cultures without exception. At the same time, we posit that all cultures and forms of life are equal, and that all appraisal that would presume to judge them is discriminatory. On the one hand, all human beings are equal, and we must fight vigorously for the equality of men and women in our society; on the other hand all cultures have the right to an equal respect, even those that violate the equality of human beings, and we should refrain from condemning cultures that, for example, keep women in a subordinate state.

This contradiction captures the paralysis Manent sees in our contemporary framework of rights. If we want to condemn barbarism without using scare quotes, he writes, there must be a human nature with which our actions can accord or that we are capable of violating. That nature operates according to a logic that we did not create ourselves. As he put it in a recent interview with the conservative French weekly Valeurs Actuelles, the natural law is the group of rules that necessarily order human life, and that human beings have not made. These laws fix the limits of our liberty, but also give it its orientation.

The Pleasant, the Useful, and the Honest

As Manent sees it, the natural law is not an ideal but a set of practical principles for action that helps agents act toward a happy life. All true action is a collaboration and balancing between the three principal motives of human action: the pleasant, the useful, and the honest. Without objective, transcendent principles, there is nothing to guide human freedom—nothing to determine what is pleasant, useful, or honest. “Natural law,” he concludes, “is the only serious defense against nihilism.”

Our problem today is that such thinking no longer makes sense to us. Manent traces this incomprehension to the reduction of our understanding of human nature to the separated individual and examines how it manifests itself in Niccolo Machiavelli and Martin Luther. Like other early moderns, Machiavelli claimed that he would not analyze humanity from inductive, Aristotelian principles, but would consider it “as it actually is.” Manent argues that Machiavelli fails to do this, because he substitutes a theoretical action for action “as it actually is.”

Instead of practical action, Machiavelli examines action as it can be seen by the theoreticians, without the point of view of the agent. For Machiavelli, human beings are prisoners of a fear of death and a fear of natural or divine law—a law that protects, but locks us in fear. To overcome this, he calls for a new kind of human agent who no longer fears the law and can therefore act according to what the situation authorizes and demands. We must escape our conscience (and the practical judgments it makes) and turn to the science of history for theoretical guidance for our action.

Manent sees a similar repudiation of practical reasoning and action in Luther: The acting Christian is replaced by the believer. For Luther, the Law produces a guilt and despair that can only be cured by faith, not action. The certitude of faith, not actions or conduct or conscience, determine salvation. As we saw with Machiavelli, the man who acts according to his conscience formed by the principles of the law is unable to accomplish his necessary end. Lutheran faith and Machiavellian virtu are different, but they both claim to allow us to escape the shame of the practical life and make the necessary break between ourselves and the law.

The Loss of the Law

In their own ways, therefore, Machiavelli and Luther illustrate the modern loss of the law as “rule and measure of action.” In a 2014 essay—which will serve as an appendix to the forthcoming translation of La loi naturelle et les droits de l’homme—Manent diagnoses our illness as a loss of the intelligence of law. This loss was not accidental, he writes:

We have lost it because we wanted to lose it.  More precisely, we have fled from law. We are still fleeing from it. We have been fleeing from law since we took up the project—let us call it “the modern project”—to organize common life, the human world, on a basis other than law. . . . Rights and self-interest are the two principles that allow for the ordering of the human world without recourse to law as the rule and measure of action. Of course we still have laws, indeed more laws than ever, but their raison d’être is no longer directly to regulate our actions but rather to guarantee our rights and equip us to seek our interests in a way that is useful or at least not harmful to the common interest.

pm-hommecite.jpgOur flight from the law in the name of more freedom to act has paradoxically undermined the principles for practical action. It turns out that we could not make our own meaning and give ourselves our own laws and ends.

This is the heart of the problem that Manent identifies with the modern state. In ancient political thought, only the body politic as a whole could be autonomous or give itself the law. In the modern conception of the state—especially for French conceptions of the state rooted in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s thought—the citizen authorizes the state’s commands that he must obey. How then can he be said truly to obey? Manent argues that the idea of obeying my own commands or commanding myself simply does not work. It requires that I imagine myself as two, a commanding self and an obeying self that is distinct but also me; I cannot imagine myself to be autonomous without producing a heteronomy in myself. In this way, our society confuses command and obedience and obscures them. This in turn damages our ability to perform true political actions, given that command is “the core and essence of action.”

The greatest contrast Manent identifies between the ancient and the modern world is the difference between the free agent and the free individual. The free agent is concerned more about the intrinsic quality of his action than the objects exterior to his action, while the free individual is more concerned with exterior obstacles to his action than its intrinsic quality. For example, free agents and free individuals view death differently. For the individual, death is an obstacle to be removed. For the agent, death becomes part of the logic of action. Death is not the chief obstacle to be overcome or conquered, and therefore the great menace, but one of the many rules and motifs governing action. The individualistic view of death as an extrinsic act of life is most fully captured in euthanasia, the arbitrary but authorized killing of innocents.

How Modernity Crowded Out the Possibility of Action

In the Greek city, a well-constituted democracy, each citizen commands and obeys alternately. No one would dream of pretending that he obeys himself or commands himself. At the beginning of the modern epoch, we deliberately abandoned the law that commands and gives a rule of action. In its place, the modern state organizes the condition of action—an action now judged not according to its rule or end, but according to its effects. By abandoning ourselves to the inertia of laissez-faire, laissez-passer, however, we have lost sight of the central role of command in practical life, especially the commanding role of the law as rule of common action. Instead, we place our faith in the idea that a certain inaction, or a certain abstention from action, is the origin of the greatest goods.

We have a greater flux of goods and services, but we abstain from actions that would be likely to moderate and direct the movement of men and things. Between two modes of passivity— suffering and enjoying—that hold all our attention and provide the matter of all our new rights, we have no more place for acting.

For all of this bracing diagnosis, Manent offers little in the way of prescription. How does his analysis cash out in terms of practical political action? Perhaps it helps to uncover the roots of the powerlessness that many feel in the face of larger political forces, and to explain how the possibility of real political action came to be so circumscribed.

If so, what is the alternative? What could help us recover our sense of the intelligence of law? Neither the absolutism of radical Islam in France’s present, nor the absolutism of throne and altar in her past, receive the philosopher’s endorsement; he gestures, rather, toward ancient Greece. There he finds representative self-government in accord with the natural law and without the conceits of the modern state. At the end of his Valeurs Actuelles interview, he also gestured toward France’s rich literary and spiritual traditions and history of rational discussion. These should, said Manent, “allow us to find an alternative to virulent and blind rights claims and the irony, shoulder-shrugging, or sterile sarcasm of the politically incorrect.”

Nathaniel Peters

Nathaniel Peters is the executive director of the Morningside Institute and a lecturer at Columbia University.

About the Author

jeudi, 28 mars 2019

Die Notwendigkeit der Geopolitik


Die Notwendigkeit der Geopolitik

Politik ist ein Spiel von Macht und Herrschaft. Sie dreht sich in ihrem Kern um Interessen – um Interessen und ihre Durchsetzung. Die Frage, die sich hier unweigerlich stellt, ist die danach, welche Interessen Deutschland hat und was es zu unternehmen bereit ist, diese Interessen durchzusetzen.

GB-geo.jpgDabei richtet sich die Frage nicht danach, was die Bundesregierung oder präziser die Administration des Auswärtigen Amtes oder des Verteidigungsministeriums für deutsche Interessen hält, sondern welche Interessen sich mit Blick auf die Zukunft Deutschlands ergeben.

Die wichtigsten Interessen sind dabei diejenigen, die in direktem Zusammenhang mit der Selbsterhaltung Deutschlands stehen. Deutschland ist zwar Exportweltmeister, aber damit überhaupt irgendein Endprodukt oder ein Zwischenprodukt Deutschland verläßt, sind Rohstoffe ein entscheidendes Importprodukt. Neben Rohöl und Erdgas als Primärenergieträger, sind das vor allem Metalle und seltene Erden. Sie sind für die deutsche Wirtschaft überlebenswichtig.

Die Gewährleistung der Versorgung mit diesen Rohstoffen wird als Versorgungssicherheit bezeichnet. Sie ist das erste und wahrscheinlich bedeutendste Interesse, wenn es um die Selbsterhaltung Deutschlands geht.

Das zweite Interesse in diesem Zusammenhang ist die Sicherheit. Sie hat zwei Dimensionen: die innere und die äußere Sicherheit. Beide überschneiden sich gelegentlich. Zur inneren Sicherheit gehören Dinge wie die Vermeidung von Kriminalität, der Schutz des Eigentums oder der körperlichen Unversehrtheit. In den Bereich der äußeren Sicherheit fallen Dinge wie die Abwehr von direkten Angriffen, der Schutz vor den Gefahren der Migration oder die Bekämpfung des Terrorismus.

Erst als drittes Interesse im Hinblick auf die Selbsterhaltung Deutschlands ist die Versorgung mit Nahrungsmitteln zu nennen. Deutschland ist nur im Hinblick auf solche Nahrungsmittel auf den Import angewiesen, die hier nicht produziert werden können. Nahrungsmittel der Grundversorgung gehören hier nicht dazu. Das bedeutet, daß die Versorgung mit Nahrungsmitteln primär gegen Bedrohungen von innen geschützt werden müssen.

Ein mögliches Krisenszenario wäre etwa die Verseuchung des Trinkwassers einer Millionenstadt wie Köln oder München mit Chemikalien durch Terroristen. Versorgungssicherheit, die Abwehr krimineller, terroristischer und kriegerischer Aktivitäten sowie die Versorgung mit Nahrungsmitteln – diese drei wesentlichen Interessen der deutschen Selbsterhaltung müssen mit allen Mitteln geschützt werden. Dazu gehört letztlich auch der Einsatz der Bundeswehr, im Inneren genauso wie gegen eine äußere Bedrohung.

Gereon Breuer: Geopolitik. Das Spiel nationaler Interessen zwischen Krieg und Frieden. BN-Anstoß VI. Chemnitz 2015. Sonderangebot: 5 Euro statt 8,50 Euro. Hier bestellen!

mardi, 26 mars 2019

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities


The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities

An excerpt from John Mearsheimer's latest book.
by John J. Mearsheimer

Ex: https://nationalinterest.org

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the new book The Great Delusion : Liberal Dreams and International Realities by John Mearsheimer.

Liberal hegemony is an ambitious strategy in which a state aims to turn as many countries as possible into liberal democracies like itself while also promoting an open international economy and building international institutions. In essence, the liberal state seeks to spread its own values far and wide. My goal in this book is to describe what happens when a power­ful state pursues this strategy at the expense of balance­-of­-power politics.

Many in the West, especially among foreign policy elites, consider liberal hegemony a wise policy that states should axiomatically adopt. Spreading liberal democracy around the world is said to make eminently good sense from both a moral and a strategic perspective. For starters, it is thought to be an excellent way to protect human rights, which are sometimes seri­ously violated by authoritarian states. And because the policy holds that liberal democracies do not want to go to war with each other, it ultimately provides a formula for transcending realism and fostering international peace. Finally, proponents claim it helps protect liberalism at home by eliminating authoritarian states that otherwise might aid the illiberal forces that are constantly present inside the liberal state.

This conventional wisdom is wrong. Great powers are rarely in a position to pursue a full­-scale liberal foreign policy. As long as two or more of them exist on the planet, they have little choice but to pay close attention to their position in the global balance of power and act according to the dictates of realism. Great powers of all persuasions care deeply about their survival, and there is always the danger in a bipolar or multipolar system that they will be attacked by another great power. In these circumstances, liberal great powers regularly dress up their hard­-nosed behavior with liberal rhe­toric. They talk like liberals and act like realists. Should they adopt liberal policies that are at odds with realist logic, they invariably come to regret it. But occasionally a liberal democracy encounters such a favorable balance of power that it is able to embrace liberal hegemony. That situation is most likely to arise in a unipolar world, where the single great power does not have to worry about being attacked by another great power since there is none. Then the liberal sole pole will almost always abandon realism and adopt a liberal foreign policy. Liberal states have a crusader mentality hard­-wired into them that is hard to restrain.

Because liberalism prizes the concept of inalienable or natural rights, committed liberals are deeply concerned about the rights of virtually every individual on the planet. This universalist logic creates a powerful incen­tive for liberal states to get involved in the affairs of countries that seriously violate their citizens’ rights. To take this a step further, the best way to ensure that the rights of foreigners are not trampled is for them to live in a liberal democracy. This logic leads straight to an active policy of regime change, where the goal is to topple autocrats and put liberal democracies in their place. Liberals do not shy from this task, mainly because they often have great faith in their state’s ability to do social engineering both at home and abroad. Creating a world populated by liberal democracies is also thought to be a formula for international peace, which would not just eliminate war but greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the twin scourges of nuclear prolifera­tion and terrorism. And lastly, it is an ideal way of protecting liberalism at home.


This enthusiasm notwithstanding, liberal hegemony will not achieve its goals, and its failure will inevitably come with huge costs. The liberal state is likely to end up fi endless wars, which will increase rather than reduce the level of conflict in international politics and thus aggravate the problems of proliferation and terrorism. Moreover, the state’s militaristic behavior is almost certain to end up threatening its own liberal values. Liber­alism abroad leads to illiberalism at home. Finally, even if the liberal state were to achieve its aims—spreading democracy near and far, fostering eco­nomic intercourse, and creating international institutions—they would not produce peace.

The key to understanding liberalism’s limits is to recognize its relation­ship with nationalism and realism. This book is ultimately all about these three isms and how they interact to affect international politics.

Nationalism is an enormously powerful political ideology. It revolves around the division of the world into a wide variety of nations, which are formidable social units, each with a distinct culture. Virtually every nation would prefer to have its own state, although not all can. Still, we live in a world populated almost exclusively by nation­-states, which means that liberalism must coexist with nationalism. Liberal states are also nation­states. There is no question that liberalism and nationalism can coexist, but when they clash, nationalism almost always wins.

The influence of nationalism often undercuts a liberal foreign policy. For example, nationalism places great emphasis on self­-determination, which means that most countries will resist a liberal great power’s efforts to inter­fere in their domestic politics—which, of course, is what liberal hegemony is all about. These two isms also clash over individual rights. Liberals be­lieve everyone has the same rights, regardless of which country they call home. Nationalism is a particularist ideology from top to bottom, which means it does not treat rights as inalienable. In practice, the vast majority of people around the globe do not care greatly about the rights of individu­als in other countries. They are much more concerned about their fellow citizens’ rights, and even that commitment has limits. Liberalism oversells the importance of individual rights.

mears-tragedy.jpgLiberalism is also no match for realism. At its core, liberalism assumes that the individuals who make up any society sometimes have profound differences about what constitutes the good life, and these differences might lead them to try to kill each other. Thus a state is needed to keep the peace. But there is no world state to keep countries at bay when they have profound disagreements. The structure of the international system is anar­chic, not hierarchic, which means that liberalism applied to international politics cannot work. Countries thus have little choice but to act according to balance-­of-­power logic if they hope to survive. There are special cases, however, where a country is so secure that it can take a break from realpolitik and pursue truly liberal policies. The results are almost always bad, largely because nationalism thwarts the liberal crusader.

My argument, stated briefly, is that nationalism and realism almost always trump liberalism. Our world has been shaped in good part by those two powerful isms, not by liberalism. Consider that five hundred years ago the political universe was remarkably heterogeneous; it included city­-states, duchies, empires, principalities, and assorted other political forms. That world has given way to a globe populated almost exclusively by nation­ states. Although many factors caused this great transformation, two of the main driving forces behind the modern state system were nationalism and balance-­of-­power politics.

The American Embrace of Liberal Hegemony

This book is also motivated by a desire to understand recent American foreign policy. The United States is a deeply liberal country that emerged from the Cold War as by far the most powerful state in the international system. 1 The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left it in an ideal position to pursue liberal hegemony. 2 The American foreign policy establishment em­ braced that ambitious policy with little hesitation, and with abundant opti­mism about the future of the United States and the world. At least at first, the broader public shared this enthusiasm.

The zeitgeist was captured in Francis Fukuyama’s famous article, “The End of History?,” published just as the Cold War was coming to a close. 3 Liberalism, he argued, defeated fascism in the first half of the twentieth century and communism in the second half, and now there was no viable alternative left standing. The world would eventually be entirely populated by liberal democracies. According to Fukuyama, these nations would have virtually no meaningful disputes, and wars between great powers would cease. The biggest problem confronting people in this new world, he suggested, might be boredom.

It was also widely believed at the time that the spread of liberalism would ultimately bring an end to balance-­of-­power politics. The harsh security competition that has long characterized great-­power relations would dis­appear, and realism, long the dominant intellectual paradigm in inter­national relations, would land on the scrap heap of history. “In a world where freedom, not tyranny, is on the march,” Bill Clinton proclaimed while campaigning for the White House in 1992, “the cynical calculus of pure power politics simply does not compute. It is ill­-suited to a new era in which ideas and information are broadcast around the globe before ambas­sadors can read their cables.”

Probably no recent president embraced the mission of spreading liberal­ism more enthusiastically than George W. Bush, who said in a speech in March 2003, two weeks before the invasion of Iraq: “The current Iraqi re­gime has shown the power of tyranny to spread discord and violence in the Middle East. A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America’s interests in security, and America’s belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq.” Later that year, on September 6, he proclaimed: “The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we be­lieve that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfill­ment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom—the freedom we prize—is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.”

Something went badly wrong. Most people’s view of U.S. foreign policy today, in 2018, is starkly different from what it was in 2003, much less the early 1990s. Pessimism, not optimism, dominates most assessments of America’s accomplishments during its holiday from realism. Under Presi­dents Bush and Barack Obama, Washington has played a key role in sow­ing death and destruction across the greater Middle East, and there is little evidence the mayhem will end anytime soon. American policy toward Ukraine, motivated by liberal logic, is principally responsible for the ongo­ing crisis between Russia and the West. The United States has been at war for two out of every three years since 1989, fighting seven different wars. We should not be surprised by this. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom in the West, a liberal foreign policy is not a formula for cooperation and peace but for instability and conflict.

In this book I focus on the period between 1993 and 2017, when the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, each in control of American foreign policy for eight years, were fully committed to pursuing liberal hegemony. Although President Obama had some reservations about that policy, they mattered little for how his administration actually acted abroad. I do not consider the Trump administration for two reasons. First, as I was finishing this book it was difficult to determine what President Trump’s foreign policy would look like, although it is clear from his rhetoric during the 2016 campaign that he recognizes that liberal hegemony has been an abject failure and would like to abandon key elements of that strategy. Second, there is good reason to think that with the rise of China and the res­urrection of Russian power having put great power politics back on the table, Trump eventually will have no choice but to move toward a grand strategy based on realism, even if doing so meets with considerable resistance at home.

John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His many books include The Tragedy of Great Power Politics and Conventional Deterrence .

Il est urgent de dépasser le clivage gauche-droite


Il est urgent de dépasser le clivage gauche-droite

Par Patrice-Hans Perrier 
Ex: http://www.zejournal.mobi

Les grands médias alliés aux oligarques continuent de nous prendre pour des ânes en mettant en scène un combat simulé entre la gauche et la droite. Et, certains chroniqueurs en rajoutent en souhaitant que la jeunesse sorte de sa torpeur actuelle afin de reprendre goût à cette politique des apparences qui aura contribué à berner leurs parents. Parce que les clivages auxquels nous sommes habitués nous empêchent de poser les bons diagnostics sur les maux qui gangrènent nos sociétés.

Les patriotes qui se battent pour la survie de leur nation doivent éviter de tomber dans le piège des catégories politiques.

Une réalité qui dépasse les clivages politiques

Le politologue Arnaud Imatz, invité à débattre de la question sur le site de réflexion Le Cercle Aristote, estime que « la division Droite/Gauche est devenue un masque, qui sert à cacher une autre division, désormais beaucoup plus décisive : celle qui oppose les peuples enracinés aux élites autoproclamées vectrices du déracinement; celle qui oppose les défenseurs de la souveraineté, de l’identité et de la cohésion nationale aux partisans de la « gouvernance mondiale »; celle qui oppose les exclus de la mondialisation rejetés dans les zones périurbaines du pays […] aux privilégiés du système, à l’oligarchie dominante, à la classe dirigeante mondialisée ou l’hyperclasse qui vit dans les beaux quartiers des grandes villes […] ».

La droite et la gauche se renvoient la balle

En bref, les partisans de la gauche reprochent aux gens de droite d’être trop conservateurs, tout en refusant les inévitables changements qui sont le lot de nos sociétés en voie de liquéfaction. À droite, on refuse les schémas proposés par une gauche qui s’acharne à vouloir tout chambouler afin de favoriser l’émergence d’un « homme nouveau », sorte de citoyen d’une société éclatée où seuls les rapports économiques constituent l’étalon de mesure. La variable d’ajustement, pour parler comme certains économistes.

À gauche, on prône une plus grande justice sociale qui serait susceptible de se réaliser à travers le dépassement des habituels clivages socioculturels qui marquent le territoire de nos cités. Il n’y a plus de culture historique qui tienne pour ces partisans d’une lutte de classe qui se concentre sur une meilleure répartition des ressources économiques. Pourtant, on a qu’à gratter le vernis gauchiste plaqué sur ce type de formations politiques pour réaliser que leurs dirigeants ne sont que des arrivistes qui rament pour obtenir un strapontin bien au chaud au parlement.

La droite n’est pas en reste au chapitre des simulacres et ça fait des lustres que ses ténors ont jeté aux orties tout ce qui pouvait s’apparenter aux vertus d’un christianisme qui est devenu un triste simulacre. La droite est affairiste, elle émaille son discours de références patriotiques afin de faire passer la pilule d’un libre-marché à tous crins. Prônant un meilleur contrôle des mouvements humains aux frontières, elle ne dit plus rien quand vient le temps de s’opposer à toute cette flopée de traités de libre-échange destinée à paver la voie au grand capital apatride. Si elle reproche à la gauche d’imposer ses idées préconçues sur les campus universitaires, elle nous enfonce sa religion de l’argent-roi profondément dans la gorge.

Détruire l’État pour réaliser la dictature des marchés

On réalise que cette nouvelle droite, qualifiée maladroitement de libertarienne par certains, fantasme sur le projet de privatiser tous les actifs d’un État qui se voulait stratège à l’époque du général de Gaulle. Il n’y a pas à dire : on dirait que la gauche et la droite se lancent des défis truqués afin de distraire les électeurs pendant que les oligarques et les banquiers se préparent à liquider tous les actifs de nos nations affaiblies.

Le mondialisme à l’œuvre n’est pas un scénario idéaliste promu par une caste d’illuminés. Il s’agit, a contrario, d’un projet particulièrement bien ficelé, quelque chose d’effectif et de pragmatique. Ses architectes ont l’intention de faire éclater toutes les balises qui structuraient nos sociétés depuis des lustres. Rien ne doit s’opposer aux desseins du grand capital et l’humanité doit devenir une réserve de main-d’œuvre corvéable à merci. Et, c’est ce qui explique pourquoi il est si important de maintenir l’illusion d’un combat des idées opposant une gauche et une droite complètement inféodées aux diktats de l’hyperclasse aux commandes. Il est temps de passer à autre chose.

Un lien pertinent : Le Cercle Aristote

Matthieu Baumier : "si le clivage gauche-droite n’existe plus, c'est qu'il n’existe plus au sein de la pensée libérale-libertaire"


Matthieu Baumier : "si le clivage gauche-droite n’existe plus, c'est qu'il n’existe plus au sein de la pensée libérale-libertaire"

Ex: https://www.sudradio.fr

Matthieu Baumier, écrivain, critique, essayiste et auteur de Voyage au bout des ruines libérales-libertaires (Éditions Pierre-Guillaume de Roux) était l’invité d’André Bercoff le 6 février 2019 sur Sud Radio.

Pour Matthieu Baumier, écrivain, critique, essayiste et auteur de Voyage au bout des ruines libérales-libertaires (Éditions Pierre-Guillaume de Roux), de nos jours, "tout ce qui serait réellement à gauche ou réellement à droite est repoussé aux extrêmes et considéré comme ne pouvant pas faire partie du jeu politique". Matthieu Baumier était l’invité d’André Bercoff le 6 février 2019 sur Sud Radio dans son rendez-vous du 12h-13h, "Bercoff dans tous ses états".

Les lib-lib, un groupe social aux caractéristiques bien définies

Matthieu Baumier a commencé par expliquer ce qu’est un libéral-libertaire (lib-lib). "J’aime beaucoup la définition que donne Jean-Claude Michéa. Un libéral-libertaire, c’est la conjugaison d’un certain libéralisme économique exacerbé et d’un libéralisme culturel et politique. C’est une religion de l’illimité, l’absence d’autorité, une conception du monde hors sol, sans enracinement", a expliqué Matthieu Baumier.

Il y a néanmoins une différence entre les lib-lib et les bobos. "Le bobo est une personne qui vit dans le monde lib-lib. La différence est que le lib-lib est mondialisé et acteur de cette mondialisation. Le lib-lib est un acteur politique, médiatique, économique ou culturel, tandis que le bobo peut être un citoyen lambda", nous a raconté Matthieu Baumier.

Pour les libéraux-libertaires, tant la gauche que la droite sont des extrêmes

"Il y a le monde réel, dont on ne tient pas compte. Et en lieu et place de ce monde réel est mis en place une image du réel à laquelle on ne peut pas s’opposer. Je crois que ce processus est contre-démocratique. Par exemple, le Président Macron est légitime car il a été élu sur le plan de la démocratie participative. En revanche, le pouvoir politique actuel n’a pas de légitimité parce que la moitié des citoyens français ne sont pas représentés à l’Assemblée nationale", a estimé Matthieu Baumier.

"Nous avons tendance à considérer que le clivage droite-gauche n’existe plus. S’il n’existe plus, il n’existe plus au sein de la pensée libérale-libertaire. Tout ce qui serait réellement à gauche ou réellement à droite est repoussé aux extrêmes et considéré comme ne pouvant pas faire partie du jeu politique. C’est de ce biais que naît la contre-démocratie dans laquelle nous sommes", a poursuivi Matthieu Baumier.

Cliquez ici pour écouter l’invité d’André Bercoff dans son intégralité en podcast.

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lundi, 25 mars 2019

La gauche américaine et le piège identitaire


La gauche américaine et le piège identitaire

par Olivier Meuwly

Ex: https://www.letemps.ch

OPINION. L’auteur américain Mark Lilla prône une gauche réconciliée avec une citoyenneté qui aurait divorcé de ses démons identitaires et de son «narcissisme moralisant», explique l’historien Olivier Meuwly. Une leçon qui vaudrait aussi pour l’Europe.

La notion d’identité est traditionnellement accolée à la droite, surtout la plus extrême. Comme si l’identité ne renvoyait qu’à une ethnie ou une nation qu’il s’agirait de protéger contre une abrasive et universaliste modernité, hostile aux particularismes régionaux. Et si cette notion était plus complexe? Cette interrogation réside au cœur d’un essai du philosophe américain et homme de gauche Mark Lilla, récemment traduit en français*. L’auteur se demande ni plus ni moins, en s’adressant à ses amis membres du Parti démocrate, si la gauche ne se serait pas à son tour ménagé une politique identitaire, bien sûr antagonique à celle prévalant à droite, mais tout aussi mortifère, surtout pour ses propres intérêts. Son livre a été très mal reçu par ses amis politiques…

Mark Lilla estime que la gauche américaine, mais le constat vaut aussi pour l’Europe, a interprété l’individualisme des années 60 et 70 comme la matrice d’une politique orientée vers le moi, dans le prolongement du romantisme néoanarchiste en vogue à l’époque. Alors que la droite reaganienne dérivait vers un libéralisme «néo» vissé sur le profit, la gauche se serait représenté la société non comme un collectif, désormais dépassé, mais comme une juxtaposition de «moi» s’assemblant avec d’autres «moi» au gré de leurs similitudes, raciales, sexuelles, ou autres. Le monde de la gauche se serait ainsi transformé en un univers constitué de groupes partageant une identité dont la défense serait l’unique finalité. Tournant le dos à l’action politique, délégitimée dans le discours soixante-huitard, cette gauche aurait confié à la justice le soin de dresser des digues autour de ces identités pour mieux contourner les défaites enregistrées dans un champ politique de toute façon méprisé. Il est vrai que le système américain n’est pas avare d’opportunités en la matière…

Moralisme identitaire

Engluée dans cette quête identitaire génitrice d’un «politiquement correct» où le simple fait de ne pas adhérer pleinement à ses réquisitions est jugé amoral et donc condamnable, la gauche se réfugie dans l’anathème: l’identité de gauche n’aurait dès lors plus rien à envier à l’identité de droite récupérée par l’aile droite du Parti républicain, avec à la clé un repli identitaire d’obédience «populiste», voire cryptonationaliste.

La grande victime de ce virage identitaire serait l’idée même de citoyenneté que, devant le vide ainsi créé à gauche, la droite n’aurait, selon l’auteur, aucune peine à remplir de ses propres valeurs. Le citoyen s’étant ainsi effacé devant l’individu perçu à travers sa seule identité, le fossé se creuse entre le «nous», au bord de l’effondrement, et le «moi» triomphant. Piège d’autant plus pernicieux pour la gauche que l’individu se définit par des identités multiples que seule la conscience d’une appartenance collective aurait pu transcender. Or l’appartenance personnelle s’impose comme la seule référence, anesthésiant tout discours audible par l’ensemble des Américains.

Le citoyen s’étant effacé devant l’individu perçu à travers sa seule identité, le fossé se creuse entre le «nous», au bord de l’effondrement, et le «moi» triomphant

Mark Lilla s’abstient d’explorer toutes les raisons qui ont poussé la gauche à s’enliser dans ce moralisme identitaire à même de se retourner contre la légitime protection des minorités, mais survalorisant les marges au détriment de l’ensemble. L’égalitarisme ne mine-t-il pas les fondements de l’égalité? Il préfère ne pas aborder la question, douloureuse. Il aurait aussi pu évoquer l’exemple de l’islamo-gauchisme que l’Europe connaît bien et qui a été dénoncé par de nombreux auteurs, pas tous de droite.

Retrouver le bien commun

Mark Lilla ne manque néanmoins pas de courage et son plaidoyer pour une gauche réconciliée avec une citoyenneté qui aurait divorcé de ses démons identitaires, de ce «narcissisme moralisant» selon ses propres termes, mérite d’être analysé au-delà de sa seule famille politique. Car il ne dit pas qu’articuler un discours sur l’identité est mauvais en soi mais qu’au contraire la défense des identités, nécessaire, ne trouve sa justification ultime que dans la recherche du bien commun. Et ce bien commun se réalise dans le dialogue et le compromis, que Lilla reproche aux démocrates de son pays de négliger. Les social-démocraties européennes devraient être mieux outillées mais elles semblent elles aussi de plus en plus succomber à cet «identitarisme» malheureux.

Concentré sur les identités que la gauche a voulu prendre sous son aile mais sous lesquelles elle menace d’étouffer, l’auteur ne s’intéresse pas à l’identité nationale. Or la gauche peut-elle renouer avec cette citoyenneté réellement universelle sans réinventer un discours sur la nation et ses exigences minimales? Réciproquement, la droite doit réfléchir sur les façons de marier l’identité nationale avec les autres identités, expression de la liberté individuelle, pour ne pas s’illusionner d’une cohésion sociale «bricolée» par la seule grâce d’une nation magnifiée.

* La gauche identitaire. L’Amérique en miettes, Stock.

Le syndrome de Gulliver – Dans les marges de L’effondrement des puissances de Leopold Kohr


Le syndrome de Gulliver – Dans les marges de L’effondrement des puissances de Leopold Kohr

Le syndrome de Gulliver

 (« Sky is the limit », Emmanuel Macron)

  • Le devenir-monde est un phénomène inflationniste qui porte en lui les germes de sa destruction. Si du jour au lendemain la critique exigeante changeait d’échelle, si elle bénéficiait de la même couverture médiatique que la nullité quotidiennement servie sur les différents supports de l’abêtissement national, elle s’effondrerait aussitôt. Il y a là une contradiction fondamentale qui n’est jamais pensée car nous oublions de considérer sérieusement les effets de la taille. Les conséquences de l’oubli de la taille, c’est la thèse de Leopold Kohr dans L’effondrement des puissances.  La critique se doit de travailler petit. Echappant aux phénomènes d’accroissement, elle se déplace à une échelle d’invisibilité qui la rend inaccessible aux géants broyeurs d’intelligence. Si elle rencontre un lecteur, sous les radars, cette rencontre sera fatale. C’est bien cette fatalité déflationniste qui hante aujourd’hui le pouvoir, la démultiplication incontrôlable d’une contestation qui se miniaturise pour finir par fragiliser un édifice imprenable par tout moyen d’accumulation quantitative.


  • lk-effpui.gifUne chaîne d’information en continu, afin de tenir l’antenne pendant des heures, doit créer de nouvelles formes de discours, inventer des méthodes de remplissage contraires à toute logique proportionnelle, pour reprendre le concept essentiel de Leopold Kohr. Nous appelons encore aujourd’hui information ou journalisme des discours et des pratiques récemment apparus à partir d’un certain seuil critique. Au-delà de ce seuil s’opère une réversion. L’information de masse, diffusée en continu, en direct, ce babille incontinent de discours incapables de faire retour sur eux-mêmes, de s’entendre, se transforme en désinformation de masse. Le journalisme, sommé de capter tous les bruits du monde, de faire droit aux moindres insignifiances, de tout accueillir pour ne rien rater, de se brancher sur tous les flux, s’effondre sous les données qu’il amasse aléatoirement. Toujours grossir, tel est l’adage de la modernité tardive. Augmenter sa taille, accroître sa diffusion, saturer les écrans, envahir les étals. Jusqu’au collapse. A une certaine échelle de taille, plus rien n’est possible. Il en va de même pour le discours critique qui a besoin, pour se déployer, d’être protégé de l’inflation, de se tenir en-deçà de toute masse critique, de créer son propre écosystème.


  • Le discours du pouvoir que l’on entend partout, dont la production se confond avec la prolifération de matraquages publicitaires, y compris pour faire accepter une réforme scolaire, sombre fatalement dans l’insignifiance. Il devient inaudible. Pour se maintenir, il doit dès lors nourrir un métabolisme promotionnel qui n’a plus de comptes à rendre à ses détracteurs. C’est alors qu’il bascule dans tous les abus. Ne pouvant plus être entendu, il transforme cette incapacité en une logique d’écrasement quantitative. Il fait de la masse le critère indiscutable de son impunité. En gagnant le nombre, il perd la raison et justifie l’annihilation de ses détracteurs sur la seule manipulation des chiffres. « Cela arrive, explique Leopold Kohr dans L’effondrement des puissances, à chaque fois que ce pouvoir persuade son possesseur qu’il ne peut être remis en cause par aucune des autres accumulations de pouvoir plus grandes que celle qu’il possède lui-même. »


  • A partir d’un certain seuil d’accumulation du capital, économique, culturel, symbolique, les individus estiment qu’ils n’ont plus de compte à rendre à ceux, les plus petits qu’eux, qui ne pourront jamais les menacer réellement. Ils deviennent des brutes et cela quelle que soit leur culture, leur niveau d’éducation. L’information de masse accompagne logiquement cette effrayante dérive, y compris quand elle se fantasme réinformation de masse, car elle est ce pouvoir d’écraser quantitativement toutes les pensées insaisissables sur ce seul critère, de les nier sans autre procès que le poids relatif des uns et des autres. Plus besoin de réfuter, il suffit de saturer le temps d’antenne, de répéter mille fois les mêmes formules, de faire tourner en boucle les mêmes images, de dresser les hommes à la répétition.


  • lk-break.jpgLeopold Kohr cite Jonathan Swift : « on observe que plus les créatures humaines sont corpulentes, plus elles sont sauvages et cruelles en proportion. » Cette corpulence doit être comprise comme la métaphore d’une disproportion qui s’accroit avec l’accumulation tératologique des capitaux des uns, de la misère économique, culturelle et symbolique des autres. Cette tendance s’accompagne d’un retrait progressif de la contestation. En face d’une force sans partage, dont on sait qu’elle nous écrasera plutôt que de se limiter en reconnaissant sa limite, « la force du désaccord humain, de l’esprit critique, montre une tendance proportionnelle à décroitre tout aussi naturellement » remarque Leopold Kohr. Il attribue cette tendance, cette sensibilité décroissante, à une sorte d’instinct, à l’intérêt pour notre propre survie. Cet intérêt s’accompagne « d’un engourdissement moral adapté aux situations ». Paradoxalement, au-lieu de se révolter contre l’accumulation d’injustices, impuissant à agir face à un géant qui le piétine, « l’être humain ordinaire, ajoute Leopold Kohr, est plutôt enclin à perdre le peu de conscience qui lui restait quand les victimes n’étaient pas encore trop nombreuses. » Cette structure défensive transforme l’être humain ordinaire en un simple spectateur de ce qui lui arrive. Il contemple la démesure, sidéré, préférant renoncer à l’esprit critique plutôt que d’éprouver dans sa chair la réalité de son impuissance.


  • Il en va d’une véritable rééducation. Décroître, accepter le caractère limité d’une critique, formulée dans une langue et un style singulier. Accepter de renoncer à un plus grand pouvoir de diffusion, ne pas outrepasser un seuil irréversible à partir duquel la qualité s’effondre fatalement devant la quantité. Personne n’est à l’abri de cette tentation, celle d’être plus, d’accumuler plus de pouvoir, plus de visibilité, y compris fantasmatique, d’augmenter son poids. « Ton discours ne pèse pas assez », ainsi parle le malade de la quantité, ce fou qui croit rivaliser sur le terrain de la masse et sur les rives de Brobdingnag avec les géants de Swift.

La petitesse des talents invisibles contre le gigantisme écrasant des sans-idées.


Léopold Kohr, L’effondrement des puissances, R§N Editions, 2018 ( 1957, 1er édition).

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vendredi, 22 mars 2019

Quand Alexandre Zinoviev dénonçait la tyrannie mondialiste et le totalitarisme démocratique


Quand Alexandre Zinoviev dénonçait la tyrannie mondialiste et le totalitarisme démocratique

Ex: https://echelledejacob.blogspot.com 

Les propos « visionnaires » d’Alexandre Zinoviev, tenus en 1999, confirment la mise en place du mondialisme. Dans un monde où il n’y a plus de « garde-fou » tout peut arriver. Ça rejoint l’analyse de Vladimir Boukovski.
« Il me semble que dans le système de séparation des pouvoirs, il faudrait ajouter à ses trois composantes traditionnelles, le législatif, l’exécutif et le judiciaire, une quatrième : le pouvoir monétaire.» 
Alexandre Zinoviv - L’occidentisme (1995)

Avant-propos : Passionnante découverte: Alexandre Zinoviev (1922-2006), auteur russe qui décrit dans cet entretien sa vision de la réorganisation du monde devenu unipolaire et post-démocratique. 

Cet entretien a lieu en 1999 ! Vous serez surpris de la pertinence de ses réflexions presque 17 ans plus tard. Il y décrit l’évolution de l’Occident libéral vers une démocratie totalitaire.

Comme la domination planétaire est unipolaire (pas de contre-poids), on peut craindre des dérives totalitaires piégeant les peuples qui ne peuvent plus s’appuyer sur une aide venue de l’extérieur. Le détricotage des acquis sociaux est alors inéluctable. 

Nous pouvons ajouter à ce constat visionnaire et cinglant de Zinoviev, tout l’axe de la technologie, de la robotique et surtout du transhumanisme non abordé dans cet entretien et qui ne manque pas de nous inquiéter dans le cadre de l’ampleur potentielle des dérives attendues. 

Liliane Held-Khawam 


Dernier entretien en terre d’Occident : juin 1999 

Entretien réalisé par Victor Loupan à Munich, en juin 1999, quelques jours avant le retour définitif d’Alexandre Zinoviev en Russie ; extrait de « La grande rupture », aux éditions l’Âge d’Homme. 

Victor Loupan : Avec quels sentiments rentrez-vous après un exil aussi long ? 

Alexandre Zinoviev : Avec celui d’avoir quitté une puissance respectée, forte, crainte même, et de retrouver un pays vaincu, en ruines. Contrairement à d’autres, je n’aurais jamais quitté l’URSS, si on m’avait laissé le choix. L’émigration a été une vraie punition pour moi. 

V. L. : On vous a pourtant reçu à bras ouverts ! 

A. Z. : C’est vrai. Mais malgré l’accueil triomphal et le succès mondial de mes livres, je me suis toujours senti étranger ici. 

V. L. : Depuis la chute du communisme, c’est le système occidental qui est devenu votre principal objet d’étude et de critique. Pourquoi ? 

A. Z. : Parce que ce que j’avais dit est arrivé : la chute du communisme s’est transformée en chute de la Russie. La Russie et le communisme étaient devenus une seule et même chose. 

V. L. : La lutte contre le communisme aurait donc masqué une volonté d’élimination de la Russie ? 

A. Z. : Absolument. La catastrophe russe a été voulue et programmée ici, en Occident. Je le dis, car j’ai été, à une certaine époque, un initié. J’ai lu des documents, participé à des études qui, sous prétexte de combattre une idéologie, préparaient la mort de la Russie. Et cela m’est devenu insupportable au point où je ne peux plus vivre dans le camp de ceux qui détruisent mon pays et mon peuple. L’Occident n’est pas une chose étrangère pour moi, mais c’est une puissance ennemie. 


V. L. : Seriez-vous devenu un patriote ? 

A. Z. : Le patriotisme, ce n’est pas mon problème. J’ai reçu une éducation internationaliste et je lui reste fidèle. Je ne peux d’ailleurs pas dire si j’aime ou non la Russie et les Russes. Mais j’appartiens à ce peuple età ce pays. J’en fais partie. Les malheurs actuels de mon peuple sont tels, que je ne peux continuer à les contempler de loin. La brutalité de la mondialisation met en évidence des choses inacceptables. 

V. L. : Les dissidents soviétiques parlaient pourtant comme si leur patrie était la démocratie et leur peuple les droits de l’homme. Maintenant que cette manière de voir est dominante en Occident, vous semblez la combattre. N’est-ce pas contradictoire ? 

A. Z. : Pendant la guerre froide, la démocratie était une arme dirigée contre le totalitarisme communiste, mais elle avait l’avantage d’exister. On voit d’ailleurs aujourd’hui que l’époque de la guerre froide a été un point culminant de l’histoire de l’Occident. Un bien être sans pareil, de vraies libertés, un extraordinaire progrès social, d’énormes découvertes scientifiques et techniques, tout y était ! Mais, l’Occident se modifiait aussi presqu’imperceptiblement. L’intégration timide des pays développés, commencée alors, constituait en fait les prémices de la mondialisation de l’économie et de la globalisation du pouvoir auxquels nous assistons aujourd’hui. Une intégration peut être généreuse et positive si elle répond, par exemple, au désir légitime des nations-soeurs de s’unir. Mais celle-ci a, dès le départ, été pensée en termes de structures verticales, dominées par un pouvoir supranational. Sans le succès de la contre-révolution russe, il n’aurait pu se lancer dans la mondialisation. 

V. L. : Le rôle de Gorbatchev n’a donc pas été positif ? 

A. Z. : Je ne pense pas en ces termes-là. Contrairement à l’idée communément admise, le communisme soviétique ne s’est pas effondré pour des raisons internes. Sa chute est la plus grande victoire de l’histoire de l’Occident ! Victoire colossale qui, je le répète, permet l’instauration d’un pouvoir planétaire. Mais la fin du communisme a aussi marqué la fin de la démocratie. 

Notre époque n’est pas que post-communiste, elle est aussi post-démocratique. 

Nous assistons aujourd’hui à l’instauration du totalitarisme démocratique ou, si vous préférez, de la démocratie totalitaire. 

V. L. : N’est-ce pas un peu absurde ? 

A. Z. : Pas du tout. La démocratie sous-entend le pluralisme. Et le pluralisme suppose l’opposition d’au moins deux forces plus ou moins égale ; forces qui se combattent et s’influencent en même temps. Il y avait, à l’époque de la guerre froide, une démocratie mondiale, un pluralisme global au sein duquel coexistaient le système capitaliste, le système communiste et même une structure plus vague mais néanmoins vivante, les non-alignés. Le totalitarisme soviétique était sensible aux critiques venant de l’Occident. L’Occident subissait lui aussi l’influence de l’URSS, par l’intermédiaire notamment de ses propres partis communistes. Aujourd’hui, nous vivons dans un monde dominé par une force unique, par une idéologie unique, par un parti unique mondialiste. La constitution de ce dernier a débuté, elle aussi, à l’époque de la guerre froide, quand des superstructures transnationales ont progressivement commencé à se constituer sous les formes les plus diverses : sociétés commerciales, bancaires, politiques, médiatiques. Malgré leurs différents secteurs d’activités, ces forces étaient unies par leur nature supranationale. Avec la chute du communisme, elles se sont retrouvées aux commandes du monde. Les pays occidentaux sont donc dominateurs, mais aussi dominés, puisqu’ils perdent progressivement leur souveraineté au profit de ce que j’appelle la « suprasociété ». Suprasociété planétaire, constituée d’entreprises commerciales et d’organismes non-commerciaux, dont les zones d’influence dépassent les nations. Les pays occidentaux sont soumis, comme les autres, au contrôle de ces structures supranationales. Or, la souveraineté des nations était, elle aussi, une partie constituante du pluralisme et donc de la démocratie, à l’échelle de la planète. Le pouvoir dominant actuel écrase les états souverains. L’intégration de l’Europe qui se déroule sous nos yeux, provoque elle aussi la disparition du pluralisme au sein de ce nouveau conglomérat, au profit d’un pouvoir supranational. 


V. L. : Mais ne pensez-vous pas que la France ou l’Allemagne continuent à être des pays démocratiques ? 

A. Z. : Les pays occidentaux ont connu une vraie démocratie à l’époque de la guerre froide. Les partis politiques avaient de vraies divergences idéologiques et des programmes politiques différents. Les organes de presse avaient des différences marquées, eux aussi. Tout cela influençait la vie des gens, contribuait à leur bien-être. C’est bien fini. Parce que le capitalisme démocratique et prospère, celui des lois sociales et des garanties d’emploi devait beaucoup à l’épouvantail communiste. L’attaque massive contre les droits sociaux à l’Ouest a commencé avec la chute du communisme à l’Est. Aujourd’hui, les socialistes au pouvoir dans la plupart des pays d’Europe, mènent une politique de démantèlement social qui détruit tout ce qu’il y avait de socialiste justement dans les pays capitalistes. 

Il n’existe plus, en Occident, de force politique capable de défendre les humbles. 

L’existence des partis politiques est purement formelle. Leurs différences s’estompent chaque jour davantage. La guerre des Balkans était tout sauf démocratique. Elle a pourtant été menée par des socialistes, historiquement opposés à ce genre d’aventures. Les écologistes, eux aussi au pouvoir dans plusieurs pays, ont applaudi au désastre écologique provoqué par les bombardements de l’OTAN. Ils ont même osé affirmer que les bombes à uranium appauvri n’étaient pas dangereuses alors que les soldats qui les chargent portent des combinaisons spéciales. La démocratie tend donc aussi à disparaître de l’organisation sociale occidentale. Le totalitarisme financier a soumis les pouvoirs politiques. Le totalitarisme financier est froid. Il ne connaît ni la pitié ni les sentiments. Les dictatures politiques sont pitoyables en comparaison avec la dictature financière. Une certaine résistance était possible au sein des dictatures les plus dures. Aucune révolte n’est possible contre la banque. 

V. L. : Et la révolution ? 

A. Z. : Le totalitarisme démocratique et la dictature financière excluent la révolution sociale. 

V. L. : Pourquoi ? 

A. Z. : Parce qu’ils combinent la brutalité militaire toute puissante et l’étranglement financier planétaire. Toutes les révolutions ont bénéficié de soutien venu de l’étranger. C’est désormais impossible, par absence de pays souverains. De plus, la classe ouvrière a été remplacée au bas de l’échelle sociale, par la classe des chômeurs. Or que veulent les chômeurs ? Un emploi. Ils sont donc, contrairement à la classe ouvrière du passé, dans une situation de faiblesse. 


V. L. : Les systèmes totalitaires avaient tous une idéologie. Quelle est celle de cette nouvelle société que vous appelez post-démocratique ? 

A. Z. : Les théoriciens et les politiciens occidentaux les plus influents considèrent que nous sommes entrés dans une époque post-idéologique. Parce qu’ils sous-entendent par « idéologie » le communisme, le fascisme, le nazisme, etc. En réalité, l’idéologie, la supraidéologie du monde occidental, développée au cours des cinquante dernières années, est bien plus forte que le communisme ou le national-socialisme. Le citoyen occidental en est bien plus abruti que ne l’était le soviétique moyen par la propagande communiste. Dans le domaine idéologique, l’idée importe moins que les mécanismes de sa diffusion. Or la puissance des médias occidentaux est, par exemple, incomparablement plus grande que celle, énorme pourtant, du Vatican au sommet de son pouvoir. Et ce n’est pas tout : le cinéma, la littérature, la philosophie, tous les moyens d’influence et de diffusion de la culture au sens large vont dans le même sens. A la moindre impulsion, ceux qui travaillent dans ces domaines réagissent avec un unanimisme qui laisse penser à des ordres venant d’une source de pouvoir unique. (…)

V. L. : Mais cette « supraidéologie » ne propage-t-elle pas aussi la tolérance et le respect ? 

A. Z. : Quand vous écoutez les élites occidentales, tout est pur, généreux, respectueux de la personne humaine. Ce faisant, elles appliquent une règle classique de la propagande : masquer la réalité par le discours. Car il suffit d’allumer la télévision, d’aller au cinéma, d’ouvrir les livres à succès, d’écouter la musique la plus diffusée, pour se rendre compte que ce qui est propagé en réalité c’est le culte du sexe, de la violence et de l’argent. Le discours noble et généreux est donc destiné à masquer ces trois piliers – il y en a d’autres – de la démocratie totalitaire. 

V. L. : Mais que faites-vous des droits de l’homme ? Ne sont-ils pas respectés en Occident bien plus qu’ailleurs ? 

A. Z. : L’idée des droits de l’homme est désormais soumise elle aussi à une pression croissante. L’idée, purement idéologique, selon laquelle ils seraient innés et inaltérables ne résisterait même pas à un début d’examen rigoureux. Je suis prêt à soumettre l’idéologie occidentale à l’analyse scientifique, exactement comme je l’ai fait pour le communisme. Ce sera peut-être un peu long pour un entretien. 

V. L. : N’a-t-elle pas une idée maîtresse ? 

A. Z. : C’est le mondialisme, la globalisation. Autrement dit : la domination mondiale. Et comme cette idée est assez antipathique, on la masque sous le discours plus vague et généreux d’unification planétaire, de transformation du monde en un tout intégré. C’est le vieux masque idéologique soviétique ; celui de l’amitié entre les peuples, « amitié » destinée à couvrir l’expansionnisme. En réalité, l’Occident procède actuellement à un changement de structure à l’échelle planétaire. D’un côté, la société occidentale domine le monde de la tête et des épaules et de l’autre, elle s’organise elle-même verticalement, avec le pouvoir supranational au sommet de la pyramide. 

V. L. : Un gouvernement mondial ? 

A. Z. : Si vous voulez. 

V. L. : Croire cela n’est-ce-pas être un peu victime du fantasme du complot ? 

A. Z. : Quel complot ? Il n’y a aucun complot. Le gouvernement mondial est dirigé par les gouverneurs des structures supranationales commerciales, financières et politiques connues de tous. Selon mes calculs, une cinquantaine de millions de personnes fait déjà partie de cette suprasociété qui dirige le monde. Les États-Unis en sont la métropole. Les pays d’Europe occidentale et certains anciens « dragons » asiatiques, la base. Les autres sont dominés suivant une dure gradation économico-financière. Ça, c’est la réalité. La propagande, elle, prétend qu’un gouvernement mondial contrôlé par un parlement mondial serait souhaitable, car le monde est une vaste fraternité. Ce ne sont là que des balivernes destinées aux populations. 


V. L. : Le Parlement européen aussi ? 

A. Z. : Non, car le Parlement européen existe. Mais il serait naïf de croire que l’union de l’Europe s’est faite parce que les gouvernements des pays concernés l’ont décidé gentiment. L’Union européenne est un instrument de destruction des souverainetés nationales. Elle fait partie des projets élaborés par les organismes supranationaux. 

V. L. : La Communauté européenne a changé de nom après la destruction de l’Union soviétique. Elle s’est appelée Union européenne, comme pour la remplacer. Après tout, il y avait d’autres noms possibles. Aussi, ses dirigeants s’appellent-ils « commissaires », comme les Bolcheviks. Ils sont à la tête d’une « Commission », comme les Bolcheviks. Le dernier président a été « élu » tout en étant candidat unique. 

A. Z. : Il ne faut pas oublier que des lois régissent l’organisation sociale. Organiser un million d’hommes c’est une chose, dix millions c’en est une autre, cent millions, c’est bien plus compliqué encore. Organiser cinq cent millions est une tâche immense. Il faut créer de nouveaux organismes de direction, former des gens qui vont les administrer, les faire fonctionner. C’est indispensable. Or l’Union soviétique est, en effet, un exemple classique de conglomérat multinational coiffé d’une structure dirigeante supranationale. L’Union européenne veut faire mieux que l’Union soviétique ! C’est légitime. J’ai déjà été frappé, il y a vingt ans, de voir à quel point les soi-disant tares du système soviétique étaient amplifiées en Occident. 

V. L. : Par exemple ? 

A. Z. : La planification ! L’économie occidentale est infiniment plus planifiée que ne l’a jamais été l’économie soviétique. La bureaucratie ! En Union Soviétique 10 % à 12 % de la population active travaillaient dans la direction et l’administration du pays. Aux États Unis, ils sont entre 16 % et 20 %. C’est pourtant l’URSS qui était critiquée pour son économie planifiée et la lourdeur de son appareil bureaucratique ! Le Comité central du PCUS employait deux mille personnes. L’ensemble de l’appareil du Parti communiste soviétique était constitué de 150000 salariés. Vous trouverez aujourd’hui même, en Occident, des dizaines voire des centaines d’entreprises bancaires et industrielles qui emploient un nombre bien plus élevé de gens. L’appareil bureaucratique du Parti communiste soviétique était pitoyable en comparaison avec ceux des grandes multinationales. L’URSS était en réalité un pays sous-administré. Les fonctionnaires de l’administration auraient dû être deux à trois fois plus nombreux. L’Union européenne le sait, et en tient compte. L’intégration est impossible sans la création d’un très important appareil administratif. 

V. L. : Ce que vous dites est contraire aux idées libérales, affichées par les dirigeants européens. Pensez-vous que leur libéralisme est de façade ? 

A. Z. : L’administration a tendance à croître énormément. Cette croissance est dangereuse, pour elle-même. Elle le sait. Comme tout organisme, elle trouve ses propres antidotes pour continuer à prospérer. L’initiative privée en est un. La morale publique et privée, un autre. Ce faisant, le pouvoir lutte en quelque sorte contre ses tendances à l’auto-déstabilisation. Il a donc inventé le libéralisme pour contrebalancer ses propres lourdeurs. Et le libéralisme a joué, en effet, un rôle historique considérable. Mais il serait absurde d’être libéral aujourd’hui. La société libérale n’existe plus. Sa doctrine est totalement dépassée à une époque de concentrations capitalistiques sans pareil dans l’histoire. Les mouvements d’énormes masses financières ne tiennent compte ni des intérêts des États ni de ceux des peuples, peuples composés d’individus. Le libéralisme sous-entend l’initiative personnelle et le risque financier personnel. Or, rien ne se fait aujourd’hui sans l’argent des banques. Ces banques, de moins en moins nombreuses d’ailleurs, mènent une politique dictatoriale, dirigiste par nature. Les propriétaires sont à leur merci, puisque tout est soumis au crédit et donc au contrôle des puissances financières. L’importance des individus, fondement du libéralisme, se réduit de jour en jour. Peu importe aujourd’hui qui dirige telle ou telle entreprise ; ou tel ou tel pays d’ailleurs. Bush ou Clinton, Kohl ou Schröder, Chirac ou Jospin, quelle importance ? Ils mènent et mèneront la même politique. 

V. L. : Les totalitarismes du XXe siècle ont été extrêmement violents. On ne peut dire la même chose de la démocratie occidentale. 

A. Z. : Ce ne sont pas les méthodes, ce sont les résultats qui importent. Un exemple ? L’URSS a perdu vingt million d’hommes et subi des destructions considérables, en combattant l’Allemagne nazie. Pendant la guerre froide, guerre sans bombes ni canons pourtant, ses pertes, sur tous les plans, ont été bien plus considérables ! La durée de vie des Russes a chuté de dix ans dans les dix dernières années. La mortalité dépasse la natalité de manière catastrophique. Deux millions d’enfants ne dorment pas à la maison. Cinq millions d’enfants en âge d’étudier ne vont pas à l’école. Il y a douze millions de drogués recensés. L’alcoolisme s’est généralisé. 70 % des jeunes ne sont pas aptes au service militaire à cause de leur état physique. Ce sont là des conséquences directes de la défaite dans la guerre froide, défaite suivie par l’occidentalisation. Si cela continue, la population du pays descendra rapidement de cent-cinquante à cent, puis à cinquante millions d’habitants. Le totalitarisme démocratique surpassera tous ceux qui l’ont précédé. 


V. L. : En violence ? 

A. Z. : La drogue, la malnutrition, le sida sont plus efficaces que la violence guerrière. Quoique, après la guerre froide dont la force de destruction a été colossale, l’Occident vient d’inventer la « guerre pacifique ». L’Irak et la Yougoslavie sont deux exemples de réponse disproportionnée et de punition collective, que l’appareil de propagande se charge d’habiller en « juste cause » ou en « guerre humanitaire ». L’exercice de la violence par les victimes contre elles-mêmes est une autre technique prisée. La contre-révolution russe de 1985 en est un exemple. Mais en faisant la guerre à la Yougoslavie, les pays d’Europe occidentale l’ont faite aussi à eux-mêmes. 

V. L. : Selon vous, la guerre contre la Serbie était aussi une guerre contre l’Europe ? 

A. Z. : Absolument. Il existe, au sein de l’Europe, des forces capables de lui imposer d’agir contre elle-même. La Serbie a été choisie, parce qu’elle résistait au rouleau compresseur mondialiste. La Russie pourrait être la prochaine sur la liste. Avant la Chine. 

V. L. : Malgré son arsenal nucléaire ? 

A. Z. : L’arsenal nucléaire russe est énorme mais dépassé. De plus, les Russes sont moralement prêts à être conquis. A l’instar de leurs aïeux qui se rendaient par millions dans l’espoir de vivre mieux sous Hitler que sous Staline, ils souhaitent même cette conquête, dans le même espoir fou de vivre mieux. C’est une victoire idéologique de l’Occident. Seul un lavage de cerveau peut obliger quelqu’un à voir comme positive la violence faite à soi-même. Le développement des mass-media permet des manipulations auxquelles ni Hitler ni Staline ne pouvaient rêver. Si demain, pour des raisons « X », le pouvoir supranational décidait que, tout compte fait, les Albanais posent plus de problèmes que les Serbes, la machine de propagande changerait immédiatement de direction, avec la même bonne conscience. Et les populations suivraient, car elles sont désormais habituées à suivre. Je le répète : on peut tout justifier idéologiquement. L’idéologie des droits de l’homme ne fait pas exception. Partant de là, je pense que le XXIe siècle dépassera en horreur tout ce que l’humanité a connu jusqu’ici. Songez seulement au futur combat contre le communisme chinois. Pour vaincre un pays aussi peuplé, ce n’est ni dix ni vingt mais peut-être cinq cent millions d’individus qu’il faudra éliminer. Avec le développement que connaît actuellement la machine de propagande ce chiffre est tout à fait atteignable. Au nom de la liberté et des droits de l’homme, évidemment. A moins qu’une nouvelle cause, non moins noble, sorte de quelque institution spécialisée en relations publiques. 

V. L. : Ne pensez-vous pas que les hommes et les femmes peuvent avoir des opinions, voter, sanctionner par le vote ? 

A. Z. : D’abord les gens votent déjà peu et voteront de moins en moins. Quant à l’opinion publique occidentale, elle est désormais conditionnée par les médias. Il n’y a qu’à voir le oui massif à la guerre du Kosovo. Songez donc à la guerre d’Espagne ! Les volontaires arrivaient du monde entier pour combattre dans un camp comme dans l’autre. Souvenez-vous de la guerre du Vietnam. Les gens sont désormais si conditionnés qu’ils ne réagissent plus que dans le sens voulu par l’appareil de propagande. 

V. L. : L’URSS et la Yougoslavie étaient les pays les plus multiethniques du monde et pourtant ils ont été détruits. Voyez-vous un lien entre la destruction des pays multiethniques d’un côté et la propagande de la multiethnicité de l’autre ? 

A. Z. : Le totalitarisme soviétique avait créé une vraie société multinationale et multiethnique. Ce sont les démocraties occidentales qui ont fait des efforts de propagande surhumains, à l’époque de la guerre froide, pour réveiller les nationalismes. Parce qu’elles voyaient dans l’éclatement de l’URSS le meilleur moyen de la détruire. Le même mécanisme a fonctionné en Yougoslavie. L’Allemagne a toujours voulu la mort de la Yougoslavie. Unie, elle aurait été plus difficile à vaincre. Le système occidental consiste à diviser pour mieux imposer sa loi à toutes les parties à la fois, et s’ériger en juge suprême. Il n’y a pas de raison pour qu’il ne soit pas appliqué à la Chine. Elle pourrait être divisée, en dizaines d’États. 

V. L. : La Chine et l’Inde ont protesté de concert contre les bombardements de la Yougoslavie. Pourraient-elles éventuellement constituer un pôle de résistance ? Deux milliards d’individus, ce n’est pas rien ! 

A. Z. : La puissance militaire et les capacités techniques de l’Occident sont sans commune mesure avec les moyens de ces deux pays. 

V. L. : Parce que les performances du matériel de guerre américain en Yougoslavie vous ont impressionné ? 

A. Z. : Ce n’est pas le problème. Si la décision avait été prise, la Serbie aurait cessé d’exister en quelques heures. Les dirigeants du Nouvel ordre mondial ont apparemment choisi la stratégie de la violence permanente. Les conflits locaux vont se succéder pour être arrêtés par la machine de « guerre pacifique » que nous venons de voir à l’oeuvre. Cela peut, en effet, être une technique de management planétaire. L’Occident contrôle la majeure partie des ressources naturelles mondiales. Ses ressources intellectuelles sont des millions de fois supérieures à celles du reste de la planète. C’est cette écrasante supériorité qui détermine sa domination technique, artistique, médiatique, informatique, scientifique dont découlent toutes les autres formes de domination. Tout serait simple s’il suffisait de conquérir le monde. Mais il faut encore le diriger. C’est cette question fondamentale que les Américains essaient maintenant de résoudre. C’est cela qui rend « incompréhensibles » certaines actions de la « communauté internationale ». Pourquoi Saddam est-il toujours là ? Pourquoi Karadzic n’est-il toujours pas arrêté ? Voyez-vous, à l’époque du Christ, nous étions peut-être cent millions sur l’ensemble du globe. Aujourd’hui, le Nigeria compte presqu’autant d’habitants ! Le milliard d’Occidentaux et assimilés va diriger le reste du monde. Mais ce milliard devra être dirigé à son tour. Il faudra probablement deux cent millions de personnes pour diriger le monde occidental. Il faut les sélectionner, les former. Voilà pourquoi la Chine est condamnée à l’échec dans sa lutte contre l’hégémonie occidentale. Ce pays sous-administré n’a ni les capacités économiques ni les ressources intellectuelles pour mettre en place un appareil de direction efficace, composé de quelque trois cent millions d’individus. Seul l’Occident est capable de résoudre les problèmes de management à l’échelle de la planète. Cela se met déjà en place. Les centaines de milliers d’Occidentaux se trouvant dans les anciens pays communistes, en Russie par exemple, occupent dans leur écrasante majorité des postes de direction. La démocratie totalitaire sera aussi une démocratie coloniale. 

V. L. : Pour Marx, la colonisation était civilisatrice. Pourquoi ne le serait-elle pas à nouveau ? 

A. Z. : Pourquoi pas, en effet ? Mais pas pour tout le monde. Quel est l’apport des Indiens d’Amérique à la civilisation ? Il est presque nul, car ils ont été exterminés, écrasés. Voyez maintenant l’apport des Russes ! L’Occident se méfiait d’ailleurs moins de la puissance militaire soviétique que de son potentiel intellectuel, artistique, sportif. Parce qu’il dénotait une extraordinaire vitalité. Or c’est la première chose à détruire chez un ennemi. Et c’est ce qui a été fait. La science russe dépend aujourd’hui des financements américains. Et elle est dans un état pitoyable, car ces derniers n’ont aucun intérêt à financer des concurrents. Ils préfèrent faire travailler les savants russes aux USA. Le cinéma soviétique a été lui aussi détruit et remplacé par le cinéma américain. En littérature, c’est la même chose. La domination mondiale s’exprime, avant tout, par le diktat intellectuel ou culturel si vous préférez. Voilà pourquoi les Américains s’acharnent, depuis des décennies, à baisser le niveau culturel et intellectuel du monde : ils veulent le ramener au leur pour pouvoir exercer ce diktat. 

V. L. : Mais cette domination, ne serait-elle pas, après tout, un bien pour l’humanité ? 

A. Z. : Ceux qui vivront dans dix générations pourront effectivement dire que les choses se sont faites pour le bien de l’humanité, autrement dit pour leur bien à eux. Mais qu’en est-il du Russe ou du Français qui vit aujourd’hui ? Peut-il se réjouir s’il sait que l’avenir de son peuple pourrait être celui des Indiens d’Amérique ? Le terme d’Humanité est une abstraction. Dans la vie réelle il y a des Russes, des Français, des Serbes, etc. Or si les choses continuent comme elles sont parties, les peuples qui ont fait notre civilisation, je pense avant tout aux peuples latins, vont progressivement disparaître. L’Europe occidentale est submergée par une marée d’étrangers. Nous n’en avons pas encore parlé, mais ce n’est ni le fruit du hasard, ni celui de mouvements prétendument incontrôlables. Le but est de créer en Europe une situation semblable à celle des États-Unis. Savoir que l’humanité va être heureuse, mais sans Français, ne devrait pas tellement réjouir les Français actuels. Après tout, laisser sur terre un nombre limité de gens qui vivraient comme au Paradis, pourrait être un projet rationnel. Ceux-là penseraient d’ailleurs sûrement que leur bonheur est l’aboutissement de la marche de l’histoire. Non, il n’est de vie que celle que nous et les nôtres vivons aujourd’hui. 

V. L. : Le système soviétique était inefficace. Les sociétés totalitaires sont-elles toutes condamnées à l’inefficacité ? 

A. Z. : Qu’est-ce que l’efficacité ? Aux États-Unis, les sommes dépensées pour maigrir dépassent le budget de la Russie. Et pourtant le nombre des gros augmente. Il y a des dizaines d’exemples de cet ordre. 

V. L. : Peut-on dire que l’Occident vit actuellement une radicalisation qui porte les germes de sa propre destruction ? 

A. Z. : Le nazisme a été détruit dans une guerre totale. Le système soviétique était jeune et vigoureux. Il aurait continué à vivre s’il n’avait pas été combattu de l’extérieur. Les systèmes sociaux ne s’autodétruisent pas. Seule une force extérieure peut anéantir un système social. Comme seul un obstacle peut empêcher une boule de rouler. Je pourrais le démontrer comme on démontre un théorème. Actuellement, nous sommes dominés par un pays disposant d’une supériorité économique et militaire écrasante. Le Nouvel ordre mondial se veut unipolaire. Si le gouvernement supranational y parvenait, n’ayant aucun ennemi extérieur, ce système social unique pourrait exister jusqu’à la fin des temps. Un homme seul peut être détruit par ses propres maladies. Mais un groupe, même restreint, aura déjà tendance à se survivre par la reproduction. Imaginez un système social composé de milliards d’individus ! Ses possibilités de repérer et d’arrêter les phénomènes autodestructeurs seront infinies. Le processus d’uniformisation du monde ne peut être arrêté dans l’avenir prévisible. Car le totalitarisme démocratique est la dernière phase de l’évolution de la société occidentale, évolution commencée à la Renaissance.


Biographie d’Alexandre Zinoviev 

Alexandre Zinoviev est né dans un village de la région de Kostroma (URSS). Ses parents (le père est peintre en bâtiment) emménagent à Moscou. Alexandre qui montre de grandes capacités entre à l’Institut de philosophie, littérature et histoire de Moscou en 1939. Ses activités clandestines de critique de la construction du socialisme lui valent d’être exclu de l’Institut. Arrêté, puis évadé, il vit une année d’errance avant de s’enrôler dans l’Armée Rouge où il finit la Seconde Guerre mondiale comme aviateur et décoré de l’ordre de l’Étoile rouge. 

Entré à la faculté de philosophie de l’Université d’État de Moscou en 1946, Alexandre Zinoviev obtient en 1951 son diplôme avec mention. En 1954 il soutient une thèse de doctorat sur le thème de la logique dans Le Capital de Karl Marx, puis devient, l’année suivante, collaborateur scientifique de l’Institut de philosophie de l’Académie des sciences d’URSS. 

Alexandre Zinoviev est nommé professeur et directeur de la chaire de logique de l’Université d’Etat de Moscou en 1960. Il publie de nombreux livres et articles scientifiques de renommée internationale (ses oeuvres majeures ayant toutes été traduites à destination de l’Occident). Souvent invité à des conférences à l’étranger, il décline cependant toutes ces invitations. 

Après avoir refusé de renvoyer deux enseignants Alexandre Zinoviev est démis de son poste de professeur et de directeur de la chaire de logique. En 1976, pour avoir voulu publier Hauteurs béantes, un recueil de textes ironiques sur la vie en Union soviétique, il se voit proposer par les organes de sécurité le choix entre la prison et l’exil. Avec sa famille, il trouve refuge à Munich où il accomplit diverses tâches scientifiques ou littéraires. 

Révolté par la participation de la France et de l’Europe occidentale aux opérations de l’OTAN contre la Serbie, Alexandre Zinoviev retourne en Russie en 1999. Dans son article « Quand a vécu Aristote ? », il soutient que les récits et écrits historiques ont toujours été de tout temps détournés, effacés, falsifiés au profit d’un vainqueur. 

Source Liliane Held Khawam